Kids Magazine Promotes Good Health

CHOP_logo _for_email (1)If you have kids in your house, you need to check out ChopChop, a new non-profit magazine for kids.   The fun, festive online and print publication helps kids aged 5-12 and their families learn how to prepare healthy food and engage in active family-centered activities.

What’s Inside ChopChop?

Wouldn’t it be great if your kids could prepare their own breakfast or their own lunch?  And it wouldn’t it be even better if the meal was healthy?  ChopChop provides easy recipes with step by step instructions that will help kids create meals like Carrot Salad or Delicious Do-It-Yourself Lettuce Wraps.  Each recipe comes with helpful pictures and reminders for kids to follow simple steps like washing their hands before touching food.  Nutrition facts are not provided, but according to the site, everything in the publication is “reviewed and approved by our medical and nutrition advisors.”

Who’s Behind ChopChop?

An introductory letter to physicians is provided on the website from Barry Zuckerman, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Public Health at Boston University School of Medicine and Chief of Pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.  Dr. Zuckerman is also a board member.  Founder and President Sally Sampson is a James Beard Award-nominated author of 20 cookbooks and a frequent magazine contributor to Food and Wine, Bon Appétit and The Boston Globe.  She runs the Massachusetts non-profit corporation along with other board members who are active in the health and wellness field.

Check it out and then grab your kids and head into the kitchen!  After you eat, take part in a family exercise session or plan a healthy weekend activity.  Get more healthy eating tips at North Memorial’s Healthy Weight Loss website or Facebook page.





Hate to Exercise? Let Us Help

Time to get moving (source: alal/morguefile)

Time to get moving (source: alal/morguefile)

Have you been told that you need to exercise to improve your health?  This is often the case when patients are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome or obesity.  But in many cases, the patient has a bad experience with physical fitness, doesn’t know where to begin, or isn’t comfortable doing the exercises that they are familiar with.  At North Memorial, there is a program for that.

Diabetes Activity Program

Despite its name, the Diabetes Activity Program works for anyone who needs help starting an exercise program to improve his or her health.  As part of the program, patients work with a physical therapist at the Institute for Athletic Medicine to come up with a personalized plan.

Clinic Director Darin Thom, DPT, explains how it works. “It’s all about setting reasonable goals and starting slow,” he says.  He describes the first meeting as a time when the therapist and the client get to know each other.  At this session, patients can explain why exercise has been difficult in the past and what they might be able to gain if they were able to participate in a regular program of physical activity.  Based on that information and other helpful data, a personalized plan is created.

Improved Health and Wellness

For some patients, losing weight is a benefit of the program.  But Thom says that the goal is not necessarily weight loss, but rather improvements in the way each patient is able to move through typical daily activities.  He also sees improvements in patients’ moods and attitudes.  “People love to tell their stories,” he says, “they experience small victories as their activity and comfort level improves.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Diabetes Activity Program, check out the Healthy Exercise section of the North Memorial Medical Center Healthy Weight Loss website.  You’ll also find information about getting a referral to the program on our Healthy Connections page.

NuVal System Helps Shoppers Buy Healthier Food

Look for NuVal at your grocery store.

Look for NuVal at your grocery store.

If you shop at certain Minnesota or Wisconsin grocers, you may notice a new system in place at your store.  The system, called NuVal, helps shoppers make better food choices.

How NuVal Works
Nu-Val is a scoring system that shows consumers the nutritional value of foods they buy. The system scores products based on nutritional factors that might be present in a product – everything from fiber and vitamins to sugar and sodium.  Products are given a score between 1 and 100 that is displayed on the product’s shelf tag, next to the price. The higher the NuVal score, the more nutritious the product.

Shoppers are encouraged to “trade up” to get the highest nutritional value within each food category.  For example, the average NuVal score for crackers is 19.  But you’ll see that some crackers that are better than others.  Triscuits Hint of Salt, for example, has a NuVal score of 38 and Old London Melba Unsalted Grain toast has a score of 91.

Is NuVal Right for You?

Advocates of NuVal say that the system is less complicated than reading the Nutrition Facts label.  That might be true, says Karen Palmer, RD, LD, CDE, a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at North Memorial Medical Center.  She supports the system for her clients that shop at NuVal stores.  Palmer says that it’s a good tool for people to guide them in improving their choices within food categories.

But she has not yet recommended NuVal yet for her clients with diabetes. She says that her patients with that condition really need to be looking at the total carbohydrates on the Nutrition Facts label due to its effect on blood glucose.  She works with those clients to “become very comfortable and knowledgeable in looking at the carbohydrate content.”

Where to find NuVal

In Minnesota, you’ll find the NuVal system at Lunds and Byerly’s stores, Coborn’s grocers around the state, or at Hy-Vee, in Faribault.  In Wisconsin you’ll find NuVal at Festival Foods. You can also request to get NuVal at your local store by talking to the store manager or by visiting the NuVal website.

Looking for more weight loss tips and advice?  Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website.  And get support and daily inspiration by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.

Satisfy Snack Cravings with a Simple Recipe

Orange basil water satisfies cravings

Orange basil water satisfies cravings

I don’t know about you, but when late afternoon hits, I start to crave snacks.  Am I hungry?  No.  I’m usually just bored.  One technique I’ve used to diminish the craving is to walk around my office and talk to a few other bored friends.  We usually hit the snack wall at the same time.  But another technique is to keep flavored water on hand.

Healthy Flavored Water

There are commercial brands of flavored water available for purchase.  These often contain empty calories.  A better option, and a cheaper alternative, is to make your own flavored water.  My favorite flavor is orange/basil.

It’s easiest to make a pitcher in the morning so it is available all day long.  To make orange basil water, simply fill a pitcher with water and add 5-6 basil leaves and about five orange slices.  Let it sit for 2 hours and voila!  This interesting combination is particularly good if you get cravings for salty or savory food in the afternoon.

Do you have other ideas for flavored water?  Add a comment below and tell me about it. Or chime in on the Healthy Weight Loss Facebook page. I love to hear from readers!

Exercise with Your Kids

Grab a ball and have fun!(photo source: cohdra/morguefile)

Grab a ball and have fun!
(photo source: cohdra/morguefile)

On Tuesday, I wrote about how to start an exercise program.  It can be an intimidating process and you may doubt your ability to stick with it.  But if you involve your kids, you probably have a greater chance of success.  Kids have an innate ability to turn everything into a game.  Their enthusiasm can inspire you to work harder and stick with your own program.

To get started, you should investigate different ways to involve your kids in a fitness program. Depending on the age of your children, you may also want to check with their pediatrician to be sure that there are no limitations.  But remember that the workout doesn’t have to be intense to be effective.  You just need to be consistent.

You’ll find plenty of great ideas and tips to engage the whole family at  The USDA site suggests that kids should be physically active 60 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week, for 6 out of 8 weeks. While you might assume that kids fulfill that requirement at school, many schools have had to cut physical education programs. Your best bet is to make exercise a family habit.

So what’s in it for you? To lose weight, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults exercise at least 150-250 minutes per week.  If you help your kids get their daily dose of exercise, you could easily lose weight as well.   So why not harness your kids’ playful spirit and have some fun while shedding pounds?  Hop on a bike, grab a jump rope, have a snowball fight, or go for a walk.  It’s good for the family and good for you, too.

Looking for more weight loss tips and advice?  Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website.  And get support and daily inspiration by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.




How to Start an Exercise Program

Time to get moving (source: alal/morguefile)

Time to get moving (source: alal/morguefile)

You probably already know that a healthy lifestyle includes exercise.  But starting a fitness program can be intimidating, especially if you haven’t exercised before.  Don’t worry.  Anyone can start a program and stick to it to improve their health.  The key is to start slowly and progress gradually.  Use these tips to set up a program that you’ll enjoy and that will benefit your health.

3 Tips for Starting an Exercise Program

  1. Ask for help.  No one expects you to be an expert, so ask for help!  Talk to your health care provider to make sure you are healthy enough for physical activity. Also, find out if there are any restrictions or guidelines that you should follow.   In some cases, you may be able to get a referral to an exercise specialist or physical therapist who can develop a program specifically for you.
  2. Focus on consistency.  Do something most days of the week.  The type of activity matters less than the regularity of your program.  No gym membership is required!  For example, just walk for 15-20 minutes when you come home from work.   You’ll build a habit that will allow you to make more progress in the future.
  3. Stretch, stretch, stretch! You’ll see the greatest benefit in the shortest period of time from stretching.  Flexibility exercises help to reduce stress, increase the range of motion in your joints and can make you more comfortable during the day.  If you only have 5 minutes to exercise, use that time to stretch.

Find out more about starting an exercise program at North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.  Then find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter to get daily tips and inspiration.

Diet-Proof Your Refrigerator

Get organized for good health.

Get organized for good health.

It’s nearly impossible to eat a healthy diet if you are surrounded by high-calorie, high-fat junk food.  So, if you are trying to improve your eating habits, why not clean out your refrigerator?

The goal is to remove food that is outdated or unhealthy to make room for fresh fruit, vegetables, and snacks that promote good health.  When you make good food easier to find and more convenient to prepare, you are much more likely to eat it.

3 Steps to a Clean and Healthy Refrigerator

  1. Remove all outdated food.  Remove any food that is past its due date.  Check condiments carefully as these are the foods that often go unused for a long period of time.
  2. Evaluate nutritional value of remaining food.   Learn to check nutritional labels and evaluate the foods you have left.   As you make decisions about food to keep and foods to toss, remember to take serving size into account.  For example, your favorite salad dressing may only have 3 grams of fat per serving, but if you generally use five times the recommended amount, then it’s probably not the best choice.  For more guidance about which foods to keep check out our list of Foods to Increase and Foods to Decrease
  3. Reorganize.   Take the remaining food and organize it in your refrigerator so that healthier foods are in front.  This may include fresh fruit, lean cold cuts, egg substitutes, chopped veggies or low fat dairy products like yogurt or skim milk. Make sure you have at least one space in the front of your refrigerator that contains only healthy items.  Move less healthy foods to the back.

What if I Share My Refrigerator?

It’s likely that there are other people who share your refrigerator.  They may be on board with your cleaning process, but if they aren’t, do just the first step above (no one needs outdated food) in order clean out a small section for yourself.  Use it to create your own “healthy zone” and ask your family or friends to respect that space by not adding or eating food from that area.

Now that your refrigerator is clean, you need to stock it with healthy food.   Check back on Thursday to find out how to fill your refrigerator to support good eating habits.

Looking for more weight loss tips and advice?  Check out the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss website.  And get support and daily inspiration by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter.