Workforce Wellness – Bon Secours


Medical Nutrition Therapy More Than Just a “Diet” for People with Diabetes

November is American Diabetes Month.  Recent statistics show that nearly half of all American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes.  Sadly, however, many people are not given the educational tools (particularly related to nutrition) needed to manage the disease throughout a lifetime. Often, patients are instructed to eat a “diabetic diet” and handed a pre-printed diet sheet.

Diabetic Nutrition Counseling (sometimes referred to as medical nutrition therapy) is very different and helps thousands of people reach their health goals every year. This one-on-one training helps patients develop a plan to eat healthy based on nutrition needs, blood sugar management goals, and food preferences.

These programs make eating easier for people with diabetes. With the help of a registered dietitian you can take the guesswork out of your diet and feel confident that you are eating the right way to manage your health and feel great.


Diets take a one-size-fits-all approach to losing weight and improving health. They assume that everyone will want to eat the same things and that eating in one particular way will be good for all people. Unfortunately, that’s not true.

Medical nutrition therapy helps you make good nutrition decisions based on your own individual life. Your dietitian will help you learn about food choices and find the foods to eat based on your

  • Living and job situation
  • Culture
  • Medical/Nutritional concerns (such as lactose intolerance or Celiac disease)
  • Personal tastes and food preferences
  • Ability to shop for and cook healthy foods
  • Ability to make changes to your eating habits

Medical nutrition therapy has many goals that don’t simply focus on weight loss or appearance. The goals of medical nutrition therapy focus on improving your health in ways you can see. Goals might include:

  • Achieving a Hemoglobin A1C under 7 percent. (This laboratory test measures blood glucose control over the last 2-3 months.)
  • Lowering your blood pressure to below 140/80
  • Lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol to under 100
  • Elevating your HDL (good) cholesterol to over 50

Your dietitian can help you meet these goals while ensuring you still enjoy eating. He or she will recommend evidence-based changes to your diet and help you cut through all the marketing noise related to eating healthy foods. Thanks to their years of studying and training, they know what will actually help you and what may just be a current fad.

At Bon Secours, our expert dietitians offer comprehensive medical nutrition therapy. After a detailed evaluation, we offer follow-up appointments to help you continue to learn about food, nutrition labels, cooking, and more.  Individual eating strategies are developed to address your personal challenges.  These appointments are often covered by health insurance, so you may be able to receive medical nutrition therapy at little to no cost. Reasonable self-pay rates are available to those without insurance or without insurance coverage for nutrition.

Learn more about medical nutrition therapy and diabetes counseling at Bon Secours.


Gobble up this Thanksgiving Meal Advice

Many people see Thanksgiving as a downfall to their health; a day that inevitably leads to overindulging on rich foods, followed by the uncomfortable feeling of being “stuffed.” But it doesn’t have to be this way! Thanksgiving is actually a wonderful time to take advantage of the great variety of nutrients that are on the table. By making a few small tweaks to some traditional dishes, you can enjoy familiar flavors and still feel good about your health. Here are just a few examples:

Turkey: Many people choose white meat due to it being overall lower in calories and fat (a turkey breast has about 160 calories and 6 grams of fat, whereas a thigh has 190 calories and 10 grams of fat). However, dark meat is also higher in iron, zinc, and B vitamins. Overall, the differences are minimal, and, either way you go, turkey is a great source of lean protein and a good source of selenium, B vitamins, and phosphorus.

Stuffing/Dressing: So far as stuffing goes, try swapping out your instant boxed stuffing (which is higher is sodium, fat, and preservatives) and use a homemade recipe that incorporates whole-wheat bread, fresh herbs, and lots of veggies like celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and mushrooms.

Potatoes: Instead of mashed potatoes with butter and cream, use turkey/chicken broth, evaporated skim milk, or non-fat Greek yogurt (a great source of added protein). For added nutritional variety, mix with pureed cooked cauliflower, turnips, or parsnips. Sweet potatoes are another great choice and an excellent source of vitamin A, among other nutrients. As an alternative to candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows (you’ll be eating dessert later!), try a savory version by roasting a pan full of sweet potato wedges with Brussel sprouts, onions, and herbs.

Cranberries: Cranberries are full of a variety of nutrients as well as the compound proanthocyanidin which helps prevent urinary tract infections. However, their naturally tart taste is inevitably remedied with lots of sugar. Instead of the canned variety, try sprinkling a few dried cranberries on a spinach salad with some chopped almonds and goat cheese. Dried cranberries still have sugar, but a small amount atop a bed of leafy greens will spare some of those sugar calories as well as increase your nutrient intake.

The bottom line: Don’t look at holiday meals as an obstacle to your goal of good health; look at them as an opportunity to eat a variety of nutrients, try out new recipes, and still taste the classic flavors you’ve always loved!

By Whitney Martin, Master of Public Health Student at Liberty University

Intern for Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance


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

’Tis the Season for Stress

By Ebony S. Canady, LCSW

It’s the holiday season.

If simply reading those words puts your stomach in a knot, sit down and take a deep breath. There are valid reasons why you might be feeling anxious over the holidays.

This is the time of year when people are reminded how much they miss someone who’s died. It’s when people think about broken relationships or how much money they don’t really have to spend on gifts. For some, it’s knowing they have to work on Christmas and need to find child care. For others, it’s living too far away to celebrate with the people they love. And then there’s the extra work involved. Decorating. Shopping. Cooking.

“This is truly the most stressful time of the year,” said Ebony S. Canady, LCSW, who counsels people through Bon Secours Hampton Roads Employee Assistance Program. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.”

The first step to handling all of this stress is to remember what the season is all about, Canady said. She recommends the following additional strategies for everyone to help manage holiday stress and enjoy this time of year:

  • Practice mindfulness. Think about what causes your stress during the holidays and take steps to change things. Remember that the holidays only last one or two days and it’s not worth it to stress all month long. Ask yourself what the things are that you do appreciate about this time of year. Be grateful for all that is good in your life. And when it comes to family tension, resist the urge to bring up the past or to expect too much from others.
  • Set a budget and stick to it. Don’t overspend on food, decorations, and gifts. Ending the holiday season in debt can cause stress for months.
  • Simplify. If cooking and baking is too stressful, let someone else do it. “No one said you have to cook the holiday dinner,” Canady said. “You can go out to dinner or buy prepared food.” Have a simple meal instead of a giant spread. “Make your holiday what you want it to be,” Canady said.
  • Lower your expectations. Few family holidays look like the ones you see on a greeting card. “Higher expectations can lead to a world of disappointment and stress,” Canady said.
  • Acknowledge grief. Spending the holidays without someone you love is tough. It’s easy to want to stay isolated, but it’s much healthier to be around other people and talk about those you miss. “It’s good to laugh and cry together,” Canady said. “The more you try to avoid grieving, the worse you’ll feel about it.”
  • Take care of yourself. Eating lots of sugary foods and drinking alcohol can make people feel worse during the holidays. Keep up with your exercise routine, indulge in moderation, and make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Volunteer. If you don’t feel like celebrating or you don’t have somewhere to go, sign up to volunteer at a local church or soup kitchen, Canady said. “Being there to help someone else have a better day will ultimately improve your day.”

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



Protect Your Newborn from the Flu: Get Vaccinated

Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, should talk to their doctor about getting a flu shot. A flu shot not only helps protect a woman from getting influenza during pregnancy, it also provides important protection for her newborn.

Pregnant women can get vaccinated for the flu during any trimester of their pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multiple published studies, as well as clinical experience, support the belief that the flu vaccine is safe and effective during pregnancy, according to ACOG.

Many people die from flu complications every year. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to serious illness from the flu because of changes that occur during pregnancy to their immune system, heart, and lungs.

Not only does the flu shot protect a pregnant woman, it also helps protect her baby from influenza. Antibodies from a mother pass during pregnancy to her developing baby, providing protection that can last the first several months of life.

According to the CDC, the most common side effects experienced by pregnant women are the same as those for other people. The following possible symptoms are generally mild and last only one to two days:

  • Soreness, redness, and/or swelling from the shot
  • Fainting
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue

Although some people may be concerned about a recent study that showed women in early pregnancy who received two consecutive annual flu shots during 2010-11 and 2011-12 had an increased risk of miscarriage in the 28 days after receiving the second vaccine, health authorities say there isn’t enough evidence to change their flu recommendations for pregnant women.

The study is questionable based on its small size and other factors, health officials say. For example, it’s possible that the miscarriages had nothing to do with getting vaccinated for the flu. In addition, the study does not quantify the risk of miscarriage and does not prove that flu vaccine was the cause of miscarriage, according to a statement from ACOG.

“ACOG continues to recommend that all women receive the influenza vaccine,” the statement reads. “This is particularly important during pregnancy. Influenza vaccination is an essential element of prenatal care because pregnant women are at an increased risk of serious illness and mortality due to influenza. In addition, maternal vaccination is the most effective strategy to protect newborns because the vaccine is not approved for use in infants younger than six months.”

Women who have concerns or questions about receiving flu vaccine should talk to their health provider.

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



American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Get Pumped for Pumpkins

It’s officially fall time, and you know what that means: pumpkin flavored everything. For some people, this might mean enjoying a slice of pumpkin pie or heading to the closest Starbucks for a pumpkin spiced latte to celebrate the season. Although pumpkin flavored goodies are often seen as an indulgence (the aforementioned latte contains 380 calories and 50 grams of sugar), keep in mind that pumpkin does not always have to be a splurge. If you’re looking to stay on track with your health this season, pumpkins can help with that too! These hearty vegetables (though biologically a fruit) are rich in fiber and vitamin A, and are an effective way to boost immunity when flu season comes around. As an alternative to buying pumpkin-flavored desserts, healthy pumpkin options can easily be made at home. For example, pumpkin puree can be added to pancake batter, oatmeal, smoothies, or even your favorite chili recipe. Also, don’t forget about the seeds! Toasted pumpkin seeds are a healthy and portable snack to have on hand and are a good source of protein and fiber. To prepare, rinse the seeds to remove pumpkin pulp and strings, spread them onto a baking sheet, and drizzle with a small amount of oil. Bake at 325 degree for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add seasonings you may have on hand, such as garlic powder or Cajun seasonings.  Get into the pumpkin craze this season without the splurge and embrace the full power of this amazing food.

By Whitney Martin, Master of Public Health Student at Liberty University

Intern for Bon Secours Physical Therapy and Sports Performance


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