Stu: Losing weight can be hard, if you try and follow the conventional calories in – calories out rule. As Tania says “it can be soul destroying”. This great blog post by Tania Flack a leading Nutritionist and Naturopath tells you what you need to address to achieve LONG TERM weight loss and your ideal body composition.
1. What seems to be the single biggest barrier for your clients?
Tania: Perhaps the biggest barrier I see to weight loss is the ability to make fundamental changes to our food culture. Our food culture is ingrained in us from early childhood and takes a lifetime to develop. Most people who grew up in Australia were raised on a diet of toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and a pasta or rice dish for dinner. Obviously, loosing weight is dependant on being able to review this type of diet and make healthier choices.
Our food culture includes basics like our ‘fall back’ recipes; these are generally the 5-10 dishes that we cook during a busy week because we know how to make them and usually have the ingredients at hand. Our comfort foods and food rituals (like pizza on a Friday night for some people) are also part of our food culture. Changing our food culture takes significant effort, however, creating a new food culture based around healthy eating is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health.
2. I have a lot of people telling me I’m eating healthily and exercising everyday and still can’t lose weight. What factors do you think they need to explore?
Tania: Once people have managed to develop a new food culture and have a healthy diet they generally achieve a healthy body weight; however, there are several hidden causes of weight retention that may cause significant problems, even when diet and exercise are perfect. Unfortunately, it is never as simple as calories in balanced with energy expended and I feel that this approach to weight management can be soul destroying for some people who have genuine reasons for weight retention. Here’s my short list of the most common blocks to weight loss.
- Leaky gut (an overgrowth of normal gut bacteria) or low-grade bacterial or parasitic gut infection (which is quite common) can cause a world of weight loss problems.
- Genetic predisposition is also important. I use DNA testing in clinic to help develop individualised diets for people based on their genetic profile.
- High cortisol levels also play a significant role in weight retention. When we are under stress we can produce high levels of cortisol
- Thyroid problems
- Toxicity levels
Another factor which may play a role in weight retention, specifically in women in the late 30s to early 50s age group, is changes in oestrogen.
3. How would you know if you had leaky gut or a bacterial infection?
Tania: I do a simple urine test at every initial appointment that gives a clear indication of leaky gut and the state of the digestive health. Depending on the results of that test I may look for markers of inflammation using bioimpedance analysis or live blood analysis. Often I will refer people for a Comprehensive Stool and Digestive Analysis. This is our gold standard for gut testing and can identify a range of important gut health markers, including bacterial and parasitic infections and the levels of healthy bacteria in the gut. Treatment depends on the findings of these tests. Usually people who prove to have bacterial imbalance in the gut will start my “Leaky Gut Program” which can result in significant weight loss.
4. What should we do when our weight loss stalls?
Tania: I advise people to consult their nutritionist or naturopath so they can get a clear indication of what might be blocking weight loss. Often some professional advice and perhaps some testing to clarify the situation is all that is needed to achieve a healthy body composition.
5. What are your top 3 tips to achieving your ideal weight?
- Be kind to yourself, achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition should be a long-term process. Starving yourself is definitely not the answer. Give yourself a pat on the back for making healthy changes and remember the long-term dietary changes you make now might become the “Food Culture” of the next generation of your family.
- Learn to cook! It is surprising how many health conscious people actually don’t know how to cook. This can lead to a lack of creativity in the kitchen, boredom with your ‘fall back’ dishes and temptation to go back to old food choices. Take an interest in where your food is grown and how it is produced and most importantly, take some cooking lessons – healthy food should be delicious!
- Get some advice, if you feel like you are getting nowhere please see your health practitioner. You might be 80% of the way there already and only a few subtle tweaks to complete your weight loss journey, or you might need help getting started. There is so much confusing information out there, find out what is right for you and get some support. It can make the world of difference.
I hope that inspired you! I think a great place to start are your fall-back recipes. If they aren’t healthy ones look to make some changes, we have lots of whole food recipes (like our Mouth-Watering Grain Free Pizza here). Make healthy eating a life choice, it’s not a fad diet; it’s your key to achieving and maintaining your optimal body composition.