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Do You Know Why You Gain Weight?

Nov 7, 2007
Understanding why you do something is a crucial part of fixing the problem. The main reason for putting on weight is comfort eating, when we are stressed or bored, getting married; having children or generally becoming less active we tend to eat less healthy food and more of it. So what category do you fall into?

We asked people what lifestyle factors contributed most to their weight gain in adulthood. Responses showed four main reasons why we put on weight. Here's what they are:

Stress & Boredom 37%
Having Children 34%
Getting Married 12%
Becoming Less Active 10%
None of The Above 7%

Here are some of their comments; can you relate to some of them?

Stress & Boredom

"Both stress and boredom makes me eat, the only problem is that if I'm not stressed then I'm bored, so I can't win!"

"I'm too bored to cook so I eat rubbish and then I am stressed because of this so I eat more rubbish to comfort myself! It's like being on a constant merry-go-round that's going to fast to get off!!"

Now this is not as big of a dilemma as it seems. Boredom is stressful! Both are states of discomfort and eating is comforting. No matter how hard it is make yourself get up and do something, it doesn't matter what you do as long as it occupies your mind. You will be surprised at how quickly your boredom goes away.

Stress however is different and generally falls into two categories.

Stress is often caused by unhappiness with life in general or a reaction to a specific problem that leads people to comfort eat.

"It's like if I eat something it's comforting and it gives my brain something else to think about"

"The biggest increases for me were stress, losing job & grandparent & close relative, all in two months"

"Mine would have to be boredom and comfort eating; it's easier to buy a chocolate bar than get a life!"

If there are certain aspects of your life that are stressful try to eliminate them, if this isn't possible then reassess why they are stressful and try and find a balance.

Work, College and long hours

"When I was a trainee solicitor I was working from 8am until 10pm at the very least, if not until 1am or even 3am. You find that you suddenly get really peckish and you don't have time to run out and get a salad, so if someone is going to the corner shop you ask for sweets, crisps or a mars bar."

"I put on 10 stone during the 15 years it took me to retake my GCSEs, do A levels and BA and BSc. It was all the stress of long hours of study, pressure of assignment deadlines, canteens that served chips with everything."

"The stressful job, with long hours and mostly non-existent lunch breaks which lead to wolfing down whatever I could whenever I could, and of course the couple of wind down drinks in the evening."

We have all been in the situation of working long hours, whether it was studying or at work but that is no excuse for eating badly. Be more organised, make your sandwiches the night before or bring in a frozen healthy meal that you can cook at any time during the day.

Having Children

"Apart from the obvious physical side of putting on weight when pregnant, afterwards it is difficult to try and build in healthy eating and exercise into a new and hectic routine of having a baby, working full-time and studying part-time."

"The period of time after each of my babies were born. Stuck in the house and with no real routine I just ate for convenience and also out of boredom." KATYB

"Our first child had constant colic and cried all of the time, my wife and I were both extremely tired after being kept awake all night and going to work so we just ate takeaways for months on end"

Having children is without doubt the most exhausting time of your life and in order to combat eating constant takeaways you need to create a routine for yourselves and stick to it. When you come in from work one of you should see to the baby while the other one cooks even if the cooking is simply a frozen healthy meal. When you eat dinner do not get up even if the baby is crying for attention, if you only half eat your meal (due to getting up all of the time) you will be more likely to snack on chocolate and crisps afterwards.


Lifestyle changes following marriage or moving in with your partner were the main cause of weight gain for 13% of the women in our survey. More a case of getting too comfortable than comfort eating!

"More nights in, more food, more alcohol etc coupled with not going to the gym, or running as much. Didn't help that I got shin splints and couldn't exercise, but I should have modified my eating at that point but didn't."

"When I got into a long term relationship, many dates involved food; meals out, drinking, cinema with popcorn & ice cream. I was so comfortable with my man; it didn't seem to matter if I put on a bit of weight."

"Moving in with my boyfriend (now Husband) and at the same time stopping going to the gym, a complete change of routine from being active almost every day to hardly doing anything at all and also going out more (beer, curry etc)".

Putting weight on once you are married is very common today and is often joked about, but how do we put a stop to it. Once again it's about discipline, cook healthy meals and find some activity to do together that doesn't involve going out for dinner or drinking.

Becoming Less Active

"I was always a skinny teenager and as I worked fairly locally until age 25, I didn't feel the need to drive. Then work moved 30 miles away so I learned and began driving each day. Due to the time taken to commute, I became less active but still ate the same amount."

"I moved from England and had to give up teaching PE (different education system in Scotland) got other qualifications followed by a desk job and from being able to eat everything and remain a beanpole gradually put on weight through not changing my eating habits from when I was always active."

"Hours of job, meaning lack of exercise, I do longer hours in the summer than in the winter, not until 6.30ish, I then find it hard to go to the gym. In the winter, I finish between 5.00 and 5.30 so no problem in going to the gym and getting home before I'm starving. This means my meal choices are better too. Two gym visits a week in the summer if I'm lucky, practically every day in winter."

Being active doesn't mean going out running every night it simply means getting up off your chair and walking somewhere instead of driving. The more active you are the more energy you will have. If you want to help aid weight loss you will however, have to exercise regularly.

None of The Above

Not everyone can be put into the above categories so here are some interesting comments that may ring a bell with you:

"The principal reason for me putting on weight is/was lack of knowledge. I started to put on weight as many girls around about 16/17/18 because you do less exercise, start going out drinking, but carry on eating as when you were a teenager so you start to go on fad diets and end up following them, losing weight, then stopping them and putting weight back on because basically you haven't learned how and what to eat."

"My whole family are slim so my mum never knew about dieting, when I started putting on weight she just kept feeding me as normal. I am now 16 and have just learnt more about dieting."

"I love food and have no will power; it's as simple as that."

"When I left home I didn't have a clue about portion control and the weight piled on, I have struggled with it ever since then. I also believe that excess weight is in part genetic, my dad's side of the family are all big."

"I am also asthmatic and have had steroids all my life often in large doses. That made me eat, bloat and very rapid large weight gain followed."

"An under active thyroid that went undiagnosed for years as the doc refused to believe that I wasn't eating too much"

So are you any closer to finding out why you eat too much. Psychologists believe that if you can identify why you eat too much then you're half way to finding the solution.
About the Author
Jeffrey Benson is the owner of Self Improvement Centre, a UK's leading personal and business development resource website providing access to great articles, books, audio books, forums, seminars and other valuable free resources. Visit: http://www.self-improvement-centre.co.uk
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