Content by Sara Wahls. Edited by Kim Bimestefer
Who am I? I am Sara T. Wahls, a woman approaching 50, in a happy relationship celebrating 16 years this fall, who likes her job, and enjoys a variety of active hobbies. I am not a scientist, teacher, writer or nutritionist. But I do value helping others better address their health by sharing what I have learned. Here is my story.
Hints to Help With The Change. Change is hard. We all know that. So, here are some secrets to make it easier.
Inflammation Caused By Food Sensitivities. Everyone has food sensitivities – some significant to the point of allergic reaction while others don’t have any noticeable symptoms at all. But even though you can’t relate symptoms or weight gain to a specific food, the sensitivities and impact are definitely happening inside you. Get more info about food sensitivities.
You Know Yourself Better Than Anyone. No one knows your body like you do. What digests easily, what makes you run to the bathroom, what keeps you up at night. Listen to your body. As an example, I did some trial and error and discovered that Pino Noir seems to include less acid and is less disruptive to my digestive system. And I personally think that the over- production of acid in my stomach seems to parallel my weight gain, especially when combined with potatoes, rice, fruit and/or dessert. On the nights I drink wine, I do not eat fruit and I limit sauces and salad dressings or I’ll gain weight. Drinking 2 glasses of wine in one sitting also makes me gain weight. Practice the “know thyself” methodology of monitoring reactions to foods.
Meal Timing. For best results, my “feeding times” are at 6am, 12pm and 5:30 or 6pm. When I eat dinner at 8pm, I tend to gain weight. I never eat in between meal snacks. A lot of people have success eating 5 smaller meals a day. Test it out to see what works for you.
Avoid “mixing”. I keep foods plain to avoid what Kim and I call “mixing”, a term we learned from Suzanne Summers book “Eat Great, Lose Weight” that involves mixing too many weird sauces and dressings that I believe cause reactions that result in weight gain in me that are not indicative of the calories shown on the product labels. So, if we went out to eat and had bread, meat with a sauce, a mixed drink, a potato and dessert, it would have a greater weight impact than the calories would predict because of our bodies’ reaction to the “mixture” of all we ate. So, in that same restaurant, we might order chicken, fish or filet with grilled veggies and a house salad with oil and vinegar, skip the bread and dessert, and order a glass of red wine. When we do follow that pattern, we know we can go out for a great dinner, enjoy a glass of wine, and not gain weight.
Questions I get a lot:
- Do I ever get hungry? No, I’m feeding my body what it needs, so it is more satisfied. And I can eat a lot of healthy foods (i.e.: 6-9 cups of fruit / veggies is a lot of food!)
- Do I get cravings? Not usually. When I do, I use the substitutions referenced above.
- Do I miss chocolate and fried food? I’m not tempted because I think of it as poison or empty calories.
- Do I spend a lot of time preparing meals (i.e.: cutting fruit and vegetables)? Yes, but it’s a labor of love (and health) and I have a number of food choppers to help.
Supplements are really important. Foods rarely supply everything we need to battle disease and stay healthy. Go to a good health food store, and talk to the experts. Vitamin D is critical, and it needs to include K to be well absorbed. Next to making changes in your food choices, the proper Vitamin D supplement – right quantity and brand and including K – is the next most important thing to us. Read Dr. Terry Wahls chapter on Vitamin D, or do your own homework. You will find that it “turns off and on” most of the genes that tell us whether we will get a chronic condition or not. In addition, I also take Vitamin B12 for energy, calcium supplement, a multi-vitamin, fish oil, and a probiotic.
Exercise: I have always exercised and continue to exercise 4 or 5 days a week, mostly walking and hiking, with one day a week at the gym lifting weights. My experience is that exercise is very important to overall health, yet I was unable to lose weight – despite a discipline exercise regimen – even based on the “calories in calories out methodology” when I was eating the foods that caused inflammation in me.
What’s next? I’m working on toning and fitness to improve my lean body mass, building strength to protect bones from osteoporosis and remaining healthy with paleo food choices.
Moto’s that keep me focused:
- Take care of my body, and it will take care of me
- You are what you eat
- Love my family and health more than food
- Eat to live. Don’t live to eat.
- Control the controllable.
Best Wishes! I wish you luck on your journey. You are important. Your future is important. I hope the ideas and learnings I have shared herein will help you on your own personal path towards better health!
Other excellent resources that influenced my lifestyle change
I definitely recommend the book by Dr. Terry Wahls, “The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine”. It has lots of outstanding information on her recommended paleo-based protocol, the interesting and motivational science behind it, the importance of Vitamin D, as well as recipes to support your success.
Dr. Wahls offers 2 great options for you if you are new: 30 Day Quick Start Programs, which includes 30 days of menus and shopping lists to really jump start you into the Wahls Protocol and you have the 3 levels to choose from or you can go through each of the 3 program levels, and the Wahls Protocol Membership site, which enables you to get additional information about the Wahls Protocol, ask a monthly question to Dr. Wahls, and interact with your peers.