Run for Everyone’s Buns

1 in 20 has colon cancerThink about a group of 20 adults. It could include friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, male, female. Colon cancer will pick one of them. What’s scary is that only 1/3 of the group has had their screening colonoscopy.

What’s scarier is that there are people in our community who can’t afford a screening colonoscopy, the best test for screening and detecting colon cancer. Some may be uninsured, or underinsured and unable to cover the cost of the screening.

But, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Idea = Action
As a nurse practitioner in Altru’s Gastroenterology Clinic, and an avid runner, I had an idea to promote awareness of colon cancer and help raise funds for screening.

»  Why not raise awareness while engaging in a healthy activity?
»  Why not invite others to rally in the cause?
»  Why not create a light-hearted atmosphere to bring awareness to colon cancer screenings?
»  Why not raise money for colon cancer screenings?
»  Why not?

And thus, Run for Your Buns was born.

Run for Your Buns

Register Now
On June 21, 2014, the inaugural Run for Your Buns 5K Run/Walk benefitting colon cancer will take place in Grand Forks. The race will begin and end in Lincoln Park, with the course following the Greater Grand Forks Greenway. All proceeds from the race will be presented to Altru Health Foundation to help patients afford the cost of screening colonoscopy. 

Individuals and teams are encouraged to participate in this healthy Saturday morning activity. Individual time and team awards will be awarded to top finishers.  Registration information is available at 

Kami MackiKamrin Macki is a wife, mother, friend, gastroenterology nurse practitioner, artist, avid runner, triathlete and amateur gourmet gluten-free chef.

This One Thing Could Save Your Life

Throughout March, we’ve been talking about preventing colon cancer. Shari, a registered nurse at Altru’s Endoscopy Center, shared her personal story with colon cancer. Through our eye-catching undies campaign, we’ve shared that 1 in 20 has colon cancer. We even showcased an inflatable, walk-through colon at the Healthy Living Expo.

There’s no ifs, ands or “butts” about it: a screening colonoscopy is the best line of defense. Scroll on to learn how this one thing could truly save your life.

For more information or to schedule a screening colonoscopy, visit

Love Your Veggies

Love Your VeggiesSlice them, dice them, roast them, grill them. Pick your color, shape and size. Pack a solid punch of vitamins and nutrients into each serving.

Veggies really are worth celebrating.

So why do we still struggle with eating our veggies? During National Nutrition Month, I’d like to show some love for one of the most nutritious food groups. Here are a few tips and flavorful recipes to help you learn to love your veggies.

1. Buy fresh vegetables that are in season. They tend to cost less and are likely to be at their peak flavor.

2. Stock up on frozen vegetables for quick and easy microwave cooking. Veggies can keep in the freezer up to a year.

3. Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare. Pick up pre-washed bags of greens and add baby carrots or grape tomatoes for a salad in minutes.

4. Buy snack packs of veggies, such as baby carrots or celery sticks, for a healthy on-the-go alternative.

5. Use your microwave. White or sweet potatoes can be baked in a fraction of the time it takes in the oven. Learn how to bake a potato in the microwave.

6. Picky eaters? Hide their veggies. Adding spinach to a smoothie or pureed carrots and celery to meatloaf ups veggie intake without changing flavor. 

7. Eat the rainbow. Different colors contain different nutrients; add a variety to your diet to take advantage of all the perks.

8. Beware of sauces in pre-packaged veggies, which can add a lot of calories, saturated fat and sodium. Choose wisely, using the Nutrition Facts label to compare calories and Percent of Daily Value for saturated fat and sodium.

9. Prepare fresh foods to lower sodium intake. Most sodium comes from packaged or processed foods.

10. When buying canned, choose reduced sodium options. Add a dash of salt yourself; it will likely be a lot less than the amount in the regular can. 

Veggie Lovin’ Recipes
Cook up some veggie love for your family or friends with these flavorful, nutrient-loaded soup and sandwich recipes.

  • Mushroom & Beef Sloppy Joes
    Blend chopped, sautéed mushrooms with lean ground beef to sneak in an extra serving of vegetables.
  • Stuffed Pepper Soup
    Let the crockpot work its magic. Slow cooking brings out the sweet and spicy pepper flavors of this dish.
  • Minestrone Soup
    Warm up with this hearty, savory soup. Each cup offers two servings of veggies.

Are you a veggie lover or hater? How do you creatively add veggies to your diet? Leave your tip in the comments. 

Westereng, BeckyBecky Westereng is a registered dietitian at Altru Health System. She is a diabetes educator and certified in sports nutrition. Becky is especially interested in helping people improve their eating and exercise habits by encouraging small steps and a positive attitude. She enjoys spending time with her husband and watching her three children perform music and play sports, while finding time to stay active herself.

Holly’s Day with an Altru Dietitian

This guest blog post was written by Holly Benjamin, who recently won a Day with a Dietitian through our January #HealthyChoices Challenge on Facebook. 

As an Altru employee, I have so many opportunities to learn how to live healthier. Healthy Choices is another easy way to do just that.

Family PhotoSince I can remember I’ve battled weight. For the last year and a half, I have decided to commit to this battle. This is not just a weight battle; it’s a healthy lifestyle battle. I hope to not only change my ways, but introduce healthy changes to my family.

With the posts and contests on Healthy Choices, I am always engaged. Even better, I won this free learning experience. How great is that?!

What’s a Day with a Dietitian?
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect when I was told I had won a Day with a Dietitian.

Will she just talk to me?
Evaluate my health and food choices?
Teach me new ways to eat?
What will happen?

Whatever it was, I knew it would be good. And I was right. Jeanmarie taught me plenty.

Start shopping
We met at Hugo’s, and she asked my about my family’s eating habits. I was pleased to report that we have made some healthy changes already and that my kids eat a variety of foods.

Day with a Dietitian | Shopping Hugo's

Realizing that we do a lot of quick meals, Jeanmarie gave me tips to make those meals healthier. As we toured through the grocery store, she stopped at the different departments and explained what to look for in the ingredients, what is good, what is bad and how to use different foods.

Surprising finds
The most shocking thing she taught me was that cans (for canned foods) are lined in BPA and certain foods will leech the BPA into them. Why is BPA in cans? I guess that’s another reason to buy fresh or frozen.

Grocery Shopping

I was also surprised to find that I can buy organic foods for the same price as regular foods. Who would have thought? I just need to watch prices and look for sale items.

Healthy, home-cooked lunch
Next up was a stop at my house to cook Tiki Masala with Cauliflower. Jeanmarie and I worked together to make this delicious lunch.

Holly Cooking

I had never cooked with coconut oil or fresh ginger, so I was given tips and uses for these. As these foods cooked, I was amazed. It smelled so good! I have cooked and baked plenty over the years, and nothing has ever smelled that good. The combination of spices and ingredients caught me. And then the taste! Delicious. My husband also enjoyed the lunch.

Tiki Masala with Cauliflower

Click here for the complete recipe for Tiki Masala with Cauliflower. 

Sweet taste of success
My day was a success. I got useful tips and learned about organic foods. I am making changes in our diet and being more mindful when buying foods.

I am also looking forward to trying tofu in the future. I learned that if you cook it right, it can even be a delicious dessert. Who doesn’t love a good dessert?

Learn more about Altru’s Nutrition Therapy services, including grocery store tours. 

Holly Profile

Feeling inspired? Get your kitchen in shape. Read Jeanmarie’s tips on Five Foods to Swap in Your Fridge.

Holly Benjamin is a nurse in Altru’s Pediatric Clinic. She and her husband Garritt have three kids and live in East Grand Forks. In her free time, Holly enjoys running, being a taxi for her children and watching gymnastics and hockey.

New Year, New Program, New You

Red Sweater

Where do you weigh in on your weight management journey?

Do you have a balance between nutrition and exercise? Have you tried to lose a few pounds, or quite a few pounds, and struggled? Has your primary care physician mentioned things like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease if you don’t better manage your weight?

Were those difficult questions to answer?


New Program
Beginning January 2014, there’s a new program to help. Altru’s Weight Management Program offers solutions for weight loss, weight management and lifestyle change at any level. The team of providers, dietitians and health & wellness specialists offer comprehensive tracks, customized to meet the needs of each participant. Whatever your goal, our team of experts can help you achieve it.

Wellness & Weight Management
The ultimate goal is to stay well and maintain a healthy weight. The Wellness & Weight Management track offers tools, support and education to help you stay successful long term.

Program includes:
»     Initial Consultation and Health & Wellness Assessment
»     Fitness & Nutrition Coaching
»     Nutrition & Fitness Tracking
»     Gym Membership

Couple cookingMedical Weight Loss & Lifestyle Change
The Medical Weight Loss & Lifestyle Change track offers options for those needing medical supervision to lose weight and make a lifestyle change. A team of medical professionals will take time to understand your needs and work with you until you are on the right track to success.

Program includes:
»     Initial Consultation
»     Weight Management Clinic
»     Fitness & Nutrition Coaching
»     Medical Monitoring
»     Customized Diet Plan
»     Gym Membership
»     Nutrition & Fitness Tracking

Weight Loss Surgery
Your weight management team may recommend weight loss surgery as the best option to reach your goals. Experienced medical professionals will encourage and support you throughout this journey.

Program includes:
»     Initial Consultation and Health & Medical Assessments
»     LAP-BAND Gastric Banding
»     Weight Loss Surgery Support Group
»     Behavior Change
»     Nutrition Support

Pediatric Weight Management
It’s important for children to understand what it means to be healthy. Altru offers programs that will help children and their families make healthy choices.

Program options:
»     Healthy ‘N Fit
»     One-on-One Coaching

We’ve resolved to help you live healthy in 2014. Now it’s your turn. Join us on Facebook at or follow along on Twitter @AltruHealth for weekly challenges with healthy prizes, tips from our experts and continued motivation to get healthy in 2014.

For more information about Wellness & Weight Management or Pediatric Weight Management tracks, contact the Sanny and Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention and Genetics at 701.732.7620 or 

To learn about the Medical Weight Loss & Lifestyle Change or Weight Loss Surgery, contact Janet Schreier, Altru’s Weight Management Coordinator, at 701.780.6729 or

8 Tips to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

Fruit Christmas TreeTreats, sweets, high calorie foods… oh my. They’re everywhere during the holidays. The good news? With smart holiday menu planning, you can still enjoy a few treats, guilt-free. Here are 8 tips to help you stay on track this holiday season.

1. Stick to your calorie budget by tracking your food intake. There are hundreds of apps and online diet tracking tools available on your home computer, tablet or smartphone. Some popular apps reviewed by the American Dietetic Association include myfitnesspal or Use technology to your advantage. If you are not sure where to begin, schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian at the Sanny and Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention and Genetics for a personalized plan using our online tracking program.

2. Include fruits and vegetables at each meal and snack. Try some new recipes, such as a mixed green salad with pomegranate seeds and warm vinaigrette dressing (get the recipe). Other festive-colored fruits and vegetables in season now include: cranberries, apples, pears, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. If you are going to a friend or family member’s house, offer to bring a fruit or vegetable dish.

3. Rework traditional recipes to include less fat and sugar. Instead of traditional green bean casserole, try Fresh Green Bean Casserole. Other smart substitutions include using nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream in dips, fruit purees instead of oils in baked goods, and reduced fat chicken broth instead of drippings to make gravy.

4. Don’t skip meals leading up to a party. This often causes overeating. Eat at regular meal times to fuel your body and prevent extreme hunger. If the holiday spread includes a buffet, it helps to survey the food choices before you start dishing up. Fill at least half of your plate with fruits and vegetables. Eat slowly and savor the flavors. You may find that you are satisfied with less.

5. Control grazing. Refrigerate leftovers promptly after the meal to eliminate the temptation of constant grazing. This also prevents foodborne illness by keeping foods at a safe temperature.

6. Don’t drink your calories. If you decide to consume the eggnog or alcohol, alternate with water to save calories. Lower calorie alternatives may be sparkling water with Crystal Light or flavored coffee. If you are out late shopping for last-minute gifts and looking for a caffeine pick-me-up, choose specialty coffee drinks made with fat free milk and sugar free flavoring to cut calories.

7. Be choosy about your treats instead of trying to avoid them completely. Make a plan to fit in a few treats during the holidays so you can enjoy them guilt-free. Plan to have other healthy foods available to provide nutrition when hunger strikes.

8. Move! So many times holiday events focus on the food and not the people. Plan an activity to involve the family, from ice skating to sledding to crafts. Burn a few calories instead of consuming more.

For other recipes, make plans to attend the Healthy Holiday Cooking Demonstration on Monday, December 9 at 5:30 p.m.  For more details, contact the Sanny and Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention and Genetics at 701.732.7620.

For more eating tips throughout the year, read 13 Tips for Smarter Eating.

JenniferHaugenJennifer Haugen has over 10 years of experience as a registered and licensed dietitian in the Grand Forks area with four years in the health and wellness field. She obtained the Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential in July 2011 and also has completed training in adult weight management. She lives in Thompson with her husband ( Zac), son (Henry) and new baby (Evelyn). Jennifer enjoys many outdoor activities such as ice skating, biking, running, fishing and hunting and spending time with her family.

5 Foods to Swap in Your Fridge

FridgeThere can be some scary things hidden in the nooks of your refrigerator. But, have you ever considered some of the items that are front and center may also be hard on your health? Here is a list of five common foods in your fridge that aren’t so healthy.

1. Pop and juice drinks. SunnyD and Sprite in the same category? Yes. Both have almost exactly the same amount of added sugar. A 12 oz serving contains five teaspoons of sugar. Swap these drinks out with naturally flavored carbonated water, unsweetened iced tea or lemon water.

2. Flavored or “fruit on the bottom” yogurts. Yogurt is a great source of low fat protein. However, flavored yogurts, even ones with “fruit on the bottom,” have loads of added sugar. Opt for non-fat plain yogurt and add the fruit yourself.

3. Processed meat (deli meat, bacon, hot dogs, sausage). What do all of these have in common? Sodium, fat and preservatives. To keep the convenience of having prepared meat in your fridge, throw a few chicken breasts in the crock-pot on Sunday, shred them and use as you would deli meat.

4. Processed cheese (Velveeta, American, Cheese Whiz). At this point, it can’t really be considered cheese anymore. All cheese should be consumed as a treat rather than a staple, but definitely steer clear of these “cheeses.” They are filled with unhealthy fats, sodium and preservatives. Choose part-skim mozzarella or regular cheddar cheese. Remember to consume all cheese in moderation.

5. Margarine. Margarine first became popular because of butter shortages during WWII. Today, with all of our choices, consumption of margarine should be limited. Choose heart healthy oils such as olive or canola oil instead.

In celebration of National Clean Out Your Fridge Day on November 15, do yourself a favor and swap these foods for the healthier options. Making healthy, small lifestyle changes will move you one step closer to a happier, healthier you.

What’s one food item you plan to get rid of? Share it here.

JeanmarieJeanmarie Dahl is a registered dietitian at Altru Health System. She helps patients find their unique healthy eating style to manage or prevent disease. Jeanmarie is especially interested in disease prevention and weight management through nutrition and lifestyle. In her free time, she enjoys travel, cooking and anything to get her moving.

Movember: 12 Healthy Tips for Men

Men, it’s time to focus on you during the month of November, otherwise known as Movember.


Mo History
Born in 1999, Movember was the brainchild of a group of young men from South Australia. Throughout November, they sprouted mustaches for charity. The idea took off, and in 2004, dollars were raised for prostate cancer and depression in men. In 2012, 1.1 million people participated in Movember, raising over $95 million.

Today, as a global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. Through the power of the Mo (short for moustache), funds and awareness are raised to combat prostate and testicular cancer and mental health challenges.

Knowledge is Power
Here are 12 healthy tips from Altru Cancer Center to help you enjoy a happy and healthy life.

1. Know your numbers. No matter your age, one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy is to know and track your key health numbers. These include BMI/weight, blood pressure, LDL and HDL cholesterol, waist line and blood sugar.

2. Brush up on family history. Family history is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health, affecting your risk for certain cancers, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Talk to your family and create your family health portrait at the Center for Prevention and Genetics.

3. Move. If you are not already doing some form of exercise, start small and work up to 20-30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If you are looking to lose weight, aim for 60 minutes. 

4. Don’t smoke. We all know that smoking is bad for us. If you still smoke, try to stop. ND quits provides free cessation materials and is free to all North Dakotans. 

5. Take action early. If you are experiencing a health issue, take action right away. Find a provider and make an appointment. Go in for annual checkups and talk to your provider about preventive care. 

6. Sleep well. Quality of sleep can determine how much you eat, metabolism speed, stress-coping abilities and your immune system. Get into a regular sleeping pattern.

7. Manage your stress. Managing your stress is essential to your health. Take time for yourself every day. Exercise is a great stress reliever. 

8. Eat a healthy diet. Fuel up on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. Eat foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Drink water instead of pop or sports drinks. Moderation is key. 

9. Maintain a healthy weight. Calculate your BMI and measure your waistline. Men with a waistline greater than 37 inches are at an increased risk for chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.  

10. Stay mentally healthy. We all go through brief spells of feeling down, which is normal. If it persists for weeks or months, it is likely depression. Depression is a real illness with real symptoms. It is not a sign of weakness nor something you can “snap out of “ by “pulling yourself together.” With treatment and support, depression can be eliminated and managed. 

11. Drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol can be part of a healthy, balanced diet, but only if consumed in moderation. That means two drinks a day for men. Abstaining is encouraged for those with a family history of alcohol abuse. 

12. Wear sunscreen. Even in our climate, the sun does damage. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in both men and women in the U.S. Prevent it with sunscreen of 15+ SPF, even in winter months. If you are concerned about skin changes, see a dermatologist.

Keep these simple tips in mind during Movember and throughout life to stay healthy and prevent future disease.

Ready to Grow a Mo?
Shine a light on men’s health during November by growing a moustache for 30 days. Here’s how:

  • Register at Search “Team Grand Morks.”
  • Start the month with a clean shave on October 31.
  • Other facial hair may accompany your ‘stache, but shall not join into a beard.
  • Post pictures of your ‘stache to Healthy Choices Facebook page.
  • Encourage those who ask you about your ‘stache to donate to your cause by visiting the Team Grand Morks page.
  • Prompt conversations about men’s health wherever you (and your Mo) go.

Do you plan to participate in Movember 2013, or have you participated in previous years? Why? Share your story.

LeAnneLeAnne Kilzer is the oncology resource nurse with Altru Cancer Center. In her role she coordinates screening and awareness events in the community, manages patient educational materials, educates staff on new chemotherapies and follows up with screenings. During her free time, LeAnne enjoys crafting and playing with her two little girls, ages 6 and almost 4 (Emily and Kathryn).

7 Steps to Prevent the Flu

7 stepsInfluenza is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza viruses. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or even death.

Here are seven smart, simple steps you can take to lessen your chance of getting the flu.

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 

2. If you or a family member gets sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone, except to get medical care. When getting medical care, be sure to use the masks available at the clinics or emergency room to prevent spreading germs.

3. Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

4. Wash your hands often with soap and water.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

6. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated. These include light switches, appliance handles, door knobs, remote controls and more. Wash dishes, such as cups and water bottles, well before reusing. Don’t share utensils.


7. Get vaccinated with the flu vaccine. Flu shot clinics are currently being offered at Altru and throughout the region. See the full listing at  And, the sooner, the better. It can take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to take full effect.

People infected with the flu may infect others beginning one day before symptoms and five to seven days after being sick.

Everyday preventive action can slow the spread of germs that can cause many different illnesses, and may offer some protection against the flu.

Flu Symptoms
Influenza symptoms can range from mild to severe. The flu is different than a cold. Symptoms of the flu usually come on suddenly. People with the flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills (Not everyone with flu will have a fever.)
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Flu Complications
Most who get influenza will recover in a few days to less than two weeks. However, some will develop complications, some of which can be life-threatening.

Pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus and ear infections are examples of complications from flu. The flu can make chronic health problems worse. For example, people with asthma may experience asthma attacks when they have the flu, and people with congestive heart failure may experience worsening of this condition.

For more information, learn key facts about the seasonal flu vaccine and what to do if you get sick.

Guest blogger Sandy Swanson, RN has served Altru Hospital and Altru Main Clinic since 1981. She and her husband, Mike, have one son, David. 

Supporting the Fighters, Admiring the Survivors

“I have breast cancer.”

Do you know someone who has said those words? Have you had to say those words?

Of all the diagnoses out there, breast cancer seems to be the one that touches most. It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, and the second leading cause of female mortality. Each year, over 220,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 will die.

The numbers are staggering. Luckily, significant research is being done to find a cure. Altru Cancer Center has participated in clinical trials since 1977, when it was one of the founding members of the North Central Cancer Treatment Group. Over 60 trials have been conducted at Altru Cancer Center, with 12 active breast cancer studies currently underway.

While it seems there’s no rhyme or reason as to who breast cancer chooses next, there are things you can do to fight the odds.

check screen prevent

The best protection is early detection. Beginning at age 20, women should have a clinical breast exam every two to three years. A clinical breast exam should be performed by a health care provider well trained in the technique.

Women with a family history of breast cancer should have an individualized risk assessment. These women may need earlier screening mammograms or increased surveillance with screening breast MRIs, depending on their risk assessment.

Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform monthly breast self-exams.

The American Cancer Society, The American College of Radiology, The American Medical Association, The American College of Surgeons, The National Comprehensive Cancer Network and The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists all recommend annual screening mammograms starting at age 40. When you begin having screening mammograms, clinical breast exams complement these screenings.

One aspect of prevention is breast self-awareness. Know your risks and what is normal for your body. Talk to your health care provider if you notice changes in your breasts or overall health.

A healthy lifestyle may help lower breast cancer risk.

» Maintain a healthy weight.
» Exercise regularly. (The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or a combination of these.)
» Avoid or limit alcohol intake.
» Choose a diet rich in vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy products.

subhead - We're here to help.2






One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

Altru’s Breast Center is here to help. A team of professionals will review abnormal findings from your mammogram or breast ultrasound. They will discuss further evaluation options and provide patients and their families with educational and professional support based on the diagnosis and treatment plan.

Check. Screen. Prevent. Those three simple steps are your best defense against breast cancer.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Join Altru’s Breast Center, Altru Cancer Center and our entire community in the fight against cancer.

Who do you wear pink for? Honor that person in the comments below. 

Cooley, MichelleMichelle Cooley, NP-C, CBCN, is a certified breast care nurse practitioner through the Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation and works at Altru’s Breast Center. Her goal is to provide increased education and awareness about breast health to decrease anxiety of the unknown. In her free time, Michelle enjoys her family, reading, scrapbooking and spending time outdoors. She also enjoys learning about other cultures and hosting international students.