Gosh, those unwanted extra pounds are the bane of so many women’s existence, am I right?? This is probably the number one complaint amongst American women. Of course this isn’t the problem EVERY woman is having, but it’s undeniably common. There are a LOT of reasons this could be the case, as bio-individuality is a real thing. This means that there is no one “diet” for everyone. I know this is hard to hear. It would be SO much easier if someone would just tell us exactly what to eat, how much, and how often, right?! The truth is that your body is special and different in many ways from your neighbor, coworker, best friend, etc. You each have different kinds and amounts of foods that will help you thrive and those that will not. It is up to YOU to figure out which of these are best for your body and help you reach YOUR optimal health (and this means weight too).
Maybe you’ve cut out desserts and treats and even are counting calories. You think you’re eating pretty healthy and you have a fairly regular exercise regimen, but those few pesky pounds just won’t get outta town? Here are a few things you may want to consider.
Hidden Sugars: I address this one first because our food in the U.S. is FILLED with sugar and so many people aren’t even aware. You know that cereal with bran and the raisins you thought was healthy (I won’t directly call them out here)? It has 18 grams of sugar in just one cup. And do we usually stop at one cup? Not me! Also that glass of orange juice you had with it? 22 grams of sugar in just 8 ounces. That’s already 40 grams of sugar JUST for breakfast, and many people consume more than that. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended daily intake of sugar for women is 25 grams (40 for men). With that breakfast, you’ve already exceeded the limit by 9 am. A large majority of people are struggling with blood sugar imbalances and they don’t even know it, and therefore might be struggling to lose weight. I don’t ever recommend counting calories or grams or anything (unless that fits your personality type better). I think the best way to decrease consumption of sugar is to decrease consumption of processed foods, which is generally where sugar is hidden.
Imbalance of Macronutrients: Macronutrients are protein, fats, and carbohydrates. With our modern American diet, most people are consuming far too many carbohydrates; much more than we did ancestrally. This can also contribute to the issue of blood sugar imbalance, which can lead to more problems than just being overweight. But we’ll dive into that another time. Many people are under the impression that the “fat” is what makes us fat. Fats are actually essential to good health (make sure they are the good kind; avoid refined and hydrogenated oil/vegetable oils). Excess carbohydrates (and refined ones especially) are an extremely common reason people are not losing weight, or are gaining weight. But as stated above, we have to consider bio-individuality. An exact number of carbohydrates isn’t likely to be the same and the best for both you and your best friend. You have to play around with the amounts and see what works and feels best for your body. A great starting point is 40% of your calories from carbs, 30% from protein, and 30% from fat, see how that feels, and go from there.
Hormone Imbalances or Nutrient Deficiencies: I’m not going to dive too deep into this, but if you’ve already addressed the prior two points, you may want to consider visiting a nutritionist like myself, or a naturopathic or functional medicine doctor just to see if something might be out of balance. I can help assess and balance nutritional deficiencies, but a doctor can determine if one of your hormones is out of balance and I can help manage that through diet and lifestyle.
Not Consuming Enough Calories: This one always surprises people. YES you could be hanging onto those few extra pounds because you’re not eating enough. Believe it or not. Your body NEEDS calories to survive everyday – sleeping, eating, walking, thinking – everything takes energy, AKA calories. I won’t go into the science, but If you aren’t consuming enough, your body is essentially going to go into survival mode and not let you burn off anything during exercise because it thinks it needs every little bit of fat that you currently have to survive. Make sure you’re eating enough by making sure you’re not hungry between or right after meals.
Food Intolerance: Even if you don’t have an allergy to specific foods, you still might be intolerant to some. The biggest offenders for most are sugar, gluten, and dairy. I think it’s worth it to go a few days without one of these and then reintroduce it and pay attention to how you feel. If you want to REALLY find out for sure, you could do a Whole30 or an elimination diet. These are the best ways to determine if you have a sensitivity in my opinion. When you’re consuming foods you’re sensitive to it causes inflammation, and higher cortisol (stress) levels, leading to blood sugar imbalances and weight gain, or inability to lose weight.
Facing the Facts: This is where the tough love comes in. Many times, people are truly just unaware of the amount of food they’re consuming. Or they think they don’t eat treats very often, but it’s happening a lot more than they realize. Or maybe you’re a busy mama and you are just popping the kid’s leftover lunch into your mouth here and there (but again, more often than you think). My answer to this is to write down everything you eat for like 2 weeks or so. Write EVERYTHING down! Including the lick of peanut butter off the spoon or that one bite of your husband’s dessert. Just write it all down and look it over at the end. You may be surprised and see a pattern that didn’t stand out to you before.
If you’ve taken all of these steps and are still at a loss, please reach out to me! I want to help. You should feel comfortable and confident in your beautiful body, and if you’re not feeling that way, let’s change that together.