When you’re stressed, you might find yourself more likely to hit your secret candy stash, or treat yourself to a glass of wine (or three). It might not come as a surprise, then, that stress can lead to weight gain. But not just because of the usual calories in / calories out weight-loss equation.
In a recent study published in the journal Obesity, researchers linked cortisol (popularly known as the “stress hormone”) to a higher body weight and body mass index (which is how scientists and physicians gauge healthy weight).
The New York Times reported that the reasons why aren’t quite clear (neither is a cause-and-effect relationship). The paper writes:
“The researchers acknowledge that they were unable to determine whether chronically high cortisol levels are a cause or a consequence of obesity (feeling “fat,” for example, could raise your stress levels).”
The lead author, Sarah E. Jackson, an epidemiologist at University College London, said that while it may not be possible to eliminate stress, “you may be able to find ways to control it. Even just being aware that stress might make you eat more may help.”
Beyond the scale, stress is heavily correlated to a host of other health conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression and more.
There are a couple of ways you can stop stress from creeping onto your waistline, however.
Furthermore (the blog of Equinox) suggests flipping the script. Look on the bright side to see how stress can be beneficial. Instead of stressing endlessly about work busyness, look at it as a chance to develop new skills.
You can also do the same thing when stress-related cravings hit. Find better-for-you ways to release the tension, such as a brisk walk, a cup of calming tea or a vent session to a friend.
Generally speaking, when there’s a lot going on in life, it’s even more important to practice other healthy habits: healthy food, regular exercise, adequate sleep, etc.
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