Eat Healthy On a Budget

If you have a weight problem or a chronic disease like diabetes, you may feel overwhelmed with trying to eat healthy while managing your time and money. Many convenience foods are high in sugar, sodium, or fat. However new shopping habits can pave the way toward a healthier life.

Plan ahead. Make a shopping list. Decide what meals you will make through the week with an eye toward your health needs – low sodium or sugar, low calorie. Check your pantry and refrigerator to maximize what you already have. Eating protein or other healthy food before you shop helps to avoid temptation.

Shop in season. Shopping in season and in combination with store sales will help you eat healthily. Fresh fruits in the summer are delicious but some are expensive in the winter. Also, be willing to swap for similar ingredients that are on sale. If you go in with chicken on your list but the ground turkey is on sale, it may be a worthy switch.

Buy frozen and canned produce.  Frozen and canned produce can be purchased year-round and is a convenient way to eat healthily. When eating canned fruit and vegetables it’s advisable to rinse them first, to avoid added sugar and sodium.

Buy and cook in bulk.  Buy non-perishable and commonly used items in bulk. When possible, cook more than you need immediately to save time and energy. For instance, you can wash and chop vegetables to cover multiple meals. If you’re making a side of brown rice, you can make extra servings for the next few days. This way you have quick options to eat healthy when time is short.

Avoid store marketing. Grocery stores often put higher-priced items in high traffic areas, when there are lower-cost options deeper in the store. When shopping in the aisles, look up and down. Stores often put the higher-priced options at eye level.  Avoid temptation from cleverly placed displays that offer desserts and indulgences, not on your list.

Minimize waste. Ensure that you’re storing perishables to maximize their shelf life. For example, spinach and other fresh greens do best in a dry environment. Putting a paper towel in the container can extend the freshness. Lots of produce can be re-grown using scraps and seeds. Freeze food before it goes bad, to be incorporated into recipes later on. Serve smaller portions to help with calorie control, then enjoy the leftover food at another meal.

With just a little forethought, you can eat healthily and keep your food budget healthy too.



Ross, T. A., & Geil, P. (2010). Healthy eating on a lean budget: diabetes meals for less. Diabetes Spectrum, 23(2), 120+.

How Can I Reduce My High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects about half of adults in the United States. Hypertension may not initially cause noticeable symptoms, so you should regularly monitor your blood pressure. Normal blood pressure levels in adults fall under 120/80. The first number is systolic blood pressure. This number measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart beats. The second number refers to diastolic blood pressure. This measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart is resting. According to the American Heart Association, you are considered to have high blood pressure/hypertension when your systolic value is over 130, and your diastolic value is over 80.

If you are experiencing headache, shortness of breath or nosebleeds that can indicate severely high blood pressure. These symptoms may require emergency medical services. Hypertension increases your risk for other serious health complications like heart disease, stroke, aneurysms, and dementia. High blood pressure can damage your arteries and limit your oxygen and blood supply. Unchecked high blood pressure may eventually lead to poor memory and reduced brain function. To discuss or test your blood pressure levels, please schedule an appointment at our office today.

If you suffer from hypertension, normal blood pressure levels can be achieved through lifestyle changes. To help reduce your high blood pressure you can incorporate:

● Regular exercise. Increasing your exercise and activity levels will strengthen your heart, allowing your blood pressure to lower as it takes less effort to pump blood. Exercise can also help to reduce weight. If you are overweight, losing the extra pounds will help stabilize blood pressure levels. Regular exercise will also help with stress management, an important component of achieving a normal blood pressure.

● Stress Management. Strategies to reduce stress can include meditation and breathing exercises, counseling, or even your favorite hobbies. Listening to soothing music, spiritual counsel, and seeking out laughter can also help. Our world has gotten increasingly stressful and demanding, so it’s important to find tactics that work for you and your lifestyle.

● Diet Change. Changing your diet to limit sodium and increase potassium can help mitigate hypertension. Some potassium rich foods include kidney beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, among others. Reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine consumption is also proven to improve blood pressure levels. You may also consider diet change to help with weight loss.

● Eliminate tobacco use. Smoking causes temporary spikes in blood pressure. Tobacco use can damage your blood vessels, increasing inflammation and narrowing your arteries. When your arteries are constricted this increases blood pressure as the blood flow is reduced.

These strategies are just some that have proven effective to reduce your high blood pressure. As always, contact your doctor or call Shenandoah Community Health Clinic if you would like to be checked or treated for hypertension.

Help Prevent Cavities Throughout a Child’s Life

What is a low-cost, easy way to prevent cavities and help ensure a healthy smile for your child for years to come? Dental sealants! They are safe and painless. Made from medical grade resin, sealant thinly coats the teeth without penetrating the enamel. This coating prevents food and bacterial residue from creating decay in the teeth, particularly molars. The American Dental Association reports that sealants can reduce the risk of cavities by 80%. Less than half of children in the United States have sealants, although they are a great prevention tool.

Applying sealant as soon as your child’s molars come in can protect them for up to ten years. If the sealant is properly maintained and redone throughout adulthood, cavities can in fact be prevented for a lifetime. In the case of existing cavities, sealants can help prevent further damage and decay. To maintain sealants, regular dental hygiene should be practiced. Brushing twice a day and consistent flossing will increase the longevity and efficacy of sealants.

Is It Necessary? 

It is important to prevent cavities, and to treat cavities in children quickly, even if they’re not causing pain. On average, children with neglected oral health receive lower grades and miss more school. If left untreated, cavities can interfere with everyday activities such as eating, drinking, playing and talking. Untreated cavities can lead to other oral illnesses, like gum disease or tooth infection. Dental health affects the rest of the body. Poor dental health can increase risk for respiratory disease, and lead to pneumonia. Multiple chronic illnesses have been linked to oral health.

February is Children’s Dental Health Month

What better time to instill the importance of good oral hygiene in your little ones than Children’s Dental Month? Regular checkups should be scheduled, especially for children. Establishing good hygiene habits and monitoring dental health can prevent a lifetime of pain, procedures, and health issues. Daily use of fluoride mouthwash, flossing, and brushing teeth are important to maintaining oral health. Healthy teeth are associated with increased self-esteem, especially in adolescents.  It can be difficult to guide and encourage children to take care of their teeth, but the benefits are hefty.

Ready to make an appointment?

Get in touch! We can work out an affordable plan for preventing and treating cavities for your child.

Why We Request Our Patients Bring All Their Medications To Every Appointment

Dr. Damewood Explains…

I request my patients bring all medications, including prescription, over the counter, herbal, and home remedies, they are using to every visit. Many patients ask why I can’t refer to a list and/or why they have to bring the actual pill bottles, even when they brought them their last visit. All of these are great questions, given the inconvenience of having to gather and remember them all. However, after reviewing medications directly from the pill bottle each visit, it is rare that I don’t find at least one potential problem. But why is this?


Medication Variety and Availability

We have seen an explosion in the number of medications our patients are taking. Our patient population is also becoming older, with more medical problems. The pharmaceutical companies haven’t been far behind this boom in developing new drugs. Pills now come in a bewildering number of shapes and colors, and the individual strengths differ in their presentation, making identification almost impossible. Many of these medications are also now available in generic forms or have been combined with other pills to create even more variety and complexity.


It is not unusual to have patients refill their medications through different pharmacies at different times or use different generics for the same medications. I have actually seen different generic forms of the same medication in the same bottles and the same medication being taken from different pill bottles at the same time. I have even found some patients taking both the generic and brand name form of the same medication together. 


There are also many different pills within the same class of medications, and it is not unusual, because of cost and insurance, to have to change medications within the class. This may result in taking too much of a similar medication for the same reason.


Confusing Instructions

Occasionally, instructions on a pill bottle may be misunderstood, making the visit an opportunity to verify proper use.


Multiple Doctors, Multiple Medications

Some patients have more than one doctor involved in their care. Although doctors try to communicate, this can create confusion. Not precisely knowing what medications each patient is taking from all their doctors could make prescribing medications potentially dangerous, due to drug interactions.


Complications and Refills

Having one’s medication bottles at each office visit also allows me to review complications with their medications, and at the same time ensure that refill prescriptions are written, saving the patient and staff unnecessary work.