We tapped the nations leading experts for the unexpected reasons why so many of us overdo itso you can break the cycle and prevent an unwanted pile-on of pounds.
1. Youre not getting enough sleep
Missing out on your zzzs not only puts you in a mental fog, it also triggers a constellation of actual metabolic changes that may lead to weight gain. A lack of shut-eye harms your waistline because it affects two important hormones that control appetite and satietyleptin and ghrelinsays Kristen L. Knutson, PhD, a research associate specializing in sleep and health at the University of Chicagos Department of Medicine.
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How to get control:
When were exhausted, we hunger for just about everything in sight, especially if its sugary or high in carbs. That may be because these foods give us both an energy boost and comfort (since lack of sleep is a stressor), Knutson says. To quell the urge for fattening foods and still get the energy kick you need, reach for a combination of complex carbs and protein.
“If youre feeling tired, you want carbs. But go for high-fiber carbs for long-lasting energy,” says Keri Gans, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). “Fiber burns slower than simple sugars, and adding in some protein keeps you satisfied longer.”
At breakfast, have whole-wheat toast with egg whites or a high-fiber cereal with fruit and a yogurt. And for a food-free way to perk up during the day, take a 10-minute walk outside. You also can prevent uncontrollable cravings in the first place by prioritizing a good nights sleepget seven to nine hours a night in a slumber-friendly bedroom (one thats as dark and quiet as possible and reserved for shut-eye and sex only).
A final tip: If youre plagued by sleep problems, ask your doctor for a referral to a sleep specialist. Also, see Potential Side Effects of Sleeping Pills.