Diabetes Clinic coordinator on being healthy during the holidays
Weight loss and commitment to healthy living are constant priorities and should not be forgotten during the holiday season.
At UK HealthCare, we have many providers who specialize in helping patients achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We recently spoke with Keisha Calhoun, Diabetes Clinic Coordinator at the UK HealthCare North Fork Valley Community Health Center in Hazard, about the best practices for achieving weight loss. Calhoun is a registered dietitian and nutritionist.
In your role as a dietitian and nutritionist, do you find that a lot of people come to you for advice on losing weight and getting healthier during or after the holidays?
It seems most people are more inclined to want to make healthier lifestyle choices once they ring in the new year. Either they jump on a fad bandwagon, or seek out advice from a dietitian. When turning to a dietitian, they do receive more sound nutrition advice and follow a healthier option that can lead to lifestyle modifications they are more likely to stick with throughout the year – not just for a few weeks.
Many individuals are afraid they cannot make a change to “get healthy” during the holiday season, which is not true. These are just days. We can still enjoy our holidays and meals, just not let it defy who we are aiming to be. We have 29 or 30 other days in the month to focus on exercise, calories, portions, carbs, water intake, etc! We can also make choices at the table on those days to omit the second serving of a casserole so we can have a piece of our favorite Aunt’s pie. Its making that conscious effort. One small swap!
What are the key pieces of advice you'd give people who are determined to lose weight and get healthier in the new year?
I always want to remind my clients to give themselves time to make changes. Results do not happen overnight. A healthy weight loss is a slow weight loss. So, if you are losing a ½ pound - 2 pounds a week, you are losing a healthy amount of weight.
Also, don’t overlook taking baby steps. Look at your portions and slowly cut them down. Don’t starve yourself. If you are hungry, please eat. However, be mindful about what you are eating and how much you are eating.
You also want to try to be active. Slowly increase your exercise. You can start by doing house work or walking inside your home. Aim for 30 minutes of activity 4-5 days a week.
Purchase foods that you know you will eat. It does no good to buy an avocado if you know you will never eat it. Plan a few meals and snacks that you know you like and build off of those. Don’t waste those fresh fruits and vegetables.
What are some keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle/weight after losing weight/getting into better shape?
Continue to watch your portions and be active. Try not to fall back into the patterns you had prior to starting your journey. This can be very hard for some individuals. For example, if you gave up pop, don’t start back drinking it. Continue drinking your water. If you really want one, let it be a treat – don’t let it be a daily habit. Keep up with your exercise routine if you have started one. Never go more than two days without working out. When you stretch it out to a three-day break or more, it is hard to start back.
How important is nutrition and diet to avoiding diabetes or managing diabetes?
Diet can play an important role in preventing, delaying and managing your diabetes. If you are at risk for developing diabetes, watching your portions and intakes can help reduce your chances and postpone your risk. If you are overweight, losing 5-10% of your body weight can decrease your risk of becoming a diabetic. If you are a diabetic, counting your carbohydrates and timing your meals can aid in controlling your blood glucose levels and managing your Hemoglobin A1c levels and keep them running at a more normal level.
Diet can affect how you feel. When blood sugars begin running low and you experience hypoglycemia, eating 15 grams of carbohydrates and rechecking your blood glucose levels 15 minutes later can aid in slowly pulling your blood glucose levels back up into a healthy normal range, which is very important for diabetics.
What are some basic pieces of nutrition/diet advice you'd give to folks determined to lose weight?
1. Set realistic goals. Write down your goals and be mindful of what you want to achieve.
2. Track your progress! By starting at the beginning, you can look back and see how far you have come. If it is with your weight loss, weightlifting, and/or walking, you are able to see your progress.
3. Take pictures. Pictures on a weight loss journey can help you see results when the scales are not always as nice.
4. Be mindful of your portions. Tending to overeat can sway your results so always try to measure out your serving sizes.
5. Stay hydrated. Drink that water. It helps more than you know.
6. Eat those fresh fruits and vegetables. They fill you up, make you feel better and are good for you. Not to mention, they are lower in calories than most foods we want to snack on.
Can you discuss the mission of the UK North Fork Valley Community Health Center?
Here at UK North Fork Valley, we treat all patients, regardless of their income status or their ability to pay. All clients are created equally. We do offer a sliding fee scale to aid in reducing the financial burden of cost of health care. We also accept all insurances. We are a non profit agency, that will endeavor to improve the health of the people and the community it represents by promoting access to quality health care services, including clinical, educational, and disease prevention services.
What resources are available to patients through North Fork Valley to help with weight loss/lifestyle changes?
1-on-1 counseling is provided for clients with me. This service is available in person, or via telehealth with our My Chart app through UK HealthCare. During our session, we can find the right modification that fits your lifestyle to begin your journey. Other options may be available after talking with your provider and myself if diet modifications and exercise alone are not enough to meet your goals.
Contact the UK HealthCare North Fork Valley Community Health Center in Hazard by calling 606-439-1559.