6 reasons why you’re overweight

Not sure how the number on the scale got so high? You’re not alone. Here are six reasons why you’re overweight’and what you can do about it

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woman on scale

Solving the weight-gain mystery

If you’ve noticed that your jeans are uncomfortably snug and the number on the scale is creeping ever higher, you’re not alone. According to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation, almost 60 percent of Canadian adults are overweight or obese. But that’s cold comfort considering that excess weight can lead to a host of health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. So how did you put on those extra pounds? Check out these common reasons for weight gain and learn how changing your habits can help you slim down. 

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sleep problem

1. You’re not sleeping enough

Not only do we crave unhealthy comfort foods when we’re  tired, but our sleep levels are linked to our hormone levels, says Joey Shulman, the Thornhill, Ont.-based author of The Last 15-A Weight Loss Breakthrough. “People who are sleep-deprived tend to have more secretions of the hormone cortisol, so they’re more stressed out. And that’s going to trigger fat storage as well,” she says. Lack of sleep also causes fluctuations in the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which indicate whether you’re full or hungry.


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healthy eating restaurant sushi

2. You eat out too often

The average Canadian family now spends almost 30 percent of its food budget at restaurants and fast-food joints, according to Statistics Canada. “People who eat out a lot tend to eat less-healthy food and to be heavier,” says Melodie Yong, dietitian for the Heart and Lung Institute of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. In fact, the decline of cooking at home tracks very closely with the rise in obesity over the past 30 years, she notes.


Solution: A recent Angus Reid poll found that two-thirds of Canadians admit to having cooking anxieties-they’re afraid their own families won’t like what they serve. But who cares if the meal you cook isn’t worthy of Michelin Stars? Start cooking with simple recipes and have fun experimenting with wholesome foods.

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play with friends

3. You overindulge on weekends

Researchers have found that people don’t realize they eat markedly more on weekends, particularly on Saturdays, when they tend to consume more fat. Those extra calories can add up quickly.


Solution: To combat overindulging on Saturday and Sunday, pay attention to portion size, weigh yourself daily (or on Fridays and Mondays only) and watch your alcohol intake, which provides empty calories and lowers your food inhibitions.

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measuring cups

4. Your food portions are too large

It’s a simple fact: Eat less and you’ll lose weight. There’s good evidence that over the past 50 years, restaurant portions have “super-sized,” and our waistlines have grown along with them. We’ve become accustomed to eating larger servings to the detriment of our health.


Solution: Use a smaller plate for your meals. Less space on the plate means automatic portion control. And when ordering or buying food, choose the smallest size of any high-calorie items.

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energy drinks

5. You’re drinking extra calories

Many recent studies indicate that consumption of sugary drinks is playing a key role in the obesity epidemic currently afflicting the population. But even your morning coffee can pack an unexpected calorie punch. For example, a Tim Hortons Iced Cappuccino with cream (10 oz) contains 250 calories, 11 grams of fat (6 grams saturated fat) and 50 grams of sodium.


Solution: Sip water with your meals and view drinks such as juice and pop as special treats. And that morning ice capp at Tim’s? Add milk instead of cream to cut 100 calories and 9.5 grams of fat.

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reading food labels

6. You’re not reading food labels correctly

Reading labels is about more than simply looking for food items that claim to be diet friendly. “Just because it’s low in fat doesn’t mean it’s low in sugar,” says Shulman, “and too much sugar will knock you out of insulin balance, which can trigger weight gain.” ??Food additives can also cause the digestive system to become sluggish.


Solution: Take the time to read food labels carefully and consider cutting out processed foods altogether when trying to lose weight. “By removing processed foods from the diet and replacing them with nutritious alternatives-whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, fish, organic poultry, and eggs-weight can come off,” advises Toronto nutritionist Aviva Allen.

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30-minute cookbook

Get quick, healthy meal ideas in the 30-Minute Cookbook

Supper’s ready – just like that! Dinnertime is sure to be a cinch from now on, with this unique, efficient approach to cooking, that lets you prepare any of 300 mouthwatering recipes in just half an hour! From zesty soups to wholesome main courses to heavenly desserts, each recipe also includes preparation and cooking times, nutritional guidelines, the sequence of ingredients – even the utensils to have on hand. You’ll always have time for a terrific home-cooked meal.


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