We all know that, when combined with a healthy lifestyle, the foods we eat can have an incredibly positive impact on our health and weight loss goals. Research shows that making healthy diet choices can directly reduce the risk of chronic illness and disease – but eating the right diet might be harder than it seems.
If you’re struggling to stick to a healthy eating regime, or you think you’re doing well, but the scales say otherwise, your weight gain may be down to a number of factors that are harder to control. Take a look at these 6 surprising factors that affect both your diet and weight – and make the right changes if any of them are relatable to you:
1. Certain medications
You might have experienced worse side effects in your medications than increased appetite, but it can be a real problem for people who are taking a certain medication over a substantial period of time. Antidepressants are known to cause hunger and weight gain, as well as the combined pill, which can lead to PMS hormones that make you feel extra hungry.
You’ve probably noticed that a night of poor sleep is always followed by a day of increased hunger and snacking, and there’s a scientific reason behind this: your sleep quality has been proven to affect your appetite levels. A bad night’s sleep can lead to weight gain and even decreased muscle mass. Sleep influences your diet, too – you’re more likely to go for unhealthy choices when you’re sleep deprived.
3. Water retention
If you’re including higher fat or salt foods in your diet, they may be causing something called water retention, which is when your body holds onto excess water retention instead of flushing it away. Water retention can affect your weight, rather than your diet – but it’s your dietary choices that may be causing the water retention in the first place.
With hormonal changes comes the potential to gain or lose body weight, and the menopause is thought to be a leading cause of weight gain in older women. The hormonal changes that come with the menopause may cause excess weight to build up around your thighs and abdomen. During perimenopause, you also experience an increase in the ghrelin hormone, which may make you hungrier, and more likely to reach for those unhealthier snacks.
5. Polycystic ovary syndrome
On the topic of hormones, women who have polycystic ovary syndrome may find that they’re struggling to lose weight simply because they’re unable to know when to stop eating. It’s thought that women with polycystic ovary syndrome have lower levels of a hormone called cholecystokinin, which lets your body know that you’re full after a meal, which could lead to accidental overeating.
Stress affects people in a number of different ways. While feelings of anxiety might make some of us sick at the thought of food, many people turn to eating as a coping mechanism. Studies have found that people showing physical or emotional distress tend to eat worse, too, by increasing their intake of foods high in fat, sugar, or both.