10 Surprising Things That Are Making You Fat
Bottle fed babies may be at risk for adult obesity
What Makes You Fat? The Answer Might Surprise You!
You ask the question, "What's making me fat?" as you diet year after year, lose weight and gain it back. If permanent weight loss sometimes seems impossible, there might be some surprising reasons why you are having trouble losing weight. The good news is, it’s may not be all your fault! The bad news is that some factors that are difficult to control could cause you to gain weight despite your best efforts.
Things in Your Environment Can Make You Fat
You might think that the list of 10 things that make you fat would include calorie laden foods like pie, potato chips, chocolate or your morning Danish. While these things definitely are not diet fare, you may be surprised to learn of the innocent seeming things in your daily life that increase your risk of obesity.
Below are some surprising answers to the question, "What's making you fat?"
Can your friends make you fat? How your social network influences you.
1. Your Spouse and Your Friends Could Be Making You Fat
Eating fattening foods is a bad habit that you can "catch" from your spouse. John Gray, PhD, the recognized expert on relationships and author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and Venus on Fire, Mars on Ice, says that spouses have a strong influence on each others habits. If your spouse loves rich deserts, gravy and pastries, you could “catch” those fattening habits and gain weight – even though your spouse isn’t fat!
Or you can blame it on your friends! If just one of your friends becomes obese, you are 57% more likely to gain weight, too. If a friend of a friend gains weight, you are still 20% more likely to gain weight. Really, you’re getting second-hand fat!
2. Your Air Conditioner Could Be Making You Fat
No, there are no calories in cool air, but one study found that women burned 250 more calories a day in 80° air than they do in 70° air. Sweating may not be as comfortable as relaxing in a cool 70° environment, but it will help you to burn calories. On the same number of calories, a woman in the cooler environment will gain a half pound a week. That’s 26 pounds a year for enjoying your temperature controlled environment!
How to Combat Factors That Contribute to Obesity
- Bottle fed baby? There's no turning back time, but you can be aware that you need to be extra vigilant about what you eat.
- Overweight friends? Spend time at non-food related activities where you won't be tempted to participate in overeating. Go for walks, bowling, mini-golf, plays...
- Keep junk food out of the house or at least out of sight.
- Use smaller plates. Don't put bowls of food on the table, but put servings on your plate in the kitchen.
- Substitute water for diet soda.
- Avoid cosmetics that contain phthalates (those that have the acronyms DBP, DEP, DMP, DEHP, BxBP or DMP).
- Avoid fragrances in cosmetics and personal care items.
- Use a water filter on drinking water. It will help remove phthalates and other residual chemicals.
- Avoid Number 3 plastics.
- Look for BPA free plastics.
- Buy hormone free organic meat and organic vegetables.
- Take steps to relieve stress in your life.
3. Bottle Fed Baby? It Could Be Making You a Fat Adult
No kidding! Don’t tell Mom, but it could be all her fault! If you were breast fed for at least 7 months, you are 20% less likely to be overweight as an adult. Children who were never breast fed have a 4.5% obesity rate compared to 0.8% obesity rate for children who were breast fed for 12 months or more. Poor Mom, she does get blamed for just about everything!
4. Your House Can Make You Fat
- Many factors about your home could be contributing to the downfall of your diet.
- An open floor plan makes it easy to see those enticing food advertisements on TV from almost anywhere.
- If you serve food on large plates, it encourages you to load up on more food.
- A kitchen and fridge full of junk food makes it hard to resist the things that are bad for your diet.
- If your lights are dim in your eating area, food looks more attractive and encourages binge eating.
- Yellow and red tones increase appetite.
- To curb appetite, use more blues on walls and dishes and accessories. Use blue lights to make food look less appealing and curb appetites.
Does Your Diet Soda Make You Crave Sweets?
5. Drinking Diet Soda Can Make You Fat
While it sounds like a good idea to replace sugared drinks with diet soda, studies have repeatedly shown that drinking diet soda increases your chances of gaining weight. Why? It seems that drinking soda with the sweet taste, but without the calories to go along with it makes us crave those calories. Have you ever seen someone drinking a diet soda and eating a big chunk of cake or pie a la mode? That craving for calories could be the reason! It has also been shown that artificial sweeteners may lower your metabolism making it harder to burn off those calories. Instead of drinking diet soda, drink water.
How Obesogens Affect Your Body
Obesogen is a scientific term for chemicals that affect the hormones that regulate our metabolism and cause us to gain weight. The body mistakes these endocrine-disrupting chemicals for hormones that affect its reproductive, developmental and metabolic systems. Young children and pregnant women are particularly susceptible. Several studies have linked some of these chemicals to weight gain.
Where are obesogen’s found? Obesogen’s are found in cosmetics, plastics, food and drink packaging, environmental pollutants, growth hormones given to animals and pesticides.
The obesogen, BPA is found in plastics. The U.S. produces six billion pounds of BPA every year, and it can be found in 93% of Americans!
6. Your Cosmetics or Shampoo Can Make You Fat
Chemicals in 70% of cosmetics, soaps and other household products throw hormones off kilter. Certain chemicals can cause the delicate balance of hormones in the body to go off kilter. Doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York claim that phthalates, chemical ingredients in many household products contribute to obesity by throwing hormones off kilter. To avoid phthalates, check fragrances and cosmetics for these ingredients: "fragrances" or the acronyms DBP, DEP, DMP, DEHP, BxBP or DMP — they contain of phthalates. Avoid Number 3 plastics and fragrances.
*Note on Phthalates: In the U.S., Phthalates have been banned from plastic food containers and food wrapping including water bottles.
7. Food and Drink Packaging Could Be Making You Fat
BPA in cans and in plastics can upset hormone balance and affect weight. Bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen, is an ingredient in certain kinds of plastics including rigid plastic water bottles and the linings of food and drink cans. It makes lab rats put on extra weight and throws off the body’s natural weight control system by upsetting its hormone balance. In humans, BPA is linked to heart disease and diabetes
To avoid Bisphenol (BPA), avoid No. 7 plastics, use a stainless steel reusable water bottle, limit your consumption of canned foods and drinks, don't store or microwave foods in plastic and look for products explicitly marked "BPA free."
8. Stress Can Make You Fat
Does stress cause weight gain? Yes, it can! Under stress, the body produces a stress hormone, cortisol, which triggers it to dump stored sugar into the blood stream. Cortisol will increase insulin levels and make the body crave fats and carbohydrates that will eventually lead to weight gain. The over-production of cortisol caused by long-term stress is linked to storing fat in your abdomen around internal organs and in your torso.
Combat the effects of stress on your diet by taking steps to reduce stress. (See my article on Why stress causes weight gain).
9. The Meat You Consume Can Make You Fat
Hormones in meat can make you fat. Stephen Perrine, author of The New American Diet: How Secret “Obesogens” Are Making Us Fat, and the 6-Week Plan That Will Flatten Your Belly for Good!, says that many animals are treated with hormones to make them grow larger and faster. If you ingest meat that comes from a hormone treated animal, you could be getting the same effect from the hormones as the animal did! Fatter cows, chickens and pigs = fatter people! He recommends buying meat that was raised on smaller farms where the animals are not injected with steroids to promote growth.
Researches from ten different universities including John's Hopkins and Yale School of Medicine have concluded that steroid hormones used in animals and dairy cows can contribute to obesity. (From an article in the International Journal of Obesity.) Steroid hormones tend to collect in fat, so lean beef has less buildup of steroids. Animals raised on corn or soy typically have many injections of growth hormones while grass fed animals do not. It would be a healthier choice to buy meat from grass fed animals.
Pesticides in your food can trigger obesity
10. Even fruit and vegetables can make you fat
Many pesticides used on our produce can affect our hormones and genes. This can slow our body’s metabolism while increasing its ability to build new fat cells.
We all know that foods high in fats and carbohydrates are diet busters, but what about the low calorie fruits and vegetables? The bad news is that they could also be causing you to gain weight if they have been treated with pesticides. In particular, tributyltin, which is used in some food crops and anti-fungal boat paints, is suspected of triggering obesity.
Organic produce is expensive, but it is worth it to buy it whenever you can. If you can’t buy organic all the time, then Perrine recommends avoiding the produce with the highest pesticide residues: peaches, celery, apples, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, strawberries, cherries, pears, grapes, spinach, lettuce and potatoes.
What's Making you fat?
Do you think that any of the factors above are causing you to gain weight? Which ones?
Avoid risk of obesity- Make better choices
Looking at the many factors that can influence your metabolism, hormones and habits, it's no surprise that so many people have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight.
While some things are out of our control, there are many factors affecting our weight that we can control by making healthier lifestyle choices. Be aware of how our friends, our homes, plastics we use and pesticides and chemicals in our foods can affect our weight. This awareness will help us make better choices for our families and for ourselves and help us to avoid some pitfalls outside of our diets that contribute to obesity.
Copyright ©2012 Stephanie Henkel
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