“Food, like your mind, should be working for you, not against you.”
Is stubborn belly fat – or any excess weight – keeping you from truly enjoying your life?
If so, you’re definitely not alone – the typical American woman has gained an average of twenty pounds since the early seventies, a study by the CDC tells us.
And, we all know that weight gain does not increase a woman’s happiness or peace of mind. Right?
For example, does this ever happen to you? You go into your closet and realize that almost everything you own fits too tight – and worse yet, you know that by lunch time, “the bloat” will make it hard to even breathe or move comfortably?
If you’re like me, and most women I know, this scenario often leads to feeling frustrated, hopeless and out of control.
You might even start to worry there’s no way out of this daily hell – the nagging, continuous battle with your weight that can consume your brain, your soul, your self-image and esteem.
Been there. But, through my own health and weight struggles, I have discovered the real reasons women are piling on the pounds at an alarming rate.
And, here’s what I found that has eliminated the struggle with belly fat from my own life:
You Can Banish Belly Fat for Good!
I have good news! It doesn’t have to be this way – stubborn belly fat is not your destiny, it’s also not your genes, your slow metabolism, bad luck, or even a natural part of aging.
These are myths that keep women trying every new diet that pops up, and then feeling weak, undisciplined, or a failure when they either drop out or gain the weight back (oftentimes, even more).
I want you to know this: you have control over your weight. While many factors play into weight gain, they are within your control.
The root causes of belly fat are fixable – and by addressing the real causes of belly fat, the results will last a lifetime.
You can create a healthy relationship with food, your body, and your mind for the rest of your life.
In this blog, I’m going to be sharing 3 mistakes most women make when trying to beat belly fat; and give you some tips on how to correct those mistakes.
Mistake #1: Not understanding “food intolerances” role in weight gain
Love dairy? Think your Greek style yogurt is the perfect diet food? Think again.
Milk, and all dairy products, are one of the 7 biggest culprits that cause symptoms of food intolerance – meaning that your body can’t handle them. They cause inflammation and lead directly to belly fat.
But, belly fat is only part of the problem, because inflammation also leads to all kinds of digestive problems, hormone imbalances, metabolic disorders, a host of autoimmune reactions like joint pain, skin rashes, lowered energy, headaches; and has been identified as the number one cause of most diseases.
The 7 Most Common Foods that cause Food Intolerance:
Gluten (wheat, barley)
The Inflammation “Fix”
You’re probably wondering why these “healthy” foods cause weight gain and other health problems. Here’s how it works. Inflammation is triggered when you eat a food your body cannot handle, causing the stress hormone, cortisol, to flood the body and trigger the release of insulin. These high insulin levels are stored as fat by the body (as opposed to being burned as energy) – especially around the belly.
Tips to avoid inflammatory foods that lead to belly fat:
- Try a 21-day detox from the 7 top inflammatory foods
- Reintroduce each FI food one at a time after the 21 days and see if you have a reaction.
- Eat a gut-healing diet of anti-inflammatory foods.
- Take supplements for improved digestion, like digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid.
Mistake #2: Not understanding the danger of, or managing stress.
The “S” word (stress) is so overused these days that most women see stress as a natural fixture of modern life. We have become so used to feeling overwhelmed and over-committed that we think it is just the way it is, when in reality – it isn’t.
Many of the women I work with to address belly fat, brain-fog, bad moods and low energy tell me that the only way they can relax is by drinking one or two glasses of wine in the evening and “vegging out” in front of the TV, computer or smart phone, while some women just work longer hours and keep “busy” to ward off the stress demons.
The problem with medicating your stress or ignoring it is that your brain continues to be wired for stressful thoughts, emotions and reactions once the wine wears off or you can’t just “veg out”.
Your body learns to live in a hyper-aroused state and the slightest problem or demand can trigger high levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) to be released – and, yep … you got it – cortisol triggers the release of insulin – that gets stored as fat – especially around your belly.
Tips to Soothe Your Stress
Try one of these brain rewiring, stress reducing activities:
- Practice mindfulness meditation to calm the mind, create awareness of your stressful thoughts, and to live more consciously and peacefully.
- Try one-minute breathing exercises during the day. Start by just noticing your breath periodically and noticing if it’s shallow. If it is, then allow your breathing to slow and deepen.
- Try yoga or an activity that relaxes you.
Mistake #3: Not Understanding Food Cravings
Our best intentions are often sabotaged by forceful and unrelenting food cravings.
I doubt any woman can boast being immune to irresistible cravings for foods at least from time to time. Perhaps more than any other challenge in your quest to banish belly fat, cravings seem to be top of the long list of reasons for diet failures.
To make it even more daunting, there are a myriad of complex root causes for cravings. But, you need to understand this: They don’t come out of thin air, and they’re not always caused by stress or emotions – although those are two of the top causes of food cravings.
But, it is important to also understand some of the other causes to get a handle on your belly fat and unwanted weight gain. Here are a few:
1. Make friends with your Microbiota
Perhaps one of the biggest breakthroughs in human health is the fairly recent discovery of the role of the the human microbiome – the aggregate of the billions of bacteria that live in our gut on our overall health and happiness. These bacteria actually outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 and have an incredible impact on almost every area of our life – our weight, digestion, immune system response, our emotions – and yes – even our cravings!
This is how the microbiota impact our cravings: The bacteria actually produce their own toxins (called endotoxins) and these toxins can leak into the bloodstream, creating system-wide inflammation, which affects your weight in two ways: 1) it causes your body to store insulin as fat instead of burning it as energy, and 2) it fuels cravings.
Tips for nurturing a healthy microbiome:
- Eat more fiber (veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds)
- Don’t eat sugar or processed carbs
- Take a probiotic supplement daily
2. Mindless Eating
Eating while stressed, emotional, multi-tasking, or simply without being mindful of what, how or why you are eating is one of the biggest belly bloaters. Many of my clients tell me they “inhale” their food, and often overeat because they don’t get the “full” message, or are constantly nibbling or “grazing”. This type of eating is fueled by cravings that haven’t been identified – such as:
- Eating to calm your stress without addressing what is causing your stress or practicing stress-reducing activities.
- Eating to numb or stuff an unconscious emotion that is trying to come out, without addressing the emotion by naming and processing it.
- Eating to fill an emotional void such as loneliness, boredom, or emptiness.
Tips to decrease Mindless Eating:
Eat mindfully: This means eating in a conscious, focused manner by only eating when you eat (no multi-tasking), relaxing before and during meals, focusing on the color, texture and taste of your food, chewing slowly (biggie), and feeling and expressing gratitude for the food.
This week, just start being more mindful of your relationship with food, your eating patterns, and how you feel after you eat certain foods. You may want to start tracking any emotions and symptoms surrounding what you eat. The key is to develop your own inner nutritional wisdom. And, don’t forget to enjoy your food and your life!