Useful Information for Better Health from the Western Maryland Health System

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Food for Thought Book Club

Have you ever eaten when you weren’t hungry or kept eating when you knew you were full? Have you grabbed a snack on the go and didn’t even realize when you had finished eating it? Or do you grab a bag of chips or pretzels or popcorn and eat without thinking while watching TV? These examples of mindless eating are everyday occurrences for many.

In keeping with the goal of meeting the challenge of healthcare change, the new WMHS Food for Thought Book Club is helping to improve health by giving readers nourishing food for thought. Facilitated by Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian and Melody Lindner, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian, this new book club spent the past six weeks reading, digesting and sharing thoughts regarding Dr. Susan Alber’s book Eating Mindfully, which seeks to decrease mindless eating and help readers enjoy a balanced relationship with food.

This book dives into activities meant to help readers to be more “mindful” about eating.  Being more mindful means really savoring each bite, appreciating each meal, slowing down and taking in each eating experience, noting your hunger cues and listening to your body. Overall, it provides readers a way to be more aware of eating patterns and build self-awareness. These are universal skills that can be used by all as a non-diet approach to healthy eating habits.

Mindful eating and self-awareness activities from the book were completed by the group during each meeting, which allowed participants to experience them first-hand and discuss them with each other.

According to Theresa Stahl, “A book club allows participants time to explore a book with other people that may or may not get the same take-away messages from reading the same information.  Every person has unique life experiences and health situations and this discussion and exploration of various viewpoints is both satisfying and educational.”

The Food for Thought Book Club will continue with another book, Slim by Design by Dr. Brian Wansink, author of Mindless Eating. According to Slim by Design, Dr. Wansink uses cutting-edge, never-before-seen research from his acclaimed Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University to reveal how innovative and inexpensive design changes can make it mindlessly easy for people to eat healthier. The next book club will begin this summer.

For more information please contact Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, Outpatient Community Dietitian, Western Maryland Health System at 240-964-8416 or

Blog contributed by JJ Briggs, a graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Nutritional Sciences, who is currently completing an ARAMARK Healthcare Distance Dietetic Internship at Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, and Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, WMHS Outpatient Community Dietitian.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle

March is National Nutrition Month, which is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  This year's theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle” where we encourage everyone to implement an all-around lifestyle change in order to be healthy.

There is no magic bullet for a healthy lifestyle; it is an on-going commitment to making small changes that add up to a healthier you.  This change should include regular physical activity, making informed food choices, and consuming nutrient dense, fewer calorie foods.  By making these changes, you can decrease your risk of chronic disease, maintain a healthy weight, and achieve overall better health.  This year's theme was developed to serve as a reminder that life and health are about balance and moderation.

A healthy lifestyle is not about one specific food and it doesn't have to be started at any one time of year.  Most importantly, it does not mean depriving ourselves of the things we enjoy.  Developing a healthy lifestyle is about finding a daily routine that works for you, while still finding time for the foods and activities you love.

The WMHS Food and Nutrition Services Department will be celebrating National Nutrition Month every week during the month of March!

March 20th - Registered Dietitian Nutritionists will be available in the cafeteria from 12-1pm with nutrition information and chances to win a raffle!
The cafeteria will be offering a chance to win a prize basket for every person who chooses a fruit or vegetable serving with their meal!

In hopes that warmer weather is coming soon, one way to start gearing up for a healthy lifestyle change this Spring is to start thinking about buying fresh produce.  Below are some tips to help!

 from USDA's

1.  Celebrate the season- In-Season Fruits and Vegetables for the Spring:
March:  Broccoli, Cauliflower, Pineapple, and Mangoes
April: Zucchini, Rhubarb, Broccoli, Lettuce, Artichokes, Asparagus, Spring Peas, Pineapples,
2.  Why pay full price?- Check for sales, coupons, and specials that will cut costs.  Also check to see if your store has a membership card; sign up for even more savings.
3.  Stick to your list- Plan out your meals ahead of time and make a grocery list.  You will save money buying only what you need.
4.  Try canned or frozen- Canned and frozen items may be less expensive than fresh per serving.  For canned items, choose fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water and vegetables with “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
5.  Buy small amounts frequently- Buy small amounts more often to ensure you can eat the foods without throwing any away to save money and reduce waste.
6.  Buy in bulk when items are on sale- For both fresh and frozen fruits/vegetables that you use often, a large size bag is a better buy.
7.  Store brands = savings- Opt for store brands; you will get the same or similar product for a cheaper price.
8.  Keep it simple- Buy vegetables and fruits in their simplest form.  Pre-cut, pre-washed, and ready-to-eat foods are convenient but often cost much more.
9.  Plant your own- Start a garden in the yard or on the deck in containers.  Herbs, cucumbers, peppers, or tomatoes are good for beginners.
10.  Plan and cook smart- Prepare and freeze vegetable soups, stews, or other dishes in advance. Add leftover veggies to casseroles or blend them to make soup.

Here is a healthy recipe shared at the recent Prevention is Power Cancer and Heart Disease Prevention event at Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.  This veggie packed chili is a great way to lighten up a traditional comfort food for Spring, so give it a try one night this week!  Hope you enjoy!
Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings 6-8 Units US
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, about 1 cup, chopped
1/2 lb lean ground turkey (optional)
2 smashed garlic cloves
2 cups sweet potatoes, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon
4 cups diced tomatoes (and their juice)
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
water (as needed) or tomato juice (as needed)
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 (540 ml) can black beans, drained
1 cup canned kidney beans, drained
1 small zucchini (about 3/4 cup)
1 lime
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or small soup pot on medium high heat.
Add onion, turkey, garlic and sweet potato and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add seasonings and saute for another 5 minutes.
Add tomatoes and their juice and jalapeno and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.
You might need to add water or tomato juice if too much liquid evaporates.
Stir in red pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add beans and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
Add zucchini and cook for 5 minutes more.
Stir in squeeze of lime juice to taste.
Can be made a day in advance, add a little liquid when reheating.

Contributed by Amanda Pratt, a graduate of West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in Human Nutrition and Foods and minor in Food Science and Technology. Amanda is currently completing an ARAMARK Healthcare Distance Dietetic Internship at the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Loving Foods That Love You Back

February is American Heart Month. Here are some foods to love for a healthy heart:
1. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, that helps promote healthy blood pressure. Their high water and fiber content helps you feel full on less calories.
2. Whole grains like oatmeal contain fiber that helps decrease cholesterol levels.
3.  Fish, such as salmon, contain omega-3 fats that help lower cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week.
4. Beans, such as kidney and soy, are high in protein and fiber, making a great substitute for meats at meals.
5. Nuts and seeds contain heart healthy fats and help you feel satisfied between meals, helping to control appetite and weight.  But eat in small portions of 1-2 tablespoons if trying to control weight. Sprinkle on salads, cereal and yogurt.

Today, WMHS is offering a free program on how lifestyles affect both cancer and heart disease prevention called Prevention is Power: Take Control of Cancer and Heart Disease. Dr. Blanche Mavromatis, Medical Oncologist will speak on cancer prevention and Dr. Michael Curran, Cardiologist, will speak on heart disease prevention.  Presentation will be from 5:30-6:30 pm and from 6:30-7:30 pm there will be exhibits including:
BMI/body fat analyzer
Sit risk assessments
Blood pressure checks
Food demos of affordable and healthy foods with samples and recipes
Stretching and movement
(a breath test that detects carbon monoxide levels for smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke)
The latest on e-cigarettes, and much more.
Visit for full details. Registration is not required; however, those that pre-register will be entered in a drawing for a door prize.  To pre-register or for more information, please call Carey Moffatt at 240-964-8418.

And every month, WMHS offer free Heart Healthy Nutrition classes.  The next one will be on Tuesday, March 17 at 1:00 pm.  For more information, contact Joni Brode, RDN, LDN at 240-964-8677 or to register, contact WMHS Food and Nutrition at 240-964-2303.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Kale Chips

Kale chips are simple to make and an instant hit, even with kids. Kale is in season during winter months, so the flavor is at its peak. Kale is a member of the cabbage family and is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s a good source of calcium, iron and folate and contains phytochemicals, including lutein, which helps improve vision and fights against cancer.  With about 160 calories in 15 potato chips, kale chips make a great substitution with only about 50 calories per cup.

To make kale chips, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Tear the kale leaves off of their stems and into chip size pieces. Wash and spin dry in a salad spinner or dry with a towel. In a large bowl, add kale, 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil, salt-free herb seasoning and/or fresh minced garlic. Using your hands, coat each leaf. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil and spread kale pieces in a single layer and bake for 10-15 minutes until edges are light brown and toasty. Watch carefully at the end, as they go from lightly brown to too brown very quickly. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, if desired, after taking out of oven. Enjoy!!

-Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gifts that Keep on Giving

During this holiday gift giving season, it is sometimes challenging to know what to give to the people on your list. Cookbooks are great gifts for the seasoned cook, as well as the beginner and everyone in-between. They are gifts that keep on giving, meal after meal. They inspire adventurous eating and if chosen well, healthy eating.
Here are a few of my favorite cookbooks:

1. No Whine with Dinner by registered dietitians Liz Weiss and Janice Newell Bissex.  The Meal Makeover Moms, Liz and Janice who also have a wonderful blog and website,, are experts in family nutrition. Every recipe in this book was tested by moms and tasted by kids, ensuring great family friendly recipes. This book is sure to please any mom of picky eaters and, in my opinion, anyone who loves healthy, creative recipes.
2. Cooking Light’s The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook by registered dietitian Janet Helm. Author of the award-winning blog, Nutrition Unplugged, Janet Helm’s book combines 250 recipes with tips and solutions for living a healthy life from more than 50 nutrition and fitness experts, bloggers, chefs and Cooking Light readers.  This is a treasure trove of information and great recipes. This makes a great book for anyone looking to improve their lifestyle and make sense out of the ever changing nutrition headlines.  One of my favorite resources,, is a trusted website for healthy recipes and makeovers of favorite high calorie treats.
3. Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 minutes or Less by Ellie Krieger. This one is currently on my wish list.  You might wonder why I would recommend a book I don’t have yet. The reason is because I have every other cookbook by registered dietitian and Food Network Star, Ellie Krieger, and I love them all. She is trustworthy for serving up great recipes that are delicious and nutritious. And who doesn’t want to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less?  I am drawn to cookbooks that provide quick, easy recipes that can be made after a long day of work or school or the usual action-packed day.

Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy New Year to all! WMHS offers wonderful nutrition education programs, many free.  One upcoming program in the New Year is Change to Win, a nutrition and weight management program. The next session starts January 13th or 14th and runs for 12 weeks. For more information, call me at 240-964-8416 or email me at

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Savor the Season without Gaining Weight

At this time of year, indulgences seem to be around every corner. Tips to indulge without gaining weight include:

1. Eat mindfully. Many people eat mindlessly. I interview people all the time who cannot remember what they had to eat the day before. This is one of the reasons keeping a food diary can be such a powerful tool.  It helps you pay attention to what you eat.  But mindful eating goes beyond knowing what you’re eating.

Mindful eating also means focusing on how you eat. Are you taking time to chew thoroughly?  Are you sitting down and focusing on your meal?  It means paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues.  It means savoring, with all your senses, the flavors and tastes.  It means eating to nourish your hunger and not out of boredom or stress.

Research by Dr. Brian Wansink, PhD, professor and director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab and author of Mindless Eating and Slim by Design, showed that people can be just as satisfied with ¼ portion of chocolate, pie or chips as they can from 4 times as much. So, downsize your portions of holiday treats. You won’t miss the larger portion if you savor each bite. And with so many options available, if it isn’t a favorite, pass it up.

2. Eat half plate healthy. Fill your plate with ½ non-starchy veggies and you will eat less of the rest. Veggies are nutrient dense meaning they provide a lot of nutrients without a lot of calories.

3. Exercise. Keep moving. Exercise is a great stress reliever. Do things you enjoy and have fun.  Research proves that exercise has a role in the treatment and prevention of more than 40 chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and hypertension.  And remember, a gym membership, exercise equipment, or exercise DVDs are gifts that keep on giving.

Change to Win is a nutrition and weight management program led by Theresa Stahl, RDN, LDN, Outpatient Community Dietitian. The next Change to Win session starts January 13th or 14th and runs for 12 weeks. To register or for more information, call Theresa at 240-964-8416 or email her at

The Weight Management Support Group meets from 5-6 pm on the second Tuesday of every month.  Beginning in January, they will meet from 5:30-6:30. The next group will be held on December 9th at 5 pm. in Auditorium Room 3.  Call Carey Moffatt, Certified Health and Wellness Coach at 240-964-8418 for more information.

For a complete list of our nutrition programs, call Theresa Stahl, Outpatient Community Dietitian, at 240-964-8416 or email

Friday, November 14, 2014

Happy World Diabetes Day

November is National Diabetes Month and November 14 is World Diabetes Day. The National Diabetes Education Program ( has provided 50 Ways to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes, emphasizing the importance of healthy eating, fun fitness and stress management to help decrease risk of developing type 2-diabetes or help control type 2 diabetes if you’ve already been diagnosed.  Some of the 50 ways include:

1. Put less on your plate, Nate.
2. Eat a small meal, Lucille.
3. Dance it away, Faye.
4. Snack on a veggie, Reggie.
5. Cook with care, Claire.
6. Eat healthy on the go, Flo.
7. Rethink your drink, Linc.
8. Eat smart, Bart.
9. Keep track, Jack.
10. Read the label, Mabel.
11. You can exhale, Gail.

The Western Maryland Health System has a specialized diabetes center at their Center for Clinical Resources.  They provide a 6-hour diabetes class, Living Well With Diabetes, individual Medical Nutrition Therapy and a Diabetes Support Group that meets on the first Tuesday of each month from 5:30-6:30 pm in Auditorium Room 6.  For more information, call the Center for Clinical Resources at 240-964-8787 or at