Stress and Weight Gain: A Bad Recipe

by Denisse Oller

We all experience stress. Whether it’s work, school, or a personal challenge, stress impacts us all. To make matters worse, managing stress can itself be a challenging task given how it can affect our mental and physical health in different ways.

One of the major physical impacts of stress on the body is the risk of unhealthy weight gain. This often occurs when stress begins to build and we begin to feel overwhelmed and end up overlooking our personal health. Stress can make us feel out of control, so we’ll often neglect eating healthy or we will eat unnecessary amounts of food in order to fill emotional gaps caused by stress. Gaining weight in addition to the stress your body is dealing with can be frustrating and put you at risk for serious health problems.

Luckily, there are small things you can do in order to avoid stress-related weight gain:

  • Stay Aware of How You Are Feeling – One of the greatest skills you can learn is staying alert and conscious of your emotional state. If you can recognize when stress is building up, you can take steps to manage and reduce that stress in order to stay healthy.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet – Make sure you are getting all of the necessary nutrients and maintaining a healthy balance of foods. Keeping your body well fed with foods rich in nutrients and having a well-balanced diet, make you less likely to get hungry and crave unhealthy foods.
  • Stick to a Schedule – Eat when you are hungry and don’t skip meals! It’s so easy to rush out in the morning without eating breakfast. Don’t give in. Be sure to grab something on your way out. Your body won’t function effectively without sustenance in the morning and by skipping your first meal you are setting yourself up to get hungry throughout the day, eat junk food or eat more than you actually need. Also, remember to ask yourself if you are actually hungry. If you’re hungry and it’s time to eat, go ahead and chow down on a healthy meal. But if you aren’t hungry, try to focus on something else to avoid consuming unnecessary calories.
  • Exercise – Exercising is not only essential to maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, but it can be your secret weapon to dealing with stress. Exercise can act as a great stress reliever, giving you time for yourself. It pumps up your endorphins, improving your overall mood and pulling you away from the stress that is weighing you down.
  • Sleep – Getting enough sleep is essential to reducing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you aren’t sleeping enough, you have more time to get hungry and consume unnecessary calories. Additionally, if you aren’t getting enough sleep your mind and body won’t be functioning at optimal levels and you will be less able to recognize and manage your stress effectively.


Stress can affect our mental and physical wellbeing in a variety of ways, so its important to pay attention to how you are feeling. The second you start feeling overwhelmed make sure you are taking all the necessary steps to care of yourself and lead a healthy lifestyle. Sleep, eat well, exercise and strive for balance in order to manage your stress levels, maintain a healthy weight and avoid health issues. And remember to consult your doctor if your weight starts to change or you are struggling to manage your stress effectively.