Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well

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Thanksgiving Traditions

Un-Thanksgiving Turkey & Fixings

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not necessarily because of the food but more because of the reminder of all the blessings we have to be thankful for in our lives. May this year’s Thanksgiving bless you and your family with good health, safe travels, friendship and kinship. Here are a few tips to help keep health and wellness a part of your Thanksgiving traditions.

  • Rise and shine! Whether it’s hitting the gym, playing a friendly game of football with the family or taking a brisk walk, be sure not to skip your workout today.
  • Do not “save your calories.” Many times, people have told me that they typically skip breakfast and lunch to “save their calories” for their Thanksgiving meal. While this theory may make sense, it really throws your metabolism through the ringer when you skip out on meals. A depressed metabolism can cause excessive hunger later on in the day causing one to overeat at their next meal. Start with a protein-rich breakfast such as a veggie omelet with a small baked sweet potato (3 oz) to get your metabolism started off right for the day.
  • Be aware not to overeat with your appetizers. As the family comes together, we often gather and linger around the appetizer table. As we get wrapped up in conversation, we sometimes drift into mindless eating habits. Take one small appetizer plate and include a fruit or vegetable and pre-portion out anything else that you desire to snack on. By only consuming what’s served on your plate, you will be more mindful of your portion sizes versus constantly grabbing and munching on items while conversing.
  • Survey your desserts. Scan the desserts offered and try to stick to just one. Enjoy your slice and be proud of yourself for practicing good moderation!
  • If Black Friday shopping is a part of your tradition, make sure to pack some healthy snacks to help keep you energized throughout the day. Pre-portion a bag of nuts or pack a small lunchbox with a couple of bottles of water and fruit to have on hand.
  • If you felt like you over ate on Thanksgiving, don’t beat yourself up. Get right back to your normal healthy eating habits the next day by practicing the plate method, good portion control and  being  active.

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Becoming Stronger Than Your Excuses : Part Two

mid section view of a woman cutting vegetablesYou don’t have to go fast–you just have to go.

A friend told me a quote her mother would say, “Never start new diets on Friday.” Unfortunately, many people have this mentality that they will start their new diet or new exercise habits tomorrow or someday. And then tomorrow turns into next week and next week turns into after football season and the cycle continues on and on. Sound familiar? Bottom line is, you need to start making healthy changes TODAY. When you are not prioritizing your health, you make an easy entrance for illness and disease to come into your life.

Someday is not a day during the week. Many people like to use  the weather for their barrier to exercise. Many patients state that they will walk more when the weather gets warmer. And when I see those patients again 3-6 months later, many will claim that it was too hot to walk outside. I agree, the weather in Illinois can be quite ferocious and can throw a curveball into anyone’s outdoor exercise routine. However, there are so many opportunities to increase one’s physical activity indoors. Ten-dollar gyms have sprung up like

English: A picture of the inside of a remodele...

wildflowers, especially here in central Illinois. Most people can afford a $10/month gym membership. I’ve even had people state that they cannot afford that; but, when you look into someone’s unhealthy habits $10 is the same amount one would pay to go through a drive-thru and get a value meal or what you would spend on  a couple of packs of cigarettes.You can also take advantage of free walking opportunities such as the mall or large department stores. Wal-Mart, Lowes, and Menards are great stores were you could easily walk a mile simply by making a few laps around the perimeter.

You can feel sore tomorrow or you can feel sorry tomorrow. You have the power to choose.

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Beat the Heat

j0227611Below are heat-related tips from Springfield Clinic’s Deborah Albright, MD, Prompt Care. As always remember being in the heat and not replenishing fluids and staying hydrated can cause serious problems.

When temperatures are high what should the public look for if they work outdoors?

As with many environmental injuries—prevention is best. For athletes and people that work outdoors, more frequent breaks may be needed. It is also very important to push fluids which will help replenish fluids lost in sweat and prevent dehydration which may raise core body temperatures. Individuals that are very young or old are at a higher risk. Certain medications or recreational drugs like cocaine or alcohol may increase the likelihood of heat-related problems.

Why is hydration so important?   

Hydration is important because it will replenish fluid losses through sweating and prevents dehydration which can cause increases in core body temperature.

What happens when heat stroke occurs?

When a heat stroke occurs, the body loses the ability to regulate temperature and core body temperatures are likely to meet or exceed 104 F.  A heat stroke causes an alteration in the central nervous system(CNS) and can cause some patients to lose consciousness. During a heat exhaustion, patient body temperatures will be between 101 and 104 degrees and there will be no change in CNS status.

Should a person go to the hospital if these symptoms begin?

If a person has a temperature of 104 degrees and symptoms such as headache, delirium or loss of consciousness they should be brought to the hospital immediately. For less severe symptoms, patients should consult their doctor. Springfield Clinic  offers TeleNurse—available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer medical questions regarding symptoms. Springfield Clinic Prompt Care  is also available to treat mild illnesses and has on-site lab and x-ray capabilities.

Visit our four convenient locations in Springfield, Jacksonville and Sherman.
Prompt Care Main
Springfield Clinic Main Campus
East Building
1025 South 6th Street
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week
217.528.7541 or 800.444.7541
Prompt Care West
Springfield Clinic Wabash
2200 Wabash Avenue
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week
(except major holidays)
217.528.7541 or 800.444.7541
Prompt Care Jacksonville                             
1000 West Morton Avenue
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week
(except major holidays)
217.243.6520 or 800.444.7541
Prompt Care Sherman
Hours: 10 am – 7 pm,
Monday - Friday;
9 am – 6 pm weekends
400 St. John’s Drive
(except major holidays)
217.528.7541 or 800.444.7541

Labor Day hours are as follows:

Monday, September 2 | LABOR DAY
Prompt Care Main – open 8am to 8pm
Infusion Unit at the Pavilion – open 8am to 1pm
All other Prompt Care locations, all physician and business offices closed

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Drive-Thru Dinners- What’s the Best Option?

We are Americans. We love baseball, 4th of July, Black Friday deals, reality TV shows and eating out. In fact, we love eating out so much, 48% of the money we spend on food is spent on food consumed away from the home. Family meal times have been transformed from the dining table to inside the minivan.


Eating out every once in a while is perfectly normal. However, when this practice becomes habitual, it can have serious health consequences. In general, meals consumed away from the home are lower in many nutrients including dietary fiber, potassium and calcium to name a few. These valuable nutrients are often replaced by meals loaded with saturated fat, sodium and added sugars. Luckily for us, fast food restaurants are slowly meeting the demands of consumers by increasing the variety of healthier menu options and creating dishes with fresh ingredients. If you are looking for healthier menu items, try following these simple guidelines.

  • Winning the war on saturated fat and sodium. It’s very difficult to find menu items that are both low in saturated fat and sodium, but you can at least find options that are lower in fat content. The easiest way to accomplish this is by not ordering anything fried. Here are some quick, easy swaps to decrease the amount of fat in your next drive-thru purchase:
Healthier Items Less Healthier Items
Grilled Chicken Sandwich Crispy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich
Soft Shell Chicken Tacos (fresca style) Hard Shell Beef Tacos
Roast Beef Sandwich BBQ Rib-eye Sandwich
Eggs/Ham on English Muffin Eggs/Bacon on Biscuit/Croissant
Single Hamburger 6 Piece Chicken Nuggets
Turkey Sub with all the Veggie Fixings Meatball Sub
Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken


  • Steer clear from chicken nuggets. For real, turn around and run away as fast as you can. A 6 piece chicken nugget meal contains 281 calories and 18 grams of fat. While 281 calories seems pretty reasonable, it’s the amount of fat that makes this selection a bad choice. After crunching the numbers, we learn that 58% of this 6 piece meal is made from fat. Doesn’t that sound strange to you? After all, chicken is considered one of the leanest and most common sources of protein in our diets. The reason for this disproportion of fat and protein falls back on the way chicken nuggets are made.
  • Try to forgo the cheese. Adding cheese to a sandwich or on a salad increases the amount of saturated fat, sodium and calories in your meal. Just one slice of American cheese adds over 100 calories and almost 9 grams of fat to a sandwich. If you absolutely cannot go without adding cheese, then try to stick to lighter varieties such as natural Swiss or Mozzarella.
  • Go with calorie-free beverages.  Sticking with water or a diet-beverage can help save you hundreds of calories and limit your intake of added sugars. Tea naturally sounds healthier than soda, but unfortunately, sweet tea packs in a whopping amount of its own calories and added sugars. Try to avoid sports drinks too. These extra calories and electrolytes are completely unnecessary outside of a sport or competition.

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Weekend Bingers

Parties, anniversaries, restaurants, ball games, weddings, movies…yep, it’s the weekend! Many of us define the weekend as a time to kick back, relax and indulge with menu items like burritos, burgers, pizza, fries, buttery popcorn and “adult” beverages. While “weekend binging” isn’t a medical diagnosis, it is a habit that can really affect your waistline. Over-indulging, staying up late and a lack of physical activity can make us feel overstuffed, bloated and sluggish by the time Monday morning’s alarm goes off.

A binge (noun) is defined as a period or bout, usually brief, of excessive indulgence, as in eating, drinking, etc.; a spree. To binge (verb) means to eat, drink, etc., too much in a short period of time. Binging may last a few hours or occur on and off all day. Often, it can occur when you’re not even hungry, which can lead to feelings of guilt and depression. How often do we find ourselves justifying our unhealthy indulgences by saying “I deserve it,” “I’ve had a hard week” or “I’ve been saving my calories”?

Consuming too few calories during the week and then over-consuming on the weekend is a major cause of weight gain for many individuals. If you deprive your body of nutrients and calories during the week, your body will adjust by reducing its metabolic rate. This means your body is burning fewer calories each day. This combination of depressed metabolism and overconsumption of poor food choices and calories on the weekend can lead to weight gain. A study published in the Journal of Obesity in 2008 found that individuals following the “weekend cheaters” diet gained an average of nine pounds per year.

thisorthatAnother remark I have heard many people make (even myself) is “I only indulge on special occasions.” My concern with this statement is the fact that “special occasions” can occur much more frequently than we actually think.  For example, it’s your birthday, it’s Aunt Mary’s birthday, it’s Bob from Accounting’s birthday, the Illini are playing, it’s Friday, it’s summertime, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, etc. Depending on the way you look at it, special occasions can occur almost every weekend and even throughout the week.  Of course, the occasional indulgence is quite appropriate and can fit into most individuals’ healthy lifestyles. Once per year, I enjoy a good slice (okay, maybe two) of deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s; but, most of the time, I choose the same delicious and nutritious foods on the weekends as I do during the week.

Here are some tips for having healthier weekends:

1) Squeeze in a longer workout since you have a little more free time than on a weekday. Remember, a one-hour workout is only four percent of your day!

2) Eat like it’s a weekday. That means consuming three nutritionally-dense meals and choosing healthy snacks.

3) Try to stick to your usual sleep schedule. Research regarding whether or not we can actually “catch up on our sleep” on the weekends is debatable.

4) Break the on-again, off-again diet mentality and make eating right a part of your everyday habits.

5) Limit alcoholic beverages. Remember, alcohol depresses our central nervous system which can inhibit our decision-making skills (especially when choosing food/menu items).

6) Order well when dining out. Just because you’re eating healthier is no reason to skip dinner with friends. Look for baked or grilled proteins with side vegetables on the menu.

7) Plan ahead. Typically, my Saturdays are spent running a ton of errands, but I always have a bag of almonds or pistachios with me so I’m not tempted by the candy bar at the checkout counter.

8) Remember to hydrate. Keep a water bottle with you at all times.hydration


Eat right and live well—your way, every day.


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