Tag Archives: nutrition

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.


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.

Living with Diabetes: What Can I Eat?

Grains and Starchy Vegetables

If you are going to eat grains, choose whole grains. Whole grains are high in fiber. Foods high in fiber take longer to digest and therefore affect your blood glucose more slowly (i.e. whole wheat bread, prunes and other vegetables). Reading food labels can help you with making the best choice.

What is a Whole Grain?

A whole grain is the entire grain—which includes the bran, germ and endosperm (starchy part). “Refined” flours like white and enriched wheat flour include only part of the grain. They are missing many of the nutrients found in whole wheat flour. Examples of whole grain wheat products include 100% whole wheat bread, pasta, tortillas, and crackers. For cereals, pick those with at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and less than 6 grams of sugar.

Best Choices of Starchy Vegetables

Starchy vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. The best choices do not have added fats, sugar or sodium. Try a variety such as parsnip, plantain, potato, pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, green peas, and corn.

Best Choices of Dried Beans, Legumes, Peas and Lentils

Try to include dried beans into several meals per week. They are a great source of protein and are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples include dried beans (such as black, lima, and pinto), lentils, dried peas (such as black-eyed and split), fat-free refried beans, and vegetarian baked beans.

What you need to know about Cholesterol

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

LDL cholesterol is called “bad” cholesterol. Think of it as less desirable or even lousy cholesterol, because it contributes to fatty buildups in arteries (atherosclerosis). Plaque buildup narrows arteries and raise the risk for heart attack, stroke and peripheral artery disease.

HDL (Good) Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is “good” cholesterol. Think of it as the “healthy” cholesterol, so higher levels are better. HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it can be broken down and passed from the body.

A healthy HDL cholesterol level may protect against heart attack and stroke. Low levels of HDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. HDL cholesterol does not completely eliminate LDL cholesterol. Only 1/4 to 1/3 of blood cholesterol is carried by HDL.


Triglycerides are the most common type of fat in the body; they store excess energy from your diet. A high triglyceride level combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is linked with fatty buildups in artery walls. This increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.



The Medical Associates Department of Internal Medicine provides a Fellowship-trained Endocrinologist, who specializes in diabetes, thyroid disease, and osteoporosis. The staff also includes two certified diabetes educators with board certifications in advanced diabetes management. They see patients for diabetes education appointments and medication. Call 563-584-3310 to schedule an appointment.

Source: www.diabetes.org

Building Healthy Habits

Make a commitment to yourself to improve your health with better nutrition and healthy habits. Following these simple tips can help you start to live healthier right now!

Changing your diet can sometimes seem very difficult. But making a few small changes can make a big difference. Here are a few ideas to help you get started!

  • Snack on fruits and vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are the original fast food, and are full of vitamins and nutrients to keep you full and energized in between meals. A great tip is to keep fruits in a bowl on your kitchen counter. Keeping healthy options in plain sight can make you less likely to grab a less healthy alternative.
  • Make your plate colorful: Use fruits and vegetables to create a bright and colorful plate.
  • Don’t skip breakfast: Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day, but make sure you eat something with protein and fiber to keep you full and satisfied.
  • Use smaller plates: Trick your brain into thinking you are eating more by simply using a smaller plate. You’ll find you are just as satisfied with less food.
  • Water your body: We know that drinking water is important, but did you know that drinking water can actually help you eat less? Drink two glasses of water before you eat to help you feel fuller faster. And remember to always drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of water each and every day!
  • Recreate your favorite meals: A great way to help you stick to eating better is to find ways to cook your favorite meals in a healthier way. For example, if you love pizza, try this recipe for pizza with a cauliflower crust instead of real dough. When you don’t have to completely give up your favorite foods, you’ll be more likely to stick to your diet.

Whether you’re new to exercise or haven’t been active in a while, starting to exercise can feel like an intimidating undertaking.

  • Prepare: Make sure you’re well prepared with the items you need to succeed, like proper shoes and a BPA-free water bottle.
  • Make time: Finding the time to fit exercise into your schedule can be difficult with hectic schedules. Make it a part of your daily routine by scheduling it for the same time every day, and at a time that is convenient for you and your family.
  • Set goals and track your progress: Set reasonable goals for yourself and make a plan to work towards them. Track your progress, whether it’s on a mobile app or with a notebook, and celebrate your successes!
  • Have fun: Probably the most important part, is to find a type of exercise that you love to do. Keep yourself entertained during your workout by asking a friend to join you, or by listening to your favorite music.

Stopping Bad Habits
Many of us have habits we don’t like to admit to, like nail biting, smoking, or cracking our knuckles. Kick those bad habits to the curb with the help of our three tips: make it conscious, write it down and find a substitute.

  • Make it conscious: Identify the habit you want to stop and be conscious of when it happens and what causes it. If you want to stop cracking your knuckles or biting your nails for instance, take note of when you start doing these things.
  • Write it down: Keeping track of when you start biting your nails by writing it down in a log will help to create a baseline, and make you more aware of your habits. After tracking your habits, evaluate your log and look to see if you can determine a trigger for your habits. Are you biting your nails because you’re stressed? Or cracking your knuckles because you’re anxious?
  • Substitute: Find something that you can do in place of your bad habit. If your habit is knuckle-cracking, find a different way to keep your hands busy!


For more information on how you can start building healthy habits, visit our Treating You Well blog, or call your primary care provider at Medical Associates to schedule your annual checkup.

How to eat heart-healthy all day long

Diet is a big part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Luckily, there are plenty of foods that provide the kind of nutrients essential to keeping your heart in good shape, and they’re varied enough to give you great options for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between.


Use egg whites when making breakfast foods, and add flavor with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Plus, a side of oatmeal is a great way to add heart-healthy fiber to your morning routine and keep you feeling full enough to avoid snacking throughout the morning. Use the items in this list to create a delicious breakfast routine.

  • Egg whites: this low-calorie, high protein food gets you all the benefits of amino acids without the cholesterol
  • Flaxseed: lignans and omega-3s in this food help improve cardiovascular health
  • Oatmeal: this breakfast food not only helps lower cholesterol levels, the fiber also stops you from snacking by keeping you feeling full
  • Soy milk: soy is low in saturated fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 acids, making it a great way to get protein without high fat intake
  • Papaya: antioxidants in this fruit like vitamin C and vitamin A help prevent the buildup of cholesterol that can cause heart attacks and strokes
  • Blueberries: this superfood helps more than your heart—anthocyanins help prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries while vitamin C, fiber and lack of saturated fat promote overall health
  • Oranges: the vitamins and minerals in oranges keep cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking to the walls of arteries, fight inflammation and promote healthy blood pressure
  • Cantaloupe: antioxidants like vitamin C and beta-carotene keep arteries clear and fight heart disease


There are plenty of heart-healthy foods that make great lunches. Whether it’s an almond-walnut-spinach salad, black bean soup or a tuna sandwich, get those omega-3s, E and B vitamins! Mix and match some of the items on this list for a fresh and healthy mid-day meal!

  • Spinach: this green is packed with B vitamins and other nutrients that pack a punch for your health—plus, it can be used in so many dishes!
  • Black and kidney beans: these contain B vitamins, folate, omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients that do your heart good
  • Red bell peppers: these bright foods are full of vitamin C, carotenoids and other vitamins and minerals important to fighting oxidation and promoting cardiovascular health
  • Sweet potato: these are high in vitamin A, B vitamins, carotenoids and more—plus, they’re fat-free, low in sodium and low in calories
  • Brown rice: the fiber in this whole grain helps reduce risk of heart disease and keeps you feeling full so you don’t reach for the snacks
  • Tuna: the omega-3s in tuna make it a great heart-healthy addition to your meal by reducing inflammation and risk of heart disease
  • Tomatoes: this bright fruit is full of carotenoids, potassium and vitamin C—among other vitamins and minerals—which help reduce cholesterol through antioxidant properties
  • Avocado: avocados are rich in both dietary fiber, monounsaturated fat, B vitamins and potassium, which makes them a true superfood and heart health promoter


Chicken breast isn’t bad, but the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are a home run for heart health. Try swapping your chicken for fish and making sides out of legumes and vegetables like those on our dinner mix-and-match list!

  • Salmon: like tuna, the omega-3s in salmon make it a perfect meat substitute on the dinner plate
  • Acorn squash: there’s a naturally anti-inflammatory ingredient in acorn squash called cucurbitacin—that plus B vitamins, folate, anti-oxidants
  • Asparagus: high in potassium and folate, asparagus is a well-balanced, nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory food that is also low in calories and sodium and contains no fat
  • Lentils: lentils are high in fiber, thereby helping to reduce blood cholesterol levels, and they’re an excellent source of protein
  • Potatoes: potatoes are loaded with nutrients that help lower blood pressure, like flavonoids and kukoa-mines, making them heart-healthy in proper portions
  • Broccoli: this green food’s nutrients prevent inflammation,
  • Tofu: a product of soy, tofu is high in protein, contains all essential amino acids, lots of vitamins and minerals and helps lower bad cholesterol


Even the most health-conscious eater might crave a mid-day snack or after-dinner drink and dessert. Pack some nuts in your desk drawer at work and stay hydrated and awake with green tea instead of sugary drinks like soda. Even dark chocolate is good for your heart in moderation!

  • Nuts: besides lowering bad cholesterol in your blood, nuts also reduce your risk of blood clots by preventing plaque buildup and promoting flexibility of the artery wall
  • Berries: flavonoids called anthocyanins help reduce your risk of heart attack with anti-inflammatory properties and benefits to arterial walls
  • Dark chocolate: flavonoids and antioxidants in chocolate can lower bad cholesterol and lower blood pressure to improve vascular health—but enjoy in moderation!
  • Tea: black tea has the ability to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease, and the antioxidants in green tea are a heart-healthy benefit as well


For further direction in building a healthy lifestyle diet that protects your heart, make an appointment with a registered dietitian at Medical Associates. Visit our website or call (563) 584-3000 to schedule an appointment with Medical Associates today.