40 Non-food Habits That Are Making You Fat

  • Sitting All Day

    When you think of the worst things you can do for your health, what comes to mind? You may be surprised to hear that right up there with smoking cigarettes, taking drugs, and binge drinking is physical inactivity, a leading cause of disease and disability. According to the WHO, a sedentary lifestyle doubles your risk of weight gain or obesity, which in turn doubles your chances of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer. Time to get moving!

  • Commuting By Car

    As if you need another reason to gripe about your drive to work, studies show that commuting by car has a direct impact on weight gain. The surprising part? Beyond the obvious benefits associated with switching to active modes of travel like walking or biking all the way to work, these results included simply switching from private cars to public transportation, likely because of the walking and standing involved in that routine.

  • Stressing Out

    If your day-to-day leaves you feeling frazzled, stressed, and burned out, unfortunately your waistline may be paying the price. Stress sends the hormone cortisol to your cells, making you store disproportionate amounts of hard-to-lose fat in your belly area. Find out more on how your feelings may be sabotaging your weight loss by discovering these 25 Ways That Your Emotions Can Affect Belly Fat!

  • Using BPA Containers

    It may surprise you to learn that BPA, a chemical used in common plastic items like water bottles and reusable containers, is considered a risk factor for obesity, diabetes, and metabolic disorders. That’s because as the food or drink sits inside, BPA has been shown to leach into it and interrupt normal endocrine and metabolic function. BPA-free alternatives have no side effects, so it may be time to toss your old containers and start fresh.

  • Being A People-Pleaser

    It should come as no surprise that routinely putting yourself last can put your wellness in jeopardy. Individuals with a “people-pleasing” mentality are more likely to neglect their own needs, including good diet habits, self-care, stress regulation, and physical activity, putting them at risk for weight gain and poor health. Taking care of others sometimes means taking care of yourself first, so do your best to find a healthy balance in your relationships, learn to say “no” when necessary, and don’t be afraid to make your own health and wellness a priority.

  • Watching Too Much TV

    According to the journal Obesity, the average American spends over 28 hours per week watching TV, a startling number that researchers believe is affecting our waistlines dramatically. In a one-year study of over 1,400 participants that recently lost significant weight, those who reported healthy long-term weight maintenance also reported watching the least amount of television compared to their peers.

  • Sleeping The Wrong Amount

    Snoozing the day away, or hardly letting your head touch the pillow? If you’re prone to either extreme, your bedtime habits are associated with 21 percent or 27 percent increased likelihood of obesity, respectively. Studies show that the optimal amount of sleep for keeping a healthy weight is between seven and eight hours. Having trouble getting the rest you need? Try cooking up the 42 Best Foods For A Good Night’s Sleep!

  • Ordering Last In Restaurants

    Going out with a group? Get ready to pounce when the waiter asks who’s ready to order. There's evidence to suggest that ordering first in a restaurant puts positive peer pressure on that person to order a more healthy meal, while those who order last are more likely to emulate previous orders, which may not be as healthy.

  • Sidestepping The Scale

    Diet and exercise get all the glory, but according to studies on which behaviors lead to the most weight loss, there are three key pillars for losing weight: intentional diet, exercise, and self-weighing. Failing to check in on your progress makes people less able to set attainable goals and less motivated to follow through on their weight loss plans.

  • Embracing Your Impulsive Side

    Impulsiveness goes hand in hand with poor diet choices. In fact, one study found that people who practiced delayed eating—choosing future meals and snacks in advance, to remove impulse from the equation—ate significantly fewer calories overall and made better nutritional choices. Try planning your snacks a day or two ahead of time to make healthier choices!

  • Skipping Meals

    Skipping meals may sound like a good strategy for cutting calories, but this is one of the quickest ways to shut down your metabolism and turn on your hunger hormones, making you more likely to binge out of desperation. Instead, try eating smaller portions of healthy, fibrous foods, like these 25 Foods That Keep You Fuller Longer!

  • Labeling Yourself "Fat"

    Who you compare yourself to and how you label your body type can actually influence whether you gain or lose weight. If you think of yourself as a “fat” person and group yourself with others that you view as “fat”, studies show that you’re more likely to gain weight. Instead, break down the label barrier, and skip the comparisons.

  • Smoking Marijuana

    Marijuana has a well-known side-effect—commonly known as “the munchies”—that could be making your waistline grow. But why does it happen? THC activates a person's cannabinoid receptors and hunger hormones, which are together responsible for telling your brain whether you’re hungry or full. Because the body is suddenly thrown into starvation mode, you're also more likely to reach for high-fat, high-calorie options.

  • Working Late

    Staying late at work can tip the scales in more ways than one. First, routinely working late can translate into fewer meals cooked at home and more frequent take out, which is linked to poorer nutritional choices and larger portion sizes. Second, you’re far more likely to be stressed with a job that has poor work-life balance, leading to more cortisol and more belly fat.

  • Letting A Gym Rut Derail You

    So you’ve hit a gym plateau and lost motivation‒it’s an all too common way for your fitness plan to fizzle out and end. Instead of letting it send you spiraling, take control by treating this as an opportunity to shake up your routine with some new workouts. Need ideas? Start with the 20 Ways To Make Working Out More Fun!

  • Grocery Shopping While Hungry

    The most important meal you’ll eat all week—the one with the most potential to make or break your weight loss target—is the one you have before going grocery shopping. Head to the store starving and you’re far more likely to shop impulsively. If that doesn’t motivate you to sit down for a bite first, research shows that being hungry while shopping makes people spend more money, even if it’s not on food. So save your cash and your calories by having a healthy meal before heading out!

  • Not Packing Lunch

    Neglecting to pack a lunch puts your diet at the mercy of the shops and restaurants near your workplace, which may or may not offer healthy options. Compound that with the freedom to make a choice impulsively based on what you’re in the mood for that day, and possible work stress telling you that you deserve a treat, and you’ve got a recipe for diet disaster.

  • Ruling Out Appetizers

    Trying to cut calories by skipping the appetizers? Instead of cutting them out entirely, hold the fattening cheese plate and try zeroing in on the right kinds of starters, like a salad or a portion of fruit. Studies show that eating a high-fiber snack such as an apple or pear before a meal can actually help you lose weight, by keeping you fuller for longer and slowing down your digestion.

  • Keeping The Heat High At Night

    Looking for an easy way to lose more weight? You can actually turn up the heat on your weight loss routine by turning the temperature down. Studies show that setting the thermostat at 65 degrees or below while you sleep helps your body convert cells from white to brown fat, which is easier for your body to burn. For more unexpected ways to help you whittle your middle, check out these 25 Surprising Facts About Losing Belly Fat!

  • Having Cheat Days

    Many dieters swear by cheat days, arguing that they help boost your metabolism to make up for other days of eating less. But a 2006 study conducted by the Mayo Clinic revealed that subjects that binge ate an additional 1,000 calories per day for seven days straight only burned an average of 18 extra calories per day.

  • Spending Too Much Time In Restaurants

    If you’re the average millennial, odds are that you’re spending a good deal of time and money in bars and restaurants, an industry that now rakes in a remarkable $54 billion dollars annually. In fact, for the first time in history, a recent poll shows that young Americans now spend more money on restaurants than on groceries, a switch that’s contributing to our ever-expanding waistlines. Instead of arranging all of your social gatherings around going out, try cooking at home with friends, or catch up while doing something more active.

  • Eating Late

    It’s not just what you eat that matters, but also when. Eating late lunches and eating in the evening are both associated with increased weight gain, according to a study of nearly 500 individuals over the course of a 20-week weight loss treatment. Try sticking to a firm meal schedule to help your body avoid getting desperately hungry at any point throughout the day.

  • Drinking Alcohol

    We all know that drinking a lot will lead to weight gain‒drinks have calories, after all. But according to an experiment conducted by staff members of the magazine New Scientist, cutting out drinking for even a month can have a profound effect on blood glucose levels, lowering them by an average of 16 percent. Looking for even more of a reason to cut down? Check out the 42 Ways Alcohol Ruins Your Diet And Health.

  • Not Making A Travel Plan

    When it comes to vacation, even the most committed fitness followers sometimes leave their common sense at home. But spending a week or two indulging in all the foods you typically avoid can unravel months of hard work. Instead, try to strike up a balance by setting some realistically modified goals for your time away. The key is to self-pamper without self-sabotaging.

  • Yo-Yo Dieting

    Making unsustainable, overly-restrictive diet plans puts you on the fast track to inevitable failure. In fact, studies show that this type of behavior leads to “weight cycling”, which contributes to America’s epidemic levels of overweight and obesity by temporarily enabling weight loss and then boomeranging the dieter into longer term weight gain in response.

  • Treating Food As A Reward

    Celebrating something? Chances are that your go-to reward for something going well (or even for making it through a rough day) involves treating yourself to a food you like. And while indulging on your favorite comfort food can be a quick and easy way to get that satisfaction, studies show that putting your diet at the mercy of your mood won’t do you any favors in the long run. Instead, find other ways to treat yourself, like these 42 Ways To Reward Yourself Without Food!

  • Internalizing Comments About Weight

    While you might think that listening to negative comments about weight might encourage a person to drop a few pounds, studies show that it often has the opposite effect. In particular, comments made by parents that encourage dieting, and weight-based teasing from family members are both associated with higher BMI and disordered eating patterns. So stand tall and shake off any comments about your body and weight: not only are they uncalled for, they can also set your progress back.

  • Using Devices In Bed

    A study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity found that when kids have access to devices in their rooms, it leads to shorter sleep periods and increased rates of obesity. Not only does the lack of proper sleep contribute to weight gain, but the study revealed that using devices and watching TV in bed was actually linked to poorer diet quality and less physical activity.

  • Ignoring Labels

    A key part of losing weight is knowing what you’re putting in your body. That’s why it’s so important to read labels in the grocery store, and limit the amount that you eat out, where there are no labels in sight. And don’t just count the calories—be sure to look at the ingredients, too.  

  • Skipping Breakfast

    Starting your day with a hearty, filling breakfast could be one of the best things you do for your body all day. Eating a meal that’s high in protein, fiber, and good fats sends a signal to your brain that your day has begun and you’re ready to get your metabolism moving, and keeps you from overindulging at lunch. Start your morning off right with these 25 Healthy Breakfast Ideas!

  • Eating On Big Plates

    Here’s an easy way to cut down on calories: leave your large plates for special occasions only. Studies suggest that when you serve yourself, eating on a smaller plate can stop you from pilling on the portions. In fact, one study showed that participants that served themselves on large plates at a Chinese buffet ate 45 percent more, and wasted 135 percent more food than those that used smaller plates.

  • Taking Big Bites

    Unsurprisingly, eating big bites of food makes you more prone to eating quickly, which in turn makes you more likely to eat more. Slow down, enjoy smaller bites, and pause in between for sips of water—all of this combined should help you cut down on overall calories and help you feel fuller for longer.

  • Skipping The Strength Training

    Just as you need a well-balanced diet to lose weight, you also need a well balanced workout plan. That means doing both cardio and the more often neglected strength training to help you gain muscle and burn fat faster. Looking for creative ways to round out your routine? Try these 40 Exciting Ways To Get More Active!

  • Ignoring Nutritional Advice

    With new research coming out all the time, nutritional advice is in constant flux, and it’s had a funny effect on the public: the more we hear mixed messaging, the more we tune it all out. But ignoring health advice—the basics of which have remained steady over the years—is a dangerous game, and one that could leave you heavier. When in doubt, stick to the basics: fill up on lower calorie whole foods like fruit and vegetables, and skip processed foods in favor of lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

  • Serving Food Family Style

    While eating meals with family has been shown to reduce likelihood of obesity, eating family style—serving your food from dishes set out on the table—has been shown to increase calorie consumption by an average of 35 percent. Instead, serve your meals plated ahead of time, so that people aren’t tempted to pile on the portions, or go back for seconds on a whim.

  • Letting Social Circles Influence Our Habits

    A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that having a close friend who becomes obese is linked to a 57 percent increase in likelihood that you will become obese. If one partner in a committed relationship becomes obese, the other partner has a 37 percent likelihood of doing the same. The study explains that this is because we are more directly influenced by people of our own genders.

  • Being Dehydrated

    Not only is water essential for the function of all of our vital organs, it also helps us maintain a healthy weight! When we drink it alongside a meal, water helps to slow down our digestion significantly and keeps us fuller for longer, suppressing appetite. To hit your hydration goals, try these 25 Ways To Drink More Water!

  • Eating Too Quickly

    A review of 23 studies published in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating quickly is linked to higher rates of weight gain and obesity. Because it can take a few minutes for food to reach your stomach and send satiety hormones back to your brain to tell you to stop eating, scarfing down your food makes it more likely that you’ll reach for an unnecessary second helping.

  • Skipping Your Physical

    Sometimes weight gain has a medical explanation: it could be anything from an underactive thyroid to a mood disorder to a poor combination of medications. But you probably won’t know unless you make an appointment with your doctor for a physical!

  • Eating Out Of The Container

    Sit down with a bag of chips, and—if you’re like most people—chances are you’ll eat the whole bag. Grab a handful or small bowl and put the bag away, and you’re far less likely to go back for more. Try portioning out individual snack packs as soon as you go grocery shopping, using tips from the 25 Ways To Make Meal Prep Easier!