There are so, so, so many amazingly healthy foods available for us to eat. Sometimes we love them and sometimes we hate them. The foods we prefer to eat are really an individual decision. A lot of it has to do with where you grew up and the types of foods you were introduced to as a child. But what if you love a food that's considered healthy or beneficial and it doesn't love you back?
Occasionally you'll eat a good-for-you food that just doesn't agree with you. You might get a headache or need to run to the bathroom 10 minutes after eating it. Whatever the reason, you know what the food is and you know to avoid it.
Foods That Trigger Weight Gain
When I work with my clients either privately or in my group training, I almost always address these two big offenders that, despite their reputation as being healthy, tend to trigger the most weight gain. They're more likely to mess with the hormones that help to regulate hunger and fat storage, and disrupt digestion.
Food #1: Dairy
One reason is that dairy needs a digestive enzyme, called lactase, to break it down. When we hit the age of about 25 (or sooner), our body's natural production of lactase slows down considerably. Some people stop producing lactase altogether.
What happens when your body stops producing lactase? Gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc. These are all signs that your body is telling you sot stop.
Another reason is that the casein protein in milk curds when it hits your stomach, slowing digestion a lot! If you're not producing enough lactase (that helps to break down the milk sugar, lactose), and if you're stomach suddenly curded the milk, yogurt or ice cream you just ate, you're going to feel it! On top of all of that, the more frequently you introduce foods that your body can't break down, you're more likely to create an leaky gut environment in your body.
How do you know if you have some sort of sensitivity to dairy?
Cut all dairy out for at least a week. This means everything, including creamer in coffee, cheese on salads, or milk-based ingredients in other foods. Be sure to read labels. Then reintroduce it in one meal. For example, have a piece of cheese after having absolutely no dairy in your diet for seven days. If you're bloated or need to run to the bathroom, dairy may not be your friend.
Not everyone is has a problem with dairy, and a lot of people love it. If you suspect dairy might be giving your gut grief, do yourself a favor and eliminated it 100% for a little while. It's the easiest way to know.
Food #2: Coffee
Caffeine (any form) naturally elevates a stress hormone called cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, it affects our body’s insulin sensitivity. If you become less sensitive to insulin (not good), you’ll almost certainly gain weight through the belly area. There is a lot of research being done on WHY insulin and cortisol are so closely related in this way, but one school of thought is that it simply stops your body from processing sugar the way it does in the absence of caffeine.
So will cutting out caffeine benefit you?
Maybe.The only way to know is to cut it out for a couple of weeks. Pay close attention to a few things, including: appetite/hunger levels, sleep quality, ability to manage stress, waist circumference. If you reintroduce caffeine after a couple of weeks without it, and any of these things change, you’re probably more sensitive.
Who should avoid it?
It’s reasonable that women who are either close to reaching menopause going through menopause or in post-menopause should consider easing off. Why? When you’re in that menopaus’ish phase of life, estrogen typically drops, also affecting insulin resistance. Compounding this could make it worse.
Anyone who is under a greater amount of stress than normal also should ease off. Given the past year, is that all of us? :) Be real with your stress levels and be good to yourself. The headache pain of avoiding caffeine in the short run could be well worth the payoff fo a little less stress in the long run.
Are you motivated to drop a few inches, increase your energy and commit to accountable coaching? Then join me! I kicked off a new coaching group in January of 2021 that is all about healthy meal planning, regular workouts, community, monthly challenges and, of course, coaching with me. Check it out.