Ever wonder why you gain weight when you are stressed out? We usually blame the poor diet for weight gain that we are eating when we are stressed out. Or maybe that extra glass of wine…
There is no doubt that when we are stressed out especially chronically, our diet takes a hit and we head towards the cookie aisle in the grocery store. Or, for some we start skipping meals and eating salty, high fat snack foods. And, course we don’t take time out for ourselves to exercise or to just take a nice relaxing bath.
But does that really explain that extra 30 pounds, that hair loss and our nails starting to become brittle? And, of course loss of energy and vitality. All signs of that our thyroid is not functioning very well and lowering our metabolism.
So we head to the doctor telling him that we just can’t understand why we are feeling fatigued, gained weight and just don’t have zest for life. Some doctors may test for thyroid dysfunction or write a script for anti-depressants (I am seeing this more and more lately with my clients).
How does chronic stress alter thyroid function? Over time chronic stress will impact the health of the pituitary gland especially if excessive cortisol is being produced. The pituitary gland is the the key player in signaling the thyroid to produce thyroid hormone. So, over time less and less thyroid hormone is being produced by the thyroid leading to a compromised metabolism.
In addition, high levels of cortisol will lead to reduced production of the active form of thyroid hormone – so you have plenty of thyroid hormone but now you don’t have any active thyroid hormone compounding the weight issue, fatigue and feeling frazzled.
The impact of stress on the thyroid doesn’t happen over night and take months before we really feel the effects.
That is when we suddenly realize that we gained 15 pounds – clothes may be getting tighter but we just reach for the “yoga” pants trying not to face reality.
Or, we panic and sign up for Weight Watchers or other diet programs – yet one more time. Most of these diet are based on calorie deficient model and are often very low calorie especially initially – this actually creates more stress for the body making things worse.
It may surprise you but calming down, cutting back on excessive exercise and taking a soothing bath is the first step in healing your metabolism and starting on the road to safely and effectively losing those pounds. Believe me, I have been there! You can also start by evaluating the impact that stress has had on your metabolism with testing for cortisol and DHEA levels. This goes a long way in starting on a stress recovery program and targeting the right herbal products or adaptogens that help you back to recovery. Contact me today to learn more.