Savor the Flavor during National Nutrition Month

salt-sugar250x250March is National Nutrition Month® and the theme this year is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” Flavor is a big part of why we choose to eat the foods that we do. We want the food that we eat to be flavorful, but at the same time it’s important that the food we eat is healthy.

Foods are often flavored with salt, sugar or fat. The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises us to consume less added sugars, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium (commonly referred to as salt). It’s important to remember that we don’t need to limit natural sugar, which is found in fresh fruit and dairy products, but we should limit sugar that is added to products.

Salt, sugar and fat don’t have to be avoided completely, but it’s best to eat them in moderation or choose healthier alternatives. So how can we reduce the amount of salt, sugar and fat in the foods we are eating?

Instead of salt, try:
• Dried or fresh herbs like basil, oregano, cilantro or parsley
• Spices like cumin, pepper, chili powder, dill or curry powder

Watch out for high levels of salt in:
• Frozen meals and side dishes
• Canned items (soups, vegetables, sauces, etc.)

To reduce sugar buy:
• Frozen fruit that does not contain added sugar
• Canned fruit that has been packed in water or juice, not syrup

To tell if sugar has been added to a product, look for these words on the ingredient list:
• Corn syrup, brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, malt syrup, nectars, maple syrup or molasses

For a list of more added sugars, visit:

Choose healthier fats:
• Look for unsaturated fats (olive oil, corn oil, peanut oil and soybean oil), which are liquid at room temperature

Limit fats that are not as healthy:
• Saturated fats, which are typically solid or closer to solid at room temperature and include butter, cream and lard
• Trans fats which are often found in baked goods and snacks

For more information visit the following websites:

Choosing Foods & Beverages
Dietary Guidelines
Helpful Nutrition Tips
2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines

Tips for Healthy Grocery Shopping Success

healthy-groceries250x250Have you ever left the grocery store with more food than you intended to buy? Has that extra food ended up being chips, cookies, or sugar-sweetened sodas? It’s easy to feel tempted by the products the store has on display. Keep in mind that the main goal of many stores is to advertise cheap and appealing products rather than healthy and nutritious ones. In order to help you maintain your healthy eating goals, follow these tips for grocery shopping success.

Before beginning your trip, make a list of items to buy. This will prevent purchasing unnecessary food. It may also help to eat a meal or snack at home before heading to the store. Shopping on an empty stomach makes it more tempting to purchase unhealthy junk food. If you do end up at the store while you are hungry, head straight for the produce section. Choosing your fruits and vegetables first will help keep your mind on track to shop healthy.

Often, companies advertise foods as healthy when in reality, they might not be the best for our bodies. For example, some cereals are advertised as “made with whole grains.” Although whole grains are a healthy choice, many of these cereals contain 10-15 grams of added sugars per serving. In order to understand the ingredients in your food, try looking at Nutrition Facts Labels. The goal is to keep total fat, sodium, and sugar as low as possible.

In order to help you keep MyPlate in mind while grocery shopping, follow these tips:

  • Fruits and vegetables
    • Purchase fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. When buying canned products, look for “no salt added” vegetables. Fruit should be canned in juice rather than syrup.
  • Dairy
    • Look for low fat or fat free dairy options. You can also try an alternative dairy product, such as unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened soy milk.
    • Many brands of yogurt add extra fat and sugar. In order to avoid this, try plain fat-free Greek yogurt and add fresh berries and nuts or granola for flavor.
  • Protein
    • Canned or dried legumes are a great source of protein and fiber, keeping you full longer. Legumes, such as black beans, pinto beans, and black eyed peas are easy to add to soups and saladS.
    • When shopping for meat, choose leaner meats such as fish and chicken. If you do purchase red meat, look for 90% or greater lean products.
  • Grains
    • According to the Dietary Guidelines for America, half of your grains should be whole. Search for whole grains, such as 100% whole wheat products, corn, oatmeal, popcorn, brown rice, and whole barley.

For more information about healthy grocery shopping, visit these websites:

Takeaways from Emory Bariatrics Live Chat, ‘New Year, New You: Successful & Lasting Weight Loss in 2016’

weightloss2016-cil638Thank you to everyone who joined us on Tuesday, January 19th, for our live online chat titled “New Year, New You: Successful & Lasting Weight Loss”, hosted by Emory Bariatrics registered dieticians, Victoria Delgado, RD, and Kasey LaPointe, RD.

During this live chat, Victoria and Kasey provided healthful living tips to lasting weight loss for those who have made weight loss a part of their New Year’s resolution. They also answered questions about surgical and non-surgical weight loss.

We were thrilled with the number of people who registered and were able to participate in the chat. The response was so great that we had a few questions we were not able to answer so we have answered them below for your reference.

Question: Does wrapping your body with Saran wrap while you work out help shed inches/pounds? If so, how does it work?
Answer: No, this is a myth. It may increase sweat which can result in water loss, but not fat loss. To lose inches and pounds, we must combine physical activity with a healthy eating plan.

Question: Am I too old to go on Optifast (a liquid meal replacement program) to reduce my weight?
Answer: Due to risk of losing muscle mass, we encourage our patient who are 70 year or older to follow a Partial Meal Replacement Meal Plan instead of the Full Meal Replacement Meal Plan. The partial plan includes using Optifast and whole foods, while the full plan consists of using only Optifast products for a short period of time. All patients are assessed individually by a physician prior to getting started.

Question: I am interested in learning more about the lap band surgery to help with weight loss.
Answer: I recommend clicking on this link to learn about lap band surgery. Once you decide which Emory location is more convenient to you, you will find details about each of the surgical weight loss options we offer. You may also register for a seminar. Our video seminars define the three procedures we perform: the band, sleeve and bypass. There is also contact information and other resources at these sites.

Question: Can I go from the lap band to the gastric sleeve?
Answer: Absolutely. The surgeon can remove the band and convert to the sleeve all during the same procedure. You may click on the following link to choose a location and get started:

If you missed out on this live chat, be sure to check out the full list of questions and answers on the chat transcript. You can also visit for more information.

Also, if you have additional questions for our registered dieticians, Victoria Delgado, RD, and Kasey LaPointe, RD, please feel free to leave a comment in our comments area below.


Nourishing Our Bodies – Foods True Purpose

healthy-snack2Previously we introduced the topic of mindful eating. For many, this is a new concept; for others, this may be a part of your daily routine. Wherever you are on the spectrum, I would like to continue to delve further into the concept of mindful eating by discussing food’s true purpose – to nourish our body – in the hope it will illicit a better understanding of why we may eat vs. why we should eat, and how to battle some old habits.

We eat for many reasons. Some of those reasons include:

  1. when we are with others (celebrating/mourning, gathering with friends)
  2. when there is a medical need (taking medication, treating a low blood sugar)
  3. when we are by ourselves (comforting or punishing ourselves; boredom)
  4. out of habit (watching TV/movies, because it is your normal time to eat)

…and the list can continue. We may eat before a party so that we don’t eat at the party, but when we arrive at the party, we find ourselves eating anyway, whether to be polite or to indulge, etc.

Food is to nurture, not harm. Being completely honest with yourself, ask yourself these questions: If you eat a large meal, how do you feel? If you eat until your feel uncomfortable, did you eat too much? Why did you eat that quantity? Did it fulfill you and give you a sense of well-being, or did you undermine your needs and purpose by overindulging?

Implementing a mindful eating technique

Considering the reasons above, and any you may have thought of, answer the following: Is food really answering these needs? What other ways could you satisfy those needs without using food?

Ask yourself before you eat, “Do I need this food for nourishment, energy or another purpose?” Consider your answer honestly and entirely, and then make your decision to eat it or not.

Think of some ways that will help you remember to “check in” before you eat. With consistent thought, you will begin to make mindful choices based on your body’s needs and become a more active participant in your health!

Healthy Eating Substitutions During the Holidays

Winter months are a time when food becomes the center of attention: Christmas, Chanukah, and New Years. Food weighs heavy on everyone’s mind, and unfortunately many times it ends up weighing heavy on our stomachs. We want to serve the dish that keeps everyone coming back for seconds. Unfortunately, these seasonal dishes tend to be high in sugar, fat, and salt if we aren’t mindful while we cook. But did you know that with the right resources, we can “revive” our recipes from the “nutrition grave”? Swapping some of the les
s healthy ingredients for more nutritious options can cut back on calories, fat, sodium, and sugar, all while maintaining that same tasty flavor.

Many of our favorite holiday dishes are “empty calories,” meaning they are high in calories and low in nutrients. However, there are simple food substitutes that can bring our favorite dishes back from the “nutrition grave.” For example, did you know you can use applesauce in place of butter in baked goods? This is a great alternative for desserts because it reduces the fat content while adding natural sweetness. Mashed bananas or avocado can also be alternatives to butter when baking. Sneaking whole grains into your meals is easy during the holidays as well. Try adding quinoa to your Christmas stuffing, or serving mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. The table below lists more simple and easy cooking swaps to increase the nutrient value of your meals.

bariatrics holiday eating

Making just a few small substitutions can make a big difference. We challenge you to make just one healthy cooking swap this holiday season. This will get you ready for the new year and beyond.

For more information or questions about weight loss services offered at Emory Healthcare, call 404-778-7777 or visit

Understanding Some Basics of Mindful Eating

mindful-eatingEating mindfully is not something we learn as a child. As a matter of fact, we are often taught the exact opposite. As children, how many of you were told by your parents “Clean your plate!”? This idea can actually lead to a lifetime of overeating, as many of us feel guilty leaving food on our plate, especially when there are “starving children” in the world. But the concept of mindful eating can lead to healthy habits and lead to less waste.

So what is mindful eating? Simply put, it is eating with awareness. Your focus is on your food, your body, and your body’s response to the food you eat. We put forth time and effort when we review bills and bank statements or when we plan a meeting, but when it comes to eating, we do so absent-mindedly. Even when we are in the act of eating, our minds drift or we are in the midst of conversations with others, that we don’t focus on how much food we put in our mouth, the texture of the food or the taste.

So how can mindful eating help with weight loss? Many of us struggle with food. We react mindlessly to it. We eat when we are not hungry. We continue to eat even though we have eaten enough already. And often, we do not use food for its intended purpose – to nourish our bodies. With that being said, if we started asking ourselves, “Is this food I am about to eat nourishing to my body?” our response to food would likely be much different. If you answer truthfully, you may find yourself choosing a healthier option altogether.

Another great question to ask yourself before eating is, “Am I hungry?” We find ourselves eating whenever it is convenient or whenever food is present, regardless of whether we are hungry. And when you ask yourself that question, you open the door to other mindful questions which, when answered truthfully, can impact your eating habits and food choices tremendously.

The great thing about mindful eating is it is a way of life – a lifestyle. It is not a diet. It is just you treating your body, and the food you allow to enter your body, with respect. It increases your awareness and attitude toward food without judgement. It allows you to think, and not react, to food.

Moving forward, consider the following choices in planning your meal: the type of food you eat or drink; where you eat; when you eat; how often you eat; the amount of food you eat; the size of the bite you chew; how fast or slowly you chew; how thoroughly you chew; when you swallow; how much time you take between bites; and when you stop eating . The list can go on and on – go ahead and add some of your own thoughts or questions. And let’s begin the practice of mindful eating today.

For more information or questions about weight loss services offered at Emory Healthcare, call 404-778-7777 or visit

Fletcher, Megrette, MEd, RD, CDE; Frederick Burggraf, MEd; Discover Mindful Eating, 2010

Power Up with Breakfast

oatmeal-breakfastYes, the old adage is true…breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Why is that? Research has shown breakfast eaters are more alert during the day, perform better at work and school, and are more likely to exercise. Eating breakfast can also help trim your waistline. When we eat breakfast, our metabolism is given a boost that last throughout the day. Eating in the morning also helps us to not overeat at lunch and dinner. Some people even feel less hungry at night when they eat breakfast compared to when they don’t.

The two most common reasons people don’t eat breakfast is: 1.) “I don’t have time.” and 2.) “I’m not hungry in the morning.” The answer to prevent number 1 is to plan ahead. Have “grab and go” foods in the house as you run out the door. Do any prepping or cooking the night before so you don’t have to in the morning. Try cooking a large batch of steel cut oatmeal on Sunday night and keep it in the fridge. Scoop out a serving each morning during the week, and then heat and eat.

Addressing number 2 is a little trickier. The reason most people are not hungry in the morning is that they have trained their bodies to not expect food (or they may have eaten too much the night before). Our bodies are meant to have food in the morning; therefore, it is up to us to train our bodies back. Try eating something light like low-sugar yogurt or a homemade fruit smoothie until your body gets used to eating in the morning again.

Here are some quick and easy breakfast ideas:

  • Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts
  • Low-fat yogurt with granola
  • Whole-wheat pita with hard boiled egg and spinach
  • Whole-wheat tortilla, peanut butter and banana wrap
  • Leftovers from last night’s dinner

Below is a recipe to one of my favorite “grab and go” breakfast items. It is full of protein and will give you plenty of energy to get you through the morning:

Overnight Peanut Butter, Banana and Honey Oats

– ¼ cup steel cut oats
– 1 cup light vanilla soy milk
– 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
– ½ tbsp honey
– Dash of cinnamon
– ½ banana, sliced

Mix together all ingredients and place in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Let sit overnight and enjoy in the morning. You can heat it in the microwave or eat it cold.

Lombardo M, Bellia A, Padua E, et al. Morning meal more efficient for fat loss in a 3-month lifestyle intervention. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014;33(3):198-20

National Eating Healthy Day

Pumpkin Soup RecipeThere are lots of holidays approaching this time of year, but there is one that we are particularly excited about. Did you know that Wednesday, Nov. 5 is National Eating Healthy Day?

We encourage everyone to strive to maintain healthy diets and remain active. Whether you overindulged on Halloween candy or need some new recipes to add to your fall dinner rotation, we have 3 delicious ones to try: pumpkin soup, Mediterranean baked sweet potatoes and cranberry Brussels sprouts.

Follow us on Pinterest (@EmoryHealthcare) to stay up-to-date on recipes. You can even share your favorite healthy recipes with others by posting to our community board, “Healthy Recipes We Love!

Click here to see our latest recipes on Pinterest!

Understanding Nutrition Facts Labels

Nutrition LabelCalories? Fat? Sodium? Carbohydrates? What do you look for on a nutrition facts label? Food labels tell you a lot about what’s in the foods you choose to eat. But they can be hard to decipher. Follow these simple steps to help you make the best food choices for what your body needs.

Step 1: What’s the serving size?
One of the most important pieces of information is also the most ignored! How many times have you eaten an entire package, thinking it’s one serving, just to turn it around and see that it’s actually two servings! That means you have to double all the numbers on the label. Instead of 150 calories, you ate 300. Instead of 7 grams of fat, you ate 14, and so on. Always check the serving size before portioning out your food.

Step 2: How many calories?
This section is helpful to look at if you are working on losing, gaining or maintaining weight. “Calories” listed on the left side are the number of calories for one serving. “Calories from Fat” tell you how many calories come from the fat in the food for one serving. Balance how many calories you eat with how many calories your body uses to maintain weight. Eat more calories than you burn to gain and less calories than you burn to lose.

Step 3: Nutrients to Limit
Choose foods with lower numbers of the following nutrients: Total Fat, Saturated Fat, Trans Fat, Cholesterol, and Sodium. Eating too much of these nutrients may increase your risk for heart disease, some cancers, or high blood pressure.

Step 4: Get More of these Nutrients
Most Americans don’t get enough fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron from the foods they eat. Eating more of these nutrients may improve your health and help reduce the risk for some diseases and health conditions.

Step 5: What are Percent (%) Daily Values?
The percentages listed on the right side of the label tell you whether the food gives you a lot or a little of that nutrient. Five percent (5%) or less gives you a “low” amount of that nutrient. Twenty percent (20%) or more gives you a “high” amount of those nutrients.

The Gluten Free Diet: Is It for Me?

Gluten FreeThere has been a lot of hype around “gluten-free” diets in recent years. While thousands tout the benefits of going gluten-free, many people aren’t exactly sure what it is or if it’s the right diet for them. If you’re unsure of what “gluten-free” really means or if you should give it a try, here’s a quick and dirty rundown of things you should know:

  • The first thing you should know is that a gluten-free diet is used to treat celiac disease.
  • So what is celiac disease? Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is sensitive to the protein gluten, often found in wheat, rye and barley.
  • What are the symptoms of celiac disease? It’s a digestive disease, and symptoms include abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, missed menstrual periods and numbness in the hands and feet.1
  • How does an allergy cause such a wide array of symptoms? The effect of celiac disease is twofold. First, when gluten is ingested by a person with celiac disease, it can damage the lining of the small intestine, causing uncomfortable digestive symptoms. Secondly, due to the damage of the small intestines, crucial vitamins and minerals don’t get absorbed properly, leading to malnutrition and long-term negative health effects.
  • How do I know if I have it? Celiac disease is genetic, so if anyone in your family has tested positive, it’s probably a good idea for you to get checked, too. The disease can occur at any age, and affects people in all parts o f the world. You can get tested for celiac disease with a simple blood test. People with the disease will probably have higher levels of certain autoantibodies that your doctor will be able to identify.
  • What if I don’t have celiac disease? Can I still do a gluten free diet? Gluten free diets are only necessary for individuals with celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Before going gluten free, take a closer look at your diet- Is your diet balanced? Are you eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds, whole grains, and lean meat/low fat dairy? Often, when someone goes from a diet high in processed foods to “gluten free” they end up increasing other foods groups. This increase in fruits, vegetables, legumes/beans, nuts/seeds which may actually be reliving the symptoms, not the avoidance of gluten. If you’re not convinced, make any appointment with your gastroenterologist and discuss how to determine food allergies or sensitivities.
  • Will eating gluten-free help me lose weight? Not necessarily. Don’t fall prey to the idea that “gluten-free” equals “healthy” or “low-fat.” Some processed gluten-free foods are low in fiber so you won’t stay full as long, and they’re often stripped of important nutritional elements. In one case study, the vast majority of participants that adhered to a gluten-free diet gained significant weight.3 And since gluten-free foods often carry a heftier price-tag, you might want to think twice about going free just for weight-loss’ sake.

Takeaways: The gluten-free diet is really only necessary for people who have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Don’t get sucked in to the mindset that gluten-free equals a healthier diet. If you want to improve your health choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds, lean meats, low fat dairy, and whole grains.

Related sources:


1. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) .
2. Antonio Di Sabatino, Gino Roberto Corazza. “Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: Sense or Sensibility? Annals of Internal Medicine. 2012 Feb;156(4):309-311.
3. T. A. Kabbani, A. Goldberg, C. P. Kelly, K. Pallav, S. Tariq, A. Peer, J. Hansen, M. Dennis andD. A. Leffler. “Body mass index and the risk of obesity in coeliac disease treated with the gluten-free diet.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 35:.6; 625-744, March 2012.
4. Biesiekierski JR, Muir JG, Gibson PR. “Is gluten a cause of gastrointestinal symptoms in people without celiac disease?” Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2013 Dec;13(6):631-8.