Is stress making you overweight?

Work isn’t going well and things aren’t any better at home. You’re stressed out and that bulge around your belly is growing mighty fast. Where are all those extra kilos coming from?

Stress can affect weight gain and while it can make you feel less hungry at first, long-term stress can actually increase hunger. The culprit is cortisol, a hormone released during times of stress that can increase insulin secretion and induce insulin resistance. The high cortisol levels together with the high insulin levels may make you feel the need to increase intake of food high in fat, sugar or both.

Obviously, it’s not easy to just flick a switch and instantly have a less stressful life, but if you think your weight is getting worse due to stress here’s some tips that could help calm things down in the meantime.

  • Identify the biggest causes of your stress – this is an important first step.
  • Consider what you can change to manage your stress levels. Perhaps it’s asking for reduced working hours or addressing issues in a relationship.
  • Seek support from family, friends and counselling services for the stress that you cannot easily change.
  • Try some relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing or yoga and remember to also make time for yourself.
  • Do you get enough exercise and sleep?
  • Remove your ‘go-to’ comfort foods from your pantry and eat mindfully. Ask yourself whether you are genuinely hungry or whether you are eating as a response to stress.
  • If you feel that you’re stressed too often or struggling to manage your stress, or if it’s affecting your weight-loss efforts, speak to your healthcare professional about help from a psychologist, counsellor or a community mental health service.

Finally talk to your healthcare professional about your weight. That might not seem like your first option but just remember that managing weight is just as much about science as it is diet, exercise and willpower. The person who understands the science behind hunger is your healthcare professional. To talk to your healthcare professional about your weight loss options, click here.

DISCLAIMER: This editorial has been brought to you by Radiant Health. Content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information, speak to your Healthcare Professional. NZ-2019-08-0008. NA 11314