How to Avoid Thanksgaining!

The word Thanksgiving has nothing to do with food, yet that’s exactly what comes to mind for most of us.  The purpose and meaning of the holiday has become overshadowed by delicious food, frantic shopping, and football games.  Even as I sit here writing this, my mouth is watering with the thought of moist turkey, rich, silky gravy, savory stuffing (or “dressing” if you’re one of those people), and pumpkin pie topped with an irrational amount of whipped cream. Yes, food has become the foundation of this national holiday of giving thanks, but not just any food; high-calorie, carbohydrate-laden, fat-dripping food…and lots of it!  A single helping of a traditional Thanksgiving meal adds up to over 300 calories, 124 g of fat, and nearly 400 g of carbohydrates.  Who doesn’t go back for seconds? The ironic thing about this gluttonous tradition is that we have the audacity to list health as one of the things for which we’re most thankful!

It is certainly not easy to buck the trend and go against the grain of what our culture has taught us. Obviously, we all want the pie.  We want mashed potatoes.  But it’s not about what we want, it’s what we DON’T want.  We don’t want to be overweight and obese.  We don’t want to suffer the consequences of living an unhealthy lifestyle, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  If a healthy life is really what you want, then it’s time to recognize the things that you’re doing to limit that possibility.  It’s time to take a realistic, emotionless look at our habits and evaluate why we’re doing what we do.  Sounds easy, huh?

No, it’s not easy to change habits.  Think about that old country dirt road, and the ruts that have been made from years of tires leaving their mark.  You can actually let go of the steering wheel with confidence, knowing that those ruts will keep you on the path.  In order to leave the smooth, comfortable ride of those ruts, you have to jerk the wheel to the right, and suffer the bumps of the rough, uncharted terrain.  Do you have what it takes to do that this holiday season?  Can you pass up a heaping pile of mashed potatoes for the greater good, or will you continue down that familiar path?

If you’re ready to make a change, here are a few tips you can follow to turn Thanksgaining into a true holiday of giving thanks:

  1. Continue the habits of eating breakfast, and eating several small meals throughout the day.  Most people make the mistake of skipping meals early in the day, thinking that they are cutting back on overall calories.  The truth is, your body needs a constant flow of fuel in order to keep the metabolism burning high.  Also, starving yourself until the big meal will cause you mind to lag behind your stomach, causing you to overeat.  Start your day with a healthy breakfast of lean protein and complex carbohydrates that will keep you from crashing later in the day.  Example: Two-egg omelet with spinach and feta cheese.  Follow that up with a small protein/vegetable meal every 3-hours.  Celery sticks, cucumbers, and kale chips make easy snack options that can be eaten throughout the day.
  2. Commit to only drinking water throughout the day, avoiding the empty calories and sugars of other drinks.  You’ll be consuming more calories in protein, carbohydrates, and fat, so don’t make matters worse with soda, wine, or beer.   Also, water will keep your stomach full, allowing you to make better decisions about what you put on your plate.
  3. Prepare for success by having plenty of healthy options available.  If you are celebrating at the home of a family or friend, ask if you can bring a veggie platter or salad.  Fill up on those items first to avoid giving in to the temptations of the other items available.
  4. Keep a positive, healthy mindset.  Remind yourself that the holiday is about spending time with family and friends.  If you start to feel sorry for yourself, recognize it early and get away from the temptations.  Physically leave the room, or invite someone to go for a walk outside for some fresh air.  You will come back refreshed and focused, with a clear mind.

It has been said that change is easy, but thinking about change is hard.  Set some goals for yourself and just do it.  Get on the scale Thursday morning, and commit to yourself that you won’t gain weight by the next day.  Recognize the excuses that you’re using, and remind yourself that you can have a good time without the food.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Komeshak

 

 

 

Guilt-Free Stir-Fried Noodles

On a recent trip to the grocery store, a package of “pasta” caught my eye. Since I’m IMAG0246_1always looking for ways to add variety to my meals, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new and exciting.  They say we take our first taste with our eyes, and in this case, I wasn’t liking what I saw.  The plastic bag, filled with a noodle-like product floating in water, just wasn’t very appealing.  The label said all of the right things: low-calorie, low-fat, and only 2 net grams of carbs for the whole bag.  Since the price was only $2.50, I thought, “what do I have to lose?”

Shirataki Tofu noodles are made from a plant, so they don’t contain flour, making them a perfect match for the low-carb lifestyle.  I found them in the produce section of my local grocery store, on the tofu shelf. While they technically fall into what you might call a noodle category, their are some important points to keep in mind with this product.  I made several batches of the recipe below, varying the cooking technique and ingredients with each round.  Here are some basic tips:

  • They stink.  Do NOT smell them before you rinse them.  Okay, who are we kidding, you’re definitely going to smell them now that I said not to, but keep in mind that I warned you.  The good news is that the odor can be easily rinsed away with warm water.  Just dump them into a strainer and rinse completely for about 2 mins.
  • Do not overcook!  They are fully cooked and ready to eat out of the package.  Once they are completely rinsed, pat them dry with paper towels and add them to your hot ingredients.  They should be the last ingredient added to your dish, allowing the heat from the other ingredients to finish the cooking process.  Any additional cooking will result in rubber bands.  Trust me, I was actually nervous about dumping a failed batch down my disposal for fear of breaking it!
  • Stick with the angel hair variety.  I tried the fettuccine noodles, and they were simply too thick and rubbery.  The spaghetti and angel hair varieties had the best texture.
  • Do NOT smell the noodles before you rinse them!  There, I warned you twice, so I’m detached from the outcome.

There are many uses for these noodles, and they can be mixed with any ingredients you can imagine.  Regardless of the recipe you choose, follow the tips above.  I chose to make them as an Asian Stir-Fry, with some veggies that I had in the fridge, some soy sauce, and chicken breast.  I added some garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes to wake up the taste buds.  I have to say, I am very impressed, and look forward to adding this to my weekly rotation!

Enjoy!

Dr. Komeshak

Stir-Fried Noodles

Are You Addicted to Food?

by Dr. Patrick Komeshak

It’s no secret that the food we eat today is much different than the food that our ancestors hunted and gathered.  Long ago, getting a sugar rush required us to fight the sting of bees protecting a hive.  Today, the food industry provides us with an unlimited access to junk food that will not only provide a “fix”, but keeps us coming back for more.

Hyperpalatable food, defined as

Food_Addiction_Girl_eating_Cookies

processed food high in fat, sugar, and salt, is commonplace in our diets.  Who can deny the salty crunch of McDonald’s french fries, or the sweet rush of an Oreo soaked in cold milk?  The processed food of today elicits a neuro-chemical reaction in our bodies similar to that of drugs, so it’s not surprising that some people become addicted.  This addiction leads to compulsive behavior, obesity, diabetes, and a poor quality of life.  Breaking the habit seems nearly impossible, considering the fact that these products are readily available and always within reach.

“For most men, complete abstinence is better than perfect moderation.” ~St. Augustine

Breaking an addiction to food requires complete abstinence.  Allowing yourself to have “just a little” of the bad stuff leads down a path of no return.  While going cold turkey isn’t easy, it is the quickest and most effective way to return the body to a healthy state.  Additionally, creating a healthy internal environment is essential for recovery.  This includes:

  • Staying hydrated.  Drinking water not only keeps the mind from feeling hunger, it helps to balance the delicate hormones and chemicals of the body.  
  • Eat 5-6 small meals per day.  Providing the body with a steady flow of protein and complex carbohydrates helps to keep cravings under control.
  • Keep busy.  Boredom is one of the biggest triggers of binge eating.  Instead of watching T.V., work around the house or yard to keep the mind occupied.

Breaking food addiction is not an easy process, and will take a lot of time and patience.  However, the resulting effects on your overall health will make the journey worthwhile.

5 Secrets to Burning Fat

“It’s in my genes.” “I’m just big boned.” “My body doesn’t lose weight like other people.” “I don’t have enough will power.” “I can’t afford a gym membership or the right equipment.”  ”Eating healthy is too expensive.”  ”I don’t have time to dedicate to losing weight.”

Do any of these sound familiar?  We’ve all said one or two of them at some point along the way.  They are great excuses, and we spend a lot of time and energy

making everyone around us believe them.  Once we start to believe them ourselves, however, the pit can be too deep for us to ever climb out.

Here are some cold, hard truths about weight loss: You’re not going to exercise your way to healthy weight.  You’re not going to eat rice cakes to lose weight.  You’re not going to pop pills to lose weight.  You’re not going to by a DVD to lose weight.  Sure, there are exceptions to every rule, and if you’re one of the people who can do these things, then more power to you.  However, if you’re like most people, the ignorance surrounding weight loss has you frustrated and riding a yo-yo of short-term loss, with rebounding gain.

1. Eat More, Not Less

One of the biggest mindset changes that patients seem to battle is the idea of eating enough food.  While it’s true that Americans tend to overindulge, it’s the type of food that’s the problem, not the quantity.  Truth is, in order for the body to shed extra pounds, you have to make it feel confident that more food will be coming soon.  If your body senses a lack of food, it enters starvation mode and begins to conserve energy.  Choose foods that are low on the glycemic index scale, such as celery, cucumber, and broccoli, and be sure to eat small meals every 4-5 hours.  Keep your body well fed, and it will return the favor by casting off the extra fat.

2. Consume Quality Protein

The immediate success of most diets is due to the loss of muscle mass, not fat.  That’s great if your goal is to simply see a smaller number on the scale, but not great if you intend to keep the weight off.  When your body is looking for energy, it’s going to burn carbohydrates, protein, and fat…in that order.  A quality protein product will support your muscle tissue, and push the body to burn fat instead.

Choose lean proteins from sources such as soy, poultry, fish, and lean beef and pork.  You can cut calories by replacing a portion of your animal protein with whey protein powders and meal replacements, like those found in the LiveWell protein products.

3. Watch the Carbs

Carbohydrates are necessary for proper bodily function, but choosing the right type of carb is important.  Avoid bread, pasta, legumes, corn, potatoes, and processed foods, which wreak havoc on insulin levels leading to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  Even most fruits and fruit juices are a no-no during the initial weight loss phase.  If you’ve ever filled your diet shopping cart with fruit, rice cakes, “healthy” cereal, and yogurt, you now know why that didn’t work.  By giving your body a steady stream of carbohydrates, it had plenty of blood glucose for energy, and never had to burn fat.

Read food labels to determine the amount of carbohydrates in a given food, subtracting the grams of fiber to determine the product’s net carb value.  Take your carb counting a step further by looking at the Glycemic Index (GI), a number value given to food based upon how fast and high it causes blood sugar to rise. Pure glucose tops the list with a GI of 100, with all other food being rated in comparison.  Look for food that scores <40 points per serving to avoid spiking blood sugar.

4. Exercise Less

I know, this one sounds crazy, but remember that we’re talking about one thing: losing weight.  Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it is not the most efficient way for most people to lose weight.  We’ve all seen the late night infomercials promising ripped bodies in a matter of weeks, but how realistic is that for most people?  The average person seeking help through the LiveWell program wants to lose 40 lbs.  While they may have been athletes in high school or college, that was 20 years ago.  They are busy with work and kids, their right knee is arthritic, and the possibility of sticking with a high intensity exercise routine for more than 3 days is slim.

If we’re being realistic, which is important for any goal, let’s focus on getting the number on the scale to drop as quickly as possible, in a healthy way.  Once the  weight is gone, you’ll have more energy and motivation than ever before, which is a great time to start an exercise program.

5. Stay Positive and Focused

Success with any goal requires a healthy mindset, and weight loss is no different.  This will either be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, or the worst experience of your life.  I’ve seen both extremes in the patients that I work with, and it always comes down to their mindset.  The people who struggle seem to be the ones who focus on all of the things they can’t have.  They ask questions like, “You mean I can’t eat grapes? I love grapes!”, and, “When will I ever be able to eat my normal food again?”

Begin by making a shopping list of all of the foods you’re allowed to have.  Then, search your favorite websites for healthy recipe ideas for those items.  Find enjoyment in the challenge of trying different recipes, knowing that you are healing your body and establishing a healthy foundation.    Next, keep your goal in the front of your mind by placing reminders in your home and office.  Pictures and Post-it notes will keep you on track and make the road to health a lot easier to travel.

Four Condiments That Make Dieting Easy

Nothing kills a diet faster than boredom, so it’s important to get creative and make food that satisfies your cravings.  Using condiments from your local grocery store is the easiest way to get started, but the diet-friendly choices are few and far between.  Here are a few of my favorite condiments that I always have on hand.

Walden Farms Syrup (Chocolate and Pancake)

Walden Farms brand of condiments and dressings is well knows to the dieters at LiveWell, and is easy to find at most grocery stores.  While I occasionally use the salad dressings, the two items that I use every week are the bottles of chocolate and pancake syrup.  They are a perfect match for my LiveWell pancakes and muffins, satisfying my cravings for comfort food.

Mustard

Most varieties of mustard are safe to use with the LiveWell diet, but as always, make sure you read the labels.  Mustard is a great dipping sauce for pickles, turkey, and chicken, but it also makes a great salad dressing.  It can be used alone as a dressing, or blended with vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil to make a great tasting vinaigrette.

Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce

I love buffalo wings, but they are way too high in fat and calories.  It’s easy to make a diet-friendly, and much less messier version of buffalo wings using Frank’s wing sauce and chicken breast or skinless thighs.  Simply coat the chicken in wing sauce, salt, and pepper, and roast in a 375 degree oven for 50 mins, turning and basting with more sauce after 25 mins.  They can be eaten alone as a protein, or added to a salad.

I hope you enjoy these condiment recommendations, but they are certainly not the only options out there.  Pay attention to the labels and you’ll find it easy to make food that is good tasting and good for you!

Fuzzy Targets Don’t Get Hit!

Imagine that you’re preparing for a road trip with some friends.  You’d like to make it to California, but you’ll be happy just driving west and getting away for a while.  What are the odds that you’ll end up in California?  Probably very slim.  In fact, with a goal of “driving west”, there’s no telling where you’ll actually end up.  You could make it 100 miles west of your starting point, and technically get exactly what you hoped for.  Although you would probably be disappointed with the results of your vacation, you can’t argue that you weren’t successful based upon your goal.  This same scenario occurs with weight loss goals…I see it every day.  

The truth is, fuzzy targets don’t get hit.  Goals must be clear and precise, otherwise there is too much room for error.  How much weight do you want to lose?  When do you want to achieve your goal?  What size clothes will you wear at your goal weight?  How will you feel when you reach your goal?  If you really take the time to answer these questions from your heart, you will feel a rush of emotion with the possibilities.  You’ll feel yourself smiling as you imagine how much your life will change.  That is when you know you’re in the zone!  Capture that feeling of success, and know that your one step closer to reaching your goals.