Although weight loss and dietary fads are both American obsessions, as a nation we are becoming fatter and fatter, with one in three Americans suffering from obesity and another thirty three percent being unhealthily overweight. Moreover, studies indicate that being overweight and obesity are most common in the youngest generations, especially children 12 and under. In addition, in the last decade, the incidence of obesity among US adults has risen by 50 percent.
Clinically, obesity is defined in several ways: as a significantly higher than average proportion of body fat; as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) value greater than 30; or as weighing more than 20 percent over average weight according to statistical tables such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Height-Weight guidelines. For more details you can refer to the BMI guide and the DHHS Height-Weight guide in the Symptoms section that follows. “Morbid Obesity” is when a person weighs 50 to 100 percent or 100 pounds above ideal weight. If your ideal weight is 150 and you weight 200 lbs, this is referred to as morbid obesity.
Health authorities now cite obesity as one of the most serious health problems facing our country. Being seriously overweight for any period of time poses a direct threat to your health. In addition, obesity is now known to significantly increase your risk of many other serious chronic and degenerative health problems, including depression, diabetes, gallstones and other forms of gallbladder disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and stroke. Obesity can also cause or worsen the risk of certain types of cancer such as breast, endometrial, and uterine cancer in women, and cancer of the colon and rectum in men. Consider these statistics: 85 percent of all cases of adult-onset (Type II) diabetes are directly related to obesity, as are 45 percent of all cases of high blood pressure, 35 percent of all cases of heart disease, and nearly 20 percent of all cases of dangerously elevated high cholesterol. Finally, obesity without any other health complications causes the premature deaths of 300,000 Americans each year.
Dieting is the number one approach for dealing with obesity and being overweight in the United States, with Americans spending billions of dollars each year within the diet industry and its related dietary products. For the vast majority of obese and overweight people, however, all their money, time, and effort is usually for naught.
The following statistics reveal just how great a failure commercial diet fads are: Although most dieters are able to lose at least 10 percent of their total body weight as a result of dieting, 67 percent regain their weight within a year after they stop dieting, and 95 percent regain their weight within five years. In addition, at least 33 percent end up gaining more weight than they had before they started their diet.
The reason for this failure is simple: Diets do not address the underlying imbalances and lifestyle factors that are the primary causes of obesity and excessive weight gain. To safely, effectively, and permanently lose weight involves a lifetime commitment that addresses all of these factors from a perspective of holistic health, something that conventional diets and weight loss specialists so often neglect.
Obesity: Facts and Falsehoods
Obesity expert Gus Prosch, Jr., MD has identified seven common falsehoods about obesity and weight loss, as well as seven facts that people trying to lose weight need to understand. Being able to separate what is true and what is false when it comes to weight loss is vitally important and can save you a great deal of time, effort, and expense.
According to Dr. Prosch, the seven falsehoods are:
- Fad diets are an effective way to lose weight and keep it off
- Most doctors can help you lose weight
- Weight loss clinics and clubs are a good way to lose weight
- Counting and restricting calories is a key to losing weight and keeping it off
- Overeating and not exercising are the primary causes of obesity and being overweight
- Once you lose weight, it is easy to permanently keep it off
- Successful and permanent weight loss is impossible.
Here are the seven facts about obesity:
- Obesity is a lifelong disease
- Obese people have metabolisms that will always be abnormal
- It is impossible to eat what normal people eat and stay slim
- Anyone can lose weight and keep it off so long as the underlying factors that contribute to obesity and excessive weight gain are determined and properly addressed
- One of the important keys to successful weight loss is a proper understanding of insulin metabolism
- Sugars and processed foods have no place in your diet
- Successful weight loss cannot be achieved solely through fad diets, weight loss supplements, or an exercise program. The key to lasting success is a comprehensive dietary and lifestyle program that addresses all of your causes of obesity or excessive weight gain.
Are You Overweight or Obese?
One of the keys to successfully losing weight is being honest with yourself. Many people know they are overweight but do not admit it, or else they rationalize it so that they don’t feel a need to do anything about it. This is a potentially dangerous mistake. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Have your clothes been getting tighter? Do photos of you from last year reveal a thinner face?
- Are you unable to eat what others eat and stay trim?
- Have you gotten in the habit of eating hurriedly and not bothering to prepare nutritious meals?
- Do you feel that, for one reason or another — psychologically or physiologically — your food choices are really food cravings?
- Do you have a history of repeated diets that always begin because you want to conform to some ideal of what you “should” look like?
- Are you overweight because you always abandon your latest weight-loss diet to eat what you feel you have been deprived of?
- Have you reached the point where you seem completely unable to maintain a comfortable weight or a healthy dietary regimen?
Even if you think that your excess weight is not presently affecting your health, more than likely it is.
Body Mass Index and Weight Charts
To more accurately calculate whether you are excessively overweight, find your body mass index (BMI). BMI is the ratio of your height to your weight. A high BMI is an indicator of not only excess body fat but also of obesity-related health problems, especially chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. The higher the BMI, the higher the health risks.
Note: If you are pregnant, a bodybuilder, a competitive athlete, a child, or a frail elderly person, the BMI is not useful as the index is based on statistical averages, not body size exceptions.
- Multiply your weight in pounds by 704. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, the result would be 112,640.
- Convert your height to inches. For example, 5’10” equals 70 inches. Then multiply this number by itself. For example, 70 times 70 equals 4,900.
- Divide the number calculated in Step 1 by the number calculated in Step 2. Keeping with the examples above, 112,640 would be divided by 4,900, which equals 22.99. Rounded to the nearest whole number, the answer is that your BMI is 23.
Interpret the results of your numbers: According to the BMI Weight Status chart, a BMI less than 18.5 is underweight; a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is normal, or average. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is overweight, and a BMI of 30.0 and above is obese.
You can also determine whether or not you are overweight or obese by referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services normal weight ranges based on height and age. Find your height in the chart and then look at the weight range for your age group. Note that you should take into account your body frame size, be it small, medium, or large when interpreting which end of the weight range your weight should fall in. If your frame size is small, your weight should be in the lower end of the range; if your frame size were large, you would be in the higher end. Also note that men will generally fall in the higher end of the range, not just because of greater frame size but also because of higher muscle and bone mass.
Weight in Pounds
Ages 35 and Up
Body Fat to Lean Muscle Ratio–Recently, obesity and weight loss experts have come to recognize the importance a person’s overall percentage of body fat as a better indicator of overall health, as opposed to weight measured in comparison to height alone. Based on such calculations, a 6’3″ weighing 215 pounds might be considered healthy based on the DHHS chart above, yet if the total percentage of body fat exceeded 23 percent, a higher risk of illness compared to others of the same height and weight whose percentage of body fat is below 23 percent. Body fat percentages lower than 15 percent can also pose potential health risks, such as loss of energy, loss of menstrual cycle, lack of sexual energy and nutritional deficiencies.
Determining your overall percentage of body fat requires the help of your physician or a weight loss specialist in a health club or weight-loss clinic. A number of methods can be used to determine body fat percentages, including calipers, which measure the thickness of skin at various points along the body, such as the waist and thighs; hydrostatic measurement, which involves weighing a person both in and out of water; and bioelectrical impedance, in which electrical current is passed through the body. In this last method, the percentage of fatty tissues to lean muscle mass is calculated based on how easily the electrical current is able to pass through the body. Fatty tissue is a much poorer conductor of electrical current than lean muscle is, so the slower the current’s passage through the body, the greater the percentage of body fat is. If you wish to determine your percentage of body fat, contact your physician or a weight loss specialist trained in any of the above methods.
Honestly answering the following questions can also help you determine if your weight is affecting your overall health:
- Do you have low energy, or less energy than you used to?
- Do you have achy or swollen joints or overall puffiness?
- Are you experiencing food cravings or mood swings?
- Has your blood pressure gotten higher?
- Are your cholesterol and triglyceride levels elevated above normal range?
Symptoms of Obesity
Symptoms of obesity and being unhealthily overweight include shortness of breath, feelings of sluggishness or lack of energy, cravings for carbohydrates or other foods, puffy and/or thickened skin, and fluid retention. Excessive perspiration after mild levels of activity is another common symptom of obesity and overweight. Sluggish digestion, gas, bloating, constipation and abdominal pain are common complaints. Often digestive insufficiency, called leaky gut syndrome which is a condition characterized by undigested food particles entering the bloodstream occur. These undigested food particle trigger allergic reactions and stress the immune system. Feeling sleepy during the day or appearing tired are also symptoms of morbid obesity. Other symptoms of obesity include difficulty sleeping, breathing problems during the day or night, compulsive eating habits, and metabolic disorders. Obesity goes hand in hand with an overall lack of desire to move ones body, lethargy and a feeling of dread may overtake thoughts of moving naturally, such as a desire to take a walk after a meal, or exercise at all. No movement sets in, making everything worse.
Obesity and being unhealthy overweight can also cause or exacerbate other health problems, such as arthritis, Type II diabetes, depression, gall bladder, liver and kidney disorders, and chronic pain.
Causes of Obesity and Unhealthy Weight Gain
The common perception about obesity is that it is due to overeating and lack of exercise. While both of these factors are indeed important factors to consider, other equally important factors can also cause unhealthy weight gain. They include dieting, food allergies, hereditary and social factors, insulin imbalance, lifestyle factors, and metabolic disorders such as impaired thyroid function, psychological factors, and toxins, impaired thermogenesis. In order to successful weight loss to occur and be maintained, each of these factors must be looked at and, if found to be a contributing cause, properly addressed.
Chemical Processing in Foods: Over the last fifty years, the standard American diet has increasingly become one of convenience foods that are processed with ever increasing amounts of chemicals. These foods are obviously devoid of vital nutrients, especially the most basic vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that the body needs to function well. The increasing use of chemicals in our food supply is justified by the commercial food industry because of their ability to increase shelf life, kill bacteria, and improve taste, among other reasons. Re-read Natural Cures They Don”t Want you to Know About, for more illumination on the subject. What is left unsaid is the fact that these chemicals are neurotoxins that poison the brain and nervous system. Many are carcinogenic, which means they are capable of causing cancer.
Two of the most frequently used chemical additives in foods today are monosodium glutamate (MSG) and the artificial sweetener aspartame (aspartic acid). Research conducted as far back as 1969 has conclusively shown that both MSG and aspartame cause lesions in the hypothalamus, an organ in the brain that, among its many other functions, helps to regulate body temperature, hormone activity, and fat and sugar metabolism. In 1994, researchers discovered the hormone leptin, which acts as a natural appetite suppressant and helps regulate the body’s energy and body weight. Proper leptin activity is directly related to proper functioning of the hypothalamus. Therefore, experts in the field of obesity believe that food chemicals such as MSG and aspartame, by causing damage to the hypothalamus, also impair leptin’s ability to regulate body weight, this playing a significant role in obesity among people who eat chemically processed foods.
Dieting: Most of today’s common dieting approaches result in what is known as “yo-yo diets,” meaning that diets that result in a repetitive cycle of weight loss, followed by weight gain. The primary reason this occurs is because such diets are based on calorie and food restriction. Restriction can lead to rapid weight loss, however, such weight loss is regarded by the body as dangerous. This triggers the bodies inherent survival mechanisms asserting themselves to re-establish the lost weight and stored calories (in the form of fat), leading to binge- and overeating as soon as the diet is over.
Many diets can also be harmful. Not only do they cause the body’s metabolism to slow down, they can also cause fat cells to become bloated, and fatty toxins to be stored in the body’s tissues. Fatigue is another common symptom of dieting, as is the breakdown of muscle tissues is the diet is followed for extended periods of time. In addition, if weight is lost too rapidly, there is an increased risk of heart problems.
Food Allergies: Food allergies often go undiagnosed among patients who are overweight and obese, yet they can be a primary reason why people struggle with their weight. Typically, the foods a person is allergic to are also the foods he or she has the strongest cravings for. The most common foods to which people are allergic include milk and dairy products, corn, wheat, and chocolate, but any food has the potential to cause food allergies and sensitivities, especially if it is a regular part of a person’s diet. (See Allergies.)
Food allergies contribute to weight gain and obesity in a number of ways. In addition to causing food cravings that in some cases are addictive, food allergies can cause water retention in the body, adding to a person’s overall weight, and also create feelings of depression, which can lead to overeating as a way to bury emotional issues.
Hereditary and Social Factors: Hereditary factors such as genes and biochemical individuality can play significant roles in a person’s tendency to become obese. It’s long been known, for instance, that children who are obese and overweight often have parents and grandparents who were as well. But hereditary predisposition for unhealthy weight gain can also be influenced by social factors, as well. For example, children raised in families with a tradition of eating overly large meals without a comparable amount of exercise to burn calories, or who habitually fast, processed foods high in unhealthy fats and low in nutritional value, will usually carry such bad eating habits into their adulthood, continuing to have weight problems as a result.
Another hereditary factor that can influence weight gain is known as a person’s ‘set point.” According to set point theory, a person’s weight and body fat percentage are based on his or her genes, combined with eating patterns and caloric intake at certain periods of their life, such as the onset of adolescence. Set points tend to be fixed. As a result, when a person attempts to achieve weight below or above his or her set point, it causes a cascade of physical mechanisms that work to return the person to the weight of his or her set point. Rapid weight gain, which is often the goal of fad and liquid diets, is a perfect example of how the body responds to a decrease in its set point weight. As weight starts to be lost, the body reacts as if it is threatened, setting in motion signals for the person to start eating again, to the point where he or she soon regains the lost weight and often additional weight as well. Losing weight slowly and effectively while addressing all of the factors that contribute to excessive weight gain is the best way of establishing a new, healthier set point in the body.
Insulin Imbalance: Many people suffer from obesity because of imbalances of the hormone insulin. Insulin is essential for help the body make use of glucose, the body’s primary fuel, as well as carbohydrates. When insulin imbalances occur, the body’s ability to metabolize glucose and carbohydrates becomes impaired.
In a state of health, insulin levels rise after each meal so that insulin can transport glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. Once this is accomplished, insulin is cleared from the bloodstream until it is needed after the next meal. If the body is unable to clear insulin, due to insulin imbalances, a condition known as glucose intolerance can occur. This, in turn, can make a person feel hungry even after he or she has just eaten, adding to his or her unhealthy weight gain. Over time, as more weight is gained, this vicious cycle becomes worse and worse, eventually to the point where the body becomes unable to respond to insulin as it attempts to do its job. As a result, the body, to little or no avail, leaving the cells deprived of the glucose they need to create proper energy levels, often produces greater and greater amounts of insulin. This explains why people who are overweight or obese are also usually chronically tired. Compounding the problem, since the insulin is unable to convert glucose to energy, the glucose ends up being stored into the body’s fat cells, creating a higher percentage of body fat. Left unchecked, this can lead to adult-onset (type II diabetes).
Insulin imbalances can also lead to increased salt and water retention, sleep disorders caused by insulin interference with the brain’s neurotransmitters, increased production of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, impaired thyroid function and a resultant sluggish metabolism, high blood sugar, and further food cravings, especially for simple carbohydrates, which can cause insulin imbalances in the first place.
Lifestyle Factors: A sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise are the two biggest lifestyle factors that contribute to unhealthy weight gain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25 percent of all Americans live a completely sedentary lifestyle, and another 55 percent fail to get sufficient exercise on a regular basis.
Exercise and other forms of regular physical activity are essential to overall good health, and are also vital for healthy weight management because of how exercise speeds up metabolism, making it easier for the body to convert food into energy while burning off calories. In addition, exercise helps convert fatty tissues into lean muscle while preserving the lean muscle mass that you already have. This is important for anyone looking to lose weight because lean muscle burns calories far more efficiently than do fatty tissue. Additionally, lack of regular exercise also makes it far more likely that the weight you do lose by following restrictive, low-calorie diets will quickly be regained once you stop dieting. Moreover, such diets cause lean muscle mass to be lost if they are undertaken without exercise.
Metabolic Disorders: Impaired metabolism is another primary cause of many cases of obesity. Simply put, a person’s metabolic rate refers to the rate at which the body uses energy. People who are able to easily maintain their proper weight typically also have higher metabolic rates, allowing them to burn calories much more quickly and efficiently than people who struggle with being overweight.
When dealing with obesity, holistic health specialists will often measure what is known as a person’s basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the measurement of the body’s minimum requirements for energy in order for it to continue to function properly. Although BMR can vary tremendously from person to person, each person has an ideal BMR which, when met, not only makes it easier for the body to function, but also to better manage body weight. Various factors, such as a person’s age, sex, body size, and fat-to-muscle ratio can all influence BMR, as can the types of foods you eat. All of these factors have to be taken into account and addressed in order to achieve an optimum BMR, which in turn makes it easier for overweight people to start to burn calories more efficiently and quickly, thus shedding unwanted pounds.
Hypothyroidism–One of the most common and often undiagnosed causes of impaired metabolism is low thyroid function, or hypothyroidism, which can increase the rate at which the body stores fat. Standard conventional thyroid tests can often fail to detect hypothyroidism, so be on the watch for its telltale symptoms, such as chronic constipation, fatigue, feelings of coldness (especially in the hands and feet), and a tendency to put on weight despite not overeating. Other signs of hypothyroidism include fluid retention, puffy skin, and digestive problems such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and poor assimilation of nutrients.
Psychological Factors: Many people with weight problems are also chronic overeaters due to their tendency to eat in response to unresolved emotional issues, such as anger, anxiety, boredom, and grief, or to fill an emotional void due to feelings of not being loved or appreciated. Overeating due to stress is also quite common. Compounding this problem is the role eating plays in social occasions in our society, ranging from birthdays and other celebrations, to traditional holiday meals throughout the year.
In addition, many families that have difficulties verbally expressing their feelings for one another due so through shared meals. As Douglas Ringrose, MD, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, a specialist in the treatment of eating disorders, points out, “People who are overweight can be using food as a tranquilizer or a reward or a substitute for affection. Others eat because it’s something to do when they”re bored or to turn themselves into a fortress against the world.” Eating in this manner often keeps people from confronting and resolving their emotional issues, which can further add to their overall health risks by perpetuating the stress associated with such issues.
Making this situation worse is the fact that usually the foods that one chooses to eat in order to ‘stuff” unresolved emotions are high-calorie “comfort foods,” such as chocolates, sweets, cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream, pizza, and so forth. Such foods not only increase weight can, they can also trigger cravings to consume even more of them.
The tendency to eat in response to emotional issues is also often ingrained in young children whose parents feed them comfort foods during times of emotional upset. If this is done habitually instead of the parents helping their children to cope with their feelings in such moments, it can create an almost Pavlovian response that literally creates chemical and behavioral pathways in the brain, resulting in the children growing into adults who will still unconsciously and instinctually reach for food to comfort themselves during times of stress and heightened emotions.
Research has shown that stress can trigger a biochemical craving for food, especially unhealthy sweets and starchy foods. During times of stress, the adrenal glands secrete the hormone cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, stimulates the brain to produce a chemical known as neuropeptide Y, producing a craving for sweets and starchy foods. If stress becomes chronic and unresolved, the continual production of neuropeptide Y can cause an ongoing desire for such foods, making weight gain nearly inevitable.
Thermogenesis: Thermogenesis refers to the process by which the body produces energy in the form of heat above a person’s resting metabolic rate. It is one of the mechanisms the body uses to turn calories into energy. When thermogenesis becomes impaired, instead of being burned up, calories start to accumulate in the body as fat, even during times of dieting and exercise.
Your body is comprised of two types of fatty tissue–white adipose tissue, which the body uses to store fat, and brown adipose tissue, used by the body to burn fat in order to produce heat. When thermogenesis becomes impaired, calories that are intended to be used by brown adipose tissue instead are shunted into white adipose tissue, adding to the overall percentage of body fat and thus causing additional weight gain.
One of the main causes of impaired thermogenesis is chronic dieting, which, over time, can cause a lower rate of thermogenesis and a corresponding increase in feelings of hunger.
Toxins and Toxic Burden: Toxins, both from foods in the form of chemical additives, and from the tens of thousands of pollutants in our air, water, and soil supplies, are a primary cause of obesity and weight gain, as well as most chronic, degenerative disease condition. As your body is continually exposed to toxins, an increasing burden is placed on your liver, the primary organ of detoxification. Eventually, the liver becomes unable to effectively perform the hundreds of functions it is responsible for in the body. This, in turn, creates a cascade of other health problems, including impaired digestion and assimilation of nutrients, impaired elimination of waste, blood sugar problems, sluggish metabolism, and the accumulation of additional fatty tissues, all of which can lead to or exacerbate unhealthy weight gain.
Buildup of toxins in the body can also affect the lymphatic system, an aspect of the immune system that acts as your body’s filtration system. Toxins cause lymph fluids to stagnant, leading to both weight gain and water retention. A tell tale sign of those who are obese and whose lymphatic system is stagnant is having hands and feet that appear small in proportion to the rest of their body.
Toxins can also directly affect your gastrointestinal tract, particularly the colon. As the colon becomes toxic, it interferes with your body’s ability to properly assimilate nutrients from the foods you eat, leading to fatigue and creating cravings for more food. Health experts such as nutritionist and detoxification expert Lindsey Duncan, ND, estimates that as many as 90 percent of all Americans are only able to properly metabolize 55 percent or less of the foods they eat each day due to toxicity and impaired colon function. As a result, they also suffer from impaired metabolism and lack of energy levels, making it easier for unhealthy weight gain to occur.
Quick Action Plan for Holistic Approach to Obesity
- If you are gaining weight, start listening to the clues or symptoms your body is giving you: Is your body telling you that you are eating the wrong types of foods? Or is the message perhaps that you are “fighting a losing battle” with weight because of unrecognized physical health factors or emotional issues?
- Examine why and what you are eating: If you have cravings or are eating overly large portions of foods at mealtimes, you might have underlying physical or emotional health conditions or food allergies. If you are overeating or snacking frequently because you feel angry, anxious, bored, jealous, lonely, sad, or ‘stressed,” you are probably an “emotional eater.”
- You will likely find that part of your challenge involves recalling and revealing old familial and perhaps old personal attitudes toward food. Negative attitudes or coping strategies learned in early childhood often lead to adult food and dependency issues and addictions.
- If your answers to questions about your dietary habits or weight indicate that your food choices are not healthy, or that your proportion of body fat is higher than it should be, you need to look at how you can reduce the proportion of body fat by changing your choices and habits, not by quick weight-loss dieting.
- If you are overweight or obese, see an alternative health practitioner to arrange a thorough examination to determine if there are any undiagnosed medical causes for your condition, such as food allergies, insulin imbalances or low thyroid function and other metabolic disturbances.
The following natural self-care approaches are not only effective for losing weight safely and effectively, they are also effective for preventing unhealthy weight gain from occurring in the first place. Also, read the How to Lose Weight section.
Aromatherapy: The use of the essential oils of rosemary, fennel, grapefruit, and orange can be helpful combined with weight-loss programs, as can essential oil massages that help loosen congestion around the hips and thighs and other body areas. You can add a few drops of any of the above oils into your bath or into carrier oil, such as sesame or almond oil and do self massage on a daily basis. Self-massage is an excellent way to get in touch with your body and get more intimate with the excess you are carrying around. Self-contact can open the door to deeper feelings and emotions, which can become an opportunity to heal.
Detoxification: The benefits of detoxification programs include reducing immune stress, lessening the depletion of and improving the assimilation of enzymes and nutrients. It is best to do a colon cleanse first and foremost. A 21-28 days colon cleanse is an excellent launching point to going deeper into healing the body than ever before. After 1-2 colon cleanses, you can go onto Candida cleansing and then Kidney and Liver cleansing. Ridding the body of heavy metals is also very important, as excess metals interfere with metabolic processes. Releasing excess metals helps improve sleep quality, mental clarity as well as energy and motivation levels. Effective detoxification practices include the colon cleansing found under Cleansing and Detoxification, juice fasts, colonics and enemas. Regular time spent in a far-infrared sauna, is highly effective for removing toxins stored in fatty tissues. Lymphatic detoxification is highly effective. Lymphatic drainage, a type of massage and rebounding on a mini trampoline also help stimulate the flow of body lymph fluid and eliminate toxins and wastes stored in lymph tissues.
Diet: A healthy diet is one that works best over the long term for you as an individual. The principles of a healthy daily diet include planning balanced meals of fresh, organic whole foods; eating and chewing slowly; eating smaller, more frequent meals and avoiding overeating and do not skip breakfast. Reduce or eliminate intake of caffeine, alcohol, flour products, sugar, and commercial fruit juices. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of purified water per day to flush the body and maintain good hydration. In addition, eliminate all processed and fast foods, simple carbohydrates, refined flours, damaging fats, such as trans-fats and partially hydrogenated oils like lard and margarine and artificial sweeteners.
Overall, choose a diet that includes generous helpings of fresh, organic, leafy greens, salads, and a wide variety of vegetables with every meal. Eat non refined whole grain, low-glycemic carbohydrates such as quinoa, buckwheat, beans, and legumes. Choose wild fish, organic poultry, bison, beef, or lamb and consume small portions of this quality protein, no larger than a fist full per meal. The quality of the protein you eat impacts your ability to detoxify, thus leading you to weight loss. If you are a vegetarian, substitute eggs, tempeh, tofu, and a combination of nuts, seeds, beans and legumes to fulfill your daily protein requirements.
Also be sure to get an adequate supply of healthy fats, which are essential not only for proper weight management and healthy weight loss, but also healthy brain function, as your brain is composed primarily of fatty tissue. By ensuring a proper supply of healthy fats, you will also be improving your overall mood, making you less likely to eat due to feelings of anxiety or depression. Excellent food sources of healthy fats include extra virgin olive, virgin coconut butter/oil, high lignin flaxseed oil, and cold-water wild caught fish, especially Alaskan salmon.
With those principles as your foundation, what follow are some of the more effective eating plans for safely and permanently losing weight. You will need to experiment in order to find the eating plan that works best for you. These are general guidelines and suggestions to get you started. In addition, remember that effective weight loss best occurs when only one to two pounds of weight are shed per week. Weight loss at a higher rate can create a “yo-yo” effect that will eventually result in you not only regaining lost pounds, but possible additional weight as well. For best results, consider working with an alternative practitioner in your area who can guide and support you in discover the eating plan that is best for you. One exception to this is the weight loss that occurs as a result of long term cleansing. While cleansing, weight will drop at a faster pace and what is important in this case is to have a stable whole food based food plan to return to as you come off the cleanse.
Allergy Rotation Diet – This eating plan helps to desensitize the autoimmune response and help you eliminate food cravings. The benefits of doing so include reduced immune sensitivities, inflammations, and fluid retention (body puffiness), as well as other general health improvements, such as more energy and better mood. Start by eliminating the most common types of allergy-causing foods, such as milk and dairy products, wheat products, corn, and chocolate, for at least four days.
If you completely avoid any suspect food for a period of time, you will give the immune system a rest and allow the body to clear circulating immune complexes. The easiest way to approach a balanced allergy-rotation diet is to do a food challenge. This involves eating the suspect food by itself and then being monitored for a reaction over a period of as long as three to four days. Foods that cause an allergic reaction should then be eliminated from your diet for two to three months before being reintroduced. Once they are reintroduced, again check for reaction symptoms. If they still occur, you will need to avoid eating that food altogether. If not, you may eat it sparingly, every four to five days.
To further explore whether you suffer from food allergies, also consider working with a holistic allergy specialist, such and a practitioner of NAET. Environmental Medicine
Fish-Fowl-Green Vegetable Diet – This eating plan is a protein-vegetable, low-carbohydrate diet that allows you to eat any quantity of organic foods in these three categories, within reason. Acceptable foods include wild caught fresh fish, organic poultry, and a wide variety of raw or cooked green vegetables. It is suggested that you also eat one egg and one piece of fruit daily. Take ground flax seeds or other preferred fiber to ensure proper bowel function. Your daily oil intake is limited to 2 tablespoons of coconut, olive, or flaxseed oil, including salad dressing. Enjoy salads and veggies with apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Note: If you prefer to avoid the use of free flowing oils, be sure to supplement with essential fatty acids.
High-fiber Starch Diet – This can be a good weight-loss plan for vegetarians who are not sensitive to wheat. It involves eating complex carbohydrates, including vegetables of all types, whole grains, legumes, potatoes, and un-refined, whole grain, non-white flour pasta. These foods are relatively low in calories if they are not eaten with fatty sauces such as gravy and butter. You can enjoy an abundance of salads and vegetables daily, with very light dressings, primarily made from apple cider vinegar, lemon or lime juice with a touch of olive oil, and herbs and spices, Note that starchy vegetables, eaten at the beginning of a meal, increase the feeling of fullness by providing bulk and thus decrease appetite and helps you avoid over-consumption of calories. This diet does not allow you to eat any sugary foods, red meats, fried foods, or fatty processed foods of any kind.
Low-fat Diet – An eating plan that works well for some people is one that is low in fat (no more than 25 percent fat, and no less than 20 percent fat, because some fat is absolutely essential for good health). Such an eating plan should be high in fiber and complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, beans, and vegetables. Fiber not only reduces cholesterol and constipation but also can move fat out of the body into the feces.
Glycemic Index Diet – Eating organic whole foods that have low glycemic index (GI) ratings is not only helpful for people needing to lose weight, but has also been shown to promote greater overall health and longevity. This eating plan also helps in correcting insulin imbalance and managing insulin resistance (Type II diabetes). It is also considered very important for Type I diabetics (who take insulin injections). The glycemic index is a list of GI-rated foods and is a quick way to determine the relative impact that carbohydrates have on blood sugar levels.
Low-GI foods – such as pitted fruits and melons, leafy greens, most raw vegetables, white-fleshed fish, shellfish, poultry, and most nuts–cause less of an insulin spike after eating; remain in the small intestines longer; and give the body a greater feeling of fullness. High-GI foods–such as white bread, instant hot cereal, white rice, white potatoes, whole milk and cheeses, peanuts, and peanut butter–foster a large increase in insulin within about 30 minutes after eating and also stimulate hunger because of the rapid rise and then fall of blood glucose levels, which tends to stimulate unhealthy responses to reverse the decline.
Metabolic Typing Plan – This eating plan can often be the most effective type of diet, as well as for maintaining overall health. It is based on the fact that each of us has a unique biochemistry and specific metabolic rate due to factors such as genes, blood type, and the way we oxidize foods. To determine your metabolic type and the foods that are most appropriate for your individual health, seek out a health practitioner who is trained in metabolic typing. For more information, visit www.metabolictyping.com.
pH Eating Plan – Eating foods that help to keep the body in a slightly alkaline (non-acidic) state, can be a very effective way to lose weight and keep it off. The primary foods that create an alkalizing effect in the body are fresh, organic fruits, such as avocado, apples, banana, grapefruit, lemon, lime, and tomato, and most vegetables, particularly leafy greens. Sprouted seeds and grains are also alkalizing, as are nuts, such as almonds and Brazil nuts. Filtered water has a neutral pH, and certain mineral waters are highly alkalizing. Drinking such beverages, along with fresh squeezed, organic vegetable juices is highly recommended throughout the day.
Foods and beverages that create an acidifying effect in the body include all commercial, processed foods, alcohol, coffee, non herbal teas, milk, dairy products, fish, meats, poultry, white flour and all refined grains, sugars, and all simple and refined carbohydrates, as well as some nuts and dried fruits. Most of these foods should be avoided altogether, while fish, lean cuts of meat, poultry and, to an even lesser extent, whole grains should be eaten sparingly.
By ensuring that at least 60 percent of the foods you select to eat at each meal are alkaline-based foods, you can quickly start to shift your body away from an acidic state. This is important, because when the body is in an acidic state, it is far more prone to storing fats. In addition, chronic states of acidity in the body create an internal environment in which bacteria, fungi, viruses, and unhealthy flora such as Candida can thrive.
Exercise: Everyone knows how hard it can be to get enough exercise, but if you are overweight, you must adopt an exercise routine that helps your body burn excess fat and sugar. Regular exercise helps to reestablish and maintain a healthy metabolism capable of burning calories faster and more efficiently, while also helping your body to shed the weight it doesn”t need.
There are many ways to exercise, but people who are overweight need to focus on slow, sustained activity, instead of exercises that quickly produce sweating and heavy breathing. This is because slow, steady aerobic exercises are more efficient at burning fat. A daily routine of 45 to 60 minutes of fast walking or jogging is very useful for this purpose. Even more effective is regular exercise on a rebounder or mini-trampoline, which has been shown to be one of the most effective ways for improving the health of the lymphatic system. Jumping or jogging in place on a rebounder for 15 to 20 minutes a day is the equivalent of jogging for one hour, and is much easier on your joints. In addition, regular rebounding also helps to convert fatty tissue to lean muscle because of the gravitational effects produced while jumping on a rebounder. Begin with 5 minutes of jumping per day and build up slowly over the course of a few weeks to 15-20 minutes. Swimming and hiking are also excellent exercise choices for people who are overweight.
Strength training, such as push ups or working out with weights or gym equipment that builds muscles is also vitally important for people who are unhealthily overweight. Although aerobic exercises are most often recommended for people who are overweight–and should definitely be part of your weight loss exercise program–strength training is actually more effective at converting fat into lean muscle, and regular strength training also helps your body to burn calories more efficiently for longer periods of time, improving metabolic rates in the process. Instead of using heavy weights with fewer repetition, use less weight with more repetitions, as this will produce less strain on your body and result in leaner, more toned muscles.
Caution: If you are seriously overweight, do not begin any form of exercise program without first consulting with your physician. For best results, also consider working with a certified fitness trainer for the first few weeks.