standing on a scaleArlene Normand, a dietitian, has built a strong business over ten years dealing with thousands of clients from all walks of life with a common goal – to lose and maintain weight loss.

I am really struggling to get my head around having to lose weight.  In the holiday season, I always gain weight, and I cannot afford to put on another kilo.  Please help!!!

Stop thinking of dieting; rather change your lifestyle – both exercise and eating.  Keep all your portions small.  All your food must be delicious – quality, not quantity.  Whenever you prepare your meals appreciate the aroma, taste and texture of every bite.

All this slows down your eating so you will feel satisfied with less.  You must try and relax.  Stress hormones trigger weight gain; exercise is a stress release and keeps your metabolism in prime fat-burning mode, try and do at least an hour of exercise daily.

Don’t skimp on high-quality ingredients.  Focus on less processed foods as they are generally high in fibre and water.  Fibre fills you up so you ultimately consume fewer calories.  Eat fresh salads, vegetables, fruit, select whole-grain bread and cereals.  Protein adds to satiety (feelings of being satisfied), so add a low-fat cheese, lean piece of meat or chicken, or an egg to your meal.  Be positive about everything in your life – work, food, exercise and relationships – when your life is more balanced it is easier to attain your goal weight.

My hair is starting to fall out is there anything with food I can do about it?

You must consult your doctor to ensure there is nothing medically is affecting the hair loss eg. Hormone imbalance, thyroid disease.  Heredity can play a large role.  Stress can also cause thinning of hair and so you should try and incorporate techniques such as meditation or yoga.  Eat iron-rich foods such as shellfish, lean cuts of beef, and eggs.  Ensure you have sufficient protein – at least 180g per day.  Low iron, zinc or protein can cause hair loss.

I have got so much cellulite, my skin is all dimply – it looks revolting in summer that I am embarrassed to go to the beach.  What can I do to get rid of it?

Cellulite is fat, so the way to reduce it is to lose weight.  Try and get to your ideal weight where you are not carrying too much excess weight.  In addition, aim to do at least 45 minutes of cardio workout a day.  Lifting weights can improve muscle tone, which will help offset the dimply appearance.  In addition, building muscle speeds up your metabolic rate as it is much more metabolically active than fat.

There is no miracle cure for getting rid of cellulite.  A twice-weekly deep massage with suction, called Endermologie, may diminish the appearance of cellulite for a short period of time – but this is an expensive path for a short term plaster!  Anticellulite creams do very little, but the act of massaging them in may help temporarily.  Liposuction is not a cure, but it can make dimpling less visible.

I weigh myself every morning, and if I weigh more than a certain amount it spoils my day, and I also lose all my confidence and feel rotten all day.  How can I change this way of thinking?  Surely my life shouldn’t be ruled by my weight?

You must change your attitude and develop confidence that is not dependent on what you look like or your weight.  Commence by only weighing yourself once a week, write down your weight and the emotions it causes.

Then reflect on what else is going on in your life and see if you are putting your self-worth on your weight because you are trying to avoid a more complex issue eg. A bad relationship, unsatisfying job, financial problems.  Addressing the underlying problems helps put your weight concerns back in perspective.  You must also be realistic in your weight expectations – what is a healthy weight for you, your body type, your level of activity, muscle mass, height, age, and your eating patterns.

Every magazine you pick up is on weight issues, our society glamourizes slimness to a point of skinniness.  Many women feel inadequate if they do not meet an arbitrary number.  Your problem might have been exacerbated if you were teased as a child or watched your parents struggling with their weight.  Why don’t you stash your scale away to break free of your fixation?  Rather judge yourself by the fit of your clothes or by keeping track of measurements.

Remember that weight loss doesn’t happen overnight, and one weight does fluctuate due to fluid retention, hormonally, menstrual cycle, etc.  Create a better more morning ritual that creates a more positive outlook and makes you feel great for the day – go to the gym or do a walk, read the newspaper, relaxes and enjoy breakfast.

Is it true that fried food can give you cancer?

Fried food is unlikely to give you cancer, but it can make you fat and give you a heart attack! Limiting your intake of French fries and all fried food is better for your health as they are loaded with fat (usually the unhealthy variety), and will impact not only your weight but your cholesterol as well.

There is a debate about acrylamide, a natural compound that is produced when starchy foods are cooked, especially fried. Laboratory studies found that acrylamide causes cancer in animals, but the amount given to the rats was much larger than the fraction of the size of the dose found in food.  There is no scientific proof that acrylamide causes cancer in humans.  At the moment there is research trying to establish how acrylamide gets into food in the first place, and how it affects people.  You do not have to remove fried food completely, however, keep the quantity consumed small, and eat plenty of cancer-fighting foods like veggies, salad and fruit!