I don’t know about you, but I’m surrounded by folks with some pretty strong opinions about dieting and losing weight in general. Most of my friends are on the Ketogenic diet, which they follow religiously. I’ve got another friend on the Paleo diet. And now my grandma is doing Atkins. (Why is my grandma on Atkins, I ask of you? Grandmas are supposed to be very “carb friendly”, baking cookies and stuff all day. Right?
But the point is, there are tons of people out there, singing the praises of whatever diet they’re on. And there are tons of people out there, grousing about whatever diet they’re on. And therein lies an indisputable truth: what works for someone may not work for someone else, and vice versa. Now, that’s all good and well, but how does this apply to you and me? If everyone’s different, how on earth are we supposed to know what to do?
Well, the simple answer is: we listen to our bodies. And we also read the rest of this email for some more useful tips. 🙂
So here’s the thing. Everybody’s different. “Yes, but we already established that,” you say. True.
How we’re different – and what that means
According to Science Daily, “‘There probably isn’t one magic bullet for obesity — if there is a magic bullet, it’s going to be different for different groups of people,” said Alison Field, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Brown University School of Public Health and lead author of the paper. ‘There’s a really diverse mix of people who get put into one group. A child who becomes very obese by age 5 is going to be very different from someone who gradually gains weight over time and at age 65 is obese. We need to recognize this diversity, as it may help us to develop more personalized approaches to treating obesity.’”
What makes us all so different from each other? For one, genes. Thrive Global explains, “It is believed that one-day medical treatments will be created bespoke for us according to our genetic make-up, and it has been possible for a few years now to buy a DNA test which tells you the best type of exercise for you and your ideal diet type. Other factors such as your gastrointestinal health and the microflora in your gut also have a profound impact on how you process food, absorb micronutrients and store fat.”
The article goes on to talk about modern western obesogenic environment, “In the West, our environment is set up to be as efficient as possible; we have multi-transport systems which remove the need for walking; we have fewer outdoor spaces and fewer pavements; there are fast food outlets everywhere, usually rich in refined carbohydrates; many of our jobs are now desk-bound; we have labor-saving devices which minimize our need to move; our food shopping can be ordered online and delivered straight to our kitchens; our factories and machines emit toxic gases and pollutants which disrupt our hormone profile and in turn can affect our weight.”
Clearly, there are many factors involved in the weight gain crisis that is spreading throughout America. We can improve some of these factors consciously, but others, such as our genetics, obviously can’t be changed. So, besides experimenting with different diets and observing how our bodies respond, are there some health tips that apply to everyone? Yep.
Tip 1: Enjoy your food.
Psychology Today suggests, “Make mealtimes, and eating in general, a pleasure. Eat slowly and mindfully, savoring your food. When you eat, take a complete break from work and chores. Enjoy your alone time or the good company of friends or colleagues. The food you eat while working, while standing up, or while gulped down in a hurry-flurry is food that you won’t know you’ve eaten. Result: You’ll eat more than you want to.”
Tip 2: But don’t let your life revolve around food.
One of the most basic tips is to eat when you’re hungry. If you’re not hungry, then don’t eat. If eating is becoming more of a social event than anything else, why not replace it with a different activity? Instead of going to Happy Hour with your friends, why not go for a bike ride with them?
Similarly, if you eat primarily out of boredom, find something else to do. You have control over these types of decisions.
Tip 3: Don’t restrict yourself.
No, I’m not saying it’s okay to eat a diet subsisting mostly of McDonald’s and diet Pepsi and Cow Tales. I have a friend who does that and I’m honestly surprised he is still alive.
What I am saying is: if the majority of your diet is healthy, it’s okay to have a treat. I’d also suggest not cutting out major food groups, like carbohydrates, unless it’s medically necessary.
Beth Cecil, a dietitian at Owensboro Health, says, “In fact, did you know that totally depriving yourself of the foods that you really enjoy or labeling foods as “good” and “bad” in order to lose weight actually could backfire?
This is because over time these restrictions can lead to cravings, binges, and overeating completely sabotaging your attempts to improve nutrition and weight.
Food deprivation, or restrictive eating, may cause you to dislike healthy nutritious foods. And what happens when you chronically feel deprived? In most cases, once you have access to these “forbidden” or restricted foods, you binge or overeat. Perhaps we do this because we fear another restriction is just around the corner.”
Tip 4: Eat whole foods.
It keeps coming back to this, doesn’t it? You want the majority of your calories to come from healthy, whole foods. These are foods you can pronounce. Fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, dairy.
And keep things simple. Unless you have serious problems with certain foods (lactose intolerance and dairy, for example) don’t worry so much about them. Yes, it’s always best to buy organic, but if that’s not feasible for your situation, then just focus on eating real, whole foods. For the most part, the foods that really deserve your fear are ones that come in bags and boxes: potato chips loaded with hydrogenated oils, cereals processed using extrusion and mixed with sugars and food coloring, etc.
Tip 5: Move more.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but this final tip really does deserve attention.
Experience Life suggests, “Sitting, lying, kneeling, or squatting on or as close to the floor as much as possible can pay big dividends in hip mobility, spine health, and kinesthetic awareness, while simultaneously encouraging more movement. ‘Reclaim the ground as much as possible,’ says MovNat founder Erwan Le Corre, author of The Practice of Natural Movement. Even while working on your laptop, playing with your children, or brushing your teeth, ‘you can extend your legs forward, bring them to the side, sit on your heels, squat.’”
And if you need some motivation, check out this Huffington Post article that recommends fitness apps.
Accept the fact that we are all different. Do not expect to get the same results as your friend even if you’re following the same diet or exercise program.
Listen to your body. If the diet you’re on currently is affecting your energy levels, or is causing other unwanted side effects, speak with your doctor.
Eat whole foods. (Sorry, had to say it one more time! 🙂
Clearly, we are all different and our bodies have different requirements and responses. But you know what? That’s really cool. It means, just like our fingerprints, we are all unique.
So don’t view your differences as a challenge. View them as a quest. A quest to find a healthier you.