How Stress Can Affect Your Weight

Whilst it’s common knowledge that stress can have a negative impact on our health and can cause issues such as headaches, muscle pain, sleep problems and depression. But did you know that stress can also have a significant impact on your weight?

Here we’ve looked into the link between stress, eating habits and weight fluctuations, as well as, what you can do to combat stress to help manage your weight.

How Does Stress Affect Weight?

No matter the situation, our bodies respond to stress exactly the same way, they trigger a flight or fight response. When having a stressful day, our brains release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline to tap into stored energy so our bodies are prepared to take action and cortisol which looks to restore this energy (even if we actually haven’t used much of it).

And the body carries on producing high levels of cortisol, even when the effects of adrenaline are long gone. This can make us extremely hungry, especially for foods that are less healthy and contain large quantities of sugar and fat.

Other Stress Induced Eating Habits

Excessive stress may mean that you change your behaviour and your eating habits, which in turn contribute to changes in weight. Here’s some of the most common diet changes people experience when they’re under stress:

Lack of sleep

There’s no doubt stress and sleep are linked. Whether it’s worrying about that big presentation, exams or financial stress, our sleeping pattern can be the one that bears the brunt. Research shows that lack of sleep can slow our metabolism right down and that tired feeling makes us crave sugary foods, as well as, reducing our will power when it comes to making healthy choices.

Skipping meals

When you’re trying to spin a hundred plates at once, eating healthy often falls to the bottom of the pile and it’s usually a case of eating the first ready meal you see in the supermarket or skipping breakfast because you’re running late.

Emotional eating

If we’re feeling down as a result of a particular stressful situation, our will power is reduced and reaching for that tub of ice-cream or ordering a pizza can be a way to try and make ourselves feel better. Causing you to eat more than you usually would.

Managing Stress and Your Weight   

Poor eating habits as a result of stressful situations only add to our stress levels, making it seem like an unbreakable cycle. Luckily, there are actually some simple steps to take to combat stress and weight changes caused by it, here’s a few:


Exercise is a brilliant way to reduce stress. It helps decrease cortisol levels in our bodies and releases endorphins that enhance our mood. So incorporating regular exercise into your schedule is key for reducing stress and managing weight. And it doesn’t always have to be 2 hours in the gym, it can be a walk during your lunch hour, a yoga session, or a jog around the park.

Meal Prep

Having healthy prepared meals ready to go can be an excellent way to reduce stress and ensure eating healthy doesn’t fall to the bottom of the pile. With healthy prepared meals at hand you can fully focus on the task ahead and not have to stress about what you’re going to have for dinner. You’re also more likely to have more willpower when it comes to reaching for unhealthy snacks.

Stress-relief Strategies

Whether it’s reading a book, listening to music or spending time with friends. Including some ‘me time’ into your routine can significantly help manage your weight and reduce cortisol levels in your system. Meaning you’re less likely to crave unhealthy foods.

Healthy prepared meals are a key component in the fight against reducing stress and managing your weight. Not only do they provide you with nutritional energy, they help reduce cravings and save you time in preparing meals. Take a look at our range of meal plans, here.