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Stress and Weight Gain: Why It's Normal and What You Can Do

Welcome to "Slim Chance," a bi-monthly series in which author Amber Petty documents the satisfaction and loss of weight loss.

  Slim Chance <! – Weight : 229.8 pounds

Lost in 2 weeks : .4 pounds

Total Lost : 23.2 pounds

I have never considered myself an emotional eater: I am not someone who does it Usually I drowned my worries in half a liter of ice cream – ice cream was for all occasions. So why just eat Chubby Hubby when you're sad? If anything, Ben and Jerry were to be used for the celebration .

When I was 20, I did not eat sweets from January to February 13, so I celebrated Valentine's Day by eating a whole pint of Peanut Butter Cup. A friend asked what I'm doing on vacation, so I told him about my pre-planned pint adventure. He looked so sad. Oh, I suppose you live the life of a fat sitcom character in the 90s he probably thought. I could not understand the dismay. Eating a bunch of ice cream for a holiday seemed to me to be ideal!

Eat That Feelings

It took me a long time to realize my emotional connection to the food. When I was most depressed, I started eating more because it felt like it was the only thing I could control. I could not do a better audition, I could not magically have more money, I could not make better friendships from the air, but I could make a delicious meal of macaroni and cheese. And for a moment I could be happy.

Obviously this was not a great action plan. After I went to therapy and took antidepressants, my dependence on food calmed down a bit. But if something good had happened, I would still like to go out and eat what I wanted to celebrate. If something bad happened, I would like to get treated. If I was bored and I felt everyone had a better life than me, then Nachos would be the answer.

I thought that would be alright, because it was always just a pleasure. Every day creamy pasta? That's ridiculous! Buy some gummy bears to reward me for buying healthy foods? Perfectly reasonable, I thought.

But the problem was that I express all my feelings through eating. For some people, that's probably fine. There is nothing wrong with having dinner with friends to celebrate something special. And sometimes you're sad and need a nutrient-rich bar, damn it! But I have an addictive personality and I am emotionally vulnerable. All these little "treats" began to add up – and all my diet plans disappeared.

Got Me Feeling Emotions

Peeke (the lovely doctor introduced in a previous chapter) When I started to help, I looked deeper into my mental and emotional triggers of eating and found that every time I had a great emotion, I first eat something would. Since I was not bing, I did not think I had a problem, but if food is the first thought, it creates a bad pattern for someone like me.

So I started to really be aware of my feelings and stopped trying to hide my feelings with food. After this discovery, I would certainly feel better than ever before, finally free from the tempting reputation of tortilla chips and cheese products. Well, I sometimes felt better. It was nice to be more confident and in touch with my mental and physical health.

But I also had the feeling of losing my mind – my feelings were set to 11. I was impressed by the beauty of a hummingbird sipping nectar at my window, or getting into a screaming fit over Christmas plans and my stress (the stress that has always been there, but I ignored it and pulled it aside pushed) was very high. My feelings do not make the Kingda Ka all day, every day. But I have experienced all these feelings deeper than I ever dreamed.

Luckily, Dr. Peeke know that I did not lose my mind. In fact, she said, it is quite normal to go through this mental upheaval. For one thing, I'm used to stupefying my feelings with food.

Suddenly I took the safety blanket off and now my emotions are shivering in the cold.

For the first time in my life I have to feel and actually handle my feelings. That is not easy.



Stress has an absolute impact on your weight loss

For the first time since my work with Dr. Ing. Peeke I had a week to gain weight . Suddenly I was 232 – versus 230 the previous week – even though I had eaten the same way. (Note: I was 229.8 three days after gaining weight, so it proves the bodies are weird and the water retention is real.) But I had the least progress on the scale when my stress was up – high, and I do not think so that this is a coincidence.

Another reason why you might feel more emotional about a change in your diet: comfort foods provide comfort . Science says so! "STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS. Kale does not cut it off," Dr. Peeke.

"If you're scared of anything in life, you want to feel more calm and feel better, science shows that consuming refined sugar can actually reduce stress, leaving vulnerable people out of comfort and pain being trained to put sugar in stressful situations. "The fact that you want a chocolate bar after every trump tweet is not crazy.

Unfortunately, these happy effects of sugar do not stop. "You may feel less stress for an hour – then the cortisol level is booming with a vengeance," Dr. Peeke. After that, you have the blame, in addition to eating, that you know is not good for your body, which makes your stress even worse.

Even if you do not eat a sugary snack during a crisis, the physical act of eating still provides comfort. "By chewing, the masseter's muscles are set in motion, the blood in the vessels is channeled to the brain, and the release of serotonin, a mood modulator (that makes you less nervous), eases," she says. "This is a form of self-pacification and can cause you to chew on your nails, hair, a pencil, chewing gum, and yes, whatever lies around."

So, when you start If you stop eating high-sugar items and start chewing less, you suddenly cut a huge amount of stress. Your brain does not get the familiar serotonin, so it makes sense that your mood goes to the bathroom when you change your diet. It is (somehow) like sitting on an antidepressant and suddenly taking it away. No doctor would ever recommend a patient to do this, but people are often asked to eat less – and are rarely warned of the consequences.

Allow yourself some space

Antidepressants and trust in Ding Dongs are of course not the same. But I was crazy because I was so moody because of a change in diet. It turned out that I had just undergone a fairly rational physical reaction. And when I stay in touch with my feelings, learn to calm down in a healthy way, and work to keep my stress levels low, my brain chemistry will adjust and these mood swings will calm down.

I have the feeling that we often are not prepared for the emotional side effects associated with a change in eating habits. If I do not Dr. Peeke and a column in which I had to admit my dietary mistakes, I honestly would probably have returned to my old eating habits when I felt so crazy. I have already done that before. But somebody told me this time, I'm not crazy – that's just a phase, a part of being healthy.

So, if you want to lose weight and feel moody, sad, or crazy, you're normal. Changing the way you eat looks like a small, simple thing, but it can reveal a world of emotions that you've never had before. And physically, your body chemistry throws a few curve balls in your direction. So, you know, give yourself room to scream your eyes and yell at the TV!

I could be this messy, emotional person forever, but at least that's better than the self-contained person I used to be. And I'm starting to address some of my emotional demons directly. So if I never lose another pound, the fact that I'm moving towards emotional health has made all the work worthwhile.

Well, I'd probably be upset if I'd never literally lost another pound, but you know what I mean. Now, when you see me crying in front of a Haunted Hayride (which has actually happened), you know that I am dealing with years of emotions in a whole new way.

Amber Petty is an LA writer and a regular contributor to Greatist. Follow her as she describes her weight loss journey in her new bimonthly Slim Chance column. Follow her on Instagram @ Ambernpetty.

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