WASHINGTON: There is a ray of hope for those who find that stress prompts them to reach for yet another helping of holiday goodies. And no, it doesn’t involve dieting.
Mastering simple eating and stress-busting techniques helps prevent weight gain even without dieting among women, suggests a new study by University of California – San Francisco (UCSF).
Women in the study who experienced the greatest reduction in stress tended to have the most loss of deep belly fat, the Journal of Obesity reports. To a greater degree than fat that lies just under the skin, this deep abdominal fat is tied to a higher risk of developing heart disease or diabetes, according to an UCSF statement.
“You’re training the mind to notice, but to not automatically react based on habitual patterns – to not reach for a candy bar in response to feeling anger, for example,” said UCSF researcher Jennifer Daubenmier from its Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine.
“If you can first recognise what you are feeling before you act, you have a greater chance of making a wiser decision,” added Daubenmier.
Daubenmier led the study with psychologist Elissa Epel probing how stress and stress hormone cortisol are linked to eating behaviour, fat and health.
The participants were not on calorie-counting diets. Instead, 24 of the 47 chronically stressed, overweight and obese women were randomly assigned to mindfulness training and practice, and the other 23 did not go through this programme.
Although no diets were prescribed, all participants attended one session about the basics of healthy eating and exercise.