Skip to content

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

Can Stress Cause Weight Gain?

How to keep the world's woes from weighing you down

Mind Over Matter continued...

2. Eat a balanced diet -- and never skip a meal. "Eat breakfast -- and try to consume six small rather than three huge meals a day, with foods from all the food groups," Ginsberg tells WebMD. This helps keep blood sugar levels steady, which in turn put a damper on insulin production and eventually reduce cortisol levels -- all helping to control appetite and weight.

3. Don't lose sleep, over your weight problems or your stress -- When we don't get enough rest, cortisol levels rise, making us feel hungry and less satisfied with the food we do eat, Ginsberg says.

4. Devote time to relaxation -- Because it works much like exercise to produce brain chemicals that counter the effects of stress, Ginsburg suggests finding the activities that make you feel relaxed and calm. For some, he says, yoga can do the trick. Others may prefer meditation techniques or deep breathing.

And don't overlook the relaxing power of cuddling up on a sofa with a good book or magazine, or even playing your favorite movie on the VCR. "Anything that makes you feel calm and relaxed will help counter the biochemical effects of stress," says Talbott.

5. Snack on whole grain, high fiber foods. If you just can't ignore those stress-related hunger pangs, try filling your tummy with foods high in fiber and low in sugar, like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, or fruits such as pears or plums.

According to Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of Fight Fat After Forty, foods that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates -- like white flour, cookies, cake, white rice, or pasta -- cause insulin levels to rise, which in turn increases stress hormones and ultimately makes you feel more hungry. But high-fiber, whole-grain foods -- particularly cereals like oatmeal or multi-grain flakes, as well as fruits -- help keep insulin levels on a even keel, which can help control blood sugar levels, and ultimately, hunger, according to Peeke.

6. Avoid caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol -- According to the American Institute of Stress, cigarettes, as well as caffeine-laden soft drinks, coffee, tea, and even chocolate, can cause cortisol levels to rise, stress to increase, blood sugar to drop and hunger to prevail. The institute also cautions against drinking too much alcohol, which can affect blood sugar and insulin levels.

7. Take your vitamins -- A number of medical studies have shown that stress can deplete important nutrients -- particularly the B complex and C vitamins, and sometimes the minerals calcium and magnesium.

Because these nutrients are needed to balance the effects of stress hormones like cortisol, and may even play a role in helping us burn fat, it's important to keep levels high, Talbott says. While a good diet will help, he says, taking a high potency multi-vitamin supplement can insure you give your body what it needs to not only deal with the stress, but also burn fat and lose weight.

Today on WebMD

measuring waist
4 tips for shedding yours.
apple cider vinegar
Does it have health benefits?
 
Chocolate truffle
For weight loss, some aren’t so bad after all.
woman holding red dress
24 simple, practical tips.
 
woman shopping fresh produce
Video
butter curl on knife
Quiz
 
eating out healthy
Article
Smiling woman, red hair
Article
 
thumbnail_woman_tossing_spinach
Video
lunchbox
Article
 
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
Article
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens
 

Special Sections