Will Well Eating Really Make You Happy?
Nutritionist Franci Cohen weighs in
By dailyhap - 07:48AM - 01/17/2013
Franci: My approach to nutrition is different than most conventional dietitians. A typical dietician tries to get an accurate and complete patient food history at an initial consultation. This may include requesting a food log, list of food likes and aversions, psychological or behavioral questionnaire (for example: do you overeat when you are stressed or depressed?), list of all medications, etc. This is all wonderful! A diet plan is then designed using certain math equations. For example, cutting 3500 calories from your diet will result in a 1 pound weight loss.
Unfortunately, the math doesn't always hold true in reality. If you cut 3500 in just 3 days, your body's homeostatic mechanism (survival mechanism) will "red-light" your fat-burning capacity, and a 1 pound weight loss will not be achieved.
This is why I found it prudent to operate differently with regard to diet and weight loss. The initial questionnaire is great peak into the window of a patient's life with regard to food, but no 2 people are alike. This is why we need to delve deeper. I always request a full CBC. By reviewing blood work, I find that hormone imbalances, slightly off-balanced thyroid functions, high blood pressure, etc., are strongly correlated to diet and weight loss. Additionally, I have patients fill out a "cravings" forms. This is a detailed questionnaire that can easily allow me to identify the main issues associated with an individual patient's struggle with weight loss.
What we crave is indicative of the hormonal status in our body. The hormonal status is indicative of metabolic function, and this, as we all know, is closely linked to weight loss. One patient may have an underlying medical issue that can be easily rectified through a food or supplement, and another may be gaining weight simply due to environmental or emotional culprits. Identifying these barriers for me is the 1st and most crucial element. Next we set realistic short and long term goals and objectives, and incorporate an exercise regime that is also realistic and enjoyable.
To recap, here is my fool-proof way to weight loss success:
- A patient must be evaluated as an individual in several areas.
- Evaluate CBC
- Diet and exercise plan must be devised and tailored specifically for patient, and MUST be doable and enjoyable for the patient.
- Constant change in both diet and exercise plan. This keeps patient excited, confident, and happy, avoids the pitfalls that monotony can bring, and keeps your body's metabolism on its toes!
Franci: Nutrition plays a vital role in a person's happiness in 3 different ways.
First, if a body is being fed processed foods, high in refined carbs and sugars, with additives and hydrogenated oils, the body basically becomes a toxic waste dump. It emits offensive odors, becomes sluggish, and does not operate to the best of its ability. Such a body becomes at risk for certain diseases and illnesses as well. On the flip side, if a body is being fed natural foods, whole grains, legumes, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins, such a body will thrive with regard to health, and will operate like a fine-tuned machine!
Additionally, there are foods that have components proven to promote happiness. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon have been linked to happiness. Certain components in nuts aid in sleep, which in turn reduces stress and promotes happiness. Other foods are touted as "happy foods" due to the endorphin release (feel-good hormone) they promote in the body.
Maintaining steady blood sugar levels by eating many small meals periodically throughout the day (as opposed to 3 big ones) can keep you satiated, and prevent mood swings that result from big drops in blood sugar throughout a given day. This steady blood sugar in turn creates a steady stream of happiness throughout a given day. The feeling of being stuffed after a big Thanksgiving dinner generally can be soporific and put you to sleep. Once again, here is another reason to eat small frequent meals throughout the day. The constant refueling of the body will keep you happy and energized all day long!
Franci: Happiness is quite subjective. Ernest Hemingway has been quoted as saying "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know." Intelligent people are often driven individuals always striving to achieve a new level of greatness, never taking time to "smell the roses," so to speak.
Gandhi defines happiness as "when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
I think my interpretation concurs best with Dale Carnegie. He has said "Happiness doesn't depend on any external conditions. It is governed by our mental attitude". I have seen people suffering and at the lowest level of the human condition, and they are happy and grateful for even the smallest things. Conversely, there are others with wealth, fame, friends, and family, and they are miserable and unhappy.
I am happy and grateful every day for my family, health, and my abilities. Anything else after that is just gravy!
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