back to blog overview

3 Healthy Habits that are Increasing Your Stress (and sabotaging your weight)


Cutting Carbohydrates

Ask anyone how to lose weight and they will most likely say cut carbs. Yes, as Americans we tend to eat too many processed carbs.  However, cutting the entire food group out (or at least cutting them down to only vegetables) can backfire.  Going too low in carbohydrates can put our body in a simulated state of emergency where it needs to turn to protein to generate glucose. Cortisol (our stress hormone) is the hormone our body uses to convert protein to glucose. 

Another potential impact is that carbohydrates is where we get our pre-biotic fiber that helps keep our gut healthy and happy.  When we aren’t feeding our guts properly this can decrease the production of our mood regulating neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin.

Your stress hormones increase, and your happiness hormones decrease.  The symptoms are typically an increase in irritability or trouble sleeping or an increase in sugar and alcohol cravings.

What to do with this information?

I know it can be scary to increase carbs, so I would start out with changing the timing.  If you are having trouble with cravings at night or sleep issues, position your starchy carbs at dinner.  Shoot for ½-1 cup.  This will help reduce your evening cortisol levels and promote a more restful sleep.

Wine at Night

A glass of wine at night can seem like our only signal that we have transitioned from day into night during this weird COVID time. However, we can also turn to it to reduce stress, take the edge off, or help sleep. This is where it gets us into trouble.

Alcohol will numb some of your emotions and slow down your reaction time.  This gives us that tingly feeling and can take away the urgency of your negative emotions.  It doesn’t actually change the situation, but it makes us perceive it a little differently, which can feel really nice! It does this because it is a depressant.

Now our bodies really like being in a state of homeostasis. So when it sees a depressant introduced, it wants to combat that to keep things status quo.  So, it releases adrenaline to rev us back up. This is why you wake up with a jolt in the middle of the night or feel anxious the next day after some cocktails. So, in this case, the tool that you are using to feel better is actually making things worse.

What to do with this information?

This isn’t a blog to encourage you to cut out booze altogether. If you are enjoying your nightcap and having no problems, you do you!

However, if you are specifically using it to reduce stress or help with sleep it’s important to understand that it isn’t as effective as it may seem.

With stress, often it is the ritual that we are craving. Try substituting the alcohol with a mocktail or even a different type of ritual that you can look forward to.  If you are struggling with sleep, check out this blog for some specific supplements and strategies that can help.

If cutting out the booze isn’t an option than shoot for happy hour over a nightcap.  Giving yourself about 3-4 hours before bed to give your body more time to process the alcohol.

Eating Too Little

When weight is one of your goals, sometimes it can seem like whoever eats the least wins. In this case, skipping meals can feel like a really good problem to have! However, when we go too long without eating (or have a diet too low in protein) our stress hormones are released.  This is where hangry comes from!  It also causes us to crave sugar and processed carbohydrates.  The result is a blood sugar roller-coaster, which wreaks havoc on our mood and stress levels and can lead to confusing stagnation in weight.

What to do with this information?

Typically eating too little is a result of good intentions (trying to lose weight) or lack of planning (eating is delicious, figuring out what to eat is annoying). If you are finding that you anxiety or cravings are kicking up at night, follow the chain back to earlier in the day and see if you are accidentally skipping meals or eating just enough to get by.  If it’s a planning issue, check out this blog on Decision Fatigue for some ideas on taking the stress out of healthy eating.

You May Also Like


CTA Image


Join THOUSANDS OF OTHERS recieving FREE recipes, tools and motivation to eat well and feel great!