No Easy Answers

Despite the billions of dollars spent every year on weight-loss efforts, there really is no one quick way to lose weight. A successful weight-loss program requires a long-term commitment to changing eating habits and increasing physical activity with a regular exercise program

Obesity means having too much body fat. To meet this definition, one must weigh approximately 20 percent or more above one's desirable body weight. Age, height, and body frame help determine ideal body weight.

Alternative therapies treat obesity without drugs or surgery. All emphasize proper diet and regular exercise.

Nutritional Therapy for Obesity

Because food intake is so closely related to obesity, nutritional therapy has a great deal to say about the condition. In general, the treatment involves eating differently, not eating less. More than half of the calories eaten each day should come from carbohydrates, and less than a quarter should be derived from fats. The remainder of calories should come from proteins. Carbohydrates and proteins supply four calories per gram, while fat provides nine. Some of the foods that should be emphasized include:

  • high-fiber and unrefined complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, because the body is less successful digesting these and feels full sooner than with refined carbohydrates, such as sugar and white flour
  • raw or lightly cooked vegetables
  • protein with low amounts of saturated fat, including dry peas and beans

To reduce the amount of fat in a diet, many practitioners of nutritional therapy recommend limiting foods from animal sources to nonfat dairy products and egg whites. Other practitioners go further and suggest avoiding all animal products. Limiting sugar intake is also important.

Nutritional therapy's treatment program for obesity also calls for drinking plenty of purified water each day, altering eating habits, and exercising daily. Certain nutritional supplements may also be prescribed. Supplements of zinc, B vitamins, and chromium may prove useful.

A typical first step in devising a treatment program for obesity is keeping a food diary for at least one week. The following information can help a nutritional therapist assess the best treatment for you:

  • What foods do you eat each day, including all snacks and portion sizes?
  • When and where do you eat?
  • Are you alone or with other people?
  • What is your mood or stress level while eating?
  • When are your bowel movements?
Detoxification, Fasting, and Colon Therapy for Obesity

Detoxification therapy holds that certain toxins (from chemicals to pesticides) can build up in the body, particularly in fat cells. These toxins need to be cleansed away as part of a dietary and exercise treatment program for obesity. In addition, various detoxification regimens can help prevent obesity from returning. Treatments may include fasting, colonic irrigations, and several other measures.

Several herbs, such as dandelion root or burdock, can be used in conjunction with a detoxification and fasting regimen to boost the function of the liver, which cleanses toxins from the body.

A juice fast for detoxification might consist of carrot and green vegetable juices diluted with an equal amount of water. Consume one quart daily, plus additional water if thirsty. Any fast should be supervised by a health care professional.

Other Obesity Therapies
  • Ayurvedic Medicine for Obesity -- Treatment can include dietary changes and herbal therapy. One study showed that any of three Ayurvedic herbal remedies led to significant weight loss in patients when compared with a placebo.
  • Guided Imagery and Creative Visualization for Obesity -- These techniques can aid in weight loss by allowing people to envision that lowering their weight is manageable, as well as envisioning their ideal appearance.
  • Herbal Medicine for Obesity -- Possible herbal treatments include dandelion root, plantain, and garcinia.
  • Hypnotherapy for Obesity -- Hypnotic trances dealing with eating habits and recognizing true hunger, coupled with a diet and exercise program, are particularly effective for obesity treatment.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine for Obesity -- Acupuncture (on points on both the ear and entire body), acupressure, herbal therapy, and hydrotherapy are typically used for weight loss.
For more information on obesity and alternative medicine, see: