Why can’t I lose weight?
By:Lisa Millar, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, BA, ECE
“I am stressed out and gaining weight…”
“I eat too much fast food because I am rushed for time and am gaining weight…”
“I am a yo-yo dieter…”
These are real life challenges that people have written to me about. Cutting out carbs may seem like a rational solution to fight weight gain, but there is a lot more to it than that. “The only healthy and effective long-range weight-reduction plan is to have a balanced and healthy lifestyle and to find the diet and eating habits that allow us to reach and maintain the weight that is right for each of us.” Dr. Elson Hass, MD, author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Let’s talk about a few things to consider when trying to incorporate weight loss with diet and lifestyle changes.
First, choose wisely. Choosing the right carbohydrates should definitely be top of mind when trying to lose weight. Carbohydrates come in simple forms such as sugars and in complex forms such as starches and fiber. The body breaks down most sugars and starches into glucose, which we use for energy. We don’t digest fiber, but our bodies use it to move digested food, etc through our intestines and eventually…out. These choices will help keep your blood sugar levels stabile. You can do this by minimizing your intake of white, heavily processed breads and baked goods, and choose foods lower on the glycemic load index, such as complex carbs. Here’s a handy chart to help you choose. http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods
The lower the number in the glycemic load column, the slower the sugar from that particular food will be absorbed by your body. This decreases the roller coaster ride of energy ups and downs (which is the main reason why people experience carb/sugar cravings).For example, choose whole grain bread instead of white, and cruciferous and other non-starchy veg. Also, try to have some protein, fats and carbs with each meal, and have snacks a few times a day. If you go to long without food, your blood sugar levels will drop signaling your body’s need for glucose (aka- a snack attack!)
Secondly, improve your digestion. Good digestion helps feed our cells, providing us with the nutrients our bodies need to function properly all day long. There are many, many ways to accomplish this. If you are just getting started you can easily drink lemon water first thing in the morning. This increases the amount of digestive acids made in our gut, making it easier for us to digest food throughout the rest of the day.
Another way to improve digestion and absorb the nutrients we need, is to make sure you chew your food properly. Many of us are in such a rush to eat, that we eat too quickly and without much thought. This causes 2 problems- a reduction in the break down carbohydrates and in proteins, which equals improper digestion. (Carbohydrates begin to get broken down in our mouths with the enzymes in our saliva. Chewing breaks down protein into smaller pieces making less work the digestion system.)
OK, now onto something non-food related. If you notice carefully, the challenges mentioned at the beginning of this article are not necessarily food related, but lifestyle related. Sigh! Seems like food is not the only culprit in weight gain. Stress, fatigue, afterschool commitments, and fad dieting takes so much of our energy that no wonder we want to treat ourselves; and food is the reward. If lifestyle is the main factor as to why you are gaining weight (or not losing weight), than you need to slow down and plan out healthy changes on paper. Make meal plans. Take a look at your daily schedule and make it work for you. There is always room during the week to plan and prepare healthy meals. Weekends are great for batch cooking. Oh, and, don’t forget to schedule in exercise!
In order to lose weight (for any reason) one of the best ways to be successful is to make a plan. Not only do you need to plan your meals and snacks, but have a back-up plan for challenges that inevitably come up. Try to stick with this plan as best you can. Be sensible, but don’t deny yourself to much either .Remember that you want these changes to be do-able. If you make it too hard to stick with, you run the risk of quitting before you see or feel any results.