Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

Why Does Stress Cause Weight Gain?

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Stress has a short term effect of lost of appetite; the brain releases corticotropin hormones that reduce hunger.  Adrenaline is also released, which activates the fight or flight response in the body to temporarily decreases your appetite. However, if you are experiencing constant stress, the suprarenal gland will start releasing cortisol which actually increases appetite as well. Cortisol levels will fall once the body returns to homeostasis, but if the body continues to be subjected to stress in the long term, cortisol levels will remain high and can negatively affect your health.

How Cortisol and Stress Increase Eating

When your body is under pressure and stress with cortisol in an elevated state, your body tends to crave foods that are higher in sugar and fat.  This is considered emotional eating.  Emotional eating can be so strong that many eaters feel powerless over their food cravings; they can’t control their desires for unhealthy food or eating it.

Additional factors include the sleep deprivation, increased alcohol intake and a decrease in exercise for those experiencing physical or emotional distress in the long term.  All of these factors exacerbate stress and may play a large role in weight gain.

Decrease or Address Stress, Get Plenty of Sleep and Eat Well

There are many ways to reduce stress to prevent weight gain. First off, you should avoid buying foods high in fat and sugar. If they are not easily within reach, you are less likely to eat them.  Meditation is also a great technique to reduce stress and also become more mindful of your eating habits. You may want to try tai chi or yoga because they are a combination of meditation and exercise which helps to significantly reduce stress.

Take Control of Your Health!

 


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Practice Mindful Eating

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Many times you eat meals, and a couple of hours later you don’t even remember what you ate. It is important that you acknowledge what you’re eating and that you are mindful because this can help lead into healthier eating habits. Lack of awareness of the food you eat may be a huge contributor to the national obesity epidemic. Mindful eating is focusing on what you’re consuming without doing anything else. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change what you eat, but rather how much of it you eat. While practicing mindful eating take into consideration the following:

  1. where you bought your food,
  2. how it was prepared and served, and
  3. how much you consume of it.

Practicing these mindfulness and making them a habit often leads to consuming less junk food and maybe eating smaller portions.

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When trying to practice mindful eating you try using the following checklist to help guide you:

  1. Consider the health value of the food or meal you want to eat, don’t make impulse decisions. If you are at the grocery store, try to get the majority of your food from the produce section and try to avoid processed food.
  2. Eat when you have an appetite but not when you are starving. Skipping meals can cause you to just want to fill the void in your stomach as opposed to actually enjoying your food. You should eat every meal and small snacks in between so that you don’t eat excessively.
  3. Start off with a small portions
  4. Before you begin eating, take a few minutes to appreciate your food and everyone who prepared it
  5. While eating, try to identify all the different ingredients
  6. Take small bites, this allows you to be able to taste all the flavors
  7. Chew thoroughly, you should chew each mouthful 20 to 40 times depending on the food
  8. Eat slowly, if you practice the steps above then this step is a given.

Bon Appetit!


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