Weight loss is something that every woman seems to struggle with and it can be especially hard when you have kids and little to no time for yourself!

No matter what size you are, I bet there are still times when you analyse every part of your body in the mirror only to leave you feeling a bit insecure with what you see.

To me, losing weight is not about fitting a societal mould of the ideal size you think you should be or what society pushes on you, but it is about finding what is healthy for your body type and effortlessly being able to keep the excess weight off through a healthy state of balance.

As women, it is natural that our body weight fluctuates a little, whether it’s due to stress, hormones or something else. So before you do anything else, I beg you……. please ditch those scales, be kind to yourself and start being confident and rock the body you are in now – no matter what size or shape you are!

Now when it comes to weight loss, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes or magical diets or wonder pills.

You cannot replace a good diet and lifestyle. Although making the right type of diet and lifestyle choices is key as there is so much conflicting information out there.

So here are three simple steps you can take that will help you lose weight and keep it off:

1) Less sugar, more FAT!

As nutrition has evolved over the years the latest scientific research shows us that eating fat does not make you fat but eating sugar definitely does!

Now, I could talk about sugar forever because there are many components to it, although here is a quick snapshot of what happens when you consume sugars. Your body uses sugar as one of its sources of fuel but it is what this sugar is made up of and how this sugar is broken down in the body that determines whether it can be deadly or healthy for you.

The danger is when you eat processed sugar or sugars that are high in fructose. When you eat these foods your digestive system breaks down the food quickly and the fructose enters into your blood stream quickly, giving you a hit of energy but raises your blood sugar levels very quickly as well. This creates an elevated insulin response, insulin fixes fat inside your cells and stores it for later while you burn off the sugars you have just consumed. Bottom line, sugar increases your insulin production which communicates to your cells to store fat instead of burning it and that leads to weight gain and other diseases. However, when you eat good fats, your body recognises to use it as its primary source of fuel. It signals to your body to access stored fat and use this for energy as well. Fats leave you feeling fuller for longer, eating less and most importantly it stabilises your blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar levels mean less insulin (fat storage hormone) production, less stress and in turn your body starts to burn into your stored fat, particularly around your belly! By fats I mean eat more good fats with every meal (avocadoes, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish etc).

2) Ditch the wheat/gluten!

Gluten can make you fat! In fact, two slices of “whole wheat” bread can spike your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of sugar!

This spike in blood sugar releases insulin into your system which is the fat storage hormone. It also contains a super starch called Amylopectin A, which is a super fattening! Even though you might not have celiac disease, gluten causes a low immune reaction in your body which creates inflammation. When you eat gluten, extra zonulins are created which damage the lining of your gut, creating small holes in your intestinal wall. Undigested food particles then seep through these tiny holes and are exposed to your immune system (which sits right underneath the lining of your gut.) When these bugs and undigested food particles touch your immune barrier, your body recognises them as foreign invaders and creates an inflammation response. This low level chronic inflammation over a period of time can also largely contribute or lead to diabetes, heart disease, fatigue, depression, anxiety, cancer and all sorts of other problems.

3) STRESS-LESS by activating your parasympathetic nervous system!

When you perceive stress or are physically stressed, your sympathetic nervous system is activated, raising your heart rate and releasing cortisol (long term stress coping hormone) and adrenalin (short-term stress coping hormone) into your body. When adrenalin is pumping through your system as a result of your body perceiving danger, sugar is dumped into your blood for your body to use to get you out of the situation (such as preparing you to run or flee) and insulin (primary fat storage hormone) is then released into the blood stream to deal with the blood sugar spike. Unfortunately, what is normal in today’s world is that you can perceive danger whilst sitting at your desk or on the couch! Therefore, this excess insulin pumping through your blood stores as fat.

When your blood sugar spikes, it eventually has to come down and that massive drop can leave you feeling completely exhausted and fatigued which can have you searching for more sugar or caffeine to pick you up again.

It is a vicious cycle and long term this vicious cycle can lead to cortisol problems which slow down your metabolism, tell your cells to store fat, cause blood glucose problems such as diabetes, long term fatigue, adrenal burn out and much more. That is why it is so super important to make a conscious effort to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which allows your body to rest, digest, repair and balance itself out so you can start to lose weight.

The best ways to do this is through a good, early night’s sleep, ensuring you have downtime through meditation or light exercise each day and most importantly changing your perception of stress and toxic thoughts!

What is one small step you can take today to start your weight loss journey? Please comment below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • Everything in moderation is what I believe.

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  • Im apparently not doing myself any favours! Lots of stress!

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  • So true about less sugar and more fat! I totally agree

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  • great tips, so hard to give up carbs and sugar though

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  • I knew about sugar and have pretty much eliminated that. Also knew about the benefits of more healthy fats. Didn’t know about gluten, I love my bread :( Also knew stress wasn’t good for weight loss too, still have to learn to control that one tho

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  • Eat less. Exercise more. Drink more water.

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  • Fat my not make you fat but thinking you can eat fat without concern is not a good idea either as then you will be looking at clogged arteries and and a heart attack.

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  • Hi, I may agree with 1 & 3 but I am not convinced on 2.
    You say to ditch the wheat/gluten ..Do you realise there is gluten in oats ? OATS ARE VERY GOOD FOR YOU unless you are Coeliac (we in Australia spell it Coeliac other counties Celiac).
    Oatmeal, that sturdy breakfast food from your grandmother’s kitchen, has a lot going for it. Not only is it a fine way to start the day, but it can also really bring down your bad LDL cholesterol levels without lowering your good cholesterol.
    Seriously I would suggest before you go on a wheat/gluten free diet have a visit with a specialist Doctor first.
    I also found this article very good in my view also:
    Q: Is eating too much wheat bad for your health?
    A: No. Only people with wheat intolerance, allergy or sensitivity need to avoid wheat.
    Our expert: Dr Sue Shepherd
    Have you ever wandered down the health food aisle at the supermarket, picked up a packet of rice bread or buckwheat pasta and had the feeling that everyday wheat products just don’t cut it anymore when it comes to being healthy?

    Well, you’re not the only one. Figures suggest approximately 1 million Australians exclude wheat from their diet, but only a quarter of these people do so for specific medical reasons, such as a wheat intolerance or allergy.

    With a reputation for health and a swathe of celebrity endorsements, the wheat-free, gluten-free diet is rapidly growing in popularity; but is eating too much wheat really bad for your health?

    It can be if you have coeliac disease, wheat allergy or irritable bowel syndrome, says dietitian Dr Sue Shepherd from La Trobe University. But that doesn’t mean we all need to ditch wheat.

    Who needs to avoid wheat?

    While you may not be sure whether a gluten-free pizza is the right choice for you, for those with coeliac disease there is no doubt at all.

    People with coeliac disease have an adverse reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat as well as rye, barley and oats. So if you have coeliac disease and eat gluten, it will trigger an auto-immune response that damages the lining of your small intestine. This reduces your ability to absorb nutrients from food and could lead to serious nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, infertility and bowel cancer.

    A strict gluten-free diet is the only recognised treatment for coeliac disease, says Shepherd. “Even if you don’t have obvious symptoms, you must be utterly strict and gluten-free for life.”

    Another group of people who should avoid wheat is those with a wheat allergy, these people are normally allergic to a protein (usually not gluten) in the grain. It’s more common in children than adults and symptoms vary from hives and eczema to generally feeling unwell.

    If you think you have either coeliac disease or a wheat allergy then you need to go to your GP, who may send you to a specialist for further tests. Shepherd says beware of shonky tests, as there are plenty around, especially for allergies. (You can find a list of unorthodox and inappropriate tests here.)

    Should you cut back?

    So if you don’t have a wheat allergy or intolerance, should you still be watching the amount of wheat you eat?

    It depends, say Shepherd. If you frequently experience abdominal pain, distension, constipation, diarrhoea or excessive wind, then the answer may be a rumbling and resounding yes.

    These symptoms, collectively known as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are often caused by an inability to break down a group of sugars that naturally occur in food called FODMAPS, says Shepherd.

    If these sugars are not broken down in the small intestine, they travel on to the large intestine where they provide a free meal for your gut bacteria, which repay the favour by producing gas.

    Studies, including the original study by Shepherd et al, have shown that avoiding FODMAPS – including fructan, the FODMAP found in wheat – can improve the symptoms of IBS.

    Shepherd says many people with IBS blame their symptoms on wheat and adopt the gluten-free diet to try and find some relief – but it’s important to understand which component of wheat is the issue.

    “By reducing the gluten content of their diet, so by dropping wheat, rye and barley, they are actually dropping the fructan content at the same time, so there’s a degree of improvement,” she says. “But it’s not all about gluten restriction for these people, actually they respond better on a low FODMAP diet.”

    Unlike for wheat intolerance and allergies, people who may benefit from a low FODMAP diet do not have to completely avoid wheat (and other foods containing FODMAPs).

    “The low FODMAP diet is about cutting [these foods] out of your diet to the point where you reach symptom relief. So small amounts are actually allowed, and everyone has a different threshold,” says Shepherd.

    But if you have IBS-like symptoms, see your doctor before changing your diet, there are other conditions with symptoms similar to IBS, including coeliac disease.

    Maintaining diversity in your diet

    Even if you don’t have a health condition that’s affected by wheat, you could still benefit from reducing the amount of wheat in your diet.

    Australian dietary guidelines recommend, on average, we eat four to six serves of grain foods every day. At least two thirds of these should be whole grain; however, research suggests less than half of us are getting enough.

    “[When you eat less wheat] one of the positive spinoffs is that you diversify your diet and try a whole lot of other grains that maybe you hadn’t had before,” says Shepherd.

    “Wheat is a nutritious food, but it doesn’t contain all the nutrients we need. You get a lot more bang for your buck in terms of nutritional content in something like quinoa compared to a refined wheat grain, or even a whole wheat grain.”

    Even spelt, which is an ancient form of wheat, can add diversity to your diet and has slightly different nutritional content to modern wheat – just remember it still contains gluten, fructans and can act as an allergen.

    Is gluten-free a healthier choice?

    But going wheat-free/gluten-free isn’t the same as healthy eating. One study suggests people on a gluten-free diet can be missing out on fibre and essential nutrients, such as thiamin, folate, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium and iron.

    “It’s a diet that has the potential to be healthy, but you need to choose it well,” says Shepherd.

    “A lot of people choose to go gluten-free thinking that it’s healthier, but you just have to be wary. There are a lot of poor nutritional quality foods that happen to be gluten free, things like chocolate and ice-cream and many types of alcohol,” she says.

    But if you are replacing refined grain-based foods, such as biscuits, white bread, or processed breakfast cereals, with wheat-free whole grain alternatives, including oats, rice, barley, millet, or quinoa, then it’s likely to a much healthier option.

    “The bonus is that you are likely to explore new foods like quinoa and probably utilise less processed packaged foods. So it absolutely can be healthier but it’s not a guarantee.”

    Dr Sue Shepherd is a dietitian and senior lecturer in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition from La Trobe University, she spoke to Maryke Steffens. Published 30/05/2013

    • I am a big advocate of finding the foods that make you thrive in life in which you can feel your best self! Everyone’s body is different so it’s important to experiment and find foods that serve your body. Oats have a very small amount of gluten in them and are nourishing for a person who is non-reactive to gluten or for people who doesn’t have any health problems or weight problems. Although the gluten in the oats still do cause internal inflammation in your digestive system. Some people maybe able to handle this, although for others it can be contributing to their health problems and stubborn weight (which is what this article is related to). Experiment and find what’s best for you. All the best, Desiree http://www.freeyourselfholistichealth.com.au

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  • I knew about sugar and fat, but gluten I’ve never tried eliminating. I think it would really help with my weight loss and energy. Certain foods like pasta and bread make me feel so sleepy!

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  • I don’t have to lose weight myself (am under 45kg) but I agree with the 3 points written in this article. In general I believe in moderate eating of a healthy diet and teach my children that they really don’t have to eat all the time. Even for my children I prefer to give them fat above sugar and banned sugar out of the cupboard. Same towards gluten, even for the members in our family who are not gluten intolerant I like to be very moderate with gluten. I don’t believe so much in the processed gluten free products bought in the supermarkets, rather cook and bake myself with as little as possible gluten.

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  • Just eat whatever you want in moderation – no fad diets, and NO Pre-prepared food of any sort. Cook your own food and have lots of fresh veg and fruit. I don’t eat [because I don’t like] bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. At 13 I was 50 kilos and now I am 54 kilos, and I have never dieted in my life. Give blood every three months and am a very healthy 70+ yo.

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  • There is more carbs in gluten free iv been gluten free for 6 yrs and im far from thin

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  • I agree with all three tips, especially cutting your sugar intake dramatically and upping the fat! My suggestion is look for inspiration in the kitchen to keep things fun and healthy. It definitely helps, the library is a great place to borrow, too!

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  • Reducing sugar is probably he easiest first step in losing weight, so long as you have enough self control.

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  • Is the natural sugar in vegetables Fructose the same as those in fruit.
    Potatoes and Pasta are not good as they are very starchy which converts to sugar according to the dietician I saw.
    Beware not all Dieticians/Nutritionists are registered – don’t have a Medicare Provider Number so you can’t claim at all, charge the earth (a lot more than those with Provider Numbers) and some issue diets that are dangerous long term.

    Reply

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