Controlling Stress-Induced Weight Gain

In our hectic lives, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by stress. From credit card bills and job woes, to family tensions and general anxiety, stress can leave us feeling exhausted, defeated and unsure of ourselves. Constant stress can cause a hormone imbalance in our body and a build-up of cortisol, which leads to weight gain.

If you’ve had weight loss surgery, such as lap-band surgery, you already know how important leading a healthy lifestyle is for long-term weight loss. Stress can throw us off this healthy path. Instead of hitting the gym, our natural reaction is to overindulge in high-calorie foods, even when we’re not hungry. In fact, our bodies often equate the act of eating food with stress-relief, a dangerous equation that can cause us to really pack on the pounds.

Don’t let daily stress undo your hard work to lose weight. Follow these five tips to avoid stress-related weight gain and stay on track following your weight loss surgery.

Tip #1: Recognize the signs of stress.

Listen to your body and learn how stress affects you. For example, when you are feeling anxious, irritable and frustrated, you may find yourself reaching for food. Stop and think. Are you eating because you are hungry, or because you are using food as mechanism for coping with stress? Once you identify how stress affects your eating habits, you can refocus on eating a healthy, balanced diet that supports your weight loss goals.

Tip #2: Ban comfort foods.

When you’re upset, it’s natural to crave high-fat and high-carb foods. Make it easy to say no to comfort foods by banning them from your pantry and fridge. You can’t polish off a pint of ice cream if it’s not in the house. Instead of emotionally eating, distract yourself with another activity. Call a friend, go for a walk, or flip through a magazine. Keep your mind busy until the craving passes.

Tip #3: Make time for you.

Between your high-pressure job and endless family commitments, there are a lot of demands on your time. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, it is important that you set aside daily “you” time. Close the door, turn off your phone and resist the urge to check your email. Use this time to unwind with good book, soak in the bathtub, meditate, listen to music or practice deep breathing exercises.

Tip #4: Stick to your work-out routine.

No matter how busy you get, block off time each week to work out, and stick to your schedule. If you find yourself making excuses for blowing off the gym, schedule a work out session with a friend or a personal trainer. You’re more likely to show up when someone is counting on you to be there. If you’re struggling to get motivated, take a yoga class. This is a great way to center your mind and help release stress and tension in your body.

Tip #5: Don’t beat yourself up over past mistakes.

Polished off an entire box of chocolates? Skipped the gym for a week? Guilt over diet blunders can quickly derail your weight loss goals and lead to increased stress and anxiety. Leave your mistakes in the past, and focus on what you can control: the present. Each day, focus on starting fresh and recommit yourself to your weight loss goals. With a positive attitude, you’ll stop stress-induced weight gain before it starts.

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