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Does Stress Make You Increase Weight?

Does Stress Make You Increase Weight?

You're having problems at work or at home. You're nervous or agitated, and it's manifesting itself in more ways than one. Have you noticed a bulge around your waist that was not previously present? Or have you put on some weight?

weight gain

If this is the case, stress might be a contributing reason to your unexpected weight gain. When you are anxious, your appetite may temporarily decrease, but long-term "chronic" stress may increase your appetite.

Flight or Fight: How Stress Affects Your Reaction System:

When we are under a lot of stress, the great majority of us overeat. This is because of our bodies' natural reactivity to such situations. It's known as survival mode, a.k.a. Your body's flight or fight response to any anxiety.

When you are stressed, your body's initial reaction is to crave comfort food. Your mind convinces your body that it needs comfort food in order to overcome all the difficulties that are clouding your thinking.

Why? Because your body believes it needs more calories to cope with stress, despite the fact that you have expended no calories and don't require any more. However, your body believes it has to ingest more calories in order to continue battling, which may result in weight gain.

The Relationship Between Stress and Cortisol


Several studies have found that the stress hormone cortisol might cause weight gain. When you are nervous or agitated, your adrenal organs release adrenaline and cortisol, which causes a rise in your blood glucose level. This occurs when your body swings into survival mode in response to hazardous conditions. When the threat has passed, your body's adrenaline high wears off and your glucose levels decrease; here is when cortisol comes in to assist you to restore your energy level.

Comfort Foods and Cortisol

comfort food

Cortisol, or the stress hormone, rises in stressful situations. This might have an impact on your eating habits. When your cortisol levels rise, your insulin levels rise, your glucose lowers, and you need sweet and fatty foods to feel better.

So, instead of a plate of fresh green veggies or fruits, you're tempted to eat chocolate, ice cream, or Mac 'n' Cheese. That is why such meals are frequently referred to as comfort foods, because eating them makes you happy for a short period but causes you to gain weight.

Many experts feel that eating may provide comfort and consolation in stressful situations. This occurs, however, because the body generates chemicals that are communicated to your brain and body via neurons, leading you to assume that the sugary, greasy, or fried food you may ingest provides immediate relief.

One of the many reasons people gain weight during stressful times is because oily and sugary foods help us relax our thoughts and reduce our cortisol levels.

Other Medical Issues That Can Occur because of Weight Gain

hypertension due to weight gain

Stress causes more than just weight gain. 

If you are stressed, you are more likely to experience the following medical issues:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Stroke

If you believe your weight has increased because of stress, you can manage it by taking short walks, doing activities that make you happy, and changing your eating habits to become more active, joyful, and stress-free, as well as a few pounds lighter.

Stress-Relieving Techniques

We've included some ways for you to manage your stress in the following sections:

  • Exercising is good, but don't overdo it. Cortisol levels might rise if you put too much emphasis on exercise. So, start by going for a stroll.
  • Prayers, meditation, or simple breathing exercises such as yoga and tai chi can help you clear your mind and suppress those thoughts that make you need comfort food.
  • Seek help from family and friends.
  • Read or take part in activities that you like.
  • Play your favorite music.
  • Pray or meditate.
  • Get plenty of rest.


Everyone deals with stress daily. It is up to you to take charge of how you keep stress and its negative side effects at bay. Fighting the urge to eat comfort food is the first step in a long road of weight reduction.

If you believe you are alone, you are mistaken. Look for online and local support groups to chat with like-minded individuals and get advice from.

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