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Bariatric Bytes includes monthly tips and a quarterly newsletter featuring recipes and helpful information.
A new year often brings new goals and resolutions. However, it is estimated that approximately 45 percent of Americans set New Year’s resolutions and around one-third of those people have ditched those resolutions by the end of January. So how can we make those resolutions and goals last?
First, start by eliminating the “all or nothing approach.” Second, since eating healthier encompasses several different actions, make one to two small changes at a time. We all know that old habits die hard. Working on one to two small things at a time keeps us from feeling so overwhelmed. Once you have mastered those, you can move on to something else. If you feel like one to two small goals isn’t enough, remember this quote:
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” -Tanzanian Proverb
Consider making your New Year’s resolutions and goals in a “SMART” way.
Specific (Who, What, When, Where, Why?): A goal needs to be as specific as possible. “Eat healthier” and “Exercise more” is too vague. What exactly do you want to achieve and how do you plan to do it?
Measurable: If you don’t make your goal measurable you will not know when you reach it. Examples: “Cook dinner at home at least four days per week” or “Increase walking to 10,000 steps per day.” Track your progress to help keep you motivated and excited about reaching your goal.
Accountable: Having something or someone to help hold you accountable can assist in reaching your goal, such as an exercise partner or a friend/spouse to aid in meal planning.
Realistic: A goal needs to be challenging without being overwhelming. Goal setting is also highly individual—a goal that may be realistic for one person may be unrealistic to another.
Timely: Associate a timeframe that defines when you should complete the goal. If you don’t have an expectation of how much time a goal should take to accomplish or when you want to have it finished, you will not feel the sense of urgency that will help you complete it.
And remember, you can set goals for yourself any time of the year! There will always be bumps and struggles along the way. What matters most is how you react to them.
“The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down.” -Stephen Richards
Eating healthy can be challenging when you are dining at a restaurant. It’s always best to prepare your foods at home so you can control the ingredients that are used and how it is prepared. However, we all know that sometimes eating out is inevitable in the busy society we live in today. Here are some tips for eating on the go:
With holidays, family gatherings and even random occasions being centered on food, it is difficult to imagine a life where food is not the main attraction. Being humans, we have emotions. When we have experienced a rough day at work, troubles within our personal lives or if we simply are bored, our emotions may attempt to control our willpower. We may feel trapped by fear, frustration, stress, anxiety and even boredom. That’s when our eyes catch the shimmering potato chip bag or snack cake package, and we are tempted to dive in.
If made a habit, we can ingest hundreds of calories that were not even eaten for a purpose. Therefore, it is important to ask yourself, “Why am I eating this?” Are you eating because you are actually hungry or because you are bored? Sad? Stressed?
When tired and agitated think to yourself “If I could do anything right now to perk up my mood, what would that be?” If you are a gardener or outdoors enthusiast, take time outside in the sun to walk, tend your flowers or vegetables, or simply enjoy the weather. If weather does not permit, run errands, finish chores, call a friend, work crossword or Sudoku puzzles, or grab a book you have been meaning to read. The name of the game is to distract yourself from eating for comfort or to pass time, to having fun without food.
Mobile activities are particularly important. According to a study reported on by the Mayo Clinic, the practice of everyday activities can be described in the word NEAT: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. When a walking program was instilled for women subjects, it was found their “NEAT” activities decreased, possibly resulting in fewer calories burned daily because of fewer typical activities performed. This emphasizes the importance of those “little things” in our routines.
It is imperative to understand what gives us enjoyment and fuels our excitement every day. When we replace food with interesting outdoor activities, chores, hobbies, and fellowship with friends and family we can train ourselves to eat more for necessity instead of empty desire. Practice your passion and eat for hunger; let’s do this together!
“Food prep is probably the most under-rated, under-utilized healthy living tool. Making it a habit to spend even just one hour on the weekend to prep food can make a huge difference in your food choices during the upcoming week.” – The Lean Green Bean
Five Simple Steps to Begin Meal Prepping:
Have a plan
Make a list of everything you want to prep for the week. Plan a menu for the week and try to include staple food items that can be used for multiple meals. Once you have your list, divide it into sections of the kitchen (oven, stove, no cook, etc.). This will help give you an idea of how things will look on prep day.
Take advantage of time
The best way to get the most out of your time is to multi-task. Don’t be afraid to have multiple things cooking at once. In theory, you can have something cooking in the crockpot, something in the oven, and a few things on the stove all at the same time. Doing this will help you get the most out of your time and allow you to have time for other prepping needs.
Don’t overdo it
Most leftovers are only safe for up to four days in the refrigerator, so be careful not to make more food than you can eat. If you find that you cannot eat it all, remember that you can always freeze your leftovers.
Double the recipe
When prepping things like soup, burgers or casseroles, consider doubling the recipe and freezing half of it. This will make it easier on those days when you don’t have time to prep.
Focus on your trouble times
What time of day do you struggle the most with eating healthy? Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks, focus your meal plans around that time of day. If breakfast is a meal you struggle with eating every day, prep more breakfast foods so that way you have something already prepared each morning. Doing this will make meal times less stressful and allow more time for other activities during the day.
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As the weather begins to change, more people want to get out of the house and participate in outdoor activities. One thing people forget to pay attention to is drinking plenty of fluids during those nice sunny days. Not drinking fluid can cause dehydration, fatigue and weakness. In order to avoid getting dehydrated, drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially when outside in the hot summer sun. Below are some helpful tips on how to stay hydrated during these warm months, as well as after surgery.
Tips for staying hydrated:
1. Start drinking early in the day. Doing this will help you stay hydrated all day long.
2. Carry some form of liquids with you all day. Keeping a bottle of water or a cup on you at all times will help remind you to sip on liquids throughout the day.
3. Do not drink with your meals. Wait 30 minutes after completing your meal to drink again.
4. Make sure your beverages are decaffeinated! Caffeine is dehydrating, so be sure to limit caffeinated drinks to 2 cups per day.
5. Stay away from carbonation! Carbonation can cause bloating and stomach discomfort.
6. Sip, sip, sip! Avoid taking big gulps while drinking in order to avoid air in the stomach.
7. Aim for sugar free beverages and sugar free additives such as Crystal Light, Vitamin Water, Propel and True Lemon.
Side dishes are what make family outings special, but can you make them satisfying and still healthful? Here are some excellent ways to kick-start a healthy spring and summer by making a few adjustments to side dishes, such as the typical macaroni salad, pasta salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob, and baked beans. Before planning your menu, consider these healthful tips for some great-tasting and healthful alternatives.
1. Complement your meal with color
The most common barbecue side dishes are usually the same color, white or yellowish, such as coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni salad, corn, etc. When you choose side dishes, consider adding some color. Not only will it make your spread look more festive, but it will make it healthier as well.
Make a salad with fresh vegetables and fruits of different colors, such as spinach, cucumbers, carrots, red peppers, beets, broccoli, oranges and berries. Roasting vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, beets, and asparagus, in the broiler with a little bit of oil, salt and pepper is another great option. Finally, try adding different vegetables to your usual sides to give them added crunch and flavor. For example, you can add shredded carrot, jicama and red pepper to your coleslaw.
2. Use fresh, local ingredients for the best flavors
When choosing fruits and vegetables, consult your local farmer or farmers’ market. The best tasting fruits and vegetables are usually the ones in season and picked fresh that day. You do not need to wait for summer to find fresh fruits and vegetables. Zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, rhubarb, apricots, cherries and possibly strawberries are available beginning in May in many parts of the country. Of course, where you live impacts what is available.
3. Hold the mayo
Many popular picnic side dishes are made with mayonnaise, such as potato salad, macaroni salad and coleslaw. However, you can use many alternative ways to prepare these dishes to cut the fat and calories, but not the flavor.
Try these suggestions:
• Use less mayonnaise or substitute low-fat mayonnaise
• Substitute low-fat sour cream or yogurt for mayonnaise, and add a slightly sweet ingredient, such as raisins or fruit
• Prepare a vinegar-based dressing that is tart and flavorful, without the added calories
• Try using whole-wheat pasta in your pasta salad
• Replace half of the pasta in your pasta salad with crunchy vegetables
• Make a new side salad, such as a Caribbean sweet potato salad, tomato, cucumber and red onion salad with mint, or arugula, fennel, and orange salad and use less olive oil to reduce the calories (recipes courtesy of AllRecipes.com)
4. Fill up with fiber
Choosing healthier side dishes, such as baked beans (with moderate amounts of bacon and sugar), lower-fat salads, and roasted vegetables, will not only cut calories, but also will keep you fuller longer. Beans, fruits and vegetables are all rich in nutrients and fiber that help promote satiety and prevent crashes in blood sugar after eating.
5. Use the grill
As long as you are grilling, you might as well use the grill to make some great side dishes. Grilling vegetables is a great alternative to roasting them!
Try these ideas:
• Grill corn in the husk for some fantastic flavors without having to add much extra fat.
• Try making a grilled eggplant salad with some fresh tomatoes, olives, garlic, basil and low-fat feta.
• Place freshly grilled vegetables on a bed of spinach or arugula for a satisfying salad.
If you are wanting to kick-start healthier eating, summer is a great time to get started. Take advantage of abundant fresh, seasonal produce this summer whether it is from you own garden, your local farmer’s market or roadside stand or even your local grocery store. Nothing is better than fresh produce picked right at the peak of its flavor.
Eating fruits and vegetables has many health benefits, and these foods are naturally low in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol and high in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They can be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight.
Once you have your fruits and vegetables, enjoy them! You can serve vegetables raw, grilled, steamed or roasted. Toss them into whole grain pasta or salad varieties. Fruit can be simply served raw or you can mix it up by grilling them or adding to mixes for muffins or pancakes. Fruit can also be useful as a moisture component for your meats—just squeeze some lemon or lime over your grilled protein option. Fruits and vegetables can be utilized for salsas to accompany your favorite protein dish. They can also be used for infusing flavor into your water when you are hydrating during the hot summer months.
For safety’s sake, wash your hands before and after preparing fresh produce. Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly with running water before eating, cutting, peeling or cooking. Cut fruits and vegetables and refrigerate in containers for easy access after washing for a quick and healthier snack option.
Tomato Boats with Melted Mozzarella
12 ripe plum tomatoes (also known as Romano)
½ lb. low-fat mozzarella cheese, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (light)
2 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil
Salt & pepper, Italian seasoning or Mrs. Dash seasoning to taste
Slice 1/3 off the side of the tomato and remove pulp from inside. Turn upside down to drain on a paper towel – allow all tomatoes to drain about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, combine chopped cheese, olive oil and basil. Turn tomatoes upright and spoon some cheese mixture in each “boat.” Sprinkle with desired seasoning to taste. Chill until ready to grill. Allow to sit at room temperature about 15 minutes prior to grilling. Grill over medium high heat until tomato skin puckers and cheese melts. Serve warm.
Nutrition Information: 50 calories, 3 grams protein, 4 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 2.5 grams fat, 0.8 gram saturated fat
Shrimp Kabobs with Asian Marinated Peaches
(p. 50, Bariatric Bites cookbook)
12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 peaches, quartered and pitted
2 green peppers, quartered
2 onions, quartered
On a skewer, place the following: 1 quartered peach, 1 onion quartered,
1 piece of green or red pepper and shrimp. Repeat. Repeat on each skewer.
½ cup chopped peach
2 T. sugar substitute
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ cup vegetable stock
2 tsp. garlic, minced
2 green chilies, finely chopped
1 cup scallion, sliced
In a blender, puree the first four ingredients for the marinade. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish and add the remaining ingredients, mixing well. Place the skewers in the dish, making sure they are very well coated with the marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cook on grill using medium heat for 5 minutes, turning until evenly browned.
Nutrition Information: 190 calories, 14 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber
Because the Bariatric Center is designated as an Accredited Center by the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program and is recognized in the Optum Centers of Excellence Network, weight loss surgery at NMMC is covered by more health plans, including those for teachers, state employees and many offered by employers. So, check your health plan benefits, talk to your doctor and weigh your options.