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Why am I obese?

(418 Posts)
aapple Thu 04-Mar-21 16:14:01

Obviously, I eat more calories than I burn off. My BMI is 32. But why, what can I change?

I've done the calorie counting thing and reached a healthy weight many times before. It never sticks, and I want to make permanent lifestyle changes this time. I don't care if it takes years to reach a healthy weight, but I'd prefer if it didn't take decades.

I'm not looking to do anything that I wouldn't want the whole family doing. So no cutting out entire food groups, or fasting etc. I don't want to teach my kids those habits.

I live somewhere with little to no 'temptations' from shops and takeaways. I get my shopping delivered, pay for petrol at the pump and rarely go past any other shops. So I'm not sure it is the food environment. My weekly shopping list is all fruit, vegetables, dairy, bread, fish. A little jam, peanut butter and chocolate. Reasonably healthy I think.

I get some exercise, not a lot. I'm a stay at home parent, so rarely actually sit down between 5am and 9pm. I go for walks, at small person pace. I clean and garden. I do mum and baby pilates, and go for short runs at the weekend. I don't know where I would squeeze more exercise in really.

95% of what we eat is cooked from scratch, using whole foods. We don't have desserts often. I never drink alcohol, juice, squash. Just water and tea (no milk or sugar), maybe a coke with a meal out.

I only eat at the table, although days are hectic, so it is not always 3 meals a day. Sometimes there just isn't time for me to eat at mealtime if the kids are having a bad day. I've bought the "right" sized plates etc, to make sure I'm not having huge portions.

I guess I just eat too much. Probably too many rounds of toast and jam when I need a pick me up.

I do usually have a substantial snack when the kids are in bed. But I'm still breastfeeding my toddler through the night. I can get to sleep the first few times, but without that extra food I find I am too hungry to fall back asleep after the 3am feed.

Sorry, that's a bit long. Just musing really. Any constructive thoughts appreciated.

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Mrsmorton Thu 04-Mar-21 16:16:33

Dr Fung's obesity code is interesting. Talks a lot about sugar and insulin. Worth a listen or read if you've time.

blue25 Thu 04-Mar-21 16:25:23

Hugely reducing sugar and carbs worked for me, so rounds of toast & jam would be a big no!

You can cook normal meals for the family, but make sure you don’t eat the potatoes, rice etc.

aapple Thu 04-Mar-21 16:28:36

I'm not sure I want my kids to see me avoiding perfectly normal foods like potatoes though. Seems kind of messed up.

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TonTonMacoute Thu 04-Mar-21 16:30:03

There can be many factors, and a hectic lifestyle doesn't help. It can take more planning and organisation than you might think to eat well.

Dr Chatterjee is very, very good at helping you analyse where problems are, and advice on how to structure a sensible eating and lifestyle plan - however busy you are!


RandomMess Thu 04-Mar-21 16:30:31

There is a huge difference to avoiding carbs altogether and eating rounds of bread and jam.

Bread is a highly processed food as well as high carb.

Carbs are very addictive so cutting out all carbs bar vegetables is a healthy diet.

RandomMess Thu 04-Mar-21 16:32:19

Also are you hungry or just tired and having carb cravings??

Very difficult to distinguish between the two!

AtleastitsnotMonday Thu 04-Mar-21 16:33:36

Could you give a detailed example of what you eat and drink in a day and include portion size and cooking method where possible? It’s hard to make recommendations without knowing what you are having.

aapple Thu 04-Mar-21 16:35:22

I make my own bread, but yeah, probably should eat less toast. I'm still not sure that cutting out all carbs (bar vegetables) is an example I want to set my kids though.

OP’s posts: |
RandomMess Thu 04-Mar-21 16:38:00

Have you ever logged everything you eat on MyFitnessPal - weighed properly etc so you know portion size?

This is not just about calories but will give you the carb/protein/fat breakdown.

BarbaraofSeville Thu 04-Mar-21 16:39:37

How much is 'too much toast and jam' realistically? A single slice with butter and jam could easily be 200+ calories of sugary carbs, which is just going to play havoc with your blood sugar levels.

Plus what is your 'substantial snack' in the evening?

Three small cooked from scratch meals and few puddings or drinks sound fine. But that can easily be vastly outweighed by what could be a thousand calories a day of jammy toast and whatever your evening snack is.

Have you tried a food diary or my fitness pal, completed honestly? Do you eat your children's leftovers?

emmathedilemma Thu 04-Mar-21 16:40:56

Portion sizes or hidden "extras" e.g. sauces & condiments. You can cook from scratch but still eat too many calories.
When I lost weight I didn't eliminate anything from my diet but was very careful about weighing portions of carbs (and still do) - a standard portion of rice or pasta for me would be 60g (dry, uncooked weight) and 200g (uncooked) for potatoes. Likewise, breakfast cereals - if you look at the calories per portion size it's typically 30g. Weight that amount of cereal into a bowl and the average 3yr old would ask for seconds!

Yellowbowlbanana Thu 04-Mar-21 16:42:22

aapple It's not really messed up though. You consider your eating habits as they are to be "normal" and that is what you are teaching your kids. But you're obese and those are the habits you are teaching your kids. I hope that doesn't sound harsh, it's certainly not meant to but I think as a society we have skewed what normal is. We have an abundance of food available to us and it can be very hard to know what choices to make.
If calorie counting has worked for you before then go back to that. You will need to reduce your calories and then find a level that suits you where you are not putting on weight. That in itself is the lifestyle choice - developing an awareness and understanding of what you put in your body in relation to what it needs. If it's too restrictive long term then it won't be sustainable and you will go back to old habits.
I am a healthy weight but not skinny. I do intermittent fasting quite regularly. My DC asked me why I don't always eat dinner with them and I just explained that my body only needs a finite amount of energy and I don't actually need to give it more that day. I explained that they are growing and developing so their bodies have different needs to mine. I don't think that is abnormal just reality. If I ate "normally" I would be overweight and that is my way of controlling my weight. It means that I get to enjoy my food.
From an exercise perspective, could you add a 10 minute HIIT workout into your day as a start? There are plenty available on YouTube and 10 minutes is a manageable start point.
Hope you find the answers you are seeking. Weight is such an emotive topic and actually the same strategy doesn't work for everyone.

Etinox Thu 04-Mar-21 16:43:35

How old are your dcs? You mention feeding one. There’s a world of difference between the example you’re setting them by running away screaming whenever food is mentioned and having one potato not more or a drink and sitting with them while they’re having lunch. 18:6 is really effective.

LunaNorth Thu 04-Mar-21 16:43:49

I’ve lost about 20lbs over the past six months by logging everything on MFP.

I set my calorie limit to 1800, and make sure I burn more calories than I eat by doing C25K, Davina exercise DVDs, outdoor swimming in summer and endless dog walks.

It’s taken ages, but I’ve never felt hungry or deprived, and I hope this is a permanent change.

Worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Mar-21 16:44:30

Calories are not equal. Have you looked at glycaemic load of foods? It’s the diet recommended by the Diabetes charity as it smooths blood sugar spikes. It also recognises that calories are not all equal, or at least the way our body processes them is not equal.

Since following the diet I don’t get cravings. It also allows icecream and dark chocolate so doesn’t feel deprived.

ThePawtriarchy Thu 04-Mar-21 16:47:35

The low carb thing is definitely worth a try, you might well be insulin resistant and potentially diabetic or pre-diabetic. It also might help (after the first couple of days) with the 3am thing, as you won’t be having the wild blood sugar swings. I totally get it’s hard when breastfeeding though.

I hear what you’re saying about not wanting the kids to see you cutting out whole food groups but at the moment they’re seeing you (and I say this very gently, as I’ve had similar struggles) quite overweight. This doesn’t have to look faddy. You can still have a nice plate of food with lots of vegetables, meat (if you eat it etc), just that they’ll have that extra portion of rice or potatoes etc.

Anyway, just an idea. I totally understand the situation you’re in and can relate!

BarbaraofSeville Thu 04-Mar-21 16:47:50

I'd try swapping the toast for a small handful of nuts, perhaps eat more in the morning/at lunch and have a smaller dinner and maybe stop making bread if it's something you're unable to resist.

Count calories or at least have an honest appraisal of how much you are eating and how much you need to cut down and watch the evening snacking. Again nuts, cheese, olives and fruit is better than toast, crisps, chocolate, biscuits etc.

MrsComte Thu 04-Mar-21 16:47:52

Can you list what you eat in a day so that we can see where you might need to make some changes?

I definitely recommend making a meal plan and counting everything in Fitbit or MFP app.

I have to stay under 1400 a day to lose weight due to my height, preferably 1200.

MsTSwift Thu 04-Mar-21 16:48:03

You probably don’t need 3 large meals a day. I lost 2 stone only eating between 12 and 8pm and doing vigorous cardio first thing in the morning. I found eating breakfast “kicked off” my appetite if I don’t eat until an early lunch I didn’t get hungry. Can’t believe I didn’t work this out until 45!

Nb not sure this would work if breastfeeding etc. I am mid 40s and was slowly gaining weight as I got older. Bmi was 27 now it’s 21. I eat normally the rest of the time but have smallish plates so my portions not too massive. I think we need less food as we age. I have early teen girls do want to model good behaviour they not around or paying attention when I don’t have breakfast.

RandomMess Thu 04-Mar-21 16:50:12

I have to say eating breakfast makes me STARVING and I don't have it anymore.

RhymesWithOrange Thu 04-Mar-21 16:51:37


Also are you hungry or just tired and having carb cravings??

Very difficult to distinguish between the two!

This! If I cut refined carbs like pasta and bread I get no hunger pangs at all.

MoonriseKingdom Thu 04-Mar-21 16:53:01

I found it difficult to lose weight while I was breastfeeding because of the hunger. Not suggesting you stop it but maybe go easy on yourself for now. I know you said you wouldn’t want to fast but maybe in future have a read about 16:8. I find it helpful because it draws a line on eating in the evening and I feel much less tempted to snack. You can still have coffee/ tea without milk during the fasting window. My kids barely notice that I don’t eat breakfast and otherwise appear to eat normally.

MrsComte Thu 04-Mar-21 16:53:26


I have to say eating breakfast makes me STARVING and I don't have it anymore.

Me too. I can easily skip breakfast and just have a coffee or 2 til lunch.

If I eat breakfast I'm then starving again late morning.

aapple Thu 04-Mar-21 16:53:32

@AtleastitsnotMonday yesterday was:

Breakfast: cup of green tea

Snack: mushrooms and tomatoes on toast

Lunch: half a leftover jacket potato with butter, tuna and salad.

Dinner: vegetable chilli with rice

Once kids asleep: rooibos tea and toast with jam or (sugar free) peanut butter.

A couple of squares of dark chocolate at some point too.


I never use extra sauces/condiments.

I have done my fitness Pal for years. It works for a while, but not permanently. It just makes me obsess over food and not eating it 24/7. I truly can't keep it up. I don't want to live my life thinking about food that much.

I am thinking very carefully about what example I set my children. I'm very aware that watching mum diet and cut out foods while emotionally eating is probably a root cause of my own issues. Really, I think I'm setting them a good example. Honestly, we eat mostly whole foods, cook together, eat age appropriate portion sizes, they don't have to clear their plates, they eat what we eat, we have treats, and homemade desserts, but not too many. I never make a big deal of them eating what their friends do when they are out, but at home it's pretty healthy. We exercise as I family, we've even moved house to be somewhere so that they can get about by walking and bike as they grow up.

Maybe it's just portion sizes and the tea and toast after bedtime. That's the only time I eat something I wouldn't want them to.

Maybe I just need to be hungry. But God it's hard to be a stay at home parent and be hungry.

OP’s posts: |

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