Getting Active with Pokemon Go

July 22, 2016 at 1:00 am | Posted in Fitness | Leave a comment
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By Chrisanne Sikora, Sr. Project Specialist
Diabetes Self-Management Education Program

Chrisanne headshot

By now you’ve probably heard of Pokémon GO, the Augmented Reality mobile game where players “catch” virtual creatures in the real world. Out of curiosity, I downloaded the app while I was on vacation.  After about a week of playing around with the game I still don’t quite get many of the details about leveling up your Pokémon or challenging other players to competitions (yet). Finding and catching Pokémon, though? THAT I get and it ties in with what I find most appealing about the game: it encourages you to get up and get active.

The game uses your phone’s GPS to track your location and movements. As you move, your character in the game moves as well. Places where Pokémon will appear are marked on the map and when you get close, you “catch” them using the phone’s camera. While you may be able to find a couple in your home like I did, catching all 100+ different types of creatures (one of the goals of the game) means heading outside and exploring. The more you walk around, the more likely you are to find new and different types of Pokémon.

While you’re out catching Pokémon, you’ll also encounter “Pokéstops” where you can pick up useful items. These places usually match up with real life landmarks or interesting sites. The more of these sites you visit, the more items you’ll collect (and the more walking you’ll do). Eggs are one type of item you can find at these stops. To find out what’s inside your egg, all you have to do is walk. After a certain distance (the app tracks it for you), it will hatch. There may even be a Pokémon inside!

It’s a cute way to spend time with friends and family, or jazz up your regular routine if playing solo. I had the app open when I went walking the other day and found several Pokémon and Pokéstops along one of my regular walking routes. If you do decide to try it, make sure to pay attention to what’s around you and be respectful of other people’s property.

Be Fit Basics: Sesame-Miso Cucumber Salad

June 30, 2016 at 11:09 am | Posted in Nutrition, recipes | Leave a comment
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A quick and easy side dish to bring to this weekend’s cookout.  Miso is typically found in the refrigerated food section, often either by the dairy or chilled salad dressings.

Ingredients:
1½ tbsp sesame seeds, roasted
2 tbsp white miso
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
4 cups thinly sliced cucumber

Directions: 
Combine the first 6 ingredients and whisk in 1 tbsp hot water.  Add cucumber and toss to coat.

Yield: 5 servings

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 100 • Protein: 2 g • Sodium: 260 mg • Carbohydrate: 13 g • Fiber: 2 g
Fat: 5 g • Sat Fat: 1 g

Recipe adapted from Cookinglight.com. Originally posted on mghbefit.com.

Summer Fitness Idea: Swimming

June 22, 2016 at 10:24 am | Posted in Fitness, Guest Post | Leave a comment
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By Sara Evans, Aquatics Supervisor
The Clubs at Charles River Park

Swimming is a great, total body exercise for building strength in your muscles as well as your heart and lungs. Swimming is also a safe activity for anyone. Because you’re weightless in the water, there’s less wear on your joints and you don’t need to worry about tripping or losing feeling in your feet. Unless your healthcare provider says no, there’s no reason not to try swimming.

Swimming uses every muscle in your body, but especially your core. A strong core is needed to keep your head above water, and will help improve your posture in other activities like running or walking. Since the whole body is used to pull you through the water, swimming is a great time saver workout. Just 30 minutes in the pool is about the same as at 45-minute run on the treadmill. You can also adjust how hard you work by making small changes to your hand positions. For instance, keeping your hands flat adds resistance and challenge.

If you’re new to swimming, the first steps are learning to float and developing good breath control in the water. Most of all you’ll need to have confidence about swimming in the deep end. The best way to build confidence is through practice. I recommend beginners start with 15 minutes twice a week at either the beginning (warm up) or end (cool down) of your workout. Remember, swimming is much different than running so it’s best to take it easy to start so you don’t wear yourself out. As you get stronger, you can increase how long and how often you swim. Eventually you’ll be able to swim every day of the week if you want! Swimming is a life-long activity and there’s no risk of injury from overuse.

One last thought: There’s no one “right” way to swim. You’ll soon develop a style that works for you. Be comfortable with your stroke, even if it’s different from someone else’s. The best fit for you is whatever gets you to the other end of the pool and back.

 

Group Visits: Best Practices in Team-Based Care at MGH Back Bay

June 16, 2016 at 9:10 am | Posted in Health | Leave a comment
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In April of this year, MGH Back Bay began trying out a new model for delivering care and education for their diabetes community: shared group medical visits. Led by a nurse practitioner, a diabetes nurse educator and a registered dietitian, these shared visits are offered to people with prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes (newly diagnosed or anyone needing a little extra help bringing blood sugars under control). Visits are divided into two sessions, two weeks apart. The first session focuses on diabetes basics and nutrition; the second covers nutrition in more detail and reviews complications.

At the beginning of each session, the nurse practitioner meets with each participant for a short individual visit. A larger group discussion takes place afterwards. Although there is a curriculum with prepared material about A1C, blood pressure and cholesterol (LDL), the discussion is allowed to grow organically. Questions are encouraged and participants are welcome to share personal stories if they wish. Opportunities for hands-on learning are woven into the session, such as exercises on reading food labels or using rice in a shoe to illustrate symptoms of neuropathy. At the end of the second session, participants are asked to identify and write down one or two goals to work on. The diabetes nurse educator mails these goals two months after the group as a reminder of what was motivating them during the visit.

Response to the shared group visits has been very positive. The opportunity to talk about living with diabetes and learn tips from peers for overcoming every day challenges is a highlight for many. Much of the success of this visit model is the emphasis on team-based care. One of the reasons for offering shared visits was providing better access to nutrition education. Since a registered dietitian is there for the visit, participants do not need to schedule a separate appointment. The group setting also helps reduce anxiety some feel about seeing a dietitian. In addition to clinical outcomes (improved A1C, reduced weight), scheduling a follow up visit with a dietitian is considered a mark of success for this visit model.

More shared group medical visits have been planned for the fall. Given how well visits have gone so far, the practice is considering offering shared group visits for other chronic conditions such as hypertension

Navigating Health Information on the Web

June 9, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Guest Post, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Jen Searl, MLS, CHWC

If you’re like the majority of Americans (over 60%), you use the internet to find health information. And why wouldn’t you? The internet is full of answers to any question you could possibly have. However it’s important to remember that not all websites are created equal. Just because you read something on the internet does not mean that is true! Read below for things to look for when evaluating health websites.

  • Source: Who is the owner of the website? For example, is it a non- profit, federal government agency, pharmaceutical company or other? Often the ‘About’ section on a website will give you this information.
  • Bias: Is the website trying to sell you something? Is it difficult to tell what an advertisement is and what is fact?
  • Quality: Where does the information come from? Is it based on solid research or personal experience?
  • Date: When was the website last updated? Is the information current? Are there broken links?

You can tell a lot about a website from how it ends:

.gov = This website is owned and operated by the government. An example would be medlineplus.gov, an excellent source of health information

.org =This website is owned and operated by an organization. When looking for diabetes information, a great reputable source of information is the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org

.edu = This website is owned and operated by an educational institution, such as a college or university. An example would be www.health.harvard.edu, a division of Harvard Medical School

.com = This website is owned and operated usually by a commercial site. When looking at .coms, use the tips above. Some websites, like ours www.mghdiabeteseducation.com is a great source of health information! Others can be less reliable so use your judgment.

If you ever wonder if information you have read is true, make sure to talk with your diabetes educator. They know you and your diabetes best!

Smart Grocery Shopping Strategies

June 2, 2016 at 10:15 am | Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment
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By Nichole Reed, Dietetic Intern

When you have diabetes, it’s critical to stay on top of what you eat on a day-to-day basis. Cooking meals at home gives you more control over what goes into your food. Of course, this is all easier said than done – so here are some quick tips for meal planning and grocery shopping to help get you started.

Sit down and plan your weekly menu: Taking a moment to plan out your week ultimately saves you time and money. Knowing the answer to What’s for dinner? keeps you from going through the drive-thru or ordering take-out. Pick a few main dishes and rotate them throughout the week. (Use this menu planning tool to make it even easier.) Choose recipes that you will both enjoy and are willing to make! Sites like Pinterest, Eating Well or our own MGH Be Fit page are great resources for recipe ideas.

Make a shopping list: We all make the mental notes of what we need to pick up, but actually writing it down commits you to the list. You can do this on paper or even your phone. Having a list keeps you on a mission. Otherwise, your eye will wander and your cart will end up looking like you bought the whole store.

Shop locally: Farmers market season has arrived! The grocery store can seem chaotic and more like a chore. Buy your produce from local vendors. Enter your zip code on Mass Farmers Markets and see the one closest to you! You’ll get to enjoy some fresh air, beautiful weather, and support your local farmers. Make a day of it and take some family or friends.

Remember, keep it simple. You don’t have to be five-star chef to make delicious meals. Getting organized makes grocery shopping a breeze and gets you one step closer to taking control of your diet.

Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services

Be Fit Basics: Herbed Pear Breakfast Sausage

March 24, 2016 at 10:55 am | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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A fresh idea for Sunday brunch from the Be Fit Program.

You can substitute other herbs, like parsley or basil, for the cilantro.  Fresh rosemary or oregano can also be used, but use much less because they are stronger-flavored. This recipe is also gluten free, but be sure to check your spices if you have Celiac disease.

Ingredients:
1 pound- ground turkey meat (look for 93% lean or ground turkey breast)
¾ cup- diced pear
¾ cup -diced red pepper
½ cup -diced red onion
¼ cup- chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp -dried sage (or ½ -1 tbsp chopped fresh sage)
½ tsp -salt
½ tsp- ground cumin
½ tsp -ground allspice
½ tsp- crushed red pepper
1½ tbsp- canola oil

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the canola oil. Shape into 8 patties (½ inch thick).

Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat and add half the canola oil and half the shaped patties. Cook patties about 4 minutes per side, until slightly golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Drain the patties on paper towels.  Wipe out any bits in the pan and repeat with the remaining oil and patties.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size 2 small patties)

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 260 • Protein: 22 g • Sodium: 375 mg • Carbohydrate: 10 g • Fiber: 2 g • Fat: 15 g  Sat Fat: 3 g

Recipe Adapted from Cooking Light

National Nutrition Month 2016

March 10, 2016 at 10:10 am | Posted in Nutrition | Leave a comment
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By Melissa Rowe, Dietetic Intern

It’s March and spring time is in the air but that’s not the only exciting thing about this month. March is National Nutrition Month®! Every year since 1973, we have celebrated National Nutrition Month® as a way to promote the nutrition profession, educate individuals on the importance of making informed nutrition choices, and help develop healthy diet and exercise habits.

The theme for 2016 is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants to “encourage everyone to take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the pleasures, great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives.” While it is important to “focus on the numbers” when managing diabetes, it is also important that you remember to enjoy the food you are eating. Eating should not be considered a task but rather a pleasant activity.

We often forget how important the food we put into our bodies is because we are busy, but how and why we eat is just as important as the food itself. Developing a practice of mindful eating will help you slow down and notice the flavors and textures of your meals. Exploring how, when, where and why you eat can affect blood sugars as well.

I challenge you to commit in March to start making small changes in your diet. Small changes are far more achievable and realistic than drastic changes. These changes don’t have to be something you do every day, but working a few into your day a couple times will help you start to form a habit of choosing healthier options. For people with diabetes, these changes will help with blood sugar and weight control. Start small to make long term changes!

A few ideas to get you started:

Healthy Swaps

 

Post content reviewed by the MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services

Soybean Hummus

February 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Posted in recipes | Leave a comment
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Have healthy snacks on hand for this weekend’s big game with this quick and easy hummus recipe from the Be Fit Program.  Serve with vegetables or whole wheat pita.

Ingredients:
1 cup shelled, frozen edamame (soybeans)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
dash of Tabasco (or more, to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions:
Place edamame in a small saucepan with water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes (or until beans are tender). Drain.

In a food processor or blender, combine edamame with olive oil, juice, salt, garlic, Tabasco, and parsley. Puree until smooth.

Yield: 9 servings ( Serving size ~ 2 tablespoons)

Nutrition Information Per Serving:
Calories: 65 • Protein: 2g • Carbohydrate: 2g
Fiber: 1g • Fat: 5g • Sat Fat: 1g • Sodium: 270mg

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Trans Fat: What is it and Why Should I Avoid it?

January 21, 2016 at 10:10 am | Posted in Nutrition, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Alison Bliven, Dietetic Intern

What is it?

Trans fat has been used since the 1950’s in order to add certain tastes and textures to packaged and prepared foods while also increasing their shelf life. These fats naturally occur in small amounts in some animal products and oils, but the product used in processed foods is man-made and differs slightly from the naturally found substance. Hydrogen ions are forced into oil in a process called ‘hydrogenation’ which turns the oil into a solid. This product is called partially hydrogenated oil (PHO for short) and is filled with trans fats. This PHO is what is used in place of butter or oil in a variety of processed foods in order to keep them fresher longer.

Why is it bad for me?

For half a decade trans fats were included on the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Generally Regarded as Safe list. However, more recent studies have linked the consumption of trans fats to increased risk of coronary heart disease: by raising ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and lowering ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL), trans fat contributes to the buildup of plaque in arteries which can lead to heart attack. Insulin resistance, a sign of Type 2 Diabetes, has also been shown to have strong connections with trans fat intake.

What foods contain trans fat?

Trans fats naturally occur in meat, dairy, and some oils. The amount of trans fats found in these sources make up an insignificant part of the American diet and are not considered a health concern. The majority of trans fats come from processed foods.  For example:  crackers, cookies, cakes, frozen pies, microwave popcorn, stick margarine, coffee creamer, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and ready to use frosting. Luckily, the number of foods containing trans fats is decreasing, and should soon be nonexistent.

What is being done to protect us?

As mentioned above, studies have overwhelmingly shown a direct connection between trans fats and certain negative health outcomes. This evidence has led to the FDA passing laws that will phase trans fats out of food manufacturing completely. The first step in this process is including the content of trans fats on the nutrition label. This allows the consumer (you) to know what the product contains, to an extent. Food companies are allowed to put ‘0 grams trans fat’ on their labels if the product contains less than 0.5 grams per serving. There are two problems with this: 1) foods with small amounts can add up to a significant intake when more than one serving is eaten and 2) the Institute of Medicine has concluded that there are no safe levels of artificial trans fats in the diet. Even though the FDA is attempting to preserve Americans’ health, there is only so much it can do during the lag time before trans fats are outlawed completely.

What can I do?

Read the label! Look for products that include the phrase ‘trans fat free’ – by law these products can contain no trans fats. Also, scan the list of ingredients for words such as ‘hydrogenated oils’, ‘partially hydrogenated oil’, ‘PHO’, and ‘vegetable shortening’. If the food contains any of these ingredients, there is sure to be some amount of trans fat in it. Other tips include choosing liquid oils or soft tub margarine over stick margarine, and avoiding or limiting commercially baked foods and packaged snacks. Filling up on foods naturally high in fiber (whole grains, beans, peas, fruits, vegetables) means there will be less room for foods containing trans fats and will help promote general health as well.

Remember, Trans Fat Free ≠ Healthy!

One very important takeaway from this article is that just because a food is trans fat free or has very low trans fat, it doesn’t automatically make the food well-balanced or healthy! Limiting trans fats is just one component of a healthful diet that includes lots of fruits and veggies, a focus on whole grains, and limited intake of higher fat meats and dairy products.

(Post content reviewed by MGH Department of Nutrition and Food Services)

 

 

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