What is an “integrative approach”?

The basic definition of “integrative” is to unify separate things. In medicine, the phrase refers to combining treatment of disease with complementary therapies. At the Shafaa Center for Integrative Medicine and Dentistry, we apply an integrative, holistic approach to weight management by looking at each patient’s set of physical, mental, emotional and environmental factors. The treatment plan we develop results in healthy, enduring weight loss, not short-term progress followed by gaining what was lost, and more.

A complex set of factors influence your weight

A primary component of an integrative approach to weight loss is to evaluate all the factors that determine your body’s unique metabolic makeup. The team of experts at our clinic begins by looking at a number of influences that shape your experience. Together, we review your stress levels, exercise history, the amount and quality of sleep you get each night, and your daily diet. We discuss your intake of drugs, alcohol, and other chemicals, like caffeine, processed foods, and pharmaceuticals. We administer a complete blood panel workup to examine your hormone levels. Only by obtaining a comprehensive picture of your body and lifestyle can we determine the ideal approach to healthy weight loss for you.

“Fad” diets don’t work

Part of our evaluation is to ask candid questions about your diet, exercise habits, and emotional stress levels. We’re looking for yo-yo diets, fasting, low-protein diets, high-fat or carbohydrate consumption, prolonged undereating and traumatic or prolonged stress. Not only can these things actually work against your efforts to lose weight, they are also harmful to your health.

When practiced to the extreme or over long periods of time, these habits create metabolic damage. Your anabolic processes are the chemical reactions that synthesize molecules in your metabolism and cannot keep up with your catabolic reactions, the metabolic process of breaking down molecules for use in anabolic processes.

As your body breaks down more molecules than it synthesizes, you might initially see weight loss as a result. However, this is a short-lived victory. You’re not losing fat; you’re simply breaking down organ tissue, bone, muscle and other cell structures. Your body will rely on these functional and structural proteins to stay alive. Ultimately, you’ll reach a plateau where eating less and exercising more will result in weight gain. This is your body recognizing itself as being in a deprived state overall, so it will kick into conservation mode.

The Integrative Solution

Before you can achieve lasting weight loss, you must heal your metabolism and bring your body back into balance. This will require making some fairly significant changes to your diet and lifestyle. You will learn to eat a diet that consists primarily of whole foods, while replacing micronutrient deficiencies with prescribed nutrient supplements. Your weight loss plan will also teach you the need to prioritize quality sleep, engage in stress management techniques and therapies to assist in coping with your emotional state, both overall and in your relationship to food.

Bringing each and every one of the factors above into balance is not the goal of healthy weight loss, it is the starting place. It requires a shift in mindset from, “What one thing should I be doing more, or less?” “How are all the factors in my system working together to promote, or inhibit my goal of reaching a healthy weight?” When you step back and look at the big picture, everything begins to make more sense.

Ross Behikeesh