Winter Storm Warning: Hibernation Ahead!

By Mary Beth Sodus, RD/LD,ACE-CPT/RYT
Personalized Bariatric Nutrition Coaching
Center for Weight Management and Wellness

With a few days notice that a snowstorm is on its way, you’ve probably had time to make a run to your local grocer to stock up on essentials and favorite foods. Like a bear who eats as much as possible to store up calories for a long hibernation.

Bears need those extra calories for an extended period of no eating or drinking, but most of us will not. We’re more likely to eat because we’re inside and bored.  Here are some tips to avoid setting a trap for yourself:

Healthy Hibernation Habits

  • Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself this question:  What am I really hungry for?
  • Think: Are you eating from emotional triggers or true physical appetite?
  • Pay attention to boredom eating versus physical hunger. Physical hunger builds gradually, occurs several hours after a meal and eating results in a feeling of satisfaction.
  • Boredom eating can be triggered by the sight or smell of food, watching cooking shows or just because something tastes good.

To avoid that winter weight:

  • Focus on healthy and wholesome stews, soups or chili with a lot of vegetables.
  • Pause between each bite to focus and enjoy the sensation of eating.
  • Cultivate a strong support system that includes family and friends that you can call on.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated. The human body is approximately 75 percent water and needs every drop to function, especially if you are outdoors.

As you hibernate from winter’s cold, snow and wind, know that you can stay healthy for the warmth of spring in Maryland.

Mary Beth Sodus is a registered dietitian and nutritionist and a personal trainer and expert in all things healthy.  She provides personalized bariatric nutrition coaching in the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness. 

 

Recovering Cancer Patient Takes Control of Health and Weight

Verna Prehn, before and after

My Story of Getting Healthy

By Verna Prehn

Three years ago I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the time of my diagnosis, I was a very large woman (weighing more than 300 lbs) with a very high “at-rest” heart rate and (we would find out later) severely malnourished.

I went through tough but successful treatment, including two surgeries, chemotherapy, artificial feedings with a nasogastric tube, and blood transfusions, under the care of Dr. Sarah Temkin at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Chemo had many side effects, including bone pain, hair loss and weight loss (97 pounds), but it has successfully freed me from cancer for now, and Dr. Temkin keeps a close watch on my health, vigilant for a recurrence that would require additional treatment. Dr. Temkin told me that keeping the weight off that I had lost with chemotherapy treatments would be healthy for me and increase my survivorship.

After treatment was complete, I began to put on weight, but Dr. Temkin said not to worry too much because everyone puts on a bit of weight after they have completed treatment. But my little bit of weight became a lot more weight until I had put on all 97 pounds I had lost.

I went to Dr. Tais Baig in UM Family Medicine as my primary care physician to have her regulate medication for my high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. She ran tests and found that my blood glucose was high enough to suspect diabetes. Dr. Baig talked with me for a while, getting to know me and asked how she could best help me with my health.

I told her that I wanted to get the weight off because I wanted to increase my survivorship and I knew that being so heavy is a threat to my health. I told her that I didn’t know how to do it. I don’t know what good nutrition is, what’s good or bad to eat, and how to come up with a plan to lose weight. She told me about the University of Maryland Medical Weight Management Program through the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Baig helped me through getting an appointment to begin.

I met Dr. Verlyn Warrington at my first appointment. She explained the program, gave me lots of information and set me up for the group meetings with a licensed clinical social worker and behavior therapist. I was taking medication for high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, thyroid medication for an under active thyroid, an inhaler for asthma, and Dr. Warrington wanted to put me on medication for diabetes.

My first meeting with the support and accountability group was overwhelming. We talked about protein, protein, protein. We talked about portion size. We talked about eating several times a day and not skipping meals. Harriet told us that if we followed the plan we would lose 10 percent of our body weight in three months. It took me about a week-and-a-half before I gave the plan a try because I was afraid and overwhelmed. In three months, I did indeed lose 10 percent of my body weight. In fact, I lost 35 pounds that first three months.

Additionally, Dr. Warrington explained that I needed to increase my activity level. I had some restrictions on what I could do because of my knees and asthma. I began walking. I started walking around the perimeter of my neighborhood, which measures out to just over a mile. At first, I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time and I had to stop frequently to rest and catch my breath. As I have lost more weight and have increased my cardiovascular endurance, I have started exercising to on-line walking videos

I have learned so much from Harriet, Dr. Warrington, Dr. Vivienne Rose and the people in our support and accountability group. I know how to think and make good choices about eating. HALT is a good motto to follow because my emotions drive my eating habits. So I think: HALT – am I HUNGRY? Or am I ANGRY? or am I LONELY? or am I TIRED? Actually, I add an “S” to it (HALTS) – am I STRESSED?

I read the labels on food and check them for calories, fat and sugar content. I measure my food so that I keep healthy portion sizes. (Portion size was a huge surprise to me. I had an unrealistic concept of what an individual serving was and what was actually food for two or three people.)

I keep track of my food in a food journal through MyFitnessPal.com. It also keeps track of my exercise and activity level. Dr. Warrington told me about this tool to use because I had gone about two months and had only lost one pound. Dr. Warrington and the food journal help me to realize that I was eating too few calories – I wasn’t eating enough food.

Dr. Vivienne Rose and Harriet Mandel present Mrs. Verna Prehn with a congratulatory plaque marking her 100 pound weight loss

Dr. Vivienne Rose and Harriet Mandel present Mrs. Verna Prehn with a congratulatory plaque marking her 100 pound weight loss

 

It has been 14 months since Dr. Warrington, Dr. Rose and Harriet helped me make a lifestyle change that is healthier for me and increases my rate of survivorship. At my last appointment and weigh-in, I had lost 100 pounds. It took 13 months. I am no longer on medication for my heart or blood pressure or thyroid. My blood glucose is no longer in the diabetic or pre-diabetic range. I have walked two 8k walks. I walk to videos or outdoors five times a week. I do strength training exercises with weights and bands. I am starting a faith and fitness class with a trainer and will begin a gym membership soon. I can walk my entire neighborhood in 20 minutes without stopping and while carrying on a conversation at the same time.

I still have a considerable amount of weight to lose to get to a healthy weight that I am comfortable with. I feel so much better already. I take the steps instead of the elevator and it doesn’t hurt my knees! I know so much more about what is a healthy food choice and portion size. The University of Maryland Medical Weight Management program, Dr. Warrington, Dr. Rose and Harriet have helped me claim a new healthier way of living.

Verna Prehn

Elkridge, Md.

Keep the Beat: UMMC Hosts Dance Party for Baltimore City Senior Citizens

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager for University of Maryland Medical System

More than 300 Baltimore seniors got their feet moving and their heart rates up at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s third annual “Dance for the Heart” event at the Virginia S. Baker Recreation Center in PattersonPark.

The participants came from senior centers throughout the city to take part in dance demonstrations, line-dancing and blood pressure screenings. It was a fun way to get their heart rates up, keep their feet moving and dance their way to better health. Many of them arrived already enjoying dance. Some dancers really had some signature moves, and others just enjoyed swaying. At least one dancer used his cane to safely join the fun.

Dance for the Heart video

The Medical Center, which provided “Dance for Your Heart” shirts for everyone, partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks for the event.

University of Maryland family medicine specialist Georgia Bromfield, MD, also talked to the folks about the “ABCs” of heart disease, and they had lots of questions for her.

“Dance for Your Heart” is part of the Medical Center’s community outreach efforts. The annual dance is one of a series of heart-health events the Medical Center is hosting during February, which is American Heart Month.  Be sure to visit the Medical Center at the B-More Healthy Expo, February 23-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

To learn more about other upcoming activities, visit our community outreach page: www.umm.edu/events

 

 

 

Mid-Term Fall Nutrition: Easy as ABC

By Mindy Athas, RD, CSO, LDN

Outpatient Oncology Dietitian

Has that initial back-to-school resolution to pack healthier lunches and make more nutritious choices throughout the day started to wear thin? Have autumn tasks and responsibilities and pre-holiday stress led you down the junk food trail? It’s time to get back into healthy habits before the festivities and post-holiday winter hibernation kick in.  So grab your notebook, pencil and calculator, and meet me for some Nutrition 101.

Reading: start gathering healthy recipes from friends, family, books, magazines and online sites. Two great resources for healthy eating include www.cookinglight.com and www.eatingwell.com.  Head to the book store for the bargain cookbooks and look for words like “low-fat”, “heart-healthy” and “light or lite” recipes.  Or stop by the library and grab a handful of healthy eating cookbooks to peruse; if you find some keepers, you can always order the books online.  Cooking magazines include Cooking Light, Cooks Illustrated, and Bon Appétit, all of which also have online sites.  For more general healthy reading, check out www.eatright.org, www.mayoclinic.com, www.heart.org and www.diabetes.org, all of which have printable general information handouts geared to the basics.

 For more detailed info and healthy eating plates and pyramids, see www.choosemyplate.gov, www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/ and oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview.  

You may want to start an online or paper recipe journal or folder to keep all your healthy fall picks in one place.  For specific cancer-fighting foods, check out American Institute for Cancer Research’s www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/ , for a list of nutrition fact sheets, see the National Cancer Institute’s www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/diet  and the American Cancer Society’s www.cancer.org/Healthy/EatHealthyGetActive/index for cancer prevention nutrition strategies.

Writing: Jot down some weekly dinner ideas to help organize your food shopping list.  Start with protein but add in at least one meatless meal: good for your budget, your waistline and the environment!  Meatless meals can include beans, nuts, tofu or just a mixture of grains (think bean chili and pasta marinara).  Animal protein includes poultry, fish, eggs, and lean cuts of meats, but limit red and processed meats as much as possible. Then add vegetables (seasonal and local items should top the list), and finally a starch (if you even need one with all the wonderful root vegetables in season now).  Add fruit for a quick and easy dessert.

Check your local food stores’ weekly flyers for sales, which will change often, ensuring a nice food variety while helping you save money.  For some meal and menu ideas: www.makedinnereasy.com which includes a weekly grocery list to print, www.dinnerplanner.com with step-by-step photos and tips, www.health.com/health/eating  which includes a free email newsletter, and www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/index.html which has an A to Z foods list.

Remember to cut back on salt and salty ingredients and increase the amount of fruits or vegetables in the recipes.  Always aim to keep the base of your meal coming from plants: veggies, fruits, beans, nuts and whole grains.  Eat a rainbow of colors daily as well to ensure you get a myriad of different nutrients.  

School  Supplies: When making your fall food list, stick with some basics to keep in your kitchen all season. These include good quality olive oil (extra virgin), canola oil (expeller-pressed), balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar if you prefer), fresh garlic (don’t refrigerate), fresh herbs (which you can buy as plants and keep in a sunny window), dried herbs (curry powder, cinnamon, cumin), shallots and onions (organic if you can get them), a pepper mill for fresh ground pepper, and any other herbs and spices you like. 

Cutting back on salt at home will help you lower your salt threshold for when you eat out, encouraging better restaurant choices. Remember to pick what’s in season now, in your area:  in addition to a variety of apples, look for local pumpkins, gourds, pears, beans, turnips, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and honey.  Try acorn or butternut squash simply baked with some olive oil or real Maple syrup (which you can also buy locally and which is considered an antioxidant). 

For more seasonal eating information:, see Sustainable Table at www.sustainabletable.org/shop/seasonal/ , the Natural Resources Defense Council www.simplesteps.org/contact which has an Eat Local app for your phone, www.marylandsbest.net  which includes a listing of local markets and farms, and www.pickyourown.org/MDharvestcalendar.htm which has a complete annual harvest chart.  Taking a trip on a beautiful fall day to pick apples off the tree combines exercise, fun and sustainable eating: that’s putting your money where your mouth is!

New Teacher: don’t be afraid to try new foods! Check out the plethora of gourds, pumpkins, root vegetables, and colorful fruits showcased at the farmers’ markets this fall.  Don’t know what it is? Buy it and try it: your farmer or grocer will get you started. (Did you bring your recipe notebook?) Write down the names of unusual foods (Parsnip? Dragon fruit? Fiddleheads? Lychee?) so you can search recipes later.  Haven’t tried brown rice, amaranth, quinoa or chia seeds yet? Don’t be a flunky: get hip to the multitude of whole grains available at almost every supermarket.  Look for the words “100% whole”, “whole wheat,” “stone ground,” “multigrain” and “whole grain” on packages. Choose grains with the most fiber: aim for 3 grams per serving for breads and crackers, and 5 grams per serving for starches.  Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds are also great fiber sources, and remember an apple for the teacher!  Some other nutrition superstars which always seem to be in season include mushrooms, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts, pomegranates, and kale.   For other great healthy food ideas: www.appforhealth.com/tag/healthiest-produce/ , www.whfoods.com/foodstoc.php and www.divinecaroline.com/22175/52070-twenty-healthiest-foods-1

A is for Autumn: Eat plenty of fresh (local and seasonal) produce this fall. Choose 3 or more servings of vegetables daily and 2 or more servings of fruit daily. This is equivalent to about 2 cups daily of fruits and veggies combined.   For details, see www.choosemyplate.gov/myplate/index.aspx

B is for Bread: think making your own bread is hard? You have mastered many difficult school subjects, so baking bread from scratch (or using your bread machine) is a veritable piece of cake!  Start with an easy basic recipe using a combo of all-purpose, bread and whole wheat flour.  Use up all those fresh apples and pears in muffins and fruit pies with added nuts to add healthy fats, fiber and protein.  Sprinkle in some oat bran or flax seed for crunch, and substitute some of the oil in the recipes with yogurt or applesauce.  Try this pear and granola muffin recipe from Martha Stewart, which includes whole grains and cinnamon: www.marthastewart.com/317980/pear-and-granola-muffins.   

C is for Cooking: Think how great your home will smell with a big pot of creamy butternut squash soup (yum!) on the stove. Throw in some cinnamon and the neighbors will be coming by.  Cook large batches of soup, stew, chili, casseroles, quiche, or tomato sauce. Cool in shallow dishes, then freeze in small glass containers for a quick dinner. Make chili with beans or try a white chili with ground turkey or chicken. 

If you’ve never had fresh beets, try: www.finecooking.com/recipes/jewel-roasted-vegetables.aspx?nterms=53248,50300. And for a low-carb pasta swap, try spaghetti squash instead, with turkey meatballs: www.wholeliving.com/131539/spaghetti-squash-turkey-meatballs?czone=/fall-recipes/main-courses&center=185179&gallery=185173&slide=131539.

For a twist on fresh pumpkin, consider a warm pumpkin salad over polenta: www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Warm-Pumpkin-Salad-with-Polenta-and-Candied-Pumpkin-Seeds-105581 or stick with the traditional soup: www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Curried-Pumpkin-Soup-2 where you can sub fresh pumpkins (look for the small round kind for cooking, not the big kind for carving at Halloween) instead of canned.

Watch your Math: Remember to watch portion sizes, added fats and sugars. With all the tasty fresh fall produce, you won’t need many calorie-rich condiments.  Cream, butter, excess oil, sweet sauces, salad dressings, cheese and fried items can easily overload your calorie budget.  Seek lower or no-sugar-added items and try making your own salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar and mustard or a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  Retrain your taste buds to appreciate the delicate flavors found naturally in fresh foods. Remember fresh garlic, shallots and onions in dishes for a pop of flavor and substitute fresh herbs for dried as able.  Use the plate method: half your plate (and try to use a smaller diameter plate) with vegetables and fruits, then ¼ whole grains and ¼ protein foods. For more ideas on adding produce: www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.   Continue to add daily physical activity to your life: just walking 10 minutes after each meal can help keep your body healthy and relieve stress.  Try sleeping in a dark room at night for a solid 7- to 8-hour stretch and laughing more, both of which can strengthen your immune system.  For more healthy living ideas: www.fns.usda.gov/eatsmartplayhardhealthylifestyle/ and www.hhs.gov/safety/index.html.

Congratulations on passing your Mid-Term Fall Eating class: enjoy all of autumn’s bounty, and it’s OK to encourage others to copy.

 

UMMS “Spring Into Good Health” Event Gets Shoppers Dancing in the Center Court at Mondawmin Mall

By Sharon Boston

UMMC Media Relations Manager

Each spring, the University of Medical System (UMMS) hosts “Spring Into Good Health,” a free event attended by hundreds of people who receive medical screenings (such as blood pressure and cholesterol), talk one-on-one with University of Maryland Medical System health professionals and pick up information on men’s and women’s health, child safety, nutrition and more.

This year, the UMMS Community Outreach and Advocacy Committee wanted to put a focus on fitness and hosted a dance party right in the middle of Mondawmin Mall!

Several guests commented that they didn’t realize that fitness could be so fun, and that they plan to try to exercise more and eat better, thanks to the information that they picked up at the UMMS event.

Take a look at the some of the line dancing that got people of all ages up and moving.

 “The dancing was really upbeat and lively, it really got people moving,” said Donna Jacobs, UMMS senior vice president for government relations. “Several people told us that they’d like to see even more fun physical activities next year.”

Five of the 12 hospitals in the University of Maryland Medical System took part in the event — the University of Maryland Medical Center, Maryland General Hospital, Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital, University Specialty Hospital and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. The event was also sponsored by Maryland Physicians Care, Total Health Care, Coppin State University School of Nursing and Radio One, Baltimore.

Maintaining Your Waistline When You Travel

By Ellen Loreck, MS, RD, LDN
Director, Clinical Nutrition Services

How do you eat healthy and maintain your weight when you have long flights ahead and eat out almost every night? Due to the limited variety of food on flights, many of us indulge in numerous fast foods before boarding. Also, we may choose beverages that can be dehydrating. Prior to getting on a plane, it is important to remember these tips.

Hydrate!

Dehydration is a concern when you are flying. Since there is a lower level of oxygen available, you breathe faster and increase your water loss. It is best to try to drink 8-16 ounces of water prior to flight departure and aim for at least 8 ounces for every hour on the flight. You may want to consider limiting alcoholic or caffeinated beverages that may contribute to dehydration. Remember that you cannot take any liquid beverages through security so hydrating is important prior to getting to the airport.

Pack Snacks!

Most airlines have cut back on serving food on planes. Packing healthy snacks from home helps you stay on track with your healthy eating and are friendly to your wallet. Here are suggestions of ideas to bring in your carry-on that are high protein, low fat, lower in sugar and contain fiber:

  • Nuts
  • Small package of water-packed tuna with whole grain crackers
  • Rice cakes and low fat cheese
  • Fat-free pudding
  • Protein bar
  • Low fat granola with at least 3 g fiber
  • ½ peanut butter sandwich
  • Raw veggies and small container of hummus

If choosing fast food at the airport, remember:

1. Aim for filling half your plate with vegetables or fruit by looking for salads and broth-based soups.

2. Limit high-calorie condiments, such as cream in coffee, mayo or full-calorie salad dressing.

3. Select grilled, steamed, stir-fried or poached menu items.

4. Be careful with smoothies and coffee drinks since many of these items contain more calories than a meal.

5. Limit fried foods, cream-based sauces and foods covered with cheese.

6. Many fast food restaurants have nutrition facts for their menu items so that you keep track of your calorie intake.

7. Check out the map of the airport before your flight for healthy food options near your gate.

Indulge Wisely!

1. Remember not to confuse hunger with boredom or anxiety.

2. Enjoy local foods and cuisine while on vacation.

3. Forgive yourself if you overindulge one day.

4. Make sure to sit down and really savor foods versus eat them just because you are hungry.

 

How to Raise a Veggie-Eating Kid

By Faith Hicks, MS, RD, LD/N, CSP

Senior Clinical Dietitian

Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared in The Baltimore Sun 03/07/12, in the Taste section and online.

How is it that some kids will eat whatever is put in front of them, while others live on hot dogs and chicken nuggets and have a phobia for vegetables, especially anything green?  As adults, we know that we ourselves probably should be eating more fruits and vegetables, and we would like to raise our kids to have healthier eating habits and a varied diet right from the start.  There are a number of ways parents and other adults can promote good eating habits from early childhood and throughout the teen years.

Make a regular “date night” – a family dinner date night, that is!

One of the best ways of promoting good eating habits in children is to make eating meals together a priority. This is something that often gets lost in the shuffle of soccer practice and scout meetings, but try to identify at least one or two nights a week to have dinner as a family.  Children who are raised having regular family meals generally consume more servings of fruits and vegetables and develop a liking for a wider variety.  They also tend to have a diet lower in fat and are less likely to become overweight than children from families who eat on the run.  From the start, toddlers mimic their parents’ eating habits.  So a parent who includes fruits and vegetables at mealtimes sets the example that these foods are tasty and that consuming them is the norm and is expected.

There are other important benefits of having meals as a family. Children whose families dine together regularly develop better language skills.  During dinner conversation, they are exposed to a larger vocabulary. They become adept at participating in a higher level conversation.  Another benefit of family meals extends into the teen years, teens that regularly have dinner with the family get better grades and are less likely to try drugs, tobacco, and alcohol.  It seems that mealtimes help foster a sense of connectedness within the family and when parents are tuned into their teens, teens are less tempted to dabble in risky behavior. 

Lighten up and don’t turn mealtime into a “pressure cooker”

Another way of fostering a varied diet is to offer new foods several times and without undue pressure.  It may take more than several times trying a new food for a toddler or preschooler to accept it, so don’t give up after the first try! Place a small portion of each food that you are having on your child’s plate.  When they see that you eat it, the expectation is set that they will like it, too.  Beware of trying too hard to persuade a child to eat because this might backfire! It can send the message that the food item is not very appealing.  For example, if a child is rewarded for eating green beans by getting a cookie, the parent sends a message that green beans are yucky.  The child may think “that must not taste very good if I have to be bribed with treat.”  Rather, make a light-hearted request for the child to just to try “just a bite.”

Involve kids in food shopping and preparation.

Children and teens are more interested in foods they have selected, prepared, or even grown at home.  Wander the produce section of the grocery store with your child and let him choose a new vegetable or fruit to try each week.  Buy a colorful, child-oriented cookbook to provide ideas for foods you can prepare together.  Cooking together provides an opportunity to learn other skills, such as fractions.  Even small children can be safely involved in cooking activities such as washing produce or putting toppings on a veggie pizza. Consider planting even a small garden and check out seed displays with your child. Seed companies sell kid-friendly vegetables in packets bearing very appealing pictures. Children who are drawn to miniature things may be fascinated by picking cherry tomatoes or pulling from the ground the baby carrots planted earlier in the spring. Brussels sprouts might be a little more fun to eat once you have seen how they seem to march in lines as they grow from the plant’s stem! 

In summary, the key to raising a “good eater” is having fun with food together, right from the start.

10 Healthy Lunch Tips: Add Punch to Your Kid’s Lunch!

Childhood obesity is a growing public health crisis among children and adolescents that has continued to rise every year.  To address this epidemic, the University of  Maryland, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, sponsored  The Summit on Childhood Obesity  November 15-16, 2011, at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel.  

The purpose of the University of Maryland’s Summit on Childhood Obesity is to exchange information, educate and engage prominent figures at the local and federal levels in discussions about how to confront the problem and develop an action plan to promote a healthier lifestyle for children and families.  Below, UMMC Nutritionist Shanti Lewis offers 10 healthy lunch tips to help pack a fun, healthy lunch for your kids.

 

by Shanti Lewis, RD, LDN, CSP, CNSD

Since 1 out of 3 children in the U.S.  is overweight or obese, parents play a vital role in teaching children healthy eating habits and helping them maintain a healthy weight.  One of the ways that parents can help children learn about nutrition is by getting them involved in preparing meals.  Getting kids involved in preparing their school lunch helps them learn about portion control and allows them to select healthy foods that they enjoy.

  • Choose the good stuff! Plenty of fruits, veggies, beans, lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains.
  • Make fun shapes! Use cookie cutters for flower, heart, star, or snowflake sandwich bites. Form a funny face, mermaid body, or spooky spider shape.
  • Get your kids involved! Have them pick pasta shapes, their favorite fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and veggies.
  • Utilize leftovers from last night’s dinner or today’s breakfast: think pizza bites, egg roll-ups, or mini bagels with low-fat cream cheese.
  • Remember food safety: Keep the hot foods HOT and the cold foods COLD. Use insulated lunchboxes with ice packs and a thermos for soup.
  • Choose water or low-fat milk in place of juice or sugary drinks.
  • Watch the salt! Select lower sodium lunchmeats and cheeses.
  • Find the fiber: Choose whole grain crackers, breads, wraps, and muffins. Try popcorn or whole wheat pretzels as a substitute for chips.
  • Be creative! Offer a variety of different textures, shapes, and colors from local and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
  • Decorate plastic bags with fun stickers, jot a note on the banana or orange skin, and tuck a handwritten love note inside the lunchbox.

Additional Resources

Shanti Lewis is a neonatal nutritionist at the University of Maryland Medical Center.  She is an author and frequent contributor to blogs and articles on fitness and nutrition. Lewis received her bachelor’s in nutrition and food science from Drexel University and completed her dietetic internship at the National Institutes of Health.

Prevention, Screening and Lifestyle Changes Could Reverse the Alarming Increase in Diabetes

 

By Catherine Brown, MS, RD, CDE
Diabetes Education Coordinator

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month.  The incidence of diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide.  In theUnited States, 26 million people have diabetes.  That’s 8.3 percent of us. Chances are you know someone with diabetes.  Additionally, an estimated 79 million people have pre-diabetes, which means the sugar level in their blood is higher than normal and could lead to diabetes. 

Here are a few more statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that paint an even clearer picture of this enormous public health problem: 

  • Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Diabetes kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.
  • By 2050, according to some estimates, as many as 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include extreme fatigue, blurry vision, frequent urination and increased thirst.  However, many people don’t experience any symptoms, or don’t have symptoms until their blood sugar levels are much too high.  To help determine if you are at risk for developing diabetes, take the risk test at http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/alert-day-2011/diabetes-risk-test-english.pdf. Discuss your results with your doctor.

The good news is that a major research study, called the Diabetes Prevention Program, showed that the more common type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes. Performing 150 minutes of exercise per week and reducing calorie and fat intake to lose 7 percent body weight was effective in preventing or delaying diabetes.  To learn more about this study, visit http://ndep.nih.gov/media/dpp_factsheet.pdf.

Diabetes is a chronic and costly disease that can lead to kidney disease, eye damage, nerve damage and heart disease if not well controlled.  People with diabetes need to adopt several behaviors, such as staying active, eating a healthy diet and monitoring their blood sugar.  Usually, they need a team of professionals to help manage the condition. The University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology offers physicians, nurse practitioners, diabetes educators, dietitians, pharmacists, podiatrists and psychiatrists to assist patients. It provides diabetes education classes to help patients better manage their diabetes.

 To learn more about our services or to make an appointment, please call 410-328-6584 or visit http://www.umm.edu/diabetes/index.htm. For more information about diabetes, check out the American Diabetes Association’s website at http://www.diabetes.org/.

A Closer Look at Fad Diets

By Karen Kolowski, RD, CNSD, LDN
UMMC Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist

Editor’s Note: Karen Kolowski, RD, CNSD, LDN, wrote this post on January 6, 2011 for Exercists, the Baltimore Sun’s health and fitness blog. This post is reprinted with the permission of the Baltimore Sun.

Are your jeans just a little too tight after eating a few too many elegant holiday cookies, savoring the delicious stuffing or drinking the rich eggnog? Or, do you consider yourself a lifetime member of the “Need to Lose 50 or More Pounds Club?” Either way, if you want to slim down, you most likely will turn to a “diet book” for your weight loss advice. That’s when the confusion sets in. There is a dizzying array of fad diets to peruse. Which ones should you choose? Which ones are safe? Each month, we will break down some of these diets to help you make an informed decision. This month we look at the Atkins, South Beach and Cabbage Soup diets.

Both the Atkins and South Beach diets restrict carbohydrates. Most foods contain carbs, either simple or complex, which your body breaks down and uses for fuel. The Atkins diet severely restricts refined sugar, milk, flour, and rice but allows you to eat any fat or animal products (protein). The theory behind the Atkins diet is that your body will burn fat, as opposed to carbs (your body’s preferred source), as fuel, encouraging weight loss. The first two weeks of the diet almost completely bans all fruit and bread products, supposedly to jumpstart the weight loss process. Slowly, high fiber foods are allowed back into your daily meals in the forms of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Banned for life are white potatoes, white rice, anything made with white flour (think bagels and cookies) and pasta. The Atkins diet induces weight loss because total calorie intake is lower, but the long-term safety of this diet is still in question. Short-term side effects may include constipation and foul breath, but long-term use could also promote heart disease due to increased intake of saturated and trans fats (the bad fats).

The South Beach Diet differs slightly from the Atkins diet by promoting healthy fats (unsaturated) rather than unhealthy ones, and suggests choosing carbs that have a lower glycemic index — foods that don’t cause your blood sugar to rise and fall sharply. There are three phases to the diet. During the first two weeks, almost all carbs are banned (just as with the Atkins diet), but low-fat or non-fat dairy is allowed. The second phase reintroduces certain foods such as pasta, fruit and certain high glycemic index vegetables (think carrots) but portion sizes are strictly enforced. The final phase begins once your target weight is reached. The South Beach diet initially induces weight loss but it most likely is water weight. However, the final phase strictly enforces portion control, doesn’t leave out any food groups and promotes exercise — a winning combination for weight loss and maintenance.

The Cabbage Soup diet is designed as a short-term weight loss plan and it guarantees you will lose 10 pounds. It is meant to last only 7 days but the diet is very restrictive as to which foods can be eaten on certain days. This is a low calorie but high fiber diet which can cause bloating or gas and doesn’t teach healthy habits. The weight lost will be mostly water weight and will return once normal eating is resumed. Taking a multivitamin during the week is a must since this diet is dangerously low in calories and nutrients.

Overall, any diet that promotes fewer calories in or more calories out (burned by exercise or increased physical activity), should induce weight loss. Deciding which diet to choose is difficult and there are so many options. Discuss your weight loss plans with your health care team and get the okay for any new exercise programs.

To find a registered dietitian in your area, contact the American Dietetic Association at www.eatright.org, or call one of the area hospitals.

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