Case Study: Weight Loss Following Childbirth
Beth was a lively 35 year old lady who came to see me seeking help for weight loss. Beth had 3 children; they were 8, 4 and 12 months old. Beth was not able to lose weight since the birth of her third child.
It takes most women many months to lose the weight they gained during pregnancy. Beth was aware of this and her expectations were not unrealistic. She had gained weight during all three of her pregnancies, yet it was fairly easy to lose after the first two.
Beth was predominantly a stay at home mom, although she did help out with the bookkeeping for her husband’s business two days a week, which she did from home. Beth was a fairly energetic person, considering how demanding her days were, with looking after three children. Her youngest child was not a good sleeper and hence Beth was up three or four times each night to attend to him. That was the first clue as to why Beth wasn’t able to lose weight: poor quality sleep.
The second clue was Beth’s sugar habit. In her bedroom she kept a box of what she described as her “survival stash”. It was a box containing her favorite candy bars. Beth said they helped her get through a difficult day; although she admitted that lately every day had become a difficult day and she found herself reaching into her stash to give herself a pick-me-up.
Beth brought her recent blood test results along with her to the consultation, so I could see if there was a medical reason why she wasn’t able to lose weight. Like most of my patients, Beth’s blood level of vitamin D was insufficient, so I immediately started her on a supplement of 5000 IU per day. Being low in vitamin D can cause fatigue and it can even prevent you from being able to lose weight.
Interestingly Beth had mild gestational diabetes during her last pregnancy. She was able to control this through healthy diet changes. Gestational diabetes occurs in women who have insulin resistance, also known as syndrome X. It makes it harder for the body to control the blood sugar, and elevated blood sugar can be harmful to the fetus. Women who have had gestational diabetes are approximately seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life than women who had normal blood sugar while pregnant. Reversing syndrome X was therefore the target in helping Beth to lose weight.
Another interesting finding on Beth’s blood test result was a low level of vitamin B12. This is common in vegetarians and vegans as vitamin B12 is almost exclusively found in animal foods. Beth was not a vegetarian though. Malabsorption of this vitamin can be caused by poor digestion, celiac disease or another autoimmune disease. I gave Beth a vitamin B12 supplement for now and would monitor how she responds to it.
- The biggest problem with Beth’s diet was a lack of structure and organization. She often didn’t eat proper meals. Instead, she would pick and nibble and finish off her children’s meals. I asked Beth to try and eat breakfast and lunch each day, and to make sure both of those meals contain protein and healthy fats. Examples of a healthy breakfast are eggs and vegetables, or dinner leftovers (such as soup on a cold morning), or a smoothie made using whey protein powder. I asked Beth to follow the eating plan in my syndrome X book.
- Beth barely drank any water all day. She spent most of her days chronically dehydrated and that resulted in a slump in energy in the afternoon. She would often wake with a mild headache and that is another classic sign of dehydration. I asked her to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water or herbal tea each day.
- Beth needed to defeat the sugar monster inside her. The diet changes I asked Beth to make would help, however they may take a while to kick in. Chromium and tyrosine are both excellent for helping to stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings. You have probably heard of the herb garcinia. It is excellent for helping to inhibit fat production in the body. Metabocel tablets contain garcinia, chromium, tyrosine and other nutrients to help make weight loss easier and faster.
- Beth needed good quality, solid sleep. It is a very effective way of reducing hunger and cravings. If you can get consistent good quality sleep, you will find that it’s much easier to stick with a healthy diet and avoid excessive snacking. I asked Beth to bring her 12 month old child in for a consultation and I discovered that his sleeping problems were due to allergies and digestive problems. Once her child was sleeping soundly throughout the night, Beth started waking up feeling refreshed and energised and far more optimistic about the day ahead.
Beth only needed to lose around 24 pounds and she was able to achieve that in three months. She still eats her favorite candy but nowhere near the quantities she had in the past. Beth said “I still eat a few Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups each week but the difference is now I eat them because I want to, rather than feeling like I need to. I also find it much easier to stop after two or three”.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.