Great American Smoke-Out on November 17th!

November 15th, 2016 · No Comments

There is an well-known adage, quitters never win, an adage that at least in one case appears to be wrong. Approximately 40 million people in the United States have the opportunity to be quitters and winners by doing something great for their health on November 17th—kicking the tobacco habit! Each year, on the 3rd Thursday of November, the American Cancer Society ( and partnering organizations, including Healthy Living Rochester (, promote the Great American Smoke-out, a day on which people who smoke are invited to quit.

Why quit smoking?

Besides the well-known health benefits that come from stopping smoking (lower risk of heart disease and cancer), there are a number of other benefits (source:

• Save money by not buying cigarettes

• Improve one’s sense of smell and taste

• Avoid smoke damage to clothing, cars, and home furnishings

• Look younger by avoiding the effect cigarette smoking has on wrinkling of the skin

• Live a longer and healthier life—on average, non-smokers live at least 10 years longer than non-smokers, and if a smoker quits before
40 years of age, their chance of dying from a tobacco-related disease goes down by 90%!

How to quit?

Thousands of people quit smoking successfully each year, generally following a variation of the following steps—the “3 D’s” of behavior change:

1. Desire: develop and maintain a strong desire to quit,

2. Do: do something about the desire to change by making a plan to quit, and

3. Don’t give up: keep moving ahead, re-assessing your plan’s effectiveness and re-adjusting your plans as needed to be successful in meeting your goal of tobacco-free living.

Additional help may be needed for some smokers who are quitting—including counseling and medication therapy. For more information, smokers can contact their primary healthcare provider or the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. In addition, a free service—the Quit Plan—is available to all Minnesota residents by calling 1-888-354-PLAN (7526) or by going to the website

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Happy Heart Month!

February 2nd, 2016 · No Comments

Happy Heart Month!

February is “Heart Month”, a great time to refocus our efforts on keeping our heart as healthy as possible. And this February includes “leap day” (February 29th) which gives us an extra day to work on our healthy heart habits.

Consider one or more of the following heart healthy actions this month:

  1. Race your heart:  Start an exercise program, beginning with a few minutes each day and working up gradually and safely to a goal of at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity (like brisk walking or biking, for example) at least 5 days a week.
  2. Nurture your heart:  5 fruits and/or vegetables a day help to keep your heart healthy and well-nourished.  Find simple ways to include fruits and vegetables into your daily dietary habits.
  3. Help your heart breath:  Avoid all tobacco exposure to help your lungs and heart work together.
  4. Lighten your heart:  Have an extra inch or two around the waistline?  Work toward “waist management” by steady improvements in activity and dietary habits (see numbers 1 and 2 above). Even a half inch will help with your efforts to keep your heart healthy.
  5. “Go Red” on February 5th: Help raise awareness that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States.  Wear red on Friday, February 5th (or all month, for that matter!)

Happy Heart Month!

For more resources go to or

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Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

January 6th, 2016 · No Comments

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.” (Chinese proverb)

“How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.”  (Benjamin Franklin)


The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on our current health-related habits, and make plans to improve. There is no better time to improve than now!

Here are a few tips to help you get started with a healthier new year:

1. Identify one of your health-related habits that needs improvement–(for example, to quit smoking, or to be more physically active)

2. Reflect on your past experiences in changing that behavior.  What worked?  What didn’t work?

3. Make a plan, focusing on actions that are most likely to help you succeed in making significant and sustained change over time.  Commit to keep with that plan, one day at a time.

4. Reassess progress, preferably with a friend or family member, and pat yourself on the back for progress you make.  Adjust your plans, as needed, to overcome barriers you encounter along the way.

For additional resources to help with healthy lifestyle habits, consider the following resources:


Have a happy and healthy new year!

The Healthy Living Rochester Team

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Recent Study On Low Fat Vs Low Carb Diet: What Does It Tell Us?

September 10th, 2014 · No Comments

A recent study from Tulane University and published in the well-respected Annals of Internal Medicine was highlighted in the news media recently, apparently shedding new light on the “low fat” vs “high fat” diet controversy. But does it really?

The study randomly divided a group of 148 people into two dietary groups and followed them for 12 months. One group followed a low fat diet, defined as less than 30% of total calories from fat and less than 7% of total calories from saturated fat. The other group followed a low carbohydrate diet, defined in this study as less than 40 grams of carbohydrate per day. Both groups received dietary counseling on an ongoing basis. All participants were advised to continue with the usual levels of physical activity throughout the duration of the study.

At the end of the study, people in both groups lost weight, but people in the low carbohydrate diet lost about 7 pounds more than the people in the low fat group. In addition, the people in the low carbohydrate diet group had more favorable improvements in their cholesterol levels.

So what do we learn from this study? Actually, we learn very little that is new. The study itself has some limitations, including the quality of the study design. People in the low fat diet, for example, had fewer restrictions and most likely a higher calorie intake than those in the low carbohydrate group (see an interesting editorial article by David Katz, from Yale University, go to:

Based on this and other research studies, dietary habits that help to optimize health should consistently include the following principles or patterns:

1. Think small!: Keep portions on the smaller side, to have smaller waistlines!

2. Limit saturated and trans fats (partially hydrogenated fats) in the diet: Restrict intake of beef, pork, and dairy fats, while avoiding trans fats in processed foods.

3. Seek a balance: Limit simple and processed carbohydrates, and take in a consistent balance between lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats (sometimes referred to as a Mediterranean pattern of eating; for more details, see and

4. Long-term view: Follow a healthy dietary pattern for the long-term, not just for short-term spurts.

Here’s to healthy eating!

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Benefits of Kicking the Habit By Annie Hubka, CNP

March 19th, 2013 · No Comments

This time of year is notorious for resolutions. Whether you vowed to work up a sweat more often or tackle the daunting messy closets, there is one habit everyone should toss out with the trash.  Instead of focusing on what you have to lose, keep your eyes on the prize! We all know kicking the smoking habit has many heart and lung benefits. But did you know it’s basically a total body makeover?

 Prevent premature aging: Smoking releases toxins that increase the breakdown of collagen. Collagen is found in your skin and prevents sagging and wrinkles. Smoking can also lead to destruction of hair follicles, resulting in hair thinning.

 Put your best foot forward: The distinct smell isn’t the only turn off associated with smoking. Smoking causes yellowing of the nails and teeth. The nicotine in cigarettes leads to a decrease in saliva, which puts you at risk for not only bad breath, but gum disease too. Another thing to keep in mind is the growing number of smoke free work campuses. Don’t let smoking keep you from your dream career!

 Breathe Better: Spend your paid time off at work on relaxation and traveling, not using it as sick leave. Smoking impairs the function of your nose and lungs, lending you more susceptible to becoming sick. It also diminishes your sense of smell and taste.  Shortly after quitting smoking, you will notice your lung function, sense of smell and taste begin to return!

 Go Green: Add years to your life and money to your bank account. The cost of smoking one pack per day in 2012, cost approximately $2,000 per year. That’s enough for a tropical get-away each year!

 If you are considering or ready to quit, don’t go at it alone. Studies show people who take part in support groups or counseling are more likely to remain tobacco-free. For more information on quitting smoking contact your physician or one of these organizations:

 Annie is a Certified Nurse Practitioner in Otorhinolaryngology at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

This information is not intended as medical advice.  Please consult your physician for individual advice.

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Living with Heart Disease (and Beef!) By Kaitlin Anderson, RD, LD

February 27th, 2013 · No Comments

As a supermarket dietitian, I meet newly-diagnosed patients with heart disease on a regular basis.  My job is to assist them in their grocery shopping and answer all their questions about how specific foods affect heart health.  When we walk up to the meat case, I oftentimes hear the customer say, “Don’t worry, I already know that I have to choose chicken or fish instead of beef.”  Not so fast—beef isn’t off limits!

A recent study at Penn State discovered that lean beef can fit in a heart-healthy diet.  The Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) clinical study found that participants could eat four ounces of lean beef every day and still lower their cholesterol levels.  This is exciting news for people living with heart disease.

Before you run off and fill your cart with T-bone steaks and 80/20 ground beef, keep these important points in mind:

  • Focus on lean beef.  Beef is a source of saturated fat, so it’s important to understand how to choose lean cuts.  Some examples of lean beef include sirloin steak, round roast and 96/4 ground beef.  When you are standing in front of the meat case, look for words like loin or round to point you toward the leanest cuts.  Otherwise, pay attention to marbling in the meat as an indication of fat content.  Note: The USDA defines lean as less than ten grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per three-ounce serving. 
  • Practice portion control.  Follow the MyPlate guidelines to plan a healthy, balanced meal: one-fourth protein, one-fourth grains, half fruits and vegetables and a serving of low-fat dairy on the side.  For example, a steak dinner would include a 4-ounce sirloin steak, whole-grain dinner roll, spinach-berry salad and a glass of skim milk. 

Click here for more information about the BOLD study.                                                       

Kaitlin Anderson, RD, LD is a registered dietitian at Hy-Vee North in Rochester. 

This information is not intended as medical advice.  Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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Simple Ways to Increase your Fruit and Vegetable Intake By Jennifer Lintz, RD, LD

February 26th, 2013 · No Comments

Have you heard of the “fruits and veggies: more matters®” campaign? It is one of my favorite nutrition-related promotions because it focuses simply on improvement.  Instead of urging adults and kids to take in a certain number of fruit and vegetable servings per day, the goal of the campaign is to help individuals eat more.  Check out the website if you haven’t already.  While we are on the subject of “more,” here are a few ways to increase your intake. 

1. Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.  Incorporating some kind of produce with each meal guarantees you’ll take in three servings during the day.  Need ideas?  Grab a banana to pair with breakfast, munch on some pepper sticks at lunch, and steam up green beans to go along with dinner.

2. Make fruits and veggies the focal point of your snacks.  Gather up your choices the night before you need them to set yourself up for success the next day.  Some of my favorite between-meal options include an apple with string cheese, baby carrots and hummus, celery sticks and peanut butter, a mixed berry smoothie, and plain edamame.

3. Make them “ready-to-eat.”  It’s tough to turn away fruits and vegetables that are washed, sliced, and ready for consumption!   Freshly cut pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, and broccoli florets are just a few examples of produce to keep on hand. Get in the habit of having a few of your favorites prepared so that all you have to do is grab and go.   

 This is not intended as medical advice. Please contact your physician for medical advice.

 Jennifer Lintz, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian for Hy-Vee in Owatonna, MN, and a Group Fitness Instructor at the Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in Rochester, MN.

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Heart-Healthy Cooking Tips By Jennifer Lintz, RD, LD

February 8th, 2013 · No Comments

As a supermarket dietitian, I get the warm fuzzies whenever someone tells me they made something from scratch. Whether it’s an entrée like chicken cacciatore, side of steamed green beans, or even a homemade apple pie, it makes me happy to know there are folks who aren’t afraid to put a little extra love into their meals. Because February is American Heart Month, I thought it would be fitting to discuss ways to cook with your heart in mind. Here are a few: 

Find ways to add fiber. Increasing your fiber intake can be helpful in reducing cholesterol. The top food sources of fiber are whole grains, fruits and vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds. You can bump up fiber content by incorporating whole grains into baking, using fiber-rich veggies in stir-fries and sides, and adding beans and lentils to soups. I like to add whole wheat flour and flaxseed to my homemade banana bread and often replace a third of the bread flour in my pizza crust with the whole wheat kind. 

Skim back on fat. Limiting your consumption of saturated fat can help lower your LDL or “bad” cholesterol. In the kitchen, this means using lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy in addition to low-fat cooking methods like baking, broiling, roasting and stir-frying. My husband and I almost always have swai, tilapia, or salmon on hand to help ensure that we eat fish at least once per week. We also regularly rely on lean ground chicken and turkey breast for burgers, meatloaf, and tacos. 

Ease up on sodium. Scaling back your salt intake can be helpful in the blood pressure department. While putting the salt shaker out of sight is one strategy, the best way to control your sodium consumption is to prepare your meals from scratch. Why? A majority of the sodium we consume is found in processed items such as frozen meals, canned goods, and packaged snacks. When cooking, use minimal amounts of salt and experiment with spices, herbs, garlic, peppers, and citrus fruits to add flavor to your dishes. Also, rinse your canned goods to remove some of the excess sodium or buy the “no salt added” kind.

This is not intended as medical advice. Please contact your physician for medical advice.

Jennifer Lintz, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian for Hy-Vee in Owatonna, MN, and a Group Fitness Instructor at the Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in Rochester, MN.

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Bring Your Workout Indoors by Jennifer Lintz

January 29th, 2013 · No Comments

Conditions in Southeast Minnesota have been just plain cold lately – frigid, in fact! My thermostat in the car has ranged from -2 to -6 degrees Fahrenheit on my morning commute during the past couple of days. “Brr” is about all I have to say about that! No matter how much I enjoy running, odds are slim-to-none that I will exercise outside when temps fall below zero, and I know a lot of folks who feel the same way. Thankfully, there are ways to workout inside when the weather isn’t the warmest. Here are a few.
Pop in a workout video. If it keeps me exercising when temps are in the single or negative digits, I don’t mind shelling out $10 or $15 for a DVD that will get me sweating. One of my favorites right now is Bob Harper’s Ultimate Cardio Body, but I also enjoy Denise Austin’s “Blast Away 10 lbs” kickboxing workouts. There are tons of options available both in stores and online with a wide range of modalities – from yoga and Pilates to kickboxing and dance.

Head to the mall. On days when all the layers in the world aren’t enough to get you outside for an extended period of time, make your way to  the mall or any large department store and take some laps. Even I do this! For accountability and conversation, plan to go with a friend. It will make you more likely to go and will make the time fly once you get started.

Invest in a gym membership. In my opinion, paying a monthly fee during the coldest months of the year is completely worth it if it means I’ll be able to stay active and healthy. The nice thing about going to a gym is that there are typically several options to keep boredom at bay – cardio equipment, free weights, and possibly even swimming pools, weight machines, and group fitness classes.

This is not intended as medical advice. Please contact your physician for medical advice.

Jennifer Lintz, RD, LD, is a Registered Dietitian for Hy-Vee in Owatonna, MN, and a Group Fitness Instructor at the Mayo Clinic’s Dan Abraham Healthy Living Center in Rochester, MN.

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Helping Kids to Quit Smoking

October 29th, 2012 · No Comments

We all know that there are massive and substantial benefits to quitting smoking.  Aside from improvements in lung and cardiovascular function, a smoker who kicks the habit rids themselves of the stench of smoke in their clothing and hair, ugly discoloring stains on their fingers and teeth, and a huge decrease in toxic chemicals continually floating throughout their body. A tremendous positive that is rarely discussed is the fact that the sooner you quit and the more resolved you are to quitting the better your chances of avoiding life threatening illnesses associated with smoking. Also, by quitting this health hazardous habit, you will show your kids and their friends that a strong resolve to live a healthier life is beneficial to all.

Children view adults as a guide to what their actions and behaviors are supposed to look like. When kids grow-up watching their parents smoke, they come to believe that smoking is an appropriate response to stress, difficulties at work, or boredom. It’s important to help them understand that there are better ways to relieve stress and such. Programs that assist adults to quit smoking can help modify behaviors that can lead a person to begin smoking. If a parent learns these behavior modifications it can pay huge dividends as the kids grow and mature. Simple changes for a healthy alternative to smoking and reducing stress include going for a walk or a bike ride, painting, listening to music, or simply reading a book.

At Healthy Living Rochester we are proud of the fact that we can work as a bridge to help individuals quit smoking, and provide information and support to help kids from starting the habit. With our anti-smoking programs and our strong advocacy for a smoke free America we strive to teach kids the risks that they take just being around smoke and smokers.

It’s not an easy road to walk for a smoker who is trying to quit, and when you are trying to teach kids that smoking is bad for them the road can become very rocky. When pop culture endorses the use of tobacco because it’s “hip” or “cool” and advertisements are aimed straight at young adults it’s often far more difficult to swing them back to thinking of their health over the pressures of trying to “fit in” to their perceived peer society. But it’s a battle that needs to be waged. A parent that shows a kid that it’s possible to quit smoking, and shares the benefits they have experienced by kicking the habit, will give their child the ability to live a healthier and more satisfying life.

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