Healthy Byte: Make Nice with Food

healthy foods and a tape measureTake a mindful approach to healthy eating |

Maintaining a healthy weight can be difficult, and eating right is sometimes an uphill battle. So, it’s often tempting to take the easy way out, succumbing to microwaveable meals and fast food fare. But ending your war against food is possible, and in taking a more mindful approach what goes into your body, and how, you may discover a healthier way to shed pounds.

The Cheat Sheet: What are healthier alternatives to overeating?

Dr. Susan Albers: Mindful eating is key to ending overeating. It squashes emotional eating and helps you to eat just what you need — not more. Basically, being mindful means having more control over your actions, particularly around food.

CS: How can a person combat overeating if they’ve struggled with it their whole life?

SA: First, you have to rewire your mindset to stop dieting. This is often easier said than done because it’s so ingrained in our culture. A dieting mindset gets you into either or situations — either I’m on a diet or I’m off. Mindful eating isn’t so black and white, which helps people sidestep the sense of failure or giving up. It’s also losing the guilt and starving.

Dr. Susan Albers holding an apple

CS: If someone is a stress eater, how can they overcome the temptation to eat, and instead use other ways to deal with stress?

SA: Think about the 2 Rs — reboot and relax. Basically, when we are stressed, we are looking for a way to unwind. Studies show that food only comforts us for about three minute, and then the positive feelings fade. Relaxation techniques help you to relax and unwind. This includes things that I’ve included in my book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, like self-massage, yoga techniques, aromatherapy, etc.

Rebooting your mindset can be a little more challenging. The book includes ways of turning around negative thinking, which keeps you stuck. Being able to remain positive, see the silver lining, and rebound makes food less tempting. We eat to escape feelings. Mindfulness helps you cope with them as they are until they pass — and they will pass.

CS: How can people be more mindful about the food they’re putting into their bodies?

SA: If you don’t know where to start, start with what I call the 5 Ss of Mindful Eating. Sit down, slowly chew, savor each bite, simplify your environment by putting treats out of sight, and smile between bites so you have a moment to check in to ask yourself if you are truly satisfied. These all change how vs. what you eat. So many plans focus on the what to eat. We need to learn the how.


CS: How realistic is it to begin a healthier diet?

SA: You don’t have to change anything. Just slip more mindfulness into what you are already doing. This is often a simple mind shift that takes no more than a second. Make every choice a conscious choice instead of mindlessly eating out of habit or what I call the JBITS syndrome — just because it is there. Connect to all the actions around eating from picking up your fork to feeling your back against the chair to savoring the texture of each bite.

CS: How can a person’s daily routine be affected, positively or negatively, by their eating habits?

SA: Some habits and routines are positive. You just do it without any emotion or thought. For example, when you brush your teeth there is no emotional struggle or question. You just do it. Routine eating habits can take out some of the emotion, difficulty, and taxing nature of making a decision. In other words, you just eat the banana like you do every afternoon without any emotional struggle. Habit is negative when you do it without thought or connection to the experience. Sitting on the couch and mindlessly eating chips each night takes out the enjoyment of the experience and can get you in a deep rut.

There you go, just one more reason to drop the diet mindset and start thinking about mindful eating. So, yes, you can totally still have those potato chips. Just make sure you enjoy every bite knowing you can have them again instead of feeling like you need to plow through the entire bag. You’ll be healthier, and happier, for it.


Originally Posted HERE

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Healthy Byte: Blood Pressure Guidelines Maybe Changing

Details were revealed Monday from a landmark federal study that challenges decades of thinking on blood pressure, giving a clearer picture of plusses and minuses of more aggressive treatment.

The study was stopped in September 2015, nearly two years early, when it became clear that lower pressure for most people over 50 helps prevent heart problems and deaths, but side effects and other key details were not disclosed.

Full results came Monday at an American Heart Association conference in Orlando and were published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, along with a dozen commentaries in three science journals.

“Overall, we deemed that the benefits far outweigh the risks” of aiming lower, said one study leader, Dr. Paul Whelton of Tulane University.

One in 3 U.S. adults has high blood pressure, a reading of 140 over 90 or more. Normal is under 120 over 80. Detailed data unveiled at the AHA meeting showed additional benefits of intensive lowering of systolic pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — to 120 or below, despite the commonly used medical target of simply below 140 over 90.

“We thought 140 was good enough,” study co-author George Thomas, MD, director of Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Hypertension and Blood Pressure Disorders, told Yahoo Health. He says that the results are surprising given that they’re so different from the current recommended guidelines.

“What we’ve been aiming for was 140,” he says. “We didn’t have any evidence to suggest otherwise.” Thomas notes that 120 is considered a “normal” systolic blood pressure for most people, but the goal has always been to get people with high blood pressure to 140.

The findings are so significant because high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for various health issues, including heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure. According to the NIH, an estimated one in three people in the U.S. has high blood pressure.

Nicole Weinberg, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told Yahoo Health that the new findings are “wonderful” because many clinicians have noticed better results in heart muscle and artery function when high blood pressure patients can get closer to 120.

“But when the guidelines say that it’s 140, you’re always fighting an uphill battle with patients,” she says.


More than 9,300 people were enrolled. Half got two medicines, on average, to get their top blood pressure reading below 140. The rest got three drugs and aimed for under 120.

One complication is that study enrolled people with a systolic blood pressure of 130 or more, somewhat muddying the notion of who needs treatment.


After one year, 1.65 percent of the lower pressure group had suffered a major heart problem or heart-related death, compared to 2.2 percent of the others, a 25 percent lower risk. About 3.3 percent of the lower pressure group died, versus 4.5 percent of the others, a 27 percent lower risk.


Too-low blood pressure, fainting episodes and more worrisome, kidney problems were 1 percent to 2 percent higher in the lower pressure group. Yet falls that cause injury due to lightheadedness were not more common, as had been feared especially for older people.

The risks were considered well worth the benefits of a lower risk of heart trouble and death.


The study involved people over 50 whose top reading was over 130. People with diabetes were excluded, so the results do not apply to them. The results also may not apply to people with previous strokes, the very old, those with severe kidney disease or people already taking a lot of different drugs, said Dr. James Stein, who heads the high blood pressure program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

People who start with a high top reading, such as 170 or 200, also may not do well trying to drop so low so suddenly, Dr. Murray Esler of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, wrote in a commentary in the journal Hypertension.


The new study “makes sense and is a major advance,” Stein said. “Time to fix the guidelines,” which come from many groups and aim for a top number of 130 to 150, depending on age and other factors, such as whether the patient has diabetes.


Only half who know they have high blood pressure have it under control now. From a public health standpoint, improving that situation may be more important than having a new number as a target.

“If we lower the goal … you’ll see more and more people getting to lower pressure,” said Dr. Daniel Jones of the University of Mississippi, a heart association spokesman.

Originally Posted HERE

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