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Dr. Derek Muse

Board Certified Physician

Our structured weight loss programs will help you get healthier.

How to Help Your Teen Maintain a Healthy Weight

You probably know that the number of obese children and teens has risen in the United States over the past two decades. Obesity in children and youth can lead to heart disease caused by high cholesterol or high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, asthma and sleep apnea. In addition, obese adolescents are often targets of early social discrimination and teasing. The psychological stress of this can cause low self-esteem which could hinder academic and social functioning all the way through adulthood.

What Can I Do to Help Prevent Childhood and Adolescent Obesity?

As a parent, you want your child to maintain a healthy weight. To do this, you need to balance the calories your teen receives from foods and beverages with the calories they use through physical activity and normal growth. The goal should be to reduce the rate of your teen’s weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. Teens should never be placed on a weight reduction diet without consulting a health care provider.

Encourage Health Eating Habits

The key to balancing calories is eating foods that provide adequate nutrition and an appropriate number of calories. Help your teen learn to be aware of what they eat by developing healthy eating habits, looking for ways to make favorite dishes healthier and reducing calorie-rich temptations.

Simple ways to develop healthy eating habits are:

  • Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products
  • Include low-fat or non-fat milk and dairy products
  • Choose lean meats
  • Serve reasonable portions
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Limit consumption of sugar and saturated fat

You can also remove calorie-rich temptations. Teach your teen that everything can be enjoyed in moderation, but reducing high-fat and high sugar snacks is a good way to stay healthy. Make these things special treats instead of daily snacks. Substitute sugary or salty processed snacks for fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and hummus.

Encourage Activity

Another part of balancing is calories is engaging in appropriate physical activity and avoiding excess sedentary time. Regular physical activity has many benefits for teens, including:

  • Strengthening bones
  • Decreasing blood pressure
  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Increasing self-esteem
  • Helping with weight maintenance

It’s recommended for teens to participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, preferably daily. Great examples of moderate physical intensity activity are brisk walking, tag, jump rope, swimming and dancing. In addition to increasing exercise, help your teen avoid too much inactive time. Limit the amount of time that your teen watches television, plays video games or surfs the web to no more than two hours each day.

Maintenance after Weight Loss Surgery

If you’ve just undergone a medical weight loss surgery, then you probably know that the hard work is just beginning. After medical weight loss, it is crucial for you to make serious lifestyle changes in order to stay healthy, maintain the weight loss and promote further weight loss.

Here is a list of essential tips you should follow post-weight loss surgery:

Don’t drink your calories

You’ll have a limited caloric intake after weight loss surgery in order to help you lose weight. You’re working against your surgery by taking in liquid calories that provide no nutrition and slow down weight loss. Every calorie will count when you focus on protein, fruits and vegetables. Within the first few days after surgery you might be encouraged to drink smoothies and other protein rich drinks.

Avoid sugar

Sugar is an empty calorie and will make your blood sugar climb, cause hunger pangs, provide no nutrients and, if you’ve received a certain type of gastric bypass surgery, cause dumping syndrome. You should avoid sugar and any foods that list sugar in the first three ingredients.

Don’t drink fluids immediately before, during or after your meal

You need to reserve the small amount of space in your stomach for high-quality, nutrient-rich food. If you drink before and during your meal your stomach will be full of fluid and then washed out before you can absorb nutrients.

Don’t stop taking medications without approval

Diseases can improve with surgery and weight loss, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking medication. Contact your physician prior to stopping medications and don’t start any before getting approval in the weeks following surgery.

Get rid of alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol is full of empty calories with nutritional value that can contribute to stomach ulcers. You are also more sensitive to alcohol after weight loss surgery. Similarly, caffeine will also increase your risk of stomach ulcers, along with making it difficult to stay hydrated, altering your mood and increasing your heart rate.

Increase protein and whole foods

Protein and whole foods should be the primary focus when you sit down for a meal. It helps maintain muscle mass and will keep you full for longer after meals. In addition to protein, minimally processed foods like fruit, vegetables and healthy protein are ideal for your diet. Avoid anything boxed or canned when a fresh alternative is available.

Avoid simple carbs

White bread, pasta, sugar and white rice are all simple carbs that you should avoid. Wholesome alternatives like brown rice contain fiber and other nutrients that white rice does not. Simple carbohydrates elevate blood glucose levels and trigger hunger pangs and cravings.

Don’t get pregnant within the first 24 months after surgery

Your body is in high weight-loss mode for at least a year after surgery and during this time, supporting yourself and a baby would be unhealthy and dangerous for a developing fetus. Use a reliable method of birth control and consult your surgeon before attempting to become pregnant.

Start exercising

Don’t make your exercise program wait until you have lost all the weight. Even if it’s just a few steps at a time, you need to start now to get in the habit. As your stamina increases throughout weight loss, you can start exercising longer and harder.

The Best Proteins for Weight Loss

As you take steps towards a healthy lifestyle after medical weight loss, protein will become your best friend. It burns calories, satiates the appetite and reduces cravings. Here are six examples of healthy protein you should add to your diet after weight loss surgery:

  • Whole eggs are high in proteins, healthy fats and can make you feel full with a very low amount of calories. A study showed that when 30 overweight women ate eggs for breakfast instead of bagels, they had increased satiety and ate less over the next 36 hours.
  • Nuts are high in protein, fiber and healthy fats, making them an excellent snack. Studies have shown that eating nuts can improve your metabolic health and promote weight loss. Nuts are still high in calories so make sure not to binge on them.
  • Beans and legumes like lentils, black beans, kidney beans and others are rich in protein and fiber. These nutrients are linked satiety and also contain some resistant starch.
  • Salmon is loaded with quality protein, healthy fats and nutrients like vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, it contains phosphorus, potassium and more that have beenshown to reduce inflammation, a major player in obesity and metabolic disease.. Salmon also contains iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid function. Most people don’t get enough iodine, so salmon is a great way to include it.
  • The protein in lean meat is the most fulfilling nutrient and eating a high protein diet can help you burn between 80 and 100 more calories per day. Studies also show that increasing your protein intake to 25 or 30 percent of calories can cut cravings by 60 percent, reduce the desire for late-night snacking and cause a weight loss almost a pound per week. Lean beef and chicken breast are the healthiest meat options.
  • Full-fat yogurt contains probiotic bacteria that can improve the function of your gut. A healthy gut could potentially help protect you against inflammation and leptin resistance, the main hormonal driver of obesity. Full fat yogurt is associated with a reduced risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes over time.

Beating a Sugar Addiction

Americans have a sugar problem. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that on average, people in some western countries consume over 500 calories of sugar per day. Many of us struggle with a sugar addiction because sugar is added to so many of our foods in The United States, even those that are marketed as “healthy.”
If you’re trying to lose weight while struggling with a sugar addiction, check out these tips:

  • Choose naturally sweet foods
    Fruits, berries, dates, raisins and other naturally sweet foods also contain nutrients and fiber, so you can satisfy a sweet tooth without reaching for a candy bar.
  • Read labels
    Sugar is hidden in so many foods that you’d never expect. Try to save your sugar intake for the things you really enjoy and remove the excess hidden sugars.
  • Don’t eat sugar out of habit
    Many of us have a snack at a certain time or always eat a dessert after dinner. If you avoid eating foods automatically out of habit, you can choose indulgences carefully and make them treats to savor.
  • Be aware of emotional eating
    So many of us eat sweet treats when we feel tired, sad or stressed, using the desserts as an excuse to feel better. If you’re feeling an urge for chocolate or cake to get energy or calmness, you probably need someone to talk to.
  • Prepare
    Always have healthy options around for when you’re hungry or stressed. Good examples are chopped vegetables, hard boiled eggs, berries or unsweetened tea. Find the healthier alternatives to all of your sweet temptations.
  • Include fermented foods
    Fermented foods have beneficial microflora that can diminish sugar cravings. Examples of fermented foods include tempeh, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles and yogurt. Adding more fermentation to your diet will make the sugar you eat less damaging and reduce cravings over time.
  • Eat foods with all flavors
    There are six flavors to food: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. If the body receives all of the flavors, it is more balanced, has improved digestion and diminished sugar cravings. There are many meals that can include all the flavors. Healthy fats are a great way to get more flavors into your diet. Try using olive oil, nuts and avocados to help you feel full and reduce sugar cravings.
  • Eat a balanced diet
    Avoid packaged and processed foods full of sugar and white flour and purchase fresh, organic produce and grass-fed meats. This will help restore your body’s natural balance and make sugar less enticing. Using a high quality multivitamin can also support balance and eliminate nutritional gaps.

The New Normal

With tears in her eyes, she said to me, “I just can’t do it. I can’t fail again.”

It’s natural to believe that after we have been successful in losing weight, but have put the weight back on again, that we have failed. This is not the case. Weight maintenance is far more difficult than simply losing weight. I remember the moment I had the painful realization that I could never go back to “normal” once I finished the diet. I was in the room with a weight loss patient who was being seen by Dr Muse. As I listened to the things he told this patient, I remember feeling somewhat hopeless for a moment when I realized that my weight problem would never go away. I realized at that moment I had a chronic weight problem, and that I would always have a weight problem. Regardless of how thin I might become, there is still that fat kid inside of me who wants to come out and play. I have come to realize that I can’t depend on my instincts when it comes eating. I am what Dr. Muse classifies as a Satiety Type 4. I am missing 2 of the 3 key satiety signals that allow individuals to feel satisfied for many hours after eating. Because I do get the nausea signal, I rarely allow myself to eat enough food to trigger the nausea in one sitting. The problem is that I love to eat, and so I have become a chronic snacker, starting even at a very young age. The realization that I would never stop having a weight problem was probably the most revealing thing I learned while on my weight loss journey. I was in complete denial about the amount of food I was consuming in a given day. It did not matter that I had already consumed enough calories to meet my caloric needs for the entire day, before lunch. When it was lunchtime, I would always go and keep eating. Learning how to only eat only when I’m actually hungry is still a challenge. I still default to my 3 questions that I ask myself if I’m considering eating something: #1 Are you hungry? #2 Is your stomach growling? and #3 Are you hungry enough to drink your shake? With the help of some major behavior modification, and Phentermine, I have been able to maintain the weight loss achieved thus far for 2 years. I no longer feel hopeless. I have accepted that this will never go away, and most importantly, I can’t do this by myself. I now realize that in order to maintain my weight, I will need to discover a new “normal,” which includes watching what I eat, and taking a pill for the rest of my life.

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