Healthy Tips – January/February 2020


Topics This Issue:

Reshape your habits for better health!

How we choose to eat, drink and unwind plays a major role in our health over time. Entering the new year, we asked several PacMed providers to offer insight into what’s trending—and what should be.

Get Moving
“An hour of activity outside of work per day complements the other factors of good health: diet, sleep and stress management. It doesn’t need to be strenuous—walking is an excellent option. Find an activity buddy. Studies show even an online accountability partner helps the behavior stick.” Charles Falzon, MD, MBA, Family Medicine doctor at Northgate

A Mediterranean Boost
“A ‘Mediterranean’ diet of mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds and olive oil lessens the risk for stroke. It also may link to longevity, weight loss and a lower risk for cardiovascular and fatty liver diseases. The diet allows for low-to-moderate consumption of wine, fish, poultry and dairy (but very little red meat).” Rex G. Cheng, MD, Gastroenterology and Hepatology specialist at Canyon Park and First Hill

“Dry January”
“Many people start the new year by abstaining from alcohol for a month. Why is this a good thing? People can develop a tolerance with regular drinking. Taking a break helps reset and gives your liver a chance to repair itself.” Dimple Sahay, MD, Family Medicine doctor at Renton

Whole30: Try It (Not a Diet)
“If you decide to get on the Whole30 bandwagon, remember it’s a 30-day elimination diet—not a long-term strategy for health or losing weight. There may be success stories, but there’s no scientific evidence backing Whole30 yet. Even if you find some foods to eliminate, you’ll need to follow a proven healthy eating plan—like the Mediterranean diet—for lasting health.” —Christy Goff, MS, RDN, CD, and Christine Stirparo, RDN, CDE, CD—dietitians serving PacMed clinics, plus local employers through the Living Well Alliance™

Be a Quitter
“Smokers who are ready to quit can be helped by individual or group therapy, as well as websites or phone apps. Smoking is tied to cardiovascular and coronary diseases, lung diseases such as asthma and COPD, bronchiectasis and lung cancer.” Lu Gao, MD, PhD, Internal Medicine doctor at Renton

Is Vaping a Healthy Option?
“Although e-cigarettes are relatively new, there are a number of case reports connecting vaping to lung diseases like ‘popcorn lung’—named for workers in the popcorn-making industry exposed to the compounds used to color and flavor the popcorn. The solutions that go into vaping solutions are fairly unregulated, and inhaling any extraneous chemicals is fraught with health dangers.” Hina Sahi, MD, Pulmonologist at Beacon Hill, First Hill and Renton


Back to Top

Rekindle love at any age

Love is an important factor for our emotional well-being. While some can fill that need through friends, pets, community or other outlets, many of us look to intimate relationships for love.

Below are some scenarios you might relate to—looking for new love, adding spark to a long-term relationship or mending a family bond. Each is followed by advice from PacMed Behavioral Medicine specialist Rebecca Wolff, LMHC.

Keep in mind, relationships are complex, and there is no one-size-fits-all advice for everyone. We encourage seeking additional support if needed.

Keep the fire burning

Tia and David have been married for 15 years. They have a healthy marriage, except their whirlwind romance early on has cooled significantly in recent years. Privately they wonder, “Will we ever have passion again?”

“With any relationship, the amount of time you devote to it is what you’re going to get out of it. Find ways to show love for your partner in the way they experience love. We often show love in the way that is most meaningful to us, even though our partner may feel loved in a totally different way. Have a conversation to discover what feels meaningful to each other and incorporate those ways of showing love into your everyday lives. Also, look for activities you enjoy doing together. Life gets busy, so schedule shared activities on a regular basis to help maintain a strong connection. Finally, don’t let technology supersede your relationship. We often spend too much time watching TV or on our phones, so our partner may feel a disconnect or unvalued.”

Find a new flame

Anita and Jim met in college, married and had three wonderful children. Tragically, Anita was left to raise them alone when Jim passed away unexpectedly. Two years have passed, and Anita is open to exploring relationships again—but she’s not sure where to begin.

“Online dating is a popular go-to for dating and can work for many people; however, it can be helpful sometimes to ground dating in a process of self-discovery as well. Focus on finding new activities you might enjoy—join a new group or get out of your comfort zone a bit. Maybe take that trip you’ve always dreamed of. Put yourself in a situation where your senses are awakened, and you’ll be more receptive to meeting someone along the path.”

Repair a scorched relationship

Anthony had a close relationship with his daughter until the divorce. Despite shared custody, he felt his daughter favored his ex-wife. Then, a series of minor disagreements with his daughter led to her cutting off contact with him. Now it’s been a few years since they spoke.

“Repairing a family relationship is a big challenge. In those situations, each party genuinely feels hurt. As the adult, you need to be willing to hear a tough conversation and let your guard down to really focus on what the other person is saying. It requires self-reflection. Ask yourself honestly, ‘What have I contributed to this situation?’

“Whether the breakdown is with a child, a parent or a sibling, it’s important to accept each other for who you are. Not for who you always hoped they would be, but for who they actually are. This goes for yourself as well. Learn to begin from a place of self-compassion, to allow yourself to fail and try again. When you realize no one is always perfect, it’s easier to extend kindness and grace to those you care about the most.”

You can see Rebecca, or one of our 20 other Behavioral Medicine providers, if you have a PacMed primary care doctor.


  • Authors John and Julie Gottman: 10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage; Eight Dates
  • Airplane mode for your phone during dinner or date night
  • Meetup groups:
  • Individual/couples/family counseling

Back to Top

Reconnect and help depression with One More Question

If you’ve ever been depressed, you know how easy it can be to hide it. People struggling with mental health can walk through the world with a smile and a “Fine,” hiding a sometimes-serious need for help.

PacMed created the #OneMoreQuestion campaign in 2019 after one of our primary care providers followed her intuition and gave a teenage patient a depression screening at the end of the family’s doctor visit. When asked, the young man revealed he had planned to end his life that night. Because of one more question, we were able to connect the teen and family to resources and support.

The example of this doctor is something we can all emulate in our daily lives— to be more present when checking in with friends, acquaintances or even strangers.

We all “need to be seen and heard in an honest way,” said Dr. Lisa Ivanjack, PacMed co-chief of primary care, in an interview last year with Seattleite. “We may not have all of the answers or be able to solve someone else’s problems, but we can listen. This simple act can drastically change someone’s outcome or perspective during a hard time in their life.”

Mental health issues will affect one in five Americans during their lifetimes. Chances are someone you know is affected right now. Not sure what to ask? Here are some ideas:

I really want to know: how are you feeling today?

You don’t seem like yourself. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?

Are you feeling down? Would you like to talk?

“Big or small, these acts can bring a sense of caring into someone’s darkest times. One more question can have a profound, positive effect on which path someone takes when struggling,” said Dr. Ivanjack. By talking openly about mental health, we help break down the stigma around it.

Your primary care doctor can help identify resources and support systems. They also can refer you to a licensed mental health provider. In most PacMed clinics, we have behavioral medicine therapists right down the hall from your primary care doctor.

When things get busy this year, remember to slow down and find an opportunity to ask one more question. You never know how healing that simple act might be.


Back to Top


Heart Healthy

It’s always a good time to take care of your heart, and February is no exception. In fact, February is National Heart Month! Though genetics do play a role in heart health, daily habits and choices can make a difference in your health.

This month give your heart a little extra love to start the year off strong. Try these three big-hitting tips to get started!

  • Stress less. In today’s fast-paced world, it can be hard to find peace. Overworking and under sleeping are two common stressors that many Americans endure. While stress in short bursts can be positive, chronic, daily stress is harmful to your cardiovascular health.
  • Plant power. While going full vegetarian is not necessary, research shows the benefits to heart health of adding more plant foods into our diets. Plants contain healthy, unsaturated fats, loads of fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals. Furthermore, the potassium content in plant foods can help to reduce blood pressure because potassium lessens the effects of sodium. Aim for foods like bananas, sweet potatoes, avocados, cantaloupe, dark leafy greens, potatoes and prunes.
  • Cut the salt and add some spice. Overdoing it with salt can increase blood pressure. Some common places for increased sodium are from restaurants, packaged foods, frozen meals and sauces. In the grocery store, compare products! A quick glance at Sodium in the nutrition label is easy. Aim for a percent daily value that’s below 30% per serving! Also, to increase flavor without salt, try reaching for fresh, dried or ground herbs and spices instead of the saltshaker.

If you have concerns about your heart health, the PacMed Cardiology department is here to help. To make an appointment, use our online appointment tool or call 206.505.1300.

Fast, easy, healthy Super Bowl snacks!

Having a Super Bowl party on February 2? Great! Ready for all those greasy chips, rich dips, salty meats and too-sweet nibbles? Not so much?! We can help.

No need to break all your 2020 resolutions in one afternoon. Try these enticing, easy recipes for a healthy, victorious party scene.

Pork Satay from Taste of Home.
Thin, skewered slices of pork in a lightly peanut–Thai seasoning.

Healthy Guacamole with Peas from Eating Bird Food.
Secret ingredient? Frozen peas. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Skins from Pinch of Yum.
You know these are going to taste good, even before you see the sweet potatoes, spinach, and chickpeas in the recipe!

Garlic Bean Dip from Taste of Home.
Mm, garlic. What more do we need to say? Maybe, “sour-cream-free”?

Light Crock Pot Buffalo Turkey Meatballs from The Creative Bite.
Crockpot will travel! At least these delectable meatballs will.

Back to Top

Dry January Kombucha Mocktail*

See this recipe demonstrated by an LWA expert!

Kombucha is a fermented,* lightly effervescent tea-based beverage that is relatively low in calories and sugar. It contains live and active cultures (similar to yogurt) that help strengthen your gut microbiome. Kombucha is refreshing, bubbly and subtly sweet, especially if the brewer combines it with fruit juice.

Serves 4. Serving size 1 cup. Prep time 15 minutes; cook time 15 minutes.


  • One 16-oz bottle passion-berry kombucha (such as Synergy GT)
  • Two 12-oz cans mango-flavored seltzer water (such as LaCroix)
  • 10 mint leaves, lightly chopped
  • 1 lime
  • Ice (optional)


Lightly muddle chopped mint by firmly pressing against it with the back of a large spoon. To four glasses, add mint and lime slice. Top with 4 ounces kombucha and 6 ounces of seltzer water. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information per serving (one-fourth of recipe):

Calories: 20 Total Fat: 0g Sodium: 6mg Total Carbohydrate: 7g Fiber: 0g Sugars: 5g Protein: 0g Potassium: 17mg

Recipe adapted from @get.inspired.everyday by Kari.

*Commercially sold kombucha may have up to 0.5% alcohol.

Back to Top

LWA Spotlight: Looking forward in 2020

We couldn’t have done it without you! 2019 was another great year for the Living Well Alliance. We started a new “Yoga at Work” wellness program, taught over 100 nutrition and wellness classes in 57 companies and hosted tables at 25 health fairs.

Our lead dietitian, Christy Goff, was also highlighted in the media! A quick sample: she performed a cooking demo on King5, was a guest speaker on two podcasts (WARM 106.9 and DASH radio) and was interviewed for articles at The Seattle Times and What’s Up NW.

Stay tuned for another busy 2020 year! We will host monthly webinars that any company can join, as well as continue offering our popular “Yoga at Work” classes. Our new nutrition classes include “Food and Mood” and “Build Up Your Bones.” Visit us online to learn more about Living Well Alliance classes, webinars, screenings and other services.

Back to Top

PacMed Donates Specialty Care to Our Neighbors

While programs exist that help cover basic health needs, specialty care for more serious issues can be hard to access for people at financial risk.

Project Access Northwest aims to close that gap. PacMed is proud to be a long-time partner of Project Access Northwest. It’s one of many ways we support our community.

People who use Project Access Northwest are often un- or underinsured. It coordinates specialty care and provides other programs for people on the brink. Last year, PacMed physicians provided over 10% of all donated specialty care sought through Project Access Northwest.

We honor the people struggling to make ends meet and are grateful for our partners at Project Access Northwest and many other local nonprofits and programs. Together, we can help our neighbors find and maintain stability in these changing times.

To seek assistance or learn more, visit

Back to Top