Diabetes Prevention During a Pandemic

By: Nanci Jenkins, MS, RDN, LD, WIC Dietitian and D,HD, & S Grant Coordinator for Panhandle Health District 1

Have you checked your weight lately? Is your weight creeping up? Are your blood pressure and blood sugar levels rising? Or maybe you have no idea because it’s 2020 and the U.S. is still in the grip of a pandemic. You are not alone! Let’s face it; COVID-19 has changed many of our lives. We are spending more time at home. Our eating habits are changed and our routines for exercise are upended. Viola! The COVID-Ten arrives; ten pounds of unwanted weight gain commonly noted this fall as we realize one more effect the Pandemic has had on our health. Time to step away from the less healthy crowd starting today! The sooner you take that first step, the sooner you decrease your risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Stroke or an even more severe illness if you get COVID-19. So what can you do?  The following 3 simple steps will start you on your path towards better health.

1. Eat Well

Idahoan’s are told to stay at home these days so why not perfect the art of healthy cooking? Focus on increasing vegetables, fiber, and water. Worried about getting COVID-19 at the store? Have the store shop for you and pick up your groceries or have them delivered.

2. Eat Less

Watch an old movie from the 1950’s and pay attention to their plate and glass sizes. Try serving yourself on the smallest ones in your house. Or ask yourself the simple question before every meal or snack, “Do I really need to have these calories right now?”

3. Be More Physically Active

You’ve been walking daily and that’s great! Now try adding an exercise video when you return from your walk or later in the day. Ever tried yoga? “Sit and Be Fit”? Maybe hand weights, wall push-ups, or resistance bands are more your style? Make time for 150 minutes of activity at a moderate pace every week!

If you are at least 18 years old and are overweight or obese with a risk of diabetes, you may qualify for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).  This is a CDC recognized and Medicare approved group Lifestyle Change program.  Panhandle Health District 1 (PHD1) offers DPP programs in Hayden and in Sandpoint as well as virtually. Go to https://panhandlehealthdistrict.org/diabetes-programs for more information.  If you prefer an in person program and live outside of the health district’s geographical area, you may find a DPP program closest to you by going to https://nccd.cdc.gov/DDT_DPRP/Registry.aspx.

Take that first step alone or take it with others in a group with a Lifestyle Coach as in a DPP class.  It’s up to you to take it any way that works best for you.  Make today be the day you step towards a healthier version of wonderful you!

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

By: Health Matters State Employee Wellness Program

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and we’ve got four simple tips to keep you healthy, happy, and grateful!

  • Let’s Talk Safe Turkey. No one wants to be responsible for making people sick from food, especially on a holiday! Practice good food safety including washing hands frequently; keeping raw meat away from ready-to-eat foods; keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold; and refrigerating perishable leftovers within two hours1.
  • The first three bites are always the best. Our enjoyment of food diminishes as we get less hungry2. Savor all your favorites but try to notice when you are no longer completely enjoying the stuffing, potatoes, or pie and consider putting down your fork. You can always have more later!
  • Thanksgiving is about so much more than food. Don’t lose sight of the real reason for the holiday – showing gratitude and connecting with people you care about. Try a gratitude tree or “I’m thankful for…” jar as an activity to bring everyone together around something other than the turkey.
  • Tell your body “thank you!”  Make time to get some sort of movement throughout the day. Instead of using exercise to “burn off” your Thanksgiving meal, consider it an act of gratitude to your body. Our bodies were made to move and there is no better way to show your appreciation than by getting your blood pumping!

1 “Food Safety by Events and Seasons.” FoodSafety.gov, https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/food-safety-by-events-and-seasons#thanksgiving. Accessed November 2019.
2 Consason, Alexis, Psyc.D., “Tips for a Mindful Thanksgiving Feast.” Psychology Today, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/eating-mindfully/201211/tips-mindful-thanksgiving-feast. Accessed November 2019.


Of course I’m “fatigued” – isn’t everybody? I have a pretty good idea why and like most people, I just want to know how to fix it. Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or a lack of energy. Fatigue can often be traced to habits and routines…sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress, schedules, unrealistic expectations and on and on. So, how do you kick vigor back into life without making a major life change or upsetting everything? Check out these tips to boost energy levels. Two that always surprise me are relaxation and exercise. They seem so wrong when I am already dragging my wagon! Relaxation techniques – yoga, breathing, mindfulness – actually break the drain that anxiety has on your energy level. Movement and exercise boost energy. Another close link exists between the quality of your sleep and fatigue. For tips on getting a better night’s sleep, check out How’s Your Sleep?  Fight fatigue! check out 10 Ways to Reduce Stress and Revitalize Your Life.

Take it outside!

The next time you feel like falling into the recliner or perching yourself comfortably with your laptop, smart phone, tablet or whatever… STOP! Take it outside. In fact, take the whole family outside. Put down the remotes, put away the technology, turn off the power. Unplug. There’s a whole world waiting for your family – outside. Unplug and Be Outside is happening across Idaho in April and May. Try a new activity. Have a family contest. Each family member can choose an activity for everyone to try – rock climbing, golf, fishing, bike rodeo, geocaching, star gazing, camping, belly dancing, hockey, zumba, ice skating, gardening…and the list goes on! Come on – reconnect with the earth. Take it outside! How does your family “take it outside” and be active?

Probiotics, Herbal Remedies, Massage…and more!

Probiotics, herbal remedies, yoga, massage, meditation, acupuncture, natural products, and more … can be considered complementary and alternative medicine or “CAM”.  So what’s CAM all about?  Complementary medicine is generally used in addition to standard medical care you receive from your doctor; alternative medicine is generally in place of standard medical care. As you consider different forms of CAM, check out these key points. Make thoughtful choices. Know the benefits. Take charge of your health and be an informed consumer of CAM. Information is out there! Is there an area in your life where you use complementary or alternative medicine?

Baby, It’s Cold Out There!

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, there’s only bad clothing.”  That was a quote on the morning news – and, I think it’s right. This is a good time to double check your winter weather habits before you get caught in the cold. Remember to layer your clothing; you can always take a layer off. Several light layers are going to be warmer than one heavy layer. Wear clothes that wick moisture away from your body. Keep your head, feet, and hands warm when you are outside. Double check the winter supplies in your car. Always, always travel with a hat, gloves, mittens, flashlight, and waterproof boots/warm shoes somewhere in your car; a couple energy bars and water are important. Be sure your house is winter ready. Know where your main water shut-off valve is in case of frozen pipes. Have a good supply of candles, matches, warm blankets, heavy socks, hats, gloves/mittens, flashlights and batteries, water, and quick energy foods. Don’t leave candles or the fireplace unattended – ever. Don’t forget your furry friends. Outdoor pets may need to come indoors at night; water bowls should not be frozen. Consider increasing your pet’s food so energy levels can remain high. And, be sure your pet has a warm place away from the wind. Stay warm and enjoy the winter!