Sarah is a 35-year-old mom of two young boys who had always been the same weight since her early 20s, until recently when she slowly started gaining weight. She didn’t even notice it happened until she found she had to buy one dress size bigger. At her next doctor’s appointment, she stepped on the scale and found herself 15 pounds heavier, despite eating the same healthy foods and sticking to her exercise regime. In frustration, she has decided that 2017 is the year she’s going to get back to her weight in college.
Sarah turned to her friends for help, who suggested she try the ketogenic diet – a very low carb, high fat eating plan, which claimed quick, easy weight loss. Sarah changed her diet to include lots of oils and butter while cutting out virtually all carbs. After a few weeks Sarah dropped a whopping 20 pounds, she was thrilled! But then it began ... she started noticing she felt irritable and lethargic. Additionally, she started having intense cravings for foods like sweet potatoes, fruit and whole grain pasta. Slowly, she veered back to her old eating habits and was back at her initial weight, plus three extra pounds ... Sarah felt defeated and upset with herself.
Your Dietian’s Advice
- Self love is mandatory
February is undeniably the month of love, and what’s more important than loving yourself? However, there’s no denying unexpected weight gain is hard, and Sarah’s story resonates with many folks as they age. Although gradual weight gain is a common occurrence, it has become a taboo subject. Through the life cycle, our bodies change and your metabolism may start to slow down. It’s inevitable and completely natural, so let’s switch our mindset from “weight loss” to “living healthier.” Your worth and health is not defined by a number on a scale. Current research suggests weight alone is not an accurate predictor of health. I encourage you to accept and love your body, use positive self-talk, and remember that health is more important than beauty.
- Listen to your set point
What the heck is set point? The set point theory suggests the everybody has a genetically determined weight, which allows their body to function optimally. Additionally, your body is going to do everything it can to stay at this weight through an internal feedback system, like hunger cues. Now, I have a little bit of bad news. This means when you lose weight, your body will decrease your metabolism to try and conserve energy and return to its happy set point. Unfortunately, the opposite isn’t true. When you gain weight, your metabolism won’t increase to compensate and help you shed the additional pounds. Over the years, our bodies and set point change as a result of external factors such as pregnancy, illness, stress and menopause and internal factors like metabolism. Trying to maintain a weight outside of this specified set point is challenging at best. Which brings me to the solution – ditch the diets!
- Ditch the diets
Can you follow this eating plan for the next five years? This is a question I commonly ask my clients when their interested in trying a new diet. If the answer is no, then I wouldn’t recommended it. Many diets are restrictive in certain foods, which causes intense cravings. These cravings often lead to binges and the yo-yo dieting cycle begins. If you would like to change your eating habits to feel healthier, the key to success is modest lifestyle changes combined with mindful eating. Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T – specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timely. One small change at a time leads to lifestyle transformations.
“And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.” – Meister Eckhart