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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > November 2019 > DON’T LET LIFE’S STRESSES WEIGH YOU DOWN


A change of job, new living arrangements, having a baby, retiring… Any upheaval can knock your healthy diet off balance. Dietitian Juliette Kellow helps you and your family navigate stress without putting on weight

IT’S COMMON FOR A FEW EXTRA POUNDS to creep on as we age, making weight problems more likely the older we get. In England, 37% of 16 to 24-year-olds are overweight or obese, but this increases to 65% in 35 to 44-yearolds. By the time we reach retirement age, three-quarters of us are struggling with the scales.

While weight gain usually happens over many years (a pound or two during each holiday or Christmas – see p21), there are certain times in our lives when we’re susceptible to piling on the pounds more quickly than usual.

Knowing the life events that can be fat traps, from the moment we hit adulthood, can help us avoid them…


Going to college

STARTING COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY can seriously disrupt eating patterns – no wonder people talk about the ‘fresher’s stone’, referring to the weight gain experienced by so many students in their first year.

And it’s no myth. A review of 32 studies, mostly of American and Canadian students, found six out of 10 reported an average of 8lb weight gain during their freshman year. Similar findings were revealed in a study by the same researchers following 215 students from 23 different universities in England for their first academic year. Just over half of those put on weight, again with an average increase of 8lb. The researchers say their findings reinforce that the first year of university is a crucial time in the life of students, during which the majority tend to gain weight.


Young people moving away from home are often responsible for feeding themselves for the first time, without the restraining influence and nutritional input of parents. This can be hard if you don’t know how to cook or have limited cooking facilities, utensils or kitchen space. The result? Lots of calorie-laden processed foods and takeaways! College canteens aren’t always the best solution, as they’re often full of highcalorie options. Studying and snacking frequently go hand in hand, too, and more time behind a desk may mean less activity. Socialising plays a big part, especially if booze is involved. As well as its high calorie content, alcohol often leads to poor eating habits, such as a kebab after the pub or the fry-up the next morning to deal with a hangover.

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About Healthy Food Guide

Expert advice on how to stop life’s stressful situations becoming fat traps. Plus, why fatty liver disease is affecting non-drinkers and our no-nonsense guide to plant-based proteins. Sensational soups, risottos and jacket potato toppings and, in our special section, how to sleep better.