WHY Women Struggle with Weight Gain…..
Arguably, the MOST common complaint I hear from female clients are concerns related to unwanted weight gain…often despite a fairly decent diet and exercise program. So, what gives? Why does nearly every woman I speak with struggle with this same issue?
After nearly 20 years in healthcare and 3 years as a functional nutritionist, it is evident that it is not an easy answer. And it is NEVER as simple as the old adage “calories in, calories out”…in fact, I laugh when I hear practitioners using this very outdated expression because it simply.isn’t.true.
In fact the answer is far more complicated than that….for instance, eating foods that inflame and irritate the gut can exacerbate imbalances in the normal gut flora, can lead to weight gain. There is plenty of good research demonstrating the relationship between two species of bacteria (Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes) and how important it is to our weight…imbalances that can set the breeding ground for obesity.
Here are a few of the more common reasons that can also worsen this issue:
- Inflammatory foods, especially sugar, wheat, dairy, but also many others include soy, which has estrogen mimicking properties. Often times when a vegan or vegetarian is struggling with their weight, soy can exacerbate this issue at a very basic level.
- Poor gut health, plain and simple
- Exposure to chemicals in our foods, personal care products and environment can be profoundly detrimental to our health. There are far too many estrogen mimicking substances, hormones and other undesirable ingredients in the products and foods we eat every.single.day.
- Water quality is imperative. Interestingly enough, the EPA permits “acceptable amounts” of toxic chemicals, including lead, arsenic, benzene, PCBs, as well as fluoride and chlorine, in our water supply. We know that heavy metals can impact many areas, but namely the endocrine system, including our thyroid. Obviously, this is different from municipal county to municipal county, but obviously concerning nonetheless.
- Noxious stimuli: what exactly is this? It refers to stressful or negative thoughts, feelings or surroundings, so if you are in an abusive relationship, have unsupportive family/friends, high stress job and live in an area with a great deal of pollutants, you are not in the best place to create the space necessary to support your body or your thoughts.
- Quality of the air/environment in which you live. There’s a recent New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) study that demonstrated that exposure to air pollution can hasten death even at levels deemed “safe”. Granted this particular study was done on seniors, but you can easily extrapolate that information to nearly any age group based on many other studies.
So, what can you do to help support your body?
- Determine WHAT foods are inflaming your body and remove them. This can be challenging as this can sometimes be the foods you eat frequently or like the most, but it can be incredibly helpful to aid in figuring out where the inflammation resides
- Improve your gut heath, which again goes back to eating a nutrient dense diet, which includes organic meat, wild caught fish; organic fruits/vegetables and good quality fats, such as ghee, grass-fed butter and avocado (just to name a few). Use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 to help navigate which fruits/vegetables are worth purchasing organic and which are reasonable to consume conventionally. Eat probiotic rich foods, too, like organic yogurt, Kombucha and even fermented veggies. Your GI tract will love you for it!
- Clean up your personal care products (I love the EWG’s Skin Deep app); understand that products you use on your body are absorbed into your bloodstream within 30-40 seconds…so, if you think it is isn’t important, read up. Start small and consider replacing your deodorant, toothpaste and body lotion.
- Limit exposures to plastics….yes, throw away your beloved Ziplock plastic food containers and opt for glass. I love Pyrex. Eliminate your exposure to non-stick pans, sub for cast iron (incredibly reasonable, I love Lodge brand) and toss the aluminum cooking sheets (or at least cover them with silicone liners until you can replace them). Less chemicals=healthier hormones!
- If you can afford it, consider a house filtration system OR a Berkey, which is a stand-alone unit you can use in your kitchen for drinking water and cooking needs. Use glass water bottles or stainless steel. We love the Water Factory glass bottles.
- Ensure that you surround yourself with good people. I know that sounds simplistic, but being around happy, supportive family, friends and co-workers is really imperative to a healthy mind, body and spirit.
- Ensure you find activities that bring you joy…a great gym, barre class, reading great books, traveling, etc can all be profoundly beneficial to nourish your mind.
If you are struggling in these areas, don’t hesitate to reach out. I have created a 3 and 6 month Surviving to Thriving program where we tap into and these areas as well as many others to ensure that you are feeling like a better version of yourself in 2018!
Link for the discovery call: https://chtwellnessclientscheduling.as.me/
Environmental Working Group: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
Berkey Water Filtration systems: https://www.berkeyfilters.com