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For more information regarding the St. Elizabeth Weight Management Center, please call (859) 212-GOAL (4625).

Soda vs. Coffee
Need an energy boost? Before you choose your next caffeinated beverage, consider some health information about soda and coffee.

Many studies have shown benefits of moderate coffee consumption including increased cognitive function and possible disease protection. It has been suggested that coffee may decrease the risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Most healthy individuals may benefit from moderate daily intakes, up to three 8 ounce cups per day. People with hypertension, the elderly, or pregnant and nursing women may need to limit coffee consumption or check with their physicians first.

Unlike coffee, there are likely no health benefits of soda. Both regular and diet sodas have been linked to increased risk of obesity, which in turn is associated with higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and more. Excess soda intake can also lead to dental problems and a higher risk for osteoporosis. Most health experts suggest that even one soda per day is too much. Instead, try treating soda as you would dessert, and consume it on special occasions or for a treat.

Dry vs. Fresh Fruit
Fresh or dried produce? Ever wondered about the differences? There are benefits to both! Here are some things to consider.

Fresh produce is loaded with nutrients in its most natural state. However, some can be expensive, may spoil quickly or not be in season when you want it. Dried fruits and vegetables have a longer shelf life than fresh, are portable snacks and can also be high in nutrients like iron and potassium. But drying processes concentrate sugar and calories in the produce - good for athletes needing an energy boost, not so good if you’re watching your waistline!

Butter vs. Margarine

Margarine has been getting bad press lately due to its unnatural ingredients, trans fatty acids and hydrogenated oils. Is real butter better? Butter is natural with Vitamins A and D, but it has cholesterol and saturated fat. Both butter and margarine have about 100 calories per tablespoon with majority calories from fat. Using real butter is manageable if you are eating healthy and using it in moderation.

If you are going to use margarine, try the tubs or liquids made with healthy fats. For even better fats, use olive oil on your bread or for sautéing. Use canola oil for cooking or baking. Try nut butters, without added hydrogenated fats (natural) for a healthier spread. Experiment with avocados for a vitamin and fiber packed addition. With all fats, it's all about using them in moderation.

Whole Wheat vs. Whole Grain
“Whole wheat” and “whole grain” are not interchangeable terms. Whole wheat is a type of whole grain, just like a carrot is a type of vegetable. Whole grains include a wide variety of foods such as wheat, corn, oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, barley and rye. Whole grain consists of three parts: the endosperm, bran and germ. Refined wheat or "white" only includes the endosperm. A whole grain consists of the entire seed and its rich nutrients, including fiber. The refined grains or the “white” breads and pastas have little to no fiber.

Try and eat a least three whole grain products a day. When reading food labels, look for 100% whole wheat or whole grain as the 1st ingredient listed. Try new products such as 100% whole wheat pasta. Go for even trendier products such as quinoa, teff and freekah which pack lots of protein and nutrients.

Dangers of Fast Weight Loss
If you are an avid viewer of the Biggest Loser, you may have shared the sentiments people around the country felt as Rachel Frederickson stepped out for her final reveal. As the second to last person to weigh in, contestant after contestant had already wowed the crowd with their transformations. But, having gone out on her own to lose those final pounds before the finale, Rachel found herself underweight, or below the recommended BMI of 18, at 5’5” and 105 pounds.

This eye-opening transformation provides a clear lesson for the average American trying to lose weight at home. Because, while The Biggest Loser’s strenuous physical fitness and strict diet program work when medically supervised, they aren’t a rulebook for at-home weight loss. Here’s why:

It can be motivating to jump on the scale and see you’ve lost 5 or 6 pounds in a week when you’ve just started a new diet. But is that really safe? The first week, it is not uncommon to see a bigger weight loss. After that, a safe rate of weight loss is on average 2 pounds per week. In fact, sustained rapid weight loss can have some serious negative consequences like vitamin and mineral deficiencies, osteoporosis, gallbladder damage and sometimes even kidney failure. It can also increase your chances of developing an eating disorder.

Truthfully, continual rapid weight loss takes incredible effort with diet and exercise. This level of effort typically cannot be maintained long term. This can lead to regaining some or all of the weight lost and maybe even putting on more weight in the long run. In addition, when a person loses weight quickly, it probably is not all fat being lost, but also water and lean tissue. The bottom line is if you are following any extreme weight loss method, it should be medically supervised. Otherwise, a safe rate of weight loss through healthy diet and exercise is on average 0.5 to 2 pounds per week.

For a larger, printable version of this chart, please click here.

Which Salt Should I Choose?
Recently, Sea Salt has become very popular in restaurants and in processed foods. Sea salt has been promoted as a healthier choice due to the fact that sea salt is “all natural” and not processed like table salt. Therefore, manufactures and restaurants can place the “All Natural” claim on the packaging and menus.

Sea Salt is acquired through the evaporation process of seawater and under goes minimal processing. Because of this process, sea salt maintains minimal levels of minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium. However, these minerals are easily ingested through other food sources.

Table Salt is mined from salt deposits and then processed. During the processing all minerals are removed from the salt and additives may be incorporated to improve the texture. Iodine has been added to table salt since the early 1920’s to prevent goiter, which is caused by an Iodine deficiency. Sea salt contains trace amounts, if any , of Iodine.

Although both salts have many differences, one trait is quite similar: Both salts have equal sodium content. The bottom line: Salt is salt. So, when making a choice between table salt and sea salt, it really depends on personal preference.

How to Perk Up Your Salad

Which green do you choose when building your salad? Most people choose Iceberg lettuce, but there is a better choice. Dark-green leafy greens provide antioxidants which may help protect from cancer and slow aging. The darker the leaves the more nutrient-rich the lettuce. This makes romaine a better choice.

Greens also supply Folate, potassium and fiber. Although these vitamins and minerals can be found in both types of lettuce there are more per serving in romaine. Romaine also provides more than 10 times the Vitamin A than iceberg. Next time you are building a salad, making a sandwich or wrap choose romaine lettuce to receive the most nutritional benefit.

Tips for Taming Your Sweet Tooth

Humans are born with having a taste for sweets. Sweets are carbohydrates and they release serotonin in our brain that makes us feel calm, relaxed and happy for a short time. Occasional indulgences are fine, but many find it difficult to limit themselves to just a small amount. There are a few different things you can do to tame your sweet tooth:

  • Address and attend to your emotional needs before you reach for the candy bar. What you really need may be a helping hand, praise or a stress relief of some kind, instead of a treat.
  • Plan ahead so you are not indulging mindlessly.
  • When eating the sweet take your time to pay attention to the smell, texture and taste of it as thoroughly as possible.
  • Eat regularly, choose quality over quantity and mix sweets with other healthful items to help cut down on the quantity of sweets consumed.

What Body Mass Index (BMI) means and where you should be

BMI is used as a screening tool that estimates body fat as a measure of overweight and obesity.  It is a good gauge of your risk for diseases that can occur with more body fat. It is calculated from your height and weight. The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.

Underweight Below 18.5
Normal 18.5–24.9
Overweight 25.0–29.9
Obesity 30.0 and Above

To calculate your BMI, please click here.

Do's and Don'ts of Dieting

When trying to lose weight, the St. Elizabeth Healthcare Weight Management Center recommends that you follow these simple tips.


  • learn how to overcome a lapse
  • practice mindful eating
  • downsize portions
  • limit sugars, trans-fats, sodium and refined grains


  • look for a quick fix or engage in fad dieting
  • look at foods as good or bad
  • overlook the importance of daily exercise
  • expect to be perfect, lapses are normal

The Truth About Fad Diets

With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn't surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets and bogus weight-loss products. Conflicting claims, testimonials and hype by so-called "experts" can confuse even the most informed consumers. The bottom line is simple: If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. Some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can be dangerous and even deadly for some people.

So, as a rule of thumb, steer clear of any diet plans, pills and products that make the following claims:

Rapid Weight Loss
Slow, steady weight loss is more likely to last than dramatic weight changes. Healthy plans aim for a loss of no more than ½ pound to 1 pound per week. If you lose weight quickly, you'll lose muscle, bone and water. You also will be more likely to regain the pounds quickly afterwards.

Quantities and Limitations
Ditch diets that allow unlimited quantities of any food, such as grapefruit and cabbage soup. It's boring to eat the same thing over and over and hard to stick with monotonous plans. Avoid any diet that eliminates or severely restricts entire food groups, such as carbohydrates. Even if you take a multivitamin, you'll still miss some critical nutrients.

Specific Food Combinations
There is no evidence that combining certain foods or eating foods at specific times of day will help with weight loss. Eating the "wrong" combinations of food doesn't cause them to turn to fat immediately or to produce toxins in your intestines, as some plans claim.

Rigid Menus
Life is already complicated enough. Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, distasteful task. With any new diet, always ask yourself: "Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?" If the answer is no, the plan is not for you.

No Need to Exercise
Regular physical activity is essential for good health and healthy weight management. The key to success is to find physical activities that you enjoy and then to aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days of the week.

If you want to maintain a healthy weight, build muscle and lose fat, the best path is a lifelong combination of eating smarter and moving more. For a personalized plan, tailored to your lifestyle and food preferences, consult a registered dietitian with expertise in weight management. A registered dietitian can help you find a realistic, flexible eating style.

Best and Worst Breakfast Foods

Studies show that eating breakfast helps to establish a regular eating pattern that can help maintain a healthy weight, provide more energy and help meet nutrient needs! If knowledge is power, what should people know about choosing a healthy breakfast?

Best Breakfast Foods: Your Dietitian would encourage you to include both lean protein and fiber to stave off hunger and provide good energy for your morning routine.  It is best to pair your fruits and whole grains with lean protein instead of eating carbohydrates by themselves (i.e. bowl of cereal, toast, pancakes).  Healthy breakfast ideas:

  • Greek yogurt topped with mixed berries
  • Steel cut oats mixed with skim milk and melted peanut butter
  • Lite toast topped with peanut butter and apple slivers
  • Sunny side up eggs with sliced avocado
  • Turkey sausage (dipped in Sugar-free syrup), ½ banana and a glass of skim milk

Worst Breakfast Foods: Poor breakfast choices would contain high sugar, high carbohydrate content, and poor nutrient value. If you choose a pastry or sugary cereal, these items are digested quickly leaving you hungry in a short amount of time and often craving your next high sugar item for an energy boost. Poor choices include:

  • Doughnuts, pastries, poptarts, sugary cereals, muffins
  • Fast food breakfast sandwiches laden with fat and sodium
  • Pancakes or waffles with butter and syrup paired with a side of fried hash browns
  • Bagels and cream cheese (can add up to 500+)
  • High sugar cereal bar (i.e. granola bars, fruit in the middle bars) 
Equation for a Healthy Breakfast:

Lean protein + High Fiber + Whole Grains + Low Fat + Low Sugar = Healthy Breakfast

The Benefits of Exercise Balls

Exercise balls can be very beneficial, both as a seating device and as a therapy tool. They are frequently used as part of therapy, with both children and adults, to work on increasing balance, increasing core strength, increasing range of motion and flexibility and improving postural control.

When used as a seating system, exercise balls can increase postural awareness and help to prevent slouching. Because an exercise ball provides a dynamic surface rather than a static surface, use of an exercise ball rather than a chair can increase the overall level of alertness and attention, which could be very beneficial in a school setting.



The Effects of Energy Drinks?

You may like the effects of energy drinks but they can have their problems too. The boost from caffeine in these drinks may increase nervousness, insomnia, indigestion, rapid heartbeat and increase in blood pressure especially for heavy caffeine users (more than 500-600 mg per day from all sources) and those sensitive to caffeine. The sugar in energy drinks could contribute to weight gain and the feeling of energy is short-lived. Energy drinks are not recommended for those with heart disease, high blood pressure, pregnant or nursing women.  If you choose energy drinks use only occasionally and limit to 16 oz/day. Consider other ways to battle chronic fatigue such as adequate sleep, regular physical activity and a healthy diet.

Does Muscle Weigh More Than Fat?

Has anyone ever told you that muscle weighs more than fat? This is false! The reality is that muscle is denser than fat and takes up less room in your body. By volume muscle appears to weigh more, but the reality is a pound is a pound is a pound.  Understanding the density of muscle brings light to the fact that the scale might not be change, however you continue to reduce your belt size. Pay attention to your clothing and take the scale with a grain of salt.

Importance of Exercise

Fitness guidelines by the World Health Organization recommend that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days a week. This can include brisk walking, bike riding, water aerobics, etc. Exercising regularly helps reduce the risk of disease, builds muscle and promotes overall physical and mental well-being. Although a half-hour of exercise is the standardized recommendation, any fitness professional will tell you that something is always better than nothing!

Tips to Stay Healthy Despite a Busy/Active Lifestyle

In hectic times, healthy habits often take a backseat to other responsibilities. Eat right with a busy lifestyle by:

  • Keeping healthy snacks like baby carrots, string cheese, granola bars, and apples on-hand at home, work or in the car.
  • Stocking your freezer with veggies for healthy side dishes at dinner and unsweetened fruit for fast, nutritious additions to breakfast smoothies.
  • Spending 15 minutes before your grocery trip planning quick, healthy meals to prepare on busy nights, to avoid fast food runs.
  • Baking or grilling extra chicken or lean beef one night to add to salads or tacos later that week.


What is a Gluten-free diet?

A gluten-free diet excludes gluten, a protein found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Gluten can also be found as an additive in many processed foods. Patients with celiac sprue or gluten intolerance need to avoid these common foods as well as foods that use it as an additive.

Foods that are naturally gluten-free are unprocessed beans, seeds, nuts, eggs, fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and dairy.

If you are following a gluten-free diet, read labels, avoid certain grains, check oral medicines/supplements, use naturally gluten-free foods and grains and investigate the wide variety of gluten-free specialty foods for a balanced diet.

Organic vs. Natural

Picking out produce, poultry and prepackaged goods in the grocery story is no longer as simple as checking the firmness of a plum or the label for the number of calories. Now it’s a matter of debating between organic, natural or your everyday, processed product. So what’s the difference? Will your decision affect the health of your family?

Here’s what you need to know:

Product labeling regulations are overseen by The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Due to an increase in interest in natural and organic products, the government has begun to regulate the use of these terms.

An organic food must be grown without the use of any synthetic fertilizer or pesticide, antibiotics, irradiation, genetic engineering or growth hormones. When it comes to prepackaged products: 
  • They may only be labeled certified organic if 100% of the ingredients are organic.
  • If the product contains 95% organic ingredients, it is labeled organic.
  • If the product is only 70% organic, it is considered “made with organic ingredients.”

Natural foods have no legal or federal supervision, nor are they defined by any law or criteria. Generally, a natural food is an item that has not been altered chemically or synthesized – except for poultry and other meats. Meat and poultry labeled natural cannot contain:

  • Artificial flavors
  • Colors
  • Preservatives
  • Sweeteners

In addition, processing must be kept to a minimum. When purchasing meat labeled natural, you will find an explanation of why that product classifies as such. However, it does not indicate anything about the raising, feeding or caring of the animal. In regards to other products, a label of natural may be seen as containing less preservatives and chemicals, but there is no way to be sure.

Making the Decision
So what’s the bottom line? Currently, there is no evidence to support that organic foods are healthier than non-organic. So, your decision is unlikely to affect the health of your family. But, be conscious of what you’re buying and read the label to make an educated decision – look for artificial ingredients and excessive processing.


October is "Eat Better, Eat Together" Month

In honor of Eat Better, Eat Together month, make time to focus on family meals. Hectic schedules often keep a family from gathering at the dinner table.  However, studies show family meals promote healthy eating and provide time to catch up with one another.

This month, why not turn one family dinner into a fiesta? Prepare black beans, lean ground beef or turkey with a bit of taco seasoning and serve it with whole wheat tortillas or romaine lettuce for a taco salad.  Offer a variety of chopped veggies like tomatoes, onions, black olives, and bell peppers as well as low fat cheddar cheese and salsa to use as toppings. Parents, set a good example by loading up on veggies and practicing portion control!

Not only is this a tasty and healthy meal idea but it is also a great way for all to customize their meal, so everyone gets what they want. Also, parents can share the experience of preparing the meal by supervising the little ones while they help. Kids can learn new skills by measuring and adding a bit of seasoning and tearing the lettuce, and chances are better that they will want to sample foods they helped prepare.

What are you Drinking?

Want to eliminate one thing from your diet? Take a look at what you are drinking every day. Sweetened beverages – soda, sweet tea, coffee drinks, fruit drinks, sports and energy drinks – contain many extra calories and little to no nutrients. These calories can lead to big time weight gain over time.

Studies show Americans consume about 150 more calories from beverages each day than they did 30 years ago. This adds up to over fifteen pounds during the course of a year! Certainly something to consider the next time you are looking for a way to quench your thirst.


Food Safety Practices

When menu planning, it is important to remember to use good food safety practices.

Cold or Chilled Items
It is important to keep cold items, such as salads or chilled buffet items at or under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • When packing lunches, include a frozen gel pack and use an insulated lunch carrier to keep food safe until lunchtime.
  • At home or parties, keep cold items refrigerated until just before serving and use a cooler with ice to transfer items when taking them to a get together.
  • Place serving dishes on ice when it is time to eat. Also, serve cold items in smaller serving dishes to help maintain temperatures.

Hot Items
For hot foods, keep temperatures at or above 140 degrees Fahrenheit once the food has been cooked.

  • At home, plan on serving foods just after they are prepared. If this is not possible, keep them in the oven to stay warm until the rest of the meal is ready to serve.
  • When tailgating for the big game or at parties, use slow cookers, food warmers and chafing dishes to help keep food at a safe temperature.
  • Follow the 2-hour rule: food should not remain at room temperature beyond 2 hours. Keep track of how long items have been out. After the two hour mark, discard remaining items and set out fresh food if your party is still in full swing.

Raw Items
Raw or unwashed food items may carry dangerous bacteria that can be transferred to surfaces, other food items or hands.

  • Avoid risk of cross-contamination by thoroughly washing food and preparation tools like knives and cutting boards.
  • If possible, use separate cutting boards for meat and produce.
  • Always make sure food is cooked to the proper temperature before tasting or serving.
Applying these food safety tips can help ensure the health of you and your loved ones!

Watch Your Sodium Intake

According to the American Heart Association, those who consume less salt reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease. The recommended daily intake of sodium is 1,500 mg or less.Convenience foods (fast foods) and processed foods (prepackaged meals, snack foods) contribute significant amounts of sodium to the American diet.

Here are 5 tips to help you decrease your sodium intake:

  • Eat whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and fresh lean meat
  • Do not add salt at the table or while cooking
  • Experiment with herbs and spices
  • Review nutrition facts label and choose items that contain less than 200 mg sodium/serving
  • Cook at home!

Does green tea really boost your metabolism? Why?

Does green tea boost your metabolism? Caffeine might stimulate thermogenesis, which is producing heat and energy from the food you are digesting. A very small study showed that participants who drank green tea saw small increases in thermogenesis. But the small calorie losses were probably not enough to make a weight loss difference in obese people.

Plus, there is insufficient evidence showing that taking a weight loss pill containing green tea extract will increase fat metabolism, and it can lead to some nasty side effects.

But, drinking green tea has antioxidant benefits that may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and may decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer, and possibly Parkinson’s disease.

5 Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

It is smart to start by brainstorming foods and snacks that your kids would like to eat. If you include your child in their lunchbox decisions, you will not only be promoting responsibility & independence, but they will probably get excited about their healthy creation.

Healthy Packing Tips:

  • Let your child be involved in choosing their food items and preparation style (i.e. your child may love apples sliced thin like fries, but they may not get excited about a whole apple)
  • Go beyond the traditional. Instead of peanut butter and jelly, occasionally pack a wrap with grilled chicken or stuff a pita with fresh veggies.
  • Try soups and salads by utilizing thermoses and ice packs
  • Do not forget about last night's leftovers as an easy lunchbox filler
  • Implement a lunch box makeover by following these tips!  

Portion Control

Even nutritious foods can cause weight gain when eaten in excess. Practicing correct portion sizes can have a profound effect on the number of calories eaten. When at home use smaller glasses, salad plates and cups instead of bowls and measure foods prior to eating. For times when you cannot measure compare the size of the portions to standard items such as CD's, dice, softballs or items that are readily available such as your palm, thumb, or fist. Study labels to be aware of the portion size of labeled foods and do not eat out of the box or bag. Use these tips and you can eat what you love and save hundreds of calories.


Treadmill vs. Elliptical

Which of these popular exercise machines are better for you/will help you burn more calories? The answer may surprise you.

It’s a tie! While everyone’s bodies are different, the calories burned from running on a treadmill vs. using an elliptical are similar. However, walking on the treadmill will burn fewer calories than when using an elliptical, especially with some resistance.

When deciding which one to use, go for the one you like the best. Hill lovers might enjoy the incline on a treadmill, while others prefer the lower impact of the elliptical.

Consider incorporating both machines into your exercise regimen to reap the most benefits.

Diet vs. Regular Carbonated Beverages
Is it "better" to drink a "diet" soda as opposed to "regular"? The answer isn't as simple as you may think. Both contain carbonation.

Carbonation (carbon dioxide dissolved in a beverage producing carbonic acid), is effective in removing the corrosion from the battery terminals on your car.  Many believe there is a similar effect on the sensitive hormone receptors within your stomach and duodenum (the beginning of your small intestine), which only worsens over time (the more you consume, the more "erosion" takes place).

Additionally, some researchers believe there is a correlation between diet soda intake and increased rates of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The relationship between the two remains circumstantial for now, but some experts in the field do think this is likely even though the exact cause is not yet known.

The bottom line is this: While the large helping of empty sugar calories found in "regular" carbonated beverages is never good, the negative effects of carbonation are not offset by artificial sweeteners in "diet" marketed drinks.

If you are drinking these carbonated beverages for the caffeine, hot or iced tea is a better choice.

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