Tips To Stop Stress Eating During College And Beyond
You gain a lot during your time at college. A new student can expect to gain new friends, new experiences, new knowledge, and, of course, new weight. While the freshman 15 is as much myth as fact, studies have shown that nearly 75% of college students gain weight over the course of a 4-year degree.
There are as many reasons why college students gain weight as there are books in the campus library. Campus dining typically consists of fast food chains and D-grade all-you-can-eat buffets. Beer is full of calories. Mom is not there to nag.
But stress eating is one of the biggest culprits behind the freshman 15. Teens must cope with being away from home for the first time, higher academic standards, and staggering student loans. All that new anxiety sends many freshmen into the comforting embrace of a large pizza.
And stress eating rarely stops in college. Many adults use this strategy as a shortcut to get the endorphins going and drown out the stress of modern life. But weight gain and health problems are the results. So, here are quick tips for college students can use to stop stress eating:
Visit The Rec
Regular exercise reduces stress, so head to the gym when the workload gets overwhelming. It is a great alternative to the food court, but a steady workout schedule might even keep them from arising in the first place. You already paid for the rec with your student fees. Use it.
Join An Intramural Team
Remove Food Delivery Apps
Talk To A School Counselor
Speak To A Therapist Or Dietitian
Another potential way to deal with weight gain that could be related to high cortisol levels is to speak with a qualified practitioner, such as a psychologist or registered dietitian.
A therapist can assist you in coming up with some strategies to reduce overall stress, which in turn may help you manage emotional eating .
On the other hand, a dietitian can provide nutrition education to equip you with the tools you need to make more healthful decisions surrounding food.
The dual-prong approach to improving your food habits and emotional well-being is an excellent step in preventing or combating weight gain.
Other Tips To Manage Uncontrollable Weight Gain
Want to lose weight or regain muscle mass?This 30-Day Program Is The Solution!
While losing a large amount of weight takes time, you can speed up the process by making positive lifestyle changes. Knowing what to eat and how to exercise will help you to reach your fitness goals faster.
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How To Prevent Stress And Weight Gain
Have you found that despite everything youre doing to improve your nutrition and fitness youre still not reaching your goals? Stress and weight gain are inextricably linked and could be the underlying reason why. Whether the stressor is real or an imagined threat, our bodies will experience the same physical response. Your heart will start racing whether a lion is chasing you or youre about to miss your flight.
Stress can be triggered when weve set expectations that are too high to meet comfortably. Imagine youre a mom trying to get the kids to soccer practice and youre running late you check your daily to-dos and realize you dont even have time to start the first one. Or, youve got a presentation in an hour that you havent started preparing for. Whatever the stressor, its real to you and your body reacts in turn.
How To Stop Stress Eating And Covid Weight Gain
So how do we break this vicious cycle of negative emotions leading to overeating, and overeating leading to weight gain and more negative emotions?
To succeed at changing our behaviors, we have to first look at the thoughts and feelings leading to those behaviors.
I came up with a three step process you can try the next time youre tempted to eat for emotional reasons. Using these steps consistently will improve your ability to manage negative emotions, and help you manage your weight in the process.
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Build More Balanced Meals
“Aim to make half your plate the colorful foodsfruits and veggiesand have your protein and grains/starches be the supporting cast members,” says Mandy Enright, M.S., RDN, RYT, author of 30-Minute Weight Loss Cookbook: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes for Sustainable Weight Loss. Most people do the opposite, filling half their plates with protein or grains and having a little bit of vegetables on the side. This simple swap of making half your plate vegetables instead of grains can save you 100-150 calories per meal. “Put emphasis on the timing, quality and quantity of your foods. Our bodies love consistency, so aim to eat around the same time daily. Ideally, plan to eat around every 4 hours. Consume more wholesome foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean sources of protein,” Enright says.
“Make sure your meals contain adequate protein, fiber and fluid volume. These are the components that can help you feel satiated for fewer calories, potentially making it easier to maintain the calorie deficit needed for fat loss,” says registered dietitian, Summer Yule, M.S., RDN. “Look for lean meats, poultry and fish . Non-starchy veggies add a lot of fiber and fluid volume to meals for very few calories. Dairy, eggs, legumes and fruits are some other nutrient-rich components to add to your meals.”
How Too Much Stress Can Cause Weight Gain
The question of whether excess amounts of cortisol can lead to weight gain is essentially the same as asking if too much stress can cause you to put on unwanted pounds. The answer in both cases is yes.
Cortisol a natural stress hormone is responsible for regulating your metabolism, so its important to follow common wellness guidelines to lower it. From finding time for relaxation to improving your diet and exercise, you can ensure that you control your cortisol and not the other way around.
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S To Stop Stress Eating And Manage Covid Weight Gain
If youve been struggling with weight gain this year, youre not alone.
In a poll of US WebMD readers, 47% of women and 22% of men responded they have gained weight due to COVID restrictions. This poll was published in May 2020. Its not hard to imagine that the numbers have likely increased from then.
A research study published this year found that several factors are putting us at risk for weight gain during the COVID 19 pandemic. Those risk factors are:
reduced physical activity
lack of dietary restraint
eating in response to stress
Its interesting, though not surprising, that three of the five risk factors relate to food. Most weight loss experts will tell you that what you eat is the biggest, most important part of meeting a weight loss goal. Exercise and sleep have many benefits, but when it comes to weight loss, you can’t out-exercise poor eating habits.
How To Stop Cortisol Weight Gain Tip #2 Manage Time Stress Your Hectic Schedule & Convenience Foods
People often gain weight due to their hectic schedule. When time is in short supply, or youre exhausted from a long days work, you want something FAST. That makes it easy to turn to convenience foods that offer a quick solution to meal time.
Unfortunately, convenience foods usually arent that healthy. You can order fast food thats healthier than other options. A grilled chicken salad, for example. Unfortunately, most people tend to buy the high calorie foods like burgers or pizza.
Sometimes, theres not even a lot of time to eat a full meal. Solution? You simply run to the vending machine and grab one or two high fat, high calorie snacks. Thats the fuel you use to push you through the remainder of your day.
Yes, there are times you will feel tired and exhausted. You wont always have the time or energy to stop and prepare a healthy, nutritious meal. Thats when convenience food can fill that void. You just have to be prepared to make better choices. Thats how to stop weight gain!
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Stress Eating Hormones And Hunger
Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies granted, many of them in animals have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a “hunger hormone,” may have a role.
Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.
Of course, overeating isn’t the only stress-related behavior that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight.
Too Much Stress Can Cause Weight Gain Heres How To Stop It
Its no surprise that stress can cause weight gain.
During difficult times or challenging situations, many people turn to eating and drinking to cope with their emotions.
If this is something youve experienced before, know that youre not alone, and its a perfectly natural response.
When faced with mounting pressure, our body goes into fight or flight mode and releases a hormone called cortisol the stress hormone.
Too much of the stress hormone can have several adverse effects on our bodies including . . .
- weight gain
- difficulty concentrating
- insulin resistance
One of the most common of these effects is overeating. A spike in cortisol can cause higher insulin levels which drop your blood sugar, leaving you craving sugary and fatty foods.
If you have been gaining weight because of stress in your life, here are three things you can do to stop it:
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How To Stop Cortisol Weight Gain Tip #1 Manage Chronic Stress And Comfort Eating
Stress is at an all-time high right now. But lets be honest its an issue that has caused people to gain weight for decades, and probably always will. People have different ways of coping with stress both short term and chronic types.
Some have other bad habits, like smoking, drinking or doing drugs. Eating comfort food is something that many people were raised to do in times of chaos. Even in childhood, moms and dads will often give their children something yummy to help them get over a bad day or stop crying.
Its a coping mechanism thats ingrained from a very early age, and carries over into adulthood. Even if it wasnt something you learned in your youth, it might still be something you learned later. Perhaps you got into the habit of simply allowing yourself to experience those feel good endorphins with a pint of ice cream after a particularly harrowing day.
There are cartoons and even TV shows made about people stress eating. Youve seen them. Where people grab something thats not good for them and eat it in large quantities to cope with their stress.
Choose Your Fats Wisely
If stress causes your body to burn less of the fat you eat , aim to include some healthy fat in your mealsbut avoid doubling up. For example, many clients tell me they order a healthy salad for lunch, but the toppings include both olive oil and avocado. Or they might snack on nuts alongside popcorn cooked in oil.
I’m not saying you should eat low-fat meals fat is important for satiety and it’s one of your body’s key building blocks. But to keep it in balance, choose only one high-fat item per meal. For example, if you want avocado on your salad, dress your greens with balsamic vinegar rather than an oil-based vinaigrette.
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/8the Right Diet Plays A Key Role
Losing weight demands a lot. However, it does not mean you starve yourself. Instead go for healthier options and eat a balanced diet containing all nutritional values. Avoid eating processed foods and go for healthier alternatives, so you feel full and satisfied mentally, emotionally and physically.
Where Do You Start
Start by checking out the menus of your favorite fast food or take-our restaurants. Familiarize yourself with the choices. Look up the nutrition information for each meal youre considering.
Sometimes, something may sound healthy, but the actual nutrition facts prove otherwise. Another thing you can do is know how to special order a meal that caters to your nutritional needs.
Maybe that means ordering it with a sauce on the side. Or, maybe you need to substitute mashed potatoes with grilled vegetables. Chefs are generally fine tailoring the order to your specifications if you just ask.
Do the same for vending machine options or gas station snacks you might pick up on the go. If you want to really benefit your waist, focus on home-prepared foods that become convenient when you need them.
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Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward
Increased cortisol is associated with an increase in blood sugar level, and after this blood sugar spike comes a drop, then sugar cravings cue the comfort foods. Think about the foods you reach for when you feel stressed. Are ice cream, chocolate, and pizza coming to mind? The foods we crave tend to be highly processed and high in fat, sugar, and salt all of which are very easy to digest and absorb.
Another reason why comfort foods help us temporarily feel better is that they provide our brains with a boost of the happy neurotransmitter, serotonin. Feeling overwhelmed can make you want to reach for comfort foods or emotionally eat. The bottom line is that stress can impact you both physiologically and psychologically, hence the need for sweets and junk food cravings.
Alleviate Financial Stress And Weight Gain: Keeping Track Of Spending
Reducing debt can be similar to reducing your waistline.
Keep track of your spending, keeping all receipts and becoming clear on exactly where and what you are spending your money on, how much debt you owe, how much your monthly payments are, etc.
I keep a simple excel sheet. Every few days I take the receipts out of my wallet and they go into an envelope. At the end of the month I put on some fun music, light a candle and have a money date.
This is an idea from the book The Art of Money – A life changing guide to financial happiness by Bari Tessler.
Instead of making accounting and managing money a stressful or boring chore, create some fun and enjoy the process.
For myself, all receipts get added up into various categories and I know exactly how much I’m spending and earning. Of course I do need to keep track of my business expenses but I do like to know how much I m spending on food, clothes, entertainment, etc, it makes budgeting and staying on track so much easier. You have to find an easy system that works for you or get some help from a book keeper or money coach to get you going.
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The Connection Between Stress And Your Weight
The word stress is so commonly used, we tend to discount the profound effect it has on our lives. In fact, did you know that stress is a common cause of weight gain?
However, its more complicated than that. If your stress is chronic, a number of events take place in your brain and body, which then ultimately trigger weight gain.
Heres a basic roadmap of whats going on:
- A part of your brain, called the amygdala, senses danger, or stress in your environment.
- The amygdala then signals another part of your brain, the hypothalamus, to start a fight-or-flight response to this feeling.
- The hypothalamus then signals your adrenal glands to release the hormones, called cortisol and adrenalin, to handle the stressful event.
Adrenalin helps you take in more oxygen and increases blood flow to muscles to increase your speed. Though this hormone may make you feel a bit pumped up, its not part of the weight gain issue.
Cortisol is the usual culprit that causes weight gain during stressful times. Lets dig in a little deeper to see the connection between stress, cortisol and weight gain.
Cortisol And Sugar Cravings
Cue the sugar cravings. Because sugar supplies your body with the quick energy it thinks it needs, it’s often the first thing you reach for when you’re stressed.
The downside to consuming so much sugar is that your body tends to store sugar, especially after stressful situations. This energy is stored mainly in the form of abdominal fat, which can be particularly hard to shed. And so the vicious cycle starts: get stressed, release cortisol, gain weight, crave more sugar, eat more sugar, gain more weight.
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