2015-2020 Updated Dietary guidelines

The dietary guidelines are published every five years for the American public. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides food-based recommendations for people aged two years and older. Each edition reflects the current body of nutrition science, with a focus on chronic disease prevention.Fruits and Vegetables
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines expands upon the 2010 edition by focusing on overall eating patterns. While previous editions focused primarily on specific, individual dietary components such as
foods, food groups, and nutrients.  It emphasizes overall eating patterns, the combinations of all the foods and drinks that people consume every day. This edition reaffirms guidance about the core building blocks of a healthy lifestyle that have remained consistent over the past several editions of the guidelines especially pertaining to physical activity.

The 2015 guidelines recommend a “healthy eating pattern” with limited sugar and saturated fat, less salt and more vegetables and whole grains and new information on
caffeine. This is the first edition to recommend a quantitative limit to consume less than 10 percent of calories from added sugars in order to control overall calorie intake.

The latest edition of the Dietary Guidelines focuses on these main takeaways for Americans:

Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan.

  • Eating patterns are the combination of all foods and drinks that a person consumes over time. A healthy eating pattern is adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget. Healthy eating patterns include a variety of nutritious foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, low-fat and fat-free dairy, lean meats and other protein foods, and oils. Focus on variety, nutrient density and amount.

Limit calories from added sugars and saturated and trans fats, and reduce sodium intake.

  • On average Americans consume up to 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. To meet the new 10 percent target, the average sugar intake should be cut nearly in half to no more than 12 teaspoons a day on a 2,000-calorie daily diet.
  • Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil
  • American adults consume about 50% more sodium than the Dietary Guidelines recommends. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium, especially in processed and prepared foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, soups and meats.

Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.

  • Almost 9 in 10 Americans get less than the recommended amount of vegetables. Instead of changing your diet dramatically, find new ways to incorporate more veggies to dishes you’re already making. Try going meatless a few times a week and make vegetables the centerpiece of the meal.
  • Most Americans can benefit from making small shifts in their daily eating habits to improve their health over the long run.  Small shifts in food choices over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a difference in working toward a healthy eating pattern that works for you.

Support healthy eating patterns for all.

  • Everyone has a role to play in encouraging easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices at home, school, work, and in the community. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes several examples of strategies to support healthy choices.

Information gathered from: Health.gov – The Office of Disease prevent and Health Promotion

Written by: Heidi Hayes, Employer Solutions Wellness Team


Worksite Job Coaching for New Hires

A company that cares about their employees and the bottom line will treat workplace injuries quickly and effectively. But forward-thinking companies look for strategies to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place. And companies that create a culture of wellness reap benefits beyond worker health.

How do you establish a culture of wellness? It has to start right when an employee is hired. Most companies will do some pre-placement screening, drug testing and physicals to make sure the employee is a good fit for the job. But once hired, injury prevention needs to be a focus. That can be accomplished with some one-on-one coaching.

Worksite job coaching for new hires is an important tool in a company’s proactive approach to injury prevention. This is not a new process, but rather part of an onsite therapist’s intervention strategies used with injured employees in their recovery and rehabilitation to return to work. Expanding this strategy to new hires helps to increase awareness of injury prevention, improves employee morale by facilitating a positive ‘cared for’ culture. It can also lead to ergonomic improvements that benefit all employees.

How does it work? Therapists are skilled in observing a new hire’s performance in completing their duties in their work area. Therapists assess body mechanics, posture, safe working techniques and pace of work activities. Feedback and training in behavioral strategies are provided to improve the new hire’s performance and ultimately aid in preventing a workplace injury.

Therapists are skilled in identifying risks for muscular skeletal injury during the first 30 days of work. They review three key areas to determine if there is a potential for the development of an injury including:

  • job satisfaction
  • signs and symptoms of a muscular skeletal change
  • the amount of exertion that is required to complete the work

They may also discuss any other wellness issues that could be impacting employee’s performance, such as if the employee is experiencing any change in sleep patterns with rotating or new shifts and how the employee is handling stress.

During these exchanges, the therapist can also ask for feedback on ergonomic improvements. Often new employees come in with fresh eyes and recognize areas of ergonomic/LEAN improvement that others may not.

Job coaching also gives therapists a one-on-one opportunity to review injury prevention strategies such as:

  • dynamic stretching
  • hydration
  • personal protection equipment use
  • proper body mechanics that minimize risk factors
  • posture and work heights
  • footwear and use of anti-fatigues mats
  • ergonomic equipment and work tools

During job coaching, the therapist also has the opportunity to increasing awareness about onsite provider presence, which contributes to the overall culture of injury prevention. The therapist can reinforce how to access any opportunities for strengthening and exercise that are part of the employer’s benefits  — such as a fitness center.

These interactions between the therapist and the new hire can be ongoing as the employee becomes more integrated in the company. For example, the therapist might interact with new hires at the 30-, 60- and 90-day point after the start of employment.

If the therapist observes that the employee is struggling, or more observation and intervention is needed, the therapist can extend the interactions until the employee is observed to be ready to take on their job duties.

This process is similar to what therapists do for injured employees during the return to work process. In some cases, ongoing job coaching occurs on a monthly basis even though the worker may be discharged from formal therapy and working their regular job.

By getting ahead of the curve and preventing the injury, the company not only has a healthier work force, they also save on medical costs. There’s one more benefit – job satisfaction can be negatively impacted by a workplace injury. Healthy workers are generally more satisfied with their work. And everyone benefits when workers are satisfied.

If your company needs help with any aspect of worker health, contact Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions. We assist with:

  • Reducing worker compensation claims
  • Reducing lost work time
  • Reducing costs to the company and the employee related to health care costs and related health insurance
  • Improving employee health status and morale

For more information, call (715) 346-5243 or visit our website MinistryHealth.org/EmployerSolutions

Written by Rachel Gilbert, PT, CSCS Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions



With the holiday season fast-approaching, we look forward to parties and celebrations, seeing family and friends, and of course…the food.  However, all that delicious food often comes at a cost:  a few unwanted holiday pounds or inches around our waistline.  Worse yet, studies show that those pounds tend to stick with us well past the holidays, or even permanently.  Follow these tips to make the most of the holiday season, without tipping the scale:

If you’re planning the meal:

  • Start light: Most appetizers carry lots of calories in a small package.  Avoid this by offering vegetables and dip, whole grain crackers and cheese, shrimp cocktail, or fruit skewers.
  • Keep it fresh: Make sure that plenty of fruits and vegetables are served, since they tend to be low in calories and fat and high in fiber.  Try an autumn-inspired salad, sweet potatoes, or green beans without heavy sauces or toppings.
  • Go easy on the extras: Don’t overdo butter, gravy, cheese, salt, and cream sauces when cooking.  Guests can always add more to their individual portion, if they would like.
  • Switch it up: Swap recipe staples for lighter options, such as light cream cheese, skim milk, low-fat or lower-sodium soups, and so on.
Seek out and serve lighter fare at holiday gatherings.

Seek out and serve lighter fare at holiday gatherings.

If you’re a guest:

  • Snack smart: Eat a healthy snack shortly before a party or dinner, so as not to arrive ravenous.  Try an apple and peanut butter, vegetables and dip, or a small portion of cheese and whole grain crackers.
  • Scan ahead: Before serving yourself, scan the buffet and plan to take some healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, as well as some of your favorite foods.  Savor each bite, and try to wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds.
  • Better beverages: Choose calorie-free beverages whenever possible, such as sparkling water, diet soda, coffee or tea, as calories from beverages can add up quickly.  Also, remember that alcoholic beverages can be high in calories, and that alcohol can increase hunger.
  • Focus on friends and family: Once you’re full, try to move away from the serving area to avoid mindless eating.  Once finished eating, shift your focus to spending quality time with friends and family.

Written by Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions Wellness Team

Early Intervention in the Workplace


All companies aspire to have a safe workplace. But despite our best intentions, injuries do occur. How you respond to an injury, and how you record it, can make a real difference – to the employee and to your company.

Obviously, the most important task is getting the employee appropriate treatment for the injury as quickly as possible. By intervening early, you are able to:

  • Keep small problems small
  • Reduce cost
  • Improve timeliness of intervention
  • Improve worker morale and culture
  • Promote communication between the worker, supervisor, safety/HR, and medical community

It’s also important that you document the injury. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) requires employers who have 10 or more employees to record and keep work-related injury and illness information on an OSHA 300 Log.  Employers must record all new cases of work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses if they involve:

  • Death
  • Days away from work
  • Restricted work or transfer to another job
  • Medical treatment beyond first aid, defined as, “The management and care of a patient to combat disease or disorder provided by a physician or other licensed health care professional”
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A significant injury or illness diagnosed by a physician or other licensed health care professional

It’s important to understand the fine points of what OSHA defines as “first aid” to make your injury and illness recordkeeping accurate. Knowing which cases to record on the 300 Log can lower your incidence rate. Interventions that OSHA considers “first aid” that you do not have to include on your 300 log include:

  • Using a non-prescription medication at nonprescription strength
  • Administering tetanus immunizations
  • Cleaning, flushing or soaking wounds on the surface of skin
  • Using wound coverings such as bandages, gauze pads, etc. or using butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips™(other wound closing devices such as sutures, staples, glue are medical treatment
  • Using hot or cold packs
  • Using any non-rigid means of support, such as elastic bandages, wraps, non-rigid back belts, etc.
  • Using temporary immobilization devices while transporting an accident victim, such as neck collars, slings, etc.
  • Drilling a fingernail or toenail to relieve pressure, or draining fluid from a blister
  • Using eye patches
  • Removing foreign bodies from the eye using only irrigation or a cotton swab
  • Removing splinters or foreign material from areas other than the eye by irrigation, tweezers, cotton swabs or other simple means
  • Using massages (physical therapy or chiropractic treatment are considered medical treatments for recordkeeping purposes)
  • Drinking fluids for relief of heat stress

Preventing MSDs, the most common injuries

The most common workplace injuries are a result of overexertion. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)  are injuries and disorders of the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and cartilage) and nervous system. They can affect nearly all tissues, including the nerves and tendon sheaths, and most frequently involve the arms and back. Excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing can result in a MSD, such as sprains, strains and  back pain.

Having rehab professionals on-site can help you reduce the incidence of MSDs. The on-site therapist can address issues early and prevent a serious condition from developing. This early intervention is often triggered by a worker’s initial report of a musculoskeletal pain/discomfort or related issue. The worker’s complaint is evaluated by therapist and a first aid strategy is developed. This could include the use of ice, heat, non-rigid supports and wraps, massage, education, and job task assessment. Also, a therapist can help determine if a condition warrants additional evaluation and can help to make an early referral to the appropriate healthcare provider.

Although treating injuries early is critical, companies interested in reducing their healthcare costs should consider a more complete job task assessment to identify potential MSD stressors. A therapist can help by:

  • Reviewing the employee’s home and leisure tasks
  • Observing the worker’s body mechanics and providing  corrective functional job coaching
  • Providing a complete functional job analysis of the worker’s position
  • Assessing the ergonomic work conditions and making appropriate recommendations
  • Referring employees for further medical evaluation and possible treatment

If your company needs help with any aspect of worker health, contact Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions. We assist with:

  • Reducing worker compensation claims
  • Reducing lost work time
  • Reducing costs to the company and the employee related to health care costs and related health insurance
  • Improving employee health status and morale

For more information, call (715) 346-5243 or visit our website MinistryHealth.org/EmployerSolutions

Written by Deb Kearns, OT, Industrial Rehabilitation Services Coordinator, Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions


Nearly everyone feels some stress on the job. But prolonged exposure to stress can be a real threat to worker health and productivity. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one-fourth of employees cite their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives. And employees with stress cost the company – health care expenditures are nearly 50% more for workers who report high levels of stress.

What Is Job Stress?

The CDC defines job stress as the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the worker. Job stress can lead to poor health and even injury.

Job Conditions That May Lead to Stress

  • The Design of Tasks: Heavy workload, infrequent rest breaks, long work hours and shift-work; hectic and routine tasks that have little inherent meaning, do not utilize workers’ skills, and provide little sense of control.
  • Management Style: Lack of participation by workers in decision-making, poor communication in the organization, lack of family-friendly policies.
  • Interpersonal Relationships: Poor social environment and lack of support or help from coworkers and supervisors.
  • Work Roles: Conflicting or uncertain job expectations, too much responsibility, too many “hats to wear.”
  • Career Concerns: Job insecurity and lack of opportunity for growth, advancement, or promotion; rapid changes for which workers are unprepared.
  • Environmental Conditions: Unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions such as crowding, noise, air pollution, or ergonomic problems.

The human body responds to stress in several ways – primarily by preparing the person for defensive action. The nervous system is activated and hormones are released to sharpen the senses, quicken the pulse, deepen respiration, and tense the muscles.

Occasional episodes of stress pose little risk. But when stressful situations go unresolved, the body is kept in a constant state of alert, which increases the rate of wear and tear to biological systems. Ultimately, fatigue or damage results, and the ability of the body to repair and defend itself can become seriously compromised. As a result, the risk of injury or disease increases.

In the early stages of job stress, the employee experiences mood and sleep disturbances, upset stomach and headache, and disturbed relationships with family and friends. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological disorders, and workplace injuries.

How to Prevent Stress at Work?

Preventing stress means addressing the issues that cause the problem. The CDC provides these suggestions for reducing stress in the workplace:

  • Ensure that the workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources.
  • Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation, and opportunities for workers to use their skills.
  • Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities.
  • Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs.
  • Improve communications-reduce uncertainty about career development and future employment prospects.
  • Provide opportunities for social interaction among workers.
  • Establish work schedules that are compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job.

If your company needs help addressing stress management in the workplace or with any aspect of worker health, contact Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions at (715) 346-5243 or visit our website.

Written by Rae Ann Thomas, LSW, CEAP, Employee Assistance Program Director for Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions

Some information in this column adapted from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health – DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 99-101.


As far as important meals go, breakfast typically gets all the glory.  And while it certainly is important, we can’t overlook the importance of other meals.  Lunch breaks up the day, powers us through the afternoon, and hopefully prevents us from feeling famished by dinner time.  By making healthy choices at lunch, we can maximize these benefits.  However, eating a healthy lunch or packing one for work can often present a challenge.  Here are some tips for creating a healthy, easy lunch:

Keep it balanced:  Aim for a balance of protein-rich foods, healthy fats, and quality carbohydrates.  The combination of fiber, protein, and fat from foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lean meats and fish can keep you full until dinner.  As a rule of thumb, make half your lunch fruits and veggies, and round out your meal with healthy protein and grains.

Bulk it up:  Eating too small of a lunch may set you up for a not-so-healthy afternoon snack.  Popular both at home and in the office, frozen microwaveable entrees are one common mini-meal offender.  While they are convenient, their portion-controlled nature can sometimes be a downfall.  The “healthy” or “light” meals may have some positive nutritional qualities, but usually offer only about 250 calories.  These dainty meals do little for satiety.  If you do choose a frozen dinner, bulk it up with extra veggies or a side with some staying-power, like Greek yogurt topped with nuts.

Don’t overdo it:  Eating too large of a lunch may leave you feeling sluggish, especially for those in an office setting.  Venturing out to a restaurant for lunch may be tempting as it is estimated Americans eat out for lunch an average of two times a week and spend about $10 each time.  Not only is eating out hard on our budget; it can be hard on waistlines as well.  A typical lunch eaten at a fast food or sit-down restaurant packs between 850 and 1000 calories.  Before eating out, make it a point to check the restaurant’s website for nutrition facts.  This allows you to plan your meal choices ahead of time and to factor nutrition into the decision.

Following these principles, here are some quick lunch ideas that come together in 10 minutes or less:

  • Leftovers: If you make a healthy dinner, eating a healthy lunch is easy.  Consider doubling the recipe at dinner, so that you can eat the leftovers throughout the week.
  • Loaded potato: Pierce a white or sweet potato with a fork and microwave for 5-6 minutes, or until soft.  Top with desired toppings.  Try Greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), broccoli, or diced low-sodium ham, or a sprinkle of cheese.
  • Wraps: Whole grain wraps and tortillas are a versatile ingredient.  Wrap up lunch meat, cheese, and veggies, or try a peanut butter and fruit wrap.
  • Protein-packed salad: Using convenient canned tuna or salmon is an easy way to increase healthy fish intake.  Mix a can with light mayo, chopped celery and onions, and your favorite seasonings.  Eat the tuna or salmon salad on whole wheat bread or with crackers.
  • Super soup: Give canned soup a protein and fiber boost by adding a can of rinsed beans or extra frozen vegetables.

 Written by Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions Wellness Team


With school in session and schedules back in order, you may discover that “family time” has slowed down. Autumn brings new opportunities for family fitness with several types of outdoor excursions. The weather is cooler and there is no need to worry about the pesky mosquitoes!

The time is now to get out and get moving!

Take advantage of the leaves turning by hiking a local trail or even a walk around the neighborhood. One game we played as a family was to find leaves on the ground of each color and see who could get the most diverse spectrum. Think of a rainbow, but only red, orange, yellow, and green. In our family, the winner got a piggy back ride home from dad.

Take advantage of the season with favorite fall activities.

Take advantage of the season with favorite fall activities.

Another activity is to visit the local orchard. This is a perfect opportunity to learn, pick, and eat apples! Did you know apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber? Not to mention there are over 2,500 kinds growing in the United States. Who says you can’t find a favorite! Plus, most local orchards have a corn maze, pumpkin patch and other activities to keep you active for the entire day!

Speaking of pumpkins, this is still one of my favorite activities to do. I literally wait all year to carve pumpkins! From picking the pumpkin out of the patch, scooping out the guts, carving the face, roasting the seeds, and even making a meal…I believe the pumpkin is one of the most versatile items of fall.

Try this easy recipe for Pumpkin Quesadillas: In a bowl, mix 2 cups of pumpkin puree and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Spread over 4, 8 inch tortillas. Add cheese and other vegetables of your choosing. In a large skillet, cook quesadillas for 2 minutes or so each side, until browned. Such a comfort food for fall!

Just like the seasons, you have the ability to change. Get out there and embrace it!

Written by Traci Tauferner, ATC, CSCS, PES, Industrial Rehab Athletic Trainer for Ministry Medical Group Employer Solutions