Category: Physical Health

How to kick unhealthy habits: Drinking soda.

Sometimes an ice-cold soda on a hot day really hits the spot. But many Americans enjoy soft drinks more often than is good for their health. In fact, the average American drinks more than 38 gallons of soda in a year. That’s almost enough to fill an entire bathtub.

Drinking soda is an unhealthy habit that can really hurt your overall health. Most sodas are loaded with sugar and caffeine – both of which are linked to negative health outcomes when you eat or drink them often. And while diet sodas are marketed as “sugar free,” they still contain controversial ingredients like artificial sweeteners, dyes and chemicals that many experts agree you should avoid for your health.

Even though we know soda isn’t the healthiest option, it is hard to resist. It tastes good, and we usually drink them while we’re doing things we enjoy, like going to the movies, eating at a restaurant or attending a sporting event. So, if you’re looking to reduce your soda consumption, what should you do?

Find an alternative drink that you love.

When kicking your soda habit, it’s important to find another beverage that you enjoy. While water is the best beverage option, it may not satisfy your taste buds in the same way soda does. Finding something else to drink that you enjoy can help you break your soda habit. Some healthy options include fruit-infused water, sparkling water or tea without added sweeteners. If the caffeine is what you need, having a cup of black coffee can give you the boost you need in the morning!

You might be thinking, “None of these options will satisfy my sweet tooth!” And, that’s true! Most healthy drinks do not include a lot of sugar. To help with the transition away from sugary soda to healthier options, try adding a little honey to your coffee or tea. Over time, you can slowly decrease the amount you use until you’re not adding any at all.

Always carry water with you.

Sometimes we drink soda out of convenience. It is easy to choose an unhealthy option when it’s right in front of you! One way to combat this is to carry water with you everywhere you go. There are many water bottle filling stations in public places now, which makes refilling your bottle easy and free. You’ll not only be making a healthier choice, but you’ll also save money in the process! You can get started by purchasing an affordable water bottle on Amazon or at a store like Walmart.

Keep soda out of your home.

It’s easier to resist soda when it’s not around you. One of the best things you can do to reduce your soda intake is to not bring it into your home! Instead, fill your fridge with healthier options, like those we shared above. Encourage your family to limit their soda with you. When everyone is working toward the same health goals, it makes it easier on each person.

Practice moderation.

You’re more likely to overcome your soda habit for good if you don’t quit cold turkey. Slowly make changes over time so that you don’t have intense cravings and aren’t tempted to binge. Like with all things in life, soda consumption is about moderation. There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional soft drink at a Grizz game – but the goal is for that to be the rare exception.

What are the early signs of type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a manageable, sometimes reversible, health condition. Preventive care and spotting the early signs of type 2 diabetes can improve or even change your life. And even if you get a diabetes diagnosis, your physician can help you manage the condition with medicine and lifestyle recommendations. But before you get a diagnosis, what early signs of the condition should you look for? Can you spot the signs on your own? Learning more about this common health condition is a good place to start.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a common health condition in America. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that nearly 37 million Americans have either type 1 or 2 diabetes. That’s one out of every 10 people – and more than 95% of them have type 2 diabetes. 

In the simplest sense, a diabetes diagnosis means a person’s body cannot process sugar well enough to maintain essential healthy functions. According to the Mayo Clinic, type 2 diabetes is a combination of: 

  • A person’s pancreas not producing enough insulin AND
  • A person’s cells reacting poorly to insulin and not taking in enough sugar as a result.

What’s important to know about type 2 diabetes is that it is rarely something that people are born with. It is most often developed over time. While some factors that increase the likelihood that a person will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime are out of their control, most often the condition is linked to manageable factors like diet, exercise and a person’s overall wellness. 

Am I more likely to develop type 2 diabetes?

As stated above, type 2 diabetes is very common in America – and it’s manageable, sometimes even reversible, if you get an early diagnosis. One of the best ways to get an early diagnosis is to learn whether or not you have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When you go to your annual physical or preventive health care screening, your doctor will ask you questions about your family history, overall health and will look at some of your vital signs to tell you if you’re more likely to develop diabetes in your lifetime. These well visits are a very important step in preventing and caring for diabetes, and the team at Wellness and Stress Clinic can perform this assessment for you during our free Monday night clinics. But if you want to learn more before your wellness visit, you can take this 5 minute assessment test from the American Medical Association and the CDC.

What are the early signs of type 2 diabetes?

Early diabetes is called prediabetes, and it can be diagnosed using a simple blood test during your regular physical. It is one of the most common conditions among American adults: nearly one out of every three Americans have prediabetes

Getting a prediabetes diagnosis is really important because you may be able to prevent prediabetes from progressing to type 2 diabetes at this stage. Most people who have prediabetes do not know that they have it, as there are not any recognizable symptoms or signs. We can help you determine if you have prediabetes and help you create a plan to prevent it from progressing into type 2 diabetes during your appointment with one of our physicians

If you progress from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes, it may still take you a while to realize that something isn’t right with your body. The earliest signs include:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Excess hunger.
  • Fatigue.
  • Blurred vision.

Many of these indicators can easily be ignored or confused for other common medical conditions. This is why it’s very important to do an annual wellness check with a doctor. 

What can I do if I get a prediabetes or type 2 diabetes diagnosis?

If you get a prediabetes diagnosis, it is important to develop a management plan with your doctor or health care provider. They will have resources, recommendations and practices you can use to help manage your condition and prevent progression. This could include daily medications and a blood sugar monitoring schedule. Your physician will tell you what course of care is best for you and your specific condition, but there are general recommendations that are good for your overall health that can also help manage type 2 diabetes: 

  1. Try to move for 30 minutes every day. You don’t have to lift a ton of weight or do sprints to positively impact your health! Start small by doing simple, free things like walking around your neighborhood, doing bodyweight squats and pushups or opting to take the stairs when you’re out. 
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Working with a doctor is the best way to develop a food plan. But reducing the amount of sugar you eat and prioritizing vegetables, multigrains and lean proteins is a good place to start! 
  3. Prioritize weight loss. If you are carrying excess weight, getting your weight into a healthy range can help you manage your diabetes. If you try to exercise for 30 minutes every day and eat a healthy diet, then weight loss may naturally follow. But if it doesn’t, you may need to talk with your doctor to get additional recommendations. 

Preventive care for diabetes is important, but ongoing care once you have a diagnosis is critical. There are lifesaving medicines available for people with diabetes, and those medications in concert with lifestyle changes can help you lead a normal, healthy life. Without these changes, diabetes can cause a number of serious health complications. Book your appointment to speak with one of our physicians and find out your diabetes status! 

All about the thyroid

Did you know around 20 million Americans are affected by thyroid disease? While most of us have heard of our thyroid gland, its job can be unclear and symptoms of disease often go undetected. Keep reading to learn more about the thyroid in honor of Thyroid Disease Awareness Month.

What is the thyroid and what does it do?

The thyroid is a gland in your neck that’s in charge of your metabolism and creating new proteins. It’s a part of the endocrine system, which affects most of the body’s organs. Your thyroid is in charge of:

  • Skin health.
  • Menstrual cycles.
  • Calcium levels.
  • The nervous system.
  • Heart and cholesterol levels.
  • Controlling brain development, body temperature, breath and fat production.

What is thyroid disease and how can I identify the symptoms?

Thyroid disease can affect your whole body, but it can be difficult to detect. Here are a few examples of thyroid disease and its symptoms.

Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid gland overworks and is most common in people older than 50. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include insomnia, increased heart rate, anxiety, weight loss, increased appetite, increased sweating, diarrhea, hair loss, heat sensitivity and dry, thin skin.

Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland underworks and is most common in those older than 60. Most of the symptoms accompanied with hypothyroidism come with age, which is why hypothyroidism is hard to detect. These symptoms include sensitivity to cold and/or heat, fatigue, weight gain, constipation, anxiety, depression, slow body movements, itchy or sore scalp, muscle aches and brittle hair and nails.

Hashimoto’s Disease is when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland and works to destroy it. Hashimoto’s is most common among middle-aged women but can occur at any age. This type of thyroid disease affects more than 14 million Americans. Symptoms are often subtle and can go undetected for many years by mimicking symptoms of other conditions. These symptoms include fatigue, depression, constipation, mild weight gain, dry skin, thinning hair, heavy or irregular menstruation and cold intolerance.

How can I tell if I have thyroid disease?

While the only way you can accurately tell if you have thyroid disease is through bloodwork, there are ways to check at home. One way is by performing regular self-checks for lumps – a common indicator.

To perform a self-check:

  1. Tilt your head back and take a sip of water.
  2. Swallow and watch your neck for signs of bulging.
  3. Repeat step one a few times, still checking for bulging.
  4. If you discover a bulge or enlarged gland, contact your doctor.

Even though thyroid disease can be hard to detect, it’s manageable with the proper treatment.

Please speak to one of our on-site clinicians during your next appointment if you’d like more information.

Healthy harvest recipes

For many, fall means pumpkin pie, dressing and green bean casserole. While those foods are delicious, they aren’t always the best options for overall health. Enjoying them in small portions, along with these similar, heart healthy recipes will help you get into the spirit! Here are several recipes you can enjoy with your family this fall. 

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

According to AARP and the American Heart Association, pumpkin seeds are chock full of fiber and magnesium, which are essential for heart health. If you’re looking for a tasty, crunchy snack, try roasting pumpkin seeds! This recipe from Simply Recipes is sure to hit the spot.


  • One medium pumpkin
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil


  • Cut open the pumpkin by cutting a circle around the stem end with a sharp knife (knife blade angled in), and pulling off the top.
  • Use a strong metal spoon to scrape the inside of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds and strings.
  • Place the mass of pumpkin seeds in a colander and run under water to rinse and separate the seeds from everything else.
  • Measure the pumpkin seeds in a cup measurer. Place the seeds in a medium saucepan. Add 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to the saucepan for every half cup of pumpkin seeds.
  • Bring the salted water and pumpkin seeds to a boil. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat the bottom of a roasting pan or thick baking sheet with olive oil, about a teaspoon or so.
  • Spread the seeds out over the roasting pan in a single layer, and toss them a bit to coat them with the oil on the pan.
  • Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown, 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the seeds. Small pumpkin seeds may toast in around 5 minutes or so, large pumpkin seeds may take up to 20 minutes. 
  • Keep an eye on the pumpkin seeds so they don’t get over toasted. When lightly browned, remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. Let the pumpkin seeds cool all the way down before eating.
  • Either crack to remove the inner seed or eat whole.

Baked Sweet Potatoes

If you have diabetes or are prediabetic, watching your starch intake is important. But you can’t ignore all carbohydrates, they are essential for your health! Luckily, sweet potatoes are prevalent during the fall, and a baked sweet potato is a great starch option! This simple recipe from Delish is an easy one to follow.


  • 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat your oven to 425º. 
  • On a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, prick sweet potatoes all over with a fork.
  • Place the baking sheet with the sweet potatoes on it in the oven and bake until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Let the sweet potatoes cool, then split the tops open with a knife and top with a pat of butter.
  • Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Butternut Squash Chili

Chili is a cold-weather staple for many families. This healthier take on chili incorporates squash, which is a filling and healthy fall choice! Squash is rich in vitamin C, which is known to promote eye health and can even fight against cataracts. This recipe from the Washington Post contains not only squash, but several other superpowered ingredients that can boost your health! Don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables? Substitute for canned ingredients!


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 3 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added navy, Great Northern or cannellini beans (from 2 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 small zucchini (8 ounces), trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans mild green chiles with their liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo with their sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine table salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste


  • In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it’s tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the beans, zucchini, squash, green chiles, chipotles in adobo, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder and salt, followed by the broth and quinoa. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, then lower the heat until the mixture is simmering, cover, and cook until the squash is fork-tender and the quinoa is fully cooked, about 20 minutes.
  • Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, taste, and season with more salt and/or lime juice, if needed. Serve hot.