Good nutrition is the foundation of health. Period. But what exactly IS good nutrition? There are so many terms and clashing opinions on what is healthy and what isn’t. Here are a few tips:
First things first; what works for you won’t necessarily work for your neighbor. We are all individuals and have major differences in what we can tolerate, thrive on and could do without.
Second, let’s talk healthy foods. Organic, grass-fed meats, fresh and wild seafood, pastured organic eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, homemade bone broths, healthy fats (EVOO, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, etc.), fermented foods, herbal teas, filtered/spring water and raw dairy (depending on tolerability). Foods that are thought to be healthy (whole grains in particular) actually cause havoc on the body (for MOST people).
If you’ve changed your diet to a Paleo style diet including the foods I listed above, and you still aren’t seeing improvements; then there are some underlying reasons.
1. You have dysbiosis, SIBO, candida, or parasites. Digestive issues are one of the top motivating factors for changing diet. It’s not pleasant dealing with nagging gas, bloating, discomfort, indigestion, constipation, and reflux. So you kick gluten (maybe all grains), dairy, and sugar, yet you don’t feel any better. Or maybe you experience some relief but still have chronic digestive complaints. While eliminating foods that are difficult to digest or contribute to GI inflammation (like gluten and dairy) can help, but it doesn’t address the possible underlying conditions, which can mean normalizing gut flora and getting rid of dysbiotic bacteria, candida, or parasites. I recommend stool test for the large intestine to see if there is dysbiosis, candida overgrowth, parasites, and more. I also recommend a SIBO lactulose breath test if you suspect SIBO. There are different foods that can aggravate SIBO, candida, and parasites, so it’s always best to test don’t guess! Contact me or your functional health care provider for these tests. They typically cannot be ordered through a conventional doctor.
2. Hormones. Changing your diet to include more plants, organic animal protein, and good fats can help hormone balance a great deal, but it may not be enough. If you have adrenal fatigue, low progesterone, or hypothyroidism; diet alone may not reverse these imbalances. I recommend saliva testing to assess hormone levels, and ask your doctor to run a thyroid panel if you suspect hypothyroidism. Make sure to ask for T3, reverse T3, and TPO antibodies in addition to the typical TSH and T4, which actually tell you nothing about your thyroid health. You can also order the ‘thyroid panel special’ yourself from Direct Labs.
3. You’re eating too many treats. A common issue I see for those who’ve cut refined sugar is an overzealousness for all the delicious paleo treats. Sure, baked goods made with almond flour and coconut palm sugar are a better choice than oreos, but not if you’re overdoing it. There’s no problem with enjoying some organic dark chocolate or a small treat a few times a week, but the paleo treats and sweets are calorie dense and often contain quite a bit of sugar (albeit unrefined sugar) that can sabotage weight loss efforts. I also see folks going gluten-free and overdoing it on the GF grains, processed foods and snacks. Just because it’s GF doesn’t mean it’s healthy!
4. You’re not exercising. If you want to lose weight, you gotta get moving. We’re just not designed to be sedentary. You’re over-exercising, especially those who train for marathons and other athletic events. Over-exercising increases cortisol (the stress hormone), and can cause MAJOR health issues: mitochondria (cell) damage, muscle breakdown, protein starvation, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances and weight loss resistance. The best exercise is keeping active (taking the stairs, walking, cleaning, gardening, etc.), yoga/Pilates/stretching, and interval training (esp. beneficial for weight loss).
5. STRESS: is more than just stress at work or home. Stress can take many forms. It can be poor diet or eating the wrong foods, inflammation or chronic pain, too much work, too little sleep, skipping meals, too much coffee, emotional stress and trauma. Stress is a normal and healthy part of life if it’s short-lived. We are designed to deal with acute stressors, such as that saber-toothed tiger! It’s prolonged stress that is the issue. Chronic stress increases fat storage, causes high cortisol, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, digestive issues, and more. It also aggravates every system and existing condition, such as hypothyroidism or Crohn’s. I always ask my clients about stressors in their lives and if they have a plan to address that stress.
6. You’ve changed your diet and kicked the junk, but it’s not the right diet for you. I work with so many vegetarians and vegans who are struggling with digestive issues, weight gain, and fatigue because a vegetarian diet just isn’t right for their body. Just as eating too much meat may not be right for you, eliminating it altogether can prevent you from reaching your health goals. There’s a happy balance in there somewhere.
7. You’re still eating a food that doesn’t work for you. The most problematic foods are gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, nightshades, corn and soy. When people kick dairy and gluten they tend to rely heavily on eggs for breakfast, but if one has an egg sensitivity, eating eggs regularly will cause inflammation, digestive symptoms, and prevent weight loss.
There’s so much information (and misinformation) out there about “the right diet” that it can be overwhelming. Working with a nutritionist can help you troubleshoot. Please contact me to dig deeper into your health concerns and goals! I’m currently offering 10% off all of my services. I do Skype, phone and in-person consultations.