You can do all the dieting in the world, but if there is something else going on which is causing the body to be out of balance or causing the weight to pile on, then dieting simply won’t work.
Many people don’t think to investigate whether there is a physical health issue causing the weight gain. Metabolic or hormone dysfunction are two imbalances which may lead to weight gain, and/or the inability to lose weight.
Reproductive hormone imbalances, or health problems such as adrenal or thyroid dysfunction, insulin resistance, as well as conditions such as PCOS, can all dramatically impact weight loss.
Another factor to consider with weight loss is the issue of emotional eating. Patterns around emotional eating or binge eating need to be addressed, and as women these emotional patterns come up time and time again and can be difficult to break. It’s easy to fall back on food (or alcohol) when we are feeling upset or anxious.
Many women also find that in the week leading up to their menstrual cycle, there is an increased reliance on this type of emotional eating or ‘comfort eating’ to satisfying cravings and process uneasy feelings. We can try to be extra mindful of our food choices around this time of the month, and a good work-around is by preparing snacks so they’re ready to go. There are some healthier snack choices and treats which we can pre-prepare, and if they’re already ready then we are less likely to just grab that processed sugary carb load that we want for an immediate hit of energy.
Stress is also a significant contributor to weight gain. The reason for this is that cortisol triggers insulin resistance. This means that your weight is affected through increased sugar in your blood which is not utilised. As a result, this imbalance in blood sugar levels causes cravings and particularly for carbs, as our body still craves more energy but becomes ‘resistant’ to the sugars consumed which just circulate.
Sleep also impacts weight gain, because it’s crucial for the release of human growth hormone and leptin which are required for appetite control. Sleep deprivation also tends to cause us to crave carbs in order to boost our serotonin and get the energy we need, but when consuming these type of foods then we inevitably get the crash and low afterwards.
General tips for weight loss:
Smaller portion sizes are important. You must burn more calories than you intake. Try cutting back on your portion size and particularly in the evening when your stomach acid is at its lowest. Aim to lose up to 500g per week, which is easier to sustain in the long term.
Don’t skip meals
When you skip meals, your body get confused! Then the next time you eat, it stores calories ready for the next starvation period. This approach also causes unstable blood sugar levels.
Lay off the carbohydrates, but don’t skip them altogether
It’s true that carbohydrates can increase weight if eaten out of balance with other macronutrients, but they are an important part of the diet. Take a look over your plate and ensure that at least half is filled with vegetables, add protein about the size of your fist, and a small serving of grains. Try to include more wholegrains, ie any grain that is not white. In the evenings you may want to leave the grains, as long as you have consumed at least one serve of grains in your day. The important thing to remember is to completely avoid packaged and processed food. When losing weight, food consumed should be nutrient-dense.
Increase plant foods
Your servings of vegetables should be 5-7 serves per day. Each serve being approximately half a cup full. Increasing your intake of vegetables (and some fruits such as berries) is a really good way to fill up on minimal calories, but with maximum nutritional content.
Mindful eating is important for weight loss, however not always easy for the busy mum on the go. Slowing down, chewing each mouthful, you may realise that you only need to eat half of what you have been in order to feel full.
Consider smaller meals more frequently
As digestion slows down, we can help our digestive system by eating smaller ‘meals’ throughout the day. Allow yourself to feel hungry before eating, but try grazing on a variety of foods, concentrating on diversity in colour, rather than eating three heavy meals that perhaps just don’t digest properly.
Watch the alcohol intake
Alcohol processes into sugar and is not a good idea if you are trying to lose weight. Give yourself a timeframe to cut calories and lose weight, and once you have passed your weight loss goal, you can be more flexible with treats. Losing weight is much harder than maintaining it.
Getting at least the 30 minutes of recommended exercise per day is essential in losing weight and maintaining it.
Acknowledge your weakness
Be aware of your food cravings and weaknesses. Start each week off with prepared healthy snacks. Know what you are going to consume when you are on the run and too busy to prepare something. Think it through in advance, because if you don’t, you will be grabbing the same old unhealthy food choice. Know which foods your body doesn’t respond well to. If having one glass of wine in the evening sets you off track the next day with a series of other bad food choices, then be aware of it, and don’t have it when you are trying to lose weight.
Stop making excuses
Weight loss is something that can hang over you for months if you don’t take it seriously. It’s so much easier to just commit to it and get it done, 4-8 weeks of hard work, and then live your life maintaining your ideal weight with treats thrown in here and there. It’s such a better option than feeling the guilt of bad food choices over and over again, when you want to lose weight but continue to make unwise choices and hardly commit.
Remember the benefits
Remind yourself of your WHY. What is your reason for wanting to lose weight? Do you want to have more vitality? Get your energy back. Fit into your clothes again. Go on a holiday. Not feel self-conscious. Have a better body image. Here are some other really good reasons:
Balance your blood sugar = less cravings
Clear brain fog and be more switched on
Reduce blood pressure
Clear fatigue and feel your best
Lower your risk of heart disease
Improve your mental health
Keep up with the kids!
For support in achieving your weight loss goals, contact your naturopath who can provide you with tailored meal plans, herbal medicine support, and help you determine which foods work best for you.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone.
The Naturopathic Co. Melbourne Naturopath 2020