With Joelle Mintzberg, CNP, EPC

Summer is almost here and naturally, our bodies adapt to shed our winter weight to acclimatize to the changing season. Unfortunately, there are a large percentage of us who are unsuccessful at dieting, largely because we are not conscious about what we are eating. Around 99% of all people who lose weight on a weight loss diet gain it back.

This is largely due to the fact that “dieting” doesn’t really work, at least not sustainably. Unfortunately, so much of eating is associated with excess guilt, negative self-talk, regret and yo-yo dieting. Food is not pleasurable for many of us because we are not conscious about what we are eating or we are in a food battle full of restrictions, diets, intensive exercise plans, and fasts.

In the spirit of a fresh summer start, we are proposing a new weight loss strategy largely consisting of pleasure, self-love, and appreciation of food and our bodies that work so hard day in and day out to help us live our lives. Along with your holistic weight loss plan, try the following effective tips for sustainable weight loss.

Pay Attention to your Emotions

Find ways to feel full other than food. Sometimes feelings of emptiness, sadness, loneliness or boredom can also activate our stress response and trigger hormones and chemicals in our brains that stimulate cravings acting as a need to fill us. Since fat, sugar, and salt “feed” us when we are in a stress response (calming anxiety & depression) they are what we tend to crave when we feel empty emotionally.

When feeling empty it is important to address the emotion as opposed to use food as a solution to fill the void. First try creating happiness by doing something or speaking with someone that you love. Really focus on what you are doing or whom you are speaking to. This will help to distract you from the urge to resort to food as a coping mechanism.

Get a Handle on Stress Levels

Stress hormones cause us to crave fat, sugar, and salt. These are the main substances our bodies need to fuel our system. Identifying the key stressors of your life with regards to relationships, work/money, family and where extra stress exists is a crucial first step in healing our relationship with food.

For immediate relief, try herbal medicines called ‘Adaptogens’ that help to restore adrenal health, heal burnout, balance blood sugar, and nourish the immune system. These include herbs such as Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, Kava Root, Relora and American ginseng. Adaptoenic herbs can help fight brain fog, fatigue, sugar cravings, and act as natural mood boosters. For long-term strategies, it is best to talk through your stressors with someone in order to put things in to perspective and to determine an action plan that will help reduce stress and anxiety.

 Keep Blood Sugar Balanced

Blood sugar balancing is crucial in decreasing insulin and cortisol, thereby alleviating fluctuating hormones and weight gain. Eating balanced meals and snacks will also help to eliminate food cravings because sugar has an addictive effect on the brain and sends your body on a roller coaster ride. The lows (hypoglycemia) trigger your brain to think that you are in a state of emergency which activates your stress response.

Though it may be a struggle to eat balanced meals when going through emotional roller coasters, eating healthy meals with a good quality protein, high quality fats, and vegetables every day is crucial to decreasing fluctuating hormones. To keep blood sugar balanced, enjoy a meal or a snack every 3-4 hours.

Slow Down and Relax Around Meals

Focus on relaxing during meals and in between meals. This will help calm your nervous system, reduce your cortisol levels, decrease your appetite, aid in better digestion, increase energy, and influence a sense of presence and better body awareness.

Take a moment before you eat to really check in with yourself. Eat only when you feel relaxed and eat slowly so that you can enjoy, savor and find pleasure in your meals.

Get Physical

Eating for reasons other than physical hunger reflects a disconnection between your mind and your body. Exercising regularly can help you reconnect with your physical self. Working out also reduces depression and anxiety, two common emotional eating triggers. Those who exercise regularly experience fewer food cravings than non-exercisers.

Rather than approaching exercise solely as a way to burn calories or achieve the perfect body, focus on how exercising makes you mentally and physically stronger and better able to cope with stress. When you feel more comfortable in your own skin and more confident about your physical self, you’re also less likely to turn to food as a coping mechanism. As a general guideline, exercising 3-5 times a week for 20-30 minutes is optimal.

Slowing down, taking care of your stress levels, cultivating awareness of emotions and sleeping well can help improve the way you perceive food and change your natural eating rhythm. This is a perfect complement to any holistic, sustainable weight loss program. In the process, you’ll find yourself more energetic and sleeping better, your cravings will fade and you will begin losing those love handles you couldn’t get a handle on!

Guest blogger, Joelle Mintzberg, CNP,  is one of our holistic retail experts at Innate Wellness Health Shop. She believes that everyone has the ability to live the healthy life they truly want. She feels a balanced relationship with food is integral to achieving utmost health. To learn more about how you can live a happier and healthier lifestyle visit Joelle at: http://www.joellemintzbergnutrition.com.