The number of times I have had women in my practice complaining that they just can’t seem to lose weight. Despite cutting back or trying new diets, the results are either poor or non-existent. Some women end up putting on weight even though they are eating less.
In many cases the problem is not to do with how much or what they are eating (although this obviously plays a big role) but often its to do with stress levels.
So how can stress make you gain weight?
It all comes down to those cunning little glands that sit on top of your kidneys called your adrenal glands. When we experience feelings of stress our ancient old fight or flight mechanism kicks in.
- The brain thinks …. oh my goodness I need to work faster, I’m never going to get this report done in time, I haven’t slept enough. I feel stressed.
- This thought stimulates the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands have sadly not been upgraded much since caveman time. They take this stress thought to mean, a lion is chasing me or there is some LIFE-THREATENING thing going on here, which needs to be dealt with now!
- Adrenalin is released preparing the body to do one of 2 things: Run for your life! Fight till the death! The result is:
– Heart rate increases
– Blood floods to the muscles giving super strength.
– The liver releases glucose for instant energy
– Your immune system produces more white bloods cells so you are better equipped to fight foreign viruses.
– The clotting ability of your blood increase so you will recover more quickly if you are injured and start bleeding.
- The release of adrenalin stimulates the release of cortisol, which results in blood sugar levels rising to give you energy.
- Adrenalin levels come down quite quickly once the stress level reduces, but Cortisol sticks around in your blood for a bit longer, maybe a day or two.
So what does this all have to do with weight gain?
The problem is this. The cortisol keeps pushing more and more glucose, protein and fat into the blood so that you have a constant energy supply during your ongoing ‘battle’. Your body is expecting that this will be used up with the fighting or running and sends signals to the body that the stores need refilling. Cravings and increased appetite are a result. So we eat more.
BUT that glucose, fat and protein in the blood is NOT used up because in fact we are just sitting at our desk not moving a muscle. So the body stores these excesses back into the body, but this time in a form and a place that will be quick and easy for the body to access due to feeling that there is constantly this battle going on. So it stores fat around the tummy area or hips because this is near to the liver where the fat can be quickly converted to blood sugar again, should it be needed.
So to cut a long story short, stress makes us fat! But what can we do to counteract this vicious circle?
- Eat little and often.
- Don’t skip breakfast
- Eliminate sugar and refined carbs from your diet (yes, I know!)
- Eat essential fats
- Don’t eat on the run
- Exercise regularly – and even more so during acute periods of stress
- See your homeopath for a constitutional remedy.
Just to expand on the last point – a constitutional homeopathic remedy is super helpful in making us see the truth. We often see stressful situations through a filter.
For example a fear filter – if I don’t get this report finished I will not impress my boss, may lose my job and if I’m honest it feels like I could therefore become impoverished and die (even though my rational mind might be telling me that is very unlikely).
An example of a remedy that could help in this situation is Sulphur. The remedy would then reduce feelings of stress, make you able to concentrate better on the job at hand, resulting in doing a better report…. and as a side-effect you will reduce the amount of adrenalin and cortisol being released and shed off those excess pounds!