Realities of Weight Gain

Date: 18-08-2023

By Kathleen Robb, Naturopath

Depending on which generation you are part of, weight management may be a loaded topic, with the diet industry and social media giving unrealistic and harmful messages around what body types are deemed preferable and continual new fads of how to achieve this body type (Rodgers, 2019).

It may be healthier to consider your weight to be just one way of many that your body is communicating with you. Instead of attempting to force our body to be a certain weight, it’s so much more productive to see weight as part of an overall health picture.

Regardless of the number on the scales, consider how best you may nurture your body into the optimum health for you. Celebrating a healthy relationship with your body is key to ongoing self-care and maintenance of healthy habits (Sundgot-Borgen, 2020).

If your weight is in a higher body mass index (BMI), it’s important to avoid fad diets and instead consider what the underlying cause is. Weight is largely regulated by hormones, which all affect each other, and inflammation (Wu, 2020). 

For some, weight gain occurs during perimenopause due to fluctuations in estrogen and progesterone (Chopra, 2019). For others, insulin resistance may be a factor. Thyroid function is another important consideration (Patel, 2021). Adrenals also directly impact weight, as an increase in the stress hormone cortisol drives the body to break down muscle to make more sugar to provide the energy to address the perceived threat (Martens, 2021). All these hormones can be assessed by your holistic health practitioner, and diet and lifestyle tailored to your needs.

A great starting place for most with higher weight is to test fasting blood glucose and insulin. Addressing insulin resistance is pivotal for weight management and overall health (Templeman, 2020).

If these tests showed elevated blood glucose and/ or insulin, consider how your diet may be impacting this with habits such as grazing, late night snacking, or eating high amounts of fast food, processed carbohydrates and simple sugars (Zeigler, 2021). Making habit adjustments to any of these factors will go a long way to supporting your weight and health.

While you make dietary changes, consider if supplements may be right for you. Discuss with the friendly in-store naturopaths or your NIIM practitioner whether protein powders or bars could help you with dietary changes. Supplements including chromium, cinnamon, alpha lipoic acid or gymnema to name a few may also support your glucose and insulin balance. These should always be in consultation with a doctor or naturopath to ensure they are safe and appropriate for you.

As stress impacts weight, getting adequate sleep, meditating and addressing stressful situations in your life are part of a holistic weight management plan.

Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control, and decreases cortisol and improves sleep. The right exercise for you depends on your stress levels, fitness, and any health issues you may have.

If these changes don’t show expected results, further assessment and tailored support will help you manage your weight and take charge of your health.

The content of this post is general in nature, the information should not be relied on as advice, and persons should seek advice relevant to their circumstances.

About the author

Kathleen is a Clinical Naturopath at NIIM and loves working with clients to discover the underlying health issues contributing to weight gain and addressing these for optimal health.


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