Thursday, May 28, 2020

One Super Simple No-Fuss Trick for Easy Weight Loss

If you currently consume any liquid calories, one of the easiest and most effective weight loss changes you can make is to switch your bevy for water. Liquid calories include:

  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sweet tea
  • Energy drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Chocolate milk
  • Coffee with sugar
  • Vitamin-enhanced water

While some of these drinks are marketed to appear healthy, most sweet drinks - including juices, contain as much sugar as a soft drink ounce for ounce. Whether that sugar is labeled 'fructose', 'sucrose', 'high-fructose corn syrup' or 'cane sugar' doesn't make a difference. All added sugars are metabolized in the same way, and when it comes to liquid sugars there are simply no health benefits. Unlike sugars from complex carbs or those found in fruit, the levels of sugar contained in sodas, juices and other sweet drinks are substantially higher, lack fiber and are absorbed much more quickly. Sweet drinks are associated with a range of health complications, both in obese and non-obese individuals, including fatty liver and diabetes, high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

Additionally, sugary drinks fail to send the signals to your brain to let you know you've consumed enough calories. As an example, consider how many oranges you could consume in one sitting before growing tired of oranges. Most of us would comfortably stop at one, maybe two if hunger has really struck. That's because in addition to the sweet sugary goodness an orange provides, you're also consuming fiber. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet, and it contained in all fruits and vegetables. Fibrous foods don't just take longer to eat, which gives your brain a chance to catch up to your stomach, they also slow down sugar absorption and digestion. On the contrary, a glass of orange juice contains no fiber, and an average 8-ounce glass contains about four oranges worth of sugar - roughly 21 grams, or more than 5 teaspoons worth.

That's why swapping out liquid calories for water is so incredibly effective, particularly for individuals who consume sugary beverages regularly or in large quantities. And that's why the easiest thing you can do for your health today is quit liquid calories for good.

Drinking the Right Amount of Water for Weight Loss

Monday, April 13, 2020

Why Can't I Stop Overeating Part II

The body is a complex system. Its parts don't function in isolation and there are many parts in play when it comes to processing food, storing fat and weight loss. In this blog, we'll be talking about Leptin and its role in obesity. Leptin is a biological contributor to obesity, which is a critical piece of knowledge for patients who are trying to lose weight. Equipping yourself with all of the relevant knowledge will allow you to take the right approach to weight loss, which includes a healthy emotional and mental outlook on the process. Understanding that obesity isn't caused by a lack of willpower or laziness is one crucial component to taking charge of your health once and for all.

Leptin is created by fat cells. In an average-weight person with a healthy BMI, where fat cells are evenly distributed, Leptin is produced in order to decrease appetite. This appetite suppressor is lower in people who are underweight and much higher in someone who is obese. The most simple explanation is that the more fat you have, the higher the levels of leptin will be in your blood. That said, there are some additional factors in play, which we will not discuss at this time. The question we want to address - the one you may already be asking yourself - is, "If my leptin levels are high, why am I still hungry?"
In fact, many studies have been conducted based on this very question and have all found the same thing: when exposed to high levels of leptin over an extended period of time, the body develops a resistance to leptin's appetite-cutting effects. When your brain doesn't receive the leptin signal, it erroneously thinks that your body is starving. This may be one reason that many diets fail to promote long-term weight loss.
Leptin resistance is just one of the components of obesity, but if you've ever wondered by it's so difficult to stop yourself from overeating, you should know that leptin may play a pivotal role. So how do you reverse this trend?

Leptin resistance is tricky and it's not clear whether or not it can be entirely reversed. Here's what we do know:

It’s important never to self-diagnose medical issues and to consider that there are various health risks associated with obesity beyond leptin resistance. Please make an appointment with your GP to discuss the appropriate blood tests necessary to determine your overall health. If you are located in Birmingham and choose to become part of the local weight loss program, you will undergo a physical examination with Dr. Morgan, an EKG and routine lab work consisting of a CBC, Chem 24, lipid profile, liver enzyme function and thyroid panel.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Why Can’t I Stop Overeating?

A change in eating habits can be a positive experience; however, if we’re not careful the process can quickly devolve into toxic thinking. This is especially true for those of us who struggle with food and are looking for surefire weight loss solutions.
It usually begins with food labels. Now, we’re not talking about nutrition information in this case, rather the labels we apply to certain types of food such as kale versus cookies.

Labeling foods as "good" and "bad" is a guaranteed way to increase stress and create negative associations with eating. The second you label a food “bad”, you begin to think about it in a new light. You may develop a fear of the food or an obsession with it. The food will suddenly claim more of your emotional energy and you will spend more time thinking about it than you usually might. Worse, because it’s off limits, you’ll likely want it even more, and if you decide to give in and let yourself enjoy the ‘forbidden fruit’, your enjoyment will be short-lived and quickly replaced by guilt and feelings of failure.
When foods get labels and start having moral implications, it’s more difficult to make healthy choices and recover from perceived failures. Toxic diet beliefs come in many forms:

  • Elimination (ie. no more sugar, no more pasta)
  • Needing to excuse our choices to others
  • Equating body weight to health
  • Atoning with exercise
  • Cleanses & detoxes
  • Guilty pleasures
  • Earning food
  • Cheat days

Deprived Binge Eating

If you're trying to better your habits after bariatric surgery or you are on a restrictive diet to avoid the procedure, you're a likely candidate for binge eating. In many cases, binge eating is a biological response to food deprivation - whether you've deprived yourself physically by eliminating food or emotionally through toxic thinking.
The more you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, the stronger the urge for binging that food becomes; once the binge occurs, a new cycle begins and we immediately begin to set ourselves up again for subsequent failure.

At Bariatric Health & Wellness, we offer a wide range of foods, from complete meals to sweet and savory snacks. We know that in order for a long term strategy to be effective, people like yourself need easy and affordable access to foods they actually enjoy. That includes crunchy cheese bites, creamy chicken dishes and moist chocolate chip cookies, among many options. With foods designed to keep up with your caloric means while still meeting your tastebuds' demands, you'll be more likely to succeed and break the cycle of restriction and binge eating!

Emotional Binging or Just Emotional Eating?

It's been a long day at work or at home with the kids; it doesn't matter if you're stressed, annoyed or overwhelmed, there's a voice in the back of your head that lets you know some drive-through, a pint or a big batch of freshly baked Toll House cookies will set things right again.
While it's not uncommon or inherently bad to let food soothe us on occasion, making these choices on a regular basis ultimately leads to a calorie surplus that causes noticeable and long term weight gain. This is emotional eating, and everyone does it from time to time.

Emotional eating is characterized by:

  • Wanting more even after eating plenty
  • Experiencing a sudden urge to eat
  • Eating to feel better or safer
  • Craving very specific foods
  • Eating as a reward
  • Eating to excess

The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your triggers. What brought on the urge to comfort eat and toss aside all mindful eating practices in the first place? Get curious about your feelings and thoughts, allow yourself to sit in emotions and give yourself the space you deserve to think, learn and grow.

Establishing mindful eating habits is just one part of the healing process. Your journey will be long and there will be many bumps in the road. We encourage a well-rounded approach, and for many people, that includes seeking help for binge eating from a mental health professional. If you need help to heal and recover from BED, don’t be afraid to ask.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Keeping the Weight Off with Intuitive Eating Habits

The road to weight loss is paved with many potholes. From poor lifelong eating and exercise habits to toxic dieting culture, it's no wonder that a large percentage of people who take on the everyday challenges of meeting their goal weight end up regaining some if not all of the pounds back eventually.
When combating old habits such as emotional eating, over-eating, binge eating and a largely sedentary lifestyle, the tendency for many bariatric patients and dieters is to try and reverse the trend with a slew of rules and restrictions. And while calorie counting and logging food and exercise habits on a daily basis can be a great visual tool for moderation, accountability and goal-setting, ultimately when used as a standalone approach, these practices neglect several vital components for long-term sustainability.
Over time, subjected to daily stress and outside pressures, it becomes more and more difficult to follow restrictions and abide by all of the rules all of the time; below we'll talk about how our weight loss meal plans and how mindful eating habits play into that.

Diets are focused on outcomes: the number on the scale, the pant size, the blood test results. Setting and meeting goals are useful and effective strategies when it comes to weight loss, however, focusing on these solely is a 2-dimensional approach.
In fact, let's scrap the word "diet" right now and replace it simply with "eating". Seeing food as food, not assigning it a moral value, and not focusing all of your emotional efforts on restriction will be the first step in reestablishing food normalcy and learning to love and respect your body no matter how close you are to your goals.

Bettering Habits Post-Bariatric Surgery

Are you thinking about food all of the time? Do you worry about the foods you just ate? Do you use terms such as "can/can't", "should/shouldn't" or "good/bad" to describe what goes into your mouth?
Conventional diet culture will have us believe that food and exercise are rewards and punishments; that we "deserve" ice cream because we bought kale; that we should ignore our body's natural signals. If this is you, you’re dieting.

As part of a well-rounded approach that considers the whole person, we should all be practicing mindful eating instead. Mindful eating is designed to supplement calorie counting and exercise with effective behavioral changes that are sustainable over the long term, and targets behaviors to elicit natural changes that don't rely on unhealthy practices. As a mindful eater, you will learn to accept your mistakes graciously and move past them quickly; there will be times when you'll forget to or simply not want to eat mindfully and being able to consider this part of the learning process will be critical to success.

At its most basic, mindful eating involves:

  • Learning to distinguish between hunger and emotion
  • Forgiving "failures" and actively coping with guilt
  • Not assigning food good or bad values
  • Allowing foods to be pleasurable
  • Appreciating a myriad of foods
  • Eating for you

Here are a few basic tips to help you get started:

  • Avoid eating while engaging in other activities such as preparing dinner, watching TV or browsing Instagram
  • Eliminate the stress of grocery shopping with ready meals and weight loss plans
  • Use plates and utensils, avoid eating with hands or out of the container
  • Plan ahead, whether for a busy week, extended travel or the holidays
  • Eat when you're hungry instead of ignoring hunger cues
  • Make sure you have access to foods you like eating
  • Organize and care for your kitchen
  • Use smaller plates and bowls
  • Don't skip snacks
  • Don't under-eat
  • Eat a variety
  • Eat slowly

Mindful eating isn't easy. Even equipped with the knowledge, eating consciously takes patience, practice and persistence. That's particularly true if you have a longstanding poor relationship with food and have a tendency to lose control around certain foods. That said, everyone is a candidate for mindful eating and there's never a bad time to start or an effort too small.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Everything You Need to Know About the Protein-Sparing Modified Fast Diet

Appropriately once called the Last Chance Diet, this fasting strategy was developed in the 1970s as an alternative to traditional fasting. Unlike indiscriminate calorie restriction, PSMF is designed to prevent muscle wasting by using a very targeted approach to protein consumption and fat/carb restriction. This spares the dieter many associated health risks, including the loss of lean tissue mass that’s caused by protein and nutrient deficiencies during other fasts.

Is PSMF for Me?

PSMF is a temporary diet designed specifically for those with a BMI of 40 or more. It aims to help those who need to shed significant pounds in order to kick-start their weight loss journey, and is ideal for patients who have recently had bariatric surgery or for those who are interested in opting out of surgery with a less invasive approach. It is not recommended for people who are looking to lose a few quick pounds; ample fat storage is required for this diet to be safe as well as effective.

How Do I Get On a PSMF Diet?

Before starting any extreme approach to weight loss, it is strongly recommended that you consult your primary care provider for a physical exam that will assess your overall health. PSMF generally aims at a target calorie goal of 1,000 or lower, which is not advisable for certain patients.

If you are located in the Birmingham area here in Alabama, we strongly encourage you to come in for a free consultation! As a patient here at the clinic, you’ll start off with a proper physical examination, an EKG and routine lab work. You’ll also complete an in-depth orientation class where you’ll learn how to work the program, and receive a starter bag with two weeks’ worth of samples of our most popular meal replacements.
For information about how to start our medically supervised weight loss program located in Birmingham, AL click here.

If you're not local, you can still set yourself up for optimal success using our Health & Wellness App. The app helps you track your progress by logging important information such as calories in vs. calories out, weight, activities, sleep, water intake and more. You'll be able to connect with a coach for personalized feedback, and integrate a variety of activity trackers and scales.

How Long Does the Diet Last?

Our PSMF program is a three-phase plan that's aimed not only at helping you reach your ideal weight, but also give you the skills and knowledge to maintain your target weight for years to come. During the program, you'll be introduced to new behaviors that encourage healthy habits, which will help you reach and maintain your desired weight.

Phase 1
The first phase of the PSMF program aims to get you within five pounds of your healthy target weight. This phase consists of calorie restriction with an emphasis on protein consumption, as well as increased water intake to flush the system, and supplementation to avoid adverse health effects.

Phase 2
During the realimentation phase of PSMF, you'll begin reintroducing some foods back into your diet. This is a gradual and careful process, designed to restore full digestive functions over the course of four weeks.
At the end of this phase, you will get an individualized meal plan that will let you know just how many calories you can consume each day to maintain your weight within five pounds. It focuses on including foods you already enjoy eating and making, as well as your favorite quick and easy meal replacements. This way, you’ll be able to continue your progress with the same kind of structure and consistency you're used to, making dieting after gastric sleeve surgery (or to prevent it) easier and more effective than ever before.

Phase 3
The final phase of the protein sparing modified fasting diet should be considered ongoing maintenance. It's easy to go back to old habits and slowly lose control over time, so in order to continue to keep the weight off, it'll be critical to receive continued counseling to improve your relationship with food, get the appropriate dietary recommendations and ask for help with exercise programs.

Is the Diet Easy?

Tackling this diet alone step for step can be extremely difficult because it requires the dieter to monitor his or her calorie total and calorie breakdown extremely carefully while staying especially vigilant about replenishing vitamins and electrolytes. Fasting is also mentally taxing, and many low-calorie foods out there lack the protein content needed to sustain PSMF. Additionally, it's common for dieters who are fasting to quickly get bored of the choices they find at the local grocery store and many find it increasingly difficult to pass up their high-calorie favorites again and again.

At Bariatric Health & Wellness, it’s our number one goal to help you succeed at protein sparing modified fasting. We offer a range of tasty high-protein, low-calorie foods, and all of our meal replacements are nutritionally interchangeable so there's never any counting, guessing or weighing involved. We've taken all the guesswork and frustration out of the equation, making our protocol extremely simple and easy to follow; you'll never need to calculate calories and you'll never need to pass up the cookie aisle again because your pantry will be well-stocked.

Does the Diet Work?

Absolutely. We've personally helped 30,000+ people shed over 150,000 pounds, and that's because the scientific data backs up the PSMF approach. In one study, patients lost an average of 46 pounds or 56 percent of their excess body fat. The study also tracked other factors such as blood pressure, blood sugar and blood lipid numbers, all of which improved.

PSMF is a great follow-up for bariatric surgery, as well as a great alternative to surgery or medication. If you're ready to make a personal commitment to lifestyle changes, this program is for you.
Learn more now.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Vital Tips for Losing Weight & Actually Keeping It Off

Whether you're currently dreaming about, laying the plans for or already achieving weight loss, we salute you. There are many first steps to achieving your goals, and each part of the journey is significant. Improving your health is a full-body and mind experience, and a more well-rounded path will always lead you to a more well-rounded experience.
There's no doubt you already know how challenging weight loss can be. Many of us struggle for years before finding a solution that resonates with us deeply enough to create a lasting change, and this is partially due to the mindset we hold when we choose to change who we are. Fear-based proclamations such as "I'm afraid I won't see my kids grow up" or "I'll be embarrassed if I still look like this at my High School reunion" light fires that burn very hot but also very fast; they tend to give rise to exercise and/or food habits that are both lofty and difficult to sustain. These types of habits ultimately don't address underlying behaviors or inspire the right kinds of changes in the long run, leading us to concede to failure and possibly give up for good.

When it comes down to it, doing things you don't enjoy - even for a good cause - just isn't a sustainable practice. Whether it's fitting into a new dress or watching your kids get married that inspires you, if you feel like you're being robbed of something in the process, you're well on your way to burning out. Sure, you might spend a month faithfully meal prepping or hop on the treadmill a few times a week, but chances are very good that soon you'll lose interest and undo all your precious progress. This is a frustrating and disheartening experience, and many of us don't recover from it quickly or gracefully. "So", you might be asking yourself, "what's the secret?"

While there's no secret method to anything in life, you'll set yourself up for a much greater chance of success when you're motivations aren't driven by fear or negative self-talk. Instead, set positive and achievable goals for yourself and work toward them using methods you know you can actually sustain.

Setting goals for yourself is a great way to stay on track, but it's important to set the right kinds of goals for the right kinds of reasons. When setting goals, ensure they are:

Between media portrayals and our own propensity to try and outdo ourselves, it's easy to start setting goals that are simply not realistic for your age, lifestyle, body type or general needs. When setting goals, it's important to be realistic about who you are, what you need and what you're capable of achieving. Be realistic about what success will look like when you personally achieve it, because what's healthy for one person is not necessarily what's healthy for someone else.

If you set lofty goals for yourself, chances are you won't meet them. Repeatedly not meeting your goals can leave you feeling pessimistic and dejected. While we encourage you to challenge yourself, remember that if it's not fun, it's not working.

Being specific with each goal will allow you to visualize the steps you will take to achieve it. Visualization is a critical component of success as it allows you to see your accomplishments in your mind's eye. Instead of setting goals to exercise more or eat healthily, break down each goal into its components.

Each component of your goals should have measurable stepping stones. Try to avoid making your weight a central component of how you keep track of your progress. Instead, notice your energy level, your mood, how your clothes fit, how often you've recently chosen a healthier meal over an unhealthy one, how far you can walk without stopping etc.
Keep track of the milestones that are important to you in a journal or blog. Seeing how far you've come in changing your lifestyle habits will help you to stay motivated and on track.

It's important to set goals that mean something to you personally. Ask yourself what's most important to you, and then determine which goals you need to meet to get there. Tailor your strategy for a healthier life to meet your emotional goals, not just your physical ones. You're more likely to succeed when you build your new habits around positive intentions and mindful being.   

To help you stay on track, we offer a wide range of healthy but satisfying meal replacements and snack foods. Building new habits starts with small steps, so take a step in the right direction and switch from high-carb high-calorie foods to low-calorie alternatives that are filled with nutrients and protein to keep you fuller longer.