“What’s the connection between stress and weight?”

The body’s natural stress responses were not designed for our modern-day chronic stressors that expend mental and emotional energy as opposed to physical energy.

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What to do? Here are some ways we can decrease chronic stress and perhaps prevent that resultant abdominal weight gain:

  • Enjoy yourself! Things like exercise, yoga, meditation, hot baths, and intimacy can all help to quiet stress
    • They stimulate the same pleasure centers in brain that are associated with cravings
    • Relaxation techniques can also change the initial perception of stress
  • Eat a balanced diet and don’t skip meals… and include high-fiber foods in your snacking
    • Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels which may eventually reduce cortisol levels
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables!
    • Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber as well as low in calories
  • Try to consume a couple servings of fatty fish per week
    • Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with an improved emotional state
    • Good sources include salmon, sardines, tuna, trout
  • Find ways to make your favorite “comfort” foods more healthful
    • Can you add a vegetable? Substitute a plant oil? Swap for a whole grain? You may be surprised that you don’t have to sacrifice health for flavor!
  • Drink lots of water
    • Chronic stress may cause dehydration, which can cause fatigue
  • Don’t rely upon caffeine, cigarettes, or alcohol
    • These substances lower blood sugar levels and can increase cortisol levels
    • Caffeine may cause nervousness and insomnia in infrequent users
    • Alcohol is a depressant and has empty calories

Don’t let stress get the better of you this season or at any other time of year! Try the tips above on your own — and don’t forget about the experts at EatWell, MoveWell, and BeWell. We are here for you!

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