Thursday, October 28, 2010

Healthy Weight Management for Breast Cancer Survivors

Healthy Weight Management for Breast Cancer Survivors

Guest blog post by Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, RD

I know breast cancer first-hand, because I am a survivor myself. I’m also a medical researcher and professor dedicated to teaching people how to live healthier lives, one habit at a time.

When I look at the statistics about cancer and obesity, I’m astounded:

• Obesity is credited with contributing to 41,000 new cases of all types of cancer.

• Nearly 30 percent of postmenopausal and recurrent breast cancers can be linked to excess weight.

• About 90,000 cancer deaths per year in the U.S. could be prevented with weight control.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

To change these numbers, I’ve joined forces with fellow researchers Kim Dittus, MD, PhD, and Jan Bunn, PhD, at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and Fletcher Allen Health Care, Inc., to conduct a pilot research study designed to test the effectiveness of weight loss programs among breast cancer survivors.

We will use the Vtrim Online Behavioral Weight Management Program as the intervention, a program I developed during 19 years of obesity research. Vtrim teaches people how to manage their weight by changing their eating and exercise behaviors. Changing behavior is truly the key to managing your weight. It’s when we change our behaviors, instead of depriving ourselves of certain foods, that we engage in a lifestyle makeover.

There are strategies you can put into action now to make your weight management goals doable. Here are five to get you started:

Bite It, Write It. The cornerstone of behavior modification is self-monitoring—a clinical term that simply means writing down the foods you eat, how much you exercise you, and noting triggers. To journal effectively be sure to record what you eat and drink immediately – you’ll avoid the forgot-it factor. Research shows that people who record their food intake lose twice as much weight as those who don’t write down what they eat.

Reduce TV Time. Researchers at the University of Vermont found that watching less TV results in subtle but meaningful changes in overall activity levels (see The Archives of Internal Medicine.) They found that individuals who cut television viewing by 2.5 hours (based on the average of 5 hours per day) burned off an additional 120 calories a day – the equivalent of walking about 8 miles a week.

Control Your Portions. Learn to eyeball portion sizes for when you can’t pull out the measuring cups (like when you are eating out or at a friend’s house). Use helpful visuals such as 3 ounces of meat/poultry is the size of a deck of cards, ½ cup of rice or pasta is about the size of a baseball, and ¼ cup is about the size of a golf ball. Research shows that people will automatically eat more when served bigger portions, regardless of physical hunger.

Make Your Exercise Count. If you're having a hard time sticking to your workouts, perhaps you need to add some Factor P (P, for "purpose") in your fitness plan. Research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that people who perform physical activity to complete a necessary goal (dare we say chore?) are more consistent and stick with it longer than people who plan their activity around gym workouts. So rake the leaves! Walk the dog!

Sneak In Exercise. Three ten-minute walks are just as effective as one thirty-minute walk. One study found that people who took more short exercise bouts actually lost more weight. Create a new routine: instead of meeting a friend for drinks or coffee, ask her to join you for a weekly catch-up walk so you can burn calories over conversation.

Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, RD, is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Vermont. Her research focuses on behavioral treatments for obesity in adults and obesity prevention in children. As the lead researcher and founder of Vtrim, a behavioral weight loss program, Dr. Harvey-Berino has conducted numerous clinical trials in obesity treatment over the past 19 years. Her current research projects include an examination of how weight gain is linked to recurrence of breast cancer. Jean is a recipient of the 2008 James Beard Award for "The Eating Well Diet" book.


Bruce said...

Thanks for this informative blog

Breast cancer Care

Patricia Parker said...

A must read post for breast cancer survivors. It is really informative and good to follow.
Thanks for sharing. Keep posting.
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MoLangley said...

I agree with you that health and fitness is really helps cancer patients to improve their health.infact,I would say that fitness can helps in any type of illness to improve health.

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