KGH puts weight on 'healthy week'

Dietitian Jen Helms believes that in dieting -- as with most things -- if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.

"One thing consumers need to realize is the diet industry is a multibillion-dollar industry," Helms said. "It seems everybody wants a part of that. Diet books are always on the top seller list. People need to realize (fad diets) may not be the healthiest way to lose weight."

While Helms isn't a fan of fad diets, she is a fan of the kind of healthy eating and healthy living that lead to sensible, sustainable weight loss.

She's advocating for the latter as part of Kennewick General Hospital's "Healthy Weight Week," which lasts through Saturday.

The week is a time when staff at the hospital and its network of Tri-City clinics can call attention to healthy habits. KGH officials describe the week as "a welcome antidote to the dieting and bingeing that typically start the New Year."

The focus is not on being thin, but on being healthy and happy -- including being happy inside one's own skin, regardless of size.

"Reassure yourself and others that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes," said Dr. Irene Feria, a KGH endocrinologist with special interests in diabetes and thyroid disorders.

"Promote healthy living at every size and recognize that size prejudice hurts us all," Feria said.

The overall goal is to create habits, not to jump into a crash diet in the fervor to become thin. Healthy habits such as eating a moderate, balanced diet and getting daily physical activity can prevent weight gain and higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis and some forms of cancer, she said.

"It's important for us all to focus on the pleasure of the moment and its health and energy benefits, not just on calories burned," Feria said. "Being active in your own way every day is the key, but don't overdo it or it won't become a habit."

Helms recommends a diet that includes all five food groups in moderation: bread and grains, fruits, vegetables, milk and dairy and meat and alternates.

She recognizes that sometimes people need help figuring it all out and turn to the bookshelf for guidance. She suggests watching for diet and nutrition books endorsed by the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association or American Dietetic Association as cookbooks that will offer healthy advice and not just the latest fad.

She recommends avoiding books that promise quick and easy weight loss with no effort.

"There is no magic fix or pill, unfortunately," Helms said.

Adults who need nutrition counseling can schedule an appointment with Helms at the KGH Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center by calling 585-5442. A doctor's referral may be necessary for insurance coverage.

Patients with diabetes can make an appointment with Feria by calling 585-5222. A doctor's referral is required before an appointment will be scheduled.