Why Am I Gaining Weight and What Can I Do About It?

Most women struggle with their weight at some point in their lives. If you are gaining weight and you can’t figure out why, consider the following possible reasons:

Pregnancy – Many women mistaken believe that when they are pregnant they’re “eating for two.” In fact, the average woman only needs an extra 300 calories per day (that’s about the equivalent of a bagel with cream cheese and a piece of fruit) to support a healthy pregnancy. Allowing yourself to binge because you’re pregnant can make you gain more weight than you should.

Menopause – The hormonal changes that come along with menopause can cause an increase in appetite. IF you’re not careful about how much and what you eat, this can lead to weight gain. It may also be harder to lose weight once you hit menopause.

Not Eating Enough – A lot of women limit their food intake, thinking that this will help them lose weight. But in fact, when you’re not eating enough calories, your body begins to store fat and your metabolism slows down so it is harder to burn.

Eating “Low-Fat” Foods – Just because it’s low-fat doesn’t mean it’s good for you. In fact, low-fat foods often have as many calories as high-fat foods – or even more, because sugar is added to make up for the flavor lost when the fat is removed.

Lack of Fiber – Fiber is essential to losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. It also makes you feel full, so you’ll end up eating less. You should aim for 25 grams of fiber a day. Fiber can be found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

Lack of Fatty Acids – Some fats – like those in fish and avocado, not only help maintain your metabolism but can also curb food cravings. Not all fats are bad!

Birth Control – Weight gain is a common side-effect for most contraceptive pills.

Stress – Like under-eating, stress causes your body go into crisis mode, in which the metabolism slows down and fat is stored rather than burned.

Lack of Sleep – Again, when you’re not living healthily and taking care of yourself, your body thinks it is in crisis. One of the ways the body reacts to a lack of sleep is by storing fat.

Depression – Do you binge on ice cream or potato chips when you’re down? Many women engage in “emotional eating.” Explore other, healthier ways to deal with your feelings. Try exercising, talking to a friend or a therapist, writing in a journal or talk to your doctor about antidepressants.

Illness – There are a quite a few illnesses that include weight gain in their list of symptoms. These include thyroid disease, ovarian cysts, and liver, kidney and heart illnesses. Breast cancer treatments can also cause fluctuation in weight.

If you believe the cause of your weight gain might be something you can change, like your lifestyle choices, make a change – even a small one at first, like going to bed 15 minutes earlier or walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator. But if you believe it might be a medical issue, make an appointment to talk to your physician.