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MUSC dietician shares top wellness and weight loss tips

registered dietician talking to a room full of people

Judith Herrin, R.D. gave her top wellness and weight loss tips in the LOWVELO Lunch and Learn at the MUSC Wellness Center. Photo by Kristin Lee

It’s the age-old struggle – choosing the right foods to fuel your body and keep healthy while balancing a normal working life. Judith Herrin, R.D., gave a room full of eager participants tips to make it all a bit easier at a recent LOWVELO Lunch and Learn.

LOWVELO is not only MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s annual fundraising bike ride, it also is a lifestyle, which is why it is sponsoring a series of wellness lunches to raise awareness about cancer prevention. There is a direct correlation between a healthy lifestyle and your body’s ability to fight off disease, so participants are encouraged to make healthy choices year-round.

“Every bite you eat while you’re fueling your body is either fighting disease or it’s fueling disease,” Herrin said.  

“The main thing we’re trying to get rid of is all the artificial stuff – all of these chemically charged foods, artificial sweeteners, added fats, added sugars and trans fats in the foods. The easiest way to do this is to begin by ridding your pantry of all processed foods.”

Herrin suggested looking at the labels and choosing foods with five or fewer ingredients. “The key to all of those ingredients is that we need to be able to pronounce them,” said Herrin. “If you can’t pronounce an ingredient in your food, you should not be fueling your body with it.“

Herrin also stressed that diet foods are rarely healthy foods. If a food claims to be low in one unhealthy ingredient, it’s likely high in another. Fat is replaced with sugar. Sugar is replaced with sodium. All three in high amounts can cause health problems, but Herrin also reminded attendees of the importance of moderation.

“Everything in balance. Do we need to eat perfect all of the time?” she asked. “No. Honestly if we can keep it to 80% it can do wonders for your health. “

So, how do we do this?

Herrin suggested a vegetable with every meal – even breakfast. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that fight disease in your body.

“We really say that for every serving of vegetables or fruits that you consume in a day you’re dropping your cancer risk for that day by 10%.”

Herrin suggested eating breakfast within an hour of waking up. Include a protein to help fuel your body, keep your energy up and jumpstart your metabolism. Before you have that first cup of coffee for the day, drink a glass of water. It helps flush out your system and keep you hydrated. And your coffee? Drink it black.

“That black color in the coffee beans is providing you with phytochemicals and antioxidants you’re not getting elsewhere,” Herrin said. “Your brain truly does like a little bit of caffeine – up to 300 milligrams a day.”

At the end of the day, Herrin suggested to stop eating one to two hours prior to bedtime.

So, what about all those fad diets? “If you don’t plan to do something for the rest of your life, don’t change it,” said Herrin. “This is called yo-yo dieting and it does more harm than good. You’d be better off just staying exactly where you are than dropping weight drastically.” The goal, she said, should be one to two pounds per week.

On Sept. 23, Hollings Cancer Center researcher Sundar Balasubramanian, Ph.D. will discuss stress release and mobility. Balasubramanian is a world-renowned expert in yogic breathing, biologist, certified yoga therapist and an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at MUSC.

All LOWVELO Lunch and Learn events are free and include lunch and a registration for LOWVELO22. You can sign up for the September event here. Participants can join in person at the MUSC Wellness Center on Courtenay Drive or virtually via Microsoft Teams. A link to the virtual meeting will be sent upon registration.

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