Weekly Health Message – Snacking is not just a weight risk

Weekly Health Message – Snacking is not just a weight risk

Snacking is not just a weight risk

Regular junk food snacking brings many risks. Processed foods are typically filled with loads of unhealthy saturated fats and high amounts of salt, calories, added sugar, and refined (unhealthy) grains. Eating too much of these foods can lead to increased blood sugar, constipation, or an increased LDL cholesterol level (which boosts the risk for heart disease).

If your snacking habits are off the rails, here are some tips to get back on track.

  • Keep junk food out of the house. Without junk food lying around, you won’t be tempted to eat it.
  • Plan healthy snacks. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with healthy snack foods such as fat-free Greek yogurt, berries, chopped vegetables, nuts (walnuts, almonds), hummus, or whole wheat crackers. Plan your daily snacks in advance, so you’ll be more likely to snack wisely.
  • Zero in on hunger. Before snacking, ask yourself whether you’re hungry or just thirsty. A good way to tell drink an eight-ounce glass of water and then wait 10 to 15 minutes. If you’re still hungry, have a healthy snack.
  • Don’t eat straight from the bag or carton. If you snack on an open bag of crackers or a tub of frozen yogurt, you may eat more than a single serving. Instead, portion out your serving in a dish.
  • Eat mindfully. Turn off the TV, put down your phone, and pay attention to your snack. Savoring a piece of fine chocolate can be more satisfying than mindlessly gobbling down a whole chocolate bar.

For more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/healthy-eating-tips/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/division-information/media-tools/adults-fruits-vegetables.html

 

Weekly Health Message – Meditation: A key to lower stress

Weekly Health Message – Meditation: A key to lower stress

Meditation: A key to lower stress

There was a great deal of stress during the first year of the pandemic, and stress is associated with increased cortisol. Increased cortisol has been associated with increased intake of hyperpalatable foods, which are foods high in salt, fat, or both. There is also evidence that our bodies metabolize food more slowly when under stress. In addition, stress and high cortisol levels are associated with increased belly fat, which puts people at risk for diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Find the fun in stress reduction strategies.

Meditation. It has been around for over 5,000 years for a reason. Meditation works well for many people and has many benefits. It can lower stress, anxiety, and chronic pain as well as improve sleep, energy levels, and mood. To meditate, you will need to:

  1. Find a quiet place.
  2. Get comfortable (sitting or lying down).
  3. Focus your attention on a word, phrase, object, or even your breath.
  4. Let your thoughts come and go and do not judge them.

For more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/howrightnow/emotion/stress/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/emres/longhourstraining/relax.html

Weekly Health Message – “Did we really gain weight during the pandemic?”

Weekly Health Message – “Did we really gain weight during the pandemic?”

Did we really gain weight during the pandemic?

This question intrigued researchers. So, they examined patient data from electronic health records. Specifically, they looked at 15 million patients’ weight changes the year prior to the start of the pandemic, and then weight change for one year over the course of the pandemic. As it turns out, 39% of patients gained weight during the pandemic, with weight gain defined as above the normal fluctuation of 2.5 pounds. Approximately 27% gained less than 12.5 pounds and about 10% gained more than 12.5 pounds, with 2% gaining over 27.5 pounds.

Whether you gained or lost weight during quarantine, you are not alone

Where do we go from here? If you gained weight during quarantine, you have an opportunity to change your habits and work to follow the six pillars of lifestyle medicine (exercise, healthy eating, sound sleep, social connections, stress resilience, and avoiding risky substance use) to help you lose weight, improve your health, and enhance your sense of well-being. Here are ways to avoid slow weight gain over the years.

  • Move your body in a fun way every day. Work to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Find a workout buddy you can check in with each day or week.
  • Eat more plants. Vegetables have phytonutrients that help to fight disease, and fiber that helps to feed the microbiome in your gut that ferments the fiber into short-chain fatty acids like acetate, butyrate, and propionate, which in turn help with regulating your metabolism and your immune system.
  • Sit less. Make sure to get up off your chair every hour and move around. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, get up every half hour.
  • Eat fewer processed foods. Don’t buy them. Try to eat foods that don’t come in a package or a can.

Reference: https://ehrn.org/articles/pandemic-pound-theories-dont-hold-weight

 

Weekly Health Message – “What are the best ways to trim my waist?”

Weekly Health Message – “What are the best ways to trim my waist?”

What are the best ways to trim my waist?

Excess belly fat (called visceral fat) creates serious health risks, even if you are only mildly overweight. So, it’s great that you want to reduce it. Visceral fat lies deep inside your abdomen, below the layer of subcutaneous fat just underneath the skin. Visceral fat also can surround the intestines, liver, and other abdominal organs. It takes a multipronged approach to shrink visceral fat. Here are five areas you should address.

Aerobic exercise. Do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five or more days per week. Better yet, strive to get 45 to 60 minutes each day. Even if you don’t lose weight with aerobics, you can lose visceral fat as well as gain muscle mass.

Resistance training. Aim for two to three sessions per week with free weights, bands, machines, or push-ups.

Carbs and fiber. Choose complex carbohydrates and high-fiber foods over simple carbs found in sugary foods and beverages, especially those containing fructose. Of all carbs, fructose may add the most inches to waistlines as it can trigger cravings and overeating.

Sleep. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep. Too little sleep or too much are both associated with a greater accumulation of visceral fat.

Stress. Chronic stress raises your cortisol level, which stimulates the formation of abdominal fat. Make time every day for activities that help with relaxation.

To get more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/healthy-weight.html

Weekly Health Message – Does the AHA recommend a Mediterranean-style diet?

Weekly Health Message – Does the AHA recommend a Mediterranean-style diet?

“Mediterranean diet” is a generic term based on the traditional eating habits in the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

A Mediterranean-style diet can help you achieve the American Heart Association’s recommendations for a healthy dietary pattern that:

  • Emphasizes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes.
  • Includes low-fat or fat-free dairy products, fish, poultry, non-tropical vegetable oils and nuts; and
  • Limits added sugars, sugary beverages, sodium, highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and fatty or processed meats.

This style of eating can play a big role in preventing heart disease and stroke and reducing risk factors such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. There is evidence that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil help the body remove excess cholesterol from arteries and keep blood vessels open.

https://www.nutrition.va.gov/docs/UpdatedPatientEd/Mediterraneandiet.pdf

 

Weekly Health Message – Stay Fit During the Holidays!

Weekly Health Message – Stay Fit During the Holidays!

The winter holiday season is the most critical time for weight gain. On average we may gain about one pound within a short time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Even if you only gain 1 pound during the holiday season, the weight adds up and can reach 10 to 20 pounds over a decade.

Here are some of the tips you can follow to stay active:

Set Goals: The holidays can get so busy and hectic that an important activity such as exercise might simply fall to the wayside. To avoid forgetting about workouts, make exercise appointments on your calendar, and keep these appointments just as you would any other. Be realistic with your exercise goals and be consistent. For example, if you’re having trouble getting motivated, commit to at least 10 minutes of exercise per day.

Play with Kids: During the holiday season, you’re likely to be around more small children than usual. Take advantage of having the little ones around and try to feed off of their holiday excitement. You can chase the active toddlers around the house or take the older kids on a stroll around the neighborhood to check out holiday decorations. You’ll be squeezing in a workout during the manic holiday season, and it’s likely that the kids will put you in the holiday spirit.

Work out Indoors: Working out can be difficult during the holidays for people who like to exercise outdoors. Taking a walk or going for a run might be next to impossible in freezing temperatures. Climb up and down the stairs in your house for a good cardio workout. Focus on weight training, Palates, yoga or invest in some fitness videos to stay trim during the holiday season. You could even put some of these items on your gift wish list.

Wear a Pedometer: It’s important to keep track of how active you are during the holidays. Chances are that when it’s chilly and dark outside as you’re leaving the office, you’re going to be less active than when it’s warm and sunny when you head home from work. To make sure you’re staying active during the winter season, wear a pedometer to keep track of how much you’re moving around.

For more information about physical activities please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm