Posted: June 25, 2007
I receive many calls from people wanting acupuncture to help them lose weight. Most of these calls care from people who have heard of the seemingly miraculous effects of ear-stapling on suppressing appetite. However, ear-stapling really is too good to be true. While many do in fact experience decreased appetite and do lose weight temporarily, their health is often compromised with new troublesome symptoms, including infections at the site of stapling. The lack of safety involved in ear-stapling has lead to its being outlawed in the state of Alabama.
Acupuncture is a safe and healthy adjunct to diet and exercise in a weight-loss program. Quite often craving and fatigue make it difficult for people to meet their weight-loss goals. Within a few weeks of beginning treatment, most patients experience a decrease in cravings as well as an increase in energy, making it easier for them to eat right and exercise.
Weight-loss is a complicated area with different causes and cures for each patient. Your treatment would include a discussion about your individual issues that make weight loss a challenge for you. For example, pain is frequently a significant factor keeping people from being able to get the exercise they need to keep their metabolism healthy. Acupuncture is highly effective in reducing pain which in turn improves the enjoyment and interest in exercise.
For others, fatigue is creating a false but perceived need for excess calories. Fatigue can be caused by many things from insomnia to depression or difficulty in recovering from long-term illness or old injury. Acupuncture may be used to address any of these issues as a means to ultimately aiding weight loss.
Acupuncture can also address imbalances in digestion that may be preventing you from absorbing the nutrients in your food which can lead to cravings for high-calorie foods.
Of course, many of us overeat as a response to stress. Acupuncture can be highly effective in reducing the symptoms of stress so that overeating is less tempting.
Tips for weight loss
- Drink plenty of water. Fatigue, head aches, and irritability, all of which can stimulate excessive eating, can be relieved with adequate hydration. Most adults need between 64-96 ounces of water daily, depending on weight, activity, and the temperature and humidity of their environment. Water is also important for all of the body’s systems, so feelings of well-being, clarity and satiation can all be promoted with improved hydration.
- Fiber helps satisfy the gut. It also binds to fat in the digestive tract, carrying those fats out of the body into the stool.
- Regular meal-times creates regular stimulation of digestive enzymes at those times of day so that nutrients from the foods we eat can be more easily assimilated. Eating at different times each day means the digestive system isn’t primed for action and digestion may be less efficient, leading to less satisfaction from what we eat as less of it is easily broken down for assimilation.
- Large breakfasts, moderate lunches and small dinners help us avoid unhealthy snacks and excessive meals. Ttake advantage of the digestive qi that is most availabe in the morning, according to the wisdom of oriental medicine. (This digestive qi is weakened by large dinners.) With a small dinner, appetite is improved in the morning. A healthy breakfast that includes protein helps us avoid unhealthy snacks in the middle of the morning and makes a moderate lunch more appealing than the often excessive meals that contain excess calories.
- Keep a food journal to record what you eat each day and how you feel during that day. It can be very surprising to learn that certain foods that you have eaten regularly may be associated with having lower energy or poor mood an hour or two later and that other foods actually improve the way you feel. Keeping a daily record for two to four weeks may be the only way to learn what foods help you feel good and which do not.
- Eat whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid processed foods, especially those that contain high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and food preservatives. These foods typically contain highly processd foods that have low nutritional value and high calorie value.
- Plan meals so that half of the plate is a green vegetable. Choose your protein and grain after choosing the vegetable for your meal.
- Increase metabolism with at least half and hour of aerobic activity several times weekly. Find something you enjoy and will schedule regularly whether it is a class at the gym, a walk alone or a bike ride with a friend.
- Stress management often reduces cravings. Practice tai chi, yoga, prayer or meditation. Find out what is gratifying for you.
- Breathe well with good posture so that you are using the bottom of your lungs. This will increase energy, ease and mental clarity for making better decisions about food.
- Posture that is well-aligned will create less stress on the body and improve breathing and energy. Exercise, dancing, or yoga can all improve posture.