How to Avoid Gaining Weight during the Holidays



The holidays are a time of celebration, and they are also a time of overindulgence. The average American will gain about one to two pounds during the holiday season. During this time of year, trying to achieve weight loss may be difficult. But, incorporating a few proactive strategies can help you stay in control. Read below for tips from Kristen Wargo – Roeder, OCH Health System Registered Dietitian:

  1. Be Accountable – Repeat positive thoughts and write down what you eat. The more you are accountable the more consistent you will be.
  1. Avoid Overeating – If you are attending a party or gather, eat small, lower-calorie meals during the day. Enjoy snacks that are low in calorie, but high fiber as this will curb hunger and help avoid overeating. If you are bringing a dish, make it healthy.
  1. Get Moving – Balance calories in with calories out. Physical activity can combat extra calories. After a meal, take a walk with friends and family.
  1. Serving Sizes – Using a smaller plate will encourage you to eat smaller portions. Start by filling your plate with vegetables and salads.
  1. Slow Down – It takes at least 10 minutes for your stomach to communicate to your brain that it is full. Wait at least 10 minutes before returning to the buffet table. Be mindful, eat slowly and enjoy every bite.
  1. Stay Hydrated – Always have water available and drink before you are thirsty. It is okay to have a glass of wine, but if you do, match equal number of glasses of water for every glass of alcohol or caffeinated beverage. You should drink eight glasses of water consistently throughout the day. Staying hydrated will help with digestion and is necessary for proper kidney, heart, and liver function. A glass of water can make you feel fuller at a party, helping you to eat less.

By making a few conscious and consistent changes to your lifestyle you can avoid weight gain this holiday season. Plan ahead and prepare to have success! By doing both, you can have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Kristen Wargo-Roeder is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist with the Ozark Community Hospital Health System’s Integrated Care Department. The OCH Health System Integrated Care department provides a higher level of quality care to help improve health, while lowering health care costs for patients. OCH Health System’s Integrated Care department offers healthy eating classes year round. For more information about OCH’s Integrated Care department, or any other services, visit




Grieving and the Holidays


As the holiday season approaches, people often reflect on their childhood experiences and family traditions. They become mindful of how things used to be. When someone experiences a loss of a loved one, celebrations, decorations and holiday traditions are often triggers that can make people more aware of how things used to be and how they have changed. OCH Health System’s, Brad Powers, PsyD, gives us some helpful hints on how to cope with grief during this holiday season.

  • Decorate to remember – Set up an area in your home. It can be the dinner table or the mantel; either way, make a special area to celebrate and remember the lost family member.
  • Talk about them – You can celebrate your loved one by recognizing or talking about them openly to each other.
  • Take time to remember them – Take a moment to remember your loved one. Individually, or as a group, be sure to take some time to remember and celebrate the memory of your loved one.
  • Write a letter – Write a letter to your loved one and seal it. When you feel it is an appropriate time, open it and read it out loud to yourself.
  • Light a candle – You can light a candle at the start of the holidays. This candle can be a physical representation and a way to honor and remember your loved one.
  • Special mementos – Hang a special ornament on your Christmas tree or bring out a special photo of them.
  • Be Mindful – Be mindful of the loss and experience the process of grieving.

Brad Powers, PsyD, is a clinical psychologist with the OCH Medical Offices Clinic in Springfield, Mo. With more than 28 years’ experience, Dr. Powers can see adult patients and specializes in mood, anxiety and PTSD disorders. Additionally he holds a certificate in Primary and Behavioral Health Care Psychology. He can provide psychological assessments related to a variety of referral needs. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Powers, contact the OCH Medical Offices Clinic at 417-875-4682.


Trick or Treat! Safe & Neat



Halloween brings a holiday filled with candy, costumes and chaos. It can also bring a variety of safety hazards for the unprepared. Before embarking on your evening of adventure, review these safety tips from OCH pediatrician Christopher Spinelli, DO, FAAP. With a little preparation, you can guarantee your family’s favorite spooky holiday goes off without a hitch:

With Halloween coming up, it’s important to remember a few safety tips for your children when trick-or-treating or consuming their treasure chest of candy post-trip:

1. Costume Fit & Safety: When choosing a costume, make sure the costume fits your child well enough so he or she can see out of any masks. It is also important to make sure the costume is short enough to prevent tripping and to double check that the item is non-flammable.  Please make sure that there is some sort of reflective or other visible device so your child can be seen by cars at nighttime.

2. Parental Supervision: Always have an adult with your child. As an added bonus, it is good to have some sort of communication device such as a cell phone or walkie-talkie so you can get help if needed.

3. Watch out for Allergies : If your child does have food allergies, inspect the candy prior to consumption in order to avoid any adverse reactions.  If your child has anaphylaxis to certain foods such as peanuts, it may be wise to carry an EpiPen with you during trick-or-treating.  If any candy packages are already opened,  discard prior to consumption.

4. Hidden Choking Hazards: Avoid hard candies, suckers, or other choking hazards for smaller children.  Remember, not all candy is created equal from a dental standpoint!  Gummies and caramel can stick between the teeth and cause increased risk for cavities.  Receiving and distributing packages of pretzels (or other less sugary items) is also better for teeth.

5. Overconsumption of Candy: Consuming too much candy can cause a stomach-ache.  Parents may consider regulating how much candy children to consume or freeze the rest for later use. Families may also donate to local groups which can distribute the candy to less fortunate children.  

The Halloween Industry Association does have some additional safety tips listed online, to view click the following link:

From all of us at Ozarks Community Hospital, we hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

This post was originally published on October 9, 2012; but as Dr. Spinelli offered such useful tips, we wanted to re-share as a reminder this year for all trick-or-treaters! 

Christopher Spinelli DO, FAAP, is a pediatrician at the OCH Northside Clinic in Springfield, MO. Dr. Spinelli is  a Major in the United States Air Force Reserve. After completing an undergraduate degree from Truman State University, Dr. Spinelli graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his Pediatric residency at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, MS.

Does my child have croup or a cold?


You wake up in the middle of the night, to the sound of your child “barking” from across the room. Is it serious, or is it just a cold? Before fall is in full swing, find the facts on croup from OCH’s Nishua Bendt, DO.

  • What is croup? Croup is typically a viral illness that affects children, especially those under 3 years of age. Croup is an inflammation of the upper airway (from the mouth to throat and the wind pipe), along with the voice box (larynx). It tends to be seasonal, affecting children more often in the fall and spring months.
  • Symptoms of croup? This inflammation causes irritation, runny nose, congestion and the famous “barky cough.” Children may have a wide range of symptoms from mild with no fever, a little runny nose/cough to severe that can cause problems with breathing and swallowing. Children may also be clingy as well as hoarse.
  • How is croup spread? Croup is spread by droplets such as coughing, sneezing and via dirty hands. Croup is not 100% avoidable; however, if you kids wash their hands often, cough into sleeve/elbow/or tissues and avoid others who are sick, they can significantly reduce possible exposure.
  • How long does croup last? Croup can last several days (5-10) and may reoccur through the winter season. Consult a healthcare provider any time you have questions, or if you child develops a high fever, decreases drinking or has fewer wet diapers than normal, if symptoms change to one specific area of concern, or if your child is experiencing problems with breathing that a home treatment isn’t helping.
  • Treatment for croup? Viruses aren’t fixed with antibiotics. Treating the congestion, fever and sore throat keeps kids calm and relaxed so they stress their vocal cords less. Symptoms tend to be more severe at night and children may seem much sicker than they really are. Going from a steamy shower to cool night air may improve symptoms and using a cool mist vaporizer may help also.


Nishua Bendt, DO is a board certified physician at the OCH Webster County Clinic in Rogersville, Mo. With more than 10 years’ experience in family medicine, Dr. Bendt can see patients of all ages from infants to adults. In addition to preventative care and well woman checks, Dr. Bendt can offer some procedures in office including examining skin conditions, freezing warts, suturing, and removing abscesses and ingrown toenails. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bendt, contact the OCH Webster County Clinic at 417-753-9404.

Torti-What?! The facts about Torticollis.


You or your pediatrician may have noticed your baby always looking one direction. You may have heard someone say your baby has a wry-neck. Find out more information on Torticollis from OCH Pediatric Physical Therapist, Lexi Sneed, before it becomes a major issue.

  •  What is Torticollis? Torticolis (Congential Muscular Torticollis) is a condition in which the infant keeps his or her head turned one direction and may also have a tilted head. Most often the child will be looking to the right and the head will be seen tilted to the left. The tilt is caused by a tightening and shortening of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, a thick muscle which runs from behind the ear down to between the collar bones.
  • How did my child get this? The cause of torticollis can be unknown, or it could be related to how the baby was positioned while in the uterus. For example the baby could have been in a breech position or “crowded” while developing. It could also be a result of the baby spending too much time on his or her back; whether in a crib, car seat, swing or on the floor. Tummy time is very important!
  • What is Plagiocephaly? Plagiocephaly (play-jee-oh-sef-uh-lee) is also called “flat head syndrome” and is often associated with torticollis. Because a baby’s skull is very soft an infant who wants to always look one direction causes increased pressure on the tissue and bones of that side of the head.


  • How can it be fixed? We can help!!! The Pediatric Physical Therapists here at OCH are available to assess your child’s needs. As Physical Therapists, we are trained to assist in stretching and moving your child’s body to correct the muscle differences. We can provide regular visits to help your child along with providing parents stretching exercises to do at home between therapy visits.


  • How can parents help? Seeking the help of an experienced Physical Therapist is without a doubt one of the best ways to help your child overcome torticollis. At OCH, we have experienced therapists who can treat this condition. A great way to help your child at home is to make sure they have plenty of tummy time.


Lexi Sneed is a pediatric physical therapist at the OCH Evergreen Clinic in Springfield, Mo. Lexi works with children and their families to assist each child in reaching their maximum potential to function independently. To schedule an appointment with Lexi or any of the physical therapists at the OCH Evergreen Clinic, call 417-823-2900, or the OCH Christian County Clinic at 417-724-3004.

Dealing with Fall Allergies!

Fall Allergy

Just when your nose finally adjusted to the sights and smells of summer, fall allergy season hits full force. Sure, the crisp autumn evenings offer a welcome relief from the summer heat; but for those suffering from allergies, fall is one of the worst times to be outside. Ozarks Community Hospital of Gravette nurse practitioner Anita Marie Kane shares a few tips on how to keep the sniffles, itching and irritation at bay.

Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, throat drainage…yes it is that time of year again! We are blessed to live in a region with beautiful foliage and dramatic seasonal changes. However, one of the drawbacks to this seasonal beauty is an abundance of budding, blooming, seeding, and blowing allergens.

The CDC reports over 17.6 million people were diagnosed with “hay fever” in the last year. According to Dr. Moses of Family Practice Notebook, hay fever affects 35 million people yearly, with 3 million missed work days.

What can you do to avoid those missed days? Talk to your provider about your options. Generally, try to avoid allergens you react to, use an air purifier in the home if indicated, avoid tobacco smoke, and use a mask if needed when mowing or working in dust-filled areas. Medications may offer some relief also. These include antihistamines (such as Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin and Zyrtec), intranasal corticosteroids (such as Flonase and Nasonex) and saline nasal spray. Other options in severe cases may include systemic steroids or even allergy testing with hyposensitization.

Just remember, the season will change (and there will be new allergens!). Stay healthy, drink plenty of water, exercise regularly and get adequate rest, a healthy you is your best defense.

Anita Marie Kane, APN is a long time resident of Gravette, AR, who started out as a nurse’s aide at the Gravette hospital shortly after moving to town. She obtained her MSN as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Pittsburg State University in Kansas. Kane specializes in Family Practice and Urgent Care.

This Labor Day Weekend, Don’t Forget to pack your “Common Sense.”

Summer is nearly over and families are headed out for a final weekend of fun before fall hits! Before you throw “caution to the wind” and rush head on into the holiday weekend, don’t forget the basics. Check out pediatrician Dr. Spinelli’s list of simple (yet essential) safety reminders for you and your family: 

Labor Day is coming up and families will be outside more as kids and parents alike are off for the long weekend.  Here are a few simple safety tips to help ensure your weekend is enjoyable and not spent in the emergency room!


TIP #1: Water safety.  Many families will choose to go to pools and/or lakes (or stay home to enjoy a pool in the back yard).  Vigilance is important, especially around small children who cannot swim. Always make sure that a competent adult is paying attention to those in the water. It  is very important that the supervising adult does not have his/her attention divided between too many things, as this affects their ability to truly watch the children.  It is also important, if your family is headed to a lake or river, to encourage children to wear a life jacket at all times (not just while in the water, but when they are anywhere near the water as there is sill a potential danger).  Even the most agile athlete (such as Michael Phelps) can benefit from wearing a life jacket if participating in a boating activity/sport; as a serious accident could render him unconscious (if you lose consciousness, you cannot swim!) Most boating accidents are accidents, but it never hurts to be prepared, as you may not be able to swim once in the water.

TIP #2: Burn precautions.  Often times, grilling or cooking occurs during holiday weekends.  Make sure small children (and even older children) are aware when there is a hot surface and are not ducking under or playing too close to hot surfaces.  Sunburns can also be a significant issue. Always make sure that you and your family are wearing sunscreen if you plan on being outside more than 20 minutes.

TIP #3: Food safety.  If you are sharing a large meal, try to be aware how long the food has been sitting out prior to consuming.  Food poisoning is a frequent companion of holiday gatherings.  If you’re not sure, just don’t eat it.  Monitor for choking hazards as some foods may cause issues for smaller children.

TIP #4: Bike safety.  If you are going on a family bike ride, don’t forget the helmets and water bottles! As always, stay safe and enjoy the holiday weekend!

*This post was updated Friday, August 29, 2014*

IMG_7261 resizeChristopher Spinelli DO, FAAP, is a pediatrician at the OCH Evergreen Clinic in Springfield, MO. Dr. Spinelli is also currently a Major in the United States Air Force Reserve. After completing an undergraduate degree from Truman State University, Dr. Spinelli graduated from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his Pediatric residency at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, MS. To contact Dr. Spinelli, call 417-823-2900 or visit