Fear of Fish

By Susan Boekel, RD, LD, IBCLC | Outpatient/Wellness Dietitian

salmon-518032_1920I had a friend recently ask me about buying and preparing fish. She knows eating fish twice a week is an important recommendation to lower her risk of heart disease as well as other conditions but she has concerns about the potential risks. My friend is not alone. Many of us often wonder if we should forgo fish because of the contaminants they might carry.

There are risks to eating seafood and these risks have gotten a lot of press. There are a number of pollutants that make their way into the foods we eat, not just fish. Those of most concern are mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s), dioxins, and pesticide residues. Avoiding fish is certainly one way to avoid mercury or PCB’s, but is that the wisest choice, given the benefits of eating fish?

To help you strike a balance when determining benefit over risk, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other sources. They calculated if 100,000 people ate farmed salmon twice a week for 70 years, the extra PCB intake could potentially cause 24 extra deaths from cancer – but would prevent at least 7,000 deaths from heart disease.

The easiest way to avoid concerns about contaminants is to eat a variety of fish and other seafood. There is one exception: if you eat local freshwater fish caught by friends or family, you should consult local advisories about the amounts of such fish you should eat.

There are more specific recommendations for women who are or may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children. The recommendation is to limit Albacore tuna to once a week and to avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish because of high mercury levels. These recommendations emphasize that women who are or may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children should eat fish, avoiding only four specific fish species. The evidence for the rest of the population supports eating fish twice a week and emphasizes the importance of including a variety of fish and seafood in your diet.

Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables

By Susan Boekel, RD, LD, IBCLC | Athens Regional Outpatient/Wellness Dietitian

eat more fruit and veggiesThe United States Department of Agriculture has seven tips for you to eat healthier. One of my favorites is to eat more fruits and vegetables. So, how are we doing as a nation on this guideline? Not so well … only 2-3% of men and women get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day. Even when encouraged to eat more, most people only eat one more serving per day.

The current research suggests a couple of reasons why Americans are resistant to this change in eating habits. One is social motivation. Children and adults are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they see parents or peers eating them. Another possibility, especially with vegetables, is that some folks just don’t like the taste of bitter vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts.

It is easy to find ways to encourage those around you to eat more fruits and vegetables. Take a fruit or vegetable dish to a family get together or invite those children who will eat anything over for a play-date. What to do about the taste? Serve a dip or sauce with those bitter vegetables. Broccoli tastes better with cheese sauce. Fresh spinach is yummy with ranch dressing. Nobody said your veggies had to taste bad. O.K., so, Brussels sprouts with bacon are high in saturated fat, but those sprouts are not doing you any good sitting on your plate and not in your body.

I am not asking you to increase your health risk by eating everything this way. I am asking you to try some tasty options that may make you realize cauliflower can be your friend with the right dip.

Make Exercise Easier for You

By Susan Boekel, RD, LD, IBCLC | Outpatient/Wellness Dietitian

Use a few of the following techniques to make your workout plan a reality:

  • If you work out in the evening, put on your exercise clothes as soon as you get home. This may help move you from “too tired to exercise” to actual exercise.
  • If you work out at home, leave your yoga mat or hand weights in a noticeable place.
  • Each Sunday, plan your workouts for the week. Put them on your calendar just like an appointment. Just like menus, exercise appointments require planning. Pick a time when you are least likely to be distracted or called away. For some people, this is first thing in the morning. For others, it might be at the end of the day.
  • Set the alarm on your watch or phone to ring two to three times a day for 10-minute exercise breaks.


Cookbooks with Your Health in Mind

By Susan Boekel, RD, LD, IBCLC | Athens Regional Outpatient/Wellness Dietitian

healthy cookbooks

The holidays and all of the celebrations with food are coming! Our registered dietitian has a few cookbooks to help keep you and your recipes healthy throughout the special days.

  • Cooking Light Complete Meals in Minutes
  • Diabetic Meals in 30 minutes – Or Less! (not just for diabetes)
    By Robyn Webb
  • Quick & Healthy Recipes and Ideas
    By Brenda Ponichtera
  • Weeknight Wonders
    By Ellie Krieger

Overcoming Physical Activity Obstacles

By Susan Boekel, RD, LD, IBCLC | Athens Regional Outpatient/Wellness Dietitian

Adding more physical activity to your life may seem like a challenge. Here are some common barriers and solutions.

“I don’t have time for physical activity.”

You can sneak it into your day a few minutes at a time. Add three 10-minute walks to your day, if you can do so safely near home or work. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the option. Take regular breaks from sitting at the computer or watching TV.

“It’s too expensive.”

There are ways to be active that are free or lower in cost. Athens Regional employees have access to our exercise room. We also offer all the walking track inside the Medical Services Building on the third floor. (Ten laps around equals a mile!) On nice days, we have a nice walking park on our campus, or you can find a local park or school track where you can walk or run.

“Physical Activity is a chore.”

It can be fun! Do things you enjoy, like biking, gardening, playing sports, or swimming. Use your daily workouts as timeouts just for yourself. Take pictures on your walk to help capture the beautiful sights you get to see.

Are You Still Skipping Breakfast?

By Susan Boekel, RD, LD, IBCLC | Outpatient/Wellness Dietitian 

Breakfast is best

O.K., we all know that breakfast is definitely the MOST IMPORTANT meal of the day. School kids have proven to us that skipping breakfast lowers their test scores. So, why do some of us just not eat breakfast?

One comment I often hear is, “I don’t feel like eating in the morning.” This could be for several reasons. You may not be getting enough sleep and tiredness can feel like nausea.

You may be eating meals too late in the day or your calorie intake at lunch and dinner may be too high, possibly keeping you feeling full in the morning. If you rush in the morning, you may feel too anxious to eat. You could be having reflux at night, which can make you feel uncomfortable in the morning. Discuss this with your doctor if you are not able to eat breakfast, even with a little meal planning and variety.

Sometimes we just don’t like breakfast foods and that is alright. You do not have to have the full meal deal for breakfast. It is fine to have a small breakfast and a healthy snack before lunch. The goal for breakfast is to get your brain and GI tract working together. Aim for 7 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Protein gives you long lasting calories, and fiber extends those calories even further (while making you more comfortable).

Breakfast Ideas

  • Fruit smoothie made with nonfat milk, protein powder or nonfat Greek yogurt
  • Low fat cheese, peanut butter or almond butter on high fiber toast
  • Leftovers from dinner that include protein and vegetables
  • Small whole wheat breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs and veggies (make this the night before and wrap it for easy grab and go)
  • Microwaved oatmeal made with dried fruit and nuts
  • Boiled egg and a piece of fruit

Happy 10th Anniversary In Their Shoes!

In Their Shoes Cancer WalkFor the past 10 years, the Athens Regional Foundation has been excited to be a part of the In Their Shoes Walk. It is amazing to see how one event can rally so many people around one great cause – supporting cancer patients and their families.

The first 13.1 mile walk had 65 walkers and raised nearly $80,000. The 2014 event had 126 walkers and raised $192,000.

The 2015 Walk is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 24. What can you do to help?

  • Sign up to walk – new walker categories this year including a Cancer Survivor Rate, a Student Rate and Relay Team
  • Support a walker – please make a donation in their name to support their fund raising efforts
  • Volunteer – for the day of the walk

If you would like more information about how to get involved, visit the In Their Shoes website or contact the Athens Regional Foundation at arf@armc.org or 706-475-3301.