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NEWS Improving and Protecting the Health, Well-Being
and Self-Reliance of All Montanans.

May 4, 2011

Montana WIC Program Supports Healthy Pregnancies and Fit Kids

Eat Right Montana logofrom Eat Right Montana

While mothers are traditionally honored for one Sunday in May, the Montana WIC Program works all year, providing services and benefits to pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, infants and children under five years. In Montana, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food benefits to over 21,000 low-income participants per month. WIC services are offered through 27 local WIC programs, including all seven Indian reservations, across Big Sky country.

"WIC is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) public health program designed to improve health and influence lifetime nutrition behaviors in a targeted, at-risk population," says Chris Fogelman, RD, MPH, WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator in the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. "About half of all infants born in Montana receive WIC food benefits."

In addition to food packages, all Montana WIC participants receive nutrition information, healthy eating tips, and breastfeeding support, as well as referrals to appropriate health and social services. WIC food packages now include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and protein foods, in addition to the previously approved milk, juice, cereals, legumes, and eggs. With their WIC Fruit and Vegetable Benefits, WIC families can enjoy a wide variety of fresh and frozen produce items. Thanks to WIC’s Montana Farm Direct Program, WIC fruit and vegetable benefits can also be used at farmers’ markets and/or roadside stands.

"Pregnant women need support and information for a healthy pregnancy and breastfeeding success," notes Ms. Fogelman. Whether through the WIC program or their health care provider, mothers-to-be need practical, up-to-date advice on nutrition, fitness, and other aspects of their pregnancy, including how-to:

1)  Eat plenty of delicious, nutrient-rich foods: Good nutrition is critically important for both the health of the mother and the needs of the growing baby. USDA’s MyPyramid website has a special section for moms (www.mypyramid.gov/mypyramidmoms/) that addresses important issues like appropriate weight gain, the use of dietary supplements, and weight loss after a pregnancy.

2)  Enjoy plenty of fun physical activity: Fitness experts agree that regular, moderate-intensity activity during pregnancy is good for moms and babies. Being active may help prevent pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, as well as reducing stress and improving mood. New research suggests that fitness may begin in the womb, since babies of active mothers tend to have healthier hearts.

3)  Get plenty of restful sleep: Women typically need more sleep during pregnancy, when eight to nine hours is normal and appropriate. Recent studies suggest that getting too little - or too much – sleep may increase a woman’s risk of developing high blood pressure and even preeclampsia. Cutting back on caffeine and staying active are key ways to improve sleep patterns during pregnancy.

"Pregnant women are eager to do the right things for their baby’s health," explains Fogelman. "Establishing healthy habits during a pregnancy can have a lifetime of benefits for mom - and the whole family!"


Want a lunch that packs a nutrient punch? A balanced middle-of-the-day meal starts with smart choices from all five food groups: lean proteins, whole grains, colorful fruits, vibrant vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. This could be a tuna sandwich (light mayo) on whole wheat with sliced tomato, plus a sliced pear and fat-free milk. Try a cup of black bean soup and a whole-wheat quesadilla (using part-skim mozzarella cheese and fresh salsa), with a side of sweet strawberries.


The benefits of a balanced lunch are worth the time and effort for adults, kids, and families. According to research, how you eat may be just as important as what you eat. Eating slowly and listening to your internal signals of fullness may help prevent afternoon tummy aches - and help you maintain a healthy weight at the same time.

1)  Lunch at work: In a time-crunched, budget-conscious world, brown bagging it may be best. Take a break from work while you eat - and go for a walk afterward.

2)  Lunch at fast food: Although it’s possible to overdo calories, fat, and sugar, smart choices are now available in most chains. Choose milk and fruit in kid-size meals.
3)  Lunch at a restaurant: More and more restaurants will also feature nutrition info on menus. Most chains already provide nutrition analyses on their websites. 


1)  Always start small: Most serving sizes in the U.S. are two to three times what most adults need. By choosing a cup of soup or half a sandwich, you’ll usually get plenty of food and you may save money too. Kid-size burgers are actually great for adults too.

2)  Share, share, share: This is another easy way to control your food budget and avoid wasting food at the same. For a satisfying and cost-conscious lunch, share a sandwich or an entrée salad with a couple of sides (maybe a small order of fries).

3)  Rethink your drink: A large soft drink or fancy coffee concoction can quickly add several hundred extra calories to your day. Smart choices for refreshing mealtime beverages include fat-free milk (regular or chocolate), unsweetened tea, and ice water.


Take time to sit and enjoy your lunch. Put down your work and enjoy a calming conversation with a friend or coworker. When you savor your lunch and listen to your stomach, it is easier to stop when you are satisfied.

Make a Difference with Photovoice

Photovoice (www.healthyeatingactivecommunities.org/downloads/PhotoVoice.pdf) is a technique where residents use photos of their community to identify problems and work for solutions. It’s an especially powerful process when youth take the lead in advocating for change in their neighborhoods and working to turn their ideas into reality. Here are some steps to help your family or a local youth group conduct a Photovoice project focused on safe ways to walk or bike..


1)  Learn about the Photovoice concept: Download the Photovoice manual and read all about how the process has been used in other communities.

2)  Identify adults to serve as Photovoice resources: Utilize the expertise of local photographers and policy leaders to help develop and publicize your project.
3)  Obtain cameras for a Photovoice project: Camera phones, digital cameras, and disposable cameras may all be inexpensive options, depending on availability.


Once everyone understands the Photovoice goals and you have enough cameras for all the kids involved, you can get started taking photos of what’s working and what’s not. 

  1. 1. Roam the neighborhood: Are there obvious obstacles or challenges?
    2. Stroll the sidewalks: Are they safe for both young children and older people?
    3. Cross an intersection: Do cars stop for walkers and cyclists?  
    4. Bike the paths: Do they have clearly marked lanes for different users?  
    5. Pedal the streets: Can bikes and cars safely share the streets? 
    6. Find a bike rack: Do cyclists have safe places to park their bikes?
    7. Share with the group: Do you need any more photos to tell your story?
    8. Hunt for more photos: What other photos do you need to tell the story? 
    9. Share with the community: Where can you get an audience for the photos? 
    10. Lead a local tour: Celebrate your Photovoice story with a walk or bike ride.


Young people love to make a difference in their communities! A Photovoice project can help make local changes and begin to develop the next generation of advocates.


Dangers of Dieting for Youth

Diets are an ever-popular, but rarely successful, path to a healthy weight. While most adults can lose 5-10% of their starting weight on almost any diet, they usually regain that weight (and often more) over the next few years. Restrictive diets can develop into serious problems for children and teens. Parents, teachers, coaches, and other important adults can help young people develop healthy behaviors without the dangers of diets.

What we know

While extreme, fad diets have many downsides for adults, the implications for children and adolescents can be more serious. Here’s why pediatric experts say "no" to dieting for youth.

1)  Diets can limit the nutrients kids need for growth and development: Many popular diets limit one or more food groups, like carbohydrates from grains and fruit. This means that kids do not get the nutrients they need, like fiber, for optimal health. 

2)  Diets can make kids feel like failures: Most diets over-promise results, both in terms of weight loss and in how much better life will be. When children fail to reach weight goals and their lives are still the same, they end up feeling even worse than before.

3)  Diets can develop into eating disorders: Pediatricians and dietitians caution that seemingly innocent diets can turn into serious eating disorders in vulnerable children, especially high-achieving and depressed adolescents.

What you can do

Eliminate the "D" word from your vocabulary.

  • Children are always watching what you say and what you do. So, do not talk about diets or behave as if you are constantly dieting.   

2)  Actively work to discourage dangerous dieting. For practical, positive tips, read www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/uploads/file/information-resources/50-Ways-to-Lose-the-3Ds.pdf.

Help children listen to internal signals of hunger and satiety.

1)  The most effective, intuitive way for children to eat is to listen to their own natural, internal signals of hunger and satiety (also called fullness or satisfaction).

2)  Help children listen to these internal cues with simple, age-appropriate questions: Are you hungry or just bored? Is your tummy still hungry? Are you feeling full now?

Make nutrient-rich food choices tasty and easy.

1)  Keep a variety of delicious, nutritious foods and beverages readily available and within children’s’ reach on your counters, cupboards, and refrigerator.

2)  Nudge children toward healthful options by making them appealing and easy. Cut fruit into pieces or take baby carrots out of the bag and put them into a bowl.

Ginger-Grape Grilled Chicken Salad

All 2011 recipes will meet the following criteria:

  • Require minimal ingredients that are easy to find and affordable
  • Involve minimal preparation time and use common kitchen equipment
  • Include a complete nutritional analysis and lots of delicious flavors


  • 1 large head romaine lettuce, rinsed
  • 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • ½ cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 Tbsps. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 3 cups seedless red grapes, rinsed


  • Grill chicken breasts completely, set aside.
  • Remove stems from lettuce and tear into bite-sized pieces.
  • Slice chicken into ½ inch slices cut against the grain of the meat; chop into 1-inch pieces.
  • Blend yogurt and ginger together.
  • In large bowl, toss the grapes, yogurt dressing and chicken until cooled.
  • Serve slightly chilled on a bed of lettuce.

Yield: 6 servings

Getting kids cooking:

  • Kids can remove the stems from the lettuce and tear it into bite-sized pieces.
  • Kids can blend the yogurt and ginger.
  • Kids can stir the chicken, dressing, and grapes together gently.

•  Serve with a glass of low-fat milk and carrot sticks.
•  Serve on a whole-wheat tortilla as a wrap.

Nutrition Analysis: 1/6 recipe

  • Calories: 152
  • Total Carb: 11.8 g
  • Protein: 19.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
  • Total Fat: 2.6 g  
  • Calories from Fat: 15% 
  • Saturated Fat: 0.8 g      
  • Trans Fat: 0 g    
  • Sodium: 60 mg
  • Calcium: 60 mg
  • Iron: 1.1 mg

Source: Celebrating a Healthy Harvest Cookbook, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children)

Dayle Hayes, MS, RD (EatRightMT2000@gmail.com) developed this information for Eat Right Montana, a coalition promoting healthy eating and active lifestyles. Past and current issues of Eat Right Montana’s monthly nutrition and physical activity tips can be downloaded free at www.eatrightmontana.org/eatrighthealthyfamilies.htm.)

Page last updated: 07/30/2013