Shedding the myths of dieting

When you hear the term “weight loss,” what do you think of?
For most people, it means a drastic change in their diet and lifestyle. This change can be very fear-provoking for many people, however, this does not have to be the case.
By understanding why certain foods are harmful to our bodies and cause weight gain, it may be easier to make healthier choices and a lifestyle change instead of a short-term diet.
One of the most common misperceptions in dieting is that foods low in fat such as simple carbohydrates (bread, pasta, bagels, pastries, etc.) will encourage weight loss.
Although they only may contain a few grams of fat, they actually are higher in calories and carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates get converted into sugar (glucose) soon after ingesting.
Insulin (a hormone released from the pancreas) grabs onto the sugar and brings it to the cells of your body for fuel. Excess glucose gets converted into a storage form and can become stored as fat.
Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates will cause your blood sugar levels to fluctuate and you may experience a “crash” after lunch or dinner. You may become tired and sleepy, experience difficulties concentrating at work or school, and possibly develop headaches or other physical symptoms as a result.
Balancing your blood sugar levels with protein (eggs, chicken, fish, legumes, and tofu) at each meal, and avoiding simple carbohydrates, will keep you functioning at an optimal level throughout the day—without the midday cravings for sugar or caffeine.
Chromium supplementation is very beneficial during dieting as it helps balance blood sugar levels, prevents sugar cravings, and promotes weight loss by increasing the sensitivity of the cells in the body to insulin.
Fibre supplements such as psyllium husks, apple pectin, and guar gum also are beneficial at promoting weight loss. In addition to helping promote fuller bowel movements, they also help to control blood sugar levels, reduce cholesterol, as well as the amount of calories absorbed.
Fresh fruits and vegetables also should be included in your diet plan as they are very nutritious and high in fibre.
Remember when choosing any supplement to make sure the product does not contain a lot of sugar, artificial colourings, flavourings, or preservatives.
Another fad to be aware of are products that say “fat-free.” Fat does not necessarily make you fat. Your body requires good fat in order to function.
Foods such as sour cream, yogurt, and puddings that are “fat-free” actually can cause you to gain weight as they replace fat with carbohydrates and fillers.
It is the excess carbohydrates and processed foods that cause weight gain, not always the amount of fat.
Eating the wrong kind of fat (saturated fats such as bacon, red meat, butter, and fried foods) can cause damage to cells, heart disease, and weight gain.
It is important to consume omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids such as cold-water fish (salmon, cod, halibut, and pickerel), flax seed oil, nuts, and seeds as they aid metabolism and help promote weight loss.
Eating at least three meals a day, or five-six smaller healthy meals, will keep your metabolism operating at a higher rate.
When you skip meals, it lowers your metabolism so your body actually slows down. Over time, this actually will cause you to gain weight.
The thyroid gland is responsible for regulating metabolism and affects every cell of the body. If your thyroid hormone is low, it could cause weight gain, depression, weakness, and fatigue, along with many other physical symptoms.
Lastly, it is very important to exercise. Cardiovascular exercise (running, walking, biking, etc.) will help to burn calories and lose weight.
The longer you engage in aerobic activity, the more calories you will burn. Try to aim for 30-45 minutes per day.
Weight training also helps to burn fat, build muscle, and gain strength.
If you want to lose weight and tone your muscle, make sure you eat right, drink plenty of water, and engage in the appropriate fitness routine for you.
Editor’s note: The recommendations made in this column are for educational purposes only.
Lynn Tintinalli, doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, will be in Fort Frances to see patients on Dec. 10-11. Call 1-807-345-5977 to book an appointment.

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