Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle: National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month

By: Jacqueline Minichiello, MS, RD, LDN

Harbor Health Services, Inc.

March marks not only the beginning of spring, but a time of awakening for individuals to spring into action and embrace National Nutrition Month®. This year’s theme is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” The focus is to encourage everyone to consume fewer calories, make more informed choices about the food they eat, and get daily exercise to maintain and achieve a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote overall health.

So what should we consider when making food and beverage choices? As part of the National Nutrition Month® campaign, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends asking:

  • What am I eating and drinking?
  • How much am I eating and drinking?
  • How should I prepare what I am eating and drinking?

When we think about what we are eating and drinking, we find that certain dietary patterns have a moderate to strong link with lower risks of obesity and other chronic diseases (especially cardiovascular disease, hypertension, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes). So what do these dietary patterns look like? Coincidentally, the preliminary 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have just been released. In a statement put out by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee they note:

The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meatsiii; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains.

And while this pattern appears specific, the good news is people do not need to completely cut out any one food group and can be flexible with how they achieve this healthy dietary pattern. As practitioners, we should tailor these patterns to individual health needs, cultural practices and dietary preferences.

Thinking about how much we eat or drink is also a good practice. Often we serve ourselves large portions, not taking into account how hungry we are. And because as a population we tend to be bad at leaving food on our plate, we end up eating more calories than we need. With this I think it is important to add the question “Why am I eating?” Often we eat when we are bored, tired, happy, or sad. These are not appropriate reasons to be snacking on something. The majority of the time we want to eat only when we are hungry and therefore part of biting into a healthier lifestyle is also being more mindful in our eating practices. So use a smaller plate, spend at least 20 minutes eating, and try and cut back on portion size.

Lastly, it is important to think about how we are preparing food and drink. Are we including creamy soups or fried foods with meals often? These cooking methods can take even a healthy food and transform it into an unhealthy one (fried zucchini anyone?) The Academy offers some suggestions for cooking methods like broiling, steaming, grilling, roasting and stir frying. For our drinks they also offer ways to boost the flavor in water. Suggestions include adding cucumbers, berries, mint or lemon to water in order to give it a wonderful flavor. These methods keep, or even enhance the flavor of the food allowing us to continue to enjoy what we eat.

So how will you bite into a healthy lifestyle this month?

March 5th is White Ribbon Day: Why You Should Wear the Ribbon


By: Colin Gallant, MPH

Harbor Health Services, Inc.

On Thursday, March 5th, men from across the Commonwealth will be called upon to take the following pledge:

“From This Day Forward, I promise to be a part of the solution in ending violence against women.”

Over 5 million men worldwide have taken this pledge and donned white ribbons as a part of “White Ribbon Day”.  Wearing these ribbons and taking this pledge are a way of showing support and increasing awareness of ending violence against women. However, many men have trouble imagining how the simple act of wearing a ribbon can impact this issue.  Besides not abusing women, what actions can a man take to reduce violence against women in his community?  The truth is the surprisingly simple task of wearing a ribbon can make a huge difference.

  • White Ribbons  send a message

Putting the white ribbon pin on your lapel sends two very important messages.  First, it sends a message to other men that you think violence against women is unacceptable.  In the US, 1 in 6 women will experience attempted or completed rape in their lifetime, according to the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARC).  The vast majority of these rapes (98% according to One in Four USA) will be perpetrated by men.  A common theory for why rape or other forms of sexual violence are so prevalent is that men don’t have a very strong negative attitude towards men who perpetrate.

Surely men possess strong negative attitudes towards more standard forms of rape.  However, what about in a situation where a man buys a woman alcohol for the purpose of lowering her inhibitions in order to have sex with her?  In the sexual violence prevention community, we would call this at the very least a predatory behavior, perhaps even an example of date rape.  Among certain communities of men, this is a reflection of “game”, a sexual “conquest”.   While many men no doubt feel that this behavior is wrong, far too often are we silent when our friends tell us these stories.

The same can be said about how we respond to sexist jokes.  Men laugh along with jokes or sit in silence waiting for their awkward feeling to pass.  Violence against women is something that is deeply integrated into how men express masculinity,  but that will never change unless good men speak up.  Tell these men “that joke isn’t funny!” or “It doesn’t make you a man when you get a woman drunk to get her into bed”.

Wearing a white ribbon also says something.  It’s a way of expressing to other men that you don’t condone violence against women.  And when enough people say this, these men will start to realize the truth; men who perpetrate and condone violence against women are in the minority.

  • They’re conversation starters

“Dad, why are you wearing a white ribbon?”

If you can have any conversation this March make it be this one.  It doesn’t have to be with a son; maybe a younger brother, a nephew, or a student whom you teach.

Talking to boys about violence against women is a great way to shape incoming men.  Conversations with young men don’t have to be super formal either.  You don’t have to have a dinner table discussion about it.  This topic should just be integrated into other conversations as the boy grows up.  When he starts dating, ask him if he knows how to respect his partner. Ask if he knows that it isn’t ok to hit your partner or control their behavior.  Also, if you witness violence in the media, in your community, or even in your family, make sure to talk you boys about it.  Even directly addressing the violence yourself can make you a role model for him in the future.

  • It’s a pledge to be better

White Ribbon Day, above all else, is a day where we as men pledge to be better.  We can chose to devote more time or more professional resources to the issue of violence against women.   We can choose to talk to our sons or other young men in our community.  We can even choose to volunteer or donate to local domestic violence shelters.

We can also pledge to stop our own violence.  Stop telling sexist jokes!  Making jokes about women and rape makes light of rape and degrades women.  When we make light of rape, we become desensitized to it.  When we degrade women, we make it easier for ourselves to justify the harm they experience.

If you batter women, pledge to get help.  There are many programs in Boston and across the state of Massachusetts that help men end their abuse.  Taking the pledge to be a part of the solution is just the first step.

The 1-2-3’s of Giving Your Child a Healthy Smile


By Michelle Webb, DMD
Harbor Health Services, Inc.

“1 By the Age of 1”

Parents often ask at what age their child should first visit the dentist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child have his/her first dental visit by age 1 or within 6 months of eruption of the first primary tooth. There are many reasons to adhere to this recommendation. As soon as the first primary tooth enters the oral cavity, it is susceptible to decay. With early establishment of a dental home, dental decay can be better prevented through both education and treatment (if necessary). Early positive interactions at the dental office can help to decrease your child’s dental anxiety as well as present the opportunity for you to ask any questions related to the oral health of your child. Your dentist can also provide tips and instructions that will help you to provide better oral healthcare for your growing child.

“2 Minutes, 2 Times/Day”

The American Dental Association recommends brushing for 2 minutes at least two times per day to effectively prevent dental decay. Before your child’s first tooth erupts, you can begin to familiarize your child with the cleaning process by using a clean, wet washcloth or wet piece of gauze to clean his/her gums. As soon as the first tooth erupts, you can begin caring for it by brushing with a small baby toothbrush and a dot of fluoride toothpaste. For ages 2 -5, a pea-sized amount is recommended. As your child grows, encourage him/her to use the toothbrush to brush his/her teeth, but remember to supervise the brushing and to check that all teeth have been cleaned afterward.  Establishing your child’s daily brushing routine can be challenging, but by pairing the activity with a reward, you may find that you have more success. Ideas include allowing your child to listen to his/her favorite song while brushing and using a weekly brushing checklist to keep track of and then reward your child for his/her positive behavior. You can also brush your teeth at the same time to help model the brushing process for your child. For more information, including a printable brushing checklist for your child, check out the Ad Council campaign website at .

“3 Balanced Meals a Day”

While brushing and flossing are essential to maintaining a healthy smile, it is also important to consider how your child’s diet affects his/her oral health. Bacteria live in the mouth, accumulating in groups called plaques, and are responsible for causing dental decay by producing acids that attack the outermost surface of teeth. These bacteria use sugars, including those found in candy and other sweets, as food sources for survival. By minimizing your child’s intake of these foods, and supplementing his/her diet with foods that are anti-cariogenic (cavity preventing), such as milk and cheese, your child will be one step closer to a healthy smile.

6 Weird Things You Never Knew About Kissing

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Originally posted on TIME:

Romantic kissing happens in more than 90% of all cultures, and with good reason: “It helps us find a partner and stay with them,” says Laura Berman, PhD, assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and author of Loving Sex ($25, But it also has a slew of surprising functions, including some major health benefits. Pucker up to these fascinating facts.

It may be the most fun way to build immunity

Just 10 seconds of French kissing can transfer 80 million germs from one person’s mouth to the other, according to a Dutch study published this past November in the journal Microbiome. While that may sound gross, there’s a big potential benefit. “It’s a way to pass around bugs so your body develops immunity to them,” Berman explains. In fact, a 2010 paper in the journal Medical…

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Fluoride Anyone?

Originally posted on The Harbor's Edge:


By: Dr. Omar Ghoneim, DDS Corporate Dental Director, Harbor Health Services Inc.

Tooth decay remains an endemic problem worldwide. Despite some modest decreases in tooth decay in the overall population, the incidence of decay remains high in specific subgroups. Cavity causing bacteria is passed on by caregivers (mothers) at a young age. By the first grade, 50% of all children in the USA have had tooth decay. Having cavities at an early age appears to predispose children for decay throughout their life. 95% of all adults experience decay on enamel or root surfaces. With age come risk factors which are essential in considering the need for additional fluoride, aside from toothpaste and drinking water. Whereas the implementation of water fluoridation has been extremely beneficial it is not without limitations. Fluoridation of the water does effect the fluoride content of enamel, the outer portion of the tooth, during tooth development. However…

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