Reviewed by: Erica Grandjean, APD, BNutr&Diet
When it comes to weight gain, it’s the little things that matter most. Small, seemingly harmless everyday habits can have a significant impact on your body over time.
Think about it: when you’re losing weight, consistency is king. Exercise and healthy eating only works long-term when you stick at it for 80 to 90 per cent of the time, over a considerable period of time. It’s the same for weight gain.
Also read: 7 Snacks You Need to Give Up Right Now
So, aside from the obvious (portion control and regular exercise), what everyday habits are the biggest culprits when it comes to adding unwanted kilos?
1. You eat too quickly
Why: It takes around 20 minutes after your first bite for the brain to properly register ‘fullness’. If you’re scoffing your food down, your brain won’t have caught up to tell you to slow down, and you’ll be overeating in no time.
Solution: Chew each mouthful thoughtfully! Wait until you’ve properly swallowed each mouthful before you begin another. Don’t overload your fork and drink water between each bite.
2. You avoid all fats
Why: Consuming the right amount of fats can actually help regulate hormone production, metabolic rate and other crucial bodily functions.
Solution: Opt for natural vegetable oils, such as olive oil and oils found in fish such as salmon and tuna. Avocado, unsalted nuts and seeds are nutritious sources of healthy fats too… enjoy!
3. You’re getting inconsistent sleep
Why: Irregular sleep (too much here, too little there) will result in a fluctuation of the hormone cortisol, which has been known to increase fat, particularly around the stomach.
Solution: Aim for six to eight hours a night. If this isn’t possible, try to manage your stress or sleeplessness with exercise, hydration and alternative therapies such as massage and acupuncture.
4. You’re regularly treating yourself after a hard day
Why: A little treat goes a long way – but if you’re constantly reaching for a 3pm muffin, or bowl of creamy pasta after a stressful day, you’ll start to see weight gain.
Solution: Limit fatty or sugary treat foods as much as you can (say, once a fortnight or on a Saturday).
5. You’re drinking more alcohol than you thought
Why: Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories. If you’re consuming more than the weekly recommended amount, it’ll not only risk long-term health, it will quickly push you over a healthy calorie limit!
Solution: Aim for no more than two standard drinks per day, and have at least a day or two alcohol-free days a week.
6. You get tipsy before you eat
Why: Research suggests your body’s ability to metabolise and break down food diminishes after alcohol, so the calories from that Big Mac on the way home will quickly convert to body fat.
Solution: If a big night out is unavoidable, at least ensure you’re properly fuelling yourself with nutrient-dense food beforehand.
7. You’re not drinking enough water
Why: Drinking enough H20 will help speed up your metabolism, rid your body of waster and help curb mindless hunger. If you’re dehydrated, you’ll feel sluggish.
Solution: Drink at least six to eight tall glasses of water a day. Cups of tea count, but do be mindful of the diuretic effect of caffeine.
8. You’re multitasking while you eat
Why: If you’re guilty of eating in front of the TV (and, who isn’t?) you could be mindlessly eating more than you should, which is a huge problem for weight gain. When you’re focused on enjoying your food, you’ll be less likely to overeat.
Solution: Make mealtimes a standalone occasion with no screens allowed!