The average person gains 0.5 to 1 kg every year. Although that number seems small, that could equal an extra 14.5 to 9 kg per decade. Eating healthy and exercising regularly can help prevent this sneaky weight gain. However, it’s often the little things that pack on the kilos.
But you can take control by changing your habits today. Here are 20 habits that are making you gain weight.
1. Eating too quickly
In today’s world, people are busier than ever and tend to eat their meals quickly. Unfortunately, eating quickly might be making you gain weight – this is because it takes time for your body to tell your brain that it is full. Therefore, people who eat quickly can easily eat more food than their body needs before feeling full. If you’re a quick eater, try to consciously slow down by chewing more and taking smaller bites.
2. Not drinking enough water
Not drinking enough water can make you thirsty. Interestingly, thirst may be mistaken as a sign of hunger or food cravings by the body. Best of all, plain water has zero calories. Just by replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with water you may reduce calorie intake by up to 200 calories per day.
If you find plain water boring, try adding slices of cucumber, lemon or your favorite fruit to add a dash of flavor.
3. Being too social
Having a social life is important for maintaining a happy work-life balance. However, being too social might be making you gain weight. Social situations often involve food or alcohol, which can easily add unwanted calories to your diet.
There are things you can do to stay healthy without giving up your social life. You can find clever tips to eat healthy when eating out like read the menu before you go to a restaurant, or if you are hungry eat a healthy snack before you get there.
4. Sitting too long
In Western countries, the average adult sits for 9 to 11 hours per day. Although it seems harmless, people who sit longer are more likely to be overweight and they have higher risks of chronic diseases and early death.
If your work involves sitting for long intervals, make sure you exercise either before work, during lunch or after work a few times per week. You can also try using a standing desk.
5. Not getting enough sleep
Over a third of Australians don’t get enough sleep and lack of sleep is strongly linked to weight gain. This is due to many factors, including hormonal changes and a lack of motivation to exercise. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain belly fat, or visceral fat. Carrying more visceral fat is linked to a higher risk of harmful diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep, you can try lowering your temperature. Your body temperature changes as you fall asleep. Your body cools down when you lie down and warms up when you get up. If your room is too warm, you might have a hard time falling asleep. Individual preferences will vary, so find the temperature that works best for you.
6. Not having time to relax
Many people lead busy lives and never have time for themselves. Sadly, not having time to relax could make you feel constantly stressed and gain some weight. It seems that this stress makes people unconsciously crave unhealthy “comfort foods” to relieve stress and make them feel better.
Meditation is a great alternative for dealing with stress. Aside from meditation, you can also try yoga, cutting back on caffeine and practicing mindfulness to help relieve stress.
7. Eating from large plates and bowls
The size of your plates and bowls could have a significant impact on your waistline. This happens because larger plates can make a serving of food look smaller than it is. This tricks your brain into thinking you haven’t eaten enough food.
Simply switching to smaller tableware may help you eat less food without feeling hungry.
8. Eating in front of the TV
People often eat while watching TV, browsing the Internet or reading the paper. However, eating while distracted could make you eat more food. While you’re eating, aim to remove all distractions and focus on your meal. This is known as mindful eating and helps make eating a more enjoyable and conscious experience.
9. Drinking your calories
Drinking fruit juices, soft drinks and other beverages might be making you gain weight. Your brain does not register calories from beverages the same way it registers calories from foods, meaning you’re likely to compensate by eating more food later on.
Get your calories from whole foods rather than beverages. Whole foods take more time to chew and swallow, which means your brain has more time to process hunger signals.
10. Not eating enough protein
A lack of protein in your diet might be making you gain weight. This important nutrient can help you stay fuller for longer while eating less food. Protein tells the body to make more fullness hormones like and it also tells the body to make fewer hunger hormones. To increase your protein intake, try eating more protein-rich foods like eggs, meats, fish, tofu and lentils.
11. Not eating enough fibre
A lack of fibre in your diet could be making you gain weight. This is because fibre helps control your appetite to keep you fuller for longer. Aside from appetite, the effects of fibre on weight loss are controversial. Nonetheless, the fact that fibre is filling may help protect your waistline.
You can increase your fibre intake by eating more vegetables, especially beans and legumes. Alternatively, you can try taking a soluble fibre supplement like glucomannan.
12. Taking the lift instead of the stairs
If you take the lift instead of the stairs at work, you’re missing out on an easy workout. You could burn 8 calories for every 20 steps you climb. While 8 calories may seem insignificant, it can easily add up to an extra hundred calories per day if you often travel between many floors.
Even more, taking the stairs may be faster than taking the elevator if you factor in waiting time!
13. Not having healthy snacks handy
Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why people gain weight. When people are hungry, they are more likely to eat larger portions of food. In addition, hunger can increase your cravings for unhealthy foods.
Having healthy snacks handy can help combat hunger and curb your cravings for unhealthy foods. Just remember to keep your portion sizes at meals in check. Otherwise, eating too many healthy snacks alongside large meals can still affect your waistline.
14. Eating too many healthy fats
Healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil and olive oil are an important part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, “having too much of a good thing” also applies to healthy fats. That’s because healthy fats are also high in calories. For example, a single tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories. If you add multiple spoons of oil to your meals, the calories can add up quickly.
Although healthy fats are high in calories, they are nutritious and should not be avoided. Instead, aim to get most of the fat in your diet from whole foods like salmon and avocado. These foods are more filling than oils alone. In addition, aim to eat a good balance of healthy fats, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. This should naturally balance out your diet and lower your daily calorie intake.
15. Shopping without a grocery list
Shopping without a grocery list might be making you gain weight. Not only can a shopping list help you save money, but it can also stop you from making impulse purchases, which are often unhealthy.
Here are a few tips for making a grocery list:
- Arrange foods by category so that they are easier to locate.
- If you’re familiar with the store, list your foods in order from closest to the entrance to furthest from the entrance. This will help save you time and avoid temptation.
- Make sure your grocery list matches your weekly meal plan so that you don’t have to go back to the store again.
16. Drinking too many milky coffees
Most Australians drink coffee daily. This popular beverage is not only energising but it is also loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. However, adding cream, sugar, milk and other additives to your coffee, can ultimately make it unhealthy. This means your coffee habit might be contributing to weight gain.
Making a switch to black coffee can provide you with the same caffeine hit without the extra calories.
17. Not eating enough fruits and veggies
More often than not people don’t meet the recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake and this is likely a big reason why they are either overweight or obese. Not only are fruits and vegetables loaded with beneficial nutrients, but they are also quite low in calories, which is great for your waistline.
If you find it hard to eat your fruits and veggies, here are a few helpful tips:
- Add some fruit to your morning oatmeal.
- Prepare some raw veggie sticks and take them with you to work.
- Add plenty of chopped vegetables to your soups, stews and lasagnas.
- Eat vegetable-rich soups and stews as it gets colder outside.
- If you find it hard to prepare fresh veggies, try mixing it up with frozen veggies.
18. Using too much dressing
A single serving of salad dressing can contain more calories than your entire salad. For example, common salad dressings like ranch, bleu cheese and Caesar dressings contain between 130 to 180 calories per standard serving.
To put this into perspective, it would take you 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace to burn off just the salad dressing. Instead, try to cut back on the salad dressings as much as possible, as they can easily add calories to your diet. Or better yet, opt for a low-calorie salad dressing like a vinaigrette.
19. Having irregular mealtimes
While delaying a meal every now and then isn’t harmful, constantly eating at irregular times may be harmful to your health and your waistline. People who had regular mealtimes feels less hungry before a meal and more full after a meal. This means people with irregular mealtimes may often feel more hungry and eat more food.
Most concerning is that people who have irregular mealtimes have a higher risk of chronic diseases. This includes metabolic syndrome, heart disease, insulin resistance and poor blood sugar control. In theory, irregular mealtimes may promote these harmful effects by affecting your body’s internal clock. This internal clock helps regular processes like appetite, metabolism and digestion, so irregular eating may disrupt their rhythm.
20. Not eating healthy on the weekend
People often find it easier to eat healthy during the week because they typically have a daily routine with their work and life commitments. On the other hand, weekends tend to have less structure and people may be around more unhealthy temptations, which can lead to weight gain.
But, you also have more time on the weekends to go outdoors and exercise. You can avoid temptation by removing unhealthy foods from the household.
There are many little things that can make you gain weight. However, you can make lifestyle changes today to account for them. By following just a few of the tips in this post, you can make sure you get the most out of your healthy diet and exercise routine and avoid sabotaging it by accident.