We’ve all fallen victims to workplace stress. Long work hours, deadlines, work-family conflicts and sleep deprivation. The amount of stress with workplace responsibilities can be overwhelming, and can (over time) present itself as physical ailments. Weight gain and GI issues are two stress-induced ailments that with chronic stress can become very problematic. Consider these 2 warning signs your calling to begin a stress management practice ASAP!

Warning Sign #1: You’re putting on weight

You have a consistent work out routine but weight seems to be pilling on. Sure, you’ve had a few more glasses of wine but how else would you manage the stressful workday? Your waistline is increasing but it’s not the wine directly that’s to blame. It’s your stress!

High levels of stress alter appetite regulation. There are many contributing factors but one that plays a significant role is a hormone called ghrelin. Grehlin is a hormone which promotes appetite and also plays a role in regulating anxiety and mood. Increased stress increases ghrelin levels making you hungry, cranky and anxious.

As a result, you reach for highly palpable foods. This includes greasy, sugary, high-calorie foods like pizza, chips, and donuts (mmmmmmm donuts!!). Now, you’re overconsuming food, or as we like to call it “stress eating.” Because stress is also linked to binge eating and restraining food intake, you may soon find yourself in the vicious cycles (Stress, eat more, restrict food intake, binge and repeat). These altered eating patterns will slowly start increase that number on the scale.

Warning Sign: # 2: Your Gut is turning against you!

You eat pretty “clean” for the most part but lately, your stomach has been very unhappy. You’re taking more bathroom breaks than usual and you feel like your burping up fire. Guess what? It’s not your diet, it’s your stress levels! Diarrhea and abdominal pain are just the beginning signs of much larger digestive issues. When you experience high stress levels, your brain communicates this information to your 2nd brain, your gut. Any dysfunction in this brain-gut axis leads to increases in intestinal permeability, visceral sensitivity, and pro inflammatory mediators. These responses can set the stage for several diseases including GERD, Peptic Ulcer, and IBS.

You can manage your overconsumption of food by eliminating high calorie foods from your home. You can ease your stomach by including more gut friendly foods, but ultimately, the best remedy is stress management. Weight gain and GI issues will continue if the stressor persists. Through trial and error, find a meditation practice, exercise or other activity that works well to lower your chronic stress.