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Stress and Obesity—What’s the Connection?

Stress and Obesity—What’s the Connection?

Learn healthy ways to overcome emotional eating and get your life back on track.

Janet Jackson talks about how she’s used food to soothe tension. In an interview with the Telegraph she once said: “Food has always brought me comfort and the bingeing is triggered when I'm in a space that is not positive...When I'm feeling down on myself or not feeling good about who I am, or maybe something happened and I'm feeling depressed, I eat to fill that void."

That wouldn’t surprise the U.K. researchers who published a study in the journal Obesity. They explored how economic hardship, personal adversity and daily stress trigger emotional overeating and obesity. Folks with financial woes and limited opportunities are most likely to overeat to soothe themselves and develop obesity, but as JJ shows us, any kind of undealt-with-stress can lead to overeating and weight gain. She’s gained and lost 70 pounds more than once.

What does this mean for you and the 168 million obese and overweight folks in the U.S.? You want to ease away from emotional eating and use alternative ways to comfort yourself when the going gets tough.

Our recommendations: Make connections through support groups, get a workout buddy, talk with a therapist or volunteer to help others. Practice meditation and deep-breathing routines, even when you do not feel stressed. And keep a diary, in which you can let it all out. You’ll gain deep comfort from these techniques, far greater than you can get from a bowl of Chunky Monkey (290 calories per serving, and who eats just one serving?).

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