Manage Your Weight While Taking Your Medication

Many people taking psychiatric medications express concerns about weight gain.  In fact, I am spending an increased amount of time talking about weight gain and providing counseling, support, and education about weight management.  Despite the fact that weight gain is a common side effect of many drugs used to treatment illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and other conditions it is possible to manage your weight and continue taking medication. 

Here are some facts about the risk of too much weight:

  • Excessive weight gain is associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.  The risk for such diseases is increased if you smoke tobacco and/or have close relatives who have had these problems.
  • What you eat and drink makes a big difference.  Fast foods, non-diet sodas and other sweetened beverages, processed foods (snack foods, deserts, etc) will make you fat if you use these products too much.  Although it is controversial, some evidence suggests that products sweetened by high fructose corn syrup may contribute to weight gain and the risk of diabetes.
  • An inactive lifestyle also contributes to weight gain.  Regular exercise and physical activity will help you lose weight and improve your health.

Here are some things you can do to manage your weight:

  • Become aware of what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat.  Some people find it helpful to keep a list or diary of what they eat.
  • Limit the amount of fast food you eat.   Yes it is quick, cheap, tasty, and convenient but they will "Supersize You!"  If you eat at fast food restaurants check out their healthier alternatives.
  • Limit or eliminate sodas and sweetened beverages.  Drink more water.  Switch to diet drinks.
  • Practice portion control.  Eat smaller amounts.  Don't come back for seconds or thirds.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Try to exercise regularly.  Walking is a convenient and inexpensive way of exercising.  Aim for 30 minutes every day.  Talk to your doctor about your health before you start exercising.
  • Talk to your doctor about alternative medications that may cause less weight gain.