Posts Tagged ‘healthy eating’

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!

Smart Strategies for Dining Out

smart-strategiesIt’s well known that we eat more calories when we dine out at restaurants than we would eating at home.  But, you don’t have to completely avoid restaurants when trying to manage your weight.  Here are some smart strategies to help control your calories.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Have your server put high-fat condiments like salad dressing and mayonnaise on the side so you can control how much gets put on your meal.  Ask to substitute high-calorie side items like French fries for salad or steamed vegetables.
  2. Take half your meal home. Ask for a to-go box as soon as your meal comes to the table.  Put half of it away before you are finished eating.  Now you have two (or three) meals in one!
  3. Pass the bread. Save your calories for your main course!  Put the bread/chip basket on the other side of the table to resist temptation.   Better yet, ask your server to not bring it to your table at all.
  4. Fill up on low-calorie foods. Order a side salad (with light dressing) or a broth-based soup to help fill up your stomach when you are really hungry.  This will help you eat slower and eat less when your main course arrives.
  5. Go for an after dinner stroll. If you feel like you have eaten too much, it’s tempting to lie down.  This may actually make you feel more uncomfortable.  Instead, try going for a light 10-15 minute walk.  This will aid in digestion and help push food out of your stomach.

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric Center

What else? Any other tips you have to add to this list? If so, please share them with us and our readers using the comments below!