Healthy Moms, Healthy Families
In the postpartum period, women often revert to behaviors (i.e. smoking) that put them and their future pregnancies at risk. Following pregnancy, maternal and family focus shifts from caring for the woman to caring for the infant, often ignoring health care needs of the mother. Although new mothers may not always establish primary care for themselves, they often accompany their infants to well child visits. UNC Family Medicine will now be using well child visits to screen new mothers for health risks with the goal of improving maternal care and future pregnancy outcomes.
When a mother accompanies her child to a well visit when the child is between 1 month and 2 years of age, our providers will screen mothers for four health risks using the IMPLICIT model: smoking, depression, contraception use, and multivitamin intake. Visit the IMPLCIT website https://www.fmec.net/implicit for more info about this program.
Let’s Talk Health: Sugar isn’t so sweet.
The New Year is the perfect time to start thinking about your health goals. Your diet makes a big difference in your health. This week I wanted to focus on added sugar. A diet high in added sugars causes spikes in blood sugar, energy fluctuations, and weight gain. For those who have type-2 diabetes or who are pre-diabetic, avoiding added sugar can help you reach your A1C goals.
Some healthy sugars are naturally in foods like fruits, starchy vegetables, milk, and grains. Other foods have many added sugars that food companies add during processing to make foods taste sweeter and more appetizing. Foods that have unhealthy amounts of added sugar include sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, desserts, candies and even snack foods such as yogurt and granola bars.
The American Heart Association suggests limiting added sugar to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women. To put things in perspective, a single 20 ounce bottle of soda contains about 14 teaspoons of sugar and the average chocolate bar contains 6 teaspoons of sugar!
But choosing a healthy diet is easier said than done. The easiest food to access is often the unhealthiest: fast food, canned food, microwave meals, candy. To make matters worse, food that is marketed as ‘healthy,’ ‘natural,’ or ‘low in sugar,’ is not necessarily actually healthy.
This is where reading food labels comes in. Paying attention to what’s in your food will empower you to make the best decision. Food labels can be difficult to read, with fine print, percentage breakdowns, and deceptive serving sizes. Here are some tips for successfully and quickly navigating a food label in the store:
- Serving size matters. The serving size listed on a food label may be different from what you eat. If you eat twice the serving size listed on the label, you consume double the amount of sugar and other ingredients than listed.
- Total sugars. Total sugars include both natural sugars and added sugars. So don’t pass up on nutritious foods that contain healthy natural sugars such as whole grain bread and peaches, which are great sources of fiber. Be mindful of ‘total sugars’ versus ‘added sugars’.
- Added sugars. Added sugars are unhealthy sugars that are added in addition to the natural sugars in the food. Is your strawberry yogurt healthy and full of only natural sugars? Likely not, some fruit flavored yogurts have as much added sugar as a candy bar.
- Ingredient list. The ingredient list orders ingredients by weight. So if one of the first few ingredients is sugar, take note. Family Medicine dietitian Lana Nasrallah says, “Keep in mind that added sugars go by many names, including sucrose, glucose, maltose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice, agave nectar, and honey.” To read a list of common names of added sugar, select here.
Did you know?
- Fruit juice. Fruit juices are full of sugar and low in nutritional value compared to fresh fruit. A cup of apple juice contains almost 10 teaspoons of sugar, almost exactly as much as a can of soda. “As part of a healthy diet, trading sugary drinks for water and zero-calorie drinks can help you limit added sugar and calories, which may help controlling blood sugar and achieving a healthy weight,” says Family Medicine dietician Lana Nasrallah.
- Whole foods. One way to avoid eating too much added sugar is to eat whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, lean-meats, and nuts.
You and your doctor can work together to set your health goals. If you want to focus on healthy eating to meet your goal, Family Medicine has a dietitian who can examine your eating habits and make a plan with you. Read more about her below!
Meet our dietitian Lana Nasrallah, MPH, RD, LDN
Lana Nasrallah is a registered dietitian who provides medical nutrition therapy and therapeutic nutrition counseling for all nutrition-related conditions. She is trained in examining your eating habits, including where, when, and what you eat. She then develops individualized meal plans and nutrition education to help you be successful in making difficult lifestyle changes.
She has been providing care to people with diabetes, heart disease, obesity, poor kidney health, gastrointestinal diseases, and other health conditions in primary care settings and through nutrition education programs in eastern and central North Carolina since 2012.
Her passion includes developing nutrition care plans and teaching people about the importance of diet and nourishment in relation to managing chronic disease and overall health.
Medical nutrition therapy can improve your health and quality of life through food! If you are interested in scheduling a visit with Lana, call 984-974-0210. Get your healthy-eating journey started today!
Meet the Patient Advisory Council (PAC)
Did you know that UNC Family Medicine has a Patient Advisory Council (PAC)? It is a group of dedicated people who are actually patients at the Family Medicine Center. There are 10-12 patients on this council at any given time and they do all sorts of things, from weighing in on faculty members’ research projects, to helping inform communications that go out to all patients of FMC and sitting in on various committees of the FMC to help guide decisions the department makes.
Why have a PAC? The PAC was formed in 2012 as part of the requirement for the department to become a certified Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH). There are three levels of accreditation through the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Forming a PAC is required at the first level of accreditation. Instead of simply forming a group and checking a box off, the department wanted to ensure that the PAC had a significant role in gaining accreditation and continuing to be a voice for the patients on future items. To this point, the PAC was integral in the remodeling and renovation of the clinic. Their input helped the department better understand what would be best to include for their patient population. It is important to note that the PAC does not deal with complaints on an individual patient basis.
The PAC continues to meet and is a significant influence on the many decisions the department makes each day to be the best, most efficient clinic possible. The PAC’s mission statement is: The UNC Family Medicine Center Patient Advisory Council (PAC) advises faculty and staff in their mission to develop and refine policies, practices, services, and facilities to improve the healthcare experience.
In the coming months, future patient newsletters will have additional information on the PAC and how it has helped shape FMC over the past several years.