Healthy Strategies for the Holiday Party Season

Holiday parties may seem exciting enough to forgo healthy eating, but they aren’t as exciting as sticking to your eating plan and living a longer, healthier life. Work these tips into your party routine so that you can stick to your plan without missing a thing (other than calories you don’t need! Wink, wink).

There are plenty of party foods that are naturally low in calories and seem equally merry. Go for crudités, lean deli meats, chicken kebabs, salsa (instead of using chips, spoon up thicker salsa straight from your plate or with a piece of chicken), steamed asparagus, boiled shrimp, and grapes. On a cheese tray, go for lower-calorie selections such as soft goat cheese and feta, and consider skipping the crackers when eating hard cheeses.

It’s a good idea to have a strategy:

  • Eat your calories: An easy way to cut calories without thinking is just to watch the liquid calories. Each glass of wine can be over 100 calories, and that’s not to mention the spiced or chocolate drinks you may be tempted with on the side. Determine exactly how many glasses you want to enjoy before heading into the party so that you can plan accordingly. A pre-party workout can help you counterbalance a glass or two with little to no damage.
  • Balance is key: Try to balance out your plate with enough vegetables, protein, and whole grains. It helps to load the veggies on your plate first, then protein, so that you’re guaranteed to get enough nutrients without splurging on the first plate of carbohydrates you see. Remember that you can always go back for more.
  • Slow down: Holiday parties can actually help slow the pace of your eating because of all the excitement going on. Think about enjoying the flavors as well as your company with every bite.
  • Don’t save up: A lot of people out there will save their appetite before big nights so that they can enjoy more of the delicious food that’s being offered. Waiting too long to eat will not only send your body into starvation mode, but it will also shrink your stomach so that you feel full sooner when you do start to indulge. Eating throughout the day will maintain insulin levels and combat a possible dinner binge, so try to digest something every three hours.

If you are considering bariatric surgery, schedule an appointment at VIP Surg. Their expert team can help you find the perfect solution for you.

Celebrating vegan party at home

Give Thanks with a Healthy Lifestyle

If you’re trying to live healthily by exercising and eating right, the up-coming holiday season can pose some serious challenges. During any holiday—especially Thanksgiving—people have a lot of food put in front of them. Many times, it is way too much food for even the best of metabolisms to handle without putting on a few pounds. The question is, how do you enjoy the holidays without derailing your health goals?

During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined.

Here’s the thing — eating healthfully on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to skip all your favorite foods. If you’ve got your eating under control most of the time, go ahead and have a piece of pie — just don’t lose control entirely.

These tips can help you keep your willpower and your wits about you this Thanksgiving:

  • Stick to healthy portions. Fill up half your plate with vegetables, fruit, and a whole wheat roll, a quarter of it with mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes, and a quarter of it with turkey or ham. The more colorful your plate, the better – so get lots of leafy greens, carrots, bell peppers, and beets in your veggie selection. If you fill up on those lower caloric density and higher nutrition things, you’re going to feel full, but not bloated and tired.

It’s a holiday, so indulge a bit if your diet allows it. If you’re going to eat dessert, make sure you allot for the calories elsewhere – don’t go back for that second helping of marshmallow sweet potatoes; instead opt for the cranberry salad.

  • Eat before you indulge. Don’t starve yourself during the early part of Thanksgiving Day thinking that you’re saving room or that this will make it okay for you to overeat later. 

If you’re going to a Thanksgiving lunch, be sure to eat breakfast before. If you’re going to a dinner, be sure you eat lunch or have a snack in the afternoon. You should have your normal meals because whenever we get overly hungry, we tend to overeat.

  • Substitute healthy ingredients for unhealthy ones. There are plenty of ways to make Thanksgiving fare healthier. For mashed potatoes, consider mixing in chicken broth, herbs, or roasted garlic to perk up the flavor instead of adding in butter. For green bean casserole, swap out fried onions with toasted almonds for a less-fatty alternative, and instead of having cranberry sauce, opt instead to make a cranberry salad. 
  • Drink lots of water and take a walk after eating. Many times, when people think they are hungry, they are just thirsty. By drinking lots of water throughout the day, you’ll lower the risk of overeating. Keep in mind that alcohol not only has lots of calories, but it’s effects can also lower your willpower for keeping to your healthy lifestyle choices.

It’s also a good idea to take a walk after eating to get your metabolism going instead of lazing on the couch. Ultimately, you’ll sleep much better that night if you do a little exercise after eating rather that falling into a food coma.

All of us at VIPSurg wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving! We are here to help with your bariatric and general surgery needs.

Whole Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey

The Family that Plays Together Gets Healthy Together

Even though it gets tougher to find time for ourselves when we become parents, exercise remains just as important as it ever was. In fact, with little ones watching us as an example, exercise becomes even more important. If we as adults wish to create a future full of happy, healthy, disease-free adults for our kids, it’s time we start practicing what we preach.

Our kids model our behavior. If we want our kids to eat well, we need to eat well. If we want them to exercise, we need to exercise.

This modeling creates a culture of wellness in the home. In this environment, children learn that healthy habits are a positive way of life, not punishment for Mom and Dad for eating too much delicious food. One great way to be good exercise role models for your children is to find exercise activities you can do as a family. Here are some suggestions to get you started: 

  • Take a walk. Walking is a wonderful family activity. There are so many benefits to walking, and the whole family can participate (even the baby in her stroller and the family dog too). Whether you head into town or just cruise the neighborhood, building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that it won’t get put off.
  • Jump rope. Jumping rope is a kid-friendly exercise that is great for the whole family. In fact, kids usually dominate at this exercise once they get the hang of it thanks to their lower center of gravity. Just ten minutes of jump rope is enough to get the blood flowing, and with more than one person, it’s fun to learn all kinds of fun jumps.
  • Try structured exercise.There are many types of more structured exercises that can be done as a family. Some families like to take martial arts or yoga classes together. 
  • Try roller blading or biking. Head out as a family unit to try your hand at skating or biking. Both can be great exercise activities that are fun for any active family.
  • Get to work in the garden. Kids are great at digging up dirt, so let them turn over the soil and help you plant new bulbs. Research shows that gardening is as good as weight training when it comes to preventing osteoporosis, and if you’re planting vegetables, it can make them more appetizing to kids. 

When you’re planning your exercise routine, keep in mind that everyone in the family
needs to do this. Try to find activities that are fun and exhilarating for the entire group!

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Plan for the Perfect 4th of July

Sunshine! Barbecues! Fireworks! The big national day is coming, and who doesn’t love a good July 4th celebration? If you’re planning on hosting or even just attending any of the festivities, planning and preparation can go a long way toward being safe and healthy this Independence Day. The fun times of the 4th can be fraught with peril if you’re not careful, but don’t worry; we’ve got the best tips to make sure this is your best 4th of July ever.

  • Bring some earplugs. A report from Loyola University Health System found that the sounds of summer—such as fireworks and marching bands—can damage your hearing. In fact, fireworks have a sound decibel of 150, and ear protection is recommended for decibels above 85. When noise is too loud, it begins to kill the hair cells and nerve endings in the inner ear; the longer you’re exposed to loud noise, the more likely you are to permanently damage your hearing. Toss some plugs in your bag or use your hands to cover your ears in a pinch. 
  • Swim in clear water. Swimming is great exercise, and a super way to cool off when overheated; However, a good rule of thumb is to only dip into clear, good-smelling water. For lake goers, make sure there isn’t any blue-green algae, or slimy, smelly, green film floating on the lake’s surface. Some forms of this can produce toxic bacteria that’s bad news for your health. 
  • Practice smart and safe eating. Keep from throwing your diet to the (hot) dogs by choosing wisely. Try to fill up on the delicious fresh fruits and veggies of summer instead of high carb, high calorie picnic foods. Choose lean proteins like skinless, grilled chicken over fatty burgers or ribs, for example. Avoid food-borne illnesses by eschewing mayonnaise-based salads. Instead go for options with oil and vinegar-based dressings which are generally lower in calories and risk of spoilage. 
  • SPF in advance. Applying your sunscreen in advance—and reapplying frequently—means you can significantly improve your skin’s protection from harmful rays.  
  • Follow the heat & humidity rule. To keep from dehydrating, implement the 70/70 rule: When the temperature and humidity are both above 70, you enter the dehydration danger zone. Stay safe by sipping frequently from a water bottle and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after activity.
  • Alternate your alcohol. If you choose to have a cocktail or two, the safest way to consume them is to make sure you have plenty of food in your stomach and to alternate each cocktail with a non-alcoholic beverage like water or decaf soda to help stave off alcohol-induced dehydration.

With a bit of preparation, some thoughtful food choices, and common-sense summer safety, you can have a wonderful holiday celebration. And don’t deprive yourself of a treat! Just choose wisely to get the most “bang” for your calorie choice. Happy holiday planning from all of us at VIPSurg.

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Don’t Let Travel Derail Your Healthy Lifestyle

It’s summer, and for many, that means travel and vacation. While fun and exciting, leaving home takes one out of usual routines, places temptations in the way that aren’t usually there, and often makes it difficult to stick to a healthy eating and exercise plan. Do travel and living a healthy lifestyle have to be mutually exclusive? NO! Fortunately, having a wonderful vacation doesn’t have to mean sabotaging all your hard-earned diet and fitness progress. 

With a little planning and these helpful tips, you can come home from vacation feeling healthier than when you left. Preparation is key!

  • If you’re on the road, bring a cooler filled with delicious, healthy food, such as vegetables with hummus, fresh fruit, and grilled chicken. Pack water to keep you hydrated. Road trip picnics provide a great opportunity to add some activity and stretch those legs. Plan to find some place with a short walking trail or playground for a little respite from the car. 
  • Choose wisely when making quick food stops. Fast food restaurants fall short when you’re looking for a variety of healthy options. On the other hand, if you stop at a grocery store, you will find many whole foods like rotisserie chicken, whole-grain breads, fruits, and vegetables. If you happen to find one with a salad bar, you can find a delicious, healthy meal already prepared right in the supermarket.
  • If you are staying at a hotel, find a grocery store on the way to pick up healthy, appealing items to have in your room for when you need a snack. Otherwise, you might be tempted to hit the over-priced mini bar or vending machines for something you wouldn’t even want if you were home. 
  • Even though breakfast may come with your hotel room, use your best judgment at the buffet. Avoid pastries and baked goods. Choose simple, whole-food options. Fresh fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal are good ways to start your day. A little egg for a protein source can benefit you as well.
  • Travel offers many opportunities to be just as active, if not more so, than when you’re home. Walking on the beach, hiking in the mountains, swimming, touring new areas, and even shopping can all be counted toward your daily physical activities.
  • Keep in mind that rest and relaxation are healthy “activities” too. 

Treat yourself kindly while vacationing. If there are some foods that make your experience more special, you should indulge yourself. However, if you eat healthier and make wise food choices, you will have more energy to enjoy your vacation time and return home recharged and ready to continue your healthy lifestyle journey.

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Bariatric Surgery and Adolescents: Weighing the Risks Against the Benefits

The number of adolescents who are overweight or obese has leveled off in recent years, but unfortunately, the number who are severely obese — heavy enough to qualify for bariatric surgery — nearly doubled from 1999 to 2014. As a result, more doctors and parents are facing an extremely difficult dilemma: Should morbidly obese teenagers have bariatric surgery?

While surgery is the only thing that seems to work for these kids, the idea of weight-loss surgery for teens fills many parents and doctors with trepidation because we must weigh the benefits against the potential problems. Which is worse, risks from surgery or the likelihood of serious health risks from remaining obese?

An estimated three to four million adolescents are heavy enough to meet the criteria for bariatric surgery, but only about 1,000 teenagers per year undergo the surgery. Some medical centers will not perform it on teenagers, and many pediatricians never mention it to their heavy patients.

Obesity carries serious health risks in teenagers — including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, acid reflux, fatty liver and high cholesterol levels — that tend to be eased by surgery. Other health problems associated with obesity in teens include asthma, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and skin fungal infections.

Added to that are social and mental health problems, including isolation and depression. Obesity in teens is associated with significant mental and physical challenges.

According to the Surgeon General, overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. The likelihood increases to 80% if one or both parents are overweight or obese.

In the past, teenagers had two options:

  1. Lose weight by changing diet and exercise habits
  2. Live with current and future consequences of obesity

While the first option is ideal, unfortunately it is not effective for as many as 70% of teens who try it. However, as advances in weight loss surgery for adults have reduced complication and mortality rates, more teens – and their doctors – have begun exploring surgery as a valid option.

If you’d like to learn more about bariatric surgery options and if it might be right for you, contact us for a consultation. Visit https://bit.ly/2GePjXn for contact options and information.

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Health and the Holidays – How to Focus on Fun Not Food

Let’s face the facts here — most holidays are associated with certain foods. Our holiday gatherings usually revolve around an extravagant meal. Christmas at your house might not be the same without your aunt’s creamy corn casserole, but that doesn’t mean food has to be the main focus of the day. Instead, get into the other rituals a holiday brings.

Lead an Activity

We’re not suggesting you forgo or even minimize the importance of the holiday feast or traditional foods, but adding in some physical activity is something that’s good for the whole group. You can be creative, but here are some holiday themed activities to get everyone up and moving:

  • Caroling – who doesn’t love belting out a holiday tune? And what fun it is to hear people laughing outside (2)singing, open your door, and see a group of neighbors reveling in holiday spirit! Basically, this is a walk with plenty of stops for resting for those older or less fit among us.
  • Cut your own tree – Don’t buy a tree from a roadside lot where the trees have been drying out for weeks. Instead, visit a tree farm where you can cut your own. The tree will be fresher and often less expensive than they are at the lot. Also, you will burn calories (and fight some of the blood-sugar effects of the sweets you’ve been sneaking) by tromping around the grounds in search of the perfect tree. *Added bonus: Your family will have one more pleasant holiday memory to look back on of a lovely walk through a pine forest with loved ones.
  • Be inventive – nobody knows your family and friends better than you, right? Maybe a little friendly competition is in order. Perhaps your family enjoys a game of flag football or even musical chairs can get the heart pumping.

The point is — try to add some fun group activities that will get you and others moving.

Be Selective at the Table

Some of the more fattening or unhealthy choices on the table will be common foods that you could eat any time of the year. Opt instead for the holiday specialties if you want to “spend” your calories wisely.

  • Choose baked sweet potatoes over the cream and butter-laden mashed potatoes on the buffet.
  • Pour the gravy and sauces lightly. You may not be able to control what’s being served at a holiday meal, but you can make the turkey, roast beef, and even mashed potatoes and stuffing much healthier by skipping the sauce or gravy or ladling on just a small amount.
  • Indulge in only the most special holiday treats. Skip the store-bought baked goods, but do save some calories in your ‘budget’ to sample treats that are homemade and special to your family, such as your grandma’s special Yule log cake.

Teaching yourself what is worth indulging in and what to skip is much like budgeting your money: Do you want to blow it on mundane things that you can buy anywhere? Or do you want to spend it on a very special, one-of-a-kind souvenir? Don’t completely deprive yourself on festive days – your willpower will eventually be overwhelmed, and you’ll end up overeating.

All of us at VIP Surg wish you and yours a happy and healthy holiday season!