The first (of four) elements of healthy weight loss: food

Image: Joanna Kosinska via Upsplash

Image: Joanna Kosinska via Upsplash

If you’re like everyone else in the western world, you’ve probably spent the last two weeks thinking about things you want to do differently this year. If losing those extra pounds is on your list of new year’s resolutions, you’re also not alone - weight loss is one of the most talked-about subjects in my clinic every January.

As a naturopathic doctor, I’m certainly not opposed to my patients losing extra weight - provided they do so in a healthy, sustainable and holistic way.

There are four crucial elements to consider when planning for healthy weight loss: food, hormones, exercise, and sleep. Each plays an essential role in dropping excess body weight and living a vibrant life.

Curious if you’re missing the mark on any of the elements while planning your new year’s health regiment? I'll be reviewing them over the next two weeks, right here on this blog, starting with the most important factor: FOOD.

Element #1: Food

There are a couple of basic rules about food I’d suggest everyone follow, regardless of whether they’re trying to lose weight or not.

1. Eat good fats

It seems counterintuitive to eat fat when you’re trying lose fat, depriving your body of healthy fats will make it much harder to shed extra pounds. Include healthy fats like avocado, wild fish (salmon), coconut oil, grass fed butter (in moderation), nuts & seeds, which are essential to brain function, making hormones and supporting healthy cell membranes.

2. Eat the right type of carbohydrates

There's been a war on carbs in dieting for almost a decade, but your body needs some carbohydrates for energy! The trick here is choosing the complex carbohydrates like veggies – dark leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, and bok choy, for example.

Including root veggies (carrots, yams, squash, parsnips, artichokes) instead of simple carbohydrates may also be beneficial for adequate fibre, antioxidants and curbing those sugar cravings.

Grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats may be beneficial for some, as well.

Refined, processed breads and pastas, however, convert to sugar too quickly in our bodies and leave us feeling hungry and depleted not long after we’ve eaten.

3. Beware hidden sugars!

Refined sugar is probably the biggest culprit in weight gain currently, but it’s not because we’re scarfing down loads of chocolate and baked goods.

Processed products like bottled pasta sauce, canned soups, salad dressings, flavoured yogurt and other sauces are simply loaded with added refined sugar.

Your best bet? Make things at home, from scratch, or read labels and spring for packaged products that contain ingredients you can pronounce without a dictionary!


If all of this is starting to feel overwhelming, you can always fall back on one of my favourite acronyms: JERF, or Just Eat Real Food.

Try to stick to food that comes to you in the grocery store how it was grown in the farm (aka vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, etc.) and you’re probably going to eat very, very well.

5. 80/20

And, finally, remember: moderation.

The healthiest way to eat is to aim for healthy, whole foods 80% of the time… and not beat yourself up for the other 20%. Baked goods, restaurant dinners and the occasional glass of wine don’t have to spell the end of healthy eating - just don’t let them creep over the 20% line.


In the spirit of a healthy January, I'm running a new holistic & results-focused weight loss program at Tall Tree Integrated Health. Find out more.

Steph Bowen