Hidden causes of weight gain

Weight gain occurs when you regularly eat more calories than you use through normal bodily functions and physical activity. But the lifestyle habits causing your weight gain aren’t always obvious.

Losing weight means eating fewer calories and burning more energy through physical activity. It sounds simple. But more than 68% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. Our lifestyles see many of us eating more calories than we need and not doing enough physical activity.

Do you recognize some of the causes of your weight gain in any of the following?

Food that’s labeled ‘low-fat’
Lots of foods in the supermarkets today are labeled “low-fat”. But there’s a catch, in some cases, low-fat foods contain high levels of sugar. High sugar foods can also contain lots of calories and so contribute to weight gain.

What can I do?
Read the labels. Look at the overall energy and calories. Although a food may have a reduced amount of fat, it may still have the same amount of calories” A food labeled “low-fat” may still contain more calories than an alternative.

Stress
It can be easy to reach for a sugary pick-me-up when stressed. Do this often, and you may put on weight.

What can I do?
Snack on fruits and vegetables and other low-calorie options such as plain popcorn, crackers and rice cakes. And find ways to cope with stress that don’t involve food.

Television
Watching a lot of television can contribute to an inactive lifestyle, and many people consume calories they don’t need while watching TV.

What can I do?
If you’re worried about your weight, take part in more daily physical activity, if your health permits. Try walking to work, school or the shops and spend less time in front of the TV. Don’t forget that you can do an activity while watching the TV, such as using an exercise bike

Your medicine cabinet
Weight gain is a common side effect of many drugs. The most common drugs that can cause weight gain are steroids (taken for many conditions, including arthritis, eczema and asthma), antipsychotic drugs, and insulin, among others.

What can I do?
Never stop taking prescribed medication unless your doctor or specialist has told you to. If you’re concerned about weight gain, talk to your doctor. In the meantime, make sure you’re following a healthy balanced diet.

Late nights
Some research suggests that a lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain.

What can I do?
Simple: get more sleep. You feel wonderful when you wake up from a good night’s sleep. In these modern times, we regard sleep as a waste of time. But sleep is central to good physical and mental health.

Good manners
In an ideal world, friends and family would encourage you to lose extra weight. In reality, they sometimes push you to eat more high-calorie food. Is it rude not to finish that double helping of chocolate cake at a dinner party? Sometimes it feels that way.

What can I do?
Learn to say, “No, thank you” and stick with it. Get used to the idea that it’s OK to leave food on your plate. Soon, friends and family will come to respect your decisions.

Portion sizes
Over the last few decades, the size of portions served in restaurants and supermarket packages has increased. A study by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found that burgers, for example, have doubled in size since 1980. Not surprisingly, research shows that when we’re given a larger portion we tend to eat more.

What can I do?
Coping with larger portion sizes is a matter of stopping when you feel full. Eat slowly and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding that over-stuffed feeling. At home, serve yourself a smaller portion and think about whether you really want a second helping. Avoid supersizing portions when eating out. You can control portion size and save money when you cook fresh, healthy meals at home or check out the wellness center to get the body you’ve always wanted.

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