No one diet is right for everyone

Can You Count on Popular Diet Programs to Lose Weight?

Originally posted on SplendaLiving.com

I once had a client say to me that she wanted to lose weight, but she just hadn’t found the right diet yet. She went on to explain that she had tried many popular diet programs over the years, but none of them ever worked for her. When I probed further to find out what she did and didn’t like about the diets she tried, I discovered she had successfully adopted several new eating behaviors from each one. What she didn’t realize was that she was customizing her approach to healthier eating habits with each change she made, and creating a plan that would work for her for over the long run.

If you’re hoping to start the New Year off by making a resolution to lose weight, there are many things you can learn from all of the popular diet programs out there. While you may not be able to adhere to all of the recommendations, all of the time, any change you make that improves what and how much you eat – and that you can stick to – is a win for you!

Over the years I have had clients tell me they started to eat breakfast regularly after being on a popular diet, even though they dropped the rest of the plan. Others have said they started using a no-calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA® Brand, instead of sugar as part of a diet program and continued using it long after giving up on the rest of the plan. And then there are those who formed the habit of eating a salad before dinner each night, or bringing a piece of fruit to work to snack on in the afternoon every day, even though they skipped the rest of the “rules”. These are all success stories in my book.

Read on to see how you can take what you need from the most popular weight loss diets while leaving behind what you don’t.

What are the Best Diet Programs or the Best Weight Loss Diet?

Numerous well-controlled studies designed to compare the effectiveness of different weight loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein and carbohydrates, have found they all result in weight loss if you stick to them. Initial rates of weight loss vary from one plan to another, but over time they even out to about the same number of lost pounds as long as you keep following the rules. Of course, once you stop following the rules, some or all of the weight is regained.

Some of the riskiest diet plans are those that promise quick weight loss. Tempting as they may sound, they do not result in weight loss that lasts. And they often have more extreme food restrictions that can lead to nutritional imbalances. This is not a solution even for the short term.

To avoid diet lapses and weight gain you need to establish some new eating habits that are compatible with your way of life, yet make it possible to maintain a healthier weight. The best way to figure out what approach will work for you is to consult with a registered dietitian/nutritionist or other qualified health professional. If that is not an option, use the steps below to rate the popular weight loss diet plans.

3 Steps to Evaluate if a Popular Weight Loss Diet is Right for You

  1. The first thing you should do to evaluate any weight loss program is check out the food or meal replacement products you’re expected to eat. If you don’t like, can’t easily buy, don’t know how to prepare or can’t afford most of the recommended foods, then don’t even consider starting the diet. If, however, there are foods you have tried and liked but don’t regularly eat, like beans or fish, you may have to up your game to include them more often. If the plan is based on buying special foods or meal replacement products, ask yourself if that’s a sustainable option for you.
  2. The next thing to do once you’re satisfied with the foods you’re allowed or expected to eat is to see if there are any “forbidden” foods. Now ask yourself: could you live without them for the rest of your life? If entire food groups are omitted, such as grains or dairy, it may be best to keep looking for a more balanced plan.
  3. After you find a plan that is a good match for your food preferences, look at the recommended eating schedule to see if it fits in well with your daily routine. There is no point in starting a plan that expects you to eat every two hours or have your main meal at midday or stop eating by 6pm if that’s not possible for you. You will also want to know what other activities you’ll have to fit into your life, like exercising, attending meetings or completing records, and make sure those requirements are realistic for you.

There is no one weight loss diet that is right for everyone, so make it your goal to adopt healthier eating habits that are right for you and can last a lifetime.

 

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well. 
Reference:
Sacks FM, Bray GA. Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates. N Engl J Med 2009; 360:859-873; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa0804748

 

 

Tips to prevent holiday weight gain

Sensible Ways to Fight the Holiday Weight Gain Battle

This post originally appeared on SplendaLiving.com.

Avoiding weight gain between November and January is all about changing what you’ve been doing year after year that has contributed to the inevitable extra pounds you see on the scale on New Year’s Day. If you’re ready to do something different, I’ve got some suggestions to help you get started!

Reflect on Past Patterns

When you look back on how you’ve celebrated the year-end holidays in the past, what patterns of behavior do you see? Are you making several late night trips to the mall to do your shopping, spending every weekend decorating the house and socializing more frequently with friends after work? Does that leave you with less time to prepare and eat meals at home, keep up with your regular workouts, and take the dog for a walk?

Here are some ways you can change those patterns:

  • Start your shopping and decorating earlier.
  • Invite friends over for pot luck meals instead of eating out.
  • Plan fun activities you can do with family and friends, like ice skating, walking for a cause, biking through the neighborhood to see the holiday decorations.
  • Give yourself a curfew on week nights so you’re home and in bed on time to get a good night’s sleep.

Consider Your Mindset

What you are thinking as the holidays approach can also influence how you will behave. If you have the attitude “anything goes” because holiday foods are only available once a year, you can end up eating and drinking more than you can possibly enjoy. By changing your mindset to focus on the meaning of all those special foods, you can put the brakes on overeating and savor the memories.

Try these more mindful approaches at your next holiday meal:

  • Ask everyone attending to complete this statement: “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah/etc. without ____________ (insert name of food or drink) because ____________.”
  • Get built-in portion control at holiday meals by swapping out your large festive plates and bowls for smaller ones, as covered in this earlier blog.
  • Have everyone around the table share a memory of when they first tasted their favorite dish including how old they were, who prepared it, and where they were.
  • Make a video of a parent or grandparent preparing a special recipe to share with the rest of the family.

Reorder Your Priorities

Ask yourself what really matters the most to you as you anticipate each holiday, and then make sure you manage your time and resources so you can participate in those events instead of spending so much time at unfulfilling obligations carried over from year to year. Sometimes all it takes is letting go of a few items lower down on your “to-do” list so you can add something new on top. And remember that having healthy holidays is one of the best ways to have happy holidays.

Consider these options to help you have the kind of holiday experience you really want:

  • Prepare a lower sugar version of a few favorite holiday recipes by swapping out sugar for SPLENDA® Sweetener Products (as described in this blog) to balance out your menu without giving up the sweetness of the things you love.
  • Make an appointment now to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, visit a house-bound neighbor, pack gifts to send to soldiers overseas, or wrap gifts for needy children.
  • Donate the cookies from your annual cookie swap to a nursing home so you won’t have to give up the fun of baking them, but can avoid the temptation of eating them.
  • Move up your annual New Year’s Resolution to lose weight by one month and make a December 1st No Weight Gain Resolutionso you can ring in the New Year without those extra pounds.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

Lack of sleep can contribute to overeating and weight gain

The Sleep-Weight Connection

This blog was first published on Aspartame.org on November 28, 2016

If you’ve been gaining weight and not getting enough sleep lately, some new research suggests the problems are very likely connected. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that people who didn’t get enough sleep consumed an extra 385 calories the following day. A 2.5 ounce bag of potato chips or a banana nut muffin can provide that many calories.

That’s enough extra calories to gain one pound every 9 days! While sleep deprivation has its own health consequences, the potential weight gain from consistently not sleeping enough is also a concern.

How Are Food Choices Affected by Lack of Sleep?

In this study, the researchers reviewed 11 other studies made up of 172 participants and compared people who didn’t get enough sleep (3.5 – 5 hours/night) to people who got adequate sleep (7 – 12 hours/night) and what the subjects in each group ate afterwards. What they found was that the sleep deprived people didn’t necessarily eat more, but they did choose foods higher in fat and lower in protein, with about the same amount of carbohydrate. The additional calories in the food choices of the sleep deprived people resulted in weight gain since they weren’t using those calories with increased physical activity.

The studies in this review were not designed to explain why people change their food choices following sleep deprivation, but the answer may lie in the reward center of the brain. The results of another study of sleep deprived adults showed greater activation in areas of the brain associated with reward when subjects were exposed to food. This suggests they would be more motivated to seek food when sleep deprived. Another study found higher levels of a lipid in the bloodstream known as endocannabinoid, a naturally produced compound that binds to the same receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana. Activating this part of the brain has been shown to make eating more pleasurable and result in a greater desire for palatable food.

How is Appetite Affected by Lack of Sleep?

 Another proposed reason for the change in food choices by sleep-deprived people is a disruption in their hormones that control appetite, or the desire to eat. The natural circadian rhythms, or biological clock, of the body regulate our sleep-wake-feeding cycles to 24 hour periods. When those cycles are thrown out of sync by external influences, such as staying awake too long, other biological functions of the body are affected. Studies on sleep deprived people have shown they have reduced levels of leptin, a hormone that produces satiety, and increased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that regulates hunger. The change in these hormones in sleep deprived people supports their reports of having an increased appetite, even though they shouldn’t be hungry.

 How Does Food Affect Sleep?

There’s one more twist to the sleep-weight gain story worth mentioning. When certain foods or beverages are eaten at night, they can interfere with the ability to fall asleep, or stay asleep. That can leave you feeling tired the next day. When you feel tired during your waking hours, you may turn to foods and beverages that will help you stay awake, such as those containing caffeine or high amounts of added sugars. This eating and drinking is not in response to hunger, but a way to temporarily become more alert. It not only introduces unneeded calories, but can create a vicious cycle of being overstimulated during the day, and unable to sleep well at night.

While there are still a number of unanswered questions, the evidence is growing that sleep and weight gain are connected. Fortunately, the solution for many people may be as simple as pulling down the shades, powering off all screens and turning out the light for a good night’s sleep so you can wake up ready to start the day with your appetite under control.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

Menopause does not automatically lead to weight gain

Is Weight Gain Inevitable After Menopause?

WEIGHT GAIN WITH MENOPAUSE ISN’T A GIVEN AS YOU AGE. THESE SIMPLE STEPS CAN HELP YOU AVOID UNWANTED WEIGHT GAIN OR EVEN SHED POUNDS.

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

The gradual changes in hormones and metabolism that occur in a woman’s body during the menopausal transition can result in weight gain if she is not prepared to deal with them.  Adjustments can be made on both the food and activity side of the ledger to keep those unwanted pounds at bay. These steps can also lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes that accompany menopause.

Make a Substitution: Because your metabolic rate slows down with age, you can begin gaining weight without eating more calories. To offset this, look for something you eat or drink every day and find a substitution that has 50-100 fewer calories. You can get that by switching from cream to low-fat milk in your coffee or eating a 4 ounce chicken cutlet at dinner instead of 6 ounces.

Add an Activity:  As all the running around you once did with the kids begins to wind down, you need a new activity to keep you moving.  This is a perfect time to sign up for dance lessons, volunteer to usher at a theater, or do some digging in a community garden.

Take a Stand: Every new appliance and technological gadget you’ve got in your home and job increase the time you spend sitting, and that expands the area you sit on. Take a stand and find reasons to get up off your butt. You can stand when letting your freshly painted nails dry, waiting for your hair color to set, talking or texting on your smart phone, flipping through a magazine in a doctor’s office, waiting for a prescription to be filled.

Do-It-Yourself: It’s tempting to use your extra income to outsource household chores, but that just denies you the chance to be more active.  Washing the windows, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the floors, polishing the car, painting the bathroom, and weeding the garden are all great ways to stay in shape!

Change the China: The amount of food we eat and beverages we drink is directly related to the size of the plates, bowls and glasses we use. By switching to smaller ones we can scale down our portions without even noticing the change. Measure the diameter of your plates and the volume of your bowls, glasses, and mugs and look for a 25% reduction in the size of the replacements.

Spread Out the Protein: Muscle mass diminishes as we age, and the less muscle we have the slower our metabolism becomes, which makes it easier to gain weight. The best ways to preserve muscles are to use them in resistance exercises and feed them plenty of protein. Including at least 20 grams of protein at each meal will do a better job than consuming most of your protein in just one meal.

Weigh Yourself Weekly: You may have never reached your personal goal weight, but by this point in your life you should know what your best weight is. Give yourself a reasonable fluctuation range of 3 pounds around that number, then step on the scale on a weekly basis and be ready to take action if you go beyond that.

Vacation weight gain can lead to creeping obesity

The Spring Break Souvenir Nobody Wants

This post was originally written for TheSkinnyOnLowCal.org.

When college students return to campus after their winter break most of them can’t tell you exactly when they’ll be taking their final exams, but they all know the dates for spring break. Reservations are booked long before anyone cracks open a book at the start of the semester. Escaping to someplace tropical for fun in the sun is standard fare, but for many there is a souvenir that can linger long after the tan marks have faded. It’s called creeping obesity.

Just like holiday weight gain that isn’t lost from one year to the next, weight gained while on vacation can contribute to creeping obesity – or gradual weight gain over time – if those extra pounds aren’t lost when you get home.  A recent study found the average weight gain for vacations of one to three weeks was .7 pounds, with some subjects gaining as much as 7 pounds.

Another finding in that study was that weight was gained despite the slight increase in physical activity reported during vacations. Apparently snorkeling and beach volleyball aren’t enough to offset the increased caloric intake, especially from alcoholic drinks which tended to double while on vacation!

Gaining a small amount of weight may seem like no big deal, but as I said in my book Fighting the Freshman Fifteen, if you don’t deal with the ounces they’ll turn into pounds by the time you graduate.  And since it’s much easier to lose one or two pounds than five or ten, why not make it part of your vacation plans to drop those unwanted pounds as quickly as you gained them?   Here’s how to do it.

Ways to Spring Back From a Spring Break!

  1. Know Your Number– Before you go on vacation use a customized program, like SuperTracker, to determine the number of calories you consume each day to maintain your present weight with your usual amount of physical activity. This is number your baseline calorie allowance.
  2. Step on the Scale– Weigh yourself before you leave for vacation and again on the morning after you return to see if you’ve gained weight and how much you need to lose to get back to your pre-vacation weight. Weigh yourself daily while following the steps below until you reach your goal.
  3. Keep a Record– Start recording everything you eat and drink, and the amounts, so you can tally your daily caloric intake. Keep it 200 calories below your maintenance number, calculated in #1. One way to drop 200 calories a day is to replace sugar-sweetened drinks with diet drinks and to use no- and low-calorie sweeteners in place of sugar.
  4. Up Your Activity– Increase your usual time spent in physical activity by at least one hour per week by adding a single 60-minute workout or an additional 15 minutes to four regular workouts.
  5. Monitor Your Maintenance– You can stop the calorie counting and extra hour of exercise once you return to your pre-vacation weight, but continue to weigh yourself weekly. Resume the food records and added exercise time if you see your weight going up before your next vacation.

Robyn Flipse. Fighting the Freshman Fifteen. Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

Gaining weight is easy on campus

Preventing College Weight Gain

This post was written as a guest blog for CalorieControl.org. You can read the original post here. 

There are many controversies in the field of nutrition, but one thing everyone seems to agree with is that it’s easy to gain weight! All it takes is a subtle disruption in the energy balance of the body. That can happen when we consume more calories (energy) than we need or are not active enough to use up all of the calories (energy) we’ve consumed – or a bit of both.

Living on a college campus can make it even easier to gain weight. The notorious “freshman 15” may be a bit exaggerated, but even gaining five pounds is more weight than most students want or need. Learning how to balance your energy while away at college may be one of the best lessons you can learn.

Here are 10 Tips for Fighting the Freshman Fifteen to help keep you in energy balance from your first year on campus to the last!

  1. Start your day with a meal – no matter what time you wake up – to avoid random snacking for the rest of the day.  Even a leftover slice of cheese pizza and a glass of orange juice counts as a meal!
  2. Take advantage of the breakfast items available all day for a nutritious and lower calorie meal, such as a cereal, yogurt, fruit parfait, vegetable omelet, or peanut butter and sliced banana on a toasted English muffin.
  3. Stock the mini fridge and personal food bin in your dorm room with single-serving calorie-controlled foods and drinks you can eat on the go, such as low calorie drinks in cans or bottles, granola bars, fruit cups, hummus, cheese sticks and yogurt.
  4. Schedule your physical activity for certain days and times each week, just like a class, so you’re sure to get it done – and never miss the chance to walk or ride a bike instead of taking a car or bus to class.
  5. Keep your hot and cold drinks lower in calories by adding a no calorie sweetener instead of sugar and choosing diet or low-calorie beverages made with them.
  6. Explore the international and vegetarian food choices in the cafeteria to find more flavorful vegetable-based dishes that are lower in calories than standard American fare.
  7. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with like-minded house mates to have a steady supply of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs all semester long and the chance to burn some calories working on the farm to pay for your share.
  8. Reach for some sugar-free frozen yogurt topped with berries for a sweet treat, instead of regular ice cream covered in candy bits.
  9. Have designated eating places on campus for eating (cafeteria, student lounge) and other places that are off-limits (library, lecture hall) so  you won’t snack mindlessly everywhere.
  10. Stay in motion when not studying by playing competitive Virtual Console games, joining an intramural team, trying out new equipment at the fitness center, taking a Zumba class, swimming laps at the pool.

An advisor for the Calorie Control Council, Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness.  Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

 

There's no rpoof diet drinks causes weight gain

DO YOGA PANTS AND DIET DRINKS MAKE YOU FAT?

This post was originally written as a guest blog for TheSkinnyOnLowCal.org. You can read the original post here.

Have you noticed how many more people are wearing sweatpants, yoga pants or leggings instead of jeans these days? If you have, or are among those who have made the switch, it is a growing trend. According to one market report, jean sales have been declining for the last three years while sales of “active pants” have been on the rise.

What you also may have noticed is that not everyone wearing athletic attire looks like they spend a lot of time in the gym. Do you suspect that their trendy new attire has made them gain weight?

Probably not.

My guess is that while it’s nice to be in fashion, the elastic waist bands and stretchy fabrics are very forgiving for anyone who has put on a few pounds and doesn’t want to buy bigger clothes.

This observation reminded me of another common misperception that isn’t as easily debunked. Many people believe that diet drinks can lead to weight gain because so many of the people who regularly drink them are overweight. But what we really should be asking is, which came first — the excess weight or the diet drink?

While there may be an association between wearing yoga pants or drinking diet beverages and being overweight, the behavior didn’t cause the problem. Overweight people may simply be more comfortable wearing yoga pants and may drink diet beverages to help them reduce their caloric intake.

There is no evidence of cause and effect here.

That’s an important point to keep in mind whenever you see headlines that proclaim an association, correlation, relationship or link between a population and a particular behavior or food choice. So if you happen to drink diet soda or wear sweatpants, you’ve got nothing to worry about. And if that active wear makes it easier to get more exercise, that’s even better!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.`

 

 

Problems with Hypothyroidism Run in the Family

Problems with Hypothyroidism Run in the Family

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can see it here.

WEIGHT GAIN IS JUST ONE SYMPTOM OF AN UNDER ACTIVE THYROID SO GET THYROID FUNCTION CHECKED

Back in the days when the majority of American adults were not overweight, those who were would often blame it on a “sluggish thyroid.” While it is true that weight gain is a symptom of an underactive thyroid, I don’t hear that excuse much anymore.

Could it be that now that two-thirds of the population is carrying extra pounds, people have decided they don’t have problems with hypothyroidism?

In an odd twist of fate, they just might be wrong! It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans over the age of 12 have do not produce enough thyroid hormone, with half of the cases undiagnosed. The chances of developing hypothyroidism increase with age and women are five times more likely than men to suffer from it.

It’s worth knowing all of the symptoms caused by a low thyroxin level since unexplained weight gain is not the only issue linked to thyroid health. Heart disease, infertility and osteoporosis are also on the list, along with diabetes, arthritis and anemia.

Symptoms of an Underactive Thyroid

All of these symptoms are not experienced by everyone with an underactive thyroid, but these the most common ones.

  • Persistent Fatigue, Drowsiness
  • Weight Gain, Water Retention
  • Cold Intolerance, Low Body Temperature
  • Constipation
  • Thinning or Loss of Hair
  • Depression, Moodiness
  • Joint and Muscle Pain
  • Heavy or Irregular Menstrual Periods
  • Dry Skin, Brittle Nails
  • Puffy Face and Eyes

Diagnosing Problems with Hypothyroidism

Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are the same as those for other diseases, so a diagnosis cannot be based on symptoms alone. Your physician will need to review your personal medical history to look for other signs of thyroid dysfunction and ask about your family history since thyroid problems are familial.

TSH Test – This test detects the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) in the blood and is the most accurate way to measure thyroid function. TSH levels rise and fall based on how much thyroid hormone is being produced to meet your body’s needs. A result showing TSH above normal levels indicates hypothyroidism and a reading below normal means hyperthyroidism, or over-active thyroid.

T4 Test – This test measures the actual amount of circulating thyroid hormone in the blood. In hypothyroidism, the T4 levels are lower than normal.

Restoring Thyroid Health

Hypothyroidism can be almost completely controlled by taking a synthetic form of the hormone thyroxin. The hitch is getting the dose right, taking the medication properly and avoiding interference from other medications.

That means you’ll need to have your TSH level checked every 6-8 weeks after beginning treatment so adjustment can be made in the dosage until it is right for you. Once the TSH levels are stable, you will need to have them monitored the rest of your life since your condition can, and will, change with age and other changes in your health status.

There is no special diet for treating hypothyroidism. As for the excess weight, once you’re on the right medication, your metabolism will start working properly again and the weight should come off. You’ll also feel more energetic so can resume regular exercise.

Reflections on Obesity and the Weight of the Nation

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

A REGISTERED DIETITIAN’S VIEW OF OBESITY CONTRASTS WITH HBO’S WEIGHT OF THE NATION

While awaiting the heavily promoted premier of the HBO documentary, Weight of the Nation, I took the time to reflect on what I have learned about obesity in my 35 years of experience treating people who are overweight or obese. It just so happens my career spans the same trajectory as the epidemic, but I’m pretty sure I am not to blame!

Much has changed in this country since the mid-1970’s when obesity rates began to soar, and it all matters. But it is also true that no one thing is more important than any other in bringing about this unprecedented weight gain among Americans of every race, class and region.

I cannot offer all the mind-numbing statistics, frightening graphics, and challenging expert opinions of a high-tech television production, but I can tell you some things that need to be said.

What Obesity Is Not

All obesity is not same. Every person who reaches the benchmark to be classified as obese got there in his or her own way. It’s the result of a complex interplay of personal biology, environment, and lifestyle, where no two situations are exactly the same because no two people are exactly the same. This becomes even more apparent as the epidemic spreads around the world.

Obesity is not curable. There are many different factors that play a causal role in developing obesity and there no cure for it. Once you become obese, you must spend the rest of your life treating it or risk becoming even fatter or dying of the chronic diseases that accompany it.

 

Obesity is not easy to diagnose. Weighing a person and measuring their height is easy. Using those figures to calculate body mass index (BMI) is also easy. But deciding if someone is obese based on their BMI is not. More sophisticated measurements are needed to determine what the percentage of fat is in the body and where it is located to fully understand whether someone is at risk due to their body size and composition.

 

Obesity is not easy to prevent or treat. The best advice medical science has to offer as a means to prevent obesity is to maintain a state of “energy balance.” That advice is difficult to follow. It requires knowing precisely how many calories you consume every day (over a lifetime) and how much energy you expend every day to offset them. These are intangible values. Once you become obese, you are expected to create an energy imbalance by expending more calories than you take in. Only at this point, your body has a whole new way of dealing with energy that defies the mathematics of using calorie control to achieve weight control.

Obesity is not a plague. Obesity spread very quickly in the last three decades, but it is not a scourge that must be routed out by any means possible. Drastic measures have been proposed to “fix” the way we grow, distribute, and sell food in this country, while the obese have been scrutinized, marginalized, and penalized for their weight. In the panic to find a solution we have lost sight of the fact individuals become obese and it is individuals who need help dealing with it.

I hope I can look back 35 years from now and reflect on all that we learned about obesity to lift this weight from our nation.

 

Avoid overeating at Christmas parties to reduce risk for weight gain in the New Year.

Is Overeating at Christmas Just One More Way to Splurge?

AVOID OVEREATING AT CHRISTMAS TO PROTECT YOUR HEALTH

It’s party season and with those parties comes the annual excuse to eat, drink and be merry! Then after splurging on too much food or booze there’s the all too familiar lament, “It was just this one time.” Trouble is, that particular “one time” may have been the annual Christmas party, while the next “one time” may be your birthday or wedding anniversary or you-name-it occasion that is just another excuse to overeat and drink.

Before you know it, those binges are happening on a regular basis. But no matter what the frequency, they are not good for your body or diet. The excess calories, fat, sodium and whatever else you swallow without tasting are nearly impossible to offset by weeks of sensible eating and drinking. Even one big splurge a year can trigger an inflammatory response that can leave permanent scars on your artery walls.

Believing that it’s okay to overindulge once in a while is like believing you can drive over the speed limit without wearing a seatbelt occasionally. Both are very risky behaviors that can have drastic consequences.

The sooner you get those eating and drinking binges under control, the better your health will be. Here’s why.

Our bodies do not rate us on how many “good” days of eating we’ve had against the number of “bad” days. Instead, the value of everything we eat and drink is counted as consumed. The goal is for the high numbers to get averaged down by lower ones so our totals add up right by the end of the week.

For example, if you have a caloric allowance of 2000 per day and eat 2200 calories on Monday, you need to eat just 1800 on Tuesday to average it out. Or you can eat 1900 on both Tuesday and Wednesday to offset the excess 200 calories. Or you can add another 30 minutes of moderate physical activity to your week to cancel them out.

But what if you splurge over the weekend and eat an extra 3000 calories or 80 grams of fat or 5000 mg of sodium? It’s not difficult to consume those values in one sitting, but scaling back on what and how much you eat in order to offset them is nearly impossible. There just aren’t enough days in the week to average those high numbers back into your diet.

The result is slow but steady weight gain, clogged arteries and high blood pressure, along with an increasing risk for numerous other preventable diseases. Splurging for just one day or even one meal is not worth it if you cannot repair the damage.

The best anti-splurging strategy during this holiday party season and throughout the rest of the year is a simple one. Don’t let refreshments become more important than relationships.

  • Connect with the people instead of your plate.
  • Talk and listen more, eat and drink less.
  • Leave with the number for a new contact, not another notch up on the scale.

Read more about the numbers that matter in my post:

Weight Control, Healthy Diet and Fitness Are All a Numbers Game