Many people undergo fad diets and plan to lose weight, only to fail and gain the weight back. Most diets promise that you will be able to lose weight and aren't able to deliver. Why? Because most diets work from the premise that you'll have to avoid certain foods that are high in saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories. Whether you are overweight or not, your body needs saturated fats, cholesterol, and calories to obtain enough fuel and nutrients. If you are counting calories, you can count on still being overweight. The key is what types of foods you are eating which contain cholesterol and saturated fats. These ingredients are not the same in all foods. If you are eating whole foods, these substances are not only safe to eat but are necessary to health.
When you eat unhealthy foods, the calories are irrelevant because most, if not all of those calories, are unhealthy. A diet soda is no healthier than a regular soda because it contains less or no calories. Sodas -- diet in particular -- are full of chemicals your body doesn't recognize. You are better off to discontinue drinking sodas (and juice) altogether due to the high sugar content as well as other ingredients that won't do your body any good.
When you eat healthy foods, those calories are all healthy to consume because they come from nature and give your body everything it needs to absorb and utilize nutrients for health. When doctors tell you to avoid red meat, they are saying this because the typical red meat most people consume is from factory farms -- laden with chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, and the animals whose meat you are eating have been fed the wrong types of food -- corn, soy, and grain (much of it genetically modified and herbicide resistant).
Cattle are meant to consume grass as they are ruminants -- an animal equipped with a stomach specifically designed to digest grasses. When ruminants are fed other types of feed such as grain, soy, and corn, they become ill and farmers administer antibiotics. Farmers in factory farm environments are also concerned with profit and give their animals growth hormones and stabilizers -- all of this translates into unhealthy meat that causes many health problems - including heart disease, cancer, and Diabetes. Factory farm meat is obese meat. Grass fed meat contains the correct ratios of healthy nutrients -- low calorie, high protein, and with higher levels of omega 3s (plus CLA or conjugated linoleic acid). These factors have been found to have favorable effects on health such as helping to maintain proper weight and correct cholesterol levels.
Overweight individuals usually have detoxification issues and digestive disorders. If you have eaten poorly throughout your life, chances are you will have both. Digestive issues are caused by poor eating, leading to the storing of toxins which causes weight gain. When you get control of your toxification issues, you will then be able to lose pounds and arrive at the appropriate weight for your body size and type.
Any diet which encourages an individual to lose more than 5 pounds a month and recommends eating less calories and low-fat foods should raise a red flag. Overweight does not mean starvation nor elimination of important, nutrient-dense foods -- but that's exactly what many diets propose for the person trying to lose weight. Your body still needs fuel, even when you are overweight. And what you are probably lacking in most of all is nutrients that keep your body at normal weight levels and maintain a sense of well-being. An alteration in the way you eat should not be a diet but a lifestyle change. Until you understand this difference, you will likely continue to have weight issues.
If you are underweight, what you eat is still of crucial importance. Some people believe that if they are thin, they can eat poorly and it won't matter because eating that way won't cause weight gain. Even if you are fortunate enough that you don't easily gain weight, you can still damage your health from maintaining such a philosophy. Don't eat junk food to gain weight; if you truly need to gain some pounds, make your diet as healthy as possible. Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed, organic meats (both domestic and wild), safe fish, moderate amounts of sprouted, whole grains (avoid products made of flour), sprouted nuts and seeds, healthy oils such as butter, tallow and lard from healthy animals on pasture, extra virgin olive oil, raw, organic dairy products, and moderate amounts of legumes and rice.
Exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction is also critical in the overall picture of health and maintaining proper weight. Employ a moderate exercise program that you engage in 3-4 times weekly and is appropriate for your fitness level. It is especially important to find something you enjoy and look forward to that is a source of stress release as well as exercise. If you are in doubt, consult with your health care practitioner or a personal trainer.
Excessive, unaddressed stress, anxiety, or depression can also cause an individual to harbor excess weight or cause the inability to gain weight. If you need stress reduction, consider yoga, pilates, prayer, meditation, or counseling which focuses on varying forms of cognitive therapy (as opposed to pharmaceutical intervention which can often make problems worse or only be a band-aid).
Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is important, and making sure you retire around 10 p.m. is also critical toward helping maintain proper weight.
If you are unable to lose or gain weight after eating a truly healthy diet, you may need to address toxification and digestive issues. In many cases, these problems can be easily solved naturally without drugs or surgery. Consult with a knowledgeable health care practitioner about the correct type of detox and/or digestive remedy for your individual needs. Good individuals to inquire with include a naturopathic doctor, a certified nutritional therapist, a chiropractor, or a nutritional counselor who can refer you to another qualified professional.
Let's do a comparison of several different types of foods. Decide which are healthier to eat:
- Packaged bread or grain product or real, whole, sprouted grains that have been soaked or fermented
- Pasteurized, homogenized, 2 percent milk or whole, raw milk
- Lean, "low-fat" ground turkey which has been fed grains, corn and soy (possibly with growth hormones and antibiotics ) or natural, organic grass-fed ground beef with no chemicals, growth hormones, or antibiotics
- Tofu or pasture-raised, natural eggs (no antibiotics, chemicals)
- Conventional produce or sustainable produce grown without chemicals
In all cases, any foods which are processed and contain chemicals will contribute to weight issues and health disorders. Natural, healthy foods with saturated fats and cholesterol are necessary for health. Proper cholesterol cannot be maintained without these foods, and weight trouble and health issues will arise from eating processed low-fat foods such as soy, dairy, and meats which are "engineered" by technology through administration of chemicals/hormones/antibiotics and the feeding of unnatural types of feeds such as soy, grains, and corn.
As these foods represent the bulk of what is available in mainstream grocery stores and markets, these foods are eaten by the majority of people. These are also the main kinds of foods recommended by many conventional health professionals to be consumed. This is the reason why America has such an obesity and health epidemic. When we can finally make the distinction between real, whole foods for tools of healing and health, our chronic diseases and illnesses will finally be an exception rather than a rule.
This post is part of Pennywise Platter Thursday hosted by The Nourishing Gourmet and Simple Lives Thursday hosted by Gnowfglins.