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Menopause and Weight Gain!

You’re approaching menopause. You’re approaching “50.” Does menopause plus the magic number “50” mean you are also approaching fat? The answer to this question is a resounding NO! You could be entertaining weight gain if you are in either of the above scenarios, but it is not inevitable. Hormonal changes of menopause might increase the chances of extra pounds going on around your abdomen vs. your hips and thighs. But hormones alone can not be totally blamed for weight gain that may occur around menopause.

Is there any possibility around the age of menopause any of the following are also occurring which will decrease your calorie burn:

  • Fewer trips walking to your teens bedroom checking on them or the condition of their room?
  • If kids have left home, possibly fewer trips to the grocery store with fewer sacks to carry in and fewer groceries to put away?
  • Have you acquired a house cleaner or someone to help with the yard work?
  • Fewer loads of laundry to and clothes to put away?

Weight gain related to aging, as well as lifestyle and genetic factors. Muscle mass typically decreases with age, while fat increases. As muscle decreases, so does the rate at which your body burns calories. Have you increased your resistance workouts to maintain your muscle mass? If you continue to eat as you always have but are not increasing your physical activity you will gain weight. When you hit 50 you need to be exercising more, not less than when you were 40. A minimum of 150 minutes of cardio per week plus strength training twice weekly is needed to try and prevent weight gain. If weight loss is desired additional exercise will likely be required.

Calories will need to be tweaked slightly to maintain your current weight through the decades. Seek the help of a registered dietitian to calculate specific adjustments for you. At Banister Nutrition we will conduct an RMR test (resting metabolic rate) to get an exact printout of what your daily energy burn is. This is a very simple 10 minute breathing test which determines exactly how your body is burning calories.

Inadequate sleep may also contribute to weight gain. When you are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, you tend to snack more and are not as disciplined and focused on making responsible choices. Sleep deprivation also affects hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and leptin suppresses appetite. Inadequate sleep is associated with reducing leptin and elevating ghrelin. These hormone changes result in increased hunger and appetite especially for foods with high carbohydrate content which of course may contribute to weight gain. Get your sleep if weight management is of concern to you.

-CB

Nutrition During Cancer Treatment

Nutrition plays an important role in overall cancer treatment and healing.

Cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, immunotherapy, and T-cell therapy.  No matter which cancer diagnosis, mechanism of onset, or even genetic predisposition, a nutritious diet, together with regular physical activity, is vital for not only cancer prevention but also for treatment and recovery.

Should I only eat organic foods?

Let us first mention: the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables far surpass any risk associated with pesticides- organic or not.

Cancer is a costly disease. Buying organic foods also be costly. Organic foods can be nutritious, however, there is no strong evidence to support organic being more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.

Organic foods are produced using farming practices that restrict the use of certain but not all pesticides and fertilizers. Most synthetics are prohibited in organicunless there is no naturally occurring alternative.

Organic or not, fruits and vegetables properly cleaned can be safely consumed during cancer treatment Neutropenic patients should talk to their dietitian and oncologist before consuming raw fruits and vegetables.

Does sugar feed cancer?

Nutrients feed cells. Therefore, all nutrients- carbohydrates, proteins, and fats feed cancer.

This myth comes from two facts that alone are true, but together, they are out of context. 1) Excess consumption of high-sugar foods can lead to excess adipose tissue and 2) Increased body fat can increase the risk of developing diseases, such as cancer.

Carbohydrates come from fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and of course, sugar. Although the science is much more complex, when we consume carbohydrates, our body breaks this down to be used for energy. Glucose is the primary source of energy our brains and muscles use for energy.

Carbohydrates are the ideal source of energy our bodies use, although, when there are not enough carbohydrates on board, our bodies resort to using fat and protein.

We must remember to look at the source of sugar! Highly-refined, high-calorie foods that may contain added sugars are traditionally low in nutrients and dietary fiber. Foods like these have been associated with insulin resistance and increased risk of developing diseases.

Consuming carbohydrate sources such as fruits and vegetables, grains, and dairy means a diet rich in vitamins,
minerals, and phytochemicals that can help to defend the body against cancer and other diseases.

How do I prevent weight loss?

Maintaining weight can seem like an uphill battle during chemotherapy. On days when you have an appetite, try to get enough calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals. This is important in controlling weight loss. Chemotherapy and other medications can cause loss of appetite and dysgeusia (altered taste). Some tips to prevent weight loss and increase calorie content include:

  • Replacing water or broth with milk in soups and cooked cereals
  • Adding butter, salad dressing, and oils to vegetables
  • Adding extra protein to soups by slicing cooked egg white into the soup
  • Eating when you do have an appetite

If you are doing your treatment at an in-patient facility, your weight is monitored very closely, and the oncology dietitian works closely with your oncologist to prevent extreme and rapid weight loss.

How do I deal with nausea and vomiting?

There is some evidence that ginger may be helpful in further reducing or eliminating nausea and vomiting during and after chemotherapy treatments. Some patients find chewing gum helps with reducing nausea and vomiting. If the smell of food makes you nauseous, try avoiding strong spices and seasonings. Call in some help from friends and family members if preparing foods makes it hard to have an appetite.

Cancer is a disease that impacts everyone in the patient’s support network. If you have questions about nutrition during cancer treatment and recovery, contact our dietitians at Banister Nutrition at 405-755-7561.

KD

American Institute for Cancer Research. Available at www.aicr.org. Accessed January 15, 2020.
Barański, M., Średnicka-Tober, D., Volakakis, N., Seal, C., Sanderson, R., Stewart, G., . . . Leifert, C. (2014). Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: A systematic literature review and meta-analyses. British Journal of Nutrition, 112(5), 794-811. doi:10.1017/S0007114514001366
Dangour AD, Dodhia SK, Hayter A et al. (2009) Nutritional quality of organic foods: a systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Medicine, 90, 680-685.
Smith-Spangler C, Brandeau ML, Hunter GE et al. (2012) Are organic foods safer or healthier than conventional alternatives? A systematic review.  Annals of Internal Medicine, 157, 348-366.

Intermittent Fasting (IF) and Diabetes

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a diet that cycles between periods of fasting and non-fasting. Some Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics use IF in attempts to lose weight or decrease blood sugar levels. This dietary strategy that focuses on when you eat, rather than what you eat.

Fasting may be for days or a few hours during the day. Three of the most popular IF methods include:

  • 16:8 method: This strategy focuses on skipping breakfast and restricting the daily eating period to 8 hours followed by a 16 hour fast in between.
  • Eat-Stop-Eat: This strategy focuses on fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the next day.
  • 5:2 method: This strategy focuses on consuming only 500–600 calories on two non-consecutive days of the week, but eat normally the other 5 days.

The purpose behind IF is to reduce total calories consumed to produce reductions in weight, glucose, and A1C. Current studies have shown IF and continuous caloric restriction both produced similar weight loss results.

Sustainability and safety of any weight loss strategy are imperative to its success. 

For people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, there are several factors to consider such as high-risk glycemic events and medication management. Those being treated with insulin or sulfonylureas such as glipizide, glyburide or glimepiride are at risk of hypoglycemic events. Hyperglycemic events as serious as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) may occur during periods of non-fasting if carbohydrate consumption is too high or medications are adjusted incorrectly.

If an individual with diabetes is considering IF the keys to the safety of this method include: 

  1. Closely monitoring blood glucose to catch and treat low blood sugar events  
  2. Extensively review of nutrition and carbohydrate management
  3. Adjusting medication dose and schedule, when necessary 
  4. Adjusting exercise
  5. Reviewing hypoglycemia risk, symptoms, treatment
  6. Increasing awareness of the potential to overeat after periods of fasting.

Common side effects from fasting are decreased energy, continual hunger, and irritability which may interfere with one’s desire to continue this plan. Currently, there is not enough evidence to support the benefits of IF versus the potential consequences for people with diabetes. 

If you have diabetes and you’re exploring IF, contact Banister Nutrition.

CB

Mindful versus Mindless

Have you ever cleaned out the last few crumbs from the chip bag? How about those cookies that were a few days old, luke warm french fries, ice cream with frost bite, or the last dinner roll because it shouldn’t go to waste? Infants and toddlers eat in response to intuitive information from their gut, then they evolve into adults who eat for external reasons. If you are overweight, your reasons for eating exceed hunger and may include boredom, fun, entertainment, stress, all of which are generally mindless automatic routines.

Mindless behavior is defined as an act done without concern for the consequences. What would happen if you drove your car, packed your bags for a trip, took a test, or conducted a meeting in a mindless state? The very perplexing aspect of human mindless eating behavior is, that it’s repeated frequently with continual complaints about the consequences (those extra pounds) and no lasting efforts to change the behavior.

No one goes to bed skinny and wakes up overweight. If you are overweight, you may not remember changing your eating and exercise habits that produced the body you are seeing in the mirror today.  When do you start or stop eating? Most Americans stop eating when they are full, while those in leaner cultures stop eating when they are no longer hungry. Americans also frequently start eating when they are not experiencing hunger. The foods consumed when hunger is not the indicator to start/stop eating more than likely fall into the mindless category.

If you are mindful enough to identify when you are no longer hungry and STOP at this point opposed to mindlessly continuing to eat until you are full, your calorie intake will likely decrease about 20%. The calorie difference between full and too full/miserable is an additional 20%.  Translated into real calorie numbers: if you are mindlessly eating until you are full 3 meals/day and your calorie intake is 2100 calories/day, then you decide to be mindful and stop eating when you are no longer hungry this will decrease your calorie intake approximately 420 calories each day which will produce one pound of weight loss in about 8 days.

 

Mindful vs. Mindless is a great way to discover the truth about what you are eating and avoid the consequences of those extra pounds. Making this behavioral change from mindless to mindful is not an easy task. It requires guidance, support and encouragement from an RD/LD who is experienced in this cognitive behavioral change process. Consider for a moment the thought of losing weight, changing your relationship with food, enjoying all food and social occasions which include awesome food in the absence of  feeling worried, deprived, or guilty… what are you waiting for?

CB

Intense Diet Plans- Losing More Than Weight

The Biggest Loser contestants lose large amounts of weight during the show through dieting and intense workouts. The winner of season 8, the season followed in a recent study, had calorie deficits of 3,500-calories per day (1 pound per day!) and exercised 7 hours each day. The study emphasized that while each contestant lost large amounts of weight, they also suffered ill-effects related to their extreme weight loss. Thirteen of the fourteen participants regained weight after the show, in part Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 12.03.12 PMdue to their significantly lowered resting metabolic rates (RMR), which resulted from their severely limited caloric intake. This change in their RMR is called metabolic adaptation and averaged ~500 kcal per day lower than expected in season 8 contestants. In addition to their lowered RMRs, the contestants also produced substantially less leptin, a hormone that controls hunger.

 

Although the study was small, it has reinforced the battle of obesity and losing weight can be a complicated path. Perhaps the show’s approach to incredibly low caloric intake and rapid weight loss may contribute to the significantly lowered metabolism and hormone levels. Crash dieting may also contribute to crashing resting metabolism rates and leptin concentrations.

Researchers are realizing the way out of obesity is a mix of biology and mental fortitude. If you’re struggling to lose weight or maintain your weight loss, reach out for help. Most importantly, seek guidance and coaching from a professional well versed with emotional and physical struggles of weight loss. We at Banister Nutrition will embrace your total lifestyle including work, activities, family demands, self-talk, stress, and emotional challenges along with your food to support you on your journey to healthy, fit, and strong.

-HM