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Holiday Trick: Water Before Meals Enhances Weight Loss

>> Sunday, December 26, 2010

Especially during the holiday season, any little tips to help maintain (or even lose) weight can be a great help. Here's an easy one to consider through the holidays, and onward into the New Year - it's as simple as H-2-0!

Drinking calorie-free, refreshing water before meals is often recommended to help fill the stomach before eating. A recent randomized controlled clinical trial strengthens this point, showing the benefits that drinking water can have towards helping you slim down.

This trial, conducted by Davy and colleagues at Virginia Tech University, was the first randomized, controlled clinical trial to address this issue. Forty-eight adults were included in the trial, all of whom were provided with calorie-restricted diets to follow. Half of participants were required to drink two 8oz glasses of water about 20 minutes before each meal.

After 12 weeks, the participants consuming water before meals lost an average of 5lb more than the control group, who did not consume water before meals.

The way in which the strategy of drinking water before meals works is two-fold:

1. The physical presence of water in your stomach sets off the 'stretch sensors' in your stomach, releasing hormones that tell your brain that your stomach is filling up.

2. Mixing water with your meal decreases the energy density of your meal (ie the number of calories per gram of material ingested). As blogged previously, a lower energy density diet is beneficial because you feel more full after ingesting a larger mass of food with fewer calories, than if you ingested a high energy density, smaller meal such as a high fat food or dessert. Eating lots of FreeVeg operates under the same principles, as these are very low energy density foods. In fact, one of the contributors to the low energy density of FreeVeg is the very fact that they have a high water content!

Happy New Year to All!!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2010

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A Christmas Hit: Crustless Pumpkin Pie!

>> Saturday, December 18, 2010

Due to the popularity of last week's Blueberry Crisp recipe, I have decided to one-up myself with the help of my sleuthing friend Deb, who has located a fantastic, even lower calorie dessert recipe for us. Thanks go to the Hungry Girl for this invention!

One 15-oz. can pure pumpkin
One 12-oz. can evaporated fat-free milk
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
3/4 cup Splenda (granulated)
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly.

Place mixture in an 8" x 8" baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray, and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. (It will remain a little soft, like pie filling.)

Once ready to serve (it's delicious eaten hot or cold), cut into 9 pieces.

Makes 9 servings. Per serving: only 65 calories!

Tip: I made this for my better half last night, and his feeling was that a 4 tbsp puff of light whipped cream on the top was worth the extra 30 calories to make this dessert a little richer tasting. The total for this delicious treat still comes in just under 100 calories. I'll let you decide!!

Happy Holidays!!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2010

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Blueberry Crisp Yuletide Dessert!

>> Sunday, December 12, 2010

The wonderful holiday season is upon us!! It's a joyous time to spend time with friends and loved ones, with much hosting done from home. Large, filling, high calorie meals are the norm during the holidays, and dessert can often double the total calorie intake of the meal. Here is a suggestion for a fabulous dessert that is not calorie free by any means, but is at least reasonable at 256 calories per serving. My suggestion is to scale down to a half portion for only 128 calories! Eating a half portion also scales down the carbohydrate count (attenntion, diabetics!) to a very reasonable 24 grams.

This recipe comes from my favorite Canadian chefs Janet and Greta Podleski, from their fabulous cookbook, Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry!

Blueberry Crisp (aka Rhapsody in Blueberry)


  • 6 cups blueberries (best if fresh)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup margarine, melted
  • 2 tbsp apple juice or orange juice

1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt


1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add blueberries. Sprinkle bueberries with granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Mix well and set aside.

2. To make topping, combine oats, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add melted margarine and juice. Using a fork, stir until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly over coated blueberries.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, until blueberries are bubbling around edge of pan and crumb topping is golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

4. Serve with a dollop of low fat vanilla yogurt, if desired.

Makes 8 servings. Per serving:
  • 256 calories
  • 6.9g fat
  • 3g protein
  • 48g carbohydrate
Divide the above numbers by 2 for half servings (recommended!).

To further cut calories, I'd be interested to see how this recipe turns out with Splenda as a substitute for granulated sugar, and/or Brown Sugar Splenda as a substitution for brown sugar. Try it out, and leave a comment to let our readers know how it turns out!

Happy Holidays!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2010

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Video Blog on Measuring Metabolism: Step Inside a Respiration Chamber!

>> Saturday, December 4, 2010

In this video blog, Dr Sue takes you right inside the respiration chambers at the Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, which are used to measure metabolism in a research setting.

By simply measuring oxygen consumption, carbon dioxide output, and nitrogen production over a 24 hour period, we can measure exactly how many calories a person burns over 24 hours, and how much of that calorie burn comes from protein vs fat vs carbohydrates as the fuel source.

These chambers are currently being used in a study of gastric bypass surgery patients that Dr Sue is involved in, as well as study of the effects of sleep deprivation on metabolism in kids.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2010

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I am excited that you have arrived at my site, and I hope you are too - consider this the first step towards a Healthier New You!! As a medical doctor, Endocrinologist, and obesity specialist, I am absolutely passionate about helping people with weight management. Though there is certainly no magic cure for obesity, there IS a successful treatment plan out there for you - it is all about understanding the elements that contribute to your personal weight struggle, and then finding the treatment plan that suits your needs and your lifestyle. The way to finding your personal solution is to learn as much as you can about obesity: how our toxic environment has shaped us into an overweight society; the diversity of contributors to obesity; and what the treatment options out there are really all about. Knowledge Is Power!!

Are you ready to change your life? Let's begin our journey together, towards a healthier, happier you!!

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