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The ABCs of healthy aging


Back in your school days you learned to use the alphabet as the building blocks for words, but do you know the building blocks of healthy aging? Your education isn’t complete until you’ve reviewed the ABCs of aging well—in both mind and body!

  • A: Fight anemia
    While not caused by aging per se, anemia is a common condition in older adults and is often the result of more than one issue, such as poor diet, medications or hormone imbalances. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anemia—fatigue, feeling cold, paleness, weakness—talk to your clinician.
  • B: Break routine
    Make small changes in your daily routine to increase brain stimulation. Something as simple as taking a different route on a daily walk or trying something new for breakfast can be enough spark to keep your mind fresh instead of foggy.
  • C: Cultivate your relationships
    Staying connected with people is an important aspect of mental health. Maintain communication with your family and friends, especially after a significant loss or life change.
  • D: Dine with others
    Plan meals with friends and family several times a week. Studies show that those who share meals with others eat less than those who eat alone, decreasing your risk of overeating, and keeping your weight in check.
  • E: Eat healthy foods
    Did you know that a high percentage of adults in the U.S. consume more than double the recommended intake of sodium? Too much sodium can lead to hypertension and cardiovascular disease, so skip the extra salt and focus on nutrient-dense food like fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.
  • F: Fight fatigue
    If you’re feeling tired during the day more often, having a glass of water and a high-antioxidant food, like prunes or blueberries, can revitalize the body and stimulate the mind. Continue Reading »

Grocery store tours at Festival Foods


We all have different feelings about grocery shopping. Do you find delight in going up and down the aisles, mesmerized at the variety of foods that are available for purchase? Or do you dread it, and feel like going to the grocery store is torture? Are you an avid coupon clipper who looks at grocery shopping as the ultimate challenge?

Whatever your feelings about grocery shopping are, it’s a necessity. As we become busier with our work, our community involvement, school and our families, our time spent at the store is more valuable than ever. Grocery stores have changed to cater to busy lifestyles and have become bigger to fit a wider variety of items. How can you maximize your grocery shopping time while still making healthy food choices?

Research shows that as food variety increases so does the amount of food we eat. That is, the fewer food choices or variety we have, the less we eat. Keeping this in mind can serve as a strategy to cut down on our intake, but can be hard to do when there are so many different foods to buy! The key to healthy grocery store shopping is to not get overwhelmed by the multitude of choices.

One good strategy is to shop with a prepared list to help curb impulse buys. To avoid getting distracted from your whole-food options, keep your shopping to the perimeter of the grocery store, where the fresh produce is placed. If you need to venture into the aisles, you might have questions. How do you know what is the healthiest version of a particular food? Which is the best choice for cereal? Which nut butter is best? What about condiments and salad dressings? Is a low fat salad dressing the best choice? Is organic better? Continue Reading »

Cooking oils: What you need to know


Some of the most frequent questions I get asked have to do with oils. “Which oil is the healthiest?” “Which oil should I use for cooking?” “Is coconut oil good for you?” These questions came up at the most recent grocery store tour I did this past weekend.

There are no straight answers to any of these questions. In some circumstances a very healthy oil is not one most chefs would use for cooking; and in some cases a good cooking oil is not one a dietitian would recommend for health.

Oils that are suited for cooking have to withstand high heat. Certain oils, when heated, undergo changes that render them unstable and therefore are not the best choices for cooking. For example, olive oil – which is recommended for good health since it contains unsaturated fats and has low levels of omega 6 fatty acids – is not well suited for frying.  Olive oil has a low smoking point, meaning it will start to smoke at a lower temperature than other oils. Olive oil is better used for dressings, marinades and baking. Conversely, palm oil, which is good for frying, scores low for health. So that’s the dilemma.

After reviewing many sources, searching the Internet and exploring nutrition and culinary references, I came across a chart that does a nice job presenting the dichotomy between culinary and health preferences. It includes information about the nuances of different oils such as the level of refinement, the presence of omega 3 and 6, and even includes some information about genetic modification. Continue Reading »

Wisconsin: 15th most obese state in the country

wisc-01Wisconsin may be known as “America’s Dairyland” but these days it is also getting a reputation for being one of the most obese states in the nation, ranking 15th in the country. In Wisconsin, one in three adults are obese. Obesity is defined by having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30.

According to a new report by Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation titled “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future, 2013”, every state in the country has an adult obesity rate above 20 percent. This is a startling increase given that in 1980 no states had an adult obesity rate above 15 percent. Continue Reading »

Patient blog: how I reclaimed my life from diabetes


“Like many people in my family, I am diabetic. I was diagnosed with type II diabetes several years ago, but thanks to my primary care physician, Dr. Brian Scott, the disease had not progressed considerably until this past winter. Despite my efforts to control it through exercise and diet, my blood sugar levels rose considerably, peaking at 8.9 A1C in March. Dr. Scott’s nurses, Shawn and Heather contacted me at regular intervals to monitor the situation. When Dr. Scott referred me to Lee Cleveland at Affinity Medical Group on Midway Road, I was not sure he was going to be able to help much. Faced with the probability of starting a new and very expensive medication, I listened carefully to Lee’s advice on controlling my carbohydrate intake. After two months of better dieting and riding my bicycle every possible day, my A1C levels fell to 6.5 and Dr. Scott was able to put the new medication on hold. Now that I limit the carbohydrate intake and keep riding my bike as often as possible, I feel better and feel that I can continue to improve. I truly appreciate the excellent care given by the medical professionals mentioned above.”

-Gary, a grateful patient

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