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Washington Hospital Seminar Offers Tips for Eating Right and Getting More Active

August 10, 2010

Forget About Diets and Focus on Lifestyle

Wouldn’t it be great if all you had to do was follow a simple diet for a month and you’d never have to worry about weight again? Forget about it. To lose weight and keep it off, you need to make better food choices and engage in physical activity nearly every day of your life.

"Forget about diets," said Anna Mazzei, a clinical registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Washington Hospital. "We need to move away from that whole discussion about diet and reshape our eating and activity habits. It’s not about starting a diet on Monday or after vacation. It’s about making better choices today."

Mazzei will offer tips for eating better and Dr. Sudeepthi Prasad will talk about getting more active at an upcoming health and wellness seminar at Washington Hospital. "Fitting Physical Activity Into Your Day: Learn Nutrition for a Healthier Life" is scheduled for Tuesday, August 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. The seminar will be held at the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditoriums at Washington West, 2500 Mowry Avenue, in Fremont. To register online, please visit www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070.

Dr. Sudeepthi Prasad will discuss the importance of physical activity. In addition to helping to maintain a healthy weight, regular physical activity offers a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You don’t have to join a gym or buy fancy equipment to become more physically active; you just need to move your body on a regular basis. Physical activity could include walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, or other activities that raise your heart rate and get you moving. Prasad will offer tips for increasing your physical activity.

Making Better Food Choices

Mazzei will talk about making better food choices. She will discuss the importance of meal planning, which includes controlling portion sizes, and self-monitoring.

"You will never be able to successfully manage your weight if you are not willing to plan what you eat," she said. "You can’t just go through the day randomly eating whatever you want. Eating has to be a conscious decision."

Self-monitoring is also important for making better food choices, according to Mazzei. Self-monitoring means keeping track of what you eat, including how many calories you consume, and weighing yourself regularly.

"A lot of people have never thought much about what they are consuming and how many calories are in the food they eat," she said. "Today it’s easier than ever to know how many calories are in food products and beverages. Nutritional information is on every package and chain restaurants have calorie counts on their menus or online."

Mazzei said when people start to monitor what they consume, often they decide that some of what they eat or drink regularly isn’t worth the calories.

"When you see that the fancy coffee drink you get every morning contains as many calories as a whole meal, you might make a different choice," she said. "Once you start keeping track of what you eat and drink, you can see where you are getting the bulk of your calories and make some adjustments."

She will encourage participants to take advantage of the wealth of information available at www.mypyramid.gov. The website offers a wide range of tips and resources to help you eat right and maintain a healthy weight. It provides information about food, including nutritional values, as well as a number of interactive tools like a menu planner and a food and activity tracker.

"Most people want to lose weight so they look better, but the reality is there are significant health benefits associated with losing even a little weight if you are overweight right now," Mazzei said. "Healthy food choices combined with activity is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. It’s a lifestyle you adopt, not a diet."

Weight Loss Program Starts in September
For women that want to loss weight and learn to keep it off, the Washington Women’s Center offers a weight management program that can help improve your long term health. The Right Weigh Program, taught by Anna Mazzei, a clinical registered dietitian at Washington Hospital, promotes nutritious and tasty meal planning, personalized options for physical activity, and best behaviors for long term weight management. Program includes one-on-one sessions and group classes over a three-month period. Call (510) 608-1356 for fees and more information.