For a long time conventional wisdom taught us that dieting was the solution to excess weight; just move more and eat less, right? Researchers are now widening the picture on what contributes to the obesity epidemic seen in many western countries.
One of the areas of focus is the effect of chronic stress on weight gain. The sense of being overwhelmed, disconnected and continually under pressure in our work and personal lives.
When we are stressed we don’t care about ‘being’ good, we just want to feel good right now! So give me those Tim Tams and pass me that wine! This makes changing our diet and starting to exercise very difficult.
The physiological effects of stress also affect our metabolism in many ways. When stressed we tend to crave carbohydrates and sugar (often highly processed food). The carbohydrates generate a higher insulin level because insulin is ‘called upon’ to deal with high levels of glucose. Insulin is our fat storing hormone. The message in our bodily system when there are high levels of glucose is ‘store fat!’
So even though a bottle of coke and an avocado may have the same calories they do not have the same effect on our metabolism. The coke will give the system a boost of glucose and we now know the consequences of that.
When we are stressed our stress hormone cortisol messages the body system, ‘we need energy, release glucose’. With high glucose levels, in comes again the insulin to deal with it.
In other words, you might not eat too many calories, but if they are the wrong ones and/or you experience stress, then you might still gain weight.
So to reduce our stress levels:
- Move. We can rid the body of the stress hormone cortisol through regular and consistent movement.
- Mind Train. Research categorically shows that engaging in mindfulness practice reduces stress levels. Macquarie University research on our Mindful Leadership program shows a reduction in stress levels of 28%.
Both of these simple rituals will change your stress levels significantly and a side effect is likely to be weight loss!
You can start mind training by downloading this free mind training and doing it daily: (it only takes ten minutes) https://themindfulnessclinic.leadpages.net/free-audio/
Article by Charlotte Thaarup-Owen. B. Teach, DipFDR (Vic), DipMeditation, DipEd (London University) MBSR, MBEAT, CBMT.
Charlotte is an internationally experienced clinical mindfulness consultant and transformative educator. Click here for free resources, mind-training audios, training and more retreats!
If you would like to learn more on Mindful Eating, take a look at Charlotte’s upcoming Mindful Eating at Golden Door Health Retreat and Spa Elysia this March 7-10, click here for more information.