Your expanded waistline refuses to shrink an inch, despite following the recommended set of workout and exercises? It is getting worse as you are only gaining weight around your belly? Perhaps your low metabolism, food intake, exercise, lifestyle habits has to do something with the condition, or perhaps not. There may be an absolutely different reason to your protruding belly, than the common ones cited before and usually. The reason behind the bulge around your abdomen, may be rooted in a certain psychological condition. Those extra pounds could be a cross product of stress. While increased stress can result in reduced appetite at first, this ‘chronic’ stress may eventually lead to you binging into fattening food. And this phenomenon is commonly reffered to as the stress induced weight gain. Stress, anxiety, overthinking are almost becoming synonymous to the times we are living in. This stress is not only affecting the peace of your mind but could also playing a role in promoting weight gain, especially around your mid-riff. And a certain hormone called cortisol can be labelled as a culprit here. Cortisol Cortisol is also called the stress hormone. Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands, it is important for maintanence of blood pressure as well as infusing energy in the body. The hormone also stimulates fats and carbohydrate metabolism for greater energy and stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite. Shilpa Arora, Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner explains, “In the tension filled times body releases cortisol the stress hormone as a result there is a rise in insulin levels thus blood sugar levels drop and one craves high carb foods and sugary food.” The body releases chemicals in response to food that might have a direct calming effect, and this is how you binge yourself into gaining weight around your belly. Shilpa adds, “Also high cortisol production can confuse the entire endocrine system and increase appetite. Stress leads to over production of ghrelin your hunger hormone and leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full and satiated becomes passive.” Why is this belly fat a reason to worry? It has been found that stress and increased cortisol levels tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than around the hips or other parts of the body. Chief Nutritionist Dr. Rupali Dutta says, “There is a strong co-relation between belly fat and cardiovascular diseases. We have heard of apple and pear shaped bodies, those who are apple shaped, that is the ones with a considerable body weight in around the abdominal are at a higher risk of developing cardio-vascular diseases. Cortisol is known as the survival hormone. The concentration of the hormone is controlled by the enzyme found mostly in the abdominal region. Hence there is a greater storage in the fat tissues of abdomen , when you are stressed. Here are a host of remedies you can try to beat the stress-induced weight. Shilpa suggests meditation and a making a window for some recreational activities ,” In lives full of stress and compulsive eating disorders one should include daily meditation and relaxation techniques like music, reading , dancing or engage in some sport you like to play.” Dr. Rupali Dutta lists a couple of suggestions which can come in handy to cut down on the bulge, due to stress. 8 hours of good quality sleep, people might argue that it is not as essential, but sleep deprivation may have a bearing to stress and anxiety. Learn to delegate your work, you cannot take care of everything and yourself alone. Therefore fretting about it, is only adding to your stress. So stop, breathe relax, and plan. You have to monitor your eating habits and keep eating at regular intervals of time, as the sugar levels go down, the levels of cortisol go up. You must include high fibre, leafy vegetables and whole grain foods in your diet. Whole grains has a very positive impact in maintaining satiety. Also, remember to have enough proteins, most of our Indian meals are high on carbohydrates, which may make you lose out on the adequate protein intake. Make sure to load up on vitamin C, as it is supposed to boost the adrenal gland, which regulated the secretion of cortisol. It is essential to be hydrated, Nimbu paani, chaas, nariyal paani, or just plain water, make sure you keep yourself hydrated to prevent the stress induced weight gain. Try and take out at least 30 minutes and engage in anything that de-stresses you, dancing, listening to music reading. Yoga or regular exercise also helps keep your spirits up.