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How to Make Change Matter: Combining Science, Food, and Body

By Dr. Molly Casey

Science, Food, and Body

This series on creating sustainable change in your relationship with your body and food -- and ultimately achieving the results you desire -- can feel like an enormous task. This is especially true because much of what has been written -- while it makes sense from a scientific, realistic and logistical framework -- goes directly against what mainstream society pushes at you all day long.

For the benefit of ease and clarity, let’s recap the process to give you a bit more footing as you start your journey.

Assessment

Sustainable change requires that you first assess where you are right now. Remember the leaky roof analogy in our first article? You can have a puddle on the living room floor and simply wipe it up. Or you can wipe it up and put a bucket there to prevent another puddle from forming. Or you can wipe it, put the bucket there, and then have a professional come assess what’s happening structurally to correct the problem long-term. This last option is going to create sustainable change. Stop treating your health, body weight, and relationship with food like the puddle that you mop up every time you see it but don’t act to fix it.

You must get a true assessment of where your body and health are overall in order to create the change that will last; the results you want so badly at the beginning of every year -- weight loss -- isn’t your main resolution. An initial assessment of your body’s condition and your relationship with food allows you to understand tangibly where you are right now and provides a basis from which to track and see your progress.

You can’t specifically know your level of progress, and how far you’ve come, if you never knew your starting spot. The initial assessment may not be fun, but the tangible truth gives you a foundation from which to move forward.

Get Clear

Clarity is the first law of success – I’ve written it before, I’ll write it again. Get clear on the role food plays in your life. Food is fuel for the machine, your body. But it is not only fuel. People connect over food with social dinners, they create festivals around it, it’s an expression of art and enjoyment. When we aren’t clear what role food plays in our lives, it’s far more easily abused -- partly because of the simple lack of awareness. When you become more aware of your relationship with food, it becomes far easier to choose techniques that provide easier and more effective adaptations to your diet that are more likely to stick because they have meaning to you.

Bigger Picture

Although assessment of the current status of your body and clarity in your relationship with food are the starting points in this process of sustainable change, you can’t bypass science. One of the most important steps overlooked -- and it comes before macronutrients and calories -- is eating for steady blood sugar. Blood carries glucose (sugar) throughout the body for readily available energy. When there are consistently high levels or blood sugar spikes, the cells of the body become insensitive or numb to its presence and send the glucose off to be stored as fat. These spikes or high levels are often a result of highly processed foods that have very low nutritional value and promote inflammation. When we look at food based on the most basic scientific level, eat for life by choosing high-nutrient dense foods that are anti-inflammatory. Aim to eat unprocessed, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, organic local meats, and foods found on the outer edges of most grocery stores.

Science Matters

Macronutrients are proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Macronutrients provide different support for different functions in your body. Calories are the measuring unit of energy provided for the body per a specific amount of food. The macronutrient ratio in the food you eat affects your body’s overall health, performance, and looks. The amount of calories you eat impacts whether your body will utilize stored fat for energy, thus losing body weight, or whether you maintain where you are at or gain weight. These are science components that can’t be ignored.

Western society often sells weight loss techniques from one of two standpoints. One is to follow what your body wants, just listen to it, and eat whole unprocessed foods. The other is to go heavy on tracking macronutrients and calories because they are the only thing that matters.

Neither of these approaches cover the full picture. To create sustainable change and results you want, remember that success is in the process. Assess where your body and health are at now, get clear on your relationship with food, don’t forget steady blood sugar and energy is where life is at, and don’t ignore the types or ratios of macronutrients you’re ingesting or the total amount of calories. It is about the process and the long game. It won’t happen overnight, but it can happen eventually.

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