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What to Do When Stress Weighs You Down

By Sandy Schroeder

Stress and weight form a relentless circle for many of us. Stress triggers emotional eating leading to midnight food runs with lots of fries or tacos, which adds more pounds and more stress. The beat goes on.

The Villain is Cortisol

When bad news strikes, the brain signals the pituitary and adrenal glands to flood the system with stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.  The heart rate speeds up and hunger soars. Breaking out of this circle can be tricky, but newidea.com assures us it can be done with a few simple maneuvers.

Slow Way Down When You Eat

When we are stressed we eat more quickly, often eating too much. Eat with others and enjoy the  meal bite by bite. Avoid eating in front of the TV or computer. When you do you may polish off a whole meal without really tasting any of it.

Give Up Rigid Diets

Researchers found continuous dieting caused cortisol levels to go up by as much as 18 percent. Dieting impacts blood sugar levels creating nonstop cravings. Instead of dieting, eat three healthy meals and two fruit or nut snacks daily to keep the body satisfied to avoid cravings.

Cut Back on Coffee

Stress and caffeine increase cortisol even more. Researchers found people who were stressed and drank 2.5 to 3 cups of coffee boosted their cortisol by 25 percent. When they drank 6 cups of coffee, the hormone went up to 30 percent and stayed up all day.

Do Power Breakfasts

Load up on Vitamins C and B and magnesium to reduce food cravings. Greek yogurt topped with berries and paired with grapefruit and a whole grain bagel with peanut butter will keep you satisfied until lunch. Or do a veggie omelet with a slice of whole wheat bread.

Sidestep Cravings

If you automatically reach for the chips when you are stressed, look for new ways to lower the stress. Turn up the volume on your favorite tunes, or head out the door for a brisk walk.

Break Away with Exercise

When you run or spend a few minutes stretching, your body believes you are leaving the stress. As you move, your circulation improves, carrying the cortisol to the kidneys and eliminating it from your system. In exchange you get a dose of feel good endorphins. Researchers say 18 minutes of walking three times a week can cut cortisol levels by 15 percent.

If a few of these tips work for you, keep right on going. As the weight experts all say, "Nothing tastes as good as thin!" 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Irvine, Calif.

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