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When Do People Gain Weight?

Nutrition FAQ

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Updated January 31, 2014

Holiday Weight Gain

The holiday season is the next time when we tend to gain weight -- it's a common time to put on an extra pound or two. That may not seem like much, but it adds up over the years.

Many people indulge themselves with the good intentions of making New Years resolutions, but why not get a head start on January and stay healthy during the holidays?

Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

  • Eat a light and healthy snack before going to holiday parties so you are less likely to eat too much after you arrive.
  • Don't hover around the buffet table where the sights and smells of delicious treats are too tempting.
  • Keep your exercise program going. If you do indulge in a few treats, you may wish to increase your daily exercise time to burn off the extra calories.
  • Keep your alcohol consumption in check. Alcohol has extra calories you don't need and large amounts can deplete thiamine and folate in your body.
  • If you're determined to indulge, make sure to drink a glass of water between every adult beverage.
  • Offer nutritious foods at holiday meals. Greens and colorful fruits and vegetables are festive, delicious and healthy.
  • Don't pour on the extra sauces and gravies. Keep your dessert portions tiny.

Weight Gain During the Middle Years

Middle age begins at age 41 and it can be a very interesting time. The kids are older and maybe even out of the house. Your career and professional goals are being met and life (and physical activity) may start to slow down a bit.

A slower lifestyle pace may be nice, but this isn't the time to decrease your physical activity. Don't start eating too much junk food now, either. Obesity in middle age leads to chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia later in life.

If you're already overweight or obese, this is the time to lose weight because the rest of your life depends on it.

Tips for Avoiding Weight Gain During Middle Age

  • Keep physically active. Exercise not only burns calories but prevents muscle loss. The bigger your muscles, the more calories you burn.
  • If you are overweight or obese, it is time to get serious about your weight. Use a food diary to track your meals.
  • If you're not sure how to eat right, speak with a dietitian or nutritionist.
  • Now that the kids are gone you might find yourself dining in restaurants more often. People who frequently eat in restaurants have a tendency to have problems with weight gain.
  • Watch your portion sizes and make healthy choices. Share your meals or take half of them home with you.
  • Continue to choose nutritious foods:
    • Eat at least five fruits and vegetables each day.
    • Eat fish and lean meats.
    • Enjoy healthy nuts like almonds and walnuts.
    • Choose whole grains. Avoid greasy foods, fried foods, sugary foods and don't over indulge in junk foods.

Menopause and Weight Gain

Menopause is a time of change, both physically and emotionally and many women have trouble with weight gain during this time. Exercise is very important now; you need to stay active to maintain a healthy weight and keep your bones strong. Choose nutritious foods like soy, broccoli and cauliflower -- they may help reduce your risk of breast cancer. Keeping a healthy weight will also lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Tips to Avoid Menopausal Weight Gain

  • As always, choose healthful foods and watch your portions.
  • You will require fewer calories as you age. If you don't decrease your calorie intake or increase your activity levels, you'll gain weight.
  • Some diet changes and dietary supplements might give you some relief from menopausal discomfort.
  • Increase your fruit and vegetable intake and think about taking dietary supplements like soy, red clover, vitamin B-6, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • I've also got some tips for getting used to eating with dentures.
  • Calcium supplements along with vitamin D may help keep your bones healthy. Actually, you should start taking calcium supplements long before menopause.
All these tips to prevent weight gain are useful at any age and at any stage of your life. If you follow them all, you may be able to stay healthy, happy and physically fit. 

Sources:

Gonzalez A, White E, Kristal A, Littman A. "Calcium Intake and 10-Year Weight Change in Middle-Aged Adults." Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 106, Issue 7, Pages 1066-1073.

Levitsky DA, Halbmaier CA, Mrdjenovic G. "The freshman weight gain: a model for the study of the epidemic of obesity." Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Nov;28(11):1435-42.

McCrory MA, Fuss PJ, Hays NP, Vinken AG, Greenberg AS, Roberts SB. "Overeating in America: association between restaurant food consumption and body fatness in healthy adult men and women ages 19 to 80." Obes Res. 1999 Nov;7(6):564-71.

Roberts SB, Mayer J. "Holiday weight gain: fact or fiction?" Nutr Rev. 2000 Dec;58(12):378-9.

Rosano GM, Vitale C, Tulli A. "Managing cardiovascular risk in menopausal women." Climacteric. 2006 Sep;9(5):19-27.

Sobal J, Rauschenbach B, Frongillo E. "Marital status changes and body weight changes: a US longitudinal analysis." Social Science & Medicine Volume 56, Issue 7 , April 2003, Pages 1543-1555.

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