Unexplained Weight Gain? – You must be gorging yourself, no other explanation for it.

Hi – I found your blog in the aftermath of a visit to my doctor about my rapid unexplained weight gain that left me shocked and in tears.

I have always been super health and exercise conscious, but over the last year I have gained 25 pounds and no amount of dieting or exercise will shift the scales. I consider myself very nutrition conscious – in fact health and nutrition have always been personal interests of mine. After trying several doctors, who all simply referred me to community dieticians who: 1. told me about calorie intake and the food pyramid 2. Advised me to ‘move more eat less’ 3. gave me a printout of the Paleo Diet from the internet, I decided to visit an eminent and expensive doctor in my area. After explaining that I tried everything, that I was very well informed about exercise and nutrition and was looking to discover if there was another cause of my inability to lose weight, he started a barrage of the most astonishing comments. The worst part was, these comments were not addressed to me, but to a very young, very slim med student who was sitting in on the consultation. I won’t bore you with a blow by blow description, but a selction of his comments included:

“No one ever went into a concentration camp and came out fat”
“Have you ever read the book “Why French Women don’t get Fat”?
“Cut out those chocolate biscuits at morning tea” ( I hate chocolate)
“Don’t you have any other interests, hopes dreams that you could be thinking about instead of food?”
“Have you ever been to Europe where people really respect good food?” (I guess the assumption here was that I live on burgers and fries? In fact I lived in Europe for 20 years and am very interested in cooking and food of different countries)
And my favourite – directed to the student: “What do we call people who make the same mistakes over and over and expect a different outcome?”
To her credit, the young med student looked mortified, but not as mortified as me..My lip was quivering and I could barely speak. I walked out of there with a pathology referral whch was not explained to me, shell shocked and devestated.

I now find myself even more humiliated, feeling worthless and not entitled to having anyone give a damn about helping me resolve my weight issues. And guess what, if this rate of weigh gain continues, I will represent a worse health risk and get treated even worse by the medical profession!

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42 Comments

  1. As to the doctor’s behavior, I have no words. It probably won’t be possible to change his attitude at all. The one (very small) positive in this situation is that you have a witness to his reprehensible, abusive behavior. If she was looking mortified, she will likely remember the visit. I hope that you will file a complaint with the medical board sooner rather than later, so that their investigation can include an interview of the medical student in question. I wish you the best in getting the medical help you need.
    Theresa
    The Fat Personal Trainer
    http://www.biggirlsworkout.com / http://www.bigguysworkout.com

    Reply
  2. SC

     /  March 30, 2012

    On the flip side of this, once I went to the doctor for something nothing to do with weight, but having recently lost a substantial amount of weight (approx 20kg/40lbs according to the doctor’s records). I offered no explanation for why; I knew why, I just wasn’t telling the doctor. The doctor was practically doing a happy dance round the surgery, she was that pleased and shocked by the amount of weight I had lost.

    I was just disgusted and shocked by her attitude. Weight loss can be a symptom of something serious, and I had given her no indication that I had done it deliberately (I hadn’t). Just *ugh*.

    Reply
  3. Emolee

     /  March 30, 2012

    You don’t know me, but I want you to know that I am SO SORRY this happened to you. It is not ok. I have had similar experiences with doctors in which they called me a liar, dehumanized me, etc. over weight issues. It is a horribly disempowering feeling when you leave those appointments. Don’t give up and don’t beleive that garbage.

    Reply
  4. merrieg

     /  March 30, 2012

    “What do we call people who make the same mistakes over and over and expect a different outcome?”

    Dieters.

    Reply
  5. Has nobody even had your thyroid levels tested in all this time? That’s a common cause for unexplained weight gain.

    Reply
  6. nonegiven

     /  March 30, 2012

    Thyroid, cushings, PCOS, hyperinsulinemia, celiac, medications, including steroids, birth control and antidepressants. Even if you don’t lose weight, paleo is good for you.

    Reply
  7. O.C.

     /  March 30, 2012

    “No one ever went into a concentration camp and came out fat”

    No one came out healthy, either. If they came out at all.

    The cruelty astonishes. Why do people like this go into medicine at all? Why not become bond traders?

    Reply
  8. lilacsigil

     /  March 30, 2012

    What assholes. I’ve posted on this site how I was treated like that for over a year while not being tested for the thyroid cancer I actually had. I send you my best wishes and love for all the courage you need to fight on for proper care.

    Reply
  9. jenincanada

     /  March 30, 2012

    Good luck and if not completely inappropriate, goddess bless you. You do deserve health care, and compassion, and respect. Those things are for everyone regardless of their size, gender, race, etc. I hope you find a doctor who listens and solve this weight-gain mystery.

    Reply
  10. Lisa Olson

     /  March 31, 2012

    Please see another doctor. I actually GAINED weight on Weight Watchers. Come to find out, I had a pituitary tumor that was causing me to pump out high levels of cortisol. The tumor was inoperable but benign, so I was able to have treatment to shrink it. The only diet that works for someone like me is a low carb diet. I too got the concentration camp comment from a dermatologist whose daughter was anorexic. Gee, I wonder why. I’ve decided to leave well enough alone. I enjoy food too much to live with a restrictive diet.

    Reply
  11. sarah

     /  March 31, 2012

    So sorry you’ve had a series of bad/useless experiences, culminating in that BS. Please don’t give up. You are correct to think sudden weight gain is likely to indicate a problem. Keep seeing doctors until someone does something. You will likely have to repeat this mantra, but try saying “My habits have not changed, I’m not eating more or exercising less.” Also, take some time to assess your body. Are there any other symptoms, even mild ones? Are you feeling tired earlier in the evening, or the reverse having trouble sleeping? Any other changes in your body that you haven’t paid attention to? If you can bring up more symptoms, in addition to the weight gain, you have a better chance of catching a doctor’s attention, something that will trigger a thought in his/her head that this isn’t a ‘fat issue’ but a health issue.

    Reply
  12. Dan

     /  March 31, 2012

    What kind of doctors are you seeing? Are they specialist? If you’ve been maintaining your calories consumption, exercising as usual, no change of habit, sleeping hours, etc. but still gaining sudden weight, there must be some problems there. Why not go for a full body checkup, scanning, etc if you haven’t done so. There are many things you can’t see from the outside of your body. Take care. :)

    Reply
  13. bgardner

     /  April 1, 2012

    “No one ever went into a concentration camp and came out fat”

    I got this same comment from a gastroenterologist I went to see for acid reflux that was keeping me up at night. I was too stunned to ask him if he was suggesting torture and starvation would be a good cure for my ailment. I left his office and never returned. I also solved my reflux problem by going OFF the reflux meds I’d been taking. Oddly enough, they seemed to be the cause of my problem rather than the solution.

    Reply
  14. JupiterPluvius

     /  April 2, 2012

    No one ever went into a concentration camp and came out HEALTHY, either.

    Please see another doctor, and possibly an endocrinologist. My mum had unexplained weight gain and her GP flatly accused her of cheating on her diet. After almost two years of being on a 500 calorie a day diet, on which she gained a few pounds (and I can tell you she was scrupulous in starving herself) he finally sent her to an endocrinologist. She was diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome, began treatment, and sadly died shortly thereafter from a massive heart attack, which (I believe) may have been triggered by two years of starvation.

    The same doctor put me on a 600 calorie a day diet when I was a teenager. When I was a teenager recovering from a restrictive eating disorder, mind you. Now I am in my 40s (having outlived the age when my mum died by a couple of years) and dealing with a messed-up adrenal system, among other issues, which I think my teenage starvation may have played a role in.

    That doctor, a longtime family friend, is a good man, but he was indoctrinated by a toxic and destructive system.

    Reply
  15. shiki

     /  April 23, 2012

    Don’t worry; there are people out there who believe you. I’ve gone on a strict diet myself; some days eating as little as 1 meal per day. But voila; fat. The worst part of this whole thing is being a young female. You can only imagine what my peers have to say to me (and what they don’t say directly to me). The only way out of this painful hell is to arm yourself with knowledge. There are many causes to unexplained weight gain; many of which do not involve eating. JupiterPluvius’s mom was only one case. I myself am diagnosed with PCOS. You can gain some insight here, but do remember that it doesn’t cover everything:

    http://www.webmd.com/diet/ss/slideshow-weight-gain-shockers

    If only people in general knew more. In any case, don’t continue starving yourself. You already know it doesn’t help. Instead, consult a REAL doctor; and not the G.P. or dietician either. And don’t forget, there are people out here supporting you.

    Reply
  16. Steph

     /  May 8, 2012

    I’ve had exactly the same experience, except it was an astonishing 80 pounds in one year. What I eventually came to learn was that I was being poisoned by aspartame, and that it triggered a host of other problems, such as severe depression and suicidal thoughts, migraines, and an inability to access the calories and nutrients of the foods I was eating. It went directly to fat while I starved. I also felt like I had been kicked in the stomach all the time and unable to control my reactions to the slightest stress. I eliminated all artificial sweeteners, MSG, HFCS, and went vegan. I am now healthy and sane. Most of the weight is gone, but there are a couple of pounds that lingered. All those chemicals, hormones, drugs, antibiotics, and who-knows-what in the food supply can really do a number on you. I guess some people tolerate it better than others, but I know first hand how dangerous our food really can be.

    Reply
  17. Heidi

     /  June 7, 2012

    Can it be? Someone going through exactly what I’m going through?! Just got the blood work results back from the doctor…In her words “I’m perfect on paper – all the test came back good, thyroid is good – maybe a little on the low side – but other than that all my ranges are great”. So…what does that mean for me? Something is NOT right. I don’t eat any wheat, no sugar – watch my carb intake (carbs I do eat come from vegetables) and eat less than 1400 calories a day. I hike vigorously for over an hour a day. I’m 50 and have gained 25 pounds in 1 year. At this rate…I’m afraid of what I’ll weight at 51. No one seems to have an answer or even seems to care – except me, I’m ready to pull my hair out. If you have found out anything that works since you have posted – please share what has worked for you…I’m truly at my wits end.

    Reply
  18. I have had the same experience… except I have gained 60 pounds over the last year. Even while I was eating healthy and working out five times a week. The doctors are not taking me seriously and I’ve seen several. My thyroid levels are on the “edge” so they won’t do anything for me. I’ve had so many tests just to keep hearing that I’m just fine and normal.

    60 freaking pounds. I am so depressed because of this weight gain that I’m in tears every day. I can’t stand it. I was a fitness instructor up until a few months ago when I finally quit because I was embarrassed about my weight continually climbing up AND the stress on my knees from the excess weight was destroying my knees. I could barely WALK by the time I finally caved and quit my job.

    And yet, yeah, I’m perfectly normal…

    Reply
    • vesta44

       /  June 14, 2012

      Bean’s Monkey Business – have you seen an endocrinologist? Ask for a referral to one if you haven’t already seen one (and if asking doesn’t get the referral, do what I did – find one on your own that your insurance will cover and DEMAND the referral). General practitioners don’t have a fricking clue most of the time when it comes to issues like these, so an endo is your best bet (and even then, some of them are fat-phobic).

      Reply
      • Thanks. I don’t actually have insurance, so I’ve been going to a local clinic that has reduced fees for people without insurance… I’ve been lucky that I could afford the basic tests to at least rule out the basic issues. My husband and I are still fairly convinced that it IS a thyroid problem, regardless of how these particular doctors read the numbers (there is a huge debate in the medical community regarding which ‘range’ should be considered to be ‘low’)

        At the moment, I’m treating it naturally while we are in the process of moving our family… I don’t have a spare minute for anything else. I’m also going grain free, as I have many many symptoms of having issues with grains.

        Thank you for the advice!

        Reply
  19. Tess

     /  August 14, 2012

    OMG, this is my nightmare all over again. I started my first diet at age 13 when i gained 20 lbs in six months despite being on jr high school track, ballet and cheerleading. I was always tested for diabetes which came back nomal. I was never diagnosed with reactive hypoglycema because no one took the bloody time to think outside the box. My life has consisted of carb starvation and high protein intake while exercising 6 days a week 2x per day. Yes ladies 2 x per day. Finally, 3 years ago after battling to maintain, i gained 38 lbs in 4 months. I had a verbal confrontation with the doctor while my boyfriend was present shoving my food and workout journals in the docs face, we stormed out and went to another GP. Thank god he referred me to an endocrinologist. He actually did an insulin study, ran pituitary panels and thyroid tests. Not only was i producing 7x the normal ampints of insulin, but my puitary wasnt working at all and my thyroid was borderline. It ended up i had other issues as well, ovarian cancer scare, rheumatology, on and on. GPs have too many patients to take the time. And you are right, you have to go on with an extensive list of every single symptom, and i mean every single one written down to get their attention. I now am scheduled to go to the Mayo Clinic because mine were ignored for years.

    Reply
  20. Janet Bernard

     /  September 1, 2012

    I have been gaining weight rapidly over the past year. My normal weight has always been 132-140. I now weigh 182. I eat right…small meals 4 times daily…vegetarian mostly. I exercise regularly and am always active. My doctor has tested thyroid among other things and everything is normal. I know this weight gain is not normal and something wrong is causing it. I don’t know what to do at this point. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  21. Lisa

     /  September 20, 2012

    Oh my! So many of these stories sound like mine. I’m so frustrated and stressed with the 30 pounds that I have gained in six months. Like others, my test come back “normal” but I’m completely exhausted and have no energy, which is hard when ou have three active kids. Something is wrong and I might go crazy if someone can’t help me, i work out 4-5 times a week and watch my calories. I’m eating and working out better now than I did a year ago. I should not be gaining. I hope you will keep us updated and hopefully we can all get one answers. I’m in the process of setting up an appointment with an endocrinologist .

    Reply
  22. Janka

     /  December 11, 2012

    Hi,

    I am so sorry to hear about your strugle!!

    My little baby – who is 2 years old has been gaining so much weight!!! He weights 23 kilos – like 45 pounds!?!
    He is super active – I mean he does not stop!!!

    His dailly intake is around 400 calories!!! And he is on Neocate Junior – medical food.

    He does not eat any other food, he gets seriously ill, severe abnominal pain, he swells all over his body, sweats a lot – summer is the worst, hot wheather makes him even iller!!
    No help from doctors, what I was told I can’t even repeat!!!!

    His calcium is high, all the time, noone does anything, his other blood work levels ate high or low, but the doctors are just, jeee he can’t eat well and he gets 400 calories but that’s all- nicely said.

    Now I changed his insurence to be able to go to diffrent hospital, but was dinied his medical food!!!

    I want him to be checked for Cushing’s and follow up on his calcium levels.

    Just keep fighting!!!!

    Reply
  23. Arnetta Whitehouse

     /  January 9, 2013

    I’m glad I found this site. Now I know I’m not alone. In 2005-06 I lost about 70 pounds (from 205 to 135) using diet alone and I kept it off for almost six years. Since I have retired in 2010 I have gone on a physical fitness quest eating even healthier now plus working out and exercising several days a week to tone my body. I know that my increased muscle ads some weight but I have gained 15 pounds (10 in thr last month) and most of it seems to reside in belly fat which was not a problem after my initial weight loss. I’ve been eating less but still my stomach grows and I can’t get it into the clothing I wore before because of it. My arms are toned and my shoulders beefed out with muscle so my tops are also tight but I don’t mind that – it’s not flab and it looks good!

    My liver enzymes test only slightly out of whack and my thyroid is only slightly low. My doctor did give me a low dose thyroxin for the thyroid (which hasn’t helped with the weight gain) but nothing for the liver. I blame the elevated liver enzymes on the high dose of statin I must take (according to my doctor) for a high combined cholesterol of 331 without medication. Like all of you, I eat no “junk food”, mostly low carb foods and no “white” anything – only 100% whole grain, brown rice and no white potatoes or high sugar/starch veggies. My good cholesterol is 105 which is wonderful and makes me question my need to take the statins which may be harming my liver.

    I’m going to ask my doctor for a referral to an endocrinologist. If he or she doesn’t find any reason for the belly weight gain, I’m seriously considering liposuction to get rid of the fat cells so they can never be filled up again. Something is terribly wrong if I’m gaining “fat” while following my present lifestyle.

    Reply
  24. kate rickard

     /  February 5, 2013

    hi , I have been reading your comments because after being on a slimming world diet ( which is basically eating healthy , low sugar, low fat lots of protein to fill me up, carbs and a third of my daily food fruit and veg) I have lost 9 stone in weight and am very proud of myself however over the last three weeks I have gained 12lb in weight and I can’t explain it, my eating habits haven’t changed my medications haven’t changed but I just don’t feel right, I am still in the zone and want to get to my 10 stone goal but am going backwards and I am finding this really depressing! I have spent years with people and doctors making snide and horrible remarks even after losing so much weight instead of encouraging me one doctor simply said “well you certainly need to diet don’t you” . You have to believe in yourself and I am going to the doctors tomorrow to ask for help as to why I am gaining so much weight so quickly and because of your comments I will stand up for myself and tell them that this is not right and that they need to investigate properly.

    Reply
  25. BigGirl

     /  March 1, 2013

    That doctor sounds like a real jerk! Time to deep six that guy and get a different, more compassionate doctor.

    Reply
  26. I think it’s obvious that most doctors do not understand the term “unexplained weight gain” and instead think “the patient is lying or deluded”. I’ve had unexplained weight gain and actually had to keep a food journal to prove my point. I eat a tiny amount but am still fat. I am anxious and depressed although I have absolutely nothing to be anxious or depressed about. My sleep is a nightmare – drop off to sleep no worries, and then wide awake a few hours later with a head full of silly and pointless worries.

    Finally I did an array of blood tests (only this morning) and hope that this sheds some light.

    I also read today that low testosterone levels can be another cause of unexplained weight gain in women, also associated with depression, anxiety, hair loss, sleep dysfunction, and loss of libido.

    Testosterone production is assisted by including fatty acids such as found in olive oil, avocados and peanuts, as well as by including meat. So many women are eating ridiculously small and malnourishing meals in an effort to control their weight. When they cut out simple carbs like pasta, bread, rice and potato, they prevent their body from manufacturing enough serotonin and melatonin, disrupting sleep and lowering mood. When they cut dairy, they reduce fecal fat excretion and retain fat instead.

    Testosterone production is also assisted by exercise, but when you’ve been starving yourself for years and feel so weak and unwell, it’s simply not an option.

    Much of the advice we’ve been given does not stand up to clinical testing and we really need to see endocrinologists brought into the picture much earlier in the diagnostics.

    Reply
  27. Doctors do not want anything to do with weight, because they never learned anything about it in medical school. If people are gaining weight for no reason, it has to be a medical problem. I was going through the same thing and I was diagnosed with hashimotos, thyroiditis. Keep looking for a medical professional, who is willing to do diagnostic testing to determine the cause.

    Reply
  28. Update. Blood tests showed thyroid hormones low but still “in the range” so “nothing to worry about”. Since I have all the symptoms of hypothyroid I am diagnosing and treating myself by taking iodine, 3 drops, 3 times a day in a small amount of water. I figure that since I rarely eat bread, and rarely use salt, which are the 2 main sources of dietary iodine for most of us, this is a safe thing to do. I will update on results.

    From my reading it appears that there are a great many women who have low thyroid function, but still within the so-called “normal” range, to whom doctors refuse to offer treatment.

    Unfortunately quackery abounds, particularly in purported “thyroid support” supplements. There are prescription-only thyroid medications which can be purchased online but given the controversy over the safety and efficacy of the main 2 types, at this stage I’m preferring to avoid that route and test thyroid supplementation before thinking about an alternative.

    Reply
    • Be very careful when taking iodine. Research has shown that people who take iodine with thyroid issues, can cause full blown autoimmune disease. If your thyroid function is in normal range, and you are gaining weight, you might already have an autoimmune disorder. Doctors will not test for that at all. They want you to have a very high TSH before giving you any medication, because they know if it is high, you will need medication, and it probably will be for a lifetime.
      I would go to a lab and take thyroid tests on my own, checking the TSH, free T-4 and free T-3 along with TPO antibodies. It will give you a better understanding of what is going on.
      Then look for a medical professional who specializes in natural medicine. They are around, you just have to look for one.

      Reply
      • transferfactor437

         /  December 16, 2013

        Be very careful when taking iodine. Research has shown that people who take iodine with thyroid issues, can cause full blown autoimmune disease. If your thyroid function is in normal range, and you are gaining weight, you might already have an autoimmune disorder. Doctors will not test for that at all. They want you to have a very high TSH before giving you any medication, because they know if it is high, you will need medication, and it probably will be for a lifetime. I would go to a lab and take thyroid tests on my own, checking the TSH, free T-4 and free T-3 along with TPO antibodies. It will give you a better understanding of what is going on. Then look for a medical professional who specializes in natural medicine. They are around, you just have to look for one.

        Reply
  29. Just for the record, those tests have already been done. As a clinical researcher I can do my own reading of the literature. Given the degree of controversy and extreme disagreement amongst researchers and medical professionals in relation to (firstly) diagnosis of thyroid issues and (secondly) appropriate treatment of thyroid issues, and given the fact that this is my body, I will arrive at my own conclusions, decide on a course of action, and be responsible for the consequences.

    Reply
    • Excuse me, for trying to help you. If your protocol is working, good for you. If not, you should have an open mind, and be open to other suggestions.

      Reply
  30. Cheryl, I didn’t ask for help, I shared what I was doing in case it could be of interest to others. I am always open minded as I review the literature, and didn’t ask for your opinion on my attitude either. I find your 2 posts above assumptive and patronising.

    I have no idea if the protocol will be helpful or not. It was simply my selected protocol based on relative risks and my own circumstances. Since there doesn’t seem any likelihood of any definitive answers arising from research any time soon, it may be that this research needs to be “crowdsourced” by individuals taking matters into their own hands, based on thoughtful research and assessment of their own case, in full awareness of relative risks.

    Reply
    • I find you a very distasteful person, who is very opinionated. Because someone comments on your post, does not give you the right to be so indignant. You sound like a very bitter person and a very rude woman.

      I have as much right as you do to do my own research and comment on it. I am sorry you find my posts assumptive and patronizing. You are not the only individual doing research on a thyroid condition. Don’t praise yourself for being the only one doing so.

      Reply
  31. vesta44

     /  December 17, 2013

    Cheryl Diamond and christinesutherland – I will not allow any more posts from either of you that continue this argument over what should be done by whom. This is NOT the place for such arguments. Anything else that continues this argument/disagreement will be deleted by me.

    This has gone on long enough and isn’t helping anyone. Really, people, can we all act like adults here instead of kids on the playground fighting over who’s right/wrong? When it comes to matters medical, right/wrong can vary from person to person – what works for one may not work for another, so knowing your body and educating yourself seems to be the best way to go when deciding on a course of treatment (which is what christine seems to have done).

    Reply
  32. Wow I am sitting here reading this in tears. In my case it is my 8 yr old son. 70 lbs in 1 year. Nothing has changed eating and exercise wise. We had a battery of tests and seen an endocrinologist. They all say I must be feeding him too much. So I cut back and back to the point where he cries that he is hungry. I hope that someday we both find the answers that we need.

    Reply
  33. Update on weight loss investigation. The iodine experiment didn’t achieve any change, and had no noticeable effect, positive or negative.

    I’m now looking at the bacterial hypothesis of overweight/obesity as I think it may provide more clues for more people than the endocrine route. There is an interesting theory that we depend on gut bacteria not just for food digestion, but for optimal function of chemical pathways including relating to the functioning of the endocrine system, and even including brain function.

    So the hypothesis suggests that rates of overweight and obesity are rising because there is less exposure to bacteria, particularly for children, as we’ve become more germ conscious, using all kinds of products in the home, including anti-microbial, that take a shotgun approach to all bacteria, good and bad. Much like the generalised effect of taking anti-biotics.

    There’s some interesting empirical evidence to support this hypothesis. When fat lab mice are given faecal transplants from thin mice, they lose weight without measureable changes in diet or exercise.

    Apparently we can increase our own gut bacteria by eating more soluble and non-soluble fibre, and eating more fermented foods such as yoghurt, and using more vinegar (particularly unfiltered apple cider vinegar) in recipes (it shouldn’t be taken straight of course).

    So in my next experiment I am going to try this for 12 weeks, and will report back.

    Reply

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