Is Chronic Inflammation Derailing Your Weight Loss Efforts?
The topic of weight loss has become a polarizing and sensitive topic. There’s certainly no lack of advice, strategies, or diet plans available and it seems as though everyone has a different approach. “Track calories and macros! Eat less, move more! Go Keto! Stop eating meat!” Plus, you’ve likely heard there isn’t a one-size-fits-all diet plan out there – so you end up digging around, testing out different “diets” trying to figure out what one might help you shed those unwanted pounds. It’s all kind of exhausting. I do however think there’s something positive that comes from being curious and doing that digging. I don’t mean trendy diets though. I mean, doing some digging to determine what foods are causing you to feel like crap. The ones that are making you feel tired and sluggish, disrupting your sleep, giving you joint pain, skin issues, digestive distress, heartburn, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sugar cravings — and yes — the ones that are making you hold onto extra weight too. If you’re nodding your head at some (or all), of those symptoms, my friend… you’re inflamed and it’s time to get to the bottom of it.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an injury or irritant and it plays an important role in the healing process. It’s also a protection mechanism that defends the body from illness and infection. Things like redness, swelling, pain at the site of an injury, or swollen lymph nodes when you have the flu or a cold, are all signs of inflammation and an indication the body is doing its job to protect us. This is also known as acute inflammation and it’s a short-term, localized response to an injury or foreign invaders. It’s a good thing!
Even though we need these acute inflammation processes running smoothly, it can become problematic to our health when it moves from acute to chronic. In other words, it lasts too long or spreads too far. When this happens the immune system is out of balance and inflammation becomes systemic, meaning whole-body inflammation. Inflammation is now running rampant throughout the body and contributing to a cascade of unwanted symptoms. The worst part is, if you’ve been experiencing chronic inflammation for a while now, you might not even notice some of the symptoms anymore. They probably just feel normal to you at this point — but more about that in a bit.
Let’s first dive into how the immune system works.
In order for the immune system to work properly, it must be able to distinguish between “you” and “foreign invaders” (parasites, bacteria, viruses, etc.) When something enters the body that isn’t meant to be there, the body signals for an immune response and triggers your white blood cells to mobilize and protect you. The problem is, certain foods can “trick” the immune system into thinking it’s problematic, leading to chaos and confusion in the body. The immune system then creates antibodies to fight these “invaders” and each time that food is eaten the immune system responds. As a result, you end up with food sensitivities, allergies, systemic inflammation, and sometimes even an autoimmune condition.
So what does it look like if you’ve been eating certain foods that are causing these reactions and in turn, creating inflammation throughout the body? You may find yourself experiencing a combination of these symptoms…
Lifestyle Conditions That Can be Related to Chronic Inflammation
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Weight gain
- High triglycerides
- Overall redness or “puffiness”
- Lack of energy
- Poor sleep
- Mood swings
- Heart disease
- Chronic tendonitis
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Chronic pain
- Circulation issues
- and more!
Having systematic, chronic inflammation can greatly impact your quality of life and you may not even realize the foods you’re eating are contributing to these conditions. Even if you eat a “healthy” diet, workout, maintain healthy body weight, and feel like you’ve got everything under control, if you’re experiencing the symptoms above, you’re likely experiencing inflammation. What’s even worse, is that even though you may be experiencing some of these symptoms you’ve probably just learned to accept them as part of your life and have moved on.
The good news is, there are some very straightforward and practical steps you can start implementing right away that will have a huge impact. And you can probably already guess what I’m about to suggest…
Change the food you eat.
There is, however, one more caveat. I wish I could just give you the list of foods to avoid and send you on your way to lasting health – unfortunately though, the body is more complicated than that. The truth is, we’re all biochemically unique and the foods that work for me, might not work well for you and vice versa. I know that’s not what you want to hear though, so let’s start off with a few foods that we should all enjoy in moderation (if at all) and then we’ll dive deeper.
Foods that can Contribute to Systemic Inflammation:
- Fried Foods
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Processed meats
- Refined carbohydrates
- Hydrogenated fats and oils
But you already knew that.
The part that can get confusing is that certain foods are problematic to some people, even the seemingly healthy choices. Things like gluten, dairy, grains, beans, and legumes have all been known to cause a delayed allergy response (or IgG reaction) and again, can contribute to systemic inflammation in the body. The yogurt and granola you’re having for breakfast, the vegan chili you made for lunch, and the sushi you ordered for dinner, all could be contributing to an elevated immune response. I have more good news though. You can easily determine what foods are problematic for you, simply by eliminating the ones that have been demonstrated by science to cause these unwanted symptoms, and then slowly and systematically, reintroducing them back into the diet.
If you’re currently suffering from any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you suspect you have a food sensitivity, it can feel like an overwhelming and daunting task to eliminate all of the potentially problematic foods for 4 weeks. Heck, it can be intimidating to try it for a week! And plus, what if you put in all this effort and it doesn’t work for you? That would be annoying! But keep reading, my friend I have a solution!
Whether you’re brand new to the concept of inflammatory foods or, you feel like you’re on the right path, but something still feels off, I want to introduce you to a program I know can help – the Whole30. I have coached hundreds of clients through this 30-day challenge and it can quite literally change your life. We do exactly what I mentioned above. Eliminate the foods that have been known to cause inflammation and those unwanted symptoms for a small period of time to see how they’re affecting YOU! Part of the reason I see my clients have such amazing results with this program is that I offer it as a group coaching experience. We all start and end on the same day, I give you a full 30-day meal plan with recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, a private Facebook group for support and accountability, and you get access to me the entire time!
What is Whole30?
For 30-days, we work on lowering inflammation in the body, by incorporating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods back into the diet and ditching the ones that are forcing your immune system into overdrive. Then, after 30-days, we slowly and systematically reintroduce the food groups we eliminated (gluten, dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, and alcohol) and see how they truly impact you once you’ve quieted your symptoms. This isn’t another fad diet, a quick-fix for weight loss, or another trendy eating style you’re forced to stick to forever. What makes the Whole30 special and unique is that there’s an exit plan built right in. A strategy for getting you to a place where you CAN indulge in the foods you want to indulge in without feeling guilty or bringing back all of your unwanted symptoms. It takes some time, practice, and patience, but anything that promises results this good takes a bit of effort.
If you think the whole thing sounds too radical, too restrictive, or too excessive think of it this way – this isn’t a long-term strategy, it’s a reset. You don’t Spring clean your entire house, top to bottom, inside and outside, over an entire long weekend and think to yourself, “ok great, now I have to do that all over again next weekend!” Of course not. You might only do something that intense once or twice a year.
It’s like those organizing shows on Netflix and HGTV. They come in with their team, totally transform a space making it more functional and practical, give the homeowner strategies to keep it that way, and then move onto the next unorganized household. Whole30 is like the Home Edit for your body. I come in, help you clean up your diet, get you feeling amazing, your body running smoothly and then, leave you with strategies to keep it that way. Then, in 6 months or a year when you’re falling back into old habits, we chat. Maybe you need another round of Whole30. Or maybe a mini reset will do the trick this time. But now, you have options and you know exactly what to do.
The Whole30 is a simple and effective strategy and I’ve seen it work hundreds of times with my own group coaching clients. There are also countless other success stories from some of the millions of others who have experienced this program. I truly believe everyone needs at least one round of Whole30 in their life to see the power in this process.** You have nothing to lose and so much to gain by simply pulling back the curtains and getting a front-row seat on how your body responds to food. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all eating style or strategy out there. There’s only the one that works for you. Where YOU make your own rules, based on how YOUR body works and how YOU want to feel. And I can help you find that through the Whole30 and beyond!
Check out the link below for details on the next round of Whole30. I would love to show you how good your body was designed to feel! This is for the most important cause in your entire life – the one and only body you’ll ever have.
**DISCLAIMER** Although I believe Whole30 is approachable for everyone, if you have a history of disordered eating, please consult with your health care provider to see if Whole30 is the right approach for you.