Category Archives: Nutrition

New Year’s Resolutions: Start Small and Have a SMART Plan

Are New Year’s resolutions on the brain? Do you swear you are going to complete your goal this year?  Self-awareness and improvement are great for overall mental and physical health. But according to the New York Times, one-third of those working toward resolutions don’t make it past the end of January. So what is the problem? Studies show that many of these commitments fail because they are too vague, unrealistic, or it wasn’t your idea in the first place. The trick is to make the right goals.

It’s a wonderful idea to have goals for the New Year. They just need to be smart, or S.M.A.R.T. – the acronym devised from the journal of Management Review for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. Does this sound familiar? Businesses use it all over the country as an employee performance tool. But it is also a great way to set your New Year’s resolutions.

Specific. Saying something vague like, “I want to lose weight” or “get fit” isn’t going to cut it.  Your resolution should be precise. How much weight do you want to lose? How are you planning to lose the weight? Do you have a deadline for yourself? Think about all the particulars and write them down to be more effective.

Measurable. While it’s easier to track things with numbers like weight or fitness, other goals can be measured by logging your progress or taking photos. Sometimes there are even apps to track different behaviors and encourage progress. Resolutions such as getting more sleep, consuming less sugar, walking so many steps in a day – these can all be measured if you set up a system to do it ahead of time.

Achievable. You can have big goals, but ease into things and start small so that you don’t become frustrated. For example if your goal is to get eight hours of sleep each night, start going to bed maybe 15 minutes earlier each week or each month. Or if you’re working on your diet, swap out one unhealthy food with a healthy one each week. This will help you keep steady, attainable progress toward your ultimate goal.

Relevant. Does this goal really matter to you? Are you doing it because your friends do this or your kids suggested it? If you are making a resolution because of peer pressure or spontaneity, you may have a harder time completing it. Think hard about your long term goals and about the support system you have to reinforce those goals when designing your resolution. This will make your chances of success that much greater.

Time-bound. Now that you have made a “specific” and “achievable” plan as suggested above, creating a timeline toward reaching your goal is the next step. Breaking your goal up to create small wins gives you more personal encouragement and also helps to create positive habits over time. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, can you break your ultimate goal out into monthly increments? This will not only help keep you on track throughout the process, but it makes the end goal seem less daunting.

Now that you have a strategy for success, do you need some ideas? Check out this article from Women’s Health for some inspiration. They’ve got great ideas that start small and build toward bigger goals and healthier habits. You can try things like eating one meal of only fruits and veggies each day, or trying to add 1,000 more steps to your daily routine each week. Maybe your goal is more about your mental health and trying to reduce stress. Try taking 30 minutes of “me time” each week. We all need it!

And if you feel like your goal is just too much for you to handle on your own, seek out help where you need it. Your primary care provider can provide plenty of tips and support for diet and exercise goals. They will also know of other resources in the community, such as the Smoking Cessation program from our Internal Medicine Department.  Whether you are trying to break a vice like cigarettes, or create good habits like reading each night with your kids – you can do it by creating a SMART plan.

 

 

Sources:
https://www.womenshealthmag.com
https://www.lifehack.org
https://www.nytimes.com
 

Prediabetes:  What you Need to Know

Prediabetes is a serious health condition in which an individual’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Approximately 84 million American adults – more than 1 out of 3 – have prediabetes. Of those with prediabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

You can have prediabetes for years with no clear symptoms, so it often goes undetected until serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes show up. It’s important to talk to your doctor about getting your blood sugar tested if you have any of the risk factors for prediabetes, which include:

  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than 3 days a week
  • Having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Race and ethnicity are also a factor: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.

Physical Activity
If you have prediabetes and are overweight, losing a small amount of weight and getting regular physical activity may help lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A small amount of weight loss means around 5% to 7% of your body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. Regular physical activity means spending at least 150 minutes a week of brisk walking or a similar activity. That’s just 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

What should I eat?
Nutrition is key to a healthy lifestyle when you have prediabetes. Along with other benefits, following a healthy meal plan and being active can help you keep your blood sugar (or blood glucose level) in your target range. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are all factors that can affect your blood sugar. A registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes educator (CDE) can help you create a meal plan that’s full of healthy-tasty options.The key is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups, in the amounts your meal plan outlines. Some great food groups to include are:

  • Vegetables: Nonstarchy includes broccoli, carrots, greens, peppers, and tomatoes. Starchy includes potatoes, squash, corn, and green peas.
  • Fruits: Includes oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes.
  • Grains: At least half of your grains for the day should be whole grains. Includes wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, and quinoa, bread, pasta, cereal, and tortillas.
  • Protein: Includes lean meat (chicken or turkey without the skin), fish, eggs, nuts and peanuts, dried beans and certain peas (such as chickpeas and split peas), and meat substitutes, such as tofu.
  • Dairy: nonfat or low fat milk or lactose-free milk (if you have lactose intolerance) yogurt, and cheese.

Use oils when cooking food instead of butter, cream, shortening, lard, or stick margarine. Oils with heart-healthy fats, mainly come from the following foods:

  • Oils that are liquid at room temperature, such as canola and olive
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Heart-healthy fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel
  • Avocado

There are also some foods that those with prediabetes should limit. Try to stay away from fried foods and other foods high in saturated fat and trans fat. Foods high in salt or sodium are also good to avoid. Cut back on sweets, such as baked goods, candy, and ice cream. It’s also wise to limit beverages with added sugars, such as juice, regular soda, and regular sports or energy drinks. Drink water instead of these and consider using a sugar substitute in your coffee or tea.

Your primary care provider will keep a close watch on your blood glucose levels, monitoring them to make sure that your prediabetes doesn’t become type 2 diabetes. You should discuss diet and exercise recommendations with your doctor. Be honest about your habits and work together with your doctor to better control your blood glucose levels.

 

 

Sources: www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/prediabetes.html and
www.niddk.nih.gov

Healthy Choices Count

As a parent, there is nothing more important than the health of your child. The best thing you can do for your child’s health is to help them form healthy habits. The 5-2-1-0 program sets clear goals to help parents achieve this. 5-2-1-0 stands for 5 or more fruits and vegetables, 2 hours or less of screen time, 1 hour or more of physical activity, and 0 sugary drinks (more water). Those four numbers may be catchy and easy to remember, but any parent knows that achieving those tasks with their children is easier said than done. We’ve compiled some facts and tips for each task to try and help your family strive for a 5-2-1-0 lifestyle.

Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

First of all, a serving or fruits or vegetables is about the size of a tennis ball. And while fresh fruits and veggies are a great perk of warmer weather, there’s no reason not to have fruits and vegetables year-round. Frozen and canned produce are good choices, too. Did you know that frozen or canned produce is just as good for you? It’s true. Their nutrients are preserved in the canning and freezing process. However, not all are alike. Choose fruit packed in their natural juice, not in syrup. Choose canned vegetables that are salt-free. You can season them later if you like. Or if unsalted isn’t available, just be sure to rinse them before preparing.

Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are also great because they cost less than fresh produce, are always in season, and provide lots of options for the picky eaters in your home. Plus, they come pre-washed and often pre-cut, so throw them on the table as a side dish for any meal. Vegetables can also easily be added into chili, soups or stews, pasta, or casseroles. Fruits can be added to smoothies, yogurt, fruit salad, or cereal.

Spend 2 hours or less of recreational time on screens each day.

Screen time includes time spent on TVs, computers, gaming consoles, tablets, and smartphones. It’s important to limit the use of ALL screens. How do you do this when screens seem to rule the day? First, set some basic limits. Some examples of rules are: no TV or computer until your homework (or a certain household chore) is done or no screens during meals. By setting these types of rules as a family, and adhering to them yourself, you’ll be setting a great example for your kids. Some more direct tactics might be trying a timer, and eliminating the TV or computer from the room where your child sleeps.

When you are trying to avoid screens with your kids, it’s important to provide other engaging activities for them to do. Puzzles, books, magazines, or board and card games are great alternatives to TVs, video games, or smart phones. They are also easy activities to do together with your child. Other ideas are to draw pictures, turn on some music and dance, go for walks, play ball, or go your town library or museum. All are engaging activities that will help them reduce their daily screen time.

Get at least 1 hour of physical activity every day.

Physical activity is not only healthy for your kids, it is also free and can be quite fun. What counts as physical activity? Well, there are different types: moderate physical activity can be described as doing any activity that makes you breathe hard, like fast walking, hiking, or dancing; vigorous physical exercise involves activities that make you sweat, like running, aerobics, or playing basketball. Physical activity makes you and your kiddos feel good. It is healthy for your heart and lungs, plus it makes you stronger and more flexible.

The best tip to ensuring your kids get the physical activity they need is to simply schedule an activity for the family each day. Some easy things you can do with your family are: taking a walk or bike ride together, playing with your pet in the yard, playing a game of tag, dancing, or jumping rope. There are also a few things you can just incorporate into your daily life, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking at the far end of the parking lot. You can also choose toys and games that promote physical activity. If you are nervous to start, know that making gradual changes to increase your activity level are okay.

Aim for zero sugary drinks each day. Substitute water instead.

The best drinks for young children – and for kids of all ages – are water and milk. Water is essential for good health and milk is loaded with important nutrients, especially calcium. The alternatives like juice, pop, and sports drinks simply have too much sugar! Even 100% juice has a significant amount of sugar. (100% orange juice as 22 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass.) You can help curb your child’s sugar intake by limiting their drink choices at home. Promote water and milk as the drinks of choice by also trying to drink them while around your children. You can also liven water up with fresh lemon, lime, or orange wedges for some natural flavor.

Another important thing you can do is to simply educate yourself on what exactly is in the drinks we see on grocery and convenience store shelves today. Sports drinks are flavored with sugar and market their minerals and electrolytes. But most people don’t need them! They are only recommended when you are doing intense physical activity for at least an hour or longer. They are not for everyday drinking or even to quench your thirst after routine physical activity. Energy drinks such as Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, etc., contain caffeine, sugar, and other vitamins and minerals. But again, most people get these nutrients from our food and do not need them. These drinks are not the same as sports drinks and are never recommended for children.

 

Raising healthy and happy children is a long-term goal. It’s a love and commitment for which every parent strives. We hope this article gives you a few ideas and tips to help you kick-start your ambition. Remember to set goals that are attainable. Start small and work to extend your goals over time. All efforts will be beneficial for your family. If you need help or more ideas, ask your pediatrician at your next visit. You can also visit the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative website for more information and tips.

 

Scott_Karen_2016_Ultipro
Karen Hospodar Scott, MD, PhD
Pediatrics Department
(563) 584-3440

 

 

The Department of Pediatrics provides care for patients 18 years of age and younger, including newborns, infants, young children, and adolescents. This department offers services including diagnosis and treatment of infectious disease, chronic illness, and physical problems associated with children, including well child services such as growth and development counseling, periodic check-ups and dietary assistance to maintain good health. Special problems including weight control, anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and others, are also treated. Call 563-584-3440 (East Campus) or 563-584-4440 (West Campus) to schedule an appointment.

Your Health is Important When Trying to Conceive

Every aspect of your health – from the drinks you consume to the exercise you do (or don’t do) – can have an impact on your fertility and on the health of your pregnancy. By looking at your healthy (and unhealthy) habits now (before the bun is in the oven) you can start off on the right foot. Our expert OB/GYN team has shared some important steps to take to ensure your health is at its best for conception, which will hopefully make conception easier and your pregnancy safer.

Habits to Break

Smoking is never good for you, so just don’t do it. But if you need a little motivation not to light up, repeat this fact to yourself: smoking (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, hookahs, vape pens, and so on) causes my 30-year-old eggs to act more like 40-year-old eggs. This results in a more difficult path to conception and a greater risk of miscarriage. Heavy smoking damages the ovaries as well as the uterus, and secondhand smoke can harm your health and fertility, too, so just choose to stay away!

Along with smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana isn’t good for conception either. Whether you smoke, vape, or consume edibles, you can inadvertently affect the ability of your partner’s sperm to fertilize an egg – even if he doesn’t smoke marijuana! The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, gets in your vaginal fluids and reproductive organs. So to be most fertile (not to mention safe), say goodbye to marijuana. (And you should obviously also not use any illicit drugs, including cocaine, crack, or heroin, etc.).

Some studies have linked too much caffeine consumption with lowered fertility and an increased risk of miscarriage. If a baby is in your immediate plans, it’s time to put a little less coffee in your cup. You don’t have to give it up completely but moderation is the key here. Limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day. That’s equivalent to 12 ounces of brewed coffee per day.

Another beverage to limit (or eliminate completely) is alcohol. Drinking alcoholic beverages in excess can mess with your menstrual cycle, possibly interfering with ovulation. And because you won’t necessarily know the moment you conceive, there’s a chance you might be drinking in the first few weeks of your baby’s growth. Drinking alcohol while pregnant could harm your little one in the future. Choose to reduce your drinking to less than 7 drinks a week and never more than one on any occasion when trying to get pregnant. Only you and your bartender need to know you’re drinking a mocktail.

As far as medications go, most over-the-counter and many prescription meds are considered safe while you’re trying to conceive. But because some medications may compromise fertility, you should run any medications you take by your provider before you consume them. This includes the medications you take for your chronic condition and any vitamins or herbals you may take on a regular basis. The good news is there are almost always safer alternatives. Just ask your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication routine.

Habits to Keep

There is a strong connection between weight and fertility. Reaching a healthy weight for your body type is an important step for conception. It’s not just the scale that determines this, though. The relationship between your weight and height are factored to determine your body mass index, or BMI. Being overweight can cause diminished egg quality, decreased ovarian function, or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a fairly common cause of fertility issues. Alternatively, women with a low BMI can also experience conception woes. Being underweight can lower estrogen levels, which can lead to irregular ovulation or periods (or even no ovulation or periods). Women who are obese or underweight when they become pregnant also have a higher risk of miscarriage.

Though it may be different for everyone, a moderate exercise program is the key. Moderate exercise can boost fertility, and you only need 30 minutes of aerobic exercise to do this. It can be walking, stretching, strength training, or anything that increases your heart rate. Remember to keep an eye on your body fat though. Prolonged, strenuous exercise can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones needed for ovulation and conception, especially if your BMI is very low. An ideal BMI for conceiving is between 18.5 and 24.9.

Before you put yourself on a diet or start packing on the carbs, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. Come up with a simple plan that features a well-balanced diet. Fill your meals with lean protein, veggies and fruits, and low-fat dairy. Cut down on junk foods and sugary drinks. Try water instead. Add in that moderate workout routine discussed above and you’ll be ready to kick-off your healthy path to pregnancy!

A good night’s rest is also very important. Six to nine hours of sleep per night is best. Beating the stress of the day and letting your body recuperate will only encourage fertility.

Finally, take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) of folic acid every day if you are planning a pregnancy or are currently pregnant. You can take a vitamin or eat a breakfast cereal containing your daily quota of folic acid. This will lower your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, including Spina bifida. Talk with your doctor about your folic acid needs. Some doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins that contain higher amounts of folic acid.

 

Whether it’s your first, second, or fifth baby, your body needs to be nurtured and cared for so that it can do the same for your future child. Both the female AND the male partner’s fertility can benefit from the advice listed above. And remember that no two bodies are exactly the same, so talk to your doctor before getting pregnant. They will discuss your medical history, any medical conditions you have, any medications you are currently taking, and any vaccinations you might need. This will help make a preconception health plan that is best for you.

For more information on preconception health, check out this conception plan template from the CDC.

 

The Obstetrics/Gynecology & Infertility Team at Medical Associates Clinic:
Joseph Berger, MD  |  Tara L. Holste, DO  |  Lisa A. Kramer, MD
Trupti S. Mehta, MD  |  Laura Neal, MD  |  Erika O’Donnell, MD

Call 563-584-4435 to schedule an appointment.