News & Events

The Importance of Managing Stress

  • Date: 27/06/2020
  • By: John Rodgers

Stress can have a noticeable effect on your body! From tight muscles and headaches to feeling

irritated and overwhelmed. Another way your body responds to stress is weight gain or loss and

often this takes time to notice.

Most people feel stressed sometimes and often it is unavoidable. There are many different

causes of stress and it affects everyone differently. It can significantly impact your ability to

maintain a healthy weight and prevent you from losing weight, as it can lead to elevated

cortisol levels, a hormone that stimulates appetite and therefore poor food choices are made and

emotional eating can occur. The result is weight gain and difficulty losing those unwanted

pounds.

Every time you are stressed, adrenaline and the cortisol are released from your adrenal glands and

glucose (your primary source of energy) is released into your bloodstream to give you the energy

required to escape the stressful situation. Once the situation has subsided, the adrenaline wears

off and your blood sugar spike drops. Cortisol kicks in to replenish your energy stores quickly.

Now the sugar cravings start! Consuming too much sugar results in the body storing it as

abdominal fat. It becomes a vicious circle – get stressed, release cortisol, gain weight, crave more

sugar, eat more sugar, gain more weight. These extra calories consumed in response to cortisol

appear to be deposited around your abdomen stored as fat. Even if you are not eating high fat and

sugar foods, cortisol also slows metabolism making it again, difficult to lose weight!

In addition to hormonal changes related to stress, stress can also drive you to engage in

unhealthy behaviors, all of which can cause you to gain weight. These are:

Emotional eating – you may find that snacking or reaching for a second helping will give you some

temporary relief from your stress.

Eating more fast food – when stressed you are more likely to head to a fast food place rather than

plan and cook a healthy meal. Fast food portions are usually larger which means more calories!

Exercising less – exercise may be the last thing on your mind when stressed or your work

schedule may leave you little time for physical activity.

Skipping meals – when juggling a million things to do at once, eating a healthy meal drops down

your list of priorities or you may find yourself skipping breakfast and choosing an unhealthy

option.

Sleeping less – many people have trouble sleeping when stressed resulting in over tiredness and

reduced willpower which, in turn, contributes to unhealthy eating habits.

As stated above, stress affects people differently and whilst for many stresses means weight gain or

being unable to maintain a healthy weight, for others it can cause unexpected weight loss! This is

due to the loss of desire to eat, so meals are missed, and the result is weight loss.

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