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Why Weight Loss is Not as Simple as Cutting Calories



When it comes to calorie counting, not many people — if any at all — like doing it. It’s monotonous, tedious, and restrictive. It takes all the joy out of eating. You counted all your calories, so you should be losing weight, right? Well, not necessarily. If you stop to think about what a calorie is, you will find that it’s not just how many calories you consume that affects healthy weight loss, but what kinds of calories.

Download the Calorie Equation: Learn to indulge in colorful, flavorful foods without loads of calories with this picture lesson from Dr. Howard Shapiro’s book, Picture Perfect Weight Loss.

Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy. Our bodies actually need calories to survive because without energy, our cells would die, and our organs would stop functioning. We acquire this energy through food and drink in the form of calories. The number of calories food contains tells us how much potential energy they possess.

Keeping track of how many calories one consumes is, of course, important to weight loss. If you burn off more calories than you consume through physical activity, the body will locate other calories to burn for energy, ultimately using the calories from the body’s fat reserves, and thus stimulating weight loss.

The problem comes in when “empty calories” are consumed; that is, foods high in energy but low in nutritional value. Such foods include fast foods, and foods high in fat and/or sugar, such as ice cream and bacon. More than 11% of Americans’ daily calories come from fast foods, and Americans consume an average of 336 calories per day from sugary beverages alone. To put it more simply, 2,000 calories in the form of vegetables and lean protein will provide a very different result than 2,000 calories in the form of a large fast food burger.

Ultimately, to achieve fast and, most importantly, healthy weight loss, it is important to advise patients to stick to a low calorie diet, but through foods and supplements that are high in nutritional value. Many people continue to find it challenging to stick to a low calorie diet on their own. This is why it is important for health professionals to be proactive in asking overweight patients about their weight loss goals*, and educating them not just about the benefits of achieving a healthy weight, but also about the options that are available to them, such as a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) or Low Calorie Diet (LCD). With a medically supervised VLCD, patients could expect to lose 3-5 pounds a week, enjoying a variety of meal replacements, snacks, and food products that taste great and are scientifically designed to have high nutritional value.

Obesity is on the rise, and healthcare costs and early mortality rates are rising with it. But adding weight loss as a service for your patients is easier than you might think, and can actually get started in 60 days or less with the help of an experienced partner. Contact Robard today and learn how you can increase the quality of care for your patients by starting an obesity treatment program.

*For practical tips on how to speak with patients about their weight, check out this free webcast!

Sources: Medical News Today

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.


Blog written and edited by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


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5 Compliance Tips to Beat the Holiday Snacking Urge



October until the New Year is a tough season for dieters. Every month, there is a holiday that can present numerous challenges to remaining compliant to a diet, with temptation lurking around every corner in the form of candy corn, warm apple pies, buffets, and dining room tables full of fattening, delicious food. By the time New Year’s rolls around — if they are not careful — dieters can find that in three months they put on more weight than they lost in the previous six months. It can be even more difficult to come back from such a setback.

The key is prevention. Set your patients up for success this holiday season by making plans now to deal with holiday temptation. To get the conversation started, click here to download Robard’s helpful Holiday Goal Setter worksheet. Then, use the tips below to have some proactive discussion with your patients to help them stay compliant between now and the New Year:

1. Stock up on Tricks, not Treats
When trick or treating time rolls around, that bowl of candy can look mighty appetizing. Your patients might be eating one piece of candy for every five they give out. Suggest that if they choose to be festive on this holiday, instead of handing out candy, provide fun non-candy dollar store items that the kids will still love, like glow sticks, whoopee cushions, crayons, bubbles, stickers, and temporary tattoos. In addition to avoiding candy cravings, they’ll also be accommodating children who may have food sensitivities/ allergies.

2. Eat healthy first.
If your patients have company or family holiday parties to attend, suggest that they be proactive and control hunger by eating a healthy meal or snack before they arrive to the party. They can even bring along a yummy weight loss shake packet or protein bar that complies with their diet to enjoy just before or during the party to ensure that they are satiated enough to avoid giving in to hunger and overeating. Robard’s meal replacement shakes and bars are delicious and scientifically designed for the highest level of satiety to curb hunger and cravings.

3. Bring your own portion-controlled plate and cup
Those large dinner plates can cause people to pile on far more than a single portion of food, and people are inclined to try and finish all the food on their plate. To help with this, suggest that patients bring their own smaller plate, maybe even find one with sectioned out portions, so that they are aware of how much they are consuming. Bring a five ounce cup and limit oneself to one high calorie beverage a night, and stick to water for the rest of the night.

4. Eat mindfully.
People often overeat because they revert to unconscious eating, leading them to not recognize when they are full. Eating mindfully helps dieters to slow down and focus on what they are eating and how much to create a better connection between their physiological need and their mental state. This can also help them make healthier choices about food selection in addition to eating less. Click here for 9 easy tips on how to eat mindfully during the holidays.

5. Buddy up.
When possible, patients can identify a friend, family member, coworker, or significant other who can be their support system through the holidays. This person may also be on a diet, have similar weight loss goals, or may be someone who can just be there to eat healthier with them, cheer them on, and remind them of their goals (without shaming). It is important that this buddy be positive and uplifting, and can help bring a sense of joy and camaraderie to the pursuit of eating healthy during the holidays. Ask your patients if they have someone in their lives that can support them in this way, and coach them on how to approach such people and make the request for support.

Want more tips on how to keep your patients on track through the holiday season? For Robard customers, there is a wealth of complimentary resources and information available to you in the Holiday section of Robard.com. Simply click the link, log in, and start browsing. For non-Robard customers, contact us today to learn more about our services and resources!


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


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Patients’ Health Not Improving? It’s Why I Treat Obesity



I think we are at a crossroads in medicine right now. Imagine the perfect storm. Life expectancy is decreasing for the first time in generations. Public health measures have gotten a hold of cigarette smoking only to have obesity rise up and surpass it as the leading cause of preventable death. Major attempts at curbing obesity and diabetes have failed. The final data on Healthy People 2010 outcomes showed obesity and overweight individuals worsened over the measured period. At the same time, health care costs are high, outcomes are poor, and there is a scourge of physician and provider burnout — there’s even a shortage in some areas.

Is this a coincidence? I can still practically taste my frustration of seeing my patients get worse and worse every three months when I saw them. Their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol got just a little worse each time. Heartburn, reflux, sleep apnea, depression, etc., would creep up on them. The medication list, the problem list, the referral list, the order list, all got longer and longer. The patients kept saying the same thing, “I want to get better.” I would manage their numbers effectively, for the most part. Their “ABCs” of diabetes met my quality goals for my bonus. But they did not “feel” better — they felt worse, and so did I. Was this why I went to medical school? I did not feel I was healing anyone; rather, I was only managing numbers with pharmacology. Something had to change.

When I first started offering obesity counseling, it was based on a Mediterranean type diet and food exchange. I started to see some exciting trends in blood sugar, blood pressure, and weight, as you would expect. I did not expect to see the changes I saw in the patients themselves. They became more engaged and optimistic about their health. For some patients, this program was all they needed. But, for many people farther on the spectrum of obesity, it was only the beginning.

That was when I quit my safe and secure position at a large health system and opened my own practice based on the program offered by Robard. And that was when the really exciting results started happening. That was June 2015.

At first, it was the ones who already knew me from primary care who trickled in. Then, it was their friends, families, coworkers, kid’s teachers, and anyone who saw them. Word got around, and the floodgates opened. They all said the same thing. The program gave them hope and then gave them their life back. They wished they had had it sooner. They wished they had known it was out there. They wished their doctor had told them about it. They wished more people could hear of it.

Since then, I have opened a second clinic and the patients have lost a combined total of 29,572 pounds. They report the program is the easiest diet they have ever done, most of them enjoy the taste of the medical foods and would like to be reassured that they will still be allowed to have one for breakfast or lunch once they reach their goal weight. They typically report that taking food away for a period made a huge difference in the role that food plays in their life, their relationship with food, their eating habits, and their cravings. I have learned that taking food away is one of the most important behavioral aspects of the program, even if only for a month. Since food can be addictive for some people, taking it away completely can be crucial for long term change, which is the opposite effect that you may be warned about by some critics of a short term rapid weight loss program that is “unsustainable.”

When patients come in the first time, they are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. They have a hard time making it through the day, let alone going to the gym after work. I tell them casually not to worry, after the first 40 pounds comes off, they will feel much more like being active, they look at me like I am crazy. When I tell them that they will most likely not need any insulin after four weeks, they burst into a smile. When I tell them that after all the dozens of diets they have tried, with cabbage and lemons and meal prepping, all they have to do is drink a shake every four hours and the weight will come off, and they can go on with their lives of caring for their kids, parents, sick spouses and full time job, they are truly relieved.

And, for me, I now know why I went to medical school. Obesity is like lupus. It does involve every system in the body. You do have to treat the whole patient for the best outcomes.

So, for me, I honestly had some selfish goals. I wanted to feel purposeful and like I was making a difference. I mean, I get to cure diabetes, taking people off of 150 units of insulin who had been told they would be on it for the rest of their lives, freeing them from over one hundred shots of insulin a month. It is like curing cancer or chronic pain. Now, the biggest problem with my work is that I am so busy and I can’t seem to tell anyone “no” because I know the results they will get and they cannot get similar treatment anywhere else — at least at this point. So, I am working longer hours, but I love every minute of it, and at least I am not a helicopter parent and I hope my kids are learning “grit” and determination and non-normative gender roles by observation, but that is another talk.

So, I implore you to take bold action. In the name of decreasing life expectancy, plummeting quality of life, astronomical health care costs, physician burnout and sell out, turn away from the focus on HEDIS measures, patient satisfaction, quality bonuses, resource allocation and meaningful use. Before we turn into Wally World, stop missing the forest for the trees. Be the little boy who called out the Emperor’s New Clothes. Choose the path less traveled, operate at the sharp end of the sword, do what no one else can without those initials after their name can do, and fix the underlying problem.

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