Could anxiety be the reason behind your weight gain?

If you are a parent, you have no doubt experienced anxiety at some point.

You might be worried about how you’ll pay the mortgage, stressed about juggling work and family life, or just feeling the overwhelming sense of responsibility on your shoulders that comes with caring for a child.

But besides the feeling of unease, and possible digestive issues, anxiety can manifest itself in another way that is less well known – weight gain.

anxiety and weight gain

Could anxiety be the reason behind your weight gain?

If you have put on weight, or are struggling to shift those stubborn kilos, you may need to explore the role that stress and anxiety play in your life.

Here are some ways that anxiety can lead to weight gain (and what to do about it).

1.Cortisol build up

If you have tummy fat that doesn’t seem to budge, this can be a result of a build up of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and when released regularly into your system, it causes fat to accumulate on your stomach area.

2.Overeating or mindless eating

Anxiety can often cause us to reach for comfort food (like pizza or chips), or something to give us a quick hit of pleasure (hello ice cream). We don’t tend to have cravings for broccoli sadly, it’s usually something that’s high sugar, high fat, or carbohydrate based that we reach for.

3.Sleep disruption

Some people experiencing anxiety find that they can’t sleep – their mind races with questions or worries and they just can’t nod off despite feeling tired. Others find that anxiety drains them of energy, they can’t get out of bed in the morning. This can lead to a lack of motivation for healthy eating and exercise.

4.Poor food and exercise choices

Ever been to the supermarket when you’re stressed or anxious? You probably ended up with a trolley full of chips and chocolate, and nothing to make for dinner. It’s like our mind is hijacked by the anxiety, and rational thought gets left behind in favour of just surviving. Anxiety can also leave you feeling like you’re wading through a fog, and the idea of going for a jog or doing some exercises at home seems way to hard.

What to do?

Exercise and healthy eating are two of the best things you can do to combat the effects of anxiety.

  • A little walk around the block can really help clear your mind and give you some perspective.
  • The 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge app has short bursts of exercise that you can do at home to give yourself a little lift of endorphins. You can start with just ten minutes and see how you feel.
  • Get organised by making your meal plan for the following day/week to try and keep yourself on track using the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge. You could even make a few meals so that you don’t need to worry about cooking every day.
  • Try to find some time for yourself (even if you have to arrange a babysitter or find someone to mind the kids for an hour) is really beneficial.
  • Talk to someone. Whether it’s your partner, a family member, a friend, someone from mother’s group, a healthcare practitioner or a neighbour. Finding someone who will listen to you and give you a fresh perspective can be very useful.
  • If you feel that your anxiety is overwhelming you and you need more support, your doctor or baby health nurse is a great place to start.


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