Improving Your Nutrition from the Ground Up

It’s common knowledge that a healthy diet is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but most people have trouble figuring out what to do when planning a complete diet overhaul. During National Nutrition Month, the American Dietetic Association reminds everyone that an easy way to focus on eating better is to start with the basics: Build your nutritional health from the ground up.

“By starting slowly and giving yourself a good foundation, you can work towards a healthier life,” says registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Toby Smithson. “Change doesn’t have to be dramatic to make a difference.”

Smithson suggests ways to improve your nutrition from the ground up:

  1. Focus on fruits and veggies: “Take a good look at your current diet and you’ll probably realize you’re not eating enough fruits or vegetables,” says Smithson. “Add a serving each day to one meal and increase it every few weeks. Adding more of these foods into your diet is important whether you buy frozen, fresh or organic.”
  2. Look locally: From farmer’s markets to community-supported agriculture, you have many options to find new, fresh foods in your area. “This can be a great way to eat well and support your community at the same time,” Smithson says.
  3. Make calories count: “Too often, people think of foods as good or bad and that only those on the ‘good foods’ list are okay to eat,” says Smithson. “When you’re choosing between options, focus instead on the one with more of the vitamins and nutrients that you need. Sometimes, foods with fewer calories aren’t always the healthiest options.” To figure out how many calories you need to achieve a healthy weight, visit
  4. Test your taste buds: A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy and includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and nuts. “Those are the basics, but within this wide range there are always opportunities to try new things and find new favorites,” Smithson says. “Expand your horizons. Try a fish you’ve never eaten before or find a new vegetable recipe. By testing yourself, you might find new healthy favorites to add to your regular grocery list.”
  5. Trick yourself with treats: “A healthful diet doesn’t mean deprivation,” says Smithson. “If you have a sweet tooth, have fruit and yogurt for dessert. If you want a snack in the afternoon, have some trail mix or nuts. There is no reason to go hungry just because you’re making healthful changes.”

For more tips on building your healthy diet from the ground up, during National Nutrition Month and all year long, visit  and click on “For the Public.”

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

March is the Best Time for Renewing Your Wellness Resolutions

Like millions of other Americans, you probably made some New Year’s resolutions regarding your health. Maybe you wanted to lose weight, or exercise more, or quit smoking. And like the vast majority of Americans who made such resolutions, you probably won’t meet your goal. Polls have found that by springtime, 68% of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution have broken it. After one year, only 15% claim success.

But don’t despair. The secret to self-improvement is persistence, not perfection. Spring is the perfect opportunity to renew your resolutions, or to make new ones.

“People do it all wrong,” says Robert Butterworth, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. “The worst time to make New Year’s resolutions is on New Year’s Eve. We’re exhausted after the holidays. We’re stressed out. The weather is bad. Everybody is talking about it and watching what your resolutions are.”

Still, at least half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, which is why health clubs, diet programs, and smoking-cessation clinics spend so much on advertising at the end of the year; they know millions of people on Dec. 31 are going to resolve to lose weight and get fit.

Springtime Advantages

Spring, however, is a better time to set such goals, according to Butterworth. “The weather is getting better,” he says. “It’s a less stressful time; we feel more energized.” Spring is also an ideal time to reassess your resolutions and modify your strategy for success, according to psychologist Stephen Kraus, PhD.

“I do it quarterly,” Kraus says. “One of the goals my wife and I set this year was to get back into meditation. We got off to a pretty good start in January, but one thing led to another and we fell out of the habit. By March it was time for us to look at our goals and make plans for the second quarter. And we recommitted ourselves to that goal.”

Ultimately, Kraus says, success depends on two things — desire and the right strategy. The trick, therefore, is to constantly renew your desire to achieve your goal and keep modifying your strategy until you achieve it.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Many Lives

Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2010 are:

  • 102, 900 new cases of colon cancer (49,470 in men and 53,430 in women)
  • 39,670 new cases of rectal cancer (22,620 in men and 17,050 in women)

Overall, the lifetime risk for developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 19 (5.2%). This risk is slightly higher in men than in women. A number of other factors may also affect a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in men and women when both sexes are combined. It was expected to cause more than 50,000 deaths in 2010.

The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years. There are a number of likely reasons for this. One is that polyps, or growths, are being found by screening and removed before they can develop into cancers. Screening also allows more colorectal cancers to be found earlier, when the disease is easier to cure. In addition, treatment for colorectal cancer has improved over the last several years. As a result, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons for preventing colorectal cancer. Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into colorectal cancer. Regular screening can, in many cases, prevent colorectal cancer altogether. Several tests are used to screen for colorectal cancer in people with an average risk of colorectal cancer. Ask your doctor which tests are available where you live and which options might be right for you.

People who have no identified risk factors (other than age) should begin regular screening at age 50. Those who have a family history or other risk factors for colorectal polyps or cancer should talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age and/or getting screened more frequently.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. Employees in this program have access to tools and information that can help improve their overall physical and mental well-being. The program is free to both you and your employees as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Decreasing Tobacco Use Among Workers: Smoke-Free Policies Reduce Health Costs

Smoke-free policies include private-sector rules and public-sector regulations that prohibit smoking in indoor workplaces and designated public areas. Private-sector smoke-free policies may establish a complete ban on tobacco use on worksite property or restrict smoking to designated outdoor locations. Community smoke-free ordinances establish smoke-free standards for all or for designated indoor workplaces and public areas.

Interventions that work

A worksite may adopt a smoke-free policy alone or in combination with additional interventions to support tobacco-using employees who might seek assistance in quitting. These additional interventions include the following:

  • Tobacco-cessation groups
  • Educational materials or activities
  • Telephone-based cessation support
  • Counseling and assistance from healthcare providers
  • Access to effective pharmacologic therapies

Results from systematic reviews

Thirty-five studies in a recent review of companies introducing smoking-cessation efforts produced the following results:

  • Prevalence of tobacco use: median decrease of 3.4 percentage points
  • Tobacco use cessation: median increase in tobacco quit rates of 6.4 percentage points
  • Attempts to quit: median increase of 4.1 percentage points
  • Number of cigarettes smoked per day: median reduction of 2.2 cigarettes smoked per day

Economic effectiveness of smoking-reduction efforts

A review of the economic effectiveness of these interventions was conducted. Studies demonstrated a range of outcomes:

  • An assessment of a smoke-free workplace policy found a cost of $526 per quality of life adjusted year (QALY) compared to a cost of $4,613 per QALY for a free nicotine replacement therapy program
  • There is a collective net benefit from smoke-free policies ranging from $48 billion to $89 billion per year in the United States
  • A smoke-free workplace policy could prevent about 1,500 heart attacks and 350 strokes in one year with approximately $55 million in direct medical cost savings
  • An employer could potentially save $10,246 per year for every smoker who quits due to a smoke-free workplace policy.

These results were based on a systematic review of all available studies, conducted by a team of specialists in systematic review methods, and in research, practice and policy related to worksite health promotion and prevention of tobacco use.


To reap the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!