Freeman Medical Musings Blog

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Freeman Water Safety Blog

May 27, 2022

Water Safety Is a Family Essential

THERE ARE MANY ADAGES ABOUT STAYING SAFE, SUCH AS “SAFETY ISN’T EXPENSIVE – IT’S PRICELESS” OR “SAFETY DOESN’T HAPPEN BY ACCIDENT."

As we near the end of the school year and the start of summer, these sayings remind families to keep water safety in mind. As warmer temperatures begin, families will be in search of fun water activities, like heading to the pools, beaches, lakes, rivers and ponds to cool off and enjoy the outdoors. Swimming and playing in the water are not without risks, but there are steps families can take to ensure everyone stays safe. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 10 drowning deaths in the United States every day, and the World Health Organization (WHO) states drowning is the third most common cause of accidental injury death. On the up-side, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicate in a research article that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% in children ages 1 – 4. In addition, 91% of drowning victims who receive CPR survive, as reported by the Swiftwater Rescue instructor group.

While water can be treacherous, there are many ways to keep safe and still enjoy the water. The key is to have ongoing communication with your family about safety, not just a one-and-done conversation. Before heading out to engage in water activities with the family, make sure everyone knows how to stay safe and exactly what to do in case of an emergency. Once the entire family is empowered with safety knowledge and preparedness skills, the whole family can enjoy worry-free water fun.

The first step family members can take to prevent drowning is to enroll in swimming lessons. This is a great way to help keep everyone safe in the water and teach them to be strong swimmers. It’s best to start at a young age, so families can be proactive about water safety and enroll family members of all ages in swimming lessons. It’s also worthwhile to have a family member get the official CPR certification. 

When near residential pools, it’s important to have them enclosed with a four-sided fence, with a self-latching, self-closing gate and keep
objects away from the fence that children could use to climb over it, such as furniture or pool toys. Other devices like alarms and pool safety covers may be helpful too. Homes with pools should also have alarms on doors or windows with direct access to the pool. Children can
drown in very small amounts of water, so empty and drain bathtubs, kiddie pools or other items that contain water when not in use. 

Teach children that swimming in open water like lakes or the ocean is different from swimming in a pool. They need to be aware of things like uneven surfaces, currents, undertow and how weather changes can affect the water. 

Here are more tips to help families with water safety:

  • Before every water-related excursion, take five minutes to huddle with your family, making sure everyone’s on the same page about how to avoid accidents and what to do in an emergency. 
  • Discuss with children the importance of never swimming without an adult present and how they should immediately come to you if anyone gets hurt. It’s never too early to start talking about things everyone can do to ensure your family has a great time while staying safe. 
  • Children should always wear a life jacket that fits snugly and is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard on boats, around open bodies of water or when participating in water sports or recreation
  • Constant supervision is the foundation of water safety. There’s no substitute for the attention of a parent, trusted adult, family member or friend. And always check to see if there’s a lifeguard on duty provide an extra set of eyes. 
  • When traveling with children, it’s best to bring a spouse, partner or friend for additional help as an unofficial lifeguard or “water watcher.” Before every swim session, discuss who will be the designated person responsible and how that person should avoid any of the following distractions:

                   ° Drinking alcohol
                   ° Scrolling on social media
                   ° Listening to music with headphones
                   ° Reading

While the water watcher is solely responsible for supervision, every adult should keep their eyes on the children to ensure safety. It’s vital to keep water safety in mind so everyone in the family can enjoy fun in the sun and have the best summer ever!

About the Author
Tiffany Huffman, FNP-C, specializes in family medicine and has been working in the medical field for nearly 20 years. She earned her nursing degree from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas. Freeman Carl Junction Family Medicine specializes in high-quality family care. Call our office at 417.347.8656 for an appointment or visit freemanhealth.com/CJFamilyMedicine.
 

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ED entrance

May 16, 2022

Where Do I Go? Emergency Care vs. Urgent Care

It’s a Saturday morning, and your child has woken up with an earache. Your pediatrician’s office is closed, and you can’t wait until Monday for them to be seen. Should you take them to the emergency department or urgent care? 

This is a common question for many people and making the right choice can make a significant difference in time and cost. Where you seek care depends on the severity of the medical condition. 

Urgent Care

Freeman Urgent Care is a walk-in clinic staffed with board-certified physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses and x-ray technologists. Urgent Care is quick, convenient care for medical needs that are not life-threatening but can’t wait until your next doctor’s appointment. Patients should visit Freeman Urgent Care for the following types of care:

  • Cold
  • Flu
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Minor injuries
  • Mild or moderate aches and pains
  • Sinus pain and congestion
  • Skin rash
  • Sore throat
  • Sprains and strains
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Other minor medical concerns

Freeman has two urgent care locations, 1130 E. 32nd St. in Joplin, and 1636 S. Madison St. in Webb City. Patients can visit freemanhealth.com/urgentcare to check wait times at both locations or to save their place in line by utilizing Save My Spot, which enables patients to wait at home or work prior to visiting Urgent Care.   

Both Freeman Urgent Care locations are open 8:00 am – 8:00 pm Monday – Friday and 10:00 am – 6:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. 

Emergency Care

If you are in severe pain or your condition is endangering your life, call 911 or go to the closest emergency department. 

Our experienced and board-certified Freeman Emergency Department physicians and staff are trained to act quickly to recognize and treat the most urgent, time-sensitive cases first. Examples of medical emergencies patients should visit Freeman Emergency Room for include:

  • Suspected heart attack
  • Suspected stroke
  • Broken bones
  • Sudden or severe pain
  • Coughing up or vomiting blood
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Freeman has two emergency room locations: Freeman West Emergency Room, 1102 W. 32nd St. in Joplin, which is certified by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services as a Level II Trauma Center, and Freeman Neosho Emergency Room at 113 W. Hickory St. in Neosho. Freeman’s emergency rooms are open and staffed 24/7.

No matter the severity of your medical condition, Freeman has the care you need. 

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Hypertension Stroke

May 03, 2022

Age is Just a Number When it Comes to Strokes

Did you know that stroke can happen at any age?

Up to 25% of strokes occur in individuals under the age of 45, and that number is on the rise. Cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death, causing one in every three deaths, with 85% of those being due to heart attack and stroke.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. High blood pressure causes more than half of all cardiovascular deaths – an estimated 10 million deaths per year globally. This is nearly as many deaths each year as all infectious diseases combined! However, deaths due to hypertension are largely preventable.

Treating high blood pressure is simple and affordable. One medication daily is usually enough to manage high blood pressure. Many of these medications are available as generics, which are easier on the pocketbook than brand name medications. Tracking your blood pressure is also a quick and easy step for controlling high blood pressure. You could simply check your blood pressure at a kiosk in a local department store or pharmacy.

Purchasing a home blood pressure device is an affordable option for many people. Feel free to bring your home blood pressure monitor with you to your doctor visit if you want to check its accuracy or need help learning how to use it.

Be sure to jot the numbers down on your calendar or make a note in your phone to show your primary care provider. Many insurance plans cover one free wellness visit a year, which is an excellent opportunity to make sure your blood pressure is staying within an ideal range.

Basic lifestyle changes can also help lower high blood pressure and may help decrease or eliminate the need for medications. Try adding one simple change to your routine each month and see how it improves both your blood pressure and your overall health. The American Heart Association’s recommendations for controlling high blood pressure include:

  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a healthy diet low in sodium and saturated and trans fat.
  • Limit sweets and red and processed meats.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Include foods rich in potassium.
  • Be physically active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks a day if you’re a man or one drink a day if you’re a woman.
  • Take all medicines as prescribed to control your blood pressure.
  • Know what your blood pressure should be and try to keep it at that level.
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Alcohol Awareness Month

Apr 18, 2022

Early Education for Alcoholism

Heavy alcohol use contributes to approximately 95,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Over half of alcohol-related deaths are due to the health effects of extensive alcohol use, such as certain types of cancer, liver disease and heart disease.

Additional effects contributed to alcohol use include increased suicide risks, increased risk of violent behavior and negative impacts on families and friends. It is the third most preventable cause of death in the country, according to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Early education and public awareness are key factors in getting information out to individuals about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism.

Early education means having age-appropriate conversations with today’s youth on the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs, including both legal and medical. Kids’ exposure to the topic is inevitable, making it all the more important for parents to initiate the conversation early and often. Creating an opportunity to have an honest discussion with kids and providing the appropriate information before they are exposed to outside influences can make an important difference in their decision to use.

Raising awareness does not start and stop with parents, though. Community groups, schools, healthcare providers, faith-based organizations, law enforcement, substance use treatment facilities and others can help by running educational campaigns about the hazards of binge drinking and how to get treatment if you or someone you care about has a problem.

Excessive alcohol use causes damage to people, families, communities and society as a whole. Education is the key to lessening this devastation. Alcohol Awareness Month aims to dispel stereotypes about alcoholism and raise awareness about the disease.

The more we increase in public awareness of alcoholism as a chronic but treatable condition, the more people are willing to seek help. It saves lives to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol, the symptoms of an alcohol problem and to improve access to treatment resources.

By promoting early education, you are helping to get information and treatment resources out before they are in need.

 

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Spilled salt Shaker

Mar 25, 2022

Common Habits that Can Harm Kidneys

There are many things individuals can do to protect their kidneys. Being aware of how many bad habits increase risk of kidney disease is essential. The following habits are detrimental to kidney function:

Over-the-Counter Medications (including NSAIDS for pain and PPIs for GERD)
Over-the-counter medications can be very harmful to those with kidney disease and risk factors for kidney disease. One of the number one contributors to kidney disease is the overuse of NSAIDS (over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain killers). Common NSAIDs that people use unknowingly that hurt the kidneys are naproxen and ibuprofen, which are found in medications like Motrin®, Aleve®, Naprosyn® and Advil®. Avoidance of these medications is best if a patient has risk factors for kidney disease, including diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Other over-the-counter medications can also hurt the kidneys, including high doses of aspirin and medications for the stomach, called proton pump inhibitors. Common ones, include Prilosec® (omeprazole), Protonix® (pantaprazole) and Nexium® (esomeprazole). For heartburn, Pepcid® (famotidine) is much safer medicine for the kidneys. 


Eating Too Much Salt
High blood pressure is another risk factor for kidney failure, and a major contributor to high blood pressure is salt intake. Excess salt leads to fluid retention and hypertension, which is detrimental to good kidney health.


Not Consuming Enough Water
Drinking plenty of water is important because recurring dehydration leads to chronic damage. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight (pounds) in ounces. So, a 180-pound person should drink about 90 ounces a day. Daily water intake should not exceed a gallon. Water is the best option, but it is also ok to drink other beverages, such as tea and coffee. I tell my patients that up to 24 ounces of their daily fluid intake can be something other than water. Of course, this is not true for every patient. Those with heart failure, advanced kidney disease, chronic edema and those on dialysis cannot drink this amount of fluid. Studies show that those with stage 3 chronic kidney disease (CKD) can slow down progression of kidney disease by staying adequately hydrated with water. Artificial sweeteners in sodas and other beverages can be harmful to the kidneys and should be limited. 

Poor Dietary Choices
Processed food is very harmful and contains phosphorus and multiple chemicals that the kidneys cannot easily filter. It is best to choose fresh fruits and vegetables rather than those in a can. 
Your body needs protein but a diet very high in animal protein is also harmful. Animal protein generates high amounts of acid. It is best to choose plant-based protein. Normally we recommend approximately 0.8 g/kg a day of protein.
While an all-protein diet can be harmful, a high sugar diet is not good either. Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney failure in the US. Controlling diabetes and avoiding excessive carbs can delay progression of kidney disease. A balanced diet full of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains and plant protein with an abundance of water consumption is the best diet. 


Living a Sedentary Lifestyle
Obesity is also a risk factor for developing kidney disease, so maintaining a healthy weight is paramount to avoiding kidney disease. Studies have shown that routine exercise 20 minutes a day can delay kidney disease progression, so it is best to keep moving. 


Not Sleeping Enough
It is important to ensure adequate sleep at night. Kidney function is regulated by the sleep-wake cycle.


Smoking
Hardening of the arteries contributes to chronic kidney damage. Smoking causes an accelerated rate of vascular disease, which causes high blood pressure and damage to kidney blood vessels. Smoking also causes kidney cancer. 

Drinking Too Much Alcohol
In moderation, alcohol is not toxic to kidneys. However, long-term use of more than four drinks a day doubles the risk of kidney disease, not to mention liver failure. 


To learn more about Freeman Nephrology services visit freemanhealth.com/kidney.

 

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Healthy foods during the holiday

Mar 15, 2022

Five Tips to Help Your Family Eat Healthier

Eating a more nutritious diet can be challenging but even more so when you have a family with preferences all their own. 

Here are five ideas to make healthier eating a family activity: 

  1. Eat more meals at the table as a family. I get it – we are busy, and it is hard to carve out time for meals together. But the benefits of eating together can be huge, from improved self-esteem to increased vocabulary. Sitting down for a meal together helps limit distractions during eating, which can increase awareness of hunger and fullness cues. Mealtime is also a great chance for you to demonstrate the healthy eating habits you desire for your family.  
  2. Try cooking meals together. Older children can help cook and chop ingredients. Younger kids can measure ingredients, toss salads or stir sauces. 
  3. Let the kids plan the meal by issuing a Healthy Plate challenge. To successfully complete the challenge, pick a protein, vegetable, fruit and whole grain. Issue bonus points for creativity and experimentation. Challenge your family to try veggies they haven't liked in the past served in a different way. For example, cooked broccoli and fresh broccoli taste completely different. For more information on building a balanced meal, visit www.myplate.gov.
  4. Try a grocery store scavenger hunt. For example, in the produce aisle ask them to find something purple. Then take that item home and cook it. 
  5. Start a garden this spring and enjoy the harvest this summer and fall. Picking out seeds or plants can be very exciting for kids and adults. If you have limited yard space, look for fruits or vegetables that grow well in containers. Another alternative to gardening is visiting the local farmer’s market. Often these venues have family-centered activities and maybe a free piece of fruit! Getting kids involved at the ground-level will create investment in those fruits and vegetables and increase the chances that they will eat them. 


If your first attempts at these tips don’t succeed, no worries. Often picky eaters need several exposures to new foods before they may want to try something new. Pair new or previously rejected foods with friendly favorite sides or tasty sauces. This presentation helps the overall meal look less scary. 

Building healthy eating habits is a lifelong process. Don’t give up! 
 

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Heart Stethoscope

Feb 23, 2022

Knowing Your Heart Risk Factors

February isn’t just about love. February is also American Heart Month, which reminds us to take care of our hearts and consider our risk factors.

Heart disease remains the number one cause of death in the US and accounts for more than 15,000 deaths in Missouri each year.

Everyone is at risk for heart disease. Some risk factors are beyond your control, such as age or family history. Others, like blood pressure and cholesterol, often can be controlled through lifestyle changes (diet and exercise) and/or medication. 

The term “heart disease” includes several heart conditions. The most common is coronary artery disease, which occurs when the coronary arteries, that supply blood to the heart, become narrowed and blocked by plaque. Plaque may also rupture and cause blood clots that can block arteries. Coronary artery disease can lead to a heart attack.

Heart attacks may happen suddenly, but many people have warning signs, sometimes up to a month before.

You should be familiar with the following warning signs so you can recognize a heart attack early and get help right away:

  • Discomfort/pain in center of chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back
  • Discomfort in arm(s), back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness
  • Pain/pressure that occurs with exertion and is relieved with rest

Symptoms vary between men and women. Chest pain remains the most common heart attack symptom, but women are more likely than men to experience some of the other symptoms, such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

For a serious type of heart attack called ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), rapidly administering specific therapies can reduce the risks of complications and death. Reopening the blood vessel as soon as possible decreases the amount of damage that is done to the heart muscle.

Freeman West Hospital is designated as a Level I STEMI Center. This means Freeman has a consistently proven plan and record of dealing with every aspect of STEMI. Freeman is one of only 18 hospitals in Missouri to be classified under the top-level designation. The designation is part of the state’s Time Critical Diagnosis System, which identifies hospitals specially equipped to treat STEMI, stroke and trauma patients and improves both the speed and quality of care.

Freeman also received the 2021 Mission: Lifeline NSTEMI Gold Recognition Award and 2021 Mission: Lifeline® STEMI Receiving Center Silver Plus Achievement Award from the American Heart Association. Freeman is one of only 212 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology NCDR Chest Pain – MI Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2020. Freeman is rated #1 in its market by CareChex® Patient Safety rating for heart attack treatment and vascular surgery.

Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute provides all cardiac services in one convenient location. Services include preventive care, emergency interventions, diagnostics, open-heart surgeries, structural heart clinic, rehabilitation, cardiology clinics and education.

To learn more about Freeman Heart & Vascular Institute, visit freemanhealth.com/hearts.

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Radon action month

Jan 10, 2022

Protect Your Health and Home from Radon Gas

January is National Radon Action Month – a time to learn more about this naturally occurring gas, the health effects of exposure to it and potential issues in your home.

Radon is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas produced when uranium in soil breaks down. It is released through rocks, soil and water and can build up in enclosed spaces through cracks in a building's foundation or other openings.

The health hazard comes from radioactive particles released when radon decays. When inhaled, radon can damage the cells in people's lungs. Exposure to radon causes no immediate symptoms, but over time, the long-term threat of lung cancer is significant to everyone. In fact, the Surgeon General has warned radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, resulting in more than 21,000 lives each year. It’s also the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers.

Radon gas decays into radioactive particles that can get trapped in your lungs when you breathe. As they break down further, these particles release small bursts of energy, and this process can damage lung tissue, leading to lung cancer. However, not everyone exposed to elevated levels of radon will develop lung cancer, and the amount of time between exposure and the onset of the disease may be many years.

Radon can be found all over the U.S. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates about one in every 15 homes have elevated radon levels. The highest radon concentrations develop in spaces below ground level without much ventilation: basements, crawlspaces, foundations, sump pumps, and construction joints. Radon can get into any type of building and result in a high indoor radon level.

You and your family most likely get your most significant exposure at home, where you spend most of your time. While radon issues may be more common in some areas, any home can have problems. The only way to know for sure is to test the air in your home. Winter is a good time to test your home for radon because when the windows and doors are sealed tightly, radon levels inside your home can rise.

It's never too late to reduce your risk of lung cancer. Don’t wait to test and fix the problem. Simple and inexpensive do-it-yourself radon test kits and digital detectors are available for purchase at many local hardware stores and online retailers such as Amazon. If you find high levels of radon in your home, the problem can be fixed with radon reduction systems that can reduce levels in your home by up to 99%. Learn more from The American Lung Institute.

About the Author

Adnan Khan, MD, specializes in pulmonary medicine. He earned his medical degree from the Dow University of Health Sciences in Karachi, Pakistan, and performed his residency at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science/Chicago Medical School North Chicago, Illinois. Dr. Khan is currently seeing new patients at Freeman Lung Institute.

Freeman Lung Institute specializes in high-quality care and offers information on the latest treatment and therapy options to help patients live a stronger life. Talk to your primary care physician about radon exposure or call our office at 417.347.8315 for an appointment or visit freemanhealth.com/lung.

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woman stretching

Dec 22, 2021

How to Create a Culture of Well-Being in the Workplace

As we say goodbye to 2021, many people create New Year’s resolutions to become healthier versions of themselves.

=The average American spends one-third of their life at work, so what better place to promote wellness than in the workplace.

As you develop wellness programs in the workplace, consider a whole-person approach. The Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) reports that successful workplace wellness initiatives require supporting employees in fulfilling their needs in seven areas:

  • Health – Going beyond the absence of mental or physical illness
  • Meaning – Knowing your work matters
  • Safety – Feeling safe from physical and psychological harm
  • Connection – Feeling a sense of belonging
  • Achievement – Succeeding at meeting your individual goals
  • Growth – Being challenged to use and expand on your strengths
  • Resiliency – Viewing life with optimism

Additionally, Dr. Bill Hettler, co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, developed the Six Dimensions of Wellness Model, which includes:

  • Occupational – Recognizing personal satisfaction and enrichment through work
  • Physical – Recognizing the need for regular physical activity
  • Social – Encouraging contributing to one’s environment and community
  • Intellectual – Recognizing one’s creative stimulating mental activities
  • Spiritual – Recognizing the search for meaning and purpose in our human existence
  • Emotional – Recognizing awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings

So, what do you do with this information? What is the first step in developing a program that meets the criteria?

With your CEO’s support, appoint a wellness coordinator and create a wellness committee with system-wide representation. You likely already have several wellness champions ready to support their co-workers.

Find out what employees need to support their wellness journey by providing a needs survey. You may discover that what you thought they want and what they say they want are different.

Consider starting 2022 with a system-wide Fitness Challenge. This is a great way for employees to get healthy through team support and fun competition! A challenge encourages employees to create teams of five to eight. Each team member will then meet the recommended 600 minutes of physical activity per month January through March. All teams who have accomplished this can get their names entered for prize drawings, which could include gift cards, t-shirts, water bottles, etc.

This challenge addresses occupational, physical and social dimensions of wellness. The areas of health, connection, achievement and growth are fulfilled in the challenge, as well.

If you would like help setting up your own challenge, contact Freeman Wellness Coordinator Margaret “Kris” Drake, RN, CHPD, at mcdrake@freemanhealth.com.

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Healthy foods during the holiday

Dec 09, 2021

Hope For Healthy Holiday Eating

Healthy holidays – is that even possible?

The holiday season is upon us again, with lots of indulgent, sugary foods that leave us feeling lethargic, a little fuller around the middle and regretful come January 1. However, the holiday season doesn’t have to be that way, and we CAN have a healthy holiday!

During the holidays and throughout the year, use a mindful approach to eating by focusing on tasting and really enjoying your food. If you don't care for a certain dish, you can kindly pass and opt for the foods that are more to your taste. Enjoy favorite holiday sweet treats in smaller servings and be conscious of your fullness level. Taking a break from a large meal when you’re comfortably full may leave more room for a small piece of dessert.

The holidays are filled with family, parties, traditions and lots of yummy, festive food. Research shows adults usually gain some sort of weight over the holidays. But don’t despair – it’s possible to make smart, healthy decisions while still enjoying yourself. The American Heart Association offers strategies and mindset shifts to beat temptation and get through the holiday season without stress eating, weight gain and digestive issues:

  • Get creative with swaps: Cooking at home is a great way to take control of your diet and tweak favorite seasonal dishes. Reduce sodium by replacing salt with herbs and spices, adding more fruits and vegetables to dishes and using low-sodium canned and frozen products. Combine lower-sodium foods with regular versions to help your taste adapt.
  • Snack smart: To avoid overindulging at holiday gatherings, prep with nutrient-rich foods that don’t sacrifice taste, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free milk products, lean meats, eggs, beans and nuts. Enjoy the satisfaction of making healthy choices and forego the high-carbohydrate snacks and sugary treats.
  • Take your time: Don’t rush through meals and slow down when you eat. Enjoy mealtime with family and friends by pausing between bites and savoring your food. Experience the holidays for what they are and find balance between celebration and relaxation.
  • Practice gratitude: It can help lower blood pressure, improve your immune system and spur you to eat better and exercise more. Write down five things you’re grateful for and share them with your family and friends. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving. Aim to enjoy the sweet blessings of life instead of the sweet treats and enjoy lasting healthful benefits.

Instead of focusing entirely on food during gatherings, shift your attention to enjoying the time with your family and friends. Create engaging experiences that involve activities and interactions with others!

We all want to have the capacity to celebrate the holidays with thankfulness without the worry of putting on those extra pounds. Food does play a part in celebration gatherings, but it doesn’t need to take centerstage and sabotage your journey to health. You can get on the other side of the holidays without giving up being healthy.

About the author

Heather Boline, RD, LD, is a Freeman Health System clinical registered dietician. She graduated from Kansas State University with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics. A registered dietitian for more than 30 years, she has been with Freeman since 2004.

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