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Food diary - Starting the changes

May 21, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series about three Washington County families participating in a food diary program created by The Herald-Mail and Washington County Health Department. The families are keeping track of their food consumption and exercise for about three weeks. Then they will have food and exercise plans developed for them and will continue to track their food consumption and exercise for a month.




Struggling with her weight is not something new to Hagerstown resident Kellee Smith, who said other family members have had similar struggles and one family member had gastric bypass surgery.

After going through some stressful times, Smith's weight reached more than 200 pounds in late 2005.

She began exercising more and dieting, including taking an appetite suppressant and going on a diet in which she had to give up sugar, except naturally occurring sugar in foods such as fruit. These changes in combination with a natural loss of appetite due to stress while she was going through a divorce led to Smith losing 50 pounds in a year and a half, and she has been able to keep it off for the most part, she said.

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It was her desire to lose weight and eat healthier that led Smith to participate in a food diary program created by The Herald-Mail and Washington County Health Department.

Last week, Smith, 34, met with Tammy Thornton, nutrition/wellness services coordinator for the health department, to discuss her eating and exercise habits.

Instead of putting Smith on another diet program, Thornton recommended some changes in how Smith eats.

Thornton wants Smith to try eating at a table more so she can focus on enjoying what she's eating. Smith tends to eat while on the sofa in front of the TV rather than at the table, or at her desk rather than in the break room at Western Maryland Children's Center, where she is a teacher.

When people eat in front of the TV, they usually overeat because their focus is on the TV and not the food, Thornton said.

Smith is beginning an almost two-week vacation in Mexico this week but didn't think that would keep her from making the healthier changes Thornton recommended.

She expected to be able to eat at a table more because her family will be eating together, either out or at the vacation house where she is staying.

There also should be more opportunities for walking and jogging, since they will be seeing the sights and going to the beach. Smith recently started going to the gym again and has been walking two miles with her dog almost every day.

The other thing Thornton wants Smith to do - which she had already started doing on her own - is drink more water and fewer sweetened juices. It's easy to get calories from sweetened juices, Thornton said.

Of course, she will be on vacation so there are some temptations she won't resist, such as margaritas, Smith said.

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