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How Worrying Can Make You Fat

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How Worrying Can Make You Fat

Dr. Libby Weaver reveals the link between our minds, hormones and waistlines
Dr. Libby Weaver
Dr. Libby Weaver More by this author
Feb 11, 2016 at 03:00 AM

You think you want to lose weight more than anything? You think you would do anything to be slimmer? You probably already have all of the information you need to do this. So what’s stopping you? Or what stops you once you’ve started?

Every day of my working life, I meet people who eat too much. They know they do, but they can’t seem to stop. Sometimes it is nutritious food, sometimes it’s not, but, whatever the case, they know they would be much better off if they ate less or chose better- quality food.


Often these people are seeing me because they want to lose weight and they are precious, intelligent people who don’t understand why they do what they do.

These people know what to eat and what not to eat to lose weight, yet they don’t do it, even though they truly believe that they are desperate to lose weight. There is a really big difference between eating two squares of chocolate and eating the entire block, between one cookie with a cup of tea in the evening and eating a dozen.

We all know that eating too much makes us feel full and uncomfortable, but, worse, it usually drives us to say very unkind things to ourselves such as, “I’m so useless, I have no willpower,” and we go to bed feeling guilty and sad and believing we will never be able to change. The belief that things are permanent is very destructive.

So what might be going on for someone who, even with good intentions, just can’t stop eating?

Besides elevated levels of cortisol (the hormone which regulates changes in your body) due to long-term stress, there may be other biochemical factors involved such as low progesterone, poor thyroid function, or blood sugar that surges and plummets.

There are also likely to be emotional factors and core beliefs they probably aren’t even aware of, something I guide participants to explore thoroughly at my weekend events. Witnessing their “a-ha” moments is an honour.

One of the most wonderful and helpful statements my mother ever made was, “Don’t worry about something until it’s a problem.” If it becomes a problem, then you can face it, but worrying about something that truly may never happen only serves to hurt you.

As we now know, stress, whether it is real or perceived, may promote the production of excess cortisol. The ripple effect of a worry can very slowly and subtly change your metabolism to one of fat storage and a headspace of sadness and withdrawal. And it’s the chemical signals of your body that are driving this.

The beautiful piece of wisdom is useful to remember and act on, especially if you are a worrier:

‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.’

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

About Author
Dr. Libby Weaver
Dr Libby Weaver is an internationally acclaimed nutritional biochemist, author and speaker. Armed with abundant knowledge, scientific research and a natural ability to break down even the most complex of concepts into layman's terms, Dr Libby Continue reading