8 Ways You Can Prevent & Manage Diabetes

8 Ways You Can Prevent & Manage Diabetes

Diabetes is a silent disease affecting the lives of millions each year. Chances are you know someone with diabetes—a friend, family member or maybe even you. I am one of the millions living with diabetes. As a certified diabetes educator, I work to educate myself and others about how to prevent diabetes from impacting your life and how you can take care of yourself and improve your health if you have diabetes.

What Is Diabetes?

Diabetes happens when your body does not properly use the sugar in your body. The different types of diabetes are related to the reasons the body is not using the sugar. This excess sugar causes clogs in the blood stream, leading to complications.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common. With type 2 diabetes, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it resists insulin. Insulin helps keep your blood sugar level from getting too high.

Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision

However, in some cases, there may be no symptoms.

Risk Factors for Developing Type 2 Diabetes

  • Having prediabetes
  • Being overweight
  • Being 45 years or older
  • Having a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • Being physically active less than three times a week
  • Previous gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or given birth to a baby who weighed more than nine pounds
  • Being African-American, Hispanic/Latino-American, American Indian or Alaska Native (some Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are also at higher risk)

How Do I Manage Diabetes?

We must help our bodies use the sugar. When I think about how best to care for diabetes I think about BALANCE. It’s all about eating healthier, exercising more and taking better care of ourselves.

Balance in diabetes can mean a lot of things – both in terms of preventing diabetes and taking care of yourself if you have diabetes. We all know if we don’t care for ourselves, then we can’t care for others.

8 Ways to Take Care of Yourself

Here are eight areas that I focus on and share with others to take care of yourself.

1. Eat Mindfully

  • Don’t eat in front of the TV
  • Take small bites
  • Taste your food
  • Add protein and fiber to feel full

2. Take Time to Exercise & Be Active

  • Park farther away
  • Stand during commercials
  • At a minimum, commit to five minutes of exercise…it’s better than zero

3. Be Consistent When Taking Medicine

  • Place your medicine where you will see it
  • Use an alarm to remind yourself when to take your medicine
  • Mark your calendar so you know you took your medicine
  • Follow your doctor’s advice

4. Find Ways to Decrease Stress

  • Take ten deep breaths
  • Get five minutes of quiet – put yourself in timeout if you have to! (your kids will find this intriguing)

5. Add Vegetables so Meals Aren’t Meat or Carbohydrate-Heavy

  • Add lots of color
  • Make a meal plan
  • Don’t fight it…just get creative!

6. Find Ways to Keep Your Whole Family Active

  • Go swimming together
  • Go to the zoo
  • Take the kids shopping
  • Use active video games like Wii or YouTube

7. Find Ways to Eat at Home, Even When You Don’t Want to Cook

  • Cook freezer or microwaveable meals
  • Cook in the crockpot
  • Plan ahead and prepare the day or weekend before

8. Eat More Fruits & Vegetables

  • Look for sales (canned and frozen often are on sale)
  • Take vegetables from neighbors or coworkers who grow them
  • Grow your own garden
  • Buy what’s in season

Taking a Goal & Making It SMART

Much of what I do in my job is help people figure out how to achieve their goals. For instance, I would love to lose ten pounds. How can I do that? I can exercise more and eat less. However, these plans are vague. When making goals, we have to make the goal SMART.

S – Specific: I will increase my exercise by five minutes each day.
M – Measurable: I will exercise an extra 25 minutes per week.
A – Achievable: I can add five extra minutes of exercise per day while watching TV.
R – Realistic: I can add five minutes in the evening and increase my exercise. I don’t have time to increase my exercise by 30 minutes a day, but I can add five minutes a day.
T – Time-bound: I will increase my exercise and reevaluate by the end of the month. If no improvement is seen, I will change my goal strategy.

Get the Help You Need to Prevent or Manage Diabetes

If you’re concerned about developing diabetes or struggling with your diabetes or weight management (which could lead to diabetes), there is help waiting for you. Bryan Diabetes Center has nurses who are certified diabetes educators and licensed medical nutrition therapists/registered dietitians who also serve as diabetes educators. Insurance often covers this kind of education.

Bryan Health Diabetes Center

Learn more about how diabetes impacts the lives of millions every single day, get management tips, and easily schedule an appointment to speak with a diabetes expert at Bryan Health today!

We’re here to help you manage your diabetes or get on track to prevent getting diabetes in the future.

Ask your provider for a referral to Bryan Diabetes Center today! We have three locations:

  • Bryan Medical Plaza, 1600 S. 48th St.
  • Bryan LifePointe Campus, 7501 S. 27th St.
  • NorthPointe Family Medicine, 5901 N. 27th St., Suite 102

Check out these resources:

Samantha Beckler

Samantha Beckler

Health Expert

Samantha Beckler is a Certified Diabetes Educator with Bryan Diabetes Center.

My Husband’s “Me” Time

My Husband’s “Me” Time

My husband’s job includes weird hours – some nights, weekends and overnight trips. Recently, he started a night class for graduate school. When he isn’t at work or school, he uses about 50% of that time for himself (i.e., playing sports). I know it’s important for him to keep himself sane and healthy, but I wish he wanted to spend more time with us. I am feeling pretty lonely.

I LOVE being home with the kids but I still want him to have a parenting role beyond a provider. I know it’s wrong for me to feel resentful, especially since I take time for myself, but recently we got into an argument about how he spends his time.

After nine years of marriage, I realize that no marriage is ever 50/50. There will always be one partner that does more on any given day. Forget about it being fair because that doesn’t exist.

“Me” Time or Family Time

My marriage benefits when we both have time for ourselves, either to pursue our own interests or just relax. Personal time allows us to maintain our individual identities, provides opportunities to do things we like to do, and allows us to feel like we have some control over our lives. Alone time can actually help to keep our relationship fresh and less stressful. However, this past weekend, I was angry that my husband wanted to spend his “me” time playing softball.

I spend several hours a week at the gym, so why was it so difficult for me to see that he needs time, too? It wasn’t the game that made me upset, it was the fact that he didn’t want to spend time with me and his family.

Getting on the Same Page

I came to the conclusion that personal time needs for each person varies from couple to couple. What’s most important is that we agree on how much time we want to spend together and apart. The problem that I had with softball was that my husband never communicated to me that he needed that time for himself. If it were handled correctly, we’d each feel like we are getting our fair share. I was feeling that work and school should be included in his “me” time because those times are when I’m home by myself with the kids. However, he thought that that time should not be included. It was a communication breakdown. We both needed to take a step back and realize how the other person was feeling.

During these times, perceptions are more important than the actual number of hours. Even if we spend very little time together or apart, the relationship is fine if that’s what we both want. If either of us has different perspectives, however, the amount of time together or apart can be a source of conflict. He was feeling suffocated, while I was feeling insecure and isolated.

Dedicating Time to Each Other

We often have different ideas as to how much time should be dedicated to each other and ourselves. I tend to want more couple time, usually because I regard it as important for bolstering my marriage and making sure there’s solidarity as a couple. My husband, on the other hand, tends to prefer more time on his own. Now that we know where each other stands and realize what we both need, and our communication is open and honest, my husband spending a couple hours a week at softball seems like an okay trade to me.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

Relieving Lower Back Pain

Relieving Lower Back Pain

As an interventional radiologist, I see many patients who suffer with lower back pain. It is immensely rewarding to offer my patients treatment options that:

  • Are effective
  • Done as an outpatient procedure with short recovery times
  • Provide immediate pain relief
  • Reduce the need for opioid pain medications

An interventional radiologist is a doctor that performs minimally invasive procedures through small nicks in the skin while using image guidance such as real-time x-ray, ultrasound or CT. Most procedures are outpatient and can be performed with just a local anesthetic.

Causes and Treatment Options for Lower Back Pain

A good physical exam with the addition of proper imaging of the spine when needed helps determine the cause of back pain. Initial diagnostic and treatment options may include:

  • Fluoroscopy – A technique that uses x-rays to obtain real-time moving images of the body
  • CT-guided steroid facet joint injections – Facet joints are part of the spine’s bony framework; the injection uses local anesthetic

Low Back Pain and SI Joint Pain

The sacroiliac joint (also known as SI joint) is the joint between two bones which are located in the back of your pelvis, on the left and right side. SI joint pain includes lower back pain that feels dull and aching. It can also spread to the hips, buttocks and/or groin. Some of the most common areas where you might feel SI joint pain is in the buttocks, lower back or side of the thigh.

Low Back/SI Joint Pain Treatment

If steroid injections relieve lower back pain for only a short time, a rhizotomy procedure can be performed to relieve the pain for a longer period of time. A rhizotomy procedure involves placing special needles that heat up the sensory nerves. This effectively burns a small segment of the nerve so that pain impulses can’t be sent. Pain relief lasts until the small segment is healed, which usually takes one to two years.

Sciatica

Sciatica is pain, numbness or tingling caused by a problem with the sciatic nerve. This is a large nerve that runs from the lower back, through the buttocks and down the leg. Sciatica is most commonly related to a compressed nerve in the lumbar spine from a herniated disk.

Sciatica Treatment

If physical therapy or over the counter anti-inflammatory/pain medications have not been effective, an epidural injection of steroid/anesthetic can help confirm the diagnosis and offer temporary and sometimes long-term relief.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spinal canal, or passageways in the spine. These passageways contain the spinal cord and nerves. The narrowing is most often caused by degenerative changes in the spine as we age. The spinal cord and the nerve roots that exit the spinal canal can become pinched. Symptoms include pain, numbness and/or cramping in the legs when walking or standing. Sometimes the symptoms can be relieved by leaning forward when sitting or walking, such as leaning over a shopping cart to decrease the pain.

Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Treatment

For moderate spinal stenosis, a small implant about the size of a dime can be placed between the bones (spinous processes) in your lower back. These bones can be felt by placing your fingers down the center of the back. The implant increases the space where your nerves exit the spine, relieving your pain.

Diagram of lower back pain

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis affects more than 50 million people in the United States. As we age, our bones become thinner, increasing the risk of spinal compression fractures. These fractures can result from a fall, lifting something or sometimes from no event at all. If you have severe back pain that gets worse when you move, this could be caused by a compression fracture.

Treating Compression Fractures of the Spine

Minimally invasive treatments such as kyphoplasty and SpineJack vertebral augmentation stabilize the fracture and decrease pain. These procedures insert bone cement into the proper areas of the spine to ease your pain. The procedures take less than an hour. Most patients have immediate pain relief and go home the same day.

View videos to learn more about these procedures and how they relieve pain

Kyphoplasty Treatment: Esther’s Story

SpineJack Treatment: Duane’s Story 

Get Relief for Your Lower Back Pain

If you suffer from back pain and would like to learn more about our minimally invasive therapies to relieve your pain, call Bryan Interventional Radiology at 402-481-3095.

To schedule a consultation, call the Bryan Scheduling Center at 402-481-5121.

Interventional Radiologists

Advanced Radiology at Bryan Medical Center

The interventional radiologists of Advanced Radiology at Bryan Medical Center offer expertise and options to treat your back pain.

Being at the forefront of advances in medicine allows Advanced Radiology to offer patients the latest treatments in addition to current treatments. Dr. Budler was one of the first 10 physicians in the United States and the first in Nebraska trained on the SpineJack procedure. The Advanced Radiology team has the most experience in Nebraska in performing vertebral augmentation procedures like the SpineJack to relieve back pain.

Meet interventional radiologists of Advanced Radiology at Bryan Medical Center: Michael Budler, MD; John Allen, MD; Kyle Pfeifer, MD; Jeffrey Himmelberg, MD!

Grandmas Get Pimples

Grandmas Get Pimples

One day last week, I woke up with a sore in the corner of my lips. I didn’t think much about it but the next morning it was bigger, redder and hurt just a tad. It wasn’t time to call the doctor, but I wanted to keep my eye on it.

What started as a stressful week worrying about my skin ended in a lovely moment with my granddaughter.

Do I have a cold sore?

My husband always struggled with cold sores so when my spot first appeared I asked what he thought. He didn’t think it was a cold sore. Skeptically, I asked him if you spread cold sores by kissing. He laughed at my question and went out the door to play golf. The love and support were overwhelming! I could never complete with golf.

On the third day, the center of my sore was getting dark and hard. Even though the spot was only the size of a pinprick, I decided to apply Campho Phenique cold sore cream and burn it to death. By the fourth day, there was no change.

I tried to occupy my time by running errands. I ran over to my daughter’s house to drop off a book. My daughter wasn’t home so my granddaughter came to greet me. She gave me a big hug and then looked at me. She started to laugh hysterically.

Did I have food in my teeth, or something hanging from my nostril? It took about two seconds of laughter before she squealed, “Oh, my gosh, Grandma. You’ve got a zit on your face!” A zit at my age? How could that be?

A lesson in skincare

My granddaughter had bad acne between 8th and 11th grade. It caused her a lot of grief and she made many trips to the dermatologist. After multiple trial and errors, they finally found a plan that worked and she no longer gets as anxious over the situation. Bottom line, she’s an expert and knows what a zit looks like and how to contain it.

I had her look at my lips so she could be 100% sure it was a pimple. Tears were streaming down her face from laughing. She’d never heard of a grandma having a zit. The bump was definitely a zit and not a cold sore and it was in the corner of my mouth.

I was shocked. I hadn’t had a pimple in at least 45 years. I’m struggling with age spots and dry, blotchy skin, but now I need to add zits to the list?

My hysterical granddaughter knew exactly what to do. First, she gave me a hug. Second, she quickly found a tube of Clearasil and gave me application instructions. Clean the area, then gently dab the Clearasil to the pimple. She told me it would be gone in two days. I thanked her for the advice, although I really did remember how to get rid of pimples. Unfortunately, my routine for getting rid of pimples always started with popping them. I didn’t tell her that.

Returning the favor

After our session, she gave me a high five and said, “You’ve always been there to give me advice and I’m glad I can now return the favor.” Wow! She really is growing up. I know I will always need technology advice, but this was different. Getting sentimental over a zit is another new experience for me. As we hugged goodbye, her final comment to me was, “At least you’re not going to prom tonight!”

Nancy Becker

Nancy Becker

Grandkids & Grandparents

I have four grandchildren ages 14-17. In some ways, I’m a very typical grandma, always proud of everything the kids do and wanting to help support them in whatever way I can. In other ways, I’m not very typical. My goal as a blogger is to share my thoughts and experiences that I think are funny and meaningful as I adventure through grandmahood.

Plastic Surgery after Babies…Yay or Nay?

Plastic Surgery after Babies…Yay or Nay?

Saggy breasts, excess skin and my favorite, the love pouch. Like most women, my body changed after having kids. It wasn’t until I knew I was done having babies that I considered plastic surgery.

Mothers, by nature, are givers. We take care of our children, our husbands, our coworkers, other family members and friends…all before we think of ourselves. It’s rare for a mom to schedule time or activities just for herself, without feeling some degree of guilt that she’s taking time away from her family or work.

My body image is directly related to my self-esteem and how I view myself. When I feel fit, healthy and sexy, everyone benefits. My family sees a happy, confident, energetic mother who serves as a great role model.

Finding Pride in a Mother’s Body

I am proud of this body. It made two beautiful children. This is the body God gave me and I’m grateful. I’ve put in the work, I’ve lost over 40 pounds in the last year and a half, and I continue to workout and eat healthy almost every day. I’m full of energy and overall happier with my transformation. Yet, the excess skin is still there, and I’m self-conscious of my mid-section and my nonexistent boobs. I want to look as good as I feel. My children see me push through every workout. They see me say no to desserts (most of the time). Now, I want them to see my happiness. I want to see my gains in the mirror but all I see is a big stomach.

It is NOT selfish or vain for a woman to want to look good! A mother deserves to look as fit, youthful and toned as she can. Who wouldn’t want to look their very best physical self?

How a mother feels about herself as a wife and a woman is integral to her body image and self-esteem. When we look our best, we feel more secure and reflect that to others, exuding confidence, happiness and overall attractiveness. When a mother feels confident about her body, she is happier overall, her marriage benefits and so does her relationship with her children.

The Pros and Cons of Having Plastic Surgery

I know the pros and cons of having plastic surgery but the struggle I can’t seem to come to terms with is: how can I explain to my daughter that you should love yourself the way you are and that the way you look on the outside doesn’t matter, then turn around and get plastic surgery to fix something about me? However, she sees me struggle and my want for something I can’t seem to obtain on my own. Should that be enough justification? Does it make me a bad mom to say one thing and do another?

For a mom to want to take care of herself and feel youthful, feminine and attractive is NOT self-centered or unreasonable.

Having a surgical procedure is a BIG DEAL. Surgery should not be taken lightly, and planning for recovery time and help with child care, driving and the usual activities of daily living after plastic surgery is extremely important.

As long as you can afford the time needed for surgical recovery, have help in caring for your children and understand fully the risks of surgery, I can completely understand why a mom would consider going under the knife! However, knowing that you should love your body and yourself is the main priority. If you’re happy with yourself but want to enhance or better your body, then there’s no problem with considering plastic surgery.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

Did you know Dr. Cassidy Mitchell, plastic and reconstructive surgeon, offers free consultations to answer your questions and help you decide if plastic surgery is right for you.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

Foods & Exercises to Reduce Your Arthritis Pain

Foods & Exercises to Reduce Your Arthritis Pain

The pain and discomfort of arthritis can have a big effect on your quality of life. A good exercise program and a healthy diet have been shown to increase your mobility (ability to get around) and provide medication-free pain relief.

3 Areas of Focus to Reduce Your Arthritis Pain

As a nurse practitioner, I believe knowledge is power. Here are three items I share with my patients to improve their daily life with arthritis:

  • Foods to avoid because they can increase inflammation and arthritis symptoms
  • Foods that can decrease some of your arthritis pains
  • Exercises you can do without causing stress and pressure on your joints


Foods to Avoid if You Have Arthritis

There are certain types of foods that are considered pro-inflammatory, meaning they can increase inflammation. In general, more inflammation equals more pain, specifically in your joints.

Limit the following in your diet to avoid inflammation:

  • Sugar
  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • MSG
  • Aspartame
  • Alcohol

Foods high in sodium also have been found to increase inflammation, so it’s important that you try to limit these types of foods in your diet.

Most people in America tend to have diets that are high in saturated fats and trans fats. A good step is to look at food labels and make sure these are limited, if not completely eliminated from your diet.

In general, try to avoid the inner aisles of the grocery store. Most foods in this area contain refined carbohydrates and things we need to avoid because they increase inflammation. Plus, this is where you’re more likely to find processed foods. For the most part, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient on the label, it’s probably not a good choice.

Foods and Supplements that Help Arthritis Pain

Many foods are considered to be anti-inflammatory. Lowering inflammation can decrease arthritis pain.

Include these foods in your diet to help fight inflammation:

  • Omega 3s, such as fish like salmon, dark leafy greens, olive oil and nuts
  • Cherries 
  • Green tea
  • Whole grains
  • Citrus fruits like pineapple and oranges
  • High fiber foods

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements

Our general rule with supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin is to give it a try for about three months. If you do not notice a difference in your joints and your joint pain, stop taking it. Many times people find that after they stop taking it, they notice it really was working and making a difference. I have several patients that absolutely swear by glucosamine and chondroitin.

Exercises to Ease Joint and Arthritis Pain

Low impact exercises that don’t put a lot of pressure on your knees and ankles are good options if you have arthritis.

Low impact exercises include:

  • Swimming – try lifting weights in the water for an added workout
  • Machines like a NuStep, where you’re moving back and forth and not putting weight on your knees
  • Gentle walking
  • Weight lifting with the guide of a trainer who can show you ways to lift weights and still protect your joints
  • Yoga and Tai Chi

Take Steps to Control Your Arthritis Pain and Feel Better

By reducing inflammation, you’ll have more energy to get out and walk, stretch and do other activities. If you need a bit of direction, working with a personal trainer or a nutritionist is a wonderful option.

Knowledge is power. The more you know about your disease process, proper nutrition and exercise, the better prepared you’ll be to take steps toward feeling better and living a more active, less painful life.

Want More Information on the Ways to Manage Arthritis?

Jaimie Russell

Jaimie Russell

APRN-NP

Jaimie Russell, APRN-NP, is a nurse practitioner with the Arthritis Center of Nebraska

Where Did All My Friends Go? Maintaining Friendships After Parenthood

Where Did All My Friends Go? Maintaining Friendships After Parenthood

Our lives change when we have kids. When did welcoming your little miracle into the world segue into a funeral for your friendships?

Somewhere between all-nighters and ‘should I breastfeed or use formula?’, I stopped thinking about the friends I made over the years.

Or maybe I’m just too tired.

Whatever it is, it’s a problem.

Recently, my friend from college, whom I haven’t seen in a while even though we live in the same city and both have children, asked me my thoughts on balancing relationships outside my family. Weeks go by where I don’t see or talk to any of my friends, and I feel guilty. The catch-22 is that if I make time for my friends, I then feel guilty that I’m not spending time with my family.

Practices, Play Dates and Parties, Oh My!

We all want the best for our children and that means spending quality time together. However, I want to be a well-rounded individual and role model for my children to live a good, full life – one that involves friends.

But as busy parents, fitting in exercise, grocery shopping, laundry or just having some downtime is a struggle. My children’s activities and friendships can consume my time. I spend hours in the stands during soccer practice, waiting during dance class or juggling play dates, parties and practices with our children and their friends. This leaves my own friendships out of the equation.

I’ve also decided that as a working parent my children take priority when I get home from work or have free time on the weekends. I again neglect my friendships with the hope that I can pick them back up when our children are older.

Finding the Time for Friends

Saturday mornings are my ‘me time’. I get to workout and have brunch with some of the women I see at boot camp. I value this time. I suggest that if you have a parenting partner, negotiate who will be off-duty and when. There should be an even split. Use your respective time however you want, but be sure to include seeing your friends!

Now that my kids are slightly older, we’ve been trying to do activities that involve other families. When we head to the bowling alley, trampoline park or children’s museum, the kids get to enjoy playing with other kids and the adults enjoy spending time with other adults.

I need to take advantage of this time to make friends with fellow parents and nurture my existing friendships with other moms and dads. I want to put down social media and reach out to the friends I’ve been neglecting.

As I said, I am a working parent with a job outside the home. I like to take advantage of free time where my kids are already in childcare and invite a work friend out to lunch, meet a friend who works nearby or have a little lunch date with my husband. This helps with maintaining friendships without the help of your children.

Striking a Balance

Being a good friend may present some challenges. I’m still trying to make time for friends, but I know I’ll reap the rewards in the long run. I’m starting to see that as my children get older, my friendships are changing, and I am continuing to develop new friends.

Ultimately, striking a balance between the time I spend with my children and my adult friends will contribute to a full, healthy life.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

Advice about Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know

Advice about Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know

Can you eat too much Salmon or Tilapia?

A healthy diet during pregnancy is important for the proper growth and development of your baby. As a specialist in Maternal-Fetal Medicine, I am often asked about eating fish during pregnancy. 

  • How much fish can I eat?
  • Can I eat sushi?
  • Are there “good” and “bad” fish to eat during pregnancy?
  • Is fish good for my baby’s brain development?
  • What about mercury? That’s bad, right?

Luckily, there are some clear guidelines about eating fish for pregnant women, infants and children, and people in all stages of life!

How does eating fish affect my baby’s health and brain development during pregnancy?

  • Fish, including finfish and shellfish, is low in saturated fat, high in protein and healthy to eat during pregnancy. It is also the primary dietary source for two n-3 (also called omega-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids.
  • For your baby’s optimal eye and brain development, moms need to include foods with omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for moms during the last trimester of pregnancy and while breastfeeding as this is when your baby’s brain is rapidly developing.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are also available as supplements and in fortified foods such as milk, yogurt, bread and even chocolate. You’ll just need to read the nutrition label to find out if the food includes omega-3 fatty acids. This can be an alternative source of omega-3 fatty acids for women who cannot or choose not to consume fish.

What about mercury?

  • While mercury is present in all fish, the levels vary depending on the type of fish.
  • One to three servings per week of a variety of seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury are recommended by the United States Food & Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Mercury, also called methylmercury, is toxic to your baby’s developing brain. For this reason, it is important to avoid eating fish high in mercury. It cannot be ‘cooked out’ of the fish, and over 95 percent of it is absorbed. You want to gain the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that fish provide while limiting the negative side effects of mercury.
  • Avoid eating fish high in mercury such as: king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), tuna and bigeye.

Can I eat fish caught at a lake, river or coastal area?

  • Fishing is a popular pastime for many Nebraskans.
  • Check for advisories about the safety of eating fish caught in areas where you plan to fish. This can usually be found on websites or through a Google search.
  • If no advice is available, the United States Food & Drug Administration recommends limiting the amount of fish you eat caught in these areas to six ounces (one average meal) per week and not eating any other fish during that week.

What about sushi?

If you’re pregnant, you should only eat cooked fish. And if you love sushi, don’t worry! There are many sushi options that use cooked fish. You can usually find these options on the menu or you can ask your server.

Which fish are good for me, my baby and family?

To answer the question in this blog title, Salmon and Tilapia are in the Best Choice category, and two-three servings per week is recommended.

The following table sums it up nicely!

Advice for eating fish.

Follow this link for more advice regarding eating fish from the FDA.

What is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor?

Benjamin Byers, DO

Benjamin Byers, DO

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist

Dr. Byers is a Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist with the Center for Maternal & Fetal Care, part of the Bryan Physician Network.

He has been in practice in Lincoln since 2014. Before this, he was a doctor in the US Army for 13 years, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. Although native to Iowa, he is an avid Cornhusker fan!

How to Promote Healthy Screen Time for Your Kids

How to Promote Healthy Screen Time for Your Kids

Today’s children are growing up immersed in digital media. In the past couple years, we have seen an explosion of social media, different devices and ways for kids to interact with technology.

The concept of screen time is also changing. Kids used to spend their screen time watching TV. Now with computers children and teens are not really watching as much TV, although they are watching shows on their computers. And of course they’re watching YouTube! They’re also on Instagram and Snapchat. Plus, a lot of their schoolwork and homework is done on the computer.

All of this changes how we look at screen time.

Changing Times and a New Way to Look at Screen Time

In the past, the recommendation was two hours of screen time a day, and that was pretty straightforward. Nowadays, if we set a two-hour limit a lot of kids would hit that before lunchtime because they’re doing homework on screens in their classrooms. So we have to look at screen time differently. Rather than a specific number of hours per day, we need to look at what types of media children are using and the value of the interaction.

Think of Screen Time like the Food Pyramid

There are things we should have sparingly and there are things that should fill more of our plate.

At the top of the pyramid, the fats and sweets of screen time use, is mindless watching. This is where a child sits in front of the TV (or on an iPad or computer) and watches cartoons. This is fine when parents need to make dinner, or the child needs a break to watch their favorite show. It’s just not something you want to do all the time.

Below that on the food pyramid I think of watching shows with your child. This is better because you’re able to engage with your child. Instead of your child just sitting there, you can enjoy the show with them. You can ask, “What would you do if that happened to you?” Or, “What do you think she’s going to do next?” This creates a conversation and encourages your child to think about different things while watching something fun.

Below that, and even better, are educational games where your child can either learn something or solve puzzles. This engages your child’s mind. So when you’re breaking up screen time, you can allow more time for activities versus mindless show watching.

Guidelines for Screen Time by Your Child’s Age

Under 18 months

Use screens as sparingly as possible. Sometimes younger children will be exposed to screens when older siblings are watching TV or are on the computer. I would try to be aware of this and prevent it from happening as much as possible.

Around age 2

You can start to introduce screen time. I encourage parents to be very consistent and thoughtful about what types of digital media your children are exposed to. Giving a child a cell phone at a restaurant to help them wait until the food arrives, that’s fine. I worry more when kids are at home and instead of playing with a parent, sibling or toy, they’re in front of a TV or tablet.

Early Tweens and Older Children

Starting in the early tween years (and even around age 8), I would definitely have a very close eye on your child’s screen time use. This is where children develop a lot of habits they might have for the rest of their life in terms of screen time and the way they interact with others online.

For older kids, there’s Instagram, Snapchat and a million other social media platforms. Being very careful about how much time you allow your child to have on these platforms is critical. It’s also important to make sure they aren’t replacing all of their interaction with their friends and peers with online interaction.

Guidelines for parents:

  • Know your child’s passwords
  • Be able to look at their phone/device at any time
  • All devices should sleep, meaning charge somewhere other than the bedroom so notifications don’t disrupt sleep
  • Children should use their screens in public places in the house, the family room or kitchen table

Setting guidelines gives your child some autonomy and also protects them from some of the dangers that exist with social media.

Be a Role Model

The other thing I share with parents is being a role model for your child. So if I as a parent tell my children to get off their screens, but then I’m getting notifications and looking at my phone at the dinner table, or pulling my phone out when we’re having family time, I’m not modeling what I want my children to do.

It’s very important to have time where we say no phones, and we put them in a basket or a different room, and sit down for dinner or a nice conversation without anyone getting notifications or hearing text message dings. We have to model self-control as parents and say, “Okay, I’m going to put my phone on silent so we can talk, relax, watch this show together, read books or go play outside.” This shows your child what’s important to you.

Set Family Rules for Screen Time

Whatever you decide for your family, I encourage you to sit down and talk about it together, write it on a piece of paper, put it on the fridge and say, “This is our plan for screen time.” It shows your children that screen time is important for all of us.

Setting rules for everyone, and modeling that behavior as parents, reinforces that while screens are useful and have a lot to offer us, there are more important ways to interact and more important things to do than be consumed with our screens all the time.

Join our Facebook Group

Phil Boucher, MD is a pediatrician with Lincoln Pediatric Group. You’re invited to join his Facebook group for parents called “Present and Productive Parents.”

Join today, start learning and connecting with other parents.

Phil Boucher, MD

Phil Boucher, MD

Pediatrician with Lincoln Pediatric Group.

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