Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The mind-body connection is well documented in supporting a successful weight loss effort. But can hypnosis help? It can be effective, for some people, for certain behaviors. If that sounds like a lukewarm response, read on.
When it comes to weight loss, it’s all about calories in and calories out. Studies show that where hypnosis can help is to support positive behavior change. If your expectation for hypnosis is to take away your hunger, that’s an unrealistic expectation.
When it’s effective, hypnosis can modify a specific behavior related to eating. Eating behaviors like eliminating candy, not eating in the movies, or cutting out processed foods can be changed with regular practice of hypnosis. And the key work is regular. Like other behavior changing strategies, hypnosis is not a one-shot treatment. It must be practiced regularly, over time for sustained effect.
If you’re interested, look for a credentialed specialist. Many psychologists have special training and are certified in this area.
Friday, June 24, 2011
The recent outbreak of toxic E-coli bacteria in Germany was linked to sprouts, killing at least 31 people, and making another 3,000 people sick. This year, at least two American growers have recalled sprouts contaminated with salmonella.
When you realize how these tasty add-ons are "sprouted" from the seeds - in a warm, moist environment - it's not hard to see how vulnerable they are to bacterial contamination. Many companies use a concentrated chlorine solution to soak the sprouts, to kill off bacteria; others use a combination of chlorine and a hot-water process.
Outbreaks in the US have been reported for at least the past decade, despite more rigorous attention to possible contamination. So, what to do? The FDA advises that children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems should not eat raw sprouts. What about for the rest of us? The good news is that cooking does kill bacteria - and that's an option that works for everyone.
I'd think twice before consuming raw sprouts of any kind. They are delicious, and packed with nutrients - but food safety issues are a very real problem. Current technology can limit, but not eliminate bacterial contamination, so proceed with caution!
Are you a sprout-lover? I'd love to hear how you're managing with this problem!
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
But how do you create a new habit? Is it the mantra of the Nike commercials – “Just do it”? Change of any kind is difficult. Studies show that it takes about 3 weeks of daily repetition to form a new habit.
This means daily action, not just thinking about the behavior.
Forming a habit gets a lot easier after the first few days, the time of greatest challenge to sticking with a new behavior. Whether it’s a 30-minute walk, eating breakfast, or flossing your teeth, it’s all about individual small habits that lead to long-term success.
Think small, and success will follow. Instead of saying “I’m cutting out soda and only drinking water,” try “I’m cutting out soda, and will choose water and other low-calorie drinks like herbal tea, and low-calorie sweetened sodas and drinks.” Rather than aim for a one hour walk every day, try a 30-minute walk, 3-4 times a week as a minimum, and do more often when you can.
It’s all about what you are both “willing” and “able” to do. Set a realistic goal, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it for 3 weeks or so, and form that new healthy habit.
How have you formed some healthy habits? Please share your thoughts!
Friday, June 17, 2011
by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom
If you’ve read a food label recently, you might compare it to an encyclopedia entry. So much information packed into such a tiny space!
And it’s not just reading the label – but translating this information to support an informed choice. A lot depends on your own personal needs.
- Trying to lose or gain weight? Serving size and calories matter most.
- Eating for heart health? The amount and type of fat are key.
- Blood pressure issues? Salt is a primary concern.
- Diabetic? Sugars take on major importance.
Don’t be fooled by “front of the package” information that seems like a short-cut to the back panel label. The information on the front is not regulated by the FDA, and often more of an eye-catcher than a source of accurate information. Words like “good source of whole grain” and “supports a healthy immune system” sure sound healthy, but don’t mean a lot when it comes to nutrient-rich foods.
A good rule of thumb is to start at the top of the label. Look at the calories and serving size – and how many servings are in the whole package. Feel free to adjust the recommended serving size – and downsize if you want less. A one cup standard portion of brown rice (at 200 calories per cup) might be too much for a side-dish, but cutting that to ½ cup serving can be just right.
With a little practice, label-reading becomes quick and automatic. It’s worth the effort!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
If you’d like to pick up your own pace – become what I call a “mindful mover.” That’s adding extra steps in your day. Walk around when you’re on the phone, park further away from your destination, or deliver a message in person instead of sending an e-mail. It’s this activity of daily living that can help boost your effort, and help you accumulate 30 minutes daily.
Too tired to exercise? Most of us have a hard time separating “physical fatigue” from “mental fatigue.” An easy way to figure this out is by wearing a pedometer to track your daily steps. If you’re exhausted at the end of a day, and clocking 2500 steps, it’s likely mental tiredness. If you’re closer to 10,000 daily steps – your physical activity is sufficient.
But don’t stop at 10,000 steps if you have more energy. Many people don’t realize that 10,000 steps is a goal meant to be exceeded! Do more if you can, and find ways to enjoy moving more. Of course, get your doctor’s okay before you change your activity pattern.
Friday, June 10, 2011
As a nation, we’re all so focused on the “value added” of foods – how much nutrition can you pack into one food – that additions of nutrients like fiber to foods that don’t normally contain it seems quite normal. But is all of this added fiber always a health plus?
We DO need at least 20 grams of fiber daily for good health – but is that a lot? It’s the amount in 5 servings of fruits and vegetables or whole grains (average fiber content is 3 – 6 grams per serving). You can mix and match with these natural sources of dietary fiber to meet your requirements (and support digestive health!). So, upping your intake of these foods, boosts your fiber intake – a win-win!
But you don’t want to make the mistake of replacing these natural sources with fiber added to other products, no matter how convenient. These foods can help support, but never replace naturally occurring fiber in foods.
And watch out for these super-fiber cereals and wraps – sometimes containing 10 grams of fiber per serving – half your daily intake at once! They can often cause stomach upset if you’re using it as a “quick fix” to boost your fiber intake.
If you want to increase your fiber intake, do it gradually – an extra serving added once each week – about 5 grams. Add an extra glass or two of water, which is a must-do, in a fiber-rich diet to keep digestion normal. (fruits and veggies are nature’s perfect pairing: a fiber rich, high-fiber food!)
A word of caution – if you’re considering a fiber supplement, check with your doctor first. They’re not a health-plus for everyone – so some personal medical feedback is essential.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Unveiled last Thursday, the plate is a real eye opener for many people. About half the plate is labeled for fruits and vegetables, with one-quarter of the plate for protein, and the remaining one-quarter for grains. Dairy products are represented as a small circle beside the plate. While that might suggest a glass of milk, it can also be plain yogurt or cheese (choose low or non-fat products).
Detailed advice on this new approach is available at ChooseMyPlate.gov. This is a giant improvement over the old pyramid (for example, what is the significance of that little man dancing up the side??), and definitely provides an easy-to-use visual of the food groups you want to include daily. Foods. It doesn’t have much info about the types of foods nor the amounts; but you can find this on ChooseMyPlate.org. And it’s important to check out the site, for specific guidelines of what to eat. It’s also a great teaching tool, especially for busy families. It is definitely a practical framework from which to begin a healthy meal plan.
While it IS a challenge in the fruit and veggie department – most people are eating no more than 25% of their plate in produce – this new emphasis on fruits and vegetables is a way to get people at least thinking about ways to boost their intake to the recommended 50%. And food manufacturers are supporting this idea, and are working to develop additional healthier products on the shelves.
Do you like this approach? Pro-plate or pro-pyramid? Post your opinion!
Friday, June 3, 2011
When it comes to eating, we all have different patterns that pertain to our daily lives. When you take a step back, and look at the kind of eater you are, it’s a lot easier to design a plan that works for you. Sticking with your natural tendencies is an easy boost to your confidence. When you accept that it’s all about calories in, and calories out, it makes sense that there are multiple variations of this theme – and no special secrets involving food combinations or extreme restrictions.
Here are some of diet personality types that I see everyday. Do you recognize yourself in any of them? Are you a:
(1) 3-meal a day eater or a grazer?
(2) Carb-lover or a meat-eater?
(3) Restaurant eater or at-home cook?
(4) Volume eater or intense flavor eater?
(5) Day eater or Night eater?
There are solutions to manage all of these preferences that sustain weight loss and maintenance. If you’ve struggled with a plan – and wonder why it’s not working for you, while others have succeeded, take a closer look at your eating style. Maybe the plan is just not a good fit for you.
Awareness of your diet personality can make the difference between weight loss frustration and success!
Here is a recent podcast where you can hear me discussing more about Diet Personalities.
Diet Personalities by Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom by UPMChealthplan