Five tips to lose weight Holistically
By Daniel Max
Nutrition & Health Counselor at Max Sense of Self
1. Diets Don’t Work:
We have heard this all before, but yet every new diet book is on the best-seller fast track. A holistic approach reminds us that just as every person is unique, with different needs based on gender, age, ancestry and lifestyle, every approach to weight loss needs to be just as individual. Weight gain or trouble losing weight may be based upon very different reasons. For example, a weight gain might result from a hormonal imbalance that will make weight loss through traditional dieting very hard.
In these cases it is helpful to look at supportive methods additional to diet. A holistic individualized approach might combine methods like acupuncture, which stimulates the auricular branch of the vagal nerve and raises serotonin levels, both of which have been shown to increase tone in the stomach, thus suppressing appetite as well as rebalancing the hormonal system. Chinese herbal medicine can boost the metabolism and give you a running start by helping to cleanse the body. Nutritional consultation will re-focus calories on nutrients needed to support the process. Yoga will provide exercise and relief for stress that may contribute to overeating.
Secondly, chances are we are familiar with the infamous yo-yo effect. If a pendulum swings to one extreme, it has to swing equally to the opposite side. Each new fad diet is often a response to the nutritional imbalance created by the previous one. The body will respond to restrictive diets in a rebound fashion, craving whatever the diet lacked. This creates a cycle of dieting, craving, binging, and dieting again.
Resolving to never ’diet’ again is the best first step in maintaining a health weight lifelong. Treat yourself to a consultation with a holistic practitioner to review the many paths available and the best combination for your goals, issues and lifestyle.
2. You Won’t Lose Weight by Not Eating:
It is a mistaken belief that the fewer calories we consume, the more weight we lose. Our body uses food as fuel for its proper functioning and survival. When we restrict ourselves from food, the body assumes that there is a famine and slows down metabolism to reserve as much fuel as possible. Rather than burning calories, the natural response to starvation is a higher efficiency of storing fat.
Be sure to boost your metabolism, starting with a healthy breakfast. Avoid running on carbohydrates and caffeine all day as it will cause excess insulin production, which converts sugars into body fat.
3. No Fat and Low Fat Diets Can Make You Fat:
As a diet-obsessed society we have become afraid of fat, mistakenly assuming that fat in our diet equals fat in our body. When fat comes out of a product, most likely, sugar goes in. This not only results in similar calorie counts, but also the body will store the additional sugar as fat.
Be sure to avoid packaged foods containing fats such as hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, cottonseed oil and olestra. These are the fats that have given all fats an unjust reputation. Begin using cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, small amounts if cold pressed flax seed oil, organic butter and other unrefined vegetable oils that can only be found in health food stores.
While it may seem ironic, healthy fats are a contributor to weight loss.
4. Your Body is Looking for Nutrients, Not Food
There are plenty of quick food solutions to cater to our busy schedules but most convenient protein bars and packaged meals are highly processed and full of chemicals, additives, damaging fats and refined sugars. When we keep eating foods that are lacking in nutrients, our body will continuously send hunger signals because it is still not receiving the nutrients that it needs.
When eating white sugar and flour we get no nutrient resources in return. This leaves us more depleted of energy than we were before we ate. These often come in the form of mass-produced breads, cookies, muffins, bagels, crackers, pastries, donuts, protein bars, and breakfast cereals.
Start by choosing the highest quality of food available: fresh, organic, lovingly made, homemade, locally produced, heirloom varieties, nutrient dense, free of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and growth hormones, free of trans fat, and free of artificial ingredients.
5. Calorie-Free Artificial Sweeteners Can Increase Appetite
While these products are marketed as dietary healthy solutions, they can in fact make dieting harder. As the sweet taste hits the mouth, a message is passed to the body that carbohydrates are coming in. This causes insulin to be sent into the bloodstream. As there are no actual carbohydrates, the insulin lowers the blood sugar, causing appetite to increase.
Artificial sweeteners are not the natural sugars that the body uses for fuel. Sweetness in nature is not as concentrated (Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar!) and this extreme flavor traps people into sweet addictions.
Use natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, raw honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or stevia.
Remember, there is no one diet that is right for the rest of your life.
The body’s needs change over the years. What was right in the past may not be relevant to the present.
A holistic approach highlights balance, so eating with the seasons provides the most harmony for your digestive system. In the summer we may desire more cooling foods to control the heat we feel in our bodies, like salads and raw vegetables. But in colder months, chicken soup and heavy winter stews will keep our belly fire burning to ensure heightened absorption, digestion and metabolism.
Use your intuition, experiment with new foods and learn what nurtures your body.
Kristen Porter, MAc, LAc, and Beth Sommers, MPH, LAc, are the executive director and research director of Pathways to Wellness, respectively, the award winning wellness center in the South End. They are national columnists for Acupuncture Today and lecture worldwide.
Submit your questions on natural approaches and holistic living to email@example.com.