Wednesday, August 16, 2017

6 Strategies to Stop Overeating, Backed by Science

In the short term, going crazy at the buffet or office party can make you feel uncomfortably full. But if you’re constantly going back for seconds – or even thirds – you can pack on some serious pounds over time, not to mention a slew of health risks, including high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

What’s more, overeating can go to your head even more than your stomach. When we overdo it, we tend to beat ourselves up, spiraling into periods of guilt and negative self-talk. “Emotionally, it takes a toll on us,” says Ohio-based registered dietitian nutritionist Tori Schmitt, founder of Yes! Nutrition. As a result, a cycle of emotional eating and guilt can take a toll on both your mental and physical health.

The good news is that there’s always a way to stop. Case in point: these seven expert- and science-backed strategies to break your overeating habit for good.

1. Ask yourself this question. One of the simplest things you can do when you feel like eating is to ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” says Dr. Michelle May, a Phoenix-based family medicine physician and founder of (the aptly named) “Am I Hungry?” mindful-eating programs. According to May, most people aren’t accustomed to tuning into their body’s hunger signals. Often, what people assume is hunger is actually boredom or stress.

If you’re hungry, your stomach will rumble or growl, and you’ll feel the symptoms of low blood sugar such as low energy, difficulty concentrating and even shakiness. “If you don’t have physical symptoms, it’s unlikely that you’re hungry,” May says. If it turns out you’re just bored, figure out what will divert your attention (think: social plans, home projects, taking up a new sport). When the cause is emotion-based – whether rooted in stress, loneliness or guilt – addressing the problem head-on is your best bet for success, she says.

Schmitt has clients use a hunger and fullness scale to help determine when to eat – and when to stop. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “ravenous” and 10 being “stuffed,” you want to eat when you’re in between a 3 and a 4, according to Schmitt. If you wait much longer, you’ll start to feel faint. Stop eating when you reach a 6 or a 7, or when you feel satisfied but not full or uncomfortable. Chances are, you’ll need to eat every few hours if you follow this approach.

A 2017 review of 68 studies shows that such mindful and intuitive eating tactics are effective approaches for alleviating overeating tendencies.

How to Eat Gluten Again Without Your Body (or Mind) Going Nuts

For a little over a year, Jackie Diette didn't eat gluten. In fact, the 30-year-old fashion director in New York City ate little more than vegetables, meats and healthy fats. "From expertise combined with my own research about the effects of food containing gluten, I was confident that removing it from my diet would help me obtain my weight loss goals," she says.

She was right, and lost about 130 pounds. But now that Diette's focus is weight maintenance, she realizes that some of the credit given to gluten-free eating – peddled as everything from a weight-loss method to a heart disease prevention strategy to a treatment for depression – might be misaligned. "My experience taught me that gluten itself isn't necessarily the enemy," says Diette, whose weight has remained stable for about five months with a healthy diet that includes some carbohydrates and gluten.

Going Gluten-free? A Few Caveats for Kids

Samara Schoch's 5-year-old checkup revealed the worrisome fact that the Centennial, Colorado, youngster wasn't growing as expected. When Samara's mom, Lana, mentioned that the little girl also consistently had stomachaches after eating, the pediatrician immediately prescribed a test for celiac disease. "I thought that was silly, but I was wrong," Lana says. Samara's blood tests for the condition, which causes inflammation of the small intestine when gluten found in wheat, barley and rye is eaten, were "off the charts." The only treatment: a gluten-free diet. "I would go to the grocery store and sit in the parking lot, almost in tears," says Lana, recalling how overwhelmed she felt realizing that gluten is found in everything from bread to broth to salad dressing.

Doug Brayton, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy in Norfolk, Virginia, says he first noticed his left leg was shorter than his right when he was in college. It seemed minor then, and he thought he'd just have to live with it.

But in the years since, the limb length discrepancy – a term that’s also used to describe when a person’s arms aren’t of equal length – eventually led to inflammation and a burning pain in Brayton’s hip that he dulled with medication. “It was just a constant pain,” says the 35-year-old. He also dealt with occasional severe bouts of back pain from the one-inch leg length discrepancy.

Even a centimeter’s leg length difference can affect how one stands, walks and is able to move around, let alone the personal expectation and desire for symmetry many people have. People who have more significant limb length discrepancies also tend to spend more time on the long leg and put more weight on it. “Over time that leg often will wear out faster – that’s something called long leg arthritis,” says Dr. John Herzenberg, director the International Center for Limb Lengthening at Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and a clinical professor of orthopedics at University of Maryland Medical School. “The other thing people do is if they’re holding their pelvis crooked and their back crooked because they have one leg [that’s shorter], then over time a lot of them will develop back pain and hip pain and leg pain from being off-kilter.”

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Be a Health Hero 4 Ways to Advocate This Summer

As we roll into the shank of the summer here in the U.S., life seems to slow down, and motivation to follow your passions can vanish in the wake of humid days, slower work schedules and endless repeats on TV. While others are sipping their sweet tea on the porch, you can take advantage of this time to become a stronger advocate, while still taking care of yourself. By following these four simple steps – getting informed, being heard, staying active and focusing on your health – you can have your best summer yet.

There is a huge amount of information and opportunities for discussion available online. However, it can be hard to differentiate between opinion and fact, and even harder to express yourself in a way that will make a difference. The first step to ensuring you're fully aware of the nuances of a topic is to get informed. Read information from a variety of well-established sources. Many sites don't have an agenda beyond providing a complete story. Find the ones that work for you, read up on a topic and note to yourself where the sources differ in their commentary. Reading between the lines might seem tricky, but with enough practice, it can become second nature. If you have a chronic disease, or if health is an important subject to you (because if you don't have your health, what do you have?), make sure you get your information from sites like U.S. News and World Report, Kaiser Family Foundation or MedPage.

Summer Sun Safety How to Avoid Skin Cancer

Summer is officially here, and many of us are enjoying outdoor activities and lots of time in the sun at the beach or pool. While sun exposure is important for many reasons – for example, production of Vitamin D, your mood and healthy circadian rhythms – our time in the sun can also be associated with a significant health risk: cancer. According to the National Institutes of Health, the most common type of cancer in the U.S. is skin cancer, and the two most common types are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Both of these are serious and require prompt treatment, but survival rates are quite good with therapy. However, melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – has a far worse prognosis.

It's estimated that almost 10,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. Researchers estimate that 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, were treated in the United States in 2012. This year, approximately 76,100 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed and treated – and close to 10,000 patients will die from melanoma.