Don’t Let COVID-19 Make You Unhealthy

From what I read on social media, a lot of you have given in to the notion that this order to stay home will inevitably lead to weight gain which can wreak havoc on your overall health.. I for one am determined not to let that happen. I am healthier and fitter now than I was 10 years ago and I refuse to let COVID-19 take that away from me. A lot of what is happening to us during this Pandemic is beyond our control. Whether or not we turn into junk food eating couch potatoes is entirely up to us.

What follows are just a few commonsense suggestions to help you stay healthy under the stay at home orders.

The first step to a healthy lifestyle begins in the grocery store. Leave the chips, candy, ice cream, and pastries in the store. If you cannot resist snacking between meals, stick to low sugar fruits and veggies and SMALL quantities of nuts and seeds. Make an effort to have at least 90 percent of what you eat be real whole foods instead of processed fake food with ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Make wise decisions when ordering foods from restaurants and try to prepare your own food at home as much as possible so you know exactly what is in it. Take advantage of this opportunity to try some new healthy recipes for you and your family now that you have the time. Think of eating a healthy diet as something you can do to help boost your immunity during this Pandemic.

Consider using that cell phone that is constantly with you to journal what you are eating and your exercise habits. Apps like My Fitness Pal and Lose It will keep you honest if you track everything you eat and how much you are exercising. It may sound like a pain but studies have proven that journaling is a very effective tool in the weight control arsenal. You can even use old fashioned pen and paper to accomplish this. If you are on lockdown, don’t tell me you don’t have time.

Practice portion control. Simple strategies like using smaller plates and utensils fool your brain into thinking that you are eating more than you really are. A saucer sized plate or small paper plate will hold as much as you need to eat at a meal. This is a good time to learn to eat more slowly to give your brain a chance to signal your stomach that you are full. You will automatically eat less when you do this. Remember, there is no reason to rush through your meals when there is no place to go!

Drink more water, especially when you are tempted to do mindless snacking. Sometimes what we perceive as hunger is really thirst. Aim to drink at least 64 ounces of water daily. All those trips to the rest room will help keep you off the couch.

Make a concerted effort to wait until you are stomach growling hungry before you eat. Try to distinguish between head hunger due to boredom and physical hunger. If you are already full but craving to eat something else, distract yourself by getting as far away from the kitchen as you can. Why not go out and walk around the block? As you are walking, the craving will likely go away. Getting some fresh air every day is important to prevent “cabin fever” and depression. You might also use the moment to call and check on a friend or loved one. Social distancing does not mean disconnecting from the people you care about.

Make staying active a priority. Even those of us who are allowed to go to work are still home more than usual. We now have more time to go for walks and runs, do home workouts and try the many workout videos that are available. If you don’t enjoy structured workouts, why not make a playlist of your favorite upbeat music and dance like no one is looking. This is also a great time to tackle some of those household chores you have been putting off. Even if you choose to binge watch your favorite series, you can get up and march in place for a few minutes between episodes. The point is just to get you to move as much as possible. Not only is activity good for your heart and your blood pressure, it can also ward off anxiety and depression. Like I always say, “movement is therapy.”

Last but not least, one of the best things you can do for your long term health is to GO TO BED EARLY! A lot of us are so conditioned to staying up late that we have forgotten how to go to bed early like we did when we were children. We have made it a habit to stay up watching late night television and often find ourselves mindlessly snacking. The average adult should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night yet most of us are lucky to get six. Look at it this way. You are going to wake up at whatever time you are used to getting up regardless so the easiest way to work toward getting adequate sleep is to get it on the front end. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel once you start getting adequate sleep!

I hope these tips will help all of us get through these difficult times without letting stress eating and inactivity get the best of us. If you have other tips you would like to add, feel free to leave them in the comments section. Be safe everyone!

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore, MD

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 3 John 1:2 (NLT)

 

STAYING HEALTHY IN TIMES OF CRISIS: Updated (3/20/20)

I haven’t made an entry into this blog for a few months due to a series of personal and family struggles. As I continue to navigate the waters of grieving the loss of both my mother and my husband, I am now joined by all of you as we are grieving the loss of life as we knew it due to the impact of the Corona Virus. Along the way, I have learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to stay healthy in crisis situations. I would like to share what I have learned with my readers hoping that it might help someone else.

I have had numerous people inquire of me over the last few months “are you taking care of yourself?” I took those inquiries to heart and made conscious efforts to develop some simple strategies to keep myself healthy. Let me preface what follows with recognizing that it is the grace of God and the caring and prayers of others on my behalf that are getting me through these tough times. That said, I do feel that there are steps we can take in times of crisis that will help us to stay healthy.

1.GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Sleep deprivation in and of itself is a stressor on the body. Lack of sleep and chronic stress can cause elevations the stress hormone cortisol. This wrecks havoc on your immune system, increasing your risk of becoming ill. It is wise to establish a good sleep routine and stick to it as much as possible during stressful times.

2. FIND WAYS TO BE PHYSICALLY ACTIVE DAILY

I am sure that most of you have heard of the “runners high” which is the sense of well being that comes from the endorphins that are released by running. Well, you don’t have to be a runner to tap into that natural mood elevator. You can get it from any type of activity that you truly enjoy. That can be anything from a stroll in the park to dancing around your house to great music – as long as you are moving your body with purpose, it will make you feel better and will help ward off depression. There are countless workout videos available for FREE on YouTube. Even during the grief process, movement is medicine.

3. DON’T EAT YOUR FEELINGS

As a lifelong emotional eater who has now adopted a healthy lifestyle, I can report that the temptation to run to comfort foods in times of crisis never really goes away. Being comforted by sugary or starchy foods is embedded in our DNA. From the time we are infants, our parents and caregivers respond to every cry with a bottle or breast! It is no wonder that most of us feel a primal urge to eat in times of stress! If you choose to try to be your healthiest self in a crisis, you must continue to make healthy choices with your eating. Continue to choose real whole foods over starchy and processed convenience foods and drink plenty of water. The same is also true for those who find themselves losing weight when they are grieving because they neglect to fuel themselves properly. Eating foods that are healthy for you over the junk you may be craving takes a conscious effort. Don’t let time pressures be your excuse to eat poorly. Even fast food restaurants and grocery stores now offer salads and other healthy foods.

4.CARVE OUT TIME FOR PRAYER AND MEDITATION

There is nothing that nourishes a struggling spirit like a strong prayer life. Often the comfort and security you need can be found in daily quiet time communicating with God and meditating on His Word. Taking the time to meditate on the things you still have to be thankful for even in the worst of times can also help to lift your spirits during a crisis.

5. STAY CONNECTED TO OTHERS

Social distancing does not mean social isolation.The last thing you need to do in times of stress and grief is to isolate yourself from friends and loved ones. There is strength to be found in sharing your situation with family and close friends. This is a great time to take advantage of social media, texting, facetime, etc. Why not make it a point to phone a friend or distant loved one once a day?

6. BE WILLING TO ACCEPT HELP!

People do not usually offer to help you unless they mean it. They do, however, need for you to be specific about what help you need. Recognize that you cannot do it all and tap into the resources of others when you find yourself overwhelmed. A few hours of “me time” to focus just on yourself can make all the difference in the world. Taking time for a little self care is not selfish but is necessary to your overall well being.

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore, MD

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit”

3 John 1:2 (NLT)

It’s Never Too Late

Those who know me well know that I am a big fan of in home exercising and using YouTube videos for fitness. While I LOVE interval running outside and try to do at least one half marathon each month, I never stray far from my Walk Away the Pounds videos from back in the day! Now such videos are as close as that cell phone that is always with you! I have shared with many of my patients that we no longer have any excuse not to exercise. That is why I was so excited when a friend posted this video about an 87 year old lady who has lost weight and gotten fit by ditching her unhealthy diet and walking daily INSIDE her 2 room apartment. If her story does not inspire you to get off the couch, I don’t know what will!

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear Friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are in spirit.

3John 1:2 (NLT)

What is Your Why?

2018 has been the year that I finally took charge of my own health and the results have been amazing. As I have shared this journey through this blog and in my conversations with my patients and friends I have been saddened to hear all the excuses that I used to make being told to me by others. The list of excuses for not adopting a healthy lifestyle is a long one but these are some of the most common that I hear.

1. I LOVE _______! Fill in the blank with your drug of choice: bread, desserts, potatoes, chips, chocolate, etc.

2. I don’t have the time or energy to exercise regularly.

3. I don’t like vegetables.

4. My job is so stressful that junk food is the only thing that calms me.

5. I have lost weight many times before and I always gain it back so what’s the point?

As I reflect on what it has taken for me to get to the place in my life where I have stopped making those excuses, I realize that it did not happen overnight. I have done you a disservice if I have given any of you the impression that the road to good health is an easy one. It most certainly is not. This is particularly true if you hate to exercise and/or have a love affair with unhealthy food as I did.

I have recently asked myself what it took for me to stop making excuses. What it took for me and what it will likely take for you is to find your own individual “why.” Finding your why has become a catch phrase in corporate America as the key to success in the workplace. It is also the key to the long term maintenance of a healthy lifestyle. Your why is that thing that motivates you from deep within yourself. It is that thing that is more powerful than any of the excuses you have ever made and any of the lies you might have told yourself. The German philosopher Frederick Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why can endure any how.”

The initial why that sparked my desire to get healthy was wanting to lower my blood pressure. Sitting at my mother’s bedside while she lay in a coma from a hypertensive stroke solidified my resolve to do whatever I could to avoid the same fate. During the time that I was trying to make exercise and healthier eating a priority, I found out that not only was I still requiring blood pressure medication, I had also become pre-diabetic. This shook me up even more because I have watched family members lose limbs, vision and kidney function from diabetes. I now had a more imperative why – I do not want to have hypertension OR diabetes! With that focus, I now see the junk food that I once loved as poison to my body! Fear of disease and infirmity can be a powerful motivator!

As we enter 2019, I would urge each of you to take a different approach with you into the new year. Instead of making a list of resolutions that are doomed to fail, take some time to discover “why” you want to be healthier and let that be your focus. You may be a parent whose motivation is to set a good example for your children. Perhaps you have grandchildren and you would like to have the stamina to have fun with them. Maybe you have noticed the beginnings of arthritis in your joints and have been told that walking will help you have less pain. Your why might be depression and you remember how much better you felt after exercising. Whatever your why is, make that the reason you are choosing to change to a healthier lifestyle in 2019! Whenever you are tempted to veer off track, remind yourself that your why matters more to you than whatever it is that might be tempting you in the moment. Keeping that all important why at the forefront of your mind will help you stick with your healthy lifestyle for the long run.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear Friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

3 John 1:2 (NLT)

Menopause and Weight Gain

I cannot tell you how many times over the course of my career that a patient has said to me “since I turned 40 (or 50 or 60) I just cannot seem to lose weight.” If you are over 40 and have not had this experience, consider yourself blessed! What follows is the result of my personal quest to find answers to this dilemma, not only for my patients but for myself. It will contain some truths that may be hard to swallow so please don’t shoot the messenger!

When it comes to the aging female body, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that most us of gain weight as we age. The good news is that such weight gain is not inevitable or irreversible (praise the Lord)! For the pupose of this discussion I will be referring to those years up to, including, and beyond the menopause.

For those of you too young to know much about menopause, a few definitions may be in order. Perimenopause is defined as those years leading up to and including menopause. Menopause is the complete cessation of the menstrual cycle marked by 12 consecutive months without a period. Once this has occurred, a woman is considered to be postmenopausal. During this time the levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone become erratic and ultimately fall significantly. There is also an entity known as surgical menopause which is more sudden following the removal of both ovaries prior to natural menopause. Such sudden menopause can also result from certain cancer treatments. The average age at which menopause occurs is around 51 but it varies widely from the early 40’s to well into the late 50’s. Thus a woman may spend many years in this state of fluctuating hormone production.

Many women notice that not only is losing weight more difficult during this transition but any weight that is gained has a tendency to accumulate in the abdomen leading to the loss of the “girlish figure” of youth. There are multiple factors that lead to these changes. Once we have a better understanding of the changes that take place during these years and how we can combat them, the more likely we are to maintain our good health and control our weight well into our 60’s and beyond.

Loss if Muscle Mass

During the menopausal transition a woman may lose as much as half a pound of muscle mass per year. This has the effect of decreasing the metabolism. So even if you eat exactly as you did in your twenties and do not increase your physical activity, the aging body does not burn that fuel as well and the excess will result in weight gain. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest factors in midlife weight gain.

Fat is an Alternate Source of Estrogen

Once the ovaries stop making estrogen, the fat cells become the major alternative source of estrogen production. The fat cells are able to convert precursor hormones secreted by the adrenal glands into estrogen. The estrogen produced by the fat cells is a double edged sword. The estrogen that comes from excess fat can lessen some of the symptoms of menopause but obesity is a major risk factor for breast and endometrial cancer. So while the body is trying to hold on to fat cells as a source of estrogen, too much fat can be dangerous.

Poor Sleep

One of the cardinal symptoms of menopause is the dreaded night sweat. Many women are awakened nightly drenched in sweat to the point of having to get up and change night clothes and/or bed linen. Others suffer from insomnia likely related to milder vasomotor symptoms and other factors. As we discussed in a previous blog post, sufficient sleep is essential to good health. It is while we are sleeping that the hunger and fullness hormones reset and our insulin levels fall. When sleep is out of kilter, so are those hormones making us more likely to store fat. In addition, poor sleep increases the temptation to snack at night, crave high calorie comfort foods and take in excess calories.

Stress Eating.

There are numerous changes during midlife to which a woman may have to adjust. Changing roles in the lives of loved ones, (including children and parents), illness, job changes, divorce and death of a loved one can all lead us to turn to food for comfort. These stressors can also increase our blood of levels of the stress hormone cortisol which encourages our bodies to store belly fat. As alluded to a previous blog post, we must find alternatives to eating to handle the stresses in our lives.

Insulin Resistance.

Women who are very active (as I was) may find themselves gaining weight due to the effect of many years of eating a diet high in processed carbohydrates like bread, potatoes, sugar and chips and other junk foods. Even those high protein bars, low fat foods and commercially prepared smoothies are usually full of sugar! Those of us who have been chronic dieters relying on such foods to help us lose weight have set ourselves up for a world of trouble! A lifetime of high carbohydrate intake leads to increased insulin levels. Eventually the insulin stops performing as well to lower blood sugar and we become insulin resistant. This encourages our bodies to store the excess sugar as fat! In addition to poor nutrition, declining levels of estrogen during menopause has been linked to insulin resistance in susceptible women. It is estimated that at least 40-50 percent of postmenopausal women have insulin resistance which leads not only to weight gain but to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke and dementia.

Solutions to Menopausal Weight Gain

1. Fight back against the slowed metabolism and muscle loss with exercise. While we have already established that exercise contributes only modestly to weight loss, it is very beneficial to preventing weight gain. Both aerobic exercise like brisk walking, cycling and running as well as strength training are no longer optional but necessary to maintaining a healthy weight during the perimenopausal and post menopausal years. Regular exercise is also a great stress reliever and provides an alternative to stress eating! The key to success with exercise is consistency. Find activities you truly enjoy and enlist the support of others to hold you accountable.

2. Learn what your triggers are for the night sweats and hot flashes that interfere with sleep. These vary from person to person. Some of the likely culprits are caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, and sugars. If your night sweats are severe, you might want to speak to your doctor about medications and or other lifestyle changes to minimize them.

3. Consider adopting a LCHF (low carb/healthy fat) eating pattern (see last month’s blog post). A diet that minimizes processed carbohydrates and has moderate protein and increased healthy fats reduces insulin levels leading to less fat storage. Another way to reduce insulin levels is with time restricted eating. This can be as simple as eliminating late night eating by vowing not to eat within 2-3 hours of bedtime. If you go at least 12 hours without eating and get your morning exercise while still fasting, you will teach your body to burn your stored body fat to fuel your exercise, thus enhancing weight loss.

On a personal note, I went through menopause in my mid 40’s and struggled mightily with managing my weight throughout my 50’s. Even as an avid walker then interval runner I continued to struggle with my weight, hypertension and prediabetes. In the past year, even though I am now 64, I have been able to make remarkable improvements in my health by making the changes I have suggested to you. Be encouraged! It is never too late to take control of your health!!!

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

““Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

‭‭3 John‬ ‭1:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Food is Medicine

This week marks a full 6 weeks since I stopped taking medication for high blood pressure. I attribute my being able to do this to 6 months of a low carbohydrate/healthy fat way of eating and a weight loss of over 25 pounds. I cannot tell you how much of a miracle this is to me! I had pregnancy induced hypertension with both of my now adult children and have struggled with my blood pressure ever since. After watching my mother lose her ability to walk due to a massive hypertensive stroke, I became determined make some positive changes in my lifestyle to improve my health. I have spent at least the last 4 years trying to exercise my way to better health. During that time I used interval running to train for and complete 44 Half Marathons. Not only did I continue to need blood pressure medication, but I also managed to put on about 10 lbs! It was not until I took the focus off exercise and switched to a way of eating that keeps my insulin levels low that I was able to see significant positive changes in my health. The fact that I am no longer requiring blood pressure medication is testimony to the impact that eating real whole foods and limiting processed carbohydrates can have on a person’s health.

Because I am also prediabetic (diabetes runs rampant in my father’s family), during my previous attempts to get healthy I was very careful to avoid desserts. However, I continued to eat a diet dominated by low calorie processed foods (like sugar laden protein bars and baked gluten free chips) and low fat foods in an attempt to keep from gaining weight. Boy did I have it all wrong! In an act of desperation last fall, I tried a popular weight loss plan that featured portion controlled meal replacements and one meal a day of green vegetables and protein. While I lost a few pounds doing this, what I learned was that any diet that reduces your carbohydrate and caloric intake will lead to short term weight loss if you stick to it. However, I also learned that I did not want to be told exactly what to eat for the rest of my life. You see, I really love to eat and I need to be able to eat and enjoy real food! I just needed to find out not only WHAT to eat but WHEN to eat in order to improve my health. I also needed to learn how sleep, stress levels, emotional eating and exercise fit into a healthy lifestyle. As I have made these discoveries, I have shared what I have learned in this blog.

I am so ecstatic to be medication free at the age of 64 that I am highly motivated to continue to do the things that got me here. Long term health is not a quick fix, it is a series of decisions we make every day. After 6 months of learning to make good decisions, I am convinced that with a little guidance, each one of us can take control of his or her own health! Toward that end I have developed the following lifestyle tips that I shared in part in an earlier blog. I consider them the guidelines by which I plan to live the rest of my life. Just as Hippocrates said hundreds of years ago, food truly is medicine!

Dr. Moore’s Lifestyle Tips to Promote Wellness and Avoid Disease

  1. Avoid added sugars, white bread, potatoes, pasta and deep fried foods as well as ALL junk food. There is a reason it is called junk! Ditch sugary drinks and fruit juices and drink more water! You are better off eating an orange with its fiber than drinking the orange juice.
  2. Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables and green salads. Make berries your preferred fruits. These are less likely to spike insulin levels. Insulin is a fat storage hormone.
  3. Include a small amount of lean protein (fish, shellfish, lean meats, poultry, nuts, and eggs) at each meal.
  4. Incorporate foods containing healthy fats into your meals. Some examples of such foods are salmon, avocados, olive oil, olives, eggs and nuts. Healthy fats are important to satiety and controlling hunger. Consuming healthy fats at mealtimes will help you to stop snacking between meals.
  5. Time restricted eating – stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime and eat breakfast only when you are physically hungry.  Your first meal of the day is still breakfast (breaking your fast), regardless of how late you choose it eat it. These periods without food result in lower levels of insulin which will help to prevent fat storage. This is a very gentle form of intermittent fasting.
  6. Try to get least 30 minutes of exercise most days, preferably BEFORE eating. This allows your body to rely on your stored fat to fuel your exercise. This can be as simple as taking a brisk walk. Try to vary your workouts to include cardio, strength training and flexibility training.
  7. Eat intuitively rather than recreationally. Eat only when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full. Practice portion control.
  8. Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Proper rest is important to control not only your insulin levels but also your hunger and fullness hormones. Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life by setting boundaries.
  9. Move around more during the day. Do not sit when you can stand. Take the stairs over elevators and escalators. Just because there is a people mover or moving sidewalk available does not mean you have to use it! Get an activity tracker and aim for 10,000 steps a day.
  10. EAT REAL FOOD!! When eating out choose whole unprocessed food and ask that your food be prepared simply and in a healthy way. Better yet, whenever possible, try preparing your own healthy meals at home! This way you will know EXACTLY what you are eating.

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

3 John 1:2 (NLT)

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

What follows is the second in the series, “What I Did Wrong.” A quick look at my home bookshelves or inside my Kindle would tell you that I have been a lifelong professional dieter. As I said in an earlier post, I have lived my entire adult life in fear of returning to that obese teenager who was ridiculed in gym class. You name the weight loss strategy, I have tried it. As a medical student and resident I received little to no training in nutrition. There was no google back then so the bulk of what I learned about weight loss came from books and magazines. Whenever I committed to a plan, I would lose weight. Most of us can lose weight regardless of which diet we choose. But just like the contestants on The Biggest Loser – almost all of us gain it back!

As Dr. Jason Fung explains in his book, The Obesity Code, most calorie restriction diets are doomed because our bodies try to protect us from completely wasting away by lowering our basal metabolic rates and making us hungrier. It takes fewer calories to move a smaller body so even our exercising becomes less effective. Along comes the dreaded plateau and we become disenchanted with the diet and go back to the eating patterns that made us overweight in the first place! At this lower metabolic rate we often end up gaining even more weight when we return to our previous eating patterns. Unless you have chosen a plan that you can continue to live with over the long run, weight regain is practically inevitable. This fact lets us yoyo dieters off the hook. It is not our fault, we have been sabotaged by our own bodies!

News flash! DIETS DON’T WORK. For example, most of us have ingrained in our psyche to avoid fat and have tried a low fat diet. Go down the aisle of any grocery store and you will see product after product of low fat processed foods. If you look closely, however, you will see that the makers of most of those products have taken out the fat and replaced it with sugar. Ironically, since all of these low fat foods have been available, we as a nation have gotten fatter and fatter. We have been deceived by the food industry into thinking that fats makes us fat when it is actually sugar (and those foods that turn into sugar) that makes us fat. Sugar in all its forms triggers the release of insulin which not only works to keep our blood sugar from getting too high, but also encourages our bodies to store the excess sugar as fat! Many of us who have spent years eating “diet” foods have damaged our bodies response to insulin and have to produce more and more of this fat storage hormone to keep our blood sugar at normal levels. This is known as insulin resistance. Those of us who have this insulin resistance have a harder time losing weight.  There is much controversy about the multifactorial causes of obesity but there is no disagreement that long term weight control involves keeping insulin levels low.

So rather than going on diet after fad diet, why don’t we seek out a lifestyle that will keep our insulin levels low on a long term basis. As a Pre-diabetic, I have come to understand that my struggles like many of yours came down to the effects of high insulin levels triggered by low fat diets, too much sugar and other starches and what I like to call recreational eating. I was able to keep my weight barely in the normal range with exercise and portion control. However, it was not until I made changes in my lifestyle to keep my insulin levels down that I was finally able to see a significant change in not only my weight but my overall health and sense of well being. At the age of 64 I am fitter than I have ever been and my energy level has markedly increased! It is never too late to turn the page on an unhealthy lifestyle!

After 6 months of tweaking my own behaviors, this is now my forever lifestyle.

Dr. Moore’s Lifestyle Tips to Promote Wellness and Avoid Disease

1. Avoid added sugars, white bread, potatoes, pasta, and deep fried foods as well as ALL junk food. There is a reason it is called junk! Ditch sugary drinks and fruit juices and drink more water! You are better off eating an orange with its fiber than drinking the orange juice.

2. Increase your intake of non-starchy vegetables and green salads. Make berries your preferred fruits. These are less likely to spike insulin levels. Insulin is a fat storage hormone.

3. Include a small amount of lean protein (fish, shellfish, lean meats, poultry, nuts and eggs) at each meal.

4. Incorporate foods containing healthy fats into your meals.  Some examples of such foods are salmon, avocados, olive oil, olives, flax seeds, eggs and nuts. Healthy fats are important to satiety and controlling hunger. Healthy fats at mealtimes will help you to stop snacking in between meals.

5. Time restricted eating – stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime and eat breakfast only when physically hungry.  Your first meal of the day is still breakfast (breaking your fast), regardless of how late you choose it eat it. These periods without food result in lower levels of insulin which will help prevent fat storage. This is a very gentle form of intermittent fasting.

6. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise most days, preferably BEFORE eating. This allows your body to rely on your stored fat to fuel your exercise. This can be as simple as taking a brisk walk.

7. Eat intuitively rather than recreationally. Eat only when you are physically hungry and stop when you are full. Practice portion control.

8. Sleep 7-8 hours each night. Proper rest is important to control not only your insulin levels but also your hunger and fullness hormones.

9. Move around more during the day. Do not sit when you can stand. Take the stairs over elevators and escalators. Just there is a people mover or moving sidewalk available does not mean you have to use it! Get an activity tracker and aim for 10,000 steps a day.

10. EAT REAL FOOD!! When eating out choose whole unprocessed foods and ask that your food be prepared simply and in a healthy way. Better yet, whenever possible, try preparing healthy meals at home. This way you know EXACTLY what you are eating.

I make no claims that the course I have chosen is applicable to everyone reading this post. However, if you have been struggling to get healthy like I was you might consider giving it a try. What have you got to lose?

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”  3 John 1:2 (NLT)

Stop Late Night Snacking!!!

Since I started this blog in January, I have been focused on trying to solve the mystery of why 95% of people who have lost weight, including myself, have gained it back over the next 2 years. I do not claim to have all the answers but I can share with you the some if things I know I did wrong in the past and that I am determined not to repeat this time. The first in this series on unhealthy habits is late night snacking. I cannot tell you how many nights I stayed up late catching up my electronic medical charts nibbling on large quantities of Skinny Pop or baked gluten free chips. Even something as “healthy” as skinny pop eaten right before going to bed can be hazardous your quest for good health.

Effects of Eating at Bedtime

The 24/7 availability of food in this country has created an unhealthy mindset toward food. We no longer eat to fuel our bodies, we often eat out of habit or just for fun. Aside from derailing your attempts to maintain a healthy weight, late night eating can lead to multiple other health problems.

1. Trouble sleeping. Eating late at night can keep you awake as your body tries to digest the food. This can make it not only difficult to fall asleep but to stay asleep as well. We established in an earlier blog that poor sleep causes imbalances in your hunger and fullness hormones which can lead to weight gain.

2. Acid reflux and heartburn are more common in late night eaters. Acid reflux can become severe causing inflammation in the esophagus as well as significant pain. This can lead to long term complications such as ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.

3. Pre-diabetes and diabetes are worsened by late night eating, especially when eating simple carbs. Those foods cause a sharp rise in insulin which drives down your blood sugar making you hungry for more. We have all experienced this after eating a simple carbohydrate packed meal of Chinese food. Insulin is a fat storage hormone and that encourages your body to store fat.

4. Late night eating makes you hungrier the next morning which could trigger you to overeat at breakfast. I noticed years ago that if I go to bed full I will invariably wake up stomach growling hungry. This is because late night eating triggers the release of the hormone ghrelin which is responsible for triggering hunger after an overnight fast. Late night eating shortens the normal overnight fast that allows the ghrelin to rise as slowly as it should while we are asleep.

Breaking the Habit

It might not be as easy as you think to break the habit of late night eating. It definitely takes time, especially if you have been doing it for many years as I had. Here are a few of the strategies that have helped me.

1. Vow not to eat within 3-4 hours of bedtime. Figure out what time you need to go to bed in order to get 7-8 hours of sleep and close your kitchen 3-4 hours before that time. If this sounds suspiciously like intermittent fasting, I will address that in a future blog.

2. After your evening meal take a walk or do some other form of physical activity to promote digestion. I would not recommend anything too vigorous that might keep you awake. Yoga, pilates or a simple stretching routine work just fine. Take breaks from the tv or computer to do a household chore or two (not in the kitchen).

3. Purge your kitchen of your favorite late night foods. (See the blog on taking the junk food challenge). If junk food is not readily available, you are less likely to eat it. Healthy eating decisions start in the grocery store. If you don’t have it in your house, you can’t eat it.

4. Make it a habit to eat a satisfying dinner that will keep you from getting hungry later. When tempted to go foraging for a snack, stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry. Listen to your stomach and not your head when it comes to eating.

5. Brush your teeth right after dinner to symbolize the end of your eating day. If the urge to eat is still strong, try sugar free gum or strong mints to squelch that urge.

6. If all else fails, go to bed a little earlier if it will keep you out of the kitchen.

The strategies to avoid late night eating that have worked for me might not work for you so try to find tricks that work for you! We are all in this struggle together to find our healthiest selves.

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”  3 John 1:2 (NLT)

New Month, New Challenge

Happy First Day of National Nutrition Month!! Congratulations in those if us who completed last month’s Junk Food Challenge. I am entering month 5 of my controlled carbohydrate, no junk food lifestyle. I am down a total of 20 lbs and have never felt better!! This month let’s take it to the next level by not only ditching the junk food but by limiting caffeine and alcohol, intentionally eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and water, water, water!! Who is with me???

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear friend, I hope that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.” 3 John 1:2 (NLT)

Stress and Your Health

Since February is American Heart Month, I thought it might be a good idea to focus on some of the factors that affect our heart health. Stress is certainly at the top of that list. God designed our bodies to protect us from perceived threats by making our adrenal glands produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. This is known as the fight or flight stress response. We have all felt this when we have almost had an accident while driving. In the split second that we see that accident about to happen the adrenals spring into action. The adrenaline increases our heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. The cortisol increases glucose, enhances brain use of glucose and curbs nonessential body functions. We may feel so shaken that we pull over to calm down once disaster is averted. Fortunately this stress response is self-limited and our heart rate, respirations and blood pressure return to normal.

What if the stressors in our lives happen too frequently or last too long or when the stressors are always present? Chronic stress occurs when the stress response stays turned on all the time. This chronic stress leads to prolonged exposure to stress hormones and can have adverse effects on almost every system in our bodies placing us at increased risk for multiple medical problems, including heart disease.

There are numerous sources of chronic stress in our daily lives. Examples of such stress include:

  • Stress related to the pressures of the demands of work, school, finances and other daily responsibilities.
  • Stress brought on by a negative life change like losing a loved one, a divorce, losing a job or being diagnosed with a life threatening illness.
  • Stress related to a traumatic experience like a major accident, assault, war or a natural disaster.

Some of the many health effects of chronic stress are outlined in this illustration. The same stress response that might be life saving in a crisis, can suppress our immune, digestive, sleep and reproductive systems when it persists over time.  In addition to medical problems, chronic stress can also lead to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, and panic disorders.

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We are all different in how we respond to stress. Some of us, myself included, experience gastrointestinal problems when stressed. Others experience headaches, sleeplessness, sadness anger or irritability. Still others turn to food for comfort and subsequently put on excess weight.

When the stress is routine like job stress, it might go unnoticed as just a way of life. Over time, the continued strain on our bodies leads to serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  If you want to see an outstanding depiction of what chronic job stress can do, watch the recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy in which high-powered surgeon Miranda Bailey suffers a heart attack (Season 14, Episode 11). The combination of a stressful job, poor lifestyle choices and a genetic predisposition form the perfect storm for the development of heart disease. As an African American woman over 60 who has high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, I so related to the truth of this storyline.

Ways to Reduce Stress

The good news in all of this is that there are ways to manage chronic stress to reduce or prevent these adverse effects.

  1. Learn to recognize the signs of stress in your own body. Difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol use, being easily angered, having a lack of energy or feeling depressed might all be signs that you are stressed.
  2. Set goals and priorities by deciding what can be done and what can wait in any given day. Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority over “doing it all.” If you are feeling overwhelmed on your job, seek out ways to reduce your workload.
  3. Get regular exercise!!! I cannot emphasize this point enough. A mere 30 minutes a day of exercise can have a profound impact on your mood and reduce stress.
  4. Find something that relaxes you and make it a regular part of your life. It might be prayer and meditation, yoga, tai chi or a massage. Take time for hobbies, reading a good book, or listening to music.
  5. Learn how to enjoy a good laugh. Laughter really is good medicine.
  6. Stay connected with family members and friends who can provide emotional support. There is strength and healing in community!

Be Blessed,

Yvonne Moore

“Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”  3 John 1:2 (NLT)