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Healthy eating out options in the Fox Valley made a little easier with SmartPlate

smartplate

Americans are eating out more than ever. It used to be a struggle to eat healthy when eating away from home, but in the last few years restaurants and other eateries have been making some changes to remedy that. Kids’ menu items now include fresh vegetables such as baby carrots and steamed broccoli as side dishes, and fruit cups for dessert. Lighter fare and gluten free options can now be found on the menu in some restaurants. These changes are a breath of fresh air and whole-heartedly welcome. Many health professionals hope that more changes will arise as more consumers demand healthy food when eating out.

One way to choose healthier options is to look at the nutrition information. Big chain restaurants, by law, now have to provide nutrition information upon request by the consumer. Smaller or local eateries are encouraged to do so as well.

In the Fox Valley, a community-wide initiative highlighting menu items that get a “thumbs up” from local health professionals was developed to help patrons identify healthier foods when eating out. The initiative is called SmartPlate and it involves the collaboration of many local partners including Affinity Health System, local health departments, re:TH!NK, Community Action for Health Living and others.

These community partners have been working with local restaurants, caterers and Fox Valley Technical College to offer and identify items at restaurants that include healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. These SmartPlate items use fresh herbs, spices and natural flavors to create delicious food without using too much salt, fat and sugar.

The SmartPlate icon clearly identifies menu items that you can eat everyday. Look for it at local restaurants like Lara’s Tortilla Flats, Mahoney’s, and Manila in Oshkosh; Fin ‘N Feather in Winneconne; Landreman’s Family Restaurant in Kaukauna, Copper Rock and Bagelicious in Appleton; Angie’s Main Café and Luigi’s Pizza in Shawano; and Granary Supper Club in Sherwood.

Thinking of catering a meal for a work party or celebration? Catering options are also included in the SmartPlate program. LaSure’s in Oshkosh and Bridgewood Resort in Neenah are two new partners that are offering SmartPlate items as part of their catering options. So if your workplace ever needs to order lunch or there is a group hosting an event, just ask for the SmartPlate menu and feel good that your co-workers, and guests, are eating foods that are SmartPlate approved.

For more information about SmartPlate visit: www.smartplatewi.com or watch this short informational video. http://www.thenorthwestern.com/videos/life/2014/12/01/19734335/

‘Tis the season: common questions about flu vaccinations

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Do you know what the symptoms of the flu are? While often confused with a common stomach virus that runs its course, influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death, especially in older individuals. “Flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently—even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others.

An annual seasonal flu vaccine (either the flu shot or the nasal spray flu vaccine) is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and spread it to others. Getting vaccinated isn’t just important for yourself; when more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through that community. Below are some commonly asked questions about flu vaccinations:

How well does the flu vaccine project someone from the flu?
There are many different strains of influenza, so the vaccine—and its effectiveness—can vary from year to year. Each year a vaccine is developed to match the strains expected to be prevalent in the coming flu season. While it is impossible to predict the prevalent strains exactly, the vaccine is the best defense against the flu. Its effectiveness also depends on your typical health; the vaccine is effective, but it won’t make you invincible.

Is there a vaccination for children and a different vaccination for adults?
There are two different types of flu vaccines: trivalent, which protects against three strains of the flu, and quadrivalent, which protects against four. It is advised that patients speak with their provider to determine which vaccine is best for them. Continue Reading »

Myths and facts about diabetes

mythsvsfacts

There are many misconceptions about diabetes, including its causes and how to manage it. In recognition of National Diabetes Awareness Month, this article will address some popularly held beliefs about diabetes that may not mesh with reality.

Myth: Eating sugar (or too much sugar) causes diabetes.
Fact: There are many causes of diabetes, but eating sugar is not one of them. Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce the insulin needed to transport glucose to the body’s cells, is caused by genetics and other factors we haven’t discovered yet (some research suggests viruses are the culprit). Type 2 diabetes may be caused by genetics as well, or a host of lifestyle factors. Sugar intake alone is not enough to cause diabetes.

Myth: Going “sugar free” will prevent me from developing diabetes.
Fact: While there is no question that most Americans eat too much sugar, there is no research that supports going “sugar free” results in being diabetes free. Given that the American diet is high in added sugars, most health care providers agree that keeping an eye on the amount of added sugars we consume leads to better general wellness.

Myth: People with diabetes cannot eat pasta, rice or desserts and have to eat special food.
Fact: While individuals with diabetes may be more conscious of foods that raise their blood sugar levels, they can enjoy any kind of food they’d like in moderation. Healthy eating plans for people with diabetes are typically the same as most health professionals would recommend for anyone else:

  • Low in saturated fats
  • Heart-healthy fats and fiber
  • Moderate in salt and sugar
  • Lean sources of protein
  • Fruit and non-starchy vegetables
  • Whole grains such as brown rice and oats

People with diabetes—like everyone else—should enjoy dessert such as chocolate and other sweets in moderation. The key to good blood sugar control is to follow a sensible eating plan: keep an eye on portions, lead an active lifestyle and be compliant with medications.

Myth: Getting diabetes means never leading a healthy life.
Fact: There is a difference between living with diabetes and living with well-controlled diabetes. When individuals with diabetes manage their condition properly, for example avoiding spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, they can prevent or delay other complications of the disease. Having a positive relationship with food and knowing how much of what to eat, being physically active, seeking the support of others, keeping up with doctor visits, managing stress and controlling blood sugar levels are key to leading a healthy life with diabetes. These recommendations are what everyone else could benefit from as well!

What other myths have you hear about diabetes? Send us your comments!

For more information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org

What to expect at an ultrasound appointment

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Most of us have seen the pictures that result: sepia or black and white, tiny fingers and curled legs—babies sure are fascinating to see through ultrasounds! Ultrasounds have become a typical part of modern pregnancy and prenatal care, and provide important insight into your baby’s development. Health care providers recommend that all pregnant women receive an ultrasound at least once, usually between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy. If other medical issues are present, ultrasounds are sometimes needed at other points during pregnancy as well.

Early in pregnancy
If your provider did not confirm your pregnancy with a Doppler heartbeat monitor, your first ultrasound will confirm your baby’s heartbeat and that your pregnancy is uterine. If your pregnancy appears to be ectopic or tubular, it is best to find this out immediately so that your can discuss your and your baby’s health with your provider.

If you’ve never received an ultrasound before, be prepared to be a little chilly and a little slimey. A standard transabdominal ultrasound starts with a cool gel that is rubbed onto your lower belly (over your uterus). The ultrasound technician then rubs a transducer wand, which emits sound waves, over the area. The gel conducts the sound waves, which bounce off of the contours of your baby to produce the image you’ll see on-screen. That image, or sonogram, will be the first picture you have of your baby! It also allows the technician to take the baby’s measurements, to be compared at later ultrasounds. If it is very early in the pregnancy, the technician may perform a transvaginal (internal) ultrasound, which uses the transducer wand to scan the uterus from the vaginal cavity in order to detect the baby more clearly or earlier than would be possible with a transabdominal ultrasound.  Continue Reading »

Apples: so much variety, so many benefits!

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Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith—these are just a small portion of the 7,500 varieties of apples grown around the world. Apples come in all shades of red, green and yellow. With so many different types out there, it may be challenging to decide which apples to buy, especially now that we are in the midst of apple season and plenty of fresh apples are available.

All types of apples are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with only slight variations in nutritional value. Below is a brief description of some of the most popular apples.

Red Delicious is probably the most recognized apple in this area. When you say ‘apple’ the Red Delicious is often what comes to mind. Red Delicious apples have the highest source of antioxidants and are great defenders against cellular damage.

Fuji apples are sweeter, crisper and have a longer shelf life compared to other varieties. In fact, when refrigerated properly, these apples can last up to a year without spoiling! In addition to their lengthy shelf life, these apples are high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral that acts as an electrolyte in the body and helps to regulate heart rhythm, blood pressure and muscle movements. Golden Delicious and Gala apples are also good sources of potassium.

Granny Smith apples are known for their crispness and tart flavor. While vitamin C is a nutrient found in most fruits and vegetables, Granny Smiths have particularly high levels. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, aids in wound healing and with repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.

Next time you are at the grocery store or farmer’s market, keep an eye out for the varieties of apples that are grown right here in Wisconsin! It is always a good idea to buy local products as they do not have to travel as far and are fresher in taste. Of the types listed above, Gala apples are most likely to be grown locally. Continue Reading »

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

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