How can we better approach weight loss

Change in Mindset

If you are reading this article then you’re likely looking to lose weight and be healthier. We have to understand though that health is not an afterthought. It requires self-awareness and the desire to set a health goal and laying out what you are willing to do to achieve your health goal. It entails looking at what your current health status is, and what possible obstacles, barriers, and challenges are keeping you from living that healthy life. It demands understanding what it means to be healthy.

In Functional Medicine, we use the philosophy of using Food as Medicine and a Food First approach. As we explored earlier, food goes beyond a source of energy. It is information, and as we appreciate the kind of information we want our body to receive from our food, we leverage food as medicine.

We have to understand that although we will start with the same foundational steps to lose weight, we also have to understand that we are all unique and that our body is a complex system. Understanding how your body reacts to food, lifestyle change, and a change in the environment is a key step in weight loss. This is also the key to personalizing your weight loss journey, learning to adapt based on how your body responds, on your preferences and principles. Again, this goes back to cultivating self-awareness.

 

Change in Nutrition

As a general rule, stick to whole, unprocessed, REAL ,foods.  By sticking to whole foods, we are able to focus on high quality and nutrient-dense foods.

Foods to Avoid

As a general rule, stick to whole, unprocessed, REAL ,foods.  By sticking to whole foods, we are able to focus on high quality and nutrient-dense foods.

Sugar – Too much sugar initiates a cascade of biochemical processes where hormones, primarily insulin, are increased. This leads to fat storage and weight gain and eventually makes it more difficult to lose weight.

Food items that are high in sugar are those listed in the section below (refined carbohydrates and processed foods) and food items that have high

This also includes the liquid sugars. This means skipping on the soda, iced tea (unless it is unsweetened, fresh, brewed tea), fruit juice, sports drinks, bottled drinks, etc. even if it claims to be “sugar-free.”fructose corn syrup.

Processed Food, Fast Food, Refined Carbohydrates –  Processed food and fast food are most likely laden with additives, fillers, chemicals, dyes, etc that ultimately have a negative effect on our health. Refined carbohydrates also lead a sharp and rapid spike in blood sugar, similar to consuming sugar itself. Refined carbohydrates are most likely included in most, if not all, pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, donuts, pastries. As much as possible, if a food item comes in a package, read the ingredients list and the nutrition facts. Beware of packaged food items that have health claims. Best to read the labels and do your research first.

Gluten and Dairy – Food triggers like gluten and dairy are known to cause damage to the gut lining, induce and perpetuate inflammation, and drive an unregulated immune response. The response of the body towards food triggers (like gluten and dairy) makes it more difficult for our biochemical processes and our metabolism to promote weight loss.​

Foods to Eat

More non-starchy vegetables – These are by nature low in simple sugars, high in fiber, and high in phytonutrients (the powerful plant compounds that have health benefits).  Make these non-starchy vegetables at 3/4 to 1/2 of your plate.  To maximize the nutrients, make your non-starchy vegetable selection as varied as possible. In a day, challenge your self to eat at least 3-5 different colors of vegetables.

Lean protein – Protein is needed by most, if not all, cells in our body. Some of the building blocks of protein, amino acids, are essential nutrients. This means that they cannot be made by the body and are only from the food we consume. Protein can be taken from animal and from plant sources.  Protein included in every meal also helps to balance blood sugar.  To make sure that you are able to maximize the nutrients from proteins, keep your sources varied.

Healthy Fats – Fat has been vilified in the last few years because of the thought that fat makes you gain weight.  Recent evidence shows that it’s actually the excess sugar that makes us gain weight.  Fat is a good fuel source that helps balance blood sugar.  It helps make you feel full and satiated, and make you have less cravings. When consuming fats, take note of the kind of fats that you are eating.

There are fats that are bad for our health because they trigger inflammation, but on the other hand, there are healthy fats that are anti-inflammatory.  Generally speaking, the inflammatory fats are those that have more omega-6 fatty acids and less of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.  Avoid the vegetable oils, and especially avoid trans fats. The anti-inflammatory fats are those from wild caught fish, freshly ground flaxseed, and walnuts, etc.  A good way to incorporate it in your diet is mixing some extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil or coconut oil in your salad or your steamed or sautéed vegetables.

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