6 Things That Can Derail Your Diet

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Identify the link between your environment and your weight — and then put a stop to it, with help from Drs. Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, authors of Fat Is Not Your Fate: Outsmart Your Genes and Lose the Weight Forever.

The environments where you live and work and the ways in which you interact with them propel you either toward or away from weight loss and health by activating or “triggering” genes. Food choices, stress or relaxation, portions, risky behaviors, exercise or the lack of it — all turn on or off your genes. Scientific literature calls these “environmental triggers” because they begin outside you. Negative triggering puts a series of gene-based chemical events into motion that lead to weight gain and disease. Positive triggering does the opposite. If you couldn’t switch from negative to positive, fat really would be your fate.

These six aspects of your present environment may be triggering your genes into derailing health and weight loss efforts. It’s not as simple as “too many calories, too little exercise.” Yes, these triggers precipitate a flood of chemicals that modify the way you metabolize food and determine whether you store or burn excess calories, but they also lead to weight gain in other ways. For example, the hormone cortisol, which stress increases, changes the receptors on fat cells in the abdominal region and promotes fat storage there. Whereas sitting still reduces the metabolic rate, burns fewer calories, and stores more fat, exercise speeds the metabolic rate, increasing fat burning capacity for twelve to twenty-four hours even after the exercise is finished and reduces fat storage. Portion distortion sets you up for ongoing weight gain by increasing the number and size of fat cells. Lack of structured meals and toxic food choices starve your body of antioxidant chemicals, provoking stress responses and inciting the inflammation associated with diabetes and heart disease. Unaided by minerals supplied by antioxidant-rich foods, blood pressure tends to rise.

Likely, several of these weight triggers are very familiar. Countless times you may have considered their role in your weight gain. Perhaps your response is: But I can’t change where I work. I don’t have more time. I can’t afford fresh fruits or vegetables. Yes, some of these negative triggers are imposed on us. Certainly processed food, stress, sedentary deskwork and driving are practically unavoidable in our modern lives. Nonetheless, if you ignore the factors that are triggering your weight gain while dieting, you will not succeed in keeping it off. You have more power than you think you do.

Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Catherine Christie are the authors of Fat is Not Your Fate (Copyright © 2005 by Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Catherine Christie), I’d Kill for a Cookie, and Eat to Stay Young. Dr. Mitchell, a registered dietitian, certified nutrition specialist, and fellow of the American Dietetic Association, has appeared on Today, CNN, and the TV Food Network. Dr. Christie, also a registered dietitian and certified nutrition specialist, is a fellow of the American Dietetic Association and president of the Florida Dietetic Association.



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