Indulge during the holidays, go on a strict diet after? That’s the message our culture sends, and to many people it’s confusing. This is especially true for those struggling with an eating disorder. Colleen Schreyer, an eating disorder specialist, shares a few tips about how to eat healthily during the holidays.

Tip #1: Self-Monitor
If you're worried about calorie counts and potential weight gain during the holidays, there are dozens of free apps and online programs to help you keep track. Schreyer recommends one called It's normal to weigh yourself a few times a week and see fluctuations in weight, especially after a big meal. You should be concerned if you see major fluctuations in weight from week to week, but the difference of a few pounds from day to day is considered normal and healthy.

Tip #2: Set Goals
Plan out your week and set SMART goals for your meals. It's not very realistic to set a goal of not eating a single bite at a holiday party, but it's more realistic to say you will limit yourself to a certain number of appetizers or munchies. Remember, SMART goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Reasonable/realistic
  • Time-bound

Tip #3: Stimulus Control
Along with setting goals, you can plan ahead to control any food-related stimuli that might cause you to stray from your desired eating plan. Don't grocery shop on an empty stomach; have a healthy snack before a meeting where there might be not-so-healthy snacks in the center of the room; change your walking route to avoid the table with holiday goodies. Also, at home, keep what you want to eat. Tuck your chips and snack foods in the back of the cupboard and set out a bowl of (nice looking) fresh fruit, so your decision to snack healthily is easier and more convenient.

Tip #4: Take a Lap
When attending a holiday party with many food options, take a lap around the room to see all the food available before filling a plate. Likewise, if there are passed appetizers, don't fill up on the first few things that come out the kitchen door. This will help you more easily count calories or track food intake.

Tip #5: Exercise
Even if you don't have time to hit the gym for an hour workout, stepping away from your desk to talk a short, 10-minute walk can do you good. Do workouts in bouts of 10 minutes, which is the threshold for your body to convert to calorie-burning mode. Also, it's easier to commit to a New Years resolution of exercising more in 2016 if you incorporate some kind of exercise or workout into your routine in December.

Tip #6: Look to Social Support
You're definitely not the only one in the room who is watching their weight! Talk to friends about how hard it is to stay on track during the holidays and how hard it is not to grab that second or third dessert from the table. You may find great ideas and additional tips for maintaining your weight management plan during the holidays.


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Do you look forward to visiting with family and friends, cooking up festive holiday treats or planning out pranks for your child’s Elf on the Shelf? Share your favorite part about the holidays in Hopkins Happenings.


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Kimberley SteeleAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the past 30 years. Addressing obesity at a younger age can help prevent obesity-related diseases and illnesses later in life. One way to do this is through adolescent weight loss (bariatric) surgery.

In today’s Ask the Expert column, bariatric surgeon Kimberley Steele answers several common questions about childhood obesity and bariatric surgery as a treatment option. Submit any questions you may have in the comments section below.

At what point is a child or teen considered to be overweight?
To be considered for bariatric surgery, a teen must meet the following criteria. However, meeting these criteria does NOT necessarily mean that weight loss surgery is right for someone.

  • Body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 40 (generally more than 120 pounds over ideal weight)
  • Obesity-related health problems (obstructive sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure, significant quality of life or mobility problems)
  • Inadequate weight loss with organized weight loss attempts

Can children be genetically predisposed to becoming overweight?
The cause of obesity is felt to be multifactorial and may include:

  • Socioeconomic factors
  • Psychological factors
  • Behavioral factors
  • Genetic factors

What are traditional weight-loss methods suggested for children and adolescents? What other treatments are effective?
Traditional weight loss methods include a balanced and healthy diet and regular exercise.

However, because dieting and “medical” or “traditional” weight loss has been unsuccessful for the majority of teens who are extremely overweight, it has become increasingly important to consider how best to help adolescents in the fight against obesity. We know from adults that weight loss surgery can cure morbid obesity. Research has shown that weight loss surgery can provide an early and effective tool for the patient to help prevent serious health problems.

When is weight-loss surgery appropriate?
Weight-loss surgery is appropriate when traditional weight-loss methods have not been successful or if a child’s weight is a greater health threat than the potential risks of surgery. Studies show that the risk of adolescent bariatric surgery is no greater than that of adults undergoing the same procedure. In fact, adolescents tend to have fewer complications and a faster recovery.

There have been more than 5,000 adolescent bariatric cases performed since 2004. We believe that this increase demonstrates a realization that surgery does work for weight loss and that surgery can reverse significant health problems.

How does bariatric surgery help adolescent patients?
Research has demonstrated that bariatric surgery can be a successful measure for improving hunger and fullness signals in adolescent patients. It has also helped alleviate or at least improve adolescent patients who have multiple medical problems associated with their obesity, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

What can parents do to prevent pediatric obesity?
The first thing is to identify factors in a child’s lifestyle that are promoting weight gain and to do something about those behaviors.

We use the term “behavioral modification” to explain how we can modify our behavior to decrease risks that lead to obesity, such as aiming to decrease the intake of calories.

Here are a few simple ways that every family can better understand nutrition and to make better food choices:

  • Cut back on sugared beverages, including soda and fruit juice
  • Reading food labels and cut out foods that list sugar in the first three ingredients
  • Eat a healthy breakfast!
  • Think about ways to increase activity throughout the day

If a child or teen is preparing for weight loss surgery, encourage them to adopt healthy eating patterns and develop an exercise routine. This will help surgical candidates prepare to be in the best physical condition for surgery. It is especially important that parents are committed to helping their child have success and be supportive of the entire process.


If you or your child is interested in a consultation with the Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery, visit to view an online information session or see a list of in-person seminars.

Other recommended sources include The American Society of Bariatric Surgery and the American Obesity Association.

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Thanksgiving Trivia

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Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Whether it’s assisting seniors in nursing homes, participating in community cleanup days or tutoring youth, what is your favorite way to give back? Share your thoughts here.


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When the American Medical Association announced that it now recognizes obesity as a disease that requires a range of medical interventions, the gates opened for the field of obesity medicine. Barely two years later, the treatment landscape has transformed. Linda Lee, gastroenterologist and director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Integrative Medicine, shares how you can make sure that weight loss is sustained for the long term in the Oct. 29 issue of Inside Hopkins. Share some ways you are maintaining a health weight in this week's Hopkins Happenings' Question of the Week.

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If you had the option to choose any college or university to continue or “redo” your education, where would you go? Would you opt for a big name or a good location, travel overseas, or stick with your roots and stay close to home? Share your thoughts in today’s Question of the Week.


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JHM Around the World

Check out this map, which shows all the countries around the world where Johns Hopkins Medicine provides excellent patient care, research and education. Locations include:

  • Medcan Clinic - Toronto, Canada
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine - headquartered in Baltimore, MD (see full list of member hospitals below)
  • Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey - Monterrey, Mexico
  • Hospital Punta Pacifica - Panama City, Panama
  • Fundacion Santa Fe de Bogata - Bogata, Colombia
  • Trinidad and Tobago Health Sciences Institute - Trinidad and Tobago
  • Pacifico Salud - Lima, Peru
  • Hospital Moinhos de Vento - Moinhos de Vento, Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • Clinica Las Condes - Santiago, Chile
  • Clemenceau Medical Center - Beirut, Lebanon
  • Anadolu Medical Center - Gebze, Turkey
  • Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare - Dhahran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • King Khaled Eye Specialist Hospital - Riyadh, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Tawam and Al Rahba Hospitals - United Arab Emirates
  • HCL Avitas - India
  • Johns Hopkins Singapore - Singapore
  • Tokyo Midtown Medical Center - Tokyo, Japan
  • Sun Yat-sen University - Guangzhou, China


Also, check out some other interesting trivia and statistics.

  • Last year, Johns Hopkins Medicine saw patients from 49 out of 50 states
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine sees 2,800,000 outpatient visits and 115,000 inpatient visits annually
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine includes six member hospitals: All Children's Hospital, Howard County General Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Suburban Hospital
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Has someone made your day by noticing your great style, cheery personality or willingness to lend a hand? What’s the best compliment you have ever received? Share your thoughts in today’s Question of the Week.


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