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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Move to Lose

exercise_MP900442795In the past year I have sprained my ankle while teaching Zumba, strained my back playing softball and got a nasty 5 inch abrasion on my shin at Crossfit. One of my witty family members commented to me, “That’s what you get for exercising.” My response “What does a sedentary lifestyle get you?”

A popular topic in research today is the health impacts of sedentary behaviors, specifically excessive sitting time. In fact, I’ve heard “sedentary behaviors are the new smoking” referenced in several presentations and conferences. Sedentary behaviors have taken over our country. Decreased physical activity patterns have been noted with the rise of technology (video games/tablets), changing modes of transportation and increased urbanization. We generally associate sedentary behaviors with watching television, playing video games, surfing the web, reading and knitting. However, most forget that our job positions are often sedentary activities. In fact, 95% of my day is spent sitting and talking to patients or charting on the computer.

We know that limiting sedentary behaviors is recommended for children. In fact, television or screen time should be limited to no more than 2 hours/day for children. But are there any sedentary behavior limitations recommended for adults? At present, no definitive recommendations can be made on how long adults can sit for or how often they should break up their sitting time. In one Australian study, high levels of television viewing time were associated with metabolic syndrome and its components (abdominal obesity, abnormal glucose and lipid metabolism).3 A 2003 article in the JAMA found that independent of exercise levels, sedentary behaviors, especially TV watching, were associated with significantly elevated risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes, whereas even light to moderate activity was associated with substantially lower risk.1

Sometimes limited physical activity is out of one’s control, such as a job position. Wearing a pedometer can help you become more aware of how sedentary or active you are during the day. The Shape Up America program  recommends individuals aim for 10,000 steps per day (which would be close to walking about 5 miles/day). Ten thousand steps may be too great of a feat for some individuals; however, a pedometer can help track what your average amounts of steps are per day. From there, you can set personalized goals focusing on your own physical activity patterns. For example, if you average 2,000 steps per day, create a goal of increasing that to 3,000 steps per day.

In a study published in 2008, Diabetes Care, researchers investigated the importance of avoiding prolonged, uninterrupted periods of sitting time.2 This evidence suggests that recommendations need to be made to break up sitting time in addition to physical activity recommendations.

What is the best type of physical activity?

Couple Bicycling on Rural RoadThe current recommendation for physical activity for health is a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity accumulated each week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. While I’d love to tell everyone to start incorporating high-intensity interval training and lifting heavy weights into their exercise routines, bottom line is, not everyone likes the same thing. I am not a fan of running and there is no way that I would wake up before work every day to go for a brisk morning jog. However, I love going to Crossfit and rarely choose sleeping in over going to an early morning class. I never saw myself as an early morning exerciser, but I found something that I love, something that motivates me and that is the reason my alarm clock is set for 5:15 a.m. every morning.

To answer the question, the best type of exercise is the kind that gets you moving!  Sure, many can argue one form of exercise is better over the other, but what matters most is the fact that you are exercising.  I encourage people to find something they love and hopefully its multiple things so that you can vary up your routine. If you can, try to participate in exercise or active movement every day. Remember to take breaks often if you have a sedentary work position, even if you already work out before or after work.

1. Frank B. Hu, et al. 2003.Television Watching and Other Sedentary Behaviors in Relation to Risk of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 289(14):1785-1791.

2. Healy, G.N, et al. (2008). Breaks in sedentary time: Beneficial associations with metabolic risk. Diabetes Care, 31(4): 661-666.

3. Owen, N. (2012). Sedentary behavior: Understanding and influencing adults’ prolonged sitting time. Prev Med, 55(6): 535-539.


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Fat Talk Free Week October 21- 25

Fat woman stepping on scaleFat Talk Free Week is a 5-day body image and health awareness campaign created by the Tri Delta sorority. This campaign strives to bring attention to the “thin ideal” on women in our society. Media coverage on “self-hating, body-shaming statements” has brought to light this issue that plagues both men and women of all ages. Recently, a popular article  on body-shaming has been circulating the social media world. This personal story shares the powerful impact that women can have on one of our most precious values, our children. In fact, I learned the word “diet” when I was 7 years old. While I didn’t know its true definition, I did understand that it was something one did to lose weight and it meant you had to eat cottage cheese and beets every day for lunch.

One of the main problems with the issue of body-shaming is that it is accepted in most social circles. I know I have been a part of conversations where all of us gals talked about the parts of our bodies we hated or would like to change. It almost seems too natural to publicly announce our dissatisfactions with our bodies. In fact, here are some interesting facts listed on the Tri Delta’s Body Image 3D website:

• 54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat.

• More than 90% of girls ages 15 to 17 want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.

• 81% of ten-year-olds are afraid of being fat.

• 1 out of 8 adolescent girls reported starving themselves to lose weight.

• 67% of women 15-64 withdraw from life-engaging activities like giving an opinion, going to school and going to the doctor because they feel badly about their looks.

• 40% of moms tell their adolescent daughters to diet. 45% of these are of average weight.

• 70 million people worldwide struggle with eating disorders.

• In the US, as many as 10 million are suffering from anorexia or bulimia. That’s more than are suffering from breast cancer.Portrait of a young woman

Last year, Tri Delta launched their Body Image 3-D program. This movement was established to create a multi-dimensional approach to body image awareness and education. Their mission is to help girls and women focus on all aspects of health, not just physical features when considering one’s body image. According to their website, this month’s challenge is to color your plate with an assortment of fruits and vegetables. The focus of this challenge is being healthy, not skinny. One thing I always try to communicate is that healthy and skinny should not be used synonymously. Just because someone is “skinny” does not mean that they have healthy lifestyle habits.

As a former self-hater, I couldn’t agree more with this campaign. I’ll admit I used to cut out pictures of Victoria’s Secret models and celebrities and paste them to the refrigerator hoping one day I would be perfectly tanned with a six-pack. Thanks to the additional efforts of the Dove campaign  we now know how unnatural and air-brushed those flawless magazine pictures and ads really are. We have a serious issue on our hands and the change needs to start within ourselves. With self-hating statements like “My thighs are too wide” or “I look so ugly today”, we end up becoming our own worst enemies.

I encourage you to join the movement and participate in Fat Talk Free Week. Inspire change in the way we think and feel about our bodies and remember, it starts with you.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” –Muhatma Gandhi


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Eating Healthy During Treatment

BreastHealthRibbon

A diagnosis of breast cancer can be one of the most frightening experiences a woman can have. No matter what the course of treatment, nutrition should be a vital component. The exact path that nutrition therapy takes may differ for each patient and their course of treatment, but the core focus on weight maintenance or weight loss remains the same.
Many breast cancer patients find themselves gaining weight throughout treatment. It’s not completely clear why this occurs, but possible explanations may be related to body composition changes. Muscle tissue is lost while fat matter is gained. This can be a result of treatment itself or in combination of reduced physical activity levels and poor dietary intake. Focusing on healthy eating patterns and nutrient-dense foods can help the body function optimally.
Quality nutrition can be found in plant-based proteins, high-fiber whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of fluids and heart-healthy fats. This can be accomplished by consuming ≥ 5 servings of colorful fruits and vegetables, 100% whole wheat/whole grain products, beans, water and healthy fats such as cold-water fish and walnuts.

Here are some quick reminders of healthful eating during treatment and survivorship :

food3_MP900411701
Eat more fruits and vegetables. Eating more produce might be the single best diet change you can make to improve your nutrient intake. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, low in calories and are packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants that help protect our cells and tissues. Think simple first. Try swapping an apple for crackers as a healthy snack. Slice up a banana or berries to put in oatmeal. Keep pre-cut raw vegetables readily available to add to salads or snack on by themselves. If you already consume at least five servings of produce per day, focus on including a variety of vibrantly colored items to maximize your phytochemical and antioxidant intake.
• Eat less red meat. A diet high in red meat has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers. An easy way to cut back on eating red meat is to substitute fish or plant-based sources of protein for burgers, sausages, bacon and steaks. Plant proteins include beans, lentils, nuts and high-protein grains, such as quinoa. For a great plant-based protein meal, try this heart-healthy, black-bean burrito recipe http://bit.ly/16vUtYx
Limit sodium. Did you know that salting one’s food only contributes to about 5-10% of one’s total daily sodium intake? Most of the salt Americans consume comes directly from packaged and processed foods. While it’s important not to add extra salt to food, it’s also important to evaluate the sodium content of the foods you consume on a regular basis. Excessive consumption of salt and sodium-preserved foods is not only a cause of hypertension but it may also be linked to certain cancers. Try limiting the consumption of pre-packaged foods, dinners, canned soups and fast food. Look for “no salt added” canned foods and salt-free seasoning mixes such as Mrs. Dash products.
Limit alcoholic drinks. According to the National Cancer Institute, a large sum of studies show a positive link between increased alcohol consumption and the risk of breast cancer in women. If you choose to drink an alcoholic beverage, decrease your risk associated with alcohol consumption by limiting your intake to no more than two drinks per day for men, and one per day for women. These recommendations are similar to those put forth by the American Heart Association for protection against heart disease.

myplateFollow “The Plate Method.” If your diet needs improvement, incorporating all these ideas might seem intimidating. A great way to simplify these recommendations is to adopt what is called “The Plate Method.” To do this, divide your plate visually into fourths when serving foods at a meal. Fill one fourth with vegetables, one fourth with fruit, one fourth with lean protein foods, and one fourth with whole grains. Following this pattern will help ensure you are eating a well-balanced diet high in important nutrients and lower in fat and calories. To find more information and great tips, visit http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov.
It’s important to remember that an improvement in diet can increase well-being, promote post-op healing, reduce the risk of co-morbidities during and after cancer and provide a sense of active participation in one’s healing process. One study showed that even in the absence of weight loss, consuming a diet high in plant foods in combination of 30 minutes of daily physical activity can provide a survival benefit. To help improve the quality of your diet and balance the right amount of nutrients for you, please contact Springfield Clinic Nutrition and Dietetics.


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Guest Blogger : Belly Fat and Your Risk of Chronic Disease

Watch Your WaistDo you have more than an inch to pinch? When you look down, have the tips of your toes disappeared? If so, you might want to measure your belly fat, which can increase your risk for chronic disease.

According to an article by Mayo Clinic staff; it is common for “belly fat,” also known as visceral fat, to appear after menopause due to low levels of estrogen. It is estrogen that influences where we store fat in our body. So let’s measure our risk! Determine your waist circumference by locating the top of your hip bones. Use a measuring tape from this point to pull snug, but not so much to compress your skin. Run the tape around your middle; take your final measurement when you exhale.

Now that we’ve measured our “belly fat,” let’s discuss why it may not “just be a cosmetic concern.” You should know that “belly fat” can increase inflammation and produce hormones that raise blood pressure, negatively change the balance of good (HDL) to bad (LDL) cholesterol and promote insulin resistance, a risk factor for developing diabetes.

As a registered dietitian, I encourage people to improve their health through good nutrition and physical activity. Shed those extra pounds to avoid complications associated with “belly fat” and the “bad stuff” it creates. Eat foods that help you feel full, such as whole grains and high fiber foods like peas, dried beans and lentils. To expand your antioxidant arsenal without adding extra calories from fat, enjoy fruit and non-starchy vegetables. Great choices are berries, cherries, apples, carrots, tomatoes and dark green, leafy vegetables!

We all need to consider the effect chronic disease has on our body, but people with a genetic risk for diabetes also need to worry about the damage high blood sugars can cause to the eyes, kidneys and feet. A decrease in “belly fat” may help to reduce these effects.Woman on Exercise Machine

Other concerns for those with diabetes
In addition to a healthy diet, be as physically active as possible. In general most of us should be at least moderately active. Moderate activity is defined as being physically active at least 150 minutes per week. This level of activity could be met by walking 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Talk to your physician about the importance of maintaining adequate vitamin D levels. Low vitamin D is associated with a 30% to 50% increased risk for breast cancer. Remember, some of our best defense can be found in “super foods” such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cranberries and green tea. You could also add ground flaxseed to your cereal or have a moderate amount (1-2 servings a day) of soy or tofu. Did you know certain brands of mushrooms are a great source for vitamin D?

Please know, current literature is still mixed about the impact of plant estrogens in people with hormonally sensitive cancer of the breast, ovaries or prostate. Speak with your physician about this topic and practice caution with the use of phytoestrogen supplements, soy powders and capsules, as they could be linked to recurrence of cancer. As with all medical nutrition recommendations, individualization is essential. Speak with a registered dietitian today if you have more questions about healthy eating for disease prevention.

Schleder, Missy RD

Melissa S. Schleder
Registered Dietitian, Springfield Clinic Endocrinology
Resources:
http://www.nutritioncaremanual.org ; http://www.mayoclinic.com ;
http://www.aicr.org; http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer ; http://www.uptodate.com


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What’s Your Yogurt IQ?

Fruit-and-yogurtWhat are the health benefits of yogurt?

Yogurt is a high-quality, low-fat, easily-absorbed protein source. (Try saying that three times fast!) Additionally, yogurt is a good source of calcium and active cultures (probiotics) that can promote a healthy gut. Individuals with lactose intolerance often can consume yogurt without gastrointestinal distress. The translation of yogurt “yoghurt” means “dense and thick”. Yogurt is made by the fermentation of milk sugar (lactose) into lactic acid. This thicker substance is tangier in taste when compared to milk.

With so many yogurt varieties, is there any difference between them?

Not all yogurts contain live active cultures. The term “made with live/active cultures” is somewhat deceiving because all yogurts are made with live cultures; but live cultures do not survive heat treatment/pasteurization. Look for phrases like “active yogurt cultures” or “contains active cultures” to identify the yogurt varieties that contain the probiotic benefits. Dr. Ted Paradowski, Springfield Clinic Gastroenterologist recommends patients choose Activia yogurt for its probiotic benefits.

One of the main nutritional differences between Greek yogurt and regular yogurt is the protein content. A standard-size container (5.3-6.0 oz) of Greek yogurt contains anywhere from 10-20 grams of protein while the same serving of regular yogurt contains only 5-6 grams of protein. Unsweetened yogurt (both Greek and regular) will contain the lowest amounts of sugars; however, most people prefer the sweetened/flavored varieties. Try to find the yogurts with the least amount of ingredients for increased nutritional value. Be careful of kid-friendly varieties such as Go-Gurt. This type of yogurt contains the highest amount of added sugars and is also lowest in protein content. Basically, your kids are getting more calories from the added sweeteners than they are from the yogurt itself. Watch the calcium content difference. In many cases, Greek yogurt contains less calcium than normal yogurt.

To Greek or not to Greek?

Greek yogurt has been a hot trend to take grocery store shelves by storm these past couple years. One thing I’ve noticed at my local supermarket is that the yogurt section appears to be phasing out regular yogurt options to make room for more Greek yogurt brands and varieties.

Many will argue that the term “Greek” is being used too loosely. Typically, Greek yogurt has gone through an extra straining process that removes the liquid whey and milk sugars. This is the reason why this type of yogurt is much thicker and tangier in taste. However, some brands simply add a thickening agent and protein concentrate to their regular yogurt and call it “Greek”.

This year especially, we have seen Greek yogurt products popping up everywhere from cereal to granola bars to veggie dips.  Greek yogurt is most notable for its lean protein content, but do all these additional products retain the same benefits or are they just a marketing gimmick?

Most of the time, the term “made with Greek yogurt” on food items is simply a way to get consumers to buy that product thinking it’s going to be healthier than the item sitting next to it on the shelf. For example, Post has recently come out with Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch cereal. Compared to their standard variety, Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted cereal, the “Greek” variety contains more calories, more carbs and added sugars with just a minimal increase in protein content. Don’t be fooled by frozen Greek yogurt either. Often, these substitutions are simply sweet treats disguised as health foods.

How creative are you with using yogurt?activia-active cultures

It’s thick, creamy texture makes it a great base for smoothies or an excellent swap for mayonnaise and sour cream in recipes. Whether you use regular or Greek yogurt, these healthy recipe substitutions will add more nutrients to your everyday favorites!

  • Try mixing yogurt with herbs and spices to make a protein-packed veggie dip.
  • Add a dollop on potatoes or tacos instead of sour cream.
  • Substitute yogurt for some of the mayonnaise when making tuna, chicken or potato salad.
  • For additional ideas, download this handout: http://oldwayspt.org/sites/default/files/12ways_yogurt.pdf


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Healthy Recipe Monday

Potatoes are one of America’s favorite vegetables. They are a good source of potassium and you can get a little extra fiber by eating the skins. Remember to practice good portion control when consuming potatoes by sticking to ½ cup serving sizes. For a balanced meal, be sure to add a green vegetable such as asparagus, green beans, spinach or broccoli along with potatoes.

Garlic Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

GarlicPotatoeswithFreshHerbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boiling or baking potatoes, with or without skins
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper (white preferred)

1. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut the boiling potatoes in half or the baking potatoes in quarters. Add the potatoes and garlic to the boiling water and return to a boil. Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft all the way through when tested with a knife. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl and the garlic to a small plate, reserving the potato water.

2. Mash the garlic cloves. Add to the potatoes, combining lightly with a potato masher or large fork until coarse-textured. (Do not sure a food processor.) Stir in the remaining ingredients, adding a little hot potato water if needed for the desired consistency. The texture should remain coarse.

Cook’s Tip – For a taste change, substitute other fresh herbs for the rosemary and/or oregano. Parsley and sage are just two possibilities. This recipe doubles well.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 106.Total Fat: 2 g. Saturated Fat: 0.5 g. Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g. Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g. Trans Fat: 0 g. Cholesterol: 0 mg. Sodium: 80 mg. Carbohydrate: 21 g. Fiber: 3 g. Sugars: 1 g. Protein: 2 g.

-American Heart Association, Recipes for the Heart


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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.

chart

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40545.pdf

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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Cancer Nutrition Series: Dealing with Mucositis (Sore Mouth)

Cancer and its treatment can lead to a variety of side effects and discomforts. But, through proper nutrition, these effects can be alleviated. Amanda Figge, MS, RD, LDN, registered dietitian with Springfield Clinic, discusses the ways to eat properly while dealing with cancer.

In this video, Amanda discusses eating with mucositis, or mouth sores resulting from cancer treatment.

http://youtu.be/a5p-B44R8CA

www.SpringfieldClinic.com/Nutrition


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How to Survive Summer in Illinois

Ways you know you’re from Illinois:

  • When pronouncing “Illinois”, you know the ‘s’ is silent.
  • When asked about a famous president, Abraham Lincoln is always your first thought.
  • Horseshoe = a menu item.
  • You cried during Chief Illiniwek’s last dance at Assembly Hall on February 21, 2007.
  • You know that the weather is unpredictable.

weatherJuly 7, 2012. It was a sweltering 113°F Saturday in central Illinois. People had been cautioned to limit time spent outdoors and were advised to wear cool, lightweight clothing.

Except this girl. This sun-scorching date was my wedding day.

According to the National Weather Service, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States. This number is extremely unfortunate considering that many of these deaths could have been prevented. People most vulnerable to severe heat conditions include young children and the elderly, but don’t forget about our four-legged loved ones too!

Water consumption is one of the most important factors in protecting yourself from a heat-related injury or dehydration. What’s scary is that our bodies can become dehydrated long before we feel the urge to drink something. Water is one of the most important nutrients we need in our diet. Did you know that your body can survive weeks without food, but only a couple days without water? In order to keep our bodies in homeostasis, we need to achieve water balance. Fluid needs increase when excess fluid losses occur from exercise, fever, heat exposure, diarrhea, vomiting or trauma.

We’ve all heard the recommendation that you need eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day. When I first heard this, I thought “why eight? Why isn’t it six, ten or 14 glasses of water?” Here’s the why: one commonly used formula used for determining fluid needs is that we need one milliliter of water per one calorie consumed. The standard reference for calorie intake is 2,000 calories per day. So, that means that one needs to consume 2000 mL of water each day. Here are the conversions:

2000 mL x 1 oz/30 ml = 66.67 oz x 1 cup/8 oz = 8 cups water

Again, this is just an estimate, but at least we know now where that recommendation comes from. The Dietary Reference Intake for fluid needs for adults recommends 2.7 L/day for women and 3.7 L/day for men. Keep in mind that we can also consume fluid through our food. Warning: if your doctor has you on a fluid restriction or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink when the weather is hot.

Here are some helpful reminders for how to protect yourself with extreme temperatures:

  • Wear loose-fit, lightweight clothing, especially if you will be in the sun.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • Don’t drink fluids that contain alcohol or high amounts of sugar—these can actually increase fluid losses.
  • NEVER leave any living thing—person or animal—in a parked car.
  • Try to avoid doing things outdoors during the hottest parts of the day.
  • If your home does not have air-conditioning, think about visiting your local library or taking a walk at the mall for cooler air relief.
  • Take extra precaution with certain medications.
  • Protect your skin by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

hot carIf you exercise in hot temperatures, remember to take frequent breaks in the shade and consume at least two to four cups of water each hour. For any form of exercise, your body requires training to adapt to exercising in extreme temperatures. One of the coolest sports-training techniques I have been able to witness is the climate-controlled room at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute. A runner came to the scientists to see what his fluid needs would be for an upcoming marathon he was training for in Africa. In order to determine as accurately as possible his needs, they created Africa’s weather in their climate-controlled workout room. The runner was able to run on a treadmill as the scientists recorded his fluid losses and calculated what his needs would be for the marathon. If you are exercising for long periods of time in hot weather, it is a good idea to consume a sports drink with electrolytes to replace your losses. In very rare cases, too much water can cause an imbalance of electrolytes in the blood stream, which can cause serious complications.

Tips for drinking more water:

  • Seek out a personalized water bottle. Even the mere sight of a water bottle next to us can influence fluid consumption.
  • Drink and drive (water, that is). Always keep a water bottle in the car or in a small cooler for those busy days.
  • Have water with meals. We always do at restaurants, right?
  • Combine habits. Get in the habit of consuming a glass of water while doing some of your other habitual activities.
  • Add some flavor. Adding cucumber, orange or lemon slices to water gives it a light refreshing taste.

Was my wedding day ruined by the extreme temperatures? Absolutely not. The only thing that changed was that we didn’t get to have the traditional bride and groom send-off outside of the church and no outdoor bridal party photos. However, quick-thinking and improvising made “plan b” just as good.

Wedding Plan B

Wedding Plan B

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