Tuesday, March 5, 2013


The National Nutrition Month® 2013 theme, "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day," encourages personalized healthy eating styles and recognizes that food preferences, lifestyle, cultural and ethnic traditions and health concerns all impact individual food choices. Registered dietitians play a critical role in helping people eat right, their way, every day.

National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. This year is the 40th anniversary of National Nutrition Month®.

Start With These 5 Healthy Tips to Live by!

1. Eat Breakfast: There’s no better way to start your morning than with a healthy breakfast. Include lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try oatmeal cooked with low-fat milk, sliced almonds and berries, or top a toaster waffle with low-fat yogurt and fruit.

2. Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables: Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal.

3. Watch Portion Sizes: Using smaller plates, bowls and glasses can help you keep portions under control. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert

4. Drink More Water: The Dietary Reference Intakes from the Institute of Medicine recommend a total daily beverage intake of 13 cups for men & 9 cups for women.

5. Be Active: Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week. You don’t have to hit the gym—take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball.

For more tips visit: http://www.eatright.org/nnm/


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Deception Diet: How Optical Illusions Can Trick Your Appetite

Interesting article sent to me by Mariam Hassan...give it a read!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dietitian's Dish: Thin on the outside, fat on the inside

Originally published in the Victoria Advocate, Feb. 8th, 2012:  

Though you might be at a normal weight, you can have an accumulation of what is called visceral fat. Fat in the body is stored in two ways, as visceral fat and subcutaneous fat.
Visceral fat is found within the abdominal cavity hugging vital organs. It can interfere with your liver, pancreas and insulin sensitivity. Visceral fat puts you at risk for diabetes.
Subcutaneous fat, on the other hand, is found just below the skin and doesn't interfere with organ function.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 15 percent of people with Type 2 diabetes are not overweight.
Here are some things you can do to decrease your risk for diabetes:
Eat regularly and don't skip meals. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar drops. To counteract this, the liver will release glucose to provide you with energy and raise your blood sugar. These constant spikes of blood sugar can potentially set you up for diabetes later on in life.
Exercise. Don't depend on diet alone to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise helps lower your blood sugar level. Not only will exercise help shed visceral fat, but it helps muscles absorb glucose 20 times better than normal. Weightlifting builds muscle, which helps with blood sugar control and burns visceral fat.
Control your intake of high carbohydrate and sugary foods. Constantly eating foods, such as muffins, donuts, cookies and other high fat and sugar foods, can keep your blood sugar elevated. Your pancreas has to work hard to release insulin to transport that sugar into the cells. Eventually, your cells don't respond to the insulin properly, and your pancreas gets worn out from trying to pump out more and more insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Limit your intake of sugary beverages, such as flavored coffees, soda and juices. Be wary of added sugar in low-fat salad dressings, some cereals, flavored milks, condiments, sports and energy drinks and packaged food. Look at the ingredients and avoid items containing high fructose corn syrup. Some research has shown that the body converts it into visceral fat.
Get your shuteye. New research is showing the risks between sleep deprivation and developing diabetes. When you don't get enough sleep, your body requires more insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Your body's response to stress and hormones is affected, which also affects your blood sugar level. Prioritize and hit the hay early for a good night's rest of eight hours.
Learn how to de-stress. Cortisol is released from the body in response of stress. Continuous excess stress keeps Cortisol levels high, which can decrease metabolism of glucose. Try exercise, yoga, breathing exercises, hobbies, massages or whatever it takes to keep your stress level down.
Since you don't always know how much fat is sticking to your organs, it is important to make healthy choices in order to decrease your risk of disease.

Mona Khalil is a dietetic intern.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Paula Deen's Diagnosis Adding to the Southern Trend?

I am sure you have all been following the headlines surrounding Paula Deen's announcement that she has Type 2 Diabetes. Turns out she has been Diabetic for 3 years now. Why did she choose to come out in the open now? Probably because she has an endorsement deal with one of the biggest diabetes healthcare companies, Novo Nordisk.

Whether Paula Deen decides to change the concept of her show is up to her. Personally though, I think we should all leave her alone. She is not forcing any of us to eat her food; we are all able to make our decisions about what we put in our mouthes. We all know the consequences of poor eating choices. Despite all of this, Paula has launched a website (sponsered by Novo Nordisk) called Diabetes In A New Light (www.diabetesinanewlight.com). It discusses her opinions about cooking and health. Her belief is "everything in moderation" and claims the way she cooks on her show is not how she lives her lifestyle.

The CDC indicates that Type 2 Diabetes has had a dramatic rise in our country for the past 20 years. Now, 36 out of 50 states have a prevalence of 25% or more. Eight of these states are in the south: Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas; they have a prevalence of 30% or more. So even though Paula Deen's diagnosis is not a big shocker, it does add to the trend that many people in the south have habits that are putting them at the lower end of the health curve. This is probably because of our poor food choices, large portions, and lack of focus on physical activity. In the south we are known for our bar-b-que, sweet tea, soul food, gravies, fried foods and anything cheesy, meaty, or greasy. So while Paula Deen doesn't necessarily have to change her show she did just became a southern statistic.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Little Goes a Long Way...

This morning as I was walking into work, I saw the usual volunteer on the golf cart cruising through the parking lot finding people to shuttle to the hospital. Knowing that I usually walk to the distance, he just paused for a second making sure I didn't have a change of plans. The distance from my car to the hospital entrance was probably no more than 200 yards. So not really something I would "need a ride to." However, as soon as I refused the shuttle a lady pulls up in her car and asks the volunteer to meet her at her parking spot so he can drive her to the entrance. I thought to myself, "You know honey you could lose a few or a lot."  The golf cart is there for patients that actually need assistance to the hospital. This lady seemed fairly healthy despite her weight. Who am I to judge though.

Even if I might only burn 2 Calories walking from my car to the entrance, it makes me feel good knowing that I actually walked (something we need to do more of in South Texas). My colleague and I always take the flight of stairs when we go up to see patients. That's about 4 flights of stairs at least 4 times a day (only counting going up). One day we were curious so we counted all the stairs to find out how many Calories we burn on a daily basis. We counted 60 stairs which is about 40-70 Calories a day (depending on which website we used). Even though this doesn't sound like much, a little does go a long way. 40-70 Calories times 5 days a week= 200-350 Calories burned a week just from taking the stairs. So that extra donut you just had just got taken care of...lol.

Many people always claim they don't have time to exercise or hit the gym. Well if you can't commit to regular exercise, it is important to fit little bits of physical activity throughout your day. Here are some ideas:
- Take the stairs whenever possible
- Park your car furthest from the entrance and walk
- If you have a desk job take a 5-10 minute break every hour to stand up, stretch, squat, or walk around
  the office (it will be good for your circulation too)
- While you are at the mall or out running errands just spend 10 extra minutes walking around window
  shopping or browsing up and down the aisles.
- If you carry a bag, use it like a dumbbell to tone your arms
- While waiting for your car wash, oil change, etc. walk around the parking lot a few times
- When you drop off your kid's at practice walk around the fields as you watch them

There are so many ways to squeeze in physical activity into your day. Just remember, a little goes a long way! =)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

How fatty are your organs? My experience watching bariatric surgery

Today I had the opportunity to watch a gastric bypass and sleeve operation. It was so fascinating to be in the OR and see everything being done laparoscopically. I wasn't grossed out in any way to see blood or bodily organs. In fact it was quite remarkable to see a real life heart beating. The disgusting part was actually seeing the loads and loads of fat surrounding all of the organs. There are two types of fat: visceral and subcutaneous fat. Visceral fat is located within the abdominal cavity, surrounding organs. Subcutaneous fat is found just below the skin. Visceral fat is related to increased risks for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases brought on by central obesity.

All of the excess fat made it harder to actually find the organs in order to perform the surgery. About half of the surgery is just spent separating the stomach from the visceral fat present. Once the surgeon stapled the stomach, he pulled it out through a tiny incision above the belly button. This person's stomach had stretched over years and years of excessive eating. What is even more remarkable is after having gastric bypass, patients are usually able to get off all of their medication including hypertension and diabetic medication.

Seeing all of that fat "hugging" onto the vital organs really put healthy eating and exercise into perspective for me. I thought to myself, "If only everyone could watch a bariatric surgery; then they would be motivated to stay at a healthy weight." Now every time I'm tempted with eating another cookie or sitting out on my workout I'm going to think of that fat sticking to my organs...