Are You Anxious? Anxiety Sabotages Weight Loss


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You know healthy eating is a major component if you’re trying to lose weight. Although it’s common for many people to turn to food as a source of comfort in times of high stress and anxiety, you should pay attention to your diet.

Dana Rose Garfin, PhD, assistant adjunct professor at the University of California Irvine’s Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing affirms: “With the collective stress of the pandemic, in conjunction with the social distancing orders and recommendations, many people will feel isolated and lonely, which may lead to anxiety and depression for some,”. “This, in turn, may lower motivation to stick to a fitness regimen and lead to overeating as a coping mechanism.”

However, while anxiety and stress are normal reactions, they don’t have to deter your weight-loss goals.

The link between anxiety and weight loss

People don’t typically opt for a stalk of celery when they eat for comfort when feeling anxious or stressed. Melanie Greenberg, PhD, a clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area says: “Stress makes us want to eat high-fat or high-satiety foods,”. “This is wired in response from the days where there was not enough food available or when you might be cut off from food sources for long periods in difficult times — for example, wartime.”

What’s more, when you feel stressed and anxious, your body produces hormones, which make it more likely you reach for unhealthy foods. Garfin, who studies ways community disasters and negative life events affect mental and physical health adds: “Stress hormones — such as cortisol — stimulate insulin release [which can lead to inflammation and weight gain],”. “This is to help activate the flight-or-fight response and to release energy to help your body get into action to combat a threat. But when the threat is mental, this can backfire and cause food cravings.”

Ways to prevent anxiety

Try these strategies if you’re prone to eating more when you’re feeling stressed and anxious:

Embrace a structure

If you’re stuck at home instead of going to work, you may be feeling lost. You may miss going to the gym or seeing your friends. Creating a new daily schedule may help you cope with the changes more easily.

Garfin recommends us to:“Get into a routine despite the disruption,” “Use the extra time to try some new healthy recipes and stay motivated by using virtual apps to connect with a fitness community.”

Exercise as often as possible

Try to add more movement to your days whether it’s a quick at-home bodyweight workout or a solo walk around the neighborhood. Exercise has been shown to boost mood levels and help relieve anxiety and depression. Garfin adds: “Endorphins are feel-good chemicals that are released during exercise. These will be very beneficial to maintaining a positive attitude during the quarantine,”.

Connect to your friends and family virtually

Connecting with friends helps to boost mood levels and keep you accountable. You can get on the phone or do an online video chat although you can’t see your friends and family in person. Jagdish Khubchandani, PhD, professor of health science at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana affirms: “Talking to others is a must,”. “It will help you verbalize your anxiety,” thus helping release stress and prevent overeating.

Last, but not least, seek for specialized help if you feel lonely and anxious.

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