Are you putting on weight but you don’t know why? Or maybe you can’t lose weight and you don’t know why – you’re doing everything you’ve been told.
If you’re feeling frustrated and deflated that you can’t seem to get rid of the last few pounds, then check out my 6 Reasons You’re Putting on Weight Without Knowing It. You might be surprised at what they are.
1. You’re not being mindful when you’re eating
You’ve probably heard of mindfulness, or perhaps “present-centeredness”. This is all about living in the moment and being aware of what is happening right now. What are you seeing? What do you hear? What do you smell? and What are you tasting? These are coupled with the thoughts and feelings that you are experiencing right now.
It’s all about encouraging us to live in the moment.
Professor Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre says that mindfulness can be an antidote to the “tunnel vision” that can develop in our daily lives, especially when we are busy, stressed or tired.
“It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour,” he says.
“An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.
“Another important part of mindfulness is an awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they happen moment to moment.
“Awareness of this kind doesn’t start by trying to change or fix anything. It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.”
How many times have you been sitting in front of your TV, or your computer or maybe reading a book, magazine, iPad or newspaper and eaten that bag of chips/cookies/crisps/candy/sweets without actually thinking about what you’re eating?
Can you remember the time when you reached into the bag/packet to get another one only to find it’s empty?
What about wolfing down your dinner as you sit on the sofa watching your favourite TV programme only to find that you can’t actually remember eating your dinner?
That’s because you’ve not been mindful. You’ve not been thinking about what you’re eating.
It’s a bit like driving a car. How many times have you driven the same road day in, day out, and you sometimes wonder how you got to your destination as you can’t remember driving there?
Eating while you’re doing something else will mean that you’ll eat more of it without realising. This means that you’re probably going to put on weight needlessly, just because you’re not eating with intention and attention.
When you eat, try to sit at a table and stop to think about what you’re eating. Think about the sensation of it, pay attention to the taste, texture and sensation of it in your mouth.
Stop gorging thoughtlessly and continuously. Focus on what you’re eating. Think about the ingredients – where are they from, how do they smell, how do they taste and I bet you’ll find you enjoy your food more and eat less of it.
2. You’re drinking empty calories
Are you drinking empty calories? These are drinks that have lots of calories but do nothing for you, except help you to put on weight. They don’t make you feel full, they don’t satisfy your thirst, but they do pack a whole load of calories that your body stores as fat.
Empty calorie drinks include regular cola, lemonade, soft drinks sweetened with sugar, energy drinks, squashes, milk shakes and frappes.
Do you find yourself drinking a ‘super-sized’ cup/carton of cola a day, or endless cans of energy drinks?
How about sitting down at night for a glass of wine only to find that you’ve finished the bottle?
Do you find that one beer just isn’t enough and you then reach for a second and a third?
All of these drinks are full of empty calories especially alcohol.
Did you know that according the World Cancer Research Fund, alcohol makes up nearly 10% of our total calorie intake per day?
Alcohol is second only to fat in terms of calories per gram. It has 7kcal/g, just slightly less than fat which contains 9kcal.g.
Kate Medoza, head of health information at the World Cancer Research Fund said: “Cutting down on drinking can have a big effect on weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. It can also reduce your risk of cancer.”
Did you know that a large glass of wine has 178 calories, about the same as two chocolate digestive biscuits? To find out how many calories are in your favourite alcoholic drink, head across to the calorie calculator.
So, the next time you reach for your favourite tipple or sugar sweetened energy drink, cola or glass of lemonade, think about the amount of calories you’re about to drink and choose a still or sparking water, or unsweetened tea or coffee whenever you can.
3. Are you bored?
We all know that our moods can trigger our desire to eat, for instance if we’re tired or agitated or depressed we sometimes head for some comforting food, but did you know that being bored can also trigger us into eating more?
If you struggle with losing weight and keeping it off, it could be because you’re bored and you turn to food to keep yourself occupied. It’s not hunger that is driving you to eat that packet of chips/crisps or that chocolate bar, it’s because you’re bored and you want something to do.
Here are 6 suggestions to keep you busy and out of the kitchen:
- Go for a walk down the street, round the block in the park. Getting out into the fresh air is great for your mind and body.
- Read – it could be a newspaper, an autobiography, a gripping thriller or a glossy magazine
- Watch how to do something on YouTube. Fancy learning Tai Chi or replacing your tap washer? Learn how to do it on YouTube.
- Learn to knit or quilt – ask a friend or watch a YouTube video!
- Skype a friend, FaceTime them or just pick up the phone to have a good old natter with them
- Go out into the garden and do some deadheading or weeding or cut the grass or trim the hedge or plant up some spring bulbs. When you’ve got a garden the list is endless!
4. Are you really hungry? You could be thirsty.
Sometimes when we’re thirsty we misinterpret the signal and think that we’re hungry and head to the kitchen or fridge. The next time you think you’re hungry ask yourself:
- Are you tired?
- Do you have a dry or sticky mouth?
- Are you constipated?
- Do you have dry skin?
- Are you feeling agitated or irritated?
- Do you have a headache?
- Are you feeling light headed or a bit cloudy?
- Have you got heartburn or indigestion?
Do you have any of these? If you do they could indicate that you’re mild to moderately dehydrated.
Here are a few other tips to look out for to determine whether you’re hungry or thirsty or maybe just bored:
- When was the last time you had something to eat? If you’ve had something to eat within the last two to three hours the chances are that you’re not really hungry.
- Is your tummy grumbling? That’s a sure sign you’re hungry, but know the difference between your your body digesting food and the noise it makes, and your tummy grumbling because there’s no food there.
Have a glass of water. Wait for 15 to 20 minutes. How do you feel now?
5. Do you understand the nutritional value of the food that you’re eating?
When you eat, go for high-density food rather than high-energy food. This means food that has lots of nutrients for the fewest amount of calories. They give you the biggest bang for your buck. You can eat lots of them without putting on weight. That’s why eating plant-based is not a “diet” that leads to feeling hungry or deprived.
Believe it or not, when you change the types of foods you eat, you don’t need to think about counting calories or measuring portions. The focus is on quality not quantity!
This means eating lots of fruits, legumes (beans, peas and lentils), vegetables and grains that make up the Power Plate. The idea is to make every meal a power plate meal.
No foods are more nutrient dense than natural, whole grown foods. Try as much as you can to stay away from the Western diet pattern of high intakes of meat, dairy, oils, salt, sugary desserts, high-fat foods sugary drinks and refined grains and concentrate on eating lots of fruits, legumes, vegetables and grains and you’ll find that your weight will just drop off and stay off.
6. Lastly, and probably most surprising, is that exercise is not your key to weight loss.
Are you exercising in the hope that it will speed up your weight loss? You may be surprised to learn that there’s no scientific evidence to support the idea that if you work out regularly you will lose weight and attain the body of your dreams.
Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa and founder of Canada’s Bariatric Medical Institute, which advises patients on non-surgical weight management says:
“You can’t outrun your fork.”
It’s a myth, Dr Freedhoff says, that more exercise will result in greater weight loss. Studies show that people who exercise for more than the recommended 150 minutes a week do not lose more weight than those who exercise less. They continue to gain weight, just at a slower pace, he says.
If weight’s your concern you’re much more likely to lose it in your kitchen than you are in your gym. But don’t forget, if it’s health you’re after, you need to do both.
He says: “while (exercise is) unlikely to have a dramatic impact upon your weight, (it) may well have a dramatic impact upon your health, mood, sleep, and quality of life, all the while preserving your functional independence as you age.”
Exercise is the world’s best drug. It’s just not a weight loss drug.
Lose weight in the kitchen, gain health in the gym.
I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but gradual weight loss is the key. It’s all about changing your lifestyle not just for three months or six months. It’s about changing it forever.
If you’re just starting out on your plant-based journey then the following articles will help you.
How to get started on your plant-based journey to learn about the power plate. It was developed by Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and provides optimal health for you and your family and is brilliantly flexible so you can eat in a way that suits your taste and lifestyle whilst getting all the nutrients you need.
If you’re struggling to eat more whole grains everyday, check out my five tips to help you here: How to easily eat more whole grains everyday
And if you’d like to read more about the power of fibre and why it’s so good for you, then read my 5 fabulous reasons fill fibre You should also check out the information on page 10 in this PDF.
A typical food plan for the day may look like this:
Oatmeal/porridge for breakfast made with water or plant-based milks such as rice milk. Topped with fresh fruit such as sliced banana. Two slices of wholemeal toast, spread with 100% fruit jams. Read about my 7 of the best ever plant-based breakfasts
Water and/or tea or coffee, black or made with plant-based milks.
Mid morning snack of fruit, or read my post on 11 simple plant based snacks to enjoy at work
For lunch, how about a baked potato topped with veggie chilli, or soup and a salad. For ideas on sandwich fillings read my blog post on 7 inspiring plant based sandwich fillings for your lunch
For an afternoon snack remember to check out my suggestions here: 11 simple plant based snacks to enjoy at work
Now it comes to dinner. What’s quick to make, nourishing and doesn’t cost the earth? Try some of my delicious dinner recipes.
Let me know in the comments section below if you’ve found my post: 6 Reasons You’re Putting on Weight Without Knowing It useful. I always love hearing from you!
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