A Holistic View of Weight Control

By June Rousso
June Rousso
June Rousso
I am a New York State licensed psychologist and a nutritional consultant with an M.S. degree in holistic nutrition. My interests have expanded over the years to the field of nutrition, which I often integrate in my work as a psychologist. I love to write and educate people about nutrition so that they can make more informed choices about their health. I believe that dietary and lifestyle changes are so important in our lives to support a healthy lifestyle.
August 11, 2014 Updated: August 11, 2014

Many of us have struggled with dieting and losing unwanted pounds. Sometimes we are able to lose weight, but only to regain it back over time.  Taking a more holistic view of weight control increases our chances of success in the long run.

The basics of a holistic approach focuses not only on a healthy diet, but other factors, including emotional stress, exercise, and reducing toxic load. Toxins can accumulate in the body as metabolism by-products, oxidative stress, and problems with detoxification pathways. They also can be absorbed from the environment, including the air, water, and chemical exposure.  Toxic relationships can add to emotional stress in our lives and increase toxic load.

Stress reduction should be the first step  in weight management. This is especially important in light of the fact that many of us overeat when under stress.  This is where exercise plays a role. Start out with relaxing forms of exercise, such as walking, yoga, and tai chi. Slowly increase levels of aerobic exercise and never over exercise as this is a form of stress and adds to toxic load.

In terms of relationships, consider spending less time with or ending relationships that are too demanding or stressful. Seek out friends who can support your health goals. Examine work life as this can be a form of stress as well. You may need to consider ways to work less hours or ask for more responsibility depending on your circumstances.  Sometimes we need to seriously consider an alternative work path.

To increase the odds of a successful weight loss program, also consider a mild detoxification program. Consume more detoxifying foods, especially cruciferous vegetables, such as arugula, boy choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale. Detoxifying teas, including dandelion and milk thistle, are recommended at least three times a day. Drink at least sixty-four ounces of water a day to help flush out toxins.

In terms of nutrition, we need to focus on quality rather quantity of foods. Counting calories can lead to nutrient depletion. If we consume too many low fat foods, our bodies do not get the necessary fats it needs, especially for brain function. Consuming too many foods with sugar substitutes actually can increase sweet cravings.

If  we eat nutritiously, consuming mostly plant-based foods, nuts, seeds, and whole grains in moderation, we are providing our bodies with good nutrition.  Whole foods that are unprocessed provide us with nutrients to run our bodies. Try to consume as much fresh organic produce as possible, especially fruits and vegetables of a variety of colors. The more colors, the broader the range of nutrients. Always consume fruit in moderation and of low glycemic varieties, such as apples, berries, peaches, and plums.

If we over rely on processed foods that are less nutritious, nutrients can be robbed from our bodies. This includes minerals from our bones, which ultimately weaken them. Consuming nutrient-depleting foods also can result in hunger cravings to supply the  body the missing nutrients. A high quality multivitamin/mineral/anti-oxidant formula can fill in nutritional gaps and reduce food cravings.

With a focus on nutrient dense food, we can allow ourselves include some indulgence and include our favorite dessert or sweet snack at times without feeling that we have failed in our weight loss efforts. Eating well at least eighty percent of the time and indulging twenty percent of the time is less restrictive than traditional diets and often more successful.

Some food for thought – success in many endeavors in life is not instantaneous. Sometimes it can take up to five tries toward a goal, including a weight management program before finding what works best.  This may mean adding a little more high quality animal protein to the diet and in some case reducing animal protein levels. Some people find a vegetarian or vegan diet more suited to weight loss. Nothing in life has to be right from the beginning and give yourself the time you need to find what works.  Otherwise you will have considered your efforts a failure.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates