Wednesday, November 20, 2013

10 Tips to Avoid Gaining 10 Holiday Pounds

Tis the time of year where people start saying “this year will be different!” “This is the year I stay healthy during the holidays!” “I’m not going to wait until New Years to lose weight!”

Thanksgiving begins a 5-6 week stretch of being constantly surrounded by festive cocktails, decorated cookies, and decadent sauces. So this year, instead of telling yourself you’ll diet through the holidays, try eating smarter instead of feeling deprived.

1.       Drink Water. Drink a lot of it. Not only will water make your skin glow nicer in that holiday dress, it will flush excess water stored in the body (aka- bloating) and make you feel fuller and snack less. Drinking a full glass of water 20 minutes before a meal will help your body differentiate between thirst and hunger.

2.       Watch alcohol calories. On the low end, a glass of wine or sparkling champagne will cost you 120-150 calories. But that spiked eggnog? That could be the equivalent of a small meal! Be conscious of your beverage choice and it could save you a few hundred calories.

3.       Make smart swaps at dinner & parties. Here’s some examples of easy swaps that will leave you satisfied:
- 4 oz white meat w/o skin 195 calories vs. 4 oz dark meat with skin 400 calories

-Pumpkin pie w/ low fat whip cream 335 calories vs. Pecan pie 450 calories

-Substitute coconut or almond milk in recipes or coconut oil for butter

Think smart, not skinny. Eat your fill of meats and vegetables. Flavor sides with garlic, lemon and herbs, rather than cream, cheese, and butter.

4.       Sloooooooow dooooowwwwnn. It takes 20 min for your stomach to tell your brain it’s full. Most people will finish an entire plate of food in less than 10. It’s no wonder we think we need seconds! Our body can’t keep up with our mouths. Try setting your fork down in between each bite. And even if you eat all your food a little too fast, don’t allow yourself to reach for more until that 20min is up. Then reassess. 

5.       Banish the bread bowl. Trust me- I know how much this sucks. I love bread. I know you love bread. Did you know there’s a chemical reason you love bread? Gluten- the main protein that composes wheat, attaches to a receptor in our brain that opiates attach to. It’s one of the only foods that does that, and that’s why we get that wonderful feeling in our hearts when we think of a warm basket of bread. So don’t even start the downward spiral! Eliminate it from the menu if you can. And if you can’t- consider it off limits.


6.       Exercise that day. The closer to the party/meal that you can comfortably exercise, do it. Just enough to get your heart rate up and maybe even a little sweat. This will release feel good endorphins that will keep you from turning to food for comfort. It also makes you eat more consciously.

7.       Don’t starve yourself up until the big event. Unless you are eating Thanksgiving at 11am, it’s a good idea to have a small, but substantial breakfast. Something like an egg sandwich or oatmeal with nuts and berries is a great meal that will start your metabolism for the day. It will also keep you from being so hungry by the time you sit down to eat- that you won’t scarf down your plate in 3 minutes. (Remember rule #4?)

8.       Quality beats quantity. Whenever possible, keep in mind which vegetables are high on the pesticide list and therefore should be eaten organic. Some of the major pesticide ridden holiday favorites are: potatoes, carrots, celery, spinach/greens, and apples. Organic poultry can be incredibly pricey- but if you have a source of local meat that was able to live a normal poultry life- it will reflect in tastier meat. Same goes for eggs and dairy. Local and organic will produce tastier and healthier dishes.

9.       Add root vegetables and parsley to the meal. My favorite is cubed up turnips, beets, and sweet potatoes roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs in an oven at 400 degrees for 45min. Beets and parsley are great because they stimulate the body to release necessary enzymes to digest food properly.

10.   Fill you plate like a caveman. Have you heard of this whole “paleo thing”? It’s a trending diet that suggests eating like our ancestors did, limiting the amount of grains and legumes. So try to fill half your plate with vegetables, ¼ with meat, and then if you really need that stuffing or cornbread- put that in the last ¼ of the plate.

It may seem like a lot of rules, but most of it is common sense. And if you come across something that completely breaks all of the rules, then follow the advice that the wise Mariah Carey once gave me (not in person- on the Ellen show in case you were wondering). Only have 1 bite, and savor the heck out of it!

Want to know what I’m eating this Thanksgiving?

I’m a fan of a few classics like a well cooked turkey and a flavorful pumpkin pie. But I really enjoy playing with the sides! Some of these don’t follow “the rules” but don’t get all sassy with me… I’m human too ya know J

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


So it’s been a while since the last post. The last one had to do with my locking my child down to get some piece of mind. Let’s just chalk up the year long hiatus to- the kid got smarter than that, and I’ve been running around like a crazy person ever since.

In my clinic, I see a large percentage of children under the age of 2. And on a day to day basis, I see parents chalking their child’s symptoms up to none other than- teething. Now prior to being a parent, I may have been confused as to why at 2 months old, a parent is saying that their baby probably was up every hour last night because, “she’s started teething.” But as a parent of a 19 month old, I can tell you I relate.

Since Charley was about 4 months old- I have attributed every drop of drool, low grade fever, rash, wake up in the middle of the night, and every unnecessary tirade to, “she must be teething.” I have used it as an excuse for my child’s misbehavior at parties, in the grocery store, and at church. And why not? It works like a charm!

Every parent completely relates to you and is instantly understanding. (Side note: if you feel you’ve overused the “teething” excuse too much, just try the “she hasn’t napped today” one. Also works beautifully).

Now on average, a child will break their first tooth around 6 months, and continue one every month after that. Some children get their first tooth much earlier, and some may be going into their first birthday cake gumming it like an 80 year old without their dentures. I was trained to use the following equasion:
Childs age in months – 6 = # of teeth

Symptoms of teething
These are the typical symptoms your doctor will attribute to teething:
-swelling of gums
-rash on chin or face
-low grade fever
-ear pulling

This is my personal list of symptoms I blame on teething:
-only eating cookies for dinner
-kicking you in the face to get Mickey Mouse
-biting their cousin because they want their toy
-gargling water and spitting it in your face
-pooping 8 times in one day
-waking up at 4am and wanting to play
-wrestling like an alligator during diaper changing
-and running around the grocery store throwing canned goods on the floor
-zoning out like an overworked, drooling zombie

Symptoms supposedly show up only 3-5 days before a tooth erupts, but I have been known to blame my child’s behavior on teething for 3-5 weeks prior.

Order of Appearance
As for order, that can vary greatly, but I’ve attached a lovely diagram for you:

Symptom Management
Now I am not some cruel, pain inflicting mother, but I do appreciate the numerous studies that correlate frequent usage of Tylenol and Motrin to increased likelihood of asthma symptoms. I try to weigh the pros and cons of using pain medications, and only use as a last resort.

Most people already know the medicinal options for pain relief. So here are a few non-medicinal ones I’ve tried:

1.       Chewing on something cold- works great if your child wants to. Cold wash cloths and teething rings seem like they would work great. But Charley refuses to use them. She would much rather gnaw on a sharp edge of a toy or my arm. I have found she likes warm wash cloths better. You won’t get the numbing affect, but it does keep her happy temporarily.

2.       Emu oil- We used this instead of your topical medication like orajel. This worked REALLY well. Within 10 minutes, she seemed back to normal. It is the anti-inflammatory effect on the gums that is supposed to offer pain relief.

3.       Hyland’s Teething Tablets- There are probably many brands available, but this is our choice. Hyland’s is a homeopathic company that uses natural sources of pain relief in their tablets. The tablets are easily absorbable, and are our first line of defense whenever we think she’s teething.

4.       Teething necklace- So the jury is out on this one. I will note that there is not a SINGLE case of a child choking on their own teething necklace. I also can’t find any empirical evidence that they do what they claim. The claim:
”teething necklaces are made of Baltic amber, which are naturally analgesic. The amber gets absorbed through the skin and alleviate pain for the child.”
People who use them swear by them. I will admit I swore by ours for the first few months Charley wore it. She was a tyrant for days, we put it on- and within 2 hours she was back to her normal self. Since then, I have not really put too much thought into whether or not since she looks so damn cute in her necklace!

I shouldn’t make Charley out to be a naughty baby. In fact, it is her general calm and happy demeanor that makes the transformation during teething so apparent. But I am glad I have something as concrete and non-threatening as teething to blame right now. As a parent, I don’t mind if my child is misbehaving or not sleeping through the night… as long as I know it’s temporary and well explained. I’m just sad my excuse will be short lived. When she’s 13, I’m going to have to come up with a different excuse for friends and family why she ran to her room screaming, “I hate you.” Probably can’t still blame teething.