5. You skimp on sleep
Sleep helps you avoid extra pounds. Researchers at the University of Turin calculated that for every hour a person sleeps, their chances of becoming obese dropped by 30 percent. “A lack of sleep leads to weight gain over time,” says Dr. Jean-Philippe Chaput, assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, and scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Sleep is a huge factor in maintaining a healthy weight because people with a sleep deficit eat more (a lack of sleep interferes with leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite), and move less. “Lack of sleep increases fatigue so people are less likely to exercise,” he says.
The challenge: Increase your sleep quantity and quality. “Sleep between 7 and 9 hours per night,” says Dr. Chaput. To improve sleep quality, keep your bedroom cool, dark and free from TV viewing, smartphone and tablet use. Don’t smoke or consume large meals prior to bedtime, and move frequently during the day. “Active people sleep sleep better, so get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day,” says Dr. Chaput.
1. Eating your meals too quickly
A 2011 study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association reported that people who race through their meals are more likely to become obese than diners who eat slowly. Your body is equipped with a natural ‘stop eating’ cue, but it takes about 20 minutes for that message to travel from your stomach to your brain. If you dine too quickly, you can overeat before those messages are received.
The challenge: Slow down! “If it doesn’t take you 20 minutes to eat a meal, you’re eating too quickly,” says Desiree Nielsen, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian and the author of ‘Unjunk Your Diet.‘ Try being mindful of your meal. Notice the aroma, and colours of your food before you dig in. Instead of counting chews, Nielsen recommends chewing until the food feels fully broken down. “You shouldn’t have any large pieces being swallowed,” she says. By eating more slowly and mindfully, you’re less likely to overeat, or miss your body’s ‘I’m full’ signal.