Eating healthy at the drive-through

Fast food restaurants offer convenience and speed, often at the cost of our health. But, believe it or not, it is possible to make healthy choices from the drive-through window. All you have to do is plan ahead.

First, you should ask to see nutritional information for the foods. Most fast food restaurants have this posted somewhere inside, and it is also available online.

Understand that your average fast-food meal can run as high as 1,000 calories or more and raise your blood sugar above your target range. If you’re looking for a healthy choice, your options may be limited.

If you are looking at a combo meal, ask to substitute a side salad, carrots or apple slices for the fries.

Think about how the food is cooked. Chicken and fish can be good choices, but they can have more calories and fat if they are breaded and/or deep fried.

And if you’re having fast food for one meal, compensate by making your other meals healthier. The rest of your day should include non-fried vegetables, fruit and whole grains.

If you’re ordering breakfast, choose an egg with a slice of whole-wheat toast or an English muffin. Fruit and yogurt are also safe options. Cold cereal with fat-free milk is also always a safe option, as are pancakes with sugar-free syrup or plain scrambled eggs.

Bacon and sausage, on the other hand, tend to be high in saturated fat. You should also avoid muffins. Even “low-fat” muffins are usually very high in calories, especially for the amount of food you’ll get.

If you order a burger, get it without cheese. You should also avoid rich sauces of mayonnaise. Instead, add flavor with mustard then use lettuce, tomato and onion to give it some crunch. Grilled or broiled sandwiches are also preferable.

But whatever you order, make sure you avoid anything with words like “jumbo, giant, deluxe, biggie-sized or super-sized.” Your wallet will tell you it’s a good deal, but your body will beg to differ.

SOMC volunteers make a difference for patients

Southern Ohio Medical Center’s team of volunteers donated more than 46,000 of work in 2014, making a significant impact on the experience of both patients and staff. SOMC honored their commitment during an Award and Recognition Luncheon on April 16.

“There is no greater way to give back to your community than to volunteer your time,” said Jenny Lavender, manager of volunteer services. “Our volunteers are truly an exemplary group of people.”

Volunteer Services brings together a team of retirees, students and anyone else wanting to give back to the community. Volunteers are given the opportunity to work in a variety of departments, including the Gift Gallery, Same Day Surgery, the Cancer Center, Hospice, the Pharmacy, Valet Services, Heart and Vascular and in fundraising activities. It gives volunteers the chance to make a difference in their community while honing valuable skills and making worthwhile contacts.

“Most volunteers say there is nothing better than knowing they have helped someone in need,” Lavender said. “It doesn’t matter if a volunteer commits to an hour or four hours; it makes a difference to the ones who are being encouraged.”

In addition to providing 46,632 hours of work, Volunteer Services also recruited 351 new volunteers in 2014. Knit for Hope volunteers donated 181 knitted hats and blankets to patients, and SOMC Guilds combined to raise and donate a total of $66,030.

For more information about volunteering opportunities at SOMC, contact the Volunteer Services Department at 740-356-8234.

Eating healthy on a budget

The first step to eating healthier is deciding you want to eat healthier, but even once you’ve gone that far there may be another obstacle holding you back – cost.

If seems like fresh foods always seem to cost more, but don’t let that become an excuse that keeps you from eating healthier. It is still possible to have a healthy diet on a reasonable budget. Here are some tips to show you how:

  1. Buy in bulk.  You can buy food in large portions, divide it out into individual servings and freeze it so it won’t go bad. This works well for lean meats and poultry. You can also save money by shopping at discount membership stores and by buying bags of fruit instead of individual pieces by the pound.
  2. Cook and store in bulk. Make dishes on the weekends that you can eat during the week, or that you can freeze and use at a later date. This can save you from more expensive options like frozen dinners, take-out food, or trips through the drive-through window.
  3. Manage the meat. Buy lean meat, poultry and fish when it’s on sale then freeze it for later use. Beans, tofu and eggs are also excellent choices for protein that are less expensive than pricier, animal protein.
  4. Be season-savvy. Fruits and vegetables are cheaper – and tastier – when they are in season. You can also save money by looking for reduced produce at the supermarket. They’re usually a day or two old, but are much less expensive.
  5. Go generic. Generic, or store brand, foods offer great savings and are typically just as nutritious as their more expensive counterparts.
  6. Stock up on staples. Brown rice, barley, dried or canned beans and whole-wheat pasta are great for stretching out meals at little cost. You can add brown rice to a canned vegetable soup, or mix lean ground beef with rinsed canned beans and whole-wheat elbow noodles.
  7. Plan ahead. Shopping without a list tends to mean you’ll buy more food, especially snacks.
  8. Don’t go to the store hungry. Being hungry will weaken your resolve. Nearly everything looks good on an empty stomach!
  9. Limit junk food. Ice cream, cookies and prepared frozen foods are not only unhealthy, they also tend to be the most expensive items in your cart. Instead, make snacks of fresh avocados, luscious grape tomatoes and crunchy apples.

Brownie Troop 339 donates cookies to Hospice

Brownie Troop 339 from Wheelersburg recently donated 186 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the patients at staff at SOMC Hospice. Pictured here, troop members pose alongside some of the cookies.

Developed in the 1980s, SOMC Hospice provides a special kind of care for terminally ill patients and their families. The focus of hospice is on pain-management, symptom control and supportive services that allow patients to complete their lives with dignity, purpose and peace. For more information about SOMC Hospice, visit

Susan G. Komen awards SOMC with Hands of Hope funding

The Columbus Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure recently announced they would be awarding Southern Ohio Medical Center $56,245 to support the hospital’s Hands of Hope Program.

“We are extremely grateful to have the continued support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure,” SOMC Director of Cancer Services Wendi Waugh said. “It will help ensure that local women without insurance or underinsured women can still receive their annual mammograms without the fear of medical bills.”

Hands of Hope is a grant-funded program at SOMC that provides free services such as mammograms and clinical breast exams. The program also seeks to educate women 40 years and older about the importance of early breast cancer detection, while supplying those already diagnosed with guidance and support.

When treated early, the five-year breast cancer survival rate is 98 percent. The SOMC Breast Navigator can be reached at 740-356-PINK. To learn more, visit or like SOMC on Facebook at

Development Foundation purchases new stretchers

The Emergency Department at Southern Ohio Medical Center recently purchased new stretchers with funds raised through the SOMC Development Foundation. The stretchers offered improved mobility, which makes transporting patients easier and safer. They also feature a bed alarm, which alerts medical staff of patient movement, decreasing falls, and allow patients to be weighed without ever leaving the bed.

Seen here with one of the new stretchers is SOMC President and CEO Randy Arnett, far left, and Director of Community Relations and Development Kara Redoutey, second from left. Also pictured, from left to right, are Emergency Department nurses Jason Donahoe, Ryan Souders, Karissa Couch, Jason Ross, Melissa Baily and Caylee Hopkins.

Amazing Race registration deadline is April 13

Fans of “The Amazing Race” have until April 13 to register for SOMC’s second annual Amazing Race competition.

The event will be held in conjunction with several local sponsors and is scheduled to take place April 25 at the Portsmouth LIFE Center.

The competition is comprised of a series of events meant to provide both a physical and mental challenge, while also being fun and entertaining.

Teams will compete against one another for the chance to win up to $2,500. Each team will start at the SOMC LIFE Center Gym and be routed to their first challenge. Once there, they must complete a task to move to the next challenge location. After successfully completing all challenges, teams must report to the SOMC LIFE Center Gym for final scoring.

The Amazing Race is open to participants ages 10 and older, with no more than four people on a team. The team captain must be 18 or older. One may compete as an individual but may be at a disadvantage during some of the challenges. Teams are encouraged to get creative with names and costumes.

Once a team has been formed, it has until April 13 to register. Registration is limited to 75 teams and may be completed at Cost is $150 per team and all participants will be asked to sign a waiver.

All proceeds from the race will benefit the SOMC Development Foundation Community Health and Wellness Fund, which supports health and fitness opportunities in our community.

LIFE Center celebrates 30 years with “Spring Into Fitness”

In celebration of its 30 years of business, the LIFE Centers of Southern Ohio Medical Center will open its doors to the public, free of charge, March 20-April 3 as part of the “Spring Into Fitness” event.

During these two weeks, non-members and their children are invited to utilize any of the LIFE Center facilities, located in Portsmouth, Wheelersburg, and Lucasville. Children ages 14 and older are welcome to use the facilities during any of the open access times, while children under the age of 14 are welcome during family hours (with the supervision of a parent/guardian).

Members will also be rewarded March 20-April 3, earning one LIFE Center Buck for every visit they make during those two weeks. LIFE Center Bucks can be redeemed for LIFE Center merchandise and personal training sessions.

A LIFE Center Open House will also take place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 31 at the Portsmouth facility. The event will feature gym tours and guest speaker Nicole Nichols, fitness expert. New members who sign-up during the open house will have their joining fee waived.

Open access times for the two-week trial period will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays (family hours); and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays (family hours).

Bring your family, try-out the facility, and experience the large selection of group fitness activities! For more info, please call 740-356-7650.


Understanding diabetes and pre-diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a dangerous disease, and one for which there is no cure. In 2010, it was estimated that 79 million Americans ages 20 and older had pre-diabetes – and even more were at risk.

There are a number of factors that can increase your odds of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Some are controllable, while others are not. Some of these factors include:

  • Being overweight
  • Exercising fewer than three times each week
  • Having a family history of diabetes
  • Being older than 45
  • Having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy)
  • Having high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Having a history of heart disease
  • Being African-American, Hispanic, American-Indian or Pacific Islander
  • Having given birth to a baby 9 pounds or larger
  • Having a history of some other endocrine conditions, like polycystic ovary syndrome

Fortunately, pre-diabetes and type-2 diabetes can often be prevented. Research shows that reducing your body weight by 5 to 10 percent – or 10 to 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds – can cut your diabetes risk in half.

If you are diagnosed with diabetes, however, the first thing you should do is set up a diabetes care team. The first step is to make sure you have a primary care doctor. Your physician can help you recruit the rest of the team, which should include a:

  • Diabetes or nurse educator to help you manage daily aspects of diabetes. This includes how to take insulin shots and how to identify low blood sugar reactions.
  • Registered dietician to help you plan a healthy diet.
  • Optometrist or ophthalmologist (eye doctor) to watch for diabetic eye disease.
  • Social worker or psychologist to help you cope with the emotional side of diabetes.
  • Podiatrist (foot doctor) to help prevent, diagnose and treat foot complications from diabetes.
  • Dentist to take care of your teeth and gums.
  • Exercise physiologist to help develop a fitness program for you.
  • Pharmacist to answer questions related to medication.

To goal of managing diabetes is to keep blood sugar levels under control to prevent complications. Your team will tell you where your blood sugar level should be. You may need to check your blood sugar levels several times a day – this is especially important right after being diagnosed, starting new medication or changing doses.