Can Stress Cause Weight Gain?
How to keep the world's woes from weighing you down
Mind Over Matter continued...
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.