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Non Food Weight Gain Nasties
By: Meg Surmon

Weight gain isn’t just about what you put in your stomach. It is a complex mix of lifestyle factors that generally impact on what we choose to eat. So getting to understand those factors can play a significant role in helping to manage weight. These are three of the most common lifestyle factors that contribute to weight issues.

While some people find they lose weight when faced with regular and ongoing stress. Skipping meals, eating less when the timetable doesn’t allow it. But for most people this is often not the case. The long term exposure to stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol can lead to an increase in appetite and increase calorie consumption. Find ways to deal with the stress that doesn’t involve food or reduce the stress. Easier said than done but the weight gain tends to add to the anxiety of the situation and compounds feelings of stress… it is a vicious cycle that must be broken. Research from the University of Sussex found that reading for six minutes a day can reduce stress by 68%, listening to music by 61%, having a cup of tea or coffee by 54% and taking a walk by 42%.

Staying up late to get work finished or because you can’t switch your brain off affect metabolism and appetite. Research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in the US, found that night owls consumed more calories than early to bedders. They ate twice as much junk food, half as many fruit and vegetables. The body has natural patterns called circadian rhythms aligned with night fall and sun rise and metabolism. When this natural pattern is out of alignment the body’s internal regulation can lead to changes in appetite and metabolism which can easily lead to weight gain. Getting into a consistent pattern for night time and morning can realign the body clock and restore the circadian rhythms. Creating a dark environment prior to going to bed helps to suggest the body it is time for sleep and can assist the fall to sleep. Reading in bed, writing down thoughts for the next day before going off to sleep can help to empty the head for sleep. Don’t eat before going to bed! Try meditation techniques. If the situation is more serious then seeking sleep disorder specialists can help.

Researchers have found that those watching 2.5 hours a day were 93% more likely to be overweight compared with those who watched less than one hour daily. Most of us sit all day at a desk with short trips for toilet breaks, office chit chat and cuppa breaks. Consider your normal day; 8 hour day with an average of about 2 hours moving about the office, so 6 hours stationary a day. Add the sitting time at home and you might add that 2 hours back on. Or more if you are up late watching TV or gaming. That is a lot of time on your backside! Consider that an average calorie intake for a 60kg woman is about 1700 calories a day and then factor in lifestyle; the inactive woman has to remove about 600 calories from this average recommendation to account for the inactivity. That is the equivalent of about 1.5meals!

Added: 18-08-2011