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Nine Ways to Healthy Weight
The number of Canadians who are obese or overweight continues to climb. Statistics Canada reports that in 2010, 52.3% of adults over the age of 18 were either overweight or obese. Overweight/obesity increases the risk for numerous health complications: high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, increased mortality from certain cancers, sleep apnea, gout, and degenerative joint disease.
What is stopping us from losing all this weight? There are several compounding factors to weight loss difficulties. Here are some naturopathic strategies to attain a healthy weight and stay there.
1) Avoid constant ‘dieting’
Dieting has been shown to be ineffective for long term weight loss. Permanent lifestyle change is required to achieve sustainable weight loss. Focus less on the scale and more on overall health. Establishing healthy habits, such as exercise and good nutrition will over time lead to weight loss.
2) Manage stress
Stress causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. Chronic release of cortisol leads to weight gain. In addition to this, when under stress, individuals tend to reach for unhealthy food options that are generally higher in sugar and unhealthy fats.
3) Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals results in a greater release of cortisol. This leads to poor dietary choices as well as weight gain.
4) Eat good fats
Fat is essential for a healthy body. Low fat diets usually lead to higher a carbohydrate intake and are ineffective in providing sustained weight loss. Focus on omega-3‘s, such as fish oils, flaxseed oil, nut and seeds. Fish oils are not only anti-inflammatory, but have been shown to improve body composition as well as decrease cortisol levels.
5) Eat whole foods, avoid sugars/carbs
Whole foods contain fibre, fat, and protein, which help provide sustained energy. Eating whole foods also decreases intake of refined carbohydrates such as sweeteners, refined flours, breads, and pastas. Sugar, excessive carbohydrate and excessive fruit consumption cause a rapid increase in blood glucose and a subsequent decrease in blood sugar below normal levels. This is stressful on the body’s ability to secrete and regulate insulin and overtime it causes insulin resistance. For many people weight loss can be as easy as cutting out all refined carbohydrates from their diet. Make sure to read labels, as sugars are added to most packaged foods.
It goes without saying that exercise is essential. Find something that you love doing. Find others who like the same activity and make yourself accountable to them.
7) Consider hormonal imbalances
Calories in do not always equal calories out. If you are exercising like crazy, eating a low calorie diet and still not losing weight, you may have hormonal interferences. Elevations in cortisol, imbalances from menopause or thyroid dysfunction can all contribute to excess weight.
8) Reduce Toxins
Numerous environmental toxins are stored in fat cells. Some evidence suggests weight gain may occur to accommodate the exposure of environmental toxins. Eating organic and local foods, using natural body care products and spending time in nature can help decrease your toxin exposure.
9) Patience, persistence & hard work
Weight gain doesn’t happen overnight. Similarly weight loss takes time to occur. Like most great things in life, there is no shortcut, but the reward is well worth the effort.3
Meaghan McCollum, ND received her naturopathic medical training from the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine in New Westminster, BC. She also holds a degree in nutrition from the University of British Columbia. Now located in Calgary, her practice focuses on sports medicine, nutrition, hormonal disturbances and pain management.