7 Reasons You're Gaining Weight with Food Allergies

Don't let portions get out of control!. Jose Luis Stephens/Radius Images/Getty Images

The habits we adopt with eating can be a barrier to a healthy weight. Likewise, the day-to-day habits of how we conduct our life—how much sleep we get, when and how much we eat, or whether we partake in exercise or not—are also habits that help or hurt our body weight and overall health.

Here are 7 reasons your food allergy diet may be causing you to gain weight, or worse, preventing you from losing it if you need to:

1. You have a limited diet. Some people struggle with a narrow, boring diet. They don’t branch out to new foods, or challenge themselves to cook new recipes. Perhaps this is due to a food allergy, being picky, or because they are in a “comfortable” place with their food plan. Beware: a boring diet consisting of the same old food may lead to overeating, limited nutrient intake, or even mindless eating (eating without paying attention to what is eaten or how much is eaten).

Antidote: Branch out! Look for new, healthy recipes that accommodate your food allergy. Great resources can be found here.

2. You’re not taking advantage of protein. Protein helps satiate the appetite. Studies in children show that pairing a vegetable with a source of protein like cheese helps kids feel fuller longer, and this fact may translate to less eating throughout the day. Adult studies find similar results when protein is included in the meal.

Antidote: Include a quality protein source in every meal and snack. Check out these protein-based egg-free snacks.

3. You’re skimping on fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are low calorie foods and they help meet the daily nutrient requirements of children and adults alike. They are also bulky, taking up space in the stomach, and add the filling factor of fiber to any meal or snack.

Antidote: Make sure you’re getting 5 servings (5 cups for children, teens and adults) of fruits and vegetables combined each day.

4. You’re eating too many overly processed and/or convenience items. Packaged snack foods, microwaved meals, and other quick, convenient foods may be adding too many calories to your diet. Additionally, wheat-free or gluten-free commercially prepared foods may have more calories than their alternative wheat- or gluten-containing versions, or whole alternative grain foods.

Antidote: Focus on eating whole foods most of the time. Know your food alternatives, such as wheat-free grains and how to cook them. If you have to use convenience items (who doesn’t sometimes?), let that be the exception rather than the rule, and look for the healthiest options.

5. You’re not paying attention to portion sizes. Do you really know what a cup of cooked pasta looks like? In a world of ‘bigger is better’ and portion distortion, it’s prudent to pay attention to the proper portion sizes of food, and how much you’re eating.

If you don't, you’re likely to overdo it with calories.

Antidote: Read the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of packaged products, know your food group portion sizes, and take the time to measure your food if you’re in doubt about the right amount.

6. You’re eating too many sweets. Looking for a way to have your cake and eat it too? Following a restrictive diet, such as a milk-free diet or egg-free diet for food allergies, may lead some people to search for ways to include the foods they feel are missing or are told they cannot have. This goes for sweets, especially, because with a food allergy, many of these are a no-no.

Antidote: Find allergen-friendly desserts that are satisfying, but keep a cap on them. Limit your sweet indulgences to one or two petite servings per day, on average.

7. You’re not exercising. There is no doubt that exercise is good for everyone. Perhaps you feel you cannot exercise because you have a food allergy, feeling afraid you’ll have a reaction, or be vulnerable to one. The good news is that nearly everyone on the planet can find ways to exercise, and for your health, you should be moving your body almost every day.

Antidote: Find an exercise that you can do, comfortably and regularly. If you’ve had a negative experience with exercise, discuss this with your physician. Many people with food allergies can exercise without a problem and/or with some precautions.

While these 7 reasons can contribute to weight gain or prevent you from losing weight, all is not lost. Make sure to avoid these behaviors and tap into strategies that will help you shed those extra pounds.

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