Nutrition key in wellness programs

By Tamera Manzanares

National Nutrition Month, a recognition created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, highlights the importance of making informed food choices for our health. Nutrition education and support, essential to the development of good eating habits, is not readily available to everyone. Hectic lives, limited access to health services and financial challenges can hinder a person’s ability to make healthy food choices for themselves and their families.

Northwest Colorado Health is working to address this with health programs aimed at improving children’s health and development, and health conditions linked to poor diet and lifestyle in adults.

Women, Infants and Children (WIC), is a federally funded program that provides breastfeeding support, nutrition education and supplemental healthy foods for low-income women and children up to age five. Women who qualify for WIC receive at least four nutrition education appointments with a WIC educator per year. Women who participate in the sessions receive eWIC cards to buy wholesome foods at the grocery store.

By ensuring good nutrition during the earliest stages of life, WIC helps ensure children’s long term health and development. Studies and reports from the program, which has existed for more than 40 years, have shown numerous improvements in health outcomes for mothers and young children and health care cost savings. For more information about WIC, call 970-871-7677.

Poor nutrition and obesity can contribute to or exacerbate many health conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Northwest Colorado Health’s Cardiovascular and Diabetes Program offers free screenings that gauge key risk factors for these diseases. Measures include blood pressure, blood glucose, body mass index and cholesterol. Based on results, a community health educator provides the client information about nutrition and lifestyle changes they can make to lower their risk for diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

In recognition of Diabetes Alert Day, free drop in screenings will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 27 at Northwest Colorado Health, 940 Central Park Drive, Suite 101 in Steamboat Springs and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 745 Russell Street in Craig. Free screenings also are available by appointment. Call 970-871-7618.

Weigh and Win, a free community weight loss program, can provide extra motivation and inspiration to eat better and get fit. The program offers cash incentives for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Participants can sign up to receive nutrition and health tips via text or email. Since 2015, more than 400 community members in Routt County have participated in the program, collectively losing nearly 1,000 pounds. Learn more about how to join.

A primary care doctor or health care provider plays a very important role in helping a person understand how nutrition and other factors are affecting their health. At Northwest Colorado Health, patients can also see a behavioral health specialist, who can help address stress, anxiety, depression and similar factors that may contribute to poor diet and weight challenges. Dental services also are available to treat oral health that may affect children and adult patients from being able to eat nutritious foods.

Northwest Colorado Health accepts most insurance, including Medicaid. Individuals who do not have health insurance can pay on a sliding scale. To make an appointment or for more information about wellness programs and services, call 970-879-1632 in Steamboat Springs or 970-824-8233 in Craig.

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