Friday, February 27, 2009

Let's Celebrate... without food!

My son lost his first tooth yesterday. It was really exciting. The tooth had been dangling and we knew it would be falling out soon. But I didn't realize how truly happy I would be when it finally came out. It hit me that my little boy is growing up. Wasn't I nursing him yesterday, praying that his teeth wouldn't grow in and hurt my boob? Time really does fly.

As I came in the door, he ran over to me. "Mommy, mommy. My tooth fell out at school today!" He was bubbling over with excitement. He sat me down and told me all about how he was playing basketball and tripped and boom- the tooth flew out of his mouth. He was laughing as he explained how everybody got on their hands and knees to hunt for his missing tooth. By the end of the story, I was laughing too.

And what was my next reaction? "Let's celebrate!" I then (almost) added, "Who wants ice cream?" That is how we celebrated everything in my house growing up. Piano recital? Hot fudge sundaes. Graduation? Banana splits. Good grade on a test? Well, you get the drift. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized my father would use any excuse to go for ice cream. And I grew up, as did many others, associating celebrating with eating fattening foods.

I don't want that for my children. But how do we celebrate the tooth without eating lots of calories and fat? Hmmm... I thought about that long and hard. Let's reward him with something he would like, that doesn't cost too much, and isn't bad for his health. "Let's go ice skating this weekend to celebrate!" I suggested. He immediately broke into a huge grin. "That's a great idea!" So- this weekend, we will go to the ice skating rink and spend a family day celebrating by doing an (active) activity that the entire family loves. I think that was a great solution!

Anybody else have other suggestions?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Study from Harvard and NIH determines most effective way to lose weight!

A landmark study just came out of the Harvard School of Public Health and the NIH.

Researchers recruited 811 overweight or obese older adults and put them on one of four diet plans. Two of the plans were low-fat plans with 20% of calories from fat. Two of the plans were high-fat plans with 40% of calories from fat. The calories from carbohydrates ranged from 35% to 65%. Protein was either 15% or 25% of calories.

All four plans adhered to heart-healthy guidelines, which emphasize eating less than 8% of calories from artery-clogging saturated (animal) fat, eating vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products, and consuming at least 20 grams of fiber a day.

The eating plans were based on the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, not on popular plans such as the Atkins or South Beach diets.

Dieters were encouraged to attend regular individual and group weight-loss counseling sessions and keep an online food diary. Everyone was given a personalized calorie goal, and most aimed for 750 calories below their daily needs. No one was supposed to eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day.

Participants' exercise goals were modest: about 90 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Researchers were focused on how the composition of the diets affected weight loss and did not want to distort the results.

Among the findings, presented in today's New England Journal of Medicine:

• In six months, the dieters lost an average of 13 pounds no matter which diet they were on.

• After two years, they had kept off an average of 9 pounds and lost 1 to 3 inches in the waist, regardless of which diet they were on.

• Dieters had improvements in heart-disease risk factors, including increases in the HDL (good) cholesterol, and decreases in LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fats) at six months and two years.

• People reported similar levels of fullness, hunger and satisfaction on the different diets.

'Reasonable range' of fats, protein, carbs

The plans did not include a very low-carb Atkins-type diet, Sacks says, because most "people don't stick with that low-carbohydrate intake, and we didn't want to try anything unrealistic. We tried a big range but a reasonable range of fats, protein and carbohydrates."

Some research indicates that dieters may feel full longer on higher-protein diets, but these dieters did not report any differences in feelings of fullness, says Catherine Loria, a nutritional epidemiologist with the heart, lung and blood institute.


They came up with "a very simple message that cuts through all the hype: To lose weight, it comes down to how much you put in your mouth — it's not a question of eating a particular type of diet," says Frank Sacks, a lead researcher and professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard.

* Information obtained from the New England Journal of Medicine and USA Today

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Medical Problems of Obesity

Being overweight affects every body system.

Overweight children are very often depressed and anxious.
Brains of overweight children don't respond well to leptin, a hormone that tells the brain your child is full. Therefore, overweight kids are even MORE likely to overeat and gain more weight.
Overweight children are more likely to have atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the carotid arteries) that can lead to stroke.

Overweight children are more likely to have asthma. Asthma makes obesity worse because asthmatic children tend to avoid exercise, thus leading to more weight gain.

Overweight children are more likely to have atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in the arteries of the heart). Atherosclerosis can lead to heart attacks!
Overweight children are more likely to have high blood pressure, also leading to heart attacks.

Overweight children are more likely to have GE reflux and constipation.

Overweight children are more likely to have bone problems that can lead to hip pain, knee pain, and back pain. This also makes weight gain worse because children in pain do not exercise!
Pressure from excess weight increases the risk of bone fractures.

Overweight children are more likely to become resistant to the effects of insulin, causing diabetes (type 2).

Overweight children are more likely to have gallstones. Gallstones are also common in overweight kids who lose weight too quickly.

Overweight children are more likely to have fat accumulate in the liver, commonly known as 'fatty liver'. If severe, fatty liver can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Does skiing burn calories?

I just got back from a wonderful week in Vermont. We definitely had a blast- although I wouldn't call it a relaxing vacation. I could still use a week on an island somewhere to unwind! :)

It seems that most of my patients opted to go skiing this week. Before they left, we sat in my office and discussed what would be hard about eating healthy during a ski trip. Without exception, my patients all told me, "Don't worry. I will be burning so many calories skiing so it won't matter if I eat more."

I had my doubts and they were confirmed this week. First, the ski lift lines are endless. Then there is the time sitting in the ski lift. It seems that it takes at least a half hour of waiting before you get your five (maybe 10) minutes of exercise. And even the exercise is not too vigorous. I mean, you're going downhill! Gravity plays a large part! I am not denying that your muscles get sore from skiing. But I don't think your heart rate gets high enough to really count as vigorous exercise.

So, to all my skiing patients out there, you still need to stick to your healthy eating plans while on a ski trip! Skiing is certainly better (in terms of calorie burn) than lying on the beach but it does not give you carte blanche to eat whatever you want!


Saturday, February 14, 2009

I went to Burger King...

I know you have all been there. You are on a long car ride with the kids and suddenly, everybody is crying that they are hungry. You are in the middle of nowhere and suddenly a rest stop appears. You frantically search for something healthy only to be disappointed. Burger King and Dunkin' Donuts.

That is where I found myself last night. So I took the kids to Burger King. We each got a hamburger kids' meal. I was shocked at the price. TEN DOLLARS TOTAL! No wonder lower income families tend to be heavier. Where else can you eat for that price?

I do have to say that the kids' meal was plenty for me. I definitely wasn't hungry afterwards. How do people eat the supersize meals? All in all, I think we did pretty well in what could have been a calorie disaster.

I am taking the holiday week off so I will be back blogging next week. Enjoy your vacations!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

5 Diet Tips For Kids That Don't Involve Food or Exercise

Obviously diet and exercise are the key to losing weight. However, there are many other little things we do every day that either help or sabotage our 'get healthy' efforts. Here are some tips on how you can make your child's weight loss easier without starving of spending hours at the gym.

1. Teach your children to like what theysee in the mirror. Focus on their great legs or strong arms. Remind them that their bodies have many wonderful attributes. Dieters with higher self-esteem lose more weight!

2. Help them lose their inner negative voice. We all have that little voice in our heads, telling us that everything we do is wrong. "You shouldn't have eaten that..." "Why didn't you go to the gym today?" This voice makes us feel worthless. When that voice arises, tell your kids to tell the voice to shut up! Or teach them to counter back with something positive. "Maybe I shouldn't have eaten that but I only had a half portion. To make up for it, I will cut back on my afternoon snack." "I really didn't feel like going to the gym today but I will go tomorrow, even though tomorrow is usually my off day. I don't want exercise to seem like a chore; I can reschedule my gym sessions as long as I get in my 4 or 5 days."

3. Celebrate small milestones. You don't have to wait until goal to congratulate your children. Set smaller mini-goals so they have that sense of accomplishment. And pick a (non-food) reward. Maybe let them buy that new shirt they've been wanting or let them go with their friends to the movies on a school night. Just find something that they want that doesn't involve food. It needn't be expensive!

4. Dieting can be stressful. Help your children find a non-food way to deal with stress. Some people like yoga. Others try deep breathing. I like taking a long, hot bath with a good book! Your child may want to spend a few minutes playing a video game. Exercise can also be a stress release. Plan in advance- make sure they know how to handle stressful situations so they don't instinctively turn to food.

5. Teach your children to enjoy food! It may seem counter-intuitive but if your children really enjoy a meal, they may eat less. First, teach them to eat slowly. Savor the flavors. Notice the feeling of the food on their tongues. They should not just throw the food down their throats. Have them pay attention to the food and allow their bodies the time it takes to realize that it is full.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Top Ten Healthy Foods To Add To Your Child's Diet

Here are some healthy foods to add to your child's diet.

1. Blueberries- full of antioxidants and delicious! Blueberries don't last long in my house- my kids usually eat them all in a day!

2. Salmon- Omega 3 fats lower cholesterol and protect your heart!

3. Edamame- Full of soy protein and fiber, edamame will keep your child full longer than most other snacks. My daughter calls them "the beans that pop".

4. Eggs- Surprised to see eggs on this list? Eggs have protein and contrary to popular belief, will not increase your child's cholesterol level.

5. Peanut butter- Once the salmonella scare is over, take another look at this kids' favorite! Peanut butter is protein... just watch the portion size. One tablespoon is plenty.

6. Nuts- Peanuts, pistachio nuts, almonds, and walnuts all taste delicious and have lots of protein and fiber to keep your child feeling full and the fat in nuts is the good kind. Nuts do have lots of calories, however, so watch your portion sizes.

7. Low-Fat cheese- Calcium is very important for growing kids. But regular cheese has saturated fat. Be sure to include dairy in your child's diet but make sure it is either low-fat or (even better) fat-free. 2% string cheese is a great choice to put into your child's lunch.

8. Low-Fat yogurt- Healthy for the same reasons as the low-fat cheese. But beware- some yogurts have lots of added sugars and calories. Pick a yogurt that has less than 100 calories.

9. Avocado- Avocado is full of good fat. Add some to your child's turkey sandwich or mash it up and serve it on whole-grain crackers. I started my kids on avocado at six months old and they have been enjoying it ever since!

10. Pomegranate- Pomegranates, while hard to find and messy to eat, are delicious and full of fiber and antioxidants.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kids' Fave Meals Made Healthy

Let's make-over some of our kids' favorite meals. Delicious meals don't have to be unhealthy.

Hamburger: Instead of using regular beef, use 93% or 95% fat-free ground meat (also called extra-lean meat). You can also try all white meat ground turkey (although I don't find it as tasty). Put the burger on a light hamburger bun.

Hot Dog: My family loves the 97% fat-free Hebrew National hot dogs. Try two hot dogs on one light hot dog bun. Yummy!

Grilled Cheese: At home, use two slices of reduced-calorie whole wheat bread with two slices of fat-free cheese or one slice of 2% cheese. Then, put it in the toaster or put it in a panini maker or on the George Forman Grill. At a restaurant, order the grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with just one slice of cheese, no butter, no oil, no mayo.

French Fries: Two options here. The easy route is the frozen baked fries found in the freezer section of most supermarkets. Just put them on a cookie sheet and bake them without any butter or oil. Your other option is to take a potato or a sweet potato and slice it thinly. Then bake it on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with Pam.

Pizza: Pizza is not as unhealthy as many people believe. If your child can stick to just one slice, pizza can be a great meal. The problem begins when kids start eating two or three slices in one sitting. To make pizza more filling, load on the veggie toppings. Some pizza places even offer whole wheat crust which adds needed fiber. You can also order the pizza with half the amount of cheese to save calories and grams of fat. At home, use a thin crust whole wheat Boboli pizza crust and top it with reduced-fat or fat-free cheese and tomato sauce.

Quesadilla: A staple in my home on nights when we just don't have time to cook. We take a flour tortilla and top it with pre-cooked Perdue chicken strips and shredded, fat-free cheddar/Mexican blend cheeses. Just microwave for 30 seconds and enjoy! Top with salsa, if desired.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Insufficient sleep may cause Diabetes!

New evidence suggests that not only can lack of sleep lead to obesity, it can also lead directly to Type II Diabetes!

It seems that when you don't get enough sleep, your body needs needs more insulin to keep sugar levels normal. Lack of sleep impacts your central nervous system and your hormones, both of which play a large role in sugar regulation. Remain too tired and your insulin-producing cells stop functioning normally, causing high sugar levels and then diabetes.

There are also other, less direct, ways that lack of sleep leads to diabetes. Everybody know that you eat more when you are tired. Eating more leads to obesity which leads to Type II Diabetes.

But there is now evidence that sleep deprivation can lead to diabetes even in somebody who is not overweight.

Just another reason why EVERYBODY, regardless of weight, should eat a healthy diet.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Liquid Candy (aka soda)

Just how bad is soda? Well, let's look at the statistics.

A can (12 fl oz) of soda has 150 calories.
If you drink one can of soda a day, you will have consumed 54,750 extra calories in a year.
It takes 3,500 calories to form a pound of fat.

You will gain 15.6 pounds each year by drinking just one can of soda a day.

It gets worse...

Look at the vending machines around you. It is now rare to see soda cans in them. Instead, we have 'upgraded' to the 20 fl oz bottle. What happens if you drink a bottle of soda a day?

A bottle (20 fl oz) of soda has 250 calories.
If you drink one bottle of soda a day, you will have consumed 91,250 extra calories in a year.
It (still) takes 3,500 calories to form a pound of fat.

You will gain 26 pounds each year by drinking just one bottle of soda a day.

And let's not discuss kids who drink soda with lunch, snack, and dinner. They are at very high risk for obesity.

More on soda tomorrow...

Launching March 1, 2009: Dr. Dolgoff's Online Weigh! Your child can follow Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh online from anywhere in the country. 96% of children following Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh lose weight. Your child can be next! Go to for more details.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Being tired can make you heavy!

A recent study from the University of Chicago showed that people snack more when they are tired. I could have told them that from my own 'study' during my residency! Surprisingly, their study did not show that tired people eat more at mealtimes. Adults who got fewer than 5 hours of sleep consumed 221 more calories from snacks than adults who got more than 8 hours of sleep. The tired eaters also tended to choose a higher percentage of calories from refined carbohydrates.

So- if you can't get a full night sleep, watch your snacking! Make sure you have healthy snacks on hand for when hunger strikes. Your snacks should be a mixture of protein and fiber. Aim to have two snacks a day, each worth 100 - 150 calories.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Work out at home on a budget!

Ready to start your child on an exercise program but don't have the money to pay for a personal trainer or a gym membership? There are lots of inexpensive ways to get your child to exercise. Read on for some examples of equipment you can use at home that won't break the bank. I found these products on

Jump Rope- It's fun and easy to do. $4.95

Speed Agility Ladder- Just lie it on the floor and run, hop, shuffle your way through the squares. You can find lots of exercises for the ladder with a quick search of the web. $24.95.

Step: Step aerobics are a fun way to get your child moving. Start with the step on the floor and (depending on your child's height) work your way up to using the blocks. You can find lots of step routines on demand or on the web. $29.99

Tubing: You don't need to buy an entire set of dumbbells to strength train. Just pick up some tubing with handles. They are cheap and effective. $9.99

Bosu: Use the bosu for cardio by using it as a step or for core conditioning by lying on it while doing crunches. The possibilities are endless. $59.75

Adjustable Dumbbells: Each weight can be adjusted to weigh from 2.5 pounds to 12.5 pounds. Be sure to consult a trainer before allowing your child to lift dumbbells. $77.40

Medicine Ball: You can work your entire core with a
medicine ball. You can also look online for suggestions on how to incorporate the medicine ball into a cardiovascular workout. $9.75

Kid's Exercise Bike: A moderately priced exercise bike built for kids. $89.99

Kid's First Treadmill: Start them early! $129.99

Sunday, February 1, 2009

New Product Recommendation

I came home early the other night and found my kids having dinner with our nanny. I looked at their plates and immediately got upset. The kids were eating potato pancakes which looked fried and greasy. I tasted them and got even more fired up. They were so delicious and clearly fattening. My nanny knows that I don't like my kids to eat fried food. "Katie," I said. "I would rather you didn't serve my kids such unhealthy foods." As I was about to start a lecture on the dangers of saturated fats, I noticed that Katie was smiling. "So you like the new vegetable pancakes I found?" "Vegetable pancakes?" "Yes, they are made with all natural ingredients, no trans fat, no preservatives. Only 70 calories each." "Wow!" I was shocked. They tasted way too good. But she showed me the package.

The brand is Golden and they are called Vegetable Pancakes. Ingredients: potatoes, water, meal, canola oil, string beans, dehydrated onions, corn, carrots, whole eggs, peas, egg whites, deydrated potatoes, red peppers, salt, green peppers, pepper, parsley.

All you do is put them in the oven and bake them for 10 minutes.

I served them for my husband at dinner tonight and he couldn't believe they were healthy, either. They got a strong approval rating from my husband and kids; we all fought over the last one!

Try them. My nanny found them at Pathmark.