Stop Counting Calories: Start Counting Inflammation!

Stop Counting Calories: Start Counting Inflammation!


Calories in, calories out is an old adage that we’re all still paying for. What your body does with a calorie (ie. with food), is what is critically important. Consider this: If I gave 100 people $15 to buy gas for their car and asked them to keep track of what kind of mileage they got out of it, would you expect the same results?  The variables would be the type of gas, the grade of gas, the type of car, your driving habits, city or highway.  Now, why would we expect a calorie approach to eating to be any different?  All calories are different, all bodies are different and so your diet needs to reflect that.   Let’s explore a real world example.  Do you have a friend or colleague who has followed a weight loss program, found great success and felt great while you have done the same program, reached a plateau and felt terrible? We all respond to food and exercise differently. We are each walking around with unique bodies with unique needs … with unique genetic material, varying levels of stress, hormonal fluctuations, exposure to toxins and inflammation. These individual variations combined together determine what your body does with a calorie. At the end of the day, it is up to you to construct Your Perfect Diet- the one that works for your unique person.

“Calories in, calories out is an old adage that we’re still paying for.”

Let’s take a different approach and move beyond calories by focusing on inflammation.

Inflammation and Food:

I have seen people walk around for years thinking they are carrying extra fat pounds, when they are really carrying around extra water weight. One of the body’s natural protective mechanisms is to produce inflammation when a wound is present. We have all been bitten by a bug or scraped our knee gotten a bug bite or scrape and noticed the redness, heat and swelling that ensues. The body is bringing antibodies and fresh blood to the area to prevent infection. Extra fluid is rushed to the area and swelling results.  What’s important is that this process happens to the entire body when you react to a food. Inflammation at the gut causes swelling and water retention. Inflammation and water retention cause the blood vessels to lose integrity and the lymphatic system to become sluggish, leading to more swelling, more inflammation and more water retention.  The cycle is perpetuated by continuing to eat the foods causing the aggravation, keeping your body in a very mild state of ‘alert’. You have a small physical stress on your body, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Excess fluids equals excess pounds! Doesn’t it make sense to find the inflammatory foods in your diet give your body a break?


What are your problem foods? Here is my Sensitive 7 List from my Metabolic Cleanse Program: Wheat/gluten, dairy, corn, soy, egg, peanut and sugar. Are any of these part of your diet, 7 days a week, 365 days a year?

Are you inflamed?

*Does your scale swing 5-7 pounds during a week?

* Do you feel swollen and “puffy” in the morning?

*Bloated around the mid-section?

*Dark circles under the eyes even with a full night of sleep?

*Sluggish, achy feeling in the muscle and joints?

*Digestive issues like Constipation, diarrhea, gas/bloat?

*Excessive Food cravings?

*Depressed mood, anxiety, or irritability?



Inflammation and Toxins:

With 80,000 new chemicals introduced into our environment since the 1970’s, we are exposed to an ever-increasing toxic load. We all carry a certain amount of toxins in our bodies, for some this may not cause symptoms, for others it can create a vicious cycle of inflammation.  Chemicals from our furniture, pesticides, air fresheners, and cleaning products build up in our system over time. Some people are better at detoxifying and can handle these exposures while others will develop a host of inflammatory symptoms.

Inflammation and Hormones:

Fluctuations in hormones, either monthly or during menopause, counter the regulatory inflammatory cascade in the body. When hormones are balanced, inflammation is at bay. Add to the mix all of the exogenous hormones in our environment these days and finding hormonal balance can be tricky. It takes about 7 years for synthetic hormones to degrade in the environment, by simply becoming aware of these outside hormone exposures, we can change our internal hormonal environment. These outside (or exogenous) hormones have recently been termed “obesogens” because of their recognized effects on inflammation and weight gain.

Inflammation and Stress:

There is that word—stress. We all know it, we all feel it, but what does it mean?

Cortisol, your stress hormone, is your anti-inflammatory hormone. In the correct balance, cortisol helps to regulate blood sugar levels, produce sex hormones and lower inflammation.

When you perceive a situation as stressful, whether it is actually stressful like running from a bear in the woods or sitting in traffic, your adrenal glands kick into gear and release cortisol. This is a highly adaptive, survival mechanism. But what happens when we perceive so many life events as stressful? Our adrenal glands (and their associated hormones) get out of balance and inflammation results!

As you can see, inflammation has many different causes. While I do not focus solely on weight loss in my practice, I do focus on comprehensive wellness and the inability to maintain your ideal weight is a red flag for inflammation. Start by identifying your food sensitivities, clean up your toxic environment, and give your tired adrenal glands a break from all of your perceived stress!

Once these elements are in place- you will never have to count calories again. Trust me- your Unique Body will love you for it!

photo credit: <a href=””>Enokson</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>

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