While managing the hustle & bustle of life, people often get stressed to a point which affects their mental & physical health.
Do you know that too much stress can lead to obesity?
Stress & obesity are highly prevalent problems that affect millions of people across the world. These problems have a strong association with each other.
It is often said that too much stress can take a toll on your health. It can also contribute to the sudden weight gain that may be noticed áround the belly. Dr Shobha Subramanian-Itolikar, consultant, Internal Medicine at a hospital in Mumbai, helps understand more about the inherent link between weight gain & stress
THE LINK BETWEEN STRESS AND OBESITY
Stress is a prevalent problem in today's world, with several people succumbing to it on a daily basis. It wouldn't be a problem if it didn't lead to health problems, which brings us to the topic of discussion, obesity. Dr Itolikar explains, "In today's fast-paced & competitive world, stress is faced by all age groups, be it peer pressure among children, economic & societal pressure among middle-aged persons or health issues faced by the elderly. Obesity further adds to the stress by virtue of being a social stigma. Hence, we need to understand how to combat this problem & keep the deathly duo at bay."
HOW DOES STRESS LEAD TO OBESITY?
Not one, but stress can lead to obesity in several ways. The expert shares three ways in which stress affects the body...
IMPAIRED BEHAVIOURAL RESPONSE
Stress affects our cognitive (processing) ability & self-regulatory behaviour. This forms the basis of stress eating, binge eating, & other factors that lead to obesity, says Dr Itolikar.
The fight-or-flight hormone cortisol creates problems in our body by opposing the action of the body's glucose-lowering hormone known as insulin. This leads to high blood sugar levels, low cellular glucose levels & increased appetite all of which contribute to obesity.
Cortisol mobilises fats from storage sites & relocates them around organs & visceral sites like the abdomen & thighs leading to obesity, explains the expert.
HOW TO AVOID STRESS AND REDUCE THE CHANCES OF OBESITY
Here is what the expert suggests you can do to make sure that stress isn't leading to problems you don't want in your life:
* Ensure good & adequate sleep.
* Deep breathing exercises, yoga & meditation.
* Opt for cardio & resistance training.
* Wherever appropriate, seek expert advice in the form of psychological counselling.
* Develop a hobby like singing, music, gardening or painting, & nurture it.
* Follow a low-carbohydrate & low-fat diet.
Avoid trans fats & saturated fats.
* Consume a fibre-rich diet that gives you antioxidants & phytonutrients.
* Ensure adequate hydration because thirst is often confused with hunger.
BEHAVIOURAL MODIFICATION, ESPECIALLY WHILE EATING
* Watch your speed of eating.
* Control the portion or amount of meals.
* Load your plate with fibres & proteins.
* Develop coping mechanisms when stressed to avoid over-eating or binge eating.
* Do not give in to sugar cravings.
* Stress-eaters should consume small, frequent healthy meals & snacks. These simple tips will ensure you have a healthy body & a healthy mind.