In The News

November 10th, 2017

HEALTHY EATING AND GROUP SUPPORT GO HAND-IN-HAND

Sometimes the things we struggle with most are most familiar to us. Take food, for instance: We often fail to be mindful of what, when and how we eat. Many of us aren't even equipped with the knowledge to make healthy decisions about food.

Catherine Bardier, Director of Wellness and Community Health at NLH, along with staff dieticians Birgit Humpert and Elke Melody, designed a free six-week course, Healthy Weight and Wellness, to address this issue. Currently in its fourth session, Healthy Weight and Wellness empowers individuals in the Kearsarge-Sunapee region to make healthier decisions about nutrition, exercise and stress management. Embracing goal setting and accountability tactics, participants leave the course with a greater awareness of how healthy eating supports physical and mental wellbeing.

Fifteen individuals meet each week at Newport Health Center and NLH, where in separate sessions Birgit and Elke guide discussions on weight loss, maintaining healthy weight, nutrition, physical activity and emotional eating. Participants are challenged to become more mindful of their choices by journaling and setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound) goals that they share with the group.

"Journaling makes us more aware of our behavior," says Birgit. "We count our servings of fruits and vegetables and determine if we've met our goals. Writing can also lead to observations about the triggers that make us overeat."

"Eating is often used as relief from sadness, anger or other strong emotions," Birgit continues. "As a group, we talk about alternative ways to relieve stress and reward ourselves. We also discuss eating without distraction and being mindful of flavors and textures. We should enjoy the food we eat."

Fruit and Vegetable Rx for Use at Local Markets
Healthy Weight and Wellness doesn't stop with cultivating mindfulness-the program also provides participants with easier access to healthy foods. Each week, participants are given coupons, or "prescriptions", to purchase fruits and vegetables at four markets in the region: Beaver Pond Farm, Sweet Beet, Spring Ledge and the Newport Farmers Market. Birgit and her colleagues even take Healthy Weight and Wellness participants on a grocery store "tour" to help better understand food labels.

Birgit loves working with groups because the participants support each other. "One lady shared that she was able to walk for three miles for the first time in 10 years. Another worked her way up to running around the Newport track," says Birgit. The first Healthy Weight and Wellness cohort collectively lost 36 pounds, and all 15 participants said that the program helped them address their weight and wellness goals. The program has been a major hit leading the Wellness Connection team is considering expanding it in 2018.

Contact wellness.connection@newlondonhospital.org or 603-526--093 to register for upcoming Wellness Connection programs.

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