Global obesity rates are on the rise, and despite popular opinion, not just in the United States. As processed foods become more popular and technology makes our lives easier and more convenient, for our population to gain weight.
While there are plenty of exercise guides out there and warnings on how to avoid gaining weight, there are some underlooked factors that might be making gain weight.
Each year the world spends $579 billion on fast food, which is more than the entire total gross domestic product of Sweden at it speak in 2013 and 2014. In the US alone fast food sales topped at $200 billion in 2015, an incredible climb from just $6 billion in 1970.
As fast food becomes more popular around the world, these figures are only set to rise. It can be easy to look down on these figures, but the modern high-stress lifestyle often leaves individuals with little time for personal home-cooked meals- so let’s look at some other factors that can help you mitigate some of the pounds you’re putting on.
11. Amnesiac Eating
Everyone’s done it before- you get home from work and veg out on the couch to catch up on your favorite show. In the mood for a snack, you grab yourself a bag of chips and munch away as you watch, mind enraptured by the fantastic adventures on your television screen.
Suddenly you look down and before you know it, you’ve finished off an entire bag of chips in one sitting! Known as amnesiac eating, this is one of the most under appreciated factors in weight gain today, and with Americans spending $7.5 billion on potato chips every year, it’s a widespread phenomenon.
A sister symptom can be ‘bored eating’, where you start eating something tasty out of sheer boredom, and food has long been a refuge for those suffering from severe depression. If you find yourself overindulging an easy fix is to swap to something healthier like baby carrots, where the risk of overeating will only be too much starch and an uncomfortable bathroom trip a few hours later…
10. Not enough sleep.
In a global sleep ranking study, the United States came in at tenth in the quantity of sleep per night, yet another study showed that 40% of all Americans aren’t getting enough sleep. You might think that being awake would lead to burning more calories, after all, your body is fully switched ‘on’ and consuming energy- yet not getting enough sleep can lead to some seriously bad weight gain habits.
If you’re finding yourself sleeping at work, you’re more likely to reach for a cup of coffee or soda, followed by a sugary snack. And if you’re at home and unable to sleep you’re probably going to go for comfort food of some sort.
Not only are you picking up bad eating habits, but lack of sleep also increases your fatigue, meaning you’re far more likely to skip a gym day and try to catch some Zs instead.
9. After-dinner snacks
Everyone knows you can’t have your dessert until after you eat your dinner, but maybe it’s time to start skipping dessert altogether. Though there’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, too many people are overindulging after eating, and it can be a tough habit to break given how trained our minds can be to continue bad habits.
To make matters worse, American dinner plates have gotten bigger over the last few decades, which offers a poor perspective on one’s dinner as a large portion looks much smaller when the plate is oversized.
8. Shopping when hungry
It’s an age-old adage: don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry, usually followed by another age-old adage: your eyes can be bigger than your stomach. The simple fact is that going shopping when hungry can make all the food you see at the grocery store appear delicious, and can seriously influence your shopping experience.
If you’re feeling hungry en route to the grocery store, grab a quick bite first, and then compare the amount- and type- of groceries you bring home when hungry and when not. We’re betting the results will surprise you.
7. Me hungry now!
Modern society is full of convenience, and all too often that convenience comes in the form of cheap, delicious fast food. As animals we are evolutionarily hardwired for instant gratification- in the wild extra calories are rare, and given the opportunity, it’s a better survival strategy to gorge now as food may not be available later.
But we’re no longer bound by the rules of evolution, and your impatience is going to end up costing you serious inches in the waistline. Next time you’re hungry, tough it out a bit and wait till you’re home and can make something healthier to eat.
6. It’s just a drink…
When was the last time you counted the calories in that delicious mojito you had to unwind after a tough week at work? Americans seem to have a major blind spot for alcoholic beverages and the staggering amount of calories each can contain.
The average beer has 185 calories, and if you think you’re safe by sticking to liquor think again- 1.5 ounces of vodka can contain 121 calories. That’s the equivalent of a bite-sized chocolate bar every time you down a drink.
5. Skipping breakfast
It might sound counterintuitive, but by skipping breakfast you are actually making yourself more prone to gain weight. That’s because after sleeping for 8 hours (or probably less), your body has fasted and not consumed any calories.
When you skip breakfast your stomach takes note and starts to rebel, demanding food. As lunchtime comes around you may have planned on a salad and some fruit on the side, but your calorie starved stomach is going to demand something a lot more substantial. Don’t fight your stomach- get yourself a light breakfast to keep it happy until lunch.
4. Portion distortion
It’s not just American dinner plates that have gotten physically bigger over the last few decades, it’s the size of portions served at restaurants as well. With plummeting food prices restaurants have heaped on the servings, and with a brain that’s still trained by evolution to eat everything offered to it for fear of starvation, you’re probably going to chomp down everything put in front of you without a second thought.
Try and get some perspective on what proper portions look like next time you go out to eat or order in, and then limit your intake. If you manage to actually pull that off, please let us know how.
3. Fat Free is not Calorie Free
Advertisers are clever, unfortunately, more clever than the average consumer. Many products nowadays are advertised as fat-free, while completely ignoring how many calories the product actually contains.
Consumers assume that the two are completely separate entities, when in fact they are closely related. High fat means high calories, but low fat foods can still contain a lot of calories- if you don’t burn those calories off your body will simply convert them and store them as fat! Stick to low fat and low calorie foods, or simply moderate how much you consume of each.
2. Condiments, condiments, condiments!
Nowadays almost every single restaurant in the world offers heaps of condiments for free. Sauces and drizzles, packets of ketchup and mayo- order takeout from your local restaurant, and you’re guaranteed to get a bag full of delicious to pile on top of your food.
Yet all these condiments can carry some serious calories, a single packet of ketchup is 20 calories, and a packet of yummy mayo is a whopping 90 calories. All that careful work you do in watching what you order can be of absolutely no avail if you’re ruining it by pouring on the condiments.
1. Not Exercising
Did you really expect any other answer? All of these bad habits can all be manageable if you maintain a good exercise routine. A lack of exercise is the number one bad habit for weight gain. So get out there, put some headphones on and hit the treadmill for a few minutes a day!