Stress can make you gain weight

Nearly two-thirds of men and women in the UK are obese or overweight, according to recent studies, and rates of overweight children is also growing to a worrying degree. The evidence suggests that the more stressed we are, the more difficult it is to stay at the correct weight.

Comfort food - feel good hormone

You notice that when you are upset or feeling tense, you want to eat comfort foods? They are precisely the foods that aren’t good for us (sugar, carbohydrates). It is all to do with the hormones released in our body. Carbohydrates release the feel good hormone serotonin. That is why we often comfort ourselves with them. So when we feel stressed we don’t naturally turn to a green salad or to wholefoods. We look for precisely the foods that will make us feel good but they in turn also make us unhealthy and tend to lead to weight gain.

Cortisol increases appetite

Researchers have also found that when we are stressed, our body releases the hormone cortisol that increases our appetite and desire for the wrong foods.

Then there is the molecule called neuropeptide Y. It is released from our nerve cells during stress and encourages fat accumulation. A diet high in fat and sugar appears to further promote the release of neuropeptide Y.

The solution

But all is not lost. Stress management strategies such as visualisation, hypnosis and affirmations, can reduce the amount of stress that we experience and change our stress profile. There are any number of life experiences that can raise our stress factor. The death of someone close to us, marriage, a new job, divorce these are just a few life changes that impact our level of stress. We may not be aware of the elevated level of stress but it is impacting our body and mind nevertheless.

Hypnosis enables us to elicit the relaxation response. This brings with it a change in physiology - our muscles and organs slow down, and in time if repeated, the relaxation response can lower blood pressure and generally give all the organs in the body a new lease of life. So although the body is relaxed, it is not a sleepy kind of relax but an alert awareness. This encourages our body to work at its best and avoids weight gain.

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