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Stress is a feeling of physical or mental tension; it is an unavoidable part of life.

Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Work, finance, relationships, and life changes can all cause stress. Small amounts of stress may help improve performance, motivation and adaptation. Excessive amounts of stress however, may lead to many problems that could be harmful. It can affect a person’s physical and mental health and lead to behavioral changes. Disease states that are influenced by stress include clinical depression, cardiovascular disease, poor immunity and other metabolic abnormalities.

Stress can cause changes to body weight. It may cause weight gain or loss.

Stress can lead to missed meals and poor food choices. For some people stress may lead to complete loss of appetite while for others it makes them eat excessively.


Why Weight Loss Happens

One of the common causes of stress is doing things out of your routine like working overtime, staying up late, waking up early etc. All these can lead to weight loss because your body is trying to adjust to a new routine. The body’s reaction to stress is known as acute stress response. The body releases certain hormones which are called stress hormones which help the body adapt to stressful conditions. Many of these hormones stimulate the body to burn fat cells.


Why Weight Gain Happens

Feeling stressed can create a wide variety of physiological changes, such as impairing digestion, excretion of valuable nutrients, decreasing beneficial gut flora population, decreasing metabolism rates, and raising triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Because of these hormonal changes, some people are prone to increased cravings and appetite which increases their daily calorie intake ultimately leading to weight gain.

Stress also makes it difficult to be intentional with food intake. It increases the chances of consuming unhealthy calorie packed meals.


How to Ensure You Eat Right

Prepare for the week over the weekend

Maintain a regular eating time

Eat small portions of food when you unavoidably have to eat out

Snack on fruits and foods rich in protein

Drink a lot of water

Work on reducing your stress level; one or more of the following may be helpful:

  • Breathing exercises
  • Listening to music and singing along
  • Solving puzzles and playing games
  • Taking breaks from work
  • Proper time management
  • Meditation
  • Watching comedy shows
  • Shopping etc.

Note: If you have feelings of undue sadness, low energy, loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities, poor sleep or excessive sleep, persistent negative thoughts, you need to see a Mental Health Expert.