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Educational Articles

Put Your Best Fork Forward During National Nutrition Month


Crash diets, elimination diets and the latest juice craze may lead to some weight loss, but making lasting, long-term improvements to your overall wellbeing requires a commitment to healthful lifestyle behaviors, with an emphasis on sustainable, enjoyable eating practices and daily physical activity.

Eating a variety of healthful foods helps reduce the risk of preventable chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Your healthy eating plan should include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy and lean proteins.

The Wellness Department at Southeastern Med recommends taking things one forkful at a time – starting with small changes to your eating habits. Try swapping your morning glass of OJ or apple juice for a serving fresh orange or apple slices. Whole fresh fruits offer added nutritional value, without the added sugar that processed or packaged fruit juices contain.

Remember though, how much you eat is just as important as what you eat, and there’s a difference between portion size and serving size.

Portion size is the amount of food on your plate, like a 12-ounce steak. Serving size is the amount of food in a single serving. Nutrition facts are based on serving size. The USDA recommended serving size for protein is about 6 ounces, so that 12-ounce portion of steak on your plate counts as two servings.

One small change you and your family can make is tailoring your portion sizes to the serving sizes recommended in the USDA Dietary Guidelines. Ellen Ratliff (MS, RD, LD), a Community Dietitian at Southeastern Med, suggests following this simple template for your meals:

  • 1-2 palms of lean protein
  • 1-2 fists of non-starchy vegetables
  • 1-2 cupped handfuls of healthy carbohydrates
  • 1-2 thumbs of heart-healthy fats

“This [template] allows me a huge amount of flexibility and helps me feel good about the food choices I make at every meal,” she says. Check out the new MyPlate illustration, an update on the old food pyramid, which focuses on creating balanced meals with a variety of food types.

Shelly Thompson (MS, RD, LD), Director of Wellness Resources at Southeastern Med, finds it helpful to plan her meals in advance. “When I have downtime, I’ll jot down meal ideas for the coming week, find any recipes I want to use, and make a shopping list,” she says. “That way, when I get to the grocery store, I know exactly what I need and I’m not tempted to add extra items to my cart.”

Sunday mornings, Thompson says, are reserved for meal prep. “I cut up vegetables, separate proteins into individual serving sizes, and portion out all the other ingredients I need for that week’s meals. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and prepping makes it easy to put a balanced meal together quickly.”

Exercise is also an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Ratliff and Thompson both suggest scheduling time to work out like you would any other appointment.

"You may start your day with the intention of hitting the gym after work, but it’s easy to shrug it off if you have a long or busy day,” Ratliff notes. Thompson nods in agreement, adding “scheduling time in my day to exercise helps me stay accountable to myself.”

Try out the USDA’s SuperTracker, which helps you plan, analyze and monitor your diet and physical activity. To get a little extra movement in your day park further away from the entrance and take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Southeastern Med is celebrating National Nutrition Month and Registered Dietitian Day (March 8th) by featuring delicious and nutritious salads, custom-designed by our Registered Dietitians, in the hospital cafeteria. They’re offering a Buy 5, Get 1 Free special on these featured salads, as well as discounts on items from the Fit Fare menu. Other fun happenings this month include:

  • Make-your-own oatmeal and yogurt topping bars, which will alternate during breakfast hours, to add a greater variety of fruits, nuts, flavor and fiber
  • A Hydration Challenge competition with other local companies to encourage healthy beverage selection and striving for the recommended 8 or more glasses of water per day

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about diets, food, and nutrition, so if you’re serious about embracing a healthy lifestyle, talk with a Registered Dietitian at Southeastern Med. As experts in food and nutrition, they can help you take the right steps towards a healthier lifestyle. Contact the Southeastern Med Wellness Department at 740-435-2946 to schedule a nutrition consultation.



What Is Colorectal Cancer?

colon cancer at a glance

Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel, and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.

Screening Saves Lives

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re age 50 or older, getting a colorectal cancer screening test could save your life!

Here’s how:

  • Colorectal cancer usually starts as precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn’t be there.
  • Over time, some polyps can turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.
  • Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.

Who Gets Colorectal Cancer?

Both men and women can develop colorectal cancer, and while it can occur in young people, it’s most often found in those older than 50.

Your risk of colon cancer increases with age, but there are other risk factors as well.

Are You at High Risk?

Your risk for colorectal cancer may be higher than average if:

  • You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
  • You have inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis.
  • You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

People at high risk for colorectal cancer may need earlier or more frequent testing.

Download this PDF from Screen for Life to learn more about colorectal cancer, and talk to your doctor about when to begin your regular colorectal cancer screenings and how often you should have them.

Cholesterol & Heart Disease

cholesterol heart disease

If you have high cholesterol, you’re also at higher risk for heart disease. But the good news is, it’s a risk you can control. You can lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise your “good” HDL cholesterol. You just have to make some simple changes.

Ban Trans Fats
They raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and increase your risk of developing heart disease and stroke, but it’s hard to avoid them. They’re found in fried foods, baked goods (cakes, pie crusts, frozen pizza, and cookies), and stick margarines.

That’s why the FDA is taking steps to remove them from the food supply. How can you avoid them in the meantime? When you go shopping, read the labels. But be careful if you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on the package. That’s just a fancy name for trans fat.

Get Moving
Exercising at least 150 minutes a week is enough to raise HDL and improve LDL and triglycerides. If you haven’t been active, start slowly – even 10-minute blocks of activity count! Choose an exercise you enjoy. And buddy up! An exercise partner can help keep you on track.

Scale Back
You don’t have to lose a lot of weight to lower your cholesterol. If you’re overweight, drop just 10 pounds and you’ll cut your LDL by up to 8%. But to really keep off the pounds, you’ll have to do it over time. A reasonable and safe goal for weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week.

Fill Up on Fiber
Foods like oatmeal, apples, prunes, and beans are high in soluble fiber, which keeps your body from absorbing cholesterol. Research shows that people who ate 5 to 10 more grams of it each day saw a drop in their LDL. Eating more fiber also makes you feel full, so you won’t crave snacks as much. But beware: Too much fiber at one time can cause abdominal cramps or bloating. Increase your intake slowly.

Go Fish
Try to eat it two to four times a week. Not only are the omega-3 fats in fish heart-healthy, but replacing red meat with fish will lower your cholesterol by reducing your exposure to saturated fats, which are abundant in red meat.

Opt for Olive Oil
Substituting olive oil for butter may reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 15%, which is similar to the effect of a low dose of medication. The “good” fats in olive oil benefit your heart. Choose extra-virgin olive oil. It’s less processed and contains more antioxidants, which help prevent disease.

Chill Out
Did you know that when you’re stressed, your cholesterol can go through the roof? Relax. Get lost in a good book, meet a friend for coffee, or take to your yoga mat to help keep your cholesterol in check.

Spice It Up
If you don’t already dust your cappuccino with cinnamon or shake pepper on your pasta, listen up: Spices like garlic, cumin, ginger, black pepper, coriander, and cinnamon do more than flavor your food, they can also improve cholesterol levels.

For more information on improving your cholesterol and reducing your risk for heart disease, talk with your doctor or contact the Wellness Department at Southeastern Med at 740-739-8000.


Five Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

new years resolutionsIt’s that time of year again when we make New Year’s resolutions. We’ll set goals, make plans and imagine all the ways we can do better in 2017. And while we’ll start with the best intentions, most of us will fall off the wagon before the end of January.

Here are five New Year’s resolutions you can stick to!

1. Get regular checkups.
Don’t let your busy schedule keep you from important preventative healthcare services. This month, make appointments with your primary care doctor for your annual physical, as well as other regular checkups like dental exams and skin cancer screenings.

2. Request baseline testing.
Blood tests and imaging services are a routine part of your healthcare. Ask your primary doctor when it’s best to start baseline and regular testing for cholesterol, breast cancer, blood sugar, colorectal cancer and other important health screenings. And remember, all blood tests, laboratory screenings and imaging can be done locally at Southeastern Med in Cambridge.

3. Adopt a healthy diet.
Your daily food choices affect how you feel today, tomorrow and in the future. Combined with exercise, good nutrition can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of health problems like heart disease, and promote your overall wellbeing. Talk with a Southeastern Med nutritionist to get started on the right foot!

4. Exercise regularly.
Physical activity improves your health and reduces your risk of developing chronic health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Exercise can also reduce stress and improve sleep quality. You don’t have to adopt the latest fad fitness phase of log late nights at the gym – just get moving. Walk the neighborhood, join a fun sports league, or try out local fitness classes. Household chores and yardwork count, too!

5. Quit tobacco.
The number of adult tobacco users in the U.S. has steadily declined in recent years, but quitting smoking/chewing is still a popular New Year’s resolution. While it’s a tough one to stick to, the benefits are endless – for your lungs, your heart and your wallet. Check out the tobacco cessation program at Southeastern Med and ditch tobacco for good.

Make 2017 your healthiest year yet! For more ways to boost your health and well-being, contact Southeastern Med in Cambridge, OH, at 740.439.8000.

6 Tips for Staying Happy and Healthy During the Holidays

Healthy Holidays Image

 Thanksgiving is just two weeks away, and Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s celebrations are right around the corner.  The holidays are a time of year when you really want to feel your best, but this time of year can also challenge our physical and emotional health with everything from cold and flu viruses to party hangovers, and even depression.

In addition to getting your flu shot, there’s plenty you can do to help your system weather the season of joy. Here are 6 tips for staying happy and healthy as you shop, travel and celebrate.

1.Prevent Illnesses

Since colds and the flu are most prevalent in winter, use precaution both at home and while traveling. Prevent illnesses by washing your hands liberally and regularly. Before settling in on planes or trains, use disinfecting wipes on the armrest, tray table and seatbelt buckle, and let them air-dry. This way, you’ll avoid germs previous travelers might have left behind.

2.Snack Smart

It’s common to pack on 10 pounds during the holiday season, but smart snacking will help you avoid the holiday bulge. Don’t forgo treats altogether, but indulge in moderation. Choose healthy snacks at home, like yogurt, fruit and nuts. When visiting others, bring a healthy dish to share. And be mindful of liquid calories, especially alcoholic drinks with sugary mixers.

3.Rest up

The holidays can be a stressful time. Anticipate stressors and develop a management plan. This might involve setting a tighter budget or attending fewer get-togethers. And make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye – 8+ hours a night. Sleep deprivation puts you at a higher risk for illness, depression, headaches and a whole host of other problems.

4.Prevent overeating

You don’t have to pass up tasty holiday fare, just use these simple tricks to curb your appetite. Chew a piece of gum or eat a mint about 15 minutes before a meal is served. This tricks your brain into thinking you're eating, and you’ll naturally eat less when food is served. Eat slowly, too. It can take a few minutes for your stomach to tell your brain you’re no longer hungry. If you eat too quickly, you’ll eat more than you need to, and then you’ll feel over-full. You can also drink a large glass of water before your meal, and another during. The water will help your stomach feel full, so it won’t take as much food to trigger your brain’s “I’m full!” response. 

5.Drink in moderation

When you're at a holiday bash, limit yourself to two drinks, and alternate them with water to avoid “next-day weariness." And always remember to eat before you drink to maintain your blood sugar levels and avoid a hangover. If you DO wake up with a headache the next day, drink plenty of water, take a pain reliever like ibuprofen, and get some rest!

 6.Treat yourself!

The holiday spirit is about helping others, but don’t forget to take time for yourself. Treat yourself with something over the holidays. Whether that’s waking up late, reading a book or scheduling a day at the spa, take time to do the things that make you happy.

Southeastern Med in Cambridge, OH, wishes all of those in our community a safe, happy, season of joy!


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