Stress is a regular part of our modern lives and provides beneficial motivation, but when it becomes chronic and debilitating it can also affect our physical as well as our emotional wellbeing. One of the common side effects of chronic stress is stubborn weight gain especially around the lower abdominal area. This is due to the dysregulation of the stress hormone cortisol, which when in excess can suppress immunity, prevent tissue repair, and interfere with blood sugar metabolism.
Chronic stress can also lead to low cortisol levels or adrenal fatigue, causing long-term disturbances to body metabolism, hormonal balance, and even sleep patterns. A daily stress management practice is essential for stress related weight loss such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, tai chi, creative visualisation or EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). 1.
What forms of stress could contribute to such body imbalances? Well there’s the obvious negative effects of emotional shock and trauma on the body, such as a painful divorce or the loss of a loved one. There are also physical stressors such as chronic pain, long term and often necessary medication use, as well as nutritional deficiencies, high carbohydrate diets (which increase insulin release leading to insulin resistance), and junk food diets high in trans fats (inflammatory fat by-products from heated vegetable oils). All of these factors can increase bodily stress, affecting cortisol levels, and thus contributing to body inflammation and weight gain.
Here are some simple solutions for stress induced weight gain:
- Eat a wholefood diet rich in natural, chemical free foods and lean animal protein.
- Avoid processed foods high in trans-fats, sugar, salt and food additives wherever possible.
- Drink 2L of pure filtered water daily to help flush out toxins from the digestive system.
- Talk to your health professional about reducing medication use wherever possible.
- See a trained professional to slowly and safely release emotional trauma held within body.
For further assistance with planning your individual diet and lifestyle program to reduce stress on the body and improve weight, talk to our Naturopath Wendy who is also a trained EFT practitioner.
- Clinician’s Guide to Weight Loss by Chris Kesser 2014.