Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Put a Stop to Weight Loss, part two

Don't be Caught with Your Pants Down

Once upon a time, I sat at my desk and watched a  PT and OT as they struggled to walk their patient down the hallway. Sure, he had some physical limitations that were problematic, but it wasn't weakness or discoordination that were giving them was the man's pants!

He was in our facility for rehab after faceplanting into the toilet. It sounds funny when I put it that way, but that's exactly what happened...he fell, face first, into a commode. His face was black and blue, he fractured several facial bones and unfortunately, experienced some brain damage as a result. But, again, this was not the biggest was the man's pants!

The man had been losing weight and his pants were now way too big. The therapists asked him, "At one time, did these pants actually fit you?"  He nodded. "Do you have a belt or suspenders?' they asked. He shook his head. "How much weight have you lost?" they wondered. "A lot!" the man replied.

The practical PT cinched the gait belt a little tighter but the pants sagged down. The OT ran some Theraband through the belt loops of his britches, but it was not enough. The pants fell down a little further. The three of them stood there, in the hallway, contemplating what they were going to do. 

Next thing you know, the man was standing in the middle of the hallway with his pants around his ankles!

Even though this might be a funny story, continuous weight loss is not. Excessive weight loss increases the physical demands on the body, resulting in:  headache, irritability, fatigue, dizziness, constipation, hair loss, muscle loss, and, as in this case, loss of pants. 
These demands may result in serious negative effects such as gallstones (I did not know that), dehydration, malnutrition and electrolyte imbalance. 

In my last blog post, I gave 15 things to do to stop weight loss. Then, I went back to work, gave it some thought and came up with 15 more things you can do to stop weight loss.

Picking up where I left off...

15 (More) Ways to Stop Losing Weight

16. Supplement your diet- use protein powders, protein shakes or vitamins as needed

17.  Talk to your doctor about appetite stimulants- prescription medications are available

18.  Learn to read nutrition labels- make sure you can find information about calories and fat in the foods and drinks you consume

19.  Weigh frequently- monitoring your weight helps increase awareness and provides motivation to continue with your efforts

20.  Add some variety to your diet- don't get stuck in an oatmeal rut...there are some really great breakfast options out there; don't be afraid to try something new

21.  Determine your calorie requirements-  your doctor can refer you to a dietitian

22. Set a weight goal- calculate ideal body weight and use that as a guide for determining how much weight gain is appropriate; that same dietitian can help you here too

23.  Eat as much as you can... then eat 3 more bites- on average, there are 25 calories in each bite of food you take; 75 calories each meal adds up quickly!

24.  Go to a buffet- there is something for everyone and it's all you can eat

25.  Eat with others- you are likely to eat more when you aren't eating by yourself

26.  Assist with food preparation- this helps to promote your appetite and intake at mealtime

27.  Address and correct dental issues- poor dentition or improperly fitting dentures can limit consumption

28.  Rule out swallowing difficulties- dysphagia can be the cause of weight loss

29.  Modify textures as needed- chopped or pureed foods may be necessary

30.  Keep a food diary- record all solids and liquids and their corresponding calories for a do it yourself calorie may be quite surprised to see 

Of course, you know this blog always comes to you from a speech therapist's perspective. These suggestions are a collection of all of the pieces of advice I have given to my patients and their family members over the years. I am not a dietitian, a doctor, or a nurse...and I don't even own an alligator purse. So, as always, consider your specific circumstances and use good judgement when following these recommendations.

What ever you do, don't be caught with your pants down.

This week, please share this information with someone you know: a patient... your Aunt Nancy... or even the neighbor down the street. I believe these tips can be of benefit to a great number of people.  


In case you missed last week's blog with tips 1-15,  just scroll down to the October 7th posting... you can find them there.

You can click here to get to a cool website that can help you calculate your daily caloric needs.

Or click here for a free, printable food journal- a great thing to have in your therapy bag of tricks