Why the word “DIET” is being used incorrectly
The most common use of this word is as a verb and referring to restricted food intake for the purpose of losing weight. You knew that. But I typically ask the question in my clinic, “tell me what your diet is like.” In that case I’m obviously using the noun and referring to your assessment of all the foods you eat in an average day or week. That’s lifestyle as opposed to a short term attempt to shed pounds. When we adopt a healthy food lifestyle, we can say we have a good diet…one that keeps our weight in a healthy range as one outcome.
Weight loss is one of the most talked about topics particularly when it comes to women’s health. Let’s face it, in today’s media driven society, we are putting ourselves on display more than ever and women are comparing themselves to other women all the time. Body weight and body fat may have crept up over the years and now you feel stuck. Or your typical workout routines just aren’t enough anymore. Women sometimes go to great lengths to try and discover the perfect weight loss product or program on the market. And let’s be honest, there are way too many to choose from. From fasting, to yo-yo dieting and detoxing, many of the weight loss programs out there now are too hard and too fast for the body to handle. Without proper guidance from a professional you could end up causing more harm than good or even wind up in the hospital! Crash dieting has been known to cause heart palpitations, a drop in blood pressure, and even increase your risk for heart attacks.1
The word diet should be used when describing your lifestyle habits. When people say they are “going on a diet” does this mean that they weren’t on one before? More accurately, they were on a diet but it probably consisted of pro-inflammatory foods, fast food, sugar, and dairy. Portion control can be quite time consuming and may have unrealistic rules which set most people up for failure. In addition, when most people start counting their calories and following a low calorie diet, it slows their metabolism and also results in decreased protein intake which then increases their susceptibility to infections, joint, bone and muscle disorders.
There are many factors that influence one’s ability to lose weight. Do you wonder why you’ve gained weight? Have you ruled out factors that only a health professional can discover such as altered thyroid function, imbalanced hormones, poor digestion, or even the medications you take?
So what steps should you take?
1. Get a physical. Exercise is vital for reaching optimal health and to improve countless health problems. You want to be sure before you start any exercise program, that you are cleared to do so. This is especially important for those who are not currently exercising.
2. Get your blood tested thoroughly. This will tell you exactly what your body is lacking and what toxicities you may have. You may have to take supplements to fix the deficiencies. By getting your blood tested, you won’t have to guess at what supplements you need. For certain cases such as autoimmune diseases, you may be referred to an endocrinologist.
3. Drink 2-3 quarts of clean filtered water daily. Be sure you measure it so you know how much you are drinking. TIP: fill a 32 oz water bottle in the morning and drink it by lunch time. Then fill it again and drink another 32 oz before dinner.
4. Read your labels. Try to avoid all soy, artificial sweeteners, colors, dyes, and whey. Most soy is genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides. Too much consumption of this can cause endocrine imbalances which affect your hormones and thyroid. Soy has the ability to actually mimic estrogen in our bodies which not only increases your chances of breast cancer, but also encourages the body to hold onto fat. If you are drinking a protein shake as a meal replacement or after a workout, be sure you avoid the powders made from soy. Opt for a vegetable, rice, or egg white protein.
5. Cut down on the sugar. This includes fruit juice and soda, breads, pasta, crackers, cookies, chips, potatoes, and sweets. With carbohydrates, consuming more than your body can use results in the body storing them for later (which contributes to weight gain). Your body fat percentage will be lower if you reduce the carb intake.
6. Reduce dairy. Did you know that 60% of adults are unable to digest milk? This is because most people produce very little lactase, the enzyme responsible for digestion of milk, after age 2-5.2 Consumption of dairy can increase gas, bloating, GERD, diarrhea, nausea, and various allergies.
7. Increase proteins and healthy fats in the diet. Chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, quinoa, beans, eggs, and even some red meat are all good sources of proteins. (TIP: Be sure to know what your Serum Iron and Ferritin levels are in the blood before consuming a lot of red meat. It would be contraindicated to do so if your Ferritin is high.) Healthy fats to consume include avocados, fish, nuts and nut butters, olive oil, and coconut oil.
8. Try to eat vegetables with every meal. Fresh is best. Frozen is second choice. Most people don’t know that vegetables and some herbs contain more protein than animal sources! Veggies are an ideal way to get a majority of your protein! Search the internet for vegetable protein percentages.
9. Give it time. Changing your lifestyle habits is not always easy as you might imagine. But remember, if you are not taking care of yourself, you may not be healthy enough one day to take care of your family or enjoy life yourself. It may take months but if you make just 1-5% progress each month, think about where you will be at the end of a year!
These are general guidelines. Every person is different and will need a different approach to reach their goals…it’s not one-size-fits-all. The most important factor is knowing your starting point and therefore what action steps are needed. Be sure you get thorough blood and tissue testing done first. By doing a comprehensive blood panel and tissue mineral analysis, deficiencies and toxicities can be detected. This will save you time and money in the long run because you won’t be guessing at what your body needs and where you are lacking. Lose weight in a healthy way by making the necessary lifestyle changes in order to have long term success with weight loss. Quit using “diet” as a verb and go with the noun definition in the first paragraph instead.
San Francisco Chiropractor, Dr. Harris Meyer
Body Focus Health Center, 100 Bush St., Ste. 530, San Francisco, CA 94104
2. Weise, Elizabeth. Sixty percent of adults can’t digest milk. USA today. 9/15/2009.