Cortisol, Belly Fat and Stress Busters

Brenda Allison

The latest buzz is about the dietary supplements that purportedly
suppress cortisol, a natural steroid hormone released in response to
stress. It is believed this rise in cortisol causes us to gain weight.
In effect stress is making us fat.

Dr. James Felicetta, an endocrinologist and chief medical officer at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Phoenix, says, ‘Beware.’ Even though the market is flooded with over-the-counter cortisol blockers that supposedly control cortisol levels aiding weight loss and blocking belly fat, Dr. Felicetta cautions us. He says cortisol blockers are based on pseudo-science because no medical trials have been conducted on these supplements.

But what about stress and fat? In my opinion the idea that you get fat because of stress does hold out physiologically, in one respect. Some people eat in response to stress. So if you are one of those people, not unlike myself, we need to find some stress busters. So what are they? According to Susan Felt, there are five bad habits that must be recognized to overcome the habitually stressed lifestyle. These are accompanied by red flags:
Feeling Scattered, 2) Overreacting, 3) Paralysis, 4) Powerlessness, and 5) Numbness.

Let’s look at what life coaches, psychologists and God [the supreme authority] have to say about the cause of these culprits and how one might break the habit behind them.


Ever felt this way? The cause is guess what? Stress. It’s about having too much to do. What do we normally do when we have too much to do? I know what I do; I go faster, work harder, and stress more. In effect when I feel scattered, I do more of what is causing me to feel this way. Pretty ineffective habit, isn’t it? This bad habit only leads to feeling more scattered, forgetful, and can lead to burnout. We know about ruminating about the past and fretting about the future. We know we need to stay in the present. So how does one break the habit? George Cappannelli, author of the book, Authenticity, says frequently, sitting still is the best antidote. ‘When we are lost in the woods, our first reaction is to go faster,’ Cappannelli writes. The idea of sitting still sounds a lot like what the Creator of the universe writes in the 14th chapter, 14th verse, of the book Exodus, ‘the LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Again in the 46th Psalm, David writes, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Hmmm? Maybe I should give it a try; what do you think?


What is the cause of this little beauty? The cause is anger; feeling overwhelmed. Too true, huh? And how does one break the habit? Rant. Rant? Yes, schedule a rant and rave session says life coach, Silver Rose. With a friend or alone, but set an egg timer. The amount of time isn’t as important as setting a limit. Once the timer rings, the rant is over. Rose says, ‘get it out with the prior agreement that you’re done and you’re not going to talk about it anymore.’ Okay, sounds tough, but with a little practice, doable. What do you think? Even the Bible gives us permission to be angry, but I never realized it said to set a limit on the amount of time! Look at this verse. ‘Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,’ Ephesians 4:26. Got to be done by sundown. Truly it would be my inner victim who wants to lament for days. Okay, I’m sold on this stress buster!


Oooh, I hate this one, don’t you? The cause is fear or facing something you don’t want to do. Yikes. Dread with a capital D. Okay, so how do we break the habit of this major stress inducer. Rose tells of her childhood experience of school-night insomnia when she was 8. ‘I was terrified about what was going to happen to me the next day when my teacher found out I hadn’t done my homework,’ she says. To cope she would sneak into the bathroom and fret. ‘Never once did it occur to me to sneak into the bathroom and do my homework,’ Rose says. The best thing to do when you’re paralyzed is to do what’s in front of you, she says. ‘Action cancels fear every time.’ Even Ralph Waldo Emerson had this one figured out. He said, ‘Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.’ Have you ever experienced this? Doing the thing I dread turns out to be easier than the dread I’ve put myself through. The Bible tells us, ‘fear not’, about 175 times. I think God knows that’s a tough one for us. We just got to find a way to push through and do that thing we fear. As the Nike ad says, ‘Just Do It!’


Okay, what is this one about? The cause is lack of self-trust, motivation, and self-confidence or [here’s that word again] fear. This can be fear of failure, rejection, loss of job, status or approval. How do we break the habit? Life coach, Janet VanWinkle says call someone for perspective. You may feel powerless to say no to what others want you to do. Instead of saying, ‘No,’ try, ‘Not now.’ It puts you back in control of what you can control.


The cause is loss of purpose, and [here’s my least favorite emotion], feeling overwhelmed, over committed with no creative outlet. So if we are going to break the habit, we are going to have to find our purpose in life. If you’ve not already read it, I highly recommend getting a copy of Rick Warren’s book, and reading, ‘The Purpose Driven Life’. It’s a forty-day read. We need to realize that having meaning and purpose gives us a sense of dignity and pride, which renews the mind and heart. God has a plan and purpose for our lives; it’s up to us to find out what it is. Life is too rich and full to spend it being numb or worse yet numbing our feelings with food.

So there you have it. Let’s you and I pick one of these stress busters and start out slow. We can stop being habitually stressed. It takes recognizing the red flags, understanding the cause and then breaking the habit. Cortisol, belly fat, stress, let the debate continue. When it’s all decided, you and I will have consumed less food because we’ll have less stress driving us to eat.


  1. I have been struggling with that my whole life I hope to be able to use these lessons to help me conquer stress eating

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