Last night I finished up a tough Pilates class with a young woman who is as fit a person as I’ve ever known in real life. She works out hard, watches her weight, is in her mid-thirties, looks great. Cut biceps, a sculpted back I get to stare at for 45 minutes a week. I’d love to have her posture. I know she works hard at her gym in addition to our classes.
Well, she just returned from a trip to the Keys, in southern Florida, where she spent most of her time in a swimsuit, and had been bothered by some excess fat around her tummy. Just the little bit of fat around her tummy that she can’t seem to diet or exercise off, no matter how hard she tries.
She says she doesn’t want to be obsessive about her body, but this fat isn’t fair.
Trust me, this woman strikes me as not at all the obsessive type. Bright, frank, funny, hardworking about her fitness, but not over the top about it. She enjoys her workouts. So, I had to agree with her on one point. She doesn’t deserve a fluffy tummy. No, it isn’t fair.
But I’m not sure that fluff of hers is fat.
I remembered the discussions I’ve heard about “false fat,” a term coined by Dr. Elson Haas for the edemous tissue bloating, especially around the abdomen, that we can get as a response to a number of things, including many illnesses, of course.
Haas and many nutritionists link this bloating to food sensitivities. Many, many people can’t tolerate one or several types of food that they eat every day, either directly or through the by-products added to packaged foods. The most common foods that cause all sorts of terrible symptoms in many people are wheat, sugar, eggs, corn and all its by products, cow milk, soy products, peanuts, chocolate, fermented foods, and MSG.
Being a migraineur, I know I have to avoid many of these foods. Trial and pain tell me as much. I don’t automatically react to all of them, but when I’m tipping toward a migraine, many of these will send me right over the edge.
Besides headache, common symptoms for food sensitivities include craving that very food, general irritability, depression, digestive problems, chronic sinus congestion, and exhaustion. People with food sensitivities often experience abdominal bloating, and, says Haas, metabolic disturbances that cause weight gain.
Haas’ book lays out a plan for discovering if you are sensitive to any food types, and offers ways of dealing with eliminating the offending foods from your way of eating.
One way migraneurs discover their sensitivities is by following a standard elimination diet. See the link below. You take away all the likely culprits, then add one back at a time, every three days or so, while tracking your symptoms. This is a good thing to do for yourself when you have a week or so to really focus on how you feel and track any changes in your symptoms.
So, back to the Pilates studio. I raised the subject of food sensitivity with my young friend, who immediately said, “Oh Dairy. I know I’m sensitive to dairy, but I love cheese, and eat it every day.”
We explored the idea of her giving up all milk products for a couple of weeks, just to see what would happen. Maybe then discovering other cheeses she might like as well made from goat’s milk, for instance. She’ll experiment with it. I’m hoping it works. She deserves to lose that little fluff.
Good luck with your fluff,