Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

Healthy Tips to Help You Survive Those Halloween Parties

Tips for Healthy Halloween PartiesWith Halloween only a few weeks away, we are likely to start seeing chocolate-coated candies and other sugary treats flood the shelves of our supermarkets.  Similar to other holidays, Halloween tempts us with high calorie goodies.  However, this number-one candy holiday doesn’t have to be a nutritional nightmare.  Below are tips for having a fun and healthy Halloween.

When at Halloween parties or celebrations:

  • Prior to arriving at the party eat a healthy snack or dinner.  This will cause you to be less hungry and therefore not as tempted to eat sugary sweets and candy offered at the party.
  • Be the last in line for buffet foods or appetizers.  Foods generally appear less appetizing once many people have picked through them.
  • Be mindful of what you are eating.  The average individual eats about 44% more calories than normal in a group setting.   Keep a mental checklist of what you have had while at the party.  If possible choose fruits and vegetables over high fat foods such as chips, cheeses, and fried items.
  • Drink water or a low-calorie beverage throughout the party.  This will cause you to feel fuller throughout the evening.
  • Focus on socializing rather than eating.  By drawing your focus away from food you will be less likely to mindlessly eat throughout the party.

What else? Do you have other tips to help you overcome the temptation to splurge on too much candy or party food? Let us know in the comments below!

Diet Frustrations? 5 Reasons You Aren’t Losing Weight

5 reasonsLosing weight is hard and can be very frustrating at times.  Here are some common pitfalls that people make and suggestions on how to get over them.

  1. You think fat-free also means calorie-free – When a food claims to be fat-free, sugar-free, or light, it doesn’t mean the food is low in calories or even healthy.  Eating these foods often lead people to think they can eat more!  How many times have you thought, “These cookies are low-fat, which means I can eat more.”?  Always check to see how many calories there are in one serving before you begin eating to avoid any unwanted surprises.
  2. You’re not being truthful to yourself – No one saw you eat that handful of potato chips, so it doesn’t count, right?  Accountability is a big part of weight loss, and it’s a lot harder to be accountable to ourselves than to other people.  Many people find using food diary websites or Smartphone apps to log their food intake as a great way to stay accountable.  Try using My Fitness Pal or Lose It!
  3. You are skipping breakfast to save calories – People who skip breakfast actually eat more!  Eating breakfast kick-starts your metabolism for the rest of the day.  Eating only one or two large meals at the end of the day is like throwing wood into a fire that has no flame.   Eat something within one hour of waking up.  If you are not a breakfast person, try having a meal replacement shake or smoothie, which are not as heavy on the stomach.
  4. You think you can’t exercise Anything that raises your heart rate counts as exercise.  Think about what kind of physical activity you enjoy doing — you are much more likely to stick to it if you like it.  For those that are short on time, exercise is cumulative.  You don’t need to exercise for long periods of time to see the benefits.  And most importantly, remember that some exercise is always better than none at all.
  5. You are expecting perfection – We all know that no one is perfect.  But for some reason, we expect ourselves to be perfect when it comes to losing weight.  We get angry with ourselves for “falling off the wagon”.  Learn to forgive yourself.  Remember that we don’t have to hit a home run; we just need to get on base.

 

Smart & Simple Snacks

Simple SnacksDid you know that consuming small snacks in between meals instead of simply eating three big meals per day can increase your metabolism and your curb hunger? Over the years, many Americans have adapted this eating style, but unfortunately, many of these snacks are often high in calories, high in fat, and high in sodium. Between 1977-78, the average daily caloric intake of Americans was 1,803 kcals. This figure rose to 2,374 kcals between 2003-06 due to several factors, one being poor snack choices. So what are some healthy snacks that taste great and will keep me satisfied? Glad you asked. The following are 3 smart and simple snack ideas that everyone in your family will enjoy.

Ah Nuts!
Nuts are a part of a group of foods often referred to as “healthy fats” due to their high monounsaturated fat content, which includes heart healthy omege-3. Nuts are also a good source of protein, fiber, vitamin E, and plant sterols. The dietary recommendation for nuts is equal to one ounce or one handful per day. Nuts make a great snack choice when on the go.

Carrots & Celery
Carrots and celery make great snacks that are not only healthy, but also easy to prepare. These family friendly vegetables are not only good sources of fiber but are also packed with several vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C. Next time you are in the mood for a yummy and filling snack, try dipping a celery or carrot stick in your favorite all natural nut butter and enjoy.

Cheerios & Raisins
Did you know that Cheerios may help lower your cholesterol? Did you know that 1 cup of Cheerios is also an excellent source of fiber, which helps to increase satiety? Not only is Cheerios a healthy and delicious breakfast cereal, but it can also be eaten as a yummy snack too. For some added anti-oxidants, combine Cheerios with one small box of raisins or a small handful of dried cranberries.

Snacks should not only be nutritious and delicious, but also should be easy and on the go available. One suggestion is to make your snacks at the beginning of the day or the night before. Then you will be already when it is time for your smart and simple snack.

Emory Bariatric Center Patient Prepares for his First Peachtree Road Race

Just a couple of years after undergoing gastric bypass surgery, Jim Blackburn prepares for his first Peachtree Road Race. Since the operation, Blackburn has dropped over 200 pounds and no longer needs a C-PAP to help with snoring.  Jim stated, before receiving care at Emory University Hospital, his knees and ankles hurt terribly from carrying his weight. Along with high blood pressure and sleep apnea he began to experience the early on-set of diabetes.

Since surgery, “My life has changed 180 degrees. It’s totally turned around,” said Blackburn.

Check out Blackburn’s interview with Fox 5 Atlanta.

Are you running the Peachtree Road Race along with Jim? Then check out 10 tips that will ensure you get to the finish safely.

Related Resources

Exercise: A Sometimes Forgotten Key to Weight Management

Exercise Fitness Weight LossIn today’s market of many different diet plans, it is easy to forget about the role of exercise in managing one’s weight. After all, counting the calories used up during an hour on the treadmill or at the gym can be a bit depressing when one realizes that those calories amount to only one-seventh of a pound and are completely reversed if one eats a nice piece of pie as a reward for doing all that exercising. Indeed, one only burns about one M&M candy’s worth of calories in 50 yards of walking. This has led some to suggest that exercise is not that important in weight management and that people should focus their attention on eating less and not worry too much about exercise.

However, there are other data that would argue against ignoring exercise as an important component of weight control. If one thinks historically about the nearly tripling of our nation’s obesity rate in the last generation or two, much of that has happened with reduced exercise. As we have moved away from an agrarian economy to one based on information, more and more people have desk jobs and there is no need for almost anyone to burn many calories to survive. Cities in which people walk a lot, such as New York, have a significantly lower obesity rate than the nation as a whole, and the state with the lowest obesity rate is Colorado, which is famous for outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing.

If one takes a long-term view, there is good reason to expect that exercise can help a lot with weight, aside from its many benefits for general health. After all, if you weigh 175 pounds, increasing walking by a half-hour a day at a moderate pace translates into an extra weight loss of about 25 pounds per year, and even a 10-minute daily increase is worth about 8 additional pounds off per year. It is much more important to develop an exercise/activity plan you can stick with that is very feasible and moderate than to “go like crazy” once in awhile to lose as much weight as possible. Just as in the famous fairy tale, the tortoise, known for persistence and continuous plodding ahead, beats the hare, known for jump starts and sprinting ahead at an unsustainable pace.

Given that maintenance of exercise is a key, we all might keep in mind some factors that help us stick with a behavior:

  1. Make it fun. We are much more likely to walk or do anything else if we enjoy it. Many people will walk a considerable distance with a friend, for example, while considering walking on a treadmill to be drudgery, particularly if there is not something to watch while walking, such as a movie or television show.
  2. Make it regular and structured. If we get ourselves into a routine, it often can be maintained. Consider setting regular times to exercise, whether they be gym visits, walking during the lunch hour, or arrangements with friends to exercise together.
  3. Make exercise feasible and reasonable, even if it seems to be a small increase. Make sure you exercise within your medical limitations.
  4. Think of things you can do on a daily basis to increase your exercise. Examples might be to park further away from stores, have a policy to use the second-closest rest room, take stairs at work rather than the elevator, and/or walk while talking on the phone.
  5. Use the three principles of behavior change to help you maintain exercise. Keep track of what you are doing, set goals regularly, and set up a support system which will cheer you on and encourage you to continue.

Do you have other tips? Share them with me and our readers in the comments below!

Author: Stanley L. Chapman, PhD – Emory Bariatric Center

Makeover your Exercise Routine for Maximum Fat Loss

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric CenterIt is well known that when you reduce your calorie intake, you will lose even more weight if you exercise too.  More exercise is always better than some and some is better than none at all.  But what does more mean?  How much do we really need to exercise to lose weight and improve our health?  A 2009 study found that people who did 225-420 minutes a week of moderately vigorous exercise lost the greatest amount of weight.  This same study also found that exercise is the best way to keep weight off that you have already lost.  People who were able to maintain their weight loss, exercised for 150-250 minutes a week.

So we now know how much time to devote to exercise, but what kind of exercise should we do?  The short answer is any exercise that you enjoy so that you keep doing it.  For the long answer, let’s take a look at this Ultimate Metabolic and Calorie Burning Makeover, adapted from a recent lecture by exercise expert, Len Kravitz, PhD.

Importance of Warming-Up Before Working Out

Warming up for 5-10 minutes before your workout increases blood flow to your muscles for better performance.  It also gets your carbohydrate and fat enzymes going.  Translation: you will burn more calories and fat during your workout if you warm up first!

Cardiovascular Calorie Burn

After your warm-up, increase the intensity by 10-15 percent (this can mean going faster, increasing incline, etc.) and continue for 4 minutes.  Increase your intensity again by 10-15 percent for 4 minutes.  Continue this pattern until you have reached your moderately vigorous intensity level.  Maintain this for as long as you feel comfortable.  Then decrease the intensity by 10-15 percent for 4 minutes, and again another decrease for 4 minutes until you reach your original intensity level.

Weight Training Burns Fat!

It was once thought that weight training was only good for strengthening and building muscle.  Turns out we also burn fat during weight training and up to 2 hours after our workout is finished!  Try this regimen: Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions (lifts) at 85% of the maximum amount of weight you can lift.  Rest for only 90 second between sets.

References:

Donnelly, JE. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain in adults. J Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009, vol. 41, 459-469.

Herrera, L and Kravitz, L. Yes! You do burn fat during resistance exercise. IDEA Fitness J. 2009, vol. 6, 17-19.

What Roles does Watching TV Play in Weight Gain?

Watching TV Cause Weight GainBeware of too much television viewing!  Published in the journal Obesity, a 2006 study by Raynor and colleagues examined the relationship between weight and viewing of television, VCRs, and/or DVDs.  Their subjects included 1422 subjects who had just joined the National Weight Control Registry.  In order to join the Registry, each subject had to have reported losing at least 30 pounds and maintaining that weight loss for at least a year.  One interesting fact emerged right away from information gleaned from these subjects:  they had not been frequent television watchers at the time they joined the Registry.  Only 12.5% reported watching television for three hours per day or more, and 38.5% reported doing so for less than 10 hours per week, versus an average television watching time of 28 hours per week for the American public at large.  One wonders if the low television viewing may have contributed to the subjects’ losing enough weight to qualify for joining the Registry.

The authors found that the subjects who watched the most television gained significantly more weight back in the year after joining the Registry than those who watched the least.  In addition, those who increased their television watching during the succeeding year gained more than those who did not, particularly if they also reduced their level of physical activity.  Specifically, subjects who increased television watching while decreasing physical activity averaged gaining back 9.0 pounds during the year, versus an average weight gain of 2.2 pounds for those who increased physical activity and reduced television watching.

These results are not too surprising.  After all, the great increase in the incidence of obesity in the last 20-30 years has been associated in time with a greatly increased role of television, VCRs/DVDs, and computers in the daily lives of most Americans.  We have become a largely sedentary culture, with so many means of entertainment for which we primarily sit and do not move.

This study did not provide a definitive answer for why television watching is associated with weight regain.  Certainly, low physical activity is one factor, but when level of physical activity was held constant, subjects who watched a lot of television or increased their watching still gained more weight over the course of the year than those who did not.  Snacking during watching television may be a culprit; many people who gain weight report a tendency to snack a lot, particularly with high-calorie and high-fat food and at night.  If people get used to eating in front of the television, the mere act of turning it on may become a learned cue for desiring and eating food.

These results challenge all of us to consider how watching television (or, for that matter, engaging in other sedentary entertainment such as using the computer) might affect our own ability to maintain or extend weight loss in the long-term.  Do such activities take us away from the physical exercise needed for success?  Has the television or the computer become a conditioned cue for overeating? If so, how can we combat these effects?

The best ways to prevent weight gain associated with sedentary entertainment vary from person to person, but several ideas may be helpful.  One might be to combine television watching with exercise, perhaps with a treadmill or stationary bicycle.  Another might be to arrange regular exercise on a schedule, or to make sedentary entertainment contingent on completing a certain amount of exercise each day.  You might also consider how to reduce calorie intake in front of the television or computer, perhaps by making a rule to eat only at the table, or to eat only prepared low-calorie snacks.  Using the three behavioral principles of self-monitoring, goal-setting, and support may also be helpful.  You are likely to benefit from keeping track of what you eat in front of the television or computer, setting specific and realistic goals for such eating, and/or enlisting the help of your support system to encourage you while you work on behavioral change.

Related Resources:

Reference:  Raynor, DA, Phelan, S, Hill, JO, & Wing, RR.  Television viewing and long-term weight maintenance results from the National Weight Control Registry.  Obesity, 2006, vol. 14, 1816-1824.

Embark on a Great Grain Adventure!

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric CenterPeople often say that eating healthy is boring but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Bring some adventure to your plate by incorporating grains from across the globe. Using multiple whole food sources to get your necessary nutrients provides many health benefits.

About a quarter of our plates should be filled up with starches, including whole grains. The world provides us with a plethora of great grain options to keep us healthy and provide variety. Travel the globe through eating grains that are native to other countries and banish the boring. Here are two grain options to start your adventure.

great-grain

Teff – is a grass native to Ethiopia with small seeds which cook quickly. The teff flour is traditionally used to make injera bread and now is used as a grain side dish in cultures in Europe and the US. Teff is an adaptable grain, thriving in both drought and waterlogged soil environments.


Millet
- Millet is the name given to a number of different small seed grains grown widely around the world. There are many varieties of millet with Pearl Millet being the most widely used variety. India is the largest producer of millet, with it often eaten as a popped snack, where as in the US, people often feed millet to birds! Americans are now giving millet a second look and seeing the value in consuming it themselves. Millet is a gluten-free grain and therefore can be consumed by people with Celiac disease. Millet contains high levels of magnesium, niacin, B6, calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc; however, millet needs to be roasted or germinated before boiling to get the most out of these nutrients. The protein in millet is similar to that in wheat. Millet is often cooked as porridge or with a stew and made into bread and crepes.Teff is a very nutritious grain being a good source of fiber, niacin, iron, thiamin, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and protein. Containing all 9 essential amino acids, it is considered a complete protein. It is also a gluten-free product so it can be eaten by people with Celiac disease.

Mindless versus Mindful Eating

Mindfull vs. Mindless Eating HabitsOvereating often occurs because we are not aware of how the environment around us affected our eating and what the quantities of food we consume are. Brian Wansink, PhD, a nutritional scientist at Cornell University, has written a book called Mindless Eating, in which he describes research studies that reveal how little awareness we often have about our eating and what influences it. Amazingly, even his students, who were PhD candidates in nutritional science, were unaware of how their environment influenced their eating. These are some of his findings:

  • The average overweight person underestimated his or her calorie intake by 30-40% (versus 20% for normal-weight people). The more they ate the greater percentage they were off in their estimates.
  • People ate 53% more popcorn if given a large container versus a small one, even though it was stale and they had just eaten.
  • Even PhD students in nutritional science ate 31% more ice cream at a party if their bowls were big rather than small.
  • When a candy dish at their desk at work was transparent, people ate 71% more candy versus if the dish was opaque, even with the same amount of candy in the dish.
  • If Hershey’s kisses were within reach at a secretary’s desk, he/she ate nine per day on the average, versus four if the candy was six feet away.
  • The more people are around us, the more we tend to eat; if we have 7 or more friends around us, we eat double the food than when alone.

Living in the United States, which has the highest obesity rate of any large country; it is easy to become overweight just following what others in our culture do. Our biggest weapon in being “counter-culture” is awareness: knowing what is in the food that we eat and how much of it we are eating. Wansink’s findings have some clear implications for people who want to lose weight:

  • Think of times when you tend to be least aware. Often these times occur when people are in social situations, when they are served food by another person, and/or when they are tired, bored or stressed. Come up with a plan for controlling eating in these situations.
  • Consider filling out a food diary during difficult times to make you aware of your eating habits and the number of calories you consume.
  • Think of how you can make a 100-calorie change in your eating or exercise per day. Examples would be: to cut out one can of a sugared beverage per day; skip one dessert per day, walk for 15 minutes daily; regularly take stairs rather than elevators, park further away from stores or other destinations, and/or walk while talking on a cell or portable phone.
  • Preplan how much you will eat during parties and social occasions and how you will control your food intake. An example would be to fill up one plate during a buffet, consume a preset number of chips at a Mexican restaurant, or decide to eat half a portion at a restaurant and to ask for a box before you start eating. Consider alternative activities with friends besides those associated with overeating.
  • Control your environment so as to make problem foods less available. Shop from a list and when not hungry so that problem foods are not in the house. Put any such foods in the back of the panty or refrigerator and store them in small containers.  (Many people find it helpful to put pre-measured meals or snacks aside.) Resolve never to take a big box or container in front of you and eat from it. Keep seconds away from reach and serving containers off the table.
  • Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses. For many people, their use saves many pounds each year.

Reference: Brian Wansink, Ph.D. Mindless Eating. Bantam Dell Publishers, New York, 2006.

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!