My gut was always healthy as a kid. I could eat anything, and did. Since my bout with severe food poisoning a couple of years ago, I have suffered from destroyed villi and a severe gluten intolerance. (You can read about the history of that here , where I optimistically predict 6 months gluten-free). After awhile of being gluten-free, I started to feel a little better, then all of a sudden I felt gross again. Gut pain, cramps, gas, bloating and joint pain, after eating some meals, persisted. I was at a loss, until I remembered something a girl had told me about the protein in gluten that bothers gluten-free people being similar to the casein in milk. In fact, an article I found really helpful is on the Gluten Free Society website and it helps to explain the link between gluten and dairy. You can find the article here.
I didn’t want to believe it and continued to eat dairy, especially cheese, to “keep me full” after workouts. My new intense workout meant that after workout snacks became a must and I felt that cheese was a great addition. Cheese melted on to a gluten-free rice cake became a favourite. I was eating smaller portions, drinking a ton of water and working out more intensely than I ever had. Beyond my workouts, I had even added extra mini-workouts and walks to my daily routine. Yet, I was continuously bloated and felt sluggish and awful. I would weigh myself and watch the scale climb up, up, up. I gained ten lbs in less than a month. Popular opinion was irregular bowel movements or water weight.
Finally, I succumbed to the research right in front of me and admitted it may be dairy that made me feel crappy after meals. I cut it out. Not almost, as I usually do, but completely. For a month, I lived completely dairy and gluten-free. After a couple of weeks, I felt much better! My energy was climbing, my stomach was less bloated and the ten lbs I had “gained” melted away. I figure the ten lbs I gained was my body responding to the stress of eating dairy, and, therefore, preserving calories as a stress response, as well as retaining water since my body wasn’t balanced.
This is an example of how the scale isn’t accurate. If you gain weight, it may be the scale trying to warn you of an underlying problem with your body. Or perhaps you just gained some muscle, are retaining water (especially if you are a woman on the verge of getting her period), or are under a lot of stress and so your body is saving up fat stores just in case. Weight isn’t always weight. The scale isn’t always accurate. Only you can know what your body is really telling you, if you listen, and maybe with a little help from a professional (be it a doctor, naturopath, healer or nutritionist).
Things to consider when the scale climbs up:
- Could this be a food allergy or intolerance (keep in mind that allergy and intolerance are two different things)? Keep a food journal with your symptoms. There are a lot of apps, but I prefer using the quick notes on my phone with food pictures. At the end of the day I take those point form notes and the pictures and I write more extensively in a notebook about my symptoms that day.
- Could this be from an underlying medical condition? Are you taking new medication? Some of those can cause sudden weight gain. You may also want to talk to your doctor about thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue, symptoms of depression or a myriad of other possible causes, especially if the weight gain was sudden. It is a good idea to keep a log of your everyday activity and how you felt at different points in the day, at least for a couple of weeks. Your doctor may be able to see a bigger picture with more information, as some of the problems would be tricky to diagnose and have multiple possible treatments.
- How is your gut health? Do a little bit of research online and see if some symptoms resonate with you, then seek more guidance from a nutritionist, naturopath or doctor.
- Are you stressed? If you are taking on more work or have a sudden trauma in your life, it can cause excess stress. Or perhaps your cat is sick, you’re not sleeping well because your partner suddenly snores or you are worried about catching that flight on time the next day, causing anxiety. Or maybe, like me, you are trying to fit in more work than the day can hold and you are worried about getting it all done. Even working out too much can stress out the body! Stress creates a fight or flight response, which in turn makes us hungry, which is stored as fat. (Read why, here). If this is you, take some time for some self-love. Find a meditation you like, try breathing techniques, draw, colour….wherever your happy place is, make time for it. Even ten minutes a day can help.
I hope this helps anyone who has had sudden weight and cannot figure it out. I am going to try an elimination diet or the Wahls Protocol diet and see if that can help me further- maybe I could even eat dairy again someday!
Have you ever suffered from gut problems?
Have any other suggestions about health related weight gain preventions? Share them below!
How do you handle stress? Feel free to comment below.