Category

Health and Wellness

Giving Thanks!

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Happy Thanksgiving! What a wonderful thing!  A whole day dedicated to giving thanks for what we have individually, and as a family or group!

If you are looking for a reason to be thankful, research has shown that being thankful is actually good for your health. Can an “Attitude of Gratitude” really change your health?

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Peg’s Perspective: Human Connection and Mirror Neurons

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Do you ever wake up and feel like you can conquer the world?   Yes—me too! And, if you carry that mood with you all day, chances are many people will pick up on it. They may say things like “You’re in a good mood today,” or “You look good today!” or many other phrases that we love to hear.  But have you ever stopped and asked yourself how these people know that you’re in a good mood? Or how your positive mood is impacting those around you?

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Staying Hydrated When It’s Hot!

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It’s summer, we are naturally spending more time outside. Enjoying our time playing with grandkids, gardening, and long neighborhood walks are many of the highlights of summertime. Make sure you stay hydrated while you are living life well this summer!
The Wesley Communities Dietician, Lisa Kaylor Wolfe, shares her suggestions on staying hydrated in the heat of summer.

Healthy Comfort Food Recipes

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Typically, when you think comfort food, you think large portions with lots of cheese (and maybe a little grease)! We tend to eat comfort food when it’s cold outside or when life gets tough. But, giving into these cravings too much could be bad for your health. It may result in feeling even worse or gaining weight. Check out these tips for when you have a strong comfort food craving.

Tips for eating your favorite comfort food:

  • Stop when you are full. Often, when eating comfort food we eat far too much. Why? Well, because it makes us feel good. Try to slow down when eating these foods. This will not only allow you to enjoy all of the flavors, but you’ll recognize when you are full, before it is too late.
  • When you just have to have that mac and cheese, then do it. But, make a conscience decision. Ask yourself, when is the last time I treated myself to something I enjoy eating, but isn’t the best for me? If it was last month, go for it. If it was breakfast this morning, maybe you should skip out this time.
  • Recognize your triggers. Many times, we can stop ourselves from our cravings if we recognize what is triggering those cravings. Let’s say, for example, you always want chocolate cake after a rough day. The rough day is the problem, not the fact you are craving the cake. You may spend all your time saying, I will stop craving chocolate cake verses, I will take time out of my busy days to take care of myself. By focusing on the problem, not the reaction to the problem, you may be able to limit these cravings.
  • Modify your favorite comfort foods! There can be many different substitutions for things to make a healthy alternative to your favorite comfort foods, see below to ideas.

Healthy comfort food ideas:

Turkey Chili

Take a note from one of our chef’s favorite dish, Turkey Chili. This spin on traditional comfort food is a healthy alternative! The Turkey Chili recipe combines beans, turkey, veggies and spices for a nutrient dense meal.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Trick yourself into thinking you’re eating pizza with this healthy crust. Top this heathy crust with veggies and you’re in for a full stomach.

Spinach Artichoke Lasagna

This is a great option for a weekend night, or dinner party. It takes more time to prepare, but your family and friends will thank you!

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Keeping a Routine Through Tough Times

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Whether your family member has just been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, passed away or you are going through a divorce, life can get hard. When things like this happen, we often find ourselves lying in bed a little longer in the morning, and dragging our feet throughout the day. Sound familiar? Trust me, we understand. That’s why it’s so important to keep a routine during any tough time. But, that’s easier said than done! Use these 3 tips to help you keep a routine, even when it feels impossible.
1. Start your day with something you love
Do you enjoy listening to the latest podcasts? Catching up on the news? Or, having a warm cup of coffee on your porch? Wake up, and make that thing the first thing you do in the morning. Not only will it help you to get out of bed, but it will get your day started on a positive note. When you wake up this way you may be more upbeat for the remainder of the day.
2. Change your expectations
Many people believe that a routine is set in stone and cannot be adjusted. And, this is simply not the case. You may not feel up to do everything you were doing before this tragedy right away. And, that is okay! Change your expectations to be more realistic. Remove the unnecessary tasks from your routine, but ensure that you continue to do the things that mean the most to you.
Let’s say that your typical day consists of waking up, going to the gym, cooking breakfast, showering, going to work, taking your dogs for a walk, getting dinner with your best friends, watching the latest episode of your favorite TV show, then cleaning your house, before you finally go to sleep. When you are faced with a difficult time, each of these activities can seem more and more daunting. Focus on the key activities that make you feel good and do those. Try to clean one room instead of the whole house. Or, opt into an at-home workout instead of going all the way to the gym in the morning. These minor adjustments can make a world of a difference when you are pushing through a hard time.
3. Let your emotions run their course
Begin to schedule in time to deal with your emotions because it’s important to let your emotions out. You may confide in a trusted friend over coffee a few times a week. Or, schedule time to write about it before bed. Maybe, you’ll talk to your family members about it in the comfort of your own home. If you don’t feel comfortable talking with your friends and family about the situation, you can find support groups in your area. These groups could be a great option, too.
But, no matter what remember you are not alone. Many times, people who have been in your position before can give you great advice. But, sometimes you need to seek professional help. Always talk to your healthcare provider about any health concerns, including anxiety, depression and grief. Your health care provider may wish to monitor your health during this time.

Liver Disease and Nutrition

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The liver serves many purposes in the body, including filtering harmful substances from the blood, producing substances that assist with food digestion, and helping to change food into energy. There are many kinds of liver diseases, such as:

  • Cirrhosis: Scarring and hardening of the liver
  • Fatty Liver Disease: Build-up of fat in liver cells
  • Bile Duct Disease: Bile is a liquid made in the liver that helps break down fats in the small intestine. Bile duct disease keeps bile from flowing into the small intestine where it is utilized.
  • Hepatitis (A), (B) and (C): Disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A, B, or C virus
  • Hemochromatosis: Buildup of iron in the liver (inherited disease)
  • Others can be the result of drugs, poisons, or drinking too much alcohol

Some of the effects of liver disease include weight changes, loss of muscle mass, ascites and/or edema (fluid retention), jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), dark urine and/or light-colored stools, fatigue or loss of stamina, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, altered taste perception, and/or signs/symptoms of vitamin and mineral deficiency. Depending on the diagnosis, alterations in calorie, protein, fluid, fat, vitamins or minerals may be recommended. For most liver diseases, a healthy diet will make it easier for the liver to function and may help repair some liver damage.

In general, it is important to:

  • Limit high sodium foods
  • Avoid foods that may cause foodborne illness such as:
    • Unpasteurized milk products
    • Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, seafood, and eggs
    • Unwashed fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Eat enough food to obtain adequate calories, vitamins, and minerals.

How can these changes be made?

  • It may be easier to eat several small meals throughout the day (4-6) as opposed to a few large ones.
  • Look for no-sodium or low-sodium versions of foods you like to eat, such as crackers, cheese, canned vegetables, or soups.
  • Avoid overly processed foods, as these tend to be higher in sodium.
  • Use herbs, spices, vinegar, oils, juice, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food instead of salt.
  • Between meals, enjoy healthy snacks, such as:
    • Fruits and vegetables with dip, whole milk, yogurt, cereal, bagels, roasted nuts, and peanut butter.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Stroke and Nutrition

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A stroke occurs when there is a change in the flow of blood to the brain that leads to a change in and/or loss of function. Some risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Family history
  • Health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity
  • Lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in fat and cholesterol, lack of exercise, and smoking

The effects of a stroke can vary, and depend on the location of the damage in the brain and the amount of damage. There may be changes in behavior or the ability to perform daily activities. Some individuals may find it more difficult to feed themselves or swallow. If these problems are present, an Occupational Therapist can help with self feeding, while a Speech Therapist can help with swallowing problems. A doctor can help determine appropriate treatment options.

Healthy eating may help with weight and blood pressure management, which can help to prevent another stroke. In general, healthy eating involves:

  • Low sodium: to help control blood pressure.
  • Plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products: to help keep blood pressure under control.
  • Choosing heart-healthy fats: such as soybean, canola, olive, or flaxseed oil over saturated fats and trans fats to reduce the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels.

There are many ways to incorporate healthy eating into your diet. Some ways to start include:

  • Choose foods with less than 300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving.
  • Use herbs and spices, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food.
  • Choose carefully when eating out. Restaurant foods can be high in sodium.
  • Choose fiber-rich foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, and apples, and vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes. Whole grains include whole wheat bread products, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Eat fatty, cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, and sardines) twice a week. These provide heart healthy fats. Try to choose fresh or frozen varieties, as canned may be too high in sodium.
  • Limit saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods, foods made with animal products, or fried foods. Trans fats are found in meat and foods that contain hydrogenated oils (e.g., peanut butter and margarine).
  • Limit cholesterol from food to 200 mg per day. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolks, shrimp, and full fat dairy foods.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Diverticulosis and Nutrition

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Diverticulosis is a chronic condition where there are sac-like pouches protruding from the large intestine. When these pouches become inflamed or infected, the condition is then known as diverticulitis.

The most commonly suspected cause of diverticulosis is a low fiber diet. Consuming low fiber can lead to constipation, which can make it difficult to pass stool and lead to straining. This straining can put pressure on the colon, which may lead to the development of the sac-like pouches. Individuals with diverticulosis should consume a high fiber diet to prevent constipation. A high fiber diet should include an additional 6 to 10 grams of fiber beyond what is typically recommended (25 to 35 grams a day). Foods high in fiber include:

  • Brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, oatmeal, and other grains
  • Fruits such as prunes, apples, bananas, and pears
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit and vegetables with skin/peel on
  • Beans, peas, and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain breads, pastas, crackers, and cereal Previous recommendations include avoidance of nuts, seeds, and hulls. There is no evidence to show this contributes to the development of diverticulitis, therefore the current nutrition recommendations focus on increased fiber.

When the sac-like pouches become inflamed or infected, your doctor may recommend no foods by mouth to allow your large intestine to rest. As you begin eating foods again you should slowly begin with low fiber foods that are easy to digest. Foods low in fiber include:

  • Tender well-cooked meats
  • Eggs
  • Smooth peanut butter
  • Tofu
  • Cream of wheat and grits
  • Refined grains such as white bread and cereals made with white flour
  • Canned and/or well-cooked vegetables or vegetable juice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Canned, soft, and/or well-cooked fruit, or fruit juice without pulp
  • Broth

As the infection and inflammation heals, fiber can slowly be added back into the diet.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.

Stroke and Nutrition

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A stroke occurs when there is a change in the flow of blood to the brain that leads to a change in and/or loss of function. Some risk factors for stroke include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress
  • Family history
  • Health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity
  • Lifestyle factors, such as a diet high in fat and cholesterol, lack of exercise, and smoking

The effects of a stroke can vary, and depend on the location of the damage in the brain and the amount of damage. There may be changes in behavior or the ability to perform daily activities. Some individuals may find it more difficult to feed themselves or swallow. If these problems are present, an Occupational Therapist can help with self feeding, while a Speech Therapist can help with swallowing problems. A doctor can help determine appropriate treatment options.

Healthy eating may help with weight and blood pressure management, which can help to prevent another stroke. In general, healthy eating involves:

  • Low sodium: to help control blood pressure.
  • Plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products: to help keep blood pressure under control.
  • Choosing heart-healthy fats: such as soybean, canola, olive, or flaxseed oil over saturated fats and trans fats to reduce the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels.

There are many ways to incorporate healthy eating into your diet. Some ways to start include:

  • Choose foods with less than 300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per serving.
  • Use herbs and spices, or herb mixes (e.g., Mrs. Dash) to flavor food.
  • Choose carefully when eating out. Restaurant foods can be high in sodium.
  • Choose fiber-rich foods. These include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Choose fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, and apples, and vegetables like sweet potatoes, spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes. Whole grains include whole wheat bread products, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa.
  • Eat fatty, cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel, and sardines) twice a week. These provide heart healthy fats. Try to choose fresh or frozen varieties, as canned may be too high in sodium.
  • Limit saturated fat and trans fat. Saturated fats are found mostly in animal foods, foods made with animal products, or fried foods. Trans fats are found in meat and foods that contain hydrogenated oils (e.g., peanut butter and margarine).
  • Limit cholesterol from food to 200 mg per day. Foods high in cholesterol include egg yolks, shrimp, and full fat dairy foods.

Check with a dietitian or doctor for your specific dietary needs.