Weight loss tips from Dr. Melissa Coats, ND

It’s Springtime and if you are feeling that you would like to lose some weight, I find it is important to find a practitioner that can support you and provide guidance to make your efforts more successful. Weight loss can be the first step towards improving your overall health. Let’s start with some of the basics that I often share with patients whom are trying to get their weight to healthy goal.


Every individual has slightly different dietary needs, but there are some basic concepts that are healthful for most people.  An optimal diet is:

  • High in complex carbohydrates: beans, whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
    • 40% of daily intake should come from complex carbohydrates 
  • Moderate amount of protein
    • 30% from protein (beans, tofu, protein powders)
    • Low in red meat: beef and beef products (grass fed, organic is best)
    • High in fish and chemical-free poultry
  • Incorporates Healthy Fats
    • 30% from fat.
    • olive oil, coconut oil,  avocados, nuts, etc.
  • Low in prepackaged/ processed/refined foods, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.  
  • Includes adequate amounts of water (around 2 quarts per day)

Calorie requirements and other obstacles to weight loss are based on body type, activity level, hormone status, medications, and nutrient deficiencies. Dietary recommendations are different for each individual.  Your physician can design a program that is right for you and your health history.  At NS you can meet and discuss the LIFE Diet or 28- Day Detox depending on your needs.


Exercise is an important part of any healthful weight loss program.  Exercise will help you burn calories and also has other health promoting effects.  Exercise increases circulation, increases excretion of waste products, and increases well-being via stress reduction and endorphin release.  For the average person, incorporating a half-hour brisk walk into a daily routine three times a week is an excellent place to start. Although gradually increasing speed is valuable for cardiovascular health, increasing frequency and duration are equally or more important for weight loss.  

Optimal fat burning is achieved at 60–70% of the maximum heart rate (maximal heart rate is 220 minus your age).  A good goal to aim for is 30–60 minutes of exercise daily.  Some muscle-toning and strength-building exercises are also beneficial to add 2–3 times a week.  Your naturopathic physician will be able to design a program that’s appropriate for you.


Decide how much you want to lose and when you want to start.  Keep your expectations of yourself reasonable.  1–2 pounds a week is a reasonable amount to lose combining diet and exercise.  With any goal in life, it can be helpful to plan it, envision it happening, see yourself as you’ll be when you’ve achieved it, plan a reward for yourself, etc.


Issues of body image and food are emotional challenging and can bring up feelings and fears for many people. Pay attention to what’s happening with you, what are your needs and issues?  Do you want to eat as a coping mechanism during difficult situations?  Practice accepting and appreciating your appearance and your feelings, everyday as you are right now.  Have a support system in addition to supporting yourself.  Besides counseling and journaling, Overeaters Anonymous provides a place where one can get support any day of the week.  This is a group for people of all sizes who want to address their relationship with food.  We can offer help at NS with many of the great tools naturopathic medicine offers from acupuncture to homeopathy and more.


Incorporate nice things for yourself into your schedule—relaxing baths, massages, time outside in nature, whatever feels nurturing to you. In our culture food is often a means for a reward and this is something that many people have to retrain themselves to get away from. Be creative!  Meeting your needs and enjoying your life are the best things you can do for yourself.  You deserve it!


Plan your meals and portion sizes.  Leaving things up in the air can make it more difficult.  Plan healthy snacks throughout the day so that you’re not famished at meal times.  Don’t starve yourself!  Try to space calories throughout the day evenly so that one meal isn’t heavier than others.  Calorie reduction in the early morning or afternoon leads to late night overeating.


Eating slowly allows you to savor each bite of food and aids digestion as well.  Taking time with your food will allow you to experience your new food choices with greater enjoyment. 


If you do feel the urge to eat something you’re trying to avoid, dish yourself up a small portion and enjoy it! You can schedule in occasional small servings of favorite foods - this puts your food choices into your conscious control and helps you avoid feeling deprived or your favorites. It is all about moderation.


It is often useful to visualize how your plate should be portioned, however our eyes are often much bigger than our stomachs. To help with this you can use a simple system by quartering your plate and using a smaller plate size.  To begin with limit your plate size to 9 inches or smaller in diameter.


Mindful eating can help reframe your relationship to food and has many components. For many of us we eat without being aware of the food we are taking into our bodies. We are distracted by television, driving, or time constraints which do not allow us to experience the food and often this can lead to extra amounts of calories. For example eating popcorn while at the movies one can down a whole gallon bucket of popcorn without even realizing it. To incorporate more mindful eating notice the cues of hunger and satiety; learn to identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures, and focus on quality of the food versus quantity. One can also learn to appreciate the sensual, as well as the nourishing, capacity of food; feeling deep gratitude that may come from appreciating and experiencing food. 

Hopefully with the incorporation of these tips you can become successful this Spring at working toward a healthy body and mind.