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How Can Stress Cause Weight Gain And What To Do?

How Can Stress Cause Weight Gain
And What To Do?

How Can Stress Cause Weight Gain And What To Do?

Is your work life and your personal life taking a toll on you? Are you incredibly stressed on account of the multiple obligations and the humdrum of life? Is it beginning to show in more ways than one?

Stress levels, on increasing, are known to cause an increase in weight as well. While it is true that anxiety and stress cause hunger to reduce, long term stress can lead to weight gain as it causes hunger to increase. And not just hunger, it causes hunger for ‘comfort food’ to increase. Comfort food refers to fatty and sugary food here. None of this is arbitrary. The release of stress hormone called ‘cortisol’ causes the insulin levels to rise causing blood-sugar to dip and the body to crave fatty, sugary food. Hence in times of stress, we hardly reach out to the salad or to oats but tend to eat fried, sweet and carb-heavy items.

The stress levels cause our bodies to slip into survival mode a.k.a the ‘flight or fight’ mode i.e. the brain starts believing it needs more food to survive and hence sends signals to the body to stock up on food and nutrients. In its endeavor to calm the body down, it starts storing excess nutrients that eventually lead to more calories i.e. essentially fats. This masking or disguise mode of the body manifests into urges and cravings. And to top it all, most people love food with sugar and oil in them. This deadly combination of love for this kind of food and the urge for it directly results in an increase in body weight.

A need for instant energy on account of demanding work schedules or a shift in metabolism because of it are the start of stress-induced eating. Combine the rise in cortisol with excessive nervous energy and not only are you eating unhealthy but are also over-eating. You slowly start eating junk food even when you’re not truly hungry. That is where the battle begins. Once the weight starts piling on, it slowly starts becoming a cause of worry in itself. Issues with the heart, breathing difficulties, lack of energy and flexibility and risks of high blood pressure are not far from an onset of weight in a person.

This may all sound very over-whelming but it is important not to fret. Preventive measures are possible and so are curative ones. Fortunately, there are things you can do to reverse the weight gain and to reduce the stress at the same time. While you may not be able to control the circumstances that caused you stress, you can definitely control the stress itself.

  • It starts with the basics

    Get enough sleep. While it is great to boast that you can survive on 4 hours of sleep in a day, it is perhaps the most counter-productive thing to do. Get at least 6-8 hours of regular sleep every day. Power-naps are great too.
  • Ensure you get sufficient nutrition

    By forcing yourself to eat healthy every day, even if you give in to the craving once in a while, it will not lead to dramatic weight gain. Unprocessed, raw and fresh food is the best way to combat stress. Also, take meals on a timely basis. Incorporate juices like aloe vera juice or jamun juice in your daily routine. Regular intake of well-balanced meal is the key to solving most health issues.
  • Exercise

    Yes, while your schedule itself may have caused you stress in the first place, it is important to get your body moving. Exercise helps release endorphins which is a great counteractive hormone to cortisol. Even if you get in a 7-minute workout during the day, it will be a great start. Also, use your office environment to get some exercise in – walks, climbing stairs, chair exercises, etc. However, don’t overdo it either. Ensure it is light exercise.
  • Meditation of any kind

    Stillness, praying, listening to chants or breathing exercises – all help reduce stress. They also help you to be more productive.
  • Get social

    Having a social circle with people who care about you and with whom you enjoy spending time is of utmost importance. They help you maintain social support. People around you can pick up when you’re sad or stressed and by ensuring you talk about it, they help you cope and deal.
  • Work your brain

    Engage in some mental activities. This is to keep your mind sharp and focused and help it not go down a depressed chain of thought. Sudoku, chess, crossword puzzles or games on your phone which require mental acumen are all great options.
  • Have some ME time

    Once in a while, treat yourself. A spa session, a visit to a parlour, a small trek, a weekend getaway or even a dinner date at your favourite restaurant are great ways to de-stress and pamper yourself.

Ultimately, invest in yourself. Take some down time. Cultivate a hobby. Ensure you pay as much attention to yourself as you do to all those stress-inducing activities in your day!


The purpose of this blog is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health and wellness topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.


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