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How You React to Stress May Affect How Your Clothes Fit

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Now that you know it's bad, how do you prevent it?

  • Mind control: Start thinking in a more stress-resilient way, Peeke says. "Get a grip. Get a better job. Or just get realistic. "Realize your boss is unhappy and has no life and his major joy in life is to make yours miserable. It's all in the head. You have to learn the fine art of regrouping."
  • Mouth control: Avoid the temptation to eat, Peeke says. Avoid white sugars and white starches like bread, rice, potatoes, pasta -- all of which increase insulin levels, thereby increasing the drive to binge eat.
  • Put muscles to work: Through even small bits of aerobic activity -- just walking around for five minutes at a time -- it's possible to neutralize the stress response, Peeke says. "It absolutely makes a huge difference. Every hour take five minutes and do something."

Epel adds a few more suggestions:

  • Tune into feelings: Ask yourself if this is hunger or a reaction to stress, sadness, loneliness, or anger. If emotions are triggering eating, wait out the urge to eat. "The urge is going to pass," she says.
  • Keep a list of constructive ways to resist: Take a walk, call a certain friend, chew gum. "It's easier to substitute one behavior for another," she tells WebMD.
  • Check into formal stress reduction programs, which have been shown to reduce cortisol levels. "If you are struggling with stress in your life, any type of relaxation -- whether meditation, exercise, or yoga" --may help.

Originally published Jan. 16, 2001.

Medically reviewed --> April 10, 2002.

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