Holiday health guide: Surviving the bulge

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Christmas is right around the corner, and so are cookies, eggnog, candy, a maybe even a glass of wine or two. The holidays are a time of indulgence, but stomach aches and perhaps a few added inches on the waistline come with it. This is a beautiful time of year filled with joyous gatherings and fun times, including the food and drink accompanying them. However, all good things should be enjoyed in moderation, so use this holiday health guide from Shelby Hunke, RD, LD, to navigate the health challenges of the holidays.

Sweet drinks and empty calories

Don’t drink your calories! It’s super easy to drink your entire caloric requirement from just a few drinks. Alcoholic beverages are a prime culprit, along with classic staples like hot chocolate and cider. Enjoy a festive beverage, just not a pitcher of it.

Moderation mode

Moderation is key. Eat that brownie, munch on those Christmas cookies, ’tis the season after all. This time of delightful treats only comes around once a year, so enjoy it but keep in mind portions. Try not to attend gatherings or parties with an empty stomach. Using mini portions can also be a great way to enjoy everything the season offers without going overboard.

Exercise in a winter wonderlandEmbrace holiday health with good exercise.

Exercise is a great way to beat the bulge. Going to the gym during the holidays seems a little meh. Exercise doesn’t always have to be a boring session on the elliptical. Put on some snowshoes and head out into the beautiful Minnesota wilderness. Something fun like ice skating can easily burn hundreds of calories.

Calories and Water retention

Avoid calorie overload and bloating. We want you to feel good for all of those long-held Christmas traditions. This year, focus on gift-giving and dodging the tummy aches. Try using a calorie tracker app or write down food items throughout the day. These apps are also good for tacking sodium intake, the main driver of bloating. Most people do enjoy dropping the dietary constraints around the holidays, and most only put on a little weight, but that weight does add up over the years. Unfortunately, calories do not disappear around December 25. Keep in mind that one pound is comprised of 3,500 calories. Remember to count those calories and not feel the need to be chained to arbitrary meal times.

Recipe: Homemade hot cocoa

Finding healthy alternatives to holiday staples requires foodie ingenuity. To send you off, let’s look at a wonderful recipe for homemade hot cocoa. This fun and easy recipe will give you all the blissful joy of premade cocoa mix, but without the extra calories.Holiday health and good recipes go hand and hand.

Things you’ll need

  • 3 cups of nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cups of white chocolate chips
  • Skim milk

Directions

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl—transfer half of the mixture into a food processor. Process the mixture until the chocolate is broken down. Then put the chocolate mixture into a sealed container. Repeat this process for the remaining mixture. This mix will hold up for around three months.

Tri-County Health Care wishes you a joyous holiday season. The holiday health guide in this blog is apart of a larger mission to improve the overall health of everyone in the communities we serve. Consider changing your eating habits this holiday season so you can live a happier, healthier life in 2022!


2021: A new year, a new you!

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2021 is a new year for growth and reflection. 2020 is drawing to a close and many are looking back on how much our society has changed in just one year. 2020 was a time of division and turmoil while a pandemic ravaged the world. We have to look forward and continue to live our lives but maybe 2021 can be a little safer. Let’s use the struggles of the previous year as a catalyst of change.

The vaccine is here

After months of Netflix binging and Zoom calls, we have a glimmer of hope. Just before the end of 2020, a vaccine arrived. Some people are scared of the vaccine; some are indifferent and some are fighting to be first in line. The medical community is in agreement; the best way out of the pandemic is the vaccine. Taking the vaccine is a personal choice but statistically and scientifically, a vaccine is the best way to safeguard yourself from COVID-19. As the vaccine becomes available to the general public, please educate yourself and make the best decision, but remember your choice could affect countless others.

Ring in the new year with a healthier routine

Cleanliness and caring

Months ago, the lady wiping her shopping cart with alcohol wipes may have seemed a bit odd. Still, now it’s routine to spray them with an antibacterial solution before carefully toweling them down. Things have changed, and it might seem like we’re living in a bizarre alternate dimension dominated by hand sanitizer and colorful cloth masks, but perhaps some changes are for the best. Disease is no joke. Germs are everywhere and no amount of cleaning supplies will ever change that.

However, taking a stronger stance on reducing virus transmission could help society and the health care industry. When the day comes that COVID-19 has been defeated, we shouldn’t go back to openly coughing on each other. We should use this opportunity to educate ourselves and keep some COVID era changes, like washing our hands regularly. Something as simple as washing your hands could stop the spread of an infectious disease. 2021 should be a new year of cleanliness and kindness.

Embracing technology

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we communicate. The last several months have shown the world that technology is a gift that shouldn’t be taken for granted. During past pandemics, people didn’t have a smartphone loaded with instant messaging software and video chat. They were left alone, isolated from others. We live in an unprecedented time where a person can speak to a small crowd without ever leaving the comfort of their living room. Every day we are surrounded by smart TVs, smartphones, computers and the internet. We often take these things for granted. Let’s appreciate the technology that has enhanced our life and use it to its fullest extent. When this pandemic is done and over, remember that our friends and family are only a few button presses away.

New year health goals

It isn’t uncommon to hear others exclaim how this will be the year they drop that pesky 20 pounds. Unfortunately, that doesn’t tend to happen. Many start strong, going to the gym, eating fruit smoothies and running in the morning, but it never sticks. This year, try setting attainable goals. Attainable goals are devised with reasonable expectations. They set you up for success instead of disappointment. Grand goals often seem too big and intimidating. They are so insurmountable that it discourages even attempting to meet them. This year, try not placing numeric values on weight loss or going to the gym. Set bite-sized goals and try to meet them in a reasonable time frame. When you meet those goals, make more. Instead of losing 20 pounds in a year, challenge yourself to go for a walk every other day. Minor lifestyle changes can lead to massive improvements in time.

Use the new year of 2021 as a launchpad of success. Reflect, learn and grow. Tri-County Health Care is dedicated to your health and wellbeing. For more information about COVID-19, please visit our information page.


Coping with COVID-19 during the holidays

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COVID-19 has changed much about our society over the last year. It may seem like coping with COVID-19 during the holidays is just one more change to navigate. The holidays have changed with the pandemic. In years past, December would be a time for Christmas parties and family gatherings but that isn’t possible this year. Tri-County Health Care wants you to enjoy the holidays safely. We offer these tips to enjoy the 2020 holiday season.

Stay Home and stay safe

This is the one time of year families can set aside work and gather with family, but things have to be a little different this time around. Instead of making the long trek to grandma’s house, keep everyone safe by staying home. Holiday gatherings are a risk to become super spreader events. Meeting for Christmas dinner isn’t worth spreading COVID-19. This year, take a break from the icy roads and fruit cake.

Embrace technology this year

The gift of technology

Embrace technology this year. Most have been blessed with a smartphone. Often this little plastic rectangle dominates our lives and causes a certain amount of stress but it is also a great tool for communication. It allows us to connect to our loved ones who may live hundreds of miles away. Call your family members, use video chat and learn to love technology. Technology exists to make life easier; let’s let it do that. This year, save a spot around the Christmas tree for an iPad.

Don’t go it alone

Spending time with your immediate family is great but not everyone has family they live with. This can be a little depressing…but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t spend the holiday alone, find creative ways to connect with others without standing in the same room. Take this opportunity to explore social media. There are a myriad of groups, channels and pages dedicated to spreading Christmas cheer. If you’re feeling lonely, jump on Facebook and enjoy some cat videos or check out other online communities that focus on an area of interest.

New traditions

Instead of pining over past Christmases, look to the future. Use this year as an opportunity to create new traditions that can be passed down for generations. The holidays have become increasingly corporate and materialistic over the years. Break this downward trend and use this year to come up with new ways to enjoy the holidays. Challenge yourself to learn a new Christmas recipe. Flex your arts and crafts skills and make custom ornaments or decorations. Even doing something a simple as playing a board game or watching a Christmas movie could liven things up.

Christmas 2020 needs to be a little different

The pandemic won’t last forever and we’ve all been given a little hope. A vaccine is currently being distributed to frontline workers and it could bring an end to the pandemic. Use this time to reflect. Tolerating COVID-19 during the holidays doesn’t have to overshadow the good tidings this time of year should bring.

Tri-County Health Care is taking extensive measures to safeguard the health of its employees and patients. Check out this page for more information about COVID-19 and how Tri-County Health Care is putting your health first.


COVID-19 Requires Unified Response

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We have reached a serious and critical point in our efforts to battle COVID-19. COVID-19 requires a unified response now. This virus is not only affecting those overseas or in densely populated areas; it has made its way to rural central Minnesota and is currently spreading quickly right here in our own backyard. Cases of COVID-19 have surged in recent weeks. The trajectory of these cases is predicted to increase throughout the holiday season.Tri-County Health Care COVID Todd County Wadena County Health Partners Germs Hand Hygiene

Healthcare facilities and their respective staff have watched as larger regional hospitals within the state have been overrun. Bed space has been depleted; there is no more room. That means COVID-positive individuals that may have otherwise been transferred to a larger hospital must seek care locally, increasing the strain on our local hospitals which are also near capacity. If this trend continues, this crisis will quickly increase and affect our ability to provide care to those who need it. People who could have been saved may succumb to COVID-19.

As the holidays draw near, healthcare leaders in the area have come together to plead that you celebrate responsibly this holiday season. These gatherings can be a significant source of spread and risk the lives of family members and friends. It may not be easy, but we ask you please try to find safe alternatives to these gatherings. Stay home. Call your loved ones or use video chat to communicate.

Fighting this virus requires a unified front, not just from hospitals but from every single individual. Everyone needs to practice physical distancing, wash your hands regularly, only leave home when absolutely necessary and wear a mask when in public.

COVID-19 is not a hoax or conspiracy. It is a very real virus affecting us all. The recent COVID-19 surge requires unified response. Please take this message seriously. For us to return to normal life as soon as possible, it must be earned with great effort and genuine care for others.

Thank you and stay well,

Daniel J Swenson
Administrator, CentraCare – Long Prairie

Joel Beiswenger
President & CEO, Tri-County Health Care

Tim Rice
President & CEO, Lakewood Health System

Jackie Och
Director, Todd County Health & Human Services

Cindy Pederson
Director, Wadena County Public Health


A hidden gem at TCHC

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Winter is upon us, and people are starting to gear up for the holiday season. That often means being on the lookout for a special gift for friends and family. Tri-County Health Care is here to help! Caring Heart Boutique gift shop from the outsideWhether you’re searching for a sentiment-filled card, precious baby gifts or beautiful jewelry, the Caring Heart Boutique gift shop is a hidden gem that offers something for patients, visitors and employees.

Caring Heart Boutique has made a number of changes in the last few months, adding a wider variety of clothing lines and home décor items while also spacing things out throughout the store.

“We have been dialing back on inventory while keeping the variety and trying to make the overall look of the store more organized and easier to shop,” said Taylor Abel, who took over as gift shop lead in September. “It makes for a more user-friendly experience for everyone.”

Now is a perfect time to stop in and see all the changes and merchandise! Caring Heart Boutique is hosting 12 Days of Deals beginning on Dec. 9. Each day will feature different discounts on items like gloves, socks, slippers, Ginger Snaps, hats, jewelry, Christmas items and many more. Customers are also invited to register to win a $50 gift card during the event.

merchandise wall display inside the Caring Heart Boutique gift shopWhile Caring Heart Boutique’s new wide variety of items bolsters its inventory, it also continues to feature essentials like flowers and gifts for people in the hospital. And if you can’t decide what to get, gift cards are also available!

“I want people to be able to find what they are looking for or get something equivalent,” Taylor added. “We try to help find that special something for everyone and want them to leave here with a good experience.”

For any questions, feel free to call Caring Heart Boutique at 218-631-7554. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.