Summer Issue of Weight Matters Magazine

One of the perks of Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) Premium Access Membership is receiving hard copies of the Weight Matters Magazine mailed to your home. It's an awesome publication always jam-packed with the latest news and great articles about health, weight, nutrition, emotional wellness, stories about real people, and OAC community members who are making a difference. I love it when I open the mailbox and the latest issue has arrived. I highly recommend upgrading to premium access to get the magazine sent to your home, access to a massive digital video library, hundreds of past Weight Matters magazine article archives, discounts and early access to virtual and in-person event registration, and a bunch of other cool perks.

Weight Matters Magazine Summer 2021

If you already receive the magazine, turn to page 30 in the Summer issue. It is available for a limited time online. I had the privilege of writing the issue's Kid's Korner article. For those of you that don't know, Early Childhood Education is my first love and I enjoyed tapping into that part of my world by sharing some creative, healthy, and fun family dinner ideas. If you have kiddos in your life, I hope you and your family enjoy the ideas... and if you do... I'd love love love to hear about it!

Super Easy Falafel

This is my super easy version of Falafel. It’s not traditional so if you are looking for that, this is not the recipe for you but it’s a quick, easy, and super yummy recipe when you are jonesing for something with a Middle Eastern vibe. I love it because it uses canned chickpeas, using dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight is more traditional but I never remember to soak beans and when I want falafel... in the words of Veruca Salt, “I want it now!” 

This recipe also does not contain cilantro which is generally found in traditional recipes. If you love cilantro, you could certainly sub 1/2 the parsley with cilantro. I just didn’t have any on hand so all parsley was the way I made it the first time and ever after that. This recipe might appeal to the cilantro haters of the world (up to 20% of the population) for whom cilantro tastes like soap. Trivia: Did you know there is a genetic reason for this cilantro hate. Apparently, in 2012, researchers at Cornell University found that there was one specific gene (OR6A2, an olfactory receptor) that makes some people strongly dislike the taste of cilantro. So to those folks, you are in luck with my non-traditional, cilantro-less, falafel.

Eggface Recipes Super Easy Falafel Patties No Cilantro

Shelly’s Super Easy Falafel 

1 can of Chickpeas (15 oz.) rinsed and drained
1 Egg, beaten
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Zaatar
1/4 cup Multigrain Pancake Mix
1/2 cup Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Microwave drained chickpeas for 3 minutes and mash with a potato masher or fork. You want mashed but not pureed. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Set aside about 3 minutes while you prepare Yogurt Dip. The mix will stiffen a bit and make it easier to form patties.

Form 6 small (slider size) patties, slightly flatten, and saute in oil (about 2 tablespoons) on medium heat. Flip when golden and cook till other side is golden and crisp. About 8-10 minutes. Drain on a paper towel. Serve warm with Yogurt Dip or Hummus (see my Homemade Hummus Recipe)

Update: Had some questions on air frying these... I have done them in a convection oven. 350 about 15-17 minutes flipping once. I prefer pan saute crispiness (and adjust my meal plan for that cooking method) but they can be done in ovens as well.

Yogurt Dip

1 cup Greek Yogurt, plain
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Zaatar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Mix till combined. Refrigerate till you serve it.

Super Easy Falafel Canned Chickpeas

These falafel are great with a small green salad, Caprese (tomato, mozzarella, basil) salad or cucumber salad. Leftovers reheat really well. Serve with an egg for breakfast. I don't eat bread but if you do those mini pitas would fit one of these perfectly with some lettuce, tomato, and a dollop of yogurt dip.

Food Fact: Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) provide nearly 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup.  

Heads up: #YWM2021Virtual

YWM2021Virtual Your Weight Matters Convention

The Your Weight Matters Convention & Expo will be held July 17th-25th. Join the education, information, and support of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC)'s annual in-person event but VIRTUALLY from the comfort of your home (or wherever you have wifi.) I'll be watching from my patio with an ice-cold drink. This is the 10th year of YWM events (8 in-person and now 2 virtually, damn covid) but I have not missed a single one. They are THAT good. 

Obesity Action Coalition YWM Your Weight Matters Convention and Expo

If you are interested in learning the latest science-based education about obesity, nutrition, fitness and exercise, weight loss and weight management, behavioral health, mental health, and more. 

Check out the full program agenda. 

This event series is not to be missed. REGISTRATION OPENS MAY 5th (or April 28 early registration if you are a premium access member of the OAC)

Note: This is a series of events that take place from July 17th-25th and many are free to access. 

I don't know about you but those events that go on all day long on a single day or weekend are just too much for my attention span and my buttocks to take. Hence the series, to optimize the benefit to you. Now, it still might be a lot to digest each session or you might have a prior engagement on one of the event days. This is why **I highly recommend the full-event registration option** that will give you the ability to replay the events (and score some groovy bonuses too.) There is also a CE credit registration option (up to 16 hours) for those of you in professions that utilize those.

Obesity Action Coalition YWM Your Weight Matters Convention and Expo Registration Options

Last thing I want to mention... I am hosting a Connect with the Experts event during the series on Tuesday 7/20 at 7 PM eastern. It's called: Lean on Me: Building a Support System that Empowers You. It's an add-on for $15 but if you want to hang out, chat about support, learn some helpful resources, and much more from yours truly! I'd love to see you there. 

Bariatric Surgery: Why more people don't have it.

Bariatric surgery is a pretty darn effective obesity treatment. Beyond the weight loss, which for many increases their quality of life, multiple long-term studies show bariatric surgery can put type-2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and hypertension (a risk for heart disease and stroke) into remission and reduces the burden or risk of many other obesity-related conditions and diseases including a few cancers. But only 1% of those who would qualify for bariatric surgery have it. 

A few thoughts on why and this is by no means an exhaustive list... 

Bariatric Surgery Vertical Sleeve VSG Gastric Bypass RNY

Fear of surgery, fear of complications and death. Let's be real. No one looks forward to surgery and this is one we can choose to have (or not.) The whole getting cut open, anesthesia, drains, tubes, pain, and recovery process sounds intimidating. 

The facts are the currently used bariatric procedures are pretty darn safe. The rate of serious complications within the first 30 days is between 0.25% and 1.25% and the mortality rate is even lower for the two most popular bariatric surgeries: vertical sleeve gastrectomies (VSG) and gastric bypass (RNY.) To put this in perspective that is a lower rate than most common surgeries (including gall bladder removal, appendectomy, and knee and hip replacement surgery.) Over 90% of bariatric operations are now being performed laparoscopically (a few small incisions) so that really helps lower the complications and speeds up recovery but I had open RNY (non-laparoscopic, one long incision, slower recovery) and it was still only about 2 weeks till I was functioning pretty normally. 

I think we tend to dismiss, disregard or probably just grow accustomed to the reality that for many of us obesity and obesity-related illnesses we may be dealing with carry risks of complications and death. Many higher than the risks of surgery. Something to consider when deciding to have surgery or not.

Suggested reading or resource: Look to the science and studies, not your friend at work "who knew someone, who had a friend, whose hairstylist had surgery."

Fear of the unknown, fear of change. Change is scary. I remember thinking "I know what I have to deal with now, I don't know what life is like after." Would I regret having bariatric surgery? How it would change my life? How it might affect my loved ones? 

It will change your life and the lives of those you love. Those changes will be positive for the most part, the resolution of health issues and increased quality of life but it is a change. Talk to post-ops 1+ years from surgery and ask them if they regret having surgery and the answer is usually "the only regret is not having it sooner." That being said anytime you make a big life change (think about: moving, relationship changes, babies, jobs, etc.) it takes time to adjust. Those first few weeks post-op when there are lots of instructions to follow, things are different and new, you feel stressed and overwhelmed, for some their comfort/soother in times of stress was food and well that is limited... and add to this scenario that you are healing from surgery... so YES, some people express regret (akin to buyer's remorse) but ask them again in a year and you will more than likely hear the "regret not having it sooner" answer. It took me about 7 weeks or so to feel "new normal" and not like an alien life force dropped onto a new planet. By month 4, I was feeling better than ever. 14 years and still no regrets.

Suggested reading or resource: I highly recommend finding a psychologist who works with bariatric surgery post-ops, sooner rather than later. They can help you navigate the new changes. You can search by zip code in your area with the locator or ask your bariatric surgeon's office for suggestions. Talk to other post-ops. You can find me online on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and I am happy to answer any questions or direct you to an answer or resource.

Access issues. Coverage for bariatric surgery is getting better but there should not be a policy allowed that excludes coverage for science-based obesity treatments (behavioral therapy, FDA-approved obesity drugs, and bariatric surgery) yet there are still many that exclude obesity care. It's confusing to even find out if you are covered. I see lots of patients ask on online patient forums if (insert any insurance company) covers bariatric surgery. The answer is: maybe. Most companies cover bariatric surgery, the question is does YOUR policy cover it (think cars: do you have the base model vehicle or the pimped out, top of the line vehicle with all the bells and whistles or something in between) and that is determined by a phone call to your insurance company and a look at your policy documents (policy sections to look for: Evidence of Coverage (EOC) or Certificate of Insurance (COI) or Summary of Benefits and Coverage.)

For those that are covered, it's still a complicated process to get approval, and frankly, health insurance carriers like it that way. Unlike other chronic disease treatments, people with obesity often have hoops to jump through like mandatory waiting periods (3-6 months is common, some even longer), mandatory diets with mandatory weight loss, extra documentation, and extra clearances. These discriminatory hoops are designed to delay and discourage patients, plain and simple and sadly it works. Also as you can imagine all these hoops often mean multiple appointments, time off work for those appointments and tests, travel costs, co-pays, program fees and that is even before the time off for surgery and healing. This is a real barrier that stops people from even considering surgery. 

Suggested reading or resource: Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) fights for access to care and an end to weight bias they have a great section on their website about understanding your insurance coverage, appealing denials, sample letters, glossary of terms, etc.

Weight bias and stigma, internalized bias, avoidance of care. Obesity is complex and there are multiple factors some may be controllable (behavioral) and many not so much and certainly not without assistance (biological, genetic, environmental, medications, psychological, socio-economics, health disparities, etc.) but to hear it from society, family, friends, even sadly doctors sometimes... it's all our fault ("just eat less and move more") and so we must solve it ourselves. As you can imagine after years of this messaging people actually can begin to believe it. So much so that some people with obesity look at seeking care and treatment as shirking responsibility or "taking the easy way out." 

Obesity is not your fault and you don't have to go it alone. Your health is not a game. You don't get bonus points for going it alone, struggling, or suffering more, you just get less quality of life. If your obesity is affecting your health, there are effective treatments and help. Seek them out. 

Another thing I wanted to mention about weight bias is we often have way too many crappy past health care experiences (read one of mine: scroll to Michelle "Shelly") and avoidance of care, in general, is a result. So the idea of a bunch of appointments for months isn't too appealing for many. This is one reason even if covered many don't follow through with the process. Finding good care is key. It is out there. It's worth finding.

If you are a healthcare provider reading: please help patients understand the experience with you and your office will be different. Explain the disease and science of obesity, explain chronic disease management, explain what is in our control and what isn't. Give patients the understanding and support that many have never received. You can make such a difference.

Suggested reading or resource: Stop Weight Bias campaign's section on weight bias in healthcare. Great ConscienHealth blogs on the multiple causes of obesity. 

Lack of understanding of obesity and treatments. Most people do believe that eating less and moving more will cure obesity. Doctors (scientists and others) need to take every opportunity to correct that misconception. There is so much more going on and perhaps if the complexity and chronic nature of obesity were shared more people would seek real care for it more readily instead of being prey to the latest diet industry fads and scams "maybe this time this (potion, sketchy pill, tea, DVD, gadget, etc.) will work" instead of seeking out science-based obesity treatments (behavioral therapy, FDA-approved obesity drugs, and bariatric surgery.) People would also understand why something that "worked" for a friend or co-worker or a celebrity on TV doesn't mean it will be the right treatment for them. 

I've also heard comments like "why should I have surgery when people just gain it back." First, bariatric surgery benefits are more than weight loss. There is, of course, a lot of weight loss but even after bariatric surgery bathroom scales still go in both directions. Be sure you have realistic expectations of what treatments can and can't do (there is no cure or finish line.) Obesity is a chronic disease and like any chronic disease needs managing for life. I am sure you have heard the saying bariatric surgery is a tool. It is a tool that requires maintenance, taking into the shop for tune-ups and you may need to use a few different tools over time. You get the idea. 

Suggested reading or resource: Obesity treatment options information from the Obesity Action Coalition. 

Bariatric surgery is not for everyone but right now it is the most effective treatment there is for obesity and if obesity is affecting your health, and you choose to have bariatric surgery I believe it should be accessible without hindrance, stigma, and bias. If you believe that too. Here are ways you can help: