Food Waste

Americans waste enough food to fill the Rose Bowl every day. In 2014, the US wasted 38 million tons of food with 76% of it going into landfill. Research done by the EPA indicates that 64% of food that is wasted is preventable.  You may be thinking that you couldn’t possibly waste that much. But have you ever changed dinner plans and ended up with spoiled meat? How often do you have veggies rot in the fridge? What about leftovers? 55% of our food waste is related to it spoiling before we get to it and 40% of food waste is from preparing too much and leftovers are then thrown out or spoil later. When we throw away food, we throw away so much more than just what we could have eaten.  Wasted food is wasted money, water, gasoline, energy, labor, pesticides, land, and fertilizers used to make the food.  Food waste increases pollution from those fertilizers and pesticides and methane emissions from landfills. I’m certainly just as guilty as the next person of letting way food rot in my fridge. I am also guilty of not cleaning said fridge because I am afraid of what I might find. So here are some quick tips to help us reduce waste and save money and resources.  Prep veggies ASAP to make eating later easy.  Keep perishable foods in front.  Cook only what you need for one meal.  Grocery shop the pantry before shopping the store.  Buy only what you need for the coming meals and snacks when you shop.  Compost what you can’t eat to return nutrients to the soil. For more information on reducing food waste, and to access a food waste-management toolkit, visit the EPA’s Sustainable Management of Food webpage.  

Tips for Inner Peace at Work

Healthcare is a stressful place to work.

The front desk have a long to-do list for patients at check-in. Schedulers and switchboard listen to upset patients rant. Medical records is a never-ending story of faxes and releases. Billing is a wormhole of insurance policies I could never figure out. IS is a world of tickets and phone calls because the computer/signature pad/printer/headset/phone/internet is on the fritz again. MSS do more behind-the-scene work than I could possibly know. Providers document on patients from sunrise to sunrise (not a typo). And management is T minus zero to solve the next crisis. There’s always something. Everyone is living in their own world of stress. What can we do? How do we handle? The first step is admitting how we are feeling and feeling it. “My name is Denise and I am anxious this article won’t resonate with even one person.” Being honest with ourselves feels better. Allowing ourselves to feel our difficult emotions helps us work through them, digest them, and flush them away. It’s completely okay to be angry, frustrated, to feel hateful or hopeless, rushed or impatient. Acknowledging how we feel we gives us the gift of authenticity. It frees us from spending our energy pretending we are okay when we aren’t.

Here are 9 Tips for Finding Inner Peace:

  1. When you feel stress forming around you take a moment for yourself. Stop and take 3-5 slow, deep breaths. Deep breathing stimulates the relaxation response.
  2. Start the workday with accomplishment and knock-off a quick, easy assignment. Then tackle a big assignment while the steam is still rolling.
  3. Pace yourself. Rushing will only increase stress levels.
  4. If you start to feel rushed take a brain break. Walk around the building and stretch your legs.  Refill your water. Stare off in to space. Talk to a co-worker. Return to work when your mind feels more clear.
  5. Don’t feel guilty about what you can’t accomplish.  You can only do your best and your best is enough.
  6. When possible, avoid hanging around stressful or distracting people.  You may be affected by their negative energy. If you start feeling on edge, hang around people who help relax you or put you at ease.
  7. Travel time is great for decompressing. Listen to music, books, or shows that help you let go.  This is also a great time for deep breathing which can help lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and –again- stimulate the physiological relaxation response.
  8. Leave work at work. There’s so much more to life than your job. Live for the other things in your life when you are off the clock. This will help you re-charge for the next workday.
  9. Have a mission to anchor you. Work that feels pointless is more frustrating and difficult.  When you lose focus of why or what you are doing, take a step back and reflect on your goals.  Working with purpose will positively impacts the outcome.

Is Your Garden In Yet? It’s Time to get growing!

Lettuce is PACKED with Nutrients

  •  You may have heard that different colored vegetables offer different nutrients and antioxidants. This is very true with lettuce! The green leaves are high in quercetin and red leaves are high in cyanidins. Both of these phytochemicals support heart health, improve endurance, fight cancer, support skin health and reduce toxins and free radicals caused by oxidative stress.


  • Watch what kind you buy. Greens such as arugula and watercress are spicy/peppery. Radicchio, escarole, mizuna and endive can be more bitter or tart. Greens labeled as ‘leaf lettuce’ are typically mild and a safe bet if you are concerned about strong flavors.


  • Look for seeds packets with a variety of lettuces and colors  for a wider variety of flavor and nutrients.

Growing Leaf Lettuce

 Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow making it a great crop for beginners! Because it doesn’t require a lot of space it can be sprinkled directly in the garden without worry about overcrowding. Once seeds sprout they can be thinned, however lettuce grown close together helps prevent weeds.  Lettuce has a shallow root system so it is a perfect container veggie if you don’t have a spot to plant in the ground. Lettuce prefers cooler areas and does best in part shade. It can tolerate full sun in spring, but the hot summer sun will cause it to grow tall and flower (bolt). Once you have sown your lettuce seeds, keep the ground moist but not mucky.  Leaf lettuce is ready to harvest when there are at least 3 leaves. Break them off rather than pulling the roots out to keep getting more growth. Lettuce greens taste best when there are young. The plant will eventually mature to the point where it will bolt at which time it should be pulled out and composted. Combine your lettuce greens with tasty herbs such as tarragon, chives, parsley, and basil for a salad that is full of flavors! Bolting Lettuce

This past January the 8th edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans was released.  Keep in mind these guidelines are intended to be used by health professionals, however any educated person is capable of interpreting the information. There is a user-friendly website which makes browsing the report easy at Anyone interesting in the key recommendations without having to read the whole report can view two pages: (1) About this Chapter and (2) Key Recommendations located in chapter one.  The latter section lists the healthy eating patterns Americans are suggested to follow while the former section lists more general guidelines:

  • Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan
  • Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount
  • Limit calories from saturated fats, added sugars and reduce sodium intake.
  • Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  • Support healthy eating patterns for all
The short version of the report shouldn’t be news to anyone—Americans continue to overeat salt, fat, sugar and calories overall.  Most people also exceed the requirement for protein. At the same time we are not meeting the recommendations for fruit, vegetables, or dairy. Chapter 2 contains a variety of interesting statistics and charts depicting current dietary patterns. Chapter 3 discusses the socio-economical model and strategies for health professionals and policymakers to assist in improving the American diet. Perhaps the most valuable section in the report is the appendix which contains meal patterns per calorie level, exercise recommendations, food sources of specific nutrients and food safety guidelines.

Applying the Guidelines to Your Life

The dietary guidelines can be overwhelming and may come off as vague to those lacking a foundation in nutrition education. I could go into detail on each key recommendation, but that would drag on too many pages. I will provide a basis for assessing your own nutritional intake. First, put in the effort to assess where you are right now in your eating habits. What food groups do you get in weekly? What food groups are you lacking? How many times a day does food cross your lips? Record your dietary intake for at least 2 weekdays and one weekend day.  If you ready-prepared food (restaurant, take-out, deli) regularly make sure that is at least one of the days you record. Input this information into an app or site that will calculate the nutrient composition and calories (, MyFitnessPal, etc.) Most apps will show if you are meeting your needs for fruit and vegetable intake or eating an excessive amount of junk food/beverages. You may also want to take a look at your caloric distribution. If you are trying to lose weight and consuming >50% of calories from carbohydrate you may want to replace some grains and added sugar with non-starchy veggies and healthy fat (avocado, nuts/seeds, coconut oil, etc)…yes fat is nutritious and increases meal satisfaction as well as satiety. If you are interested in calories, visit to input your data in the calorie calculator. This value will give you an estimation of how many calories you should theoretically consume to maintain, gain, or lose weight. The formula used is Mifflin St. Jeor and is intended for the healthy population…so if you have cancer, are recovering from surgery, etc. this value probably doesn’t apply to you. Compare your average caloric intake from your food log with your estimated needs to evaluate how many calories you could add/subtract to meet your weight goals. Remember the numbers are estimations and nutrition therapy needs to be individualized to each person’s specific needs and lifestyle. It is both easier and more effective to improve what you eat than how much you eat. Feed your body nutritious foods most of the time and love yourself through the rest. If you are truly concerned or struggling, consult a registered dietitian.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015 15:18

Welcome, welcome! Yes, it is true. AHC has entered the grand world of blogging. We may not post every week, but we have certainly made a goal to post every month. It is here that you will find out the latest AHC information- whose who and where’s it happening-without walking in the clinic and ask the receptionist. So who is who and where is it happening? Let’s start by introducing your local registered dietitian and Wellness Program Manager, Denise Thompson. Denise is responsible for enrolling participants in the programs offered by AHC, so if you are interested in signing up for a class she’s the gal you call. And please call! We are always happy to walk in to work and see our voicemail filled with people looking for education or fitness classes. Let’s take a peek at what classes AHC offers…

Intermittent Programs

Chair Yoga – Thurs. 12:30 – 1:30 in Ossineke

  • Gentle yoga class to encourage flexibility and safe movement around the home with yogi and PTA, Desiree Nowaczyk
  • This is a 6-week class which occurs 1-2 times per year, based on Dez’s schedule. Only available in Ossineke.

Tame Your Pain Class: Thurs. 12:30-2pm in Alpena

  • This 8-week chronic pain class is offered 4 times per year. For AHC patients only or with Shari’s authorization.
  • This self-management class provides education and gentle yoga-based movement to cope with chronic pain. Various tools and resources are provided.
  • Led by Shari Froelich FNP, Desiree Nowaczyk PTA, and Denise Thompson RD.

Dining with the Doctors

  • 1 hour luncheon or dinner various times of the year. Speakers vary. A light meal is included and is typically soup, salad, and coffee.
  • Register with Lynn Gonzalez at the Harrisville Library: 724-6796

PATH – Personal Action Toward Health Offered in Alpena, Ossineke, Lincoln, and Oscoda

  1. Chronic Disease PATH – A self-management support class for people struggling with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic pain, depression, poor sleep. Includes methods to improve medical, nutritional and emotional health as well as quality of life.
  2. Diabetes PATH – A PATH class specifically for diabetics. Includes all the benefits of chronic PATH plus blood sugar management, medication management, nutrition and meal planning. Great for newly diagnosed diabetics as well as diabetic veterans.

Each class utilizes 7-day action planning/goal setting, positive thinking, communication techniques, meditation, healthy eating, and brainstorming for cessation of poor habits. Diabetes: The Journey:

  • 6 week introductory course to diabetes self-management with Barb Kacel FNP-BC, CDE in the LincolnSite
  • For AHC patients or with Barb’s authorization.

A Matter of Balance Offered in Oscoda, Lincoln, Alpena and Ossineke

  • 8 week course for individuals with a fear of falling, at risk for falling, or who have want to improve balance and physical ability.
  • Addresses concerns related to falls and increase awareness of fall hazards in and out of the home, tips to stay active.
  • 5 weeks of chair exercise to increase strength and balance plus one session with a physical therapist for Q&A.

Continuous Classes

Senior Boot Camp: Mon and Thurs at 9:00am in Lincoln

  • $3 charge per class with Jan Klein
  • This is an enjoyable class where you get to use exercise balls, free weights, and yoga mats to get fit!

Zumba Gold: Tues at 9:00-10:00am in Lincoln

  • Low-impact chair exercise to fun, upbeat music with Jan Klein

Arthritis Foundation Exercise Class Monday and Thursday 10:15-11:00 am in Lincoln Wednesdays 11am-12pm in Ossineke

  • This is a chair exercise class for people with chronic pain, arthritis, post cardiac rehab or those new to exercise.

Interested in hearing what the community has to say? Here are a few reviews.

On A Matter of Balance: “My left ankle has been [stiff] since 1998. Since I took this class I am finally able to move it again…it’s made me so happy I’ve been crying” On Tame Your Pain: “I met new people and really had fun and discovered I am not alone in this “pain” lifestyle. I feel like I became liberated. I can go out and do things and attend classes or events.” On Diabetes: The Journey: “Barb is an excellent teacher and makes things easy to understand in lay terms. She offers much encouragement.” The Winter/Spring Calendar for 2016 is still a work in progress and will be posted as soon as it is available. If you see a class you or a friend would like to try call Denise at 989-736-9871. We are happy to answer any questions you may have concerning AHC’s wellness program.