What if I told you that the most important tool for your health is available at Walgreens for less than five dollars? Would you believe me? It is, and it is the tape measure.  Yes, the tape measure.  This is the most important tool because with the tape measure you can find your waist-to-hip ratio and your waist-to-hip ratio can indicate your level of visceral fat (dangerous fat around your organs).  To find your waist-to-hip ratio, first measure your waist (tape measure above your belly button) and then find your hip measure (widest point around your hips) and then divide the two numbers.  Women, you want less than .8 and men should aim for less than .9.  Anything over these numbers indicates visceral fat. 

     This type of fat is belly fat found deep within your abdominal cavity.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, it is a risk factor for every disease.  This type of fat produces inflammation, hormones (men with belly fat grow boobs and get soft skin and women tend to get acne and facial hair), it changes brain chemistry, oxidative stress, cholesterol, impacts mood, appetite and can cause blood clots.  There is also a connection to dementia.  Belly fat can cause the hippocampus to shrink, and this is the memory center of the brain.    

     If you do have a high waist-to-hip ratio, first look at your diet.  Are you getting liquid sugars (cokes, teas/sweetened coffees, energy drinks, fruit juice, sports drinks)? Is your diet full of ultra processed foods? Do you eat sugary foods (even foods that sugar lurks like granola, sauces, dressings, marinades etc)?  Do you eat flour (flour raises blood sugar as it has sugar in it)?  If you are eating a diet high in sugar and flour, you need to cut these foods out and/or find healthier alternatives.  Right now, blueberries and strawberries are in season and are super sweet and delicious.  I enjoy two dates after lunch on occasion to satisfy my sweet tooth.  There are flours that do not impact blood sugars like almond flour, coconut, chickpea, and Himalayan Buckwheat.  Next, learn to read labels.  Note all the names for sugar and look for added sugars on the label.  For example, tomato sauce can be loaded with sugar but there are sauces out there on the grocery shelves that are simply made from just tomatoes.  You can also learn to make your own tomato sauce.  This can go for salad dressing as well.  Maple Syrup is used in many homemade dressings as a natural sweetener.  Finally, manage stress. Chronic stress can lead to high levels of cortisol and cortisol promotes the storage of visceral fat. 

     As far as diet goes, you want to eat in a way that keeps your blood sugars level.  Sugar, starch, flour all raises blood sugars which then raises insulin and insulin is what pushes the fuel into the cells.  When this mechanism no longer works (insulin resistance), sugar builds up in the blood.  To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin to move glucose (sugar) into the cells.  When the body can’t produce enough insulin, it stores the excess sugar as fat.  This accumulated fat can lead to weight gain, including love handles or belly fat. 

     If you need to make changes to your diet, but feel very overwhelmed by it all, consider reaching out to me.  I have helped many clients in the past find a diet that works for their lifestyle, and I know I can help you too.  No matter how you go about making change, just remember to start small and realistic.  Get Support from friends and loved ones and make sure your environment supports your new lifestyle.  Along your journey, give yourself grace as you will not be perfect at this and there will be hard days.  Continue to love your body through it all because your body is good and made by God.