Reducing the Stress and Anxiety That Can Lead to Weight Gain.
Psychological stress is increasing prevalent in today’s society. While recognized for many years, many studies have shown how it affects the health of many. This is particular true as it pertains to weight gain. In a 2009 cohort study conducted by Jason Block and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School, they looked at various domains of psychological stress that took place between 1995 and 2004. This study included 1,355 men and women. From the information that was brought forth, they discovered that there was a definite correlation between stress and obesity.
Other studies came to the same conclusion. Stress raises cortisol levels and it has been shown to help fat accumulate around the midsection, versus in other areas of the body. When combined with the emotional eating that comes from stress, it becomes a double whammy.
Susan Torres and Caryl Nowson of Deakin University, located in Burwood Australia conducted a 2007 study to examine the link between psychological stress and eating behavior. In their study, they showed that chronic stress led to wanting more foods that were higher in sugar and fat. Tanja Adam and Elissa Epel of University of San Francisco’s Dept of Psychiatry surmised in a 2007 study that chronic stress activated the survival mechanism of the brain (HPA Axis) and this increased cortisol. The brain then sends a signal to create a reward-like behavior. This reward was in the form of a caloric dense food, much like what Torres and Nowson discovered.
Taking that chronic stress leads to so many attributes of the increase in obesity, it is time to learn how to better respond to it. In my practice I have taught several effective ways of helping each person respond by reducing how stress affects them. From ancient methods to modern day technologies that help to retrain the brain, there are tools that do work and without pills.
One method is to go back to the past. Not literally going back to the past, but using what our Paleolithic ancestors did to respond to stress. They simply moved their bodies. Yes, this simple way works. Those that exercise more also have less psychological stress. If you are feeling stress, then go take a walk as a start. Tai Chi is a Chinese martial arts that can be meditative and works very effectively. So does yoga. If you’re into something more intense, they high intensity interval training (HIIT) may be better for you.
Meditation and in particular, mindfulness meditation is highly effective in reducing or even eliminating emotional and chronic stress. And this is particularly true when it comes to emotional eating. Part of the process of this type of meditation is being mindful. When you are more mindful, you will be better able to stop yourself from emotional eating.
Self-hypnosis can help reprogram the subconscious mind and how it deals with stress and emotional eating. By incorporating suggestions that moves one towards what they want and not the eating whenever a stressor arises, each person will respond in the most appropriate way.
EEG Neurofeedback is a form of biofeedback and is used in brain training. By helping to retrain the brain to focus and be a more effective thinking machine, EEG Neurofeedback is the modern day version of what ancient Buddhist monks used as well as contemporary Tibetan monks.
Again, find the method or methods that will work for you. Make sure to reduce heavy sugary foods. These also affect one’s moods and emotions. Sleep more too. Those that lose sleep have a harder time dealing with psychological stress and a reduced ability to control eating.
I wish you the best in your weight loss journey.