Have you tried every diet under the sun, only to be overcome by temptation? Do you live for “cheat days”, in which you can relinquish control? Is food a refuge from the stress of your everyday life? One of my favorite things about functional medicine is its practical approach to weight loss. We all know how to lose a few pounds in a pinch, but keeping them off is another story. In this article, I’ll teach you to shift your relationship with food so that each meal will not only fill you up but fulfill your nutritional needs as well. If you’re ready for a radical transformation, read on!
The Pitfalls of Our Modern Mealtimes
For many of us, mealtime is an inconvenient break in an already full schedule. Food becomes whatever is quick and readily available. Even those who have the foresight to plan and prepare their meals often neglect to set aside a proper amount of time to eat. Our culture is built on this concept. Fast, convenient meals rule the market, despite our growing knowledge of their nutritional deficiency.
The Sympathetic Nervous System
Eating in a rush can trigger our sympathetic nervous system, also known as the fight-or-flight response. Meant for dangerous situations, this response fires whenever we are under a large amount of stress. It inhibits digestion and instead prepares your body for an emergency discharge of energy.
While you may have a balanced meal ahead of you, if your sympathetic nervous system is in charge, the potential nutrients are not absorbed. Your energy-sustaining protein turns into a shot of espresso, instructing your body that right now, getting away (or defeating the threat) is most important. Multiply this by the amount of stress-filled meals you consume each week, and you’ll start to understand why digestive distress, nutritional deficiency, caffeine addiction, and adrenal fatigue are a national epidemic. Until we address digestion, weight loss will always be a difficult, temporary process!
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
If you want to get the most from your meals, take the time to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Often referred to as “rest-and-digest”, this system is responsible for increased saliva production, slower heart rate, relaxed muscles, and the release of digestive enzymes. This response takes longer to kick in, as the body must first assess its current situation and manage any imminent stress. Follow the tips below to shift into rest-and-digest mode.
· Consume your meals in a quiet, uncluttered environment. Avoid eating lunch at your desk, or snacking on breakfast while on the go.
· Spend several moments in thought before you eat. Allow your mind to clear away all stressful thoughts.
· Focus on your meal. Savor each bite. Taste the ingredients, chew well, and avoid drinking during mealtime, as it can dilute the stomach acid needed for digestion.
· Keep the television off, the phone in another room, and the computer monitor turned away. The less temptation you have to jump up and respond, the more successful your meals will be.
Assess Your (Inner) Environment
Poor digestion means more than having an upset stomach. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to more stress on the body, making an already-weakened system work even harder. Food sensitivities can add to inflammation, which leads to more weight gain. Hormonal imbalances, low thyroid function, and a life built around anxiety can all contribute to a cycle of weight gain, weight loss, and poor health.
The functional medicine solution is to look beneath the surface. Science-based test results definitively diagnose (or rule out) any of the above issues. Instead of spending decades on trial and error diet plans, medications, and basic blood panels that miss the mark, the right practitioner can pinpoint the root of your weight loss struggle and can help you find a lasting solution.
Don’t Neglect Your Mental Health
I know many of you are probably wondering how a guy like me could possibly understand a lifelong struggle with weight loss. While I don’t have the monthly challenges that most of my wonderful patients undergo, I have had my fair share of ups and downs on the scale. I was extremely active most of my life until I was overcome by a cycle of poor health and weight gain. I know how devastating this can be when you’re trying to live a full life.
So much of our identity is tied to our weight, whether we care to admit it or not. Emotional eating, negative self-talk, and an unrealistic body image are but a few of the pieces of the puzzle we examine in your case review. While it’s never easy to confront these long-held beliefs, I partner with you every step of the way to ensure you have the support and care that you need to construct healthy, lasting habits.
While we may discuss your diet, this isn’t about the three foods to eat (or avoid) to have a flat stomach (thought we will probably come across that at some point, as well). This is about living your fullest life, with the body you have worked for and deserve.
If you’re ready to say goodbye to those extra pounds forever, schedule your FREE consultation with me today!
Rich Jacobs is a Board Certified Integrative and Functional Nutrition Practitioner who specializes in resolving gut, insomnia, low libido, fatigue and fat issues. He uses a holistic approach and functional lab work to identify root causes such as hormone imbalances or gut pathogens that could be impacting your health.