Weight Loss Habits

March 9, 2019

Two nutritionists are sharing five simple, and surprising, everyday habits that can unwittingly put weight on and habits you can adopt to lose weight.

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CAROLYN: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. I have some startling numbers for all of us to consider today. There are actually more obese adults in the US now than those who are just overweight. Wow. According to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics, almost 40% of adults in the US are now obese. As a dietitian who has worked with people for well over 30 years, I have never met a client who was actually happy about being overweight or obese. Of course I have never really worked with any of those sumo wrestlers out there, but I bet most of you would agree that the majority of overweight people are not very happy about how they look or how they feel. And many of them are concerned with the additional health risks that being overweight can cause. This morning we are going to talk about some simple everyday habits that can put weight on and of course habits that you can adopt to lose weight. So good morning, I'm Carolyn Hudson, welcome everyone. And as I mentioned, I am a registered and licensed Dietitian and I've been helping people lose weight for the past 30 plus years. And I really never focused on the numbers on the scale and I say that to my clients every day, but I always strive to help people develop habits that will result in weight loss and wellness. I see clients at our Eden Prairie location and I teach many nutrition classes and I also have the great opportunity to work long distance with many of our podcast listeners and that's really fun. That's either Skype or on the phone, whatever. So joining me today in this discussion about weight loss habits is JoAnn Ridout. She's also a long time registered and licensed dietician who works with our clients in, Wayzata and Maple Grove.

JOANN: Good Morning, Carolyn. And good morning to everyone out there. It's great to be here today. Carolyn, you shared some shocking numbers about obesity and now I'm going to share some alarming rates about diabetes as well because we live in and broadcast from Minnesota, I researched rates in Minnesota and was very surprised to learn that type two diabetes rates in Minnesota have more than doubled since the year 2000. Wow, that's amazing. The rate of type two diabetes was 4% of the adult population in 2000 and sadly today it is about 8.4% of all adults in Minnesota. So it's even more interesting is that in 1960 back in the day when Elvis Presley was the American idol and both the very young and more mature audit audiences were enamored with him, the type two diabetes rate was a mere 1% of the population. And now we’re at 8.4% of the populations. Wow, it's really alarming. 30 million Americans are now diabetic. Another 8.3 million are prediabetic. As Americans, we need better weight loss habits and better habits to prevent diabetes.

CAROLYN: So today we want to share some simple eating and lifestyle habits that will help you lower your blood sugar numbers, which of course effect your weight and the numbers on that scale, or maybe inches.

JOANN: So, habit number one is the happy hour habit. So you have worked hard all week, you just want to unwind with a glass or two of wine. Or maybe you're retired and the kids are gone now. So you have lots of free time. You know from past experience, the next day you will have a little brain fog, you will be dehydrated. So you'll be hungry and craving sugar and most likely you won't have the energy to go work out

CAROLYN: Exactly. So some of you may be thinking, okay, what is wrong with drinking just a couple of glasses of wine? I mean we have people say that to us all the time. Well here is one answer from the obesity researcher, Dr. Michael Jensen from the Mayo Clinic. He reported that alcohol intake is associated with a bigger waistline. Because when you drink alcohol, guess what? The liver burns alcohol instead of fat. So you're going to end up with what we would call like a beer belly or potbelly.

JOANN: And I explain that to my clients a lot. Not only are you adding some calories here, but you are not allowing your liver to work. So bottom line, those two glasses of wine will slow your weight loss and can cause you to have even more belly fat. And when I used to drink a couple glasses of wine, maybe I used to go out to eat once in a while, I'm still do sometimes. But I realized after that experience I would gain weight. My back would hurt, I would have trouble sleeping. I remember I would abruptly wake up earlier than usual in the middle of the night, like maybe one or two in the morning and I learned many years ago I couldn't drink without seriously affecting my sleep, which is so important for weight loss as well or maintaining your weight. So over time it became very evident to me that the wine habit was harmful for me.

CAROLYN: So here's a reality check. The wine or alcohol habit certainly is not good for your blood sugar control. If you currently have diabetes or are pre diabetic, indulging in your alcohol habit should be no more than every six weeks or preferably not at all. But that doesn't mean you have to give up meeting with your friends. So here is what I suggested, how handle that happy hour beverage situation. First order mineral water on the rocks with a twist of lime or ask for a champagne glass or a wine glass. So at least you feel like you're having a fancy drink. If it's cold outside maybe you want to ask a for a cup of tea or a decaffeinated coffee or something like that. An herbal tea would be probably my favorite thing to have. You can socialize just as well over that water or tea as you used to do with two or three glasses of wine. So one of the many good things that will happen once you give up that wine habit is that the next day you're gonna feel great. You can still get your friend fix, of course, but your blood sugar and weight won't spiral up. And the other happy hour pitfall I often hear from my clients is that bar food or the happy hour food, right? So I always tell my clients that makes sure you have a healthy balanced snack before you go to meet with your friends so you're not hungry so that you're not tempted to have that bar food filled with bad fats and probably too much sugar. Too many carbs.

JOANN: That's right. So that one behavior adjustment can and will make an impact on your health and on your weight. Researchers have found if a person drinks two glasses of wine daily over the course of a year, the person can gain up to 25 pounds in one year. And if you only drink wine three or four nights a week, you might only gain 10 to 12 pounds in a year. So in four years you could gain 40 pounds.

CAROLYN: And don't we hear that from our clients? I don't know what happened just over the last three years I gained weight.

JOANN: Or the kids moved out and my weight's higher. I wonder what that's about. So we also know that drinking water, about half your body weight in ounces is going to help your liver. Carolyn talked about the liver. Your liver is going to be more able to bring up that stored fat if you're well hydrated. So if you weigh about 150 pounds, you need about 75 ounces of water. So change your habits to gain control of your weight and your blood sugar. And it is time for a break. So we will be right back. Do you realize this is national sleep awareness week? If you are having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, stay tuned because when we come back from break, Carolyn and I will give you some simple tricks for getting a good night's sleep.


CAROLYN: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. To lose weight and stay healthy, it is really important to get at least seven and a half hours of sleep most nights.

JOANN: That's right. And if you have trouble falling asleep, I recommend taking at least 400 to 600 milligrams of magnesium glycinate and two to three milligrams of sublingual Melatonin. And sometimes people say, oh, that's so many pills, but your sleep is so worth it.

CAROLYN: It so is. I don't even try to go to to bed without my magnesium every night. I love it. So if you have trouble staying asleep, I really recommend making an appointment with a Weight & Wellness dietitian or nutritionist so that they can help you rebalance your body's chemistry so that you'll be able to sleep at least seven and a half hours. So if you need our help, please call us at (651) 699-3438 and set up an appointment. So before we left for break, we just finished on habit number one and now I'm going to go to habit number two. Guess what that is? Popcorn. Oh my goodness, I hear so many people have that popcorn habit. Especially when I'm teaching, our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss class, many of the members say that one habit that is really hard to give up his eating popcorn. And of course they're doing that while they're watching TV or a movie. Popcorn is one of those favorite snacks, one of the most favorite snacks in the US with an average American eating 54 quarts each year. I was really surprised to find that statistic, but think about this for a moment. Popcorn is a variety of corn and guess what? Farmers feed corn to fatten up their cattle and their pigs. So corn is fed to the cattle and pigs to help them fatten up, so it's kind of doing the same thing for us humans.

JOANN: It is. And many people that have taken our classes have heard us say that. So in microwave popcorn you're going to find 500 to 600 milligrams of salt and lots of refined and damaged fats. So not only does corn slow down our metabolism, but also those damaged, refined oils and excess sodium are also going to slow our weight loss.

CAROLYN: So several years ago, researchers tested a variety of carbohydrates to see how fast and how much certain foods would increase our blood glucose level. And remember, blood glucose levels, blood sugar levels, they affect our weight loss, right? So this measurement is called the glycemic index. So let me explain what that is a little bit. So the glycemic index evaluates your body's response to foods that contain carbohydrates. So the more dramatic the rise in your blood sugar after you eat a certain food, the higher the rank on a scale of one to 100. So your body digests high glycemic index foods rapidly. So that's going to cause a significant blood sugar fluctuation. So the glycemic index of popcorn is considered moderate to high, and it averages about 72 on that scale of one to 100 for two cups. So popcorn increases blood sugar levels leading to that insulin resistance and that pot belly, it slows your metabolism and causes some weight gain. And then top it off with the soda that people are drinking while they're eating that popcorn. And that just adds more fuel to that fire.

JOANN: That’s right. So if you have the popcorn habit, how do you break that habit? So realistically, when you go to the movies or you are sitting in your home theater or on your couch watching a movie, you will most likely want something to snack on. The popcorn habit is no longer an option if you're working on weight loss and if you're trying to avoid diabetes. So I created a new habit. I slow roast nuts at home. After they've cooled, I will put about 12 to 16 nuts in a small baggie, add a few organic dark chocolate chips. That's a really great snack. I also drink water in place of soda, so I'll add that in. But this is not only tasty, but it's a great weight loss habit.

CAROLYN: Yeah, another really easy idea is to cut up like a good quality protein bar like the RX bar or Epic bar or even a beef stick or a beef Jerky, you can cut them up into small bite size pieces and snack on those. You could even add those to the nuts too. That would be an excellent snack. Some people simply take a small bag of almonds or Pecans. All of these snacks are good for weight loss and good for blood sugar control. These are some simple habits that will support weight loss and diabetes prevention.

JOANN: That's right. So I like to cook. And in the past I liked to bake a lot. However, I bake less often now. I've learned that cooking meals is a positive weight loss habit. Well, the vast majority of the time baking is a negative habit for weight loss. So I think many of you may be like me, if you bake or buy cookies, they're calling your name, you're going to want to eat them. So now when I'm baking, I'm banking something like the blueberry muffin recipe or a Pumpkin muffin recipe that contains some good whey protein, and that's a healthy snack. So now I can eat one and be satisfied and stay on track.

CAROLYN: Yeah, that's a great suggestion, JoAnn. Okay, that said, now habit number three. What about that holiday cookie exchange? The traditional holiday cookie exchange is famous for sabotaging weight loss. One of my friends had guess what? 24 dozen holiday cookies stored in her garage this past December. And that was just waiting to sabotage her weight loss and health goals.

JOANN: Yes. And to have a better understanding of that potential weight loss disaster that's waiting to happen, let's break that down. So 24 dozen cookies is actually 288 cookies calling her name. So, of course these special cookies are hard to resist even when you know that eating one leads to two cookies and then three cookies and maybe more. Definitely not good for weight loss. And of course not good for blood sugar control.

CAROLYN: So JoAnn, you were telling me a story of one of your friends, it wasn’t a holiday cookie exchange, but she brought cookies to a friend, right?

JOANN: Yes. She brought cookies to a friend. Every time she went out to eat with this person, and she had made them a few days ahead. So by the day she was going to meet this person, she had to remake them because she ate all of them. So it's not just that holiday time that's a problem. If we're making cookies, we got to look at that.

CAROLYN: So how can you break that cookie exchange habit? Here's a question to ask yourself. Who are you really baking for? Like your friend, right? She was eating them and then now of course making another batch. Is it you or your friends? Is it your family? Do your friends and family need all of that sugar or do you want all of that sugar? Those are good questions to ask yourself. So as we try to avoid obesity and diabetes, we have to move past this old tradition and start healthier new traditions.

JOANN: That's right. And it's time to step away from that cookie exchange habit and step into fun, healthy activities that support your weight loss and health. So when you give up the cookie exchange habit, be sure to think outside of that cookie box. And have you ever thought about volunteering at a shelter or having a gift wrap gathering or caroling at a retirement home or making batches of chili or our hamburger soup recipe. You can share those with special people who would appreciate a hearty home cooked meal.

CAROLYN: Yeah. One of my favorite things to do on the holidays is to volunteer at some place like Feed My Starving Children. And I have a group of friends that walk to end hunger on Thanksgiving morning. So that is a new tradition.

JOANN: That's a great habit. And sometimes I give gift jars of homemade roasted nuts as a hostess gift. So, another way to make that change. So, break time again. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition.


CAROLYN: So, we're on habit number four. Habit number four is going through the fast food lane. So rather than cooking a meal at home you choose to swing into the fast food lane or make a quick stop and pick up some convenience foods.

JOANN: So, an interesting study published last week in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that fast food meals are getting bigger and saltier. That's really not a big surprise. It isn't an illusion, Huh? The researchers looked at 1,787 entrees, sides, and desserts at 10 different fast food restaurants from over the years of 1986 to 2016, so a long time. They found the average entree weighed 39 grams more and had 90 more calories. Plus the sodium content was almost 14% higher now than 30 years ago.

CAROLYN: Wow. No wonder we are having a weight problem in this country. So if you break that fast food or convenience food habit, you will not only save on calories, but you will also be able to protect your health. Most of these foods can chain refined oils like soybean oil or corn oil, which we consider are really damaged fats. So, are you wondering what is so wrong with eating damaged or refined oils? How did these damaged fats affect my metabolism? So when you actually eat these refined oils and damaged fats, you slow down your metabolism and you can actually gain weight more easily. So you don't want to do that. Cut those out of your diet. So let's look at how our food choices have changed over the past several decades. My grandparents were very smart about their diet and they were not overweight. I'm sure they never even thought about dieting and weight loss. They did not go on a starvation type weight plan. They just ate real food. All of their food was organic. Most of it was grown in the garden. The meat was free range and grass fed and nothing was genetically modified. It was just real food. So real food for their body.

CAROLYN: Right. So have you noticed when you take a road trip to pretty much anywhere in the US, it's almost impossible to find real food to eat. You get lots of poor quality, fast food type foods, full of sugar, bad fats and chemicals. These foods are really bad for your weight loss and your health. And it is really difficult to find real food because it's not very profitable to sell organic vegetables or even regular vegetables, fruits or grass fed meats. But there's a much higher profit margin in things like Twinkies or candy bars or chips or soda and those fancy coffee drinks. Oh my goodness. In the past, a cup of coffee was just like a cup of coffee and you drink it black or maybe you added some cream, some heavy cream. It didn't contain those high fructose corn syrups and bad fats and chemicals to add flavor. A cup of coffee was just that, a cup of coffee and it was okay for your metabolism.

JOANN: That's right. I do have to tell you a quick story though. I was sharing this with Carolyn earlier. When I visited my daughter in Colorado, I went into a convenience gas station, not expecting to find much in terms of healthy food, but I just needed to find something and I found a cup of bone broth and I was shocked there was bone broth in that convenience store. And I bought it and asked them to heat it up. And I thought to myself, only in Colorado are they going to have something like this at the gas station restaurant. But I was very happy to buy it. So that was a nice change. But definitely not the majority of places.

CAROLNY: Right. You really have to dig for something and you have to know what you're doing. Oh, that just reminded me, I was recently in Colorado and I actually find RX bars in the convenience stores. And I was with my mom and my sisters and we were all deciding that we needed a snack. And I grabbed one of those and they all were coming up to the cash register with other not so healthy things and they looked at what I had and they said, oh well that looks good. I said, yeah, at least it's healthy and it's going to satisfy me. And it's got some protein and it's got some fat and a little bit of carbs, so it's great. So they all ended up with an RX bar. So again, that was in Colorado. I forgot about that. So I don't think many people know there are about 320,000 processed food and beverage companies in business today. And about one half of them basically sell candy snack foods and soda. The advertising budget to market snacks to the masses is about $30 billion a year. So here's a really eye-popping, mind-boggling fact for you to ponder. That's more money, $320,000, more money is spent each year on advertising fast food, than on higher education, new cars, and computers combined. $30 billion.

JOANN: Amazing. Amazing. So what if we took all of that $30 billion and spent that money instead of on fast food and convenience food, what if we spent all that money on real food? I believe that 40% of the adult population would not be obese. We would not have such a health crisis here in America.

CAROLYN: Okay. Habit number five is that peanut m&m habit or really kind of candy bar or candy type habit. This is a habit that many of us had and I'm guilty of that one. I did that one for awhile. If you have the m&m habit, you know who you are, and you rationalize that the peanuts are healthy. Oh, I did that. So, maybe peanut m&m's are okay. A small bag equals about seven and a half teaspoons of sugar. So, that's more than the recommended amount of sugar that you should eat in a day. It also has artificial flavors and it has artificial colors. Think about all those brightly colored m&m's, right? There's blue, a yellow, red. So all of those are dies and artificial colors. There's also corn syrup  and they're just highly processed.

JOANN: And so in the ADHD seminar that we have coming up, we talk about the sugar, the corn syrup, the artificial colors, the artificial flavors, those food dyes that are in our foods and how they interfere with the brain's ability to focus. They are so hard on the brain.

CAROLYN: So need we say anymore, JoAnn? The sugar actually stimulates the reward center in your brain. So you want more and more. So not good for your weight loss and certainly not good for your health.

JOANN: That's right. So it is time for break and you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition.


JOANN: So we have been talking about habit number five, the peanut m&m habit. So we talked about not only peanuts, but sugar, artificial flavors, artificial colors that are in there, corn syrup. So what can you substitute for those peanut m&m’s? Like I mentioned earlier, I slow roast almonds, pecans, I've even done cashews and after they have cooled, I add small pieces of dark chocolate and count out about 12 to 16 of these nuts. It's a very tasty and satisfying treat. There's very little sugar in that. And the pecans contain 19 vitamins and minerals, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium, just to name a few. So one bag of m&m's is going to slow your metabolism and your weight loss. However, the roasted nuts, the roasted pecans with dark chocolate are going to support your metabolism and your weight loss. So make that switch from a bad, unhealthy habit to a good, healthy habit.

CAROLYN: In our Nutrition 4 Weight Loss classes, we talk about everyday habits that are either supporting our weight loss and health or habits that are holding you back. As a dietitian, it is so gratifying to see that light bulb go off in many of our classes when people finally realize that one little habit like eating a few m& m's out of their office mate’s candy dish every time they walk by, that in reality is probably holding them back from losing weight. So as nutrition educators, we strive to help people develop positive lifestyle habits. And when they do this, it is so rewarding.

JOANN: Right. And when you talked about the light bulb going off, people come in sometimes after they've been through class and they've heard that kind of message. And they say I finally learned that I can't even start, I can't even take one because one always means more, much more.

CAROLYN: We talk a lot about that though. Don't we, JoAnn? We say are you a moderator or not? Can you stop with the one cookie? Can you stop with the one piece of dark chocolate or does that lead you down a path of kind of no return and eating those dozen cookies you cooked for your friend, right?

JOANN: Yes. That is so true. So we're going to spend a few minutes this morning recapping the habits we talked about this morning. So if you're working on weight loss, you really want to make weight loss your priority. So don't think about, I can never have this food again. Think about this is a period of time where I'm just focusing on new habits to support my weight loss. And rather than thinking what you can't have anymore, think about what you can have. But then going back to our habits, avoiding that happy hour habit, that glass or two of wine. I always find that amazing because when we talk about the statistics of gaining 20 to 25 pounds in a year, we're always talking about two, four ounce glasses of wine. But that's not what you're getting at the bar, right? Are you getting six ounces of wine in that glass or are you getting eight ounces? So maybe it's one glass a day that's going to add that 20 to 25 pounds a year. And I think that's a real reality check.

CAROLYN: Think about that. We kind of talked about how the fast food meals have gotten bigger. What about those wine glasses? I mean, I remember my mom's wine glasses, they're small. They're were like four ounces. And then when I got married the wine glasses I was given were more like ten ounces I think.

JOANN: Especially those larger glasses for like the red wine glasses that are really large. You want to just put a little on the bottom if you are going to have any.

CAROLYN: So, one of the tricks that I use is putting water, if I'm out for happy hour with my girlfriends, I could get water, a mineral water and ask to put it in a champagne glass or one of the wine glasses with a twist of lemon or lime. So it makes me think like I'm having a nice drink and I can socialize just as good with a glass of water as I can with a glass of wine.

The second habit is that popcorn habit, right? So popcorn increases that blood sugar and that's going to lead to that insulin resistance.

JOANN: Right. And that quick sugar, I think about corn or popcorn as quick sugar cause that's going to turn right to glucose. And then of course go to storage fat, right? If you're working on weight loss, that's really defeating the purpose.

CAROLYN: So you gave us some good examples of things to substitute that popcorn with, right? You had the handful of nuts with some dark chocolate chips or something. That would be an excellent one.

JOANN: So the holiday cookie exchange, are you still committed to those holiday cookie exchanges? Maybe you need to talk to your friends or your family and say, let's have some better options. What about roasting nuts? That would be a fun event. Making a lot of roasted nuts. You can season them, you can add dark chocolate pieces to part of them. You can package them up in nice little decorated jars. That can be a really nice as well. And you’re still socializing.

CAROLYN: Absolutely. Or making a new tradition, like volunteering somewhere or participating in some kind of charity event.

The fourth food habit is that fast food lane. We've got to try to change that. We really want you to be picking real food. And why not just pack a few good snacks for that car trip instead of trying to find something at the convenience store that's really difficult.

JOANN: Right. It is. And we talked about the bone broth and the RX bar, although we also know that's a pretty rare find in those gas stations and the convenience stores. It's definitely not something you're going to always find there. But, like Carolyn said, if you pack some snacks, you're going to be a lot farther along. But also keep an eye out for if you do decide to buy something, just watch for some of those healthier options. I have seen hard cooked eggs, I have seen fresh fruit, there are some healthier options.

CAROLYN: I've seen some hummus. And then actually I think I was in a Quik Trip recently and I got the hummus but then it had like pretzels or something with it. But over on the other side in the refrigerated foods was a package of raw vegetables. So I grabbed that, I threw out the pretzels. I almost always have a small cooler when I am going on a road trip in my car or in anyone's car because everyone gets hungry and you kind of get bored in the car. So that's a bad thing that people do a lot of times.

JOANN: And a lot of times I find going on the plane somewhere, I don't have room for a cooler. I might bring meat sticks or the RX bars or a bag of nuts. So I've got a good snack with me and I don't need to find something.

The last habit that we talked about was the peanut m&m habit. So, we want our brains to be working well. We want our metabolism to be working well, so we want to pick better options for snacks.

CAROLYN: Those m&m's or most candy is going to be full of sugar, artificial flavors and colors.

JOANN: That's right. And then last but not least, we did talk about sleeping at least seven and a half to eight hours and increasing your water. That’s a great way to speed that weight loss up. So our goal at Nutritional Weight & Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple and powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day today.

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