Research asserts there is a greater link between stress eating and weight gain than previously thought. It’s quite simple: When you are stressed, you are more likely to improve your mood with creamy, fatty, sugary and salty foods. These comfort foods when eaten in quantity or mindlessly, pack on the pounds. A new study by Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, a professor of psychiatry and psychology from Ohio State University, focuses on the relationships between stress and metabolism. Apparently, women who experienced stress in the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women in the time after eating a high-fat meal— which adds up to the equivalent of 11 pounds gained annually.
What you can do:
Living stress-free is not a realistic option. And most of us won’t reach for broccoli and celery sticks when we are upset. We all experience stress in varying degrees throughout life. So if you experience just half the stress of the Ohio State Univ. participants, you will gain only 5 ½ pounds this year when you eat fattening foods. And 5 ½ pounds a year add up. However, if you are experiencing greater stress or chronic stress, for example as a caregiver, work-related or when going through a divorce, then you will become even more stressed when you get on that scale!
7 strategies to return to center during an epidemic of stress
- If stress slows down metabolism, then guess what speeds it up? Exercise. Work out and not only will you speed up your metabolism, but you will efficiently release harmful stress hormones and clear your head to think straight and solve your problems.
- Most people who are stressed live a toxic lifestyle of overload. When you are weighed down with responsibilities, your metabolism will slow down. Carve out time for yourself. Take vacations. Take breaks. Insist on help.
- Perfectionism is an internal stressor which sabotages your accomplishments. Sometimes perfectionism slows you down to the point where you procrastinate and cannot finish a project because you are worried that your work is not good enough – meaning that YOU are not good enough. Realize that nothing is perfect and release your worry.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Jealousy is not only the green-eyed monster; it is an internal stressor which shames you to feel bad about yourself, impeding your good energy for changing for the better. Instead, imitate the object of your jealousy or even better ask her how she did it and do it too!
- Find romance, or revitalize romance in your life. When you are in love, you feel lighter and take problems more lightly. There is a skip in your step and you take care of yourself.
- Don’t eat irregularly, skipping meals and going on fad diets. Eating too few calories slows down metabolism and increases the likelihood of binge eating and weight gain. Consider that your brain needs adequate food intake to think straight and solve stressors before they accumulate and inundate.
- Forgive and be grateful. Throwing yourself a pity party sets the table with fatty dishes. The goal is to change your perception from a negativity bias to more positive perception. Letting go means eating less.
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