All posts in Nutrition

Simple Steps for Heart Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease, including stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, is the number one cause of death in the United States. Cardiac Rehab Specialist and Registered Dietician Nutritionist at Sauk Prairie Healthcare, Julie Esser, said that although genetics contribute to heart disease, “it’s lifestyle choices that have been driving the numbers.”

There are many small things you can do each day to treat your bodies better and prevent heart disease. For Esser, the best places to start are with nutrition, exercise and stress management.

Eating Well

Identify the unhealthy foods in your diet including sugars, white flour and saturated fats. These usually hide in processed meat, baked goods and sugary drinks. Then, begin to replace these foods with healthier options. For example, switch from 2% to 1% milk or from white flour to whole grain. Work to fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.

Focusing on Portion Control

Before dishing up your food, use the label to determine serving size. Measure out your portions and set aside time to sit down and eat your meal at the table. To help you adjust to smaller portion sizes, trick your brain and your stomach by using smaller plates and containers.

Exercising Often

Set a goal of 2.5 hours of activity a week, which breaks down to 20 minutes a day. To fit in your 20 minutes of activity, make small simple changes to your daily routine. If you’re out shopping, park further away and force yourself to walk more. During your lunch break, walk around your workplace. Instead of sending your co-worker an email, get up and talk to them and avoid taking the elevator whenever you can.

Finding Accountability

Once you’ve set goals to incorporate regular activity into your daily routine, be sure to hold yourself accountable. Fitness trackers like Fit Bits and cell phone apps can help. You can also sign up for a weekly fitness class or make a plan to workout with a friend.

Managing Your Stress

When your body is under stress, it produces an excess of hormones. When those hormones aren’t released, it can lead to illnesses like heart disease. It’s important to learn to manage that stress and find healthy outlets to release it. Identify what triggers your stress and how you can best relieve it. Call up a friend, go to the gym or spend time on a hobby.

Finding resources in your community to help you set and achieve your health and wellness goals can make all the difference. Professional and certified staff at Sauk Prairie Healthcare’s Wellspring is available to help you make small changes toward a healthier life. For more information, visit:


March is National Nutrition Month

Make Informed Food Choices

The National Nutrition Month theme for 2015 is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Understanding what is in food is the key to making informed and healthy choices, however front-of-package nutrition claims, ingredient lists and nutrition facts panels can make any food choice dizzying. Here are a few tips to make the task less daunting.

Instead of relying on front-of-package claims such as “made with real fruit” or “no trans fats,” start by looking at the ingredient list. The ingredient list is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance. For example, if the “made with real fruit” product has corn syrup (a.k.a. sugar) listed as the first ingredient and strawberries are ninth, you can probably decipher that you’re not eating much real fruit. Also, foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to a half a gram of trans fats.

Is your head swimming yet? Feel like you need a couple extra hours at the grocery store? Try this – skip label reading altogether by selecting whole foods with no labels like apples, tomatoes, broccoli, almonds and walnuts. These foods don’t come with labels because they are what they are – natural, healthy, whole foods. For more information and recipes featured in National Nutrition Month, visit


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