Yes! Stress is a big contributing factor to weight gain and obesity. Unfortunately, stress is pervasive throughout today’s society. We seem to be constantly stressed out. We are stressed out due to work, family, society, and many other life stressors. When we are under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies. Whether we’re stressed because of constant, crazy demands at work or at home or we’re really in danger, our bodies respond the same. It is like we are about to be physically harmed and need to fight for our lives. To answer this need, stress hormones are released, and we experience a burst of energy, shifts in metabolism and blood flow, and other changes. If you remain in this state for a prolonged amount of time due to chronic stress, you start to risk your health. Chronic stress leads to weight gain. The two major stress hormones are cortisol and adrenaline. Too much cortisol slows down your metabolism, increases insulin levels, and leads to weight gain. This makes dieting quite difficult. People experiencing chronic stress tend to crave more processed and sugary foods. This includes sweets, chips, and other foods that aren’t good for you. Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia and prediabetes. Too much stress has been linked to the metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance which can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress hormones are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is not only aesthetically undesirable, it’s linked to greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body. Excessive stress also leads to emotional eating. This is when you are eating to help deal with your stress and not because you are truly hungry. Food essentially becomes a drug. Fortunately, stress can be controlled. The first step in dealing with stress is realizing that you are stressed. What are your stressors? Once you understand what is stressing you, the next step is to implement stress reduction methods. This will be the topic of our next post.