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Stress eating may have some negative effects. It encourages people to eat unhealthy set of foods and reduce physical activity, which both can contribute to sudden weight gain.

“Stress might also disrupt sleep and drive people to seek out food when they wouldn’t normally — such as in the middle of the night,” Fatima Cody Stanford, an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a blog post.

Stanford explained that stress mainly affects the body because of a hormone called cortisol. When bad negative feelings occur, cortisol increases in the blood, which causes inflammation and higher fat around the body’s midsection.

How you respond during stressful times can affect your weight. To help you stay lean and healthy, below are tips to avoid stress eating.

Change how you look at challenges

How you perceive the situation affects your response and amount of stress you feel. Try to look at the positive sides and recall your past experiences.

Early life experiences can guide you in dealing with stress without increasing your food consumption or changing your diet.

Prepare for stress

Anticipating a high-stress period may help you avoid extra belly fat. Events like death of a loved one or work deadline can easily trigger stress but early preparation should help you manage your emotions.

You can seek additional support to deal with difficulties, being physically active and planning your diet to avoid stress eating.

Sleep

Having good amounts of sleep can help maintain good mood. But lack of rest at night can trigger stress hormones in the body. Stanford recommended reducing screen time before bedtime.

Workout

Exercise can help reduce cortisol levels in the blood. Maintain a regular physical activity to divert your attention and avoid stress. Effective activities include high-intensity exercise, yoga and running.

Meet a doctor

If you find it difficult to fight stress, talking  to a primary care physician should help you learn how to manage negative emotions and their effects. A doctor may recommend a health coach, support services or some medications.

Source: Medical Daily

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