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Crinkle, Pop, Fizz...

>> Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Did you ever stop to consider whether the act of actually opening a wrapper, or stirring a drink, made a difference as to how much you enjoy the food or beverage?  Here's an interesting bit of human food psychology - a recent study shows that these actions actually do enhance the pleasure of the food or drink itself.

The study found that a group of people who unwrapped a chocolate bar following a specific set of instructions enjoyed the chocolate more than those who were not given specific unwrapping instructions.  They also found that if there was a longer time between the food preparation 'ritual' and consumption of the food (time to drool?), the food was enjoyed more.  Finally, they found that enjoyment was higher if the food was prepared by another person, it was not enjoyed as much as if the food was 'ritualized' by the person eating the food.  So for example - watching someone else mix a pitcher of lemonade does not make the lemonade as tasty as when you do the mixing yourself.

So, it seems that the rituals of food preparation enhance the enjoyment of consumption because we are more involved in the food experience.  This comes back to the principle of avoiding Mindless Eating  - we end up feeling more satisfied with less food if we are involved in, and thinking about, the process of eating, from start to finish! © 2013 @drsuepedersen


Guacamole Light ... For Real!

>> Friday, July 26, 2013

One of my favorite websites for healthier and delicious recipes, Hungry Girl, has done it again – this time with an ingenious idea to make guacamole a little easier on the waistline.  

Traditional guacamole is made from avocado, which contains a healthy type of fat called monounsaturated fat, but because avocados are made mostly of fat, the calorie count runs quite high.  In this fabulous recipe, while still based on avocado, peas are incorporated (give it a chance!) as well as greek yogurt to maintain the texture and consistency but provide less calories per bite!

  • One 15-oz. can early/young peas, drained
  • 1/2 cup mashed avocado (about half of a medium avocado)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt 
  • 4 tsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • Optional: chopped fresh cilantro, chopped jarred jalapeƱos


Place drained peas in a medium bowl and mash thoroughly with a potato masher or fork. Add avocado, yogurt, lime juice, garlic, and seasonings. Continue to mash until blended.  Stir in remaining ingredients.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving (approximately):  
  • Calories: 64
  • Carbs: 9g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Fat: 2g
Try this as a side to Grilled Fish Tacos, and tell me what you think!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 


Seven Risk Factors For Obesity at Age 3

>> Monday, July 22, 2013

A recent study looked for risk factors that influence a child’s likelihood of being overweight by age 3.  The study looked at over 13,000 children aged 6-12 months in the UK, and followed their data to age 3 to determine whether any factors could predict the risk of being overweight at age 3. 

Out of 33 different possibilities studied, they found seven characteristics that were associated with an increased risk of childhood obesity at age 3.

The 7 factors that are associated with a higher risk of a 3-year-old being overweight are:
  • Mother smoking in pregnancy increased the rate of the 3-year-old being overweight by 33%
  • Children who are not breastfed were 25% more likely to be overweight at age 3 than those who were ever breastfed
  • Mom being overweight before pregnancy
  • Dad having obesity
  • A higher weight at birth
  • Gender: girls were more likely to be overweight at age 3 than boys
  • Early weight gain: babies who rapidly gained weight during their first year were 4 times more likely to be overweight at age 3 than those who grew at an average weight

So why do we care if a 3 year old is overweight?  Doesn’t the weight just balance out over time?  While many kids will go through different phases of body fat storage as they grow, it is a fact that overweight in childhood does increase the risk of that individual being overweight in adulthood.  So while it would not be appropriate to get carried away with intense weight management of a three year old, what we can learn from this study is that there are things we can look at in our own lives that could be modified to improve the health of our offspring. 

While some of the above risk factors are modifiable (eg smoking), others are not.  Knowing that there are many benefits to breastfeeding, most mothers these days do choose or try to breastfeed, but it isn’t always successful.  Parental obesity has been shown to be associated with weight struggles in their offspring, both in childhood and as those children become adults, so it is important to reach out for help with a weight struggle not only for a person's own health and well being, but also for that of their kids.  

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 


The World's First All-Diabetic Professional Athlete Team!

>> Thursday, July 18, 2013

Here's an inspirational story to make you smile today: The recent BC Superweek's cycling race included an all diabetic racing team!

Anyone who lives with diabetes or cares for people with diabetes knows that managing diabetes in the context of exercise can be a challenge.  Managing diabetes in the context of a gruelling multi-day race is nothing short of impressive and admirable.

The attitude of this go-get-em team reflects exactly how we guide and teach our patients with diabetes:  to learn adapt their diabetes medications to fit their lifestyle, rather than have to change or restrict their lifestyle to fit their diabetes medications or insulin regimen.   Learning how to adjust certain diabetes medications or insulin doses to fit differences in activity levels and eating patterns from day to day can be a very freeing and satisfying experience!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 


Breakfast Like a King...Will It Help You Lose Weight?

>> Monday, July 15, 2013

As part of weight management counseling, we often advise patients to eat 'breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper'.

A new study, by Jakubowicz and colleagues, tested this approach in a clinical trial.  They randomly assigned a group of overweight women to have more of their daily food intake at breakfast (700 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 200 calories at supper), or to have more of their daily food intake at supper (200 calories at breakfast, 500 calories at lunch, and 700 calories at supper) for three months.

Not only did the women eating more at breakfast lose more weight than the women eating more at supper, but the breakfast group also had a greater improvement in blood sugars, insulin resistance, and a type of cholesterol called triglycerides.  In addition, the breakfast group reported less hunger and more fullness after a meal, and their ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels were lower than the supper group.

So why does eating more food at breakfast work?  Previous studies have shown that eating breakfast may help to regulate brain activity to control eating behaviours later in the day, especially if the breakfast is high in protein. Contrast this with a day we have probably all experienced at some point, where you skipped breakfast, ate very little for lunch, and upon coming home at the end of the day, you were just so hungry that you had to eat and eat NOW - does that feeling sound familiar?   In that setting of intense hunger, we often overeat, as food is often eaten quickly - remember that it takes 10-15 minutes for the fullness hormones to start to kick in.  So, people who don't eat enough during the day will often eat their entire day's calories (and then some) at the end of the day.

So, prepare your shopping list to include healthy, bodacious, proteinaceous breakfast foods, like Egg Beaters, skim milk, no-salt-added cottage cheese, and lean cuts of deli meat - and enjoy!

Thanks to Obesity and Energetic Offerings for the heads' up on this study!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 


Could Soap Increase Our Risk of Diabetes?

>> Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What!? we exclaim as we race into the bathroom to grab the bottle or bar that we use without thinking every day.  It's not like we're eating it.  But it may be true - chemicals called phthalates, which are found in soaps, hair spray, nail polish, creams, perfumes and other beauty products, may increase our risk of diabetes.

A recent study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, lends more suggestive evidence to this interesting area.  They measured the urine phthalate levels in over 2,000 women, and found that women who were in the top 25% for urine phthalate levels were nearly twice as likely to have diabetes, compared to women in the bottom 25% for urine phthalate levels.

While the association between higher urine levels of this chemical and diabetes doesn't necessarily mean that one causes the other, the overall collection of studies in this area is certainly suggestive.

While scientists are busy sorting out what phthalates actually do to our metabolism and risk of diabetes, it makes sense to try to avoid perfumes and other scented beauty products, which often contain higher levels of this chemical.

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen 


Dr Sue's Calgary Stampede Food Review

>> Friday, July 5, 2013

The Calgary Stampede 101 is ON!  I'm so proud and amazed by our city for pulling it together so soon after the flooding which devastated Calgary just two weeks ago.  With a truly herculean effort, the Stampede grounds have been cleaned up, and with the exception of the Saddledome which won't be ready for concerts until next week, the grounds are running full speed ahead.  This 101st Stampede will be a celebration not only of our tradition, but even more so of the amazing spirit of the city that came together and stood united in the face of such incredible adversity.

As I did last year, I thought I'd share with you my thoughts about what's cooking on the midway this time around.  There are no less than '31 new delicious treats' available, which once again leave me wondering 'How do they do that??' or better yet 'Why do they do that?!'... ranging from deep fried bubble gum to deep fried Doritos (with beer batter and bacon bits) to chocolate covered bacon.  I thought I saw green beans on the menu... then I saw that they too are battered and deep fried.

However - there are some healthier potentials on the menu too!  Wrap Daddy's is serving up cone-shaped wraps (I'll have to check out what exactly is in these wraps... chicken breast or deep fried Mars bars would lead me to a substantially different conclusion!).  There's a Salt Spring Noodle Bar that sounds promising, and the Esquites (warm corn salad) are apparently making a return appearance.

Want gluten free? The Naaco Truck and Avatara Pizza promise gluten sensitive, lactose free and vegetarian options as well.

So, it looks like there are a few potential options for eating more healthily at this year's Calgary Stampede - keys to successful weight management at the Stampede include looking for these healthier options; pick just one or two options; and portion control by sharing with friends.

Above all - have fun, and celebrate our great city with pride!

Dr Sue Pedersen © 2013 

Follow me on Twitter for daily tips! @drsuepedersen



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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