Tag Archives: obesity

wooden letters WMAS

Healthy holiday eating made easy

We all enjoy our holiday traditions of eating and drinking special foods and beverages.  But these  can cause problems for people who need to manage what they eat and drink for medical reasons.

sliced Stollen

Nutritional management is a major part of living with these conditions-

  • diabetes and high cholesterol
  • celiac disease/gluten sensitivity
  • nut and other food allergies
  • lactose intolerance
  • overweight/obesity
  • alcohol dependence
  • heart, kidney, and liver dysfunction
  • pregnancy
  • migraine

PRACTICAL TIPS ON PARTY FOOD AND MEAL PLANNING

Planning ahead to manage holiday stress also applies to cooking, entertaining and eating during the holiday season.

If you  plan and prepare holiday meals and parties, remember  some attendees need to avoid or restrict certain types of foods.  a dining table decorated for Christmas

Offer an ample variety of types of food and drinks so  your guests will find something that works for them.

If you have houseguests, they will appreciate your asking them about dietary needs or restrictions so you can  have food available to meet their needs.

If you have special needs in regards to food, it may be wise to offer to bring a dish to an event , or take food to eat if you will be someone’s houseguest.

According to The American Diabetes Association

“Holidays can be a time of great anxiety for people with diabetes because it is so focused on food.

Don’t let questions about what to eat, how much to eat, and meal timing dampen your holiday. Plan in advance, so you can fend off stress and fully enjoy the day and keep your diabetes management on track.”

Here are the ADA suggestions for Holiday Meal Planning.

Are you worried about gaining weight from holiday meals, or trying to maintain a weight you have worked to achieve? Then try these

Top Holiday Healthy Eating Hacks

from Charmaine Gregory, M.D. at Fervently Fit 

“There is a huge amount of power in being mindful with your eating during this holiday season. “

brightly decorated table for Christmas

Try these Edible Christmas Gifts from Dr. Diana, an allergy doctor who blogs about cooking.

decorated Christmas cookies

 Delicious gluten free recipes from PositiveHealthWellness

apples, oranges, and walnuts

Addiction Hope 

offers advice for those with eating disorders – anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and EDNOS)

” Eating disorders are not about food, it is about the underlying issues which can be triggered by anxiety and stress. Holidays can bring on both increased stress and anxiety and can be difficult for individuals to manage. When a person is in an active eating disorder, there are various ways to cope with the holidays.”

  Read more at

Navigating the Holidays with a Food Addiction: 

 Splurge-Worthy Gifts for tea lovers everywhere at Mighty Leaf. (affiliate link)

 

Christmas jazz piano album coverChristmas music on iTunes

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“How I “broke up” with junk food and fell in love with healthy eating”- top post of 2016

This week I’m sharing my top 5 most viewed posts of 2016. I’m not surprised that any of these were the most popular because a couple of them are among my favorites too. (Well, ok, they all are.)

Here is my most viewed post this year;  it was also my most viewed post of 2015.

I think it is popular because the story is  honest and authentic, and one so many of us can identify with. It would be easy to call it a “weight loss” success  story, but it is so much more. Read about my special friend Pam and you will understand why.

How I “broke up” with junk food

and fell in love with healthy eating.

 

 

Meet my friend Pam. My husband and I met Pam and her husband in a ballroom dance class. I was immediately captivated by her radiant smile and Southern charm. Since then I have learned more about her and watched an amazing transformation in her life.

Pam and I attending a wedding at the dance studio

Pam and I attending a friend’s wedding at the dance studio

Pam graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi State University in 1980. With a major in Communications, she started her career as a writer and Account Executive for advertising and public relations agencies in Mississippi and in Oklahoma where she moved after marrying.  She was the Marketing Director for a large medical clinic for several years. Since 1995, she has enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom with involvement in PTA, church and community. In 2012, she was named Volunteer of the Year by her community public school system.

But despite such a charmed life, there was a struggle, one that Pam shares with many people. In this blog I have discussed the physical and emotional consequences of excess weightyou will be encouraged by Pam’s success story which she so generously shares with me and you.

“Breaking up is hard to do. ” By Pam Whitson

“I was happily married to the love of my life and should have been having the time of my life.   Sadly, my self-confidence and my happiness had been stolen, and I was the thief.

For over two decades, I robbed myself of peak energy, vitality, health and beauty by totally disregarding my intake of food.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I thought about what I should do.  I spent money on self-help tapes, gym memberships and weight loss programs from the practical to the extreme.  I whined and wished about it constantly.  And it didn’t help knowing that I was not alone; almost half of adults are overweight or obese.

And I had occasional moments of success.  Like the time I was within four pounds of leaving the “obese” category. (Obese is a BMI, body mass index, of 30 or higher)  After months of hard work, I ran to Glamour Shots for the mid-1990s version of a sequin and big hair make-over.  On the way home from my triumphant photo session, I stopped by my favorite barbecue place and started eating my way right back to where I was before.  I gained all the weight I had lost back and more.

I joked my way through feelings of depression, because  I had an unhealthy relationship with food.    I thought about it way too much.  I ran to it for instant gratification.  I was too in love with the tastes, the textures, the sheer delight of food.  Even now, I love to grocery shop.  One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

cereal boxes in a store

“One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.”

Finally, at age 53, after twenty years of carrying way too much weight for my 5’7 ½” (1.7 meters) (yes, the half inch counts!) frame, I was ready for a change.  Really ready.  Change isn’t easy.  Change hurts.  I walked into Weight Watchers and pretended it was my first time ever.  I read everything.  I listened and participated.  I went to every meeting.  I hung around afterwards and pestered my leader for every little nugget of information I could cling to.

Pam before weight loss

Pam and her daughter

I rejoined Weight Watchers in July, 2012, with 20 pounds (9 kg) still off from a previous Weight Watcher effort. I lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in 4 1/2 months to be at goal before Thanksgiving! I learned to maintain this loss during the required six week maintenance period with Weight Watchers and became an official Lifetime Member before the year’s end of 2012. This meant a lot to me because my birthday is New Year’s Day. How wonderful to start the year at a healthy weight!

At Weight Watchers I learned I could change.  I could change what I put in my grocery basket.  I could change what I ordered in restaurants.  I could change how much I moved.

I could change my relationship with food for good.

I still enjoy food.  Very much.  Maybe even more than before because now I appreciate my food as fuel to live a healthy and active and even beautiful (in the eyes of the beholder) life!  I still enjoy the tastes, even more so because I choose only the best.  My plate is colorful with roasted veggies and fresh fruits and salad greens.  I enjoy grilled lean chicken, steak and seafood.  My carbs are high fiber, full of flavor and texture.  I no longer long for the processed foods full of white flour, sugar and fat.

By pairing healthy eating with increased physical activity, I changed my weight dropped from 226 lbs (102 kg) to 150 lbs (68 kg).  Now 70 pounds (31 kg) lighter and at a healthy BMI of 23, I feel so much happier and healthier.  But once I started eating better, even before I was near my goal weight, my self-esteem and confidence were instantly restored.  Just knowing that I had a plan gave me optimism and excitement.  I’ve been at goal for almost three years and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (or even a crisp cookie). And I now stay about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) below goal as a safety net.

Pam on a well deserved vacation

Pam on a well deserved vacation

In addition to my daily walks, I enjoy ballroom dancing, Jazzercise, swimming and an occasional bike ride.  I wear a Fitbit and accomplish 15,000 steps a day.

I’ve been a Weight Watcher leader for two and a half years and just LOVE it! I never imagined I would do this; you might as well as told me I would become an astronaut. While helping me stay at a healthy weight, I enjoy the privilege of making new friends and helping other people be their most confident and healthy selves. Just for fun, I’ve started a Park Walking group that explores different parks in our city every two weeks. We took a summer break (Oklahoma gets real hot in the summer) but will be back on the trails in September. Along with my awesome Weight Watcher members, I’m enjoying a new healthy relationship with food for good. ”

Pam leading a Weight Watchers meeting

Pam is now a Weight Watchers coach

 

 

Weight Watchers may not be the answer for everyone, but Pam’s idea of changing our relationship with food should be a part of any weight management plan.  Our eating habits affect our health in other ways, so even if you are not overweight, using food appropriately is important.

Physical activity also has health benefits beyond weight loss. I joined Pam’s walking group and find it a fun way to exercise and make new friends. (My favorite walking shoe is Go Walk by Skechers.)  In addition to social dancing with our husbands, Pam and I are part of a ladies dance team. We performed a Western theme dance routine to the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” . That’s so appropriate for someone who walked her way from a BMI of 35 down to 25. If she can do it, so can you.

 

And if you are wondering how Pam is doing a year later, read this update –

“in love with healthy eating”

( This post contains affiliate product links; purchase through these links pays a commission to this blog; thank you)

 

 

Thank you for joining me for this year end recap, and for reading these and my other posts this year. I appreciate your time and interest in what I have to share.

Please follow this blog in 2017 as we continue to explore the HEART of HEALTH.

 

Practical steps to healthy holiday eating

What do marshmallows, pumpkins, eggnog, popcorn, and pears have in common?

They are  foods associated with holiday recipes, and they’re mentioned in songs about Christmas. You’ll also recognize some less everyday foods like chestnuts , figgy pudding,collard greens and wassail.

 

Recipes from Holiday Carols 

sliced orange, orange with cloves

We all enjoy our holiday traditions of eating and drinking special foods and beverages; we even sing about them. But these  can cause problems for people who need to manage what they eat and drink for medical reasons.

Nutritional management is a major part of living with these conditions-

  • diabetes and high cholesterol
  • celiac disease/gluten sensitivity
  • nut and other food allergies
  • lactose intolerance
  • overweight/obesity
  • alcohol dependence
  • heart, kidney, and liver dysfunction
  • pregnancy
  • migraine

variety of party cookies on a plate

PRACTICAL TIPS ON PARTY FOOD AND MEAL PLANNING

Planning ahead to manage holiday stress also applies to cooking, entertaining and eating during the holiday season.

If you  plan and prepare holiday meals and parties, remember  some attendees need to avoid or restrict certain types of foods. Offer an ample variety of types of food and drinks so  your guests will find something that works for them.

If you have houseguests, they will appreciate your asking them about dietary needs or restrictions so you can  have food available to meet their needs.

If you have special needs in regards to food, it may be wise to offer to bring a dish to an event , or take food to eat if you will be someone’s houseguest.

EXPERT ADVICE ON HEALTHY HOLIDAY EATING

BROWNIES“Naughty” Holiday Foods 

from WebMD

Tips for Managing Diabetes  from the Centers for Disease Control

Holiday Healthy Eating Guide  HEART HEALTH

from the American Heart Association

(a printable or downloadable PDF document)

Delicious gluten free recipes from PositiveHealthWellness

walnuts in the shell

Maintaining Sobriety While Celebrating  from Addiction Hope 

Here is an affiliate link to find your favorite holiday music.

 

 

a rainbow and a volcano- watercresswords.com

Finding the rainbow and a volcano- visiting Hawaii in Tuesday Travels

 

israel kamakawiwo’ole somewhere over the rainbow

The first time I listened to this song, I had never heard of the artist. I was captivated by his melodious voice, as well as this unique version of an iconic song.

In case you’re not old enough to remember (I’m not either), the song Over the Rainbow was written for the movie The Wizard of Oz in 1939. As Dorothy from Kansas who became stranded in Oz, the late actress Judy Garland sang the song which won an Academy Award and is “one of the greatest movie songs of all times.”

 

(This post includes affiliate links, from which a purchase might pay a commission to this blog, but cost you nothing extra. thank you. )

 

 

IZ- THE SINGER

 

Unlike Dorothy, Israel kamakawiwo’ole was not from Kansas, far from it. He was a native and life-long resident of Hawaii. (I have been to both places ;they could not be more different.)

He was a popular and beloved citizen and celebrity there and his music represented and extolled the island geography and culture.

Unfortunately, he developed morbid obesity. At a reported height of 6’2” (1.88 m) and weighing 757 pounds (343 kilos), his body mass index (BMI) was 97. (BMI over 30 is defined as obese). I have discussed BMI and obesity  in a previous post  What is obesity and why does it matter?

As a result, his health suffered from lung and heart problems which eventually caused his untimely death at only 38 years old. All of Hawaii mourned his passing.

Fortunately, he left to Hawaii and the world a wealth of music to enjoy.

HAWAII- THE BIG ISLAND 

Several years ago my husband accompanied me to Hawaii to attend a medical conference. (If you have to sit and listen to medical lectures all day, that is definitely the place to do it)

Hawaii, the 50th state added to the United States of America,  is made up of 6 major islands.  The conference was on the Big Island, which is also called Hawaii. One of the largest and most active volcanoes in the world is there at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park  ,  so it is a must see . And we did.

 

couple , flowers, waterfall

leis (flowers) around our neck upon arrival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring the volcano

 

 

 

 

 

boats, dock, water

On an island you’re never far from water and boats

 

 

beach, palm trees, hammock

Hawaii is often called a paradise for good reason

 

 

 

Here’s another post about a tropical vacation Cancun-IMG_2196

sharing grief, love and memories at the beach in Cancun, Mexico- Tuesday Travels

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading this post. Learn more about me and this blog at these links-

 

exploring the heart of health

Dr. Aletha

WATERCRESS WORDS-Medical stethoscope and heart on a textured background

Introducing Watercress Words

Reader Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on weight management options

 

This blog has looked at several approaches to weight loss.

First and always are lifestyle changes involving food choices, and eating habits.

Along with that, one needs to start or increase physical activity.

There are many different ways to achieve these, from books, videos, group activities, online programs, counselling and many combinations of these.

For those folks who still can’t reach goal, the next options are weight loss medications, and surgery.

someone standing on a scale

New weight loss options are good news.

 

 

 

Now there are FDA approved options which do not involve drugs or invasive surgery. These medical devices aid weight loss by affecting the amount of food that gets eaten and/or absorbed into the body.

 

The ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2015. . Candidates for the device are

  • Adults
  • BMI 30-40
  • At least one obesity-related condition- hypertension, diabetes, elevated cholesterol

It is a device placed into the stomach by going through the mouth and down through the esophagus through a tube called an endoscope. It takes about 30 minutes and requires on a mild sedative, not general anesthesia. Once in the stomach the “balloons” are inflated; by taking up space in the stomach it can trigger a feeling of fullness.

Patients still continue to follow their eating and exercise plan and the device is removed in 6 months.

Like any medical procedure, there are potential adverse effects including headache, muscle pain, and nausea from the sedation and procedure; in rare cases, severe allergic reaction, heart attack, esophageal tear, infection, and breathing difficulties can occur. Once the device is placed in the stomach, patients may experience vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, gastric (stomach) ulcers, and feelings of indigestion.

The Orbera Gastric Balloon works in a similar way, with a single silicone balloon. Potential adverse effects are similar to the ReShape.

The Maestro Rechargeable System is implanted under the skin; an intermittent pulse generator delivers an electrical signal to the vagus nerve in the abdomen. The vagus nerve controls stomach action; when slowed down, one feels full sooner and theoretically will eat less.

Click here to review these

FDA Approved Obesity Treatment Devices

 

Another interesting device is AspireAssist.

This is a tube inserted into the stomach, from which a portion of the stomach contents can be “aspirated” (removed) after eating.

This device helped 10 out of 11 people loss 18% of total body weight in one year.

An application has been submitted to the FDA but it has not been approved for use in the United States.

 

People lost weight with all of these devices largely due to the intensive counseling and support they received along with use of the device.

tape-403591_1280

Obesity is defined using BMI, body mass index, but waist circumference is also important and may be more accurate.

 

 

 

 

After gaining weight with her pregnancies, one woman successfully lost weight with gastric bypass surgery. Read about the lifestyle changes she made at this article from American Family Physician journal

 

IN THE NEWS- BIG LOSSES, BIG GAINS

Many news sources have reported  a recently published study about contestants in “The Biggest Loser” weight loss contest. In this contest, severely obese people have lost huge amounts of weight with strict diets and vigorous exercise.

Unfortunately, the study found that most of them gained most of the weight back over time, due to what the scientists called “metabolic adaptation”, popularly called slowed metabolism. This is discouraging news.

However, they also point out that even though the contestants regained a “substantial” amount of weight in 6 years post competition,

“they overall were quite successful at long term weight loss compared with other lifestyle interventions.”

Even though they regained weight, they still weighed less than when they started.

If you want to read the full report with all the graphs and statistical analysis, here is the link

Persistent metabolic adaptation 6 years after “The Biggest Loser” competition

 

statues of athletes jumping

Contestants in the Biggest Loser competition exercised several hours daily but did not continue this after it ended.

 

 

 

Review  my previous posts about weight management

at these links.

Obesity and BMI defined

How we should view excess weight 

How effective are weight management programs? 

A success story; how a doctor helped her patient lose weight

When diet alone doesn’t work

How my friend lost weight and inspired others with her example

 

Please share your experiences with weight management, good or bad. We’re here to encourage you in your efforts and celebrate with you in your success.

HEALTH

Exploring health from head to toe

Let’s look at 3  topics that will inform, instruct, and inspire you as we explore the HEART of HEALTH.

 

INFORMATION – about mosquitoes and the diseases they carry and spread to humans

a mosquito on a leaf

Mosquitoes are tiny but the diseases they carry can be deadly.

 

World-wide, malaria affects more people than any other mosquito transmitted disease. Most cases that occur in the United States are due to infections caught when people travel to or from areas of the world where malaria is common- sub-Saharan Africa, southeast Asia, the Amazon area of South America.

West Nile Virus, also spread by mosquitoes, occurs in tropical areas but since 1999 has spread to North America where it threatens people here. Now we are told that the Zika virus is spreading northward from South America, posing a new disease risk  to Americans. When pregnant women become infected with this virus, the infant may be born with a small brain and head, called microcephaly.

The American Mosquito Control Association, AMCA ,researches and reports on all aspects of mosquitoes and the many diseases they transmit. If you want to learn about the subject, you will likely find it here. It’s worth taking a look.

 

INSTRUCTION- how to prevent blisters

You probably don’t worry much about blisters- until you get one. Then the pain can inhibit doing sports, walking, even just wearing a shoe.

feet in sports shoes

 

At worse, blisters can become chronic wounds, get infected, and threaten limbs in susceptible persons like those with diabetes or poor blood flow.

Ways to prevent blisters include-

  • Proper fitting shoes, not too tight or too loose
  • Breaking shoes in before activity likely to cause a blister, like running, dancing, long walks, sports
  • Wearing absorbent cushioned socks, perhaps 2 pair together
  • Applying protective padding over pressure points on the feet. Even plain paper tape can accomplish this, according to this study published in the New York Times

Blisters may not hurt as much as fractures, but can be almost as disabling.

 

INSPIRATION- choosing ability over disability

 

 

 

Thanks for reading and please share.

Obesity and pain- you can lose both this year

Whether it’s extra weight gained from holiday eating or excess weight you’ve carried for years, the new year is the perfect time to lose it.

 

I’ve written before about reasons to maintain a healthy weight  at Why Obesity matters. Multiple health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, even cancer can stem from excess weight.

But here’s another reason to shed those excess pounds or kilos- pain.

Obesity increases the risk of chronic pain especially back pain , and weight loss leads to significant decrease in pain, sometimes more effectively than medications and surgery.

 

 

Pain in the spine , hips and knees may worsen with excess weight. (skeleton display at the Museum of Natural Science in New York City)

 

Pain management specialists discussed the relationship of obesity and back pain at the American Academy of Pain medicine annual meeting. Medical research studies conducted at the Mayo Clinic linked obesity to back pain. Other studies implicated obesity in cases of arm, knee, hip and back pain in adolescents as well as elderly people.

 

A study from Norway of 64000 people showed

people with a BMI greater than 30

were more likely to develop low back pain

than those with a BMI under 25.

Body mass index chart

A BMI OF 30 or more represents obesity. BMI Chart created by Vertex42.com. Used with permission.

 

And an Australian study showed that both

obesity and smoking  are related to back pain.

No Smoking sign with pumpkins

sign posted at a produce market in rural Georgia

 

So  don’t just resolve to lose weight,

set a goal

make a plan

put it into action

Here is a recap of this blog’s obesity related information to help you get started.

How achieving emotional healing can lead to weight loss

How a woman kicked her addiction to junk food and now helps others to do the same

Comparing different weight loss programs

How attitudes affect weight loss efforts

 

 

Please  share your goals and how you plan to make it happen.