We live in a society rife with diet books. Everyone wants a quick fix, and they want it now. There are a million reasons to eat a high carb, low fat diet, or a low carb, high fat diet, or be a vegan or eat only raw foods or eat everything in moderation or just try Jenny Craig.
We have confused everyone about everything; so much so, that we have ruined our bodies in the process. The bottom line is this: we are an unhealthy society. We don't move enough. We eat the wrong things time and time again, and we either indulge too much or we don't eat enough. And most importantly, we pay way too much attention to what we look like on the outside instead of what we are ingesting and what's really going on in our bodies.
We idolize celebrities and their fit physiques - not knowing that even if our favorite actress is 120 pounds, she could be deficient in at least 10 different vital vitamins and minerals, which could be causing a host of problems and result in some serious illnesses down the line.
We have to stop looking at calories, protein and fats and start looking at what's in our food, why we're eating what we're eating and how to get what our bodies really need.
Everyone always says getting healthy is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Wrong. It's 100% nutrition and 100% exercise. And it's how your body works in harmony with food and exercise that will predict how healthy you are, how your body processes food, and how efficient or inefficient you really become.
Just like relationships, there's not a "one size fits all" mentality. We're just not built that way.
So, if you want to get healthy and you've tried everything, the pounds still won't budge, or you are undernourished, or exhausted or have dry hair and nails or have a sluggish colon, look at these five hidden culprits and discover if you could be missing some obvious health signs:
1. You have a depressed metabolism. Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn't slow as you age. Though it's true that we experience a 2% to 4% decline in our resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25, and on average, we lose about 5 pounds of lean mass per decade from 25 to 65, this can be prevented in many ways. A decreased metabolism is from decreased activity, which leads to a slower, depressed metabolism, especially later in life.
A slow metabolism is lifestyle-related, not age-related. There are many scientific responses to exercise that your body goes through, but one thing is certain: you can keep a healthy metabolism with plenty of activity. Muscle is metabolically active. The more lean mass we have, the better, especially later in life. We were not made to sit on our butts all day. So, start walking and don't blame weight gain on a "slow" metabolism. Blame it on no movement and poor food choices. Period.
2. You are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies. Micronutrients are essential elements needed for life in small doses. Due to poor eating and soil conditions, it's not uncommon for North American diets to be lacking in micronutrients. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can lead to a host of health problems, including obesity. If someone is consuming a poor diet that lacks vitamins and minerals, the appetite remains increased due the the body's attempt to make the individual "keep eating" until basic nutritional needs are met. Our bodies know what they need, and it will keep attempting to eat until you give it fiber rich antioxidants and minerals. Foods high in sodium and sugar and processed foods with a high calorie density but low nutrient density don't trigger appetite sensors to signal fullness. So, the next time an obese person says they are starving after they've just eaten an extra large pizza, explain why and then hand them a salad.
3. You're getting too many inflammatory foods. If you are active and are constantly sore or suffering from nagging injuries, chances are it could be related to your diet. In a case study of a very healthy man who was an avid runner, he was experiencing nagging injuries and leg cramping despite a pretty "clean" diet. Upon closer inspection of his diet, it was revealed that he was ingesting way too many inflammatory omega-6s in the form of corn, vegetable oils and sunflower seeds. His ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 was way out of balance. He was getting about 20 times the amount of inflammatory 6s to the anti-inflammatory 3s, which was wreaking havoc on his body. Switching the ratio to more omega-3s (a natural inflammation fighter) and lowering the 6s got things under control.
Many people suffer from nagging injuries or allergies and don't think about the foods they eat. Or they experience gastrointestinal problems, which can sometimes be due to inflamed intestines. Make sure the foods you are eating are not pro-inflammatory and that your "healthy" fats aren't out of ratio. Do your joints hurt all the time? Sugar could be to blame. Are you constantly tired or suffer from allergies? Look at how much gluten you get. Arm yourself with anti-inflammatory foods and make sure you are getting the nutrients right for your body.
4. You're not getting enough primary food. What is primary food? Primary food includes healthy relationships, physical activity, a fulfilling career, etc; basically anything that quenches your thirst for life. We live for experiences, for happiness, for accomplishments, for love and family and excitement. But, too often, people use "secondary" food (the foods we ingest) to satisfy their needs for primary food, which doesn't work. The more weight you gain, the more depressed you feel, the more you eat and the more you remain unsatisfied. Oftentimes, it's not about what we're eating or not eating; it's about everything else going on in our lives. Unhappy in your job? Your relationship? Your friendships? Are you perpetually stressed? All of these have an impact on how your body reacts to food and its surroundings, putting unnecessary strain on your body and sometimes causing illness. So, examine what else is going on in your life and where you can make improvements other than your diet.
5. You are always looking for the quick fix (i.e. diet books). What idiot dreamed up the concept of dieting books? (A multi-billionaire, that's who.) If you listen to anything, listen to this: stop reading diet books. Don't listen to the new trend, what worked for your friend, Sally, what all the celebrities are doing, etc. I repeat: stop reading them.
In another case study, a man tried three completely separate diets, ranging from protein only to a "balance" of proteins, carbs and fat, and of course the high-carb, low-fat diet. The result? He lost the exact same amount of weight in all three diets. Why? Because he was eating less and moving more. As soon as he got off these little "magic" diets, the weight came back three-fold. How many times have you heard this? If diets worked, everyone would be healthy, but we're not. We're incredibly unhealthy, sick and beyond confused.
As I write this, there are probably thousands of people who could prove me wrong and show me studies about how high protein diets work or low-fat proteins work, or high-carb diets are the only way to go and why. We've become exceptionally brilliant at spouting off information we don't really understand or can back up with case study 1, 2 and 3. Pair this "slow" carb with this "fast" carb and the weight will just fall off! Eat everything in moderation, just eat small amounts. Really? Do we really need to eat donuts and cheeseburgers in moderation? Do you know what that does to your body, and more importantly, do you think you were born liking these junk foods? Everything is learned. Taste is learned. And the great thing about taste, much like everything in life, is that it can be changed. You can learn to like a vegetable. I promise.
Quite simply, we don't think about the stress we put on our bodies when we diet. We think of losing weight as a good thing, but pick up a nutrition science book and actually read what your body goes through just to digest a piece of fruit. It is exhaustive.
Each person's body digests and processes nutrients differently. Some people perform better with coffee, and for others it's literally toxic. It's all subjective to your body, your system and how sluggish it has become or how efficient.
Stop paying attention to the amount of pounds you're losing and start paying attention to what you're doing to your body. Diets don't work. They've never worked. They are a temporary solution to this great necessity of having to eat every single day. There's no way around eating a healthy diet, but you have to define what the term healthy means to you.
A solution? Get back to the basics. If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't. If you say you don't like vegetables, learn to like them. If your kids only like chicken tenders, whose fault is that? If they never knew what a chicken tender was, they wouldn't want chicken tenders or cookies or french fries. Start making active choices about what you put into your body. Start moving more. And stop searching for quick fixes that don't exist. There are none - for anything. Educate yourself, educate your children and start focusing on health, not a number on a scale.