Is your lack of sleep causing weight gain?

Being overweight is the result of hormonal imbalances that disrupt the metabolic system. A disrupted metabolic system leads to poor dietary choices, fatigue, increased appetite and low fat burning capacity. Sleep plays a pivotal role in regulating metabolism.

Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that control appetite and energy metabolism. Sleep deprivation can cause a 19% decrease in the level of leptin and 28% increase in the level of ghrelin. The net result is increased appetite and decreased metabolic rate. Lack of sleep can also increase emotional eating for comfort rather than caloric need.

Insulin is another hormone that affects metabolism. In a study published in the Annals of internal medicine, researchers showed that after four nights of sleep restriction, insulin sensitivity was decreased by 30 percent. Decreased insulin sensitivity also called Insulin resistance leads to type-two diabetes and obesity. Indeed a study that followed about 70.000 women for 16 years, showed a significant increase in body weight in those who slept 5 hours or less compared to those who slept 7–8 hours.

Today we sleep on average 6.5 hours compared to 8.5 hours in the 1950s. As sleep time decreased over time there has been an increase in the prevalence of obesity. At Houston Weight Loss Surgery Center, we recommend you to improve our sleep hygiene to prevent weight gain. Here are a few tips:

  1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule. Get up at the same time every day even on weekends and vacations. Go to bed early enough to have at least seven hours of sleep.
  2. Avoid any caffeine in the afternoon. Caffeine will keep you in the lighter stages of sleep, which are associated with poor sleep.
  3. Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable temperature and limit light exposure in the evenings.
  4. Exercise regularly to improve sleep quality.
  5. Watch what you eat before bedtime. Rich heavy meals before bedtime decrease the quality of your sleep. Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime for the same reason.
  6. Last but not least, if you snore at night, wake up with a headache or feel sleepy throughout the day, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is the sudden cessation of breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea results from sudden obstruction of the airway. Obstructive Sleep apnea is very common in overweight individuals. It can lead to serious health conditions if left untreated. There are different treatment solutions for obstructive sleep apnea. The most effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea in overweight people is weight loss. At Houston Weight Loss Surgery Center, we offer outpatient testing for sleep apnea. Our patients have major improvement in sleep apnea following weight loss surgery.

In conclusion, good healthy sleep reduces your risk of weight gain. Adopting healthy sleeping habits is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are overweight you may want to adopt an effective weight loss strategy to improve your health and sleep. Houston Weight Loss Surgery Center offers effective and durable weight loss solutions. Please give us a call at 281.205.3205 for a free consultation.




Diets and lifestyle changes that speed up your metabolism

Your metabolic rate is how fast you burn energy. It is the corner stone for any successful weight loss solution. Men burn more calories than women. Younger individuals have higher metabolic rates than older ones. This is why we tend to gain weight as we age. The higher the metabolic rate the more likely you can stay lean. While you cannot control your age, gender or genetic background, here are some suggestions that may help you improve your metabolism.

1. Build and maintain your muscle mass

Strength training activates your muscles and boosts your metabolism. Muscle burns more calories than fat tissue. Muscles that are not used tend to be replaced by fat leading to a lower metabolic rate and weight gain.

2. Adopt a daily aerobic exercise routine

Aerobic exercise especially high-intensity workouts raise your metabolic rate. Try short bursts of jogging while walking. Join a cycling class at the gym. I personally had great success with racquetball.

3. Stay hydrated

Houston is very hot in the summer months. If you are mildly dehydrated your metabolism goes down. All energy burning processes in the human body require water. Drink a glass of water before every meal or snack. Keep a bottle of water with you at all times especially when working outside.

4. Choose good sources of protein

Lean protein like turkey, fish, egg white, beans and low-fat dairy products can rev up your metabolism. Adopt a balanced healthy light and fresh diet free of processed food items, sugar and saturated fat.

5. Have 3 meals a day and snack smartly

Do not skip meals especially breakfast. A good breakfast in the morning gives the needed energy to start your day. Skipping breakfast lowers your metabolic rate throughout the day. Choose healthy snacks to maintain your energy. Avoid sweets and white flour. Use fresh fruits and vegetables instead.

6. Do not starve yourself

Avoid starving yourself in the hope of loosing few pounds. Many Houstonians attempt to loose weight by consuming less than 1300 calories a day. This is a recipe for failure. Your metabolic rate goes down with starvation. You end up burning fewer calories than before the diet. In addition, your hunger increases and you end up eating more than you used to eat before.

7. Consider bariatric and metabolic surgery

Last but not least, if you are more than 75 pounds overweight and interested in weight loss, metabolic surgery is currently the most effective approach to increase your metabolism. Gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy are currently the most reliable and effective techniques to boost your metabolic rate, curb your appetite, and loose weight.

For more details on effective weight loss solutions please contact our office at 281.205.3205 for a free private consultation with Dr. Darido.

What is Mindful Eating?

  • Allowing yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities that are available through food preparation and consumption by respecting your own inner wisdom.
  • Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor, and taste.
  • Learning to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating.
  • Acknowledging responses to food (likes, neutral or dislikes) without judgment.

Thoughts That Flavor the Meal

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDE

It is amazing to notice how much thoughts can influence whether a situation is viewed as “good” or “bad.” It is common for those scheduled for bariatric surgery (and even after surgery) to have worries about the unknown, hopes and expectations for the future, and questions related to the surgery itself. If these types of thoughts are present when eating, consider trying this suggestion. Before you take a bite, pause and fill your lungs with air. Then slowly let the breath out. Now, observe the food before you. Look at it, noticing any labels of “good” or “bad,” “allowed” or “forbidden.” If this is hard to do, take another breath and slowly exhale – relax. Allow yourself to be a witness to the experience of eating a meal: Its shape, color and texture. Now, take a bite. Let it rest in your mouth for a moment before chewing. With your next bite, notice how the food feels in your mouth. Is the bite size comfortable? Does it feel too big to chew easily or too small to really taste the flavor? If the size of the bite was not pleasant, adjust the amount you select so you can actually taste the bite, chewing it a little bit longer each time before you swallow. Experiment with sizes and how long you chew each bite.

Now that you have had a few bites, ask yourself: Did slowing down and chewing my food feel new, different, or maybe a bit uncomfortable? Eating in a mindful way allows you to “wake up” and notice new things. These things may include taste, texture, or even how much food is selected for each bite. Frequently the information received does not stop there. When a person eats mindfully, she may notice how some thoughts can trigger anxiety, anger and desperation, making these emotions part of the meal.

If uncomfortable feelings are present while eating, take a deep breath. Fill your lungs with air, and then slowly let this air out. Remind yourself that you are not “bad,” “stupid,” “a failure” or “wrong.” These are just the thoughts and feelings that are with you. They are not facts.

For many individuals, the thoughts that are present when eating contribute a large part to how the meal tastes. An important question to ask is: Are these thoughts helping me enjoy the food in my mouth? Practicing mindful eating is more than seeing what and how much you eat. It is learning to welcome the thoughts that are present when you eat. This process of opening up can profoundly change the taste of the bite. At times you may realize it is your thoughts that are actually flavoring the meal. Noticing each bite can help you season the meal with thoughts you enjoy.

Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDE, is a cofounder of TCME. She is a diabetes educator and contributes to the blog site She can be reached at

What is hunger?

Hunger and the desire to eat are two different entities. Hunger is hormonal, but the desire to eat is emotional. We need to eat to replenish our energy stores and maintain our metabolism. Hunger drives us to seek food to survive. Hunger subsides after eating enough food or a regular size meal. The desire to eat, on the other hand, is emotional. We eat when we are sad or happy. We crave ice cream to compensate for certain events in life. We snack on food throughout the day to cope with stress or boredom. We seek “comfort food” rich in saturated fat, sugar and salt. Slowly we develop habits of unhealthy eating that become entrenched in our daily life. Habits become second nature and very soon we become victims of a highly processed diet rich in sugar, salt and fat.

In today’s environment, we consume more than what we really need because the desire to eat has trumped the natural feeling of hunger. We no longer listen to our bodies to know when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat. At Houston weight loss surgery center, we spend lot of time educating our patients on “mindful” eating habits:

  1. Have 3 meals a day. Do not skip breakfast. In fact let breakfast be the most important meal of the day. Avoid grazing on small amounts of food throughout the day.  Avoid eating while driving or watching TV. Give yourself time to enjoy a meal and listen to your body, as you are getting full. Do not overeat. Instead stop eating shortly before you feel you are full.
  2. Avoid SUGAR. Sugar is the enemy of weight loss. Sugar increases your appetite and decreases your metabolism. Sugar will ruin any weight loss attempts and significantly contributes to weight regain after bariatric surgery.
  3. Snacks: The purpose of a snack is to simply hold you over to your next meal.  Do not consume calorie rich snacks like potato chips and candy bars. Rather choose fruits and vegetables for snacking. You may use nuts from time to time but remember nuts are rich in fat and calories. Do not consume more than 100 calories per snack.
  4. Craving certain food items can wreck havoc on your weight. We usually crave high fat high sugar food that adds hundreds of calories per day. Here are some healthy alternatives:

Craving Crunchy

Veggie sticks, such as celery, carrots, red bell peppers and fennel, are water rich and will help to suppress your appetite while satisfying your craving for crunchy.

Craving Comfort

Oatmeal can be a great high-fiber, snack any time of day— it’s not just for breakfast. Low fat, sugar free yogurt is another option.

Craving Protein

Working a little protein into your snacks is a great way to fuel your day and keep unhealthy cravings at bay. Keep a few hard-boiled eggs in the fridge at home or at work. When you pack your lunch, add a couple of pieces of sliced turkey rolled in lettuce for midday snacking. Low-fat cheese sticks and cottage cheese are also good.

Craving Sweet

Fresh berries, including blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, all contain fiber and an abundance of natural sweetness.

Craving Fried Foods

Oven-baked fried chicken strips can be a surprisingly good alternative to greasy wings. Substitute baked sweet potato fries, a sweet and crunchy snack, for traditional french fries.

Craving Ice Cream

Create your own low-fat, creamy alternative to ice cream. Try frozen peaches blended with coconut milk and chilled in the freezer. Frozen strawberries blended with ice, low-fat yogurt and a banana makes a great smoothie.

Is your lap band causing you heartburn?

Adjustable gastric banding or lap band surgery is a weight loss procedure that is rarely performed nowadays. Few years ago, however, lap band surgery was quite common. The concept of adjustable gastric banding revolves around creating stomach restriction forcing the patient to eat less. The band is progressively tightened around the stomach by injecting fluid inside its lumen. Unfortunately, most patients were over-restricted in hopeless attempts to make them loose weight. Over-restriction resulted in near obstruction of the esophagus. Food passage into the stomach was hindered. Patients developed heartburn, food regurgitation, nocturnal cough, and vomiting.

If you have a lap band and suffer from heartburn, food regurgitation, nocturnal cough or vomiting you may be over-restricted. Band over-restriction if left unattended leads to irreversible damage to your esophagus. You may develop esophageal dilation and difficulty swallowing. The esophageal lining may herniate through its muscular wall creating a blind pouch we call diverticulum. Food accumulates in the diverticulum causing pain, regurgitation and nocturnal cough. Nocturnal cough results from food material backing up into your upper airway and lungs when you lay on your back. This is a dangerous condition as it puts at risk for aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is lung infection developing from stomach content entering your lungs.

If you have a lap band you need to follow up with your doctor on a regular basis for adjustments. If your band is causing you heartburn, and you are satisfied with your weight loss, Houston weight loss surgery center offers effective weight loss solutions. Dr. Darido will discuss with the best options to alleviate your symptoms and help you loose weight.

What is Gastric Plication?

Gastric plication also known as greater curvature plication is a new procedure for weight loss that was introduced few years ago to the United States. The procedure involves reducing the gastric size by folding the stomach wall inside its lumen. Stitches are then placed to hold the folded stomach in place. The surgery mechanism of action for gastric plication is restriction, i.e. forcing the patient to eat less by reducing stomach size. This assumption has never led to any durable weight loss throughout the history of bariatric surgery.

Unlike sleeve gastrectomy or gastric bypass there is no stapling or cutting. The procedure was introduced to the public as safe, less invasive and as effective as a sleeve gastrectomy. Some surgeons went on to add an adjustable gastric band to gastric plication, assuming that the more restriction the better. Within 2 to 3 years, the initial enthusiasm about this novel procedure quickly faded. Weight loss, as expected, was not that great. Patients had excessive nausea and vomiting after surgery. The folded stomach herniated through the suture line causing leaks in certain cases. Hunger feeling was not controlled most likely because gastric plication did not decrease hunger hormones like Ghrelin. As a result weight loss was not sustainable and gastric plication failed to prove itself as a safe, durable and effective weight loss procedure.

Understanding weight loss surgery mechanism of action is crucial for the development of new effective weight loss procedures. Obesity is a complex multifactorial disease that results in functional deficiency of many neuro-hormonal signals that would normally arise after a meal. Restoring these signals, rather than restriction, should be the guiding principle for developing new weight loss procedures.

Control your portion size and stop weight gain

“Don’t Super Size Me”… Control your portion size and stop weight gain

Restaurants in Houston have super-sized everything, from drinks to meals. We have developed overeating habits inside and outside our homes. Large meals over-stretch the stomach. Over time, repetitive overeating results in irreversible progressive enlargement of the upper part of the stomach. When this happens you need to eat larger meals to fill your stomach and control your hunger. Larger meals translate into more calories and more weight gain.

How to avoid overeating?

  1. Do not skip breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating a healthy and balanced breakfast controls your hunger throughout the day, especially in the evening. Most individuals who skip breakfast in the morning tend to overeat at dinnertime. A heavy meal at dinnertime
  2. Eat slowly. Do not eat while driving or watching TV. Develop the habit of what we call mindful eating. Listen to your body cues for hunger and satiety. Put down your fork between each bite and chew your food very well.
  3. Eat small meals. Do not “super-size” your meals. Try using a smaller plate at home. One serving of cooked meat is the size of your palm. Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables like spinach and green beans. Add 2/3 cup of whole grains like brown rice and avoid saturated fat in heavy dressings and sauces.

If these tips are not helping you loose weight, contact Houston Weight Loss Surgery Center. Dr. Darido offers comprehensive evaluations and effective weight loss treatment solutions in the greater Houston area.

Causes of Obesity

Obesity is neither a cosmetic issue nor a psychological problem. It is very important for our patients to understand that obesity is a CHRONIC PROGRESSIVE MEDICAL DISEASE. Our understanding of obesity, energy metabolism and weight control has greatly evolved over the past few years. We now understand that many hormones control body weight and obesity is the result of an imbalance in these complex hormonal systems.

Therefore, obesity is no longer viewed as a consequence of over-eating, self-indulgence or lack of self-control. Rather, obesity is the result of multiple environmental and genetic factors that disrupt a variety of hormonal systems that control body weight and energy metabolism. The disruption of these hormones results in the progressive body fat accumulation.

In the United States, 68% of all adults are overweight. The environment in which we live (Sedentary and stressful lifestyle in addition to a highly processed diet low in fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, and quality proteins) puts us at risk for excessive fat accumulation. Accordingly, overweight individuals are victims of an “obesogenic” environment. Overweight patients are not culprits and should not feel guilty about their weight problem. 

To summarize, obesity does not simply occur because you eat more food. Therefore, the solution to obesity is not as simple as lowering your food intake. Any long-term and effective solution for obesity has to address the underlying cause: Disrupted Hormones. If you are concerned with your weight, please contact us so we can determine the best weight loss solution for you.


What Does Healthy Eating Mean?

All of these rules are subtly trying to get you to be more conscious of what you’re eating. It’s far too easy these days to consume more than you think you are, or more than you really need, especially when eating out. I’ve found that it’s impossible to tell any one person how much they should be eating. People have varying requirements, and it’s important for all of them to listen to their bodies to know when they should eat, and when they should stop.

  1. Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods. These include fruits and vegetables. But they also include meat, fish, poultry and eggs that haven’t been processed. In other words, when buying food at the market, focus on things that have not been been cooked, prepared or altered in any way. Brown rice over white rice. Whole grains over refined grains. You’re far better off eating two apples than drinking the same 27 grams of sugar in an eight-ounce glass of apple juice.
  2. Eat lightly processed foods less often. You’re not going to make everything yourself. Pasta, for instance, is going to be bought already prepared. You’re not going to grind your own flour or extract your own oil. These are meant to be eaten along with unprocessed foods, but try to eat less of them.
  3. Eat heavily processed foods even less often. There’s little high-quality evidence that even the most processed foods are dangerous. But keep your consumption of them to a minimum, because they can make it too easy to stuff in calories. Such foods include bread, chips, cookies and cereals. In epidemiologic studies, heavily processed meats are often associated with worse health outcomes, but that evidence should be taken with a grain of salt (not literally), as I’ve written about before.
  4. Eat as much home-cooked food as possible, which should be prepared according to Rule 1. Eating at home allows you to avoid processed ingredients more easily. It allows you full control over what you eat, and allows you to choose the flavors you prefer. You’re much less likely to stuff yourself silly if you eat home-cooked food. I’m not saying this is easy. Behavioral change takes repetition and practice. It also, unfortunately, takes time.
  5. Use salt and fats, including butter and oil, as needed in food preparation. Things like salt and fat aren’t the enemy. They are often necessary in the preparation of tasty, satisfying food. The key here is moderation. Use what you need. Seasoning is often what makes vegetables taste good. Don’t be afraid of them, but don’t go crazy with them either.
  6. When you do eat out, try to eat at restaurants that follow the same rules. Ideally, you should eat at restaurants that are creating all of their items from completely unprocessed foods. Lots and lots of restaurants do. Follow Rule 1 even while out to dinner. Some processing is going to be fine, but try to keep it to a minimum.
  7. Drink mostly water, but some alcohol, coffee and other beverages are fine.  As I’ve pointed out before, you can find a study to show that everything either prevents or causes cancer — alcohol and coffee included. But my take is that the preponderance of evidence supports the inclusion of a moderate consumption of most beverages.
  8. Treat all beverages with calories in them as you would alcohol. This includes every drink with calories, including milk. They’re fine in moderation, but keep them to a minimum. You can have them because you like them, but you shouldn’t consume them as if you need them.
  9. Eat with other people, especially people you care about, as often as possible. This has benefits even outside those of nutrition. It will make you more likely to cook. It will most likely make you eat more slowly. It will also make you happy

I’ve avoided treating any food like the devil. Many nutrition experts do, and it may turn out they’re right, but at this point I think the jury is still out. I’ve therefore tried not to tell you to avoid anything completely. My experience tells me that total abstinence rarely works, although anecdotes exist to support that practice. I think you’ll find that many other diets and recommendations work under these rules. These are much more flexible and, I hope, reasonable than what some might prescribe.

These recommendations were written by Michael Pollan, an American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.