Last week, I mentioned a conversation I had with a friend who voiced concern over the impact our ‘stay at home’ orders has had on their fight with gaining weight. We basically have a perfect storm going on with decreased activity levels due to work slow down, loss of normal ‘fun’ exercise encouraging activities, gyms/sporting events/social events, increased stress (work related, mortgage/rent related, health related), poor sleep habits (related to change in normal routine, stress/anxiety), and stress eating – just to name a few of the things contributing to our tendency to gain weight! With that in mind, I am going to try to tackle some of the things you can do at home that actually impact each component of this storm, in an effort to fight the “stay at home” weight conundrum!
Today let’s focus on food. Did you know that the Standard American Diet is S.A.D.? I mean, really sad. You can look at nutrition sites all over the internet – or read nutrition articles in scientific journals – or read books from your local bookstore or library – and they all pretty much will tell you the same thing. Our diet is creating health issues – including its negative impact on our immune system. We are all very focused on whether or not we, or someone we love, is going to get COVID-19, and if so, how bad will that infection be? Believe it or not, your immune system and your diet are ALL interrelated. Movement and decreasing stress in our lives really make a big impact on our overall health, including our tendency to gain weight. Another spoke in the wheel of developing a healthy immune system is WHAT we actually put into our body through our diet.
“A 2010 report from the National Cancer Institute on the status of the American diet found that three out of four Americans don’t eat a single piece of fruit in a given day, and nearly nine out of ten don’t reach the minimum recommended daily intake of vegetables. On a weekly basis, 96 percent of Americans don’t reach the minimum for greens or beans (three servings a week for adults), 98 percent don’t reach the minimum for orange vegetables (two servings a week), and 99 percent don’t reach the minimum for whole grains (about three to four ounces a day). “In conclusion,” the researchers wrote, “nearly the entire U.S. population consumes a diet that is not on par with recommendations. These findings add another piece to the rather disturbing picture that is emerging of a nation’s diet in crisis.” ( quoted from: https://nutritionfacts.
Rather than going into too much detail on all the things a poor diet can lead to, I’d rather focus on what I – WE – can do to correct as much as possible! You can individually contact me if you want to go into more details about your specific situation, but let’s start with what we can all do today…
I’d like to challenge you to keep a food and drink diary. The best way to know what your diet really IS like is to accurately keep track of it. Every time you put something in your mouth, write it down – including that piece of gum (is it sugar free?). At the end of the day or the end of the week, review your ‘diary’. Do you notice any patterns? Do you seem to have any food groups (protein; vegetables/fruits;
dairy; carbohydrates – wheat/grain/rice, etc; sweets) that seem to be missing OR overly represented in your daily choices?
Sometimes, you will realize that you are eating more of one type of food than you thought you really were. When I first took this challenge a few years ago, I realized that with every meal of the day I was eating some form of processed carbohydrate. I’d have toast or cereal or a granola bar for breakfast, then a sandwich or soup with rice or noodles in it for lunch, and then pasta or rice with dinner. I also realized that many of the snacks I chose (pretzels, potato chips, popcorn) were also full of carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are broken down to sugar in our bodies. There are more than 1800 scientific articles out there on how sugar negatively impacts our health. Sugar is a HUGE source of inflammation in our bodies. Now, a little carbohydrate isn’t bad – some things actually are good sources of fiber or vitamins (particularly vitamin B). But with all the carbohydrates I was eating, I found I wasn’t eating very many vegetables! Carbohydrates seem to be a ‘filler’ food for me – a comfort thing. I mean, how can I eat a ‘healthy’ homemade stir-fry without rice?!? The answer to that was – I had a ‘texture’ issue…rice was a texture I felt I needed to feel satisfied when I ate a stir-fry. So I added cauliflower rice to my meal – initially blending it with regular rice, but eventually switching over to just cauliflower rice. Now, my stir-fries are healthier yet – and I’ve eliminated carbohydrates from at least one meal in the day. Simply focusing on limiting my daily intake of carbohydrates – to maybe 1 serving a day – had a huge impact on improving my diet.
Changing our diet to increase our vegetable intake (and decrease our carbohydrate and sugar intake) will do worlds of good for our health. We increase the fiber, vitamins and nutrients we will get in, while decreasing a huge source of inflammation in our diets. I’m not sure if you are aware that 70-80% of our IMMUNE SYSTEM is located in our gut – surrounding our intestines. If we want to focus on improving our health, the gut is a REALLY GOOD PLACE to start!
Tomorrow, I’m going to talk a little more about gut health – including what pre – and pro- biotics are, and where you can get them (food sources, supplements) – and why they matter. Since we are here today, focusing on ways to keep healthy during this pandemic, I think talking about improving health on ALL levels, including diet – for now and the future – is important. Each step we take will help – and, each step I’m recommending, in the long run, will help us manage our weight gain.
Keep your legs healthy – keep moving, counting your steps! Don’t forget about the de-stressors we’ve already talked about – and will continue to encourage! And KNOW that a healthier diet will also de-stress you – from the inside out….
Here’s to a Happier, Healthier YOU!
Dr. Stiller, Stacy, Nicole and Chris
Center for Advanced Vein Care