Shifting from a Diet Mentality to a Health Mentality
By Dr. Erin Hayford, ND
One of the most common reasons patients end up in my office is because they are unable to lose weight and/or they keep gaining weight despite no major changes to diet or lifestyle habits.
The common approach to weight loss is dieting, which in plain terms means calorie restriction. While dieting can be successful in the short-term, most people find that they inevitably gain the weight back, sometimes gaining more weight than they lost. The shocking reality is that research shows 95% or more of diets fail. So what can be done?
It is important to take into consideration a person’s complete health history. Weight gain or the inability to lose weight is a symptom that stems from an imbalance in the body overall, rather than a problem in and of itself. While food choices and lack of exercise can contribute to weight gain, many other factors need to be considered. Common things I explore with patients include stress level, digestive function, thyroid/hormonal health, chronic underlying disease, as well as one’s connection to their body, mental health, and relationship with food.
If the body is stressed out in any way - and this can be mental/emotional stress OR physical stress from an illness - weight loss becomes challenging if not impossible. This is because a body under stress goes into “conservation mode”: it hangs on to everything you feed it to provide fuel to “survive” the stressor. The more chronic the stress, the more difficult it is to lose weight.
Bodies will settle out where they need to once underlying health needs are met. As naturopathic doctors, we work to reveal these needs and heal imbalances at the root level for lasting change.