How to avoid overeating at a holiday meal

No matter what holidays you celebrate this season, there is one thing that’s almost always involved – food, and lots of it.

Family feasts are a holiday tradition, and they can make it difficult to maintain healthy eating habits. If you’re not careful, your efforts to shed unwanted weight – or at least avoid putting more on – during the winter months can be undone by a barrage of candy, eggnog and pumpkin pie.

In order to keep December celebrations from becoming January regrets, try to keep in mind what the holidays are really about – it’s about people, not food. Concentrate on socializing and having fun. Enjoy conversations with relatives or old friends and don’t feel like you need to eat until you burst.

You should also plan to focus on healthier holiday options. For example, you’ll be better off with chicken or turkey breast than you would be with beef prime rib. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to put a limit on desserts.

Here are some other tips to help you avoid over-indulgence:

  1. Don’t arrive to a holiday dinner on an empty stomach! You may think that skipping a meal prior to the feast will allow you to splurge, but it will actually just cause you to overeat and consume more calories than you would have if you’d eaten something beforehand.
  2. Offer to bring a healthy dish. Not only does it keep you from showing up empty-handed, but it makes sure there’s something on the menu you can eat without feeling guilty.
  3. Avoid excess alcohol, and don’t sit within arm’s length of the snacks. There are calories in every drink and every treat you consume. The more you take in before the meal, the less you can consume once the main course is ready.
  4. Select small portions. It’s all about moderations, so don’t feel like you need to load down your plate.
  5. Eat slowly! Take small bites, chew slowly and enjoy the meal. Not only will this help you savor the taste, but it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize that you’re full. Taking your time is an easy way to avoid overeating.
  6. Leave the table when you’re finished. If you linger at the table, you’ll be tempted to continue eating even if you’re not hungry. A big part of winning is knowing when to quit.


Enjoying the holidays after losing a loved one

The holidays can be painful when there is somebody missing. Making it through the season after the loss of a loved one can be difficult, but there are ways you can make it a little bit easier.

First, you should know that whatever you happen to feel is the right thing to feel. Know that nobody else will feel the same thing, at the same time in the same way that you do, but that does not mean those feelings are inappropriate. In general, people dealing with the loss of a loved one tend to feel sadness, depression, anxiety, fear, anger, guilt and even apathy.

While it is important for you to move forward with your life, this is generally not the best time to make drastic changes. Starting a new life in a new town, or spending the holidays faraway among others who do not understand your situation, will not make things easier. You may decide to change specific routines, like where you eat your holiday meal or how you distribute gifts. If you do, consider designing your new rituals in such a way that allows you to remember the past while acknowledging that the present has changed.

In a time when you may be feeling as if you’ve lost control of your life, focus on ways you can take it back. You can exhibit control over your circumstances by choosing to take care of yourself, for example. Healthy eating, responsible drinking and even starting an exercise program are ways to remind yourself that – no matter what else has happened – you still can control the way your life plays out. These steps have the added bonus of making you feel better, both mentally and physically. A brisk walk each day is one of the best exercises you can perform, especially if you can do it outdoors.

Consider purchasing a special ornament or tree to commemorate your loved one. Doing so can make remembering them a special part of the season, and one that will help others who are grieving know that they are dealing with the loss together.

But most importantly, do not forget that you are not alone. Many people struggle with loss during the holidays. If you need it, they can offer you help and perspective to make this season a little brighter. To find out about support groups that may be able to offer assistance, contact SOMC Hospice at 740-356-2567.

Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution

For many people, the shift from December to January brings with it a significant change in priorities. Physical fitness and exercise often finds itself pushed aside during hectic holiday schedules and buried under plates of Christmas treats only to reemerge a month later as one of our most common and enduring New Year’s resolutions.

It is not necessary for the change to be that dramatic, however, because it may be easier than you think to build healthy habits even in the midst of the holiday traditions. Here are some tips to help you begin or maintain healthy habits throughout December:

Be flexible when your days get busy. If your typical time to exercise conflicts with a holiday party, for example, that doesn’t mean you have to choose one over the other. You can still exercise by waking up an hour earlier and taking a walk before work, or opting for a brisk walk during your lunch hour. No matter how busy you are, you always have time to move.

Figure out ways to combine exercising and family commitments. For example, haul the kids up a hill a few times so they can sled back down. You’ll build muscles and memories at the same time.

Book a long weekend getaway somewhere warm for January or February. Anytime you feel like slacking off, think about how you’ll want to look when you’re relaxing on the beach.

Create a workout routine that you can complete without going to the gym. Being stuck in the house doesn’t mean you can’t do crunches, pushups and many other exercises that don’t require any equipment.

Walk! Whether you’re taking the family on a hike through the woods or taking a stroll through the stores of a mall, walking is an exercise that you can do no matter where you are.

If the air feels too cold to breath, stay inside. Part of staying healthy is listening to your body’s cues. Cold air can trigger exercise-induced asthma (EIA). Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, chest pain and shortness of breath.

And finally, try asking Santa for some weights, a treadmill, an elliptical machine or a stationary bike. Having your own equipment and knowing how to use it will keep you motivated and help you stay on track.

What could you afford if you quit smoking?

Given the choice, would you rather watch this year’s Super Bowl live as a VIP… or at home with a couple packs of cigarettes?

It’s a fair question, because anytime you buy cigarettes, you are turning down every other item that you could have bought with that money.

To put into perspective just how expensive smoking can be, consider this:

In New York, where high taxes affect the cost of a pack of cigarettes, low-income smokers spend as much as 25% of their money to support their habit. That is one out of every four dollars, literally up in smoke. Smoking just two packs-a-day comes out to approximately $7,400 a year.

Can you think of a better use for $7,400? In case you need some help, here are a few suggestions. Just by quitting smoking, and without earning a penny more, you could:

• Lease a 5-series BMW and have enough left over for gas

• Go on a sailing vacation in the Galapagos with your spouse… every year.

• Start a college fund for your 4-year old child – and have enough to completely cover their tuition at a private university by the time they turn 18

• Purchase VIP seats for you and a friend at every Super Bowl

Those are just a few of the luxuries that smokers could enjoy simply by quitting the habit. Plus, the tremendous health benefits of kicking the habit means a longer life to enjoy those luxuries.

Of course, quitting smoking is not easy no matter what the incentive. But it also isn’t something that you have to do alone. Southern Ohio Medical Center offers smoking cessation classes that are completely free of charge. To find out how you can sign up, contact SOMC Community Health and Wellness at 740-356-2552.

‘Burg Middle School samples fitness class

The Wheelersburg Middle School recently invited the SOMC LIFE Center to teach the students about fitness. The 6th, 7th and 8th graders participated in yoga, piloxing and Zumba. To find out how you can enjoy the fitness opportunities of the SOMC LIFE Center, call 740-356-7650.

Your health improves 20 minutes after you stop smoking

When you quit smoking, it doesn’t take long for your health to improve. In fact, even if you don’t notice, you’re actually a healthier person just 20 minutes after you set down your last cigarette.

Twenty minutes after you quit, your heart rate drops to a normal level.

Twelve hours after you quit, carbon monoxide levels in your blood drop to a normal level.

Two to three weeks after you quit, your risk of having a heart attack drops. Your lung function also begins to improve.

One to nine months after you quit, coughing and shortness of breath decreases.

One year after you quit, your risk of coronary heart disease reduces to half that of a smoker’s.

Five to fifteen years after you quit, your risk of stroke drops to that of a non-smoker’s… and your risk of getting cancer in your mouth, throat and esophagus becomes half that of a smoker’s.

Ten years after you quit, your lung cancer death rate is about half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of getting bladder cancer is half that of a smoker’s. Your risk of getting cervical cancer, cancer of the larynx, kidney and pancreas all decreases.

Fifteen years after you quit, your risk of coronary heart disease is the same as that of a non-smoker’s.

SOMC provides Safe Sleep Kits

Maternity Services at Southern Ohio Medical Center are joining with other hospitals throughout the state to participate in the Ohio Hospital Association’s Safe Sleep Campaign.

“Ohio has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation, and as leaders in our communities, hospitals are ideal partners to help address this issue in a coordinated and targeted way,” Jone Stone, nurse manager of SOMC Maternity Services said.

Statistics show that between the years of 2008-2012, Infant Mortality Rates (or deaths that occurred under one-year of age per 1,000 live births) have averaged 6.1 across the United States, 7.7 in Ohio, and 9.7 in Scioto County. In addition, from 2007-2011, 819 infants died in Ohio due to a sleep-related death (or instances caused from unsafe sleeping environments or positions).

“These statistics are the reason that SOMC, OHA and other Ohio hospitals have been working closely with the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio division of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality, and other partners to launch the Safe Sleep Campaign,” Stone said. “This initiative is the beginning of addressing this tragic problem in Ohio and could potentially save more than 150 infants annually.”

As part of the campaign, the OHA and its Foundation for Healthy Communities will distribute 25,000 free safe sleep take-home kits to partnering hospitals to be given to maternity families at the time of discharge. The kits are aimed at teaching parents the ABC’s of Safe Sleep (which stand for Alone, on Baby’s Back, and Crib), and contain an insulated diaper bag, a “This Side Up” sleeper, a Sleep Baby Safe and Snug board book, and other educational materials.

Stone said that additional education opportunities and newborn safety initiatives will be put into action in 2015. Staff members of SOMC Maternity Services have already planned to increase their knowledge by attending the 2014 Ohio Infant Mortality Summit, given by the Ohio Collaborative to Prevent Infant Mortality, in December 2014.

“We’re happy to assist the OHA and agree that this is a wonderful opportunity to draw attention to the importance of providing a safe sleeping environment for our babies,” Stone added. “We hope that these efforts, combined with others,  will continue to lower the state-wide rate of infant mortality.”

SOMC named 13th on Modern Healthcare list

Southern Ohio Medical Center is proud to announce it has once again been named one of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare Magazine.

This year’s winners were ranked on one of two separate lists for either healthcare provider/insurer or healthcare supplier. SOMC ranked 13th among providers/insurers nationwide and 2nd in the category of large providers. This is the fifth consecutive year that SOMC has been featured on this list.

“We are honored to be recognized as one of the best healthcare facilities to work for in America by Modern Healthcare,” SOMC President and CEO Randy Arnett said. “Being named to this list is a tremendous accomplishment and says a lot about both the quality of people and the quality of care you can expect to find at SOMC.”

The Best Places to Work in Healthcare award recognizes employers for creating workplaces that enable employees to perform at their optimum level while providing the best possible patient care and services. Approximately 300 companies deemed as both providers/insurers and suppliers applied to be on this year’s list.

“It’s all about our employees,” Arnett said. “Our employees love what they do, and sustaining a great place to work ultimately allows them to continue providing exceptional care to our patients and their families.”

To achieve this designation, SOMC completed a culture audit questionnaire. The Best Places Group then surveyed SOMC employees regarding policies, practices, benefits, leadership and planning, training and development, and overall satisfaction.

Modern Healthcare revealed the ranked order of the 2014 Best Places to Work in Healthcare at an awards gala in Chicago on Oct. 23.

“SOMC is a great place to work and people want to be a part of that. This distinction, as well as our Magnet designation, VPP Star status, and FORTUNE Best Places to Work award, shows that there is something special at SOMC,” Ken Applegate, director of Human Resources, said. “These accolades are a great source of pride for our employees and our community and we are honored to be featured among some of the most impressive healthcare providers in the country.”


Obesity can lead to other problems

Obesity can lead to a variety of health problems, including cancer. In fact, it raises your risk of getting at least 13 types of cancer… and studies have shown that one in three cancer deaths can be traced back to excess body weight, poor nutrition and/or physical inactivity.

The link between obesity and cancer has to do with the overall affect excess weight has on your body. It negatively affects your immune system, how your body’s cells grow and divide and even your levels of certain hormones and proteins.

It’s a serious issue, and one that affects two out of every three Americans.

You may feel like you could stand to lose a few pounds, but whether or not you’re technically overweight or obese can be boiled down to one number – and it isn’t your weight. It’s your BMI.

To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight by 703. Then, multiply your height in inches against itself (if you’re 70 inches tall, your formula would be 70 times 70). Then divide the first number into the second number to determine your BMI.

If your BMI is between 18.5 and 25, you’re in a normal weight range. If it’s lower, you are underweight. If it’s 25-30, you’re overweight. If your BMI is more than 30, you’re obese.

And if that’s the case, it’s no secret what your next steps should be. You should try to decrease how many calories you consume and increase how many calories you burn. Cutting out 500 calories a day will result in you losing one pound every week – after a year, that’s 52 pounds!

While actually cutting those calories may seem like a daunting task, there are various ways that SOMC may be able to help. For more information, visit or contact the SOMC LIFE Center at 740-356-7650.