Weight Management- Is it Chronic Inflammation or Behavior?
Changing body composition is a complex issue. Your individual genetic makeup, immune system, and chronic inflammation are powerful components that have a role in weight control. More and more research is looking at the association of chronic inflammation with the struggle to maintain a healthy weight. Even more serious is the association of inflammation to other conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and depression. In addition, chronic and with athletes, chronic inflammation can have an impact on performance. To pursue changes in body composition, it is important to take this into consideration and consulting a professional can be an important step to understanding the factors involved. In regards to inflammation specifically, there are many possible triggers.
What can potentially trigger inflammatory conditions?
- Stress — Increased cortisol and increased catecholamines. Athletes are particularly vulnerable to this from the additional stress we place on our systems from hard training.
- Hidden or chronic infections with viruses, bacteria, yeasts, or parasites — examples are H-Pylori, yeast, bacterial overgrowth, and viral or parasite Infection.
- Allergens from food or the environment — alcohol, gluten, casein, processed foods, sugar, fast food, etc.
- Medications — corticosteroids, antibiotics, or antacids.
If you can rule out chronic inflammation as an offending trigger causing difficulty in weight management, then perhaps behavior is the driving factor in your case. Evaluating your behavior and understanding your triggers can be critical to improvement in body composition. Evaluating your behavioral triggers and making positive changes can have a large impact.
Potential behaviors affecting body composition (check all the statements that apply to you):
□ I eat too fast
□ I sometimes skip meals
□ I wait until I’m “starving” to eat
□ I eat until I am, “stuffed”
□ I don’t drink water, only soft drinks and coffee
□ I eat differently around someone who criticizes my eating
□ I have no food in the house, so I eat whatever is around
□ I often eat my meals in the car.
□ I eat in front of the TV or/and computer
□ I avoid the foods I like because they are “fattening”
□ I snack all evening after dinner
□ I always eat everything on my plate
□ I eat when I am bored, mad, nervous, lonely, or not hungry
□ I engage in many activities or events that revolve around food.
If you see yourself in any of the above scenarios it could be a behavior that is hampering you from reaching your goals. For every behavior you checked ask yourself “why”? Explore your answer. It could be the start to getting rid of those stubborn pounds.
Calories count and the law of thermodynamics applies, but losing weight and managing body composition can sometimes go beyond the numbers.
Sheila Leard, RD, CSSD, CPT
Board Certified Sports Dietitian
Functional Medicine Nutritionist