The frustration of seeing extra pounds on the scale—or of a too-tight waistband that you know used to fit—is understandable.
But did you know that anything from a hormonal imbalance to vitamin deficiencies to the prescription meds you take can hold clues to what’s making you gain weight?
“A lot of people make what we think are lifestyle choices but are actually our bodies reacting to factors we can’t control,” says Robert J. Hedaya, MD, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical Center.
“Whether it’s hormonal, a medication side effect, or something else, too often we put the onus on the individual, and there are factors that sometimes justify a doctor’s help.”
Here, seven health issues that could be standing between you and your ideal weight—and how to fix them.
1. Your Gut is too Slow
Digestive issues, including slow bowel movements, may also account for excess pounds. “Ideally, you eat, and then, an hour or so later, you have a bowel movement,” says Dr. Hedaya.
“But once or twice a day is still in the healthy range.” If you’re not so regular, dehydration, medications, low fiber, or even a lack of good flora in your gut could be to blame.
Fix it: If constipation is your only symptom, then trying probiotics can help your digestive tract work properly. Staying hydrated is key, along with a diet chock-full of fiber-rich foods.
But you can also try drinking a fiber powder, like Metamucil, mixed with water.
“It may even grab fat globules in your intestinal tract as it scrubs out waste,” says Dr. Hedaya. If you’re still having trouble, check with your doctor to rule out a range of disorders, including hypothyroidism or a neurological issue.