Don’t drink your holiday calories!

Don’t drink your holiday calories!

Holiday alcoholic drinks aren’t usually healthy, in fact they’re often big sugar-, fat-,and calorie-bombs. Don’t get derailed during this celebratory time of year because you think beverages won’t affect your overall healthy food goals. They most definitely do!

Here are some things to consider before you raise a glass this season:

1. Ask yourself if you should be drinking alcohol at all. Some reasons not to: family or personal history of alcohol abuse; prescription meds for high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, etc. that don’t mix with alcohol; ditto for over-the-counter drugs; also, postmenipausal women and ones with a family history of breast cancer should not imbibe. 

2. Ask yourself if drinking makes you gain weight. Stay within the recommended limit of a drink a day for women and two drinks for men, and you’ll likely find that alcohol doesn’t impact your healthy eating plan. If you overdo it, though, you may find that it derails your weight goals. One reason why that might be? Moderate drinking decreases stress eating while guzzling drinks loosens inibitions so your good intentions regarding diet go right out the window.

3. As yourself if you’re making wise choices regarding alcoholic beverages. For instance, a 5 ounce glass of wine is only about 125 calories and contains some healthful nutrients. But what if you substitute a holiday drink such as spiked eggnog? That’s quite a different story! An 8 ounce serving of eggnog packs a whopping 321 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 21 grams of sugar. Hot spiked cider? That clocks in at 212 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 27 grams of sugar. An Irish coffee is 193 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 9 grams of sugar. 

A once in a while indulgance isn’t the end of the world, but making a habit of drinking these rich caloric drinks during the holiday season can be disasterous. Limit the damage by stopping at one drink. And make sure it’s a small pour (some bartenders, including you, routinely go over 8 ounces). If you can stick to a lighter beverage, such as a champagne spritzer, so much the better.

Here’s to your health. I’ll raise a glass to that! 

Jebra Turner is a writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at



Count Your Blessings at Thanksgiving

Count Your Blessings at Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you doing for the holiday? I’m spending the 30 days around Thanksgiving taking an online course called Gratitude, Grace and a Month of Self-reflection.

It’s based on Naikan, a Japanese psychological system that encourages us to count our blessings. It takes about me about 30 minutes a day to complete the assignments, which are pretty eye-opening.

For instance, traditional daily Naikan practice asks us to examine these three areas of living:

  1. What have I received?
  2. What did I give?
  3. What troubles and difficulties did I cause?

So, here’s an excerpt of what a common list would look like (it’s not mine), but yours will probably be longer.

What I received

A warm house in the morning

Friends to run with

A healthy lunch

A fast computer/web access

A coffee shop to hang out in


What I gave

Money for coffee and a good tip

Started work on my financial plan

Made BLT sandwich 

Made babysitter recommendation to neighbor

Gave a ride home to friend whose car is in the shop

Cooked dinner


Troubles and difficulties I caused

Didn’t send a check to a supplier,  even though I said I would

Participated in gossip at lunch about a fellow nurse

Wouldn’t let my youngest child play computer games

Interrupted my wife while she was speaking at dinner

Used time at the clinic for two personal calls

Ignored my dog when he wanted  to play after dinner

Wasted half my salad at lunch

Some of these Naikan exercises are serious and some silly, like yesterday when I did Garbage Naikan. I tried to think about what service I got out of everything that I threw away or recycled, like floss and coffee filters and bus tickets …and the list is endless because I’m supported by the whole universe.

As a nurse you have many opportunites to bless the lives of others. Making a difference while making a living is one of the most common reasons for entering the nursing profession. Doing Naikan will remind you of what you give, was well as what you get.

Remember to be specific and look for the details and be specific — the devil is in the details but so are angels 🙂 Write down the answers or type them or sketch them or speak them into a tape recorder and listen later.

Spend three times as long on the third question as the other two because that’s the most difficult one. (We like to think that other people are bothersome but we’re blameless!)

I plan to spend 45 minutes or so tomorrow doing Daily Naikan and answering those three questions. In my family we go around the table at Thanksgiving dinner and each person says what they’re grateful for. I’m always stumped but this year I’ll be ready.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jebra Turner is a writer in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at

4 Ways to Prepare for Storms at Home

4 Ways to Prepare for Storms at Home

As a nurse, you’re always ready to deal with the unexpected. Nurses think quick on their feet, no question about it. They also know how to plan and coordinate their actions with others.

But how about in your personal life? Are you ready for winter’s inclement weather, or other acts of nature that may impact your lights, power, water, or the roof over your head? Learn all about emergency preparedness on FEMA’s website — it’s a wonderful, deep, and detailed resource!

In the meantime, here are 4 simple ways to get ready for whatever Mother Nature may throw your way.

1. Buy emergecny supply kits (they come in many sizes) from online sources, such as the American Red Cross website outlet.

2. Or assemble your own outage kit for winter storms. A few must-have items: a car charger for your mobile phone as cordless phones require electricity.

Learn how to override your electric garage door opener.
Review what to do if the power goes out at your home.
Review safety rules for downed utility lines and portable generators,
if you own one.

Outage kit for when the power goes out
If a power outage occurs, you can be prepared by having a kit together
to meet your basic needs until we’re able to restore power. An outage
kit is also a great first step towards a more comprehensive emergency
kit for use in a crisis or natural disaster.

A basic outage kit should include:

Hand-crank or battery powered flashlight and radio
Battery-powered clock
Extra batteries (change them periodically — even unused batteries lose
power over time)
Manual can opener
Cell-phone car charger if you depend on a cell phone, and/or a corded,
non-electric phone for home

Other handy items to have:

Bottled water
Sanitary water containers (if you rely on electricity to pump water)
Disposable plates and utensils
Extra blankets or sleeping bags

Emergency kits for crises and disasters
In a natural disaster or crisis, basic items we normally take for
granted — like food, water, electricity and sanitation — can become
survival needs. Predicting and planning for your family’s needs ahead
of time can help minimize the effects of emergencies.

Disaster preparedness experts suggest having enough water, food and
other supplies to survive on your own for at least three to ten days.

Since it can be a challenge to build a kit that’s both complete and
portable, consider building two. A small kit can be helpful in the
event of natural disasters and other pressing crises where you may
need to leave your home, and carrying a large kit would be difficult
or dangerous. Larger kits can be helpful for sheltering in place, but
these might not fit in your backpack.

Here are some ideas for stocking an emergency kit, in addition to the
outage kit items:

Water (1 gallon per person per day, include extra for pets)
Non-perishable food (Don’t forget food for your pets)
Prescription and over-the-counter medications
Infant formula and diapers
Sleeping bag and bedding
Copies of insurance information, IDs, bank information, and family
documents in a sealed waterproof container
A change of clothing
Basic first aid kit (Red Cross also has a First Aid app for your smart phone)
Personal hygiene items including bags for waste storage
Matches in a waterproof container
Additional batteries
Eating utensils, manual can opener, and/or mess kit
Paper and pencil

Movember: New Face of Men’s Health

Movember: New Face of Men’s Health

Are you or others in your workplace taking part in Movember (“Moustache” plus “November”), a global men’s health event? Males pledge to grow their ‘staches for the month, getting donations from friends, family and co-workers in the process. In effect, they become a walking, talking billboard in order to raise awareness and money to address men’s health issues.

Participants are nicknamed “Mo Bros” and they’re often aided by “Mo Sistas.” Their aim is to shine a spotlight on men’s diseases, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer — the obvious ones — and the not so obvious ones, such as depression and suicide.

Getting “mind share” isn’t easy as there are many other worthy health organizations trying to do the same thing. According to, November is a busy National Health Observance month. Here are just some of the events we’re celebrating this month:Lung Cancer Awareness Month; Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month; American Diabetes Month; National Epilepsy Awareness Month; Great American Smokeout (American Cancer Society); American Indian & Alaska Native Heritage Month, and so on.

The Aussies who started Movember in 2003 just for fun, then saw the power to do good using humor and the power of brotherhood. The next year they decided to get serious by fundraising for men’s health. The Movember Foundation is now one of the fastest-growing health NGO’s.

This year they’re highlighting gender disparities in health and longevity. Consider these statistics from their website:

*Around the world, on average, men die almost six years earlier than women.

*Globally, a man dies every minute from suicide.

*Recently, the World Health Organization bulletin on men’s health states, “Health outcomes among men and boys continue to be substantially worse than among girls and women, yet this gender-based inequality in health has received little national, regional or global acknowledgement or attention from health policy-makers or health-care providers.”

*On the whole, women are outliving men by an average of almost six years.

Nurses have always been huge educators about health and well-being. Getting involved in efforts to reduce these gender disparities would boost everyone’s health.

Jebra Turner is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She works in communications Anthro Corporation and blogs about workplace health at

Trick-or-Treat Hacks

Trick-or-Treat Hacks

Whoa there Nelly! It’s Halloween, the start of a three-month long season that’s almost guaranteed to add eight pounds of adipose tissue to everyone, especially those with weak willpower. Don’t you be one of the unthinking nurses who snacks right out of your skinny jeans.

On the plus side, nurses have a lot of practice saying no to treats from well-meaning doctors, administrators, and families throughout the year. On the minus side, the opportunities to over-indulge are incredibly plentiful right about now.

Make today that first day of a strict holiday noshing policy – decide beforehand what you will and won’t treat yourself to this season, then stick to it. (Here’s a mantra one nurse repeats when she’s faced with sweet or savory goodies: “I like myself too much to eat junk.”)

Having a healthy eating mantra is just one “hack” can come in handy during the holidays. (Life-hacks are tips and tricks for making everyday parts of life run better.) Here are a few others:

Remember that you can say No to a treat today and still eat it at another time and place. Examples: Snacks and desserts at home, the homes of friends and family, at church or other places in your community. Holidays keep multiplying — Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Solstice, New Year’s Eve. And don’t forget the birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and other festive events where food is a big part of the celebration.

Here’s a counter-intuitive approach that works well for some: call a cease-fire in the battle of the bulge. On Halloween it’s almost impossible to avoid candy anyway. As long as you don’t scarf down  the sweet stuff, you can partake of a few fun-sized pieces of candy (or squares of really good dark chocolate!) without busting your health goals.

Check out the calorie count in these candy favorites:

Fun-size candy bar = 80 calories

2 bite-size peanut butter cups = 90 calories

2 bite-size chocolates = 90 calories

If you know that you can’t resist a Halloween sweet stash, it may be best to buy bags of your least favorite candy for the kiddies. (Necco wafers are nobody’s favorite, so don’t make the little goblins suffer that much!)

If you end up with loads of candy after the trick-or-treaters are gone, see if your dentist is offering a candy “buy back” for patients or neighborhood kids. Donate your left-overs – often those boxes of candy get sent to troops who appreciate the sweet gesture.)

You would be smart to brush after partaking of sugary treats, to save your teeth, even if you aren’t doing your waistline any favor.

If you have steely self-discipline, you can always set out fruits, vegetables, air-popped popcorn or another super low-calorie treat.

Pass the radish-roses, please!

Jebra Turner is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She blogs about workplace health at


Just Published!

The Minority Nurse Winter 2017-2018 issue is now available. Read the latest issue of Minority Nurse today.

Challenges Facing Nursing Students Today

Selecting the Right Nursing School

Why Nursing School Grades Don’t Matter

Surviving the First Year as a Nurse

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