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Back in the day, most doctors would recommend Americans follow the U.S. surgeon general’s guidelines for healthy weight. Plug your height and age into a calculator, and bazinga! Get your magical optimal weight guidelines.
Instead, many doctors ask patients to focus on the symptoms of obesity instead of the number on the scale. Focus on whole (not processed) foods, exercise, community engagement, and mindfulness instead.
What Causes Weight Gain?
There was a time when doctors believed that weight gain was caused by a lack of willpower and overindulgence. Today, we know that simply isn’t true. The media calls obesity an epidemic, but what is actually causing this epidemic?
- Hormonal imbalances
- Nutrition deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin C in your diet
- Too many processed foods
- Not enough access to whole foods
- Unbalanced diets
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Unhealthy food marketing
More and more we’re starting to understand that obesity is similar to addiction and depression. We used to stigmatize all three of these health problems, equating them to ‘bad behavior’ or ‘lack of willpower’. Luckily, researchers are now taking a more holistic approach to biological conditions that are driven by the mind.
Symptoms of Weight Gain
There was a time when the only symptom of weight gain was… gaining weight. Now we know that there’s an entire network of problems that leads to weight gain including:
- Binge eating
- Underlying medical conditions such as Thyroid problems
- Obsessing over food
- Increased alcohol, nicotine, or drug usage
- Hormonal imbalances
- Lack of self-care
- Withdrawing from social circles
We generally consider the most common symptom of weight gain to be the weight itself (because it’s such a visual cue), but really the weight gain is often a symptom of something else altogether.
How to Prevent Weight Gain
When it comes to weight management, hindsight is always 20/20. We can almost always look back at our lives after we’ve gained some weight and pinpoint exactly what caused the weight gain.
Weight gain is usually attributed to depression, anxiety, or other negative feelings. To numb these feelings, we sometimes turn to food — which gives us a boost of serotonin and dopamine as well as feelings of nostalgia.
To prevent future episodes, we recommend:
- Practicing regular self-care
- Eat foods that support your hormones
- Drink plenty of water
- Practice mindfulness and meditation with meditation apps and health apps
- Chat with a therapist regularly
- Become active in your community through friends, family, and charity
- Stay away from heavily processed foods
- Educate yourself on the dangers of food marketing and know what's really in the food you're eating
- Read books and articles about the science of eating
- Look into weight loss apps that are specifically designed to help you lose weight or maintain your weight. We recommend noom and Weight Watchers
Medical Treatments for Weight Gain
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, community and professional support are important in treating weight gain. Just as seeing a psychiatrist or mental health professional (even when you’re feeling ‘good’) is important for mental health maintenance, finding a healthy food support system is equally important.
Just some of the treatments that can help prevent and reverse weight gain include:
- Dietician support
- Mental health coaching
- Nutrition advice
- Stress management
- CBD Oil
- Mindfulness practices
Weight loss doesn’t need to be painful and debilitating. There are plenty of professionals who have the tools to help you make the transition from emotional eating and eating disorders to embracing a healthy lifestyle.