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/.

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

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:


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.

As it Turns Out, Apples May Keep More Than Just the Doctor Away

Apple a Day Keeps the Pounds AwayAmericans have a nasty habit of depriving ourselves when we want to drop pounds. We often believe that cutting calories is the secret to success, but we wind up just feeling hungry all the time. It may surprise you that one healthy alternative to the hopeless feeling of hunger is to actually add food to your diet. Evidence suggests that adding nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods to your diet can actually help reduce your cravings. The secret? Fiber slows down the digestion of food, so you get a slow and steady source of glucose rather than ups and down in blood sugar levels.

Most Americans don’t get enough fiber. On average, we take in 15 grams a day of the 25 to 38 grams that are recommended, depending on your gender 1. So where do apples fit into all this? One apple with the skin on contains roughly 4.4 grams of fiber, about one fifth of your daily intake. Also, apples are rich in a very powerful kind of fiber called pectin, which is typically used as a gelling agent and stabilizer in food. It’s that stuff that they make jams and jellies out of. Pectin also is effective in delaying the emptying of the stomach by slowing the movement of food from your stomach into your small intestine, which works to discourage overeating and help you sustain that full feeling for a greater extent of time.

Still have your doubts? One study showed that substituting pectin for regular fiber doubled the time it took subjects’ stomachs to empty, keeping them full that much longer 2. In another study, scientists found that when participants ate an apple or a pear before meals they experienced weight loss 3. So, while it might seem counterintuitive, adding in those extra calories before meals can actually help you stay full for longer so that you resist those dangerous junk foods between meals!

But that’s not all. There is more to apples than just their awesome ability to keep us feeling full for longer. Apples provide many positive health benefits, specifically anti-cancer benefits. One report published in 2008 claimed that apple extracts and components have been shown to influence multiple mechanisms relevant for cancer prevention in in vitro studies. They also went on to say that epidemiological observations indicate that regular consumption of one or more apples a day may reduce the risk for lung and colon cancer 4.

Next time you’re looking around for something to eat, try grabbing an apple. By you’ve taken that last bite, you probably won’t be hungry anymore. You may just find that over time it helps you to become a slimmer, healthier you!

 Related Resources:

Infused Water Recipes: Hydrate & Improve Health!

Infused Water RecipesOne of the keys to preventing dehydration is drinking plenty of fluids, including water. This is especially important as the temperature and humidity rise in the summer months. While water is almost always the best drink choice, a lot of people complain that they get bored drinking plain water. While you can add purchased flavored drink mixes to water, you can also make your own flavored water by infusing it with different fruits and herbs.

Infusing water with a little flavor is really simple. Fill a pitcher with water, add thinly sliced fruits, herbs or spices, and chill in the refrigerator. You also can add sliced fresh fruit to a reusable water bottle. The combinations are endless. Some fruits work better than others. Berries tend to break down faster than hardier citrus fruits like lemons or limes. For stronger flavored water, prepare it a day ahead and keep it in the fridge overnight before drinking.

A great benefit of infusing water with fresh fruits, herbs, and spices is that you can get some added nutritional benefit. Lemons, lime, oranges, grapefruit and berries all are excellent sources of vitamin C. Fresh ginger and fresh mint are both refreshing flavorings as well as being good for upset stomachs.

Making your own flavored water is also a good way to avoid the unnecessary added sugars, preservatives or chemicals that often are added to drink mixes or commercially available flavored waters. Eager to get started? Check out the simple infused water recipes below!

Cucumber Infused Water

What you will need:

  • 1 cucumber
  • A strainer or cheese cloth
  • Water and ice

For a slightly flavored infused cucumber water, cut a cucumber up into small slices or chunks, add it to your water and cover and let sit in the fridge overnight. Strain the mixture before drinking.

For a more flavorful cucumber infused water, blend the cucumber and pour it into a strainer and let drip overnight. In the morning, mix the cucumber juice with a pitcher of water.

Grapefruit, Orange, and Lime Infused Water

What you will need:

  • 1/2 a grapefruit thinly sliced
  • 1 Orange thinly sliced
  • 1/2 a lime thinly sliced
  • A few mint sprigs (optional)
  • Water and Ice (1 quart)

Chill for a stronger flavor or serve right away for a nice light refreshment

Pineapple, Ginger and Mint Infused Water


  • Pineapple slices (6-10)
  • Thinly sliced ginger (5 slices)
  • Mint leaves (14)
  • Ice and water (1 quart)

Chill for a stronger flavor or serve right away for a nice light refreshment

Fruit Infused Iced Tea

What you will need:

  • Fruit flavored herbal tea such as Celestial Seasonings Red or Lemon Zinger or Tazo Passion
  • Cubed Pineapple
  • Sliced Tangerines

Some infused water recipes sourced from: http://www.infusedwaterrecipes.com/

Super foods for a Super Diet!

Super foods are foods that are professed to help with weight maintenance, fight disease and live longer. Blueberries, kale, tomatoes, spinach, salmon, walnuts and tea have all topped the list of super foods.

It may seem overwhelming to include super foods in your everyday diet, but from looking at the list above, you might already be consuming super foods without knowing it. Many super foods—which have similar characteristics to those found in a variety of whole and fresh foods—are super rich in nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients.

But be wary of foods labeled as “super foods.” Many health bars or energy bars that make such claims have instead been highly processed and fortified. Other items often have added sugars, saturated fat or sodium to make them taste better. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s processed, it’s not a super food.

Rather than focusing on increasing your intake of individual foods, focus instead on your total diet. Replace your breads and pasta with plenty of whole grains (high in fiber such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and quinoa). Eat fruits and vegetables with most meals and for snacks because they are high in antioxidants and fiber. Eating foods that are naturally high in beneficial nutrients will help you have a Super Diet!

Below, we have provided one of our favorite recipes which includes a super food: salmon. We searched through several easy super food recipes and chose a baked salmon recipe to modify and help you kick start your Super Diet!

Super Food Recipe: Baked Salmon (adapted from allrecipes.com)
Parchment Baked Salmon Recipe
Prep time: 15 mins Cook time: 25 mins
Serving size: ½ of recipe Makes 2 servings

1 (8 ounce) salmon filet olive oil cooking spray
¼ cup chopped basil leaves 1 lemon, thinly sliced
Pinch of salt & ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions

  1. Place an oven rack in the lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Place salmon fillet with skin side down in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper; season with salt and black pepper. Cut 2 3-inch slits into the fish with a sharp knife. Stuff chopped basil leaves into the slits. Spray fillet with cooking spray and arrange lemon slices on top.
  3. Fold edges of parchment paper over the fish several times to seal into an airtight packet. Place sealed packet onto a baking sheet.
  4. Bake fish on the bottom rack of oven until salmon flakes easily and meat is pink and opaque with an interior of slightly darker pink color, about 25 minutes. An instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fillet should read at least 145 degrees F. To serve, cut the parchment paper open and remove lemon slices before plating fish.

What’s your favorite super food? If you know of any super foods recipes that you love, or if you have a super food recipe of your own that you would like to share with us, feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

Author: Cecilia Batchelor, Emory Dietetic Intern

Top Five Ways to Boost Your Metabolism & Lose Extra Weight

Because of words like diet, cleanses and fasts, our definition of normal eating has gotten lost. Normal eating should be flexible, and it should change based on your response to hunger, your schedule, your feelings and your proximity to food. A lot of people want to know how to jumpstart their metabolism, normalize their eating pattern and utilize what they eat more efficiently. We all know that if your goal is to lose weight then you must expend more energy (calories) than you take in. With that in mind, here are five tips to boost your metabolism.

Renew Your Weight Loss Goals for 2013

Exercise Fitness Weight LossThe new year is an exciting time. As 2012 comes to the end, it is the perfect time to renew your commitment to the goals you want to achieve.  Set yourself up for success by following these tips for setting achievable goals.

Tip 1: Set SMART goals

SMART goals are:


Tip 2: Set a Lifetime Goal

The best goal you can set would be a lifetime goal. Why? Because it is a goal that you can always improve on, and it shapes the way all your other goals are attained. Set a goal that you want to achieve, not what others feel you should accomplish.

Tip 3: Set small goals

Setting smaller, achievable goals will help you reach your main goal by achieving  smaller milestones along the way. By setting smaller goals, you allow yourself to specialize and focus in one area at a time. It is easier to stay motivated when you are accomplishing many small goals rather than falling short on one large, unrealistic goal. Stay positive, smaller goals add up over time.

Tip 4: Reward Yourself

Once you complete a goal, take time to enjoy your accomplishments!  A reward should be something for yourself that you enjoy and deserve. It can be tangible or intangible such a buying a new shirt or going for a walk to clear your mind. These rewards will give you motivation to continue setting new attainable goals since you know there is something at the finish line.  Never reward yourself with food.