November Be Well

Healthy Holiday Plates

There are lots of tempting foods this time of year. However, many of them are not very good for you. 

With the stress of the holidays, it can be easy to make yourself feel better with treats. In the end, too much unhealthy food will cause you to gain weight and make you feel worse instead of better.

You can still enjoy the holidays without breaking your good eating habits. Use these tips for a healthy Thanksgiving.

  1. Drink water instead of soda. Avoid alcohol or only have that one glass of wine.
  2. Did you know you can bake without butter? Use applesauce or mashed bananas as a healthy alternative.
  3. Flavor food with spices and herbs instead of sugar and salt. Garlic, onions and chilies make foods just as tasty.
  4. Choose whole wheat flour instead of white flour. But keep in mind that whole wheat flour can make baked goods thicker.
  5. Remember, gravy is rich enough so a little bit goes a long way.
  6. Make a balanced Thanksgiving meal that includes the five food groups. When you put food on your plate, it should look like My Plate.

Get more Thanksgiving recipes to fit your budget.

No Smoke November

Lots of people think of cigarettes as old friends that make them feel better when they are upset or stressed.

Cigarettes are not your friends, though. All they do is make you sick.

You probably already know that smoking is bad for you. You may even be ready to quit. Congratulations! Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.

If you’ve tried to quit before, you know it’s not easy. Don’t get discouraged. Most people try to quit a couple of times before they succeed. Every day that you don’t smoke is a victory for your health. The third Thursday of every November is the Great American Smokeout. Join people from across the country and use that day to quit.

If you want to quit, use these steps to help you break your habit.

Step One:

Decide to quit and set your quit date. What is your reason for quitting? Thinking about why you want to quit will help when you get a craving.

Step Two:

Let the people around you know you’re quitting. Ask for their support

Step Three:

Get ready for cravings. Know what makes you want to smoke and make plans to avoid your triggers. Decide if you want to use medicine or counseling to help you quit. Buy toothpicks, gum, straws, or something else to put in your mouth when you want a cigarette.

Step Four:

Get rid of your cigarettes, lighters, and ashtrays. Take back control from tobacco and just throw it all away.

Step Five:

Take it day-by-day. When you get a craving, recognize that it’s happening. Take deep breaths. Move around. Drink some water. Remember that it will get easier. Ask for help and support when you need it. CHPW members can work with expert coaches and get free help with quitting through our Quit For Life program. Learn more at or call 1-866-784-8454 to sign up. 

Step Six:

Enjoy not smoking. Notice the good changes. You can breathe easier. Your skin looks better. You can taste more flavors in food. You don’t smell like smoke. You have more money. Your loved ones are proud of you, and you should be proud of yourself.

Click here for more resources to help you quit.

Is someone in your life quitting? Click here to learn what to expect and how to help.

Winter Resources

As the weather gets colder, it becomes more and more difficult to live on a budget. Utility bills, warm clothing, and big family meals all cost money, not to mention the basics like rent. And what about gifts for the holidays? Add it up, and the winter is hard on your wallet.

Fortunately, there’s help. Many organizations offer assistance to help individuals and families get through the winter. They provide help in a variety of ways. Some provide food, others offer clothing or gifts. Other programs can help with utility bills, and even housing.

Want more info? Here are two websites that make it easy to search for public resources: ResourceFinder and Washington 2-1-1. Just type in your neighborhood and the thing you’re looking for. Use simple phrases like “clothing” or “utilities” or “toys” to get quick results.

Every little bit helps, and when it comes to winter, you want to be prepared. Don’t let the cold weather take you by surprise—get prepared now.

Staying Positive

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. For many people, this can be a time of stress, which is bad for your health. Of course, planning ahead is a great way to prevent stress, and the resources in the article above can definitely help. Another way to combat stress is to practice positive thinking. A positive outlook also has practical health benefits: it’s good for your heart, improves your ability to cope, and even helps you fight off the common cold.

We know it can be tough to stay positive this time of year, so here are some tips to help you look at the bright side:

1.Do something new. Change up your routine and you will probably see life in a different light. Explore a new part of Washington or reach out to someone you haven’t seen in a long time.

2.Spend time around positive people. Friends can brighten your mood, and friends who keep it light and happy are even better. Stay close to these people and you’ll find happiness rubs off.

3.Share your troubles with a friend. Feeling alone with your problems always makes them worse. Sharing with a friend can help you see the brighter side of things.

4.Compliment others and brighten their days. Making others feel good about themselves is one of the best ways to keep things positive. Try it out!

5.List the things you are thankful for. Want that Thanksgiving feeling all season long? List out the things that make you feel grateful and you’ll quickly see there’s lots to smile about.

6.Talk to your health care provider. Asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength. Your doctor can refer you to treatments and programs that will help. Community Health Plan of Washington also has programs that can help. To learn more, call our customer service team at 1-800-440-1561 (TTY Relay: Dial 7-1-1).

Make this holiday season the happiest and healthiest yet—practice positive thinking!

October Be Well

13 Tricks for a Safe Halloween

Whether you’re Trick-or-Treating with kids or hanging out with friends, going out and having fun is what Halloween is all about. Here are some tips to make sure you have a Halloween that’s as safe as it is fun.

  1.  Don’t eat any “treats” that aren’t wrapped.
  2. Watch out for strangers. Don’t go into a stranger’s house or accept a ride from someone you don’t know.
  3. Test out Halloween makeup on a small patch of skin before you use it.
  4. Buy non-toxic and flame resistant Halloween supplies.
  5. If you are letting older kids head out alone, agree on a time for them to be home before they leave.
  6. Don’t forget your pets— Halloween can be scary for them! A scared pet may bite, so give them a quiet place to stay.
  7. Don’t let your pets eat your Halloween candy. Some of it is toxic for them.
  8. Carry glow sticks, flash lights, or put reflective tape on costumes so drivers can see you.
  9. Stick to sidewalks and intersections when you’re Trick-or-Treating.
  10.  If you’re wearing a mask, make sure the eyeholes are big enough to see through.
  11. Use the buddy system – a good idea for kids and grownups.
  12. Go slow, avoid distractions, and take extra time at intersections.
  13. If you’re drinking alcohol, make sure you can get a ride from someone who is sober. Have a designated driver or plan ahead to call a cab.

Need some cheap and easy, do-it-yourself, or last-minute costume ideas? Click here

Feeling SAD this Fall?

It’s natural to feel a little sad about summer ending. But for some people, it can be a more serious problem. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a kind of depression that comes with the changing of the seasons. Most people with SAD begin to feel moody in the fall and winter. Over time, they feel like they have less energy. If you suffer from these problems, you might have SAD, too.

SAD is a very common disorder and there are things you can do to feel better. Pay attention to your diet. “Comfort food” can make you feel tired or sick. And don’t sit out on your life. It’s important to stay busy and connected to other people. Exercising and keeping an active schedule during the fall and winter months can help improve your mood.

To learn more about SAD, click here. If you think you are suffering from SAD, you should talk to your doctor. They might tell you to try new lights or a “dawn simulation” to trick your brain into thinking it’s a brighter season. They might also suggest therapy or medication to help you. No one knows the exact cause of SAD, but there are many things you can do to have a healthy and productive fall and winter.

Make a Medicine List

Is there a medicine you take each day? What about a vitamin? What about a medicine you only take occasionally? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need a medication list.  A personal medication list is easy to make.

It only takes a few minutes, and it can help you and your doctor keep track of important details to keep you feeling your best. Everyone in your family who takes medicine should have a medication list. It should include the medicine your doctor gives you, and also any vitamins or over-the-counter drugs you take. It is also important to write down when and how you take each medicine and who told you to take it.

Take your list with you to each doctor visit. Your list helps your doctor make sure you are taking everything your body needs and using your medicine correctly. Your doctor will be able to check that the medicines work together safely. It can also be helpful when you are talking to your pharmacist.

Ready to make your list? Click here to download a blank medication list. Just print it and fill it out with everything you take then show it to your doctor. It’s easy, and it will help you get the most out of your visit.

Time to Get a Flu Shot

Cold and flu season is right around the corner! Get your flu shot before flu season hits Washington. Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot every year.

Some people can’t get a flu shot, like infants and those who have serious illnesses or may be allergic to the vaccine. When everyone who can get a flu shot gets one, the disease doesn’t spread as easily and helps keep everyone safe.

The flu is a lot more dangerous than a cold, even though they have a lot of the same symptoms. They both cause coughing, sneezing, body ache, and tiredness, but the flu makes you feel worse and you are sicker for longer.

You can’t vaccinate against colds, but you can vaccinate against the flu. Before there was a vaccine, the flu killed thousands of people. In 1918, 5,000 people died from influenza in Washington. Now, a bad flu year will cause a few hundred people to die. The flu spreads easily and can be deadly, which is why it’s so important to get a flu shot.

If you’re not sure where to get a flu shot, call your doctor or local pharmacy. Side effects are usually mild. You may get some redness or swelling where you got the shot. Because the virus that causes the flu can change, the vaccine won’t protect you 100 percent. Wash your hands, get enough rest, and if you start to feel sick, go see a doctor.  


September Be Well

Sports Physicals

Classes are back in session and that means it’s time for school sports. Fall is the season for soccer, tennis, gymnastics, and many other team activities. These sports programs are a great way for kids to get the exercise their growing bodies need. If your son or daughter wants to join a team, their school will probably ask you to get them a physical checkup. But don’t worry, these sports physicals come at no cost for members of Community Health Plan of Washington. We’re happy to help your child get in the game!

Just call your health center to schedule an appointment. You can even take care of your child’s regular annual checkup at the same time. We hope you and your kids have a fun and active fall!

Scared of Shots

A new school year brings lots to look forward to. Kids will learn new things and make new friends. They can try a new sport or join a club.

Starting school also means getting booster shots.

School shots are important. They keep dangerous diseases, like mumps or whooping cough, from spreading. Ask your doctor or school which shots your kids need, or click here to check the Department of Health website.

For some kids, shots can be scary, but there are ways for you to help your child stay calm.

You can help relax your child when it’s time to get their shots. Babies need to nap and eat before their doctor visit. Cuddle them after or give them a toy. Tell younger kids about the visit on the day you go. Don’t use scary words like “shot” or “hurt.” Let older kids ask you questions. Help them breathe slowly while they get their shot. Make sure that you stay calm too!

Read about more ways to make school shots not so scary here.

Fast Food Swap Out

We get it, fast food tastes really good. It’s also available almost everywhere, so it’s really easy not to pack a lunch. But making your own food is almost always cheaper and healthier. Plus it keeps that post fast food slump away. If you want the flavors of your favorite take out, try these recipe ideas:

If you love cheeseburgers, you should pack…

A Black Bean Bowl.

Black beans are loaded with protein and are filling like a burger. Add rice, peppers, cheese, onion, lettuce, and tomato for that burger taste.

If you love pizza, you should pack…

Creamy Tomato Soup and Crackers.

Creamy tomato soup is a filling midday meal and easy to make. It’s rich and salty with Italian flavors, but without the grease.

If you love nachos, you should pack…

Tortilla Soup.

The best parts of nachos are the toppings. Add small amounts of cheese, sour cream, jalapenos, and tortilla chips to the warm, rich, and healthy soup.

If you love teriyaki, you should pack…

Pineapple Chicken Stir-fry.

Adding pineapple to a home-made chicken stir fry hits those sticky sweet teriyaki flavors. But instead of just sugar, you get the vitamins and minerals of fruit.

If you love big sub sandwiches, you should pack…

Italian chopped salad.

A chopped salad is a tasty combination of tomatoes, onions, salami, chicken breast, olives, chickpeas, cheese, and lettuce. Mix with Italian dressing and enjoy! If you get away from eating fast food every day, you’ll feel better, have more energy, and save money. Then you can treat yourself from time to time, because we all know there’s no substitute for a scoop of ice cream!

Need more healthy and cheap recipe ideas? Check out this free cookbook from Country Doctor Community Health Centers.

Back-to-School Resources

Every parent wants their child to do well in school, but kids need support if they’re going to succeed. They should start the school year with a full set of classroom supplies. They should have good food every day to keep them focused, alert, and healthy. As a parent, though, you know that backpacks, notebooks, and balanced meals aren’t cheap.

Luckily, there are resources out there to help. Washington State has school-based lunch and breakfast programs for low income families. You can read more about it here. Call your child’s school to sign up. There is also a program to help the whole family get healthy meals, called SNAP. Click here to read more about SNAP and sign up.

Washington has lots of local groups that help parents fill their kids’ backpacks. Click here to find one near you. They can help you with pens, pencils, notebooks, and more.