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Healthy Balance

Is Stress Eating Causing You to Gain Weight?

woman stress eating so considering a snack at a vending machine
Walk away from the unhealthy snacks and choose healthier options to balance the cortisol hormone.

If you’re like many people, you crave high-fat, high-sugar and high-calorie foods when you’re stressed. What’s worse, the excess calories you get from stress-eating are more likely to be stored in your belly than elsewhere in the body.

When you’re stressed, short on time and patience, you reach for convenience food. But often, the culprit is the stress hormone, cortisol, at work. Cortisol is a “fight or flight” hormone to energize your mind and body when danger strikes.

The problem is that when this hormone kicks in, it prompts your body to eat. When you reach for foods in response to stress, you’re more likely to reach for junk foods filled with sugar and/or fat.

If you live with chronic stress, your cortisol levels remain high for long periods of time. The result? You may notice your weight creeping up.

Notice You’re Stress Eating?

Fortunately, a nutritious diet filled with a few stress-busting foods can help reduce levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure. This may help you better respond to stress and makes it easier to keep your weight in check. These foods can stop that from happening.

Add these stress-busting foods to your diet:

  • Nuts and seeds. These easy snacks are full of B vitamins, zinc, vitamin E and potassium. Nuts and seeds help lower stress and blood pressure.
  • Greens. Magnesium is a stress-busting mineral. Foods containing high amounts are broccoli, kale, spinach and other dark green vegetables.
  • Healthy fats. Cold water fish like salmon and sardines are rich in anti-stress omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados are full of potassium, another blood pressure-lowering mineral.
  • Vitamin C-rich foods. This vitamin boosts your immune system and combats cortisol. Good sources include oranges, grapefruits, berries, melons, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

Need Healthy Snack Ideas?

Follow our blog to get new, healthy recipes.

You already know that healthy eating helps lower your risk for some chronic diseases. Why not try a healthier diet and help lower your stress level, too? Besides a diet, talk to your doctor about other lifestyle changes that may help reduce stress, like exercise or meditation.

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