New Year and a New You: 11 Keys to the Mental Side of Weight Management

As the holiday season comes to a close, many of us begin to think about the New Year and making New Year’s resolutions. One of the most common resolutions made is to lose weight.
There are many steps in any given weight management plan: food journaling, meal planning, kitchen makeover, food shopping and preparation, supplements and special food products, exercise regimes, tracking your weight and/or specific body measurements like your waistline. If this sound intimidating, then it’s no wonder that weight management is one of the most challenging New Year’s resolutions to keep.

But you often miss the most important first aspect to weight management.
 MENTAL PREPARATION
Mental preparation for weight management involves a deep and honest examination and evaluation of yourself. This can be a very daunting task, but it is a necessary component to your weight management.

As you go through these mental preparations, it is important to write down your answers to these questions. Having these answers to refer back to will help you achieve your goals.

1. Why do you want to lose weight?
Your motivation for losing weight should begin as an act of self-love. Your body is your own, and you get to decide what to do with it. This also involves a close examination as to what you do not like about yourself, physically and emotionally, and what you want to change. Whether you want to be able to play with your children or grandchildren, have a medical risks, or just improve your physical appearance, you motivation must be meaningful to you.

2. Examine the negative things that you associate with weight management.
You’ve been conditioned to think that weight management is scary, difficult, and painful. But weight management, though challenging, is an opportunity for positive growth to your physical and emotional well-being. Convert the idea of the pain of losing weight into the idea of the pleasures associated with no longer having that weight. Additionally, if have you ever attempted a weight management program, was it the right one for you? Why did it not work for you? Do those negative associations to weight management still resonate with you?

3. Are there emotional restrictions or stressors affect your weight management?
Is it work or school? Relationships with others? Relationships with food? Do you have positive ways to address these issues? Being able too free yourself from unnecessary strife will allow you to direct that energy to more positive aspects of your life.

4. Identify behaviors that contribute to weight gain.
Whether it’s being a couch potato munching on unhealthy snacks, the daily trip to the coffee shop for the latest seasonal beverage with whipped cream and syrup, or walking past the ice cream aisle in the grocery store, examining your routine will help you identify behaviors that you may amend to meet your weight management goals.

5. Assess if it is the right time. 
This may seem arbitrary. There is never a bad time to start taking control of your health. But if you think your resolve will crumble because you decide to begin just before a vacation or the holidays, then it may not be the right time. Acknowledging your potential weakness is a sign that you’re mentally preparing yourself for the challenges ahead.

6.  Clearly define your weight management goal.
Goals, like life, can change. What you start with may change midstream. And that is okay. Whatever your goal is, be clear about what you want. Once you’ve created your end game, create smaller goals to help you get there: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year. Accomplishing these mini-milestones do wonders for your morale on your weight management journey. At each milestone, reassess your end goals and amend your strategy to achieve them.

7. Visualize your future self and act as if you have already reached this achievement.
Realistically envision what your ideal weight will look like as well as the positive associations in your outlook and attitudes of your future self. Do you have an ideal target weight or body transformation? Keeping the idea of who and how you want to be in your mind’s eye is incredibly emotionally motivating. When you act as if you have already made these achievements, it is also incredibly motivating to continue with the activities that will help you achieve your goals.

8. Take responsibility.
Obesity may run in your family, but you can choose to focus on your weight management. You can make healthy choices in the grocery stores and restaurants. You can avoid fast food restaurants. You can ask for help. You can forgive yourself for slipping up. Being prepared to take responsibility for your choices make will help you acknowledge the changes that you want to make.

9. Be ready to commit.
Commitment takes an inner resolve to meet the challenges ahead. Focus on every step in your weight management journey, from food journaling to meal planning to exercise. Maintain the energy you will need to make these steps happen, including managing stress and sleep. Shift your mindset to a can-do attitude. With this drive, you’ll continually recommit yourself to your goals.

10. Revisit your responses throughout your weight management journey. 
Like any journal, revisiting how you perceived your former self can be very enlightening. You can see where you were, and how far you have come. When you are doubting yourself, you can remind yourself of your aspirations.

11. Never give up.
Weight management can be a tough endeavor. Forgive yourself if you slip-up. Use the opportunity to recommit yourself to your goals. If you’ve tried many different weight management programs, then you have the most basic mental requirement for weight management: the recognition that you want to change.
Your body, your health, your happiness and freedom from illness and ailments are the paramount for your ultimate well-being.

Take the waning days of the year to mentally prepare yourself for the New Year, an optimal time to begin your weight management journey.

Once you’ve analyzed all of your potential mental hindrances, contact the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers to develop a weight management plan tailored specifically for you.

The Biggest Secret Saboteur to Holiday Weight Loss and How to Manage It

The holiday season is a time of feasting and fellowship. The calendar is filled with shopping and social events. Some of you thrive on the hustle and bustle. Some of you love participating in a variety of events throughout the community. 

Not even colder weather can keep you away. Whether it’s just a shopping trip, a local festival, or a social gathering of family and friends, local businesses and holiday hosts have found a way to keep you warm and in good cheer.

But those of you with dedicated weight maintenance and weight loss plans are navigating a holiday minefield of tempting and tasty seasonal morsels and flavor combinations.

The holidays have a secret weapon sabotaging your weight loss, and you rarely see it coming.

What is this weight loss saboteur, you ask? That holiday drink in your hand.
That’s right. You’ve all seen the advertisements at the coffee shops and festival booths. Pumpkin spice, creme brûlée, peppermint, gingerbread, eggnog flavors in a latte, mocha or hot cocoa and cider. And you’ve been going more social engagements that have many alcoholic versions of the aforementioned drinks as well as other cocktails, beer, and wine.

These holiday saboteurs can completely derail your weight loss goals with their added calories, added sugars, added cravings for other foods.


With a little preplanning and a little forethought, you can still enjoy these tasty beverages and stay on target with your weight loss:

  • Know that some drinks make you hungrier than others.
  • Make and bring your own drinks. Some weight loss programs have specifically formulated beverage options as part of the weight plan.
  • Scout out the menus ahead of time, if possible. Knowing what’s being offered will help you make smart choices.
  • Pick lower-calorie drink options: like a wine spritzer instead of eggnog, a warm cider instead of mint mocha. 
  • Ask for low-calorie versions: almond or skim milk, sugar-free flavored syrups,  or diet soda in your cocktails.
  • Say no to the extra toppings added to your beverage, like whipped cream, chocolate shavings, sprinkles.
  • Ask for alcohol-free versions of a drink.
  • Ask for taller,skinnier glasses or order the smaller size.
  • Drink more water.
  • Limit the amount of drinks your having, especially alcoholic drinks which may lower your inhibitions about eating more food.

Even the most conscientious of you make room for holiday indulgences. Many of these festive drinks, often desserts in disguise, won’t satisfy your hunger. Being aware of the pitfalls of holiday drinks and strategies to avoid the extra calories will help you manage your weight loss throughout the festive holiday season.



Contact the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers to create your weight loss plan for the holiday season.

4 Types of Kitchen Gadgets for Fun Meals

We all know that making meals at home is of paramount importance when it comes to sticking to your weight loss goals. The kitchen becomes the most important room in the house. We can guarantee that our meals aren't packed with mystery ingredients, excess salt or sugar.

Sometimes we need a little help. Some of us aren't comfortable in the kitchen. Some of us are pressed for time. Some of us know the challenge of creating visually appealing meals that the entire family will devour as well as creating great tasting healthy meals.

Luckily, there are tools for meal preparation in the beginning stages of cooking as well as the final touches before serving, tools and appliances for cooking, tools for portion control, storage and access to help us out. It's a gadget-lover's paradise.

Tools for Prepping before Cooking or Serving
                                        • superb quality sharp knives
                                        • peeler
                                        • spiral slicer
                                        • apple divider
                                        • garlic press
                                        • mini chopper for vegetables
                                        • citrus zester or grater
                                        • herb-grinding mill
                                        • immersion blender
                                        • salad spinner
                                        • pasta measure
                                        • oil mister
Tools for Cooking
                                        • measuring spoons and cups
                                        • slotted spoons
                                        • cast iron skillet
                                        • roasting pans with grates
                                        • non-stick cookware
                                        • steamer
                                        • pressure cooker
                                        • muffin tin
                                        • fat-separating pitcher
Appliances
(Some tools have appliance versions, and some appliances have multiple options)
                                        • steamer
                                        • rice cooker
                                        • slow cooker
                                         • dehydrator
                                        • pressure cooker
                                        • toaster oven
                                        • blender
                                        • food processor
                                        • juicer
                                        • popcorn popper
                                        • microwave
                                        • soda maker
Other Items
                                        • food scale
                                        • instant read thermometer
                                        • smaller plates
                                        • smaller glasses
                                        • dishes already at certain measuring cut sizes for eating
                                        • herb keeper
                                        • clear storage containers for food prep or leftovers
When you have gadgets like these handy, meal prep becomes much more interesting. It can become a family activity for healthier eating. Contact your weight loss guides at the Metabolic Medical Centers to discuss incorporating a interesting recipes with the helpful kitchen tools into your new healthy eating lifestyle.

3 Aspects of Weight Loss During Holiday Travel

There's the holidays. And then there is traveling. And then.... there is traveling during the holidays.

These can be wonderful times. And stressful times.
 
And when you are on a weight loss program, either can be challenging, but when you add holidays and travel, it can be downright intimidating, especially when holidays largely center around food-related events.

So let's separate out the three areas of concern: travel itself, accommodations, and holiday festivities.

Travel
Whether you fly, drive, or take a train or bus, holiday travel can often be fraught with stress like storms causing delays, intense traffic, and connections that fall within a tight time window. 

Even on the best of traveling experiences, holiday delays make sticking to your regular eating schedule important. If you are going to miss meals, having appropriate snacks to get you through the day are important. It starts with what you pack. Depending on your mode of travel, you may be able to carry more snacks.

Luckily, the food industry has caught on to the trend of providing healthy options: food manufacturers produce snack sized portions that are available in convenience stores in gas stations and airports. These stores also offer healthier fresh items in their grocery sections, including fresh fruit, boiled eggs, yogurt, or prepared salads.

Or if you elect to stop somewhere for some fresh food, choose places that let you build your own meal and heap on the fresh vegetables: sandwich shops, deli counters, Mexican fresh-fast food locales, frozen yogurt shops with fresh fruit toppings (for your sweet tooth).

Accommodations
So where are you going to visit? And who are you staying with? Are friends and family putting you up? Or is a hotel in your future?

Family accommodations can come with some cramped quarters when it comes to sleeping arrangements. But something to consider with your weight management plan is to ask for some room in the refrigerator and the pantry for your food items. This is becoming more common, particularly for those with a food intolerance or allergy as well as food lifestyle choices.

But if you're staying in a hotel, then you may be able to make some use of those hotel refrigerators. A trip to the local grocery store will help you stock up on healthy snacks that you would usually have at home such as yogurt and hummus. Another boon to charging a room is choosing a hotel that has accommodations for your exercise needs like a fitness or pool center.

Holiday Festivities
And then comes all the holiday festivities: the traditional sit-down dinner; escaping to the local watering hole for some drinks; the array of sweets left out to be grazed upon throughout the day; checking out a new restaurant that's opened with old friends, among others.

Feasting
Your regular holiday feasting guidelines apply. Pick the healthier options, select small portions, ask if someone has experimented with making a healthier version, indulge with a smaller portion of your favorite, stay hydrated with low-calorie holiday drinks.
 
Restaurant eating follows your same non-holiday mantra: ASK ASK ASK. What are the preparation methods, ingredients? Can you have substitutions, extra vegetables? Are you new to the area? Try some locally sourced fresh foods you may not have at home.  

Family Affairs
If your family does a buffet, then you're in luck. You can scope the offerings to put on your smaller plate. The sit-down dinner table meal may be more challenging as some family will simply add things to your plate. Everyone has that one family member trying to fatten everyone up, and to get everyone to take something home. If you're not comfortable sharing your weight loss goals with your family, prepare yourself to graciously decline the offerings.

Lively activities
Don't forget to incorporate some fitness into your holiday. Seek out activities that make you move. Help your host with a little house cleaning. Take the stairs. Walk as much as you can: take to the local walking trails, scope out changes in the neighborhood, even get in some holiday shopping. Join or start a family activity like flag football, ultimate frisbee, ice skating, or building a snowman. If you're in a hotel, take advantage of their fitness center or pool facility. Keep a mini-workout plan that doesn't require any equipment; and if you have a quiet moment, fit the workout in.
Holiday travel and holiday feasting provide ample opportunities for community and fellowship, as well as potential pitfalls for your weight loss goals. Contact your weight loss experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers set up your weight loss plan for your holiday travels and feasts.


Healthy Holiday Family Recipes: Ingredient Substitutions

The holiday season is here. You’r probably looking forward to a multitude of family gatherings, filled with some good old-fashioned home cooking.

It’s those few times of year that family recipes will once again be the centerpiece of family dinners.

You know… The sacred family recipes…

The ones you may not be able to make because there is a hierarchy in the family kitchen. No one makes it as good as Grandma. Or the recipe is five-generations old, and put together from memory. And you have to use the same ingredients and follow the age-old preparation methods and the special family pans to make the recipes.
What if you need healthy options for your holiday family feast? While you always have the stand-by portion control strategy, it can be difficult when it’s your favorite dish or those certain family members keep encouraging you to eat more or there is so much to sample.

If you have the opportunity to contribute to the family feast with a traditional family recipe, then you also have the opportunity to make a healthy version. You may chose to make a healthy version on the sly and see if anyone notices the difference; but if you want the family to embrace a healthier version you may want to let them know or make both versions for a family taste test.
Luckily, healthier versions of traditional recipes are becoming quite the trend. It all starts with substituting some key ingredients.

Some of them you already know, because you see the options every time you go to the grocery store:
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Fresh or frozen fruit and vegetables
  • Egg whites
  • Herbs and spices
  • Leaner meat
  • Healthy oils 
  • Reduced-fat or fat-free,reduced-salt/sugar versions of prepared foods
Collards with
But what about some of those more complex recipes with a variety of ingredients that may need an unusual substitution….
  • no-sugar- added applesauce for oil and butter
  • evaporated or coconut milk for cream
  • cocoa powder and oil for baking chocolate
  • flavored extracts (vanilla, almond, peppermint) instead of sugar
  • nut or whole grain flour instead of white flour
  • rolled oats for bread crumbs
  • nutrient dense greens instead of iceberg lettuce
  • vegetable substitutes like zucchini noodles for pasta or cauliflower mash for  potatoes
  • flavored vinegars for salad dressing
  • merengue for frosting
  • cacao nibs for chocolate chips
  • nutritional yeast for cheese
  • pureed avocado for butter
  • fresh salsas for jar sauces
Avocado-Cocoa Brownies
Like ingredient substitutions at any other time of the year there are plenty of options when it comes to to making new traditional healthy family recipes.

In the meantime, your weight loss advisors at the Metabolic Medical Centers can help you with your weight loss strategies for all the other events of your holiday feasting season.

Eating Habits in the Workplace: 3 Arenas of Influence

The workplace is a unique place. We spend quite a lot of time there. It is the source of our livelihoods, and as such should contribute to a healthy and happy life.

To be a productive in our employment, we need to have the energy to complete our tasks to the best of our abilities. To get that energy, we need to maintain healthy eating habits throughout the workday. The structure of our working environment can have a significant impact on our eating habits in our physical work environment, our daily work schedule, and food availability.

Work Environment: What does your workplace look like? 
Do you work in an office building or in a manufacturing plant?  Are there vending machines or water fountains? Do you have access to a coffee maker, a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster oven? Is there a break room? Or a cafeteria? Is there outdoor seating? Are these things areas provided by your company? Are they shared among businesses and/or departments in the same building?
Work Schedule: How does your workday flow? 
Do you have scheduled breaks or lunch times? Are you able to snack throughout the day? Do you bring your lunch or purchase what is available? If you stay at the office for lunch, how often do you eat at your workstation, if permissible? How often do you go out to lunch? Or get to leave the office on a coffee run? Do you work longer shifts less days a week or shorter shifts more days a week? Do you work swing shifts or night shifts? Do you work overtime? How often?
Food freebies. What food is available?
Does the office regularly provide like coffee and tea with creamers and sweeteners, or snacks and sodas for the employees? Do your colleagues bring something to share, like some homemade dessert or refilling the candy bowl on their desk? Do your colleagues bring or sell treats on behalf of their child’s school fundraiser? In routine meetings is there food available? Does your office sponsor events or trainings that are regularly catered?
Does any of this sound familiar? For as much as your work and your workplace is part of your life, it can profoundly impact your eating habits.

Whether you are trying to maintain your good eating habits or you are working with weight loss specialists to develop a daily regimen, it is important to factor in aspects of your work environment into your plan.

You will need to ask yourself what you do or do not have control over, and how to manage your work situation and your eating habits.

For example, some people may be able eat at their workstation depending on the nature of the work. Having healthy snacks may work in their eating routine. Having access to a refrigerator and/or microwave means that you can bring a greater variety of options for healthy lunch and snack alternatives.
What about at other times? Do you make healthy choices for yourself like when you buy your lunch, select something from the vending machine, walk by your colleague’s candy dish, choose the healthier options from catered office events?

If you are working to adapt, you could always as your colleagues to be supportive of your weight loss goals, or even petition your employer to provide healthier options and spearhead a movement to create a company wellness program.

As you navigate your workplace environment and work schedule, let the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers help you make healthy food choices.

Weight Loss Toolkit: 5 Steps of Food Journaling

Have you ever had some major thing that you’ve always wanted to do, but it seemed impossible? There were so many different things you could do to make it happen, but you weren’t sure how to start? What tools you would need to help make it happen? Which method or combination of methods was best for you? How to break down the sections into manageable stages for completion?

Weight loss and weight maintenance are definitely two major challenges where you may need several tools to help you achieve your goals.

One of the first things that you can do in preparing yourself mentally for weight loss is to start a food journal. Think of your food journal as that beginning research on yourself. You have to know your current status to help make your game plan to achieve your weight loss goals.
Now, a food journal can be an intimidating prospect in and of itself; but it doesn’t have to be.

The first thing to ask yourself is what role is the food journal will play in your weight loss journey.

Before you get started, there are some things to keep in mind about food journals:
• The food journal is not the end-game. It is a tool to help you achieve your goals. It is not designed to be a long term activity.
• Like any activity, you have to keep at it for the time frame that you are doing it.
• It can downright scary to admit to yourself the things you are consuming. 
Now, how to make a food journal work for you:

1. Format.
Choose a format you that jives well with your personality and your lifestyle. An old school pen and notebook works just as well as taking notes or a picture with your phone. The easier you make it to record your consumption, the more likely you will document what you eat and drink.
2. Frequency
Pick your tracking frequency. Some of us are better at recall than others. You could incorporate your food journal into your nighttime routine with your notebook on the nightstand; or you may be better at taking care of things as they happen.

3. Track everything
Sometimes you don’t want to admit that we swiped that fun-sized candy bar from the receptionist’s candy dish (or three times during the day because it’s your favorite). Did you forget about that late afternoon grande special flavor latte with whipped cream? What about all those food sample stations that are cropping up in the grocery stores? Food can come at us from all angles. How often do you succumb to the temptation for a tasty morsel?
4. Details.
Decide how detailed you want to be. The more information you that you make note of can help you and your  weight loss advisors make the best plan for you. These extra details are often best recorded immediately rather than waiting for an end-of-the-day recall. These can include things like
          • ingredients (especially the contents of those additional condiments)
          • portion sizes
          • nutrition information tracking (calories, carbs, fat, fiber)
          • time of day
          • how hungry you are
          • emotions (before, during, and after eating)
          • exercise
          • medications
          • other medical tracking (blood sugar levels, allergy identification)
5. Review and reflect
It is time for the moment of truth. What have you been eating? How often? Why? What trends do you see? While reviewing your food journal with your weight loss experts (goingmetabolic.com) is not mandatory for them to develop the next steps in your weight loss goals, it can help you and them identify potential problem areas you may have.
Studies from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, have found that participants who use food journals lose more weight than participants who did not. With food journaling comes awareness of your what you eat, how often you eat, and why you eat.

So, can a food journal help you lose weight? That depends on you. A food journal is merely one tool  in your toolkit to help you on your weight loss journey. You can start out slow with documenting just what you eat and drink. You can add more details later. Your food journal can inform you of some of your more unconscious behaviors like overeating, as well as help you incorporate and more weight loss strategies into your routine like meal planning or incorporating exercise.

Remember, your food journal is not the end game. Weight loss is your goal and the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers can get you there.



4 Weight Management Strategies for the Upcoming Holiday Feasting Season

Let the Feasting Season Commence! 
You may think it’s a little early, it’s never too soon to think about Thanksgiving.

With Halloween just barely past, you’re probably still in your Halloween candy management mode. As the unofficial start of the holiday feasting season with a primary focus on store-bought candy, you might not be thinking of the next big event.

Luckily you have plenty of time to think about your Thanksgiving strategy. But it’s not just about Thanksgiving, is it? Think of all the holiday parties coming up in December. Then a New Years Eve and New Years Day festivities.
Folks often gain one to seven pounds over the course of the holiday season. Even more alarming is that much of the weight stays permanently. Repeat this cycle, year after year, and the weight gain during the holidays becomes a national pastime.
Holiday weight gain has become a national pastime.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. With all of the delicious temptations, including decadent desserts, interesting appetizers, holiday cocktails, and traditional comfort foods, it’s time to take back the holidays: instead of thinking of the holidays in terms of weight gain, it’s time to focus on weight maintenance and weight loss:

1. Plan ahead. 
    • Before any holiday events start filling your calendar, take a proactive approach to your weight
       management.
    • Make your daily and weekly meal plan menus.
    • Integrate more fitness into your daily routine.
2. Review your social commitments
    • Keep your calendar in constantly in sight.
    • As your calendar fills up with social engagements, you can see where you will need to adapt
       your meal planning strategy.
    • Incorporate holiday fitness activities like a Turkey Day or Reindeer Run into your holiday season.
    • Add charity activities in the spirit of the season, such as Angel Tree Gift giving, caroling, or
       volunteering at a local shelter.

3. General Tips. 
    Like all general weight management strategies, there are certain opportunities where you will have
    more control than others.
    • If you are providing the main meal or bringing a side dish, you can opt for healthier recipes.
    • Use smaller plates.
    • Make healthy choices (especially from the buffet table).
    • Select low calorie drinks.
    • Stop when you are full.
4. Day-of Strategies.
    Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve, New Years Day. These
    particular days within the holiday feasting season can be daunting.
    • Eat breakfast. Even a small breakfast will help you manage your hunger.
    • Whether you are celebrating the entire day at home or visiting multiple friends and family, space
       out your courses with other activities: a board game after the appetizers, a family football game
       before the main course, a walk through the neighborhood after dinner, a drive to enjoy the
       holiday lights after dessert.
With the help from the experts at Metabolic Medical Centers you can confidently make this holiday season a happy one, and most importantly, a healthy one.


Surprising Links Among Stress, Sleep, and Your Weight

Stress and sleep are often overlooked but fundamental components in weight management.

Sleep.
Stress.
Weight Management.

They are all connected.

Your body is comprised of many chemical processes that ebb and flow throughout the day. You are given cues for when you are hungry and full, when to fall asleep and to wake up, when you need a surge of energy and when your body needs to slow down.

Many of these chemical processes are regulated by the dispersal of our hormones and neurotransmitters, and often occur in relation to one another.

But when any of these cycles are disrupted, your body will make adjustments to attempt to bring itself back into balance. However, when your body is unsuccessful, it creates a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc not only on your body, but also on your mental state, your interactions and relationships with others.

Remember, just because you're sleeping doesn't mean that your body isn't working to put itself back into optimum health.
Your sleep can often be disrupted by stress, which is another detrimental factor in weight management.

Stress can be divided into two camps:
  • internal biological stressors: undiagnosed medical issues that tax basic bodily functions, like insulin production or thyroid disorders
  • external stressors that affect our mental and emotional states: child care, financial burdens, parent care, committing to too many activities
When stress affects your sleep patterns, then the sleep deprivation can affect your ability to handle stress the next day. Left unattended, these two elements can continue to feed each other in an endless loop, and trigger more metabolic processes that will affect your cognitive behaviors and therefore your physical choices.

Here are some hormones and neurotransmitters that work together to regulate are bodily functions:

     • Cortisol will wake you up, give you a boost of energy, and diminish throughout the day.
     • Melatonin triggers the body to rest and sleep and diminishes through the night.

     • Adrenaline provides an immediate surge of energy as a fight or flight response to stress.
     • Cortisol increases the flow of energy as a fight or flight response to stress at a slower pace than
        adrenaline.
     • Insulin allows energy to be transported into cells for storage and out of cells for consumption.

     • Grhelin triggers hunger.
     • Leptin indicates satiety or fullness.

     • Serotonin regulates your mood in response to anxiety.
     • Dopamine relates to your impulse control.

If any of these are unfamiliar to you, not to worry. When your body is in balance, they are functioning as designed. However, if any of these, or any other metabolic processes, are disrupted, your behavior may have altered in compensation.
One of the biggest responses to a lack of sleep and stress is overeating and drinking. Not only is the quantity a major factor, but the quality of your comfort food and beverages. Your body will crave things high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. It is difficult not to  succumb to the hunger cravings. Later we may feel the physiological reactions to consuming the unhealthy food, and feel regret and frustration about it.

Often this unhealthy eating is coupled with  sedentary activities like extensive amounts of screen time on a variety of devices, which,if left unchecked, can lead to significant weight gain. Then we get another night of bad sleep. Susan Zafarlotfi, PhD, clinical director of the Institute for Sleep and Wake Disorders at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey makes this comparison:
Sleep debt is like credit card debt. If you keep accumulating credit card debt, you will pay high interest rates or your account will be shut down until you pay it all off. If you accumulate too much sleep debt, your body will crash.
As each individual is chemically unique, your body will respond differently to different stressors, sleep patterns, and behavioral reactions. When these cycles become chronic, or the new normal, you may be at risk for even more health problems.

Recognizing that you have fallen into a sleep-stress cycle is your first step to making changes in your lifestyle. As you investigate the biological or social factors that have prompted this descent, the experts at Metabolic Medical Centers can help you determine your best course of action for proper nutrition and meal management to bring you back into peak health.

Combatting Olive Oil Fraud

Olives. 

Olives are often an acquired taste. Found in relatively dry coastal climates, olives propagate throughout the Mediterranean region, the dry Pacific coast of North and South America and Australia, as well as some temperate climates in New Zealand and Wales, and even in some desert climates with the help of irrigation.
As one of the most prolific fruit crops in the world, olives are also one of the most extensively cultivated. Olive trees have been referenced in Ancient Greek and Roman writings as well as Hebrew, Christian, and Islamic texts. More important than the fruit itself, olives are valued for the oil they produce.  
But there is a major controversy in the olive oil world. Unfortunately, this controversy is not new. It has been happening for over a millennia. It is a case of fraud. Olive oil fraud. Olive oil fraud relating specifically to a extra virgin olive oil. The most recent controversy affecting the olive oil industry involves the Italian mafia and the Italian production of extra virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil is defined as the first pressing of an olive harvest and contains no additives.

Olive oil producers may dupe us in a few different ways:
          •  mixing lower grade olive oil with some extra virgin olive oil
          • combining other kinds of seed oils, like sunflower oil, with drops of chlorophyll and beta-carotene with
             extra virgin olive oil
          • outright counterfeit olive oil: soy, hazelnut, fish oils mixed with olive-pomace oil (made from the olive
             skins)
Then the olive oil is often knowingly mislabeled, and occasionally spoiled by the time it comes to market. According to an article in Forbes Magazine, many multinational commercial forces across multiple industries, lax governmental oversights, and underfunded or corrupt food inspection agencies worldwide mislead consumers into purchasing inferior products at higher prices that may also have severe health repercussions, in regards to food allergies as well as spoiled goods.
So what can we do?
Experts at the UC Davis Olive Center believe that education is the key:

  • What are you using the olive oil for? Cook with mid-priced oil, If it’s cooking, a lower grade oil is best. Extra virgin olive oil is better for drizzling over fresh breads, cheeses, and vegetables.
  • Know the source. If you can purchase olive oil locally or directly from a producer online, you avoid potential deceit from the larger food corporations and any middlemen.
  • If you can’t purchase locally or directly, demand that your grocery stores purchase properly labeled and verifiable olive oil.
  • Look for containers that combat the enemies of olive oil: heat and light. These containers will be made of dark colored glass or tin, or will have a label that will cover most of the bottle.
  • Examine the label. What should you look for on a label?
          • Origin: not only of a country, but also a specific region
          • Harvest date: the further away the two-year date is, the fresher the oil is
          • Date of bottling
          • Cultivators - olive varieties used
          • Seal of quality


  • Pay attention to price. Think of the premium price as a reflection of a craft or artisanal movement, where each variety is tended and produced with the highest expectations of quality and care.
  • Keep in a cool, dark location to maintain freshness.
  • Purchase in small quantities. Treat extra virgin olive oil as a luxury item to be savored and appreciated, but also to be enjoyed during its peak freshness.

If olive oil, in any form, is a part of your household meal preparation and consumption, then selecting the best possible products for you and your family is paramount.

Consult with the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers on olive oil use and consumption as it relates to your weight management goals.

Beware of Lurking Hidden Sugars!

Oh, sugar! Friend and foe!

Our bodies break down food into the simplest form of sugar, glucose, to provide energy.

Many of our foods already contain naturally occurring sugars. Think of your fruits: grapes, apples, peaches, blueberries…
Regular sugar comes in many forms that you’ve probably seen in various aisles of your local grocery store: refined white sugar, light and dark brown sugar, raw sugar, powdered sugar, molasses, and others. These are sugars that you consciously add to your foods.
In addition to these sugars, there are other sweeteners that you may also regularly use as an alternative: honey, agave, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and other natural or synthetic artificial sweeteners.

But there are also hidden sugars in your foods. Food manufacturers often use sugar as a filler and a binding agent in the recipes. If you purchase prepackaged foods, then most likely you are consuming hidden sugars.

Obvious examples include soda, cookies, candy, and other desserts. But what about other things that you eat: ketchup, barbecue sauce, salad dressing, spaghetti sauce, salsa, energy drinks, canned or bottled coffee or tea, frozen dinners, cereals, pastas, granola, flavored yogurt, dried fruit.
So how do you know if there are hidden sugars in your foods? If it is prepackaged or already prepared foods, you can assume that there are hidden or added sugars.

While the USDA Dietary Guidelines and the Choose My Plate do not address sugars, the American Heart Association recommends the following daily sugar consumption not to exceed  the following:
Female 100 calories 6 teaspoons 24 grams
Male 150 calories 9 teaspoons 36 grams
When tracking your sugar consumption, you must factor in the hidden sugars in your food choices. This will mean reading nutrition labels. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  has conducted extensive research which has resulted in a revision of nutrition labels to include an added sugar category.
Food manufacturers have 2-3 years to comply with updating their nutrition labels. In the meantime, how will you identify added sugars: examine the ingredients list on the nutrition label. While natural sugars aren’t listed, below are some common sugar or sweetener terms:


Sugar Terms Technical or scientific sugar terms
(usually with “sugar” or “syrup”) (ending in  -ose or -ide)
brown sugar dextrose
cane sugar fructose
raw sugar lactose
beet sugar maltose
confectioners sugar galactose
corn syrup sucrose
high fructose corn syrup ribose
malt syrup saccharose
rice syrup glucose
monosaccharide
disaccharide
polysaccharide

Sugar Alcohols Artificial Sweeteners
erythritol Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet, Canderel)
glycol Acesulfame-K (Acesulfame potassium)
glycerin Saccharin (Sweet-n-Low
iditol Sucralose (Splenda)
isomalt Stevia* (Sweetleaf, Truvia)
lacitol *Stevia is natural in its raw form, but is often contains other fillers)
maltitol
mannitol
ribotol
sorbitol
xylitol

With the excessive amounts of hidden sugars and sweeteners in our foods, our bodies have been trained to crave sweeter foods. This can be detrimental to our overall health by creating an biological addiction which can lead to other devastating health issues such as diabetes and liver failure.
Grocery Store Golden Rule:  If it’s pre-made or prepackaged, it probably has added sugars. 
Contact the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers to discuss your personal sugar consumption levels, and to determine the best course of action to reduce your sugar intake.




See How Easily You Can Manage Halloween Candy and Weight Loss!

When we have thoughts of the holidays, it usually centers around the feast that is Thanksgiving, and all the holiday parties associated with Christmas and New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

But then there’s the unofficial start to the holiday feasting season: Halloween!
The sheer amount of candy bombarding us as Halloween approaches can weaken our resolve in maintaining our weight loss regime. There are several strategies that you can employ prior to, during and after Halloween to combat the sugar onslaught:

Pre-Halloween

  • Wait to purchase candy on Halloween.
  • Purchase less candy.
  • Purchase candy you don’t like or more healthy options or novelty items instead.
  • Stay up-to-date on candy recalls.
  • Plan or participate in a Halloween event: a party where you control the food choices, a haunted house, pumpkin picking,  a corn maze, a charity 5-10K walk/run, a Halloween- or horror-movie night.


  • Make a pact with someone for accountability: pieces per day, photographing all of your food, days to indulge, physical activities.
  • Post your intentions publicly, and ask for support.
  • Take your measurements in advance so that you can watch your progress.
  • Maintain your healthy meals and exercise regime.


On Halloween
For both you and your children

  • Eat a sensible meal before trick-or-treating.
  • Turn trick-or-treating into a workout:
    • Walk instead of drive through the neighborhoods.
    • Track your progress with a pedometer.
    • Make it a workout game: a house with a pumpkin, do 10 jumping jacks; a house with a witch, 10 alternating lunges; a house with spider webs, 10 squats.


  • Select a more form-fitting costume to help show off your dedicated hard work to maintaining a healthy body.
  • Chew gum to curb your sweet tooth, allow yourself one piece of candy every few blocks; or bring the sweet treats recommended by your weight management plan.
  • Take water or a low-calorie drink.
  • Leave the pillowcase at home. Use a smaller container for candy collection, and stop when it is full.
  • If you’re in charge of handing out candy, let the last trick-or-treater take what’s left. Or if you are passing out novelty items, donate them to a local teacher.


Post-Halloween:

  • Sort and trade your loot according to what you like.
  • Hide the candy jar.
  • Limit the number of pieces daily you will allow yourself and your children to have.
    • Pick your 10 favorite pieces and give the rest away.
    • Set a candy dump date.
    • Divvy out your candy into smaller bags, with a week’s worth of your daily allotment. Go through one bag per week.
    • Freeze your candy. It will force you to eat the pieces more slowly. No one wants to crack a tooth.
  • Savor your candy eating experience with a slow, mindful consumption.
  • Know what 100 calories of candy looks like.


  • Keep the wrappers out to keep track of how many pieces you’ve eaten.
  • Participate in the 80-second rule: do 80 seconds of physical activity like wall push-ups or squats, eat your piece of candy, then do 80 seconds of physical activity 90 minutes later. The candy will convert to energy which your muscles will use right then. Walking breaks are also helpful.
  • Replace the candy dish on your office desk with more healthy options, particularly if you are on a weight management plan that has its own recommended sweet treats.
  • Ask colleagues to help by making their candy dishes less visible.
  • Recover with your regular healthy meals and workout regime.


Since most of us do not exercise enough, the extra calories from sugar can sneak into not only a weight conundrum but also affect how our bodies process food for energy, and trigger our hormones for hunger, satiety, insulin production, and other metabolic processes.

Part of healthy Halloween snacking is acknowledging that we want to have some of those sweets. The plethora of candy placed in opportune locations throughout the stores makes it hard to resist. Then we have the specials we hear on the radio, see on tv, or posted at various restaurants. (Who isn’t interested in a pumpkin-spiced latte?)
Turning non-candy healthy options into eye-catching Halloween themed snacks can tap into our creativity, help us manage our sweet temptations, and prepare us for the holiday season.

Contact the specialists at the Metabolic Medical Centers to strategize your weight management for the upcoming holiday feasting season.

Advertising and Childhood Obesity

We have all been exposed to advertisements: interruptions in our daily television and radio programming, printed advertisements disrupting articles in newspapers and magazines, required viewing prior to watching videos online, large signage in stores, schools and on billboards, products placed strategically around a store, promotional giveaways, viral content, media tie-ins, downloadable content.
Many of us have been exposed to any and all of these advertising types since we were children. As technology and media continue to develop, companies have developed strategies to continue to put their products in front of consumers.

The most demonstrative example of this is in advertising towards children. What are the primary products advertised to children? Toys. Media. Food. Lots of food. Lots of unhealthy food: breakfast cereals, snack foods, candy, dairy products, baked goods, sweetened beverages, cold desserts, restaurant foods.
Public health experts and consumer advocates are becoming increasingly alarmed: 1 in 3 American children are overweight or obese. Children may experience coincidental social discrimination and psychological distress in addition to developing medical conditions that were previously only diagnosed in adults. These ailments can follow them into adulthood, and continue to tax an already overburdened healthcare system.
This makes food advertising and marketing towards children particularly controversial. While there are many contributing factors to childhood obesity, unhealthy food advertisements have been identified as a playing a separate and specific role. Studies have been conducted evaluating multiple aspects of food marketing as it relates to children:

  • the association between advertisements of unhealthy foods and childhood obesity rates
  • the amount of screen time (tv, computer, mobile) of children in different age groups related to placement, type, and frequency of advertisements
  • the media literacy rates of children in different age groups, including distinguishing programming from advertising, advertising intent, and impulse control as they relate to food purchasing and consumption.
  • the development of intergenerational brand loyalty
  • children’s repeated purchase requests after repeated advertisement exposure, which may influence parents’ purchasing habits
  • snacking behavior and its biological ramifications in relation to food advertisements
  • children’s behavior in establishing food habits (making their own food choices and purchasing power) during the critical stage of development: between ages 8-12
  • the use of technology to actively engage children in brand-related activities (online games, etc.)
  • federal, state, and local attempts to enact laws and regulations on the food industry
  • effectiveness of self-regulation within the food industry

So what can we do? As parents, we have several options from promoting healthy snacks and an active lifestyle to restricting screen time, being stalwart against repeated requests for junk food. Stepping outside of our families, we can advocate for change in our children’s schools or on a legislative level, create advertising promoting healthy food choices, push the food industry to increase their commitment and standards of self-regulation.

We all have to work together to combat childhood obesity. Contact the experts at the Metabolic Medical Centers for programs specifically designed for child and adolescent weight loss.