How to beat the weight gain
Weight gain may not solely lie with the foods you're consuming. Discover ways your stress and hormones may be to blame.
The wrong cure
We put on a couple of extra kilos and we jump at the next big diet promise, and we stick to it, for at least two weeks. Then we give up due to a lack of results and resume our normal dietary smorgasbord. Alternatively, we stick to the said diet for a month or longer, start to see results, but crack under the um, weight of expectation and, well, the burden of starvation. Then we’re horrified to find we’ve actually done a complete backflip and put on more weight than when we started. Cue depressed comfort eating and morning remorse. The perfect recipe for more weight gain.
Yes, yo-yo dieting is a huge cause of weight gain. It messes with your metabolism, encouraging your body to hold on to unwanted fat, and messes with your head, wreaking havoc with your self-esteem and confusing you with a myriad of different dietary approaches, all boasting the revolutionary answer to your problems.
“A troubled brain often leads to trouble with your body,” says Dr Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. “Making poor food choices, blowing off the gym, and engaging in unhealthy behaviours are more common when your brain isn’t working at its best.
“If you eat a junk-food diet, you will have a junk-food brain and a junk-food body. Low levels of vitamins, especially vitamin D, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids are also harmful to brain tissue and your body.”
“Abnormalities with your thyroid, oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, or cortisol have all been implicated in both brain and body problems,” says Dr Amen.
“When you constantly feel stressed, your brain tells your body to secrete higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. At elevated levels, cortisol increases your appetite and cravings for sugar.”
The answer is far from revolutionary and not found in any one diet. Disappointingly, it’s simply to keep things as simple as possible. Don’t overcomplicate healthy eating, and stop giving your body a hard time and stop weighing yourself three times a day.
“Eat as nature intended, limit gluten-containing grains, stay away from processed sugary foods, eat good fats and prepare your meals with care,” says James Colquhoun, nutritionist and co-author of Hungry for Change.
“Before your main meal of the day, whether it be lunch or dinner (or both), start with a big green leafy salad. When you start with a salad, you fill your stomach with nutrient-rich plant foods, leaving less room for overindulging in your entrée or dessert.
“Eat in a relaxed state. Our digestive systems are very sensitive. Rushing through your meal or eating on the run will put your body in a state of fight or flight, which compromises or shuts down your digestive processes, cutting off the assimilation of nutrients into your system. What we don’t digest often turns into bacterial fermentation, bloating, or fat.”