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Cooking oils: What you need to know

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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

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“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

Healthy Eating Challenges for the New Year

The holiday season brings food, food, and more tempting food. It can be easy to fall off the healthy eating wagon. Invite your team to jump back on with these nutrition awareness campaigns available through Affinity Occupational Health.

 Portion Distortion (3-4 week display)

Understanding what portion sizes are and how they affect our nutrition and weight is a growing topic of interest. This interactive program includes a four-week series of displays with weekly themes of Defining Serving Sizes, Time Warp, Building a Balanced Meal, and Eating Out. Program includes weekly table tents, educational handouts, interactive displays, and a weekly quiz.

Week 1: Defining Serving Sizes
Week 2: Time Warp
Week 3: Building a Balanced Meal: My Plate
Week 4: Eating Out

Each weekly theme contains interactive materials including:

1. Interactive nutrition display and table set-up
2. Educational handouts
3. Educational table tents
4. Weekly Quiz

Sugar Stacks

Want to learn more about finding sugar in unexpected places in your diet? The Sugar Stacks Program will inform employees about where sugar is hidden in everyday foods that we eat. The program includes an interactive display with stacks of sugar representing how much sugar is found in common food items along with educational table tents and handouts about how to decrease sugar content in employees’ diets and what foods contain a lot of sugar. At the end of the program, employees can complete a quiz on the information they have obtained from the program.

Fat Stacks

We are usually able to recognize if a food item contains fat, just by the type of food it is. However, often we have no idea how much fat and what type of fats are present in various foods. This interactive display features eight to ten common food items and uses real lard to represent grams of fat in each item, to show the exact amount of total fat right before our eyes. This awareness campaign also gives an overview of nutritional fat in our diet using a compilation of table tents, posters and handouts in hopes of educating employees to make healthy choices when buying and consuming fatty foods.

Salt Stacks

Salt creeps into many common foods that we may not be aware of. High sodium diets increase our risk for elevated blood pressure, which is very costly to organizations. The Salt Stacks Program will inform employees about where sodium is hidden. The program includes an interactive display with stacks of salt packets representing how much salt is found in common food items along with educational table tents and handouts with statistics and tips on how to decrease sodium in our diets. At the end of the program, employees can complete a quiz on the information they obtained from the awareness campaign.

Rethink Your Drink

Think weight is only affected by the things you eat? Wrong! What you drink can also be a major factor in losing weight. The Rethink Your Drink Program will inform employees about the hidden calories and massive amounts of sugar that can be found today in the most popular beverages. This interactive display shows the grams of sugar in a variety of beverages using sugar cubes. The display also includes informational handouts informing you of how consuming the wrong beverages can cause weight gain, as well as ways to rethink your drink by make healthy beverage choices. At the end of the program, employees will walk away feeling informed and quite possibly surprised.

Call Tammy Davis at (920) 628-1532 to schedule your on-site programs today.

Get Active: Tips to help you successfully start exercising regularly

I have been in my role as an RN Specialist working with patients with chronic conditions for almost a year and a half. I talk with almost all of my patients about their current diets as well as their activity level. Many people admit it is hard to be physically active. Some reasons I hear frequently are “I don’t have time,” “I don’t know where to start,” or “I’m too tired at the end of the day.” Many of us know there are great benefits that come from being physically active, but it can be difficult to find the time (and energy) to work out.

Here are some tips to help you become successful:

  • Start small and build over time. For example, if you haven’t been active lately, start out by trying to work out 1-2 days a week. Once you’re able to do that consistently, try adding in another day. Another option would be to start with a short time, maybe 10-15 minutes. After a week or two, increase to 15-20 minutes at a time. To some people this might not sound like a lot, but it’s still a great improvement over not doing any physical activity.
  • Split it up! If it’s too difficult to find 30 minutes at a time to devote to exercise, try doing 10 minutes 2-3 times a day. Continue Reading »

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