I recently asked a group of overweight women if they had a stressful event that precipitated their diagnosis and weight gain. The response was immediate and overwhelming. From losing a job, divorce, death of a parent, child or loved one, the vast majority could point to a single event that changed their health.

Stress can make an immediate, and powerful lasting negative change in your life and health.

How does stress make you gain weight?

Although the “common wisdom” tells you that you gain weight from over-eating, that is only one part of the puzzle. Think about it this way: do you feel good when you are stuffed? Absolutely not! Your body has an inborn mechanism to tell you how much to eat, and when to stop.

Part of the problem is, when you are multi-tasking, you are not paying attention to your body's signal of satiation. That makes you eat to excess. Most people will eat any of the food put on their dish. If you're at a buffet, you tend to eat more. It's “mindless” eating! Multi-tasking is actually stressful.

Other people say that that they love to eat, and that's why they eat too much. The fact is, once the brain is focused on solely on your meal, and you pay attention to your food: not a book, a phone call, the TV, work or anything else, your body will tell you when you've had enough to eat.

Stress can make you gain weight, and it frequently deposits itself around your middle. It's called “Belly Fat”. Under the effect of stress, your metabolism, and all systems in your body that function properly are put on alert. If your body does not need that system to deal with the stress like running away from a charging grizzly bear, the stress response will turn down that physiological system completely.

For instance, your immune system will be suppressed in favor of focusing all of your body's activities towards fight or flight. That's why when you are overworking and stressed out, that's the time you get a cold! Your immune system is suppressed from the stress!

It's the same with weight gain under stress. Your metabolism slows down, and even if you are not over-eating, you can gain weight from the stress alone!

Chronic Stress can kill you

It's been estimated that 95% of all dis-ease and visits to doctors are the result of stress.

Any condition you have is made worse by stress. But what do people say when they're told that they need to do stress relief? They say: “I do not have the time”. The less time you have, the more you need stress relief. Your choice: treat the stress, or lay in bed with illness created by the stress that forces you to take a break.

The best stress relief is anything that you will do daily. Slow breathing; taking a walk in nature; looking at photographs of calming scenes or of people you love; thinking about things for which you are grateful. These are just a few, quick stress reliever.