Have you ever found yourself binge eating whatever you can find while you brood about your latest romantic rejection or eating a tube of pringles in front of your computer as you furiously try to make a work deadline? Perhaps you’re a busy mum, eating quick snacks in your car as you run the kids back and forth from one after school activity to another. You may be a small business owner desperately trying to make ends meet when you suddenly realize your waistline has expanded. If you recognise yourself in any of these scenarios, you’re not alone and it’s probably not your fault. Stress that goes on for a long period is a triple whammy for weight—it increases our appetites, makes us hold onto the fat.
Below are the four major reasons stress leads to weight gain.
When your brain detects the presence of a threat, no matter if it is a snake in the grass, a grumpy boss, or a big credit card bill, it triggers the release of a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline and cortisol. Your brain and body prepare to handle the threat by making you feel alert, ready for action and able to withstand an injury. In the short-term, adrenaline helps you feel less hungry as your blood flows away from the internal organs and to your large muscles to prepare for “fight or flight.” However, once the effects of adrenaline wear off, cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” hangs around and starts telling the body to replenish your food supply. Fighting off wild animals, like cavemen did, used up a lot of energy, so their bodies needed more stores of fat and glucose. Today we spend much more time sitting on the couch worrying about how to pay the bill or we are working long hours at the computer to make the deadline, does not work off much energy at all dealing with the stressor! Unfortunately, we are stuck with a neuroendocrine system that didn’t get the update, so your brain is still going to tell you to reach for that plate of cookies anyway.
In the days when cave me were fighting off tigers and famine, their bodies adapted by learning to store fat supplies for the long haul. The unfortunate result for you and me is that when we are chronically stressed by life crises and work-life demands, we are prone to getting an extra layer of “visceral fat” deep in our bellies. Your belly has an ample supply of blood vessels and cortisol receptors to make the whole process flow more efficiently. The downside is that excess belly fat is unhealthy and difficult to get rid of. Unfortunately, excess cortisol also slows down your metabolism, because your body wants to maintain an adequate supply of glucose for all that hard mental and physical work dealing with the threat.
When we have a surge of adrenaline as part of our fight/flight response, we get fidgety and activated. Adrenaline is the reason for the “wired up” feeling we get when we’re stressed. While we may burn off some extra calories fidgeting or running around cleaning because we can’t sit still, anxiety can also trigger “emotional eating.” Overeating or eating unhealthy foods in response to stress or as a way to calm down is a very common response. Anxiety can also make you eat more “mindlessly” as you churn around worrying thoughts in your head, not even focusing on the taste of the food, how much you’ve eaten, or when you are feeling full. When you eat mindlessly, you will likely eat more, yet feel less satisfied.
When we are chronically stressed, we crave “comfort foods,” such as crisps, chocolate or a tub of ice cream. These foods tend to be easy to eat, highly processed, and high in fat, sugar, or salt. We crave these foods for both biological and psychological reasons. Stress may mess up our brain’s reward system or cortisol may cause us to crave more fat and sugar.
Do you ever lie awake at night worrying about paying the bills or about who will watch your kids when you must go to work? According to a recent study in America, more than 40% of us lie awake at night as a result of stress. Research shows that worry is a major cause of insomnia. Our minds are overactive and won’t switch off. We may also lose sleep because of pulling overnights to cram for exams or writing until the early hours. Stress causes decreased blood sugar, which leads to fatigue. If you drink coffee or caffeinated soft drinks to stay awake, or alcohol to feel better, your sleep cycle will be even more disrupted. Sleep is also a powerful factor influencing weight gain or loss. Lack of sleep may disrupt the functioning of ghrelin and leptin—chemicals that control appetite. When we are anxious our sleep patterns are generally disrupted, and we are not getting the valuable REM sleep we need in order to make the appropriate intellectual decisions that we may need to make.
How Can solution focused hypnotherapy help?
Solution focused hypnotherapy will help you to gain a better understanding of why YOU are struggling and how you can begin to get yourself back on track.
Reducing your anxiety and helping you to get gain the intellectual control which will help you make the best choices for you.
Helping you to sleep better so that you wake up feeling less anxious and more refreshed and able to tackle whatever life throws at you.
There are no harmful side effects just you are feeling happier and, in more control, to deal with life.
Book an initial consultation today. you have nothing to lose.