Useful Information for Better Health from the Western Maryland Health System

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Give Thanks – Stress Less

Thanksgiving Day reminds us to give thanks. Have you heard the quote, “It’s not the happy people who are thankful, it is the thankful people who are happy?” That’s powerful to ponder.

In her book, Attitudes of Gratitude, M.J. Ryan shares how gratitude can improve our lives. She shares research that indicates people who practice gratitude on a daily basis are happier, healthier, and more effective in the world. Benefits include reduced stress, reduced depression, improved optimism and immune function, improved sleep, and improved heart rhythms.

This year, why not make gratitude a daily practice for better health? Start a gratitude journal and include a few items at the beginning and end of each day. There are many beautiful journals available and they make great Christmas presents.

As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2013, 60-80% of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients receive stress management help. During this holiday season, many turn to food to manage stress. With the availability of extra sweets and rich food, this leads to undesired weight gain.

Join us on December 1st at the WMHS auditorium from 5:30-7:00 pm, for a program entitled “Say Good-bye to Stress Eating.” Presented by therapist, Sara Evans, LPC, NCC, NCGC1 and Outpatient Community Dietitian, Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, this practical session will identify trigger points of stress, identify the relationship between nutrition and stress, and help participants gain a perspective on stress eating to see the bigger picture and exchange negative habits for positive ones. For more information, call Theresa Stahl at 240-964-8416 or email at

Hope you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and hope to see you on Tuesday, December 1st.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Why Not Make Every Day Apple Crunch Day?

In celebration of Food Day last week, we promoted a community Apple Crunch Day. It was awesome to see so many people and agencies participate. At WMHS we gave away apples in our cafeteria. Pictured here are some in our Change to Win nutrition classes celebrating Apple Crunch Day.

Since we’re still in apple season, now’s a great time to make every day Apple Crunch Day. After all, it turns out that an apple a day may truly keep the doctor away. Mounting research reveals many health benefits of eating apples.

Research links eating apples with reduction of complications or prevention of various diseases, including Alzheimer’s, asthma, cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes. The fiber in apples helps to control blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol levels. Apples are low in calories and high in fiber.  One medium apple contains only about 80 calories and 5 grams of fiber.  

This season, try making your own apple chips. Preheat oven to 200-225 degrees F. Slice apples very thinly (mandolin works well, but not mandatory) and place in a single layer on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silpat. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for 1 hour, flip over and bake for another hour. Turn off oven and let cool in oven. Cooking times may vary depending on oven, so watch carefully towards the end.

For more nutrition information, contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at or 240-964-8416.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Eating Disorder Update

Eating disorders are serious, life threatening illnesses that impact millions of people every year in the United States. Did you know that anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder? In the U.S., 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).

Despite the prevalence of eating disorders, many health care providers don’t feel comfortable discussing eating disorders with their patients. And many people with eating disorders don’t reach out for help.

Allegany College of Maryland, the Dietetic Caucus of the Western Maryland Area Health Education Center and the Allegany/Garrett Dental Society are partnering to present an Eating Disorder Update to be held on Friday, October 30 from 10 AM -3 PM at the ACM Robert Zimmer Theatre. This update is designed for counselors, dental professionals, primary care providers, dietitians, nurses, social workers and interested members of the general public.

For more information and to register, click on this link:

A great resource for eating disorders is the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) website (  Here are some of the possible health consequences of eating disorders outlined on their website:

Anorexia Nervosa
In anorexia nervosa’s cycle of self-starvation, the body is denied the essential nutrients it needs to function normally. Thus, the body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, resulting in:
Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as the heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
Muscle loss and weakness.
Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
Dry hair and skin; hair loss is common.
Growth of a downy layer of hair—called lanugo—all over the body, including the face, in an effort to keep the body warm.

The recurrent binge-and-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system and can lead to electrolyte and chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organ functions. Health consequences include:
Electrolyte imbalances that can lead to irregular heartbeats and possibly heart failure and death.
Electrolyte imbalance is caused by dehydration and loss of potassium, sodium and chloride from the body as a result of purging behaviors.
Potential for gastric rupture during periods of binging.
Inflammation and possible rupture of the esophagus from frequent vomiting.
Tooth decay and staining from stomach acids released during frequent vomiting.
Chronic irregular bowel movements and constipation as a result of laxative abuse.
Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis.

Binge Eating Disorder
Binge eating disorder often results in many of the same health risks associated with clinical obesity, including:
High blood pressure.
High cholesterol levels.
Heart disease as a result of elevated triglyceride levels.
Type II diabetes mellitus.
Gallbladder disease.

During the upcoming Eating Disorder Update, presenters include Dana Magee, registered and licensed dietitian nutritionist with Rebecca Bitzer & Associates, Sarah Evans, LPC, NCC, NCGC1, professional counselor, and dentist Dr. Bobbi Moose, DDS, MPH.  They will define the most common eating disorders, explain current best practices in the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders, list the physical, psychosocial and oral health impacts of disordered eating, explain the roles of the dentist, dietitian and therapist in treating eating disorders and discuss resources for obtaining additional information and referrals.

For more information about the Eating Disorder Update or to register, click on the above link. If you have questions, contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian and Chair of the AHEC Dietetic Caucus at 240-964-8416.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Healthy Snack Ideas for Back to School and Beyond

As kids head back to school, be prepared to feed their after-school hunger with healthy snacks.  Snacks are important to help children meet their nutrition needs, but if healthy choices aren’t available, then snacks may just add calories without nutrients.  Here are some tips to make snacks count for better health for kids and adults.
  1. Serve raw veggies with dips like hummus or yogurt veggie dip.
  2. Top half of a whole grain English muffin or pita or flatbread with spaghetti or pizza sauce, chopped veggies, such as mushrooms, onions and red peppers, and part-skim mozzarella cheese and melt in the toaster oven or microwave.
  3. Make homemade snack mix and fill small baggies for a quick grab and go snack. Include their favorite low-sugar cereal, such as Cheerios or whole grain Chex, dried fruit, unsalted nuts and popcorn. 
  4. Blend up refreshing fruit smoothies. See recipes below.
  5. Most kids don’t eat enough fruits and veggies, so take advantage of after-school hunger and have cut up fruit and veggies in clear dishes or baggies at eye level in the ‘frig. You will be surprised how quickly these are selected when ready to eat in grab and go containers.
Visit for more healthy nutrition ideas and recipes.  Or for eating tips for kids and teens, visit  Designed to help parents meet nutrition needs, shop smart, cook and eat healthfully, the Kids Eat Right website provides parents with practical tips, articles, videos and recipes from registered dietitians. 

Another great website for families is  Registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex, the meal makeover moms, share lots of great nutrition tips, recipes and videos.


Fruit Smoothie:

  • 2 cups frozen fruit (such as banana and strawberries)
  •  1 cup skim milk or soy milk
  • 1 cup of Greek vanilla yogurt
Blend and serve.  Makes 2 servings (about 200 calories each)

Green Machine Smoothie  (source:

  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves +
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh honeydew +
  •  1/3 cup nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
Blend and serve. (About 160 calories)

For more information, contact Theresa Stahl, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at 240-964-8416 or

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Healthy Picnic Tips

This picnic season, as you enjoy eating in the great outdoors, remember these simple tips.
  1. Store food and drinks in clean insulated coolers packed with ice or freezer packs and keep in the shade. 
  2. Don’t let foods sit out for more than two hours. In temperatures above 90 degrees F., perishable food shouldn’t sit out for more than one hour. 
  3. Store raw meat separately from salad, fruits, beverages and other foods. Don’t reuse platters or utensils that held raw meat, poultry or seafood without thoroughly washing first. 
  4. Wash all fresh produce before packing.
  5. Use wet wipes and hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available, and wash hands before and after handling food.

Some easy-to-pack items include:
  1. Hummus with veggies and whole grain crackers
  2. Grapes, cheese and whole grain bread or crackers
  3. Sandwiches and wraps with lean protein such as chicken, turkey and tuna with veggies, such as cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and onion
  4. Fruit 
  5. Individually-wrapped string cheese
  6. Veggies and salads, such as cucumber and three-bean, as well as quinoa, whole grain pasta, and red potato
  7. Salads dressed with flavorful vinegars, such as balsamic, and olive oil instead of mayonnaise. 
  8. Trail mixes with your favorite cereals, dried fruit and nuts
  9. Water – pack plenty for staying hydrated.
  10. Create a spritzer bar with seltzer water and a variety of cut fruit and vegetables such as lemons, limes, oranges and cucumbers. 
  11. Encourage kids to play with their food by packing easy to assemble salad ingredients such as this “lady bug” Caprese salad made with fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes, black olives and balsamic vinegar glaze. I made these with my friend's 6-year-old son. 
Or for adults, another way to serve this simple yet elegant salad is to skewer small mozzarella balls with basil and cherry tomatoes and drizzle with balsamic glaze. 
For more nutrition information or to find out about WMHS nutrition programs, contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian at or 240-964-8416.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Farmers Market at WMHS

The grand opening of the Allegany County Farmers Market at WMHS is on Wednesday July 8th and there will be live entertainment from 2:30-4 pm featuring Pan Jammin’ Combo steel drum band and a cooking demo by the WMHS dietitians using the fresh produce that day. 

The farmers market will be here between 2 pm – 5 pm every Wednesday through October.  Local farmers will set up in the parking garage across from the Medical Arts Center entrance.  Employees will be provided with zip lock bags so produce can be brought into WMHS buildings.

Eat local and save:

1. Money – fresh, seasonal foods are less expensive
2. Energy – less gas used to transport food

Eat local and support:

1. Local growers – buying local boosts local revenue
2. YOUR HEALTH - fresh, seasonal foods are more flavorful, encouraging increased intake of fresh  fruits and veggies, which increases your intake of healthy vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that fight disease and promote health

Other local farmers’ markets include:

Tuesdays: 9:30 am – 2 pm  until October 20 at the Country Club Mall (center court), LaVale
Thursdays: 9:30 am – 2 pm until October 15 at the Downtown Cumberland Pedestrian Mall on Baltimore Street, Cumberland
Fridays: 9:30 am – 1 pm until October 16 at Frostburg City Place 20 South Water Street, Frostburg
Saturdays: 9:30 am – 2 pm until October 17 at Canal Place in Cumberland
1st Tuesday of each month from 4-6 pm until October 13 at St. Johns Lutheran Church, 406 Arch Street, South Cumberland
For more information about shopping at farmers markets and to find locations near you, visit  or

Friday, May 29, 2015

Healthy Grilling

Grilling season is here! Have you heard of the link between grilled meats and increased cancer risk?  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), there isn’t enough evidence to show that grilled meats specifically increase risk for cancers. However, grilling contributes to formation of polycyclic aromatic amines (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs), which are cancer-causing substances.

Grilling tips from AICR include:

• Eat smaller portions of grilled meats. Stick with 3-oz. portions or less.  A 3-oz portion is about the size of a deck of cards.  Kabobs are a great way to help your make your meat go further and add healthy vegetables and fruit.
• Precook meats and then finish on the grill.

• Use lean cuts of meat and trim any visible fat.

• Try a marinade.  Research suggests that marinating meat significantly reduces the formation of harmful HCAs.

• Grill vegetables and fruits, which do not develop harmful HCAs when grilled, but do contain beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals which protect against cancer.

• Always include plenty of fruits and veggies with all meals to fight cancer and boost intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber too.

For more information and healthy recipes, visit

With asparagus season upon us, here is a grilled asparagus recipe from Cooking Light’s website

Grilled Asparagus Rafts

Pinning asparagus spears together with skewers makes them easier to flip and grill evenly on both sides.
16 thick asparagus spears (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of salt
Prepare grill to high heat.
Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Arrange 4 asparagus spears on a flat surface. Thread 2 (3-inch) skewers or toothpicks horizontally through spears 1 inch from each end to form a raft. Repeat procedure with remaining asparagus spears.
Combine soy sauce, oil, and garlic; brush evenly over asparagus rafts. Grill 3 minutes on each side or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds, pepper, and salt.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 asparagus raft) Nutritional Information Amount per serving:        Calories 50   Fat 2.1 g   Protein 3.2 g   Carbohydrate 6.1 g   Fiber 2.4 g   Sodium 190 mg

Contact Theresa Stahl, Outpatient Community Dietitian at 240-964-8416 or with questions or to find out about upcoming nutrition programs.