Whenever most people consider weight loss these days, they turn to the internet for advice, and there is no shortage of solutions, products, or programs to choose from. One of the most important things to remember when seeking weight loss advice is that every – body is different. What works for one body might not work for the next. A person with a strong metabolism who is active, processes food differently than a person with a lagging digestive process who prefers sitting and reading. In my clinical practice, I make nutritional recommendations based on body types. I consider the level of energy a person maintains daily; whether the person typically runs hot, cold, or neutral; and the efficiency of their digestive system. These tips are generalized and may not be true for every – body, but they are a good list to start with.
Eat Local, Eat In Season
Our home, Earth, is so intelligently designed. The plants and animals living in different regions are all perfectly adapted to their surroundings. Our ancestors learned from their environments about foods good for healing, cleansing the body, and preparing for seasonal changes. They ate what grew or roamed nearby because that’s what was available, but it’s actually what was best for their bodies as well. Because we have the ability to transport foods from anywhere in the world to our grocery stores, and have any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year, it’s not as easy to judge what is appropriate to eat. For example, watermelon is the perfect summer fruit. It has lots of water (over 90%), vitamin A (which can help skin retain moisture), and has components that supports vasodilation resulting in reduced blood pressure – we need this to stay cool. These are all useful in the summer, but are not necessary in the winter. Eating watermelon -or any other foods- out of season could slow down weight loss, or cause weight retention and/or weight gain. Shop at local farmers’ markets or coops and ask your grocers (or Google) what foods are in season.
Drink More Water
Water is an important component in the chemical processes involved with digestion and metabolism. Many people don’t know the difference between their body’s need for water and the need for food. Moreover, there are many people who simply don’t like the “taste” of water. If you rarely drink water, then when your body needs it, you will crave whatever food (or drink) you normally consume that provides you the fluids you need. When you mistake thirst for hunger, it’s easy to overeat, which can lead to weight gain. Try drinking a glass of water before you eat a meal. If you’ve eaten and you get hungry within 2 hours of having a meal, try drinking a glass of water then wait 15 minutes to see if you’re still hungry.
People have learned to create some phenomenal recipes. Food is meant to give us the nutrients we need to produce energy to perform, but that’s not usually what we think of when we make a choice for dinner. Many times our choice is driven by “cravings” that we have for certain flavors or foods. These cravings are often rooted in familiarity and comfort, and while they might be indicators to what nutrients are lacking in our body, they’re usually far from what we need. One of the top food addictions, especially among women, is chocolate – especially around their menstrual cycles. It makes sense. Pure cacao, and high quality dark chocolate, are high in several key nutrients. Manganese and Magnesium, which can help calm symptoms of PMS, Copper, necessary for the body to absorb iron, and Iron which can be depleted during menses. The body can only ask for what it is familiar with. If the largest supplier of these elements to the body is chocolate, then chocolate will be the request when they are deficient. Someone who only drinks sodas when they’re thirsty will crave just that when they become dehydrated. If soda is your addiction, try drinking water when you’re thirsty instead; your body will quickly recognize that water is the superior choice for hydration and you will no longer have the craving for the sugary alternative. To identify an addiction, ask yourself if you know you’re consuming something that’s not good for you and your weight loss goals. If you choose to eat or drink it anyway, because it tastes good or makes you feel a certain way, it’s an addiction. Find out what might be good about it, and look for a healthy alternative. Soon, you’ll crave the new option, your addiction will be gone, and weight loss will be more attainable.
Pay Attention to Your Body
There are a lot of people eating foods that their body cannot process. More than 80% of the world cannot digest milk or milk based products beyond infancy, yet cheese, milk, and ice cream are some of the highest selling grocery items. We hear jokes about the “itis” all the time. You eat, feel extremely full, then have the sudden urge to curl up on the sofa and sleep. Food is meant to energize us. If you eat and immediately following your meal you feel tired, your food has not served its purpose. Your body is shutting down all systems in order to focus on digesting whatever you’ve just ingested. If you feel bloated, sluggish, foggy headed, or sleepy after meals, consider doing a food elimination challenge. Food elimination challenge means that you eliminate a particular food for several weeks then reintroduce it to your diet – taking note of any changes you feel during the elimination and during the reintegration of the food. If you find that certain foods leave you feeling weighed down instead of ready to work, cut it out of your lifestyle for good. It’ll be much easier to find success on your path to weight loss if your food is fueling your journey.
There’s no getting around this age-old weight loss technique. We are meant to be active. Movement of some sort is one of the most important factors to living in good health. While it’s not necessary to take up mountain biking or competitive swimming, there must be some work for the body to perform so that the energy stored when eating can be utilized. Even when we’re not physically moving our bodies, there is movement happening inside. I’ve read that mental processes (like performing mathematical calculations for hours each day) can burn calories. So what about the person who isn’t active, but hardly eats anything? The body’s main goal is self-preservation. If you don’t eat very much, the body will be very careful how it uses the fuel its provided. Digestion and metabolism will both slow down to accommodate the slow nutrient replenishment and it will be difficult to lose weight. Be sure that in maintaining a healthy level of activity, you remember to restock your body with food when you’re hungry.
These 5 keys are not a magical portal to losing weight, however if you follow them they will aid your success in whatever method you choose. If you’re looking to lose weight and keep it off, then you need to consider these tips as lifestyle changes. Your body is your spirit home, treat it as such.
Dr. Rhonda Coleman, DAOM, is a licensed acupuncturist and founder of The Healing Garden in Aurora, Colorado.