I know, I know, we have pretty much had enough of diets and the never-ending, constantly contradictory advice we get from our loved ones and the media about how to lose those pesky pounds that make us look pudgy no matter how long or big the top we wear.
Unfortunately, America’s biggest problem is obesity, as my friend Dr. Oz told me during an interview I conducted with him for Newsmax TV recently, and he is right. Unless we do something about it and do it fast, we will be getting fatter, sicker and more incapacitated than we ever have been as we age. Not exactly what we want in our era of technological advances.
We need to focus on how to get rid of this problem and the only way we can is by taking a look at ourselves first.
For those of you who have been reading my column – and I’d love to tell you how grateful I am you do – you know there has never been a column in which I don’t bring up eating habits, exercise, sleep and good patient/doctor relationships, so you know how passionate and vehement I am about staying fit and trim as we age.
But unfortunately too many of us succumb to the idea that we cannot lose the weight no matter what, that we are getting old. We get depressed and eventually give up.
Well, I must tell you without a doubt the only option to surviving aging and even enjoying it is to feel good. And the only way to feel good is to be as close to ideal body weight as possible, to exercise regularly (I don’t mean at a gym, I just mean move), to sleep seven to eight hours a night and to have great relationships that fulfill you. You notice drugs, surgeries and endless visits to a thousand doctors are not on the list of what will keep you healthy and enjoying your life.
I will now get off the soapbox and tell you that having lived with patients, personally experienced the variety of dietary recommendations and clicked on the “secret tip to shrink your pot belly in a week,” even though I don’t really need it, I am sure I pretty much have the answer when it comes to diets and what I would prefer to call eating habits.
Here you go: While you can slip in those little bad things once in a while, if you find balance and never go to extremes you will find yourself feeling great and at your ideal body weight to boot.
Our mortal enemy is not fat, but rather what nutritionists and integrative, prevention-focused physicians call simple carbohydrates (as opposed to complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables, which are good carbs).
Simple carbs include simple sugars and many things made up of simple sugars, such as fructose, syrups, starches, fruit juices, alcohol, salad dressings, desserts and other prepared foods. They are mostly white foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, white breads and anything else made with white flour.
So how do you protect yourself from killer carbs?
You could read the labels on food packaging (but, as you’ve already figured out, the industry has learned to manipulate them so you don’t even know how much sugar is in your food).
So eliminate anything with labels, anything that you don’t find growing out of the soil or on the tree. As you get older, your body cannot process fish and meat the way it did when you were young so eliminating those and adding probiotics will help you feel better and lose the weight.
Now let’s be honest about alcohol, which comes under the umbrella of simple sugars. I need not say more, because we live in a culture in which if you don’t drink you’re a pariah. Well, temper it then. Every drop of alcohol in your system, no matter what study comes out to claim it’s healthy for you, will turn into a spike in your blood sugar, a spike in your insulin level and the more these two fluctuate, the more your internal organs will erode and the quicker diseases of aging like diabetes, arthritis and hypertension will come in.
Be careful with the gluten-free trend. Low gluten doesn’t mean low sugar, low carbs. It means a little less wheat. For now it has served to raise awareness that lower-carb diets work. But unless you had a small-bowel biopsy that proved you have celiac disease, you are just gluten-sensitive, which is what most of us are as we age because our bodies just get sick and tired of processing wheat products.
Then remember dairy, as in milk, cheese and pretty much all processed yogurt – except Greek yogurt that hasn’t been Americanized with some sweet stuff like granola or fruit. Dairy is also something we become sensitive to as we age. So it’s best to eliminate it from our diets.
The loss of hormones also leads to more sensitivity and more inability to process sugars, creating spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels and leaving you vulnerable to diabetes.
But all of this can be prevented. It’s all in your power. It’s not about will power but the desire to stay and feel well. Just slowly eliminate all these carbs from your diet, get your hormones balanced with bioidentical hormones, take the supplements that help you crave sugars (carbs) less, like alpha-lipoic acid, glutamine, omega-3 fish oils and vitamin D and see what happens.
Remember sugar substitutes only serve to confuse your body further, fool you into thinking that you are doing well and in fact poison your liver. If you start slowly, in a week you will have gotten rid of the cravings for sugar and as you move away from them, you will be healthier. You’ll feel better and get rid of the extra pounds without suffering.
Come to my side of the carb formula and just do it.
For more, email Dr. Erika at Erika@drerika.com.