women

If you’re tossing and turning every night, or burning the midnight oil, you may begin to notice the weight creeping around your middle. The American Thoracic Society International Conference shows that middle-aged women who sleep five or fewer hours each night weigh an average of 2.5kg more than those who sleep for at least seven hours. “When you reduce your sleeping hours, your body becomes insulin resistant,” says Associate Professor Peter Liu, from the Australasian Sleep Association. “It’s thought that reduced sleep causes changes in hormones that control appetite. It may be that changes in the hormones – leptin and ghrelin – make you hungrier, but also cause you to eat foods which are higher in calories. These eating patterns can lead to obesity.” According to Liu, the way in which our society prioritises sleep is also a problem. “We need a cultural change, where we recognize and value sleep,” he says.

Description: Researchers have reported that those who sleep for five hours or less a night generally weigh more than those who sleep for eight hours a night

Researchers have reported that those who sleep for five hours or less a night generally weigh more than those who sleep for eight hours a night

What you can do:

Try sticking to a regular sleeping schedule. “Our bodies are controlled by a circadian clock, which makes us sleepy at a certain time of night and wakes us at a certain time of day,” says Liu. “If you’re continually misaligned with that clock, you’ll feel ‘jet-lagged’ and tied.” He suggests going to bed at the same time every day. “Getting enough sleep is something to be proud of, not ashamed of,” Liu says.

7.    Lose the stress

“When we’re stressed we tend to behave in two ways: either we eat more as a result of feeling out of control or we skip meals,” says dietitian Tara Diversi. “Either of these behaviours can, over time, cause weight gain.” A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found women are more likely to feel the effects of stress from strained relationships, financial worries and career issues. “Your body releases stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenalin, in times of anxiety, fear or excitement,” says Diversi, “These create carb craving for foods such as potatoes, bread and pasta, increasing the blood sugar levels and encouraging the body to store fat if any energy is left over,” she says.

Description: stress cause weight gain

Stress cause weight gain

What you can do:

·         Eat regular meals. That includes breakfast, as it will give you the energy to deal with the demands of the day.

·         Don’t cut out carbs. Choose wholegrains, such as brown rice, or wholemeal pasta. Foods such as wholegrains or fruit contain vitamin B and magnesium, which are ideal to help you deal with stress.

·         Fish, seafood, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts. All contain the stress-busting omega-3 fatty acids.

8.    Buy blue plates

Ever noticed how most fast food restaurants have an abundance of the colour red in their menus and decoration? And why mother nature didn’t create any blue foods? According to research, originally by colour psychologist Faber Birren, and more recently by Kenneth Fehrman, author of Color, The Secret Influence (available from Amazon), the colour blue is meant to make you feel full. “Colour can have a physiological effect on your body,” says colour consultant Samantha Bacon. “With red, we get a quickening of the pulse, your heart rate increases and your mind becomes more alert. With blue, your heart rate decreases and the brain waves calm down.”

Description: The colour blue is meant to make you feel full

The colour blue is meant to make you feel full

What you can do:

“Buy yourself some blue plates, or put a blue sign on the fridge door, reminding yourself no to snack,” says Bacon. “Eating off blue plates won’t create a huge response: it’s minimal, but there is a difference.”

9.    …And make them smaller

In a study by Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, people given larger bowls served themselves and ate 16 per cent more cereal than those who were eating out of smaller bowls. “Smaller plates do mean smaller meals,” says dietitian Di Prima. “In fact, you can reduce your meal size by 25 per cent without even noticing.”

What to do: “Fill only half your plate with the kilojoule-heavy component of the meal, such as the meat and the starchy foods like pasta or rice,” she says. Then, to really cut the kJs, make sure the other half of the plate is filled with salad or low-starch vegies.

10. Choose your dining companion wisely

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that we tend to match the kilojoule intake of our dining partner when eating. So if they’re indulging, you do too; if they’re dieting, then you too will choose salad. “If a heavy-set colleague eats a lot, you are likely to adjust your behaviour and eat less. But a thin friend who eats a lot may lead you to eat more than you normally would,” say the researchers.

Description: “If a heavy-set colleague eats a lot, you are likely to adjust your behaviour and eat less. But a thin friend who eats a lot may lead you to eat more than you normally would,”

“If a heavy-set colleague eats a lot, you are likely to adjust your behaviour and eat less. But a thin friend who eats a lot may lead you to eat more than you normally would,”

What you can do:

The best dining companion? “One who is on a diet or eats healthily – you won’t eat as much as you want to mimic their behaviour,” say Lei.

 

 

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