It’s annoying how some people stuff themselves silly and still maintain a thigh gap, while others spend their lives weighing lettuce leaves, unable to shift that muffin top. Maybe you’ve tried trendy superfoods like kale and coconut water or clocked up some uncomfortable hours at a spin class, but can’t work out where you’re going wrong. Weight gain can occasionally be caused by medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome, but your diet and lifestyle are the more likely culprits. These simple fixes might help.

The problem: You overeat without realising

Many people underestimate the amount they’re eating and under count their calories by at least 20%. Perhaps you kid yourself to feel better or eat absentmindedly, so aren’t fully aware of what you’re putting in your mouth.

The fix: Keeping a food diary or using an app such as MyFitnessPal will help you keep track of calories. Include everything you eat and be honest about portion sizes. Weigh everything so you can control how much you’re eating. Don’t eat while distracted, whether you’re snacking on the bus, tasting while cooking or wolfing down a TV dinner. If it’s meal-time, sit at the table, take time to chew your food and enjoy what you’re consuming.

The problem: You don’t eat enough

Seriously under eating isn’t a sustainable way to lose weight. At first the pounds may drop off, but then your body goes into starvation mode. When your body doesn’t have enough calories to support normal functioning, it slows your metabolism and holds on to fat stores for survival. You may lose muscle in the process which slows your metabolism even further. Starvation diets often lead to binge eating.

The fix: If you want to lose fat, eating 11 to 13 calories per pound of body weight per day should help you achieve your goal. Calculate your calorie needs and stick to them. Kick-start your metabolism by eating small regular meals that include plenty of protein. A high protein diet will conserve muscle and help you feel full.

The problem: You eat the wrong things

Some people eat infrequently so they can indulge in their favourite foods. Maybe you skip breakfast so you can have cake at lunchtime, or fast all day in anticipation of dinner at Maccy-Ds. Not only is this unhealthy and damaging to your metabolism, it’s also an ineffective way to control your weight. To put it bluntly, if you’re pissing in your petrol tank, you can’t expect your body to look or perform like a sports car.

The fix: If you eat poor quality food your health will suffer. Your body processes 100 calories from an egg very differently to a 100-calorie biscuit. Whereas the egg contains high quality protein, iron and vitamins that can be utilised by the body, the high sugar biscuit is empty energy that’s readily stored as fat.

Give your diet an overhaul and start cooking healthy meals from scratch. Aim for 5 portions of veg per day and increase your intake of protein (you need at least 0.6g per pound of body weight per day.) My post Nutrition: The Basics should help click here

The problem: You don’t exercise enough

The fix: If you’re not eating much but not moving much either, you need to shake your buns. If you’ve been out of exercise for a while, start slowly with just 20 minutes brisk walking per day and gradually increase the time. Get involved in an activity you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick to it. If you liked netball as a kid, why not restart? A bit of internet research should unearth some suitable clubs or sports facilities in your area. Exercise is essential for health and weight control. The UK government recommends at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity per week.