“This approach works well for patients who have tried many other avenues to lose weight and want to try something different,” Ms. Larson says. “Again, it allows for slow weight loss to occur as a result of food choice changes, so maintenance is more sustainable.”
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Sonya Angelone, MS, RDN, CLT, consulting nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who also has a private practice in the San Francisco Bay area, says sometimes people with rheumatic conditions tend to be less active due to muscle and joint pain or fatigue and consequently are more likely to be constipated.
“When you decrease the use of outside muscles and become more sedentary, inside muscles also become sluggish and don’t function as well,” she says. “Eating a more plant-based diet can help improve bowel function and lessen constipation,” she says.
Strategy No. 3: Eliminate Added Sugars & Refined Foods
Excessive amounts of sugar can increase inflammation and wreak havoc on appetite hormones and consistent healthy eating patterns. “Substituting fresh, whole fruit for sweet desserts and sugary treats is a great way to reduce calories and promote weight loss,” Ms. Larson says. A high intake of vegetables, which provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, is also a necessary part of a weight loss strategy, as well as controlling calories.
Along with these strategies, when Larson learns that a client has a condition that causes inflammation, she discusses using herbs and spices to reduce it (e.g., turmeric, ginger, rosemary, basil curry). “I also require clients to start an exercise regimen that is appropriate for their fitness level. We advance physical activity when they are ready,” she says.3
For people with rheumatic conditions who aren’t very active due to pain, “there are ways to be active without stressing the joints,” Ms. Angelone says. “Patients can perform gentle exercises that don’t aggravate their joints by sitting in a chair or lying on the floor, such as Pilates or yoga.”
Ms. Larson also encourages clients to eat balanced meals at regular intervals and to eat breakfast in the morning within an hour of waking up. “This [habit] allows for consistent fueling throughout the day, so that energy levels stay high and appetite hormones stay in check,” she says.
When a client is committed to making changes, Ms. Angelone asks them to track their foods, beverages and activity and recommends modifications based on their current habits, as well as nutrition and medical needs.