Stress Induced Weight Gain
Stress affects how fat and sugar are processed in your body. It also affects weight gain, heart disease, hormones and DNA. It can shorten your life. I’m sure you’ve heard all this before, but what do you do about it? If you weren’t so stressed, you’d have time to relax and meditate!
Anxiety can cause late night eating or just mindless eating that adds pounds and inches to your body. If this sounds like you, keep reading as I’ve got some great solutions for you to slow down, sleep better, and let go of those unwanted and unnecessary pounds.
5 Tips To Avoid Stress Induced Weight Gain:
1. Eating when you’re not hungry
First, figure out what your trigger is. What is causing you to eat continually throughout the day or late into the night. Before you reach for that next pretzel, ask yourself if you’re hungry or are you eating out of boredom or maybe you feel you’re lacking something and hoping food will fill it. The first step is to just identify the feeling that is triggering the eating. Then acknowledge the trigger. Next, keep a journal and write down your triggers. Identifying and acknowledging your triggers will help you to start shifting the behavior.
Consuming sugar releases serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. So when you reach for the cookies, brownies and such, you may be striving to feel happier in the moment. But if you are conscious of the connection between sweets, serotonin, and feeling better, you can help yourself feel better by naturally increasing your serotonin levels in healthier ways, such as going for a walk in nature and having a laugh with a friend.
2.Reduce your stress and anxiety
This one can be easier said than done but I’ve got some easy tips that just may help. There are several things you can do to reduce your stress response. The first and most basic one I like is to stop and breathe. Yes, it’s that simple. When you feel yourself breathing in a stressful way, such as very shallow in only the upper portion of your chest, stop and notice it. Sometimes you may even catch yourself holding your breath. In that moment, stop whatever you are doing and take 5 deep belly breaths. Actually put your hand on your belly and inhale while feeling your belly rise and fill with oxygen. Now release the breath fully and completely. Do this 5 times and you will start to engage the parasympathetic (relaxing) nervous system.
If you enjoy regular meditation, yoga, exercise, dancing or just walking in nature, then all of these activities can reduce your stress response. Pick something you love and that brings you joy and figure out how to fit it into your daily routine. That could mean just 5 minutes of meditation or working out per day. Don’t make it a big deal or you’ll never get started.
[Read: When Is Stress Actually Good For You?]
3. Limit your alcohol
Save the alcohol until after you’ve eaten something with protein like nuts, turkey or cheese. All that sugar on an empty stomach will just spike your blood sugar levels. When your levels plummet, you’ll end up ravenous. Alcohol also quells our inhibitions (it’s harder to say no to yourself) and that often leads us to mindlessly snacking on chips and dip ending up consuming larger quantities than planned. Remember to drink water between alcoholic drinks as alcohol is dehydrating. Try mixing a bit of carbonated water with a small amount of fruit juice for a refreshing and satisfying drink. Staying hydrated will help you with any potential residual affects the next morning, and will also help you sleep better that night.
4. Eat regular, balanced meals
Start your day with breakfast within 1 hour of rising and include protein in that and every meal throughout the day. If you need a snack, pair it with protein. So an apple goes with nuts, nut butter, or cheese. Eating within 1 hour of rising gets your blood sugar in a normal range and will help your energy throughout the day. Studies have shown that people who eat a protein breakfast eat 80% less calories throughout the day. Many of those extra calories are consumed between dinner and bedtime. So eat at least 3, well-balanced meals through the day that include protein and lots of veggies. Keep refined carbohydrates to a minimum as they can trigger sugar cravings, which can be a very slippery slope.
5. Get enough sleep
What is the right amount? It’s more than most people get, 7-9 hours is ideal. Many people are running around sleep deprived and using massive amounts of caffeine to make it through the day. Sleeping the right 8 hours is also essential to balance. You have an internal clock whereby there is an ideal time sleep, eat, have sex and have a bowel movement. Working in sync with your internal clock will help you feel well rested, digest your food better and help your mood. Getting to bed between 9-10 pm is ideal. I know, you might think that sounds crazy, but my suggestion is to start getting ready for bed an hour before you actually want to sleep.
Have a wind down routine, lower the lights and get off the electronics. If you are a night owl, then just start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier per week. Make it a slow transition and you will reap the benefits of a restful night’s sleep. Caffeine can take about 12 hours to be processed through your body. So keep the coffee consumption to before 11 am. Get up between 5-6am. Start your day with a cup of warm lemon water and that will get your bowels moving. Then have breakfast between 7-9am and dinner before 7pm. By the way, the ideal time for sex is 7-9pm. Just in case you were wondering about that. Weren’t you?
My biggest suggestion is to not let the perfect get in the way of the good. The goal is progress, not perfection. Be patient with yourself and perhaps recruit an accountability partner who can support you while making lifestyle changes. Do something every day that makes you laugh or smile. Take a moment to be thankful and appreciative of all the abundance in your life. All these things “feed” you, and when you are nourished this way, food and drink fade in importance, rather than being in the spotlight. When you are successful at putting your attention on the good things in life, you’ll naturally start to notice more good stuff every day.