Diet Tips for Fighting Medication-Induced Weight Gain

How to Lose Pounds After Gaining Weight from Taking Your Medication

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People taking common bipolar disorder medications who want to lose weight will have to be strategic about how they make dietary changes. Medication-induced weight gain is common with many psychiatric medications (and other prescription drugs as well), so you have to not only think about the medication in question, but how the drug may interact with your eating habits and whether it will affect your condition.

Drastic exercise or diet changes or severely cutting down on food may not be good for you. Your goal shouldn't just be weight loss, but overall health. For that reason, making diet changes should not necessarily mean the same thing as "going on a diet." In fact, getting away from the negative connotations of a "diet" can help your cause. For people with bipolar, just making changes to food choices and daily food intake will promote weight loss and health.

How to Fight Medication-Induced Weight Gain with Diet

Here is a collection of tips that will help people living with bipolar examine their diets and make healthy changes without compromising their health.

Count Calories

Simply counting calories can be a very effective way to get a better sense of where you're getting your daily calories. This is not to say that healthy eating for weight loss is limited only the number of calories you're eating, but it's a good starting point.


You can use a journal to do this, but it's easier to keep track on computer, smartphone, or tablet. There are several good software programs with food databases that will make calorie-counting easier.

Eat More Fiber

Not only does the number of calories you eat matter, but what you eat can impact your healthy and weight loss.

Fiber gets most of its claim to diet fame as the natural substance that keeps you regular (your bowel movements, that is). It is also known for keeping you fuller, longer, as it absorbs water and expands in your stomach and digestion tract. All good things when it comes to having a healthy diet. But did you know that fiber also affects your blood sugar?

Dietary fiber also minimizes insulin response, which means that your body stores less fat from a high-fiber meal. Let this knowledge help motivate you toward fiber-rich foods.

Portion Control Over "Low-Fat" Options

Eating low-fat foods isn't the only part of dieting. In fact, many of those "low-fat" substitutes can be worse choices than their full-fat counterparts when you consider added sugar and other flavor enhancers. Calories and portion size are a much better litmus test for healthy eating than fat content. It also means that you should pay attention to when you feel satiated or full. But that requires you to use the next tip: eat slowly.

Eat Slowly

Research has shown that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach to stop eating because you're full. This is why some dieting gurus recommend putting down your fork between bites; that technique can help you slow down your eating so that it takes you at least 20 minutes to eat.

Remember to chew your food until it is a liquid. We overeaters and dieters do tend to "wolf it down" whole.

Go for Calorie-Free Drinks

We're not talking about "diet" drinks, which are sweetened with artificial sugars or sugar substitutes. We're talking about naturally calorie-free drinks that will keep you hydrated and healthy. Many people misinterpret thirst for hunger. So before snacking down, try having a tall glass of water.

But in the case that the idea of drinking only water leaves you feeling bored, you can try some of these other calorie-free options. Try tea! There are plenty of decaffeinated or caffeine-free teas available, and if you use no sugar, there are no calories.

Use tea in place of late night snacks -- it satisfies the hand-to-mouth urge, provides a little flavor, and lasts a long time. 

Find other ways to cut liquid calories by replacing juice and soft drinks with seltzer, sparkling water, or club soda infused with cucumbers or orange slices.

Limit Snacking

Speaking of snacking...try to avoid senseless snacking. Many of us have unconscious snacking routines like having a snack while watching after-dinner TV or going to the fridge when we're bored. Avoid eating when you're not actually hungry. When you do need a snack, opt for something healthy and full of fiber. Don't forget to have that glass of water or herbal tea ready.

If you just can't get a snack craving off of your mind, try brushing your teeth. Not only can the taste of toothpaste can be satisfying in and of itself, it can effectively stop the craving in its tracks. Have you ever had a glass of orange juice after brushing your teeth with a minty toothpaste? You'll never eat immediately after brushing again!

Don't Shop Hungry

This is an oldie but a goodie: Never shop for groceries when you are hungry, and agree with yourself ahead of time that you will not buy snacks on impulse. Better still, make a healthy list and stick to it!

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