Lessen Holiday Weight Gain and Stress this Year

We know that the holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year”. We also know that they can be a time of added stress and weight gain. Acknowledging this ahead of time is a great place to start when avoiding stress and extra pounds during the holiday season, according to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Divine Savior Healthcare, Emily Kraemer.

 “Many of the key components of not overeating and gaining weight involve planning ahead,” states Kraemer. “If you know you’ll be going to a party, consider planning your outfit in advance”.

Yes, wearing something festive and snug will make you pay more attention to how you’re carrying yourself and how your clothes are fitting. You will likely eat less and feel better about yourself. “Just be sure to not cheat and loosen your belt or unbutton your jeans,” jokes Kraemer.

If you are diabetic or maintaining a specific eating plan, another way to prepare is to bring a healthy dish to pass. This will lessen stress by ensuring that you’ll have at least one healthy thing there to eat. “I often encourage patients to consider mastering a go-to dish that they love, is easy to prepare, and is healthy. It ensures a healthy option for them and eliminates stress over what to bring.”

Lastly, plan to eat regularly throughout the day during the holidays, as you do throughout the remainder of year.  “Skipping meals doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll cut back on calories,” shares Emily.  “You will be more likely to overeat once you get to the party if you are overly hungry”.  It’s also important for those struggling to with diabetes to maintain healthy blood sugar levels by eating regularly scheduled meals.

“If you are struggling throughout the day, and want to mindlessly eat or stress eat, try chewing gum,” suggests Kraemer. Occupying your mouth with gum can help you avoid munching on extra snacks between meals and can often kill cravings for sweets and unnecessary calories. As a bonus, vigorous chomping can help some reduce stress and improve mood!

Once you are at a party or celebration, it is okay to get snobby about your food! “I always recommend taking a look at the buffet table before filling your plate,” shares Kraemer.  “Be deliberate in choosing items that you truly enjoy and do your best to make sure half of your plate is non-starchy vegetables. They will take the edge off of your appetite so you do not overeat, and they are also rich in nutrients”.

“Lastly, do not beat yourself up if you do decide to splurge over the holidays,” concludes Kraemer. “The holidays are stressful enough, enjoy them, and get back on track with balanced meals and exercising the next day”.  Being active during the holidays can help compensate for eating more than usual and is also a proven stress reliever.

By maintaining a healthy weight throughout the holidays, you will also avoid the stress that accompanies getting rid of unwanted pounds afterwards, which we all know are much harder to take off than put on!

The staff at Divine Savior wishes you happy and healthy holidays with your friends and family. If you or a loved one is struggling with diabetes management, healthy eating, or weight loss, Divine Savior has an Endocrinologist and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist on staff, a monthly support group for diabetic patients and families, and offers many weight loss and nutrition solutions at La Vita. Start by discussing with your primary care provider today or visit www.dshealthcare.com for more information.

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Experiencing a dull pain in the pit of your stomach

Stomach PainGastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, and gallbladder disease are two very common disorders. Knowing which one you have may be trickier than you think. Symptoms may be vague, such as a “dull pain in the pit of your stomach”, making it hard for you to explain to your doctor what’s exactly going on.

At Divine Savior Healthcare, General Surgeons, Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. Joshua Pogorelec, have seen many patients with these symptoms and after further examination are able to help  diagnose and treat both diseases.

What is GERD?
Gastroesophageal reflux disease GERD refers to stomach contents moving into the esophagus causing a burning sensation commonly referred to as heartburn. Other symptoms may occur as well, such as pain in the upper abdomen, bloating, nausea and an acid taste in your mouth.  If this continue, prolonged exposure of the esophagus to stomach contents can result in damage to the lining of the esophagus.  This in turn can result in difficulty swallowing, pain with swallowing or permanent damage to the esophagus.

Although not all reflux results in symptoms or damage to the esophagus, common symptoms include:
• Heartburn
• Acid regurgitation
• Belching
• Difficulty or pain when swallowing
• Waterbrash sudden excess of saliva
• Dysphagia the sensation of food sticking in the esophagus
• Chronic sore throat
• Laryngitis
• Inflammation of the gums
• Erosion of the enamel of the teeth
• Chronic irritation in the throat
• Hoarseness in the morning
• A sour taste
• Bad breath
• Coughing at night

What is gallbladder disease?
The gallbladder is located below the liver on the upper right side of the abdomen. The main function of the gallbladder is to store bile, which is made in the liver and allows fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Any condition that affects the gallbladder is considered a disease, and there are many different scenarios that fall under gallbladder disease:
• Inflammation
• Gallstones
• Common bile duct stones
• Biliary Dyskinesia
• Infection
• Perforated gallbladder
• Gallbladder polyps
• Porcelain gallbladders
• Gallbladder cancer

Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec share "the most common disease of the gallbladder is gallstones. Most people with gallstones do not even know they have them.  Once they cause problems, the gallbladder may need to be removed. Symptoms include pain below the right rib cage or in the “pit” of the stomach. This pain may radiate to the right upper back, chest, or shoulder. Other symptoms may include, bloating, nausea or vomiting, fever or chills, chronic diarrhea, jaundice yellow-tinted skin, or unusual lighter-colored stools or dark urine.”

After taking a closer look at GERD and gallbladder disease, Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec are able to provide helpful insight on common distinguishing factors between the two diseases.

Common distinguishing factors:
• Location: Although both may feel like a “pit in your stomach”, if you experience symptoms located closer to your throat or in your chest it is more likely to be GERD related. Symptoms located near your right lower rib radiating into your right upper back, chest and shoulder are more likely to be associated to your gallbladder.
• Pain: Unlike GERD, gallbladder pain usually begins suddenly, and changing positions, belching, passing gas or taking medications rarely helps pain symptoms go away.
• Timing: With heartburn being the most common symptom of GERD, symptoms of reflux are likely to occur shortly after eating, where symptoms of gallbladder disease usually occurs several hours after eating and have more consistent patterns of reoccurrence the same time each day.

What does treatment look like?
The symptoms of GERD are commonly and effectively treated with over-the-counter medications such as anti-acids and proton pump inhibitors. However, if relief does not go away from these medications your provider may recommend you be evaluated by one of our surgeons at Divine Savior.

After a thorough history and physical, our surgeons may recommend further evaluation of the esophagus and stomach with endoscopy.  Similar to colonoscopy, but without the need for prep, upper endoscopy allows the surgeon to visualize the esophagus, stomach and intestine to evaluate for damage to the esophagus, infection and a hiatal hernia.  Depending on the findings, further testing may be indicated to evaluate the function of the esophagus. 

Patients with severe GERD benefit from surgery to prevent reflux from occurring.  This procedure is commonly performed by both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec, is minimally invasive, and very effective at treating GERD.  In fact, most patients no longer require any antacid medications after the procedure.

If you are found to have stones in the gallbladder causing symptoms, the best course of action is to have the gallbladder removed.  Leaving the stones in place will continue to cause pain and may result in serious infection of the gallbladder and bile ducts, jaundice or pancreatitis. 

Both Dr. Anderson and Dr. Pogorelec routinely perform minimally invasive removal of the gallbladder.  This is most often an outpatient procedure and very successful.  After a short recovery, most patients will find their symptoms are gone and they are able to live a normal life. 

If you experience symptoms related to GERD or gallbladder disease, or have concerns about either, it is best to consult your provider for further examination. Treatment for either disease varies person to person, but taking action immediately and being properly treated can help you prevent problems from worsening.

To schedule an appointment with Divine Savior Healthcare General Surgeons, Dr. Anderson or Dr. Pogorelec, call 608-745-5176.

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