With the start of a new year, I’m sure many of you are thinking about tackling the weight you’ve put on over Christmas and contemplating yet another diet.
But is there another way of losing weight without dieting? Diets can work for a while, but sooner or later you’ll need to come off the diet and then old bad habits are often resumed. Perhaps you’ve dieted in the past with some success by decreasing the amount you eat and exercising more. Unfortunately, after a time our metabolism adapts by slowing down and our hunger hormones increase and this can lead to a higher weight set-point. This results in us starting to feel deprived and demotivated.
Hands up I am not a nutritionist, but I have a life-long interest in health and wellbeing and as a Cognitive Hypnotherapist with additional training in healthy eating and weight loss, I’ve used this knowledge to help clients lose weight. I guide clients to look at the thoughts and beliefs behind the behaviour that’s driving their weight issue and help them to reframe those limiting beliefs to move them towards their goal. Clients are asked to focus on their future self, being in control of unhealthy habits by the power of positive suggestion to guide them towards the natural choice of healthy eating. This takes the need for will power out of the equation.
Keeping one eye always on nutritional research, I’ve recently noticed there’s much debate in the media about sugar and the effect it has on our bodies. This was brought into focus recently after eating a sugar laden bowl of porridge. After some brisk walking, I experienced a spike and rapid fall in my blood sugar levels. I became shaky, light-headed, fatigued and in need of more sugar! This was something I’d noticed occurring on previous occasions too, so I turned to Dr Google to find some answers. I found that this experience becomes more likely with age, as our pancreas produces less insulin and our muscles and tissues become less sensitive to insulin, which means our blood sugar levels remain elevated for longer. Yes okay, I’m not a spring chicken anymore! Interestingly, Dr Andrew Jenkinson’s also suggests in his book (‘Why We Eat (Too Much)’ published by Penguin 2020) that eating too much sugar could affect our set weight point. It was this piece of information that I found particularly exciting, and I really wanted to share it with you. Could the amount of sugar in our diet prevent us from losing weight?
So, here’s the sciencey bit - any form of carbohydrate breaks down into sugar, but there are two types, simple and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are in more fibrous foods such as beans, brown rice, wholewheat pasta, quinoa and unprocessed oats. They require more effort to digest and metabolise, which means our bodies are working harder and our sugar levels are less likely to spike and fall as sharply. The former includes less fibrous foods such as white rice and pasta, packaged snacks, fruit drinks, biscuits and processed cereals. These are digested and metabolised quicker and therefore our sugar levels are not so well controlled and we’re more likely to experience sugar peaks and troughs. The largest source of added sugar comes from sweetened beverages and due to their liquid form, are digested very quickly, causing our blood sugar levels to spike. This perhaps is something I hadn’t quite appreciated before, so it’s important to bear in mind when we’re looking at our overall consumption of sugar.
As a big fan of sweet things myself, I’m very much of the mindset that life’s too short to deprive yourself of the foods you love and instead I try to think about balance and this is what I work towards with my clients. Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate or a dessert now and then? And that’s the crux of the matter isn’t it – ensuring that it is just now and then. It’s making sure that it doesn’t feature too much in your diet - as one thing I’ve learnt is the more sugar I eat, the more I want to consume! So, my approach is, as I say, all about balance. By just making a few tweaks here and there, by ditching the sugary porridge in favour of whole oats (delicious with a few nuts and a banana) and switching to brown rice and wholewheat pasta and bread, this can begin to make a huge difference. I’m loading my plate with veg, and if I get the munchies during the evening, I’ve discovered a handful of nuts or a small pot of Greek yogurt, hits the spot (which in addition is also good for the gut). So now I can polish my halo!
Seriously though, learning a bit about the basics of how sugar affects our body has been a game changer for me. I no longer experience the blood sugar highs and lows, and my weight has naturally dropped just by making a few adjustments. I feel full at meal-times, which means I’m less likely to snack. As for the chocolate and desserts - that’s harder! I refuse to give them up. Life’s too short! But as my grandmother once said ‘a little bit of what you fancy does you good now and again’ . . . but just now and again!
Let me know if you’ve found that adjusting your sugar levels has brought you the same benefit, or if you’re struggling to make these changes and would like some help, then do get in touch