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Category Archives: Weight Loss Nutrition

Chicken and Avocado Cups

Posted on July 10, 2020 by

Savory goodness packed in a cup!

Ingredients
6 oz. chicken breast, cooked & chopped
3 oz. cream cheese
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 avocados, halved & pitted
½ cup parmesan cheese 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray small muffin pan or line with paper cups.
  2. Cut & pit avocados. Scoop a bit from the center to enlarge the cup. Add to bowl with remaining ingredients.
  3. Place avocado halves into muffin pan to stabilize.
  4. Mix ingredients together and divide into avocado halves.
  5. Bake until cheese is melted. Approx. 10-12 minutes.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories           372
Total Fat          30g
Total Carbohydrates 14g
Dietary Fiber       8g
Protein           16g

Note: You can substitute the cherry tomatoes with sundried tomato for a little different taste!  Using light or fat-free cream cheese will also reduce the calories and fat in this dish.

Print Recipe: Chicken Avocado Cups

Chicken and Mushroom Skillet

Posted on June 29, 2020 by

Simple flavors that pack a punch!

Ingredients
4 chicken breast halves
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tbls butter
8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced thick
1/3 cup dry white wine (or water) 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Sprinkle each chicken breast with salt & pepper.
  3. Heat 1 Tbls butter in cast iron (or heavy skillet) over medium-high heat. Cook until browned and turn over.
  4. Add mushrooms and increase heat. Stir until mushrooms start to soften.
  5. Place skillet in preheated oven and bake for 18-20 minutes.
  6. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside. Place skillet back on burner over medium-high heat. Juices will start to crust.
  7. Add wine (or water) to skillet and stir. Allow to reduce and stir in remaining butter.
  8. Stir to coat mushrooms.
  9. Plate chicken and top with mushrooms. Serve with green veggie or salad.

Makes 4 servings

Nutrition Facts: (with wine)
Calories          176
Total Fat           8g
Total Carbohydrates  2g
Dietary Fiber       .5g
Protein           20g

Print Recipe: Chicken and Mushroom Skillet

Cucumber Noodle Salad

Posted on May 06, 2020 by

You’ll want to serve this often – so easy to toss together and it looks like you fussed!

Ingredients
1 English cucumber
1 large carrot
3 Tbls lime juice
1 tsp honey
2 tsp olive oil
2 green onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tbls peanuts, chopped small

Directions

  1. Mix lime juice, honey, olive oil, green onions, garlic, red pepper flakes & cilantro together in medium bowl.
  2. Spiralize or cut cucumber & carrots. Allow cucumber to sit on paper towel for a few minutes to absorb excess moisture.
  3. Add cucumber & carrot to dressing and toss. Top with chopped peanut & serve!

Note: I used a large spiralizer blade for the cucumbers and a small one for the carrots. Both cucumber and carrots could be cut in rounds or julienne strips.

Makes 2-3 servings

Nutrition Facts:
Calories       125
Total Fat        7g
Total Carbohydrates 16g
Dietary Fiber   3g
Protein        3g

Meal Planning Tips and Menu Ideas

Posted on March 24, 2020 by

Now, more than ever, it’s important to plan your meals and snacks.  If you’re working from home, the kitchen & pantry are just too close for comfort! Really, the last thing you want to get out of your time in quarantine is a larger waistline.

Take the time you’re saving by not commuting and plan your next week or 2 of meals and snacks.  It’s easier than you may think.  Use this handy template or create your own on a whiteboard – whatever works for you!  CFWLS Weekly Meal Planner

Where to start?

  1. Consider how much protein you need for your day.  What is your carbohydrate cap? These are the first 2 things you need to think about.
  2. Make a list of all of the proteins and vegetables in your freezer, refrigerator & pantry. These are things you won’t need to add to your grocery list and a good start for your menu plan.
  3. Find recipes that use the primary ingredients that you have on hand. A great place to start is our Blog page or our Pinterest page. Pick out 4 or 5 to try this week. Most of them are quick & easy and use ingredients that you have on hand or are easy to find. The nutritional information is included but you may need to adjust for serving size if you’re eating less than indicated.
  4. You will want to use the perishables first so look at the proteins & veggies you found in the frig. They will be the key additions to your meals and snacks the early part of your week. I find it easiest to start with dinner (or the main meal of the day) and work from there. Pencil in those meals and you’ve begun!
  5. Fill in the remaining main meals with recipes that contain the items that you found in your freezer and add any missing ingredients to your shopping list.
  6. Breakfasts don’t have to be complicated. Protein shakes, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and the like can be quick and satisfying options. Stay away from any starchy items in your pantry as they tend to lead you toward a slippery slope when it comes to carbs later in the day. Pencil in your week with healthy options that you have and add any missing things to your list.
  7. I leave lunches until last because it’s a great place to use the leftovers from any previous meals. Figure out what you will have left over and slip it into your lunches for the week.  Keep in mind that the end of the week dinners may slip into next week’s plan.
  8. Snacks will be used to make up the rest of your protein target.  Keep in mind that many of these sources will also have carbohydrates so choose wisely.  Here’s our handy ‘Sack Lunch and Snack Ideas Trifold‘ handout for reference.
  9. Now, before you forget, order those missing items from your local grocery store.  Online shopping has made it easy but keep in mind that the wait time right now is longer than normal. You may need to plan on picking up your items (or having them delivered) will be 2 or 3 days out and some items may be out of stock. (plan for allowances) You can refer to our Low Carb Shopping List for more ideas to keep on hand for next week.

Additional resources:
Low Carb Substitutions for Cooking & Baking
Tips on Cooking and Low-Carb Eating
Baritastic Tips – A Great Tracking Tool!
CFWLS Monthly Menu Planner – for long range planning
Kids lunch and snack handout
Menu planner – 3 weeks – these are done for you but you can switch it up a bit!

Enjoy! This can truly be a fun and rewarding experience and is a great teaching tool for family members. Get the kids involved – they catch on quickly.

Reach out to me with any questions! Dawn@CFWLS.com

Fiber and the Facts

Posted on January 27, 2020 by

Fiber is good. There’s no doubt in my mind. Is it as good as some people claim? The best thing about fiber is all the nutrition that it carries with it. The best fiber comes from food. The best fiber foods have no labels on them. Basically it’s the vegetable/salad stuff we prepare ourselves.

Most people don’t get enough fiber. It can help with bowel function. The best fiber foods are from salad and colorful vegetables. A lot of nutrients in there like vitamins and minerals. Eating clean is basically purchasing the food and preparing it.

Fiber foods are usually a mixture between soluble and insoluble.  Soluble fiber means it dissolves in water. Insoluble doesn’t dissolve in water. It pulls water in. All plants have fiber. It’s the non-digestible part of the plant. We can only digest certain parts of plants. Fiber is everything else. I’ll give an example of carb blockers. Basically a carb blocker takes the digestible part of some of the plants, (carbohydrate), and makes the absorbable part non-absorbable.  It acts more like fiber because fiber is a non-absorbable carbohydrate. Soluble fiber can be found in foods such as barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and fruits. Some of them are still very high in carbohydrate. Just because it may be “healthy” and contains fiber, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to help you lose weight. Eating healthy and losing weight are two different things.  Fruit has a lot of fiber in it. Most of that is soluble fiber (mostly citrus fruits). Many vegetable have a lot of soluble fiber. They also have insoluble fiber.  Insoluble fiber is a whole wheat/whole grain type of thing.

Fiber can potentially help with weight loss. It does tend to make us feel full, especially insoluble fiber because it pulls water in and swells. There are things out there sold as weight loss products. They’re fiber tablets that swell. There is something new coming out on the market. They’re little tablets that have microfibers that absorb water. They swell up and make you feel full. They break down again, and you just pass them through. In theory that can be very helpful. It’s working on that same principle that fiber itself makes you feel fuller, therefore fewer calories.

Fiber is a misunderstood nutrient

People often “know” fiber is important, but not much more than that. Fiber is found naturally in plants. It’s the non-digestible part of the plants. It’s the part of the plants that don’t break down in your intestines. They pass through your system undigested and end up as stool. The average person gets about 15 grams a day (25-30 recommended).  Dietary fiber can be soluble or insoluble. Plants often contain both types. Both types are important and potentially have health benefits. The health benefit is probably the whole food that contains the fiber.  Whether you’re getting the health benefit from fiber itself has never actually been proven.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water. Because it absorbs water, soluble fiber becomes a viscous gel and may slow absorption of other carbs and cholesterol products. It can also be fermented by the bacteria along the intestinal tract. We can’t digest the fiber. The fiber itself can be a good source of nutrition to the bacteria that live along our intestinal tract. That means that certain plants can potentially cause certain individuals more “gas”, bloating, cramping, and diarrhea. Some of this is because everybody’s microflora is a little different. Subsequently, if you have more of the bacteria that cause this bloating and cramping, you’re going to be more susceptible.  Good sources of soluble fiber are: oats, dried beans, barley, flax seed, carrots, oranges, and apples. Again, a lot of these healthy foods don’t necessarily help you lose weight.

Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in water. It absorbs water which increases bulk and softens stools and shortens intestinal transit time. It swells up like a sponge. It aids in constipation and diarrhea. Food sources for insoluble fiber: leafy vegetables, fruit skins, whole grain products, bran products, seeds and nuts. There’s a question of whether it can prevent cancer. Early studies say potentially it can. Later studies show there may not be anything to that. That doesn’t mean it’s not healthy.

Fiber supplements are different from fiber in food. The best fiber comes from real food. Almost all the studies done on high fiber diets were done on fiber-based foods. The question is whether the benefit came from the fiber or the healthy foods containing the fiber? Studies done on people taking fiber supplements don’t really show any benefits. Although, it does help with regular bowel movements. But does it actually improve other health benefits? Doubtful. Fiber supplements are made from “functional” fibers from plants. The two that are often used are inulin and oligofructose. These can act as prebiotics (what the bacteria live on).  The prebiotics can stimulate the growth of the beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics means supplying the healthy bacteria with a good food source. The hope is that they will grow more and help you. It actually makes a lot of sense. Some of these supplements are: psyllium, guar gum, pectin, and cellulose. Many products just have different amounts of the soluble and insoluble fibers. You have to watch for abdominal gas/bloating, cramping and diarrhea. Then the question is can it bind with other nutrients preventing their absorption? You should take your medications separate from your fiber supplements. Fiber supplements have never been shown to have the same benefits as fiber-rich food.

What’s the real “poop”?  Why did we think fiber was good to begin with? The original theory of fiber being good for us began in the 1960’s. Many disease processes were due not to the increase in processed sugar/carbs, but rather to the lack of fiber. Small studies supported this. In the 1970’s the “fiber hypothesis” became dogma, theorizing that fiber would prevent many of the world’s diseases: intestinal problems, weight, breast cancer, colon cancer, CHO, etc.… Between 1994-2006, long term studies involving over 180,000 people revealed NO beneficial effect on colon/breast cancer, heart disease or weight loss. The benefit is probably all the extra nutritional benefits come from high fiber foods, not the fiber itself. The belief that fiber is an intrinsic part of a “healthy diet” has been kept alive by factors that have little to do with science. The high fiber foods are nutritionally dense.

The best fiber comes from food: leafy greens and colorful veggies. Don’t worry about the “kind” unless you are seeking a specific health benefit.  Remember a few things if you’re taking fiber supplements. Start out slowly. Gradually increase the amount each day. Drink plenty of water. Some of the fiber pulls in the water. Spread the fiber out throughout the day. And, separate your fiber supplements from your medications. Realize that not all the implied “health benefits” are real.  Nutrition benefits can be very real; the whole foods.

 

We carry fiber supplements in our CFWLS Nutritional Store as well – you can pick them up onsite or order online!

Weight Loss…Simplified

Posted on January 20, 2020 by

The goal is to identify essential weight loss principles that you can use starting today for both medical and surgical patients. I’ll throw in a few “random thoughts” by Dr. Clark telling you my though process. One of my favorite quotes and favorite people, Albert Einstein, said “If you can’t explain it simply, then you don’t understand it well enough.” So, hopefully I can explain it simply.

It often seems like weight loss concepts and principles are significantly different between medical patients and surgical patients. Nothing could be further from the truth. The principles and concepts are exactly the same thing. The weight loss principles for a patient will be the same post weight loss surgery. They just have a slightly different anatomy. The essence of any weight loss plan will always be behavior modification. Change what you do, whether it’s nutritional or activity level. Change (weight loss) will not occur unless you change your behavior. Sometimes we’re waiting for the life around us to change or people around us the change. The reality is that’s never going to happen. If you don’t change, change will never occur. Don’t wait for someone else to change for you.

Energy storage is extremely important for survival. If we couldn’t store energy, we would have to eat continuously. We can store energy in 2 ways. We can store it as fat or we can store it as glycogen. Storing energy as fat is unlimited. We can store hundreds of pounds of fat. Even a thin persona has a lot of fat storage. Even a 200 pound male with 10% body fat has 70,000 available calories. That’s a lot of stored calories! We can’t store very much glycogen (sugar). We can only store about 2000 calories. Most of the glycogen is in the muscle. The muscle doesn’t like to give up any of this energy (it’s kinda selfish). The liver is unselfish. It will share sugar. What’s the problem with this?  The problem is just because you may have a tremendous amount of stored energy as fat does not mean that you have unrestricted access to it. Unfortunately it’s not very accessible.

What do we do here at The Center for Weight Loss Success? We have 2 comprehensive programs. We also have a full fitness center, nutritional store, clinical area, educational classroom, behavior modification classes, weekly live webinars, weight loss meds, Hormone Replacement Therapy, and more. We have a 6 month medical program referred to as “Weight Management University™.” We have a 12 month post-surgical program called, “Weight Management for Weight Loss Surgery™.” Both of these programs are very similar. A lot of the topics in the programs are interchangeable. The medical program has 14 different topics. The surgical program has 12 topics. The difference is how we present them. We put them in different order because they become pertinent at different times depending if you’ve had surgery or not.

The real question is:  how do you do it?? The dietary plan, activity plan, and behavior modification changes don’t take place immediately just because someone has undergone weight loss surgery. There should not be a “cloud of mystique” that surrounds someone who has had weight loss surgery. We didn’t change things by operating on you.

My job is to figure out why someone is overweight. Then, I have to figure out what are the right “things” to do for that individual. Finally, (the hard part), is how that individual implements those things and make them a lifestyle. Part of that is being willing and able to do those things in order to lose the weight. That’s a very important concept and mindset for anyone, especially with weight loss. Some people are just natural athletes. They may have never picked up a golf club. But when they do, they’re able to play pretty darn well. Other people might have to practice really hard but are mediocre at the sport. Is there a difference?  Maybe some of us will never be pro golfers. But if we practice and work at it we will get better. All weight loss surgery does is just exaggerate the “normal” weight loss curve. The normal weight loss curve is this: you go on a specific diet and lose weight. Then you’re weight is going to stabilize. You might regain a little bit. With weight loss surgery you lose weight much quicker, greater weight loss, and it lasts longer. Long term it’s still doing all the same things. One of the “downfalls” of WLS is….it works! Because WLS works so well, people often think they’re doing the right things. You’re going to lose weight the first few months no matter what you do, but if you don’t do all the right things long term you will find that you’re going to start struggling. You need to do all the right things. Weight loss is something we work on forever. It’s a process. You’ve got to do the right things. Are you willing and able to do the right things?

I’ll sometimes see people back in the office several years after having WLS. They’ve gained weight. Or, I see people who were successful in the Medical program but they return because they’ve gained weight back. No one gains weight due to a deficiency of surgery. Some people say they need surgery because they’re gaining weight. Likewise, no one gains weight due to a deficiency of phentermine or any other weight loss medication.  They gain weight because they are eating and/or doing the wrong things. As physicians sometimes we contribute to that. There are certain medications that physicians prescribe that cause weight gain.

The concept of eating is, “How little can I eat and be satisfied.” It’s not, “How much can I cram in there.” The difference between those two thought processes is about 20-25%.  It’s often the difference between losing weight and keeping it off, and gaining weight. Long-term the pattern of eating needs to be 3 meals a day +/- a planned snack. No one has ever starved in 3 hours. If your mind is telling you it’s time to eat something, but it’s not time to eat, drink some water or do something else. Meals should be small plate size. The best food has absolutely no labels. It’s eating green and clean.

The Basics

The “Basics” of the eating plan are calories, protein, and carbohydrates. Everyone has a calorie “ceiling.” If you go above it, you gain weight. It does not mean that if you stay below the calorie ceiling you will lose weight. You can’t survive without protein. Preserving lean body mass is key. We talk about this all the time. The best protein source is from food. Everyone has a carbohydrate “tipping point.” A certain level of carb intake makes insulin levels rise. Insulin turns on fat storage. Some people have a very high tipping point. They can eat just about whatever they want to and never gain a pound. They don’t have a better physiology. They have a more efficient physiology. If what you eat increases your insulin levels. It turns on fat storage. If you eat a mountain of lettuce and it makes your blood sugar go up, it will also make your insulin level go up. One thing you can do is get a blood sugar monitor and check your blood sugar after you eat.

I have a few things for you to “chew” on.  “Kinda” working on weight loss will never help.  You can’t, for example, do a good job during the week and then go crazy on the weekends. If you’re only going to do one thing, count your carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate is not an essential nutrient and there is no such thing as carbohydrate deficiency. Carbohydrate influences insulin which is the “fat storage” hormone. If you don’t make insulin, you cannot store fat. One of the first symptoms of a Type I diabetic who does not make insulin is that they are losing weight like crazy. They can’t store fat. Two thirds of the population is “carb sensitive.” If they eat carbs they get large blood sugar swings. Large blood sugar swings cause 2 major problems:  symptoms (headaches, irritability, shaky, not thinking clearly) and weight gain.

What do blood sugar swings actually mean?

If your blood sugar level is 100, what does that actually mean? That’s at the higher end actually. We would rather that it be 80. Each of us has about 5 liters of blood in our body. When we say that your blood sugar is 100 mg/dl, that means there is 5 grams of sugar in your entire blood volume. There’s 1 gram in each of those liters. How much sugar is 1 gram? If you have just 5 grams of carbohydrate, in theory you will double your blood sugar. If it was 100, it will jump to 200 after eating 5 grams of carbohydrate.  Examples of 5 grams of sugar (1 tsp): ½ Oreo, 1 triscuit, 1/5 banana, ¼ apple, ¼ slice of bread. I often have patients come into the office and say, “Well I only had…” It only takes a little bit and you’ve doubled your blood sugar. The point of all this is that it doesn’t take much carbohydrate to give you tremendous blood sugar swings.

In review, the Basics of the eating plan include: a calorie ceiling, sufficient protein, and a carbohydrate tipping point. The trick is to figure out the numbers. If you’re a woman who’s had WLS, if you get about 1200 calories you’ll struggle. If you’re a man and get about 1500-1600 calories you’ll probably struggle. Protein is based on lean body mass. It almost always comes around 90-100grams/day. It depends on how big you are. A male with a much bigger frame is going to need more protein. We typically say less than 50 grams a day. Some patients are so sensitive they need to be in the 20-30 gram range to really see good weight loss. What about fat? I’m not concerned too much unless it drives your calories too high. You want to try and stick to the monounsaturated fats. There are good and bad fats. They do tend to influence calories. Fat does not affect the hormones the affect weight. Carbohydrate and protein do affect hormones that affect weight.

The best foods have no labels

The best foods have no labels. Eat just 3 things. We would die without water. Water is the best thing to drink. Get rid of everything else. Good protein sources are meat, seafood, cheese and eggs. They have basically no carbohydrates. Eat colorful vegetables/salad stuff which is typically low calorie, nutrient dense, and fairly low carbohydrate. If it falls outside the “core,” then don’t eat it!

Dr. Clark’s low carb diet simplified (LCDS) is avoiding these three things: starches, “crumbly” carbs, and watching the fruit. Fruit can be the downfall of any weight loss plan. I’ve heard so many people say they eat healthy (including a lot of fruit). Fruit is healthy. There’s no doubt about that. However, it won’t help you lose weight. Healthy and losing weight are two different things. The main starches to avoid are potato, rice, pasta and bread. The “crumbly” carbs (6 “C”s) are chips, cookies, cereal, cake and candy. That includes hot cereal too. It’s simple to understand but NOT easy to do! Simple does not equate with easy.

A good weight loss plan includes a good diet/nutrition plan, activity/exercise plan, and behavior modification. There is no difference between surgical and medical weight loss patients trying to lose weight. The hard part is behavior modification.

We can help you get started! Call us at 757-873-1880 to schedule a free consultation if you are interested in a non-surgical program or watch our free weight loss surgery webinar.

Food Triggers & Dietary Disasters

Posted on January 13, 2020 by

A lot of times emotions can turn on that “feeding frenzy.” Or, sometimes situations will turn it on. Certain foods will call your name. We all seem to have our own triggers. We also have our own cravings. A trigger is something that sets in motion a course of events. Here we’re talking about eating when we don’t necessarily want to eat or should be eating. Eating triggers fall into 3 categories: trigger foods, trigger feelings, and trigger environments.

A trigger food is a specific food that sets off a course of overeating. Is there some food that you can only have a tiny bit and then you need to eat everything in sight? Control is often lost and excessive amounts of food may be consumed. Common trigger foods are usually highly refined foods such as sugar/fat combinations like ice cream. Another common trigger food is salty/starchy combination such as bread, chips, or crackers. I’m not a big fan of diet deprivation. I don’t believe in saying, “You can never eat this…” You’ll typically want it even more if you think you can never have it. If you want it even more it makes it harder to leave it alone. Can we be satisfied with a little bit? That’s what you want to strive for. If there truly is a food that causes you to eat the whole thing (whole bag of chips) then you probably should avoid that food. It’s the food, not the emotion that triggers the out of control eating. It’s not the situation.

Physiologic cravings are real. They tend to be most pronounced with high carb foods such as cookies, breads, pastries, and chips. They usually peak during the first few weeks of dieting. Then they fade. But you can experience true withdrawal symptoms. Carbohydrates are like a drug. If you have a little bit you’re going to want more. The symptoms are worsening cravings, headaches, fatigue, shakiness, and irritability. Once you get through the withdrawal symptoms it gets easier but that doesn’t make it easy. Many cravings are related to blood sugar swings. Every time the blood sugar comes down you’re going to want more because your body wants something to keep that blood sugar from dropping. Consequently you’re going to get a big swing up if you have more of that food. The big blood sugar swings make the cravings even worse. Appetite suppressants can help. Chromium can also help. It’s a mineral and can help smooth over blood sugar swings. You can get it just about anywhere. We sell it here in our nutrition store. On the bottle it will say take one a day as a supplement. Unfortunately that doesn’t work for cravings. Generally you need to take it 3 times a day. It’s very safe but you shouldn’t take a bottle every day!

A trigger feeling is an emotion (good or bad) which sets off a period of overeating. Examples are stress, anxiety, anger, sadness, or loneliness. It often sets off overeating of just about any food (salty, crunchy, sweet, doughy, etc.….). Identifying the emotion is key to controlling these triggers. Journaling is one of the best ways to sort this out. It’s not just writing down what you’re eating. It’s writing down why you’re eating. If you’re hungry and it’s time to eat then that’s a good reason. What if it’s not time to eat? If you’re not hungry, what are the reasons? Am I stressed? Am I excited? Am I depressed? You’ll see a pattern developing.

Trigger environments are specific situations or places that set off an episode of overeating (Movie Theater, buffet, sporting event, socializing with a specific group of friends).  The overeating is set off by the specific environment or situation. Usually you regret it the next day. To manage this you have to identify the specific location, people, or events. Avoidance works, but often that’s not possible. Are you really never going to the movies again? Are you really going to avoid your friends? It’s important to develop strategies to minimize the overeating in those environments. Plan ahead of time what you’re going to do. It’s hard to unlearn things but we have to.

We all have willpower even though we don’t think we do. Some of us need to take it up a notch. Cravings tend to fade with time. They can come back. The internal struggle with cravings leads to emotional pain. It’s often due to indecision. We really haven’t made up our mind. We literally make thousands of eating decisions every day. With fasting you get rid of a lot of decisions. Make the hard and fast decision that you won’t give in to the craving. To weaken the intensity and reduce the craving you must stop giving in to them. It’s easier said than done but it does work. Avoiding the indecision can be very helpful. Willpower is like a muscle. It can be strengthened with practice.

Your Strategies for Improving Willpower

There are strategies for improving willpower. The first strategy is Mindset Changing Techniques. You need to be truthful with yourself. Tell yourself it’s a craving, not true hunger. Is there another reason you’re eating (angry, lonely, tired, and stressed)? Don’t waiver in your commitment. It will get easier with time. We want to imagine the aftermath of giving in. Sometimes when we give in it feels good to eat that sugary food for a few minutes. You might even get a sugar high. But typically, a little later, you’re not going to feel so good. Replace the word can’t with won’t. You always have a choice.  Review your goals and remind yourself why you’re doing this. Why do you want to continue with this weight loss process? If you give in all the time, you’re always going to be at risk for gaining weight.

The second strategy for improving willpower is Habit Changing Techniques. You want to distance yourself from the food you crave. Remove the food or yourself from the scene. Remove the food or distance yourself from the scene. For example, don’t go to the movies for a while. When you go back, don’t revert back to the big tub of buttered popcorn, bring some protein snack along with you instead.  Drink something. Thirst is often confused with hunger. If you drink something you often realize you weren’t hungry. Your body will tell you that you need something. It could be just the water that it needs.  Try to change your mindset. Relax. Set a timer for 5 minutes and concentrate on breathing. Distract yourself: brush your teeth (how many people want to eat after they’ve brushed their teeth?), paint your nails, brisk walk, exercise, call a friend, shower, practice a musical instrument, or work in the yard. Do something that will distract you for a period of time and the cravings will fade away.

In summation, food trigger are all around you. Learn to recognize them for what they are. Develop the strategies to combat them. It will get you that much closer to your weight loss goals! If you need help, we offer counseling for anyone that’s struggling with that. The counselors will figure out a solution for you. Contact us at 757-873-1880 and set up a free consultation to figure out which program or plan fits your needs!

Hey Doc – Could it be my Thyroid?

Posted on January 08, 2020 by

I routinely hear from patients in the office, “It couldn’t be my thyroid.” It could be. But usually that’s not the real blame for weight problems. It is something to try and understand. It’s commonly a problem, especially in women. When it gets treated people feel so much better.

I probably mention this on every Losing Weight USA Webinar; with all hormones, balance is absolutely key! If you balance one hormone, potentially you can throw off another hormone. You don’t want one working too well and the other not working well enough.  Hormones come from endocrine glands. There are lots of different endocrine glands. They all produce different hormones. The endocrine glands are found throughout the body.  There are lots of different glands in the body: pancreas, testis, ovaries, and more. A hormone is simply a chemical messenger. They communicate between one part of the body and another. The tissue that makes the hormone releases the hormone into the bloodstream. Subsequently the hormone goes throughout the body. The tissues that have receptors can receive the message. It’s that “Lock and Key” type of thing. It needs to fit well into the receptor in order to send the message. Hormones are one of the main tools your body uses to maintain homeostasis (balance).  Hormone balance is a key concept. It’s especially true with Thyroid Hormone.

The pituitary gland is a tiny gland the size of a berry sitting in the center of your head. It receives messages and sends messages. It works in concert with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus often sends the message of what the pituitary gland should release. The pituitary gland releases all sorts of hormones. It releases prolactin, growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, FSH, and more. Often it’s the pituitary gland that’s sending the message to the endocrine gland. Then the endocrine gland releases the hormone. The thyroid gland receives instruction from the pituitary gland. There are a lot of places where these hormones can be thrown out of whack.

The thyroid gland sits in your neck. It’s below the “Adam’s apple.” It’s one of the largest endocrine glands. The thyroid comes from the Greek word for shield. It’s protected and covered by some of the neck muscles. The parathyroid glands are adjacent to it. The parathyroid glands influence your bones but they don’t really influence your overall metabolism. They are adjacent to the thyroid glands. The function of the thyroid is directly related to metabolism (how your body uses energy). This is what drives your metabolism—whether it’s slow or fast. This is what overseas our metabolic rate. When someone talks about a slow or fast metabolism, they are alluding to their thyroid gland. If you looked under a microscope at a slice of your thyroid tissue you would see these open areas that have food in there. That’s the thyroid hormone. If this goes out of whack potentially you can get thyroid disease.

A balanced hormone means there’s good communication between different areas. The hypothalamus talks to your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland talks to the thyroid gland. Then the thyroid gland releases the thyroid hormone. There are multiple layers. They are like multiple feedback loops. One of these hormones in the loop feeds back on the other. So you don’t want to get too much of any one thing there. It’s also very dependent on appropriate iodine intake.  Iodine is essential for life. It’s utilized by every single cell in your body. The thyroid uses about 3 mg every single day. The breast tissue uses a couple milligrams every single day because the breast is very receptive to iodine. It’s very important in breast function. Iodine has been added to salt. The iodized salt is one of the only ways we get iodine.

Unfortunately the iodine that’s in the salt can vaporize. Once the iodized salt container has been opened the iodine can vaporize. We often don’t get enough iodine because it’s been released into the atmosphere. It’s very common that people don’t get enough, especially Americans. Iodine used to be added to a lot of different foods. It’s been taken out of a lot of foods and substituted with bromine. In Europe bromine is illegal. The receptors for bromine are very similar to iodine. So if you’re exposed to a lot of bromine eventually the iodine receptors get blocked and then, subsequently even with the iodine, you’re not utilizing as much as you could. Iodine is very important to the thyroid. If you don’t get enough it can lead to goiter. Cysts form because the tissue is trying to work but can’t due to lack of iodine. The cysts can turn into a goiter. They can be very noticeable or very small. Eventually the thyroid could have to be taken out.

Again, the thyroid system runs from the hypothalamus down to the pituitary, and up to the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland then makes the thyroid hormone. Iodine is important in all of this. It releases thyroid hormone into the bloodstream. The thyroid hormone will go to just about every cell in your body.  If the thyroid hormone is unbalanced, then that would be either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. It’s very important for growth and development and overall metabolism.

Is your thyroid functioning normally? TSH is thyroid stimulating hormone. It’s made by your pituitary gland in your brain. The thyroid functioning test is a screening test telling. It doesn’t tell us how well your thyroid is working. If the pituitary gland makes a lot of TSH it basically means your pituitary gland is screaming at your thyroid to get it to work. It often means the thyroid is not working well. That’s a sign of hypothyroidism. If the pituitary gland doesn’t make much TSH that means the thyroid is working like crazy. You don’t need to tell it to work anymore. That’s often a sign of hyperthyroidism.  Again, the thyroid function test is really a poor test. What’s important is not what the brain is telling the thyroid to do. What’s important is what the thyroid is actually doing. To know what the thyroid is doing, we look at the thyroid hormone. The working thyroid hormone is T3. It’s called free T3. What this has to do with is how many iodine molecules are on that thyroid hormone? T4 is levothyroxine. T3 is missing an iodine. Synthroid is synthetic thyroid. The issue there is that if you’re taking synthroid, you’re not taking the working thyroid hormone, T3. Subsequently your body has to convert it to the T3. Some people don’t do that well. If you don’t do that well synthroid (levothyroxine) might not be a good choice.   The reason we would give you T4 and not just T3 is because the T4 is much longer acting. Therefore it’s just one dose a day. T3 is short acting and you have to take multiple doses. Most people will continue to take the T4 and convert it to T3. I want to know what your TSH is (for the thyroid function test). But I also want to know what the free T3 is because that’s the true working hormone. All the others are just working up the working hormone. The T3 is what’s telling all the cells in your body how to act. How do we look at the thyroid physically? We can do an ultrasound or radioactive iodine. Often an ultrasound is a better way to look at the thyroid.

The TSH is coming down from the brain and tells the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormone. The level will change depending on what it needs to tell the thyroid. If it’s telling the thyroid to release more, the volume goes up. If it’s telling the thyroid to release less, the volume goes down. The T4 is converted the T3, which then tells all the cells what to do. The T4 could actually make what’s called reverse T3. You don’t want to make this. It’s kind of a mirror image of T3. The mirror image of the T3 doesn’t function like the actual T3 does. Reverse T3 really doesn’t do you a lot of good. Some people take the T4, and instead of converting it to the T3, convert it reverse T3. Subsequently you’re thyroid doesn’t work well. But it may not show up on that TSH screening test.

Lots of thyroid symptoms go along with abnormality. The biggest thing we’re worried about is hypothyroidism. If you’re truly hyperthyroid you usually don’t have a weight problem. The symptoms with hypothyroidism are numerous and vague. That’s where the problem comes in. Because they are vague, we just don’t think about these things. For example, there are a lot of reasons to be tired.  You might lose some of your eyebrow hair. You might get a puffy face, enlarged thyroid gland, or be hot or cold all the time.  Cold intolerance is a symptom. You could be tired all the time, have dry skin, menstrual cycles are way off, weight gain, constipation, or brittle nails. Unfortunately a lot of these symptoms are very vague and don’t necessarily point at any one thing. It potentially can be hypothyroidism. There are some overlap symptoms that go with both hyper and hypothyroidism. Part of the problem is how we sort all these things out. Again, we look at those thyroid function tests.

What do you do if your thyroid is not quite abnormal enough to be on thyroid medication? One thing is iodine. It can help. Most Americans don’t get enough Iodine. There are some thyroid support supplements. We have them here is our store. You can also find them in health food stores. They usually have some B vitamins in them. They also have extra zinc, selenium and some herbal things as well. Typically there are some things you can do for supporting the thyroid.  Again, we can’t live without iodine.

Iodine supplements can be purchase in the CFWLS Nutrition Store or online.

 

 

 

 

Thyroid Support Pack also available in store or online!

Why is Your Protein to Carb Ratio So Important?

Posted on November 25, 2019 by

Baja Chicken Bowl

Why is the protein to carb ratio so important? Why do we harp on this stuff? If you’ve come into my office to see me you’ve heard me talk about the protein to carb ratio. The protein part is important for a number of different reasons.

Protein tends to be more satisfying. So, you tend to stay full for a longer period of time. It’s also harder to digest. Digestion is work your body has to do. Eating protein increases your metabolism.  Protein increases a couple of hormones that help with weight loss. Those hormones are glucagon and growth hormone, and are stimulated by protein. Protein is really important after surgery because we want to make sure as you’re losing weight you are preserving lean body mass. It’s the combination of the protein and the exercise that helps do that.

The carb part is the antithesis of the protein side. The carbohydrate typically works against weight loss. It stimulates the hormone insulin. Insulin has multiple jobs. Its main job is trying to keep blood sugars normal. It also tells your body to store fat. In a weight loss program you want to be mobilizing fat. You want to keep insulin levels way down. One of the nice things about insulin is that it’s a hormone you have some control over. Most hormones you don’t have any control over. Insulin only goes up in response to blood sugar levels going up. You want to keep your carbohydrate lower and protein higher. Both of those things have nothing to do with calories. It doesn’t mean calories aren’t important. In a weight loss plan you need to be in a calorie deficit. But if we can manipulate hormones, sometimes that’s going to help with weight loss even more.

Creamy Tuscan Shrimp

I’ve seen thousands of patients throughout my surgical career.  You tend to figure out a few things. One thing I see the best weight loss occurs when people get their protein in the 90-100 gram range. It’s typically higher for men (120). With carbohydrate we see the best weight loss when carbs are below 50 grams a day. That’s where we get the protein to carb ratio of 2-1. Protein should be about twice as much as your carbohydrate. We typically see the best weight loss in that ratio. For any one individual the protein could be a little higher or lower. There is a limit to how much protein you should take in because at some point it drives your calories too high. There isn’t any limit to how low your carbohydrate should go. The lower the better. It’s just harder. There’s carbohydrate in lots of foods. The best foods that will keep those carbs as low as possible are generally going to be the colorful vegetables and salad stuff. Both of those are very low in carbohydrate. We literally don’t need to eat any carbohydrate. Your body actually does need some carbohydrate, but it can make the carbs. You don’t have to eat it. The lower your carb intake, the lower your insulin levels, and the easier it is to lose weight.

Every individual has what I call a “tipping point” with their carbohydrate. Most of our surgical patients are very sensitive to carbs. Often times when they drift up and get into that 70-80 gram range I see them start to struggle. Some of them have to be as low as 30 grams a day. Most of them do very well if they can keep it below 50 grams a day.

If you’re looking to lose weight and need some help, we offer the most comprehensive surgical and non-surgical programs anywhere.

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Overeating…How Common Is It?

Posted on October 28, 2019 by

We’re all guilty of overeating. Overeating is eating more than what’s on your diet plan. Or, it can be just eating more than what you had planned. It’s also when you continue to finish your meal even though you feel full partway through it. Binge eating is different. It’s an extreme form of overeating. It’s eating an abnormally large amount. For someone who has a normal size stomach and hasn’t had weight loss surgery, that would be consuming around 5000 calories.  It means you are feeling out of control and you should see a mental health professional. If you have a small stomach from weight loss surgery then you can’t really ever binge eat, right?! The issue isn’t the amount. It’s the feeling out of control with your eating. If that is the case you need to seek professional help. It’s out of the scope of this discussion.

Sometimes we “justify” overeating. When you go out to eat, you want to get what you’ve paid for. Maybe you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary.  When you go on vacation and let loose. Someone might be urging you to eat. Another justification is that the food is free.  When this happens we often get into the mentality of, “Since I’ve strayed, I might as well just keep eating.” “I fell off the wagon and ate the candy bar. I might as well eat the whole bag of candy bars.” We discourage that type of “all or nothing” thinking.

There are lots of different causes of overeating. Some of the common causes are: stress, irritation, frustration, habit, boredom, overwork, and worry. Often it has to do with some type of emotion. We’re going to go over 10 common “triggers” for overeating and also what you can do about them.

The first common “trigger” for overeating is boredom. It leads you to TV watching (TV commercials) which leads you to the refrigerator/pantry. What can you do? You can watch commercial free TV and prepare healthy snacks to keep on hand (cut up veggies are a good choice).

The second “trigger” is feeling deprived. This tends to come about by completely avoiding certain foods. We talk a lot here about avoiding simple carbohydrates and processed foods. We’re trying to avoid a whole category of foods. It’s easier said than done. It’s difficult for an extended period of time. I’m not a big fan of true “deprivation diets.” It’s the thinking that, “I can never have this again because I’m on a low-carb diet.” “I can never have ice cream.” You want to focus on a balanced diet and healthy eating and exercise habits.  We also need to have that portion control. “I’m just going to have this little bit…” Deprivation doesn’t work very well. There is an exception to that. The exception is if you have a true trigger food. That means if you have one piece of that trigger food I’m going to eat the whole bag. You need to avoid those foods.

The next trigger for overeating is feeling self-disgust or hating your body. What you’re really doing is focusing on what’s wrong with your body and some societal ideals. We often see the societal ideals on TV. Realize your body is only a portion of who you are. Your body is just a part of you. It’s not all of you. If this is a significant problem you should seek professional help.  I see this in many patients who have lost a lot of weight. They still see themselves as who they were, not who they are.  It usually fixes itself over time.

Carbohydrate sensitivity or glucose intolerance are the next common trigger. This means you’re prone to big blood sugar swings. This is a true physiologic trigger. Blood sugar swings lead to insulin swings resulting in hunger/cravings. It’s really hard to ignore this. If it comes from blood sugar swings, the answer is to avoid blood sugar swings. Avoid simple carbs and increase your protein intake. If you’re having carbs they should come from vegetables. Chromium is a mineral that helps with blood sugar swings. Usually you need to take it three times a day for the blood sugar swings.

Another trigger is Habits. It’s what “you’ve always done.” It’s like when you go to the movies and always have a tub of popcorn. Try to engage your mind and hands in some type of new activity. It could be as simple as reading a book or playing an instrument. You need to break the habits or break the routine.

Next is depression and/or lack of energy. You often turn to food as that “pick me up.” Yes sugar is an energy source. Your body has plenty of energy. You just need to access that energy that’s there, meaning the fatty tissue. In order to accomplish this, the carbohydrates need to be low. The food gives you a pick me up but it’s not a long-term answer. Try to identify those low energy times of your day and take a brisk walk. Don’t ignore depression. It can happen frequently in a weight loss plan. Don’t ignore it. It tends to be relatively fleeting. It’s very real for someone who’s losing weight fairly quickly that they get a chemical imbalance. Seek professional help.

Needing comfort is the next trigger for overeating. There are pressures at work and home. There’s lack of appreciation. Everyone tends to have their favorite comfort foods. Baked potato to pizza to ice cream. How do you beat it? Take some time out for yourself. Go get a massage for pedicure/manicure. Make sure you schedule “me” time.

Feeling overwhelmed can be a trigger. It happens sometimes a couples times a day for me. You have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Realize you can only do so much. To get a project done we have to make the first step. The 2nd and 3rd steps will be easier. We all have a lot to do and can’t get it all done. It’s often prioritizing.

More common trigger: being emotional. Emotions tend to bring on eating; being upset, hurt, anxious, stressed, sadness, or happiness. Go outside for that quick walk. Remove yourself from the situation if it’s a negative emotion.  Deep breathe/stretch.  Exercise is a great stress reliever.

Lack of willpower is a common trigger for overeating.  Willpower is like a muscle. We can train ourselves to use and slowly improve on it. Exercise your will power. It will get stronger.  How many times have I heard, “Gee I don’t have any willpower?” Everybody has willpower, it’s just how much.  Every Wednesday I was fasting. I did some videos on fasting. It works. After a while you get used to it. Anything we practice we get better at. Fasting got easier for me as time went on. If you think about it, we make thousands of food decisions just about every day. When to eat? How much to eat? What to eat? Is it time to eat yet? Fasting frees up a lot of time and energy. There’s no thinking about food because it’s not happening. You just have to figure out what the best times are for you to do those things. I did videos on Losing Weight USA as well as our YouTube site. It can be very helpful with weight loss. Time yourself. I assure you no one has ever starved in a few hours.

Here are some tips to avoid overeating. These are things we should ask ourselves all the time.

Get in the habit of asking yourself 2 questions: why am I eating and am I still hungry? Part of it may be that it’s time for lunch. Maybe you haven’t eaten all day. Literally bite-to-bite you can ask yourself, “Am I still hungry?” You want to stop when you feel satisfied. Make sure you’re avoiding the “overeating” foods; simple carbs. If you’re going to overeat, have more protein.  The simple carbs are like a drug. If you have a little bit, you’re going to want more. You’ll crave more. One of my favorite eating rules is eat only when seated at a table. The other eating rule is always use utensils and a plate. That’s gets away from wandering through the pantry and grabbing something or eating something over the kitchen sink. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will change what you’re eating. It will change what you’re eating if you have to be seated at a table and use utensils and a plate, it gets rid of a lot of the eating on the fly. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made when you eat that way.  For example, if you grab a handful of M & M’s. You put them on a plate, get a spoon and you sit down at a table to eat them. By the time you actually do that, you may not even eat them. If you just walk by and grab a handful, you’re likely to eat more because you’re eating them “on the fly.” It’s an eating rule that is very simple but effective.

Avoid “family style” eating. This means bringing all the food to the table and passes it around until it’s all gone. You need to leave the food in the other room, make your plate, and go sit down and eat it. You can still get more but you have to physically get up, go into the other room, stand there and figure out what you’re going to put on your plate, and walk back to the table and eat. This is better than having a person pass you the food dishes at the table. Little things might be what the difference is between being successful and unsuccessful. Use small plates and small utensils. Remember propinquity. It’s about shaping our environment for success. Measure your portions. You will likely be at least 30% off when “eyeballing.” We all tend to drift with portion sizes. Eat slowly. Chew slowly and set your utensils down between bites. Give your body time to tell your mind that you’re done.  Wait 10-15 minutes before you get more. Ask yourself, “Why do I need more?”

For cravings use distractions. You need to use that willpower muscle. Change your activity. Distract yourself until the cravings go away. Chromium can help. You usually have to take it 3 times a day. Practice! Always leave a little food on your plate. If you’re out at a restaurant and you leave some food on our plate, typically people aren’t going to be bugging you about bringing you more food. Finally, a carb blocker can be helpful. Also an appetite suppressant, especially for cravings.  The FDA regulates appetite suppressants very carefully.  So there are a number of hoops to jump through, but they’re all very doable.

Remember, you do NOT have to be a member of the “Clean Plate Club.” It’s really not going to help any starving children anywhere!

Questions? “What’s a good snack food to avoid blood sugar swings?” Well anything that has carbohydrates will typically cause blood sugar swings. Simple carbs are much worse than complex carbs. It depends on what you tend to drift toward. The snack should be low-carb. That can be meat, cheese, or eggs. A lot of that is snack-worthy. Nuts are OK as long as you limit them. Be careful there. Cut up veggies are good. The flip side is that any food potentially can cause a blood sugar swing, even something with 0 sugars in it. I see this all the time with diabetics drinking why protein shakes. Typically 95% of my surgical patients are really sensitive to carbohydrates. Whey is efficiently absorbed. If you drink a whey protein shake that’s filled with amino acids and your body doesn’t need all those amino acids at that one time, your body will just convert it to sugar. Your body is good at doing that. Protein with any carbohydrate will smooth out the blood sugar somewhat too.

If you think of other things, just give us a yell 757-873-1880. Stop by and get your body comp done. Remember!  It’s your life. Make it a healthy one! Have a good evening everyone. Take care!