Conventional wisdom tells us that excess weight can easily be solved by the application of a simple mathematical formula. We’ve all heard it before, and we’ve all been conditioned to accept it as unquestionable truth. To what “wisdom” am I referring? The idea that being overweight is the result of an imbalance between energy intake (calories in) and energy expenditure (calories out). The idea that all calories are the same is pervasive in today’s culture,400-
When Diet & Exercise Fail
Like most people, I thought the solution was obvious: calorie restriction. If I just ate less, the pounds would melt off and I’d be back to my old self once again. But that didn’t work. And I pursued counting calories like an actuary counts numbers. I used online calorie tracking tools, weighed portions, and obsessed over every single thing I put in my mouth. I even counted out individual almonds to make sure I knew exactly how many calories I was eating. Guess, what? Nothing happened. Nada. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. Who in their right mind would count almonds and be satisfied when they reaped zero results? I did the logical thing and switched to exercise as the end all be all. Since the calories in part of the equation didn’t seem to be working for me, I decided to focus on calories out.
I’d burn the weight off with exercise. Simple. Done. I hired an amazing trainer – she worked me out like I was preparing for the 400-meter hurdles at the Olympics. It was hard. She pushed me beyond my limits and stretched my capacity. It was exhilarating. I puked. Often. While I did reap a ton of benefits, weight loss wasn’t one of them. I remember after we had worked together for 30 days and the scale hadn’t moved an iota, she looked at me with disbelief and said,” Something’s definitely wrong”. Don’t get me wrong, I improved a lot of other health metrics so in no way was my effort a total bust. But I had hired a personal trainer for weight loss, and that result had eluded me despite our best efforts.
Putting the Pieces Together
Over the previous few years, I had started to notice how tired I’d get after eating certain foods. Foods that it just so happened I also had drug-like addictions toward. In many cases, several days after eating certain ingredients my belly would swell like I was 6 months into carrying twins. It was weird, but I never worried about it too much. I was eating the same foods I had always eaten. If I had known then what I know now I would have saved myself a lot of starvation, frustration, exhaustion, time, and money. At the end of the day, my inability to lose weight had absolutely nothing to do with calories.
The source of my problem was hidden food sensitivities. My body was having an adverse reaction to many of the foods that I ate on a regular basis. We now know that through a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome, food particles can escape the intestinal barrier and leak into the bloodstream. Since those food particles are not where they belong, the body does what it is designed to do when it detects a foreign substance. It launches a full-blown immune system assault on the intruder. In my case, the result was a litany of food sensitivities or intolerances that kept me from shedding weight.
The proof is in the (non-dairy) Pudding
After I had a food sensitivity test done, I was shocked to learn that I was reacting to 90% of the foods that I ate the most. Some reactions were mild and others severe. I had no idea of the stress I was causing my own body just by eating regular food – the same normal foods I had eaten my entire life. Within days of removing the offending foods, my energy levels skyrocketed, pain throughout my body lessened, my bloating went away, my skin improved and that most elusive goal was achieved.
In a matter of a few weeks, the extra weight started to melt off! Even better, after a few months of working to heal my gut, many of my food intolerances healed. Now, some foods continue to cause problems for me ten years later, particularly wheat/ gluten and dairy. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that if these things pass my lips they will wreak havoc on both the scale and my waistline.
How to Test for Food Intolerances
If you’ve experienced weight loss resistance despite your best efforts at diet and exercise, checking for hidden food intolerances is a great place to look for answers. You can go about this in a few ways:
- Ask your doctor to run an Immunoglobulin G (IgG) panel on you. These tests are not 100% accurate,
howeverthey can give you an indication of whether food intolerances are a likely problem. Depending on the test, it’s also an easy way to evaluate dozens of foods at once.
- Order an IgG test yourself directly through a lab like anylabtestnow.com.
- The first two options can easily run hundreds of dollars in out of pocket expenses. In my experience, the cheapest and most accurate way to identify hidden food sensitivities is to do an elimination diet on your own.
Be aware that a food intolerance and a food allergy are not the same
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: DALILA JONES STITZ
Founder and CEO, Health Insurrection LLC
Dalila is a native Houstonian and currently lives in Switzerand with her husband and two kids. She received her health coach training through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Hallelujah Acres and teaches in-home bible studies and online courses.