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!


Top tips to planning a balanced diet

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We’ve spent the last year inside and unfortunately eating habits have suffered and trips to the gym have been replaced with Netflix binging. The snow is melting and the cold of winter is quickly being replaced with spring fever. Now is the perfect time to start rethinking the foods we put into our bodies. So, drop that donut and use these tips to build a balanced diet that can easily be the platform for overall better living.

The great restock

Every fitness guru out there usually starts a new diet and exercise routine by clearing out the kitchen. Grab a donation box and fill it with soda, candy, and various other junk food classics. You don’t need them anymore, instead replace them with eggs, canned beans, frozen vegetables, rice, and oats. Packing your cupboards and fridge with healthy choices is the first step to healthier living. Another great tip is to vary your produce. Buy produce that lasts longer like carrots and potatoes. Then supplement these staples items with faster-spoiling items bananas and grapes. This cuts down on waste and gives you a range of choices for snack time.

Before you run out the door to buy a plethora of greens and grapes, take the time to make a list. The list should be composed of primarily healthy items. The aimless exploring of the grocery store is how cookies and ice cream find their way into your cart.

Having a varied diet is a great way of maintaining body weight.

Respect the food groups!

Just like we learned in elementary school. The food pyramid is an excellent guide for developing a balanced diet. Make sure to have a generous portion of whole-grain starches along with fruits and vegetables. Make sure your diet has a lot of color! Low-fat dairy and lean proteins come next. These vital food groups build your muscles and bones so don’t forget them. Don’t worry, the occasional bit of sugar isn’t that end of the world but remember to enjoy it in moderation. Choosemyplate.gov is an excellent resource for choosing healthy food and understanding portion sizes.

Processed carbohydrates

Refined sugar has been the downfall of many diets and meal plans. A life without pizza and candy sounds terrifying to some so we don’t want you to give up all your surgery treats but societally we need to eat less processed carbohydrates. Sugary beverages like soda and energy drinks are especially harmful and are a contributing factor to rising obesity numbers. Water should always be your main choice of hydration.

Tri-County Health Care Registered Dietitian Shelby Hunke. recommends having carbohydrate-based snacks rarely, around one to two times a week.

Registered Dietitian Tri-County Health Care Balanced Diet

Shelby Hunke, Tri-County Health Care Registered Dietitian

It’s a lifestyle change

The very idea of a diet chills some to the bone. Don’t look at it as an arbitrary set of eating rules but instead a lifestyle change. Go on the adventure of better living and find healthy foods you enjoy eating; they do exist. Then get support from family and friends. You don’t have to go it alone and finding someone to try that new kale smoothie with can help a great deal. If you need further assistance consider setting up an appointment with a dietitian. They have the professional expertise to get you started right.

Tri-County Health Care hosts a diabetes prevention class and in the most recent meeting, participants lost a total of 125 pounds. The nine participants lost this massive amount of weight over the course of 16 classes. These classes work on strategies to eat better while increasing physical activity.

Try something new

Get your new balanced diet kicked off right! Try this garlic parmesan asparagus recipe hand-picked by Shelby! Use the link below for step-by-step instructions:

Garlic Parmesan Asparagus Recipe: How to Make It | Taste of Home

Don’t give up!

People get burned out on a new diet and expect immediate success. It’s the journey, not necessarily the destination. Crash dieting is often the pitfall people fall into. Set attainable goals and cut back rather than going cold turkey. Cut down to one energy drink a week instead of cutting them out completely. Take it slow and steady to avoid intense cravings and binging. Set mini-goals, meet them, then set new goals.

Use March to revaluate your lifestyle and eating habits. If you need help, please schedule an appointment with a dietitian at Tri-County Health Care by calling 218-632-7115


Taking the confusion out of nutrition

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By Emily Bitter, Registered Dietitian

 

In a society where there are so many different messages about food and nutrition, it is easy to get confused and frustrated. We see TV commercials, read internet articles, or talk to friends who are doing the latest fad diet. This can make it confusing to know how to make healthy choices and what is best for your own body.

A green apple, scale and tape measure highlighting the importance of good nutrition. This mix of information spurred the creation of a new Tri-County Health Care support group called Change Your Weighs. Emily Bitter, registered dietitian, and Pam Doebbeling, registered nurse, host the group every other month at the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center. It meets from noon to 1 p.m. on the last Tuesday of that month.

The purpose of the Change Your Weighs support group is to help clarify misinformation related to diet and nutrition and provide a safe environment for participants to learn and ask questions related to nutrition, weight loss, physical activity, grocery shopping, etc.

The class offers a variety of resources and information for those who are pre-diabetic, diabetic, those wanting to lose weight, or simply want to learn more about nutrition. So far, topics we have discussed include goal setting for a healthy weight, how to handle the holidays, the importance of physical activity, and the most recent topic was about reading and understanding nutrition facts labels to make more informed and healthy choices when shopping!

From our recent support group in March, talking about nutrition facts labels, one participant stated that it was “very helpful. It makes me more aware of what to look for.” Another participant said, “I enjoyed the meeting, and I plan to come again!”A woman sits at a table with nutrition binder while she fills out a paper form.

We are excited to continue hosting the support group every other month.

Our next support group will meet Tuesday, May 21. The topic will focus on how to manage stress for a healthy lifestyle. Please come for a fun discussion and bring any diet- or nutrition-related questions you may have!

Because the support group meets over the lunch hour, participants are welcome to bring their lunch. Light refreshments are also provided. Participants are not required to stay the entire hour as we know individuals who work may have a shorter break.

If you have any questions or ideas for future topics, please contact me at emily.bitter@tchc.org.

 

photo of Emily Bitter, Dietitian, standing with her arms around her husband, while they both smile and look at the camera.About the Author: Emily is a registered dietitian at Tri-County Health Care. She and her husband moved to the Brainerd Lakes Area about a year ago from Grand Forks, North Dakota, where they attended school. She loves almost anything that involves being outside. During the summer months, she especially loves playing golf, biking, walking, fishing or playing pickleball. In the winter, she enjoys ice fishing or skating. She also enjoys developing delicious and healthy recipes to bake or cook!


Tips for healthy back-to-school lunches

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By Shelby Hunke, Registered Dietitian

 

We’ve all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But for growing children, all meals are important, especially when you want them to function at their best both physically and mentally at school. healthy lunch box example

While school food services provide nutritious meals for children, some like to pack their own lunch. If you have a picky eater or a child who chooses to have a “cold” lunch, here are some tips for healthy back-to-school lunches.

 

Put your kid in the chef’s role

Sit down with your child once per week and help them plan their lunches. They are more likely to eat food when they have a say in the choices.

Focus on the choosemyplate.gov recommendations and include foods from each food group: milk, meats, grains and vegetables/fruits. It’s okay to include a small sweet or snack item.

Make a checklist or spreadsheet of foods your child is willing to eat from each food group.

 

Choose nutrient-dense foods

Even in small amounts, nutrient-dense foods have a lot of nutrition. Examples are whole-grain breads or wraps, colorful fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy such as yogurt, string cheese or low-fat milk.

 

Focus on “eye”-ppetizing foods

Kids and adults alike eat with our eyes first. Kids especially are attracted to colorful foods and fun packaging. Buy a lunch box, Tupperware and disposable silverware with their favorite character or color. Have fun with shapes and sizes by cutting out their sandwiches, fruit or vegetables with a cookie cutter.

 

School lunch box for kids. Cooking. Keep the food safe

If you are packing perishable food in your child’s lunch, remember to include an ice pack or two to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

It’s also important to invest in a well-insulated lunch box. Refrigeration is usually unavailable at school, so packing shelf-stable foods is important: trail mix, granola bars, bagels, baby carrots, whole fruit, dried fruit, single-serve applesauce or whole grain crackers.

 

Prevent boredom

Some kids could eat the same lunch for two weeks straight, while others get bored and need some variety. To help ensure their lunch doesn’t go to waste, try these strategies:

Celebrate special days: Plan a lunch menu around a special date or event. For example, pack an all-red lunch on Valentine’s Day.

Pack extra: Use peer pressure to your advantage by packing extra “ants on a log” or hummus dip for your child to share with their friends.

Have trendy lunch supplies: Kids will be excited to eat their lunch when it’s packed in a “cool” lunch box or includes stickers on plastic baggies.

 

Pinwheel lunch recipes

All recipes should start with a whole-wheat wrap of choice. Roll and cut after assembly.

  • Turkey and apple: Base layer of mustard and/or mayo topped with grated cheddar cheese, turkey breast, apple slices and lettuce.
  • Hawaiian Pizza: Base layer of spaghetti or marinara sauce topped with grated mozzarella cheese, Canadian bacon and pineapple chunks.
  • Southwestern: Base layer of cream cheese topped with salsa, black beans, sliced black olives and strips of red bell pepper.
  • Veggie Lover: Base layer of hummus topped with mixture of vegetables, such as grated carrots, sliced cucumber, lettuce and pepper strips.
  • Turkey and Pesto: Base layer of pesto topped with turkey breast, cucumber slices and lettuce.

 

Sources: www.thepioneerwoman.com and www.kidseatright.org

 

Shelby with her husband, Paul, and their children, Madison and Jackson.

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a registered dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in exercise science and a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband, Paul, and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time, she enjoys family time, running with her dog, Bela, and cooking!


I CAN Prevent Diabetes Participants Lost an Average of 16% of Their Body Weight!

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Last spring, I had the wonderful opportunity to facilitate a I CAN prevent diabetes class for Tri-County Health Care. This is a lifestyle change program focusing on losing about 7% of current body weight and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes. The program meets weekly for 16 weeks, then monthly thereafter until a full year is completed.

I am happy to announce these three wonderful ladies have successfully completed one year of the I CAN prevent diabetes program. They lost an average of 16% of their body weight! And increased their physical activity to 150 minutes or more each week!

So I asked these ladies during our last meeting together…What’s Your Story?

Left-Right: Berni, Linda and Jancie are recent graduates of the I CAN Prevent Diabetes Program.

What words of wisdom can you share with other who learn they are at risk for type 2 diabetes?

  • “Be honest and accountable”
  • “It takes both food and activity to be successful”
  • “Eat smaller portions”
  • “Eat more fruits and vegetables”

What did you find most helpful during those moments in the program when you felt discouraged?

  • “Keep going, stay motivated”
  • “Seeing your progress on paper”
  • “Coming to class and talking with other”

Write a message to your future self. What do you want to tell yourself about this experience and the importance of continuing the lifestyle changes you have made?

  • “It was worthwhile”
  • “Remember how much better you feel now”
  • “Don’t go backwards”

For questions about future classes or pre-diabetes contact Shelby Hunke at 218-632-7115 or shelby.hunke@tchc.org

About the Author: Shelby Hunke is a Registered Dietitian working at Tri-County Health Care in the hospital and clinic. She has a degree in Exercise Science and Dietetics with a passion for helping patients live a healthy lifestyle. She lives in Wadena with her husband Paul and two kids, Madison and Jackson. In her spare time she enjoys family time, running with her dog Bela and cooking!

Shelby and her family.