When talking about a healthy lifestyle, we always stress the importance of eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, sleeping on time, and following certain habits, but we usually do not talk about the need to keep our stress levels in check. However, experts suggest that stress plays a big role in how one’s body’s metabolism functions. Elaborating more on the same, nutritionist Nidhi S took to Instagram to mention that stress is one of the most relevant yet “unfortunately the least talked about reasons for weight gain”. But how does stress affect weight?
“We focus on dieting, doing exercise, hydration to lose weight but in most cases, we do not work on the root cause, which is stress,” she wrote in the caption.
But how does stress impact weight?
According to her, when stressed:
*we eat more
*our sleep is affected and we are anxious most of the times
*we do not do exercises or even if we do, not in the right way
“Stress has a ripple effect on all of these. All of the above combined lead to weight gain. Not to mention the various toxins generated in the body due to a stressed mind,” she added.
How does it happen?
According to Dietician Vidhi Chawla, founder of Fisico Diet Clinic, cortisol – “the stress hormone” rises during tension or stressful situations. “This hormone increases the carbohydrates and fat metabolism in our body to create an energy surge which leads to food cravings which cause binge eating. Cortisol also slows down the amount of calories our bodies burn, leading to weight gain,” she said.
There can be various stressors including pressure at workplace, relationship issues, or “simpler things such as getting children ready for school every day, their exams, etc.”
Here are a few tips that can help, according to Nidhi
*Identify things which are important to you and invest your mind and time on them. Leave out things which do not impact your life much. You have limited energy. Spend wisely.
*Build a good support system, even if that means a bit of extra spend.
*Make sure to invest time in your learning.
*Plan simpler things ahead (your meals, your entertainment time, time you spend with your family). Better planning trumps most other good habits.
According to Chawla, one does not need junk food to satisfy mood or calm oneself down. “Try to control your emotions and have a healthy salad or fruit bowl. If not, you can always consume other healthy snacks like air popped popcorn, makhanas, nuts,” said Chawla.
*Stay connected with positive individuals and even more important, have a positive social media feed. “These days, we are what we consume in terms of content,” Nidhi wrote.
*Learn to say no. Remember that when you are saying no, you are saying yes to a lot of other things.
*Appreciate little things, and also yourself for the good things you accomplish, even the small ones, she mentioned.
What more can help?
According to Ishan Shivanand, founder, Yoga of Immortals, meditation can help an individual in reducing stress and preventing burnout.
“Physically, meditation lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system health, and helps with hormonal balances. Cognitively, the protocols help regulate emotions, fight addiction, develop self-awareness and improve sleep. Integrated meditative protocols are effective and a must-include in one’s daily schedules,” he said while adding that regular meditation impacts the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems which can “help counter cognitive decline by working on genetic factors that predispose us to stress”.
Experts also said that simple practices like a morning or evening walk, proper sleep schedule, eating a balanced diet at home and avoiding junk food with high sugar or salts can lower the risk of weight gain, and other chronic issues.