Mum’s Magic Bran Muffins

(Mum not Mom – she’s Canadian!)

Bowl 1:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup to 1 Cup (4. oz) each of raisins, chopped dates, chopped walnuts

Mix all the above together, making sure that the dates, raisins and nuts are fully coated with flour mixture

Bowl 2:
1 egg
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup milk
1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce (I use one individual serving of Mott’s applesauce)
1 1/2 cup of raisin bran

Mix all the above together, let set for 5 minutes (so bran gets a little soggy). I usually mix bowl 2 first so the wet ingredients can soak while I’m mixing bowl.

Once bowl 2 had soaked and bowl 1 is mixed, mix both together get a mini muffin tin, spray with Bakers Joy (it’s an oil and flour spray…’s THE BEST). Take a teaspoon to fill each muffin space. Once tin filled, place in. 350 degree preheated oven. Bake for 18 minutes.

You will be able to make 2 1/2 pans of the mini muffins! (most pans make 24 muffins).

Total calories: 40 calories each

Celebrate The New Year With Healthy Eating Habits

By: Collins Hodges, PsyD, Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Most of us are creatures of habit. We learn from an early age the comfort of predictability. In the same way that a predictable pattern of behavior from a mother to her child is inherently calming, the predictability of patterns affords adults the luxury of coherence and structure. After all, the denial of such would presuppose a life of chaos. However, within this conceptual formulation of the utility of patterned behavior lies a paradox of sorts. What are we to do with comforting patterns that ultimately serve to facilitate self-destructive behavior? For example, patterns of unhealthy eating, although predictable and comforting, fly in the face of one’s self-interest. Those struggling to lose weight are asked to actively move out of their comfort zone and into the realm of the unknown and unpredictable. Naturally, this process elicits fear and tests our capacity to consciously create new behavioral patterns that move us toward our weight loss goals.

The first step involves deconditioning, a process whereby a person first identifies an unhealthy pattern and then challenges its functional utility. Of course, this process is, by definition, very difficult. Unhealthy eating patterns develop over a period of time in response to our childhood development and a litany of past experiences. That is to say, these patterns are hard-wired and highly resistant to change. The key to interrupting unhealthy behavioral patterns and learning new behaviors is developing a heightened self of self-awareness. It would be difficult to change a behavior were you not cognizant of its presence and its deleterious effect on your weight loss goals.
Therefore, the first step is becoming aware that you are repeating an unhealthy pattern and to identify what the pattern is. The second step is to observe yourself closely enough while you’re running the pattern so as to pinpoint the precise moment where you derail. In the field of Neuro Linguistic Programming, this moment would call for a pattern interrupt. Simply put, creating a pattern interrupt can help you learn new behaviors that ultimately serve your goal. This is a critical piece, because it’s in that moment where you need to now install a new behavior. Then, you need to practice it diligently – over and over again – until it becomes a new habit. For example, let’s say you are committed to going to the gym in the morning. However, you have a tendency to push the snooze button a few too many times and eventually talk yourself out of exercising. At this point, your goal to exercise at the gym has derailed and therefore requires a pattern interrupt. What can you do in that moment that is different from what you have always done in the past? Perhaps you create a mantra such as, “Consistency is key!” Therefore, the next time you catch yourself pushing the snooze button and start talking yourself out of going to the gym, practice repeating the mantra. Mental health professionals generally agree that it takes 3-5 weeks to create a new habit. It will take consistency and repetition of the mantra over this period of time for you to create the new pattern and learn to do things differently in the morning.

The following are practical tips to help you overcome unhealthy eating patterns:

Make small, incremental changes

As previously stated, behavioral patterns developed over a period of time are, by definition, resistant to change. Therefore, be patient with yourself and focus on making incremental changes. For example, you may want to begin by paying attention to decreasing the portion size of your meals, eating with family members and not alone, or paying attention to your physical signs of hunger.

Create a specific plan

The more concrete and organized you are in designing a path toward weight loss, the more likely you are to be successful. For example, what specific changes do you plan to implement? Write these down and keep yourself accountable. For example, you may want to start by eliminating high calorie foods, empty calorie snacks, high sugar content drinks, and high fat content treats from your kitchen. The next step may be to replace these items with protein bars, fruits, vegetables, and high fiber and low-fat food options. You may then want to organize your meals and snacks using these new options. Perhaps you may also want to create a plan for working out that accounts for both deconditioning and pattern interrupts.

Tackle a new mini-goal every 2 weeks

If your goal is to eat more vegetables, tell yourself that you’ll try one new veggie each week until you find some you really enjoy. If another one of your goals is to start working out at the gym, break that goal down into mini-goals. For example, perhaps for the first two weeks you simply drive yourself to the gym and sit in your car for a few minutes. The next two weeks may involve going inside for 10 minutes and getting a lay for the land, etc.

Practice stress management

Focus on dealing with stress through exercise, relaxation, and/or meditation. I find that deep breathing exercises and either meditation or yoga are particularly helpful.

Practice mindful eating

Refer to my other articles on this subject. Simply learning to be more present and “in the moment” will go a long way in helping you create more healthy eating patterns. For example, you will begin by eliminating all distractions while eating and becoming more attuned to the actual process of eating.

Eat slower

Pause before taking a bite, and chew slowly and “intentionally.” This will help bring your focus back to the task at hand (eating) and keep you from mindlessly scarfing down more than your body really wants or needs.

Cook more

The best way to know what is in your food is to make it yourself. Pay attention to labels while at the grocery store. You will also have greater control over portion sizes. Play around with spices to create flavorful dishes with less sugar and salt.

Develop a routine

Eat meals and snacks around the same time every day. Designate Sunday as a time when you prepare a menu of healthy meals and snacks for the week.

Eat vegetables first

Start with salad or veggies when you sit down for lunch or dinner. Take the time to slowly chew your vegetables in an effort to eat more mindfully. If you practice eating the healthiest foods slowly, you will fill up on the most nutritious options first.

Vitamin A

By Dr. Charlotte Hodges

There is so much information available today about vitamins and supplements, from the internet, to your family doctor, to your best friend’s neighbor’s cousin who had a deficiency. I wanted a chance to read through the data and break down everything that we need to know (and then some) about vitamins and supplements. The series is “Everything you need to know about supplements, from A to Zinc.” While we will review the most common vitamins, I want to also include some lesser known vitamins and supplements as well as the newer supplements that are available.

To start this series, let’s start from the beginning, with Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is most commonly known for its important role in eye health. However, there is much more to this vitamin than meets the eye! There are actually two forms of vitamin A available in the human diet: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A. Preformed Vitamin A is found in foods from animal sources, including dairy products, fish, and meat (especially liver). By far the most important provitamin A carotenoid is beta-carotene, a plant pigment (such as in carrots). Both provitamin A and preformed vitamin A must be metabolized inside the cell to the active forms of vitamin A to support the vitamin’s important biological functions (1-5). The majority of our Vitamin A is stored in our liver.

So what does Vitamin A do?

Vitamin A is involved primarily in eye health. The previtamin and provitamin are metabolized into retinols / retinol esters and stored in the retina of the eye. The retina, located in the back of the eye, has specialized cells that are responsible for color vision and low-light vision. When light hits the back of the eye, a metabolic cascade of events occurs to activate the stored Vitamin A. This allows our brain to interpret the signals as sight and color. However, those with a Vitamin A deficiency can suffer from night blindness, corneal ulcers, and ultimately blindness (7).

As important as Vitamin A is to our visual health, this vitamin also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been found to play a role in immunity, regulation of gene expression and cancer, red blood cell production, and nutrient interactions (7). However, there is some conflicting results on its role in cancer. Therefore, more research is needed in this area.

What happens when you are Vitamin A deficient?

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of PREVENTABLE blindness in low and middle income nations. There is an estimated 19.1 million pregnant women worldwide (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America) with vitamin A deficiency, and over half of them are affected by night blindness (8). The prevalence of vitamin A deficiency and night blindness is especially high during the third trimester of pregnancy due to accelerated fetal growth. This risk is extended to their children. Half of the children affected by severe vitamin A deficiency-induced blinding xerophthalmia (dry eye from low Vitamin A) are estimated to die within a year of becoming blind (8). The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) promote vitamin A supplementation as a public health intervention to reduce child mortality in areas and populations where vitamin A deficiency is prevalent (9-11).

Vitamin A also interacts with iron. So patients with low iron (or who are anemic) are at a greater risk for complications from Vitamin A deficiency. Additionally, low Vitamin A can substantially increase the severity and mortality risk of infections, particularly measles and diarrhea (7).

Who is at risk for Vitamin A deficiency?

Since Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, people at the highest risk are those who have altered absorption in their gut, such as post-weight loss surgery patients, those with Crohn’s disease, or those with cystic fibrosis. Premature infants are also at risk for deficiency.

Too much of a good thing?

Patients can intake too much Vitamin A. This was the case of Artic explorers who ate polar bear liver and then suffered the consequences of hypervitamintosis. Excess Vitamin A can lead to increased intracranial pressure (pseudotumor cerebri), dizziness, nausea, headaches, skin irritation, pain in joints and bones, coma, and even death (2,4,5). Pregnant women can also be at risk for birth defects if they include too much of Vitamin A as well.

Bottom Line: Daily requirements

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women. These recommendations increase somewhat for patients who have undergone weight loss surgery.

According to ASMBS, the requirements for patients post-weight loss surgery (WLS) are:

• Sleeve and Gastric Bypass: 5,000 – 10,000 IU daily
• Duodenal Switch: 10,000 IU daily

However, in post-WLS patients with a documented Vitamin A deficiency, their daily requirements will increase. The recommended dosages are based on the presence (or lack of) symptoms.

• Post-WLS patients with deficiency without corneal changes: 10,000-25,000 IU until clinical improvement. (Typically, 1-2 weeks)
• Post-WLS patients with deficiency with corneal changes: 50,000-100,000 IU should be administered intramuscular injection for three days. This is then followed by 50,000 IU / day intramuscular injection for two weeks.

Also, post-WLS patients with a Vitamin A deficiency should also be evaluated for iron and/or copper. Deficiencies in these can impair resolution of a Vitamin A deficiency (6).

1. Johnson EJ, Russell RM. Beta-Carotene. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:115-20.
2. Ross CA. Vitamin A. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. London and New York: Informa Healthcare; 2010:778-91.
3. Ross A. Vitamin A and Carotenoids. In: Shils M, Shike M, Ross A, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:351-75.
4. Solomons NW. Vitamin A. In: Bowman B, Russell R, eds. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. 9th ed. Washington, DC: International Life Sciences Institute; 2006:157-83.
5. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc . Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.
6. J. Parrott et al. 2017. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.
7. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute, Micronutrient Information Center
8. Sherwin JC, Reacher MH, Dean WH, Ngondi J. Epidemiology of vitamin A deficiency and xerophthalmia in at-risk populations. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2012;106(4):205-214. (PubMed)
9. World Health Organization. Guideline – Vitamin A supplementation for infants and children 6-59 months of age – Guideline. Geneva 2011.
10. World Health Organization. Guideline – Neonatal vitamin A supplementation Geneva 2011.
11. World Health Organization. Guideline – Vitamin A supplementation for infants 1–5 months of age – Guideline. Geneva 2011.