WVU Healthcare helping patients keep most popular New Year’s resolution

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The start of a new year is traditionally the time when many people resolve to lose weight or get in better shape. WVU Healthcare doctors and dietitians are working with patients on eating and exercise habits to help them avoid illness and to control and reverse the effects of an unwanted diagnosis.

“I advise my patients to adhere to a whole foods diet, which is rich in plant foods,” Heather Dyson, R.D., L.D., of WVU Cheat Lake Physicians, said. “Studies show that diets rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, lean protein, and healthy fats are associated with optimal health and disease prevention.”

Dyson also explained that having a diet work as preventive medicine is as much about what people are not eating as what they are.

“Eating a diet based on whole foods also involves limiting processed and/or prepared meals. These types of meals are often high in sugar, salt, preservatives, and unhealthy fats,” she said. “Diets high in processed foods are associated with increased risk of chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and others, as well as certain types of cancer.”

When Greg Mundy was diagnosed with type II diabetes at age 35, he met with Dyson to discuss a plan to modify his diet and take control of his health.

“I learned to take pride in the small, daily victories, and since I began dieting and exercising, I’ve dropped my body weight from 245 to 196 lbs.,” Mundy said. “I’ve adopted a low carbohydrate lifestyle and find that I’ve graduated to knowing intuitively what I should and shouldn’t eat.”

Healthy eating habits often require a change in lifestyle for the individual. When younger patients need adjustments to their diet, their success can depend heavily on the rest of the family making healthier choices, too.

Sachin Bendre, M.D., Ph.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at WVU’s Charleston Division, said the first thing he explains when talking to parents is that changing eating habits is a family affair.

“Parents are important role models, and everyone in the family has to be willing to make a lifestyle change,” Dr. Bendre said.

Bendre suggests patients start by restricting their diet to appropriate portion sizes of more nutritious foods with fewer calories, and eventually, healthy eating habits will take hold.

“Taste is an acquired thing. Constantly expose yourself to healthier alternatives, and your brain adapts to it,” Bendre said.

At the WVU Human Performance Lab, Morgantown area residents and WVU employees can improve physical and mental well-being through specialized health programs that are designed to suit each person’s health needs and limitations. Health tests are performed at the lab to create an exercise prescription for each client.

“I’m very impressed by the lab and the staff here. They’re helping me try to be well again,” said Jess Mapstone.

After he had heart surgery, Mapstone and his wife Carole started working out at the lab two to three times a week under the supervision of WVU exercise physiology staff and students.

“We’ve worked with several different student helpers, and they’re all very friendly. It’s like having your own personal health coach at an affordable rate,” Carole Mapstone said.

WVU exercise physiology students gain valuable career experience working with clients at the lab. Exercise physiology majors are trained to evaluate people in the areas of cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, neuromuscular integration, and body composition. The field is one of the largest majors at WVU with more than 800 students currently enrolled.

“Exercise is an appropriate way to help prevent chronic cardiovascular, lung, and other systemic diseases,” Jingting Li, an exercise physiology student, said. “I like helping people live healthier lives through exercise.”


For more information:
Amy Johns, Director of Public Affairs, 304-293-7087
kh/sf: 12-02-13

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