Workforce Wellness – Bon Secours


6 Reasons You Need a Nutritionist

As research continues to reveal the importance of proper nutrition for a healthy body, nutritionists and registered dietitians are taking on larger roles as part of the care team. These healthcare professionals have undergone specialized training and gained certifications to give nutrition advice and help you improve your health.

Nutritionists can create diet plans, teach you about eating, and help you address unhealthy eating behaviors. They specialize in helping you find foods you and your body love.

While almost everyone can benefit from trusted, evidence-based nutrition education and advice, here are some of the top reasons that you may need a nutritionist:


If you have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes, nutrition is vital for maintaining healthy blood sugars and preventing your condition from getting worse. Diabetes nutrition counseling helps you learn about how foods affect your diabetes and teaches you strategies for healthier eating.


Athletes need specialized diets to fuel great workouts and stellar performances. Sports nutritionists understand how to create diet plans for athletes from a variety of sports that help your body build strength, gain energy, and recover from workouts. These diet plans will include foods you love as well as foods you need to succeed in your sport.


Metabolic conditions can increase your risk of obesity, heart conditions, and diabetes. Nutritionists can help you control these risks with diet plans designed for your health and conditions. These plans may help you maintain or lose weight, depending on your goals.


Digestive problems like irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, or lactose intolerance require specialized diets to control symptoms. Nutritionists can help you create diet plans that keep you healthy, reduce symptoms, and are full of foods that you enjoy eating.


What you eat during pregnancy, your baby eats, too. Nutritionists can help you choose the right foods to encourage healthy development in your baby and keep you healthy, too. After your baby is born, nutritionists can also help you create a plan to lose baby weight while maintaining a good milk supply for breastfeeding.


When you are on a journey to lose weight, you need comprehensive support. Nutritionists can create personalized weight loss nutrition plans to help you lose 5 pounds or 50 pounds. Your nutritionist will guide you toward healthy food choices while helping you enjoy the foods you are eating.

Nutritionists can also teach you about healthy food habits and behaviors that encourage weight loss. Healthy habits may include eating at the dining table, weighing your food, or avoiding late night snacks. The goal of this education is to help you develop healthy habits for the rest of your life.

At Bon Secours Physical Therapy, you can receive personalized counseling from our nutrition experts at locations throughout Richmond. Learn more about developing your own individual diet plan with help from our staff. Visit us at:

Nutrition Resources for Parents

The worries and woes of being a parent never end, but at least there is a reliable source for information on how to feed them as they grow. ChooseMyPlate, the replacement to the former Food Pyramid, provides an easy visual for building a healthy plate with all the food groups. The website,, is a great place to find the answers to your family’s nutrition questions with a meal plan calculator to tell you how many servings of each food group you and your child needs, grocery lists, tip sheets, recipes, kids games, and even a food and activity tracker. Check it out and start building your own MyPlate with your family today.

By Abby Forman, Registered Dietitian with Bon Secours Physical Therapy & Sports Performance

For more information about nutrition and choosing healthy foods, visit us at

Strong Core, Proper Form Help Prevent Back Injuries

Fall is a popular time to take a family vacation, move to a new home. and get caught up on backyard projects. Although no one adds “back injury” to their to-do list, these popular activities can lead to injuries.

About 4 million people head to their health provider for a back injury during the summer months, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Fortunately, you can prevent back injuries by using proper form while bending, lifting, and twisting and keeping your core muscles strong and flexible.

The AAOS offers the following tips to help prevent back injuries:

  • Use proper lifting techniques. This is especially important when you’re moving something heavy like a suitcase or furniture. Lift heavy items with your legs, not your back. Position yourself close to whatever you want to lift. Do not bend over to pick up heavy items. Keep your back straight and bend at your knees.
  • Get help. If something is heavy, don’t try to lift it on your own. Ask your family and friends to help you. If you’re moving, consider hiring someone to help you.
  • Use smart packing techniques. Pack lightly. When possible, place heavier items in a few smaller bags or boxes instead of one large item.
  • Take breaks. If you’re traveling, be sure to give yourself a break from sitting in the same position for too long. The same goes for doing chores. Make time to stretch in between tasks.
  • Maintain good posture. Use good posture throughout your flight or car ride. When sitting, keep your back in a normal, slightly arched position. Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Keep your head and shoulders upright.
  • Minimize falls. 
    • Wear properly fitting shoes with rubber, non-skid soles. This is important for both traveling and working outdoors, as certain shoes increase your chances of falling.
    • If you’re working outdoors, secure hoses, rakes, and other garden tools from your workspace to avoid tripping over those objects.
    • Pets want to enjoy the outdoor weather just as much as you do. When doing projects outdoors with pets, consider placing a bell on your pet so you can locate them easily and know when they are near your feet to minimize a potential tripping hazard.

If you injure your back, talk to your health provider or spine specialist. While back pain often resolves on its own, some back and spinal injuries need immediate treatment. Do not ignore any symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness, or pain radiating down the leg.

For more information or to find a healthcare provider near you, call 804-359-WELL or visit

Skin Cancer Prevention Starts at Birth

When it comes to protecting your children’s skin and health, simple choices and everyday habits could keep them from developing the deadliest form of skin cancer later in life. The decisions to cover up, sit in the shade, and reapply sunscreen all make a difference in whether a child gets too much sun. Just one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma later in life, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Five or more blistering burns between the ages of 15 and 20 increases the risk of melanoma by 80 percent.

“It’s so important for parents to be vigilant about sun protection,” said Tim Hatt, a board-certified physician assistant specializing in family and acute care medicine at Monarch Medical Associates. “Infants are especially vulnerable. The first six months are when the skin is most sensitive and likely to burn. It can have lifelong ramifications.”

It’s not easy to avoid the sun, especially living in Hampton Roads. Waterways and the ocean invite us to cool off during hot summer days. However, they also reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, and it doesn’t take a sunny day to get a sunburn. Up to 80 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays can still reach your skin.

Although using a sunscreen daily can cut the incidence of melanoma by half, consider your child’s age before you reach for the SPF 30. Parents should not apply sunscreen to infants under 6 months. Instead, infants that age should be kept out of the sun as much as possible. Seeking shade is the easiest way to do that. Parents should also make sure that their baby wears a long-sleeved shirt and pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Sun protection should happen every day, not just at the beach or by the pool. “Be careful if you take your baby on a long road trip,” Hatt said. “Use a sunshade to block the UV rays that may penetrate the side windows of your vehicle.”

Once a child is at least 6 months, a broad-spectrum sunscreen can be applied to exposed skin. The sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30. Sunscreens that contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are most appropriate for infants and toddlers who have sensitive skin, according to the AAD. Even with sunscreen, children should stay in the shade and wear sun-protective clothing.

Sun protection tips for parents:

  • Always seek the shade. Avoid the sun’s rays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Dress your children in long-sleeved shirts and pants. Have them wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Do the same for yourself; it helps to model healthy behaviors.
  • Make sure children 6 months and older wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to exposed skin areas.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours after swimming or sweating.
  • Make sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas including: ears, neck, top of the head, and feet.

Despite a parent’s best efforts, children can get sunburned, overheated and dehydrated from too much sun. Head indoors if your child becomes fussy, won’t stop crying, or has redness on any exposed skin. Offer plenty of fluids. Check the color of their urine, which should be light yellow, Hatt said.

If your child does get sunburned, make sure they drink extra water and stay out of the sun. Cool compresses or ibuprofen can help with any redness and discomfort. “Aloe vera is also gentle on the skin,” Hatt said.

Blisters, a sign of second-degree sunburn, should not be touched. Be sure to contact your health provider if blisters cover a large area of the body or if your child has chills, a headache, or fever.

“It’s also a good idea to have an annual skin exam,” Hatt said. “If you notice a mole changing or something suspicious, see a doctor. You want to catch skin cancer early.”

For additional information about your own personal risks for skin cancer and when you should be screened, consult your primary care provider or dermatologist. Call 804-359-WELL or visit if you need help finding a healthcare provider.

Tips for a Healthy Summer Picnic and Barbecue

There’s nothing like a summer picnic to bring family and friends together. So far, the weather has held up nicely for locals and tourists enjoying downtime at the beach and parks. If you have reserved a shelter or invited guests to a gathering in your backyard, you’ll know planning the party is half the fun. Make sure to have plenty of sunscreen and water on hand so everybody stays refreshed and protected, and, of course, don’t forget the food!

Summertime is synonymous with treats either loaded with salt, soaked in sauce, or sticky with sugar. Hot dogs, s’mores, ice cream, potato chips … everywhere you turn you’re tempted. Add food to a social event and you may feel compelled to eat more than your fill. However, it is possible to enjoy a barbecue or picnic without the guilt. Whether you’re the host or signed up to bring a side, here are a few tips to promote healthy eating this season.

Hold the Mayo: Browse any summer buffet and you’re sure to find potato salad, macaroni salad, and coleslaw, all staples of the perfect picnic and typically heavy with mayonnaise. A few helpings of any of these dishes will pile on calories, but you can swap out the mayo for a healthier binding ingredient that also enhances the flavor. Seek out recipes that use avocado, ground mustard, or Greek yogurt.

Look for Leaner Cuts: Yes, you can grill out and still enjoy a nutritious meal. Be aware of the meat you choose to cook. Grill chicken without the skin to reduce calories and fat, shop for lean cuts of steak with the fat trimmed, and use marinades low in sugar. How you cook meat, too, is as important as what you grill. Be mindful of flipping steaks, chops, and burgers – the more you do it can reduce carcinogens on your food.

Say No to Soda: When the temperature rises, you’re tempted to grab the first cold drink you see. Water quenches the thirst and hydrates the body better than anything else, but for guests who want options, offer up low-sugar alternatives to soft drinks. Try lemonade and limeade sweetened with honey, or iced tea infused with peaches or berries.

No Need to Sacrifice: If you’re trying to eat healthy, you’ll wonder what to do about dessert. Summer brings toasted marshmallows and ice cream bars and other sugar-loaded treats, but it’s also the season for strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Combine mixed berries with a slice of angel food cake for a nice ending to a meal. If the grill is still active, try splitting a banana lengthwise and cook lightly on each side, and then drizzle with chocolate sauce for a unique treat.

Don’t forget, you can always browse our recipe board on Pinterest for inspiration. We have close to 300 recipes for salads, appetizers and main dishes for you to enjoy.

For more information about nutrition and choosing healthy foods, visit us at