Troubleshooting Your Healthy Eating Plan
The best way to know if your healthy eating plan is right for you and is working well is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Paying attention to how you feel in relation to when and what you eat is the best way to evaluate and fine tune the balance of your eating plan and your insulin and blood sugar levels. When your insulin is stable, you should not be experiencing excessive or early hunger. If you feel more energetic and have also noticed improvement in inflammatory health conditions, your body is telling you, “This eating plan is good for me!” You may also notice that your clothes are beginning to fit more loosely or, if you are monitoring your waist measurement, that it is decreasing.
|If your blood sugar and insulin levels are stable, you should not be having cravings for sweets or rich foods. Of course, if someone presents you with a plate of freshly baked cookies, normal appetite will make you want to sample them! However, craving sweets without this type of external stimulus indicates a problem. Either your blood sugar and insulin levels are not stable or you are having cravings due to food allergies or candidiasis.
Breakfast is vital for blood sugar
and insulin stability.
Try to remedy this by eating a link-and-balanced snack as often as you are hungry, or at least every three hours, and always having protein with each meal or snack, even if it is something like an apple that does not usually require protein balancing. Dr. Cheryl Hart reports that chromium deficiency is often associated with sugar cravings, so recommends 200 to 400 mcg per day of chromium polynicotinate. (1) If you are taking one of the general nutritional support supplements discussed in Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss and the How-To e-Pak for Food Allergy and Gluten-Free Weight Loss, you will get enough chromium plus other nutrients that have been shown to help stabilize blood sugar. Make sure the carbohydrates you eat have low or moderate scores on the glycemic index. Finally, try eating one unit of carbohydrate with meals or snacks rather than two. If these changes do not help the cravings, a consultation with a doctor who treats food allergies and candidiasis may be in order. (To find the right doctor who “believes in” food allergies and treats candidiasis, visit the AAEM website at www.aaemonline.org and also see the advice below).
NOT EATING ENOUGH?
In The Insulin Resistance Diet, Dr. Cheryle Hart, MD gives some advice for troubleshooting your healthy eating plan that many would find surprising. (2) Ironically, she describes having patients who cannot lose weight because they are not eating enough! They skip breakfast and the between-meal snacks she advises. Therefore, although they are eating what most low-calorie dieters would consider ideal for weight loss, their bodies are in the “starvation mode” of holding on to whatever they eat. Their insulin levels are high, their bodies conserve fat stores, and if much energy is needed for exercise or other physical exertion, they burn muscle protein for energy. The advice she gives them is to eat a link-and-balanced breakfast shortly after arising every day, eat more frequently, having a snack or meal every two to three hours, and to link and balance protein and carbohydrate at each meal and snack. Thus, their bodies will be liberated from the starvation mode and will burn the food they are eating, as well as stored fat, for energy.
In The Fat Resistance Diet, Dr. Leo Galland, MD also describes patients who came to him eating 1200 calories a day and not able to lose weight. They were invariably poorly nourished and as he improved their diets, they began losing weight and improving their health problems while eating more food.
EATING TOO MUCH?
Of course, the opposite – eating too much – can also interfere with weight loss. This can happen when a person is impelled by appetite rather than by physical hunger to eat more than their body really needs. If you are not overweight and are following this healthy eating plan to control inflammation, by all means, eat enough to satisfy your appetite, but if you need to lose weight and are not losing after a couple of months on the your healthy eating plan, begin to keep careful tabs on how much fat you are eating. Limit your fat intake to the recommended 45 to 55 grams per day, being sure to count the less-obvious fat you may not be aware of in foods such as dairy products and meats. Consider that you might be one of the people described three paragraphs above who require a lower carbohydrate intake to achieve balance, and reduce your carbohydrate intake to one unit of low or moderate GI carbohydrate per meal or snack if eating too much fat is not the problem. Also keep in mind that hormones are in control of whether you store or burn fat, so do not ignore actual physical hunger, which is a signal that your blood sugar is low or falling which may cause the release of adrenal hormones followed by a fat-depositing insulin spike.
If you are listening to your body and following its cues for eating neither too much nor too little and at the right time, yet you are not feeling more energetic, nor experiencing improvement your inflammatory health problems or finding that your clothes are looser after a month or two on your healthy eating plan, I suggest reading the “Appetite vs. Hunger” and “Troubleshooting” sections of The Insulin Resistance Diet by Dr. Cheryle Hart, MD and Mary Kay Grossman, RD. If you are still not able to figure out what the problem is, you may have medical issues that are interfering with weight loss such as thyroid dysfunction (3) or undiagnosed food allergies. A visit to a holistic, nutritionally-oriented doctor may be in order. Avoid doctors who are very conventional and do not believe in food allergies, are not aware of the glycemic index, or are likely to recommend a standard low-fat low-calorie diet. If you don’t already have a good primary health care provider, I would recommend visiting the AAEM website (http://www.aaemonline.org/) and calling the offices of the doctors in your area to research them and/or anyone else they might recommend for a general check-up and advice on weight issues.
In summary, if we make good nutrition and optimal health our primary goals, normal weight should follow. It will not happen overnight, so be patient and remain optimistic. To achieve ideal health we need to control our blood sugar and hormone levels by eating balanced meals and snacks often enough. It is also essential to reduce inflammation by eating anti-inflammatory foods, and taking supplements (omega-3 fatty acids and others that promote weight loss and help blood sugar stability), as well as by controlling insulin levels. As our health improves, we can achieve and maintain normal weight and gain new energy and enthusiasm for life.
1. Hart, Cheryle R., MD and Mary Kay Grossman, RD, The Insulin Resistance Diet, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001, 2007), 94.
2. Ibid., 221.
3. Not all thyroid dysfunction will show up on simple blood tests for thyroid hormones such as T3 and T4. In cases of Wilson’s syndrome, the test results may be normal but the thyroid hormone is not properly active. This is another good reason to see a more holistic doctor such as those you will hopefully find on the AAEM website.