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How Stress Causes Weight Gain

Emotional Eater? How to Avoid Weight Gain When Stressed

If you're an emotional eater, it's hard to not reach for the first decadent, sugary, or high-calorie treat to calm your nerves when tensions rise. Do that often enough, and it's no wonder why your skinny jeans are feeling more snug than usual. Here are ways to deal with stress without adding pounds to the scale.

  • Find food-free ways to cope: Grabbing a candy bar or brownie is one way to handle a stressful situation, but it's not the only — let alone the healthiest — option. Try using a new approach. Call a friend, go on a walk, sip some hot tea, take a bath, or head to a yoga class.
  • Take a step back: If you eat while in the thick of a stressful moment, then you can end up inhaling hundreds of calories without even realizing what you're doing. Take a break, breathe deeply, and get nerves under control, so when you do eat something, you're able to pay attention.
  • Indulge wisely: Reach for these foods that fight stress, including dark chocolate and warm milk, or keep healthier indulgences on hand such as Greek yogurt sprinkled with a few almonds and chocolate chips. If you prefer a crunchy or savory snack, then go for homemade kale chips.

Keep reading for more tips on how to avoid weight gain when you're stressed.

  • Make time to exercise: A stressful situation triggers cortisol production in the body, which has been shown to promote weight gain — primarily in your belly. Exercise can combat this reaction, since it gets the blood pumping and helps flush the cortisol from your body. Endorphins are also released, which will help uplift your mood and relieve feelings of anxiety. As if that's not reason enough, exercise burns calories, which can help you lose any weight gained from previous stress-induced overeating. Schedule a 30-minute workout every single day, as well as two five-minute stretch breaks to relax your nerves.
  • Don't sip away stress: If you're more the type who gets out her frustration by knocking back a few cocktails —  or an entire bottle of wine — then keep in mind that this may lead to weight gain and other health-related issues. Be mindful about your alcohol intake. Take your time, slowly enjoying one drink, breathing deeply as you relieve tension one sip at a time.
  • Get your Z's: Lack of sleep can cause you to eat more, and that, coupled with cravings from stress, will surely cause weight gain. Be sure to get seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night to not only help you stick with your normal eating schedule, but also help make you more even-tempered and better able to handle stress.
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