Stress plays a huge role in your everyday life, and it can wreak havoc on your eating habits.  As a result of stress, the balance of hormones in your body changes.  For many people, the changes in hormones leads to overeating and weight gain.  However, for some people the slightest hint of stress causes anxiety and that leads to unintentional weight loss.  Ultimately, the way that you handle stress can cause either weight loss or weight gain.

Ny-nutritionistWhen you become stressed your body released a hormone called Cortisol from the adrenal glands.  This hormone regulates blood pressure and the body’s use of macronutrients.  It also affects your body’s ability to convert sugars into energy.

Typically, cortisol provides sustained energy.  However, when stress becomes normal an excess of cortisol is created.  Too much cortisol will suppress thyroid function, lower the immune system and can imbalance your blood sugar leading to diabetes.  Additionally, over time this will cause the loss of muscle mass and slow your metabolism.

Weight Gain

During high levels of stress, cortisol causes your body to believe it is starving.  In response, the body becomes resistant to weight loss.  It holds onto fat and stores them for use later.

People also find their appetite is increased when they are under stress.  Often they will find comfort in eating.  Common comfort foods are foods that are sweet or high in salt.  These foods add visceral fat to your abdomen.  The excess cortisol then inhibits your body from burning this fat for energy.

Weight Loss

Alternately, for some people, stress can cause drastic unintentional weight loss.  These people experience anxiety as a result of the stress.  This anxiety leads to a loss of appetite, or a feeling of fullness.  Additionally, this high level of stress creates a change in their focus and may cause them to simply forget to eat.  As a result, they eat less and consume only a minimal amount of calories.  Without balanced nutrition you are at risk of developing nutritional deficiencies which can have serious and long term consequences for your health.

Whether the result is stress and weight gain or weight less, stress does not bode well for your overall long term health.  If you’re experiencing stress and weight gain or weight loss it is important for you to see your health care professional.

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