HCA Midwest Health
November 28, 2016

More than one third of adults in the United States are obese. That is a staggering number! With its associated risk factors of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, fatty liver disease, and even cancer, the fight against obesity has never been as urgent as it is now.

The beginning of the new year is a great time to remind yourself about the health benefits of eating well. A healthy, balanced diet plays a big role in weight control, the reduced risk of chronic diseases and overall well-being.

Dr. Tanyaradzwa Kajese, bariatric surgeon with the Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park sees patients who have struggled with weight gain and poor dietary choices. She observes, “We live in a society where it is convenient and affordable to eat poorly. Daily exercise is extremely important, but perhaps even more important is a healthy diet. How we fuel our bodies, and how we treat our bodies determines how they will treat us in return.” Dr. Kajese makes the analogy that our bodies are like luxury cars. “They must be valued and well taken care of. In order to function at their highest level, they must be provided with the highest quality fuel. Nobody would fill their gas tanks with grease and expect their vehicle to perform. Similarly, we should not attempt to fuel our bodies with junk food. If we do, they will eventually begin to break down with disease.”

As we start this new year, many of us will likely have resolutions to lose weight. Dr. Kajese challenges you instead to resolve just to eat healthier. “If you focus on a healthier diet, I promise you, the weight loss will inevitably follow. Don’t get so caught up on what the scale reads. Instead focus on how healthier choices make you feel. With a healthier diet, do you have more stamina, more energy? Are you less tired? Are you able to work out longer or walk further than you could before? Do your clothes fit you better? These goals are far more important than the number of pounds you have lost.”

"Fad diets don’t work because they are not sustainable. Commiting to eat healthier is sustainable, and this will be the ultimate tool for you to successfully lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off!"
Dr. Tanyaradzwa Kajese, bariatric surgeon

Eating healthy doesn’t need to be daunting. A few simple changes can go a long way. A healthy diet means getting your proteins, carbs, and fats from healthy sources – especially from plants, beans, nuts, legumes, and grains. It means cutting out fried and processed foods. It means eating more fruits and vegetables. It means removing from your diet “liquid calories” such as soda pop, and sugary caffeinated beverages. It means commiting to cooking at home more and eating out less.

Dr. Kajese remarks, “Fad diets don’t work because they are not sustainable. Commiting to eat healthier is sustainable, and this will be the ultimate tool for you to successfully lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off! Good luck, and Happy New Year.”

You can follow Dr. Kajese’s wise advice beginning with your next meal. These breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes are examples of countless healthy and delicious meals you can make in minutes. Enjoy!

Breakfast: No-Cook Overnight Oatmeal

Prepared before bed, this on-the-go breakfast will be ready and waiting for you.

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Combine milk, oats, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, honey and cinnamon in a 1/2-pint jar with a lid; cover and shake until combined. Remove lid and fold in blueberries. Cover jar with lid.

Refrigerate oatmeal, 8 hours to overnight. 1 serving. 279 calories.

Lunch: Turkey & Tomato Panini

Panini at home is easy with this healthy and delicious recipe.

  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces thinly sliced reduced-sodium deli turkey
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 8 slices whole-wheat bread
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Have four 15-ounce cans and a medium skillet (not nonstick) ready by the stove.

Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, Parmesan, basil, lemon juice and pepper in a small bowl. Spread about 2 teaspoons of the mixture on each slice of bread. Divide turkey and tomato slices among 4 slices of bread; top with the remaining bread.

Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 panini in the pan. Place the medium skillet on top of the panini, then weigh it down with the cans. Cook the panini until golden on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, flip the panini, replace the top skillet and cans, and cook until the second side is golden, 1 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with another 1 teaspoon oil and the remaining panini. 4 servings. 314 calories per serving.

Dinner: Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

Tomatoes burst with flavor and a creamy sauce pulls it all together. Yum.

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 pints multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved
  • 1/4 cup small basil leaves

Preheat oven to 450°. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt. Add pasta; cook 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 6 tablespoons cooking liquid. Return pasta to pan. Combine reserved cooking liquid and 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Boil 4 minutes or until mixture measures 1/3 cup. Add oil mixture to pan with pasta; toss to coat.

While pasta cooks, combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, tomatoes and garlic on a jelly-roll pan, tossing to combine. Bake at 450° for 11 minutes or until tomatoes are lightly browned and begin to burst. Add tomato mixture, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to pasta; toss to coat. Top with cheese and basil. 4 servings. 417 calories per serving.

Sources: cookinglight.com, allrecipes.com