I woke up on a sunny September morning, got my kids ready for school, showered, had breakfast and then went in my closet for a favourite blouse of mine. It was with great alarm and disdain that I realized that the sleeves wouldn’t pass my elbows.

How could this have happened?

I hardly ate fast food, I didn’t eat meat, and kept carbs at a minimum.
I was very active, and this weight gain saga got the best of me.

That’s when it came to me stress!!

Stressors comes in different shapes and forms and for me it was overworking and not sleeping enough. The stress of a working wife and mother ;with everyone beckoning their request from superhero mamma!!!

So stress and weight gain, how does it happen..?

Chronic stress may lead to an increase in appetite–and an increase in cravings for unhealthy food. Slowly, over the course of several months or even a year, an individual’s waistline may begin to expand.

Weight change may also result due to hormonal changes triggered by stress. The body’s response to stress has been linked to changes in metabolism, insulin, and fat storage.

The Link Between Stress and Cortisol

Stress triggers a fight or flight response in your body. This response releases hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenal prepares your body to take action and minimizes your desire to eat.

Once the adrenaline effects wear off, cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, hangs around. Cortisol temporarily suppresses functions that are non-essential, such as your digestive, immune, and reproductive responses.

When you have more cortisol in your system, you may crave less healthy food options like snacks containing high sugar and fat content.

Slower Metabolism

Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat, which can be particularly tough to shed.

A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University found that stress was linked to a slower metabolism in women.

Researchers questioned women about the previous day’s stressors before feeding them a high-fat, high-calorie meal. Then, the scientists measured their metabolic rate and examined their blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin, and cortisol levels.

They found that on average, women who reported one or more stressor during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than the non-stressed women. That difference might mean a weight gain of almost 11 pounds in one year.

The stressed women also had higher levels of insulin, which contributes to the storage of fat. They also had less fat oxidation, which is the conversion of large fat molecules into smaller molecules that can be used as fuel. Fat that is not burned is stored.

This is particularly bad news because, unfortunately, abdominal fat is not only aesthetically undesirable, it’s linked to greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.

So even if you aren’t eating more than usual, experiencing high levels of stress may cause you to gain weight.

Stress-Induced Eating Habits

High stress levels may also lead to changes in your behavior that contribute to weight gain. Here are some of the most common dietary changes people experience when they’re stressed:

Consuming high-fat, high-sugar foods. People experiencing chronic stress tend to crave more fatty, salty and sugary foods. This includes sweets, processed food and other things that aren’t as good for you. These foods are typically less healthy and lead to increased weight gain.
Less water , not enough time to drink water.
Less sleep. Many people report trouble sleeping when they’re stressed. And research has linked sleep deprivation to a slower metabolism. Feeling overtired can also reduce willpower and contribute to unhealthy eating habits.

How to Break the Cycle

It can be stressful when your clothes don’t fit well and the number on the scale creeps up. And the more stressed you feel, the more likely you are to gain weight. It’s a tough cycle to break.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to combat stress-related weight changes. Here are a few strategies that can help you regulate your weight:

Make exercise a priority. Exercise is a key component of stress reduction and weight management. It can help you address both issues simultaneously so it’s a critical component in warding off stress-related weight gain. Whether you go for a walk during your lunch break or you go to the gym after work, incorporate regular exercise into your routine.
Be mindful about what you eat. Paying attention to your eating habits can help you gain control over your food consumption. A 2011 review of studies that examined the link between self-monitoring and weight loss found that individuals who keep a food journal are more likely to manage their weight. So whether you use an app to track your food intake or you write down everything you consume in a food diary, being more mindful of what you put in your mouth could improve your eating habits.
Incorporate stress-relief strategies into your daily life. Whether you enjoy yoga or you find solace in reading a good book, incorporate stress relief strategies into your daily routine. This can reduce your cortisol levels and help you manage

A large part of this article was taken from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-3145088

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