Just about a year ago, weight-gain woes began for a lot of us when COVID-19 plagued the world. This triggered the chain reaction of stress eating as the shutdown of schools, gyms and entertainment venues forced us to spend more time at home. Now that we are getting used to a “new normal,” it is important to not let our stress negatively impact our food choices, so opting for foods that are high in nutrients are key to helping us stay on track with our weight and overall health.

When we feel stressed, our body causes the concentration of cortisol in our blood to rise. Cortisol is a stress hormone that stimulates glucose production. In other words, the more stressed you are, the hungrier you may feel because high cortisol levels increase one’s appetite. COVID really did us dirty as a few of us may have gained the “quarantine 15” from all of our stress eating (including me ?), but don’t let this get you down!

Inflammation can contribute to weight gain and prolonged stress can increase inflammation in the body. While you don’t have to completely get rid of foods that are linked to inflammation, it is a good idea to limit them. Foods high in added sugar are not only calorie-dense, but an excess of sugar can potentially be stored in the body as fat. This could negatively disrupt how our body regulates blood sugar and potentially slow down our metabolism. This is not what we want, as a slower metabolism often causes us to hold onto pounds rather than lose them! Food Blog Post

Since we are spending more time at home, we are more likely to snack, so having healthy snack options on hand is key. Some great snack ideas include:

  • Carrots or celery with hummus
  • Almond butter with fruit like bananas or apples
  • Air popped popcorn
  • A handful of unsalted mixed nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios)                           
  • Greek yogurt with berries

In the end, we are bound to experience stress in some form or fashion whether it relates to school, work, or overall life. It may be tempting to reach for that piece of chocolate cake or indulge in a #1 combo from Chick-fil-A. While that’s perfectly fine to enjoy on occasion, it is better to go with healthier choices more often. Your body will thank you later on down the road! By sticking with this plan, you’ll be well on your way to healthily managing anything that life throws at you!

 

More about the author:

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Hey ya’ll! Thank you for taking some time out to read my blog post. I am a senior here at UAB, and I will graduate this upcoming May with my degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. I am currently an intern for the UAB Recreation Center and teach fitness classes as an F45 instructor on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Fitness and nutrition will always be my top passions, so I am excited to pass on my knowledge to anyone who is willing to listen. One of my favorite quotes is, “Food is the most abused anxiety drug. Exercise is the most under-utilized antidepressant.” A lot of people use food as comfort when they experience intense emotions, however, they don’t realize that exercise may help fill that void while providing excellent benefits. I encourage everyone to find an activity that they like whether it’s walking, running or even lifting weights, as exercise is truly the best medicine for the heart!