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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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ACA’s Impact on Calorie Counts: FDA Issues Final Rules Requiring Increased Publication of Calorie Count

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized two rules related to publishing calorie counts in November. The rules will impact the listing of calorie counts at restaurants (chain restaurants) and vending machines (with more than 20 locations). The rules are required by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In general, final rules from U.S. Government agencies become effective 30 days after being published. Vending machine operators will have two years, not 30 days, to comply with the requirements. Look for increased calorie publication on or after December 25, 2014. As a note, many chains already do this type of labeling and some states and cities have individual requirements currently in place.

The FDA believes the implementation of these rules will allow consumers to make more informed nutritional decisions. Covered food establishments will be required to clearly and conspicuously display calorie information for standard items on menus and menu boards, next to the name or price of the item. Seasonal menu items offered for sale as temporary menu items, daily specials, and condiments for general use typically available on a counter or table are exempt from the labeling requirements. (But don’t assume this means that pumpkin latte is good for you…a small pumpkin latte from a popular chain has 330 calories and 13g of fat!)

To further help consumers make choices, in the context of a total daily diet, the new rules also require menus and menu boards to include the following statement: "2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary."

The menu labeling final rule also requires covered establishments to provide, upon request, written nutrition information about total calories, total fat, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, fiber, sugars and protein.

To read the final rules, visit the Federal Register:

Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments

Calorie Labeling of Articles of Food in Vending Machines

Tags:  Calories  December 2014  Nutrition  Physical 

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December Inspiration: Quotes to Help Us Overcome Adversity

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

There is no education like adversity.
-Benjamin Disraeli 

In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity, we know our friends. 
-John Churton Collins

Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.
-Ralph Blum

It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.
-Isaac Asimov

All misfortune is but a stepping stone to fortune.
-Henry David Thoreau

Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.
-Jonathan Kozol

All sunshine makes the desert.
-Arabian Proverb

Adversity is the mother of progress.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Success in the affairs of life often serves to hide one's abilities, whereas adversity frequently gives one an opportunity to discover them.

Times of great calamity and confusion have ever been productive of the greatest minds. The purest ore is produced from the hottest furnace, and the brightest thunderbolt is elicited from the darkest storm.
-Charles Caleb Colton

Obstacles are great incentives.
-Jules Michelet

In the midst of winter, I found there was within me an invincible summer.
-Albert Careb

There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.
-J. H. Vincent

Look up and not down; look forward and not back; look out and not in; and lend a hand. 
-E. E. Hale

What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something better.

Tags:  Adversity  December 2014  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  Spiritual 

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Wellness in 10: 10 Ways To Be Well in December

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

 1.       Pick a designated driver. The holiday season is full of parties and get-togethers, many of which involve alcohol. Make sure the good times stay good by picking a designated driver to stay sober before you go out.

2.       Wash your hands often. Sure, it is always important to practice good hygiene, but this is a great time of year to be extra vigilant about hand washing. We travel more during the holidays which means coming in contact with more people from more places (possibly more germs!). Plus, it is influenza season and no one wants the flu to get in the way of the festivities.

3.       Get a flu shot. With all we know about the flu shot, this writer is still amazed that individuals can justify not getting one. I have heard everything from, “Can’t they make you sick?” to, “I’ve never gotten one.” Well, I’m not a disease specialist, but the CDC has some of those on its staff. Here’s what they say: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/

4.       For your financial wellness, make a budget before the holiday season. Individuals' pocket books can be stretched pretty thin with all of the new and flashy things to buy. Help your long-term financial goals by making a budget for gift-giving, entertaining, host gifts, etc. before the holiday season so your December bank statement won’t be such a shock.

5.       Practice balance. Eat a piece of pie. Have some sweet potatoes. Have a glass of wine if that’s your taste…just remember, the 10th bite and the 10th sip taste just like the first one. Practice moderation in your consumption. You won’t regret it.

6.       Exercise. In many regions, holiday get-togethers are inside events. Many times we get stagnant as we spend time visiting with friends and family. A little exercise before, during, and/or after get-togethers (family walk after a big meal?) can benefit both your waistline and your mental state. Exercise allows us to refresh our minds as well as our muscles.

7.       For social wellness, practice listening. Many of us get the chance to be around family and friends during the holidays that we are not normally around. This is a great time to learn from others and catch up on the lives of those we care about. If you have a senior relative, write down or record their stories. Those gems are priceless.

8.       Give. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and endless to-do lists, it might be easy to forget how many people go without. Some families do charity exchanges instead of gift exchanges. Some volunteer in soup kitchens for a day. There are many ways you can brighten the life of a stranger during the holiday season. You might find that in doing so, you've given a gift to your own spirit.

9.       Forgive and forget. The holidays are a great time to let go of grudges. While my family has always gotten along fairly well, I have friends who have holiday horror stories about this aunt or that cousin. If you can muster up a little forgiveness, the cheer of the holiday season is willing to do its part.

10.   Rest. Many people take vacation around the holidays, but don’t actually rest. Let’s face it, we all need to re-charge. Try to sleep in, or go to bed early at least a few days. Turn off electronic devices (and not just while flying). Give yourself permission to not think, not attend to, not react…if even for just an hour.


Tags:  December 2014  Emotional  Holidays  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Social  Spiritual  Wellness in 10 

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A Good Side to Depression?

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Is there a good side to depression? Researchers from McMaster University and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health think there might be!

In a November 2014 study, researchers devised a test to discover the “roots” of depression. The results of the test suggested that depression might be a coping mechanism. Deep analytic thought, a common trait of depressed individuals, might actually help depressed individuals work through complex issues like a death or a divorce, for instance.

The flip side is that an individual might concentrate so heavily (often involuntarily) on the particular issue that they may allocate too many mental resources to the issue and undermine attention on other life functions. In this way, the deep rumination disrupts things like eating, sleeping, social interactions, etc. Or rather, the negative things we associate with depression.

The researchers defined deep analytic thought as “a type of distraction-resistant thinking that is characteristic of clinical and sub-clinical depression alike.” While the researchers made specific strides to underline the seriousness of depression as a mental health concern, they believe that understanding the underlying cause of depression could play a significant role in its treatment.The paper, "Measuring the bright side of being blue," appears in the peer-reviewed, open access journal PLOS ONE (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0112077). It outlines a set of 20 questions the researchers used to gauge the level of an individual’s deep rumination as well as the research methodologies and results of the study overall. The answers to the questions, they suggest, would allow a clinician to tailor the type and level of care that an individual receives by providing additional insights to the depressed individual.



Journal Reference:

Barbic, S.P., Durisko, Z., and Andrews, P.W.Measuring the bright side of being blue: A new tool for assessing analytical rumination in depression.  PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e112077 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0112077


Tags:  December 2014  Depression  Emotional  Mental Health 

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Just say NO to New Year’s Resolutions and YES to Change!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A simple search for New Year’s Resolutions on the internet and you’ll get bombarded by lists of why they don’t work. If you want four, or six, or eight, or even 15 reasons, the internet has a blog, an article, or a post for you. There are also statistics. A third fail in the first week, 75% fail by the end of January, 88% fail overall. The landscape is pretty grim.

Yet, as members of the wellness community, we see change happen every day. We see changes that make people healthier and more, well. So the issue isn’t resolving to change. The thing is…how we resolve to change. One article mentioned that resolutions are often about what we think we should do, not what we want to do, and so they fail (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/new-years-resolutions-dont-work-heres-why.html). That writer might have a point. After all, our commitment levels are influenced by our needs and wants.

Wellness experts have also found that many resolutions are too broad. For instance, there is a difference between resolving to lose weight and resolving to eat more greens at every meal. One is a very large and unspecific goal. The other is a specific strategy to reach a goal which makes it more manageable.

If you insist on having a New Year’s Resolution, here are a few tips inspired by PsychCentral.com (http://psychcentral.com/lib/rethink-those-failed-new-years-resolutions/00018625).

First, consider starting before New Year’s Eve! The resolution is about change, so timing shouldn’t matter. If you need to give yourself “free” days around the holidays, remember a one- or two-day break doesn’t mean failure. Change is long term and you can always pick up where you left off.

Then set small, doable, intermediate goals. Take the example about losing weight above…what can you specifically do to get your diet or exercise on track?

Make a plan for these specific changes. If your resolution is to be more social, how are you going to implement that plan? Who will you call? Do you want to set a goal for at least one weekly outing?

Go public. Tell people about your plan so they can support you and check in on you. Everything is easier with support.

Keep track of your progress. If your goal is to have more occupational wellness, what are steps you need to take to achieve that goal. Write them down with an estimated timeline and check off each thing you have accomplished.

Set up a compatible reward system. Once you check off progress points to your goal, give yourself a reward. From the school-inspired gold stars to a new kitchen gadget, rewards big and small are a symbol that we have accomplished something. Allow yourself moments to enjoy your own accomplishments. 

Tags:  Behavior Change  December 2014  Emotional  Physical 

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Hand Washing 101…Plus a little science!

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, December 2, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The following information was adapted from the CDC Website: http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

Wash your hands…

  • Food: Before, during (especially when handling raw fish, chicken, and meat), and after preparing food, and before eating 
  • Illness & Wounds: Before and after caring for someone who is sick , before and after treating a cut or wound, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • Human & Animal Waste: After using the toilet, changing diapers, helping a child who has used the toilet, or touching animal waste
  • Animals: After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, and after handling pet food or pet treats
  • Garbage: After touching garbage

How to wash your hands…

  • Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  • Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  • Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the "Happy Birthday" song from beginning to end twice.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
  • Soap and water not an option? Alcohol-based hand-sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol is not as effective when hands are visibly soiled or greasy. And in general, hand sanitizer is not as effective as washing hands in reducing potentially harmful microbes.

A little science…

According to a 2009 article on LiveScience.com (http://www.livescience.com/3686-gross-science-cough-sneeze.html), the average human cough expels about 3,000 droplets of saliva. Some of them fly out of the mouth at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. Sneezing is worse. As many as 40,000 droplets of liquid traveling as fast as 200 miles per hour. These droplets can, depending on their size, stay suspended in the air indefinitely. So even if you didn’t sneeze or see someone sneeze, you could be walking through or touching a droplet covered object. A great reason to regular wash your hands that often come in contact with your eyes, mouth, and nose!

According the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html), a single gram of human feces can contain one trillion germs. Many of the germs are naked to human eye. Even if you are fastidious about hand washing, others may not be. Wash your hands often especially when visiting public places.

The CDC estimates (http://www.cdc.gov/Features/dsFoodborneEstimates/) that each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses. Causes of foodborne illnesses include contaminating food with dirty hands and transferring microbes from raw food, among other sources of contamination. 

Tags:  December 2014  Hand Washing  Physical 

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