It is no secret. A diet that is high in fats and sugars increases the chances of weight gain. We know that eating too much fast food, drinking too much soda, and not having enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis is not good for us. But it seems as though when we are most stressed and feel tired after a long day at work, the easiest thing to do for dinner is to eat a quick meal that is often unhealthy. Added to this, most of us are not getting enough exercise on a daily basis, or adequate sleep at night. Even though many of us know the facts, we keep asking the questions, “Why can’t I stick to a healthy diet and exercise plan?”, or “Why am I gaining weight even though I am not doing anything different with my diet?”. The Answer: Stress and Your Weight.
Of course we all have some stress in our lives at some point. It is part of being human. The concern is that many persons do not control stress well. Poorly controlled stress leads to a host of health problems, including weight issues. Researchers are finding that poorly controlled chronic stress not only increases your chances of gaining weight, but also makes weight loss more difficult.
The culprits: Corticosteroids and Catecholamines
Scientists say that stress causes the body to release some chemicals called corticosteroids and catecholamines which affect how we store fat. These chemicals also negatively affect our blood sugar levels. This situation causes weight gain. At that point, we end up on a never ending cycle where we are stressed, we eat more, exercise less, gain more weight or even get sick, which then causes us to get more stressed… then the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
Stress in our children
Your child may be experiencing stressful situations at school or even at home. The types of stressful situations that our children face every day include peer pressure, the need to excel in school or live up to the expectations of parents and teachers. Add to this a home environment in which there is a lot of rushing, disorganization, disharmony, and overall chaos. This affects everyone, including babies. Parents must foster an environment where children feel that they are safe and loved. Note, however, that if there is depression involved, you should seek professional help.
Smile…laugh at yourself… don’t take life too seriously….and live each day to the fullest.
Article by Carol Barnes Reid, Dr PH, RD
She is Coordinator of the Public Health Programme at Northern Caribbean
University, Mandeville, Jamaica and is a Registered
Dietitian and a Public Health Professional