Maintaining a healthy weight is not always a simple equation of calories in balancing calories out. Extra pounds and fat accumulation, especially around the mid-section, often result from hormones that are out of balance. Hormones such as sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and especially stress hormones play a very important role in the way the body utilizes food and stores fat. Stress can stem from various triggers such as:
· personal relationships
· financial problems
Stress induces the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol promotes insulin resistance and metabolic stress. This results in the breakdown of muscle and the deposition of fat.
Sex hormones, such as, estrogen and testosterone, when out of balance cause your body to be stuck in fat-storage mode. Fat is deposited every time you eat rather than using food to fuel your body for energy. Men and women can have too much estrogen and this causes weight gain.
Women typically have a more difficult time losing weight compared to men due to excess estrogen. Women tend to be more sensitive to stress making women more likely to become emotional eaters. In women, signs of excess estrogen include:
· sugar cravings
· fluid retention
· moodiness (PMS)
· non-restorative sleep
· feeling of being overwhelmed
· heavy menstrual bleeding
In men, signs of excess estrogen (and therefore low testosterone) may include:
· belly fat
· breast tissue growth
· decreased body hair
· decreased muscle
· low sex drive
· mental fogginess
Are you wondering what causes hormones to be out of balance? Environmental toxins from pollution, skin care products, and cleaners can disrupt the delicate balance of the endocrine system leading to hormone instability. Problems with how your thyroid is functioning and how you manage stress also contribute to the hormones being out of equilibrium. Foods high in sugar, processed foods, alcohol, lack of exercise, and too many gut-damaging antibiotics increase estrogen.
There are several steps one can take to establish a healthy hormone balance. Eating a well-balanced diet that is low in sugar and alcohol, high in fiber, and high in good fats can help. Including exercise most days of the week can help to lose fat, build muscle, and balance hormones.
As you can see, the foods we eat have a dramatic impact on maintaining a healthy weight. “Healthy foods” can actually be unhealthy to certain individuals leading to weight gain. The typical American diet coupled with food intolerances such as gluten and dairy, medications, and environmental toxins taxes the digestive system. This promotes the overgrowth of bacteria within the gut. The increase of bad bacteria weakens the immune system, leading the way to illness and imbalances that impact all the systems in the body. This contributes to weight gain, a sluggish metabolism, and low energy.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for the whole family. Childhood obesity and fatigue are indications of an accelerated metabolic aging process. A balanced nutrition program and adequate exercise are imperative to reverse this process. A calorie-restrictive diet or low-fat dieting is not the way to improve health! Ideally, getting the entire family on board can lead to great success. Sharing meals together made of “real food” and providing healthy snacks can reap huge benefits.
Establishing a diet based on the unique way your body responds to food and stressors is essential to achieving weight loss. Making significant diet and lifestyle changes can be overwhelming. I will work in partnership with you to identify areas where simple adjustments can be made to achieve the healthy body you deserve.