Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weight Management through the Holidays - here we go!

The holiday season officially starts with Halloween and ends with a bang (and a jiggle and a wiggle) on New Year's Day. SCAN's Pulse magazine* reports that about half of a person's yearly weight gain occurs during these holiday months and some people can gain nearly 9 pounds during this time!

WHY? Well, the main culprits of weight gain include:
  • lack of portion control and just plain eating too much (think Thanksgiving Day and Holiday parties)
  • sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (think about all those alcoholic drinks as well..lots of Calories)
  • eating out (at Grandma's, parties, restaurants, etc.)
  • lack of exercise (it's cold, dark, and you are busy Christmas shopping, cooking, running errands after work)
  • stress  ('nuf said!)
All of these obstacles make weight management seem almost impossible this time of year. BUT, IT IS DOABLE! Let's start with Halloween.

Tricks to Avoid Overeating the Halloween Treats 
 (as previously posted in last year's blog...one of my most popular blogs!)
  1. Start at the store. Avoid buying the Halloween candies you love. For me, it is Kit Kat or Reese's PB cups, so I buy other types of candies to hand out at the door. After the big night is over, I won't have a bunch of leftover candies that I know I will eat.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid setting the big bowl of Halloween loot on the kitchen counter where you can easily walk by and eat several pieces without even realizing it. Put the candy in the pantry or cupboard, and instead put sliced fruit or veggies on the counter.
  3. Help friends & coworkers too. Avoid bringing all your extra candy to your workplace. I am a big advocate of workplace wellness. They too are probably watching their weight or trying to be healthy, so no need to sabotage their efforts. If you really want to get rid of the candy, just throw it out. Yes, it may be wasteful, but it's better than you and your coworkers being "Waist-FULL". 
  4. Be real. Allow yourself some treats, but do so in moderation! Make a deal with yourself about how many treats you will allow yourself each day and account for those calories in your daily calorie plan or workout schedule. 
  5. If you do go overboard on Halloween treats, DO NOT beat yourself up about it! Avoid the negative thoughts about yourself. It doesn't mean that you are "weak" or "worthless".  Avoid the all-or-nothing talk, like "I should just start my diet over again after the New Year."  Try to stay on track. Just own it, move on, and stay focused one day at a time.
  6. Use physical activity to help you through the Halloween munchies. Below are samples of some common Halloween candies and their calorie contents. As a guideline:  To "burn off" an additional 200 calories of Halloween treats you need to: walk 40 minutes, run 20 minutes, bicycle 25 minutes, or swim 25 minutes (based on a 150 lb. person). Walking the kids around the neighborhood on Halloween night is a good start!
Candy Corn, 22 pieces = 140 calories
Little Fun Size Bars of Nestle’s Crunch, Snicker's, Milky Way, Kit Kat, Hershey's chocolate, Reese's PB Cup, Butterfinger, Twix, Almond Joy, or similar = 70-100 calories each
Peanut M&M’s – 2 Fun Size Packs = 180 calories
M&M’s – 2 Fun Size Packs = 140 calories
York Peppermint Pattie – 1 pattie = 70 calories
Milk Duds – 1 treat size box = 40 calories
SweetTarts – 1 treat size pack = 50 calories
1 Tootsie Pop – 1 pop = 60 calories
1 Tootsie Roll – 1 small roll = 13 calories
Twizzlers – 1 treat size pack= 45 calories
Happy Holidays, and remember, you can do this!
*Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition group of the American Dietetic Association
SCAN website 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

President Obama declares September as National Childhood OBESITY Awareness Month

"I encourage all Americans to take action by learning about and engaging in activities that promote healthy eating and greater physical activity by all our Nation's children." - President Obama

Childhood Obesity is a complicated problem, and there is not just one sweeping solution to solve it. Perhaps if each one of us does a little bit each day to promote healthy eating and increase physical activity in our own families, then that's a step in the right direction.

Here's a link to the American Dietetic Association's nutrition tip sheets for ideas on healthy eating. 
They include:
  • 25 healthy snacks for kids
  • 20 ways to enjoy more fruits and veggies
  • Healthy eating on the run
  • Power up with breakfast .... and many more

 As far as physical activity goes, a minimum of 60 minutes per day of physical fitness activity is the goal for kids. Remember, this is the minimum, and you too should lead by example!  The American Heart Association has some great ideas to get kids up off the couch, away from the screen, and moving. Get the whole family involved!

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A few small changes by each American can create a powerful impact on our country's obesity epidemic. What will you change TODAY?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Healthy Tips for the 4th of July Holiday Weekend

Happy B-day USA!  

The 4th is on a Monday this year, which means the celebration will start Friday and continue all weekend long! The potential for multiple parties and BBQs makes for a fun weekend, but can really sabotage your summer diet. Follow these tips to help you celebrate in a healthful way.  You will feel better and enjoy the fireworks without the indigestion or the guilt.

Healthy Tips for the 4th of July Weekend! 
  1. Grill lean meats, fruits, and veggies instead of fatty sausages, hot dogs, and beef. You will thank yourself when it's all over.  Choose lean white meat chicken, turkey, or fish to BBQ and grill. In addition, grill up some tasty veggie and fruit kabobs. Include brightly colored fruit and veggie chunks on the kabobs: pineapples, mangoes, plums, nectarines, tomatoes, red and green peppers, onions, etc. These can be prepared a ahead of time, then just grill them quickly before chow time. This will add some vitamins and antioxidants to your meal, help you feel fuller, and reduce the amount of calories you eat.
  2. Tame your alcohol consumption. Alcohol consumption on a 3-day weekend is probably one of the biggest contributors to excess calorie intake. Beer, wine, and hard alcohol + mixers pack a huge calorie punch!  Drinking two 12oz Coronas before the grill is even turned on provides nearly 300 Calories! The two glasses of wine before dinner provide 250 Calories (assuming they are only 5-oz each...but who actually has only 5oz glasses of wine?).  Follow those up with more beer and wine during the meal (and an after-dinner drink) and you have consumed an entire meal's worth of Calories just from your alcoholic beverages! How can you help reduce these calories without giving up alcohol completely?  Decrease the portion size of your drink; choose lite beer instead of regular, lagers, or stouts; reduce consumption of the highly-sweetened hard alcohol mixers, and curtail your quantity!
  3. Get up off the lounge chair, beach chair, or couch and MOVE!  Fun activities like playing hoops, football, bocce ball, horseshoes, Frisbee, swimming, or walking along the beach or around the neighborhood can help burn some of the Calories consumed during the holiday celebrations. Plus, they are fun!
I hope that gives you some ideas for this upcoming weekend. I think I will try a few too!
God Bless America!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A great tool for weight management - The Hunger Scale

A typical scenario for an adult woman attempting to lose weight: She wakes up feeling full of will-power and ready to start her diet. She skips breakfast in an attempt to reduce calories. Ignoring her hunger, she has a very light lunch (salad and water) and feels happy she was able to ignore the hunger and stay below 400 calories for the day so far.  As the afternoon wears on, she becomes tired and fatigued (lack of food energy!), so she reaches for a 5-hour Energy shot to perk up. 5pm rolls around, and the hunger feelings have taken over her rational thoughts. She feels cranky and tired so she stops by Starbucks on the way home from work to grab a Venti Frapaccino. When she arrives home, she starts dinner while snacking on some Girl Scout cookies her daughter's troop was selling. She also samples dinner as she cooks. When dinner is ready, she piles her plate full of food, and feeling ravenous, finishes every bite in 5 minutes. Still feeling hungry, she goes back for seconds and finishes that too. A half-hour later, she feels bloated and stuffed, wishing she did not eat so much. Time for some Pepto. As the evening goes on, the kids decide to have some ice cream. She thinks to herself, "I skipped breakfast and had a healthy lunch, so I deserve some ice cream too". Still full from dinner, she eats a cup of ice cream with chocolate syrup.

Sound familiar? 
The bottom line is we eat (and don't eat) for many reasons OTHER THAN how hungry we are. Young children are very good at eating when hungry and stopping when full. Many adults have lost that ability.  We eat when we are not hungry because we may be happy, sad, socializing, celebrating, or mourning. And we don't eat when we are hungry because we are busy, sad, on diets, etc.

The HUNGER SCALE is a great tool to use to be sure you are eating for HUNGER and not some other reason. Many unwanted calories are eaten when we don't listen to our hunger cues. Use the chart above and the descriptions below to help you determine your stage of hunger. This will help you in your weight loss/weight management goals. Hang the Hunger Scale chart in your office, on your refrigerator, or in your pantry as a friendly reminder.

  • 1. Physically faint from hunger: You may have a headache. You can’t concentrate and feel dizzy. You may have trouble with coordination. You are totally out of energy and need to lie down. This may happen during a very restrictive diet.
  • 2. Ravenous: You are famished.  You’re irritable and cranky and very hungry, with little energy. You may even feel nauseous.
Do not let yourself get to a 1 or 2. It is at these stages where we make poor food choices and overeat because we are so hungry. 
We then find ourselves uncomfortably full at a 9 or 10. 
  • 3. Fairly Hungry: You have a strong urge to eat. You are feeling an emptiness in your stomach and your stomach is "growling". A good time to be eating.
  • 4. Slightly Hungry: You start to think about food. Your body is giving you the signal that you might want to eat. You are a little hungry.
  • 5. Neutral: Your body has enough fuel to keep it going and is physically and psychologically nearly satisfied.
  • 6. Pleasantly satisfied: You’re fully at the point of satisfaction. It is time to stop eating.
  • 7. Full: You’re past the point of satisfaction. You should have stopped eating by now.
Stages 3 through 7 are the safest stages. We should not let ourselves get hungrier than a 3 and we should avoid letting ourselves eat past a 7. 
  • 8. Stuffed: You are actually starting to hurt (need to unbuckle your pants?).  Maybe you shouldn’t have had more, but it tasted so good.
  • 9. Bloated: Completely overate. Need to grab the Pepto or Rolaids and sit down for a while. The after-effects feel really uncomfortable. Often happens at a buffet or "all-you-care to-eat" event. Maybe you didn’t eat all day, got yourself to a 1 or 2 on the Hunger Scale, ate too much too quickly, and ended up here at a 9.
  • 10. Nauseous: BEYOND FULL. Think Thanksgiving Day feeling – you are physically miserable, don’t want to or can’t move, and feel like you never want to look at food again. aka "Food Coma"
Obviously, we want to avoid Stages 8, 9, & 10 because the over-eating and large portions lead to weight gain...plus, it just plain hurts! 

Try using the Hunger Scale today. See if you can break the vicious cycle of letting yourself get ravenously hungry and then overeating until you are stuffed and bloated. It will help you feel better and also help control your weight.

Fuel Excellence!