Category Archives: Nutrition

Heart Health for the Entire Family

As the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, heart disease is commonly discussed with the older, adult population. However, the conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at younger ages causing heart disease to develop in younger adults increasingly more often. Heart care and prevention is important for everyone. Being aware of what causes heart disease, while also developing heart healthy habits with your family, are both great forms of defense.

What can you do to take control?

Make heart-healthy choices in your diet. Diets high in trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increase the risk for heart disease. Sodium (or salt) increases blood pressure, and most Americans eat too much of it, including children. Pay attention to the nutrition labels on food packaging. A food’s sodium content is something that is clearly listed. By replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables, you can help lower your blood pressure. In fact, only 1 in 10 adults is getting enough fruits and vegetables each day.

Other helpful ideas to use with children include focusing on the quality of what your child is eating and that they eat until they are full. In other words, no clean-plate club. Quality over quantity. Remember to use kid-sized portions. A good rule to keep in mind is one tablespoon of food per age of the child for each meal option (about two or three foods). It’s also good to serve one meal for your entire family. Plan meals to include at least one thing that everyone likes. Try healthier options for celebrations, and instead of rewarding children with food, give verbal praise or hugs for good behavior. Finally, if you have some particularly picky eaters, get creative to make fruits and vegetables fun. Try using unsweetened raisins or small pieces of fruit to make faces on healthy foods.

Stay active. Physical activity helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Yet, only 1 in 5 adults meets the physical activity guidelines of getting 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. In fact, more than 1 in 3 American adults – and nearly 1 in 6 under the age of 18 is obese. Carrying around this extra weight puts stress on the heart. It can also contribute to more serious conditions like diabetes. This disease causes sugar to build up in the blood, causing damage to blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. Simply taking an evening walk as a family or playing an active game together in the back yard each night can help everyone meet their daily cardio goal.

Don’t smoke. Smoking damages blood vessels in our body and can cause heart disease. Despite the decades of health warnings, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. More than 37 million U.S. adults currently smoke on a regular basis, and thousands of young people start smoking every day. If you don’t smoke – fabulous! Don’t start and be sure to talk with your older children about the dangers of smoking as well. If you do smoke, learn more about our smoking cessation services. Quitting smoking takes a lot of emotional energy and can be very stressful. Let our qualified staff help develop an individualized quitting plan.

Be consistent in managing any current health conditions. Millions of Americans (of all ages) have high blood pressure, and about half don’t have it under control. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease, as well as other harmful conditions including stroke. Work with your healthcare team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Be honest and work together with your provider. Take medications as prescribed.

Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. By making some simple changes to your family diet and exercise habits, you can help keep your family on the heart-healthy track. Set attainable goals and try to be consistent. Modeling these behaviors will also help your kids form these great habits. When communities, health professionals, and families work together, living heart healthy is possible.

 

Medical Associates is proud to provide advanced heart care that’s close to home. All of our cardiologists are board certified and bring many years of exceptional cardiac care to the community, making it the most complete and up-to-date cardiology program in the Tri-State area. Medical Associates also offers the only cardiothoracic surgeons in the area, and we have the experience and expertise to perform a full array of complex surgeries and techniques. These departments work closely with Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and others to provide comprehensive medical management, diagnosis, and treatment of patients.

 

Sources:
cdc.gov/features/heartmonth
Heart.org
healthfinder.org
uwhealth.org

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.