Do you know what a naturopath is, or how a naturopath can help you lose weight? A couple of weeks ago, I had a huge shock. I surveyed almost 100 gorgeous women who want to lose weight, and asked them if they knew what a naturopath was. OVER 50% of these women had no idea what a naturopath is, or does! So I’ve decided to write this blog post today to clarify what I do as a naturopath, particularly when it comes to helping you lose weight, and also how my approach might differ from a dietician or nutritionist.
So first of all, what is a naturopath?
As a naturopath, my focus is on helping you lose weight and keep it off. My training in naturopathy was based on utilising natural health principles to bring my clients to better health – this includes assessing your diet, lifestyle and genetic factors. The main thing you should know about naturopaths (well, good ones anyway!) is that we work holistically. This means that when I’m working with a client for weight loss, not only am I helping that client make simple dietary and lifestyle changes, I’m also looking at their emotional health, their mindset, their physical wellbeing, and addressing ALL aspects of their wellness.
How does a naturopath differ from a dietician or nutritionist?
I think the easiest way to explain this is with the following examples:
Scenario 1: You visit a dietician with the goal of losing 10kg
You go to a dietician, and you’re given a meal plan diet to stick to. You’re also told to drink more water and exercise 5 days per week. You have your next appointment booked for 4 weeks time so that the dietician can check on your progress and weigh you, measure you, etc. After four days on your new diet, your intense food craving for chocolate takes hold and you eat a family sized block in one sitting. The next morning, you just can’t find the energy to get out of bed and get to the gym. So you don’t. Two weeks into the diet plan, you haven’t exercised for over a week and your diet has been up and down – some days it’s just impossible to stick with it and other days you feel super motivated. What happens when it comes time for your 4-week check up? You cancel the appointment. You couldn’t possibly face the dietician and tell him/her that you had failed, so you give up completely. Maybe in the new year you can try again, but for now it just feels way too hard.
Scenario 2: You visit a naturopath with the goal of losing 10kg
You make an appointment to see a naturopath, and you have an hour long appointment. You chat about your diet, and what you’re struggling with food wise. I ask you what foods you like and what foods you don’t like. We discuss your food cravings and delve a bit deeper into what is actually causing them. I ask you about your energy levels, your sleep, your current stresses. We chat about exercise – what you enjoy and what you don’t. I get an insight into your health history, your medical history, your family history. I even ask you about fun stuff like your bowel movements and your periods, because all that stuff gives me insight into your current health. I explain everything to you as we go – THIS is why you have sugar cravings at 3pm everyday, and here’s how you can get rid of the cravings completely. THIS explains why you haven’t been able to shift those last 10kg, and why diets have failed in the past. THIS is why you have low energy, or constipation, or daily headaches. And then we take a baby step forward. Usually, it begins with getting rid of your food cravings so that you feel more in control of your food choices. I don’t like strict meal plans, but instead I help you create healthy changes in your current diet. Your next appointment is scheduled for 2 weeks time, and you come back excited, motivated, and ready to take the next baby step towards your weight loss goal. And within 3 months, you’ve lost 10kg and you’ve gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for your amazing body and all that it can do.
In scenario 1, you’re relying on mere willpower to get you through. You try to fight your food cravings, and you try to force yourself to exercise consistently. And when that fails, you’re off the band wagon and you’ve given up completely.
In scenario 2, you’ve discovered why you have food cravings and you’ve eliminated them completely. I’ve explained why you have low energy, and we’ll work on improving that energy before I ask you to exercise consistently. All of a sudden, we’re working with your body instead of against it. Wow, what a sense of freedom that is! There’s no sense of failure here, because we’re taking baby steps and working from the foundation up to ensure your success, rather than relying on willpower to get you through.
So, what’s the point?
I’m not here to tell you that naturopathy is the only solution for every one looking to lose weight. What I am saying is that if you’ve tried diets in the past and given up, and you’re struggling to keep the consistency with your diet and exercise regime, maybe it’s time to look a little more holistically at what is going on. My holistic approach to weight loss is the very reason my clients are so successful at not only losing weight but also keeping it off, and doing so in a way that feels easy and sustainable.