Weight loss results from limiting calories, not from eating more frequent meals

Lori ShontzQuestion: I've been reading more and more diet advice that recommends eating five or six small meals a day vs. the traditional three meals a day to maintain higher metabolism levels. I find it difficult to manage this type of eating. Is there any credence to this as part of an exercise plan to lose weight? And what constitutes a small meal? — B.S., St. Louis

Answer: The mini-meal philosophy does get plenty of publicity, but Justa Davis, a clinical dietitian at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, says there's not enough evidence to prove that it's a better way to lose weight.

"We need to focus more on the big picture of daily calorie intake," she writes via e-mail. "Nutrition experts agree that to lose weight, we must burn more calories than we take in on a daily basis."

So it doesn't matter whether you consume those calories in three meals or six meals.
Davis does caution, "When we eat more often, there is a greater opportunity to overeat for those who have difficulty sticking to the recommended portion sizes. Yet some individuals with strong willpower may be able to adhere to smaller portion sizes, reduce overall caloric intake and lose weight."

There's no official definition of a "small meal," which Davis says generally runs between 100 and 400 calories. She says a person who needs 1,800 calories a day might divide meals into three 100-calorie snacks, such as a piece of fruit or light yogurt, and three meals of 500 calories each.

Question: I am considering retirement in three years and want to become involved with a support group for stroke victims and their families. I realize how strokes take an emotional toll on families; my father had bouts of depression after a stroke severely limited his ability to speak. Are there any such support groups in the St. Louis area? Is it possible to work or volunteer with any of these organizations? — D.C., St. Louis

Answer: The easiest way to find area stroke support groups is to go to the website of the American Stroke Association (www.strokeassociation.org), where you can enter a ZIP code to get a list of groups within a certain number of miles. You can also call 1-888-478-7653.

Lisa Parnell, a medical social worker who leads a support group at St. Luke's Hospital that has operated for 22 years, says such groups are crucial for stroke victims. She says the group is open to anyone with an interest.

"Depression is a huge issue with stroke survivors, as well as caregivers, because their whole world changes — all of a sudden they have health issues and responsibilities that were not part of their life before," she says. It's especially difficult if the stroke victim is aphasic, or has a stroke that affects speech, she says.

Her group tries to educate, too, and meetings often feature talks from professors doing stroke research or clinicians who work with survivors. Some activities are simply social, such as picnics and holiday parties.

At St. Luke's, the first step to becoming a volunteer is to contact volunteer services. Parnell works for the rehabilitation unit, which she says is composed primarily of stroke survivors, and she says a hospital volunteer could request to work in that area. Many stroke support groups are affiliated with hospitals and may have similar procedures.

"And, of course, we're always open to having help at the support group," Parnell says.

source -  STL Today