By Betty Murray
We all respond to stress in different ways. For some, stress is a contributing factor to weight gain, but for others, prolonged stress, or even stress from a single traumatic event can result in weight loss.
The holiday season is a particularly stressful time for many people. Finances, loss of a loved one, dealing with extended family members — these can all induce stress during this time of year.
Stress can cause a loss of appetite when you become so fixated on what it is that makes you stressed that you either forget to eat or simply cannot eat. On the other hand, stress may cause you to overeat — called stress eating or emotional eating — and it is often the high-calorie foods people turn to in times like this.
Whether you have a tendency to eat more or eat less when you are stressed, changes in weight due to stress during the holiday season are common. You can avoid gaining weight or losing weight due to stress during the holidays with these tips:
• Know the warning signs of stress, including irritability, anxiety, and muscle tension.
• Pay attention to the reason why you are eating. If it is because you are stressed or anxious, find a distraction.
• Keep healthy foods easily accessible. When you are stressed, grab a piece of fruit or some carrot sticks to much on, rather than a bag of potato chips.
• If you tend to eat less when you are stressed, keep yourself on an eating schedule. If you have a hard time eating full meals, eat five our six healthy snacks or small meals throughout the day instead.
• Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Eating regularly keeps your blood sugar in check — which can help balance out anxiety and moodiness.
• Learn to practice healthy coping techniques, such as meditation, yoga, stretching, or deep breathing.
• Exercise daily. Exercise is one of the greatest stress reducers available. Even if you only have time to take a brisk walk around the neighborhood, be sure you are getting in some sort of exercise every day.
• Sleep. Adults should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, which can be even more difficult during the holiday season, when you are traveling or have guests in your home. Make a point to go to bed early enough to get the sleep you need each night.
This holiday season, keep yourself focused on making memories with friends and loved ones, rather than focusing on the situations that make cause you stress. When stress does arise, have a plan in place to deal with the situation in a healthy way so you can get through this season without changes in your weight caused by stress.
Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.