Wellness

Energy Balance and Body Composition

It is most meaningful to discuss and set goals in terms of body composition, rather than simply in terms of weight. Learn more about body composition.What if I told you that you have to eat to lose fat? This may sound contradictory, but it’s true. The human body is an extremely efficient organism. If you are not getting enough energy from food to meet your minimum energy needs, your body will begin burning muscle, instead of fat, for energy. When you break down muscle, you effectively decrease your metabolism. This is the plight of the so-called yo-yo dieter. A person who loses weight on an overly calorie-restricted diet loses muscle and decreases their metabolism. They often regain the weight and once again struggle to shed those pounds. Sound familiar?

It’s important to remember that the number you see on the scale represents more than just fat. That number is the combined weight of your fat, muscles, organs, bones, and fluids. The goal of weight loss is to maintain or increase muscle, while decreasing fat. Therefore, it is more meaningful to discuss and set goals in terms of body composition, rather than simply in terms of weight.

Strategy to maintain/increase muscle mass and lose fat:

  • Weight bearing and resistance exercise: The only way to make a meaningful and lasting increase in metabolism is to increase muscle mass. This is achieved with resistance and weight bearing exercises. A personal trainer can help create an exercise routine that is right for you and to be sure your form is correct to avoid injury!
  • Cardiovascular exercise: Include cardio into your routine to burn extra calories.
  •  Eat enough to support muscle mass: Your body needs energy to maintain and build muscle. Make sure you are getting enough (but not too many) calories through balanced meals. Aim to eat a small meal or snack at least 3 hours prior to working out. Have a post-work out snack that includes 15-20 grams of protein and some carbohydrates. See a registered dietitian to help determine your individual calorie requirements and develop a healthy meal plan that is right for you.
  • Eat every 3-4 hours: When you determine your approximate calorie needs, spread these calories over 3 meals and 2 snacks. Start with a healthy breakfast within the first hour of waking and don’t go more than 4 hours without eating something throughout the rest of the day. This will help maintain blood sugar and appropriate levels of hormones related to fat management, such as insulin.
  • Stay hydrated: Your body needs water to stay cool and perform the metabolic processes that keep you alive, including burning fat for energy.
  • Decrease stress: Stress can alter the way your body uses energy and make it harder to lose weight. To help manage stress, learn a relaxing breathing exercise. Just a few minutes a day can make a big difference.

Following these simple tips will help you lose weight the right way, and keep it off. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of qualified and highly trained healthcare professionals, such a registered dietitian, ACSM certified fitness professional, or a medical doctor in your weight loss journey.

The Importance of Summer Hydration

Hydration is important during summer months. Adequate hydration keeps the body functioning properly and prevents heat-related illnesses.Summer is here and it’s getting hot outside! What better way to keep cool then to drink a glass of ice-cold water? Our body’s natural way of cooling off is by sweating. According to the CDC, in areas of high humidity, sweat may not evaporate as quickly which keeps our body from releasing heat as fast as it may need to. If the body is unable to regulate its core temperature, it can lead to heat related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Hydration, therefore, is especially important during the summer months and in areas with high humidity, like Georgia. Adequate hydration keeps the body functioning properly and prevents these heat-related illnesses. So whether you are working, exercising, or enjoying the weather outside, remember to drink plenty of fluids throughout your day!

Here are some tips on staying hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty! Thirst is your body’s way of telling you that you need more fluids and is one of the early signs of dehydration.
  • Spice up your water! Flavor your water with fresh or frozen fruit and herbs. Some ideas include mint, cucumber, citrus, berries, and watermelon.
  • Try flavor-infused ice cubes (see recipe below)! It helps keep your fruit fresh and is a convenient way to incorporate flavor into your water. Plus it’ll impress your guests!
  • If you have had bariatric surgery, remember to sip on water between meals and wait at least 30 minutes after a meal.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids that contain high amounts of sugar as this may further dehydrate you.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables high in water content like melon, pineapple, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, grapefruit, and oranges.
  • If exercising or working outside, make sure to keep bottles of water on hand and drink more water than usual.

Fruit Ice Cubes

Ingredients:

  • Fruit (lemon, lime, orange, berries)
  • Herbs (mint, thyme, sage)
  • Water
  • Ice cube tray

Instructions:

  1. Prep your fruit/ herbs: wash and cut into small portions.
  2. Place fruit/ herbs into your ice cube tray.
  3. Fill with water and freeze.
  4. Enjoy in a glass of water!

Recipe courtesy of feistyveggies.com

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:
http://www.nutrition.gov/shopping-cooking-meal-planning/food-shopping-and-meal-planning/build-healthy-diet-smart-shopping
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/wecan/eat-right/smart-food-shopping.htm

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 http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/emorybariatrics/.

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 http://www.emoryhealthcare.org/emorybariatrics/.

Reference:
Fletcher, Megrette, MEd, RD, CDE; Frederick Burggraf, MEd; Discover Mindful Eating, 2010
http://amihungry.com/what-is-mindful-eating/

Your Path 2 Health – A New Addition to Emory Bariatric Center’s Non-Surgical Weight Loss Program

healthy-walkers-withdog (1)The Emory Bariatric Center has added a new offering to their non-surgical weight loss program. Offering non-surgical weight loss options are ideal for patients who have smaller weight loss goals in mind or those that are not appropriate candidates for weight loss surgery.

Path 2 Health is a 6 month program that provides you with the tools needed to hone in on your ideal body weight and optimize your health. So you may be wondering, how is Path 2 Health different from other weight loss programs? As a Path 2 Health participant, you will gain knowledge and support from our expert team of doctors, psychologists, nurses, and dietitians, as well as from fellow participants. We understand life is busy and sticking to a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge. Path 2 Health offers you support every week during your 6 month program, and includes monthly group visits. “Virtual” visits will also occur once per month allowing you to participate from your home. These virtual visits are online education webinars led by our dietitians or psychologists. You may log in to the webinars or watch them later when it is convenient for you. Participants will also be supported by our dietitians through bi-monthly phone check-ins.

Path 2 Health encourages you to eat real nutritious foods. We provide you healthy eating instructions and sample meals at your first appointment. Throughout your program, we will teach you to improve your eating habits, lose weight, and better your health.

“Real, unprocessed foods have more nutrients that our bodies need, and less of what our bodies don’t. Real foods are less likely to have added fat, sugar, salt and chemical preservatives than processed foods.”, explains Meagan Moyer, MPH, RD, LD, Emory Bariatric Center dietitian.

Path 2 Health not only focuses on nutrition, but also on behavior change. Our licensed psychologist will help you understand how your daily behaviors affect your health, eating habits, stress, emotions, and exercise habits. “All of us have the capacity to make healthy changes in our lives provided we have the structure, support and knowledge to effect these changes. The team at Emory Bariatrics creates the structure, provides the support and imposes the education to facilitate growth and change.”, says Dr. Pegah Moghaddam, Emory Bariatric Center psychologist.

Path 2 Health is intended to not only help you reach your weight loss goals, but to provide you with the tools and knowledge to maintain weight loss long term and live a longer, healthier life.

For more information about the Path 2 Health program offered by the Emory Bariatric Center, call 404-778-7777 or visit emoryhealthcare.org/emorybariatrics.

From Your Seat to Your Feet: Standing More Leads to Better Health

standing-at-work“Come in and take a seat!”

As a society, we sit a lot. We sit to work at our desks, to eat our meals, to commute to work or school, to watch TV and movies, and to play on our computers. Have you ever wondered what so much sitting might be doing to your body? Researchers have recently shed some light on just how much sitting is impacting our bodies…and the findings are not helping our waistlines.

Several studies have looked at what too much sitting can do to our bodies and our health. The studies have shown that there is a link between too much sitting and a larger waist circumference (a predictor of poorer health and metabolic syndrome) and a higher Body Mass Index (BMI). On a positive note, the opposite also rings true. People who stood more and moved more had smaller waist circumferences and lower BMIs.

So what does this mean for people trying to lose weight? The answer: stand up and keep it moving. Below are some ideas to help you decrease your sitting time throughout the day.

1. Take walk breaks: Sitting at your desk is unavoidable for many, but everyone takes breaks, so why not keep them moving? Break up the day with a quick walk around the office or block.

2. Try a standing desk: Many companies are becoming aware of the risks of increased sitting time on their employees. The companies are adding stand-up or adjustable desks to their offices. Ask your supervisor for a standing desk.

3. Stand up while on the phone: This is one work task that does not require being seated, so why not stand.

4. Quick trip? Try walking instead: Replace your quick car trips with a walking trip. Walk to the store, to restaurants, and to your neighbor’s house to cut out some of the sitting spent in the car. It saves on gas too!

5. Choose social activities: Swap sitting activities for active ones. Instead of watching a movie with friends, go bowling instead. Start a new tradition of walking with your family after dinner. Take shopping trips with lots of walking or volunteer at a local garden. Find an activity you enjoy, and get out there.

For more ideas on decreasing your sitting time, check out these resources:
American College of Sports Medicine
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: Be Active Your Way Blog

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!

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:

References:

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) . http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/celiac/#1
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.