Thanksgiving Celebrations – Pandemic Style

Since this year’s holiday celebration will probably be a little different, we’ve compiled a list of ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Be flexible and change it up a bit to keep your celebration be meaningful and safe this year.

Focus on gratitude

Ask every family member to share one thing they are grateful for each day of November. Depending your family’s size and distance, share via post-it notes on the fridge, text messages, social media, or at the dinner table.

Share with others

Drop off a favorite dish, a card of encouragement, a holiday decoration, a poinsettia plant, or a DVD of a favorite holiday movie to someone at higher risk and not able to get out much. Consider doing this once a week as a family-taking turns to think of people and small gestures that would make their day.

Host a virtual dinner with a video

  • Coordinate the time and menu and share recipes ahead of time. That way, you can all enjoy a few of the family favorites together.
  • If you live nearby, have each family prepare a dish, divide into portions, and meet in a contact-free way to divvy up the goods. Then simply heat back up in individual homes and enjoy together.
  • Prepare a special holiday toast to share what you are most thankful for.

Order a meal to go

Sometimes the stress of cooking a large meal from scratch is just too much. Many restaurants and grocery stores offer family-sized meals to-go. You’ll be stress-free and supporting local businesses. 

Play or watch games together virtually  

There are online games available for free. This site did a good job listing them:

If you’re more of a football family, gather around your perspective TVs and video chat or group text to root for your favorite teams.

For techy families

Have each family create a slideshow or video of the things they’re thankful for. Share on Thanksgiving Day.

For the kids (young and old)

  • Make “thanks” calls. Help your child make a list of people to call, email, or text and express their appreciation to on Thanksgiving.
  • Make “thank you” signs for essential workers, healthcare heroes, first responders, teachers, and others and place in your front yard.
  • Paint rocks with messages of gratitude, then on Thanksgiving Day, go on a walk together and leave the rocks for others to find and enjoy.
  • Find a COVID-safe way to give back to your community by volunteering, donating, or meeting a special need.

In-person gatherings

The Center for Disease Control has put out a pretty extensive list of guidelines to stay safe if you are gathering in person this year.

Focus on what you can do

However you decide to celebrate the holidays this year, get excited and put your energy into the things you can do to make the season special.

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Will My Insurance Pay for Weight Loss Surgery?

At Barix Clinics, we work with many commercial insurance plans, such as Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) and Blue Care Network (BCN), Priority Health, United Health Care, and Medicare.

Which Procedures are Covered?

In general, insurance companies that cover weight loss surgery will cover gastric sleeve, gastric bypass, adjustable gastric band surgeries, and other less common weight loss surgery procedures.

Weight Loss Surgery Improves Many Health Issues

Most insurance companies recognize that weight loss surgery improves or resolves a host of weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Many individuals need fewer medications to treat their weight-related conditions.

The American Heart Association, the International Diabetes Foundation, and the American Diabetes Association have issued statements about weight loss surgery’s effectiveness.

Bariatric surgery is a proven winner in the battle against
many weight-related health concerns.

Ask This Question Before Choosing an Insurance Plan.

Many people with company-provided health plans or Medicare have options they can choose among during open enrollment. Doing a little bit of research now can help you make bariatric surgery a reality next year.

When considering a plan, be sure that bariatric surgery is not listed as a direct exclusion.

What if bariatric surgery is excluded from the health insurance plans available to you?

Contact a Barix Clinics Patient Service representative to discuss the other options available to you. 

Beat the Rush

Beat the January rush and schedule your consultation now for the end of the year. Convenient, time-saving, virtual consultations are available. You’ll meet with a surgeon who will provide information about the types of surgery and answer all your questions so you can decide if weight loss surgery is right for you.

Call Barix Clinics today to schedule your appointment: 800-282-0066.


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How Good Sleep Can Boost Weight Loss

Sleep may be just as important as diet and exercise to a healthy weight. People who get fewer than seven hours of sleep tend to weigh more. Are you one of the 40% of adults getting fewer than 7 hours of sleep a night or one of the 30% getting by on less than 6 hours?

Cutting short sleep time can increase weight. Here’s how that works:

Poor Appetite Control

A lack of sleep gets the hunger hormones out of whack. There’s more ghrelin (the hunger hormone), more cortisol (a stress hormone which can increase hunger), and less leptin (the fullness hormone). The change in these hormones can set up a raging appetite that difficult to tame.

A Foggy Brain

Skimping on sleep dulls decision-making and impulse control. Food looks more appealing because the reward centers of the brain become overstimulated. It’s a double whammy – the brain craves the food and lacks the controls to make wise decisions.

More Calories

More calories come from the increase in hunger and appeal of food, dulling of fullness signals, and limited self-control that comes with a lack of sleep. Besides, having more time awake means more time to snack and does increase calorie intake.

A Sluggish Metabolism

Skimping on sleep hits the body with an immediate hit to the metabolism by slowing the rate at which the body burns calories. Long-term, a lack of sleep lowers muscle mass reducing metabolism further.

Less Motivation to Exercise

Exercise motivation is challenging for most after getting plenty of sleep. Without quality sleep, exercise suffers.

Cells Become More Resistant to Insulin

With only a few nights of poor sleep, the ability to regulate blood sugar plummets as cells become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance means higher blood sugar, more insulin, increased hunger, and more fat storage.

Make Sleep a Top Priority

Give sleep the attention it deserves. Here are some tips for improving your sleep:

  • Follow a consistent bedtime routine
  • Establish a relaxing setting at bedtime
  • Shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep every night
  • Stay away from caffeine or any other stimulants before bedtime
  • Keep your mind off problems or worries at bedtime
  • Avoid going to bed hungry or too full
  • Exercise earlier in the day – not within six hours of bedtime
  • Make your bedroom quiet, dark, and a little cool
  • Get up at the same time every morning
  • Turn off lights and electronics



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What is the Role of Exercise in Weight Loss?

Some people love it. Most people don’t. Who has the time? Does it even matter anyway?  Here’s the real scoop on exercise and weight loss and why you should find the time and motivation to make it work for you. 


Download On Track with Barix: What is the Role of Exercise in Weight Loss?

Weight Loss is Complicated

If only it were as simple as calories in and calories out, but it is not. Dieting is a battle between the mind and the body. The mind decides that excess weight is causing all kinds of health and emotional issues and needs to go. But, the body isn’t on board with the mind’s plan for weight loss. After all, that extra weight will help you survive the next famine.  When calories are cut, the body fights back by:

  • Reducing levels of leptin (the fullness hormone)
  • Increasing levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone)
  • Slowing metabolism so calories are used more efficiently – an effect that can last for years
  • Making food look and smell more enticing
  • Reducing energy, increasing irritability, and keeping the mind fixated on food 

Bariatric Surgery Tips the Scale in Your Favor

A tiny percentage of people lose weight and keep it off in the long-term with diet and exercise alone. Bariatric surgery disrupts the body’s stronghold on obesity. It reduces food intake, but that is just the beginning. A host of physical and hormonal changes occur that significantly increase the odds of long-term weight loss.

Bariatric surgery works to overcome the body’s resistance to weight loss. It is even more powerful when combined with regular exercise, a healthy diet, and other positive lifestyle habits.

Benefits of Losing Excess Fat

Bariatric surgery makes weight loss much more likely. Great – that’s the goal. When excess fat is lost, a slew of benefits are gained, including:

  • Better blood sugar/insulin regulation
  • Lower risk of heart disease
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved cholesterol levels
  • Decreased risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Reduced risk of certain cancers
  • Improved mobility
  • Reduced joint and back pain
  • Decreased risk or improvement in symptoms of osteoarthritis
  • Improvement of sleep apnea

Lose Weight, Lose Muscle?

But, when the body loses fat, it also loses muscle, and that’s a problem. Muscle loss can have adverse effects, including:

  • Reduced balance and increased risk of falls
  • Decreased ability to walk and exercise
  • A loss of heart tissue—remember the heart is a muscle too
  • Increased risk of infections
  • Poor insulin and blood sugar regulation
  • A shorter life span—a higher ratio of muscle to fat improves life expectancy
  • Slowed metabolism–muscle mass is the most significant factor impacting the rate at which your body burns calories 

Look for Fat Loss, Rather than Weight Loss 

The goal then is to maximize fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. Two behaviors can help accomplish this goal: 1) meeting daily protein goals and 2) getting regular exercise.

To meet daily protein goals:

  • Eat six small protein-rich meals throughout the day.
  • Eat protein first at each meal, balanced with small servings of vegetables, fruits, and whole grain.
  • Obtain the majority of daily protein with lean meat/fish/poultry, low-fat dairy, and beans. Use protein supplements if unable to meet your protein goal with foods.

In addition to meeting daily protein goals, regular exercise is the other key to maximize fat loss and minimize muscle loss.

How Does Exercise Help Keep Muscle Tissue?

Muscle size increases when it is challenged with higher levels of resistance or weight. During exercise, muscle fibers are injured. The body repairs the damaged muscle fibers by fusing them, increasing their strength and size. Regular activity also enables the hormones needed for muscle growth to be more effective.

Other Health Benefits of Exercise

Regular exercise has benefits that go beyond weight control. It is incredibly good for mental health – reducing stress, anxiety, and improving outlook. It lowers the risk of many diseases – heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer. The capacity for physical activity increases along with energy. Sleep improves.

Exercise helps us feel better and have more energy. Blood sugar and insulin levels are better regulated. Stress hormones decrease. The likelihood of making better food choices is improved. Regular exercise builds confidence,  which then spills over to other aspects of life.

See how a foundation of regular exercise builds health? 

How Much and What Kind of Exercise is Best? 

Exercise needs to be consistent, challenging, and long-term to be most effective at maintaining or building muscle.

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2015 – 2020, adults should engage in muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice weekly.

Strength training activities include:

  • Lifting free weights
  • Using stationary weight machines
  • Resistance band exercises
  • Exercises that use body weight, such as pushups, squats, or lunges
  • Strength training classes in person or on-line (check out YouTube)

Aerobic or “cardio” activity is vital for overall fitness and health too. It helps burn fat, especially dangerous belly fat. It also supports muscle growth and function. Adding quick sprints to your walk or job provides an interval workout, which is especially helpful in preventing muscle loss.

Current guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. That’s just a 30-minute brisk walk five days each week. You can also combine strength building and cardio exercises – think kickboxing, circuit training, or pause the treadmill every 10 minutes for a set of squats or curls.

The Bottom Line

Maximizing fat loss and minimizing muscle loss is essential for long-term weight maintenance and overall good health. The winning combination to achieve this goal is bariatric surgery, regular exercise, and healthy food choices. They work together to create a change in body dynamics that tips the scale in weight loss’s favor. Hormones are helpful, metabolism is maintained, energy surges, and food cravings are minimized.

It is worth the time and effort to make regular exercise part of your daily routine. Your health depends on it.

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It’s the Pumpkin Time of Year

Everything has gone pumpkin! It’s hard to find a product that doesn’t have a pumpkin flavored version. Many of these foods and drinks are not only bursting a robust pumpkin flavor, but also loaded with added sugar, fat and calories. Look beyond the pumpkin flavored Kit Kats, Cheerios, donuts, ice cream and traditional lattes and you’ll find some delicious pumpkin flavored treats that fit into your post-surgery eating plan.

Pumpkin Flavored Products 



Pumpkin Dip

3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Splenda
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 tablespoon sugar-free maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl or blender and mix until smooth. Cover and chill 30 minutes before serving. Serve the dip with peeled apple slices, banana slices, or cinnamon pita chips. Makes 12 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 40 calories, 1 gram protein, 3 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, 63 mg sodium.

Pumpkin Muffins

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3 cups almond flour
1/3 cup unflavored whey protein powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup Swerve Sweetener or other erythritol
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 325F and line 15 muffin tins with paper liners. On a plate lined with two layers of paper towel, spread out pumpkin puree and blot with another layer or two of paper towels–let sit while mixing dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, protein powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a large bowl, beat butter with sweetener until well combined. Beat in pumpkin puree, eggs and vanilla extract. Add in dry mixture and milk. Mix well. Batter will be thick. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake 23 minutes or until tops are set and edges are just browned. Let cool in pan 15 minutes. Makes 15 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 183 calories, 8 grams protein, 16 grams fat, 15 grams carbohydrate (8 grams sugar alcohol, 3 grams fiber), 167 mg sodium.

Pumpkin Roll

1 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp unflavored gelatin powder
¾ cup Splenda
1 cup canned pumpkin
4 eggs
¼ cup canola oil
½ cup water
1 8 oz pkg light cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup sugar-free maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375° F. Prepare pan – spray a 10X15 inch jelly roll pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, spray the top of the parchment paper.

Mix dry ingredients well. Add pumpkin, eggs, oil and water and beat for 2-3 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.

Reduce oven heat to 350° F. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake.

Cool in pan for about 5 minutes. Then, cover the pan with a clean dish towel and flip over. Carefully peel off the parchment paper. Then roll the cake up in the dish towel, starting with a long side (so the cake will be long and thin). Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Mix the cream cheese, vanilla, and syrup together. Unroll cake. Don’t force it to flatten completely. Spread filling on cake and roll the cake back up. Cool completely in refrigerator before serving. Slice into 15 slices and serve.

Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories, 4 grams protein, 10 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrate, 207 mg sodium. 

Pumpkin Mousse

2 pkg. (1 oz. each) vanilla sugar free, fat free instant pudding mix
3 cups cold fat-free milk
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup thawed Cool Whip Lite

Beat pudding mixes, milk, and pumpkin spice in medium bowl with mixer or whisk for 2 minutes. Stir in Cool Whip. Pour into individual serving glasses or bowls if desired. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more. Makes 12 servings

Nutrition information per serving: 60 calories, 3 grams protein, 1 gram fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, 200 mg sodium.

Pumpkin Latte

1 cup Fairlife milk
1 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. sweetener
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp.  pumpkin pie spice
4 oz. strong coffee
Optional: whipped cream

Combine milk, pumpkin puree and sweetener in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium to warm, taking care not to boil.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and coffee. Top with whipped cream if desired. Makes 1 serving.

Nutrition information per serving:  86 calories, 13 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrate, 120 mg sodium.

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