Obesity is often a result of a complicated set of physical and mental issues so attempting to deal with it by simply reducing the amount of food intake will most likely be in vain. Studies show that more than half of the people who lose weight following a strict diet plan, do not only get it back but also gain a few extra pounds in the process.
Unlike most weight loss programs, the holistic approach sees a person as a whole being and, instead of simply treating the symptoms, it attempts to get to the root of the problem.
Holistic Weight Loss Methods
A holistic weight loss program addresses two aspects of the weight problem. First, it will get to the very core of the problem, identifying the reasons that make people eat more or exercise less than they should. By discovering the factors that lead to being overweight, this approach will help one reconsider the decisions they make. The final goal is to make long-term changes necessary to achieve and maintain optimal weight.
The second aspect is the quality of life as a whole. Being overweight can lead to various health issues, including serious diseases such as type II diabetes, various kinds of cancer and cardiovascular problems. Solving the weight problem means better overall health and higher quality of life.
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Basic weight loss plans are based mainly on nutrition and physical activity, but holistic programs further develop these plans, taking into consideration factors such as lifestyle, environment, spirituality, etc.
Information is essential. Starving yourself will probably lead to weight loss eventually, but with many unwanted side effects that range from fatigue to serious inflammations. Healthy nutrition consists of high-quality ingredients that boost your mood and energy, increase the feeling of satiety and reduce cravings. Here are the basics of healthy nutrition, followed by recipes to get you started.
Focus on variety. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs are allowed in large amounts. When you put together your meal plan, go by this rule: ‘the more colorful, the better’. A plate filled with these ingredients is sure to provide a wide range of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Whenever possible, opt for fresh, organic ingredients.
Recipe idea: Fresh Fruit Salad
Eliminate refined foods. Start by eliminating refined sugar, flour and processed foods that contain these harmful ingredients. For example, many processed foods contain sugar hidden behind great-sounding labels like cereals or granola bars. Avoid anything that contains maltodextrin, dextrin, corn syrup, sucralose, or maltitol on the list of ingredients. Replace white refined sugar with raw honey (honey that has not been heated or filtered) or pure maple syrup and use whole grain flour instead of the bleached, all-purpose one.
Know your carbohydrates. Basically, carbs can be simple and complex. The former ones are considered the main culprits for weight gain since they digest more slowly, causing sharp surges in blood sugar levels that lead to cravings. The latter consist of whole grains, vegetables, seeds, and legumes and are great to include in your diet plan.
Recipe idea: Chicken with Snow Peas
Combine healthy fats and proteins. Besides complex carbs, your diet should also include high-protein foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, as well as good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, found in fish, flaxseed, nuts, and seeds. This combination of carbs, fats, and proteins, consumed in moderate portions several times during the day, will reduce your appetite, causing you to eat less in general.
Recipe idea: Shrimp in Lemon Sauce
Hydrate. Most people are chronically dehydrated without being aware of it. Hydration is very important for proper digestion, as well as for toxin and waste elimination. Water is the best and most convenient choice, provided it is purified, not chlorinated tap water. Herbal teas and sparkling water are also acceptable alternatives.
#2 Physical Activity
As mentioned before, exercise, together with good nutrition, is a major component of all holistic weight loss programs. Any endeavor to lose weight without combining it with any form of activity will be incomplete and less successful. Physical activity not only enhances metabolic functions and burns calories, but it also increases endurance and stamina, strengthens the muscles, boosts energy levels, improves blood circulation, and affects the production of ‘good mood’ hormones.
The holistic approach is a proponent of finding a workout regimen fit to your needs, one that you truly enjoy and that you’ll be happy to do on the long run.
Alternatively, intense workout regimens can be replaced with constant movements throughout the day. Walking to work or taking the stairs instead of the elevator will be a great change of a sedentary routine.
#3 Lifestyle and Environment
Many lifestyle choices can be a cause of weight gain.
Smoking and alcohol consumption are two examples, with major negative effects on health. These harmful habits cause accumulation of toxins that inhibit the immune system and, eventually, influence vitality. Alcohol is high in calories and known for causing sugar cravings.
Changing your eating habits also causes changes in your hormones and enzymes. This can result in tiredness and chronic fatigue. Balance can be restored with a good night sleep and proper rest.
Environmental factors like pollution and crowded places, in combination with everyday stress and constant rush, can cause weight gain as well. Negative effects of modern lifestyle can be neutralized by spending more time outdoors and doing things you really like, with the people you love.
Emotions are a very important obesity factor. Mental problems like anxiety and depression can cause hormonal imbalance and trigger binge eating. Support from family and friends is crucial in the attempt to change the relationship to food.
Other holistic techniques include keeping track of the progress in a journal, positive thinking, meditation, psychotherapy, and visualization of the final goal.
To sum up, the holistic approach combines nutrition, physical activity, lifestyle changes, and spiritual attunement, to ensure that weight loss is healthy and viable.