Women's Health 2011

Weight management — don’t toss out the nutrition with the calories

By July 21, 2011

CAMERON PARK — Inside Building 400, Room 401, at 3581 Palmer Drive here, there is a group of pleasant, helpful staffers who want to provide assistance to women who want to lose weight and prevent illnesses such as diabetes.

Who would have thought that you could stand, barefooted, on a scale that not only will give your weight, but provides electrical current that produces readings that indicate your body mass, fat content and other factors that will give you an overall picture of where you stand — and where you want to be. That Tanita scale — and so much more — will help women conquer that ever-present expanding waistline once and for all.

The experts at Marshall Medical’s Diabetes and Nutrition Education Program offered answers to some commonly asked questions pertinent to women who want to get to, and maintain, a healthy weight.

1. What seems to be the biggest obstacle in losing weight,  particularly for women?

Time and patience. It takes time and commitment to incorporate healthful habits into our already busy lives. Most people, especially women, tend to let work and other family obligations fill their day instead of taking the “personal time” to focus on their health. Exercise and eating well takes time and planning. Most people want it to happen too quickly and are disappointed when they don’t see results immediately.

2. How many calories should a woman eat in a day, generally speaking,  to lose weight?

Most women need between 1,200-1,500 calories per day. If they are active they might be able to add extra calories. Most weight loss programs recommend at least a 500 calorie deficit from what the body needs to lose weight.

3. How many pounds lost per week is too many?

In general losing 1-2 pounds per week is recommended. This enables the body to adjust without driving the body into starvation mode.

4. Sacrificing nutrition in order to lose weight obviously is not  good … how does one make sure to get all necessary nutrients without  consuming too many calories? What about vitamin, calcium, protein  supplements?

The New American plate promoted by the American Institute of Cancer Research and the Food Plate model that replaces the USDA food guide pyramid provides guidance on how to balance your meals to ensure you get the nutrients you need. The idea is to move to a more plant-based diet to provide the vitamins and minerals the body needs while reducing the emphasis on animal proteins and refined grains, which currently are over-consumed in our society. Supplements are rarely needed if one eats a well-balanced diet.

5. How important is daily exercise for women and what types are easiest to stick with and even have fun?

More and more research is demonstrating the necessity of regular exercise for weight maintenance and overall health. Most adults need at least 150 minutes per week to maintain their weight with a normal, healthy diet. At least 60 minutes a day is usually needed for weight loss. The easiest way to stick to exercise is to build it into your routine — just like brushing your teeth every day. It is more fun if you do something you enjoy. It also helps to exercise with others so you are accountable to another person.

6. Should women consult their family doctor or a specialist when it  comes to advice on diet and nutrition?

Certainly it is important to check with your doctor if you are making drastic lifestyle changes. It is important to know if you need to limit physical activity for any health reasons. Also there may be conditions that may be aggravated by certain diets. It is very helpful if your doctor can refer you to a registered dietitian for expert diet advice and counseling.

7. How prevalent are eating disorders in El Dorado County? Are there  programs offered by Marshall Medical to help those suffering from  disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, overeating, etc.?

Depending on the situation, initially your doctor may refer you to the Marshall education program. Eating disorders can be very complex and a referral to a specialized program that includes behavioral and psychological therapy as well as medical supervision may be needed.

8. What about the change in the traditional food pyramid?

Food and nutrition experts spend a lot of time trying to develop tools to help Americans follow the recommendations put forth by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These are updated every five years by the USDA and HHS. These guidelines recommend eating fewer calories, help with food choices, and promote physical activity to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. This is to reduce the risk of disease and promote health.

The new “My Plate” model incorporates the ideas of portion control, emphasizes plant-based meals, and emphasizes the importance of whole grains. The plate method corresponds better to how people actually eat as a model as compared to the food guide pyramid. It is a very general teaching tool. It doesn’t replace individualized diet planning with a health care professional.

Answers by Tamalisa Carlson, registered dietitian with Marshall Medical.

The choices you make every day about food and nutrition can have a major influence on your health and well-being. Good choices require knowledge and planning, and Marshall’s Professional Medical Nutrition counseling can help.

The staff members are experts, with formal nutritional education, specialized training and certifications, and can assess and offer many proven options. They offer individualized one-on-one appointments with American Dietetic Association registered dietitians (certified food and nutrition experts) in Cameron Park and Placerville locations.

Pat Lakey


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