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Exploring a Mediterranean Diet

Exploring a Mediterranean Diet

Are you familiar with the Mediterranean Diet? While it’s not actually a diet, you can consider it a style of eating used by people that live near the Mediterranean Sea. Research suggests that a Mediterranean eating pattern can lead to health benefits such as: improved cardiovascular health1, improvements in blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes2, and decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease3.

Foods that are encouraged4:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Seafood
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds

Foods to eat in moderation:

  • Poultry
  • Dairy
  • Eggs

Foods to limit:

  • Sweets, candy, desserts
  • Red meat, such as beef, lamb, or pork

Want to experiment with this way of eating? Here are some tips for incorporating a Mediterranean eating pattern into your daily life:

  • Start your day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with walnuts and berries.
  • Replace a bag of potato chips or pretzels with a handful of nuts as a snack.
  • Top your salad with baked salmon for added heart-healthy protein.
  • When cooking, use olive oil in place of butter.
  • Replacing a meat-based meal with beans. For example, use black beans in your tacos instead of ground beef.
  • Grab a piece of fruit rather than a slice of cake for dessert.

A Mediterranean eating pattern can provide potential health benefits and is relatively easy to follow. Why not start the new year by incorporating these guidelines into your eating habits. Have questions? We’re here to help! For more information on how to include these tips in a way that works for you, make an appointment with one of our registered dietitians. 

Sources:

 

  1. Carson JAS, Lichtenstein AH, Anderson CAM, Appel LJ, Kris-Etherton PM, Meyer KA, Petersen K, Polonsky T, Van Horn L; on behalf of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology; Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing; Council on Clinical Cardiology; Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease; and Stroke Council. Dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular risk: a science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2019;140. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000743.
  2. Esposito K, Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, et al. A journey into a Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analyses. BMJ Open 2015;5:e008222. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008222
  3. Lourida, Ilianna, et al. “Mediterranean Diet, Cognitive Function, and Dementia: A Systematic Review.” Epidemiology, vol. 24, no. 4, 2013, pp. 479–489., www.jstor.org/stable/23486687.
  4. Ball, Serena, and Deanna Segrave-Daly. The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook.: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health. Rockridge Press, 2018.
Non-Food DIY Holiday Gifts

Non-Food DIY Holiday Gifts

When it comes to homemade gift ideas, we often think of baking or cooking something for our friends, family, and co-workers. Try something a little different this year! These fun DIY crafts are budget and waistline friendly. You might be intimated by the thought of crafts but these gift ideas are simple and fun to complete for both adults and children.

Vanilla and Brown Sugar Body Scrub

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ cup coconut oil or olive oil (Amanda’s tip: use ¼ cup of each!)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or 20 drops of vanilla essential oil

In a glass mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients. If you are using coconut oil, you’ll need to heat the oil slowly in the microwave until it turns to a liquid form.

You can make a large batch at one time by quadrupling the recipe. Place the scrub in plastic containers with lids. Glass jars are not recommended since accidents can easily happen in the bathroom.

Amanda’s tip: Use these jars from Michael’s – item #10288376

Bath Melts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cocoa butter
  • ¼ cup shea butter
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp essential oil, such as vanilla

In a microwave-safe bowl, add cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil. Heat at 50% power in 30 second intervals until all the ingredients have turned to liquid. Add in essential oil by stirring in slowly.

You can make a large batch at one time by doubling the recipe. Pour mixture into mini baking cups; the foil cups work best. If you have a mini muffin tin, place the foil cups in the tin. If you do not have a mini muffin tin, place the foil cups on a baking sheet. Put the muffin tin or baking sheet in a cool, dry place for 3-4 hours until the mixture returns to a solid. Amanda’s tip: use your garage!

These bath melts smell amazing and look like a dessert. Amanda’s tip: place directions in the bag to prevent someone from eating their bath melt! Here’s an example:

Bath melts can be used in the bath or in the shower. For use in the bath, place the bath melt into the water after filling the tub. It will dissolve slowly to make you feel like you are bathing in silky soft water. To use the bath melt like a lotion bar, gently massage the bath melt into your wet skin to help soften those rough, dry areas on your body.

Laundry Board

A laundry board is a must-have in everyone’s laundry room. This handy board is a great place to hang unmatched socks and delicate items that must air dry.

Supplies needed:

  • 1 piece of decorative cut wood (unpainted) – These can be found at Lowes, Michael’s, and Hobby Lobby and come in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Wooden clothes pins
  • Paint (2 colors)
  • Stencils or wooden cutout letters
  • Hot glue gun
  • Small hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Picture frame hook

Step 1: On the back side of your board, mark the middle of the board about 2-3” from the top

Step 2: Hammer the frame hook into the marked spot

Step 3: Paint the front of the board (2 coats of paint)

Step 4: Paint the clothes pins (optional)

Step 5: Paint letters (if you are using letters)

Step 6: If you like a shabby chic style, use a low-grit sandpaper to make wear marks throughout the board

Step 7: If you are using stencils or letters, now is the time to add the decorative touch.

Step 8: Use the hot glue gun to attach the clothes pins to the board

Custom Glassware

This is a fun craft to do on all types glassware, such as beer steins, pint glasses, wine glasses, stemless wine glasses, goblets, hurricanes, and rocks glasses. Amanda’s tip: buy glasses from the Dollar Store! You can go with a holiday theme, celebration, initials, or bling out a glass just for fun.

Supplies needed:

  • Glassware of your choice
  • Hot glue gun or E6000 glue
  • Crystals or beads
  • Goo Gone (to remove price tags)
  • Stencil (you can print stencils, patterns, or letters from your computer)
  • Tape
  • Smart phone/digital camera

Step 1: Remove stickers/price tags from glasses

Step 2: Wash glasses

Step 3: Select a pattern or stencil

Step 4: Arrange beads on the stencil/pattern. Do a practice run on your tabletop before you start to glue the beads/crystals to the glass.

Step 5: Take a picture of the pattern you just designed

Step 6: Tape your stencil or pattern on the inside of the glass

Step 7: Glue the beads/crystals onto the glass. Use your picture as a reminder.

Step 8: Let the glue dry for a few hours

Step 9: Wash glass and air dry

Fitting in Fitness

Fitting in Fitness

A few years ago, I made a promise to myself: My physical and mental health is worth 4-6 hours a week. When I take time for my health, not only does my personal health get better but my relationships with my kids, husband, co-workers, family, and friends become healthier too. But I’ll admit that being a parent is one of the hardest jobs I have ever done. Throw in a full-time job and life gets very hectic. How do you possibly fit in time for fitness?

My exercise routine has changed drastically over the years. Twenty years ago, in my BC life (life before children), I never struggled to get my workouts in, even working 60+ hours per week. I often worked out in the evening to meet people. Having just moved from Montana to Washington, my exercise program was an amazing way to help me shake my homesickness. Fast forward to 2003, I’m married and working at Columbia Athletic Clubs. I was still living my BC life and I was able to exercise after work. Often my husband would meet me so we could exercise together.

In 2006, my daughter, Ella, was born. During my 4-month leave, my exercise program consisted of walking outside with Ella in a jogging stroller and DVD workouts I could do while she was sleeping. When I went back to work, I found myself wanting to get home right at 5pm to spend time with my new baby girl instead of doing a workout. On the days I wasn’t teaching fitness classes, I worked out during lunch. On the weekends, my workouts were fun and social. I took group tennis lessons with my sister and we put our kids in the club’s daycare. We were terrible at tennis but we had fun together while exercising.

In 2013, my husband and I welcomed baby number two. With my son, Jase, I was able to stay at home for 12 months but my workouts really changed. Jase was diagnosed with sleep apnea when he was 6 months old and he would wake up 1-4 times every night. I was so sleep deprived I could no longer work out while he was sleeping like I did with Ella. When Jase was sleeping, I was sleeping. The way I fit exercise into my day was to walk while Ella was at dance class. I always kept my jogging stroller in the back of my car. While Ella was in dance class for 45 to 90 minutes, I would walk the dance studio parking lot with Jase in the stroller.

In October of 2014, I joined NWWC part-time. I now had to work out with small bits of time such as walking at work between patients, walking when Ella was at dance, and using my elliptical trainer at home when my husband could watch the kids. My workouts were not one hour sessions; they were small sessions here and there. By age 3, Jase had surgery for his sleep apnea and could finally sleep through the night. I had survived 3 years of waking up 1-4 times a night. Mom WIN!

By 2016, I was a full-time mom to 3- and 10-year-olds and working full-time at NWWC. My kids had activities and my husband was working his full-time job plus had started a small business. My workouts were suffering. I felt like my weekdays were shot and I was only getting workouts in on the weekends. How in the world was I going to exercise? I had to have an honest conversation with myself, look closely look at my days, and set myself up to be successful.

I asked myself:

  • Can you exercise after work? Before work? On the weekends? At home? At the gym?
  • How many hours do you have during the weekdays? I started with 120 hours and subtracted the number of hours I worked, commuted, slept, managed household chores, and spent with family.
  • How many hours do you have on the weekends? I started with 48 hours and subtracted the hours I had committed to kids’ activities, household chores & errands, and family time.
  • How many hours per week are you willing to dedicate to your health?

I realized my windows of time were early in the morning, late evening, and weekends. I knew late night workouts were not good for me because I get hyped up and then I can’t sleep. It was beginning to look like early mornings and weekend mornings were my days to get exercise in.

I’m that annoying morning person that doesn’t hit the snooze bar when the alarm goes off. I’m used to getting up at 6:00am. But 4:45am? OMG! That’s early, people. To become a successful early morning exerciser, I had to start with my bedtime. I had been going to bed at 11:00pm but that would give me less than 6 hours of sleep. With 15 minute increments, I changed my bedtime to 10:00pm.

I also needed to get myself organized. Before I went to bed, I put my workout clothes and shoes in the bathroom, put a water bottle in the fridge, placed a sweat towel on the elliptical trainer, and placed the TV remote next to the elliptical trainer. I eliminated all excuses I could use to not get up and work out in the morning.  

I’m not a perfect Pinterest mom and my house is not spotless. I am a mom that can keep up with a busy 13-year-old dancer and a crazy 6-year-old football player. Don’t think that one hour of exercise a day is being selfish and taking time away from your kids. You are actually adding time to your life by becoming a regular exerciser. You are going to be the active parent you want to be for your kids. Taking time to care for yourself will give you more time to be with your family.  

Uncoupling

Uncoupling

The way we eat, the when we eat, the how we eat, and the why we eat is motivated by many forces. Most of us will recognize and admit to eating for reasons other than hunger. Maybe you associate TV watching with chips or popcorn. A fight with your partner is soothed by ice cream. Have you ever gone to the state fair feeling full or satisfied and want to eat funnel cakes anyway? Just the smell alone of funnel cakes wafting your way brings back carefree childhood memories of fun at the fair. If you eat one, even though you aren’t hungry, maybe you can feel that way again. The taste, texture, and smell of certain foods can flood your mind with memories.

Regardless of the society, culture, religion or ethnicity, we are taught from a young age to associate pain, suffering, happiness, celebration, depression, and a vast array of other emotions with food. Sometimes it is a formal teaching via our faith where certain foods are eaten to play a part in religious ceremonies. Other times, under less formal circumstances, we are taught from our mothers to treat the pain and humiliation of being stood up at the prom with a milk shake. Celebrating a win from a game? Let’s have a pizza! Is it Christmas? Well then, we must have cookies.  

You can start learning about your eating habits by writing down what and when you eat and what you are feeling when you eat it. I’ll bet it isn’t hunger. At some point, to really make progress with your weight loss, you need to uncouple. You need to disassociate doughnuts and disappointment, boredom and beer nuts, suffering and sundaes. You need to uncouple these emotions and experiences with food. Food is many things, but it is not therapy. It is not a tonic. It is not a coping mechanism. After all, if you are disappointed before you start eating, think how disappointed you will feel after eating those doughnuts. What will follow is another wave of emotions, usually self-doubt, defeat, self-deficiency and failing. Now how did that doughnut serve you? Sounds to me like you just rode a roller coaster of self-destructive behavior that brought you back to the same place that you started. Wanna go for another ride?

Uncouple. The next time you are sad. Stop. Think. Maybe you should be sad. It is okay to feel sad at some point in your life. Why are you sad? It is okay to feel. It may be uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant, but that’s okay. Sadness is natural. Spend your time wondering why you are sad and how you can feel better without food. You can talk it over with a friend, family member or counselor. Share your sadness. Often just talking about it and expressing your emotion verbally is enough release you from its grip.

Uncouple emotion from the food. Food is not the cure. Smell the funnel cakes, remember your feelings of youth and happiness. Tell the story in your head to a friend or your spouse. Eating the funnel cake will not return you to a happier time. You cannot step into a funnel cake and slide down a magical hole to a happier place. You will more likely wind up in a pool of tears like Alice did.

Feelings are part of the human experience. Stop being afraid to experience. When we admit we have feelings and emotions, we are vulnerable. Vulnerability is a dangerous place. It will take time to sort through the doughnuts and cookies in your life, but until you allow yourself this indulgence you will continue to medicate and manage with food. By exposing yourself to your feelings you will find a new beginning and a new emotion. Success!

It’s Not Just About Losing Weight…

It’s Not Just About Losing Weight…

When we hear bariatric surgery, the first thing that comes to mind is weight loss. But surgery is about much more than just weight loss. There are many health benefits related to weight loss that are even more important than achieving a certain number on the scale.  Let’s have a look at those:

Improvement of Type 2 Diabetes: After bariatric surgery, your stomach is much smaller so you will be consuming fewer calories. The surgery also affects your “gut hormones”, such as ghrelin. These changes to your eating habits and gastrointestinal tract can make your body more sensitive to insulin, improve your glucose tolerance, and help your pancreas produce its own insulin. Many people with type 2 diabetes notice lower blood sugars within days of surgery, even before they have started losing much weight.

Healthier Heart: Research shows that weight loss of 17 pounds can reduce blood pressure by about 8.5mm Hg systolic and 6.5mm Hg diastolic. This lightens the load on your heart. When you add in the healthy eating changes you’ll make, you will also likely improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Sounds like a win-win for the heart!

Less Joint Pain: Studies estimate that each pound of weight loss reduces the load on your knee joints by 4 to 5 pounds. This means a 10-pound weight loss feels like 40-50 fewer pounds with every step you take! Weight loss also reduces strain on the lower spine and reduces inflammation which makes physical activity less painful and more enjoyable.

Better Sexual Function:  Many people experience improvements in their sexual life satisfaction after surgery, including in desire, activity, and physical health limitations. Surgery also improves fertility among women. We’ve had dozens of healthy “bariatric babies” born into the NWWC family!

Enhanced Quality of Life: Beyond the number on the scale, you are able to enjoy a new life as a healthier you after surgery. You’ll feel more confident when you are successfully achieving your health goals. You might be wearing clothes that you haven’t worn in years, able to exercise without pain, traveling more comfortably, and having fun keeping up with your kids and grandkids. There are unlimited possibilities that come with an improved quality of life.

Whether you’ve already had surgery or are thinking about it, remember to consider all of the health benefits that come with weight loss. It’s not just about losing weight; it’s about gaining quality of life!