I Just Need Something To Eat

Research is endless and supports the fact that women tend to be at particular risk of weight gain through stress-induced eating. You don't have to tell a woman who polished off a dozen double-glazed donuts after a particularly stressful project at work that this research has some validity.

Stress Makes You Sick-And Fat

Adults, particularly women, who use food and drink as a way to cope with stress, have also been found to have a much higher body weight index rating. Higher BMI is linked to diabetes, heart disease and numerous other weight-related diseases. While men tend to become stress eaters as a result of job loss or divorce, the primary reason associated with women becoming stress eaters is a lack of emotional support.

What Happens In The Body When It Is Under Stress

When under stress, the body produces high amounts of cortisol, a stress-related hormone which is naturally occurring. Receptors for cortisol are found in the abdomen and it has been established that issues of weight gain, particularly abdominal fat, are associated with stress induced release of cortisol. Regardless whether a woman is slim or overweight, those with high hip-to-waist ratios were found to secrete more cortisol when they are under stress and are also more likely to report higher levels of stress on a day-to-day basis than those with lower hip-to-waist ratios.

The Double Whammy Of Cortisol

High cortisol levels may cause a slowing down of the metabolism which spells weight gain, even if a woman isn't eating more calories. Stress does, however, stimulate the appetite, so it is likely a woman would eat more under stress than not. The double whammy of slower metabolism and eating more calories means women under stress can really pay the price in their bodies with unwanted weight gain.

Of course, all of this unhappy news makes it difficult for women to handle the load and a quick fix is often sought in the form of diet pills. There have been products taken off the market that promised to address weight gain which results from cortisol. The best practice is healthy diet and exercise.

How Can A Woman Cope With Stress Without Food?

A woman can cope with stress better by developing a strong support system around her. Joining a support group or weight-loss group where she's required to attend in-person gatherings is helpful. It is critical to reach out for help and support when needed rather than turning to food for comfort.

Taking a brisk walk when tension strikes can help to control food cravings and keep the appetite in check. If she's behind a desk all day, a few minutes of walking around works wonders. Regular physical activity is one of the best ways to cope with stress. It helps to keep cortisol levels under control, eases depression and helps with sleep. Relaxation exercises go a long way to easing anxiety and a mix of physical and relaxation exercises are particularly beneficial. Sleep is very important as well. Research indicates a strong correlation between lack of sleep and weight gain. Finally, keeping a food diary where both emotions before and after eating, as well as a record of food and beverages consumed, can help a woman discover her food triggers and be proactive in diffusing them.


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