Nutrition Tip of the Week

July 14th, 2014 by admin

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of July 14, 2014


ABSI: A Body Shape Index

Most, if not all, of us have heard of BMI (or Body Mass Index).  However, there is a new index floating around medical circles and we at Celebrate like to keep you up-to-date on all the latest lingo or lingo to come.  A Body Shape Index (ABSI) is another metric used to help determine your health by evaluating not only your weight, but also your body shape.

What Is Wrong With BMI? BMI was used for more than 40 years (and will probably continue to be used) as a simple formula to determine who is healthy and who could improve their health.  BMI compares your weight with your height.  However, it does not account for bone mineral density, lean muscle mass, or where your weight is located.  The latter being an important factor when it comes to understanding your overall health.

As a result, doctors began evaluating waist circumference (WC).  By measuring the waist, doctors and other health professionals were able to evaluate the amount of body fat that rests around our mid-section, which puts us at a greater risk for heart disease and other health conditions.  However, only using WC does not take into account height.  For example, a female patient with a 35-inch waist who is 5’10” may have a completely different health profile from another female patient with the same waist size, but is only 5’1” in height.

The other issue with BMI is that it may make those with muscle mass (athletes and those who exercise quite frequently and strenuously) appear overweight since muscle weighs more than fat.  These individuals will weigh more even though they are quite healthy and their BMI would say they are overweight or even obese.

Why ABSI? An initial study calculated ABSI and BMI of more than 14,000 Americans of all shapes and sizes (pregnant women excluded) and found that ABSI appears to be more accurate than high BMI at predicting mortality.  They found that those individuals with the highest ABSI numbers were two times more likely to die from any cause than those with the lowest ABSI.  The researchers also noted that there were individuals that had a BMI within the normal range, but had a high ABSI (due to carrying their weight around their midsection), putting them at an increased risk of death.  Since ABSI also accounts for height, it is better than just using WC.  The researchers concluded “ABSI is sensitive to some body composition aspects, such as having a higher proportion of abdominal (stomach) fat and having relatively little muscle mass in the limbs.”

Applying ABSI. There is a calculator you can plug your numbers into to determine your individual ABSI.  A quick Google search will find it for you — sorry we cannot include links in our blog.  The number you want to note is the relative risk from ABSI.  A result of 1 means you are at average risk of death for your age.  An ABSI less than 1 means you are below the average risk of death for your age (where you want to be) and a number greater than 1 means you are at an increased risk of death for your age.

The Positives. You can always work to improve your numbers through healthy eating and being physically active.  Working to reduce your WC will dramatically improve your ABSI.  Weight loss surgery combined with healthy eating and physical activity will put you well on your way to reducing your risk of death and CELEBRATING your new healthy lifestyle.  Be sure to always consult your family physician and/or bariatric surgeon before starting any new exercise program or eating plan.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

July 7th, 2014 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of July 7th, 2014

How Smart is Your Smartphone?

We are all looking for ways to stay healthy, to track our fitness goals, track what we eat daily, and to help keep us motivated.  The fact is we do not get/make enough time for planning to complete these tasks in our everyday busy lives.

However, the solution is right in your hands.  In the age of modern technology, almost everyone has a smartphone.  This can be used to keep you healthy with the aid of some apps, most of which are FREE.  There are various apps, both paid and free that will assist you in your workouts, eating plan/meal planning, and daily routine, such as when to take your vitamins, and keep track of your exercise.  Here are 10 apps that could change your lifestyle and keep you healthy.

1.  RunKeeper. This FREE app can help you track your activities, including running, walking, cycling, skating, and skiing to name a few.  The app can track the distance and speed of your fitness activities and it gives you an update every 5 minutes.   It works effectively, since it records your progress and calculates the calories you have burned during your activity.  It can be connected to Facebook, so you can compare workouts with your friends, and it shows your route too!!

2.  My Fitness Pal. This FREE app is reliable for tracking your calorie intake and your weight.  You can track what foods you have eaten and at what times, as well as your exercise.  The nutrition analysis feature will make this app your best friend.  You can access your Myfitnesspal account using the app.  When you access your account, you will have access to a wide range of the food and exercise database.  You can access it from anywhere and the app syncs your phone with the website and provides the latest information.

3.  SleepCycle. This app is an intelligent alarm clock that analyzes your sleep and wakes you in the lightest sleep phase, which is the natural way to wake up feeling relaxed and rested.  It calculates your movements while you sleep in order to find out the most suitable sleep cycle for you.  It uses the collected data in order to wake you at the right time and it will surely improve the quality of your sleep time.

4.  Fooducate. This app helps you spot tricky non-healthy foods quickly.  Simply scan the barcode and Fooducate will give you a rating for the food scanned based on calorie counts per serving, processing techniques and amount of excess sugar.  It is the perfect “friend” to take with you when you shop for groceries.

5.  Substitutions. This wonderful application helps you cut out certain foods from your eating plan and replace them with a healthier alternative.  It will show you the possible substitute for a certain ingredient.  It has a feature to find the right food for allergy and/or food sensitive people.

6.  CSPI Chemical Cuisine. This app is a FREE personal trainer in your pocket.  It has 30-45 minute timed workouts for cardio, toning and strength, videos for each move, and a voiceover talking you through the workout.  The app also pulls music from your own playlist to keep you motivated.  You can chose your workout based on the time you have available and/or the results you wish to achieve.  It has auto-share to connect you with all of your friends on Facebook as well.

7.  The Whole Pantry. This app is the first of its kind, as it combines inspiring whole food recipes with lifestyle and wellness guides.  It is billed as the go-to place for health, wellness and lifestyle information.  It provides recipes, lifestyle guides, and articles on natural medicine, fitness and well-being aimed at healthy living with a back-to-basics approach.  The back-to-basics approach to both cooking and nutrition, provides a whole foods base for any eating preference or lifestyle.  The meals are created with all benefits in mind, to improve sleep, lose weight, clear skin, reduce allergies, aid in better digestion and balance your mood.

8.  Healthy Habits. Not only can this app help you eat better and exercise more, it can also help you shop less, reduce stress, and improve your behavior.  This app recognizes that habits are often behavior patterns that occur automatically and without conscious thought, then it gives you practical tools to turn your good intentions into actions, so you do not get in your own way.  This app can be used in conjunction with Habit Breaker, which aims to help you break bad habits and initiate new good habits, so you can reach your goals more easily.

9.  Thin-Cam. Almost all of us underestimate the portion sizes we eat and we are unreliable when it comes to tracking food and exercise in a food diary.  Thin-cam has you take a photo of your meal before you begin eating; the photo is then uploaded to the site and analyzed by nutritionists, so there is less room for error.  With this app and paid membership to the website, you can also get their fitness, eating tips, and weight loss tips and support, so you stay well informed and interested.

10.  Endomondo. Can you use a little extra motivation?  Then this is the app for you.  This app, which comes in a FREE version and a Pro version for less than $3.00, can be used for a variety of sports, such as running, cycling, and walking.  It tracks your workout route via Google Maps, showing GPS tracking route, distance, duration, and calories burned, and it tracks your workout history to compare later.  You can create an account and get motivated by your friends every time you break a mile.

Smartphones are ever-present, engaging, and easily portable making them an obvious choice to promote healthy habits. Consistently recording eating intake and health information can be a key component to successful weight loss and electronics make this easier. The research shows us when people use smartphones (technology) to track eating and physical activity, while getting daily feedback messages, 63% of the participants achieved greater than 5% weight loss.  Do not delay, start using your Smartphone today to help you get healthy and CELEBRATE your weight loss success.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

June 23rd, 2014 by admin

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of June 23, 2014

Hydrating Foods

With the first day of summer occurring over the weekend and the temperatures rising on the mercury, it is quite important to stay well hydrated especially with physical activity that takes you outdoors.  While drinking lots of fluid is important, you can also improve your hydration status by eating foods rich with water!

Water is important for many body functions including regulating your body temperature, assisting in maintaining electrolyte balance, and metabolizing nutrients.  Achieving adequate hydration will help to prevent headaches and fatigue from dehydration.  Water also helps to control your weight.

Lettuce. Crisp lettuce tops the list of water-rich foods with it being 96 percent water!  Lettuce can also provide a great source of potassium, which is an important electrolyte and helps to reduce blood pressure.  It is also high in folate, which functions as a coenzyme in the development of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and also assists in the metabolism of amino acids (the building blocks of protein).  Lettuce contains antioxidants, which help to fight off cancer and many other benefits.  Lettuce contains a smaller amount of vitamins C and K.  A nice, crisp, cold salad always sounds refreshing to me on a hot summer day!

Watermelon. Watermelon seems to be one of those staples during every summertime get together and there is a reason for this!  Watermelon not only tastes great, but it is also quite refreshing.  Watermelon is about 91 percent water and is a great source of vitamins A and C, lycopene, fiber, and potassium.  Vitamin A helps with healthy eyes and eyesight, while vitamin C has many functions including acting as an antioxidant and helping to ward off the common cold.  Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, helps to prevent heart disease and many different types of cancers.  Fiber helps to keep you feeling full, while helping to maintain a healthy digestive tract, among many other benefits.  So get to slicing up that big watermelon and start that seed- spitting contest (you know we all did it as kids)!

Grapefruit. Grapefruit is not only a great tasting fruit, but it is also very refreshing on a hot summer day.  Grapefruit is about 90 percent water, is low in calories, and is a great source of phytonutrients and vitamin C.  There are many different varieties of grapefruit, including red and white.  The pink and red varieties will also contain vitamin A and lycopene.  Phytonutrients are not essential for keeping you alive, unlike vitamins and minerals, but when phytonutrients are consumed from food, they can help to prevent disease and keep your body working properly.  Grapefruits make a great addition to complete a healthy breakfast.

Broccoli. Broccoli is not everyone’s favorite vegetable, but maybe it should be!  This cruciferous vegetable contains about 89 percent water and also includes vitamin C, calcium, fiber, iron, and beta-carotene.  Calcium helps to maintain strong healthy bones, among many other benefits.  Iron helps to carry oxygen to the active tissues (muscles) of the body and prevent fatigue, among many other functions.  Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the body and helps with healthy eyes and healthy eyesight among many other functions.  Try tossing it with Greek yogurt in a broccoli salad with nuts, raisins, and carrots for a simple, healthy snack or side dish.

Low-Fat Milk and Yogurt. Not only do low-fat dairy products add protein, phosphorus, potassium, vitamins A and D to your daily eating plan, but it is also a great way to hydrate!  Low-fat milk and yogurt come in at 89 and 85 percent, respectively.  Another great choice is non-fat cottage cheese coming in at 81 percent water.  Protein helps you to feel full, but it also helps to maintain lean muscle mass, which is important for a healthy metabolism (how you burn calories).  Phosphorus’ main function is the formation of teeth and bones.  Vitamin D helps to prevent muscle and joint pain, as well as assists in the absorption of calcium.  Vitamin D has also been shown to help prevent many types of cancers.  So work to get your 3 servings of healthy dairy products per day!  Try low-fat milk as a great post-workout recovery drink or mix cereal into yogurt for a healthy snack.

Other Veggies. A few other hydrating foods you may wish to include are non-starchy vegetables.  Not only are these low in calories, but they are also high in fiber and have 95 to 96 percent water by weight.  These include lettuce (as previously mentioned), cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, and tomatoes to name a few.  Try using romaine or fresh spinach in a salad with cucumber and tomatoes for a tasty, refreshing dish.  Starchy vegetables are much lower in water content when compared to non-starchy vegetables.  Potatoes are only 79 percent water by weight, while raw corn is 76 percent water by weight for example.

Other Fruits. In general, fruits are made up of 84 to 86 percent water by weight.  Some great choices include blueberries, apples, and oranges.  Fruit also helps with weight loss, similarly to non-starchy veggies due to the high fiber content and high water content.  Try using fruit as a replacement for a sugary dessert or snacks.  Not only will it satisfy your sweet tooth, but it will also help to hydrate you for these hot summer months.

Lean Proteins. Most people would not think of lean proteins as being a source of water, but they can also help with your hydration status.  Skinless chicken and turkey breast, fish, shellfish, lean beef, and tofu are not only great sources of protein, but are high in water.  Firm tofu is 85 percent water, while turkey breast is 70 percent water.   Shrimp is 78 percent water.  Not only do lean proteins help to maintain your weight due to their ability to help you feel full while keeping calories low, but they can also help hydrate you!  Try mixing a lean protein with healthy, non-starchy veggies for a very satisfying, hydrating, healthy dinner.  Stir-fry shrimp with veggies, grill salmon with sautéed green beans, or bake skinless chicken with stewed tomatoes and mushrooms.

Satisfying Soups. Soups main component is water and regular consumption of clear or broth-based soups can help you control your weight according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.  In general, chicken and vegetable soup are 92 percent water.  However, a high intake of sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, so opt for lower-sodium choices.  Even better, consider making your own soup and add lots of fresh, non-starchy veggies for a great, healthy, hydrating meal.  Try to steer clear of cream soups.  Even though they are still high in water content, they tend to be higher in fat and calories.

There are many great ways to ensure optimal hydration.  Check out some past blog entries for tips on how much fluid you need daily, what counts as fluid, and tips to help you stay well hydrated including the tips from today’s blog.  We look forward to hearing how you CELEBRATE the summer months while staying well hydrated and well on your way to weight loss success and maintenance!

Nutrition Tip of the Week

June 9th, 2014 by admin

Author: Nadea S. Minet, MS, RDN, LD

Week of June 9, 2014


Is Juicing Your Friend or Foe?

Have you been thinking about juicing to get more fruits and vegetables into your diet?  Incorporating fresh juice into your daily routine may help you meet your daily fruit and vegetable needs, but how and why you juice can mean the difference between healthy and harmful.  Unquestionably, there are some things you should know and expect before getting started, which can be different from all the hype you have heard.

With warmer weather fast approaching, it can be tempting to “juice”, as it seems to offer a quick solution to cleansing the body on the inside, seeing results on the outside.  But is it really that straightforward?

Juicing is commonly seen as an exceptional resolution to cleansing the body. It might be tempting to think that sustaining your body for a few days through juicing makes sense nutritionally, especially when you are meeting your 5-9 servings a day allowance of fruits and vegetables.  However, the truth may be quite different.

What Exactly is Juicing? For the sake of this blog, juicing refers to limiting the diet to only the juice extracted from fresh vegetables and fruit for a set amount of time.

Where’s the Fiber? When you juice, the fiber that is contained in the whole fruits and vegetables is extracted, so you lose any benefit that comes from healthy dietary fiber.  Using a juicing machine will extract the juice, leaving the pulp behind, which is where the fiber is found.  You can always add the pulp back into the juice or use it in your cooking, to avoid missing out on important fiber.  There is no advantage to consuming juice over whole fruit in regards to the bioavailability of nutrients; however a sudden increase in fruit and vegetable consumption may lead to gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea.

Are Juicing Machines Worth It? Juicing machines can be very pricey.  The more expensive juicers will break down the entire fruit, including the core, rind, and seeds.  However, a high-powered blender can be just as effective for blending most whole fruit and vegetables, keeping the fiber along with it.  Of course, you would want to remove the seeds, tough rinds, and cores with this option.  If the juice becomes too thick, water can be added to thin the beverage.  It is recommended to drink the juice the same day it is made, mainly for food safety reasons.

Too Many Calories? The calories contained in juice can add up quickly, depending on what it contains. Adding more fruit will increase the calories, but using more vegetables in your juice will help control the calorie content.   Try adding one serving of fruit for every 3 servings of vegetables, which balances out the calories, without sacrificing flavor.  You can try adding protein (could be in form of protein powder) to make your juice a more balanced beverage as well, which also decreases the risk of dumping syndrome.

Weight Loss Solution? For some, juicing may seem like the easy way to lose a few pounds quickly, but this may not go as initially planned.  You may not get enough fiber and protein on a juice-diet to keep hunger at bay and we all know what happens then.  You may be drawn to eat something that is not so healthy since you have restricted yourself.  Not getting in enough protein could result in loss of muscle mass.  If weight loss does occur from a juice diet, it likely will not last once you start consuming solid food, and the bottom line is, it is just too radical.  In regards to detoxing or cleansing the body through juicing, the research and/or literature to support this thought is not there at this time.  The cleansing is likely not happening from juicing; cleansing is the responsibility of your liver and kidneys, whether you are juicing or not.

Other Health Benefits? Research shows that eating a plant-based diet is linked to lower risk of heart disease and/or cancer.  However, there has not been a great deal of research performed that is specific to juicing.   Some research shows a correlation between juicing and the immune system, but this is more than likely from consuming more fruits and vegetables in general, whether it is from juicing or not.

If you do choose to juice, there are some things to remember when considering:

  • Always check with your doctor so you can avoid any potential problems.
  • Always wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before juicing.
  • Only make enough for what you can drink immediately, to avoid the development of harmful bacteria.
  • Aim for a 3-1 ratio of vegetable to fruit, and the less pulp extracted the higher amounts of fiber your juice will contain.

Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into a balanced diet can be a useful way to improve intake in patients who may avoid eating these foods for whatever reason.  Consult with you dietitian or physician before making any significant dietary changes, so you can CELEBRATE your success the best way for you.

Nutrition Tip of the Week

June 2nd, 2014 by admin

Author: Heather K. Mackie, MS, RD, LD

Week of June 2, 2014


Does Chewing Cut More Calories?

Many bariatric practices recommend that their patients chew their food well or some practices even say to chew a certain number of chews per bite, but could this recommendation actually produce weight loss?

During the 20th century, it was recommended that individuals chew each bite of food exactly 32 times.  This was thought to control how much food would be consumed, helping individuals to be healthier.  This theory soon fell out of popularity and was replaced by more popular forms of calorie-limiting diets.

However, a recent study out of China may give us a new look into this act of chewing that may, in turn, help us to eat less without having to specifically count calories.  In this study, both healthy weight and overweight men consumed about 12% less in terms of calories when they chewed their food more during an unlimited half-hour meal.

Chowing down on a meal has never been recommended by health professionals and previous research has taught us that slower eating habits are linked to a healthier weight.  Many health professionals discuss this practice in terms of eating slowly allows the body more time to feel full.

Even though slower eating combined with increased chewing might be attributed with eating less, the specifics are still to be determined.  One theory is that breaking down the food in the mouth by chewing more allows the body easier absorption of the nutrients from the food, which might allow for decreased intake for the same nutritional benefit.  But how does the body know when to stop?

Chewing your food, or mastication, plays a role in the gut hormone profile.  This gut hormone profile changes are somewhat similar to the changes experienced with gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy, which lead to most patients not reporting hunger immediately post-op.  The changes in the gut hormone profile related to chewing influence food intake according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Hunger is controlled by hormonal signals, including signals it receives from ghrelin.  Ghrelin is responsible for the feelings of hunger.  This research team reported that when study participants chewed their food more, their ghrelin levels were consistently lower after the mealtime.  They noted that when participants chewed their food more, not only were their changes in ghrelin, but also they produced more of the appetite suppressing hormone, cholecystokinin (CCK).

This study recruited young men and evaluated them over a series of breakfasts.  Almost half of these men had a body mass index (BMI) of 18.5-23, which is considered lean for Asian men.  The other half had a BMI of 27.5 or greater.  After a twelve-hour fast, all of the participants sat down to 300 grams of pork pie (a standard Chinese breakfast dish), with the option for additional servings for the first meal of the day.  These participants were videotaped during eating and later researchers counted the number of chews per bite to determine if the two groups chewed their food differently.  Number of chews ranged from 15-40 chews per bite during the first breakfast.  All men had roughly the same bite size, however the overweight men ate each bite more quickly and with fewer chews than the leaner men.

During the second part of the study, participants were asked to chew each bite of food either 15 or 40 times.  After the 40-chew per bite breakfast, all participants consumed 11.5% fewer calories overall and had lower concentrations of ghrelin (when ghrelin is high, we are hungry) when compared to the 15-chew per bite breakfast.

Too Good to Be True? Will chewing more help people to lose weight or keep the pounds off in the first place?  This group of researchers suggested interventions to improve chewing activity as a possible way to help combat obesity.  While a 12% reduction does not seem like results that will really change your waistline, this could correlate to a 25-pound weight loss in just one year according to these researchers.  As we know there are always limitations to studies and this only looked at men and the number of participants was small.  The information learned from this new study is also too preliminary to tell whether the 20th century recommendation will hold true to keep people slim, but these new findings give us something to think about.

While simply chewing your food more, may seem simple, previous research has shown us that people chew at their own steady pace and these researchers termed this a “unique fingerprint of masticatory behavior.”

Be Mindful. Eating mindfully in a fast-paced world is quite difficult, but is very important.  Try to focus on your meal and get rid of other distractions, such as TV, work, computer screens, etc.  Secondly, try to slow down.  We know it takes the body about 20 minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you are full.  Below are a few tips to help you with slowing the pace of your meal:

  • Try setting down your fork or spoon in-between bites of food.
  • Eat meals with friends or family members and use some extra time to talk and catch up.
  • Truly savor and enjoy the taste of your food instead of treating eating like another chore.

While this article is not all encompassing, we do know that slowing your pace of eating will help with realizing when you are full.  This is important for bariatric patients, especially newbies as even one bite too much can cause you to be sick or uncomfortable after your surgery.  Chewing your food well will also reduce the risk of food getting stuck post-op.  So even though the jury is still out on whether or not increased chewing helps you lose weight or not, there are certainly other benefits that would warrant starting this behavior if you have not already.  So get started chewing so you can CELEBRATE your success post-op!