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How to Care for a Cast Iron Pan

How to Care for a Cast Iron PanWe publish lots of tasty recipes on the WeightWise blog. Most of our recipes are easy to make. We strive to keep things simple, and you can make cooking even more enjoyable by using the right tools.

A cast iron pan in your toolkit gives you an advantage after weight loss surgery. A seasoned cast iron skillet is perfect for cooking meat, a crucial ingredient in a low-carbohydrate diet.

Cast iron pans were used every day by our grandparents. In recent times, however, these kitchen heavyweights have been replaced by nonstick cookware. But, there’s a renewed interest in cast iron. Some people don’t like the chemicals associated with nonstick coatings on cookware. Others want to recapture old ways of food preparation.


Fluids 101

We talk about hydration so much around here. Every person you meet in our clinic will ask you about your drinking habits.

“How much are you drinking? When are you drinking? What are you drinking?”

New fluids on the Market

We are like the helicopter mom of fluids– we mean well, I promise we do. 

When we ask about your fluids, it isn’t that we just like to hear ourselves talk. Fluids are vital. So many body processes depend on adequate hydration to function properly, including your bowels and fat metabolism. Since fluids are so important, getting burnt out on a certain flavor or type of drink can throw you into a tail spin. When looking at fluids, there are three important things to keep in mind: 

1. Calories– All fluids should be less than 15 calories

2. Caffeine– Caffeine intake should be kept to a minimum. Any caffeinated beverages do not count as a hydrating fluids…only decaf drinks are hydrating. 

3. Carbonation– Carbonated drinks should be avoided to prevent expansion of the pouch after surgery. 

Keep these guidelines in mind when shopping for new products. So in the effort to mix up your fluids, here are some favorites that have been lining my shelves lately….

Dasani Drop Infusions: Do you have a sensitivity to any and all sweeteners? Or maybe you just don’t like the sweet taste of fluids. Whatever the reason maybe, these Dasani Infusion Drops might be your new favorite thing. Naturally flavored and unsweetened, these drops provide just a hint of flavor. They come in both Lime and Strawberry Basil flavors. 

Bai5 Antioxidant Infusions: You have hit the jackpot with Bai5 if you are looking for a naturally sweetened and organic beverage. With only 5 calories per serving, Bai5 is full of flavor. It is sweetened with organic stevia for the benefit of all those with aspartame or sucralose intolerances. 

Propel Electrolyte Water:  Are you struggling to drink your electrolytes? Whether you are having a hard time with the sweet flavor of zero calorie sports drinks or have an intolerance to artificial sweeteners, Propel® Electrolyte Water has you covered. This zero calorie, unflavored, unsweetener water is brimming with electrolytes. 

Ocean Spray Pact: Ocean Spray® PACt® is a great low calorie alternative to juice. With multiple flavors including Cranberry Pomegranate and Cranberry Blood Orange you won’t get tired of the same flavor. And only 10 calories per bottle will keep you right on track. 

Hint Waters: Get a natural kick of fruit flavor with Hint Fruit Infused Waters. Zero artificial sweeteners and zero calories for this lightly flavored water. Downside is I haven’t found it in stores in Oklahoma yet, so you have to order online. 

Sweetleaf: Sweetleaf has a multitude of products, but the Sweetleaf® Sweet Drops™  have some great flavors. These liquid stevia based drops range in flavor from cinnamon or coconut to a cola flavor. 

The moral of the story is to drink your fluids and to mix it up! There are gobs of new products on the market everyday— these happen to be some that I have found recently. Enjoy your drinks! Lauren 


Overcoming Emotional Eating

Emotional eating, depression, and obesity are a vicious cycle. You get upset, you eat because you’re upset, then you’re upset because you have overeaten.

Food becomes a temporary relief—almost like an analgesic—for the emotional pain. Yet while it may numb, or even relieve it for a short while, the rebound is often much worse.

signs of overeating and depressionFood addiction shares many traits with drug addiction, yet with drugs, you have the option to just cut them out completely. With food, it is even harder.

Yet there are ways to break the cycle. Breaking out of the food medicating hamster-wheel is not easy, but particularly with the support of family and friends and a knowledgeable dietitian, it is absolutely do-able.

Tips from a Bariatric Surgeon in Oklahoma

One of the most fundamentally helpful things you can do is learn how to determine when your body is hungry versus when your mind is sending your body sneaky signals.

How to Determine the Source of Your Hunger:

It can be difficult to determine where the cravings are coming from. Here are a few tips:

Pay attention to how you’re feeling

  • Do a quick self scan to see if any physical symptoms of hunger are prevalent, such as hollow stomach, hunger pangs, stomach growling or rumbling, or even a slight light-headedness.
  • Am I thirsty? Many times hunger can be mistaken for thirst! If you are thirsty, drink some water. Then wait a bit, and see if you’re still hungry.

Be wary of situational hunger “triggers”

Not unlike Pavlov’s Dogs, we have been conditioned by our culture to feel hunger at certain triggers. If your alleged hunger coincides with passing the food court at the mall, think twice. It’s ok to keep walking. You can always come back later if it turns out you were hungry.

What to do when Overwhelmed by Food Cravings

Eating in response to stress or pain is a form of distracting oneself from the deep “hurt.” Not only does it perpetuate the cycle, but it also does not allow for the emotion to run its full course.

Accept your State of Mind

As difficult as feelings of panic and despair are to endure, they are part of the full spectrum of human emotions. Taking a deep breath and allowing yourself to ride out the wave of pain actually allows for you to come to terms with it, to confront your fears.

Substitute Eating Impulses with Healthy Behaviors

  • Need something in mouth → Try a mint, a piece of gum, or even ice
  • Feeling antsy → Try going for a short walk
  • Feeling lonely → Try calling up a friend or family member
  • Feeling tired → Try a cup of tea or decaffeinated coffee

achieving peace with foodInstead of beating yourself up for feeling hungry, try and take a mindful approach to what you’re facing. Allowing yourself to feel whatever emotion the craving is trying to make up for is the first step to harnessing your hunger. Once you are to view your emotions as a natural part of you, rather than something you must try and squash, you will be more apt to effectively control hunger impulses.

Curbing your impulses in this way will pave way for you to make more conscious choices about what you eat, so that you can be the master of your food, rather than the other way around.


For additional information on techniques to mindfully adapt your eating patterns, this article from Bariatric Times is quite helpful.




Savvy Shopping Series: Supermarkets

Have you ever felt out of place or overwhelmed in a grocery store? There are so many options, numerous brands, and tons of products all boasting to be the best on the market. In the last few weeks we have talked about how to shop in season and shop locallyToday let’s touch on supermarkets. The ins and outs of shopping and how to get out of of there with your wallet in tact.


  • Shop the perimeter. You might have heard this before. I talk to my patients about this all the time. But when you stick with the outside walls of the store, you are shopping in the fresh food areas. This is what you want to be eating most of the time and it helps keep you away from the more preservative filled foods. 
  • Make a grocery list in order of the store. This might seem tedious, but it helps save time while in the store. Think about it— you have already walked through the produce section but don’t realize you forgot the carrots until you are in the dairy section. Traipsing through the store back and forth can be very annoying and time consuming. Make a spreadsheet of common foods you buy in order of how you walk through the store, then just check off what you need each week…bada-bing, bada-boom. 
  • Mix up your supermarkets. I rarely get all of my groceries at one store. I have about three stores where I consistently do my shopping. Sign up for the circulars from several different supermarkets or look them up online. The weekly circular will give you an idea of what is on sale or better priced from one store to another. You can also take these with you if you want to “price match” at a store to keep travel time down. 
  • Clip store coupons from their website. Walmart, Target, and Crest stores all have coupons on their websites for several food and non-perishable items. USE THESE! If you are on a budget or just want to take advantage of free money, clip the coupons of the items you are already buying. It is easier to make your grocery list first, then look at the coupons. Otherwise you might end up buying things you don’t really need because there is a coupon. 

I hope these tips help make you one step closer to being a savvy shopper! Lauren 

Healthy Holiday Series

Healthy Holiday Series: Building Habits

Let me guess… you read the title and thought, “The holidays?! Is this girl nuts, that is so far away!”. But they really are just around the corner— Labor Day in September leads to Halloween in October, then on Thanksgiving in November, and the grandaddy of them all- Christmas. We are just a hop, skip, and jump away from the chaos we all know and love (somewhat). This healthy holiday series, I hope, serves to help you gear up for the holidays over the next few months. 

Healthy Holiday Series

What would you say if I told you that what you are doing today can impact you in September and even into December? That our daily actions or lack of actions can have a trickle down effect. They can, and they will. Habits are not undone in one day. And by the same effect, they are not built in one day. 

Time and commitment. The definition of habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice. It takes time and commitment to make and break habits. That’s why actions today can impact you months down the road. Establishing good habits now will help control pitfalls around the holidays. 

Can you guess the focus on this month’s healthy holiday series? That’s right— building good habits. There are so many good habits to have…. saving money instead of spending money; trading a book for screen time on occasion; flossing daily; taking time to ask someone’s name or holding the door for a stranger. Building habits related to your health can be more challenging. But challenge you I will. 

Here are some habits to work on….

1. Keep yourself a priority. Raise your hand if you have put your own needs aside for busy family times or work deadlines. Yep, I see you out there. Keep in mind that the more your own needs and health go on the back burner, the harder it will be to take care of others long term. Not only that but the quality and productivity of what you do at work and at home suffers. Make a list of what is important to YOU– your ‘must do daily’  list and do not let anything take a priority over those things. 

2. Drink moreDrinking an appropriate amount of water is vital to many body processes including fat metabolism, prevention of fluid retention, appetite control, and bowel function. The typical adult should drink anywhere from 64-96 oz of hydrating fluids. So how can this help during the holidays? Hunger and craving control. When you are conditioned to reach for water throughout the day, you will also reach for it while the buffet of pies and cookies are staring at you. 

3. Plan and prep your meals. The all or nothing approach to eating on a daily basis can be hard to overcome. The thoughts of, “well I already ate something bad for breakfast so I the rest of the day is ruined” is a vicious cycle. But planning your meals ahead can make is easier to get from a not so good breakfast to a great lunch and dinner. In the same way, meal prepping can help keep you from reach for more undesirable convenience foods when you are tired and not in the mood to cook. 

4. Eat out less. Knowing how much effort and time it takes to meal plan, grocery shop, and prep meals is an advantage going into a busy season. Trying to pick up this habit of cooking more at home and eating out less in the middle of chaos will most likely result frustration and a feeling of defeat. Start cooking at home more now so you are ready for that time management when busy season hits. 

5. Exercise regularly. This is the same concept as cooking at home. When you have a daily routine of physical activity already built in, you are more likely to continue that activity when time becomes more precious. Plan it into your day. Don’t let it fall by the wayside. Be adamant about your exercise time. 

I hope you accept the challenge of building these habits. It isn’t easy, but it will be worth it. Check back monthly for more in this Healthy Holiday Series. 



Savvy Shopping Series: Shopping Local

Welcome back to our savvy shopping series! This is a little compilation of ideas and tips to become THE savvy shopper we all know and want to be. So jump in– the water is just fine. 

If you missed last week, catch up right quick….we talked about how buying in season helps with keeping cost down and freshness high. 

photo (21)

At the OSU-OKC year round farmers market

Shopping local at a farmers market or becoming part of a Co-op is also a great way to buy in season. However it can be intimidating if you are not familiar with how farmers markets work. 

Here are some tips for shopping at your local farmers market…

1. Arrive early. If it is a hot commodity, then it will sell out quickly. So if you are after one particular item, then grab your coffee and head out with the sun. 

2. Take your own bags/box. While some vendors/farmers will provide plastic bags, many will not. So don’t forget that canvas bag to carry your goodies around. 

3. Know what you are looking for. Farmers markets are wonderful for browsing around, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home with something I have no plan to use. Plan your meals out before you go to prevent wasting good product and money. 

4. Get to know your farmers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They love it! Most growers will jump at the chance to share a recipe or idea for preparation– after all they have put a lot of work and time into this food for you already. Some of my favorite recipes have come from the growers. A pen and paper might be handy if you have trouble remembering recipe steps. 

5. Have a cooler in your car. Especially if you are buying meats/eggs/cheese. These products will keep well if you are planning on going straight home, but if more errands are on your list, then a cooler will help keep them fresh longer. You can also ask the grower/farmer if you can leave your purchased meats and cheeses in their cooler until you are done scoping out the rest of the market.

6. Take cash. Many vendors now day have credit/debit card machines; however, that is not always the case. It is a good rule of thumb to carry the amount of cash you want to spend with you. That also helps you from overspending or splurging on something you don’t need. 

 People just might mistake you for a veteran farmers market shopper. Here are some links to farmers markets in the area that I’m familiar with…

OKC metro area: 

Oklahoma City- OSUOKC

Oklahoma City- Farmers Market Building

Norman Farmers Market

Moore Farmers Market

For a more comprehensive list of markets around the state, check out OK Grown at http://www.okgrown.com/markets for a list of markets in Oklahoma!

Happy shopping! Lauren 



Savvy Shopping Series: Buying In Season

Welcome to our mini- savvy shopping series! Today’s topic? Buying produce in season. 

Your wait is over, my friends. Today is the day that you take back the shopping cart. Plant your flag on top of the apple bin. Stare kale straight in the leaves and say, “I know exactly how to cook you”. You will become the savvy shopper. And the first step is knowing what to buy.

Buying in season produce is the definitely a must for a few different reasons. But we will get to that in a minute. First, you need to know what foods are in season. I love this chart from Oklahoma State University that outlines typical growing season for a ton of fruits and veggies. I have one printed out for my recipe binder and one inside a kitchen cabinet for quick reference.

produce chart


Now that you know what to buy, let’s talk about why you should buy in season. 

photo via kingsfoodmarkets.com

photo via kingsfoodmarkets.com

1. Variety.  Fruits and vegetables grow during different times of the year because of temperature, precipitation, sunlight, etc. If you follow the growing season of produce, then you are less likely to get stuck in a rut of just eating green beans and broccoli. It also makes you try new things. (**Reminder: new things are good). 

2. Freshness. Buying in season veggies and fruit will taste better. There is a difference between a green house tomato and a garden tomato! The flavor and taste is wonderful and the produce will actually last a little longer before going bad. The shelf life is not extended by much, but it will last a few more days while staying crisp and fresh. 

3. Cost. It is CHEAPER! Ever noticed how strawberries go from a million dollars a quart to $2.00 per quart around April/May. Yep, because they are in season. Using the in season produce guide will go a long way to lowering your weekly grocery bill.

Happy savvy shopping! ~Lauren 


bad habits

My Bad Eating Habits

I love being a dietitian. But sometimes the standards are pretty high. Running into people in restaurants or the grocery store feels like I’m being studied in my natural habitat. The assumption of most dietitians is that 1) we can live off green smoothies and salad alone, 2) that we secretly judge everything on your plate, and 3) we are immune to the temptations of sugary, delectable foods. But I’m just a normal girl, livin’ in a food-filled world. 

bad habits

image found on www.youtube.com

So in the effort of complete transparency- I’m airing out my bad eating habits . Every. Single. Dirty one of them. 

1. Weekends. Do I need to explain further? I’m out of my routine on the weekends so vitamins and fluids take the back seat to home depot and playing outside. I know I do it and I know I need to do better. Here is what I’m going to do to help— I have vitamins both at home and at work now. Since I don’t have to remember to take them back and forth, I am starting to remember more often. I also have a new app called Water Logged that sends me push notifications about drinking my fluids. 

2. Eating too dang fast. I wish I could blame this on a busy schedule or someone else, but that would just be a lie. I have an hour for lunch and the only people I have vying for my attention at dinner is my hubby and sweet little Henry Dog. Maybe I eat fast because I would rather be doing something more fun? Or maybe my kitchen chairs are uncomfortable? But more often than not, I eat fast then regret the overly full feeling I get minutes later. Here are some tricks I’ve been using to slow down– I eat with my left hand. I have a hard time doing anything with my left hand, let alone feeding myself.   

3. Eating/snacking in front of the TV. Too often I find myself eating with the cast of the Walking Dead or Parenthood keeping me company- especially when Mr. A is out. And I’m about 99% sure that this contributes to eating too fast and too definitely way too much. In fact, a study published in January 2014 found that women who eat in front of the television compared to not eating in front of the television do not recognize satiety (fullness) as well, which can lead to greater food intake. What can we do to help with this? I’m am going to start eating more on my patio while it is nice outside. And maybe re-upholster my kitchen chairs to be more comfy. 🙂 

4. Not keeping a food journal. I do this sporadically. But definitely not daily. It is so beneficial and it can really help most of these bad habits I’m confessing.  Here is my plan- food journal in Myfitnesspal while I’m eating. I think it will help me to eat slower and track my food at the same time. Win, win. 

5. Grazing while cooking dinner. Gggggrrrrr- why do I do this?!?! I ask myself this daily. I’m chopping veggies and going along with my business, then somehow the hummus is on the counter. In goes the carrot and straight into my mouth. multiple times!  A few things have helped me on this. Prep the veggies/fruit/sides as much as you can on the day you grocery shop. If everything is already chopped and ready, cooking time is much shorter! The crockpot is another amazing tool to use. Prepare the meal in the morning, let it cook all day, and eat dinner as soon as you are home from work.   

I know this. I know that I should change all of these things. Like everyone else in the world, my eating habits are not perfect. And I definitely do not survive on kale. So all I can do is try my best to break these habits and make a little bit of progress everyday. 

What are some of your habits? ~Lauren 

Lifestyle Post: Mindful Eating

Mindful eating.  We’ve all heard of it, but what is it exactly?  Mindful eating is intentionally paying attention to what and why you are eating in the present moment, using your senses.  Paying attention to hunger cues (Am I hungry?) and fullness cues (Have I eaten enough – am I full?) is important in weight loss.  Different triggers can cause us to not eat mindfully:  boredom, stress, emotions, etc.  Identifying those triggers and replacing the food with non-food alternatives leads to success.  Mindful eating aids in long term weight loss success, as well as successful maintenance of weight once you reach your goal!

Sometimes, it’s easy to let ourselves think we are hungry, when maybe we are bored, stressed, sad, angry, happy, or frustrated.  I know that during the evenings I watch a movie, or maybe the nights I spend some time studying, I find myself going to food to snack on merely out of boredom, rather than true hunger.  Oftentimes, those foods are not the most desirable food choices.  I become a mindless eater.  It’s easy to do this when we get busy or distracted, but we have to remind ourselves to stop and think, “Am I truly hungry, or am I just bored – or maybe even thirsty?” Engaging in mindful eating helps guide us to consistent success! 

Brainstorm some of your favorite hobbies to replace that moment of boredom where you want to reach for food, or glance at the list below for a few non-food alternatives.

  • Playing an instrument
  • Make a mug of decaf hot tea
  • Painting or drawing
  • Putting together a puzzle
  • Playing fetch with your dog
  • Reading a new book or magazine
  • Painting your fingernails
  • Going on a walk
  • Playing a sport
  • Starting a blog
  • Listening to music
  • Crocheting or knitting
  • Playing a board game
  • Organizing drawers
  • Cleaning out a closet
  • Planting a garden
  • Meditation or yoga
  • Pulling weeds
  • Getting the mail
  • Calling or texting a friend
  • Woodworking
  • Write a letter
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Journaling
  • Work a crossword puzzle
  • Visit a museum
  • Taking your kids on a walk or bike ride
  • Do something seasonal – carve a pumpkin, go see Christmas lights, pick some flowers, etc.

Let’s all practice mindful eating together this week, and replacing those triggers with non-food alternatives!  

-Elise, Intern

photo 2-2

How to Survive a Home Reno

How to survive a home reno? Err- maybe that should be how not to survive a home reno. Because to tell you the truth- I’m s-t-r-u-g-g-l-i-n-g. Struggling! Mr. A and I just bought our first home at the end of January. And like many first homes- it is a long way from our “dream house”, but I love it so much. I love it even with its old windows, popcorn ceilings, florescent tube lighting, and carpet in the kitchen. Yes, I said carpet in the kitchen. Don’t believe me? Here it is—-

photo 4-2

photo 5-2

Our cute new-to-us house has turned us into DIY-ers. We are “that couple” at Home Depot. You know the ones. The ones that are greeted by name in the store, that ask a ton of questions, and feel like we can master any task. Yep, that’s us. And guess what the number one project has been? The kitchen. We now have a popcorn and carpet free kitchen! Whoop-whoop! 

photo 2-2

Mr. A checking out the non-carpeted floors 

With every reno, you take the good with the bad. So we don’t have a cushioned floor or popcorn stuck to the ceiling anymore (YAY!), but we are also missing some key appliances and counter tops. And it will be this way for another few weeks. So I have used this as an excuse for the last three weeks to not care about what goes into my body. 

photo 1-2

We have been frequenting drive thru’s often and know the local pizza delivery person’s name. I was using all the typical excuses- I don’t have time, there is too much going on to eat well, I don’t have counter tops in my kitchen…. My turning point came late last week. I felt terrible. My stomach hurt. I felt listless and run down. I was irritable (can anyone say mood swings?). I would crash about an hour after we ate dinner every night.

So how do I get out of this foil wrapped, brown bag filled, cardboard box carrying coma I find myself in? It takes some planning and forethought- but it has worked for the last few days! Here are my ideas- 

  1. Choose wisely at your “fast food” places. Did you know that Carl’s Jr has a low carb menu? They have fantastic lettuce wrapped burgers and chicken sandwiches! I found out we have a Jimmy Johns down the road- an unwich from there has my name written all over it. Plus, they deliver! Other fast food restaurants have started carrying salads on their menus like Braums and Wendy’s. They are good options in a pinch. 
  2. Look at the hot bar at your grocery store. Rotisserie chicken and a bag of pre-washed and chopped salad is great for a tasty meal (some assembly required). Whole Foods has a great hot bar with chili, grilled meats, and veggies all day long. 
  3. Slow cooker options. Some slow cooker recipes are perfect for this situation! This morning I grabbed a bag of frozen chicken breast and a jar of chunky salsa- dump them both in the crock pot on high for 4 hours and you will have some great chicken to munch on. photo (2)
  4. Keep ready to eat foods on hand. Deli meat and cheese is an easy go to if you are in a time crunch or have no cooking appliances. My favorite this week has been tuna salad (without the boiled egg) and the high protein pretzels from the WW store. 
  5. Water, water, water. It was really easy for me to let my water intake slip. I got in a bad habit of drinking coffee all day to combat the fatigue from eating poorly. Once I pumped my water back to normal, my hunger and cravings were more under control. 

Everyone slips up sometimes- but it is important to figure out what your reason (excuse) is for letting good, healthy habits fall by the wayside. Mine was time and my kitchen. But hopefully I have found enough ways to work around that. What is your excuse and what are you trying to do to change it?

Look for more “non-cooking” recipes coming from me in the near future! ~Lauren  

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