Food for Thought: The 9 R’s of Managing a Healthy Weight
As seen in Haddam-Killingworth News
So by now you’ve likely seen oodles of ads, Facebook posts, and other promotions to shed those extra pounds. Everyone seems to have a shtick on how to lose weight… via the latest fad diet, a super cleanse, a magic pill, or one heck of a powerful detox. The problem I see with most of these “solutions” to weight loss is that they are usually temporary – the weight comes off and then creeps back on over time. Some like to call this the “yo-yo” effect!
To me the answer is quite clear, but for many not always easy. I find that most people know what they need to do, but are still seeking that quick fix. It may take some effort to make some important lifestyle changes, but it is so worth it in the long run. Below I share some of what I have learned through the years in my own health journey and Integrative Nutrition Health education. I broke it into the 9 R’s of managing a healthy weight.
I’m not promoting a product or selling a service. I’m sharing what I know to support your journey to better health! Before beginning any changes in your diet or exercise routines, it is best to consult your physician.
Before setting out on a path to shed those pounds, it is critical for some to explore their relationship with food. I know there are health coaches out there who specialize in this area of nutrition, so if you have struggled with this, reach out to an expert and get some help or all of your efforts will be for nothing. You may not even realize you have a relationship issue with food. One way to discover this is either working with someone who will ask the right questions, or keeping a food/mood journal. Without changing how you eat, keep a log of what you ate and when, along with how you were feeling before you ate and your mood after eating. You may see a trend that will help you change a stubborn habit or pattern of eating. Don’t go it alone – get some support!
The “GUT”, your microbiome, plays a huge role in managing your weight. Think of your gut like a garden. It needs to be well nourished with a balance of good & bad bacteria, along with a healthy level of yeast. Tend to your gut, weeding out the bad stuff and nourishing it with the good stuff, including lots of clean filtered water. When your gut is out of balance, you may not be absorbing nutrients properly, or you may feel overly bloated. Poor digestion can lead to an assortment of health issues and inflammation throughout the body. Not only do we need to feed our gut good food, we may need to restore good gut flora from bad eating habits. Ask your physician about a high quality prebiotic/probiotic. Consider eating more fermented vegetables and reducing pre-packaged foods filled with sugars and unhealthy fats. Be sure to CHEW, CHEW, CHEW – your stomach doesn’t have teeth! Maybe you need a little more help than others and would benefit from a good digestive enzyme or bitters. Bottom line, a healthy gut means a healthy body!
Your day to day routines can make or break your efforts to maintaining a healthy weight. It is critical to get a good night’s sleep. When we start our day without a good night’s sleep we tend to reach for garbage food in the morning, which starts a trend for how the day will progress. If you are working full time, or simply have a hectic schedule, planning ahead is key. Set aside a couple of hours, two days a week to plan and prepare some healthy eats or some grab & go snacks. This is especially important for those who travel. If you know there are certain times during the day, or evening that you want to reach for that unhealthy snack, either have a substitute ready to rock, or make a plan at that time to call a friend, take a walk, or do something special just for you. Avoid eating when you are feeling stressed and do your best to eat your meals in a delightful setting, with gratitude. Yes, it’s a bit of work, but YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Get your engine running and get moving! Start from where you are and take small steps to get your motor running. I personally love to walk and dance! If getting out and moving is something you have not done in a while, take it slow. Start by walking ten minutes, twice a day and increase each week as you feel comfortable. Don’t go from zero to a five-mile marathon or one of those extreme exercise programs – this is when folks get hurt! If you are unable to walk, then talk to your physician about physical therapy and start with simple movements from sitting or lying in bed. Even good digestion depends on getting yourself moving! So grab a friend and set some time to do it together, keeping you and them accountable to rejuvenate your entire system.
I mentioned earlier that you may need some extra support if you are dealing with a stubborn weight issue and although I’m not one for fad diets, there are some wonderful programs out there. Do your homework, ask questions and see if it is right for you. Two bricks and mortar places that I am aware of and feel confident in their approach is Compass Weight Loss in CT and The Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach FL. My favorite authors who support managing a healthy weight are Donna Gates, Body Ecology; Dr Mark Hyman; Dr. David Katz; and Kris Carr. They are all very different, so explore their websites and see what feels right for you. I always say, no one diet is right for every person, so find what will work for you to reset your system and get you on track to a healthier way of living.
This may sound simple, but it can have a great effect on your efforts to lose, or gain weight. Reduce the pre-packaged foods that have all the hidden sugars, unhealthy fats, food dyes and preservatives and replace them with more whole, plant based foods. The more you add in the good, the more you crowd out the bad. Many diets encourage you to reduce your portions of food, or to cut out an entire food group, but if you have a plate filled with whole foods, especially leafy greens and other low starch veggies, you can eat till the cows come home! Take the time to makeover your pantry and fridge and get rid of the junk that may be tempting you and replace it with healthier options.
Restock your pantry and fridge with whole foods. When it comes to veggies, I like to get them locally and preferably organic so they are in season and packed with the most nutrients. For grains, I go for the less refined, like brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and sprouted whole wheat. My go-to fats are cold pressed organic olive oil, avocado oil, organic sesame oil, and on occasion coconut oil. I steer clear of common sweeteners and never eat artificial ones. Instead, I use raw honey, pure maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, and organic stevia in moderation. I keep organic nuts and seeds on hand for a healthy, protein rich snack. I am a big fan of legumes for a high protein, low fat addition to my meals. For those meat eaters, I suggest getting free range, organic options and keeping the portion size super small, making it your “side-dish.” Choose low glycemic fruits like berries & grapefruits and save the moderate and sweeter fruits for treats. Be sure to spice things up! There is no reason for healthy foods to taste bland. Spices have many medicinal qualities and can even improve gut health, so try something new and you may just be surprised.
Remember, you are only human, so don’t play the guilt card when you enjoy something not on your plan. It is what you do 80-90% of the time that counts. Having an occasional goodie when you are out and about will not sabotage your hard work, as long as it’s not a daily routine. I love a good cookie, so rather than having a store bought version, I make a batch of my re-designed chocolate chip cookies and freeze them for my go to cookie fix. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like the recipe.
Diets that are too restrictive for too long are the worst! This is what I call the rebound effect. If something is too restrictive, then you will not stick with it. I am not one for diets at all… I just enjoy good food that is good for me! Dr. Katz once said “Love food that loves you back” and that has been my go to motto, most of the time…
Wishing a joyous and healthy New Year!
Janet E. Verney is an Author, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Wellness Designer, and Healthy Food Chef who resides in Higganum and loves helping others to “health-up” their lives! Have a burning health or nutrition question, write to Janet at email@example.com. To learn more, visit her website at roots2wellness.com.