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The Upcoming Flu Season and a Few Words about the Avian Flu

By Ed Nguyen, M.D., Attending Physician at 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.

With the New Year now upon us, festivities and resolutions are sure to be commonplace. For people who are actively trying to diet, now can be a precarious time of year, particularly if there are many parties to attend. But, it can also be a fresh new start! Here are some basic guidelines for those who are watching their weights or for anyone else currently resolving to shed those few extra pounds.

  1. When eating at parties, keep portions small. Do not overstuff your plate. Politely resist any encouragements from friends or family to eat too much.
  2. Try only one or two entrees at a time. Do not put too many different foods on your plate. Only choose those foods which you are sure to eat.
  3. There is no need to stuff yourself until you feel over-satiated. Eat sensibly.
  4. Alternate alcoholic beverages with calorie-free sodas or water. Also, don't drink and drive (always have a designated driver if you're going to drink).
  5. If you are currently on a special diet, stay within the bounds of that diet; try not to exceed its parameters. Many people feel the holidays are a special time to over-indulge or binge. However, the cumulative effects of all these end-of-season "special" occasions do add up.
  6. Limit salt and fat. Trim that fat or skin away from your servings. Use salt substitutes.
  7. When cooking, use healthy substitutes in your recipes – vegetable oil instead of animal oil, margarine over butter, splenda over sugar, herbal substitutes over salt. Try to use only fresh ingredients. Foods with high fat or salt content, canned foods, fast foods, and preserved foods are all generally bad for you.
  8. If going on a pre-planned vacation or cruise, resist the urge to eat too much. Many cruise liners offer boundless buffets, and the tendency is to overeat simply because you have already paid for it! Don't do this. Find other ways to occupy your vacation time – games, shows, swimming, sun-bathing, or sight-seeing, for instance.
  9. Shrimp cocktail is always a good option at buffets, as this treat is nearly fat-free and is high in protein and iron, too.
  10. Don't neglect your exercise just because the weather is too cold, either. There are many available indoor fitness centers and swimming pools. Enclosed shopping malls make comfortable places for brisk walks, too. Try to achieve twenty minutes of exercise a day in any form, 3-4 times a week, if possible.

For those people newly resolving to lose weight, often an early stumbling block is just getting started. Sometimes, moral support can provide the proper motivation. Try to find a friend or family member willing to join you in losing that excess weight and keeping it off. Peruse through the myriad of health magazines out there; these publications can often offer helpful tips on losing weight as well as preparing nutritious and healthy recipes. For people with ready access to the internet, check out some online websites, such as The Mayo Clinic or http://www.obesity.org/, which also offer helpful tips and low-fat recipes, or 75th St. Medical here in Ocean City for further weight loss information.

One of the best self-guides to watching the diet is to maintain a food diary. You can track your eating habits more efficiently and plan proper dietary regimes this way. These diaries are easy to make and to use, and you can also download one from The National Institutes of Health at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/ to help get yourself started.

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