If you have decided that it is time to get healthy, fit and lose weight, you will need a plan of action to turn your resolutions into reality. Too often, weight loss goals turn into a familiar roller-coaster of short term success and eventual rebound. Now is the time to get crystal clear on your strategy for long-term success. Through my experience of helping hundreds of people to lose weight, I have found that there are three main areas that must be addressed in order to achieve lasting weight loss. First, there are physical reasons why some people are prone to weight gain. Until these issues are addressed, weight loss can seem frustrating, even impossible. Second, most people sabotage their dieting efforts with emotional eating. Coming to peace with our relationship with food is often the key to creating change. Third, education about nutrition and effective eating strategies help us to make good choices and ultimately take pounds off.
Why is it that some people seem to be able to eat everything they want and not gain weight, and others seem to pack on the pounds if they even look at food? Low thyroid function is sometimes the culprit. When the metabolism is low, we don’t burn as many calories, so more are stored as fat. As a naturopathic physician, I often discover thyroid issues by running full thyroid panels on my patients who suspect low thyroid function, but have been told their tests are “normal.”
Blood sugar problems can easily set people up for weight gain, especially fat around the abdomen. Adult diabetes can cause excess insulin for years before a diagnosis. Excess insulin tells the body to store fat. Nutritional strategies that balance blood sugar not only reduce insulin, but also reduce cravings and bingeing. In order to lose weight without feeling deprived, it is crucial to learn how to regulate your blood sugar.
Imbalances in the intestinal microbiome can cause weight gain too. Studies show that changing the microbial inhabitants of obese people’s intestines can help them lose weight, even if they eat the same calories. It turns out that some gut bugs cause you to extract more calories from food than others. Taking antibiotics, particularly for ulcers, disturbs the intestinal microbiome and has been shown to cause weight gain because important appetite regulating bacteria are lost.
I know that a person’s emotional relationship with food and their bodies often determines whether they make or break their weight loss goals. Eating well can be an enjoyable part of life, but nutrition needs to be the primary factor in one’s food choices in order to achieve good health. When food is primarily used as a tool to make you feel better emotionally, you will never be able to get enough, leading you to ride the weight roller coaster.
The key to overcoming emotional eating is to slow down. Before you eat, take three deep breaths. Take that time to check into your body and assess your feelings. I spend a lot of time in my practice counseling people on healthy ways to reduce stress and transform their emotional state – without using food as a “drug”. Enjoy your food and be grateful for the nourishing goodness of whole, natural foods. Conscious eating takes practice and mindfulness, and it can lead you, not only to weight loss, but also to greater health, vitality and self-awareness.
Remember: our food becomes who we are. Let your food serve your health first and your taste buds second. Taking charge of your eating habits is an essential step to taking charge of your health. You have the power to lose weight, improve your health and optimize your energy.