Local medical herbalist explains how to tackle middle age spread with herbs such as cinnamon and fenugreek
I’ve recently spoken to a number of people concerned about weight gain, particularly with the stress and schedule changes in recent times. With many of our past times taken away, I too have found myself indulging in more home comforts, like extra snacks or some of my favourite but less healthy dinner options.
Many of these foods tend to be sweet treats or high carb foods like bread and potatoes. I’ve even started drinking more fruit juice which is way too high in fruit sugars to be considered a healthy choice.
The problem is, once I start feeding my sweet tooth, it starts to demand more and I end up in a vicious cycle of sugar cravings. Meals that are high in quick release carbs, like sugary foods, potato dishes, bread, white rice and pasta, all provide us with quick release energy. Like putting newspaper on a fire, it will burn bright, but die down rapidly.
This is how quick release carbs work, leaving us with too much sugar in the blood stream. Our body tries to manage this quickly by storing this energy, but this leads to a sudden drop in blood sugar causing us to crave something sweet again.
These blood sugar highs and lows can cause problems over time, leading to poor blood sugar regulation and weight gain around the middle.
At its worst, this middle aged spread is linked to conditions like diabetes, so if you feel you’re a little pudgy around the middle and you’re struggling to get that weight off, it may be worthwhile eliminating those sweet, high carb comfort foods and replacing them with high fibre, high protein meals.
Meat, fish and eggs are high in protein while beans, pulses, nuts are seeds offer plenty of protein and fibre that will slow down the release of sugars. If you do have something sweet, eat it alongside a main meal containing these foods. Bulk out your dish with extra veggies and pulses and go easy on the white rice, pasta and spuds. This will assist in keep your sugar levels stable, which should lead to better energy levels as well as weight loss, if that is your goal.
Stubborn weight, that is refusing to shift, could be the result of long term eating habits that contribute to blood sugar spikes and dips.
This includes various fad diets, many of which offer rapid results in weight loss but can be unhealthy or uncomfortable to maintain long term. Low calorie diets can lead to sugar drops that will keep you constantly hungry or lead you to seek out non nutritional ways of bringing your sugar and energy up. Caffeine in tea and coffee as well as cigarettes can give your sugars a lift, one of the reasons that ex-smokers may turn to sweets or gain weight during their first few months of quitting.
Eating excess fruit as a healthy alternative to higher calorie snacks can also cause problems. While fruit is rich in fibre and nutrients, most fruit has a high sugar content and can actually contribute to weight gain when eaten in excess.
If you’re looking to lose weight by stabilising your blood sugars, be prepared to stick to this for at least a few months. Weight lost in this way can be slow, but unlike fad diets that encourage rapid weight loss, you’re less likely to regain weight that has been lost slowly.
Herbs like cinnamon and fenugreek are excellent at assisting with speeding up this process. Studies have shown that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar levels and it’s a herb I use often for anyone looking to minimise middle aged spread. It’s also delicious, making it an ideal alternative to sugar when sweetening foods like porridge and breakfast cereals.
Fenugreek slows the absorption of carbs, so I use a blend of the two herbs called Metabolic Balance, a supplement designed for supporting weight loss from around the middle. With patience, the results I get are excellent and consistent, both in improving sugar levels, energy and for slimming down. The results speak for themselves, showing me that blood sugar regulation through diet and herbs is the way to go.
For more information on weight loss or other topics, contact Nicola on 01524 413733.