All posts by Megan Hlavacek

Fresh, Frozen and Canned ALL Count

Eat 5 a day by filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables each meal.


Fresh fruits and vegetables don’t have to be expensive if you buy them in season and many are in season year round. To learn more, visit


Frozen fruits and vegetables are packed and frozen within hours of harvest, so they don’t lose their flavor or nutritional value. Try steaming vegetables in the microwave or stovetop rather than boiling to keep in more nutrients.


Canned fruits and vegetables often get a bad rap but they are still nutritious. Choose 100% fruit juice with no added sugar and vegetables with no salt added. Remember to drain the water, juice or syrup and rinse with water to help remove some of the extra sugar and salt.

Have You had Your 5 Today?

2 fruits + 3 vegetables are ideal for a balanced diet!

Promoting fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables

Download images here.

May Veggie of the Month: Peas

The May Veggie of the Month is Peas!

To keep our diets and ourselves healthy, we need to eat a variety of protein foods including seafood, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes. You might wonder – what does this have to do with peas? Well, legumes include kidney beans, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils and, you guessed it…peas! Peas are a part of the protein food group AND the vegetable group!

Peas are high in fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. They’re also super sources of folate, a B-vitamin that helps maintain energy and form red blood cells. Folate is especially important for babies, adolescents, and pregnant women!

Did you know?

  • You can eat peas whether they’re cooked or raw.
  • Peas often grow on a vine supported by a pole.
  • Green peas are sometimes called sweet peas or English peas.
  • Snow pea pods are thin and tender. They’re eaten when there are still only tiny traces of peas inside. This type of pea is usually associated with Asian cuisine.
  • Sugar snap peas are eaten when the peas inside are nearly mature and the pods are tender and juicy, similar to snap beans.

Tips for pickin’ (and keepin’) peas

  • When picking peas in the garden, choose firm and bright peas that have no sign of decay or wilting.
  • Store peas in a perforated plastic bag for 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Shell them just before using.
  • Remove peas from the shell by pulling the string down the length of the pod and pushing out the peas with your thumb.

Five ways to pep up your meals with peas

  1. Snack it to me. Fresh raw peas are an easy on-the-go snack.
  2. Dish it out. Cooked peas are a great – and colorful! – addition to a hotdish.
  3. Presto, pesto! Toss some thawed frozen peas, mint, a few garlic cloves, black pepper, and grated parmesan cheese in the food processor. Add olive oil as you combine the ingredients and make an unexpected pesto to eat as a dip or spread.
  4. Go green. Add peas to any soup or stew to pump up the protein.
  5. Pasta pizzazz. Sprinkle some cooked peas into your favorite pasta dish.

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies More Matters, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, University of Minnesota Extension, & University of Maryland Extension

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April Fruit of the Month: Plums

The April Fruit of the Month is Plums!

They’re plum terrific! One medium-sized plum is a great source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body heal from cuts and wounds, and helps you absorb more iron from your food. Plums are also full of fiber and Vitamin A.

Dried plums are called prunes. The pit is removed and the fruit is dehydrated. Prunes are an excellent source of fiber. Dried fruit should be consumed in smaller portions than the fresh versions of fruit. Two medium size plums are a serving of the fresh fruit while ¼ cup of dried plums (prunes) is a serving in the dried version.

When buying plums, choose plump plums with smooth skins. Make sure to avoid bruises and soft spots! Store unripe plums in a paper bag until they’re ripe, then refrigerate them.

Fun Facts:

  • A “plumcot” is 50% plum and 50% apricot.
  • An “aprium” is 75% apricot and 25% plum.
  • A “pluot” is 75% plum and 25% apricot.
  • Wild plum trees are symbolic of independence.
  • Luther Burbank brought twelve plum seeds back from Japan, now almost all plums grown in the United States are related to those seeds.

Top 10 Ways To Enjoy Plums:

  1. Plum dippers. Choose the largest plums you can find and cut into thin slices. Dip in low-fat vanilla or honey yogurt for an easy finger food that your kids will love!
  2. Violet smoothie. Freeze pitted plums and toss them into a blender along with other frozen fruits. Add 100% fruit juice and blend away for a tangy frozen treat.
  3. Plums and couscous. Combine whole wheat couscous, apples, lemon juice, and dried plums to create an aromatic salad that can be served as a light main course for lunch or as a side dish with grilled steak or salmon.
  4. Trail mix. Cut dried plums into the size of raisins and create a trail mix with almonds, whole grain cereal, granola, and other dried fruits.
  5. Main course. Stir-fry meals pack all ingredients into one delicious main course. Combine a lean protein, walnuts, brown rice, celery, peppers, and other favorite fruits and vegetables, then mix in ginger and low-sodium soy sauce … and enjoy!
  6. By the bite. Enjoy plums as nature intended, right off the tree!
  7. Plum kabob. Ever tasted a warm plum? Layer plums with bell peppers, red onions, corn, and boneless chicken, then lightly coat with low-sodium soy sauce and heat on the grill or oven until chicken is cooked.
  8. Purple salad. Plums brighten up any salad! Combine them with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, oranges, honey, and mint to make an appetizing salad for dessert or a snack!
  9. Drizzle ’em. For a late night treat or early morning delight, drizzle puréed plum sauce made with a small amount of 100% juice and vanilla extract over hot oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, or low-fat frozen yogurt or ice cream.
  10. Plum chutney. Chutney is great on whole wheat crackers, freshly baked bread, or with vegetables. Pack it for a picnic or serve it as an appetizer.

Learn more about plums with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Fact check: South Dakota Harvest of the Month, Fruit & Veggies: More Matters

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October Veggie of the Month: Tomatoes

The October Vegetable of the Month is Tomatoes!

This fruit is amazing…wait, fruit? That’s right, tomatoes are technically a fruit, but most people consider them part of the vegetable family because of their hearty flavor. Remember, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable, it’s good for you! Aim for 5 – 9 fruits and vegetables each day!

Did you know…
  • Tomatoes are chock full of essential Vitamins C, A, and B6, along with iron, potassium, manganese, and fiber.
  • One cup of canned tomatoes contains only 41 calories and no fat.
  • Tomatoes are rich in powerful antioxidants called carotenoids that protect against certain types of cancers and slow the development of atherosclerosis (plaque associated with hardening of arteries).
  • The most abundant type of carotenoid found in tomatoes is lycopene. Foods high in lycopene may help reduce the risk for prostate, digestive, and pancreatic cancers. Tomato products are responsible for more than 80% of the lycopene in the U.S. diet.
  • Tomato products also fight inflammation associated with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease.
  • Check out these helpful tips about tomato selection, storage and prep.
9 ways to enjoy tomatoes
  1. Healthy tomato vinaigrette. In a blender combine a chopped tomato, 2 Tablespoons of vinegar (white wine or balsamic), 1 Tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon dijon mustard and your favorite herbs (basil, thyme, etc). Enjoy!
  2. Quick tomato salad. Quarter tomatoes and marinate with onion in your favorite low-fat vinaigrette. Add some sliced cucumber for some extra crunch.
  3. Stuffed tomato. Stuff a tomato with low-fat cottage cheese or with tuna, shrimp or chicken salad. Use the pulp as part of the salad.
  4.  Stewed tomato side dish. Saute 1 small diced onion in 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Mix in dried or chopped fresh basil and a dash of salt and pepper. Add coarsely chopped, peeled tomatoes (about 6) and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5.  Tangy salsa. Make it yourself with chopped fresh tomatoes, finely chopped jalapeño peppers, chopped cucumber, 1 small onion, chopped cilantro and lime juice. Can also be used on top of greens or as a salad by itself. Be creative and add other ingredients such as black beans, corn or chopped olives.
  6. Baked tomato side dish. Slice tomatoes about ½ inch thick. Sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 until tomatoes are almost soft.
  7. Gazpacho. Finely dice fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onion, and green and/or red peppers. Add to tomato juice with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and a splash of cider vinegar. Ingredients can be added to a blender and pulsed one or two times.
  8. Beyond tomato sauce. Slice fresh tomatoes and top your pizza.
  9. Fresh and sweet. Right off the vine!

Learn more about tomatoes and get an authentic Mexican recipe for fresh tomato salsa with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote tomatoes at your work, school, childcare and in your community!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Fruits & Veggies More Matters, & Penn State Extension

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

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September Veggie of the Month: Rhubarb

The September Vegetable of the Month is Rhubarb!

The first thing to know about rhubarb is that only the stalks of the rhubarb plant can be safely eaten. Rhubarb leaves (cooked or raw) contain toxins that are poisonous.

Did you know…

  • Rhubarb is in season during the spring and summer.
  • The best stalks are firm and red, not curled or limp. Rhubarb is tart, but red stalks will taste sweeter and richer while green stalks may be more sour.
  • Rhubarb is often grown in gardens, but can grow successfully in most areas of a person’s backyard. It can also be spotted around farm buildings and barns.
  • It is most often cooked, but the stalks can be eaten raw.
  • 1/2 cup of cooked rhubarb equals 1 serving of vegetables—and remember, we want to get at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day!
  • Because of its tart flavor, sugar is often added. However, a serving of rhubarb without sugar is only 29 calories! An alternative to adding sugar is to combine with sweeter fruits such as strawberries.

Want to start growing rhubarb in your backyard or garden? Great! Rhubarb grows well in most of the United States. If planting in a garden, plant where it will not be disturbed as it will likely come back each year for five years or sometimes much longer! In South Dakota, it’s best to take a pre-established rhubarb plant and divide the roots. Well-established roots can be dug up and divided into 4 to 8 pieces and replanted in other areas as long as each piece has at least one strong bud. So share with your neighborhood and community! Planting seeds is not recommended except in extremely southern areas of the United States.

Find out more about when to plant, spacing, depth, care, and harvesting and check out this video for helpful tips on freezing for future use.

Learn more about rhubarb and get Avera McKennan’s Executive Chef Drew Laberis’ Easy Rhubarb Lentil Salad recipe with this Pick It! Try It! Like It! fact sheet.

Don’t stop there! Find ways to promote rhubarb at your work, school, childcare, and in your community!

Sources: Eat Well, Live Well Campaign, Pick It! Try It! Like It!Fruits & Veggies More MattersThe University of Maine Cooperative Extension, University of Illinois Extension

Can’t get enough fruits and veggies? Be sure to check out Harvest of the Month, a downloadable educational program designed to make learning about fruits and veggies easy, tasty, and fun!

Show me more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are a wonderful part of summer that give us the opportunity to enjoy fresh, local produce and meet the people who grow it! Shopping at a farmers market is a little different than the grocery store. Here are some tips to make your trip successful and fun:

1.) Plan ahead. Bring a list of what foods you need and scope out the market’s website or event guide to give you an idea of what is offered.

2.) Bring your own bag. Having a bag that can go on your shoulder will help keep your hands free. Or try a backpack!

3.) Get to know your local farmers. Take this opportunity to meet your local farmers and producers in a relaxed setting. Use this time to have a conversation with the people responsible for growing or making your food. Farmers enjoy getting to know you and appreciate your interest in their crops.

4.) Try something new and ask questions. Challenge yourself to try at least one new food item. Not sure how to incorporate that purple potato into a dish your family would like? Ask the individuals selling the foods; they are a wealth of knowledge for various ideas of how to use their food as ingredients in your recipes. Some even have recipes available for you to take home.

5.) Follow the MyPlate method. Most farmers markets offer a wide variety of foods: most are delicious and nutritious, but some are high in calories. When choosing foods, remember the USDA’s MyPlate method which emphasizes making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and the rest of your plate with whole grains and lean protein.

6.) Make a farm-to-table meal. Now, use a medley of what you gathered at the farmers market to prepare your meal.

Don’t forget to bring the kids! A trip to the farmers market can be a perfect way to introduce your family to new foods while learning where our food comes from. Get your child excited about what new foods will be there and ask your child what new things they would like to try.

Find a farmers market in your area. And if you live in the Black Hills there is a website just for you!

Find and enjoy a farmers market this summer and fall!

Sources:  Farmers Markets: Bringing the Farm to Table,  Be a Savvy Farmers Market ShopperSDSU Extension, & Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

COVID-19: Resources to Stay Active and Eat Healthy

Updated June 24, 2020

COVID-19 is affecting the lives of individuals and families in different ways. The Healthy South Dakota Team is dedicated to continue providing information and resources to help you and your family eat healthy, stay active, and keep your overall health and wellness in balance, no matter the circumstances. This article will continue to be updated with more resources, so please check back for more information.

Healthy Eating

More time at home, longer hours for essential workers, and increased stress can all have a big impact on your eating habits. We can help you stay on track whether you are eating more takeout and delivery, cooking more, stocking up the pantry to decrease trips to the store, focusing on meal prep, planning, budgeting and much more.

Wearing Gloves for Food Safety
Simple infographic reminding us how to properly use gloves to ensure food safety.
Source: State Food Safety

COVID-19 FAQ for Community Gardens
Steps and tips for garden managers and gardeners including best practices, communication, cleaning and disinfection.
Source: NC State University & NC State Extension

Why You Should Still Meal Prep When Working from Home
Meal prep is a fantastic way to make sure you have healthy options that are easy to grab, and that is still needed when you are at home. Avoid just making whatever is fastest like a PB&J or snacking on junk food instead of taking a break for a full meal.
Source: Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less – North Carolina State University & North Carolina Division of Public Health

Farmers Markets & COVID-19
A guide to help Farmers Markets set up their operation in a manner that will best protect consumers and allow for continuation of operations.
Source: SDSU Extension

Food Safety and COVID-19
This article provides the most up-to-date regulatory guidance that’s been published on the transmission of COVID-19 through food and the risk of eating products that have been packaged or processed at a plant with known cases of COVID-19.
Source: SDSU Extension

Going the Distance: Making Meals Last Longer
We all wish some of our favorite foods would last just a little bit longer. Thankfully, a little planning and making the most of what we have on hand can do just that. Building out your non-perishables cabinet and leveraging that trusty freezer are quick and easy ways to make sure healthy meals can go the distance.
Source: Action for Healthy Kids

Start Simple with MyPlate: Food Planning during COVID-19
This guide contains information on food planning, including what to buy, how much to buy, and preparation tips.
Source: USDA Food & Nutrition Services

Tips on Good Nutrition and Using the Updated Nutrition Facts Label During COVID-19
In the past several weeks, you may have stocked up on more canned, packaged, and processed foods. The Nutrition Facts label can help you learn more about the foods you have on hand or are purchasing online or in stores. The Nutrition Facts label was recently updated and the new format is now on many food products. Check out the latest features and how it can help you and your family plan healthy, balanced meals.
Source: US Food & Drug Administration

Should You Wash All Foods?
From hands to kitchen counters, it is important to wash properly to stop the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses. However, when it comes to food, the rules of washing are not as clear. There are some foods that should always be washed, and others that should be kept far away from the sink.
Source: Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Kitchen Scrap Gardening
Gardening is an excellent way to get more vegetables and fruits on your plate this summer and is one of the best ways to encourage healthy eating among children. However if outdoor gardening seems to be a challenge – whether due to space, climate or something else – you can  grow indoors with items right in your own kitchen! Believe it or not many of the scraps left over from fruits and veggies are all that’s needed to get an indoor garden started.
Source: Action for Healthy Kids

How to Stop Overeating when Working from Home
5 tips to prevent weight gain during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Source: RxWiki from the original article The Four-Letter Word That Can End Mindless Eating Forever by Marissa Beck, MS, RD

Tips for Ordering Take-Out or Delivery
Tips to help you choose healthier meals and snacks when ordering off the delivery or take-out menu.
Source: Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Getting Groceries During Quarantine
Tips to help you make healthful decisions and reduce your trips to the store.
Source: Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Your Children Helping in the Kitchen
Make the most of your time at home by making family meals and getting kids involved in the kitchen.
Source: SDSU Extension

Physical Activity

Physical activity is vital to our health and well-being, and now more than ever we all need to strive to incorporate physical activity into our daily routine. It is absolutely possible to stay active while practicing physical distancing. 

A Call to Action: Physical Activity and COVID-19
A simple, daily walk during the Pandemic can reduce the risk of severe viral infections and multiple chronic diseases. Now more than ever physical activity is essential for good health. Learn why from two experts in the field!
Source:  Exercise is Medicine Blog

Summertime Fun – Safely Enjoying South Dakota Campgrounds and Parks
With the warm temps outside, a day at the park or an evening spent at the campground is in order! And the outdoors is a great place to get your daily physical activity needed for optimum health. Check out the latest information from the SD Game, Fish and Parks’ website for guidelines before visiting a local park or campground.
Source: SDGFP

SD Children in Nature
Kids need at least 60 minutes per day of physical activity, preferably outside.  For safe outdoor play tips, nature facts, games, crafts, healthy recipes, and other kid-friendly information to help children enjoy a day in nature, subscribe to the SD Game, Fish and Parks’ SD Children in Nature e-newsletter. 
Source:  SDGFP

Physical Activity for a Healthy Immune System
New emerging research during the COVID-19 pandemic supports what many of us have suspected, that regular physical activity can boost immunity. Having a strong immune system has never been more important than it is now. For a reminder of how much exercise supports a healthy immune system, check out these physical activity basics.
Source: CDC

Staying Active While Social Distancing:  Questions and Answers
Learn the basics of why physical activity is good for you, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Move Your Way is a campaign designed to get everyone more active and includes an interactive planner to help you schedule your week of physical activity – walk, run, dance, play – what’s your move?

Keep Moving From Home All Summer Long
Kohl’s and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation want to help keep you and your family moving more at home all summer long. Check out the compiled list of free tools, resources, games and activities to make physical activity easy and fun for all. You can also sign up to receive updates when new Moving More at Home resources are available!
Source: Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Physical Activity for All Abilities
People with mobility limitations, chronic health conditions and physical disabilities may be struggling to stay active and eat healthy during COVID-19.  Visit NCHPAD for safe ideas and resources, including a 14 week program tailored to all abilities. 
Source:  National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)

May is National Physical Fitness & Sports Month – Start a new activity challenge!  #moveinmay
With the start of a new month, #COVID19 cabin fever and warmer weather, why not ramp up your physical activity by participating in a challenge? Keep track of minutes, steps, days of the week – any activity counts and any amount counts. Move Your Way has an interactive tool where you can plan and build your activity for the week.
Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Encouraging Older Adults to Stay Active and Safe
Isolation and social distancing can be especially difficult for older adults, but staying physically active can help with feelings of depression and anxiety.  Exercise is key to healthy aging.  Endurance, strength, balance and flexibility are the ‘fab four’ for older adults when considering exercise.
Source:  National Council on Aging

YMCA360 Virtual Classes for All
Bring the YMCA to your home!  Currently, YMCA360 has a growing library of on-demand and downloadable videos for you and your family to enjoy at no cost to the public.  Class categories include Active Older Adults, Youth Sports, Boot Camp and many more.  Or, check out what free virtual class offerings your local Y has to offer. 
Source:  YMCA

Keep Moving Indoors
Working up a sweat in your living room can benefit your entire family – older adults, adults, teens and children.  Make the best of being home and get creative by incorporating small bouts of fitness or active games throughout your day.
Source:  SDSU Extension

Staying Active While Socially Distancing
Physical activity is good for our immune systems and can help with feelings of stress and anxiety.  Getting 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity is important for staying healthy – every active minute counts!  
Source:  Exercise is Medicine

Safe Outside
Make getting outside one of your daily routines to stay on top of your physical and mental health.  Follow this new Guidance for Parks and Recreational Facilities to stay safe while exploring the outdoors.
Source:  CDC or National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases

Keeping Kids Healthy at Home
Action for Healthy Kids works to create healthier home and school environments, and has created and collected resources to help parents and educators keep kids active and healthy while schools are closed or doing online learning.
Source: Action for Healthy Kids

Parks and Open Spaces
Fresh air and being outside in nature makes us feel better, so as long as you are maintaining safe distances, take care of yourself by going for a walk, a bike ride, a solo snowshoe trek, whatever you love. Check out this resource for more tips on safely using parks and open spaces.
Source: National Recreation and Park Association

Safe walking is an essential activity that with a few reminders about physical distancing can be done anywhere, by people of all ages and abilities. Walk at times that streets are less busy, and in locations where there are fewer people and you can spread out. Give your friends and neighbors a wave from a distance, while enjoying a break from the daily routine and information overload. Walking is still available to all of us even during these stressful times.
Source: America Walks

Health & Wellness

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Stress, anxiety, and fear can cause strong emotions in adults and children. It is important to consider all aspects of you and your families health during these uncertain times. Physical and mental health are essential to your overall health and wellness. 

Mental Health Resources for Families
Stay connected and emotionally healthy during stressful times like COVID-19 with these helpful resources for parents, families and educators.
Source: SD Department of Social Services

6 Ways to Celebrate Employee Wellness Month
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that life is unpredictable. Even the most carefully planned and managed life is not immune to unexpected forces. But by prioritizing wellness, your employees can be ready to handle whatever life throws at them, whether it’s a public health crisis, an economic downturn, or the next pressing work deadline. Here are some ideas for celebrating National Employee Wellness Month this June. Each idea addresses one of the six key dimensions of well-being: emotional, financial, occupational, social, physical, and purpose.
Source: WellRight

Workplace Wellness During COVID-19
Wellright has a wealth of resources for workplaces to keep employees safe, healthy and engaged. Learn how to set up an ergonomically appropriate office chair at home, or how to successfully collaborate with coworkers virtually among other wellness topics delivered through videos or blogs.
Source:  Wellright, LLC and

Healthy Sleep Toolkit
Is it time for a family sleep reset? Consistent, quality sleep is proven to boost immunity and improve mood, all while reducing stress. There’s no better time for kids and adults to reset their sleep routines. This toolkit is packed with tips and activities to help families sleep smarter and perform better, together.
Source: Alliance for a Healthier Generation

Check out these fact sheets that can help children of all ages understand COVID-19.
COVID-19 for 3-6 year olds
COVID-19 for 6-12 year olds
COVID-19 for 13-18 year olds
Source: University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home
Everyday steps for cleaning and disinfecting and extra steps for when someone is sick.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Importance of Mental Self-Care
Mental self-care is important during this #COVID19 pandemic. Prevent isolation from taking its toll. Check out this infographic for ideas to help you cope.
Source:  South Dakota Department of Health

Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health
Tips for taking care of your mental well-being during stressful situations, such as infectious disease outbreaks.
Source:  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Chronic Diseases and COVID-19: What You Need to Know
People who have one or more of these chronic condition such as asthma, lung disease, heart disease, unmanaged diabetes, severe obesity (BMI >40), or a weakened immune system because of diseases like HIV or cancer treatment should be extra careful to protect their health.
Source: National Association of Chronic Disease Directors

Helping Children Cope With Changes Resulting From COVID-19 
Families are adjusting to new and ever-changing circumstances daily. This includes trying to keep children occupied, feeling safe, and attempting to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. None of this is easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better.
Source: National Association of School Psychologists

COVID-19: Where to Find the Facts

Times are difficult and situations are constantly changing, but the South Dakota Department of Health is here to provide facts and important information to keep you and your family safe and healthy. 

Where can I find the latest information on COVID-19?

Who can I call if I have questions?

  • General questions can be directed to the COVID-19 Helpline: 800-997-2880
  • Questions about number of cases, county or community spread (or other epidemiological questions) can be directed to the SD DOH Office of Disease Prevention:  605-773-3737
  • Laboratory questions can be directed to the South Dakota Public Health Laboratory (SDPHL):  605-773-3368
  • Individuals who are having symptoms of COVID-19 infection such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath should call their medical provider.

March Veggie of the Month: Brussels Sprouts

Did you know: Brussels sprouts (a mini cabbage look-alike) get their name from Brussels, Belgium.

In the past, Brussels sprouts got a bad wrap. It’s likely they were served overcooked—which can make them a bit mushy and bitter. Luckily, new cooking methods have given them another chance.

Brussels sprouts are a great source of Vitamins A, B, and C, niacin, iron, and calcium. They contain about 30 calories per ½ cup serving. One pound of Brussels sprouts makes about 6 servings, so load your plate with this leafy goodness!

To maximize flavor, broil, steam, braise, or boil Brussels sprouts for a maximum of 7-10 minutes (less if you like your veggies on the crunchy side). Be sure not to exceed this time. If they have lost their bright green color, they may be overcooked and have lost most of their nutritional value.

When oven roasting, sprinkle with olive oil and salt. If the sprouts are larger than 1½ inches in diameter, cut them in half for cooking.

Tips for buying and preserving

  • Purchase sprouts that are bright green and uniform in size to allow for even cooking.
  • Small, firm, compact sprouts are the best choice.
  • To freeze, trim and remove the coarse outer leaves. Wash thoroughly and blanch 3-5 minutes depending on the size. Cool in a bowl of cold water and ice cubes, also referred to as an ice bath. Then drain and package, leaving no head space (meaning release as much air from the package as possible). Seal and freeze.
  • Make sure your sprouts are dry before you freeze. Getting rid of excess moisture will help keep them from getting mushy when thawed and recooked.

Fun fact: Not sure what blanch means? Check out this great 1 minute video on how to blanch vegetables from the American Heart Association.

Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts

  • 1-2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim Brussels sprouts, then wash and pat dry. Place in a large resealable plastic bag with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Seal tightly and shake to coat. Or, toss in a bowl and coat with an even layer of oil.

Pour onto a baking sheet and place on center oven rack. Roast for 20-40 minutes (depending on your preference) stirring frequently to prevent burning. Serve immediately.

Brussels sprouts salad

  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-pound Brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Place Brussels sprouts, onion, and cranberries in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir in pecans just before serving.

Learn more with this video from Penn State Extension about how to buy, store, cook, and enjoy Brussels sprouts.

Resources: USDA Snap-Ed, MSU Extension, University of Illinois Extension, Penn State Extension, American Heart Association

Active Transportation Checklist

The Nutrition and Physical Activity Program within the South Dakota Department of Health is pleased to provide the newly revised Active Transportation Checklist

This resource, revised in 2020, will assist community leaders in starting conversations about walkability, improving the built environment, and gives a snapshot of the necessary steps for increasing active transportation with links to many resources.

Utilize this resource in your community to launch discussions about creating access and opportunities for increasing physical activity among residents of all ages and abilities.

Creating activity-friendly routes to everyday destinations is an evidenced-based strategy to improve walkability and physical activity, with the overall public health goal of preventing chronic disease. 

The Checklist is a call to action for SD community leaders and advocates working to create healthy communities and increase physical activity – let’s keep SD moving!

February Fruit of the Month: Grapes

The news is out—grapes are good for you!

Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants, and have been used for food and wine for centuries. Scientists have found grape vine fossils in the Mediterranean and Asia that are over 60 million years old.

Recent studies have shown this “prehistoric” fruit is more than just a sweet snack. Eating grapes may help keep your heart healthy.

Grapes and Heart Health

Grapes in all colors—green, red, and black—contain a high level of polyphenols. This chemical occurs naturally in fruit and is a type of antioxidant that packs some big benefits.

Polyphenols help relax blood vessels which improves blood pressure and flow. They also help reduce oxidative stress which happens when you consume a meal high in carbs, fats, and protein with no antioxidants. Too much stress can damage the body’s tissues and cells.

Additionally, grapes do not contain saturated fat or cholesterol—two components in food that may increase the risk of heart disease.

The nutrient content for a 1 cup serving of grapes is:

  • 100 calories
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 27 grams of carbohydrate
  • 288 mg potassium
  • 4 mg of vitamin C
  • 22 mcg of vitamin K
  • 1/3 cup of water

Buying and storing tips:

  • Unlike some seasonal fruit, grapes are available year round.
  • Select grapes that are tight to touch and free of wrinkles.
  • If they contain a powdery white coating—that is bloom and it’s good. It protects the grapes from moisture loss and decay.
  • They are best stored in the refrigerator and should be washed before eaten.
  • The best way to eat grapes is as a fresh fruit. Most jellies, spreads, and juices made from grapes have added sugars and can be high in calories.

Ways to incorporate more grapes into your diet:

  • Add grapes to chicken or tuna salad.
  • Make your own fruit cocktail with fresh grapes, peaches, pineapple, and cherries or strawberries.
  • Freeze grapes and eat as a snack—just like a mini sorbet!
  • Try dipping grapes in white or dark chocolate (instead of strawberries) for a sweet treat.
  • Have a cup of fresh grapes for a quick, 100 calorie snack.

Sources: USDA, Grapes from California, Medical News Today

Explore more Fruits & Veggies of the Month!

Save-The-Date for the 2021 WorkWell Summit

See PDF of WorkWell Summit Save-the-Date

Mark your calendar to attend the Annual WorkWell Partnership Summit in virtually on Tuesday, September 14, 2021. 

Learn from keynote speaker Mari Ryan. 

Creating the Workplace of the Future in a Changing World – Mari Ryan, Keynote Speaker
“The workplace today has evolved rapidly. Today the lines between work and life are incredibly blurred. Join this ideation session to be a futurist and design a workplace of the future — beyond COVID –19! How do we take advantage of the disruption created by COVID –19 and create a workplace vision that has well-being as a foundational element? The session will review how the role of people management, technology and social trends impact the workplace and the workforce of the future. The world of change opens the door to implementing new ideas!” – Mari Ryan

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Evolving with the workplace
  • Future design of the workplace
  • Workplace beyond COVID-19
  • Manage technology and trends of the workforce

Who should attend:

  • Human resource professionals
  • Health promotion committee members
  • Benefits managers
  • Health education staff
  • Healthcare providers
  • Health promotion coordinators
  • Building facilities managers
  • Public health students

This is a FREE event. Be on the look out for updates coming soon!

For more information about the Summit please contact Enid at

January Veggie of the Month: Spinach

The January Vegetable of the Month is Spinach!

Even though spinach has been grown for decades, it wasn’t until the availability of pre-cut bagged spinach that its popularity was boosted and made it a common grocery store purchase.

The spinach plant can be grown all year-round, but does best in the spring and fall due to cool, hydrated weather conditions. It thrives in sandy soil. California is considered the number 1 producer in the US of this nutritious vegetable. It can be supplied fresh from the garden or processed by canning, freezing, or pureeing for baby food.

Salads are the most common way spinach is used, in a savory mix with onions and mushrooms or sweet with berries and glazed nuts (like pecans). Spinach can be stirred into casseroles, stacked on a sandwich, served as a vegetable, or added to a fruit smoothie. Spinach is often undetected in most smoothies that are made with berries as the deep color of the fruit covers the blended spinach leaves.

Why is spinach good for you?

It is chocked full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and only contains 7 calories per cup. The one cup portion provides 100% of your daily needs of lutein and zeaxanthin—carotenoids that work together to maintain eye health. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, providing 105% of your daily needs and is only beat out by kale when it comes to vitamin K content. Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting, so if you are on a blood thinner prescription, contact your doctor or dietitian before changing the quantity of leafy greens you consume. Other nutrients that are in spinach include folate, manganese, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and iron.

Challenge yourself to use spinach in a new way at mealtime. Your body will thank you!

10 Ways to Enjoy More Spinach  

  1. Stuffed Chicken
    Stuff chicken with spinach, low-fat cheese, and onions. After the chicken is baked, use the spinach combination as a flavorful side dish.
  2. Spinach Smoothie
    Spinach has no flavor, so you can add in the vitamins and minerals without changing the taste. Just a handful of fresh spinach will amp up the nutrition in your favorite smoothie.
  3. Spinach Pesto
    Use spinach instead of basil leaves in your traditional pesto recipe.
  4. Spinach Dip
    Cook spinach [according to package], then mix in Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and sliced cashews. Heat at 350°F for 10 minutes.
  5. Spinach Wrap
    Use spinach as a wrap. Place grilled chicken in a spinach leaf and dip into low-fat ranch dressing.
  6. Popeye-Approved Potatoes
    Mix cooked frozen spinach into mashed potatoes. Top with parmesan cheese for a twist on an old favorite.
  7. Omelettes
    Add spinach, mushrooms, onions, and low-fat cheese to make a nutritious and delicious filling for omelettes and frittatas.
  8. Spinach Fruit Salad
    Use fresh spinach to make a salad then toss in some strawberries, mandarin oranges, or apple slices.
  9. Spinach in Stir-Fry
    Cook spinach, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and broccoli in a little olive oil on high heat for a delicious vegetable medley.
  10. Salad On-the-Go
    Tear spinach leaves and toss into a whole wheat pita with your favorite salad toppings. Add low-fat dressing for a quick salad on the go.

Sources: Harvest of the Month, LiveWell Sioux Falls, SDSU Extension, USDA, Produce for Better Health, and LiveWell Nebraska

Planning your Thanksgiving Feast!

There are many things to think about when planning your Thanksgiving meal: finding healthy recipes, food safety, dealing with picky eaters, portion control, and what to do with all those leftovers! Fortunately, this article will help you create a healthy, balanced, and safe Thanksgiving meal the whole family will enjoy!

First let’s talk about FOOD SAFETY. Before we start planning, preparing, and serving, let’s review a few of the main food safety guidelines.
  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat, poultry, fish and their juices away from other food. After cutting raw meats, wash cutting board, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water.
  • There are only 3 safe ways to thaw meat: refrigerate for slow safe thawing, cold water submersion and defrost in the microwave.
    • Make sure your turkey has plenty of time to safely thaw in the refrigerator before the big meal! According to the USDA, you should allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. So if your turkey weighs 12 pounds, it should chill in the refrigerator for 72 hours.
  • Always check the internal temperature with a food thermometer. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
    • Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F.
    • Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160°F.
    • Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Hot food should be held at 140°F or warmer.
  • Cold food should be held at 40°F or colder.
  • When serving food at a buffet, keep food hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice or use small serving trays and replace them often.
  • Discard any food left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Place food into shallow containers and immediately put in the refrigerator or freezer for rapid cooling.
  • Use cooked leftovers within 4 days and reheat all leftovers to 165°F.
Now let’s plan the THANKSGIVING MENU. Try these recipes for traditional flavors and healthy ingredients that will leave you feeling satisfied but not “stuffed”!
You have planned the perfect feast, but you have some PICKY EATERS in your family. Here are some tips for appeasing picky eaters. 
  • Choose at least one food you know your child will like. Whether Thanksgiving will be served at your house or if you will be going to someone else’s home to celebrate, make sure to offer or bring at least one food that you know your child will like. This way, your child is guaranteed to eat something during the meal.
  • Engage your child in meal planning. You can tell your child about any foods you are definitely planning to include (i.e., turkey as a protein and stuffing as a grain), but ask if he or she has ideas for the other food groups. For example, “What kind of vegetable do you think we should include? How about a fruit?”
  • Engage your child in meal prep. Ask your toddler to help clean the vegetables, your school-aged child to help mash the potatoes, or your teenager to boil the cranberries. When kids help cook food, they often sample what they are preparing, and are more likely to eat their masterpieces later.
  • Use food bridges. Once a food is accepted, find similarly colored, flavored, or textured “food bridges” to expand the variety of foods your child will eat. For example, if your child likes pumpkin pie, try including mashed sweet potatoes on his or her Thanksgiving plate.
  • Make it look, smell and taste delicious. Many times kids think that they won’t like a food before they actually try it. Do this by adding fragrant ingredients such a nutmeg and cinnamon to cooked apples—for example—or preparing a veggie tray with the vegetables arranged in the shape of a turkey.
  • Keep the mealtime relaxing and enjoyable. Focus on enjoying your time together celebrating this day of gratitude. Know you have prepared a balanced meal and taken many efforts to engage your children in the process—increasing the chances of there being at least one food they will like. You have done your job. Try not to worry if and what your child is eating.
Time toeEat! PORTION CONTROL during the holidays has less to do with limiting yourself to a certain amount but rather listening to our bodies’ fullness signals. Our bodies often tell us when to stop we just don’t listen! 
  • Don’t go to the table starving. This means don’t skip meals. Skipping meals seems like a nice way to reduce the amount of calories you consume but is likely to make you eat more food faster when you finally do eat.
  • Give yourself permission to eat the foods you like. It is perfectly healthy to come to the table hungry and eat until you are full—“until you are full” being the operative phrase. Eating until we are full does not mean eating until we are sick.
  • Eat slowly and savor your food. Don’t be too quick to scarf down your food; learn to savor every bite.
  • Stop when you are full, not past-full. Pay close attention to how you feel while eating. Choose to slow down and stop eating when you feel you are getting full. This may even mean waiting a few minutes to see how you feel before finishing your plate or getting second helpings.
What do we do with all these LEFTOVERS? Thanksgiving leftovers can be more than cold turkey sandwiches and warmed up casserole dishes. Check out these recipes with different flavors to keep your taste buds guessing.

Sources: USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services, Mayo Clinic Health System, & American Academy of Pediatrics

Healthier Vending Options in the Wicoicaga Otipi Community Center

Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe (FSST) Recreation Center LogoWicoicaga Otipi Community Center is located in Flandreau, SD on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation. The Community Center has four departments: Recreation Program, Dakota Language Program, Education Program and the Tribal Day Care. The three programs work together on many events, such as Tiwahe “Family” Night, Basketball Open Gym, Teen Night, Lock-In’s, Powwows, Basketball Tournaments, Mother’s Day Potluck, Halloween and Easter Celebrations plus many more. Most events are open to the public, but the main participants are children from the age of newborns to 17 years.

The Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe (FSST) Community Center was one of the 2017-2018 Healthier Vending & Snack Bar (HVSB) Grantees, a program through the South Dakota Department of Health.

The goal of the HVSB project is to implement policy, system, and environmental change to improve the food environment in worksites by making healthier choices more accessible, appealing, and affordable. The project requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow, and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase.

At the start of the project, the Community Center offered two vending machines with the typical offerings; pop, chips, candy bars, and pastries. The vending machines are available to all four departments of the Community Center, which is about 20 employees. The vending machines are also used by program participants and the public including on average 20 children daily through the After-School Program. The children in the After-School Program were impacted the most by the HVSB project.

“It was cool to see the children willingly choose a healthier snack over a bag of Doritos. I feel this generation can be educated about nutrition and use that knowledge to make healthier, more informed decisions. Growing up for me, we weren’t educated or told not to eat those kinds of snacks. We can make that change.” ~ Sylvia Roy, FSST Recreation Coordinator

Challenges/Barriers: One of the biggest challenges was working with other departments in the building to implement a Healthier Vending policy, an unprecedented request. The Community Center is one of many buildings under the FSST. Others include the Police Station/Fitness Center, Tribal Historic Preservation Office, Tribal Office, Clinic, Elderly Complex, First American Mart, Tribal Courts, and the Housing Office. All entities fall under the FSST, so all policies must be approved system wide.

 Another challenge was ensuring the healthier products were purchased once placed in the vending machines.

Solutions:  The Healthier Vending policy is currently pending approval by the FSST. However, staff feel even without a policy, the changes will remain due to the positive reception by the children, elderly and the public.

Flyer showcasing the FSST taste testing opportunity

The Community Center ensured sales of the healthier food and drink options by offering taste tests and creating an incentive program. The taste test was important to allow adults and kids the chance to try healthier options before purchasing. Many employees from the other departments and buildings joined in on the fun, which staff believe enticed the public to consider healthy snacks as a realistic and delicious option. Adults are often hesitant to use their money for a product they don’t know if they will like and kids can be hesitant to try new foods. Most that attended mentioned they weren’t aware of the healthy options before the taste test.

The incentive program was a huge hit with the kids! The incentive program kept track of participants’ choices during a set period. Participants of any Recreation Program had the opportunity to buy one snack and/or drink during each program. They rolled an over-sized die per purchase of a green or yellow item. This was recorded as their “points” for the purchase. The highest amount of “points” was awarded sneakers. The top six participants received a subway gift card. Every participant received a ‘FSST REC’ jump rope. The incentive program ran twice, since the children were so hyped to participate. Staff noted it was fun to see the kids so anxious about picking healthy snacks. Many of the children preferred the snacks over candy bars, even if they used their one choice for the day.

 “The winner of the incentive program was an underprivileged child who received Jordan sneakers. It was fun to see his face when he won!” ~ Sylvia Roy, FSST Recreation Coordinator

Results:  A big success was changing the advertising wrap on the outside of the pop vending machine from a Coca-Cola advertisement to Aquafina. Food marketing has a powerful impact on children. Positive, healthy advertising is important to reinforce healthy decision making.

Before and after pictures of the vending machines

By the end of the project, the percentage of green items in both vending machines increased from 4.9% to 17.9%, while the percentage of red items decreased from 85.4% to 61.5%. This shift was positive and statistically significant.

The HVSB project offers kids and adults the opportunity to purchase healthier food options, but also has shown a noteworthy impact on their nutrition knowledge through the Munch Code. The traffic-light system is an easy and quick way to educate individuals no matter their age or education level. Many people in the community were interested in learning about the Healthier Vending and Snack Bar Standards which determine if a product is green, yellow or red. The standards focus solely on information found on the Nutrition Fact label and was a great education opportunity to understand the nutrients, both good and bad, that make up foods. Especially highly processed, convenience foods often found in a vending machine. The Community Center employees heard many community members say they would take this information and apply it when shopping at the grocery store.

The Community Center plans to continue to educate and encourage the community to make healthy eating choices and plans to have a “Healthier Lifestyle Challenge” that will incorporate Munch Code.

“Your body deserves the best nutrition possible.
Make good choices for your mind, body, and spirit.”
~Sylvia Roy, FSST Recreation Coordinator

Grant Now Available for SD Healthcare Facilities!

The South Dakota Department of Health – Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is accepting applications from healthcare facilities to implement or improve upon a self-measured blood pressure (SMBP) monitoring program.

Healthcare facilities can utilize Target: BP, Check. Change. Control, or Million Hearts SMBP programs and guidance to:

  • implement an SMBP program within their practice,
  • add additional patients to current SMBP program,
  • or expand to additional providers or sites.

Applicants may request up to $5,000 per facility. The grant will be available until all allotted funds have been awarded, a total of $30,000. Application consideration will be prioritized by date received.

Why focus on heart health?

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and 2nd leading cause of death in SD
  • Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S and 6th in SD
  • Overall, cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for 27.5% of all deaths in SD and 21.5% of those who die from CVD in SD are less than 65 years old.

Don’t miss this opportunity to change these statistics!

Check out the full grant application HERE.

You’re a Winner When You Eat Healthy

Winner City Hall is located in Winner, SD a town of approximately 2,800 people in the south-central part of the state. City Hall is responsible for the utilities, Human Resources, and financing with the City. The City has 6 full time employees stationed at City Hall. The City employs 80-year-round employees that frequently visit City Hall. The City also leases office rooms to seven other nonprofit and government agencies. Winner City Hall was one of the 2017-2018 Healthier Vending & Snack Bar (HVSB) Grantees, a program through the SD Department of Health.

The goal of the HVSB project is to implement policy, system, and environmental change to improve the food environment in worksites by making healthier choices more accessible, appealing, and affordable. The project requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow, and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase.

At the start of the project, City Hall offered one vending machine with 19 typical vending food items including chips, crackers, cookies and candy bars. The vending machine is available to City Hall employees, employees from other businesses located within the same space, and approximately 30-40 people from the community who are in and out of the City building daily.

Challenges/Barriers: The biggest challenge was working with the vendor. Initially, the vendor was hesitant about stocking healthier snacks in the vending machines with concerns that sales would decrease and result in lost profit.

Solutions: The solution for vendor concern was promotions and incentives! The City bought promotion items using HVSB Grant funding to help sell the healthier products. Employees and customers were spending money and eating healthier for a chance to win one of the promotion items. For every green item that was purchased, the purchaser entered a monthly drawing. Each month there were two “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” prizes. The incentive program ensured sales were consistent for the vendor and after one year of project implementation, the vendor is still stocking healthier items due to great sales and high demand.

“It was fun to watch customers and employees get excited about healthier snacks. When customers would win a promotional item for choosing to eat a healthier snack, they got more excited about eating healthier as well! The City gave them the incentive to get started and they took it and ran with it!”
~ Chandra Cudmore, City of Winner Finance Officer~

Results: By the end of the project, the food vending machine offered healthier options including Sun Chips, granola bars, peanuts and trail mix. The percentage of green snack food items increased from 15.8% to 33.3%, while the percentage of red items decreased from 63.2% to 50.0%. In addition, a cold drink vending machine was added to the building offering 2-3 full rows of healthier drink options including water, tea, and 100% juice!

“Our success was immediate! We made a big deal out of eating healthier exciting our employees, customers, and renters to purchase healthier snacks.”

  Before….                                                                   After…

“Don’t be scared of change! Get involved! Take it a step further. In our office, we did a weight loss incentive at the same time the healthier vending machine project went live. This was another way to get employees excited about healthy snacks.”

Tips for cooking healthier at home during National Nutrition Month®!

National Nutrition Month® is an annual nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign, celebrated each year during the month of March, focuses on making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

There are many ways to make small changes toward a healthier eating style. Simple swaps can make dishes healthier without sacrificing flavor:

  • Use heart-healthy canola, olive or peanut oil instead of solid fats.
  • Use sharp, reduced-fat cheese and low-fat milk in your macaroni and cheese.
  • Sweeten your desserts with fruit puree or apple sauce instead of sugar.
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour in muffins.
  • Opt for brown rice instead of white rice in your red beans and rice or jambalaya.
  • Cut the fat in potato salad by substituting half of the mayonnaise with plain non-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Liven up your family meals by trying new spices.
  • Use smoked paprika or a dash of smoked salt to add the smoked flavor that you would normally get from ham, bacon or salt pork.
  • Consider using salt-free herb blends to lower the salt in your foods.
  • Experiment with different flavors by adding apple cider or rice vinegar to your greens.
  • Marinate your chicken in rosemary and lemon juice before grilling.
  • Add a little brown sugar and vanilla to make a lower-calorie version of candied yams.

Follow these Healthy Plate guidelines:

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Include protein, such as lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans, and whole grains on the other half of your plate.
  • With each meal, add calcium-rich foods such as fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese or calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages.

And remember, healthy eating styles can be adapted to fit the foods of all cultures.

Find out more about ethnic foods for a healthy plate at

Visit for more on how to celebrate National Nutrition Month.


Genetic Testing for Your Lifestyle

Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) Genetic Tests are genetic tests that are sold directly to the consumer without inclusion of a healthcare professional, usually via the internet. Consumers who buy the DTC genetics tests typically send a saliva sample to the company and receive their results in the mail or on the internet via an online account. Companies may identify anywhere from a single gene variant to up to several hundreds of gene variants. Some of these companies sell “nutrigenetic” tests to identify individuals’ susceptibilities for lifestyle-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease as well as provide advice on nutrition and supplements. Other companies sell tests that are not marketed as nutrigenetic, but offer dietary advice and workout regimens, along with life-style related diseases. These tests can range anywhere from $100 to several thousands of dollars. The costs of the tests are related to the number of gene variants tested and how detailed the results are.

The idea that we all have our own “nutritional blueprint” is a wonderful and curious concept. We all want to know what types of exercises and foods are best for our body type. It is thought that if people have and know this information, they might be more willing or inclined to change their diet and workout routines to get their optimal body shape.

However, it is very important to remember that our genes are not the only things that determine our weight or the decisions we make about food. Our genes only tell us about 5-10% of the risk that is linked to diet-related diseases such as obesity and type-2 diabetes. It is more about our behavior than our genes. It is important to be physically active each day and consume a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy while limiting intake of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.

Sources: National Public Radio – Personalized Diets: Can Your Genes Really Tell You What To Eat? & National Institutes of Health – State of play in direct-to-consumer genetic testing for lifestyle-related diseases: market, marketing content, user experiences and regulation

Eating Disorders

This isn’t always easy to talk about. But it is so important, we have to. Eating disorders are serious medical conditions and they can even be fatal. This isn’t a scare tactic or fabrication to grab your attention. It’s a fact. And eating disorders don’t just effect women. 1 in 20 people at some time in their life will have an eating disorder, and that includes men. The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the National Institute of Mental Health have some great facts and helpful information that we want to share with you.

Types of Eating Disorders

When you are so preoccupied with food and weight that it becomes hard to focus on other important aspects of your life, it could be an early sign of an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a mental condition that results in both emotional and physical problems. Each condition has extreme food and weight issues, but each has unique symptoms.

Anorexia Nervosa. People who have anorexia will deny themselves of food and starve themselves due to their obsession with weight loss. They refuse to eat and will say they are not hungry. They may also binge and purge or exercise to the point of exhaustion to burn any calories they have consumed.

  • Emotional symptoms include social withdrawal, lack of emotion, irritability, or an inability to understand the seriousness of the situation. They may also be afraid of eating in front of others and develop food rituals such a chewing a certain number of times before swallowing. People with anorexia become obsessed with weighing themselves repeatedly. They have an extreme fear of gaining weight and refuse to be at a healthy or normal weight.
  • Physical symptoms include very low body fat levels, making a person look sick. Their body will slow down in order to conserve energy which can cause an irregular period or loss of menstruation completely. Constipation, dehydration, abdominal pain, irregular heart rhythms, low blood pressure, and problems sleeping could occur as well. People with anorexia often see themselves as overweight, even though they are extremely underweight. Symptoms that can occur over time include osteoporosis or osteopenia, anemia, brittle hair and nails, dry/ yellowish skin, growth of fine hair all over the body, brain damage, drop of internal body temperature, lethargy, and infertility.

Bulimia Nervosa. People who have bulimia feel out of control while binging on large amounts of food in short periods of time. This causes them to desperately try to rid themselves of the calories they have consumed. Common ways of getting rid of extra calories in people with bulimia include forced vomiting, abusing laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise. The binge eating and purging become a vicious cycle that controls many aspects of the person’s life and has a very negative effect emotionally and physically.

  • Emotional symptoms include poor body image leading to low self-esteem, feelings of being out of control, guilty or shameful feelings about eating, and withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Physical symptoms include damage to organs involved in eating and digesting food, dental carries and worn enamel on teeth from frequent vomiting, and acid reflux. Purging can result in dehydration that affects the body’s electrolyte levels, causing cardiac arrhythmia’s, heart failure and in extreme cases, death. Other symptoms include chronically inflamed and sore throat, swollen salivary glands. People with bulimia are typically of average weight or are slightly overweight.

Binge Eating Disorder. People with binge eating disorder lose control over their eating. They eat very large amounts of food in short periods of time. They also eat even when they are not hungry or after they are uncomfortably full and they eat very quickly. Following a binge, the person has feelings of embarrassment, disgust, depression, or guilt about their behavior. Unlike people with bulimia, those with binge eating disorder do not try to negate the calories they have consumed. Most people with binge eating disorder will feel distressed and ashamed about their eating and will therefore eat alone or in secret to avoid embarrassment. A person with binge eating disorder may be normal weight, overweight, or obese.

Risk Factors

Eating disorders are extremely complex and the causes are not completely known. Experts believe that a combination of factors may be involved in developing an eating disorder.

  • Genetics. People with parents or siblings with an eating disorder are at a higher risk of also developing an eating disorder, which suggests a genetic risk.
  • Environment. Most cultures place a strong emphasis on “thinness” as a sign of beauty for women and muscular development for men. This places a lot of pressure on people to achieve unrealistic standards.
  • Peer Pressure. Pressure in the forms of bullying or teasing because of size or weight can cause some people to develop an eating disorder. Physical or sexual abuse can also be a factor.
  • Emotional Health. People who have difficult relationships, perfectionism, and impulsive behaviors tend to have lower self-esteem, causing them to be more vulnerable to develop eating disorders. Times of changes such as puberty, starting college, getting divorced, or starting a new job can be stressors leading to the development of an eating disorder.
  • Age and Gender. Eating disorders are much more common during the teen years and early 20’s. Females are also statistically more likely to have eating disorders than males; however, they are less likely to be noticed or treated for one.
  • Vocations and Activities. Eating disorders are more prevalent in vocations and activities where body size is valued more such as modeling, gymnastics, wrestling, dancing, etc.


Each person’s treatment will depend on the type of eating disorder, but adequate nutrition, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping purging behaviors are the foundations of treatment. Treatment plans are tailored to individual needs and may include medical care and monitoring, nutritional counseling, medications, and individual, group, and/or family psychotherapy.

If this hits home with you or if you are concerned about a friend, family member, classmate, coworker, neighbor, or  anyone in your life, talk to a healthcare professional. There are also many national organizations and agencies that you can contact for more information and support, such as the National Alliance for Mental Illness HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or the National Eating Disorders Association Information and Referral Helpline 1-800-931-2237.

Sources: National Alliance on Mental Illness & National Institute of Mental Health

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your physician. 

Raising Healthy Eaters in the New Year

Ring in a healthy new year by teaching kids the importance of food, nutrition and eating skills:

Food to fuel busy, successful lives;
Nutrition to nourish strong bodies and smart brains; and
Eating skills to enjoy the social aspect of meals with family and friends.

As with any part of raising children, no one does a perfect job with nutrition — not even nutrition professionals. As a parent, grandparent or adult caregiver, you can help to raise healthy eaters during these critical years by doing your best to:

  • Serve regular, balanced meals and snacks with a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
  • Provide calm, pleasant meal times where adults and children can talk together.
  • Allow children to use their internal signals to decide how much and what to eat.
  • Explore a variety of flavors and foods from different cultures and cuisines.
  • Share an appreciation for healthful food, lovingly prepared and shared with others.
  • Make simple food safety, such as washing hands, part of every eating occasion.
  • Teach basic skills for making positive food choices away from home.
  • Find credible food and nutrition resources when you don’t know the answer.

While this may seem like an intimidating to-do list, two family habits go a long way to making all this happen: regular family meals and involving kids in nutrition from the ground up.

1. Make Family Meal Times a Priority
Sometimes a very simple act can have important, long-lasting benefits. According to parenting and health experts, that is exactly the case with family meal times. Eating and talking together helps to:

  • Foster family unity.
  • Prevent behavior problems at home and school.
  • Enhance academic success.
  • Improve nutrition.
  • Promote healthy weight for kids.

With that impressive list of benefits, it’s worth making the time and effort to enjoy more family meal times each week. Look for easy ways to add just one family meal to the schedule. If evenings seem too hectic for family dinners, set aside time for a weekend breakfast or lunch. After a month or two of this new pattern, you can add another family meal each week. Before you know it, you will be eating together on most days.

2. Get Kids Involved in Nutrition
This one is fun for everyone and it can happen anywhere — your kitchen, the grocery store or a community garden. Every trip through the supermarket can be a nutrition lesson. Kids can learn to categorize food into groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, milk foods and meat/beans. They can choose new foods that they want to try, including picking out a new fresh, frozen, canned or dried fruit each trip. As children get older, they can help plan the menu at home and then pick out the foods to match the menu items while shopping.

Nutrition is just one of many reasons to have a garden. The process of planting, watching over and harvesting a garden provides daily opportunities for children to learn valuable lessons and enjoy physical activity, while reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.


Source: Article originally published by Dayle Hayes, MS, RD on December 28, 2015 at

Is a Gluten-Free Diet SSafe?

In recent years, more people have taken on a gluten-free diet, believing that avoiding gluten is healthier or could help them lose weight. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, and rye. There is no current data that suggests the general public should maintain a gluten-free diet for better health or weight loss. Gluten-free diets are not necessarily healthier due to the fact that gluten-free foods may not provide enough of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals the body needs including fiber, iron, and calcium.

A gluten-free diet is only recommended for people diagnosed with celiac disease.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that damages the small intestine. If you have celiac disease, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, pale and foul-smelling or fatty stools that float, and vomiting. These symptoms are often more common in children than adults. Adults are less likely to have digestive symptoms and instead may have: anemia, a red, smooth, shiny tongue, depression or anxiety, headaches, infertility or repeated miscarriages, missed menstrual periods, seizures, tiredness, and weak and brittle bones. Some people with celiac disease have no symptoms at all. Sometimes, health issues like surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, bacterial gastroenteritis, viral infection, or severe mental stress can trigger celiac disease symptoms.


Celiac disease can be hard to diagnose because some of the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases like irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance. Celiac disease can be diagnosed by your doctor after he or she takes a medical and family history and conducts a physical exam and tests. During the physical exam, your doctor will check for a rash that can arise when you don’t get enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you need, leading to malnutrition. Your doctor will also listen to sounds in your abdomen with a stethoscope and tap on your abdomen to check for pain and fullness or swelling. Tests may include blood tests, genetic tests, and biopsy.


Celiac disease can be treated with a gluten-free diet. Symptoms will greatly improve in most people with celiac disease who stick to a gluten-free diet. Many stores and restaurants have added many more gluten-free foods and products to make it easier. Following a gluten-free diet will heal damage in the small intestine and prevent more damage for most people. The small intestine can usually be healed in 3-6 months with a gluten-free diet in children; however, it may take years for adults’ small intestines to heal.

Eating, Diet, and Nutrition

Avoiding foods with gluten is critical in treating celiac disease. Many of these foods include cereal, grains, and pasta, as well as many processed foods. Be sure to always read food ingredient lists carefully to make sure there is no gluten included. Foods like meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, rice, and potatoes without additives or seasonings containing gluten are part of a well-balanced diet. You can also eat gluten-free types of bread, pasta, and other foods that are now easier to find in stores and restaurants. You may also eat potato, rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat or bean flour instead of wheat flour when cooking or baking.

Gluten Sensitivity or Wheat Intolerance

Gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance is different than celiac disease; however, some of the symptoms are the same including tiredness and stomach aches. Gluten sensitivity can also cause symptoms like muscle cramps and leg numbness, but it does not damage the small intestine like celiac disease.

Sources: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases & Medline Plus

Physical Activity & Cold Weather

As cold weather settles in, your exercise and physical activity may begin to decrease. Unfortunately, cold weather can discourage even the most dedicated physical activity enthusiasts. But cold weather doesn’t have to stop your outdoor activity in its tracks.

Stay healthy and fit during cold weather months by establishing a plan to exercise safely during cold weather. Talk with your doctor if you have any medical conditions prior to starting a new workout routine. Staying active throughout the year can help maintain strength, control weight gain and improve general well-being.

Plan to be safe and stay fit with these tips for exercising during cold weather:

  1. Don’t dress too warmly. A lot of heat is generated when you exercise that may cause you to sweat and you may become chilled once your sweat dries. Wear light layers and remove them as needed. The first layer should be a thin material that draws sweat away from the body. Avoid wearing cotton, which tends to cause sweat to pool on your skin.
  2. Protect your ears, hands and feet from frostbite. Wear a hat or headband to protect your ears from the cold. Consider wearing a thin pair of gloves under a heavier pair of gloves or mittens. Remove the heavier pair if your hands begin to sweat.
  3. Drink plenty of water even if you aren’t thirsty. Cold air has a drying effect, which can increase the risk of dehydration.
  4. Choose appropriate gear. Wear footwear with enough traction to avoid falls. If it’s dark outside, wear reflective clothing. Consider wearing shoes a half-size larger so you can wear thicker socks. Remember to wear sunscreen to avoid sunburn and protect your eyes from snow glare with dark glasses or goggles.
  5. Know the signs and symptoms of hypothermia. Exercising in cold, rainy weather increases the risk of hypothermia, as does being an older adult. Symptoms of hypothermia include intense shivering, loss of coordination, and fatigue.
  6. Know your area’s weather forecast. Use common sense when faced with extreme weather conditions. If the temperature is below zero or the wind chill is minus 20, move your workout indoors.

If you currently aren’t physically active, you may want to view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for ideas to add physical activity to your life. The CDC recommends that adults get 150 minutes per week of physical activity a week and children get at least 60 minutes daily.

Written by Ann Schwader, Nutrition Field Specialist at SDSU Extension.

Your Health is a Gift. Be Proactive and Maintain it!

Logo for the Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux EmpireThe Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire (BGCSE) provides developmentally appropriate programs to enable each child to grow intellectually, emotionally, physically, and socially while becoming aware of their surroundings and their abilities. BGCSE applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health to focus on the health and wellness of their employees that provide these important services. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The following is a WorkWell Grant success story written by BGCSE:

The WorkWell Grant allowed us to focus on three public health issues we felt most impacted our staff: mental health, reduction of stress, and obesity. These health issues were addressed through wellness challenges and educational information provided in the Wellness Corner of our staff monthly newsletter and posting health tips for staff and families to see. We varied our activities with both individual and team programs. Exercise and walking challenges were implemented to get people to purposefully think about the food they were eating or the activities they were engaging in. Our wellness program is open to all employees.

One of the biggest challenges was motivation. Getting employees to think about their health prior to a health crisis is difficult. Most employees understand the importance of healthy eating and exercising, but when it comes to putting that action in place, it is difficult to motivate people. To address this we tried to provide a variety of monthly wellness challenges. Our goal was to provide something for everyone, regardless of their level of health or motivation.

An interesting and unexpected outcome was quite a few people said they participated, but did not complete the tracking forms. They didn’t want to be recognized for doing something that they should be doing for their own betterment. Although we can’t track the progress from these individuals, we still consider their participation a step in the right direction.

The positive outcomes from the wellness program were illustrated on both a personal and environmental level. We received several positive comments from the staff regarding the wellness program as a whole and their appreciation of the effort to recognize healthy behaviors. From a facilitation perspective, it appeared that those who benefited most were employees who continually participated each month. They had the intrinsic motivation to make a change for themselves. Positive environmental outcomes were development and implementation of a Cancer and Health Screening Policy for our employees. The policy allows paid time off for these important screenings.

In the future, we plan to continue to utilize the monthly newsletter and personalize the Wellness Corner by highlighting a specific employees’ participation and how it has impacted their life. We will also continue to post health tips in our main locations for staff and families.

Our advice to anyone or any worksite interested in making changes to create a healthier worksite environment, don’t give up! Change is hard and people don’t always like to share their struggles or successes with you. If you impact even one person, then the project was worth it.

“Your health is a gift that most people take for granted. Be proactive in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It is much easier to make little steps along the way rather than needing to make drastic changes after a health scare or crisis.”
~ Vickie Venhuizen, BGCSE Grants Manager

Herb App for Herb Safety and Effectiveness

HerbList™ is a mobile app that provides scientific, researched-based information about the safety and effectiveness of herbal products. HerbList helps consumers, patients, healthcare providers, and other users to quickly access unbiased information about the science of many popular herbs and herbal supplements such as kava, acai, ginkgo, turmeric, and over 50 others that have been marketed for health purposes.

The app provides access to information on safety problems, side effects, and herb-drug interactions with additional links to resources for more information. Within the app, users can also mark their favorite herbs for quick recall and offline accessibility. Having access to this information will help you make informed decisions about supplement use.

The HerbList app was developed by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The app is built around the NCCIH’s webpage called Herbs at a Glance, which is a series of brief fact sheets that provide basic information about specific herbs or botanicals, common names, what the science says, potential side-effects and cautions, and resources for more information.

The app can be launched through the National Library of Medicine’s app pages on the Apple App Store  and the Google Play Store.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – National Institute of Health 

Get Active Mitchell: City-wide signage and wellness portal gets employees moving!

city of mitchell logo

The City of Mitchell (COM) employees are in multiple sites across Mitchell, SD. The worksite is vast and diverse with 189 full-time employees and hundreds of part-time employees. With the many different locations in the city, there are also multiple different job types.

The COM received the South Dakota Department of Health Steps to Wellness Grant to improve the physical activity environment in the worksite and implement a policy to support active employees. The COM set a goal to educate their employees on various wellness topics, and also provide opportunities for them to be active during the workday! The COM attempted multiple challenges and programs that weren’t successful, but after the Steps to Wellness Grant, they were able to implement a project that fit a lot of different locations and job types within their workforce.

Walking Route Signage and Employee Wellness Portal:City of Mitchell Walking Route Flyer
The COM developed and purchased wayfinding signage that displayed a 10-, 20- and 30-minute walking route to and from a starting destination. Signs were placed across the city at the different worksite locations, providing personalized walking routes with a start and ending point from their worksite. The wellness team felt that individual routes personalized to the employee location would create more buy-in and provide an easy opportunity to take advantage of the environmental support for physical activity.

The COM also created a tracking software that synced directly with QR codes on the signage, Get Active! App. The tracking App allows employees to log usage of the walking routes and have the information directly synced to the employer. Since the signs have been installed, the Get Active! App has morphed into a full-service wellness portal, with specific portals for preventative services, inter-department wellness challenges, and article generation for current wellness topics.

Additional Successes:
The general public in Mitchell has also started using the signs to map out their own walking/running/rolling routes and are embracing the idea of putting these up all over the city. The COM was able to establish a larger-scale wellness portal for employees through the start of the Get Active! App. The overall wellness portal is controlled by the COM worksite wellness
team and provides a direct form of communication to employees to serve as a platform to educate and motivate on various wellness topics and goals.

The biggest barrier the COM faced was getting the initial buy-in from all the department heads located within their business, a few that didn’t fully understand the concept and goals of the project. The COM was able to communicate their plans and work through any questions about the project and successfully implement. With such a diverse workforce, the COM has struggled for years to come up with a wellness program that fits all their workers.

The COM plans to continue worksite wellness initiatives for their employees. They want to continue plans to educate, motivate, and innovate with their employees!

“Working with the South Dakota Department of Health was an easy, seamless process, filled with nothing but professional people who have the best interest of the worksites in mind.” 
~Thomas Gulledge, City of Mitchell Recreation Coordinator

Introducing Youth to Healthier Food Options

Rapid City YMCA logoThe YMCA of Rapid City (Y) is a non-profit organization committed to helping families through programs focused on youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. The Y was one of 13 worksites in South Dakota chosen for the Healthier Vending & Snack Bar (HVSB) pilot project in July 2014.

The goal of the HVSB project is to implement policy, system, and environmental change to improve the food environment by making healthier choices more accessible, more appealing, and more affordable. The project requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow, and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase.

The project was initiated by the staff wellness committee to improve food and drinks that were offered in the Youth Center. The Youth Center is most often used by kids ages 6-17, but is also used by Y staff and members after 2pm when the Courtyard Café closes. It is set up as a snack bar with products purchased, stocked, and sold by staff members. There is no outside vendor.

Challenges & Barriers:
An initial barrier was finding staff time to devote to planning, purchasing, categorizing, and labeling products. It also took time to find products that the kids wanted to eat and did not go to waste. Another challenge is staff turnover. Almost all of the staff that started on the project in 2014 are no longer working at the Y, requiring continuous re-training on the Munch Code standards.

Although some of the challenges seen at the start of the project with time constraints and staff turnover persist, the Y continues to train staff and devote time to ensuring healthier foods and drinks are made available to their youth.


Photo of Rapid City YMCA child with healthy incentiveThe Y found that using point of purchase information through Munch Code signs and color-coded stickers and considering product placement and attractiveness were keys to enhancing sales of healthier items. During the process, Y members and parents would ask about the changes and seemed pleased to see healthier options available. Staff even witnessed people changing their minds and choosing a healthier option after noticing the Munch Code. Staff learned the importance of not making food purchases based solely on price, strategically placing green foods to increase sales, and using positive reinforcement when kids purchase healthier options. As an incentive, kids received a punch card for choosing healthier options. Mason (pictured right) was the first kid to fill up his punch card. He received a water bottle and healthy snacks as a prize!

“Kids will buy anything if they have money to spend. If we praised them for making healthier food choice and other kids heard that, then, they too would make healthier food choices to get praise.”
~ Nicole Craig, Wellness Director

Overall there was an increased awareness of the importance of creating a healthy, supportive environment. Staff brought in a few more green items and permanently removed some red items. One of the greatest achievements for the Y was the development of a rule that no one under the age of 18 could purchase soda!

YMCA Rapid 'before' pictures of snack bar


YMCA Rapid 'after' pictures of snack bar


Future Plans:
The Y’s goal is to continue to stock healthier options and to prioritize the time necessary to keep the youth, staff, and members motivated and excited. They also want to ensure all attending youth can recognize, read, and understand a basic food label.

The Success of Early Detection

City of Huron Logo

The City of Huron’s Get Fit Committee applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The City of Huron has worked on a variety of projects through the WorkWell Grant opportunity. The following is a success story written by the Huron Get Fit Committee on their annual health fair:

The Annual Cancer Awareness Health Fair invites employees and their family members to participate and learn more about cancer and prevention. Booths are set up from a variety of different vendors including Huron Regional Medical Center and the Huron Clinic who have participated every year since its start in 2016. As a committee, our goal for the health fair is to reduce health insurance premiums by early detection so cancer is curable and the employee and family members can return to normal activities as soon as possible should cancer be detected.

Planning and development of the health fair included consideration of who will attend and what screenings they would want. We also considered if a recommendation is made for follow-up with their health care provider, will the employee or family member be committed to do so? We found that employees do understand the value of early detection and are seeking information and follow-up. A City of Huron employee first learned about abnormal results from a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) blood draw at the health fair which was later diagnosed as the early stages of prostate cancer. As word spread about the cancer diagnosis, many of the male employees over age 50 requested this test annually. By having it at the event, they do not have to pay a $25.00 office visit co-pay to see their doctor or take time off work to go into the clinic.

Some of the services and screenings offered in years past include full body skin cancer screening, bone density, breast cancer awareness, colorectal cancer kits, head, neck & throat cancer screening, lung cancer education, prostate cancer PSA screening, skin damage dermacan (face only), spirometer test, and tobacco cessation education.

Next year, we are looking at adding more health awareness issues including hearing, dental, and vision as well as a map to illustrate which vendors are there and what information and screenings they provide. The event is growing each year!

“We take pride in offering an opportunity for employees to focus on their own personal health.”
~Shanna Sterrett, City of Huron Executive Secretary/IT Coordinator

Mental Health Agency Explores Self-Care Options

Catholic Social Service Logo

Catholic Social Services (CSS) is a multi-faceted social services agency that provides behavioral health services in all 22 counties of western South Dakota. CSS applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The following is a WorkWell Grant success story written by CSS:

CSS used its WorkWell grant funding to address staff challenges when working in the high-stress fields of mental health, poverty-reduction, and substance abuse. The agency offered staff educational presentations on various physical, mental, and spiritual health topics throughout the year at monthly employee gatherings that typically lasted for 30 minutes. These presentations were followed by individual commitments from employees to practice or implement the new techniques in their daily lives for the coming month. These practices ranged from physical activity and fitness challenges, dietary changes, stress-reduction techniques and more.

Some key components of the wellness and self-care education were:

  1.  Self-care webinar for mental health providers
  2.  Improving brain health through nutrition and exercise
  3.  Office yoga demonstration
  4.  Aromatherapy and chair massage
  5.  Desk and work station ergonomic assessments
  6.  Guided meditation for stress relief
  7.  Journaling for emotional and spiritual health
  8.  Spinal/chiropractic health
  9.  Lakota spirituality beliefs
  10.  Fit 150 Challenge (150 minutes of physical exercise per week)
  11.  0 to 60 Water Challenge (consume 60 ounces of water per day)

Three CSS employees reported significant decreases in weight, A1C diabetes levels, and other health improvements that they attribute to their participation in the WorkWell activities. One individual lost 22 pounds and saw her A1C levels drop to within normal range and eliminated a diagnosis of prediabetes!

This wellness project created a more cohesive staff. It improved team work and communication between individual employees and whole departments as staff were sharing exercise regimens, encouraging dietary changes, and trying new self-care techniques as a team.

GovWell: Pierre School Staff Get Well

Home of the Pierre Governors

The Pierre Public School District’s worksite wellness program GovWell applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

There are five schools in the Pierre Public School District including three elementary, one middle school, and one high school. The WorkWell Grant was utilized to improve the wellness program and implement a variety of health challenges, events, exercise classes, educational sessions, and informative resources. All staff in the district were welcome to participate – principals, teachers, custodians, food service staff, teachers aids, etc. Often times in a school district staff from different buildings do not interact. The GovWell program brings staff from various school buildings together and created competition and comradery throughout the district.

The GovWell planning committee included the School Nutrition Director as the lead coordinator, a representative from each school building, and was open to any others who were interested in participating in the planning and promotion. The team only met twice during the school year but was in constant communication through email. The GovWell committee found a variety of challenges with planning, organizing, and implementing the wellness program. Logistical challenges included determining staff needs, scheduling and timing of activities, effective communication for adequate promotion and involvement, creating user-friendly tools and resources, and tracking progress. To help address some of these challenges a survey was conducted to determine impact, satisfaction, and receive feedback and ideas for improvement. A new communication plan was also formed. In the future, each school building representative will be responsible for communication within their building as opposed to one person reaching out to all staff whom they may or may not personally know or see on a daily basis.

A school district can be a high stress environment that leaves little time for staff to focus on their own health and wellness. However, these logistical and everyday challenges combined with multiple staff battling cancer or other chronic diseases, opened the doors for a wealth of worksite wellness opportunities.

The four quarters in the school year were divided into four wellness areas: nutrition and weight management, physical activity, financial and stress/emotional wellness, and cancer and disease prevention. Activities were created to address each of these areas including a steps challenge, biggest loser challenge, yoga classes, general exercise classes, water challenge, nutrition/cancer prevention educational session, diabetes education session, health screenings, flu shot availability, a New Years resolution tool, and informational newsletters. 100 staff members participated in different areas of the wellness program. Many focused on physical activity and nutrition as they know these two things will prevent chronic disease.

The positive results were seen on both a personal and system-wide level. Each school building created a healthier environment whether it was healthier snacks at meetings, bringing in less unhealthy foods to the staff break rooms, or challenging each other to be healthier. The end-of-year survey found 38% of participants were very satisfied, 33% satisfied, 24% neutral, and 4% not satisfied with GovWell that school year when surveyed. This showed an overall positive impact as 71% of staff reported being satisfied or very satisfied! The survey also found almost half of the participants exercised more and drank more water, 40% ate healthier and focused more on self-care, and 1 in 4 lost weight!

“The buzz that the challenges created in our school buildings was infectious. Wellness when done as a team is powerful.” ~Liz Marso, School Nutrition Director

The next steps for the GovWell team are to dig into the data from the survey and improve next years program based on that feedback. It is a priority to ensure the staff knows their input is heard and valued. Offering more online educational sessions versus in-person, continuing the weight loss and steps challenge, adding more challenges as this was an area of high interest and engagement, and to continue having personal trainers come to the school to do group fitness were all determined from survey feedback. The long term goal is to increase participation and continue to build and create a wellness program that is an important part of working for the Pierre School District.

Administrative support and buy-in are key components to a successful and sustainable wellness program for any type of business or worksite. The Pierre School District has solidified that support and the district has agreed to take on funding the program moving forward!

Employee Garden Grows Vegetables, Knowledge, and Friendships

Black Hills Surgical Hospital LogoBlack Hills Surgical Hospital is a physician-owned hospital located in Rapid City. Their mission is to be the leader in providing the highest quality healthcare, recovery care, and diagnostic imaging services in an environment that is safe, convenient, and comfortable for the patients, their families, employees, and the healthcare practitioners who use the facilities. Black Hills Surgical Hospital applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The following is Black Hills Surgical Hospital’s success story about their employee garden:

The focus of our WorkWell Grant was to develop an employee garden to encourage healthy eating by allowing our employees the opportunity to grow fresh herbs and vegetables and provide them to their families. The whole thing was a learning experience for everyone involved. From building the above-ground plots, to plowing for the in-ground plots, learning how to plant and what to plant together, and how to take care of the garden through the growing season.

We had a small committee that helped build the gardens and a few master gardeners that took the time to help those less comfortable with gardening. The project started in January with planning the design and determining when and how to build. We came up with designs and two possible locations. One in-ground and one above-ground plot. Luckily, our executives agreed to match the grant funds we received and we were able to do both locations.

We first designed the above-ground gardens and figured out what supplies we needed and then what was needed for the in-ground gardens. We purchased the wood and started building the above-ground gardens at our main hospital location. At the same time, a couple employees with big tillers started tilling up the area where the in-ground gardens would be at our business office. Once construction was done, we laid out the plots.

Employees could sign-up for a designated plot in the garden. At our main location (above-ground plots), employees could get a 4’x5’ plot and do plants that weren’t “viney” (squash, cucumbers, beans, etc). At our business office (in-ground plots), employees could have a 10’x10’ plot and could plant anything they wanted. Employees were asked to sign a simple contract with their plot as a form of accountability. We easily filled up all but 3 of our in-ground plots and those were going to be used by the company to plant pumpkins to use for staff at Halloween. Planting begun by employees who also brought their families out to learn and grow things.

The project was done in May in time for planting and grew all summer. The committee met frequently in the beginning to plan and prepare, but only a couple of times during the growing season. Employees with gardening knowledge stepped up to help out in a huge way. From giving advice to new gardeners and putting on classes, to recommending the best way to do fencing and water. Not many employees offer free garden plots to employees to grow their own food. Having our CEO and CFO behind us and encouraging us was a huge help! Employees loved the opportunity and we have many more that want to join in.

Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden

Our biggest barrier was getting water to the business office plot, but our employer was gracious enough to provide this at no cost for us. Other barriers were issues with animals that got in and ate the vegetation or employees that left during the growing season. Next year we will make some advancements to the in-ground plots to keep the animals out.

Our plots have been a huge success. One of the most exciting deliverables was the crops we had grown! We were able to produce pumpkins, corn, peppers, zucchini, squash, and the tomatoes were abundant. The pumpkins were used at our Urgent Cares for kids who came in close to Halloween. They were able to pick out a pumpkin and take it home.

Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden Picture of Black Hills Surgical Hospitals worksite garden

It was incredibly gratifying watching employees soak in the knowledge from our master gardeners and the excitement when they picked their crops and shared the photos. Our executive group had fun watching the crops grow outside of their windows and taste testing fresh veggies right from the vine. We are blessed to have a company that not only allowed us to start this project but also supplied the water for us to use.

We will continue our employee garden each year and plan on expanding the in-ground garden next year. We are excited to see how it turns out!

Our advise for other businesses…
“If you are thinking about starting a garden, just do it! Employees will be grateful and the gratification from seeing the crops grow and eating the fresh food is immense.”
~Kathy Lees, Black Hills Surgical Hospital Wellness Coordinator



Healthy Eating: 101

You know that you should eat right in order to stay healthy. But with all of the fad diets like gluten-free, ketogenic, paleo, raw foods, etc., it is hard to know what is actually considered healthy. It seems as if the term “healthy eating” is always changing.

Here are some guidelines to follow that will never go out of style:

Know your food groups

Knowing and understanding the different food groups will help you get the nutritious foods your body needs. Always remember…a healthy diet will never fully eliminate an entire food group. Check out Choose MyPlate for more information on each food group and to determine where your favorite foods fall.

  • Grains. Foods made from wheat, rye, rice, oats, cornmeal, or barley. These foods don’t only include bread and pasta, but also cereal, rice, grits, tortillas, and popcorn. Often times, people eat more grains than they need. When looking for grain foods, choose those whose first ingredient says “whole grains.” This means the grain has not been processed.
  • Vegetables. Veggies come in a wide variety of colors and flavors, and are packed full of nutrients. They are also naturally low in calories. Starchy vegetables such as corn and potatoes may be higher in carbohydrates and therefore higher in calories than other vegetables. This does not mean that you have to stay away from starchy vegetables though. They provide a good source of energy and nutrients.
  • Fruits. Fruit is another food that comes in many different colors and flavors, making them high in nutrients. Fruit is full of fiber, helping to promote digestive regularity. Fruit is a great sweet and low-calorie treat that can replace a candy bar or dessert as a more nutritious option.
  • Protein. Similar to grains, people often eat more protein than they need. This may result in higher caloric intake. Rather than cutting calories out of other food groups, such as fruits and vegetables that are high in nutrients, try eating more lean meats such as chicken or turkey, and swap seafood, such as shrimp or salmon, for meat at least a couple of times per week.
  • Dairy. Many adults are not getting as much dairy as they should. In order to keep your heart healthy, aim for low-fat or fat-free dairy choices. Choosing fat-fee or low-fat yogurt and milk rather than cheese can give you added vitamins and minerals and less fat and sodium.
  • Oils. This food group is higher in calories, but still has many health benefits due to the nutrients and vitamin E found in oils. Choose oils over solid fats, such as butter, when cooking. Some healthy sources of oils include avocados, olives, and peanut butter. Remember: a little goes a long way. Try to limit your intake of oils.
  • Solid Fats and Added Sugars. Also known as SoFAS. Added sugars are just added calories without more nutrients. Choosing foods throughout the day that are low in fat and without added sugar could leave you with some extra calories left over each day.

Portion size versus serving size

A “serving” is the amount of food recommended to eat. A “portion” is the amount of food you choose to eat at any one time – which may be more or less than a serving. Here’s a quick guide to food portion sizes using everyday objects.

Small Stamp = 1 teaspoon
9-Volt Battery = 1 tablespoon
Golf Ball = 2 tablespoons
Deck of Cards = 3 ounces
Computer Mouse = 1/2 cup
Baseball = 1 cup

To see how much you are actually eating, pour your cereal into a regular bowl and then into a measuring cup. Do the same with you glasses, cups and plates. Portion size matters!

Know your macronutrients

These are substances required in large amount by the body in order to function properly.

Proteins. Proteins are the body’s building blocks since they repair your tissues, fight off infection, and extra protein can be used for energy. Proteins are made up on amino acids. Essential amino acids are the type of amino acids that the body cannot make itself and therefore must be regularly consumed in food. Protein can be found in many foods ranging from lean meat, seafood, and eggs, to beans, peas, soy, and even dairy products. Protein that comes from plant-based sources tends to be lower in fat and cholesterol and higher in fiber and nutrients.

Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates or carbs are the body’s main source of energy. They can be categorized into simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are found in fruits, veggies, dairy products, and sweeteners such as sugar, honey, and syrup. Complex carbohydrates are found in breads, cereals, pasta, rice, beans, peas, and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn. Complex carbs tend to be higher in fiber as well which can prevent stomach and intestinal problems. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate the body cannot digest. It is found it fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. Most fiber we eat is insoluble and cannot be digested—this is the type of fiber that promotes healthy digestive environments and elimination of waste. It can also make us feel fuller. Soluble fiber is the type of fiber that can help regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.

Fats. Fats are another source of energy and have the ability to make you feel satisfied after eating. Some oils include butter, shortening, and margarine. Foods such as mayonnaise, salad dressing, and sour cream are also high in fats. Seeds, nuts, avocado, and coconut are plant-based sources of fats. There are different categories of fats. As a general rule, try to get more of your fats from unsaturated fat like mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats. These types of fats are liquid at room temperature and are more heart-healthy compared to saturated fats and trans fats which are solid at room temperature. Omega fatty acids are the only type of fats that the body cannot make on its own. Humans need Omega 3 and Omega 6 to make cell membranes and produce many hormones. They can also be capable of reducing chronic inflammation and preventing heart disease. They are added to some foods but occur naturally in many oils—especially fish oils.

Learn more at Important Nutrients to Know: Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat

Know your micronutrients

These are substances required in smaller amounts but are still equally important.

Vitamins. Vitamins are molecules that our bodies cannot make, but need for growth and maintenance. Vitamins are larger molecules than minerals. They are either fat-soluble (D, E, A, and K) or water-soluble (B Vitamins, and C). Fat-soluble vitamins require fat for them to be properly used by the body and can be stored for later use. Water-soluble vitamins do not require additional nutrients to function and will not be stored in the body. If you eat or drink more Vitamin C than your body needs, it will be excreted in your urine. Vitamins are most present in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts; but some are also found in meats and dairy. It is not healthy to have too little or too much. Keep that in mind if you are taking dietary supplements including multi-vitamins. Dietary supplements also have the potential to interfere with certain medications.

Minerals. Minerals are small molecules that usually enter the body in combination with another atom and assist in many bodily functions. Examples include sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphate, sulfate, magnesium, and iron. The body cannot make its own minerals but they can be found in foods such as dairy, meat, nuts, fruit, and vegetables. Not all foods have the same types and amounts of minerals. Just like vitamins, it is not healthy to have too little or too many minerals.

Learn more at Important Nutrients to Know: Vitamins and Minerals

Think about what you drink

Your three best options for healthy drinks are water, low-fat or fat-free milk, and 100% juice. Milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice only contain natural sugar, no added sugar and should contribute to the recommended daily intake of fruit, vegetables, and dairy as noted previously. Water is a daily staple. Drink water every day! But believe it or not, there is not an exact recommendation for the amount of water you should drink in a day. Instead, let your thirst guide you. There are general recommendations for water intake from both food and drinks. Women should get approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces) each day, and men approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of total water daily. About 80% of your total water intake comes from drinking water and other beverages — including caffeinated beverages — and the other 20% is derived from food. Learn more about water at Important Nutrients to Know: Water.

Cut back on drinks with added sugar. Added sugar can be found in juice that is not 100%, regular pop/soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and thousands of other beverages that are on the market today. Sports drinks can be appropriate for athletes engaged in moderate- to high-intensity exercise that lasts an hour or longer to replace electrolytes, but they still contain a large amount of added sugar.

Alcohol should always be in moderation. One drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only for adults of legal drinking age.

Health benefits of eating a balanced diet

Eating a balanced diet can help you physically and emotionally. A well-balanced diet can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Consuming foods with lots of fiber such as nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help your heart work efficiently, reducing your risk of heart disease. Furthermore, eating a balanced diet will help to protect you from diabetes, especially the foods that are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Eating foods rich in B vitamins can reduce homocysteine levels which may reduce risk of developing dementia. Other brain functions that can be increased from eating foods high in omega 3’s include increased memory and mood as well as reduced risk of depression, schizophrenia, and mood disorders. Consuming fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants can help to reduce risk of certain cancers. Eating healthy foods at regular intervals can also help to boost and maintain energy levels.

There are so many benefits of healthy eating. Don’t wait, start today!

Sources: National Institute on Aging, Choose MyPlate, Michigan State University Extension, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – Eat Right and Drink Responsibly & Hydrate Right

Thanks, I’d Rather Stand!

Central Farmers Cooperative Logo

Central Farmers Cooperative/FREMAR, LLC (Central Farmers Coop) is an agricultural based company that provides products, services and market access in the areas of agronomy, feed, grain, and petroleum. Central Farmers Coop applied for and received a WorkWell Mini-Grant through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the grant is to provide South Dakota worksites with funding and resources to send a positive, supportive message and promote healthy lifestyles by preventing, reducing, and managing chronic disease through workplace environment and/or policy change.

The following is a WorkWell Grant success story written by Central Farmers Coop:

One of the challenges that our project addressed was keeping active during the workday. With our 12 locations, and several sites within these locations, it became a challenge to motivate and keep our employees active, especially those who have mostly sedentary jobs. We promoted taking the stairs or walking around the office or building by using posters and emails.

We also decided to address the bigger issue of sitting all day. Approximately 25% of our employees have sedentary roles based on their job description. We asked a local printer to make accordion-fold cards that contained eleven desk stretches. The cards were small and could sit on the desk as a gentle reminder to take activity breaks throughout the day.

Picture of Central Farmers Coop desk exercise brochure

Even though we felt the cards would help, we wanted to take it a step farther. We purchased an adjustable height desk for our employees to test. After a few weeks, we did a survey to see if those participants felt it increased their productivity, reduced their fatigue, etc. With a lot of positive feedback, our committee approached our manager with the results. With management support, we were able to purchase three more adjustable height desks, and place them in our office spaces. A random drawing was done to determine who would receive the desks as there were more requests than could be fulfilled!

With buy-in from upper management and input from our Human Resource and Office Manager, we now have a plan in place to replace old desks with adjustable height desks. We hope that in the future, we will be able to acquire at least one additional desk per year!

“I really enjoy the sit-stand desk! Whenever I use the stand mode, I always feel more productive and it breaks up the tightness I get in my hips when I sit all day. Once spring really gets going, I anticipate using it even more.”
~Central Farmers Coop employee that received a standing desk


Spooktacular Menu & Healthy Halloween Tips

We know that candy and sugary treats are front-and-center at Halloween, even well before the kids head out for trick-or-treating. And kids can absolutely enjoy treats this Halloween! But it is important to find a balance. Here are some easy-to-make Halloween snacks we found that kids and parents will love as well as tips for how to incorporate some nutrition into your Halloween no matter where your children are that day!


Spooktacular Menu for Kids

Breakfast: Peachy Spider Waffle

Lunch: Veggie Stuffed Pita, After-School Strawberry Shake, Carrot Fingers

Dinner: Red Lentil Soup, Cheesy Ghost Toast

Snacks: Veggie Snake in the Grass, Pumpkin Orange, Brainy Applesauce

Get all of these recipes, plus calories and nutrition information HERE!


At Home

A healthy Halloween starts at home. The way your family celebrates holidays will set expectations for your kids when they participate in other classroom parties or afterschool celebrations. Here are some treat tips for your household:

  • The Wholesome Dinner
    Plan to trick-or-treat after a wholesome dinner. When your kids are full, they will be less likely to snack on the treats they accumulate later in the evening.
  • The Smaller Treat Container
    Leave the pillow cases at home and give your kids smaller treat containers to use while venturing out to collect their neighborhood bounty.
  • Walk Don’t Drive
    Show your kids how fun it can be to get out and walk the neighborhood. Add layers under their costumes if it is cold, remember safety rules and trick-or-treat with an adult.

At School

Healthy school celebrations provide consistent messages that reinforce the healthy habits students are creating throughout the school year. The healthy celebration possibilities are endless – get creative! Here are a couple ideas to get those creative juices flowing:

  • The Great Pumpkin Run
    1-mile fun run where winners at each grade level receive award ribbons and pumpkins.
  • The Healthy Snack Database
    Especially around the holidays, teachers and students can utilize the Alliance’s Smart Foods Planner, which takes the guesswork out of finding pre-approved healthy options for classroom celebrations.

During Out-of-School Time

Most students trick-or-treat in the evening, extending Halloween celebrations beyond the school day. This is where our afterschool programs and community settings can help amp up the healthy message. Here’s one of our favorites:

  • The Swap
    Playing with your food has its place, and that place is during out-of-school time Halloween celebrations. Replace traditional candy at the Halloween celebration with vegetable skeletons, tangerine jack-o’-lanterns and banana ghosts.

Sources: Fruits & Veggies More MattersAlliance for a Healthier Generation

Brookings Health System – Physical Activity Encouragement, Equipment, and Easy Access

brookings health system

Brookings Health System (BHS) serves the needs of Brookings, SD and surrounding SD communities. Brookings Health System is a non-profit, city-owned health system that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, surgery, home health, and extended care services. On the main campus, over 475 employees make up this large employer.

BHS received the South Dakota Department of Health Steps to Wellness Grant to improve the physical activity environment at their worksite. The wellness committee at BHS set a goal to help staff increase their physical activity levels overall, with a specific focus on their work environment. To achieve this goal, they wanted to provide encouragement, equipment, and easy access to physical activity opportunities for all employees.

The BHS Wellness Committee accomplished three major environmental changes to meet this goal:

  1. Walking path maps
    The maps show ¼, ½, and 1-mile walking routes around the Brookings main campus and are hung in places easily visible for both employees and visitors. Brochure-style copies of the map are also on display at the facility’s front desks. To encourage use of these walking paths, BHS built different employee challenges around these routes.
  2. Bicycle racks
    BHS purchased bicycle racks to encourage active commuting to and from work each day.
  3. Small exercise equipment
    They also purchased hand weights, a rack, and plyometric platforms to provide another opportunity for movement each day. Employees use the equipment in the staff exercise room or bring them to their desk for quick physical activity breaks.

brochures on tablewalking mapweight rackbike rack

In addition to the environmental supports, BHS implemented a Worksite Physical Activity Policy. The policy supports and encourages employees to engage in physical activity through an onsite fitness center, gym membership reimbursement program, bike racks, walking paths, ongoing employee wellness challenges, and an employee wellness reward program.

Additional Successes

  • Financial incentives
    The BHS facility was also in the process of implementing financial incentives for employees who participate in wellness activities throughout the year (as mentioned above in the policy component). Thus, implementation of the new environmental supports for physical activity had perfect timing. Participation increased after BHS implemented these interventions.

Challenges & Barriers

  • Major construction of the main campus
    With some delays in the overall construction timeline for the facility, the wellness committee wasn’t able to implement all grant items in an appropriate timeline. Although this barrier was significant during the project period, they easily achieved their 3 environmental changes once construction was finished.

BHS is continually working to keep employees engaged through challenges, programs, and additional wellness opportunities.

Healthier Vending Machines & Snack Bars in SD Worksites: Grantee Evaluation

The SD Department of Health Healthier Vending and Snack Bar Policy Project was developed to provide businesses with assistance and guidelines for incorporating healthier food and drink options in vending machines and snack bars at their worksites. The below evaluation reports were developed by a third party evaluator and assess the project’s extent of success using reports and data from the worksite grantees.

2015-2016 Grantee Evaluation

2016-2017 Grantee Evaluation

2017-2018 Grantee Evaluation

3 Year Cumulative Evaluation

How to Incorporate Healthy Eating in Childcare Settings

Childcare practitioners share ideas and challenges with implementing healthy food at the YMCA Sandusky Childcare Center in Ohio. 3 key pieces of advice…

  1. Start small
  2. Tackle one thing at a time
  3. Keep trying


Practitioners also share the steps they took to support the important transition to incorporate healthy food into their childcare center.

  • Moving to whole grains
  • Eliminating flavored milks
  • Eating family style
  • Offering a healthy food curriculum
  • Sending home recipes


Source: The videos are from the Building Capacity for Obesity Prevention (BCOP) study. BCOP is a collaboration between The Ohio State University SNAP-Ed program; the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods (PRCHN) at Case Western Reserve University; and the Ohio Department of Health, Creating Healthy Communities Program.


Go Further with Food

March is National Nutrition Month®! 2018’s theme is Go Further with Food. It encourages us to achieve the numerous benefits healthy eating habits offer, while also urging us to find ways to cut back on food waste.

Food waste is when edible food goes uneaten. Wasted food = wasted money and nutrients! The following tips can help make your food last and cut back on food waste.

  • Consider the foods you have on hand when planning meals before buying more at the store.
  • Buy only the amount that can be eaten or frozen within a few days and plan ways to use leftovers later in the week.
  • Get creative with leftovers. Transform meals into soups, salads, or sandwiches. Cut up leftover meats and veggies and use them as a topping for salads or cooked grains like rice, pasta, or quinoa! Wrap in a tortilla or stuff into a pita for a satisfying sandwich.
  • Place foods that spoil quickly within sight.
  • Store produce properly. Check out this infographic on How to Keep Produce Fresh Longer.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes using MyPlate. Eat and drink the amount that’s right for you.
  • Continue to use good food safety practices. Regardless of the date stamped on the food or drink packaging, don’t risk eating or drinking anything that you suspect has spoiled. In some cases a food will not look or smell any different. That’s why it’s important to eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days (or freeze for up to 3 to 4 months).
  • Donate extra foods that are still safe to eat to a local food pantry.
  • Consult a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) to get sound, easy-to-follow personalized nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences, and health-related needs. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ database to find a RDN in your area. RDN’s are the most valuable and credible source of timely, scientifically-based food and nutrition information.

Registered Dietitian Whitney Blindert with Midwest Dairy South Dakota shared more about National Nutrition Month® on KSFY Morning News. She also shared some dairy-filled, healthy recipes.

Breakfast: Fruity Overnight Oats

Lunch: Roasted Chicken Ricotta and Apple Pita

Dinner: Baked Potato Cupcakes

For more about National Nutrition Month® food, fitness, and health visit


When can my baby begin solid foods?

What food will be on the menu for your baby’s first solid meal? Fruit, vegetables, meat, cereal? Do you know when to start solid foods?

At this point, you may have a plan or are confused because you have received too much advice from family and friends with different opinions.

Here are some helpful tips from American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Pediatrician David Hill, MD, FAAP on starting your baby on solid foods. Remember that each child’s readiness depends on his own rate of development.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Can he hold his head up? Your baby should be able to sit in a high chair, a feeding seat, or an infant seat with good head control.
  • Does he open his mouth when food comes his way? Babies may be ready if they watch you eating, reach for your food, and seem eager to be fed.
  • Can he move food from a spoon into his throat? If you offer a spoon of rice cereal, he pushes it out of his mouth, and it dribbles onto his chin, he may not have the ability to move it to the back of his mouth to swallow it. That’s normal. Remember, he’s never had anything thicker than breast milk or formula before, and this may take some getting used to. Try diluting it the first few times; then, gradually thicken the texture. You may also want to wait a week or two and try again.

The AAP recommends breastfeeding as the sole source of nutrition for your baby for about 6 months. When you add solid foods to your baby’s diet, continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months. You can continue to breastfeed after 12 months if you and your baby desire. Check with your child’s doctor about the recommendations for vitamin D and iron supplements during the first year.

For more information on the following topics check out the full AAP article on Starting Solid Foods:

  • How do I feed my baby?
  • Which food should I give my baby first?
  • When can my baby try other food?
  • When can I give my baby finger foods?
  • What changes can I expect after my baby starts solids?
  • Should I give my baby juice?
  • Does my baby need water?
  • Good eating habits start early

Source: Starting Solid Foods Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics updated 1/16/2018

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.


Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice at Black Hills Special Services

The Black Hills Special Services Cooperative (BHSSC) mission is to build stronger communities by helping individuals and organizations reach their full potential. BHSSC accomplishes this by providing innovative and comprehensive services in education, training, and employment. These services are delivered through six organization divisions: Community and Family, Developmental Disabilities, Economic Development, Education and Workforce, Human Services, and Technology & Innovation in Education (TIE).

The Pierre office of BHSSC applied for and received the Healthier Vending and Snack Bar (HVSB) Grant in July 2016 through the South Dakota Department of Health. The goal of the HVSB grant is to implement policy, system, and environmental change to improve the food environment by making healthier choices more accessible, more appealing, and more affordable. The project requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow, and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase.

Prior to applying for the grant, Pierre BHSSC had no vending machine or snack bar, just a small refrigerator for all staff to share. There was a vending machine in the past, but due to the vending company’s unwillingness to offer healthy options and inability to keep the machine well stocked, it was decided to get rid of the machine. Fresh fruit was available for a short period of time for purchase through the honor system. It was well received at first, but then stopped getting utilized.

When staff was informed about the grant opportunity there was a tremendous amount of support. With new staff joining the office the environment began to change and health became a higher priority than in years past. Leadership staff was also supportive and a small wellness team came together to plan for and create a healthy snack bar! The team conducted an employee survey and taste tests in an effort to determine the most popular products to offer. They also implemented a Healthier Vending & Snack Bar Policy to sustain their hard work!

Challenges:  The Pierre office only has fifteen staff so there were concerns about sustaining the snack bar. Without a vendor, BHSSC purchased items locally and at a higher cost. Another barrier was the concern of competition with a convenience store across the street from the office and the time it would take for staff to purchase and stock the snack bar.

Solutions: To address some of these issues, the wellness team surveyed the employees to find out which items they would purchase. Bulk purchasing helped to lower the cost and provided the ability to sell at a more reasonable price. Several taste tests were conducted to make sure staff was interested in the items that were offered and staff from other offices in the same building were invited to participate. BHSSC shares the first floor of their building with two other organizations, totaling twelve additional staff that can access the healthy snack bar.

A “credit” option was also made available in the event that staff didn’t have cash available. Note cards are used to track purchased items and then staff are sent an email notification regarding their “bill” for the month. This works well when employee’s children stop by the office and want a snack also! Products are offered at a reasonable price with a small markup so there are funds available to purchase items to replenish the snack bar.

Results: The snack bar was self-sustained within 9 months, eliminating the need to seek additional funding to continue operation! The snack bar has approximately 50% green, 30% yellow, and 20% red snack food and drink items. Green items include fresh fruit and vegetables that a traditional vendor may not have been able to offer. The snack bar also provides the ability to tailor purchases upon staff request and purchase a variety of sizes and containers that do not need to fit within the constraints of a vending machine.

“Having the healthy vending program in our office has helped me to make improved calorie choices. The clear green, yellow, and red labels with calories posted have helped me stop and think before making my choice.”  ~ Cruz Lotz, BHSSC Administrative Assistant


Future Plans: In the future the wellness team plans to continue to increase green choices and continue to survey employees to get their feedback on which items to offer. If there are extra funds, the team hopes to purchase upgrades for the employee breakroom based on feedback from employee surveying.

“We had a very positive experience with the grant opportunity.  I would encourage others to give this a try.  Although we take care of all aspects of the snack bar, this has not been a time burden for any one person.  A team approach definitely helps!”
~ Brooke Lusk, Human Services Division Director

Fishback Financial Corporation – Healthier Snacks to Support Healthier Employees

Fishback Financial Corporation (FFC) is one of South Dakota’s largest privately-held bank holding companies with 17 First Bank & Trust locations. The organization has a history that dates back more than 130 years. FFC Headquarters in Brookings was chosen as one of 13 worksites in SD for the Healthier Vending & Snack Bar (HVSB) pilot project in July 2014.

The goal of the HVSB project is to implement policy, system, and environmental change to improve the food environment by making healthier choices more accessible, more appealing, and more affordable. The project requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow, and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase.

FFC’s worksite wellness committee, the Healthy Way Committee, focused on making changes to the break room available to both corporate and First Bank & Trust branch employees. The break room originally consisted of a kitchenette, small area with healthier snacks made available by the Healthy Way Committee and three vending machines; 1 snack and 2 pop machines stocked with predominantly red products.

The committee started the project in July 2014 and worked through a variety of challenges. Even with these barriers they kept focused and motivated and in November 2016, after two and half years, were able to replace 2 of the unhealthy vending machines with a healthy snack bar. They also implemented a Healthier Vending & Snack Bar Policy to sustain their hard work! FFC received resources, Munch Code signs and technical assistance but no financial funding showing their impeccable commitment and the crucial support from upper management to make the project successful!

Challenges & Barriers:
The first challenge was communication with the vending machine vendor. After explanation of the HVSB project and several meetings, the vendor was still unable to supply them with the healthier options they were looking for. This led to the decision to remove 2 of the 3 vending machines and have the Healthy Way Committee expand the snack bar area as remodeling the break room was already in the works. The original break room remodel completion date was June 1, 2015. Unfortunately, the project completion date was pushed back several times delaying progress.

Upon completion of the break room in the summer of 2016, the next challenge was finding time to shop and stock all of the necessary items without having to read labels and calculate the Munch Code category while at the store – eating up precious time. Throughout the process, staff changes and reallocation of project management added another hurdle.

The new snack bar consists of a glass front refrigerator and color-coded baskets that were purchased through funds tied to the remodel. The glass front refrigerator allows employees to easily see the new healthier options available to them such as fruit, vegetables, yogurt, cheese and drinks other than pop. The colored coded baskets match the Munch Code category with signage available to state calorie content. With two of the vending machines removed, it limited the red options to a minimal percentage and increased green and yellow choices.

FFC is now utilizing Hy-Vee’s “Online Aisles” which allows for online shopping and grocery delivery on a weekly basis. This provides the capability to view all products’ ingredient list and nutrition fact label helping to determining the green, yellow, or red category before purchasing and to save products on a favorites list for later ordering, all while at the convenience of their office desk. It saves time and helps with the accuracy of color-coding the items.

The Healthy Way Committee utilized innovative solutions to overcome multiple barriers and even with the project changing hands multiple times, they remained focused and committed to reach their goal of a healthier food environment for employees.

Being able to create something that continues to benefit our employees is what keeps
this project alive and fun!” – Arielle Cole, Human Resource Specialist

Success with Employees:
FFC received great feedback from employees stating that they have enjoyed the variety and accessibility. The only bad feedback was that the red colored snacks were too hard to reach since they were on the top shelf, showing they are taking steps in the right direction and that it is effective to put the healthier items at eye level. Employee willingness to offer feedback on desired products also helped to make the new snack bar successful and utilized to its full potential.

I just love the fact that I can go grab some grapes or an orange if I get hungry and I’m no longer bee-lining for an unhealthy snack in a vending machine.” First Bank & Trust Employee

An employee survey showed that many employees were open to having healthier options in the break room. 86% of those surveyed said they would utilize the vending machines more if there were healthier options available and 69% said they would be willing to pay more for healthier options.

Our employees have grasped the concept and are happy to reach for a healthy snack. It’s easy when everything is laid out in front of you.” – Arielle Cole, Human Resource Specialist

Table 1 shows the distribution of items of each Munch Code color category at FFC before and after implementation of the HVSB Project and Figure A shows this distribution visually in a bar chart. The percentage of green items increased from 10.4% to 43.2%, while the percentage of red items decreased from 77.1% to 20.5%!

Table 1. Distribution of food items by the Munch Code, before and after HVSB project implementation


Figure A. Bar chart of distribution of food items by the Munch Code, before and after HVSB project implementation

Future Plans:
FFC will continue to search for new snack items to keep things fresh, keep the employees motivated and excited about the program, and welcome feedback from employees. The long term goal is to expand to other locations starting with the Brookings Main location.

PRAMS Report & Breastfeeding Infographic

The South Dakota Department of Health, in conjunction with the EA Martin Program at South Dakota State University, conducted a 2016 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS)-like surveillance project. This survey collects state-specific, population-based data on maternal attitudes and experiences before, during, and shortly after pregnancy. The data report, summaries, and infographics are all available for download.

What Recess Should Look Like

Kickball, tag and swinging across the monkey bars may be the highlight of your child’s day for more reason than one, but experts say recess is also critical for your students health.

Recess is a planned time within the school day for free play and supervised physical activity. Recess is a very important part of the school experience for students because it can increase physical activity and it helps them practice life skills such as cooperation, following rules and communication. Recess also helps improve classroom behavior such as paying attention and memory.

Recess benefits students by:

  • Increasing their level of physical activity
  • Improving their memory, attention, and concentration
  • Helping them stay on-task in the classroom
  • Reducing disruptive behavior in the classroom
  • Improving their social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate)

While there’s no law or statewide policy to dictate how schools manage recess within their school day, recent guidance aims to help schools make the most of recess.

Schools should create recess policies including the following strategies:

  • Prohibit using recess as a replacement for physical education classes
  • Let kids go to recess before lunch
  • Prohibit excluding kids from recess as a form of punishment
  • Prohibit restricting physical activity during recess as a form of punishment

Some of those strategies are easier to implement than others, but they are all realistic for South Dakota schools!

Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Tips for Starting Solid Foods

Starting solid foods is an important part of your baby’s development. Use these tips to start solid foods off right — and set your baby on the road to healthy eating for life!

Is your baby ready? Most babies are ready for solids at around 6 months. Look for these signs:

• He can sit up mostly on his own
• He can hold his head up for a long time
• He’s interested in mealtime — for example, he might try to grab food off your plate
• He continues to be hungry between nursing or bottle feeding
• He doesn’t automatically push food out of his mouth with his tongue (young babies have a “tongue-thrust reflex” that fades as they get older)

Why is it important to wait until your baby is ready? Starting solid foods too early makes it more likely that your child will have a hard time staying at a healthy weight.

Keep giving your baby breast milk or formula. It’s important to know that for the first year of life your baby will still get most of her nutrition from breast milk or formula — even after she starts eating solid foods. Choose healthy drinks:

• If you want to give your baby something to drink during meals with solid foods, offer water.
• Sugary drinks (even 100% juice) add unneeded calories and can harm your baby’s teeth.
• Keep cereal out of the bottle (unless otherwise directed by a physician). It adds unneeded calories to your baby’s diet.

Offer simple foods made for babies. Cereals for babies and jarred baby food are both good options. Watch for signs that your baby is done eating. If your baby turns his head away from food or keeps his lips shut, he’s done eating. Don’t force him to eat more — when he starts solids, your baby is developing important eating skills, including understanding and trusting his own hunger and fullness cues.

Get your family and child care providers on board. You know your baby better than anyone — and you can tell when he’s hungry or full. Make sure your baby’s caregivers also know his hunger and fullness cues so they won’t overfeed him.

Give fruits and veggies at every meal — and snack time, too. Babies form their taste patterns by 9 months old. So when your baby starts to feed herself finger foods like cereal and crackers, make sure she keeps eating fruits and veggies.

Introduce a variety of solid foods to avoid picky eating later on. Let your baby try a bunch of different colors, flavors and textures. Babies who eat a variety of foods are less likely to be picky eaters — and they may get more nutrients, too. Stick with it. It can take as many as 10 to 15 tries over several months for a child to get used to a new flavor. Remember, you only need to offer a spoonful or two each time, not a whole bowl. Keep trying — it’s worth it!

It takes time and practice for children to learn to eat solid foods. Your warmth and patience through this process will help set your child up for healthy growth and development.

  • To access the electronic version click HERE.
  • To access the print-friendly version (8.5″ x 11″ handout) click HERE.
  • To access the print-friendly version (14″ x 34″ poster) click HERE.
  • To access the resource on, click HERE.

For more information, visit This product was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. Development of this product was made possible through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Finding Balance: Calories & Physical Activity

By balancing the calories you eat in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables with daily physical activity, you can maintain a healthy weight.

front of healthy weight palm card


Choose a variety of healthy foods, including low in fat and sugar, watch portion size and get at least 30-60 minutes of physical activity daily.

back of healthy weight palm card


Download images here.

Childcare Providers: Check out this Months Mealtime Memo!

Mealtime Memos offer information for child care providers. Each month new information, tips, and recipes are shared focused on good nutrition for young children. The topics listed below for each monthly newsletters can be found here.

2018 Mealtime Memos

August 2018: Family Meals – Oh Yea!!!
July 2018: Red, White, and Blue: A Celebration
June 2018: Safety In Child Care
May 2018: Nutrition and Learning
April 2018: Keeping Children’s Eyes Healthy
March 2018: Sowing Seed – The Growing Time
February 2018: Screen Media – Its Influence and Recommendations
January 2018: Magnificent Milk – Have Some Please!

2017 Mealtime Memos

December 2017: Picky, Choosy, or Just Normal Eating
November 2017: Food Safety is Important All Year
October 2017: Harvest Season
September 2017: Updated Meal Pattern
August 2017: Physical Activity for Young Children
July 2017: Appropriate Eating for Young Children
June 2017: Nutritious Foods for Infants
May 2017: Preventing Mealtime Mayhem
April 2017: Tips for Serving Meals Family-Style
March 2017: What About Those Fabulous Fruits
February 2017: Veggies, Yum! Providing Opportunities for Children to Like and Try Vegetables
January 2017: CACFP Meal Patterns in the New Year

2016 Mealtime Memos

December 2016: Training, Training, We all Need Training!
November 2016: Outdoor Playtime is the Best Time – Winter Play
October 2016: Got Leafy Greens?
September 2016: Please Help! Help-Desk Team at Your Call
August 2016: Is it Safe to Eat? Food Temperatures for Child Care
July 2016: Got Time? Online Courses for Professional Development
June 2016: For Good Nutrition, Eat Foods in Season!
May 2016: Herbs and Spices
April 2016: Preparing Foods with Limited Time
March 2016: Beverages That Count
February 2016: Cooking With Oils
January 2016: Mealtime Conversations with Preschoolers

2015 Mealtime Memos

December 2015: Gluten: What is It?
November 2015: Servings versus Portions
October 2015: Ways to Cut Food Cost
September 2015: Evaluating Your Wellness Policy
August 2015: Power Outages and Food Safety
July 2015: Organic Fruits and Vegetables – Are They Better?
June 2015: It’s Spice Time: Adding Herbs and Spices During Meal Preparation
May 2015: Sodium: What Is It?
April 2015: It’s About That Time: Enhancing Nutrition Education Programs to Promote Healthy Eating Habits
March 2015: Snack Times are the Best Times: Planning Nutritious and Appealing Snacks for Young Children
February 2015: Menu Planning for Healthy Eating
January 2015: Setting Goals for the New Year

2014 Mealtime Memos

December 2014: Time Saving Tips for the Child Care Kitchen
November 2014: It’s Cleaning Time: Tips for Cleaning in the Child Care Kitchen
October 2014: Conquering Picky Eating with Nutrition Education Activities
September 2014: It’s Time to Grocery Shop: Shopping the Safe Way
August 2014: Understanding the Meat Alternate Component
July 2014: Creating and Maintaining a Safe Mealtime Environment
June 2014: Nutrition Education: Why, When, Where and How
May 2014: Feeding Infants
April 2014: MyPlate Vegetable Subgroups
March 2014: Healthy Meals on a Budget
February 2014: Play Time is the Best Time
January 2014: New Year, New Healthy Food Choices


Source: Mealtime Memo for Child Care is published by the USDA Institute of Child Nutrition.

Make it a Whole Grain

Make at least half of your grains whole. ALL is best!

Whole grains are healthier than refined grains. They contain the entire seed which includes lots of nutrients like protein, dietary fiber, iron and many B vitamins. The first ingredient should include “whole”, as in “whole wheat flour.” Words like “multi-grain” or “wheat” do not mean it is a whole grain.


These words describe whole grains. That means you get ALL the nutrition:
  • whole grain [name of grain]
  • whole wheat
  • whole [other grain]
  • stoneground whole [grain]
  • brown rice
  • wheat berries
  • oats
  • oatmeal (including old-fashioned oatmeal and instant oatmeal)
These words describe partial grains. That means you might be missing the benefits of whole grains:
  • wheat or wheat flour
  • semolina
  • durum wheat
  • organic flour
  • stoneground
  • multi-grain (may describe several whole grains or several refined grains, or a mix of both)
These words never describe whole grains:
  • enriched flour
  • de-germinated (corn meal)
  • bran
  • wheat germ

For more information, visit

Download a “Make it Whole!” palm card.

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Yes, you CAN avoid the junk food habit. When you plan ahead, healthy eating can be affordable!

Tips for Sticking to Your Budget:

  • Plan your meals every week.
  • Make a grocery list and stick to it.
  • Try not to shop when you are hungry.
  • Clip coupons, organize them and keep them with you.
  • Watch for sales, especially on meat close to its expiration date – you can always freeze it for later.
  • Compare store brand prices with national brands.
  • Remember, most canned, fresh and frozen items can be exchanged in recipes.
  • Buy your favorite food items in bulk, if possible, such as noodles, beans, canned fruits and vegetables and more.

Check out some meal planning tips! And for more healthy snacking tips, take a look at Munch Code.

Making Time For Exercise

You CAN make time for exercise!

front of physical activity palm card

5 Tips to Get Your Physical Activity in Each Week:
  1. Can you find 10 minutes in the morning? During your lunch break? In the afternoon? Just 10 minutes can make a big difference.
  2. Select activities that don’t require a lot of time and equipment. Walk, jog, ride your bike, climb the stairs or even ride a scooter. Be creative!
  3. Make physical activity a priority.
  4. Make physical activity a family event. Go for family walks 1-2 times a week.
  5. Incorporate physical activity into your daily routines. Have fun!

And remember…a little goes a long way!

  • Adults need 150 minutes (just 2.5 hours) of physical activity each week.
  • Kids needs 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

For more information, visit

back of physical activity palm card


Download images here.

Portion Size Matters

Here’s a quick guide to food portion sizes using everyday objects.

  • Small Stamp = 1 teaspoon
  • 9-Volt Battery = 1 tablespoon
  • Golf Ball = 2 tablespoons
  • Deck of Cards = 3 ounces
  • Computer Mouse = 1/2 cup
  • Baseball = 1 cup

front of portion control palm card

A “serving” is the amount of food recommended to eat. A “portion” is the amount of food you choose to eat at any one time – which may be more or less than a serving.

Really, what size are your food portions? To see how much you are actually eating, pour your cereal into a regular bowl and then into a measuring cup. Do the same with you glasses, cups and plates.

Download your own Portion Size Pocket Guide. For more information, visit

back of portion control palm card


Download images here.

Get Movin’!

When you decide you want more physical activity, pick an activity you enjoy that fits into your life. Aim to do at least 10 minutes of exercise at a time.

front of Get Movin' palm card

A little goes a long way! Adults need 150 minutes (just 2.5 hours) of moderate activity each week, or 75 minutes (just over 1 hour) of vigorous activity each week. Kids need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.

Moderate Physical Activity:
I can talk while I do these activities, but not sing. Like gardening, walking briskly, water aerobics, softball and baseball.

Vigorous Physical Activity:
I can only speak a few words without stopping to catch my breath. Like race walking, running, cycling, soccer, jumping rope and aerobic dancing.

For more information, visit

back of Get Movin' palm card

Download images here.

Are All Sugars Created Equal?

Natural versus added sugar…what’s good for you and what’s not?

front of sugar palm card

Natural means just that – the sugar is naturally part of that food, such as fruit, 100% fruit jucies, honey, molasses or milk.

Added means sugar was added during processing, preparation or at the table. Read the ingredient list on the nutrition fact label. Avoid foods that contain: High fructose corn syrup, white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, anhydrous dextrose and crystal dextrose. They are all “added” sugar!

For more information on sugar, visit For healthy snacking tips, visit

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What is a Healthy Weight for Me?

When you balance your calories with healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and daily physical activity, you can maintain a healthy weight.

front of healthy weight palm card

Body Mass Index or BMI is an inexpensive and fast way to determine your weight category – underweight, normal or healthy weight, overweight and obese. BMI for adults is calculated using a formula with your height and weight. For adults 20 years old and older, the categories are the same for men and women of all body types and ages.

BMI is interpreted differently for children and teens as it needs to be age and sex-specific because the amount of body fat changes with age and the amount of body fat differs between girls and boys.

For more information and ideas on how to live better and grow stronger, go to

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Choose a Healthy Drink!

Say “YES” to 100% juice, milk and water!
  • Drink plenty of water. 8 cups will do!
  • Naturally flavor water with lemon, lime or cucumber wedges.
  • Drink nutrient rich low-far or skim milk.
  • Drink 4-6 oz of 100% juice per day.
  • Try unsweetened tea.

front of Drinks palm card

Say “NO” to added sugar, caffeine and empty calories.
  • Soda/Pop (diet and regular)
  • Sweetened Teas
  • Vitamin Infused Water
  • Sports Drinks
  • Energy Drinks
  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Juice That is Not 100%
  • Coffee

back of Drinks palm card


Download images here.

5 Tips to Get Your Physical Activity in Each Week

You CAN make time for exercise!

front of physical activity palm card

5 Tips to Get Your Physical Activity in Each Week:
  1. Can you find 10 minutes in the morning? During your lunch break? In the afternoon? Just 10 minutes can make a big difference.
  2. Select activities that don’t require a lot of time and equipment. Walk, jog, ride your bike, climb the stairs or even ride a scooter. Be creative!
  3. Make physical activity a priority. Carve our time each week and mark it on your calendar like any other appointment!
  4. Make physical activity a family event. Go for family walks 1-2 times a week.
  5. Build physical activity into your daily routines. Have fun!
    • Do heel raises or balance on one leg while you brush your teeth, read a book or even when you cook.
    • Do resistance training exercises, stretches, jumping jacks or jump rope while watching television or during commercial breaks.
    • Work out during breaks at work; stretch or take short walks.

For more information, visit

back of physical activity palm card


Download images here.

Ready to Pedal? It’s Bike Month!

Celebrate National Bike Month this May by biking to work, school, the store, park, pool and anywhere in between. Whether you ride to save money, time, improve your health, preserve the environment, explore your community or just for fun, jump on your bicycle and enjoy the great outdoors!

Check out the top five benefits of cycling according to Harvard Health and the Rules of the Road from the League of American Bicyclists.

5 Benefits of Cycling

  1. It’s easy on the joints. When you sit on a bike, you put your weight on a pair of bones in the pelvis called the ischial tuberosities, unlike walking, when you put your weight on your legs. Making it good for anyone with joint pain or age-related stiffness.
  2. Pushing pedals provides an aerobic workout. That’s great for your heart, brain and blood vessels. Aerobic exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals—which may make you feel young at heart.
  3. Cycling builds muscle. In the power phase of pedaling, you use muscles in the buttocks, thighs and calves. In the recovery phase, you use the hamstrings in the back of the thighs and the muscles in the front of the hips. Cycling works other muscles, too. You use abdominal muscles to balance and stay upright, and you use your arm and shoulder muscles to hold the handlebars and steer.
  4. It helps with everyday activities. Benefits carry over to balance, walking, standing, endurance and stair climbing.
  5. Pedaling builds bone. Resistance activities, such as pushing pedals, pull on the muscles, and then the muscles pull on the bone, which increases bone density.

5 Rules of the Road

  1. Follow the Law.  Obey traffic signals and stop signs. Ride with traffic; use the rightmost lane headed in the direction you are going.
  2. Be Predictable. Make your intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between parked cars. Signal turns, and check behind you well before turning or changing lanes.
  3. Be Conspicuous. Ride where people can see you and wear bright clothing. Use a front white light, red rear light and reflectors when visibility is poor.
  4. Think Ahead. Anticipate what drivers, pedestrians, and other people on bikes will do next. Watch for turning vehicles and ride outside the door zone of parked cars. Look out for debris, potholes, and other road hazards. Cross railroad tracks at an angles.
  5. Ride Ready. Check that your tires have air, brakes are working and chain runs smoothly. Wear a helmet.

Use the FITT Chart to Get Fit!

Have you ever had a hard time picking a fitness plan or exercise program? There are a million plans out there! Which one is best? Which one fits into your lifestyle? Which one guarantees results? Create a plan that “fits” you.

Based on your own goals and circumstances fill in a FITT Principle chart. This can be your starting point. You can follow your own plan from there or find one that fits within your established guidelines!

If you are new to exercise, remember, work your way up. You don’t need to run a marathon or spend hours in a gym to feel the benefits of exercise. Once you get started, make a plan to increase at least one FITT component regularly to help you stay on track and make improvements. Let’s get started with FITT!

F – Frequency
How many days per week can you make time to exercise?

I – Intensity
How intense will you exercise? Intensity can vary between light, moderate and vigorous intensity activities. For example, walking slowly is a low intensity activity, walking briskly or shooting around a basketball is a moderate intensity activity and running (>5mph) is a vigorous intensity activity. A good rule of thumb is that a person doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity can talk, but not sing. A person doing vigorous-intensity activity cannot say more than a few words without pausing for a breath.

T – Time
How many minutes will you dedicate to an activity or exercise?

T – Type
What sort of activity will you complete? Aerobic activities like walking, jogging, biking, swimming or dancing or strengthening activities such as exercises using exercise bands, weight machines or hand-held weights.

fitt chart

150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity is recommended each week. For some, a serious behavior change is needed and for others, a modification to current behaviors is more appropriate. When adopting or modifying a physical activity routine, it is important to set realistic goals. Too often, individuals expect to lose unrealistic amounts of weight, run faster and longer and start seeing drastic body composition changes instantly. Instead, use the acronym S.M.A.R.T.

Specific is the what, where and how of the goal.
Measurable is how you will evaluate whether or not you met the goal.
Achievable is setting a goal that you can accomplish.
Realistic is setting a goal that is challenging, but attainable.
Timely relates to when you want to achieve your goal by, and what time frame you have to reach your goal.

Putting the FITT principle together, one can effectively plan an exercise routine and set a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

Source: Avera Health Tip & SDSU Extension

Is Your Child Getting too Much Salt?

Most kids get too much salt, but you can help set them on a healthier path from the start by learning what the highest sodium foods kids are eating.

  • About 90% of kids eat too much sodium.
  • Kids’ preferences for salt-tasting foods are shaped early in life.
  • Parents and caregivers can help lower sodium by influencing how foods are produced, purchased, prepared, and served.

Foods that add the most sodium to the diet, ages 6-18:

  1. Bread and rolls. Try a half serving in a setting or less servings of bread per day.
  2. Pizza. Try swapping out the pepperoni for veggies.
  3. Sandwiches. Deli meat is very high in sodium. Try half a sandwich with a side salad.
  4. Cold cuts and cured meats. Reduce the meats in your sandwich and add crunchy veggies, creamy avocado, or spicy mustard.
  5. Soup. Find low sodium versions of soup and refrain from adding salt to your soup.
  6. Burritos and tacos. Increase the amount of veggies and decrease the amount of meat.

The sodium kids eat comes from every meal and snack:

  • 14% at breakfast
  • 31% at lunch
  • 39% at dinner
  • 16% at snacktime

Most of the sodium kids eat is already in the foods they get from grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias – and NOT from the salt shaker.

Source: American Heart Association

Exercising with Osteoporosis: Stay Active the Safe Way

If you have osteoporosis, you might mistakenly think exercise will lead to fracture. In fact though, using your muscles helps protect your bones. Osteoporosis is a major cause of disability in older women. A bone-weakening disorder, osteoporosis often results in fractures in the hip and spine—which can severely impair your mobility and independence.

How can you reduce your risk of these life-altering injuries? Exercise can help! Certain types of exercise strengthen muscles and bones, while other types are designed to improve your balance—which can help prevent falls.

Benefits of Exercise

It’s never too late to start exercising. For postmenopausal women, regular physical activity can:

  • Increase your muscle strength
  • Improve your balance
  • Decrease your risk of bone fracture
  • Maintain or improve your posture
  • Relieve or decrease pain

Exercising if you have osteoporosis means finding the safest, most enjoyable activities for you given your overall health and amount of bone loss. There’s no one-size-fits-all prescription.

Before You Start

Consult your doctor before starting any exercise program for osteoporosis. You might need some tests first, including:

  • Bone density measurement
  • Fitness assessment

In the meantime, think about what kind of activities you enjoy most. If you choose an exercise you enjoy, you’re more likely to stick with it over time.

Choosing the Right form of Exercise

These types of activities are often recommended for people with osteoporosis:

  • Strength training exercises, especially those for the upper back
  • Weight-bearing aerobic activities
  • Flexibility exercises
  • Stability and balance exercises

Because of the varying degrees of osteoporosis and the risk of fracture, you might be discouraged from doing certain exercises. Ask your doctor or physical therapist whether you’re at risk of osteoporosis-related problems, and find out what exercises are appropriate for you.

Strength Training

Strength training includes the use of free weights, resistance bands, or your own body weight to strengthen all major muscle groups, especially spinal muscles important for posture. Resistance training can also help maintain bone density. If you use weight machines, take care not to twist your spine while performing exercises or adjusting the machines.

Resistance training should be tailored to your ability and tolerance, especially if you have pain. A physical therapist or personal trainer with experience working with people with osteoporosis can help you develop strength-training routines. Proper form and technique are crucial to prevent injury and get the most from your workout.

Weight-Bearing Aerobic Activities

Weight-bearing aerobic activities involve doing aerobic exercise on your feet, with your bones supporting your weight. Examples include walking, dancing, low-impact aerobics, elliptical training machines, stair climbing, and gardening. These types of exercise work directly on the bones in your legs, hips, and lower spine to slow mineral loss. They also provide cardiovascular benefits, which boost heart and circulatory system health.

It’s important that aerobic activities, as beneficial as they are for your overall health, are not the whole of your exercise program. It’s also important to work on strength, flexibility, and balance. Swimming and cycling have many benefits, but they don’t provide the weight-bearing load your bones need to slow mineral loss. However, if you enjoy these activities, do them. Just be sure to also add weight-bearing activity as you’re able.

Flexibility Exercises

Moving your joints through their full range of motion helps you keep your muscles working well. Stretches are best performed after your muscles are warmed up—at the end of your exercise session, for example, or after a 10-minute warm-up. They should be done gently and slowly, without bouncing. Avoid stretches that flex your spine or cause you to bend at the waist. Ask your doctor which stretching exercises are best for you.

Stability and Balance Exercises

Fall prevention is especially important for people with osteoporosis. Stability and balance exercises help your muscles work together in a way that keeps you more stable and less likely to fall. Simple exercises such as standing on one leg or movement-based exercises such as tai chi can improve your stability and balance.

Movements to Avoid

If you have osteoporosis, don’t do the following types of exercises:

  • High-impact exercises. Activities such as jumping, running, or jogging can lead to fractures in weakened bones. Avoid jerky, rapid movements in general. Choose exercises with slow, controlled movements. If you’re generally fit and strong despite having osteoporosis, however, you might be able to engage in somewhat higher-impact exercise than can someone who is frail.
  • Bending and twisting. Exercises in which you bend forward at the waist and twist your waist, such as touching your toes or doing sit-ups, can increase your risk of compression fractures in your spine if you have osteoporosis. Other activities that may require you to bend or twist forcefully at the waist are golf, tennis, bowling, and some yoga poses.

If you’re not sure how healthy your bones are, talk to your doctor. Don’t let fear of fractures keep you from having fun and being active.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Healthy Sleep

Think of your daily activities. Which activity is so important you should devote one-third of your time to doing it? Probably the first things that come to mind are working, spending time with your family, or doing leisure activities. But there’s something else you should be doing – sleeping. Many people view sleep as merely “down time” when their brains shut off and their bodies rest.

In actuality, while you sleep your brain is hard at work forming the pathways necessary for learning and creating memories and new insights. Despite growing support for the idea that adequate sleep, like adequate nutrition and physical activity, is vital to our well-being, people are sleeping less. The nonstop “24/7” nature of the world today encourages longer or nighttime work hours and offers continual access to entertainment and other activities. To keep up, people cut back on sleep.

A common myth is that people can learn to get by on little sleep (such as less than 6 hours a night) with no adverse effects. However, research suggests that adults need at least 7–8 hours of sleep each night to be well rested. Growing evidence shows that a chronic lack of sleep increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infections. Children and adolescents’ are also not sleeping enough which has been linked to increased exposure to electronic media. Lack of sleep may have a direct effect on children’s health, behavior, and development.

People may cut back on sleep, thinking it won’t be a problem, because other responsibilities seem much more important. But research shows that a number of aspects of your health and quality of life are linked to sleep, and these aspects are impaired when you are sleep deprived.

  1. Your Learning, Memory, and Mood

Students who have trouble grasping new information or learning new skills are often advised to “sleep on it,” and that advice seems well founded. People can learn a task better if they are well rested and may better remember what they learned. Other studies suggest that it’s important to get enough rest the night before a mentally challenging task, rather than only sleeping for a short period or waiting to sleep until after the task is complete.

Exactly what happens during sleep to improve our learning, memory, and insight isn’t known. We suspect that while people sleep they form or strengthen the pathways of brain cells needed to perform these tasks. This process may explain why sleep is needed for proper brain development in infants.

Lack of sleep makes it harder to focus and pay attention and can make you more easily confused. Lack of sleep leads to faulty decision making, more risk taking, and slows down your reaction time, which is particularly important to driving and other tasks that require quick response. When people who lack sleep are tested on a driving simulator, they perform just as poorly as people who are drunk. The bottom line is: not getting a good night’s sleep can be dangerous!

2. Your Heart

Sleep gives your heart and vascular system a much-needed rest. During non-REM sleep, your heart rate and blood pressure progressively slow as you enter deeper sleep. During REM sleep, in response to dreams, your heart and breathing rates can rise and fall and your blood pressure can be variable. These changes throughout the night in blood pressure and heart and breathing rates seem to promote cardiovascular health.

If you don’t get enough sleep, the nightly dip in blood pressure that appears to be important for good cardiovascular health may not occur. Some sleep related abnormalities may also be markers of heart disease and increased risk of stroke. A lack of sleep puts your body under stress and may trigger the release of stress hormones during the day. These hormones keep your blood pressure from dipping during sleep, which increases your risk for heart disease.

3. Your Hormones

When you were young, your mother may have told you that you need to get enough sleep to grow strong and tall. She may have been right! Deep sleep (stage 3 non-REM sleep) contributes to growth in children and boosts muscle mass and the repair of cells and tissues in children and adults. Sleep’s effect on the release of sex hormones also contributes to puberty and fertility. Consequently, women who work at night and tend to lack sleep may be at increased risk of miscarriage.

Your mother was also probably right if she told you that getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis would help keep you from getting sick and help you get better if you do get sick. Lack of sleep can reduce your body’s ability to fight off common infections.

Although lack of exercise and other factors also contribute, the current epidemic of diabetes and obesity seems to be related, at least in part, to chronically short or disrupted sleep or not sleeping during the night. Evidence is growing that sleep is a powerful regulator of appetite, energy use, and weight control. The less people sleep, the more likely they are to be overweight or obese and prefer eating foods that are higher in calories and carbohydrates.

Signs that your sleep is on track:

Here are some statements about sleep. If these apply to you, it’s a good sign that your sleep is on track.

  • You fall asleep within 15-20 minutes of lying down to sleep.
  • You regularly sleep a total of 7-9 hours in a 24-hour period.
  • While in your bed, your sleep is continuous—you don’t have long periods of lying awake when you wish to be sleeping.
  • You wake up feeling refreshed, as if you’ve “filled the tank.”
  • You feel alert and are able to be fully productive throughout the waking hours (note, it’s natural for people to feel a dip in alertness during waking hours, but with healthy sleep, alertness returns).
  • Your partner or family members do not notice any disturbing or out of the ordinary behavior from you while you sleep, such as snoring, pauses in breathing, restlessness, or otherwise nighttime behaviors.

Shift workers who try to sleep during the day often wake up after fewer than 7-9 hours, because of the alerting signals coming from their circadian system. This does not mean they don’t need 7-8 hours of sleep per day—it just means it’s harder to sleep during the day. Over time, this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

Click here to learn more about what makes you sleep, how much is enough, what disrupts sleep, and common sleep disorders.


Sources: National Sleep Foundation & National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Helping Kids Get Active

Today, there’s a world of entertainment for kids that has nothing to do with playing outside. Establishing healthy activity and eating patterns needs to start at a young age. But here’s a scary fact: About 75% of kids around the country aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily, including kids who are overweight.

For these kids, it can be more difficult to be active due to embarrassment, peer bullying, and physical challenges associated with getting into an activity routine. Overweight and obese youth also tend to be less active due to poor motor skills.

So how can we get kids who are overweight to be more active?

First, it’s important for parents to be involved and encouraging. Research shows that parents today see normal weight children as being underweight, while overweight children are viewed as normal, and children with obesity are seen as being just “a little too heavy.” With these misconceptions parents are much less likely to prioritize healthy behaviors like physical activity.

Second, the activity should be something the child will enjoy. Very few kids are going to be excited about a gym; I suggest parents and caregivers focus on increasing playtime.

Muscle-strengthening activities can be unstructured and part of play, such as playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, and playing tug-of-war or structured, such as lifting weights or working with resistance bands. Aerobic training are those in which young people rhythmically move their large muscles. Running, hopping, skipping, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, and bicycling are all examples of aerobic activities. Aerobic activities increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Although aerobic activity is important, if you start with fun activities involving strength exercises you can build up the child’s confidence and strength over time to eventually include more aerobics.

Try games where kids toss balls with varying high-to-low throws. Squatting to catch a low throw is much more fun than standing at the gym doing squats. Medicine balls are great because kids can use them at home and while playing with others.

Parents/caregivers should also encourage kids to be creative and come up with their own exercises – this makes the activity more fun.

The bottom line: it’s too challenging and discouraging for an overweight child to jump right into high intensity physical activity. We need to start by simply getting kids out of being sedentary through fun activities, then work up from there.


Posted on July 15, 2015 by Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD @ American Institute for Cancer Research

Make Your Valentine’s Day Classroom Party Chocolate-Free

Looking for Valentine’s Day party treats for your child’s classroom can be a heart-stopping experience. With concerns about allergies, many schools no longer allow homemade goodies, asking for packaged treats to be sent in instead. The only problem with the ban on homemade treats is that these packaged candies and desserts tend to be rich in added sugar, which contribute empty calories and little or no nutrition.

Instead, think outside the heart-shaped box and use classroom parties as a time to learn about healthy snacking. Try these Valentine’s Day party treats that feature dairy, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

  1. Send a Message
    Using a felt-tipped marker, write fun messages on the skin of clementines (“Hi, Cutie!”) or bananas (“I’m bananas for you!”).
  2. Strawberries on Cloud 9
    Strawberries are rich in vitamin C and fiber and are a naturally healthy treat. Serve them with a small dollop of whipped cream.
  3. Red Dip
    Set up a “dip bar” and let kids make their own snack plates with cut up vegetables, whole-grain pita chips and low-fat cheese cubes to dip into tomato salsa.
  4. Banana Split Love Boats
    Split a peeled banana down the middle and top with low-fat vanilla Greek yogurt and sliced heart-shaped fruit.
  5. Pink Milk
    Bring a big container full of blended strawberries and low-fat milk for a delicious protein-packed, naturally sweet drink.
  6. Heart-Shaped Sandwiches
    Use a cookie cutter to turn a nut butter and jelly sandwich on whole-wheat bread into a heart-shaped Valentine.
  7. Red Fruit and Yogurt Dip
    Celebrate with fruits that are red, the unofficial color of Valentine’s Day: apples, blood oranges, grape tomatoes, red grapes and red peppers. For a sweet dip, mix cinnamon and low-fat vanilla yogurt.
  8. Cupid’s Smoothie
    Before the party starts, blend cranberry or pomegranate juice with low-fat milk, bananas and canned pineapples to make a naturally sweet and pink colored beverage.
  9. XOXO Trail Mix
    Mix together O-shaped cereal (the Os) and pretzel sticks (the Xs) along with bright red dried cranberries and dried strawberries.


By Brandi Thompson, RD, LDN Published February 10, 2016 at

AARP Walk Audit Toolkit and Leader Guide

Using these downloadable resources, a resident, group or community leader can survey and report on the safety and walkability of a street, intersection or neighborhood.

Two Types of Inflammation

Have you heard the buzz on inflammation? It is a hot topic right now. Information is all over the place on the importance of avoiding inflammation. So, what is it? How do you know if you have it?

Acute & Chronic

  1. Acute inflammation is often detected with redness, heat and swelling around tissues and joints after an injury. The immune system sends out white blood cells to surround and protect the area.
  2. The other type is chronic inflammation. Essentially, it is the same reaction but the white blood cells flood the area and end up attacking nearby healthy tissues and organs.

Here is an example: “If you are overweight and have more visceral fat cells—the kind of fat that builds up in your abdomen and surrounds your organs—the immune system sees those fat cells as a threat and pumps out more white blood cells. The longer you stay overweight, the longer your body remains in a state of inflammation.”

How do I know what my level of inflammation is?

A simple blood test from your doctor may tell you. It measures a liver chemical, C-reactive protein (CRP), which rises in response to inflammation. Often a CRP level of 1 to 3 milligrams per liter (mg/L) signals a low, yet chronic, degree of inflammation. Levels higher than 3 mg/L indicate a high risk of inflammation. The result can help you and your doctor devise a strategy to lower your levels.

How do I decrease chronic inflammation?

Diet and lifestyle are the two best ways to keep chronic inflammation under wraps including:

  • Lose extra pounds
  • Alter your diet
    • Cut back or eliminate simple sugars like soda, candy and white bread/pasta
    • Add foods with polyphenols like onions, turmeric, red grapes and green leafy veggies
    • Get enough healthy fats such as olive oil, flaxseed and other omega 3 fatty acids
  • Fight gum disease
  • Balance cholesterol
  • Quit smoking

Source: Harvard Health Publications

These resources may be helpful in researching health topics or for educational purposes; they are not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. 

Exercise When You Have A Cold

It’s that time of year again, sore throats and the sniffles seem to be abundant and hard to avoid. With a change in your normal health status, you may question how being sick influences your physical activity routine. Prevention is key and a great way to decrease the risk of getting sick is engaging in regular exercise. Studies have shown exercise helps our immune system fight small infections, like a cold. However, if your immune system is unable to fight the infections, questions about being active remain. What if you are already sick? Is it safe to exercise?

Generally, it is safe to exercise when you have a cold. When symptoms are above the neck (runny nose, sore throat), it is generally safe to continue your exercise routine. If symptoms are more systemic (muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, fever) it might be wise to take a break from exercising while you are sick. If a fever is present with your cold, consult with your doctor before engaging in activity.

Important Health Considerations

If you choose to exercise with a cold, it’s important to pay attention to your body and proceed with caution. It is best to reduce the intensity and length of your workout to avoid further decline in your health. Some medications, such as decongestants, can increase heart rate. Likewise, your heart rate increases with exercise. The combination of exercise and decongestants can cause your heart to pump very hard, and you may become short of breath and have problems breathing.

If you exercise with a cold and have any of the following symptoms, it’s important to stop and call your doctor:

  • Increased chest congestion
  • Coughing and/or wheezing

Stop and seek emergency medical help if you have:

  • Chest tightness or pressure
  • Trouble breathing or excessive shortness of breath
  • Light-headedness or dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance

If you have a cold and feel miserable, take a day or two off from normal exercise to get needed rest. A great preventative action against Influenza, or “the flu”, is getting your flu shot. Getting a flu shot will prevent the flu in about 70-90% of people under the age of 65! For more information about fighting the flu, read Fighting the Flu.

Sources:  American College of Sports Medicine & WebMD Exercise and the Common Cold

Wurth Electronics Midcom Inc. – Better Environment for Better Health

Wurth Electronics Logo

Wurth Electronics Midcom, headquartered in Watertown, was chosen as one of 10 worksites in SD for the Steps to Wellness Pilot Project in 2014 receiving grant funds to implement policy, system and environmental change to increase physical activity at work. A Steps to Wellness Committee was formed of volunteers from various departments within the organization to determine how to implement the Steps to Wellness Project and continue wellness efforts.

We were in the fortunate position of already having a space allowed for physical activity and management supportive of healthy initiatives. However, the space was not specifically designated for exercise and was shared with maintenance and storage. There was no formal commitment to provide a space for physical activity so there was concern that as the company grew this space would be used for other purposes.

The Steps to Wellness pre-assessment survey confirmed that employees would exercise if given a more inviting exercise space with changing rooms and cushioned flooring to allow for exercise that the current concrete flooring did not. The committee utilized grant funds to create a separate, designated Exercise Room. Walls were put up and painted with bright colors and the space included changing rooms, addition of a window and rubber flooring. The changes solidified that the space was intended for physical activity and to ensure it would not be re-allocated for other purposes, a Wellness Policy was approved and put into place. We had a Ribbon Cutting and Open House and have since been promoting the use of the Exercise Room to support employee health and wellness.

We have seen a significant increase in use of the Exercise Room. A survey assessed usage for one week in April and one week in November. The result was a 160% growth in use! All employees were affected but specifically those who were not able to use the area before the flooring was installed. More employees use the exercise room because it is now an inviting space. In addition, the parking lot was striped to designate a walking path that allowed employees to do laps around the parking lot without having to go between cars or out on the road.

The project was successful because employees were willing to serve on the Steps to Wellness Committee. They gave their ideas, their time, and were even willing to paint walls! Approval of the project by Wurth Electronics Midcom’s President was a key component to success. Throughout the project Nikki Prosch, SDSU Extension Health and Physical Activity Field Specialist, was there to support us, answer questions, and be our cheerleader.

The Steps to Wellness Project was the catalyst. Without it nothing would have changed.~ Lynne Forbush, Wurth Electronics Midcom

Is your worksite interested in making improvements that encourage physical activity during the work day and implementing a physical activity policy that supports healthy work environments? Click HERE for more information about the Steps to Wellness Workplace Physical Activity Grant.

How Much is Enough Exercise

As an older adult, regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can prevent many of the health problems that seem to come with age. It also helps your muscles grow stronger so you can keep doing your day-to-day activities without becoming dependent on others.

Not doing any physical activity can be bad for you, no matter your age or health condition. Keep in mind, some physical activity is better than none at all. Your health benefits will also increase with the more physical activity that you do.

If you’re 65 years of age or older, are generally fit, and have no limiting health conditions you can follow the guidelines listed here.

A Healthier Snack Bar at Evans Plunge Mineral Springs

Evans Plunge Mineral Springs, commonly known as Evans Plunge, is a water park, recreation and tourist destination in Hot Springs, South Dakota. Hot Springs is known for just that, its natural river of warm water springs. Evans Plunge was built in 1890 over the numerous small, sparkling springs and one mammoth spring of mineral water. Originally, Evans Plunge and the other mineral baths in Hot Springs were sought as a cure-all for a multitude of illnesses. A lot has changed in Hot Springs since 1890. No longer promoted as a cure for ills, the water still invites visitors for rejuvenation, refreshment, relaxation and recreation. Purchased by the City of Hot Springs in 2013, Evans Plunge has established itself as a tourist destination and is focusing on re-branding itself as a place of health and wellness.

Evans Plunge received the South Dakota Department of Health Healthier Vending & Snack Bar (HVSB) Grant in July 2015 to improve the food environment at their snack bar by making healthier choices more accessible, more appealing and more affordable. The grant requires snack food and drink items be categorized using the green, yellow and red traffic light system known as the Munch Code and to make the calorie content for all items visible at the point of purchase. Focusing on offering healthier snack bar options fit well within the new brand direction but required Evans Plunge to discard the status quo of being a tourist facility that appeals to the indulgences of folks seeking sugary drinks and unhealthy snacks.


A primary challenge was maintaining current clientele while working toward the new total wellness brand. The snack bar originally consisted of typical snack foods such as pre-heated hot foods including pizza and corn dogs in addition to candy, chips, fountain soft drinks and bottled soft beverages. The availability of healthier products combined with the traditional mindset held regarding what snack bars should look like posed additional challenges. It took time to determine what healthier products had traction with the target audience.


Despite these challenges, the Hot Springs community, membership base, parents of young swimmers and tourists from other states and countries have responded positively to the healthier food options available to them. Evans Plunge has made a variety of changes and improvements to increase sales of healthier products such as strategic product placement and attractiveness, point of purchase information, taste tests and more. Enhancements were made to product display cabinets not only for placement of products but to accommodate new products, matching baskets, lights and additional signage. Staff found that children love the green, yellow and red Munch Code stickers and inquire about them and their meaning. Munch Code promotional signs are also displayed to attract the attention of clientele and provide education about the color-coded stickers. Taste testing was conducted to develop a healthier popcorn recipe using less oil and salt. Three popcorn recipes were tested with a group of “regulars” who order popcorn each and every time they come to Evans Plunge. The taste testers were unanimous that the “Green Recipe” was very good and has been used exclusively since that time. Evans Plunge also worked diligently with their food and drink vendor to ensure availability of healthier products. Contractual changes were not made, but open communication about the desire for healthier options has created a positive relationship and continued improvement and expansion of products.

Results & Successes:

Evans Plunge has been excited by not only the publics’ reception to the new, healthier foods, but also the staff’s. By using the Munch Code, those purchasing from the snack bar are more cognizant of the quality of their food and the nutritional effects their foods have. Clientele that previously purchased nutrient-lacking snack food, especially for their children, make purchases of items that score a green or yellow on the Munch Code in lieu of red items.

We increased the ratio of our green to yellow and green to red products considerably after conducting a comprehensive review of each snack food item we carried. This resulted in decreased red items and a noticeable increase in yellow and green food items.” ~ Nolan Schroader, Hot Springs City Administrator

Table 1 shows the distribution of items of each Munch Code color category at Evans Plunge before and after implementation of the HVSB Grant and Figure A shows this distribution visually in a bar chart. The percentage of green items increased from 12.7% to 27.3%, while the percentage of red items decreased from 52.4% to 34.1%. This shift was positive and was statistically significant.


Table 1. Distribution of food items by the Munch Code, before and after implementation of the HVSB Grant


Figure A. Bar chart of distribution of food items by the Munch Code, before and after implementation of the HVSB Grant

An important accomplishment by Evans Plunge was implementing a Healthier Snack Bar Policy that commits them to continue to provide an environment that encourages healthy eating habits by using the Munch Code and stating calorie content. Evans Plunge has found that the introduction of healthier food and beverage items has underscored the overall approach to promote the new brand as one of health and well-being, achieved in natural ways.

I believe both staff and patrons benefitted from our Munch Code education as I have personally viewed better food choices being made by many. It was delightful to see a happy parent pull an organic applesauce pouch out of the cooler for a toddler and remark to her about Evans Plunge ‘having something good for you to snack on.’ Moving forward, we will continue to offer additional healthier choices in addition to general concession fare as we research more available snack options. We appreciate having been a past recipient of a Munch Code Grant and hope others will take advantage of this opportunity to educate on healthy food choices as well.” ~ Kris Hanson, Evans Plunge Facility Director

Lessons Learned:

Staff buy-in of the Munch Code has shown to be effective in demonstrating to the target audience the new choices available to them. Further, staff has been supportive in the procurement of different food items, providing feedback to the Facility Director when purchasing healthier snacks and beverages.

Short term goals are to continue to have quick inventory turnover of the existing healthier items. Long-term goals include phasing in more products to shift the ratio to be more in favor of green and yellow food and beverage items. The next step for Evans Plunge is to be continually engaged in promoting healthy living. Specifically relating to the foods and beverages offered, to be mindful with each purchase to think how it will be received by the customer, and what benefits it will offer their life.

Is your worksite interested in offering healthier food and drink options in your vending machine, snack bar and/or cafeteria? Click here for more information about the Healthier Vending & Snack Bar Grant under the ‘Healthy Eating’ tab.

Horton, Inc – Don’t Just Sit There

The challenge for our project was finding the perfect adjustable workstation that was affordable. With a limited amount of funding through the 2015-2015 South Dakota Department of Health WorkWell Mini-Grant, we wanted to be able to purchase as many workstations as possible. We also wanted to make sure they were easy to operate and ensure employees are using them throughout the day.

We were able to get buy-in from managers who dipped into their budgets to purchase adjustable workstations for their employees who had tried out the ones purchased with the grant money and wanted one. With the grant money we were able to purchase five workstations and managers purchased an additional five.

The departments that sit the most and don’t have a lot of freedom to get up and move throughout the day have benefited the most. Those departments are Human Resources, Customer Service and Purchasing. All of the HR department and Customer Service department employees now have adjustable workstations and half of the purchasing department has them. Frequently throughout the day you will see these employees standing and working at their desks. Several other departments have at least one adjustable workstation with several others hoping to be purchased this year if budgets allow.

Since the project started we have stressed to our office employees the importance of physical activity throughout their day. Employees have become more interested in not only being active at work, but in eating right and losing weight. From January through the middle of February our wellness committee promoted a weight loss challenge that had 44 employees participate in. Over the course of those six weeks, employees lost a combined total of almost 300 lbs. More employees are seen walking on their breaks than ever before and many have purchased FitBits and are challenging each other to see who gets in the most steps in a week.

The goal of this project was to combat “sitting disease” among our office employees. Human Resources and the wellness committee developed a plan on how we could raise awareness of this disease and promote activity throughout the day.

Through PowerPoint presentations, posting flyers and an onsite talk from the local physical therapist, we were able to keep the message fresh in our employee’s minds each quarter. The message was also enhanced by the wellness committee sponsoring the weight loss challenge in January/February.

The adjustable workstations were purchased in May and June and everyone who wanted to try one out was given that opportunity. A short seminar was conducted in July by the local physical therapist on the dangers of sitting disease. Over the course of the next three quarters, online training and surveys were conducted.

Our short-term goal is to increase the amount of time employees use their workstations throughout the day. It will be important for employees who have them to put reminders in their calendars so they remember to get up throughout the day. The long-term goal will be to increase the number of adjustable workstations in the workplace so everyone has the opportunity to stand at their desk.

Convincing and inspiring them to get started is the toughest part. It is an important role of HR and the wellness committee to continually remind employees of the importance of getting physical activity throughout their day.

Horton, Inc – Britton

Voyage FCU Well-Being Program

The value of “employee health” at Voyage Federal Credit Union is something that didn’t mean much prior to 2010; but it has changed quite a bit since 2013 -– all for the better! Employee health and well-being has become quite successful over the past several years at our organization including a complete change of our mission, values and name to how we think and offer well-being to our employees.

We knew we wanted to provide something extra and different for our employees. We knew we did not have all the “big bank” opportunities but we knew a “small bank” feel could make a bigger impact. In 2012 we were fortunate to learn about the South Dakota WorkWell Mini Grant and how that could help us impact our employees’ well-being with education, resources, opportunities and a partnership. We applied for the grant and are happy to say we were awarded funds to support our mission and values then and we are still recipients of the grant today – four years later!

When we started in 2013 we knew it was our employees that mattered and we needed to learn from them what they wanted. Surveys and a wellness team that was dedicated to success uncovered activities, incentives and education that were warranted and wanted. We took advantage of the great community in which we live and partnered with wellness centers, personal gyms, health advocates and people that had the same values we did and provided education in a group setting along with team building activities that keep our employees engaged. Drawings and incentives were used for participation and leaders kept everyone headed in the same direction. The one thing we wanted was more involvement. We also were not afraid of change and to ask for feedback. Feedback told us we need to focus more on the individual; they wanted to know more about their health and well-being so that is when our program took a more personal approach with biometric screenings, health risk assessments and the opportunity to visit with a health coach annually. Our participation jumped to 60% and the conversations changed! We then knew what challenges to have, what education to bring our employees and what resources we needed to have available. We created and a launched our FITbit initiatives. Challenges could be tracked using your FITbit and Voyage awarded monies to help offset the cost of the FITbit. They were successful!

In 2015, taking care of our employees’ well-being became part of our CULTURE! Our snacks changed, our break activities changed, we got to know our neighbors and it began to feel different. We didn’t lose sight of what our employees wanted which was the individual spin, and because of the WorkWell grant we didn’t have to lose that. Screenings, the HRA and coaching remained consistent, and this year they were able to compare numbers which was a lot of fun. We also know that we can’t lose sight of employee feedback and the need to keep it fresh. We can’t let it get pushed to the back burner and it is something we talk about monthly as a group. This year we went all out and listened to our employees and now have an online portal that brings all our well-being information together. Our individual health record for the past couple years is housed there, challenges are pushed forward monthly with a mix of group and individual activities and we have a variety of resources for education. We still have our struggles, but now we watch for them and address them right away. We will be doing one-on-one education for those employees that want to know a little more about the online portal and how to utilize it to its fullest potential. Our screenings and coaching visits are coming up in June, and we just wrapped up our involvement in the Big Squeeze (a huge community event focused on the risks of high blood pressure). Our next challenge coming up is a 10,000 step challenge which will involve our FITbits. This was a company-supported opportunity a couple years back and we continue to stay committed and engaged. This is our VOYAGE!

Spearfish Recreation & Aquatics Center Promotes Healthier Snacks


The Spearfish Recreation & Aquatics Center (SRAC) receives 150,000 plus visitors annually to its water park and rec center. Since opening in 2008, the center has wanted to offer healthier concession items in their Snack Shack. The Healthy South Dakota Munch Code was an obvious fit to offer an increased variety of healthier food and drink options to help customers make more informed decisions about what they purchase. SRAC wanted to help educate the public in an easy and fun way. With that in mind, the Munch Code menu was launched with the opening of the 2012 water park season. Learn more about how SRAC adopted South Dakota’s Healthy Concessions Policy with positive results.


Pierre CASA

The Capital Area Soccer Association (CASA) involves around 500 plus players in spring, fall, and indoor-winter soccer programs. In 2011 the CASA Board of Directors and parents felt a need to offer healthier snack and beverage options—less sugar, fat and salt—to all those involved in the program as players and spectators. Learn how CASA adopted Healthy South Dakota’s Healthy Concessions Policy for its spring and summer seasons, camps and tournaments with very positive results.


The Pierre ACHIEVE (Action Communities for Health, Innovation and Environmental change) vision began with knowing changes were needed to reverse the rising trends in chronic disease, obesity and unhealthy lifestyles. The ACTION committee of volunteers has three divisions – workplace, schools and community at large  – and is working to promote positive change for the community. Goals include instituting healthy activities across sectors that promote nutrition and physical activity and increasing the nutritional values of cafeteria and institutional meals. After multiple meetings with businesses, schools,  individuals, organizations and coalitions, the partners, workplans and goals are taking shape and there is an excitement and agreement for change.  People are able to say,  ‘These are the facts; this is what is going on. What can we can do together to make this a safe place and a healthy place to live and raise our kids?’

The Pierre ACHIEVE chart team has been in active implementation for a year now and is currently reviewing the evaluation results and planning next steps. A partial list of the extensive activities to date includes:

  • Worked with school lunch staff to monitor school lunch nutritional offerings
  • Developed signage for community gardens
  • Developed action plan for healthy eating choices for community groups
  • Encouraged healthy meetings, vending and snacks policies and began implementation
  • Offered health screenings
  • Promoted stairwell physical activity campaigns
  • Revived and reactivated school wellness policy committee
  • Provided materials to school board, principals, PTO, etc about the academic benefits of proper nutrition and physical activity
  • Promoted sugar-free zones for classrooms, conferences, concessions, etc.
  • Promoted Farmers’ Market and community garden
  • Started working with the Discovery Science Center to develop and promote the Family Garden Club
  • Worked with grocery stores and local bookstore to provide and promote nutritious foods
  • Provided weekly news articles for the Capital Journal newspaper to promote and explain ACHIEVE activities and events; articles drafted by CHART team members

Tiffany Sanchez, Community Volunteer and ACHIEVE Co-Coach, was invited to present at the 2010 ACHIEVE Community Coaches meeting in Washington, DC. She said, “It was nice to visit with the other 2009 coaches that were present to share ideas, challenges and accomplishments. Although we all spent most of last year forming teams, doing assessments and jumping through the hoops of developing our plans, we are seeing barriers coming down and people really willing to make nutrition and physical activity a part of their lives —- who doesn’t want to prevent chronic disease and improve quality of life? Forming the CHART team, completing the CHANGE tool, and developing the CAP (Community Action Plan) all take time, but the outcome is a clear direction with regard to positive policy, systems and environmental change. Patience, teamwork, passion, and commitment are key to moving forward.”

This initiative is designed to create awareness of unhealthy behaviors and problems, and also help communities to become more active and fit and to live healthier lives. After all, this is the purpose of the program — to change the lives of all for the better.

Huron Get Fit

Back in 2012, the buildings on the Huron University campus were blighted and needed to be torn down. The Mayor at that time was instrumental in creating Splash Central Water Park on the old college campus. The Campus Center building was saved from demolition and became the home of the Huron Park & Recreation Department, as well as becoming a facility for community meetings.

The members of the Huron Get Fit Committee asked for space in the Campus Center building to create a 24/7 fitness room for city employees. The request was approved by the City Commission and the Committee began improving the room after getting input from the city’s insurance carrier. Economically-priced but still serviceable exercise equipment was purchased and continues to be sought after to equip the room.

From 2013 to now, the amount of space used for the employee fitness room and the number of pieces of exercise equipment have both grown. Some equipment was purchased from South Dakota Federal Surplus Property while other equipment has been donated.

The employees and their household family members over the age of 16 must sign a waiver and are issued a card for 24-hour access to the building. To further enhance the security of the fitness room, there is a code entry lock in the door to the room.

Currently, the room is being rearranged and organized. In the coming months, the walls in the room will be taped, textured and painted to make the room more appealing. In addition, lighting will be improved and hooks or lockers will be installed so that users have places to store their street clothes when they come to use the room.

Creating and equipping the employee fitness room happened due to the hard work and dedication to wellness of a small group of city employees – the Huron Get Fit Committee!

Healthy Schools Program 2014-2015 Award Winners

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation works to empower kids to develop lifelong healthy habits by ensuring the environments that surround them provide and promote good health. The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program helps to create and sustain healthy environments where students, especially those in greatest need, can learn more and flourish.

The Healthy Schools Program identifies specific criteria that define a healthy school environment. Through an assessment tool and a customized action plan, schools work toward the Alliance’s National Healthy Schools Award. To earn the Award, schools must demonstrate implementation of specific best practices in each of the following modules that address school health:

• School Health and Safety Policies and Environment
• Health Education
• Physical Education and Other Physical Activity Programs
• Nutrition Services
• Health Promotion for Staff
• Family and Community Involvement

Schools are recognized with a National Healthy Schools Award at the Bronze, Silver or Gold Level. During the 2014-2015 school year South Dakota had 8 Bronze level award winning schools!

Beresford Elementary School – Beresford School District 61-2

At Beresford Elementary School, students are always on the move – for some, even while they are sitting at their desks. The school integrated kinesthetic learning desks into its third and fourth grade classrooms, so that students can complete their assignments and keep their legs moving at the same time. The new desks are one of many ways that Beresford Elementary is encouraging healthy habits. The school schedule includes recess and an afterschool program filled with physical activity options. At recess once a week, students participate in activities organized by Peaceful Playground, a program designed to help kids engage with one another socially while they play outside. Staff boost their physical activity by participating in a faculty fitness program before and after school. To promote healthy eating, the food service staff overhauled the lunch menu to meet federal nutrition guidelines and replaced unhealthy snacks in the school’s vending machines with healthier alternatives. The school is in the process of determining the best ways to educate parents on the importance of helping their children make healthy choices. “The assistance from the Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program has been essential throughout the process of reviewing, revising and updating our wellness policy,” said Scott Klungseth, district staff member. He continued, “The guidance of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation was an essential component as we moved through the process.”

Brandon Elementary School – Brandon Valley School District 49-2

A typical day at Brandon Elementary School is packed with opportunities for physical activity from the moment the bell rings through the end of the school day. Every morning, many children ride their bikes to school and students get moving when teachers use Jammin’ Minute physical activity breaks. The school offers exciting physical activity options during recess, such as martial arts. Staff participated in a month-long physical activity challenge and took advantage of stress management seminars and health screenings. To promote healthy eating, the school aligned all foods sold outside the school meals program with the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School standards and offers a healthy snack break during the school day. Parents are encouraged to send non-food items to school for classroom parties and birthday celebrations, and students learn how to create nutritious meals based on the USDA MyPlate recommendations in health classes. Collectively, these changes are helping to shape a healthier and more positive learning environment at Brandon Elementary. “We would not have achieved these changes without the help of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation,” said Lisa Johnson, district staff member.

Buchanan Kindergarten Center – Huron School District 2-2

Every day at Buchanan Kindergarten Center begins with a Jammin’ Minute to ensure that students are energized and focused before class begins. Many students also run or walk laps before class. Staff members are getting involved in encouraging the school’s young students to practice healthy eating habits throughout the day. The school nurse, for example, teaches a weekly health lesson, and many high school students organized a health fair for the children. As a result of these efforts, students are more aware of healthy eating options and have had the opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables. Staff wellness has become a top priority at Buchanan as well; staff members take part in a physical activity challenge, and are encouraged to wear pedometers to increase their daily steps.

Jefferson Elementary School – Huron School District 2-2

Students at Jefferson Elementary school are moving more all day long, thanks to the schools participation in the Healthy Schools Program. The whole school starts their day off with exercise over the loud speaker. Jammin’ Minute gets the kids focused and ready to learn. The teachers keep the kids moving during the day in their classrooms with brain breaks. To get the students moving more the school wellness team developed a walking challenge that students participated in during recess and after school. “I see the impact we’re having when a student comes back to tell me her family exercised together,” said School Nurse Rita Baszler. The wellness team was instrumental in getting the administration to change their school’s handbook by adding, “physical education minutes cannot be withheld as a punishment at school.” This program helps to keep our staff focused on wellness for the students which helps them to be ready to learn.​

Georgia Morse Middle School – Pierre School District 32-2

At Georgia Morse Middle School, students and staff are understanding the importance of healthy eating. In the cafeteria, all food options align with federal standards for meals and students are choosing fruit and vegetable options more frequently. The school added a vending machine stocked with nutritious USDA Smart Snack items and also provided certain classrooms with new NutriBullet blenders so that students could test out new, healthy recipes. Physical activity is a priority at Georgia Morse, where students and staff enjoy access to new fitness equipment. The staff organized a “Girls on Track” program to help girls train for a 5K race and managed a weight lifting program after school three days per week. The school also offers a wellness calendar full of physical activity ideas and inspiration for staff. As a result of these initiatives, students and staff alike are developing healthy habits. Physical Education is provided every other day to all grades, for all three years. An active Healthy Alliance Committee has implemented many new activities in the past few years. “We are continuing to change the climate of our school to a healthier and more positive place,” said Kyley Cumbow, school administrator.

Jefferson Elementary School – Pierre School District

At Jefferson Elementary School, the importance of health and wellness is obvious from the moment students set foot in the building. Before classes begin, students enjoy extra time for physical activity and grab a healthy breakfast provided by the school. After school, staff members take walks together and many female students participate in a popular “Girls on the Run” program. The school also created a “Boost Up” classroom, equipped with multiple physical activity stations for students to try. To encourage more physical activity among the staff, many faculty meetings conclude with a friendly game of volleyball or jogging some laps outside. Students enjoy healthy meals in the cafeteria and all foods and beverages sold outside of the school meals program align with the USDA Smart Snacks in School standards. The school also implemented a Harvest of the Month program to introduce students to new, tasty fruits and vegetables. “The Healthy Schools Program kept us on task and helped us to improve our healthy activities,” said Bill Kaiser, administrator. “The Program has shown us that school wellness should be talked about more and emphasized,” added Jim Keyes, physical education teacher.

Black Hawk Elementary School – Rapid City Area School District 51-4

At Black Hawk Elementary School, many teachers and students share a common goal: completing 100 miles of walking or jogging by the end of the school year. For every 25 miles completed by a participant, he or she received a special t-shirt to wear with pride on “Miler Mondays.” This “100 Mile Club” is one of many initiatives at Black Hawk geared toward building a healthier environment. The morning announcements always include a student-organized nutrition lesson plus a Jammin’ Minute physical activity break to ensure that the students are energized and ready to learn. Teachers are encouraged to incorporate at least ten minutes of movement into their daily lesson plans. The school’s wellness efforts are also extending into the community: it hosted a 3K walk for all Black Hawk families and planned physical activity events for staff. Collectively, these changes have begun to transform the school environment. “We have created a culture where health and wellness are valued in the educational process. It is no longer just the physical education teachers’ job to get the kids moving; the principal, classroom teachers and community now understand healthy students are better learners,” said Tari Phares, physical education teacher. She continued, “Healthy Schools Program Manager Kari Senger has been instrumental in training us on the Alliance’s process and framework. She has connected us with valuable resources to help us accomplish our goals.” The Black Hawk community has plenty to look forward to; the school plans to use its new blenders to host smoothie taste tests and the local Black Hills Runners’ Club has offered to sponsor the 100 Mile Club for the upcoming school year.

Knollwood Heights Elementary School – Rapid City Area School District 51-4

At Knollwood Heights Elementary School, Wednesdays are one of the most exciting days of the week; each “Wellness Wednesday” brings an opportunity for students and staff to experience new physical activities. “I look forward to Wellness Wednesdays. It is a great time to have fun with our students while doing something physical,” said Mallory Spoelstra, first grade teacher. In addition to Wellness Wednesdays, the school encourages students to get moving with a popular running club and an additional ten minutes of recess time. Staff are leading the way to healthier habits; they walk together after school, participate in a fitness challenge and receive tips for healthy living via e-mail. Students and staff alike enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables during snack time and candy rewards have been removed from most classrooms. To ensure that students can practice healthy habits within their homes, the school hosted a family night where students and their parents completed three fitness stations that culminated in a free, nutritious meal. As a result of these changes, Knollwood has made significant progress in its mission to build a healthy school environment.

Sencore – Encouraging an Active Lifestyle at Work

Sencore, a video broadcast equipment supplier and manufacturer in Sioux Falls, recognized primarily sedentary behaviors in its staff. Sencore knows the impact that physical activity has on its employees and wanted to create an environment that offered physical activity opportunities during the workday. In 2014, Sencore applied for and received a South Dakota Department of Health (SD DOH) Steps to Wellness Workplace Physical Activity Grant. The goal of this project was to provide the resources and support to increase physical activity. Human Resources and the wellness team were a crucial part in all steps of the project. Staff gave input and feedback as well.


The first challenge Sencore identified was getting leadership engaged with this project. Their engagement was key to the success of the project. It was important that at the start of the project, everyone was on the same page and that there were continued progress updates given to all individuals involved. Other challenges were space and time. The wellness committee knew what they wanted, but needed to find an area that would work and get approval from the organization. They wanted to make the most of the DOH Steps to Wellness grant dollars, so that meant employees giving their time to get things started and accomplished. The key to overcoming all of this was patience and persistence.


A department manager had extra work space and was willing to let the wellness committee reconfigure it to make it work as a physical activity area. This showed that the department was committed to making this project succeed. Sencore provided indoor bike racks, a physical activity area, and an outdoor basketball hoop. The new areas designated for physical activity are available to all employees and impact the health of individuals and Secnore as a whole. They also developed a walking map to encourage employees to walk during their breaks or conduct walking meetings. A plan to promote physical activity is also in place.


Teamwork was a huge part of getting this project completed, and all of the wellness team members chipped in to help get things done. Since the project started, Sencore has shown its employees that the organization knows the importance of physical activity.

“Sitting disease” is common and with most of the workforce sitting the majority of the day, employees received the message that getting up and moving is important. Sencore’s dedication to encouraging physical activity at work is now included as a wellness policy in the handbook.


By putting a timeline in place, sticking to the budget and keeping management involved, Sencore finished the project in less than six months. Sencore has noticed improved morale and increased energy and positive feelings among its employees. After installing the indoor bike racks, a couple individuals who cannot bike to work brought their bike so they could bike during breaks and lunch. Sencore even incorporated games using the new basketball hoop in their annual Sencore Olympics.

2014 Timeline
March – Brainstormed with wellness committee on wellness grant project
April – Met with CEO for approval
May – Finalized budget and announced plans to employees
June – Installed basketball hoop
July – Reviewed grant budget and put up active area walls
August – Installed flooring and completed painting
September – Installed bike racks and added equipment to active area

Next Steps:

The wellness committee plans to build from the project’s initial success. Sencore will focus on continuing to support physical activity and encourage all employees to use the active area. The wellness team will play an important role in promoting and using the area. One goal is to get managers directly involved, not just by saying, but by doing. Additional funding is always helpful as sometimes that can be the roadblock to moving forward with ideas and plans.

Sencore’s short term goals include seeing increased usage of the new active area and engaging employees who may not normally participate in physical activity at work. Supporting and encouraging employees to bike to work or go biking on their lunch hour will also continue. Their long term focus is to outgrow the active area and have a need for more space for a fitness center that gives employees multiple options to get physical activity at the workplace.

To achieve the above goals, Sencore will put an emphasis on the importance of physical activity. This requires education and creativity to keep employees engaged. The committee will continue to promote the new active area and basketball hoop by designing physical activities for employees to participate in. Sencore’s biggest piece of advice for anyone looking to start a project is to get feedback from all employees. For the project to be a success, employees need to feel like a part of it and that their interests are taken into consideration when moving ahead when implementing something that affects them and their collective workplace.

Is your worksite interested in making improvements that  encourage physical activity during the work day and setting up a physical activity policy that supports healthy work environments? Click HERE for more information about the Steps to Wellness Workplace Physical Activity Grant or contact us at

South Dakota’s Steps to Wellness Program Gets Employees Moving at Work


The South Dakota Department of Health (DOH) partnered with worksites from all over the state to promote and increase access to workplace wellness programs through the Steps to Wellness Workplace Physical Activity Grant. Employers across the state were provided trainings and resources to help set up worksite wellness policies that support healthy work environments. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 18 worksites made improvements that now encourage physical activity during the work day. These changes benefit more than 2,800 employees in South Dakota.


Working adults spend a significant amount of time at the workplace. Often, much of that time is spent physically inactive. Inactive adults have a higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers. In 2014, South Dakota had a 30% obesity rate among residents and an additional 35% were overweight, according to Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance (BRFSS) data. Because a majority of adults spend much of their time at work, worksite wellness programs have the potential to influence health and prevent disease.


DOH worked with partners to provide employers (e.g., trucking, law enforcement, insurance) across the state with educational resources and trainings on worksite wellness strategies. The health department shared two key resources with employers—CDC’s Steps to Wellness: A Guide to Implementing the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in the Workplace Toolkit and South Dakota’s Model Worksite Physical Activity Policy. Both resources provide a framework for creating a worksite culture that supports health, and encourages employees to be more active during the work day. Guidance includes allowing employees time for physical activity during the work day and allowing flexible work schedules.


As of 2016, 20 worksites set up wellness policies to support worksite physical activity for employees. Improvements include built environment changes such as signage for indoor and outdoor walking paths, visually appealing healthy stairwells to encourage use during business hours, and installation of bike racks for employees to bike to and from work. Worksites also made provisions to work schedules, allowing paid time during the work day or week for physical activity. Self-reported pre- or post-survey data showed a statistically significant increase in the amount of time spent engaged in moderate aerobic physical activity (e.g., walking briskly, light cycling)—85 minutes per week pre-survey and 104 minutes post-survey. All 20 worksites received technical assistance and trainings on physical activity strategies and policies.

1.      Aurora County; Plankinton, SD
2.      Horton Inc.; Britton, SD
3.      Mills Property Management; Brookings, SD
4.      Northern Hills Training Center; Spearfish, SD
5.      Sencore; Sioux Falls, SD
6.      South Dakota Developmental Center; Redfield, SD
7.      Wurth Electronics Midcom Inc.; Watertown, SD
8.      Howalt+McDowell, Marsh & McLennan Agency; Sioux Falls, SD
9.      Kingsbury County; DeSmet, SD
10.    Community Health Center of the Black Hills; Rapid City, SD
11.    Plankinton USDA Service Center; Plankinton, SD
12.    West Hills Village; Rapid City, SD
13.    Black Hills Works; Rapid City, SD
14.    Brookings Health System; Brookings, SD
15.    Dakotacare; Sioux Falls, SD
16.    City of Sioux Falls; Sioux Falls, SD
17.    Pennington County Sheriff’s Office; Rapid City, SD
18.    Summit School District; Summit, SD
19.    Volunteers of America Dakotas; Sioux Falls, SD
20.    ASI Inc.; Rapid City, SD


DOH will continue to identify and promote worksite physical activity for employees in South Dakota. The health department is now working with nine additional worksites to create cultures that support worksite wellness. They plan to add 20 more over the next 2 years. DOH is also collaborating with Health Management Partners, an insurance company based in South Dakota, to reach more South Dakota worksites. The aim is to build a team of trainers to enhance physical activity efforts in worksites across the state.

Once my employer gave me time during the workday to exercise and a gym I could readily access, it made a huge difference in my total exercise each day.“- Steps to Wellness Worksite Employee


Click here for more information about the Steps to Wellness Workplace Physical Activity Grant or contact us at

Aspire, Inc – Progress Toward Healthier Vending Machines

Aspire, Inc is a non-profit agency in Aberdeen, SD that assists people with developmental disabilities. Finding ways to provide education on healthy lifestyle choices can present many challenges. An increase in obesity, decline in physical activity and the need for better education on food choices and portions were noted – not only for the people Aspire supports, but also the staff preparing the food and assisting with grocery shopping. In order to work toward promoting a healthier lifestyle, Aspire started to implement many changes, including transitioning to the new school lunch standards, updating menus for supervised locations, providing more opportunities for activity and initiating “Fit Club,” which consists of monthly meetings that provided education from a Registered Dietitian and a healthy snack prepared by the agency nurse.

In September 2014, Aspire was given the opportunity to participate in the SD Healthier Vending and Snack Bar Pilot program with the Department of Health (DOH). For the pilot year, worksites were not give grant funds. In subsequent years, up to $1,000 has been provided to worksites to help implement the project. Because Aspire did not receive funding in the pilot, they have been awarded $1,000 in the 2016-2017 grant year to further their efforts and incentivize staff and clientele. The following information is based on the work completed prior to the 2016-2017 grant year.

Initial barriers consisted of determining how Munch Code guidelines would coexist with the School Lunch Standards and Smart Snack Standards. Some of the foods that were considered yellow for the Munch Code were approved for the Smart Snack Standards, which was surprising as most of their items are more comparable to green. The vending in the cafeteria required the Smart Snack Standards; however; the vending in the staff break room did not. Convincing staff to let go of their comfort foods would be the next challenge. The staff was open to healthier choices, but did not want to replace all of the items. Upon review of the staff vending machine, there was an embarrassing amount of high fat/calorie food choices – the worst being a two-pack of cookies with a total of 700 calories and 900 mg of sodium. That item was immediately removed. Other barriers encountered included difficulty finding foods that met the guidelines that were of interest to people and that were felt to be decent portion sizes. Getting approved vending items from the distributor also proved to be challenging. Aspire received a list of USDA school-approved snacks and healthier options from the distributor but it was limited. For example, the list was three pages long, but it included many multiples of the same items, just different flavors (i.e., chips and Nutrigrain bars). Aspire was also limited on beverage choices due to having an older machine that did not accommodate the size of bottles for some items on the list.

Despite the challenges, Aspire kept moving forward and was able to make some healthier changes to the vending machines. The vendor worked with Aspire to get food items they wanted and provided samples to do a group taste test. Some even preferred the taste of the healthier items over the less healthy ones. The staff vending machine went from having only 4 green and yellow items to 18 green and yellow items.

Results & Success:
Overall, the changes Aspire has made toward promoting healthier lifestyles are all beneficial and positive. They have seen a decline in weight for some people, staff members have prioritized being active when assisting people, portions are monitored better and meetings and gatherings at work consist of healthier food choices. According to Aspire’s sales data, the changes have not had any negative effects. September and October 2015 had a larger amount of sales than previous months. Looking ahead, Aspire hopes to better gather and utilize sales data to get a clearer picture of what items are being sold as they cannot fully differentiate between green and red items available in the staff vending machine. Aspire has a Wellness Committee that meets monthly and works toward promoting optimal health for staff, the people they assist and the community. This committee also maintains and promotes the healthy vending policy and procedures. The long-term goal is to continue educating, providing healthier choices and encouraging opportunities for physical activity.

Lessons Learned:
The pilot project was a great learning experience for all entities involved. Aspire recommends getting vending distributors on board right away to allow for smoother transition. Having the calories displayed when trying to make healthy choices is a great idea; however, if vendors replace items, the new item may not have the same amount of calories or color code – so a commitment would be required from the vendor as well. Participating in the pilot program benefited Aspire’s agency by challenging them to look closer at how things could be improved. It prompted them to revisit their Wellness Policy, refocus on Aspire’s goals and collaborate with other community resources to help carry out goals and build lasting working relationships.

Is your worksite interested in offering healthier food and drink options in your vending machine, snack bar, micro market and/or cafeteria? Click HERE for more information about the Healthier Vending & Snack Bar Policy Grant or contact Megan Hlavacek, SD DOH Healthy Foods Coordinator,


Tri-State Flooring – Wellness Program


Tri-State Flooring, a small company with 25 employees located in Sioux Falls, has owners who care about their employees’ health. They understand the benefit that a wellness program can bring not only for the employees but also for their company as a whole.

In April 2012, Tri-State Flooring, with assistance from WellConneXions, incorporated wellness into their company culture and it has been a huge success. Their goal was met right out of the gate with 85% commitment from employees and full engagement and encouragement from leadership. Their program is comprehensive and includes not only lifestyle wellness but also risk-focused wellness. Each employee is provided a personal Health Enhancement Coach that is available to educate, encourage, and support them along their journey to wellness.

Their calendar of events for the year includes clinical risk evaluations, activity challenges that include off-site employees, community activities for employees and spouses as well as educational sessions and information focused on the outcomes. Their wellness team has been pivotal in the development and success of their program and has voluntarily committed to create a foundation for a successful future. The commitment, participation, excitement and support Tri-State has form the owners have truly positioned their company for a very bright future!

SHAPE SD Announces 2016 Teacher Award Winners

Six individuals were recognized for outstanding teaching in health and physical education at the SHAPE South Dakota Convention held October 26-28, 2016 in Deadwood. The honorees include:

Elementary Physical Education Teacher of the Year

Nikki Heinz – Yankton School District

Middle School Physical Education Teacher of the Year

Stacy Anderson – Madison School District

Secondary Physical Education Teacher of the Year

Vonda Bjorklund – Brookings School District

Health Education Teacher of the Year

Patty Jorgenson – Brookings School District

New Professional of the Year

Kim Kuefler – St. Francis Indian School

Honor Award

Dr. Patty Hacker – South Dakota State University

SHAPE SD (Society for Health And Physical Educators of South Dakota) is a group of professionals collaborating to combat the obesity crisis by increasing lifelong physical activity and promoting healthy living.

Ruling Sets New Requirements for School Wellness Policies

On July 29, 2016, the USDA Food and Nutrition Service finalized a new set of requirements governing school wellness polices. The ruling affects all schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program and/or School Breakfast Program and must be completed by June 30, 2017.

Wellness policies are written documents drafted by individual school districts which guide their “efforts to establish a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn.” The new regulations are intended to strengthen these goals, as well as increase transparency and accountability.

According to the USDA’s summary of the ruling, the revised wellness policies must include:

  • Specific goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other schoolbased activities that promote student wellness. [Local educational agencies] are required to review and consider evidence-based strategies in determining these goals.
  • Standards and nutrition guidelines for all foods and beverages sold to students on the school campus during the school day that are consistent with Federal regulations for:
    • School meal nutrition standards, and the
    • Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards.
  • Standards for all foods and beverages provided, but not sold, to students during the school day (e.g., in classroom parties, classroom snacks brought by parents or other foods given as incentives).
  • Policies for food and beverage marketing that allow marketing and advertising of only those foods and beverages that meet the Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards.
  • Description of public involvement, public updates, policy leadership and evaluation plan.

Schools will be assessed by state agencies every three years to check for compliance. You can view the USDA’s ruling in its entirety here.


Source: United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Science. (2016). Local School Wellness Policy Implementation Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010: Summary of the Final Rule.

Are Supplements Safe?

Dietary supplements can be beneficial to your health — but taking supplements can also involve health risks. While some dietary supplements are well understood and established, others need further study. Before making decisions about whether to take a supplement, talk to your healthcare provider.

What are dietary supplements?

Dietary supplements include ingredients such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids and enzymes. Dietary supplements are sold in forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, powders and liquids.

What are the benefits of dietary supplements?

When supplements are advised by your healthcare provider to target specific needs, they can be beneficial to health. Some supplements have shown to be beneficial for certain population groups including folic acid taken by women of childbearing age to reduce incidence of birth defects and iron for anemia.

For someone who is generally healthy and eats a wide variety of foods, supplements are not worth the expense. Supplements aren’t intended to replace food because they don’t include all of the nutrients and benefits of whole foods, such as the fiber and phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. However, for those with certain health conditions it is not always possible to eat a variety of foods to meet their nutritional needs. Talk to your healthcare provider before using dietary supplements to determine how much is safe to take based on individual needs.

Are there any risks in taking supplements?

Yes. Many supplements contain active ingredients that have strong biological effects in the body. This could make them unsafe in some situations and hurt or complicate your health. For example, the following actions could lead to harmful – even life-threatening – consequences:

  • Combining supplements
  • Using supplements with medicines (whether prescription or over-the-counter)
  • Substituting supplements for prescription medicines
  • Taking too much of some supplements, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, or iron
  • Some supplements can also have unwanted effects before, during and after surgery. Be sure to inform you healthcare provider, including your pharmacist about any supplements you are taking.

Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent or cure diseases. That means supplements should not make claims, such as “reduces pain” or “treats heart disease.” Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs, not dietary supplements.

The supplement industry has a long history of impure products. Do you remember ‘ephedra’ from back in the 90’s? This stimulant was linked to organ damage and death and was consequently banned in 2004. A more recently banned substance, methylsynephrine, has been found in supplements that did not list it on the label. It is not approved for use in the US as either a supplement or prescription drug. Recent research found that 14 out of 27 brands of dietary supplements contained the banned substance in a range of doses. In some cases, if consumers took the recommended dose listed on the label, they could potentially experience side effects including vomiting, agitation and cardiac arrest. And methylsynephrine is just one potentially unlisted additive found in supplements.

Who is responsible for the safety of dietary supplements?

The manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements are responsible for making sure their products are safe before they go to market. FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness BEFORE they are marketed. 

If the dietary supplement contains a new ingredient, manufacturers must notify FDA about that ingredient prior to marketing. However, the notification will only be reviewed by FDA (not approved) and only for safety, not effectiveness.

Manufacturers are required to produce dietary supplements in a quality manner and ensure that they do not contain contaminants or impurities, and are accurately labeled according to Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) and labeling regulations.

If a serious problem associated with a dietary supplement occurs, manufacturers must report it to FDA as an adverse event. FDA can take dietary supplements off the market if they are found to be unsafe or if the claims on the products are false and misleading.

How can I be a smart supplement shopper?

If you are advised by your health provider to start a supplement, follow these guidelines:

  • When searching for supplements on the internet use credible, noncommercial sites (e.g. NIH, FDA, USDA) rather than doing blind searches.
  • Watch out for false statements like “works better than [a prescription drug],” “totally safe,” or has “no side effects.”
  • Be aware that the term natural doesn’t always means safe.
  • Ask your healthcare provider for help in distinguishing between reliable and questionable information.
  • Use caution and look for independent quality assessment seals and third-party verification for added safety.
  • Always remember – safety first!


Sources: Food and Nutrition Magazine article “A Lesson in Safety: What to Know About What’s Not On Supplement Labels” by Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO & U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Shake the Winter Blues

Wintertime brings early darkness, cold days, and busy schedules. These new changes can create a variety of feelings, including winter blues.” If you’re feeling blue, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. But, instead of falling into a slump and skipping your workouts, use the winter months as a time to refocus and set new goals for your health.

Exercise is actually a natural way to quickly boost your mood! Research shows there are a number of mental benefits, including:

  • Movement stimulates the brain, which in turn causes brain growth and improves brain health.
  • Regular exercise benefits your overall health, including weight management.
  • Regular exercise decreases risk for diabetes and heart diseases.
Staying Motivated

If you are having a hard time staying motivated or finding time to exercise, try these tips to keep moving and fighting the winter blues feelings:

  1. Avoid using the cold weather or “early darkness” as an excuse to skip your exercise. Try working out early in the morning, over your lunch hour, once the children are in bed or squeeze it in while you’re cooking, brushing your teeth or during TV commercials.
  2. Try new activities. Experimenting with new physical activities can keep your mind interested, as well as keep your body guessing. During the winter months, you can try out snowshoeing, snowboarding or snow skiing. Just be sure to do some research ahead of time if you have never done these fun activities before.
  3. Get a workout buddy! Research shows that working out with a friend helps keep you motivated and accountable. It’s also is a great way to incorporate time to catch up and benefit you socially.
  4. Incorporate exercise into everyday activities. Take an active break during work and take a quick walk, use your lunch break as a time to destress and refocus and hit the gym, play a new game or activity with your children, choose the farthest parking space from the store, or walk to get your mail.
  5. Start or join a social media group. Create a Facebook group and invite friends who would also like to fight the winter blues. You can create a challenge to strive for, or you can use it as a way to keep in touch with each other as you work towards your individual fitness goals. Be creative!
  6. Get plenty of sleep. It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. When we are well rested, we are more likely to feel motivated to be physically active during the day. Regular exercise can also help improve the quality of your sleep as well!
  7. Schedule it in your calendar. Some people live and die by their calendars. If this is you, pencil in exercise into your day just as if you would a meeting. This way, you can schedule your day around your exercise routine and reduce the lack of time barrier that many have with participating in physical activity. Let your calendar keep you accountable.
  8. Do something you enjoy. Lastly, and possibly most importantly, do something you like to do. Physical activity and exercise should be fun even in the winter months.

If you are exercising outdoors, make sure you wear appropriate attire and follow appropriate safety measures. For more information on exercising in cold weather, read Physical Activity & Cold Weather.

Written collaboratively by Nikki Prosch and Tara Shafrath with SDSU Extension.

Realistic & Healthy Holiday Eating Tips

The holidays are a time to enjoy friends, family, and food. And contrary to popular belief, you can have all three without worrying about putting on extra pounds!

The secret…mindful preparation and mindful eating!

Don’t skip meals throughout the day.
This will likely result in overeating later. Eat balanced meals and snacks just like any other day, including breakfast! Research shows that those who eat this important morning meal tend to consume fewer calories throughout the day.

Include lots of fiber in your diet by eating fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains.
High-fiber foods are high in volume and will satisfy hunger, but are lower in calories. Plus beans and legumes are easy on the food budget. Add lentils to soups, mix half black beans with half lean meat for tacos, add chickpeas to salads, snack on edamame beans and use hummus instead of mayo.

Choose a broth-based soup instead of a creamy soup.
When making soup, use a low-sodium broth and add lots of different vegetables, beans and spices. To make a thicker soup without the cream, puree vegetables such as cauliflower, squash or carrots. They create a velvety texture with a lot less calories.

Use a smaller plate.
Less room on your plate encourages proper portion sizes.

Start each meal by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables.
If you wait until the end to add fruits and vegetables, you often run out of room.

Ask yourself is this food calorie worthy?
Does this food taste good enough for me to spend some of my calories on? Try not to fill your plate with everything just because it’s in the buffet line. And if Grandma’s apple pie is calorie worthy, enjoy a piece!

Eat slow and savor every bit. Give yourself a little time before going back for seconds.
Wait to see if you really are still hungry.

After eating, get in some physical activity!
Find a new bike trail, walk the neighborhood to look at holiday lights, go ice skating, or play a game with the kids.

Source: Stay Mindful with 4 Tips for Holiday Eating and Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less – Holiday Challenge Daily Tips

Do you have Diabetes or Prediabetes?

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and more than one out of three people have prediabetes, but nine out of ten don’t know they have it. Could you be one of them? Prediabetes is a condition in which your blood sugar is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. Your risk of having prediabetes increases if you’re over 45 years old, overweight or obese, or physically active less than 3 times weekly. Having prediabetes is serious. If left untreated, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop diabetes within five years.

There are different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2 and Prediabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children or young adults who have a hard time producing insulin. Type 1 is much less common as it only affects 5% of people with diabetes. With insulin treatments, these patients can learn to manage their symptoms and enjoy their lives.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common diagnosis and affects both children and adults whose bodies do not use insulin correctly. It is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (sugar) for our bodies to use for energy. The pancreas, an organ that lies near the stomach, makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our bodies. When you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes sugar to build up in your blood.
  • Prediabetes is when your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with prediabetes are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  • increased urination
  • extreme thirst
  • extreme hunger
  • fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • cuts and bruises that take a long time to heal
  • unusual weight loss
  • numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • A person can have prediabetes and have no symptoms

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see a doctor right away. Early detection of diabetes can help reduce future health complications.

Get Tested!
Complete a prediabetes screening test and talk with your doctor. If you find you do have prediabetes, the National Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make the lifestyle changes necessary to delay or prevent developing diabetes. Currently, there are Diabetes Prevention Programs offered in the following communities: Belle Fourche, Deadwood, Custer, Platte, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish, Sturgis and Yankton. A list of online options are also available. Click here for more information, resources and videos.

Diabetes affects every part of your body. Diabetes increases a person’s risk of going blind, developing high blood pressure, decreasing kidney function and more. The best way to combat diabetes is to prevent it. To decrease your risk maintain a healthy weight, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoid large portion sizes and exercise regularly. Try some of these healthy recipes!

Diabetes Self-Management Education
Living with diabetes can make a person feel scared and powerless. Do you want to take control of your condition and feel more confident in managing your diabetes? If you do, Diabetes Self-Management Education is for you. Commonly referred to as DSME, this program is for anyone newly diagnosed with diabetes, those with a change in their diabetic treatment regimen, individuals using insulin pumps, or persons interested in annual diabetes education. Many healthcare facilities offer this program, and some insurance plans, in addition to Medicaid and Medicare, have DSME as a covered benefit. To find a program near you, contact your doctor.

Sources:  South Dakota Diabetes Program, Avera McKennan Weekly Health Tip, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Diabetes, & American Diabetes Association

These resources are not a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your healthcare provider to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease.


You Can Decrease Your Cancer Risk. How? Move More!

A new study has shown that more leisure-time physical activity is associated with a lower risk of developing 13 different types of cancer! Leisure-time physical activity is exercise done at one’s own discretion, often to improve or maintain fitness or health. Examples include walking, running, swimming, and other moderate to vigorous intensity activities. In this study, the average level of activity was about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week, which is the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation.

Hundreds of previous studies have examined associations between physical activity and cancer risk and shown reduced risks for colon, breast and endometrial cancers. However results were not as clear for other cancer types due to small number of participants. This new study pooled data on 1.44 million people, ages 19 to 98, from the United States and Europe, and was able to examine a broad range of cancers. Participants were followed for an average of 11 years during which 187,000 new cases of cancer occurred.

The investigators confirmed that leisure-time physical activity, determined by self-reported surveys, was associated with a lower risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. They also determined that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of 10 additional cancers, with the greatest risk reductions for esophageal, liver, stomach, kidney and myeloid leukemia. Myeloma and cancers of the head and neck, rectum, and bladder also showed reduced risks that were significant, but not as strong. Risk was reduced for lung cancer, but only for current and former smokers; the reasons for this are still being studied.

Here is the information in a nutshell:

  • Esophageal cancer, a 42% lower risk
  • Liver cancer, a 27% lower risk
  • Lung cancer, a 26% lower risk
  • Kidney cancer, a 23% lower risk
  • Stomach cancer of the cardia (top portion of the stomach), a 22% lower risk
  • Endometrial cancer, a 21% lower risk
  • Myeloid leukemia, a 20% lower risk
  • Myeloma, a 17% lower risk
  • Colon cancer, a 16% lower risk
  • Head and neck cancer, a 15% lower risk
  • Rectal cancer, a 13% lower risk
  • Bladder cancer, a 13% lower risk
  • Breast cancer, a 10% lower risk

Overall, high levels of physical activity were linked with a 7% lower risk of any cancer, according to the study. The association between increased physical activity and decreased cancer risk is applicable to different populations, including people who are overweight or obese, or those with a history of smoking. Health care professionals counseling inactive adults should promote physical activity as a component of a healthy lifestyle and cancer prevention.

Sources: National Institutes of Health

Power-Packed Protein for Back-to-School

It’s back-to-school season which means including power-packed protein—such as milk, cheese, and yogurt—in meals, school lunch boxes, and snacks.

Dairy protein keeps you feeling fuller longer and delivers important nutritional benefits. Add dairy protein to your diet for all-day energy.

It is recommended that 10-35% of total daily calories come from protein. For a 2,000 calorie diet, this means 50-175 grams of protein per day. However, many people eat most of their protein in the evening, leaving them without the fuel they need to feel energized all day. 30 grams of protein at each meal will stimulate protein growth in younger and older adults. Distributing protein throughout the day, starting at breakfast, provides energy and a greater ability to focus on the day’s activities.

Recipes like Power Up Muffin Cups or Fruity Splash Smoothie provide important nutritional benefits and protein to ensure all-day energy. They also make for quick breakfasts before school or work.

Cottage cheese with berries, flavored milks and yogurts, single-serve cheese sticks, as well as snack packs with dried fruit, nuts and cheese, can be added to school lunches or enjoyed as snacks for dairy protein on-the-go.

For evening meals, Pita Pizza Faces and BBQ Chicken and Cheddar Foil Packets are a fun way to get kids to eat their protein, and dinner is on the table in a snap.

Visit Midwest Dairy for recipes and ways to incorporate dairy protein into your meals and snacks.

Source: Midwest Dairy Council

A New Look for the Nutrition Label!

Check out this side-by-side comparison of the original label and the NEW label.

New Label - what's different

The new label must be on food packages by July 26, 2018. However, food manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply (July 26, 2019).

So what’s different?

New Label - what's different

The Look:

  • Calories, servings per container, and the serving size will be larger, bolder type to bring attention to this information to help people make informed decisions about the foods they eat.
  • The footnote is changing to better explain what percent Daily Value means. The % Daily Value (%DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
  • Calories from Fat is being removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount.

Daily Values:

  • Daily values for nutrients like sodium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are being updated based on newer scientific evidence. The %DV helps consumers understand the nutrition information in the context of a total daily diet.

Trans Fat:

  • Trans fat will be reduced but not eliminated from foods, so it will still be on the label. Artificial Trans fat are not generally recognized as safe, but some Trans fat is present naturally in food from certain animals, such as cows and goats.

Added Sugar:

  • The amount of Added Sugars will be included on the label under Total Carbohydrates as a sub-category of Total Sugar. Added sugar is defined as any sugar that is added during processing and includes a pretty big list of ingredients:

-brown sugar
-high fructose corn syrup
-invert sugar
-maltose sugar

  • People who eat diets with few added sugars are at a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • No more than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugar.

Nutrients of Public Health Significance:

  • Vitamin D, potassium, calcium and iron are required to be listed on the label. Vitamins A and C will no longer be required but can be included on a voluntary basis.
  • Manufacturers must declare the actual amount, in addition to %DV of vitamin D, calcium, iron and potassium. They can voluntarily declare the gram amount for other vitamins and minerals.

Duel Column Labeling:

  • For certain products that are larger than a single serving but that could be consumed in one sitting or multiple sittings, manufacturers will have to provide “dual column” labels.  This will show the amount of calories and nutrients “per serving” and “per package”. Examples include a 24 ounce bottle of soda or a pint of ice cream. People will be able to easily understand how many calories and nutrients they are getting if they eat or drink the entire package at one time.

Serving Size and Package Size:

  • By law, serving sizes must be based on amounts of foods and beverages that people are actually eating, not what they should be eating. How much people eat and drink has changed since the previous serving size requirements were published in 1993. For example, a serving of ice cream used to be ½ cup, but is now ⅔ cup. A serving of soda is changing from 8 ounces to 12 ounces.
  • Package size affects what people eat. So for packages that are between one and two servings, such as a 20 ounce soda or a 15-ounce can of soup, the calories and other nutrients will be required to be labeled as one serving because people typically consume it in one sitting.

Serving Size Changes

The new food label is a tool that is easy to use and is helpful in showing the nutrition in the foods we consume.

Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label; FDA Medical Education Resources; and Federal Register Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels.



Food & Drink Guidelines for Childcare Centers, Daycares & Adult Care Homes

Childcare centers, daycares, and adult care homes offering meals through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) have added a greater variety of vegetables and fruit, more whole grains, and less added sugar and saturated fat to their meals and snacks.

CACFP plays a critical role in supporting the wellness, health, and development of children, older adults, and chronically impaired disabled persons through the provision of nutritious foods. Childcare providers, in particular, have a powerful opportunity to instill healthy habits in young children that serve as a foundation for healthy choices in life.

These food and beverage guidelines help ensure children and adults have access to healthy, balanced meals and snacks throughout the day.

INFANT Meal Pattern

Encourage and support breastfeeding:

  • Providers may receive reimbursement for meals when a breastfeeding mother comes to the daycare center or home and directly breastfeeds her infant; and
  • Only breastmilk and infant formula are served to infants 0 through 5 month olds.

Developmentally appropriate meals:

  • Two age groups, instead of three: 0-5 month olds and 6-11 month olds; and
  • Solid foods are gradually introduced around 6 months of age, as developmentally appropriate.

More nutritious meals:

  • Requires a vegetable or fruit, or both, to be served at snack for infants 6-11 months old;
  • No longer allows juice, cheese food or cheese spread to be served; and
  • Allows ready-to-eat cereals.

CHILD Meal Pattern

Greater variety of vegetables and fruits:

  • The combined fruit and vegetable component is now a separate vegetable component and a separate fruit component; and
  • Juice is limited to once per day.

More whole grains:

  • At least one serving of grains per day must be whole grain-rich;
  • Grain-based desserts no longer count towards the grains component; and
  • Ounce equivalents are used to determine the amount of creditable grains (effective October 1, 2019).

More protein options:

  • Meat and meat alternates may be served in place of the entire grains component at breakfast a maximum of three times per week; and
  • Tofu counts as a meat alternate.

Age appropriate meals:

  • A new age group to address the needs of older children 13 through 18 years old.

Less added sugar:

  • Yogurt must contain no more than 23 grams of sugar per 6 ounces; and
  • Breakfast cereals must contain no more than 6 grams of sugar per dry ounce.

Making every sip count:

  • Unflavored whole milk must be served to 1 year olds;
  • Unflavored low-fat or fat-free milk must be served to children 2-5 years old;
  • Unflavored low-fat, unflavored fat-free, or flavored fat-free milk must be served to children 6 years old and older and adults;
  • Non-dairy milk substitutes that are nutritionally equivalent to milk may be served in place of milk to children or adults with medical or special dietary needs; and
  • Yogurt may be served in place of milk once per day for adults only.

Additional improvements:

  • Extends offer versus serve to at-risk after school programs; and
  • Frying is not allowed as a way of preparing foods on-site.

One-Page Summaries of the New Meal Standards, Effective October 2017

Meal Standards Charts

Source:  USDA Food and Nutrition Service – Child and Adult Care Food Program

Break Up Your Day and Move!

Break Up Your Day and Move is a 6-week incentive program designed to get SDSU College of Education & Human Sciences faculty and staff to break up the amount of time they sit during the work day in spring 2017. Independent of the amount of activity you participate in, the amount of time you sit each day has been shown to increase your risk of chronic disease. Taking part in light-intensity activity to break up sedentary time, such as standing, stretching or walking, can have a positive impact on one’s health. Research recommends taking two to three 15-minute activity breaks during your working day.

The goal of Break Up Your Day and Move is to break up the workday with bouts of standing or light activity. Participants will record each time throughout the workday they get up from their desk and stand or engage in light movement for at least 15 minutes. The focus of this program is not logging how many minutes of activity you accumulate, but rather, logging the number of times you break up long periods of sitting.

Participants who submit a complete weekly log (documenting at least one time each workday where they broke up their sitting time with a minimum of 15 minutes of standing or light activity) will earn an incentive for their participation. In addition, for each weekly log participants submit, their name will be entered into a drawing for a FitBit physical activity tracker.

For those wanting to walk outside, a 1-mile and 2-mile route through the SDSU campus and the surrounding Brookings community is available. For those wanting to walk indoors, walking routes have been calculated in the buildings where EHS offices are located (Rotunda/Wagner Hall, The Barn, Pugsley, Wecota and Wenona).

Savor the Flavor of Eating Right

March is National Nutrition Month! Discover new and exciting tastes while trimming salt from your cooking. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to experiment with new combinations of herbs and spices as you “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”

You have likely heard the advice to use less salt and more herbs and spices in your cooking. But how do you know which ones to use and when? First, lets talk about the difference between herbs and spices.

  • Herbs grow in mild climates and are the fragrant leaves of plants. Basic herbs to keep on hand: Basil, oregano, garlic, thyme, chives, and rosemary
  • Spices grow in tropical areas and come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, and stems of plants and trees. Basic spices to keep on hand: Cumin, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder

Be prepared, this will take some trial and error in the kitchen. If you are concerned about an overwhelming flavor, start with small amounts, taste test, and add more as needed. Once you have mastered the basics, explore new flavors with curry powder, turmeric, clove, and bay leaf.

To decide which herbs and spices will go with your dish, think about the cuisine. These are some popular ethnic cuisines and the flavors associated with them:

  • China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
  • France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
  • Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
  • Hungary: Onion, paprika
  • India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
  • Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
  • Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
  • Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
  • Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
  • West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili.

Try these salt-free seasoning blends. Combine ingredients and store in a tightly covered jar. Rub or sprinkle them on food for added flavor.

Mixed herb blend: Mix together ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried tarragon, and 1 tablespoon each of dried oregano, dill weed, and celery flakes.

Italian blend: Mix together 2 tablespoons each of dried basil and dried marjoram, 1 tablespoon each of garlic powder and dried oregano, and 2 teaspoons each of thyme, crushed dried rosemary, and crushed red pepper.

Mexican blend: Mix together ¼ cup chili powder, 1 tablespoon each of ground cumin and onion powder, 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, garlic powder, and ground red pepper, and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.

According to McCormick, which has been selling herbs and spices since 1889, today’s home cook is likely to keep at least 40 different seasonings on hand, whereas the typical 1950’s American homemaker relied on fewer than 10 spices. Whenever possible, buy spices in amounts that you can use within 12 months. To keep herbs and spices at their peak of flavor and nutritional potency steer clear of that wooden rack next to the stove. Spices should be kept away from heat, moisture and light, and they are best stored in a cool, dark cupboard in airtight containers.


Sources: and


Healthy Habits for Lifelong Cancer Protection

Cancer affects almost everyone whether it’s a friend, family member, neighbor, classmate, co-worker, or you. But what if there were things we could do that could potentially help us protect ourselves and our families from cancer? It is not one magic super food or a new drink, pill, supplement, or drug. It is eating healthy and being active from the start. February is National Cancer Prevention Month. Check out this infographic for realistic and achievable healthy eating and activity tips for kids (and you!) for lifelong cancer protection.

Kids Healthy Eating Tips:

  • Let children serve themselves.  It allows them to learn portion sizes.
  • It make take up to 12 times to convince a child to try a new food.
  • Cook with your kids and enjoy family dinner night.
  • Kids who drink one or more sugary beverages per day have 55% greater odds of being overweight or obese. Serve water and low-fat or fat-free milk instead.

Kids Healthy Activity Tips:

  • Find creative ways for kids to be active for at least 60 minutes each day.
  • Try an organized sport like soccer or a game of tag.
  • Try push ups, hanging on the monkey bars, or climbing a jungle gym.
  • Limit inactivity such as screen time. Kids older than 2 should be restricted to no more than 2 hours a day and kids younger than 2 should have zero screen time.

And that’s not all! Kids with healthy habits are at lower risk for issues with obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and osteoarthritis later in life. Embrace a healthier lifestyle today!

Source:  American Cancer Research Institute

2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture has released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans – deemed the nation’s go-to source for nutrition advice.

Published every 5 years for public health professionals, each edition of the Dietary Guidelines reflects the current body of nutrition science. These recommendations help Americans make healthy food and beverage choices and serve as the foundation for vital nutrition policies and programs across the United States.


2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines are Finally Here

Have you heard? The new Dietary Guidelines have finally been released! What does this mean for you as a health professional? The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus on five main points:

  • follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan
  • focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount
  • limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
  • shift to healthier food and beverage choices
  • support healthy eating patterns for all

The USDA and HHS recommendations reflect data that shows healthy eating and regular exercise can combat obesity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. What’s also new is a shift from focusing on eating individual food groups to healthful eating patterns. This includes a first time ever recommendation to reduce intake of added sugar to a specific amount — 10% of total daily calories.

Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of disease. The Dietary Guidelines can help you, your patients, and their families make informed choices about eating. Its important to find a healthy eating pattern that is adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture, and budget.

10 Tips For a Healthy Eating Pattern 


  1. A variety of vegetables: dark green, red, and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other vegetables
  2. Fruits, especially whole fruit
  3. Grains, at least half of which are whole grain
  4. Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
  5. A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
  6. Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower
  7. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados


  1. Added Sugars – Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include natural sugars found in milk and fruits.
  2. Saturated and Trans Fat – Less than 10% of your daily calories should also come from saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil.
  3. Sodium (salt) – Adults and children ages 14 years and over should limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day, and children younger than 14 years should consume even less. Use the Nutrition Facts label to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, and soups.

Most Americans can benefit from making small shifts in their daily eating habits to improve their health over the long run. Small shifts in food choices—over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a difference in working toward a healthy eating pattern that works for you.

Remember physical activity! Regular physical activity is one of the most important things individuals can do to improve their health. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week. Children ages 6 to 17 years need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, including aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities.

MyPlate, MyWins

Another resource to utilize when speaking with individuals and families is MyPlate. MyPlate aims to translate the science of the Dietary Guidelines into messages, resources, and tools to help people find food and beverage choices that are right for them. Check out the new MyPlate initiative – MyPlate, MyWins – designed to help American families find solutions to make healthy eating easier.

Everyone Has A Role…

Whether you are at home, school, your worksite, in your community, or even at a food retail outlet, how will you encourage easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices?

      • HOME:  Try out small changes to find what works for you like adding more veggies to favorite dishes, planning meals and cooking at home, and incorporating physical activity into time with family or friends.
      • SCHOOLS: Improve the selection of healthy food choices in cafeterias and vending machines, provide nutrition education programs and school gardens, increase school-based physical activity, and encourage parents and caregivers to promote healthy changes at home.
      • WORKPLACES:  Encourage walking or activity breaks; offer healthy food options in the cafeteria, vending machines, and at staff meetings or functions; and provide health and wellness programs and nutrition counseling.
      • COMMUNITIES: Increase access to affordable, healthy food choices through community gardens, farmers’ markets, shelters, and food banks and create walkable communities by maintaining safe public spaces.
      • FOOD RETAIL OUTLETS: Inform consumers about making healthy changes and provide healthy food choices.

    Join the conversations and help spread the word by using hashtags #dietaryguildelines and #MyPlateMyWins on social media.

    Source:; Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans by U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Bone Health and Your Diet

Having good bone health can help prevent against falls and serious injuries. What you eat and drink can have an impact on your bone strength. Here are some diet tips to help ensure your bone health:

Get the Right Amount of Protein

Seniors should get about 80 grams of protein every day. Although most seniors do not get enough protein in their diets, it is still important to avoid having too much protein. Excessive proteins can cause a loss of calcium. Trying to stay around the recommended amount of protein is key for better bone health. Examples of foods high in protein include:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Lean Beef
  • Beans, lentils, and peas
  • Nuts & Seeds

Get Enough Calcium

Women over the age of 50 should get 1,200 mg of calcium every day. Men between the ages of 51-70 should get 1,000 mg of calcium every day. Men over 70 should get 1,200 mg of calcium every day. You can consume these recommended amounts by eating and drinking foods high in calcium. These foods include:

  • Dairy products like low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Orange juice, cereals, and other food fortified with calcium
  • Sardines, salmon with bones, soybeans, tofu, and nuts
  • Dark green, leafy vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, and bok choy

Get enough Vitamin C

Vitamin C is important for maintaining bone mass. By maintaining bone mass, it also helps to prevent the likelihood of falls and fractures. The recommended daily amounts of vitamin C for men and women over the age of 50 are 90 mg and 75 mg respectively. Foods high in vitamin C include:

  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Bell Peppers
  • Peas
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus Fruits

Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D allows your body to absorb the calcium. Therefore, you need vitamin D to use calcium. People ages 51 to 70 should get at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day. People over the age of 70 should get at least 800 IUs every day. The need for vitamin D increases as you age. Sunlight exposure will help your body to create its own vitamin D. However, many people don’t get enough vitamin D by sunlight alone. Some foods high in vitamin D can help maintain recommended daily amounts. These foods include:

  • Fish like: herring, sardines, salmon, and tuna
  • Liver
  • Eggs
  • Fortified milk and foods

Limit Alcohol and Quit Smoking

Drinking alcohol and smoking can reduce bone mass. Decreased bone mass will increase the risk of falls and fractures. You are never too old or too young to improve your bone health. Stopping bad habits and starting healthy diets can help keep bones strong.

Sources: National Institutes of Health: Senior HealthBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)

Is Your Kid Over-Caffeinated?

Sodas, coffee, tea, and energy drinks. Each of these is a source of caffeine. Approximately 75 percent of children, adolescents, and young adults in the United States consume caffeine, a compound that stimulates the central nervous system. In small doses, caffeine may help people of all ages feel more alert, awake, or energetic. But what if you have more than just a little? In large doses, caffeine may cause irritability, impaired calcium metabolism, anxiety, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and sleep problems. In fact, one study found that kids who consumed the most caffeine slept the fewest hours.

Because caffeine is in common beverages like sodas and teas, parents and others may unwittingly offer excessive amounts of caffeine to children. Teens often deliberately consume large amounts. Some teens find that caffeine helps them perform better in school and on tests, says pediatric specialist Angela Lemond, RDN, CSP, LD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If your teen carries a heavy academic load, he or she may reach for caffeine-containing foods and beverages to improve concentration during school and then again at night to stay up late studying. Unfortunately, this can push the teen into a cycle of being unable to sleep due to caffeine’s effects–consuming more caffeine to fight fatigue from lack of sleep and then having trouble falling asleep again.

How Much is Too Much?
The Food and Drug Administration has not set guidelines for safe caffeine consumption. The Canadian government, however, recommends the following daily caffeine limits.

Ages 4 – 6 years: 45 mg, about the amount in one can of cola
Ages 7 – 9 years: 62 mg
Ages 10 – 12 years: 85 mg

According to a study in the Journal of Pediatrics, American children consume more than the recommended limit in Canada.

Helping your Kids Limit Caffeine
If your kids act jittery or anxious, or if they have trouble sleeping, reducing their caffeine intake is a smart idea. Because coffee, tea, and soft drinks contribute more caffeine to the diet than other foods and beverages, limiting these is a good place to start. Lemond also recommends steering clear of foods with added caffeine such as energy drinks, jellybeans, gum, and breath fresheners. Children and adolescents should completely avoid these products, she says. If it’s energy your kids are seeking, getting to bed earlier or taking a short nap is more productive than consuming caffeine that offers pep for a short time but may interfere with sleep later that evening.

Caffeine in Selected Foods and Beverages

Food Caffeine (mg)
Coffee, 12 fl oz, coffee shop variety260
Energy drinks, 8 fl oz47-163
Espresso, 1 fl oz64
Candy, semi-sweet chocolate, 1 oz*18
Hot chocolate, 12 fl oz, coffee shop variety*20
Hot tea, 1 cup48
Cola, 12 fl oz48

*Chocolate and chocolate containing foods are not a major source of caffeine.

Source:; Is Your Kid Over-Caffeinated? by Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND

Worksite Breastfeeding Support Model Policy

Provide and encourage your employer to adopt the Breastfeeding Support Model Policy.  The policy provides a framework for businesses to support breastfeeding employees and includes information on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires employers (with ≥ 50 employees) to provide nursing mothers with:

1) reasonable break time to express breast milk for one year after her child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express breast milk; and

2) a private space, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion of others, to express breast milk.

Worksite UV Protection Model Policy

This Worksite UV Protection Model Policy provides a framework to encourage and support UV protection and is designed to assist safety personnel as they create sun protection guidelines for their worksite setting.

Tobacco-Free Business Model Policy

The Tobacco-Free Business Model Policy provides a framework to protect and promote the health and well-being of business employees and visitors. The use of tobacco products by employees or visitors compromises the mission of providing a safe and healthy place to conduct business.

Worksite Physical Activity Model Policy

The Worksite Physical Activity Model Policy provides a framework to encourage and support employee physical activity and create a worksite culture that supports health and total well-being.

Breastfeeding Support Model Policy

The Breastfeeding Support Model Policy was developed to provide businesses with guidelines and guidance on ways to support breastfeeding employees including information on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which requires employers to provide nursing mothers who are hourly workers with:

1) reasonable break time to express breast milk for one year after her child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express breast milk; and

2) a private space, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion of others, to express breast milk.

Alliance for a Healthier Generation – School Wellness Model Policy

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program has been working with districts across the country to create and implement strong wellness policies, guided by evidence-based best practices. The Alliance has created a Model Wellness Policy to make revising your district or school’s policy easier than ever.

The South Dakota Good & Healthy Community Health Needs Assessment and Improvement Planning Toolkit

With chronic diseases as the leading preventable public health issues throughout South Dakota, communities have a unique opportunity to converge to address these taxing afflictions and their long-term impact. You, your organization, and your community partners all have a unique opportunity to understand the factors that determine your community’s health status and will experience the benefits of collaborative health improvement planning.

US Breastfeeding Report Card

The CDC Breastfeeding Report Card provides state-by-state data to help public health practitioners, health professionals, community members, child care providers, and family members work together to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.

Screens: Not for babies!

Many babies and toddlers absolutely love playing with touch-screen technology—and it’s no wonder! The touch screen provides instant gratification with its cool images, movements, and sounds appealing to their senses. Many parents are understandably thrilled with this interactive technology because they’ve heard (mostly through media ads) that babies can learn letters, numbers, words, and concepts. However, to date there is no research studying a connection between tablets or smartphones and infant learning.

Where We Stand:

  • Children under age 2:  NO screen time
  • Children over age 2:  Limit screen time to 1-2 hours a day

Despite what ads may say, videos that are aimed at very young children do not improve their development. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises eliminating screen time for children younger than 2 years completely, linking it to language learning delays. WOW!

Remember screen time includes all forms: TV’s, movies, video games, computers, tablets, and cell phones.  Essentially, anything with a screen.

Why avoid TV before age 2?  Here’s what we know…

Numerous studies have shown that children learn better from real-life experiences than screen time, especially activities that involve moving and doing. Kids’ brains grow profoundly during the first 3 years of life, with the brain tripling in mass in just the first 12 months. The stimuli children experience during this period profoundly influence brain development. Images on screens behave in ways that differ dramatically from those in the real world.

Imagine a ball in real life and a ball on TV. Infants are developing 3-dimensional vision. The world of the screen exists in 2 dimensions, so the ball is just a flat, shaded circle. If you roll a ball across the floor it proceeds in a single motion, slowing gradually until it stops. If your infant wants to grab a ball in real life he’ll lunge for it, grasp at it, or crawl after it. Infants may stare at the bright colors and motion on a screen, but their brains are incapable of making sense or meaning out of all those bizarre pictures. It takes 2 full years for a baby’s brain to develop to the point where the symbols on a screen come to represent their equivalents in the real world!

Because of this confusion, children up to age 3 learn better from the real world than they do from any screen, especially when it comes to language. They do seem to learn a little more if they’re watching in the company of a person who is talking to them about what they’re seeing, in the same way you would while looking at a picture book.

Where’s the harm?

So sure, babies and toddlers don’t get anything out of watching TV, but if they seem to like it, where’s the harm? If a little TV is what it takes for you to get dinner on the table, isn’t it better for them than, say, starving? Yes, watching TV is better than starving, but it’s worse than not watching TV. Good evidence suggests that screen viewing before age 2 has lasting negative effects on children’s language development, reading skills, short term memory, and increases their chances of becoming overweight or obese as they get older. It also contributes to problems with sleep and attention.

The problem lies not only with what toddlers are doing while they’re watching TV; it’s what they aren’t doing. Facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language between child and parent are important and complex. A toddler learns a lot more from banging pans on the floor while you cook dinner than he does from watching a screen for the same amount of time, because every now and then the 2 of you look at each other.

Just having the TV on in the background, even if “no one is watching it,” is enough to delay language development. Normally a parent speaks about 940 words per hour when a toddler is around. With the television on, that number falls by 770! Fewer words means less learning.

After age 2 things change, at least somewhat. During the preschool years some children do learn some skills from educational TV. Well-designed shows can teach kids literacy, math, science, problem-solving, and prosocial behavior.

Value of Active Play:

You can’t replace the actual experience of your child physically engaging the world through play. Did you know… eye-hand coordination, eye-foot coordination, and balance all develop during the preschool years.  Activities like running, dancing, freeze tag, riding a tricycle, and climbing are an important part of your growing child’s development. Don’t think of it as exercising, but as ACTIVE PLAY!

If your child is 2 or older, learn how to make a Family Media Use Plan to set healthy TV and screen habits.


Source:  All information was taken directly from the AAP site

8 Gameday Nutrition Tips for Young Athletes

If you’re a high school athlete, you’ve probably gone to practice or a game with a rumbling, empty stomach. You might not realize this, but eating right on gameday is your secret weapon for top-notch performance, whatever your sport. While training and skill are important, your body’s fuel matters, too. That’s why you need a nutrition game plan.

Eat a Good Breakfast  

You’ve heard, “It’s the most important meal of the day,” right? Well it’s true! Start the day with a breakfast containing carbs (such as whole-wheat bread or cereal) and a source of protein (such as eggs, yogurt, or milk). Oatmeal made with milk; last night’s dinner leftovers; an egg sandwich; or a smoothie made with fruit, yogurt, and milk are all great breakfast choices.

Don’t Light-Load or Skip Lunch  

Many student athletes compete after school making lunch an essential fuel source for competition. Lunch should be hearty and represent as many food groups as possible, including whole grains, lean protein, fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. You might think opting for a light lunch such as a salad — or even skipping lunch altogether — will leave you light on your feet, but instead, it may leave your tank empty at game time.

Focus on Carbs for Energy

Choose whole-grain bread, crackers, cereal, and pasta for lasting energy. Save the sports drinks for an energy boost during endurance sports or training sessions lasting more than an hour.

Spread out Protein Foods

Muscles love protein. It helps them stay strong, recover from intense exercise, and build more muscle over time. Young athletes should spread protein foods throughout the day, having some at each meal and with most snacks, such as deli meat on a sandwich at lunch or an egg with breakfast.

Use Caution with Fatty Foods

Fatty foods slow digestion, which is not ideal for the athlete facing a competition. Greasy, fried foods and fatty desserts are filling and may leave you tired and sluggish on the courts. Skip the french fries or pizza before competition, and keep the fat content on the light side.

Eat with Food Safety in Mind

Nothing is worse than food poisoning – having stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after eating. Make sure you store snacks at proper temperatures to prevent spoilage. Keep cheese, yogurt, deli meats, eggs, and salads made with mayonnaise in a refrigerator or cooler. Shelf-stable items such as nuts, granola bars, and fresh fruit can be tossed into your duffel bag without a problem.

Flow with Fluids

Dehydration is a recipe for poor performance. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during the day leading up to a game, especially in the two to three hours before game time. Continue to drink during the game (about a 1/2 cup every 15 minutes) and afterward to rehydrate after sweat loss.

Timing Is Everything

When you eat is just as important as what you eat. Your body needs two to three hours to digest a regular meal such as breakfast or lunch before competition, while a small snack such as a granola bar can be eaten 30 minutes to an hour before competition. Here’s good advice for eating before a competition: load up at meals but don’t overeat, and keep snacks light as you get closer game time.


Source: Originally published on by Jill Castle, MS, RDN June 03, 2015

School Success Starts With Dairy

A daily breakfast with dairy leads to not only better overall nutrition, but better school performance as well. As kids head back to class, make sure to include dairy and breakfast in their days to set them up for success throughout the school year.

Breakfast Boosts Brain Power: Research shows that kids who eat a morning meal have better memory, attention and behavior, and score higher on tests.

Dairy and Breakfast Go Hand in Hand: With so many types of milk, cheeses, and yogurts available, it’s easy to find breakfast combinations for everyone in your family to enjoy. Plus, dairy foods get an A+ for their variety, as well as nutritional and economic value.

Hungry Students Can’t Learn: Want to help? Make a donation of milk, one of the top nutritious items requested by food banks but rarely provided. You can give to the Great American Milk Drive, a national campaign created in partnership with Feeding America and dairy farmers and milk processors in the Midwest and nationwide, that delivers gallons of milk to hungry families who need it most.

Learn and share helpful nutrition facts and tips, along with quick and easy recipe ideas that include milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Source: MidWest Dairy

Fruits & Veggies – More Matters!

The USDA recommends eating 5 – 9 servings of fruits and veggies per day. That might sound like a lot, but it’s easy if you follow MyPlate’s tips:

  • Eat the rainbow! Make sure at least half of your plate is full of fruits and veggies. 
  • Choose fruits and veggies as quick snacks. 
  • Try something new. You can find fresh choices at a farm stand or farmers market. 
  • Vary your veggies. Fresh or frozen? Cooked or raw? Red, orange, or green? Picking different options will keep meals interesting! 
  • You can cook frozen or fresh vegetables in the microwave for a quick side dish. 
  • Opt for whole fruits more than fruit juice. Fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and pureed all count! 
  • Add fruit to your cereal or yogurt at breakfast.

Why are fruits and veggies important to eat?

  • Low in calories—naturally!
  • May reduce disease risk, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel healthy and energized.

Click on each nutrient to see a list of fruits & veggies that are “high” and “good” sources. Remember—beans and peas count as a vegetable, too!

  • Calcium: Calcium is essential for healthy bones and teeth. It is also needed for normal functioning of muscles, nerves, and some glands.
  • Fiber: Diets rich in dietary fiber have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects, including decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Folate: Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman’s risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect.
  • Iron: Needed for healthy blood and normal functioning of all cells.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium is necessary for healthy bones and is involved with more than 300 enzymes in your body! Low levels may result in muscle cramps and high blood pressure.
  • Potassium: Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
  • Vitamin A: Keeps eyes and skin healthy and helps protect against infections.
  • Vitamin C: Helps heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

What fruits and veggies are in season right now?

Choosing fruits and vegetables in season is a great way to stretch your food dollars. Learn more about seasonal fruits and vegetables:

Unsure how to cut up or use that fruit and vegetable you just bought?

Go to CookSmarts and watch videos that show you how to cut up and prepare most fruits and vegetables!

And remember 2 things…

1.) Fill half your plate with fruits & veggies at every meal and be sure to include healthy snacks when you get the munchies. For a fun way to teach kids about healthy snacks—get the FREE MunchCode App!

2.) All forms—fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice—count toward your daily intake.

Sources:  FNV, SD Harvest of the Month, CookSmarts, and South Dakota Department of Health Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS)


We challenge you to commit to 10 more minutes of physical activity each day. A little more physical activity makes a big difference!

Visit the #Commit2Ten website and receive a personalized fitness profile, a 30-day activity calendar, resources, and support to commit to 10 additional minutes of physical activity per day.

Take the next step:

Let’s get South Dakotans on the map and moving more by joining the challenge!



Way to go New York City!

New York City is setting an outstanding example by working with food manufacturers and the restaurant industry to lower the salt levels in commonly consumed products!

The NYC Health Department is coordinating an unprecedented public-private partnership to help prevent heart disease and strokes by reducing the amount of salt in packaged and restaurant foods. The National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI) set voluntary targets for salt levels in 62 categories of packaged food and 25 categories of restaurant food to guide food company salt reductions in 2012 and 2014. Some popular products already meet these targets – a clear indication that they are achievable.

The goal is to reduce Americans’ salt intake by 20% over five years. Read more to learn why reducing salt intake is important and how companies are getting involved in this exciting initiative!


Source:  New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene


Fun Family Recipes

As parents and caregivers, you make a big difference in what your kids think and do. When children see you making healthy choices—such as eating right and being active—there’s a good chance they’ll do the same.

Nutritious food doesn’t have to be bland or take a long time to prepare. Get the whole family to help slice, dice, and chop, and learn how to cut fat and calories. Here are 60 healthy and fun family recipes!


Source:  National Institutes of Health – Healthy and Fun Family Recipes

Team BEEF South Dakota

Team BEEF South Dakota is a community of runners who recognize the nutritional benefits of lean beef and the vital role high-quality protein plays in their training.

Protein consists of building blocks called amino acids. A high-quality protein (also known as a complete protein) contains all eight essential amino acids. While protein is not your primary fuel for the actual run, it is part of your nutrient support team. Protein is important for runners because it helps to build and repair muscle, aids muscles in contracting and relaxing, builds ligaments and tendons that hold muscles and support bone, and assists with recovery by preventing muscle breakdown.

Register for Team BEEF now!

Source:  South Dakota Beef Council, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

What’s your UV:IQ?

Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. If you or your child’s skin looks “a little pink” today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get out of the sun.

Any change in the color of your skin after time outside – whether sunburn or suntan – indicates damage from UV rays. There’s no other way to say it: tanned skin is damaged skin.

Find out your UV IQ  by taking this interactive quiz to find out how much you know about protecting yourself from the sun’s UV rays.


Source:  Federal Occupational Health & CDC

Do you know the risks?

Heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death in the United States and are in the top five leading causes of death in South Dakota. Many people mistakenly think of heart disease and stroke as conditions that only affect older adults. However, a large number of younger people suffer heart attacks and strokes. With 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes happening every year in the United States, it’s important to know the risks. The good news is that many of the major risk factors can be prevented and controlled. Check out this infographic to learn about the risk factors and common signs of a heart attack or stroke.


Sources:  Million Hearts® and 2010 Vital Stat Report