Stress and Weight Gain

Food and nutrition

Published on 1 October 2018
by Isabelle Huot

Stress is part of our lives. When it’s well managed, it can be beneficial, but many people live with chronic stress that damages their quality of life. While it’s common knowledge that stress affects your sleep and overall health, few know that it can also impact your diet.


During stressful periods, our body experiences a hormonal imbalance. Many studies have demonstrated a relationship between stress and an increased body mass index (BMI). This hormonal imbalance manifests itself as increased concentrations of adrenaline and cortisol, which stimulate our appetite and cause cravings for sweet and fatty foods. Excess food consumption inevitably leads to weight gain. It has also been observed that students tend to eat more and gain weight during exam periods. Eating certain types of food increases serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for our sense of well-being.


Eating whole-grain products every day can help us stay relaxed and curb our food cravings. What’s more, food should not be used to calm an emotion. Many lose control of their diet when they’re anxious or stressed. The book Cessez de manger vos émotions, published by Éditions de l’Homme, is a valuable resource to help you rediscover a harmonious relationship with food.


Regular exercise is also a great way to generate endorphins, which stimulate relaxation.

Isabelle Huot
Doctor in nutrition