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Can Stress Affect My Weight?

How does stress relate to gaining weight?
- Erin *

The connection between stress and weight gain isn't complex: When feeling stressed, people turn to food for comfort. To make matters worse, we tend to choose junk food over healthy food when stressed out, which means the calories can add up quickly.

Over time, this caloric imbalance can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of developing weight-related medical problems like high cholesterol and diabetes. Luckily, just knowing this can help you try to make better choices, even when you're stressed.

So instead of grabbing the chocolate ice cream the next time you feel anxious or stressed, reach for an apple, a handful of almonds, or a small bowl of light popcorn. Try an alternative stress reliever, like exercising (which will also help burn up any excess calories you eat), talking with a friend, or listening to some comforting music to help you reduce anxiety.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: October 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.