Helping you reach your goals

When it comes to successful lifestyle change, the mind is as important as the body. At Duke Diet & Fitness Center (DFC), we will teach you practical techniques and strategies for lifelong weight management, disease management, and healthy living.

You’ll learn to recognize and change unhealthy behaviors, develop motivation, and build self-confidence. You will learn to identify and address barriers to healthy living while building on your existing strengths and knowledge of yourself and your life.

You will also explore the reasons it has been difficult to gain control of your health in the past and find new ways of thinking and acting while on the road to success.

We will help identify what areas are important for you to work on both while at the center and when you return home. We offer multiple activities and classes to motivate, encourage, and inspire you and also help you to locate the resources you need to support your return home.

Small group workshops, individual assessments, and weekly 15-minute individual check-ins with our behavioral specialists are included in the program. Individual therapy is available at additional cost if you would like more time to meet with a therapist to work on personal issues.

Individual Services

We offer individual services for a variety of issues that impact health and quality of life. If you’d like more focused attention for stress management, binge eating, self image, and other services, explore the options.

Lifestyle Coaching

Our highly trained health coaches provide classes and workshops during your DFC visit to help ensure you have a strong plan for home. Learn more about lifestyle coaching.

Personal Coaching Option

Many of our clients discover the value of working through barriers and solving problems with the help of a trained professional while at the DFC and want to take that level of support home. If you want more intensive personalized support at home – take advantage of our personal coaching option.

The Personal Coaching program offers regular telephone and e-mail coaching one-on-one to help you to stay on track when you go home. You also are provided with free 13-week access to our online weight loss program.

Our lifestyle coaching staff provides a free weekly group coaching call for all DFC alumni and offers the Personal Coaching program, which involves regular, personalized individual telephone and email coaching to help you to stay on track when you go home.

Saturday Lifestyle Workshops

In addition to our core classes and curriculum we offer educational and enjoyable workshops on Saturday afternoons. They are available to Diet & Fitness Center participants at no additional cost and are designed to broaden your horizons with topics like acupuncture, yoga, and de-cluttering your life.

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Mental Health Treatments Have Come a Long Way

The week of October 4-10 is national mental health awareness week. As we embark on local screenings, removing stigma, and looking at treatment options, it is a good time to reflect that.

The early decades of the 20th century had little understanding of the treatment of mental diseases. Until then, people with psychoses were usually locked away in insane asylums, receiving only limited custodial care and no social support. There were no effective therapeutic options.

In 1936, the first Lobotomy was performed. It was considered psychosurgery which was to have to “bad” parts of the brain removed. In 1945 In 1945 Electrotherapy (ECT) which was applying electric current to the brain was first used in American hospitals to treat mental illnesses. In the 60’s the first conventional antipsychotic drug, chlorpromazine, antipsychotic drugs, such as haloperidol, and lithium surfaces as psychosurgery and ECT makes a quick exit.

Today, mental health agencies are trying to focus some techniques. These techniques can be attainable because many consumers can affordable them and many more doctors are recognizing them.

Some agencies focused more on nutrition and giving sound nutritional advice as part of the treatment for mental health. According to a report Feeding Minds, produced by the Mental Health Foundation they did a study and surveyed 200 people and 88% found that changing their diet improved their mental health.

Agencies are also looking into techniques such as stress reduction and relaxation such as yoga. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have found that practicing yoga may elevate brain gamma-aminobutyric (GABA) levels, the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter. The findings suggest that the practice of yoga be explored as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety, disorders associated with low GABA levels.

Study after study has found that physical activity can boost mood You don’t need to run marathons to get a benefit. “It seems like half an hour several times a week may be enough,” Cook says. “More than that may not have a further effect on mood. There seems to be a plateau.”

Study after study has found that physical activity can boost mood. The department of Health suggests exercise can help reduce symptoms of mental health issues. People don’t need to run marathons to get the benefits and walking a half hour several times a week could be enough to help.

As we move forward in the research and study of mental health, more humane treatment options are being offered to people with mental health concerns. Mental health treatments have come a long way from removing parts of the brain to getting in touch with the brain and our feelings.

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Artificial Food Dyes Linked to Dangerous Health Risks

Artificial food dyes are found in a variety of foods, from kids cereals and bright-colored candies to salad dressings and frozen dinners. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, American food producers add 15 million pounds of dyes into products which are responsible for allergies, ADHD and possibly cancer. The group is calling on the government to ban these dyes in commercial foods.

There are nine synthetic dyes approved for commercial use in food. Most of the food products that contain food dyes are marketed to children, which the CSPI says exposes them to unnecessary and dangerous health risks. Multiple studies link dyes to allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children.

The most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are suspected to cause cancer in high doses in rodents. Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged by the FDA as a carcinogen, but remains in the food supply in foods such as Betty Crocker’s Fruit Roll-Ups and ConAgra’s Kid Cuisine frozen meals. The agency is also asking for a ban on Citrus Red 2, a coloring used on the skins of oranges.

The FDA has previously recommended the ban of food dyes due to potential health risks. In 1978, the agency proposed the elimination of Orange B, originally approved for coloring sausage casings, because it was found to be toxic to rats. Although not formally banned, the industry has not used Orange B in more than a decade.

“These synthetic chemicals do absolutely nothing to improve the nutritional quality or safety of foods, but trigger behavior problems in children and, possibly, cancer in anybody,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson, co-author of the report Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks. The Food and Drug Administration should ban dyes, which would force industry to color foods with real food ingredients, not toxic petrochemicals.”

Natural colorings that can replace these synthetic food dyes include beet juice, beta-carotene, blueberry juice concentrate, carrot juice, grape skin extract, paprika, purple sweet potato or corn, red cabbage, and turmeric.

CPSI does acknowledge that the FDA has put regulations in place that mandate a stricter standard of safety for color additives, saying that there must be “convincing evidence that establishes with reasonable certainty that no harm will result from the intended use of the color additive.” However, they also state that studies conducted on food dyes have been of poor quality, and that more controlled studies need to be performed to ensure safety.

Overseas, some countries are limiting the use of artificial food dyes. The British government asked companies to phase out most dyes as of December 31, 2009 and on July 20th, the European Union is requiring a warning notice for most food products that contain dyes. The UK utilizes natural coloring in many foods, such as real strawberries in McDonald’s Strawberry Sundae, and pumpkin and carrot extract in Fanta orange soda.

The FDA has not read the report yet an agency spokesperson said. “We appreciate the report from CSPI and look forward to reviewing it. We take our commitment to protecting children seriously”.

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Health Insurance Plan Mandate in Senate Bill

In a late night vote, 60 senators voted to allow healthcare reform to go forward. This is a big victory for Senate Democrats, such as majority leader Harry Reid. The bill is intended to cover millions more Americans with a health insurance plan. Strident Republican opposition, as well as controversies surrounding abortion and the possibility of a government-run public option, have received the most press. However, the Senate’s legislation includes a game-changing provision: the health insurance mandate.

When healthcare reform fully takes effect, all U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to buy a health insurance plan. If they do not, they will be subject to annual fines. This is similar to the reform enacted in Massachusetts earlier this decade. Proponents believe that mandates result in lower health care costs, since the cost of care is spread among more individuals. Although the concept of insurance is that the majority of people paying premiums in any given time do not use the insurance; therefore, covering costs for the few that do, in practice it is often the unhealthiest who make having a health insurance plan a priority. Coverage is more expensive as a result, because the risk pool is more expensive to insure when it is a relatively small group with many pre-existing conditions involved. The theory is that by encouraging younger, healthier people who use less health care to sign up, costs will decrease for all.

However, the results of the health insurance plan mandate in Massachusetts are mixed. While the number of uninsured has decreased in the state, many residents still prefer to forgo insurance and pay the fine instead. Those fines can reach up to $750 if the Senate has its way; that amount is equal to or less than the cost of 12 months of many health insurance plan premiums. Failing to pay the fine or get health insurance can lead to jail time, just as failing to pay your income taxes can.

Such actions may appear draconian, but they were required in order to have the interests of multiple groups coincide. Liberals have successfully pushed for bans on several common health insurer practices: denying health coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions, dropping people from their health insurance plan after they become sick, charging varying rates based on gender or occupation, and applying overly restrictive lifetime and annual limits to coverage. These regulations are very helpful to consumers, but may increase health care costs if the rest of the health insurance system stays the same; without prodding, only the sickest and most expensive patients will buy coverage. The public option was proposed largely as a method of controlling costs by competing with private health insurers and driving prices down, but it was unacceptable to moderate and conservative Democrats. Hence, the mandates were enacted to satisfy their key objection.

There is still significant concern on how mandates will impact the average American. Even after fully regulated health insurance exchange markets are created in 2014, a health insurance plan is still a daunting expense. The Senate’s bill doesn’t leave low- and middle-income individuals out in the cold. First, it expands Medicaid eligibility to those with yearly incomes reaching up to 133% of the poverty level. The health insurance plan for poor individuals and families has millions of Americans enrolled–and more have qualified as a result of the current recession, but many states have had far lower limits.

For those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the federal government will provide subsidies. These subsidies can be used towards buying a private health insurance plan on the exchange market. Anyone whose annual income is at or below 400% of the poverty level is eligible for the health insurance subsidy. For an individual, that amount is $43,320. A family of four is eligible if their combined annual income is under $88,200.

Democratic leaders in the Senate are looking to pass their massive healthcare reform legislation by Christmas Eve. The recently hyped vote was simply a procedural measure that would conclude debate on the bill; while it is an important milestone, it does not mean that reform is a sure thing. It is also important to remember that the Senate’s version of the bill must be combined with that of the House of Representatives. The House’s version differs in significant ways: first and foremost, it includes a public option health insurance plan. Where the bills vary, the more conservative Senate version is most likely to stand, as a result of its greater likelihood to pass.

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