Counting calories or points is such old hat.
It’s a bit of an in-joke that nutritionists consider dieticians to be Stone-Age, whilst dieticians consider nutritionists to be New-Age hippies. A friend recently told me that her elderly mother, who had lost a lot of weight, had been advised by a dietician to eat – wait for it – fish and chips, and other fried foods!!! The Hippy-hummus-dippy in me didn’t know whether to laugh hysterically or scream! I fear the dietician in question was thinking in terms of calories, the theory being that the more calories ingested, the more likelihood of putting on some extra pounds. Sadly, a lot of people trying to lose weight believe the same and obsess over low-fat this and that in order to keep calorie intake to a minimum. Calories, however, are not created equal, and if we choose the wrong foods, no amount of calorie counting is going to help us lose weight.
Calories are not created equal. Some are health-giving. Some promote disease.
Take an avocado. At approximately 400 calories a pop (for a large one), it’s deemed evil in the eyes of a conventional weight watcher, whereas a piece of low fat chocolate cake is an OK treat. The cake with its trans-fats, refined sugar and refined flour may only notch up half the calories of the avocado, but it costs the body dearly. Devoid of good quality nutrients which help to replenish the body, the cake instead strips the body of its nutrient reserves as it attempts to digest it. Over time, eating too many of these “bad” calories, strains the body and illness starts to creep in.
Weight loss would be so easy if we could just cut out the “bad” calories, but it’s not that straight forward!!
Losing weight isn’t just a case of willpower. It doesn’t help that a lot of “food” has been specifically designed to be addictive. As it is laden with sugar and salt, we are programmed to want more, and switching to a more natural diet can at first seem a little bland, but believe me, once you get into it, it provides a whole range of deliciousness!
It’s not just a case of re-educating our taste buds though, we also need to re-engineer our biochemistry so that it can work as it should (don’t worry, you don’t need a biochemistry degree to do this!!). The working of our bodies was designed for active – not sedentary – man, eating natural, nutrient-rich food, not chemical concoctions masquerading as food and championed by silly TV adverts. Our bodies try their best to work with this pseudo-food, but inevitably over time, they start to show signs of neglect!! This may manifest as a wide range of conditions, excess weight being just one of them.
Long-term, eating badly causes our biochemistry to go awry.
The body is often compared to a machine, and as such we feel the need to dissect it to the nth degree so that we can understand it and ultimately repair it as we would, say, a car. As fascinating as this is (I love all this stuff too), we can be guilty of over-focusing on a singleton error in our “machinery” and try to fix just that. It can also make a solution inaccessible to the (wo)man-on-the-street.
Take for instance leptin, known as the “satiety hormone” which is released by fat cells to signal to the brain that we are full, and need to stop eating. Leptin-resistance is common in obesity, which means that however much leptin is floating around the bloodstream, the brain just plain doesn’t get the message, and hence we continue to eat, and eat and eat ….. This is an example where the biochemistry has gone awry. Why would someone become leptin-resistant? A diet high in refined sugars and processed foods causes fat cells to release surges of leptin. Over time, over-exposure of high levels of this hormone can lead to resistance. It’s almost as if the body has decided that “enough is enough”.
Rather than a machine, I like to think of the body (and mind and spirit) as an orchestra playing effortlessly, the cells taking cues from each other.
The cells work via an intricate communication system. The body makes well over 200 informational substances, leptin being just one of them, and they act as messengers, manufactured in one area of the body and travelling to target cells to pass on instructions to initiate certain actions (as illustrated by leptin above). These messengers are made from raw ingredients derived from the food that we eat.
“Inside your body is a wonderful pharmacy. You name it, the human body can make it- tranquilizers, sleeping pills, anti-cancer drugs; the right dose at the right time for the right organ with no side effects. And all the instructions you need come with the packaging which is your Innate Intelligence.”- Deepak Chopra
The smooth workings of this amazing communication network relies on us providing the body with sufficient good quality raw ingredients as well as some good old TLC. Eating processed foods doesn’t tick either box and, in fact, long-term overtaxes the sensitive workings of our cells so that they end up deficient and strained to breaking point, and when that happens they under-function.
Let’s go back to basics, and look at what the body actually needs.
We need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, to simplify the solution so that everyone can get it. We need to go back to basics and look at what our body truly needs – NUTRIENTS.
We need to eat nutrient-dense food. Sadly, a lot of people don’t even know what that looks like! This is where education comes in. It’s not a case of switching our obsession from counting calories to measuring the amount of, say, magnesium or vitamin B3 contained in a particular food. We need to look to nature. For instance, we need to recognise an avocado as a health-giving food instead of the devil incarnate stuffed with fat!! We also need to understand that white this-and-that are devoid of health-giving substances and in fact leach nutrients from our bodies in order to be digested. They are stealthy robbers.
Nature packages foods perfectly. Eating wholefoods provides balance; it replenishes; it restores; it enables the cells to do what they are meant to do, without overstraining them.
It’s not just diet which affects our weight, though. Not getting enough sleep, being stressed bunnies, and using chemical products, amazingly all have a big part to play.
The first step in recovering from any health condition is to educate yourself. There are plenty of great websites and books out there, but nothing beats talking to an expert, and I would strongly recommend seeing a nutritionist to teach you the basic building blocks of what comprises a nutrient-dense health-giving diet (a side-effect of which could be losing unwanted pounds).
Don’t look on it as a “diet”. See it, instead as a new way of eating for life.
Don’t think in terms of deprivation either. Think of it as an exciting adventure into a world of new tastes and delicious recipes.
Make changes in bite-sized chunks. Introducing one or two small changes per week and bedding them in before trying to adopt another new healthy eating habit makes the transition manageable and can help to encourage you to keep going.
Combine healthy eating with exercise EVERY DAY.
If you would like help in changing your diet and/or losing weight, then contact me using the form below. I’m available for face-to-face as well as telephone consultations.
See my website www.judithreidnaturalhealth.co.uk for more details