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The LILI Letter, May 2024

ORMC weight loss/wellness class & support group newsletter

Jennifer James
May 17, 2024

The Ogden Regional Medical Center / Heart Center, weight loss/wellness class & support group newsletter


Who doesn’t love this month? If you have hay fever, maybe not. Spring can sure throw some nasty weather at us, but May tends to be gentler. A great time to hit the walking, bicycling and hiking trails, golf courses, lakes, and all things outdoors. Let’s celebrate all of our mothers on Mother’s Day, including Mother Earth this month. We also remember and appreciate our veterans on Memorial Day. 

In good health,
Jennifer James

Success story

For those of you who are not familiar with Duolingo, it is a language application for our smart phones. You can learn nearly any language you can think of, even Navajo, Zulu and Latin. I am in the process of learning French. Why am I doing this? Because it challenges me and I am learning something new. It has not been all that easy, especially the pronunciation of so many vowel combinations, some unknown in English. I am out of my comfort zone. But hey, I can ask for an egg with cheese and vegetables in our hospital cafeteria in French (one of the cooks is learning it too). If I ever make it to France, it will make my visit more enjoyable.

When we are too comfortable (and bored) with our lives, we may not be growing and changing in positive ways. When was the last time we learned something new? Such as checking out a library book on a topic unknown to us, learning to play a musical instrument, or refinishing furniture? Life on Planet Earth wasn’t meant to be easy. Changing and growing for the better usually requires a bit of uncomfortableness, or a lot of it. If you are comfortable with being outside of your comfort zone, or being on a “growth edge”, as my health coaching association puts it, you are in for a treat. You will grow and change in leaps and bounds. What makes us a bit uncomfortable? There lies the growth edge. Let’s embrace it, not run from it. We can do this. 

Do You Really Know…quinoa?

Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah, is a grain native to South America and the Andes. The Incas called it “the Mother of All Grains”. It has been cultivated for 7,000 years. It has become popular in recent years in other parts of the world, but most of it is still cultivated in South America. It is available in several colors, is gluten-free, and technically a seed. It needs to be rinsed before cooking and eating it. Why? The plant makes a substance, saponin, to repel insects. It coats every grain. Much of the quinoa we buy in the grocery store has had this coating rinsed off or removed. Simple to cook, it is a complete protein high in fiber, carbohydrates and magnesium. Give the recipe below a try.

Beloved butyrate

There has been ongoing research into our “microbiome”, that is, the bacteria, viruses and fungi that inhabit our bodies, most of which live in our large intestine. We have all heard of “healthy bacteria” that inhabit our colon. These bacteria have surprisingly positive effects on our health. One way they do this is through some of the substances they produce when they feed on dietary fiber. These substances are called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Researchers are discovering some really interesting things about one of these SCFAs, which is butyrate.

Our guts really seem to benefit from butyrate. It is the main energy source for cells in our colon. Since it is so important for the health of colon cells, it is thought it might lower the risk of colon cancer. One laboratory study using human cancer cell lines found that butyrate caused the cancer cells to degrade and stop growing in vitro, meaning, “outside the body”. Butyrate also helps the body produce gut hormones that improve insulin sensitivity, and seems to protect against Crohn’s and diverticular diseases.

Butyrate seems to lower inflammation in the body, which may lower our risk for other chronic diseases, not just those involving the gut. Our brains and cardiovascular systems seem to benefit from butyrate, according to some research. It also seems to enhance sleep, at least in animal studies. One researcher, who studies rheumatoid arthritis in humans, found patients responded better to the medication methotrexate, used to treat their arthritis, when there was more butyrate present in their bodies.

Keep in mind, most of the research involving butyrate has been done with animal studies, and there is a lot we don’t yet know. If we eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of whole plant foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and dried beans), with at least 25 grams of dietary fiber per day, the healthy bacteria will naturally produce butyrate from these foods. One of the researchers in this area recommends eating more fruits and vegetables with soluble, fermentable fiber, such as asparagus, leafy greens, potatoes, apples, bananas and pears. We don’t need to take butyrate supplements. Only 10% of US adults consume the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables per day, and only 12.3% of us eat the recommended 1.5-2 cups of fruit per day. We have a lot of room for improvement. The popular diets that eliminate grains, fruit, starchy vegetables and dried beans are not really doing us a favor in the long run. There is no downside here folks…if we take care of the healthy bacteria in our colon, they will take care of us. 

Healthi-er options

I took it upon myself to do some research into healthier fast food/fast casual menu options. I was shocked, to put it mildly. The sodium content of most of the food offered on their menus was jaw-dropping. I set some parameters for my search. The meal had to contain ~800 mg or less of sodium, ~5 grams or less of saturated fat, and no more than ~500 calories. The sauces and salad dressings added a lot of sodium, hence I left most of them off. I did not look at all restaurants, but discovered some healthier choices at each of these:

  • Café Rio: Bowl with fire-grilled steak, black or pinto beans, rice, lettuce, pico de gallo, cilantro and lime wedges (no sauces)
  • Chick Fil-A: Grilled chicken nuggets, kale crunch salad, fruit cup (no sauces)
  • Chipotle: Burrito Bowl with cilantro brown rice, black beans, grilled chicken, fajita vegetables, Romaine lettuce (no sauces)
    • Options: No beans or no chicken with double beans
  • McDonald’s: Filet O’Fish sandwich and apple slices
  • Subway: 6” inch rotisserie-style chicken sub
    • 6” Veggie Delite on a tomato basil wrap
    • Tuna Salad, no dressing
  • Wendy’s: Crispy chicken sandwich with apple bites
    • Jr. hamburger with apple bites and 1% milk
    • (no info available on salads without dressing that I could find, which would likely qualify)
  • Zao’s: Brown rice, chicken, ½ broccoli-½ corn mixture, cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, jalapeno, no sauces
  • Brown rice, tofu, ½ broccoli-½ corn mixture, chili lime aioli sauce, cucumber, lettuce, cilantro, jalapeno
  • Zupa’s: Nourish Bowl, no dressing (arugula with wild rice blend, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and cauliflower; sliced apples, grapes, goat cheese, pistachios with balsamic vinaigrette)

All information obtained from each restaurant’s website.

Human nature

I was on my way to work one recent morning, in morning rush hour traffic. My tendency is to not have any patience and get annoyed by the other drivers’ behavior. Sound familiar? Well, this morning I was behind a car with a sticker on the back window that said, “I hope something good happens to you today”. Say what? It made me pause. Someone is hoping something good happens to me today…really? I was caught off guard, and then felt such gratitude for this person who turned around my attitude and my morning. What a wonderful thing to wish a complete stranger. When we wish good things for other people, it makes us feel good too. The Germans have a proverb, “Shared pain is half the pain, shared joy is twice the joy”.

The Germans also have a name for the opposite of this, “schadenfreude”, meaning “harm-joy”, taking joy in another’s misfortune. I am sure we have all felt this, at one point or another, since we are all flawed humans. Jealousy and feeling like we don’t measure up, or that we are missing out, when compared with what others have, may fuel this. If we struggle with this, we need to remind ourselves of the good things we have to offer, what is going well in our lives and that there is not a limited supply of joy and happiness in the world. How would we feel if someone begrudged us our happiness?

So, when someone wishes that something good happens to a complete stranger, it can shift us to the generous and compassionate side of our nature. We can be excited and happy for others when they get the promotion, find the love of their life, lose weight, buy a nice house, go on a vacation, and have things go their way. Rather than feeling secretly jealous and upset, we can choose to feel joy for them.

Let’s try to wish good things for all the people we encounter, especially the mean, rude or obnoxious ones. If they had more good things happen to them, maybe they wouldn’t behave the way they do. Plus, it opens our hearts and makes us more compassionate. So, my friends, I hope something good happens to all of you today. 😊

Wolfe, C. (30 May 2023). How to multiply joy in your life. Lion’s Viewed at How to Multiply Joy in Your Life | Lion’s Roar (

Quinoa salad

This is a compilation of several recipes. It makes a nice, high protein salad, and can serve as an entrée stand-in. You can add other ingredients if you choose, such as avocado, tomato or black beans.

  • 1 cup of rinsed quinoa
  • 2 cups of water
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • ½ cup diced English cucumber
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup rinsed chickpeas
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1-1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dried dill weed
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly grated black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the quinoa. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

When the quinoa has cooled, combine with the other ingredients, mixing well. Adjust seasonings if needed. Refrigerate several hours before enjoying.

8 servings, 3/4 cup each = 188 calories, 133 mg sodium, 23 gm carbohydrate

May support groups

Mondays, 2:00pm-3:00pm, Heart Center Conference Room

  • ORMC Medical Plaza, Suite #200
  • Free to graduates of LILI and Breaking Barriers classes

Only when we are
do we grow.


May 17, 2024
Ogden Regional Medical Center

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The Ogden Regional Medical Center / Heart Center, “Losing It & Loving It” weight loss class & support group newsletter