Stressed out? Don’t reach for that doughnut

WASHINGTON – The stress of everyday life does more than cause tension. It can also pack on the pounds.

Medical experts say there is a clear link between stress and obesity. When people feel under pressure, they often reach for comfort foods that are loaded with sugar or fat.

Some hormones, like serotonin, appear to have a role in the process. Serotonin, known as the body’s “feel-good chemical,” goes up when people consume carbohydrates.

“Very often the carbohydrates that people go for are laden with fat, like muffins, pastries, doughnuts, and cookies,” Bonnie Taub-Dix, a registered dietician and weight loss expert, tells EverydayHealth. “It’s not like they’re going for whole-wheat pasta.”

Try some of these tips to avoid gaining weight when stress starts to build:

  • Don’t allow yourself to become too hungry, and don’t skip meals. When blood sugar levels drop, it’s harder to think rationally.
  • Eat in smaller portions to control your calorie intake
  • Eat healthy snacks that combine protein and carbohydrates, which digest more slowly.
  • Deal with stress and try to manage it. Exercise regularly and try yoga or meditation.

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