9 Habits That Are Making You Gain Weight
It’s obvious that consuming too much fatty or sugary foods is a habit that contributes to increasing obesity rates globally. A diet that isn’t balanced paired with a couch potato lifestyle is the problem for most of the weight gain that you may be experiencing, bringing on its own issues such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
But you may be subconsciously doing the below habits that are making you gain weight without you even knowing it. They may seem like nothing, but they’re the secret enemies that are increasing your weight. Tackling these habits will help you move towards a healthy weight without making any drastic changes to your life.
1. Not planning your meals ahead of time
If you go shopping late or wait until your stomach is growling to choose what you’re going to eat, that decision is going to be difficult. Your brain literally doesn’t work to its full capacity if you’re hungry. So it looks for something, which will instantly make you satiated – like a cookie instead of a piece of fruit.
To avoid this, you can plan your meals ahead of time, so that you won’t have your hungry-brain thinking about it when it’s time to prepare the meal. If you do want a snack because you’re starting to feel poor from being hungry, fill up your kitchen cupboards with healthy snacks such as whole wheat pita chips and hummus dip.
2. Missing meals
It might seem like an obvious thing to do to skip meals when you’re wanting to diet, as you’re consuming less calories throughout the day. However, this habit can actually make you gain weight rather than lose it.
This is because your metabolism slows down when you choose to skip a meal, making it a longer process to burn calories when you eat next. You’ll also be more hungry than normal, so you are likely to overeat during your next meal.
People who skip breakfast are 4.5 times more likely to become obese according to research by The American Journal of Epidemiology.
3. Eating when you’re bored
It’s easy to pick at snacks when we’re in the middle of our latest Netflix binge; but studies show that you are more likely to eat 5-10x more food than you would if you weren’t watching TV. Not that TV is to blame.
If you’re bored at work and eating your lunch or eating while you’re talking about something, it can distract you enough to not even realise that you’re overeating. If you are someone who eats at your desk or can’t get through a series without a snack, ensure that you pull out a portion of food, so that you can’t access any more when it’s gone.
4. Scoffing your food
You wouldn’t think that the speed at which you eat your food would affect anything – it’s more about the amount of food, isn’t it? Yes and no. The problem is that there’s a slight time delay of about 20 minutes between your brain to your stomach to let it know that it’s full.
This means that if you’re scoffing your food, you won’t realise that you’ve eaten too much until it’s all gone.
It should take you about 20 minutes to finish your meal. The University of Rhode Island’s study found that slower eaters took a third less of the food compared to those who ate faster. Cut your food into smaller bites to help yourself along the way.
5. Eating ‘low fat’ foods
Despite the years of public health warnings we’ve had regarding consuming fat, new studies show that sugar is actually a more looming cause of obesity.
We’ve all been buying more low fat foods as we believe that they are ‘healthy’, but this isn’t the case. Foods with removed natural fat may be less calorific, but that fat is instead replaced with sugar and bad chemical additives that are far more unhealthy. For you.
Sugar is quickly used up or stored by the body, which means that you’ll be hungrier sooner. Meaning that if you’d have eaten a balanced meal instead, you would have eaten fewer calories, as you would have been fuller for longer.
6. Using large plates
This is something that may – like many of the points on our list – make you frown because why could that make a difference? It’s another subconscious decision that we make – we naturally judge the ratio of food to the size of our plate. If you have a bigger plate, a normal portion would look smaller.
But if you have a smaller plate, a normal portion will take up most of the plate, meaning that you’ll feel as if you’ve eaten more. You will feel full, just not stuffed. It’s also been proven by a study in Spain that people eat less from red plates.
7. Not watching what you drink
Juices and sodas don’t fill you up for very long at all, but they can fill you up with sugar. A single serving in a bottle can contain our entire daily sugar intake.
Alcoholic drinks such as wine and beer can also be calorific, especially if you have more than one. However, when we’re counting the calories, we can often forget about what we drink, but you do have to add them up, too!
Instead of sugary drinks, opt for a glass of water or tea and coffee, as they are all low in calories.
8. Eating around overweight friends
When we’re surrounded by others, it’s easy to follow their behaviours. So, if your friend is overeating in front of you then you are 57% more likely to also overeat.
Research has also shown that eating around an overweight person can cause you to eat more.
We’re not telling you to drop your overweight friends – just don’t eat around them! Do something fun that can help you burn calories like exploring your local area or going bowling.
9. Not sleeping enough
Similarly to the plates, it doesn’t seem that sleep and gaining weight could have any correlation, but they do. If you don’t sleep, your level of the stress hormone called cortisol can be boosted, which limits your body’s ability to process sugar through insulin. That excess sugar then is turned into fat.
However, from a purely behavioural perspective, if you’re tired then you’re more likely to make bad choices, as you don’t have the energy to stand and cook a healthy meal. So you’re more likely to just order a takeaway.
So, there you have it! Were you shocked by any of these habits? Our brains play a much bigger role into our diets and gaining weight than we may have previously thought. But now that you have that self-awareness, we hope that you can start on your way to losing weight!