1. Not eating enough calories/skipping meals
Restricting yourself can trigger your body into survival mode and store fat. Calorie restriction can also cause your blood sugar to drop significantly = “hangry“ which is unsafe for people with certain health conditions such as diabetes. Your body performs best when it has a specific routine, so try to eat your meals around the same time and regularly to prevent this. In addition to confusing your body by skipping meals or not eating enough calories, doing so may also result in eating more calories when you choose to eat, which can lead to excess weight gain.
2. Artificial sweeteners
As a Nutritionist the first thing I have to say is — artificial = bad! We don’t ever want to eat artificial foods that are made up in a lab. We want to fuel our bodies with real, whole foods that can nourish us. With that in mind, many studies have linked artificial sweeteners to weight gain. Now you may be thinking, shouldn't it do the opposite? Yeah, that’s what we all thought in the beginning too. The studies showed that people who consumed artificial sweeteners regularly “didn’t appear to help people lose weight”, in fact, they found a link between regular consumption (1 or more artificially sweetened beverages per day) had a higher risk for health issues like diabetes, obesity and heart disease. To summarize, if you’re going to eat sweets, just have the real thing (in moderation)! Or opt for natural alternatives like maple syrup, raw honey, dates or agave.
3. Uncontrolled stress
Stress is a natural part of life, we actually wouldn't be human if we didn’t become stressed, but being in a constant state of fight or flight mode aka stressed, has damaging effects on the body. When you’re under stress, your body releases stress response hormones, the surge of hormones being released due to prolonged stress can generate a huge spike in blood sugar, which causes a craving for high carb foods. this chronic stress can cause weight gain (especially around the mid-section) and has also been linked to higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes.
So how can you reduce excess stress?
Exercise — gym, workout class, running, swimming, biking, hiking, rock climbing
Sit in silence — take time each day to practice mindfulness and sit alone in silence without any distractions for at least 10 minutes to collect your thoughts and catch up with yourself, in a dark room is best
Laugh — watch a funny movie, hang out with people who bring out the best in you or check out a comedy show
Take a hot bath — light some candles, add a few drops of your favourite essential oil, turn off the lights and relax in peace
Try a herbal supplement — if you are having trouble coping with your stress, consider taking a natural herbal remedy like ashwagandha, valerian, L-theanine or lemon balm
Listen to soothing music
Meditate — try downloading an app or going to a yoga class
4. Sleep deprivation
Lack of sleep can cause an imbalance with our hunger regulating hormones; meaning we crave more food (like junk foods) when we’re sleep deprived, opposed to being rested. With lack of sleep also comes less energy, therefore you may be less motivated to do physical activity and more likely to reach for a third or fourth cup of coffee (possibly filled with sugar and milk) throughout the day. It can become a vicious cycle that is damaging to your health and waistline. A few tips for improving sleep include: powering off electronics 30 minutes before bed, taking a natural sleep aid, cut out caffeine after 1pm, wear a sleeping mask, try cbd oil or drink a bed time tea!