People who are under a lot of stress tend to do one of two things – either they eat more or they eat less. But despite what they do, more often than not, people under stress gain weight! 

The body’s response to stress is a release of adrenaline which triggers the “fight or flight” response in your body. You’re highly energised to either fight the immediate danger (stress) or run away from it! Another hormone, known as corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) is released at the same time, along with cortisol. These elevated levels of adrenaline and CRH decrease your appetite at first, but unfortunately, this response is short–lived. 

The purpose of cortisol is to increase your appetite after an immediate danger (stressor) has passed. The trouble is, with chronic stress, your body is in a perpetual state of “fight or flight,” meaning more and more cortisol is being produced, thereby increasing your appetite. And even if you don’t eat more…the mere presence of this hormone slows down your metabolism and tends to cause fat retention, especially around the midsection! 

Some tips to allow your body to cope better with stress;

  1. Get proper rest – cortisol levels rise when you lose sleep and you may feel hungrier than you would with proper rest! 
  2. Take a walk – even if it’s only for 15–20 minutes several times a week. Exercise releases “good” hormones that make you feel better and reduce stress and it burns calories – so it offers 2 for 1 benefits! 
  3. Eat six smaller meals a day and keep the diet healthy! This helps keep your blood sugar (insulin) and cortisol levels in check. 
  4. Relax – yoga, meditation, sitting on a beach, reading a good book, watching a film – this works like exercise to reduce stress by producing positive brain chemicals! 
  5. Laughter!! Watch a funny video, go out with friends you enjoy – laughing also releases the “good” brain chemicals that relieve stress. 

Just keep in mind, nothing lasts forever. The stress will often pass. Just try to minimise the weighty effects it can have on you while it’s around!

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