Menu App Helps Diners Find Healthier Food

Download the app on your smartphone.

Download the app on your smartphone.

There are plenty of smartphone apps that help dieters count calories and monitor food activity.  But a relatively new app called Everyone Eat helps diners with chronic conditions find restaurant food that fits within their specific health guidelines.

How to Download and Use Everyone Eat

The handy tool is available for both Android smartphones and iPhones.  After downloading the app, follow a few online steps to set up the system.  You’ll enter basic information (age, gender, height, weight, activity level), and chronic health conditions or dietary restrictions. The data is then used to calculate a dietary profile that fits within the guidelines of  health associations including, the American Diabetes Association, the National Kidney Foundation, the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, and many others.

After set-up, you can use the app to find a restaurant, a specific type of cuisine or to evaluate specific menu items at your favorite spot.  For example, if you listed hypertension as one of your conditions and mexican food as your desired cuisine, the app will locate restaurants in your area and suggest menu items that fit the recommended guidelines for people with high blood pressure. The app will also offer alerts if certain foods fall outside of the recommended guidelines for your condition.

Stay Connected to Your Registered Dietitian

Everyone Eat is a convenient tool, but it is not a replacement for the personalized care offered by your registered dietitian.  You can, however, use the app to connect with your RD. Follow prompts on the app to set up the connection between you and your nutritional professional.  Then you can work together you can make the best food choices to improve your health.

Looking for more handy smartphone apps?  Check back on Thursday for a list of favorite tools.


How to Become a More Active Family

Grab the kids and go for a walk!

Grab the kids and go for a walk!

Do you know how much physical activity you should get each day?   Adults need 2½ hours a week of physical activity each week (about 20 minutes per day), and children need 60 minutes a day.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and sweat on a machine.  There are easier ways to get the healthy exercise you and your kids need to stay fit and trim.

Easy Ways to Exercise

As a community partner of the USDA ChooseMyPlate initiative, the North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss program supports the great advice offered by that organization.  Recently, they provided a downloadable tip sheet to help families get active and get healthy.  You’ll find ideas and information to help beginning level exercisers include more activity into each day.

Benefits of Family Exercise

As you build an exercise program in your home, you may notice a few benefits for you and for your kids.  These may include:

  • improved self-confidence
  • team building, camaraderie among siblings
  • greater interest in healthy eating, activities
  • less time in front of the television

Studies have also shown that children who exercise on a regular basis have a lower risk of developing diabetes, obesity and other common conditions as they age.  In some studies, active children have also demonstrated better performance in school.

Check out the resources at your local park or community center to find a list of inexpensive or free activities in your area.

Still not sure when you’ll find time to exercise?  Download our exercise time finder and use it during your next family dinner to schedule your family fitness time.


How to Keep Kids Healthy and Active

With snow still on the ground, it’s hard to believe that summer is just around the corner. But it is!  Before you know it, the kids will be home from school and you’ll be scavenging  to find creative ways to feed and entertain them.  Your best bet is to start  planning now.

Make Gradual Changes

In a video for, North Memorial Physician Assistant Beth Rahberg, PA-C, provides tips for keeping your children healthy. These are also good habits to practice over the summer.  During the spring months, try to introduce one of these tips every 10-14 days. Then, when summer vacation begins, the kids will move more seamlessly into their new healthy habits.

Click on the image to view


Tips for Healthy Children

  1. Get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.  Take the kids to the local farmer’s market and let them pick out new varieties of fruits and veggies that they find interesting.
  2. Don’t drink your fruit!  Keep a bowl of fruit on the counter or on the front shelf of your refrigerator to encourage  kids to snack on whole fruit.  Add fresh fruit (like berries or citrus slices) to a pitcher of water for a refreshing alternative to fruit juice.
  3. Limit screen time to 2 hours or less.  Set the limits now, so less screen time doesn’t come as a surprise when summer vacation starts.
  4. Encourage one hour of exercise each day.  The best way to get your kids to exercise is to do it with them. Grab a ball or a Frisbee and head to the park.  Hop on your bikes or go to the community pool for some active family time.
  5. No sodas or sweetened beverages.  Sweetened teas, sodas, even sports drinks are full of empty calories and sugar.  You’ll save money and encourage better eating habits if you leave those items at the store.

For a longer list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, visit North Memorial Healthy Weight Loss.  You’ll also find tips and videos that will help you start an exercise program.  And don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Fitness Tips from a Real Client: “How I Lost 200 Pounds”

Kyle benchpressing Julie Lother, his devoted trainer.

Kyle benchpressing Julie Lother, his devoted trainer.

Did you read Tuesday’s inspiring story of a family’s transformation?  Jill, a nurse at North Memorial, not only improved her own health by joining the employee fitness center, but she helped her son lose nearly two hundred pounds and got her husband to get healthy as well.

Now Kyle, Jill’s son, tells his own story and offers advice for others who find themselves intimidated at the thought of joining a gym or working out.

Kyle’s Story: The Pain of Reality

My fitness journey began with a difficult shock.  When I stepped on a treadmill for the first time, I had no idea of the shape my body was really in.  I could barely walk for 30 minutes at a slow 3 mph.  At nearly 400 pounds, I didn’t see myself the way I did before I stepped on the scale.

That first day ignited a huge self-esteem blow and I wanted to cry.  My trainer Julie only turned that fire into a raging bonfire.  But there was calm after the storm.  I hated her during the workouts, but loved her afterwards. I knew why she pushed me so I continued, and still continue, to try.

An Important Bond Creates Success

To this day I have lost around 200 pounds of fat and gained about 20 pounds of muscle.  I can’t thank Julie enough for changing my health. I currently eat a high protein diet consisting of six to seven meals a day. I don’t eat past seven and devote one day to gorge day where I go wild and eat what ever I want.

I am energized and focused on things in my day and am much happier. Exercise is not torture. You see people at the gym and yeah, it’s intimidating.  But there are many different ways to exercise.  I haven’t been to a gym since I moved and have kept my weight loss going.   

If I can do it, anyone can.  Exercise is not a workout for me but a mental focus. Once I pushed through the mental barrier that says ‘don’t do this’ it became easy.  These are three pieces of advice that I’ve learned over the years that will make the journey easier.

 Kyle’s Tips for Success

  1. Find a trainer who loves their job and is fun and happy. This makes it easier on you to want to work out.
  2. Don’t try to want to look like someone else. It won’t happen. Make your goals to be the best YOU can be.
  3. Be devoted. Results won’t appear over night but being consistent is the key. You have to want it.

I am living proof that change can happen.  My trainer Julie made me see that anything is possible and in turn, my transformation makes her love her job. I look forward to pushing myself and becoming stronger.


Have you visited the North Memorial Medical Center Healthy Weight Loss website and Facebook page.  Go “friend” us right now, then check back here on Tuesdays and Thursdays for up to date news about diet, exercise and healthy living.

The Healing Power of Exercise: A Mom’s Tale

Kyle benchpressing Julie Lother, his devoted trainer.

Kyle benchpressing Julie Lother, his devoted trainer.

Trainers and weight loss coaches advertise the benefits of exercise all day long.  It’s our job and most of us get pretty good at it.  But once in a while, a special client does it better by telling their story in a way that encourages and inspires others.

Trainer Julie Lother has a client who did just that. Julie is the Fitness Director of Fit@North, the employee health and wellness program of North Memorial Medical Center.  Her client, Jill, shared her unique story of how exercise changed her body, healed her heart and spread wellness throughout her family.

Jill’s Story: A New Beginning

When I turned 40, I started asking myself questions about the second half of my life.  What are my genetic risks?  Will I get osteoarthritis? Can I prevent being injured on the job?  How can I stay well as the primary wage earner for the family? Will I be able to continue to enjoy my current lifestyle?

I started to find answers one day at workplace health fair.  My employer, North Memorial Medical Center, provides a gym that is open 24 hours a day.   I know that it is hard to motivate myself to exercise at home.  This way I could workout with a trainer right after my shift.  So I signed up to exercise 3 times a week. 

Once a week, I met with Julie, my trainer.  I loved her support and feared her challenges.  I burned, ached and sweated until I began to see the scale fall back and the inches drop off.  My strength grew and my energy multiplied.  I loved working out and training with Julie.  I felt great!

But my heart was sad.  I had a son who had become stuck in an unhealthy life style.  Junk food, soda pop and sedentary entertainment had taken their toll on his body.  He weighed over 400 pounds.  I needed to help him avoid the same fears I had and feel the benefits I had achieved.

A Mother’s Persistence Creates Change

I wanted my son, Kyle, to experience the same transformation that I enjoyed.  But, I knew that the gym was only for employees.  So, I talked to Julie and she understood my concern.  She allowed Kyle to come to the gym, anyway. 

On our very first day, we walked on the treadmill.  The scope of this challenge became clear: my young adult son couldn’t walk for more than 5 minutes without stopping to catch his breath.   He wasn’t sure he wanted to come back after the first day. But I encouraged him to keep trying for at least a week.

We began to go the gym every day.   We walked on the treadmill and talked together and eventually it got easier.  Julie was there each time, giving my son encouraging smiles and high fives.  A new friendship was forming.  Kyle trusted Julie and made major changes to his diet.  No more soda, no more snacks and lots of water. 

Weeks turned into months and Kyle’s strength and endurance grew.  His short walks turned into 30-minute runs and he even began benchpressing Julie!.  The weight started to melt away.  Eighteen months after that grueling first day, he was 160 pounds lighter and ready to live life.

But the change was more than just physical.  Kyle felt better about himself.  He met a girl and got a new job in Ohio.  Before moving, he thanked Julie for giving him a new life.  Now, he continues his health habits and is making new ones.  He bikes 5 miles to and from work every day.  He lost an additional 20 pounds and even surprised Julie on a recent trip home.

Moving Forward with a New Partner

With Kyle in a good place, my heart was happy. But I was without a workout partner.  I talked my husband into joining me one day.  He was hesitant about the plan, and like my son, didn’t want to return after the first day.  But Julie knew just what to do.

The tiny trainer played her ‘Mighty Mouse’ role; hand on hip, finger shaking at his nose. “Mister, I will see you tomorrow,” she barked.  It worked!  Now my husband joins me daily.  He has had some physical challenges during his life but Julie can adapt routines to accommodate his needs.  She mixes silliness, challenges, jokes and authority to make a tough workout effective and fun.  He has lost 30 pounds so far and is more flexible than ever.

I am truly proud of my son and his achievements.  I thank Julie for her open arms, her belief in Kyle, and her dedication to helping people. Our lives have changed because of her.  We have less stress and healthier bodies.  We love to work out together and have a friend who really cares about us.   Being healthy and feeling good makes everything else in life easier.


Have you visited the North Memorial Medical Center Healthy Weight Loss website and Facebook page.  Go “friend” us right now, then check back on Thursday, when Kyle shares his 3 best tips for overcoming challenges and getting fit.

Fad Diets: Learn to Read the Small Print

Save your money and see an R.D. instead.

Save your money and see an R.D. instead.

“If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.”

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably been tempted by the attractive claims of  trendy diet programs.  The flashy books, DVDs, pills and powders come in all shapes and sizes, but they often make similar claims of quick and easy weight loss. Most will offer “scientific evidence” that their plan is effective.  But do any of them really work?

Different Packages, Same Product

Some fad diets work, but not in the way you think they do.  If you read the small print of most weight loss programs you’ll see that almost every one relies on the same fundamental principle of weight loss – eating less food.  So while the flashy package may advertise that you can eat whatever you want and lose weight quickly, the small print will reveal that you need to restrict calories.  The small print will also reveal that you can expect weight loss at a reasonable rate of 1-2 pounds per week.

The Overnight Diet is a perfect example.  The new book recently hit the book shelves and the weight loss program is getting significant media attention.  According to the diet’s advertising claims, you can lose up to 2 pounds overnight and up to 9 pounds in a week – simply by getting enough sleep.  Sound too good to be true?  It is.  If you read the small print, you’ll see that the diet requires you to fast one day each week and eat a reduced calorie diet that is based on lean proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables during the other six days.  Doesn’t sound so simple anymore, does it?

Protect Yourself from Diet Scams

So how do you prevent yourself from falling victim to one of these diet scams?  Rather than investing in a quick fix approach to weight loss, invest the time and money in a meeting with a registered dietitian.  If you are interested in a particular type of eating plan, the nutritional expert can give you more information about why the plan may or may not work.  Then, the R.D. can develop a personalized eating plan that fits into your lifestyle and helps you reach your own personal goals.

Talk to your doctor about meeting with a registered dietitian.  In many cases, the appointment will be covered by your insurance plan.  By taking the time to invest in a healthy approach to weight loss, you increase the chances of reaching your goal weight and keeping the pounds off for good.

Have you joined the Healthy Weight Loss Facebook community? Do it now to get more tips and advice about diet trends, healthy eating and exercise.

How to Burn More Calories at Work

Treadmill desk from TrekDesk

Treadmill desk from TrekDesk

The most common reason that people give for not exercising is lack of time. Many people work at least one full time job and care for family members on their “off” time. Even if we do have time for exercise, we are often too tired at the end of the day to do any physical activity. So wouldn’t it be great if you could complete your workout at the office? With a treadmill desk, or tread desk, some people are doing just that.

Walk While You Work
David Abrams, Vice President of Human Resources at North Memorial Medical Center has used a tread desk for seven months. He says that that using the device helps him get in a workout on days when he normally wouldn’t. He also says that using the treadmill desk helps him to enjoy a positive exercise experience during the day.

David didn’t purchase the tread desk himself. He found out that one had been in storage at his workplace. “I like to walk,” he says. “It seemed like a good, easy way to get in some extra exercise.” He asked hospital maintenance staff to assemble the device and has been using it daily ever since. He doesn’t stick to a specific schedule for using the active work station but simply gets on it whenever he is not in meetings or out of the office.

Benefits of Using a Tread Desk
The most obvious benefit of using a treadmill desk is that you burn more calories during the day. TrekDesk, a manufacturer of treadmill desks, says that people who use these active workstations burn 6-7 times more calories than their sedentary counterparts. They also point to a recent study from Brigham Young University which suggests that women who participate in moderate exercise during the day are less preoccupied with food.

In addition to the calorie burning effect, walking on a treadmill has several other benefits. It can reduce workday stress, improve the range of motion in your joints, and help you to sleep better at night. If you walk on a regular basis and get 150 minutes of moderate walking time during the week, you can also improve your overall health by decreasing your risk for conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

Create Your Own Healthy Work Space

Standing workstation

Standing workstation

If your workplace doesn’t have a designated tread desk, there are other options that will help you enjoy the benefits of workday exercise. Try to walk for at least 5-10 minutes of every hour. Set a timer on your desk to remind yourself to get out of your chair and get moving through hallways, on outdoor paths or even between cubicles. If you’re up for a challenge, find a set of stairs and climb a few flights to break up your day.

Encourage coworkers to get up and move around as well. Get creative and create a standing workstation that coworkers can share. Move an office computer to a counter height space and take turns spending an hour or so at the standing desk to decrease the time you spend sitting in a chair.