5 Reasons for Considering STD and STI Testing Regularly

5 Reasons for Considering STD and STI Testing Regularly

As the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) steadily increases, it’s becoming increasingly important for individuals to be aware of the risks associated with unprotected sex and to consider regular STD and STI testing. 

While it’s possible to contract an STD or STI without any visible signs or symptoms, it’s necessary to be aware of the potential risks and to take the steps needed to ensure your sexual health. 

Here are the reasons why considering regular STD and STI testing is essential:

1. Early Detection

When you are sexually active, getting tested for STDs and STIs is vital. This will help you know if you have an infection and, if so, to start treatment as soon as possible. Early detection can help reduce the risk of severe health complications, such as infertility, organ damage, and even death. 

2. Protection

Regular STD testing and treatment for women’s annual exams can help to protect your sexual partners from the potential risks of an STD or STI. If you know that you’ve been tested recently and that you don’t have any active infections, you can be confident that you’re not putting your partners at risk.

3. Peace of Mind

Regular testing can provide peace of mind that you are not unknowingly carrying an infection that could put your sexual partners at risk. Knowing your status and that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your sexual health can grant you the peace of mind to enjoy your sexual relationships with confidence.

4. Prevention

Regular testing can help reduce the risk of contracting an STD or STI in the first place. You can take the necessary steps to ensure that you are engaging in safe sex and taking the appropriate precautions to reduce your risk of infection.

5. Awareness

Regular testing can help to raise awareness of the risks of unprotected sex and the importance of seeking regular testing. It can also reduce the stigma of seeking testing and encourage more people to consider testing as part of their healthy lifestyle.

How Often Should You Get STD and STI Testing?

All sexually active individuals should seek regular STD and STI testing. It is recommended that adults get tested at least once a year or more frequently if they have multiple partners or have had unprotected sex. Even if you are living in a monogamous relationship, getting tested regularly is essential to ensure both partners’ health.

Early detection of STDs and STIs is essential for maintaining sexual health. Regular testing can help detect any potential infections early on and allow for prompt treatment, reducing the risk of long-term complications. Speaking to your doctor is crucial to determine which tests are best for you and how often you should get tested.


Getting tested for STDs and STIs is essential in protecting your health and the health of your sexual partners. Regular STD testing and treatment for women’s annual exams can help to identify any infections you may have and allow you to take steps to prevent them from spreading. If you or you recognize someone sexually active, getting tested regularly and taking steps to protect yourself and your partner is vital. Remember, early detection is critical to successful treatment and prevention.

Barbara Hessel, MD, FACOG, is a highly experienced and qualified obstetrician/gynecologist who has provided exceptional care to Forest Hills, NY. She specializes in various services for women’s health, including STD testing and treatment, women’s annual exams, and more. With her extensive experience and knowledge, Dr. Hessel can provide her patients with the highest quality of care. If you are looking for a knowledgeable and experienced specialist in STD testing, contact us today.

Understanding Prenatal Care: Questions You Should Ask

Understanding Prenatal Care: Questions You Should Ask

Prenatal care is an essential part of keeping both the mother and the baby healthy during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, or planning on becoming pregnant it’s necessary to understand prenatal care and why it’s essential to ask your OB/GYN questions. Prenatal care involves regular checkups, gynecological exams, and monitoring of the health of the mother and the developing fetus. This article will provide insight into the importance of prenatal care and what questions to ask your OB/GYN.

What is Prenatal Care?

Prenatal care is medical care that pregnant women receive from their healthcare provider. The goal of prenatal care is to ensure the health of the mother and the developing fetus throughout pregnancy. Prenatal care involves regular checkups, tests, and monitoring of the health of the mother and the developing fetus to identify any potential issues early on.

Why is Prenatal Care Important?

Prenatal care is essential for the health of both the mother and the baby. Regular prenatal care can help identify potential problems early on and allow for prompt treatment. Prenatal care can also help prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Additionally, prenatal care can help ensure that the mother receives proper nutrition, guidance on exercise, and emotional support during pregnancy.

Questions to Ask Your OB/GYN About Prenatal Care:

1. How Often Should I Come in for Checkups?

Your OB/GYN will schedule regular checkups throughout your pregnancy to monitor the health of you and your baby. Typically, the frequency of these checkups will increase as your pregnancy progresses. Ask your OB/GYN how often you should come in for checkups and what to expect during each visit.

2. What Tests Will I Need?

Your OB/GYN will likely recommend several tests throughout your pregnancy to monitor your and your baby’s health. These tests can include blood tests, ultrasounds, and genetic screenings. Ask your OB/GYN what tests you can expect and what they will tell you about your baby’s health.

3. How Can I Manage My Symptoms?

Many women experience symptoms during pregnancy, such as nausea, fatigue, and back pain. Ask a certified obstetrician how you can manage these symptoms and if there are any safe medications you can take. Your OB/GYN may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet modifications, to help manage your symptoms.

4. What Should I be Eating?

Nutrition is essential during pregnancy, as it can affect the health of both you and your baby. Ask your OB/GYN what foods you should be eating and what to avoid. You should avoid alcohol, smoking, and drug use even when trying to conceive to that the fetus isn’t exposed. Your OB/GYN will also recommend taking prenatal vitamins to ensure that you’re getting all the necessary nutrients.

5. Can I Exercise During Pregnancy?

Exercise can be safe and beneficial during pregnancy, but it’s essential to do it safely. Ask your OB/GYN what types of exercise are safe during pregnancy and what to avoid. Your OB/GYN may also recommend modifications to your exercise routine as your pregnancy progresses.

6. What Should I Know About Labor and Delivery?

It’s never too early to start preparing for labor and delivery. Ask your OB/GYN what to expect during labor and delivery and what options are available for pain management. Your OB/GYN may also recommend taking childbirth classes to help you prepare.


Prenatal care is an essential part of keeping both the mother and the baby healthy during pregnancy. Regular checkups, tests, and monitoring can help identify potential problems early on and allow for prompt treatment. If you’re pregnant, it’s important to ask your OB/GYN questions about prenatal care to ensure that you’re receiving the best possible care for you and your baby. Remember to ask about checkup frequency, necessary tests, symptom management, nutrition, exercise, and labor and delivery preparation. By understanding prenatal care and asking the right questions, you can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

It’s important to find a trusted professional to provide you with the best care and answer all your questions. Barbara A. Hessel, MD, FACOG, is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who provides comprehensive prenatal care to women in the New York area. Dr. Hessel works carefully and thoughtfully with each patient to ensure that they receive the best care before, during, and after pregnancy. She is committed to providing personalized, comprehensive care in a safe and comfortable environment. To learn more about Dr. Hessel and the services she offers, contact her office today.

The Role of Gynecologists and When You Should See One

The Role of Gynecologists and When You Should See One

Nowadays, in the surge of multiple reproductive health issues among women, we must care for ourselves in a way we haven’t before. This should be applied at every stage of our lives, especially as we mature, become mothers, and go through menopause. One of the ways we can do this is to see a board certified gynecologist regularly.

Read on to discover more about the role of gynecologists and when you should see one.

Understanding the Role of a Gynecologist

The top experts on reproductive health are gynecologists. Gynecologists deal with a range of reproductive conditions, such as the vagina, cervix, uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, and breasts. 

Once a patient reaches the age of 21, gynecologists typically begin conducting Pap tests, pelvic examinations, and other preventive treatments on them.

See a Gynecologist for Abnormal Periods

Periods should come every 21 to 35 days and last up to 7 days.  Abnormal periods include bleeding too frequently, bleeding in between the periods, bleeding that’s too light or too heavy, and painful periods.

Many things, such as traveling, stress,, taking medicines, and changes in your weight, can affect your period. At the same time, recurring menstruation issues could be a sign that something is wrong. Both uterine fibroids and endometriosis can result in painful pelvic bleeding that occurs more frequently than usual.

As such, you need to see a gynecologist if these issues persist.

See a Gynecologist for Abnormal Bleeding 

While abnormal bleeding is not always an emergency, some underlying issues may be more alarming.

Abnormal bleeding can be caused by hormonal imbalances and not ovulating.  Abnormal bleeding can be caused by medications, including birth control pills.  It can also be a sign of pregnancy, and bleeding during pregnancy can be an emergency. 

Bleeding after menopause can be a sign of uterine cancer and you should always be examined if you have bleeding after menopause.

See a Gynecologist for Pelvic Pain

You should consult a gynecologist if physical activity or social interaction causes pelvic pain.

Pelvic pain can show up as bloating, a heavy feeling, fever, and overall malaise. This can be caused by ovarian cysts, fibroids, and pelvic inflammatory disease or infection. A significant number of women wait until the discomfort is intolerable before heading to the emergency room, where a CT scan or pelvic ultrasound will confirm the presence of an ovarian cyst. But don’t wait until pain is intolerable, make an appointment to see the gynecologist in the office for a private, convenient, and more comfortable exam.

See a Gynecologist for Signs of Menopause

Many menopausal women need counseling from gynecologists about their symptoms. We discuss normal and atypical symptoms as well as the expectations for various life stages.

A woman might need evaluation of her hormones during perimenopause. They gynecologist can help you do this, so that you can better control your symptoms.

See a Gynecologist for Breast Ache or Growth

Do you have breast pain or feel a lump?  You need a breast exam and evaluation to determine if you need an ultrasound or mammogram.

See a Gynecologist for Urinary Problems

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are very prevalent in women, can be treated by your doctor. If you are having painful, frequent, or urgent urination, then you need to get checked for a UTI.  Other urinary problems include leaking or incontinence, incomplete emptying of the bladder, and a dropped bladder.

See a Gynecologist for a Well Woman Exam

Gynecologists carry out the annual well-woman examinations.

Depending on your age, risk for gynecologic problems, and the screening parameters that are being used, gynecologist will check your weight, blood pressure, and perform Pap smears, breast exams, and pelvic examinations.

The need for yearly pap testing will be determined by your age,  gyn, medical and surgical history and risk factors for cervical cancer.


Being examined by a board certified gynecologist is the way you can ensure that all is well in your body. After all, gynecologists are the only ones who can help women tackle female-specific issues. With regular consultations, you can optimize and maintain your health.

Are you in need of a certified gynecologist in Forest Hills, NY? Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG is here to help every woman stay on top of their health. Contact our office today!

The Top 8 Common Reasons Why You May Need a Hysterectomy

The Top 8 Common Reasons Why You May Need a Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus, and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes as well. It is one of the most common gynecological surgeries and is done for a variety of reasons, including uterine fibroids and endometriosis.

While it is major surgery, it can be life-saving for women who have a condition that cannot be adequately managed with other treatments. Here are the top 8 common reasons why you may need a hysterectomy:

1. Uterine Fibroids: Uterine Fibroids are non-cancerous growths that develop in the uterus. They can cause heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain, and even infertility. A hysterectomy can be used to remove the fibroids and alleviate the symptoms associated with them.

2. Endometriosis: Endometriosis occurs when the lining of the uterus (endometrium) grows outside of the uterus. This can cause severe pain, abnormal bleeding, and difficulty getting pregnant. A hysterectomy can help to remove the endometrial tissue and alleviate these symptoms.

3. Adenomyosis: Adenomyosis is a condition where the endometrial tissue grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This can cause heavy and painful periods, as well as pelvic pain. A hysterectomy is often recommended to remove the affected tissue and alleviate the symptoms.

4. Uterine Prolapse: Uterine prolapse occurs when the muscles and ligaments that support the uterus become weak or stretched, causing it to slip down into the vagina. A hysterectomy can be used to remove the uterus and restore its normal position.

5. Uterine Cancer: Uterine cancer is the most common type of gynecologic cancer. A hysterectomy is often recommended to remove the cancerous tissue and reduce the risk of recurrence.

6. Severe Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): Severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection of the reproductive organs, and it can lead to scarring, infertility, and chronic pelvic pain. Symptoms of PID may include fever, pain during intercourse, and abnormal vaginal discharge. If PID is left untreated, it can lead to serious complications

7. Endometrial Hyperplasia: Endometrial hyperplasia is a condition in which the endometrium, the inner lining of the uterus, becomes abnormally thick. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including abnormal vaginal bleeding, severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and infertility.

8. Abnormal Bleeding: Abnormal bleeding is one of the most common symptoms of endometrial hyperplasia. Bleeding may be heavier or longer than usual, and it may occur between periods or after menopause. If the bleeding is heavy enough to cause anemia, it’s important to seek medical attention.

What Are the Methods in Performing Hysterectomy

A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which the uterus and other reproductive organs are removed. It is an important treatment option for women suffering from various conditions, such as uterine cancer. There are several methods for performing a hysterectomy, and the best option for a patient will depend on their individual situation.

Abdominal Hysterectomy

The most common type of hysterectomy is abdominal hysterectomy. This hysterectomy is performed by making a single incision in the abdominal wall and then removing the uterus through this incision. Abdominal hysterectomy is typically used for women who have a large uterus or have a condition that makes it difficult to perform a vaginal or laparoscopic hysterectomy.

Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

Another option is a laparoscopic hysterectomy, in which several small incisions are made in the abdomen and the uterus is removed through these incisions. Laparoscopic hysterectomies typically require a shorter hospital stay and shorter recovery time than abdominal hysterectomies.

Vaginal Hysterectomy

In some cases, a vaginal hysterectomy may be an option. During this procedure, the uterus is removed through the vagina without making any incisions. This type of hysterectomy is usually only recommended for women who have a uterus that has not grown too large.

No matter which type of hysterectomy is chosen, it is important for patients to talk to their doctor about all of the risks and benefits of each method. A patient’s individual situation and medical history will help determine which type of hysterectomy is the best option.


Hysterectomies may sometimes be necessary to treat a range of medical conditions. Although it’s a major procedure, you may find that the potential benefits outweigh the risks when your doctor has carefully gone through the options with you. In the end, a hysterectomy might just be the best way to get you back to your happy, healthy self. So if you’re experiencing any of the top 8 common reasons why you may need a hysterectomy, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about it—there may be a much simpler solution than you think!
Are you looking for a certified gynecologist in Forest Hills, NY? If so, Barbara A. Hessel, MD. FACOG is your best option. We understand the importance of finding a trusted and knowledgeable gynecologist. That’s why we provide our patients with the highest level of care and attention, ensuring that all of their needs are met. With our extensive experience, we are well-versed in all aspects of gynecology, including obstetrics, infertility, menopause, and adolescent gynecology. We also offer a full range of gynecological procedures, such as hysterectomies, endometrial ablation, and laparoscopic sterilization. Plus, we provide treatments for gynecological conditions, including endometriosis, fibroids, and pelvic pain. Let us provide you with all of your gynecological needs. Schedule an appointment with us today!

Breast Exam: Why Should You Go For Breast Cancer Screening

Breast Exam: Why Should You Go For Breast Cancer Screening

Breast exams are an important part of a woman’s healthcare routine. Regular breast exams help to detect any changes in the breasts that may indicate a problem. Knowing how often to get a breast exam can help to ensure that any potential issues are caught early on and treated promptly.

Breast Examination Recommendations 

Several variables affect how frequently you should undergo a breast exam. Self-examination is a skill that every woman should master and practice at least once a month in her own home. A certified specialist must conduct additional testing. A professional exam should be performed periodically depending on your age and risk. 

Examinations for Breast Cancer Screening 


A clinical breast exam (CBE) analysis is performed by a qualified medical expert who has received specialized training. It would help to have this checked every time you visit the doctor for a gynecological exam. You will get a CBE each year if you get a yearly checkup.

Your breast tissue, the area under your arms, and the region rising toward your collarbone will be examined by your doctor, nurse practitioner, or another qualified medical professional. They encourage you to adopt a new stance to explore the tissue from numerous perspectives.


Mammograms are used to detect and screen for breast cancer. This imaging examination is capable of finding anomalies, lumps, and cancers. This test can detect malignant tissue in women who would not typically exhibit any overt indications of abnormal breast tissue.

Breast cancer is screened for with a mammogram, a type of diagnostic X-ray imaging. One of the most crucial instruments for early diagnosis is the mammogram. Your breast tissue will be compressed and flattened during this test between two firm surfaces. The X-ray takes pictures of the tissues and sends them to a viewing screen so the doctor may examine them.


Using radio waves and magnets, a machine called an MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, produces exact images of breast tissues. This test is routinely used to look for pre-existing tumors and find breast cancer.

An MRI is advised for those whose lifetime chance of developing breast cancer is less than 15%. Whether an MRI is required for your tests will be decided by your doctor.


Your doctor or a sonographer can use an in-office ultrasound to identify the size and shape of any suspected breast lumps. This early diagnostic technique makes it possible to establish whether a lump is a benign cyst or a malignancy. An ultrasound may help check on symptoms, changes, or existing masses.

You won’t need a breast ultrasound unless you see lumps or other abnormalities in your breast tissue. Although it is not necessary for all women, this is a vital tool for assessing breast tissue.

Greater Risk of Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is more likely to affect some women than others. A higher risk necessitates regular testing, even though it does not prevent cancer development. The increased danger is only made worse by age. Risk elements for breast cancer include:

  • Having received chest radiation therapy
  • A propensity for breast cancer in one’s family
  • Possessing a genetic mutation (BRCA 1 or BRCA 2, CDH1, Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba Syndrome), which is linked to breast cancer

If you think you might have a higher risk of breast cancer, contact an experienced doctor in Forest Hills, NY. We can provide knowledgeable suggestions and counsel for your testing strategy. Aside from mammograms, confident women can also require MRIs.


The advantages of early breast cancer detection include better quality of life, more treatment options, and higher survival rates. Routine screenings can significantly affect how your treatment and life progress after the first breast cancer diagnosis, even though no test is 100% accurate for detecting the disease.

Barbara Hessel, MD, FACOG, has been a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist for over 25 years. Book an appointment now for a breast exam!

What’s Office Hysteroscopy? 

What’s Office Hysteroscopy? 

Office hysteroscopy is a minimally invasive procedure used to examine the inside of the uterus. This procedure is performed in the gynecologist’s office, making it more convenient for patients compared to a traditional hysteroscopy, which is done in the operating room.


I utilize the latest technology for in office Hysteroscopy – the Endosee® Advance System

During the procedure, a thin, lighted tube called a hysteroscope is inserted through the cervix and into the uterus. The hysteroscope has a camera attached to it, which allows us to view the inside of the uterus on a monitor. We can detect any abnormalities such as fibroid tumors, polyps, or adhesions, and perform a biopsy. 


The procedure is done under oral anesthesia and patients can expect to experience some cramping during the procedure.  Most patients can resume their normal activities the same day.


Office hysteroscopy can also be used as a diagnostic tool in cases of abnormal bleeding or infertility. If a problem is detected during the procedure, it may be possible to treat it at the same time using specialized instruments passed through the hysteroscope.


The procedure has high diagnostic value and is known for providing detailed information and high accuracy. The best part is that the procedure is done without much pain, low risk, and with a quick recovery time.


It is important to note that office hysteroscopy might  not be recommended for everyone.  


Overall, office hysteroscopy is a safe and effective way for us  to examine the inside of the uterus and detect any abnormalities. It is also a great option for patients who want a convenient, minimally invasive procedure with a quick recovery time. If you have any concerns or are experiencing symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or infertility, be sure to make an appointment to discuss if an office hysteroscopy is right for you. 


Navigating the world of women’s healthcare without a reliable, experienced guide is often overwhelming and frightening.

Working with Dr. Barbara Hessel is an entirely different experience. By encouraging you to take an active role in your own health and wellness and offering you an individualized care plan, it’s the level of treatment you deserve.

Follow Dr Hessel on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

How Much Protein Should You Eat?

Protein is my favorite nutrition topic. It keeps you feeling full while helping to build muscle. Additionally, protein stabilizes glucose levels, and supports a healthy immune system. 

 When adding protein to your diet, recall the importance of mindfulness: 

 Before you eat, pause, and ask yourself if you are truly physically hungry. Understanding your body’s signals, like hunger and cravings will help you be more mindful about what you are eating. Cravings are mental, emotional, and habitual and might take the form of wanting something sweet or salty, right away. Cravings can arise from stress or boredom, the need for reward, or distraction. Hunger is felt in the gut. It is the physical sensation of a grumbling stomach or feeling a little shaky or dizzy. You can trust it to tell you it is time to eat. Mindfulness is “noticing and naming” what is going on IN THE MOMENT.

With that in mind, let us discuss how much protein to eat. 

We can easily calculate your protein needs based on the answers to these questions- Is your goal to lose weight? Gain muscle?  What is your level of exercise?  Did you just have a baby or are you recovering from surgery?!  

 An objective measure is the size of your palm. One palm is approximately 1 serving of protein. Be sure to get about 1 palm-sized serving of protein per meal. One reason this works is that you can use this to easily estimate how much protein that you are eating. You do not have to get a precise measurement. And it is portable! You can use it anywhere, whether you are out to dinner, dining at home, or at a party. It is an uncomplicated way to start practicing including some lean protein at as many meals as possible. 

 For those who like to measure, 1 palm sized serving of protein is about 20-30 grams, or 3-4 ounces of cooked meat, 2 eggs, or 1 cup of Greek yogurt.  

 Here are a couple of guidelines for sources of protein: 

 Eat more:  eggs, fish, shellfish, chicken, duck, turkey, lean beef, bison, lean pork, plain Greek yogurt, tempeh, tofu, and cultured cottage cheese.  

 Eat less:  fatty meats, processed and fried foods, and processed plant-based meats. 

Some strategies for working protein into your diet: If it is more convenient, buy your protein sources pre-prepared (for example, rotisserie chicken, canned tuna, or Greek yogurt). What can you prepare and keep in the fridge? Spend some time on Sunday grilling chicken breast, lean steak, or hard boiling some eggs. Prep a stir fry with pre-cut vegetables, chicken or tempeh, and olive oil to reheat when you get home from homework, and you are too tired to cook. For some variety in your diet, try bison or tempeh. Also try improving the quality of your food, including organic or pastured meat, wild-caught fish, and free-range eggs).

Keep it simple. It does not have to be perfect. Experiment. See what works for you. Even one meal with a little more protein is a success. 


Do you need help with your nutrition?  Don’t know what to eat or where to start?  Schedule a Nutrition Coaching Consultation with Dr. Hessel.  www.drhesselmd.com/nutrition

Follow Dr Hessel on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

How To Recognize Stress Eating and What You Can Do About It!

How To Recognize Stress Eating and What You Can Do About It!

We have been discussing moderation and mindfulness. Click here for a quick refresher. 


As we dig deeper into mindfulness, we need to examine stress eating.


We rarely recognize when we are stress eating. I have experienced this myself. The day is going great, then something stressful happens and I find myself opening the refrigerator and cabinet doors. How do we stop before we are elbow deep in the cookies and chips?


To be mindful about what we are eating, we need to get in touch with the body’s signals, like hunger and cravings. 


CRAVINGS: Cravings are felt in the head, and can arise from boredom, and the need for a reward or distraction. Stress is another cause of cravings and might take the form of wanting something sweet or salty right away. Cravings are mental, emotional, and habitual.


Stress eating is triggered by certain sights, smells, people, or emotions. The process is automatic, and you are usually not aware of what is triggering it. You might find yourself in front of the cabinet or refrigerator, reaching for something and wondering “Why am I eating this?”  If you start to pay attention, you might realize these cravings come after a difficult meeting at work, or after talking to your mom, or watching the news. 


HUNGER: On the other hand, hunger is felt in the gut. It is the physical sensation of a grumbling stomach or feeling a little shaky or dizzy. You can trust it to tell you it is time to eat.


Can you recognize the difference for you? Mindfulness is “noticing and naming” what is going on IN THE MOMENT. Learn the difference between hunger and cravings and between hunger and stress eating.


Eating feels good and offers a temporary solution to stress. It helps us forget our stress for the moment. The problem is the feeling is temporary and will not solve our problem.


When we experience emotional eating and the guilt that follows it, it is so easy to give and say “Well I give up. I’m going to eat everything now.”


Here is where I can help you.



3 Strategies to Deal with Stress Eating.


Go Ahead and Overeat.


Many of our thoughts, emotions and actions happen automatically. Habits develop from years of practice until all we need is a trigger to set off our stress eating. It does not require the brain to make decisions.


Next time it happens, give yourself permission to eat. Use it as a learning experience, without judgment. Write down what happens and how you feel before, during and after. This will help you identify triggers. It will also help to remove the guilt and shame around overeating. Also, because you are “allowed to eat,” it becomes less urgent, the cravings are less and often manageable. You will find you can eat 1 or 2 cookies instead of the whole box.


Review your notes. Do you notice a pattern? Once you are aware of the trigger, you can make choices. You can decide if this is something you can avoid. Even If you cannot avoid the trigger, you can become aware that it is happening. 


Create a Menu of Alternatives.


Make a list of options that you can use before stress eating. Things that will help with the stress, but also break the trigger-stress cycle:


  • Take deep, cleansing breaths.
  • Drink more water.
  • Check for signs of hunger.
  • Play with your dog or children. Call or text your partner or friend.
  • Listen to a favorite song. What gets you pumped up? Or more relaxed?
  • Get up. Go for a short walk. Do a few stretches.
  • Spend a few minutes on housework or organizing your desk.


We are using a delay and distract strategy. Oftentimes we think we are hungry, when in fact we just need to drink some water. Make it easy for yourself. Keep water on your desk. Cut up vegetables in the fridge. Most important, keep this list nearby for when you need it. 


Remember, you do not have to use it every time. We are not aiming for perfection. Try it and see how you feel. You can still have a snack. A better alternative when snacking is to measure out the portion, put it in a bowl, sit down and enjoy it mindfully.


Try Self-Compassion.


Often when we are stress eating, we will use negative self-talk before, during and after. It reinforces the trigger – stress eating – feeling bad cycle.


Self-compassion can help break that loop. It can interrupt the “screw it” feeling that leads to over-eating.


Self-compassion is

  • Giving yourself a break.
  • Being honest about your problems.
  • Being kind to yourself.


How do we practice self-compassion? 

  • Mindfulness – being aware of what we are doing but not judging ourselves.
  • Knowing that stress happens to everyone.
  • Self-kindness. We should treat ourselves like we treat our loved ones. 


Before stress eating, you can use mindfulness and self-kindness to break the cycle.


After stress eating, use kindness to remove the guilt and shame that can lead to binging.


Remember, self-compassion is not:

  • Eating whatever you want all the time.
  • Ignoring your problems. 


So, let us not use food to bury your feelings and our problems. Let us use strategies to opt-out of the stress eating cycle.


Do you need help with your nutrition? Do not know what to eat or where to start? Schedule a Nutrition Coaching Consultation with Dr. Hessel! Follow the link here to get started:  www.drhesselmd.com/nutrition 

Do you need help with your nutrition?  Don’t know what to eat or where to start?  Schedule a Nutrition Coaching Consultation with Dr. Hessel!  Follow this  link to get started:  www.drhesselmd.com/nutrition 



We can LEARN to eat in moderation!


Start  by doing  a body  scan  and noticing your sensations: What are you feeling?  Hunger? Thirst? Craving chocolate? Next, notice your state of mind. Ask yourself, am I bored?  Am I feeling stressed at work?

Chances are the answer might be the reason you start  snacking as soon as you get home from work, or when the TV goes on.  These may have nothing to do with being hungry. 

If you were to dig a bit deeper, you might see a pattern to :

The times of the day you get hungry.

The types of foods you crave and the time of day when you crave it.

By noticing and naming your sensations and recognizing  what you are feeling, you can use strategies for handling hunger and cravings. 

 Remember your goal is to never feel deprived.  The feeling of withholding is what leads us into the cycle of deprivation and overeating.  

 But let us be realistic.  Sometimes you might go for a walk instead of eating a pint of ice cream.  Sometimes. But other times, the desire to eat treats will be too great to resist. That is normal and we all do this. 

With that said, you only need to  answer the following:

What can I do in that moment to alleviate that hunger?

What strategy can I put in place when I notice I am craving?

 Here are strategies to help:

Continue to choose moderation.

You need to own that you are on the moderate path. The more you eat in that mid-range (make the choice to eat a small treat or eat something more nutritious), the less extreme those urges to overindulge will become.  Giving yourself small treats during the week and avoiding deprivation will help you avoid overeating on the weekends. 

 Practice!  And keep going.

 Aim for satisfaction, not perfection.

 Find healthier replacements for what you are craving.   It  might not give you the same amount of pleasure , but you just might feel satisfied without consuming an excessive amount of calories .

Suppose  you’re craving an afternoon sweet, and Starbucks is nearby – how about a hot chocolate? .It might feel great for a while – until you finish it!  At 590 calories, a Venti Starbucks White Hot Chocolate has more calories than some meals. The drink also has 15 g of saturated fats, or 75% of the recommended daily value.  

 Perhaps you can find something that will take the edge off, and be satisfying enough without feeling bad physically or mentally? An Americano with cream and sweetener or a latte might be all you need to satisfy that sweet craving.. You do not need to drink black coffee, and It is not “mocha or bust” !  

You do not have to be perfect. In fact, choosing slight imperfections daily will provide you with long-term solutions.

 By taking this mindful approach to your cravings, you have time to think through your choices.  In this example, taking a moment to  think  about what you’re craving (something sweet) how you can get it (Starbucks is nearby)  and what will satisfy  the craving (Hot Chocolate), you can then  consider something not as indulgent that you  know will make you satisfied (Americano with cream and sweetener).

 You can do these quick assessments and turnarounds every day.

 Eat to 80% full.

 This can be difficult,  because we were brought up to eat everything on our plate. You might  have been eating healthy all week — but here comes the weekend! 

This has always been a problem for me – this is typically  when I go out to dinner.  

That means an appetizer,  bread, wine, an entrée, and sides, and of course  we can’t  skip dessert!  I work hard all week!  I deserve it!  It tastes so good – I do not want to MISS OUT. 

I would eat beyond feeling full.  I would feel sick afterward and regret eating so much. This would extend to the next day, having not slept well, and again on  Monday when I would get on the scale.  I started weighing myself on Wednesdays to avoid that Monday morning weigh-in, hoping my weight would go down in 2 days. 

 I used mindfulness in order to  practice  moderation.  I started being more mindful DURING my meals. I  will now  ask myself , “Am I starting to feel a little full?”.

I PRACTICE ending my meals before I am full.  I know I could eat more, but I CHOOSE  not to.  That is what I consider 80% full. At this point I might  use a few  different strategies like putting a napkin over my plate or taking my leftovers to go.  At home I will fill  one plate of food and not  refill it .

 You will learn to recognize when you are 80% full.  It is the feeling that you are satisfied but you “could” eat more. Once you PRACTICE THE FEELING of 80% fullness, it becomes second-nature.

 Mindfulness makes the entire eating experience more enjoyable.   Mindfulness slows the decision process down.  Mindfulness means that you can savor the taste of the food, enjoy the conversation with your friends, and admire the ceramic plate and the visual presentation of the food.   It gives you the space to relax.  

In summary, the goal is to not deprive yourself  and to not give in completely to your cravings. It is moderation.

Be mindful of :

  • your physical sensations (hunger, cravings).

  • the fact that you have a CHOICE of how you manage things.

  • the STRATEGY that you CREATE in that moment.

Mindfulness and Moderation take practice, and all you need to  see better results. 

Do you need help with your nutrition?  Don’t know what to eat or where to start?  Schedule a Nutrition Coaching Consultation with Dr. Hessel!  Follow this  link to get started:  www.drhesselmd.com/nutrition 

How Can We Learn to Eat in Moderation?

How Can We Learn to Eat in Moderation?

Aren’t you tired of dieting and restrictions?  Do you find it difficult to give up what you like to eat?  Do you find that when you deprive yourself all week, you end up overeating on  the weekends? Or when you deprive yourself all day, you overeat at night?

Think about your favorite food (Peanut M&M’s are mine-220 calories and 26 grams of carbs.) Imagine you could have 500 calories of your favorite food every day-(that would be 2 bags for me) would you be satisfied?  

You wouldn’t feel deprived, because you’re not denying yourself.  You wouldn’t spend all day thinking about the foods that you can’t eat- especially during those  common “trigger times”,  like the  mid-afternoon lull or before dinner. Chances are, you would  feel satisfied, knowing you would be getting what you want.

You would also be able to avoid overeating  the rest of the day because you know that you would get your treat after dinner. 

Now that you’ve removed the feeling of deprivation, you can focus on what you’re eating the rest of the day.  Just knowing you will get your favorite treat later, you can improve your nutrition and regulate your consumption of other foods. 

Without that feeling of deprivation, you will lose the urgency to eat.   You’ll feel less anxiety and less fear about getting hungry or experiencing cravings.  You’ll eat less, and your calories will adjust. 

This is an example of an “Abundance Mindset”-   When you know a food is available to you anytime, the urgency to have it is removed.  You can have it if you want, or you can skip it.  It will still be there. No anxiety, no obsession, and if you do eat it, it doesn’t mean that you blew your whole diet. 

So give yourself permission to eat your treat.   Remove the stress of constantly monitoring every bite of food. You will be able to manage the rest of the day more easily.   This is eating in moderation- You will see better results.