MountainStar Health - December 06, 2019

The Ogden Regional Medical Center / Heart Center, “Losing It and Loving It” weight loss class and support group newsletter


My first thought writing this was, “December, already??”. How is this possible? Time marches on whether we like it or not. December brings a good synopsis of the highs and lows of human existence. Navigating this month can challenge the best of us. It has many beautiful reminders, such as Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah and the winter solstice. But the cold, the dark and the weather, along with expectations only seen during this month, can make us grumpy and sour. Scrooge or Santa? The choice is yours.

In good health,

Jennifer James

Success story

No stories this month from successful “losers”. I think sometimes being successful is overcoming our “stuff”. What holds us back? What makes us anxious and crazy? What makes us feel demoralized? It is obviously different things for different people. Weight and appearance can be a stumbling block for many of us. Realizing we are much more than our weight or our appearance is tough to do, while surrounded by our American culture. Changing our thinking is the toughest, but most liberating thing we will ever do (in my humble opinion). Negative self-talk can be automatic, ingrained and insidious. The first step is to become aware of these thoughts. Writing them down helps. Learning to meditate will make us more aware of our thoughts and emotions. Any negative thought that makes us feel bad needs to be shown the door. Our self-talk that is encouraging and kind, that reassures us, is the voice to listen to. I challenge you during the month of December, which can be tough to endure for some, to only speak positively and encouragingly to yourself. As you would a very dear friend. I promise it will be one of the best things you ever do for yourself.

Tomatillos are a vegetable used in Mexican cuisine. They have a fresh, lemony flavor, are a bright green, and are covered in a papery husk. Also known as the Mexican husk tomato. They are used in a wide variety of ways, raw and cooked. They are packed with vitamin C and vitamin K. Try the easy green enchilada sauce recipe as an introduction to this lively vegetable.

Dementia by diet

No doubt many of you heard about the Japanese study which investigated blood levels of trans-fat and dementia. The study was conducted with 1600 people. They looked at the blood levels of trans-fat in these folks, and did not take their word for how they were eating. They found a whopping 74% increase in dementia in those with the highest levels of trans-fat in the blood. To clarify, trans-fat is made by ramming hydrogen atoms into liquid oil to produce a thicker oil or solid fat. It twists the shape of the original fat molecule. Our bodies aren’t quite sure what to make of this fat. Stick margarine is made this way. Up goes our LDL cholesterol, and down goes the HDL cholesterol. Not to mention the inflammation generated in our bodies by this fat. It is used in many processed foods to prolong shelf life. People like the way it tastes, and it has a high smoke point. The fast food industry can heat this oil to higher temperatures, allowing faster cooking times for French fries, for example. It is no longer considered a safe ingredient in the US food supply, no longer on the GRAS list (Generally Recognized As Safe). So why is it still in our food supply? It was to be removed in 2018. But, congress granted extensions to allow food manufacturers more time to reformulate some of their products. Many manufacturers are returning to palm, palm kernel and coconut oil for the same uses. These are highly saturated fats, which are not much better. The environmental devastation carried out in Asia to make room for oil palm plantations is staggering. So, what is a snack food lover to do? Avoid ALL foods with partially hydrogenated oils listed in the ingredients. Avoid foods made with tropical oils. Generally, the foods that contain trans-fat or tropical oils are processed foods which aren’t great for us anyway. Our love of processed junk affects more than just our waistline my friends. Our brains and our planet pay a price too.

Honda, Takanori, et. al (23 October 2019), Serum elaidic acid concentration and risk of dementia, viewed at

Center for Science in the Public Interest, viewed at - December 2019

BerkleyWellness (2016) What to know about tropical oils, viewed at


I teach a set of resiliency classes to cancer patients, as they are dealing with a heavy burden. But all of us will feel overwhelmed and emotionally drained at times, especially in December. Amazingly, most of our stress is self-generated. Our emotional reactions to another’s behavior can ride the runaway train off the cliff and send us to Baskin Robbins. One thing to keep in mind is: what am I making the behavior or event mean? For example, your spouse fails to pick up the vital ingredient you needed to make your famous Christmas cookies, and goes to the sports bar to watch football with his buddies instead. What this _means_ to you will make or break the emotional reaction. One interpretation could be: “His friends are more important than me”. Or, “He just forgot, I should have texted him to remind him”. Your child ends up in prison on drug charges. One interpretation could be, “I’m a terrible father”. Or it could mean “My son made some bad decisions and now he is paying the price”. Which of these reactions has the big bad sting behind it? Oftentimes, we don’t know WHY someone does what they do, or don’t do. We spin all kinds of possibilities with our analyzing and conjecturing about why another person does what they do. We want to tease out the WHY…women are you listening? Anytime we personalize another's behavior in a negative way, watch out. You have just heaped a whole lotta stress on your own plate. It’s ok to not know why another person does what they do. Is it hurting you? If not, does it really matter?

Liver vs. carbs

Our liver is an essential organ that performs a myriad of tasks. We need to take care of it! Our liver will feel the brunt of our lousy food choices, especially when it comes to eating too many refined carbohydrates, including sugar. Sugar in solid fruit is not an issue, it is digested more slowly than refined carbohydrates, and includes fiber and nutrients. Whole grains also take longer to digest. Refined carbohydrates are digested much more quickly and can overwhelm the liver. Refined carbohydrates contain glucose and fructose, which are the main players here. The liver will store excess glucose in the form of glycogen. When the storage capacity is exceeded, it will convert the excess glucose into triglycerides (fat), and send it into the circulation. Fructose, found in large quantities in sodas and fruit juice, is handled differently. It is converted into fat and stored in the liver. Only a very small percentage of this is exported into the circulation. A fatty liver can develop, to the point of causing cirrhosis in severe cases. So, we get a double whammy from refined sugars. Too much fat in the blood and in the liver. I almost wish we had transparent bodies so we could see the damage we inflict. If you consume a lot of regular sodas, fruit juice, and refined grains and sweets, you may be damaging your liver. Not a situation you want to be in, Sugar.

University of California at San Francisco/Sugar Science, The toxic truth, too much fructose can damage your liver, just like alcohol, viewed at

Liebman, Bonnie, Are you eating too many refined carbs? Nutrition Action Healthletter, November 2019, pp. 3-6

Green enchilada sauce

This sauce is a modified version of several I found on line. It was a snap to make. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. This sauce can be used in enchiladas (obviously), as a salsa, over an omelet or in scrambled eggs, in soup, over a burrito or baked potato, you name it. This is not a revelation to those who regularly cook Mexican food, but I thought it was great!


  • ½ medium onion
  • 1.5 pounds of tomatillos, husks removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 4 cups of broth, vegetable or chicken
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Prepare the sauce by placing all ingredients in a blender, blend until liquefied. Add to a medium pot, and simmer on the stove for 30-40 minutes, or until it reaches the desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator, it will keep for at least a week. Yummy!

Entire recipe ~575 calories.

Winter classes and support groups

LILI Beginner Class

January 14th-March 31st
Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00pm
Heart Center Conference Room
Register at or call 866-887-3999

Support Groups

Mondays, 2:00-3:00pm
Tuesdays, 4:30-5:30pm
We will not meet December 23rd or 24th
Free to graduates of LILI

“The state of your life is nothing more than the state of your mind.” —Wayne Dyer