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A Healthy Lifestyle

Welcome to Dr. Doug Layton’s regular post on the Prairie Trail blog. Dr. Layton is a physician at UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at Prairie Trail in Ankeny, Iowa. With a mission to positively impact health and wellness, Dr. Layton will regularly share his expertise on healthy living.

Dr. Doug Layton

Dr. Doug Layton

The first few warm days of Spring has everyone digging out their summer clothes and the UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine at Prairie Trail office has an influx of patients wanting help with losing winter weight.  When this happens it is nice to have community resources available to help them out. The pools will be open. The bike trails will be warm and inviting. The grass in the parks is green and soft. Local fresh produce will be available at all of the farmers markets. The backyard barbeque is ready to be used daily.

Increasing exercise is of course part of the equation but you also have to change your eating habits. Almost all of the food items that are seasonal are also healthy and fit well into the recommendations we make. There are a million diet plans available and although many are effective in getting pounds off, most are hard to tolerate very long. The way all diet plans work is they reduce calories in your diet and control what you eat. If the plan aims at just one component of your normal diet (like low fat or low carb) it is easy to figure out and follow but it leaves you feeling like you are missing something.

Recently there has been a lot of press around something called a Mediterranean diet. I have found most of my patients enjoy it. They find it easier to turn into a lifestyle rather than just use it as a short-term diet. The first thing you need to know about a Mediterranean diet is that it is not truly a diet but instead is a way of living. One of they main requirements of a Mediterranean diet is that you enjoy your meal. You should involve family or friends and make meals a social event.

The other components involve rearranging how you look at food. There are nine major concepts:

1)     Vegetables are a major part of every meal.  They should fill at 50% of your plate.  Raw or grilled vegetables can be fit into your diet any a multitude of ways.  Salads, soups, main dishes or appetizers.

2)     Change how you think about meat.   It is no longer what every meal centers around but instead a small addition.  There should be no more than 4 ounces at any serving.  That is a piece the size of a deck of cards.  Look for beef cuts listed as “loin” or “round”.  Choose choice or select rather than prime.  Chicken or turkey should be skinless.  Baking, grilling, broiling or stewing is best.

3)     Always eat breakfast.  Be sure to include high fiber food.  Fruit or whole grains are an important part.

4)     Eat seafood at least twice a week.  Fish is the best source omega 3 fatty-acids.  Tuna, salmon, herring, trout and shellfish are most recommended.  Again, how you prepare these items are important.  Grilling is one of the best.

5)     Cook a vegetarian meal one night a week.  The meal is built around beans, whole grains and vegetables and flavored many herbs and spices.

6)     Healthy oils only.  Even if picking the best oils, they still should only make up 30% or less of a days calories. Extra virgin olive oil along with nuts is the main source.

7)     Yogurt and cheese are the preferred dairy source and are part of many meals.  They are nice additions to breakfast.

8)     Dessert is usually fruit.  Sometimes it is baked or grilled.  True sweets are saved for very special occasions only.

9)     The main beverage is water.  Wine is often discussed with a Mediterranean diet but should be no more than one glass a day.

The traditional Mediterranean diet has been shown to not only help with weight loss and feeling good but also reduces your risk of a heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.   If you are looking for a way to change to a healthier lifestyle and stay with it, this is a well-balanced starting point that goes well with summer.

You can go to these websites for recipe ideas.,,20718485,00.html


Contact UnityPoint Family Medicine at Prairie Trail at 515-964-6999 to schedule an appointment to learn more about working towards or maintaining a healthy weight.



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