Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five Tips for Easier Breathing

Imagine feeling like you just ran up ten flights of stairs after simply walking to the kitchen for a glass of water. Think of the last time you had a serious cold and woke up throughout the night, coughing and unable to stop. People who suffer from respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), regularly experience these unsettling symptoms.

Caused by airway obstruction and irritation, inflammation of air passages or other damage to lung tissues, chronic respiratory diseases make breathing an ever-present concern. As a result, people who have such illnesses often need treatment in an Emergency Room. They might avoid exercise to prevent feeling out of breath, which can then lead to weight gain, weakness and high blood pressure. Additionally, those who suffer from respiratory problems may become depressed or anxious, worried about when their symptoms will strike next.

Fortunately, there are some actions people can take to manage or improve their respiratory health.
  • Quit smoking and avoid being around secondhand smoke. Quitting has immediate health benefits, even if you or a loved one has smoked for many years.
  • Visit your primary care physician regularly. The care team can assess your needs and help you to identify things that trigger your symptoms. They can also refer you to a specialist if needed.
  • Get a flu shot every year, unless otherwise instructed by your physician. Respiratory illnesses may make people more susceptible to viral infections like the flu. The infection can then become more serious or cause the respiratory illness to worsen.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine at least once in your lifetime. People with respiratory problems are more likely to develop pneumonia from an infection, which can result in other health complications.
  • Practice good hand hygiene. Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water helps to prevent you from catching viral infections.

If you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms like shortness of breath, persistent cough, wheezing or a tight feeling in the chest, consider seeing a primary care physician. GBMC has primary care practices located throughout the Baltimore area. Learn more at

Nutritionist Q&A

This is the time of year when many people focus on getting healthy after an indulgent holiday season. In recognition of that and National Healthy Weight Week, which takes place January 18-22, GBMC asked one of its own dietitians, Katie Perry, RDN, to share insights and suggestions for effective weight management.

GBMC: How can reaching a healthy weight improve overall health?

Katie: There is a definite correlation between diet and mood. Many patients have told me that they feel better overall when they make dietary changes such as eliminating processed foods. Processed foods contain a great deal of fat, sugar and salt, which can be very addicting and often make you feel sluggish. Adopting healthier eating habits can help with weight loss or weight maintenance. Being happy with the way your body looks can also enhance your mood and confidence.

GBMC: How can people avoid overeating?

Katie: I encourage my patients to practice “mindful eating,” which is the act of being present in the moment during mealtime and really listening to your body. In order to practice mindful eating, one must remove all distractions including television, cell phones, computers, work, driving, etc. These distractions prevent one’s full attention from being directed towards internal cues of fullness. All senses are used in the act of mindful eating: sight, smell, taste, mouth feel (texture), and even the sound of food cooking.

GBMC: What foods do you recommend for weight loss?

Katie: The first thing I suggest is to choose snacks that are high in fiber and protein, such as Greek yogurt, string cheese, fruits, vegetables and almonds. These foods are high in fiber and protein and help you to feel fuller longer.

GBMC: What foods should be avoided for weight loss?

Katie: The worst things to eat are “empty calorie” foods, which are high in calories but do not provide much nutrition. They are often processed, high-fat, sugary foods including: cookies, cake, chips, crackers, donuts, ice cream, fried foods, etc.

GBMC: What are your tips for maintaining a healthy weight?

Katie: For maintaining weight, it’s all about balance.
  • Do not skip meals. Consuming three or four meals per day helps maintain a healthy, steady metabolism.
  • Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The sensation of thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. Dehydration can also cause drowsiness.
  • Be active. Changes in weight are based on the “calories in vs. calories out” principle. Weight gain occurs when “calories in” exceeds “calories out.” Making exercise a part of your daily routine can help with weight maintenance.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep plays a roll in hormonal balance, which can affect the storage of fat, energy levels and hunger.

GBMC: What habits should people can incorporate into their lives to lose weight?

  • Practice portion control by measuring out your food based on serving size recommendations found on food labels. Using smaller plates and bowls can also help keep portion sizes small.
  • Avoid beverages that contain sugar. Liquid calories can be very sneaky and do not provide any nutritional value.
  • Increase physical activity. A combination of cardio and weight training can help burn fat and build lean muscle. Lean muscle is more metabolically active than fat and continues burning calories long after working out. It is recommended to be active for 30 minutes or more each day, at least 5 days per week.
  • Eat only when you are hungry and stop eating once you feel full. If you notice that you are eating for reasons other than hunger, find a distraction or a different outlet. Eating slowly can help prevent overeating. It takes your mind 15-20 minutes to realize you are full; keep this in mind before going for seconds!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

New Year, Healthy New You!

It’s a new year and people everywhere are resolving to get (and stay!) healthy. Have you struggled with maintaining a commitment to regular activity? Are you confused by conflicting information regarding sound nutrition and dietary habits? Can you envision 2016 being the year that you finally achieve your fitness and wellness goals once and for all? Stack the odds in your favor by partnering with GBMC!

GBMC is pleased to announce its new 12-week Life in Balance program, which is designed to provide education, support and results to help you look and feel your best in the new year. The Life in Balance program consists of three distinct components. First, you will meet with a certified health coach, who is also a nurse practitioner. The health coach works alongside your primary care physician or specialist, reviewing barriers to your success and assisting you with lifestyle issues such as stress, time management and family support. Next, a personal fitness coach will provide you with a complete fitness consultation and exercise plan, setting attainable goals tailored just for you. Throughout the program, the fitness coach will ensure proper form, address any questions and make adjustments to your exercise plan as needed. Finally, you will meet with a registered dietitian, who will counsel you on adopting healthy eating habits as well as calculating daily caloric needs and resting metabolic rates. You will also receive a customized meal plan including healthy and easy recipes and snacks.

These three certified professionals will collaborate in order to provide ongoing motivation, support and education to all program participants.

The Life in Balance program is open to anyone who has an interest in improving his or her health! It begins the week of February 1, 2016 and the complete program costs $750, or three easy payments of $250. Sign up in January and get a 10 percent discount! All meetings will be held at GBMC in the Geckle Diabetes and Nutrition Center. For additional information or to register, please visit our website at

GBMC Earns Healthcare Equality Index Recognition

For the second year in a row, GBMC has earned recognition as a leader in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) healthcare equality by the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI). This acknowledgement reinforces GBMC’s strides in HEI’s stringent core four leader criteria, which follow:

1. Patient Non-Discrimination: GBMC’s Patient Bill of Rights is fully LGBT-inclusive and includes both the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” The organization’s Patient Bill of Rights states that all patients have the right to “Receive considerate, respectful and compassionate care regardless of your age, gender, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or disabilities. Additionally, GBMC meets the requirement that the LGBT-inclusive patient non-discrimination policy is communicated to patients in at least two readily accessible ways.

2. Equal Visitation: GBMC’s visitation policy explicitly grants equal visitation to LGBT patients and visitors. This policy is communicated to patients and visitors in at least two readily accessible ways and states: “Whenever possible, GBMC supports our patients having a family member, friend, a domestic partner, including same-sex domestic partner or other individual present for emotional support during the course of the stay.”

3. Employment Non-Discrimination: GBMC’s employment non-discrimination policy (equal employment opportunity policy) is fully LGBT-inclusive and includes both the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

4. Training in LGBT Patient-Centered Care: HEI-approved training in LGBT patient-centered care has been provided to key staff members.

GBMC is proud to have met the criteria and sub-criteria in all four categories! For more information about HEI, visit

Minestrone Soup


1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder)
1 1/3 cups onions, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups celery and leaves, coarsely chopped
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup sliced carrots, fresh or frozen
4 3/4 cups shredded cabbage
1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes, cut up
1 cup canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1 1/2 cups fresh green beans
11 cups water
2 cups uncooked pasta (such as ditalini pasta)
dash of hot sauce


1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan.
2. Add garlic, onion and celery to pan. Sauté about 5 minutes.
3. Add all remaining ingredients except pasta and stir ingredients until they are well mixed.
4. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
5. Add uncooked pasta and simmer until pasta is soft.

Nutrition Information

Serves: 16
Serving size: 1 cup
Calories: 153
Fat: 4g
Sodium: 191 mg
Cholesterol: 0mg
Saturated fat: less than 1g

Recipe Source: Reprinted with permission from Stay Young At Heart: National Heart, Lunch, and Blood Institute. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Institutes of Health.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Unhappy Holidays

"The holidays remind me that I'm alone."
"I can't afford to give people the kinds of gifts they expect."
"My family will always consider me a failure compared to my sister."
"I'm in too much pain to act like I'm enjoying myself."

These are just a few of the reasons why many people find the holiday season to be an unpleasant time of year. Depression can be caused by a number of different things – certain chronic illnesses, grief, medications, hormones, substance abuse – and it can also be brought about or amplified by stressful experiences.

Not only can depression result in uncomfortable physical symptoms like headaches, gastrointestinal disturbances, sleeplessness and fatigue, it can also worsen a chronic illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure. This is especially dangerous for those who have a chronic condition that has not yet been diagnosed. Unfortunately, when people suffer from a combination of chronic illness and depression, they are even more likely to avoid family, friends and activities they once enjoyed. That isolation may intensify the depression.

The most frequently cited “triggers” for depression during the holidays are: family gatherings or being away from family and friends; concerns about money and spending; high or unrealistic expectations; fatigue; over-committing and over-commercialization.

To cope with these triggers, consider trying some of the following actions:
  • plan daily “me” time to focus on your own needs
  • practice saying "no" to avoid over-committing yourself
  • donate to a charity instead of buying commercial gifts
  • prepare a budget for reasonable spending
  • ask for help when you need it
  • set time limits for various tasks or events to prevent rushing from place to place
Deep breathing can also be a helpful tool to calm yourself when you feel frustrated or anxious.

Don’t wait for a crisis or suffer in silence. There are multiple ways to address depression and people do get better. Regardless of whether you or a loved one suffer from major (clinical) or seasonal depression, it’s important to speak with your primary care physician about the symptoms. He or she will be able to assess your needs, determine whether a chronic condition is present and discuss possible treatment options.

GBMC has 10 primary care practices throughout the Baltimore area. If you do not have a primary care physician, visit to find one who is right for you. Or, click here to complete an appointment request form.

Survivorship Begins with Diagnosis

Joyce Myrick was diagnosed with fallopian tube cancer in the summer of 2014, and her journey to recovery had a difficult beginning. She was referred to a local hospital for chemotherapy, but her calls to schedule appointments went unanswered. “I asked my daughter, who’s a lawyer, to get involved so my treatment could begin,” she says. Losing her hair took an emotional toll also, prompting her daughter to suggest attending the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good Feel Better” lecture series. The series, which is held at GBMC, offers support and teaches cancer patients and their families about beauty techniques.

“At the lecture, I was listening to another attendee talk about her positive experiences in GBMC’s Infusion Center and was just baffled,” Mrs. Myrick says. “I thought that all cancer treatments were the same, that everyone had a hard time feeling cared for or getting the information they needed.” After the lecture, Mrs. Myrick spoke to Paul Celano, MD, a GBMC oncologist, about her treatment and immediately transitioned to GBMC. “It was an excellent experience from start to finish.”

Now cancer-free, one of Mrs. Myrick’s favorite aspects of care at GBMC is the Survivorship Program, which is designed to help cancer patients and their families navigate the changes and challenges that come with a diagnosis of and treatment for cancer. “The current accepted definition of survivorship is the process of living with, through and beyond cancer,” says Felicity Kirby, Oncology Nurse Coordinator for Oncology Support Services at GBMC. “Cancer survivorship begins at diagnosis and includes people who continue to have treatment to either reduce risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease. It also includes their families.”

According to the American Cancer Society, the number of people with a history of cancer in the United States has increased dramatically, from 3 million in 1971 to about 13.7 million in 2014. GBMC works to aid that population by providing supportive services such as rehabilitation, nutrition, counseling, palliation of symptoms and care coordination, among others. By using a Resource Guide provided at diagnosis, patients can organize all of the information they receive throughout their care, including education materials, treatments, medications, pain management, test result logs and support resource listings. Patients who complete treatment and transition to follow-up care are eligible to meet with Ms. Kirby to receive a customized treatment summary and care plan. Surveillance, screening, prevention of recurrence and new cancers, follow-up guidelines, risk reducing strategies, how recovery is going and more are reviewed during this visit.

“During my first appointment at GBMC, everything was handled for me,” Mrs. Myrick says. “I kept the packet they gave me when I started my treatment, and still use it to store my test results and information. Everyone is so kind and always there to answer my questions. The funny thing is that I rarely have problems because Felicity anticipates my needs before a problem can come up.

For more information on the Survivorship Program at GBMC, visit or call 443-849-2961.