Slow and Steady Wins the Waist

Eating more slowly and mindfully is emerging as a possible tool to help control weight and support good health.

From the Tufts Nutrition Newsletter

If you are looking to lose some weight, or simply want to improve or protect your cardiometabolic health, emerging nutrition research suggests a simple new tool that may help: slow down! Fast eating has been associated with excess weight gain and might also have a negative effect on metabolism, raising risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Let’s take a closer look. 

In a number of studies, fast eating was associated with higher body mass index (BMI) and prevalence of obesity. While most of these studies were conducted in middle-aged Asian populations, a limited number of studies in other populations showed similar results: there appears to be a connection between eating speed and BMI. Fast eating may lead to weight gain because it delays feelings of fullness and satisfaction, increasing risk of overeating. It takes some time for the signal that we’re full to reach our brain. When we eat quickly, we may shovel in more than we need before realizing we’ve had enough. Over time, this leads to higher intake of calories, and therefore weight gain. Participants in several studies reported feeling more full after eating a meal slowly compared to eating it quickly.

Eating quickly may actually impact hunger and satiety hormones. In one trial, 21 young, healthy individuals with a normal BMI were randomly assigned to consume a 600-calorie meal in either six minutes or 24 minutes. While the participants reported enjoying the six-minute meal more, eating slowly led to a greater feeling of fullness and blood tests found lower levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin in slow-eating participants’ blood. Importantly, the slow eaters consumed 25 percent less calories when offered a snack three hours after the meal.

Several studies have reported an association between eating speed and cardiometabolic risk factors. In a recent randomized controlled trial, consuming a meal in 10 minutes caused significantly higher blood sugar spikes in healthy young women than consuming the same meal in 20 minutes. High blood sugar levels increase risk for type 2 diabetes. A study in a population of older adults at high cardiovascular risk found that self-reported fast eating was associated with a 59 percent higher likelihood of having high blood triglyceride levels than slow eating. High blood triglyceride levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. 

A key strategy for eating more slowly is to eat mindfully. This means sitting down in a designated area, setting aside any distractions, and focusing on the experience of eating. Truly enjoy your food and pay attention to your body’s hunger/fullness signals. Common tips for eating mindfully include coming to the table hungry (but not ravenous); chewing your food thoroughly; and letting go of the idea that you must clean your plate. Randomized controlled trials have found mindful eating strategies resulted in significant weight loss compared with no intervention. Results of mindful eating weight loss programs were similar to those of conventional diet programs. In one intervention, a four-session program on mindfulness and prolonged chewing not only reduced calorie intake, but also led to less cravings and a reduction in emotional eating. Weight loss in the intervention group was maintained after a four-week follow-up. Whatever strategies work for you, finding ways to slow down may help you eat less, make better choices, and even improve your health. 

Try these tips to eat more slowly: 

DON’T BE DISTRACTED. Avoid eating while rushing and put screens aside. 

SIT DOWN. Designate one or two places for meals, like the kitchen or dining room and don’t stand while eating. 

SET THE FORK DOWN. Putting utensils down between bites slows the meal down and ensures you take time to chew. 

CHEW THOROUGHLY. Chewing slows you down and also helps you to really taste and enjoy the food.

Flavor! Vegetables don’t need to be bitter, boring or bland.

From the Tufts Nutrition Newsletter

The right flavoring can make the difference between distasteful and delicious. If you equate healthy dietary choices to eating like a rabbit or you’re simply tired of the same old veggies, take heart! Open that spice drawer, stock up on tasty (and nutritious) toppings, and get ready for easy, delicious dishes. 

There’s no question that vegetables are a health-promoting choice. “Dietary patterns rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with optimal health outcomes,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging and executive editor of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter. “One reason for this is the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber that come with most fruits and vegetables. Another is that putting more fruits and vegetables on your plate tends to squeeze out less healthy foods. We also should not ignore the fact that research suggests people who choose to eat diets high in fruits and vegetables tend to adhere to other healthy lifestyle behaviors, like being physically active and avoiding tobacco products.” 

But knowing all of the reasons veggies are good for you won’t get you to eat them if you don’t like them! Research has found that, for many consumers, making veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale taste better is more important than touting their health benefits. Unfortunately for our palates, some of the components that make vegetables like these healthy may make their flavor less than appealing. Many phytochemicals (plant compounds that are active in our bodies) give vegetables a bitter taste or unpleasant odor. 

Spice it! Choose from these lists to achieve specific flavors: • A Taste of Asia: garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cilantro, Chinese five-spice powder, sesame oil, soy sauce, lemongrass paste • Mexican Style: chili powder, cumin, garlic, canned diced chilis, canned chipotle peppers in adobo, jalapeños, cilantro, oregano • Italian Flavors: garlic, oregano, basil, sage, thyme, marjoram • Indian Spices: cloves, red chili powder, cumin, coriander, garam masala, mustard seeds, curry powder or paste, turmeric, saffron • From the Mediterranean: thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, savory, fennel seed, mint, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom.

Sauce it! Keep stir-fries, veggies, whole grain pilafs, bean dishes, and salads flavorful by adding these liquids at the end of cooking. Acidic choices (like vinegars and citrus juices) can be also used as part of pre-cooking marinades. • Low-sodium broths* • Low-sodium soy sauce • Reduced-sodium tomato sauce • Pesto • Olive oil • Citrus juice (orange, lemon, lime) • Vinegars (balsamic, red wine) • 

Top it! Pump up the flavor by providing a variety of toppings to be added at the table as desired. • Hot sauces, sliced hot peppers, red pepper flakes • Fresh ground black pepper • Chopped green onions/scallions • Chopped herbs like parsley and cilantro • Pickled veggies (see recipe) • Kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage) • Olives • Salsa • Grated cheese or crumbled feta cheese • Plain yogurt • Nuts and seeds • Chopped dried fruits • Diced fresh fruit

Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines

From the CDC

How do I know which COVID-19 vaccine information sources are accurate?

Accurate vaccine information is critical and can help stop common myths and rumors. It can be difficult to know which sources of information you can trust. Before considering vaccine information on the Internet, check that the information comes from a credible source, such as the CDC website, which is updated on a regular basis. 

Is the mRNA vaccine considered a vaccine?

Yes.mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, work differently than other types of vaccines, but they still trigger an immune response inside your body. This type of vaccine is new, but research and development on it has been under way for decades.

The mRNA vaccines do not contain any live virus. Instead, they work by teaching our cells to make a harmless piece of a “spike protein,” which is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19. After making the protein piece, cells display it on their surface. Our immune system then recognizes that it does not belong there and responds to get rid of it. When an immune response begins, antibodies are produced, creating the same response that happens in a natural infection.

In contrast to mRNA vaccines, many other vaccines use a piece of, or weakened version of, the germ that the vaccine protects against. This is how the measles and flu vaccines work. When a weakened or small part of the virus is introduced to your body, you make antibodies to help protect against future infection.

Do COVID-19 vaccines contain microchips?

No.COVID-19 vaccines do not contain microchips. Vaccines are developed to fight against disease and are not administered to track your movement. Vaccines work by stimulating your immune system to produce antibodies, exactly like it would if you were exposed to the disease. After getting vaccinated, you develop immunity to that disease, without having to get the disease first.

Can receiving a COVID-19 vaccine cause you to be magnetic?

No.Receiving a COVID-19 vaccine will not make you magnetic, including at the site of vaccination which is usually your arm. COVID-19 vaccines do not contain ingredients that can produce an electromagnetic field at the site of your injection. All COVID-19 vaccines are free from metals.

Do any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized for use in theUnited States shed or release any of their components?

No.Vaccine shedding is the term used to describe the release or discharge of any of the vaccine components in or outside of the body. Vaccine shedding can only occur when a vaccine contains a weakened version of the virus. None of the vaccines authorized for use in the U.S. contain a live virus. mRNA and viral vector vaccines are the two types of currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines available.

Is it safe for me to get a COVID-19 vaccine if I would like to have a baby one day?

Yes.COVID-19 vaccination is recommended for everyone 12 years of age or older, including people who are trying to get pregnant now or might become pregnant in the future, as well as their partners.

Currently no evidence shows that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems (problems trying to get pregnant) in women or men. 

Will a COVID-19 vaccine alter my DNA?

No.COVID-19 vaccines do not change or interact with your DNA in any way. Both mRNA and viral vector COVID-19 vaccines deliver instructions (genetic material) to our cells to start building protection against the virus that causes COVID-19. However, the material never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept.

Will getting a COVID-19 vaccine cause me to test positive for COVID-19 on a viral test?

No.None of the authorized and recommended COVID-19 vaccines cause you to test positive onviral tests, which are used to see if you have acurrent infection.

If your body develops an immune response to vaccination, which is the goal, you may test positive on someantibody tests. Antibody tests indicate you had aprevious infectionand that you may have some level of protection against the virus.

Caring for newborns during the COVID-19 pandemic

From the Mayo Clinic

You have waited nine months for your newborn to arrive. You ate well, took prenatal vitamins, attended appointments and did your best to keep yourself healthy. Now that your baby has arrived, how do you keep him or her healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic?

This Q&A will help parents navigate ever-changing safety concerns:

Q. How can parents protect newborns once they go home?

A. While many new mothers are excited to introduce their new baby to family members, physical distancing remains the best strategy for limiting the risk of infection for their new babies. This means that most people who do not live with you should not come see your baby until the COVID-19 pandemic has resolved. Use social media or video applications, such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom, to connect with friends and family members who do not live with you to introduce your baby. All caretakers and siblings should wash their hands frequently and take special care to wash hands before touching newborns. They also should wear a mask when holding the baby. The baby should only be around people who live in the house and are asymptomatic. If someone has COVID-19 symptoms, isolate that person from the baby and family as much as possible. Take advantage of online shopping and grocery pickup.

Q. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for breastfeeding women?

A. On Dec. 12, 2020, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration, including authorization to vaccinate pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

Q. If mom gets COVID-19 and she's breastfeeding, will it transfer to the baby?

A. Breastfeeding has not been linked to transmission of COVID-19. However, there have been limited studies. At this time, the virus has has not been detected in breast milk. 

Q. If mom has COVID-19, what can she do to keep the baby safe while breastfeeding?

A. There is no way to avoid how close mom and her baby must be to breastfeed. However, COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets that can easily be transmitted from a mother to her baby during breastfeeding. Moms who have confirmed COVID-19 respiratory symptoms, are suspicious for COVID-19 or are awaiting COVID-19 test results should take precautions to prevent spreading it to the baby through respiratory droplets. This includes washing hands prior to touching the baby and wearing a face mask while breastfeeding. If mom is pumping or hand-expressing milk, she should wash her hands prior to touching any bottles or pump parts. Someone who is not sick can then feed the baby.

There may be instances in which mom and her baby must be separated, such as when babies require neonatal intensive care or special care services. In this event, it is recommended that moms continue to pump or hand-express milk.

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The Kidfixer Newsletter            Autumn, 2021