Everyone knows that choosing too many rich, high calorie foods or living life as a couch potato can lead to weight gain. But here are four reasons you could be gaining weight that you might not have guessed.
- Portion size: Portion control is a big part of weight management. It’s not just which foods you choose but how much you eat that affects your weight. Although carbohydrates (fruits, milk, starches) have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels, portion sizes of protein and fats also need to be factored into meal planning for weight management. A great way to get a better handle on portion control is with the Plate Method. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans or salad. The other half can include both lean protein such as chicken, fish, or lean beef, and a small serving of a high quality starch or starchy vegetable, like sweet potato or brown rice.
- Low blood sugar: Frequent low blood sugar levels (less than 70 mg/dl) can actually lead to weight gain. If you need to include extra snacks in order to keep your blood glucose levels at target, those extra calories may start to add up. And if you’ve experienced low blood sugar in the past, you know how easy it is to over treat, taking in more carbohydrate and calories than needed in an effort to feel better quickly. If you’re experiencing frequent low blood sugar, it may be time to talk to your healthcare provider about a medication adjustment. Don’t let low blood sugar prevent you from reaching your weight goals!
- Lack of Sleep: When over-scheduled, sleep is often the first thing people cut back on. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can interfere with hormones which help regulate appetite and metabolism, causing increased hunger and weight gain. Lack of sleep can also increase the chances of late night eating, especially higher caloric foods. Most adults need 7 to 8 hours of sleep (although this can vary). Getting more winks should be an easy assignment—wouldn’t it be great to wake up rested every morning?
- Stress: Stress can actually have a two-fold effect on weight management. Stress increases cortisol, a hormone which can cause increased appetite or cravings for comfort foods high in carbs and fat. Cortisol can also increase blood sugar levels and cause your body to store fat around the abdomen, which in turn can cause your cells to be less efficient in their use of insulin. In addition to its physical effects on the body, stress can also lead to emotional eating. The tendency to eat for comfort increases when you are stressed.
The first step to lower your stress level is to identify what is causing the stress in your life. Is it your job? Is it too many family obligations or lack of time? As you identify your stressors, begin to look for healthy ways to help you cope. Here are a few ideas:
- Stress reduction techniques might include meditation, visual imagery, yoga, laughter, journaling, and social networking.
- Some people find music, exercise, or talking to friends and loved ones to be great stress reducers.
- Deep breathing exercises and daily positive affirmations may help decrease stress and stop the cycle of weight gain.
Develop some new coping strategies before you need them, so that the next time you feel stressed you will already have a plan in place. Stop, take a deep breath, and use your strategies to maintain a sense of calm.
For more information about managing your weight with diabetes visit:
American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/fitness/weight-loss/healthy-weight-loss.html
Written by Fit4D Diabetes Coaches at www.fit4d.com