Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Weight gain isn’t only attributed to improper diet and lack of exercise–stress plays a big role.
College life is a hotbed for gaining extra weight. Stressful late nights studying, eating high calorie, salt-laden fast foods and drinking coffee concoctions loaded with sugary syrups and whipped cream, all wreck havoc on a body. But now there are ways to eat smarter and relieve stress.
What’s Your Food I.Q.?
Here’s a quick quiz to test your nutritional I.Q., guess which option has fewer calories. (Answers at the bottom of this blog).
1.) Burger King Tendercrisp Sandwich vs. Burger King Whopper-one has 800 calories, the other 670.
2.) McDonald’s Large Triple Thick Chocolate Shake vs. two McDonald’s Big Macs-one is 1,160* calories, the other 1,080.
3.) Subway 6-inch Big Philly Cheesesteak vs. Subway 6-inch Chicken & Bacon Ranch-one is only 520 calories, the other is 570.
Restaurants across the country are jumping on the bandwagon to provide healthier choices for their customers. Check their web sites for nutrition information before you go. Notice the portion sizes and condiments which can alter the numbers.
Don’t forget what you plan to drink. Sodas, juices and alcohol often contain sugar and calories, as do specialty coffee drinks. And don’t be fooled by sodas that say they have no calories–the chemicals in them have been found to actually pack on pounds.
If the restaurant doesn’t have information posted on their web site, ask your server for nutrition information before you order. And just because they say it’s “healthy” doesn’t always mean it is, check the actual nutrition information carefully. Double digit fat content numbers aren’t healthy.
Once you find a few restaurants where you can have great food, but not with thousands of calories per serving, you’ll feel confident you won’t be packing on any unwanted pounds.
Stress and Weight
Normal stress won’t add a great deal of weight to a healthy person who exercises, watches what they eat, and does whatever they can to reduce added stress. However, unusual stress–the type that comes from major changes or traumas–can pack on dangerous pounds quickly. Usually this fat is deposited around the abdomen and seems like jell-o. If the stress continues, the weight will most likely stay put. During this time of extreme stress, some people may eat large amounts of food, or head for high calorie fatty or salty foods.
Cortisol, (a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands), is released as a response to stress. But with prolonged high levels of cortisol coursing through your veins, significant physiological changes take place–fat deposits to the midsection–is only one of those changes.
Students who go away to college find themselves in new surroundings, dealing with many strangers, often living in a place they know little about, with a great deal of debt, and cramming unthinkable amounts of information into their brains. If that isn’t considered a major bag of stress, I don’t know what is!
If you find you are gaining weight, but exercise and healthy eating isn’t helping, try monitoring your stress. In a previous post, Your Brain Needs Relief, I discussed a few tips given to U.S. Army soldiers to help relieve stress and anxiety. But go beyond mental stress and remember to relieve physical stress too. Adequate time to sleep, relax and enjoy yourself are essential. Taking a yoga class, watching a movie that will make you laugh, and learning how to calm yourself, all helps.
Answers to quiz: 1.) Tendercrisp has 800 calories, Whopper has 670, 2.) Shake has 1,160 calories, (any drink containing this many calories is a heart attack in a cup!) two Big Macs have 1,080, 3.) Cheesesteak is 520 calories, Chicken is 570 calories (this one threw me). How did you do?
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