Emotional eating is quite a common phenomenon in all sexes world over. People resort to eating for different reasons but most especially stress and the funny part of it is that you don’t even realize it that you are stress eating when you do. You simply refer to it as having a wild appetite. Oh, how wrong you are! It’s time to put a full stop to emotional eating. Truth be told – you don’t need to feed your feelings.

Here is a scenario; Margaret landed her dream job at 25, working in an advertising company.  Within 4 months, she was promoted to head of the fieldwork team. Before the close of her first year at the firm, she was assigned to an assistant managerial position, a job for which she felt completely unqualified.

She was bullied and yelled at by her boss, who was struggling to fulfill her own duties. To keep up with the job, she worked up to 70 hours per week. “I was leaving the house before my kids woke up, getting home after they were asleep, and doing nothing for myself,” she says. “All I wanted to do was crawl into bed when I got home.”

Her emotional eating hit a new level too. Chocolate and other easy-to-grab sweets became Margaret’s go-to’s and ordering takeout for lunch provided a rare bright spot in her hectic 14-hour day.

All told, she gained 30 pounds within a year of starting her new position. “It was a 15,000-step-a-day job, but I was still packing on the pounds,” she says.

Many people today can identify with Margaret.

Search #StressEating on Instagram and you’ll find over 100,000 posts from people, worldwide. But it’s more than work blues pushing so many of us to eat, post, then gain.

Increasingly, research is showing that any type of stress, whether chronic or acute, can affect your weight. And the findings majorly suck for women because we have much higher stress levels than men, according to the latest Stress in America survey from the American Psychological Association.

It may surprise you that being in an unhappy relationship can boost waist circumference by more than 10 percent, and going through a traumatic life event like sexual assault, burglary, or job loss is a fast route to obesity.

We often resort to emotional eating but food accounts for only part of the weight gain. There’s more to weight gain; when you enter stress mode, a number of hormonal changes and survival instincts are triggered. Here’s what happens:

A brainy quote to inspire you to eat right. Credit/Brainyquote

Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist and exercise physiologist in Salt Lake City explains that your body reacts to all stressors in the same manner whether it’s something legitimately life-threatening or a ridiculous work deadline.

First, your brain instructs your adrenal glands to release a burst of adrenaline, which revs heart rate and frees up stored energy that you can use to fight or flee.

Then, your adrenal glands release cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy by stimulating your appetite for high-calorie foods (unfortunately, your brain doesn’t know if you actually burned any calories). Cortisol can then stay in your system for hours making you feel super hungry even if you haven’t done any work.

Cortisol is so sneaky that it tells your body to store any unburned calories as fat especially belly fat during stressful times. Gone are the days when these reserves were a quick source of fuel to flee from danger or survive famine. Today, they keep you from buttoning your pants.

However, it’s not all bad because occasional stress can help you rise to challenges. In the right amounts, cortisol helps you form memories, reduce inflammation, and maintain a healthy blood pressure.

So how do you get a handle on your stress so that you’re not always frazzled?

Take a few deep breaths.

When your mind takes you on a toxic joyride, your best bet is to stop and take a deep breath, says Pam Peeke, M.D., author of Body for Life for Women. Deep breathing calms the fight-or-flight response, releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, and gives you a chance to reconsider how to react to a situation.

Try breathing in through your nose for five seconds (allowing your belly to rise), hold for five seconds, then slowly release through your mouth for five seconds. Repeat five times.

Exercise your body.

Physical activity helps you to burn calories, and it’s the most effective method of lowering circulating cortisol. It’s best for you to engage in intense exercise like cardio at high-intensity intervals in the form of sprints, burpees, or mountain climbers.

Eat whole foods.

Eat healthy whole foods loaded with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean meats, good fats like olive oil, and fermented foods like yogurt. These foods will keep blood sugar levels steady and are packed with stress-management nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and calcium, according to Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Eat Your Way to Happiness.

Note: Strict diets are dangerous. Research shows calorie deprivation can actually increase cortisol levels.#Rewordit

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