Hop into Health – Unsure why you keep gaining weight?

Wow, what a great discussion on Hop into Health today. I wanted the show to go for hours!

I was joined by Ronaldo Fulieri , chef and nutritionist and we discussed some BIG subjects…. Why and how have we gained weight? And what on earth can you do to drop it again??

It seems that whether you are trying to , or more importantly not trying to gain weight, people are still doing it!! Soul destroying for sure!

I summarised this topic a few years back as sex, stress and sugar hormone disfunction and it is still how I approach this issue in my mind/clinic.

Regularly people come to my Health Queen Clinic or I see them when I give talks around the nation, battling the same dilemma. HOW COME I CAN”T LOSE WEIGHT?

In order to find out why you can’t lose weight, it is probably pertinent to look at common reasons why people are gaining weight. On today’s show we set out to cover the big 4 but really only got through 3 and I will have another show to discuss the 4th reason (chemicals in foods e.g. additives, salt, colours, chemical confusion) at a later date.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and here are some take home grabs…

When putting together today’s show I thought I could narrow down the woes of fat gain down to 4 causes but truly it is a culmination of things… optimistically I have tried to narrow to it 3 things and the 4th topic on chemical additives will be discussed on a later show.

1. Hormone confusion

Hormone confusion is killing the nation and is not getting much exposure – why?? Maybe because hormones go in the “too hard basket” by many practitioners. And to be honest, those that want to help (PTs, nutritionists etc) don’t necessarily have the learnings or skill set to do so. Managing hormones requires a strong biochemistry back ground (i.e. the academic teachings) PLUS a remarkable understanding of the human species.

Hormones respond to our environment and decision making so in order to help someone with a hormone imbalance you need very good people skills. People skills to listen to people and secondly people skills to motivate change.

Treating hormones from a medical perspective can be tricky and a short consultation and a script for medication may stop gap hormone issues but may not give you full balance.

Hormone balancing requires the practitioner to show and teach the patient how to find happiness and encourage them to lead a balanced lifestyle (good eating, exercise, low stress, healthy relationships etc). Then naturally their hormones will balance.

Medications may help you placate symptoms but they certainly don’t teach you new ways to roll out your life, relax nor eat better.

You need to see someone who gets this. I treat many people with hormone imbalances and part of me goes on the journey with the patient as we work out what their body likes and doesn’t like.

Common hormone issues that CAUSE FAT GAIN:

a. High cortisol

Cortisol is one of our stress hormones. It is secreted when we perceive something to be a threat to our existence. This maybe a true threat (i.e. someone holding a gun to our head) or the same response can be generated through thoughts, pain, foods, time frames and work. In fact we can generate a stress response (therefor a rise in cortisol) just by thinking about something. WOW.

High cortisol tells the body to shut down digestion as it is deemed “non urgent” and augments all the body actions that can help us defend ourself (i.e. sugar to the muscles, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure).

If we eat when we are secreting lots of cortisol (i.e. digestion switched off) a few things happen. We can eat things too quick a few things can results: bloating (due to food not being chewed properly ), nutrient deficiencies (due to lack of enzyme production and absorption issues) or our body will store the food as fat.


Never eat while your brain is active. Switch off from work, eat away from your computer, prepare your meals and allow the smells to switch on your appetite centre and digestive juices. Important – YES!!

b. Testosterone

This male hormone is present in both sexes but when it is increased in women it leads to tummy fat. Infact high testosterone is the number one reason I find working women don’t lose fat. Often because it will mean high cortisol as well but also because high  testosterone alters blood sugar levels and insulin.

The causes of high testosterone are varied and you may wish to check your hormones via saliva to find out if yours is elevated, or you may wish to read my book, Beauty and the Beast Within, which talks more about this problem.


Avoid high carb diets, only eat carbs with proteins, stress less, have more fun, increase oxytocin and remember when you have finished work to put your girl hat back on.

c. Oestrogen

Both sexes make oestrogen and in both sexes elevate oestrogen will cause fat to accumulate, stop it being lost and body shape changes.

Women with high oestrogen typically have cellulite, thigh and buttocks fat and can have other symptoms of high oestrogen.

Men with high oestrogen typically have wider hips (not normal in a male), moobs (male breasts) and some psychological doubting/anxiety etc.


To lower oestrogen you must have organic vegetables (pesticides, herbicides, weedacides can mimic oestrogen and contain xenoestrogens), only eat hormone free meats, make sure your bowels are working daily (oestrogen is reabsorbed through the large gut after 24 hours) and lots of green leafy vegetables. Watch out for beer. It contains oestrogen!!


2. Increased availability of convenience and high sugar foods

As people are working longer time is becoming more premium and people are short cutting time in food preparation and meals. Buying a “pre made meal” for many, means an hour saved and an extra hour to spend on work.

Prepared, pre made, take away meals are problematic for a few reasons.

Many use salt to flavour which cause fluid retention and most use LOADS of sugar.

Sugar is definitely addictive and as humans we develop tolerance which means we need more to get the same effect/benefit/hit.

As children we are given fructose (usually from fruit) or lactose (from milk) which starts sensitising our pallet to crave more.

Imagine having a teaspoon of sugar in your tea (when you are not used to it) and it will appear very sweet. Over time though the same teaspoon will not seem as sweet. Then unconsciously we find that sugar boosts are energy so we add another teaspoon (or we have another cup of tea/coffee). I know many people who are unconsciously driven to eat sugar due to the unconscious addictive effects.

The sugar trap leads us to crave more over time, gain weight (it leads to a spike in insulin) and seek out more high sugar foods.

Sugar rich foods include ANY carbohydrate but especially those with a high GI index. Glycaemic index (GI) refers to how quickly the sugar in the substance is realised. The higher the GI the quicker the sugar hit and the more dramatic the effects on insulin.

Excess sugar consumption (energy giving foods) leads to fat production as it is safer and takes up less space for the body to take sugar from our blood and store as fat. This is called lipogenesis and is activated when we over eat sugars or eat without proteins.


Watch out for insidious sugar consumption (bars, teas, coffees, alcohol, dips and crackers) either at retail outlets (e.g. petrol stations) or in your pantry. My greatest discovery was working out that I eat/drink less sugar when I simply don’t buy it in the first place.


Eating carbs (sugar foods) with proteins helps stop cravings for more, and also helps your body handle it better.

Try not to eat while doing other activities as this leads to unconscious eating where most over eat. Overweight people misjudge how much they eat by 30-50% and normal sized people also estimate incorrectly at 20% more than what they thought!!

FOCUS on your food and LOVE IT.

3. Gluten is sticking up our guts!

Gluten is a new age issue. It is the protein section of certain grains (wheat, rye, barley and oats) and helps the seed germinate. In the 1960s and 1970s during post war and food shortage days, the government apparently encouraged farmers to hybridise grains so that they grew quicker and would yield more produce. Unfortunately Gluten is not well metabolised by many people (in latin it means glue)! This leads to it sticking on the gut wall causing all sorts of issues (gut, head and skin problems).

Often this tummy confusion at a cellular level leads to constipation/diarrhoea, malabsorption, candida and weight gain. Many people lose fat just by stopping gluten.

Sounds simple? Unfortunately it is quick tricky.

Gluten is not only found in obvious things like bread, flour, muffins, cakes etc but is used as a thickening agent in many foods such as sauces, packeted foods, lollies, cans, deli meats.


Cut out the obvious sources of gluten for a week and see how you feel. If you feel better by cutting back on toast, sandwiches, pasta then you will probably get improvements and feel even better by going the whole hog!

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