How to Enjoy Thanksgiving Without Overindulging in Seven Steps

tips to enjoy thanksgiving

The turkey. The stuffing. The mashed and sweet potatoes. And. The. Pies. Thanksgiving is designed to be enjoyed with family, friends, and a full plate of once-a-year-favorite foods. However, before you write off the day as a diet loss and give yourself free rein to stuff yourself full, consider that the average person consumes around 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving. For some perspective, the average athlete would need to jog for four hours to burn only 2,400 calories. This Thanksgiving, enjoy your time with family and friends—and your favorite holiday foods—but do so responsibly. Here are some tips to help keep you from overindulging this Thanksgiving.

  1. Don’t Skip Meals. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that skipping breakfast and lunch will allot you extra calories for an oversized dinner. Skipping meals will only leave you feeling starving come big mealtime, and you’re likely to overeat more than you would have if you had eaten healthily earlier in the day. Have a small breakfast high in protein (think eggs or Greek yogurt) and a reasonable, healthy lunch instead so that you can feel satiated before dinner.
  2. Be Mindful. Research shows that the first three bites of food are the most pleasurable. Keep this in mind when portioning out your favorite side dishes. You may love your Nana’s sweet yams that she only prepares once a year, but you don’t need to consume a jumbo-smoothie-sized portion. Serve yourself a healthy amount instead, and mindfully enjoy every bite.
  3. Take Smaller Portions. Thanksgiving Day meals tend to include more sides than an average meal. Consider a Thanksgiving Day portion as three to four bites in size, particularly if your side dish options consist of mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, broccoli casserole, cranberries, and sweetbreads—and you intend to try them all.
  4. Eat Earlier in the Day. If you can control the day’s schedule, move up mealtime. Research shows that if you eat a large meal close to the time that you go to bed, your body may be more likely to store the calories as fat. Move up to a 1 p.m. start time. That way, everyone can focus on the evening’s football games after dinner.
  5. Skip the Carbs. When you eat carbohydrates at the start of a meal, your body releases hunger-stimulating hormones that may cause you to overeat. If you must eat bread, start your meal with lean turkey instead, but consider skipping it altogether. Do so, and you’ll have more room for pie.
  6. Slow Your Roll. Wait twenty minutes before going back for seconds. During this time, if you’re full (and you likely will be), your body will send that signal to your brain, and with that information, you can make a conscientious choice to take extra helpings home for the next day’s lunch instead of eating them then and there.
  7. Use Smaller Tableware. The average dinner plate has increased in size by over 20 percent over the decades. Consider serving your dinner on petite china or smaller seasonal tableware to keep from piling your plate too full with too much food.

Above all, remember Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Be thankful for your friends, family, and your health. Make decisions that will keep you on the path to optimal wellness and allow you to enjoy many more seasonal celebrations for years to come.

Kidney Stone Risk Factors and Treatment Options

kidney heart stone

It starts as a dull ache, maybe in your back, or perhaps beneath your rib cage. Suddenly it escalates to severe cramping and then to a piercing pain that leaves you in agony as it radiates into your lower abdomen. If left untreated, kidney stones can lead to an infection, which can evolve into sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection complication. Understand the risk factors that can lead to Kidney stones and how to minimize your risk of developing this painful and dangerous condition.

What are Kidney Stones?

When dissolved minerals buildup on the inner lining of the kidneys, the result can be kidney stones. The collection often consists of calcium oxalate or other components. If the stones remain small, they can pass undetected and unbothersome through the urinary tract. Kidney stones can grow to be as large as a golf ball with sharp, jagged edges. When the stones become large, the process of the stones traveling out of the system can cause extreme pain.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones form when urine contains higher levels of calcium, oxalate, and uric acid than can be diluted by urine fluid. Urine that lacks naturally occurring substances that prevent crystal formation further leads to an increased risk of kidney stone development. There are four types of kidney stones:

  • Calcium Stones: The most common type of kidney stones. Calcium stones are typically comprised of calcium oxalate, a naturally occurring substance found in food, particularly nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables, and created by the liver. A diet high in Vitamin D, some metabolic disorders, and intestinal bypass surgery can increase the presence of calcium or oxalate in the urine.
  • Uric Acid Stones – Uric acid stones are most common among people who fail to drink enough regular fluids or eat a high-protein diet. They can also occur in people who have gout, a disease caused by a reduced ability to metabolize uric acid that results in painful arthritis that is often felt in the feet or that causes chalkstone deposits.
  • Struvite Stones – This variety of kidney stones often forms in response to an infection, particularly a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Cystine Stones – These kidney stones most commonly form in response to a hereditary disorder that results in the kidneys excreting too high levels of the amino acid cystinuria.

How to Treat Kidney Stones

If you have any of the above risk factors and believe you may be suffering pain caused by kidney stones, talk to your doctor. He or she will be able to identify the cause and variety of your kidney stones and can help you devise a treatment plan and long-term strategy to avoid kidney stone recurrence.

Most kidney stones are small and will eventually pass through your urinary tract. To expedite the process as painlessly as possible, you can:

  • Drink water. Ideally, drink two to three quarts daily to help flush your urinary tract.
  • Take a pain reliever. Ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen can help mitigate the pain and discomfort that kidney stones cause.
  • An alpha-blocker. Your doctor may prescribe a medication to relax the muscles in your ureter to help you pass the kidney stone quickly and less painfully.

Large stones that cannot pass on their own or may cause kidney or urinary tract damage or infection, or internal bleeding, may require medical intervention. In these cases, a doctor may recommend:

  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) – A process that uses sound waves to break up kidney stones into small pieces so that they can pass through the urinary tract.
  • Surgery  – A surgeon may remove large stones using a procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy in which he or she will use a small telescope and instruments inserted through a small incision in the lower back.
  • A Scope. A doctor can remove smaller stones by inserting a ureteroscope with a camera through your urethra and bladder into your ureter. 
  • Parathyroid gland surgery. An overactive parathyroid gland is the cause of some kidney stones. Overproduction of parathyroid hormone may be the result of a benign tumor developing on one of the parathyroid glands. Surgery to remove the tumor can help to stop the hormone overproduction.

If you believe you may be suffering from kidney stone pain, don’t wait. Make an appointment with your doctor or walk into an urgent care clinic and get a medical assessment right away. Once you understand the cause of your kidney stone and any complications you may face due to its size, you and your doctor can determine a plan to help you rid your body of the painful stone while minimizing your discomfort.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes.

For the 30.3 million Americans living with Diabetes, November is more than a time for awareness. It is a time for hope—hope that researchers will one day find a cure to this painful and dangerous condition. This month, take the time to better understand the signs and symptoms of this chronic disease and your risk factors. With proper lifestyle choices, you may be able to reduce your risk of developing Type II Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes, or Diabetes Mellitus, is a disease that occurs when one has too much blood glucose (blood sugar) in the body. We obtain blood glucose from the foods we eat and use it as our primary source of energy. In a healthy body, insulin made by the pancreas helps with this energy transformation process. When the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, glucose remains in the blood, never reaching cells or being converted into energy. When too much glucose stays in the blood, it can cause health complications.

What is the Difference Between Type I and Type II Diabetes?

A person with Type I Diabetes does not produce any insulin. The immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells, destroying insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells, which prohibits the body from producing insulin.

A person why Type II Diabetes does not produce enough insulin and is unable to use it effectively, a condition that is known as being insulin resistant. Lifestyle factors can contribute to the development of Type II Diabetes, including excessive weight gain and inactivity.

What are the Symptoms of Diabetes?

Symptoms of both Types I and II Diabetes include:

  • Feeling excessively thirsty, resulting in significant water intake
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Sores or cuts that are slow to heal

Also, patients with Type I Diabetes may experience rapid mood changes, irritability, and weight loss, while patients with Type II Diabetes may experience sensations of numbness and tingling in their extremities.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes

You can mitigate your chances of developing Type II Diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices, including the following:

  • Manage Your Weight. Individuals who carry excess body fat, especially if stored in the midsection, are at risk of developing insulin resistance.
  • Balance Your Diet. Part of managing your weight should include eating a balanced diet full of healthy grains, lean proteins, hearty vegetables, and fruits. Also, reduce your intake of sodium by lowering your consumption of fried or processed foods and not adding excess salt to your meals.
  • Exercise Regularly. Aim for at least 30-minutes of activity that raises your heart rate at least three times per week. Talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen. 
  • Quit Smoking. People who smoke are twice as likely to develop Diabetes as non-smokers.
  • Moderate Alcohol Intake. Too much alcohol can result in weight gain, which could boost your blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Men should not exceed two drinks in a day, and women should not exceed one. 
  • Talk to Your Doctor. Make sure you are visiting your primary care physician as appropriate based on your age and other health factors. Be honest with him or her about your lifestyle habits, and if anyone in your immediate family has Type I or Type II Diabetes. If your physician determines that you may be at risk, together, you can create a sustainable plan to address risky lifestyle factors and help you prevent the development of this chronic, complex disease.

What’s the Deal with Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent Fasting

One of the latest get-healthy-and-fit trends generating buzz is intermittent fasting. As with all things trendy, it promises to offer a definitive cure to all your health needs. You may even be hearing about it first-hand from friends, family, and followers. What’s the deal with this health trend? Is it truly something we should all do to optimize our health, or is it yet another overpromise that we can expect to be here today and gone tomorrow?

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting utilizes a repeating cycle of fasting and eating in an attempt to achieve health benefits. There are a variety of approaches and theories about intermittent fasting, but all of them break up the day or week into defined periods of fasting and eating.

Possibly the most straightforward intermittent fasting strategy involves lengthening the period between dinner and the following day’s breakfast—since you’re likely to sleep through most of it. With this model, you may eat your last meal of the day at 8 p.m., and then not eat again until noon the next day, although you can consume non-caloric beverages, including water, black coffee, or tea. In this way, you fast for 16 hours.

What are the Promised Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Those who advocate for intermittent fasting tout such health benefits as weight loss, improved metabolism, a reduced chance of developing cancer and other diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, and longevity.

When we experience a prolonged period without food, our bodies’ processes change to protect us until our next meal. Those process changes include hormone regulation, cellular repair, and even genetic reactions. During a fast, we also experience a reduction in insulin and blood sugar levels and an increase in human growth hormone. 

 Is Intermittent Fasting Safe?

The Harvard School of Public Health reports that while studies of periodic calorie restrictions in animals have been shown to increase lifespan and improve reactions to metabolic stress, there have been less definitively conclusive results from human studies. One risk of intermittent fasting is that a participant will overeat during non-fasting periods to compensate after a period of feeling hungry. If a primary goal of the fast is weightloss, such behavior can result in cumulatively higher calorie consumption, thus impeding the intended weight loss.

How Can I Tell if I Should Try Intermittent Fasting?

As with all diet and exercise routines, do not attempt to make any changes without first consulting your doctor. He or she will explain to you what your specific benefits and potential risks may be of intermittent fasting. Whether your goals are weight loss, longevity, or mitigating the risk of developing a catastrophic condition, your doctor will work with you to put a safe and effective health and wellness plan in place that you can execute together.