March is National Nutrition month, which serves as an opportunity for the Newtown Health District to promote the wealth of nutrition education sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Health District Director Donna Culbert said Newtowners can access loads of information at the academy’s website, EatRight.org.
“There is no magical or mystical way to achieve good health; its primarily about how much you move and what, and how much, you consume,” Ms Culbert recently told The Newtown Bee. “Yes, there can be complex genetic and/or environmental factors that affect your health, but that is not the case for the majority of people.”
Dr David Katz, who recently spoke in town, reminded Ms Culbert and other attendees at a recent Parent Speaker Series at the Newtown Meeting House that “a person’s health depends on what we do, or don’t do, with our feet, forks, and fingers.”
“It really comes down to determining how to make good choices about our food and our activity level so that they consistently fit into our busy lives, with the results of those choices being enjoyable and sustainable,” Ms Culbert said. “The answers lie in those good choices, consistent fit, busy lives, enjoyable, sustainable. And we all know those things will be different for different folks.”
While enjoyable might mean walking for some, Ms Culbert understands it could mean a game of tennis, a bike ride, running, triathlons, or another activity for others.
“Same thing with different types of fruits and vegetables. The important part is arming yourself with good information and tools, so as to be able to make good choices and make them consistently,” she said.
The Newtown Health District is currently working with its regional public health partners, Western Connecticut Health Network, Bethel VNA and New Milford VNA, the Regional Y of Western Connecticut, the United Way of Western Connecticut, and other health agencies on a community needs assessment and a community health improvement plan.
“An overarching goal of this effort is to collaborate with the many community players who are already hosting programs and further leverage those good works,” the health director said. “In an effort to capture ways to help weave manageable ‘doable’ themes into our busy lives, the team has identified the ‘5-2-1-0 Let’s Go’ program as a way to focus on the things that can have a dramatic impact on health.”
Ms Culbert identified the components of the program as:
*5 for five or more fruits and vegetables every day
*2 for two hours or less of recreational screen time
*1 stands for one hour or more of physical activity
*0 is for zero consumption of sugary drinks
“There’s lots of great information on the site available to help with making good choices,” she added.
Locally, the Newtown Public Schools has a Wellness Committee and a webpage with useful resources.
Of particular interest for this nutrition focus is Wellness Brochure #3 – Tips for Parents: Building Wellness with Exercise, Healthful Snacks & a Better Breakfast.
Chartwells, the district’s food service provider, also offers an informative School Nutrition webpage, and specifically a site highlighting March as National Nutrition Month.
The aforementioned EatRight.org site has food, nutrition, and health tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“One article that might be of particular interest is ‘Healthy Eating on the Run: A Month of Tips.’ Most Americans eat out a lot and people are looking for fast, easy, and good-tasting foods to fit a busy lifestyle,” Ms Culbert said. “Whether it’s carryout, food court, office cafeteria, or sit-down restaurant, there are smart choices everywhere. That article provides 30 tips to help you eat healthy when eating out.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also serves as a mainstay source of information to protect and promote America’s health at cdc.gov.
“If you like or prefer other sources besides the Internet, there are countless other ways to get info about good nutrition,” she noted. “The Booth Library, schools, the Senior Center, grocery stores, the Health Department all can provide support along with dozens and dozens of health-focused individuals and businesses in Newtown, including our gyms, clubs, coaches, teachers, health care providers,” Ms Culbert observed. “Help is everywhere — where you work, where you live, and where you play.”
And, she says that is where the “enjoyable” and “sustainable” come in.
“When we can access the information and the tools to better health where we work, where we live, where we play, its much more likely that we will enjoy it and will eat better and move more,” she said.
Speaking of moving more, the American Heart Association’s National Start Walking Day is April 2.
“On this day, folks are encouraged to wear sneakers to work and take at least 30 minutes out of their day to get up and walk,” Ms Culbert said.
She invites Newtown residents to meet town officials that day at the municipal center at 12:30 pm to get out and take a walk around the Fairfield Hills campus.
“There’s often a healthy contingent of residents who run, walk their dogs, take the kids for a walk with the strollers, or adults just getting together for a walk,” Ms Culbert said. “Let’s join them and Start Walking.”
Contact the Newtown Health District at 203-270-4291, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.