Workshop Date: First Offered on January 9, 2016, Silver Spring, MD. If interested in this topic and would like me to present it again to your group in person or online, please send a message through this link.
Why did I choose to focus on this topic?
Simple. Losing weight is a new year’s resolution for many people. It is a resolution that we have repeated year after year for those of us who have struggled (or still struggle) with weight issues. I wanted to share lessons I have learned and applied that helped me realize that there is more to resistance to weight loss than meets the eye.
Understanding our successes and failures in achieving a healthy weight can help us become more strategic in the future.
What causes some to hold onto body fat more than others? What does our body tell us about the food we ate immediately after or hours later and what does this have to do with our weight? How should we prepare food so as to make it easier to digest and more nutritious and what is the link between proper digestion and our ability to lose excess weight? To address some of these “weight” questions, I focus on several areas but they can be summarized into these three:
Energy in foods or how our bodies feel after a meal. We must pay attention to how we feel after we eat specific foods and food combinations. I encourage everyone to become aware of what happens immediately after a meal, three to four hours later, and then 24 hours later. A food that agrees with us does not make us feel bloated and uncomfortable immediately after eating. If we eat a full meal with the right combinations of food groups, whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we should not feel hungry in less than three hours. And even if we do, it should not be the kind of hunger that makes us shaky and irritable. A well-balanced meal should nourish us and make it easy to eliminate within 24 hours. Otherwise, we are constipated, which is not a good sign, especially if it happens frequently.
Food preparation and nutrient absorption. This provides a chance to discuss some of the food preparation techniques that could result in poor absorption of nutrients. Certain foods such as beans, grains, nuts and seeds contain a mineral blocker and enzyme inhibitor known as phytic acid. This acid must be removed through soaking and proper cooking to ensure it does not stand in the way of our ability to absorb nutrients. I use the example of beans, with pictures to illustrate the point. Proper preparation of beans means soaking them overnight (ideally for 24 hours) and then cooking them in water, on high heat with the lid off, until a foam forms on top. Then you would have to scoop the foam off and discard it. After this step, cover and continue cooking on low heat until the beans are soft. You can then add herbs and spices as preferred. Nuts and seeds also need to be soaked, flavored and roasted until they are fully dry. If you do not remove the phytic acid prior to consumption, you will be deprived of helpful nutrients while your body works to remove the unhelpful acid from your system. It is also important to cool cooked food completely before storing it in tightly closed containers in the fridge or freezer. Cooling food will prevent it from spoiling, which happens when the steam from it is trapped in a closed container. This is worse for food stored in containers that may contain hormone disrupters such as BPA or Phtalates, found in many plastic containers. Hormonal imbalance can interfere with our ability to lose weight.
The social dimensions of food. This is an important aspect of any attempt to change a behavior. It is important to know the food habits of people we socialize with and know how to respond to prevent these habits from influencing our own food choices. Finding the right support network and being in the right community (family included) will encourage and support our desire and effort to change. There could even be some ripple effects. For example, the right social network may encourage us to take other healthy initiatives together that will result in greater and more beneficial changes for all involved. There are groups (as small as two people or as large as would be helpful for you) that cook together and get the benefits of sharing healthy meals and recipes. These groups often exercise and have fun together, and support one another to better manage stress.
Indeed, eating right involves body, mind, and soul. It requires that we make the right and conscious food choices. It requires also being mindful about how food makes us feel and eat accordingly. It is often when the soul feels the deeper meaning of your choices, that behavior change becomes sustainable. The types of action and depth of change will vary from one person to another and that’s ok. Making the above three changes is often the hardest part of your work. However, there are general rules that apply to everyone and can make a big difference in how you feel and whether or not you will succeed at losing the stubborn fat around your belly and your body:
Drinking water before you eat (or reach for a snack) will ensure that you do not confuse dehydration for hunger. No other drink can replace water. Flavor it with ginger, lemon or lime if drinking plain water is not your thing. But by all means, stay hydrated throughout the day.
Limiting sugar intake will allow your body to use stored body fat for energy instead of sugar. This means also avoiding overconsumption of high sugar fruits. Apples and berries are safer choices.
Choosing snacks that are high in fiber, protein and healthy fats, which support a healthy metabolism. Increasing your intake of fiber will enable you to become more efficient at removing toxic waste from your system.
While there is more to healthy weight than eating right, making these changes a part of your healthy eating habits will improve your metabolism and support your healthy weight goals!