Stress, weight gain, and diabetes

Stress, weight gain, and diabetes

One of the top two conditions for which people seek help from BeWell Associates is weight loss (the other is digestive distress). Today I’d like to address how stress creates not only weight loss resistance, but also the development of Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by long-term excess weight and chronic stress. Let’s break down how stress affects our ability to lose weight. First of all, let’s define stress. Stress is any stimulant that increases our cortisol production. Cortisol is our fight or flight response and was originally intended to keep us alive in the jungle. To learn more about this process and how stress makes you fat, read this post.

Stress can be from any source. Consider this partial list of triggers, all of which can cause this fight or flight response that disrupts our cortisol rhythms. In other words, these are all stressors:

  • Insomnia
  • Chronic infections
  • Dieting
  • Excess exercise
  • A chronic disease
  • Inflammation
  • Worrying about Covid
  • Isolation
  • Job stress
  • Emotional stress at home or at work
  • Environmental toxic overload
  • Too much to do
  • Taking care of children and aging parents while working full-time

When our bodies are in a state of fight or flight, and the cortisol rhythm is disrupted, there are specific physical reactions that take place, most of which enhance the chances of weight gain and set us up, over time, for Type II diabetes.

Here are some of the changes that take place when you are reacting, or most often over-reacting, to a stressor. Generating high cortisol harms you way more than it’s going to affect the person you’re reacting to, so learning to respond rather than react is worth it. Here’s why generating high cortisol is something to avoid:

  • Raises your blood sugar
  • Makes you hungry and crave sugar
  • Makes your cells less sensitive to insulin
  • Increases the rate at which you store fat
  • Increases triglycerides and other blood fats
  • Causes hormonal imbalances
  • Reduces your ability to burn fat

We do have a choice about how we react to stress, thereby protecting our long term health. This is the only way that we exert control over our environment, by becoming mindful that we are being triggered and then changing our response. There are many good ways to accomplish heightened awareness and changed response. I’ll just list a few here, see if any resonate with you and just dip your toe into testing one method.

Choose one and try it for three days:

  • Focused Breathing: Whether it’s yogic breathing or the Wim Hof Method, which I have recently discovered, aim to practice some form of breathing for 10 minutes most days.
  • Emotional Free Technique (EFT): Liberate yourself from those old programmed reactions that run your life. Pause, react differently, and as a result, improve your long range health and your relationships! Learn about it here.
  • Using adaptogens, special herbs that help keep cortisol in normal range regardless of what your reactivity is, can also be very helpful in managing stress, losing weight, and preventing diabetes. You can read about them in this post.

If you’d like help managing stress and anxiety, consider working with us. Contact us to get started.

Finally, I invite you to watch our free webinar on preventing type 2 diabetes, in which I address the role that stress has to play. Sign up to get instant access to the webinar here.


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