Grand Forks Nutrition and Health

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Health Information Provided by the Grand Forks Public Health Department

Nutrition Videos

I’m a big fan of Health Castle, a site that is run by Registered Dietitians featuring tons of great health information. While perusing their site, I noticed a link to their youtube page where they have a few interesting videos. If you’re interested, check THEM out!

Allen Anderson, RD, LRD

National Public Health Week Day 5 – Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Signs of Depression

Depression is a common emotional disorder affecting about 7% (13-14 million people) in any given year.  Sixteen percent of adults will experience depression.  Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common symptoms.  It’s important to remember these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows.  But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they have lasted – the more likely it is that you are dealing with depression.  When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that is when it is time to seek help.


Common symptoms:

  1. Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
  2. Loss of interest in daily activities
  3. Appetite or weight changes
  4. Sleep changes
  5. Anger or irritability
  6. Loss of energy
  7. Self-loathing
  8. Reckless behavior
  9. Concentration problems
  10. Unexplained aches and pains


Understanding the underlying cause of your depression may help you overcome the problem.  For example, if you are depressed because of a dead end job, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant.


If you recognize the signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, take some time to explore the many treatment options.  In most cases, the best approach involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building, and professional help.


Mary Barrett, RN


National Public Health Week Website

National Public Health Week Day 4 – Reproductive and Sexual Health

Sexually transmitted infections, referred to as STI-s, are not commonly discussed among individuals outside of the healthcare field. Despite its absence from regular conversation outside of health-care professionals, STI-s remain a prevalent health issue of importance for many young North Dakotans.

STI-s are mandatory reportable conditions to the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH). The NDDoH monitors data to describe the populations affected by STI-s.  Infection rates for the state of North Dakota have followed an increasing trend over the last three years. While the reasons for the rise in numbers are unclear, it is clear that many North Dakota citizens, primarily those ranging from the ages of 15 to 24 years of age, are adversely affected by these infections.

Several complications can result from untreated infections including sterility in men and women, as well as pelvic inflammatory disease and ectopic pregnancy in women, to name a few. Other complications during pregnancy can occur; therefore prenatal care and screening for STI-s is recommended for all pregnant women.

Consideration should be given to the fact that many STI-s are asymptomatic, meaning infected individuals have no symptoms, may not know they are infected, and could potentially pass the disease on to a sexual partner. Many behaviors can put a person at a greater risk for exposure to an STI. Some of these behaviors include multiple sexual partners, how and where sexual partners are encountered, as well as the types of sex in which one participates. The North Dakota Department of Health developed an anonymous and confidential website,, to help individuals determine their risks for exposure to HIV, STIs, and viral hepatitis. It is a helpful tool in identifying behaviors and practices putting a person at risk.

Prevention is the key to avoiding infection and the possibility of long-term ramifications from an STI. The only sure way to avoid a sexual disease is to abstain from sexual activity. If one chooses to be sexually active, maintaining a monogamous relationship with a partner who is known to be free of infection will reduce the risk of contracting an STI. Latex condoms may be effective at reducing the risk of some STI-s if used correctly and every time during sexual intercourse. Dental dams provide protection during oral sex. More information on STI prevention, symptoms, and treatment can be found at or If you suspect you may have been exposed to an STI you should make an appointment with your health-care provider for testing and treatment.

The goal of STI prevention is to decrease the number of individuals infected with STI-s by timely diagnosis and treatment of patients and their sexual partners, increasing awareness and knowledge of STI-s and their complications, and reducing behaviors that place people at risk. Education can only go so far. Choosing to be safe and taking actions to support that choice come down to each individual, the choice is yours. Choose to be informed and choose to be safe.


Shawn McBride

Regional Field Epidemiologist

North Dakota Department of Health

Division of Disease Control


National Public Health Week Website

National Public Health Week Day 3 – Communicable Disease


Barbecue Season Food Safety

The season for outdoor barbecues and picnics is here, but keep in mind that food-related illness can put a damper on those outdoor events. CDC estimates that 76 million Americans get sick from food-related illness every year. More than 300,000 end up hospitalized and about 5,000 die each year from foodborne illness. When grilling out or preparing food for a picnic always remember:

  • Cook meat, poultry and seafood thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer to be sure your grilled meats are “done.” Ground beef, for example, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Poultry like chicken and turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Whole muscle meats of beef, lamb, veal, pork or fish (roasts, steaks, chops and fillets) to 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate one food with another. Wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry and before they touch another food;
  • Bacteria can grow quickly at room temperature, so refrigerate leftover foods promptly; Try to maintain cold food colder than 41 degrees Fahrenheit and hot food warmer than 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wash produce thoroughly to remove visible dirt, and discard the outermost leaves of a head of lettuce or cabbage.
  • Always remember to wash your hands before working with food or food equipment, but if you are not able to wash your hands, use an approved hand sanitizer with at least 70 % ethyl alcohol active ingredient.

For more information about these and other safe summer tips, visit CDC’s Web site at and Summer Health and Safety Tips.

Tim Haak, RS

National Public Health Week Website

National Public Health Week Day 2 – Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs

Experts say that quitting tobacco is one of the best things you can do to improve your health.  It’s no easy fete, but there are resources out there to help you or someone you know.

Studies show that tobacco users are much more successful at quitting when they have help and advice from a professional counselor, along with medication.

North Dakota now offers tobacco users and innovative resource to help them successfully quit. NDQuits is a program that offers multiple ways to help tobacco users quit using tobacco– by phone, online or by using their mobile device. North Dakota residents can use any or all of these services for free and they can find the way that fits for them.

NDQuits offers cessation services on the phone through the North Dakota Tobacco Quitline, on the computer via North Dakota QuitNet and on mobile devices via North Dakota QuitNet Mobile. Some of the services offered through NDQuits are:

  • Free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to help with the quitting process for qualified enrollees.
  • Access to professional cessation counselors.
  • Assistance in designing a personal quit plan.
  • Online support from other quitters all over the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.
  • QuitTips e-mail messages that will offer tips about staying quit.
  • An audio library featuring prerecorded messages about the quitting process.


Seek help from NDQuits… it’s free and confidential, and will help people beat tobacco for good.

If you, or someone you know, would like help quitting tobacco, log on to or call 1.800.QUIT.NOW.

Haley Thorson, RN

National Public Health Week Site

National Public Health Week Day 1 – Active Living and Healthy Eating

Today marks the first day of National Public Health Week 2012, and this year’s theme–“A Healthier America Begins Today: Join the Movement!”–couldn’t come at a better time. As the snow begins to melt and the grass gets greener, it’s important to remember all the great healthy choices the city of Grand Forks has to offer, especially during the warmer months! When it comes down to it, a healthier America begins with active living and healthy eating.

We are lucky enough to live in a community that, in recent years, has strived to provide the residents of Grand Forks with many options in the recreation department. Those of you with children can enjoy one of the 14 neighborhood parks Grand Forks has to offer, which include things like basketball courts, soccer fields, softball fields, baseball fields and playgrounds. On those hot summer days, why not go to the pool and enjoy the cool refreshing water? Feel like taking a bike ride or going rollerblading? The Greater Grand Forks Greenway might be just what you’re looking for. The extensive pathway system is over 43 miles long and can provide beautiful scenery as you enjoy some outdoor activity.

Healthy eating is just important as getting your physical activity. The new MyPlate standards released in 2011 outlined what a balanced diet should look like. The guidelines suggest that half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables; after all, fruits and vegetables are packed with essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting phytochemicals. The Town Square Farmer’s Market, located in downtown Grand Forks, is a great place to pick up fresh produce. It is held each Saturday from 9:00 a.m. To 2:00 p.m. during the summer months. In addition to the fruit and vegetable recommendations, the new MyPlate guidelines suggest lean or low-fat meat and poultry choices, consuming mainly whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

Getting your daily dose of physical activity and eating a healthy diet is important throughout life, especially when a sedentary lifestyle coupled with a poor diet can put you at risk for chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. These diseases are responsible for millions of premature deaths and cause Americans to miss 2.5 billion days of work. These missed work days result in a lost of productivity totaling more than $1 trillion. So, get out there and enjoy that beautiful Greenway. When you get back, make a healthy fresh meal with the products you picked up from the local Farmer’s Market, because a healthier America really does begin with activity and healthy eating.

National Public Health Week Site

Katie Pullar, UND Dietetics Student

Allen Anderson, RD

National Public Health Week

National public health week is coming up next week, April 2-6. In honor of this, the Grand Forks Public Health Department will be doing several things to celebrate. One of the things that we’ll be doing is featuring different topics on this very blog! The blog posts will be written by various professionals within our department on a variety of health topics. A new topic will be posted every day of National Public Health Week.

So, stay tuned to the “Grand Forks Health and Nutrition” blog next week!

If you’re interested, you can read more about National Public Health week HERE.

Allen Anderson, R.D.

Smart Snacking

It’s four in the afternoon, you’re hungry, and dinner is still two hours away.  While you’d love to have just one little snack to hold you over until dinner, you know that snacking is a no-no, right?  Wrong.  One of the biggest myths about snacking is that it’s bad for you.  Snacking between meals can actually be very healthy and can even help with weight loss―the opposite of what many believe to be true.  Plenty of studies show that small, frequent meals throughout the day may be healthier for your body than the typical three large meals.  The key to eating between meals lies in the idea of “smart snacking”.


Tips for smart snacking:


Portion control:  A snack should be between 100-200 calories and contain significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  If your usual snack makes you feel full, it is probably too big of a portion.  A snack should only curb your hunger, not fill you up.


Fill up with protein and fiber:  The reason for this is simple.  Protein and fiber-filled snacks slow digestion time and help you to feel full longer.  Protein helps maintain muscle mass while also helping to keep your metabolism high.  In turn, your body will burn more calories.


Timing is everything:  Snacks should be eaten two to three hours before the next meal and should only take the edge of your hunger.  Good timing can help prevent you from overeating at the next meal.


Be a mindful snacker:  Be aware of how much you’re eating, and listen to your body when it’s full.  Avoid snacking while eating in front of the television and don’t just snack on something because it tastes good or you’re bored.


Eat “healthy” foods:  Look to consume snacks that are nutrient dense, such as fruits or vegetables.  Read the labels, and if the ingredient list is incredibly long, it’s probably not a smart choice.


Overall, smart snacking is about selecting nutritious foods that will fuel your body while remembering to control your portions.



Katie Pullar, Senior Dietetic Student

Allen Anderson, RD

Supplements – Do You Really Need Them?

According to the National Institutes of Health, Americans are spending $20 billion per year on different supplements and vitamins.  That number is up from $6 billion in 1999.  With so much money being spent on them, one has to wonder if  they are really even helping.  According to the article “The One Supplement Everyone Needs”, research shows that most vitamins and supplements don’t help you at all.  On the same token, they don’t hurt you either, but why spend so much money on something that isn’t doing what you’re expecting of it?  While most have shown no promising effects, one does–Fish Oil.  Studies have shown it to reduce the type of inflammation that is a predictor of heart disease.


Fish Oil is different than other supplements, because taking the supplement is actually like you are eating a piece of fish in that the body recognizes it the same way.  On the contrary, taking a Vitamin C supplement is not like eating an orange, because there are other components in the orange that have interactive effects in the body.


Will these research findings stop you from taking your daily vitamin?


Katie Pullar, Senior Dietetic Student

Allen Anderson, RD

Curbing Obesity in Children

Curbing Obesity in Children

It is estimated that nearly 20% of children these days are obese. What’s particularly alarming about this is that this excess weight puts them at higher risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis, to name a few. This has many parents concerned; after all, who wants to see their kid suffer with one of these conditions in early adulthood? Past attempts to curb obesity in children has focused on getting children out of the house and exercising or eating healthy foods. For the most part, however, they have been largely ineffective. That left people looking for a different answer.

A recent article I read talked about programs that focus on parenting skills rather than the children’s behaviors. The program did not even address things like the child’s exercise habits, weight or eating habits. Instead, parents were taught how to limit television time, how to reinforce good behavior without using food, and how to discipline without physical punishment. By the age of eight, those who participated in the program had less than half the rate of obesity as those who were not in the program.

So, what do you think? Does the answer to curbing childhood obesity lie with the parents?

Katie Pullar, Senior Dietetic Student

Allen Anderson, RD