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Archive for the ‘WEIGHT MANAGEMENT’ Category

We have known for a long time that overweight or obese individuals, especially those who are apple shaped, are more prone to certain disease conditions and higher mortality rates. A recent study, however, says that scales may not present the entire picture when it comes to susceptibility to certain illnesses and lifespan. Waistlines and body shape may be as important or more so than actual weight.

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Using the BMI chart as a standard and waist circumference as the indicator, researchers studied medical records of 156,000 postmenopausal women. Those with waistlines above 35 inches were categorized as having central obesity even when their weight was within normal range. Researchers found that women who were overweight or obese but did not have central obesity had a slightly reduced incidence of all-cause mortality. They referred to the phenomenon of too much weight with smaller waist circumference and normal weight women with a large waist circumference as the “obesity paradox.”  Does that affect health?

The study noted that central obesity presents risk factors for cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, namely breast and colon. Overall results may or may not apply to men and younger women. Nor is it known what role other factors may play since age influences hormonal changes and lowered metabolisms that affect weight.

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The journal of Neurology1 reported other negative health findings for those with large waistlines and higher BMIs. With an average age of sixty-four,1,289 participants underwent MRI brain scans to measure thinning of the brain cortex which has been associated with dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease. Obese subjects younger than sixty-five had greater reduction in gray matter in the brain. Over a period of approximately six years, researchers found that as BMI scores increased, scans showed more thinning in the cortex―the area of the brain which causes loss of old memories. Dr. Tatjana Rundek, a co-author of the study, stated that “results would indicate that being overweight or obese may accelerate aging in the brain by at least a decade.”

While too much weight isn’t a positive aspect on health as we age, it not only affects physical well-being but brain functions as well. Remember these effects, if you can, the next time you eye that glazed doughnut or tempting dessert.

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  1. 1Michelle R. Caunca, Hannah Gardener, Marialaura Simonetto, Ying Kuen Cheung, Noam Alperin, Mitsuhiro Yoshita, Charles DeCarli, Mitchell S.V. Elkind, Ralph L. Sacco, Clinton B. Wright, Tatjana Rundek. Measures of obesity are associated with MRI markers of brain aging The Northern Manhattan StudyNeurology, 2019 DOI: 1212/WNL.0000000000007966

 

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Who doesn’t know that nearly 70 percent of our nation is either overweight or obese? And the trend keeps rising. Dr. Michael Ungar, a family therapist, in his article “Why did Walmart buy a plus-size women’s fashion line?”1 puts his finger on weight-related trends. He  concludes that the move by Walmart “says a lot about failure of the self-help industry . . . and fitness and dieting programs.” Common sense tells us that if Walmart invests in a plus-size woman’s fashion venture, the company expects increased sales and revenue. Plus-sized apparel is one of the fastest growing in the clothing industry. Why wouldn’t it be with more than half of US women now wearing a size 14 or larger?

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But Ungar’s article wasn’t to give accolades to Walmart’s smart financial move. No, his concern, as is mine, was why this avalanche of need for over-sized clothing. Americans now consume 23 percent more calories than in 1970. Ungar points out that while “The self-help, fitness and diet industries have been making billions of dollars promising solutions that simply don’t work,” people are more influenced to make informed decisions when opportunities for better choices are placed in front of them.

Self-help places responsibility on individuals. If we think of the many times we have been influenced by pictures of food or the wafting aroma of pizza, doughnuts, or other favorite foods, we see his point. Many places have supersized sugary drinks or have tempted patrons with extra foods (think “Do you want fries with that?”) to increase sales and revenue. Who can resist? And we aren’t prone to change for the better without strong incentives.

See the source imageUngar insists society needs to shift emphasis from individual’s self-control to changing the world around us such as 1) government intervention on sizes of sugary drinks, 2) calorie counts on menus, 3) taxes on sugar, 4) removing empty calorie foods from checkout lines, and 5) providing greater access to fresh produce for all people. Several of these practices are underway in efforts to reduce the girth and improve overall health of citizens. Many towns and cities have initiated accessibility to parks, walking areas, and bike lanes.

Dr. Ungar makes no claims at knowledge or education in the field of nutrition. He sees before him what all should see―a society run amok from constant exposure to eat too many calories. Is he right? What are your thoughts about regulating, taxing, or whatever it takes to help people make healthier food choices. Drop me a line in the comments and share your views. When do positive actions to control decision making for our own good override freedom of choice to have excess weight that costs in enormous medical bills and lost wages?

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DeSoto Times-Tribune, P. O. Box 100, Hernando, MS 38632, Vol 123, Issue 46, page 4, June 20, 2019

 

 

 

 

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What do you think about requirements for restaurants to show calorie counts on their menus? Do you use them?

As of May 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stipulated restaurant chains with 20 or more locations must serve essentially the same menu items with calorie counts and do business under the same name. Written nutrition information stating total carbohydrates, added sugars, fiber, and protein must be available for those who request it.

Before requirements were initiated, I often drove through Wendy’s drive-thru for their Frosty when shopping or running errands. Their refreshing drink perked me up. When I noticed the calorie count on the menu board, I was shocked. Now I love Frosty, but it’s no friend to maintaining a healthy weight. It had to go. It wasn’t easy to stop this delightful treat, but it was better than the extra exercise needed to get rid of added weight.

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Americans consume about one-third of their daily calorie intake from food and beverages consumed away from home. These items contain more calories, sodium, and saturated fats than most home-prepared foods. The average person who eats one meal away from home each week will gain about two extra pounds over the course of a year. To abate the problem of extra calories when eating out, consider these three suggestions adapted from FDA.

  • Know your calorie needs. While 2,000 calories a day serves as a guide, needs vary according to sex, age, and physical activity. See the Estimated Calorie Needs Table to determine your needs.
  • Check calorie and nutrition information of menu items. Find information on menus or menu boards next to the name or price of the item. Deli counters, bulk food items in grocery stores, food trucks, airplanes/trains, and school lunches are not required to list calorie counts. Foods with two options or with a side will be listed with a slash―200/300. Multiple food items of three or more choices or different flavors (think ice cream) will be shown as a range of calories―200-300 calories.
  • Choose what is best for you.
    • When you choose an entrée, check the available sides and choose those with fewer calories.
    • If servings are more than you usually eat or want, don’t hesitate to ask for a to-go box.
    • Order salad dressings, gravy, and cream sauces on the side to limit what you consume.
    • Choose foods that are baked, roasted, steamed, grilled, or broiled.
    • Avoid those described as creamy, fried, breaded, battered, or buttered.
    • Try water with lemon for a refreshing beverage with your meal and avoid or limit sweetened beverages.

Eating out should be a pleasant event, not a time of restricting your diet and enjoyment. These simple guidelines will help you choose wisely while enjoying your dining experience.

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Share your thoughts with other readers about inclusion of calorie counts on menus and menu boards.

 

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Diet, Remove, Nutrition, Tomato, Cucumber, Olive, Eat
When it comes to food, I’m all about choice. But, as it turns out, not everyone is. While I find it easy to decide, others find it hard. According to registered dietitian Samantha Cassetty in her article “Why We’re so Obsessed with Rigid Diets like Keto,” many like the structure of  stringent diets. Most of us prefer the simple way out, and allowing someone to make our food decisions somehow seems easier. We don’t have to think. It’s either on the diet list or not. That throws a whole new light on the word dieting.

Cassetty first describes decision fatigue. We become so overwhelmed with decisions demanded of us, we gratefully accept someone deciding what we should eat. Rules simplify decision-making. Likewise, diet structure helps us feel in control, empowered, and excited to find a plan that works. The predictability of what to eat helps reduce stress and maintain calm.

Cravings are complex traits we learn. A “diet” generally nixes high-fat, high-sugar foods we desire. The problem is, we soon tire or become discouraged with this restriction. According to Cassetty, most diet plans are unrealistic and can damage our relationship with foods. She suggests we 1) find a plan that appeals to our taste buds, 2) have a flexible backup plan, 3) create a healthy foundation with exercise, appropriate sleep, and minimal stress, 4) watch for red flags that hamper lifestyle, and 5) decide what about the diet works.

Image result for free clip art dietsCertainly, there’ a protocol to eating. Perhaps if dieters learned the best one, they would enjoy structure yet still have choices. The USDA Healthy Eating Pattern has such a structure. Below are three options for a 2,000-calorie diet, the recommended calorie level for a healthy weight woman. All plans meet daily food needs of 2 cups fruits; 2½ cups vegetables; 6 ounces grains (at least half from whole grains); 5 ½ ounces protein foods; and 3 cups dairy.

While the pattern doesn’t list specific foods, it does give appropriate guidelines for a healthy diet. That narrows a lot of choices but leaves selections up to us. Do we want a bowl of cereal or a slice of bread? Do we choose a half-cup of blueberries or a medium orange? Think of the freedom with limited decision-making efforts.

Healthy Eating Pattern

Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast
1 ounce Grains 1 ounce Grains 1 cup Fruit
½ cup Fruit 1 cup Dairy 1 cup Dairy
½ cup Dairy 1 ½ ounces Protein Foods  
Morning Snack Morning Snack Morning Snack
1 ounce Grains 1 cup Fruit 1 ounce Grains
1 cup Fruit ½ cup Dairy ½ cup Dairy
1 ½ ounces Protein Foods
Lunch Lunch Lunch
2 ounces Grains 2 ounces Grains 2 ounces Grains
1 cup Vegetables 1 cup Vegetables 1 cup Vegetables
½ cup Fruit ½ cup Dairy 1 cup Dairy
1 cup Dairy 2 ounces Protein Foods
2 ½ ounces Protein Foods
Afternoon Snack Afternoon Snack Afternoon Snack
½ cup Vegetables 1 ounce Grains 1 ounce Grains
½ cup Dairy ½ cup Vegetables ½ cup Vegetables
½ cup Dairy 2 ounces Protein Foods
Dinner Dinner Dinner
2 ounces Grains 2 ounces Grains 2 ounces Grains
1 cup Vegetable 1 cup Vegetable 1 cup Vegetable
1 cup Dairy 1 cup Fruit 1 cup Fruit
3 ounces Protein Foods 1 cup Dairy 2 ounces Protein Foods
2 ounces Protein Foods

It’s up to us. We can have structure and make healthy decisions work.




 

 

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With the new year now underway, many resolved, “This will be the year I will lose weight.” If that was your resolution again, how are you doing?  Repeated disappointment to lose weight requires a change in mindset. What do you really want—to lose weight or to be healthy?  Remind yourself it isn’t about losing weight. It’s about getting and keeping a healthy body. Weight is only one aspect of that goal. When you strive for better health through wiser food choices, weight loss will come―without all those weird, expensive, and/or dangerous diets.

 

So stop! Change that resolution now. Too many of us become discouraged with diets in a few short weeks. We may eat something that isn’t on our new “diet” and decide we are a failure. We aren’t. That’s the problem with all these “eat this, don’t eat that” rules. If you truly need to lose a few pounds, how can you do that without “going on a diet?”

  1. Eat more. That’s right. Too many starve themselves, feel weak and famished, and then try to make up for it by choosing foods or drinks that don’t help weight or how they feel. Intermittent diets have become popular. That is, choosing a time to skip eating. In the right conditions, it may help some people. But for most of us, it’s probably not a good idea.
  2. Look for ways to give up junk foods or extra snacks without missing them. So often we eat foods just because they are there. We aren’t hungry. We just want something to munch. Or we see food and think we have a responsibility to eat it. Not so. When you feel any of these urges, ask yourself if you want it, do you need it, or can you do something else to get your mind off eating.
  3. Stop eating when you aren’t hungry. This may be a continuation of the above. Are you starved for that bedtime snack? Will something bad happen if you take a few sips of water and go to bed without eating again? How about those break times? I know how tempting chocolate can be, but if you must indulge with everyone else, choose just one piece or one cookie you believe will have the fewest calories and walk away. Who will notice (or care) if you pick a bottle of water instead of some sugar-sweetened beverage? Ask yourself, “Should I allow others to dictate what I should and shouldn’t eat?”

Keep in mind that those with diabetes need to eat in sync with medications. When properly regulated, eating extra foods may not be necessary, and if they are, those in the junk food categories aren’t a good idea.

Stop the dieting habit. Many weight-loss diets are dangerous, and few people stick with them for very long. Healthy weight doesn’t depend on any one food. It depends on you making better choices and eating smaller amounts. Try it. What do you have to lose but unneeded weight? Happy new year.

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The number of obese people in our nation continues to escalate causing us to reflect on whether we are part of the statistics, and if not, should we care? Yes, we should. The rate of obesity impacts our entire population in multiple ways.See the source image

  • Healthcare costs: Studies show medical costs for those who are obese run 42 percent higher than costs for healthy weight individuals. Medical expenses (2016) related to weight issues resulted in $149 billion. Half of that was paid by Medicare or Medicare.
  • Job productivity: The consequences of obesity stagnate workflow because of missed work time and absence from schools and industry. Expenses increased for employers and taxpayers.
  • Military readiness: The most common cause of rejection for young adults into military service is related to obesity. Nearly one in three are ineligible due to weight problems. The Department of Defense pays nearly $1 billion annually for obesity-related issues.

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What is Obesity?

While it remains difficult to categorize everyone with the same standard, for adult the BMI remains the most functional tool to evaluate weight. Those who score 30 or above on the BMI scale are considered obese. Those with scores of 40 or more have severe obesity. Because the causes for this disease are complex, research studies continue to assess the many unique variances of individuals. While most who are overweight or obese overeat, the solution isn’t simply to cut calories, although that may be a good start for most.

Why We Should Care?

Obesity continues to rise to epidemic levels. Nearly 40 percent of American’s are obese compared to about 23 percent 25 years ago (late 80s – early 90s). Six states increased in the number of people with obesity from 2016 to 2017―Iowa, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina―while 44 states did not show a statistical increase. That’s just one year. What fuels these increases?

Demographically, slightly more women are obese or severely obese than men. While nearly 40 percent of all adults are obese, less than 13 percent of Asians fall into that category while Latinos and blacks have the highest percentage. A greater number of middle-aged and older adults are obese than other age groups. Also, greater risks for obesity seem to occur in those with less education, those living in rural areas, and those with lower-income levels.

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To abate continual escalation of this major health problem, many communities and states have provided better opportunities for those at greater risk as well as for the general public. Numerous towns and cities now promote farmer’s markets as a source for fresh produce and other local food products. Many states and communities have improved access to quality activities in parks, walking trails, and other activity venues.

While all these efforts help, much of the solution rests in food selections individuals make and the quantity of foods they eat. Some industries have lowered sugar content in many products, and others have sought to make society more aware of what they are eating, such as calorie counts on menus. It takes a concerted effort from all of us to choose foods wisely and to help others understand the best way to make healthy choices. Much remains to be done.

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June is National Dairy Month. In recent years, cow’s milk has taken a bad rap for several reasons. A few individuals have food sensitivities and more readily tolerate milk from other animal sources. Some people prefer omitting any meat or meat-related products and opt for plant-based forms of milk such as coconut, soy, or almond. These milks lack many of the nutritional values of animal milk and often have added sugars and other substances. (See my blog, “Milk―It’s Your Choice”)

Woman Drinking Milk

Cow’s milk, which most of us drink, is available in four forms: Whole milk has 3.5 percent fat. In an eight-ounce serving, it has 8 grams of fat and 150 calories. Reduced fat milk has 2 percent fat plus 5 grams of fat and 120 calories per eight ounces. Low fat milk contains one percent fat with 2.5 grams of fat and 100 calories per eight-ounce serving. Fat free (skim) milk has no fat and provides 80 calories per eight-ounce serving.

All forms of cow’s milk contain major nutrients but vary in fat content. Each eight-ounce serving of milk provides eight grams of protein. Milk is a significant source of vitamins and minerals including riboflavin, niacin, vitamins A and D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium and others.

Vitamins A and D are found only in the cream (fat) of whole milk. All other cow’s milk must be fortified with 400 I. U. per quart for vitamin D and 2,000 I. U. per quart for vitamin A. Even whole milk with less than the required amount must be fortified to these standards.

A student once asked, “Is skim milk made from whole milk that has been watered down?”  While I stifled a smile, the student was serious. In recent years, I have learned she is not the only one with that misconception. How would you have answered her question?

Milk Terms to Know:

  • Organic: Organic milk is produced from cows without any exposed to hormones or antibiotics. Today, very little milk has these two substances. More recently, guidelines for organic milk require a certain amount of free-range time for cows.
  • Lactose-Free: Some individuals are sensitive to lactose. The lactose-free form is real cow’s milk with the natural sugar (lactose) broken down for easier digestion. Lactose-free milk has the same nutrients and standards of other forms of  milk.
  • Flavored: While chocolate is the best-known flavored milk, it is also available in other flavors and has the same nutritional qualities of unflavored milk. Lower fat choices are available, but most will have added sugar.
  • Raw: The raw form comes straight from the cow without any processing. Federal law prohibits the sale of unpasteurized milk across state lines. For health reasons, raw milk is not recommended.

Benefits of Milk:

A few studies have indicated adverse effects from drinking cow’s milk, but the benefits more than outweigh any harm. Milk provides nearly one-third of the daily requirement of calcium. It works conjointly with other nutrients, especially vitamin D, in the development of bones and teeth in children. While significant throughout the life cycle, it is particularly important in aging as a deterrent of osteoporosis and other bone conditions more common to those over age 50. The body also needs calcium and vitamin D for several other functions.

Milk is a major source of protein. The higher quality protein in milk may benefit weight management because it helps to maintain lean body mass. Muscle, as opposed to fat, assists in burning more calories. In addition, higher quality protein increases satiety, reduces hunger, and fits into appropriate weight-loss plans.

What can be more refreshing than a tall glass of cold milk? Well, for me, that may be a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Whatever your choice, milk is a healthy option in any eating plan. During National Dairy Month, enjoy more milk in your diet. It’s good for you.
Cows grazing on a green field.

 

 

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