By Maria Jauhar, M.D.
Pick a number. Every year we read something new about how many pounds the “average American” gains between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Six, four, 10, whatever the number is this year, if we ever meet one of those “average Americans,” we would surely like to help.
If it were just a matter of keeping steady on our routines or counting calories, then holding the line on our weight during the holidays wouldn’t be such a problem. The difficulty is that traditions and memories and expectations may be even more powerful than just the attraction of those delicious holiday meals and treats alone.
Yes, when friends and family gather, when we see the decorations or hear the music, compelling signals fire off in our brains and we want to complete the picture by eating the way we did – and he way we could – when we were growing children.
Don’t Let It Add to Stress
Underlying every tip on holding the line during the holidays is the importance of managing and minimizing the stress we often associate with the season. An expression heard among Broadway dancers who must exert enormous energy and yet stay slim and agile is, “don’t eat your feelings.” What we can learn from them is to make friends with ourselves and consider our needs and feelings, too, in the “season of giving.”
So taking a tolerant and understanding view of what we feel is important for minimizing those urges to hold on too long to the bowl of candied popcorn, or take just one more helping of turkey and dressing. Let’s allow ourselves to think clearly about the images and expectations we might feel. Trying to live up to memories might be one of the unkindest pressures we can put on ourselves.
Let’s remember these are celebrations, not competitions.
Maybe Keep a Checklist Handy
We’ve had all our lives to build up these habits and associations with holiday eating, so turning them around or even tempering them might go better with some reminders. Writing down just a handful of reminders to keep with you might be all the encouragement you need.
Scanning five tips for avoiding holiday weight gain, it’s interesting to note that none of them has to do with self-denial. In fact, one of the interesting tips is to take time and pay attention when we decide consciously to enjoy a special holiday dish. This element of conscious permission and enjoyment can be a big help in avoiding binge eating.
After All, It’s a Practical Matter
Another key to success might be just to look at avoiding holiday weight gain as just a practical matter. It doesn’t necessarily have to be taken so seriously.
Simple things we’ve heard before can be our best tools. Don’t go to parties hungry. Pay attention to the size of your portions at holiday meals. Slow down a little and enjoy every bite. Lighten up a little on sauces and dressings. And remember that a great many holiday calories are liquid. Drinks, not food, may be the biggest difference in holiday calorie intake for many of us, so saying, “not for me, thanks,” a bit earlier in the evening can pay big dividends.
And remember, your family physician is standing by you in these days as well as all the others. To schedule an appointment with us at Island Family Medical Center, call 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.
By Maria Jauhar, M.D.
Our bodies are still designed for strenuous physical work, not sitting behind a steering wheel, a keyboard or a screen. And the food choices we grew up with were inherited from a different era, when outdoor exertion was the norm. So it’s not surprising that millions of people struggle with their weight, and that obesity has been called epidemic.
Diet and exercise are basic solutions, but even together they are not a big enough answer for many of us. Each one of us has a challenge all our own that may well be a little different.
Part Expertise, Part Inspiration
Medical supervision is becoming an important solution for weight loss, partly because of the individual nature of the struggle. Our challenges may be unique, but they can also be isolating if we try to overcome them by ourselves. With a professional on your side you know this is a serious commitment and that you are not in it alone.
Your physician can personalize your plan by knowing your particular health profile, your metabolism and its cycles. And medical professionals measure progress by body composition, not just weight alone. So together you can see your path much more clearly.
Better Tools to the Table
And medical weight loss has more ways to move down that path. Better knowledge of nutrition and how that relates to your own characteristics, knowing the impact of any medications you might be taking, and considering whether medication might safely play a role in reaching you goals – all of these are assets only a professional can provide. Having them on you side could make all the difference in bringing you to a happier, healthier life.
Another Thing Diets Can’t Do
Professionals take a different view of weight loss than commercial programs, because they are focused on your life rather than on a particular product or service. One way this shows up is in the phases of weight loss that many medical professionals observe.
At the beginning of a medical weight loss program the results can show up fairly quickly. The techniques and initiatives that medical professionals implement show up on the bathroom scales in matter of several days.
Over the course of weeks in many cases, a transition phase takes shape. As we approach our healthy weight goals some of the foods we avoided at first can find their way back into our lives – often with better portion control and awareness of how often a dish can be served without derailing the plan.
Finally, a key difference in medical weight loss is the attention professionals pay to making sure these healthy changes are sustained. The maintenance phase of medical weight loss is one of the most valuable differences between this and do-it-yourself or commercial weight loss.
Breaking Away From the Boomerang
Establishing a sustainable weight loss is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of medical supervision. Statistics of returning obesity among people who fight the battle by themselves are not encouraging. In fact, DIY weight losses bounce back more often than not.
If you’ve decided you want the lifelong benefits of maintaining the weight that’s healthy for you, then the advantages of medical weight loss are beyond compare.
If you would like to schedule a medical weight loss consult, then please schedule an appointment with us by calling 912.897.6832 or use our online appointment request form.
By Maria Jauhar, M.D.
This week is Healthy Weight Week, which celebrates healthy lifestyles that prevent eating and weight problems. This annual celebration is a time for people of all sizes to live actively, eat well, and feel good about themselves and others. But with so many weight loss products and programs on the market today, how do you identify – and stay away from – those that are more marketing hype than substance?
Here are some tips.
1. The Message
If the product or program claims or implies a large, fast weight loss – especially if those claims promise weight loss of more than two pounds per week – or weight loss without restricting calories or exercising, then your internal alarms should be going off. What’s more, look for terms such as miraculous, breakthrough, exclusive, secret, unique, ancient, accidental discovery, doctor developed, and the like, as these are often a signal that results don’t match the hype.
Products and programs that rely on undocumented case histories, before and after photos, and testimonials by “satisfied customers” (who are often paid for testimony written by the advertiser) are additional warning signs you should heed. What’s more, if the product or program misuses medical or technical terms, refers to studies without giving complete references, and claims government approval, then you are usually better off looking for alternatives.
2. The Program
Programs that promote a medically unsupervised diet of less than 1,000 calories per day, diagnoses nutrient deficiencies with computer-scored questionnaires, prescribes vitamins and supplements (rather than a balanced diet) and recommends them in excess of 100% of Recommended Dietary Allowance will certainly help you lighten your wallet, but will do little to help you lose weight and improve your health.
Other programs you should steer clear of are those that promote aids and devices such as body wraps, sauna belts, electronic muscle stimulators, passive motion tables, ear stapling, aromatherapy, appetite patches and acupuncture.
So what should you look for in a program? Seek out programs that promote nutritional plans devised by a physician, licensed nutritionist, or licensed dietitian (many “nutritionists” and “dietitians” have no credentials, so make sure yours is licensed), recommends a medical exam as part of any weight loss programs, and clearly states the risks associated with the weight loss program they are prescribing.
3. The Ingredients
Read product labels. If you see any of these terms listed as ingredients, then steer clear: dinitrophenol, spirulina, amino acid supplements, glucomannan, human chorionic gonadotrophin hormone (HCG), diuretics, slimming teas, echinacia root, bee pollen, fennel, chickweed, ephedra, and starch blockers.
That’s not all, if the product label or packaging claims that the ingredients will block digestion or surround calories, starches, carbohydrates, or fats and remove them from the body, then be aware that what you are considering purchasing will have little, if any, benefit – and could even be harmful.
Our Approach to Weight Loss
At Islands Family Medical Center, we start with a comprehensive nutritional and physical assessment so that we can customize a weight loss solution that will help you maintain normal blood sugar levels and stimulate fat-burning hormones, which are necessary to shed fat. We take into account your goals, lifestyle, current health condition, body makeup, metabolism, and more. As a result of this assessment, we are able to devise a diet that provides you with the right combination of protein, carbohydrates, fat, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs for optimal weight loss success.
By Maria Jauhar, M.D.
According to recent weight loss data, 73 percent of Americans are considered overweight or obese. This is an alarming percentage, especially when considering that being overweight can increase your chance of suffering from:
- Coronary heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver and gallbladder disease
- Cancer (endometrial, breast, and colon)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Gynecological problems such as infertility
- Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
- Osteoarthritis (a degeneration of cartilage and its underlying bone within a joint)
Because of the health issues that come with being overweight, having your medical weight loss program managed and monitored by a physician can help you successfully navigate important lifestyle changes, such as changes to diet, exercise regimens, smoking cessation, blood pressure control, and more.
Understanding Your Weight Loss Needs
It is also important to identify and understand any underlying health factors that may need to be taken into account during your weight loss efforts. For this reason, your physician should conduct a thorough evaluation that includes a comprehensive blood panel, EKG, weight and body fat analysis, waist circumference, and a detailed review of your medical and health history. This evaluation is a key component of any weight loss program as it will not only provide details on your current health, but also provide a benchmark from which you can measure improvement and success.
If you are suffering from one or more of the health problems listed above, then there is a good chance that you may be on one or several medications. Your current medications need to be factored into your weight loss program to ensure your overall health and well being is appropriately managed; regular monitoring by a physician can help track changes in your overall health and adjust your medications appropriately.
Finally, studies have shown that weight loss patients who are monitored by a physician show increased success, as the doctor-patient relationship encourages behavior change and reinforces positive changes, including improved dietary practices, increased activity, and weight loss maintenance. Most important, the doctor-patient relationship encourages a higher level of patient accountability, which goes a long way in maintaining your weight loss long after you have hit your goal.
Medical Weight Loss Resources
- American Dietetic Association
120 South Riverside Plaza, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
- The Obesity Society
8757 Georgia Avenue, Suite 1320
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Toll-free: 800.986.2373 (800.98.OBESE)
- American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery
100 SW 75th Street, Suite 201
Gainesville, FL 32607
- Food and Nutrition Information Center
National Agricultural Library
10301 Baltimore Avenue, Room 108
Beltsville, MD 20705
National Agricultural Library
Food and Nutrition Information Center
10301 Baltimore Avenue
Beltsville, MD 20705-2351
- Weight-Control Information Network
1 Win Way
Bethesda, MD 20892-3665