Woman measuring her tummy

Weight Loss: Understanding how stress and anxiety affect it.

January 24, 20233 min read

Comfort eating: 

Why does having a full stress bucket make us overeat?

Why does feeling anxious and being stuck in the primitive brain make us comfort eat?

What can we do?

Adipose is loose connective tissue comprising of about 80% fat. Its main role is to store energy in the form of lipids, and it produces hormones such as leptin and oestrogen.

Leptin is a protein hormone that enables us to feel full, Adipose tissue produces leptin proportionally, so the more fat we have the more leptin we produce. If we have too much leptin it doesn't work properly thus not enabling us to feel full, so we eat more, more fat and so on. When we lose weight, it starts working again as it comes back into normal amounts.

Think primitive:

Think back to our Primitive days. Man could override satiety signals and eat when full if the food would spoil etc. We still have this ability. They would often be scavenging and hunting and if they saw an opportunity for food, they would eat it!!

But primitive man could also inhibit eating to ration etc, we can do this too! Like fasting!  But it is a prefrontal cortex mediated process, so we need to be operating from our intellectual not primitive mind to control this.

When the primitive brain is in control we will naturally overeat!

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and it plays a role in how much pleasure we feel.  Studies shows that overweight women produce less dopamine when eating high calorie and fat foot (probably chocolate) so the more we eat the less dopamine we get, so the more we eat and so on. Studies recommend intervention that increases dopamine so we don't rely on food.

Cortisol - the stress hormone!

Too much Cortisol favours fat storage instead of using fat for energy and will store it in abdominal region. Abdominal fat also has more Cortisol receptors so you can produce more stress. So, more fat equals more stress equals more fat and so on. So, we need to reduce Cortisol.

Cortisol stimulates hunger and feeding so you don't want to produce too much.

If you view a situation as especially threatening (we're all doomed etc) negatively (which is go to when primitive brain in charge) then there is no ceiling level to how much Cortisol you will produce, and thus likely to comfort eat. Whereas if you see a situation as a challenge (difficult but doable) then another part of the brain steps in and caps off your level of Cortisol to protect you from it. Thus not comfort eating. We know that as we reduce anxiety we will think in less black and white and catastrophic ways thus reducing our Cortisol and not comfort eating.

As you can see the main common denominators in managing weight are reducing stress and increasing positivity, that's what we are doing in boot camp.

 The more adipose tissue, the more leptin, we eat more.

And the more stressed the higher our cortisol levels the fatter we become……

As you can see the main common denominators in managing weight are reducing stress and increasing positivity. Reducing cortisol and increasing dopamine and serotonin.

So what is the solution?

What can you be doing to help assist weight loss?

  1. Make sure you have intellectual mind control NOT primitive.

  2. Do things that make your heart sing!

  3. Learn how to manage that negative voice inside your head so your stress bucket doesn’t fill

  4. Regularly ask yourself ‘what's been GOOD today?’

  5. See things as a challenge rather than threatening.

  6. Listen to recorded self-hypnosis that helps re-programme your subconscious mind

If you think you would benefit from the support of a like minded community then why not join my monthly membership - The NOW STEP® Community

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Lyn Penman

GLOBAL LEADING SOLUTION FOCUSED MENTAL HEALTH EXPERT Founder of The Now Step Method | Best Selling Author | Psychotherapist | Mindfulness Expert | Cold Water Therapy Practitioner

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