York doctor launches online eating, wellness program

As a physician for more than 30 years, Rebecca Burdette has seen a number of patients struggle with obesity and weight gain. Their struggles, the York resident admits, were something she was all too familiar with, as she’d faced those challenges herself.

As a result of those experiences, Burdette crafted an online wellness and weight-loss program geared toward busy lifestyles.

In 2015 and 2016, obesity affected roughly 93.3 million U.S. adults, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With that in mind, we decided to see what the program was all about.

CPBJ: What’s the biggest challenge Americans face in trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Burdette: People struggling with obesity have had their brain’s reward system hijacked.

Carbohydrates are everywhere in our society. They’re tasty, they’re cheap, they are easy to consume, and they make up a large portion of the average American diet.

“Protection” of weight, or keeping weight on our bodies as a resource, is something that our bodies are programmed to do genetically.

Over the course of human evolution, our brains have been wired to crave foods that are fatty and sweet as survival mechanisms.

We store those foods as energy for later, when food might become scarce. If we let our body store energy up to a new, higher weight, we are programmed to maintain that weight. It gets set as our “new normal.” However, if we lose weight, our body doesn’t work to maintain the lower weight right away. Body weight is regulated to be preserved, not lost, so when we start to burn it off, our brain sends out a “Mayday!” signal. Our appetite goes up, our metabolism goes down and we use less energy. Weight maintenance is particularly challenging, because for a whole year after we lose weight, the body will work to try to put it back on.

Having a structured meal plan results in more successful weight loss than no structure.

CPBJ: How does it work?

BurdetteBy controlling calories; eliminating addicting foods; using scientifically proven foods and macronutrient ratios; behavioral changes and exercise with specific step-by-step instructions, people will take control of their food intake, lose weight, and look and feel healthy.

People can eat calorie-controlled, perfectly balanced meals at the places we eat at everyday.

Every Health Done Right meal has the perfect ratio of satiating proteins, smart carbs, and heart-healthy fats, to stabilize blood glucose levels, aid in weight loss, and treat some medical conditions.

CPBJ: Is this eating plan for everyone?

Burdette: Yes. The macronutrients are within the national guidelines for all Americans.

I just tweaked the recommendations to include the obesity research. I used the upper limit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation for the amount of protein: every meal has 30 grams – or a little more – the amount necessary to decrease appetite and hunger and increase satiety.

The carbohydrates are on the lower end of recommendations. Every meal has between 30 and 60 grams of carbohydrates with primarily whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Hence, diabetics, pre-diabetics, and anyone who wants to decrease inflammation or lose weight should use the plan.

The fats are likewise on the lower end. There are no trans fats, the saturated fats are less than 7 grams per meal – and much less with the meals prepared at home – or about 25 percent of the meal. I took top chef recipes and swapped out high saturated fat with a healthier one or decreased the amount of fat. The changes make the plan’s fat intake better than the national and American Heart Association’s recommendations.

CPBJ: How will this plan fit into busy lifestyles?

Burdette: Every meal has been calculated and presented so you don’t have to think about or analyze anything. Choose from: Healthy Dining Out, Grocery to Gocombo, Lickity Split, or a Gourmet meal to prepare at home.

Take the Healthy Dining Out option, for example.

With this option, you choose from custom-designed menus at more than 50 popular national restaurants.

If you chose fast food, just click on the restaurant of your choosing, let’s say McDonald’s, and drive right up to the order window, bypassing the billboard of unwholesome traps. Then, shout out your well-balanced meal with confidence. With hundreds of meals to choose from, you’ll never run out of choices or get bored.

Heading to Panera Bread for an impress-your-boss lunch? Order a “You-Pick-2” meal with half a strawberry, poppy seed and chicken salad and half of a turkey breast sandwich with onions and tomato on whole grain bread. Ask for this bread, because usually the sandwich is served on country bread. You can add mustard on the sandwich, and eat it along with an apple, for only 400 calories.

The Grocery to Go combos offer already-prepared healthy meals from your local grocery store.

Just open them and eat, or nuke and eat. Convenient options typically include a frozen entrée accompanied by two sides, such as Greek yogurt and almonds or a piece of fruit.

Grocery to Go combos make it easy to stay on track at home or at the office.

Here’s an example of a 400-calorie Grocery to Go combo meal:

  • One Healthy Choice Honey Balsamic Chicken frozen entrée
  • ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese,
  • One orange (or any fruit from the 50-calorie list),
  • 11 almonds, and
  • a bottle of sparkling Red Raspberry ICE

CPBJ: What’s next?

Burdette: Currently, there are more than 1,000 meals for people to choose from [within this plan]. Three to four meals are added daily. Institutions can use the plan for free in research. All of the parts of Health Done Right have been proven in scientific studies, but the online aspect hadn’t been tested, so getting the plan into widespread use and in studies is on the horizon.

Emily Thurlow
​Emily Thurlow covers York County​ for the Central Penn Business Journal. Have a tip? Drop her a line at ethurlow@cpbj.com.

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