Stress and Weight Gain – 6 Simple Ways to Beat It

stress and weight gain

by | Oct 4, 2020 | 1 comment

In these challenging physical and mental times, it is easy to fall prey to stress and weight gain as well as increased hunger, binge eating, and anxiety.

Trying to keep stress away is quite difficult and more of a “war”, but if you understand what it does to your body, it is easier to fight and cope with that “enemy.”

The fear-processing section of your brain, the amygdala, sends a ‘lookout!’ message to the adrenal and pituitary glands. They then release a flood of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. That makes your heart rate speed up, supplies the muscles with extra blood, and the energy and fat stores release extra glucose and fatty acids to supply extra fuel. However, all that can also make you very hungry.

The stress hormone, cortisol, protects your body from such tense events by going into survival mode and elevating the level. That is beneficial for short periods of time, but chronic stress plays havoc and can lead to weight gain, affect your circadian rhythm and sleep, and cause other destructive happenings

Following are some ways to reduce your everyday stress level and stay away from weight gain:

1. Practice control of your life

Anxiety is a powerful biological stress and weight gain trigger, increases the storage of abdominal fat, and decreases your muscle mass. Stress fat and obesity can be combated with healthy eating, exercise, plenty of sleep, and a positive attitude. Control techniques can be:

* Keep a food and exercise journal. Write down your meals, snacks and types of exercise, which makes overeating and under-exercising more obvious. It gives an ability to make changes and gives something constructive to do during those long days of looking for projects to stay busy.

* Employ mindful eating that focuses on concentrating on your meal and being aware of your senses, emotions, and thoughts when eating. Focus on the moment, eat slowly, take small bites, chew thoroughly, reduce binge eating, and appreciate the food by simple mindfulness. Eating quickly when stressed doesn’t give your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach.

2. Nutritious Eating

* Power up your breakfast to help keep your body full to reduce excessive hunger and the wrong type of snacking later in the day.

* Fill up on protein such as eggs that lower the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger. Add low-fat yogurt, milk, fiber-rich foods, those rich in vitamins and nutrients, whole grains, oats, fruit or juice, vegetables, nuts, and perhaps some peanut butter that contains the kind of fatty acids that decrease the production of stress hormones.

3. Diet Plans

* Constant and restrictive dieting can make your cortisol levels rise by as much as 18% because of depriving your body of food. Rigid dieting is actually a stressor and makes blood sugar go haywire by its rising and then plummeting. Depriving your brain of sugar, which is its main fuel, causes self-control and willpower to take a nosedive.

* To avoid all that and stabilize your blood sugar, aim for three healthy and balanced meals of whole, unprocessed foods with two snacks evenly spaced in between those meals. You can even add a detox tea to your new healthy diet to help clear out “junk” out of your system and have your body working in top order.

4. Healthy Snacking

* Learn your trigger foods as you try to contain the stress and weight gain circle and avoid them by not having them in your home. Instead of ice cream, potato chips, cakes, pies, candy, and cookies, get used to grabbing fruit such as a piece of apple covered with peanut butter, your own homemade low-calorie trail mix, celery or carrots with hummus, or other such alternatives that will be as satisfying.

* Fill an easily-accessible large bowl with a wide variety of fruit including some that you never ate before and all types of apples and oranges. When that urge to snack grabs you, open the refrigerator, and choose from those.

* Allow yourself to have a small amount of a “forbidden” treat now and then so that you won’t feel “deprived.”

5. Do for Others

There is nothing that brings a warm feeling to one’s heart and joy to one’s life than doing things for someone or something else. Although we can’t do that in person in these pandemic times, you can easily use your telephone or computer to stay in touch and share laughs and inspiring stories with a lonely elderly person, donate to food banks, save rescue animals, contact someone in the military who doesn’t get mail from home, and more.

6. New Hobby or Craft

The urge to overeat is often from boredom and depression and distractions like cell phones or reading materials during mealtime. Instead, do something exciting, when not eating, like learning a handcraft, taking lessons in a new language or a new career, conquer board and computer games with others in the family, start reading a series of books from an author that you have always admired, write poetry or stories, practice cooking and baking a variety of healthy and different recipes, and so much more.


Stress and weight gain is something that you don’t want to cope with, so make a conscious effort to eat and snack healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, keep busy with positive projects and hobbies, devise a strategy to call a friend or listening to mood-boosting music when you feel stressed, and keeping to your short-term and long-term goals. That will lead to a much happier, healthier, and stress-free life.

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