Stress is tough on waistlines. It increases appetite, encourages fat to stay put and makes it really hard to make healthy food choices. When your body senses a threat—a vicious dog, a horrible news report, or a list of bills to pay, it sets your body up for fight or flight so you are ready for action. Then it slows down your metabolism, and increases appetite to help your body replenish all the calories used fighting off the stressor. The problem is that in most cases, our modern day stressors don’t require much, if any, physical exertion— so there’s no caloric exertion needing replacement.
If that’s not bad enough, anxiety often accompanies stress. Modern-day responses to anxiety include watching long periods of TV and mindless munching. These both may help to temporarily numb the sensations of anxiety, but provide little lasting satisfaction and further contribute to weight gain.
And lastly when we are chronically stressed, we don’t crave carrots and celery, we crave sugar and fat-laden comfort foods. Both the stress hormone cortisol and emotional triggers are responsible for the strong drive to consume comfort foods. And look, at the next corner, there is a fast food drive-through that can deliver the instant satisfaction we crave.
No wonder the modern day result of stress is often an extra layer of belly fat.