Nutrition Weight Loss

A Hidden Cause of Weight Gain

hidden weight gain

The other day I came home ravenous. It was dinner time, but before I could eat, I had to make dinner for / feed / clean up after Lucy plus prepare ingredients for our dinner (we usually eat after Lucy goes to bed). More than two hours passed before I sat down to eat. In the meantime, I nibbled on who-knows-what, and by the time I had the time and freedom to have dinner I was hardly hungry. But I ate anyway.

This happens a lot. And it’s gotta change.


Because mindless nibbling can make weight loss harder and weight gain easier. It’s often the thing that stands in the way of people maintaining a healthy weight. Here’s why.

  • Most of us don’t mindlessly eat vegetables. We snack on high calorie things like crackers, nuts, cheese or chips.
  • It prevents portion control. When you’re not thinking about how much you’re eating, you’re probably eating more.
  • It’s not as satisfying as sitting down to a meal, so you’ll probably still eat as many meals (and thus overdo it on the calories).

Not mindlessly snacking during meal preparation really pays off. A woman I worked with a few years ago lost 20 pounds simply by changing her habit of snacking as she prepared meals for her child and dinner for herself and her husband.

Here’s what her diet looked like before:

hidden weight gain

And after:

hidden weight gain

Even making just one of the changes above – not snacking while she packed her daughter’s lunch – would lead to profound results.

hidden weight gain

At no point did this woman feel like she was on a “diet,” because she was just slightly tweaking her daily routine without much effort.

If you mindlessly eat during meal preparation, here’s how to stop:

  1. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. Eat regular meals. Have small, planned, healthy snacks (like fruits and vegetables) between meals so that you’re not overly hungry when mealtime arrives. This allows you to make better decisions about what you eat at meals.
  2. Make yourself a snack to eat while you’re making dinner. If you’re starving, serve yourself some carrot sticks with hummus or cup of berries to snack on while you’re making the main meal. This will help tide you over, but it’s low in calories and high in nutrients.
  3. Keep a food diary. If you have to remember it and write it down, you’re less likely to pop it in your mouth. There are many smartphone apps that act as food diaries, but if you like the pen & paper version, I personally love fitbook.
  4. Save up for what you really love. Before you reach your hand into a bowl of chips, think about how you really want to “spend” your calories. If chips aren’t your absolute favorite, withdraw the paw and save those calories for something you love!


  • Tyler
    May 16, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Great simple to use eating tips! I’ll start using them this week.

  • Amelia
    May 17, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Emily from Nap Time Is My Time
    May 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

    I always have carrots & celery chopped and ready to eat. After my son was born, I became a mindless eater and the scale started going the wrong way. I’m a sucker for cheese & crackers and a good crusty bread, I stopped buying those about 3 months ago and no longer miss them. It’s amazing what slight changes to your diet can do for your body. {Both good changes and the not so good changes!}

  • Lana
    May 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Boy. I eat much more than that mindlessly. Gonna make a change. Thanks for the help!

  • Amelia
    May 21, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Glad you found this advice helpful, Lana – cutting out just a few mindless nibbles per day can make a huge difference in weight over the course of a few months!

  • Amelia
    May 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I almost drooled when you wrote cheese & crusty bread: my fave too! But yes, having low-cal options you can grab with just as much ease makes it much easier to avoid the higher calorie stuff.

  • Pres
    June 12, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    “Withdraw the paw.” I need some signs like that for my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets.

  • Amelia
    June 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Haha, me too!!

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