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Stress and Weight Gain

Personally, I notice that when I take a road trip, as soon as I am about 25 miles out of our area, I feel less stressed.  Major metropolitan areas such as ours provide many great things, such as museums, theaters, professional sports venues.  However, the traffic, high cost of living and other factors also contribute to a high stress environment.

The “stress” hormone cortisol is released in response to stress , and in turn, heightened cortisol levels lead to an increase in insulin production.  When insulin lowers blood sugar, this triggers the body to seek foods that bring the glucose levels back to the normal levels.  Unfortunately, the high sugar/carb foods and snacks are the ones that are reached for.  This, in turn, contributes to weight control problems.

Cortisol is also involved in fat deposition, specifically promoting fat build up in the mid section.  This is the fat that increases risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Studies have also shown that the ingestion of high carb/sugar sources triggers the release of other “feel good” brain chemicals and stress eating will (temporarily) make a person feel better.

How can we lessen stress short of packing our cars and moving to some isolated cabin in the mountains?  For many, including me, exercise is a great stress reducer.  Massage session, meditation, yoga, reading and other activities are utilized by others.  I strongly recommend staying off the cable news networks or spending lots of time reading current events, especially political in nature.  The news never seems to bring us less stress.

Additionally, always remember that the eating of high carb/sugar snacks and foods only temporarily helps our stress feelings.  This is followed by the self-loathing and stress that occurs from seeing the scale rise in response to our emotional eating.

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