Thursday, January 21, 2016

Nutritionist Q&A

This is the time of year when many people focus on getting healthy after an indulgent holiday season. In recognition of that and National Healthy Weight Week, which takes place January 18-22, GBMC asked one of its own dietitians, Katie Perry, RDN, to share insights and suggestions for effective weight management.

GBMC: How can reaching a healthy weight improve overall health?

Katie: There is a definite correlation between diet and mood. Many patients have told me that they feel better overall when they make dietary changes such as eliminating processed foods. Processed foods contain a great deal of fat, sugar and salt, which can be very addicting and often make you feel sluggish. Adopting healthier eating habits can help with weight loss or weight maintenance. Being happy with the way your body looks can also enhance your mood and confidence.

GBMC: How can people avoid overeating?

Katie: I encourage my patients to practice “mindful eating,” which is the act of being present in the moment during mealtime and really listening to your body. In order to practice mindful eating, one must remove all distractions including television, cell phones, computers, work, driving, etc. These distractions prevent one’s full attention from being directed towards internal cues of fullness. All senses are used in the act of mindful eating: sight, smell, taste, mouth feel (texture), and even the sound of food cooking.

GBMC: What foods do you recommend for weight loss?

Katie: The first thing I suggest is to choose snacks that are high in fiber and protein, such as Greek yogurt, string cheese, fruits, vegetables and almonds. These foods are high in fiber and protein and help you to feel fuller longer.

GBMC: What foods should be avoided for weight loss?

Katie: The worst things to eat are “empty calorie” foods, which are high in calories but do not provide much nutrition. They are often processed, high-fat, sugary foods including: cookies, cake, chips, crackers, donuts, ice cream, fried foods, etc.

GBMC: What are your tips for maintaining a healthy weight?

Katie: For maintaining weight, it’s all about balance.
  • Do not skip meals. Consuming three or four meals per day helps maintain a healthy, steady metabolism.
  • Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The sensation of thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. Dehydration can also cause drowsiness.
  • Be active. Changes in weight are based on the “calories in vs. calories out” principle. Weight gain occurs when “calories in” exceeds “calories out.” Making exercise a part of your daily routine can help with weight maintenance.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep plays a roll in hormonal balance, which can affect the storage of fat, energy levels and hunger.

GBMC: What habits should people can incorporate into their lives to lose weight?

  • Practice portion control by measuring out your food based on serving size recommendations found on food labels. Using smaller plates and bowls can also help keep portion sizes small.
  • Avoid beverages that contain sugar. Liquid calories can be very sneaky and do not provide any nutritional value.
  • Increase physical activity. A combination of cardio and weight training can help burn fat and build lean muscle. Lean muscle is more metabolically active than fat and continues burning calories long after working out. It is recommended to be active for 30 minutes or more each day, at least 5 days per week.
  • Eat only when you are hungry and stop eating once you feel full. If you notice that you are eating for reasons other than hunger, find a distraction or a different outlet. Eating slowly can help prevent overeating. It takes your mind 15-20 minutes to realize you are full; keep this in mind before going for seconds!

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