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

September 2, 2011

Missoula Promotes Breastfeeding for Healthy, Well-Nourished Kids

Eat Right Montana logo Among childhood health experts, there is universal agreement on two recommendations for infant feeding. First, that any amount of breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby. Second, that maintaining breastfeeding for as long as possible during the first year provides numerous benefits for lifelong health. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be breastfed exclusively - with no baby formula or added foods or beverages - for the first six months of life.

“The Missoula City-County Health Department has made a strong commitment to breastfeeding,” says Mary Pittaway, MA, RD (registered dietitian), Nutrition Services Supervisor. “Through our WIC Program and other services, we provide comprehensive support and information for families who want to give their children the best nutritional start in life. Our services include a Breastfeeding Help-Line at 406-203-4753, lactation specialists for office and home consultations, and free breast pumps for WIC participants.”

With these services, Missoula has raised the rate of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months among WIC mothers from 3% to 18%. According to CDC’s 2011 Breastfeeding Report Card, Montana’s overall infant feeding practices are mostly right on target with Healthy People 2020 goals. In Montana, nearly 82% of new mothers begin breastfeeding, about 61% are breastfeeding at six months, and 28% breastfeed for 12 months.  The last number is the only one that falls short of the goal of 34% of mothers breastfeeding for a year.

“Breastfeeding success depends on many factors,” explains Pittaway. “Support from family and health care providers is obviously critically important. However, employer practices are also key, since at least 58% of women who are employed when they become pregnant return to the labor force by the time their child is three months old. Montana is fortunate to have legislation that requires employers to provide a private space and break time for nursing mothers, as well as an exemption from jury duty.“

The Surgeon General Regina Benjamin’s 2011 Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding outlines ways for everyone to help. Here are some positive strategies for you to take local action:

1)  As friends: Encourage pregnant women to discuss their desire and plans to breastfeed with family members, health care providers, childcare workers, and employers. Help them find accurate information.

2)  As health care providers: Educate pregnant women and new mothers about the physical, economic, and emotional reasons to begin and continue breastfeeding. Educate all staff to offer support and information.

3)  As employers: Ensure that your business complies with Montana Code by providing comfortable, private places for nursing mothers to express breast milk and adequate storage space for expressed milk. Display a certificate announcing your commitment to be a breastfeeding friendly work site.

“The Missoula Health Services website provides comprehensive links and resources,” Pittaway notes. “You can find everything you need to know at www.co.missoula.mt.us/healthservices/EatSmart/breastfeed.htm.”

Put MyPlate on the Grill

Nothing quite says “it’s dinnertime” like a meal on the grill. Tantalizing smells, savory flavors, and gatherings with family and friends - it all adds up to a tasty way to eat on a weekday evening or as a weekend treat. The new USDA healthy eating icon, ChooseMyPlate.gov, can also be a delicious guide to grilled meals.

Whether you cook on charcoal or gas - on a simple hibachi or an elaborate built-in grill, planning ahead will help you serve up the tastiest, safest grilled foods possible. Having the right food and equipment makes preparation and clean up easier for everyone.

1)  Stock up on summer produce: While meat, poultry, and fish are traditionally the center of grilled meals, you can grill everything from salads (grilled Caesar salad is trendy) to dessert (grilled fruits are refreshingly sweet treats). Farmer’s markets, backyard gardens, and supermarkets are all great places to hunt for grilling options.

2)  Get the right grillin’ stuff: Savvy grill masters know that it is helpful to minimize the burning and charring of foods during cooking. Smart grilling strategies include: trimming fat from meat, fish, and poultry; using wood planks, aluminum foil, or grill woks to keep food away from flames; and spraying water on any direct flames.

1)  Go fresh and local with grilled veggies: Be adventurous - almost any veggie can be grilled. Some super options for ¼ of MyPlate are: beets or sweet potatoes (cut in 1-inch rounds, rub with olive oil); corn (peel husk, remove silk, add a dab of butter, wrap with husk and foil); and mushrooms (use your favorite marinade, grill on foil).

2)  Pair lean proteins with whole grains: MyPlate suggests about ¼ each for lean proteins and grains (whole when possible) - which makes the perfect pairing on the grill, like lean burgers with whole grain buns or grilled Texas toast (thick slices of whole grain bread brushed with olive oil and garlic) with BBQ chicken or ribs.

3)  Grill up some sweet dessert too: Grilling fruit caramelizes the natural sugars creating a simple, delicious, nutritious treat. MyPlate’s guide to make ¼ of your intake fruit is easy on a grill. Cut fruit, soak in cold water, and cook over medium heat, using non-stick spread if necessary. Firm fruits work best, like pineapple, pears, and apples.       

Make grilling a group activity. Have older children turn items on the grill, while younger kids set the table or arrange the food on platters. Bon appétit to all!


Created in 2000, geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt - perfect for kids of all ages. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates, trying to find a tiny “treasure” (such as fishing lures, small candles, colorful Band-Aids, miniature compasses, etc.) hidden there by another geocacher. While basic info is free online (www.geocaching.com), a premium geocaching membership with maps, ratings, statistics, support, and custom searches is only $30 per year.

1)  Purchase a GPS device: The only essential piece of hide-and-seek equipment for geocaching is something that can track GPS coordinates; an inexpensive one is just fine.

2)  Download a phone App: Probably the cheapest way to geocache, Groundspeak Geocaching App uses GPS, Wi-Fi, and cell towers to connect you to Geocaching.com.
3)  Sign up on Geocaching.com: The basic free membership allows you to access geocache locations and share your experiences. Upgraded memberships provide more.

Geocaching is perfect for families - it’s a hi-tech, ongoing scavenger hunt that you can do geocaching anywhere! Here are 10 tips to make it fun for everyone.
1.  Get kids involved: Put them in charge of GPS, caches, and even lunch!
2.  Take one, leave one: Always leave something of equal or greater value.
3.  Leave a signature cache: Make your mark with an object that impresses.   
4.  Use creative containers: Cover a waterproof box in camo tape, moss, or bark.
5.  Add in adventure: Choose cache locations that involve a hike or swim. 
6.  Create friendly competition: Have teams race to find caches first.
7.  Double the challenge: Put a cache inside a maze in a cornfield or park.
8.  Make it a hike: Choose to seek a cache in a park that you want to explore.
9.  Bring a camera: Post your successes on a family blog or Facebook page.
10. Hide-and-seek safely: Bring water, sunscreen, hats, and healthy snacks.

Make technology active! Technology often gets a bad rap for creating couch potatoes. Reverse the trend and have fun using technology to get the activity your body needs.

Maximizing Bone Health

Osteoporosis is the thinning of bone tissue and the loss of bone density over time.  Osteoporosis is sometimes called a “pediatric disease that shows up in older adults.” This is because building and maintaining healthy bones begins in childhood and must continue throughout our lives. Here are some facts and tips to help you do just that.

What we know
A moderate range of calcium intake may be best: Recent research confirmed that women with both low and high intakes of calcium were at risk for osteoporosis.

Taking high doses of calcium supplements is unnecessary: Calcium is best absorbed from food sources, which also contain the other nutrients needed for strong bones.

Osteoporosis is a multi-dimensional disease: Nutrition is just one important part of bone health. Exercise and other habits, like smoking, are equally important.

What you can do

1) Be active - get plenty of weight bearing activity.
Bone, like muscle, is a living tissue that becomes stronger with activity. Everyone can help prevent bone loss with regular physical activities, especially weight-bearing ones.   
Walking, hiking, climbing stairs, playing tennis, dancing, aerobics, biking, and weight training are great ways to have fun and maintain strong bones at the same time.

2) Eat well - enjoy nutrient-rich foods at meals and snacks.
While we hear a lot about the importance of calcium and vitamin D, bones are not made from just two nutrients. Iron, protein, and other nutrients are necessary as well.
Bone-building foods include reduced fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cheese - 3 servings per day), as well as leafy green veggies, lean meat/fish/poultry, and legumes.
3) Stop smoking - breathe easier for better health.
Many studies have shown a direct relationship between tobacco use and decreased bone density. In general, smokers’ bodies are also slower to heal bone fractures.
Women smokers in particular tend to have lower bone density. This is because they produce less estrogen, which causes earlier menopause and can lead to weaker bones.

4) Reduce alcohol and caffeine - drink smart for better bones.
Drinking too much alcohol interferes with both calcium balance and vitamin D production. Alcohol affects parathyroid hormone, further reducing calcium reserves.
Caffeine, when consumed in excessive quantities, may prevent calcium absorption and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Grilled Pizza

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 lb. Prepared whole wheat pizza crust
  • 2 oz. Pizza sauce, preferably low sodium
  • ½ c. Feta Cheese, or other crumbled cheese
  • 6 oz. Turkey ham
  • 4 Plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ c. Pineapple, diced, water packed, drained - or freshly chopped
  • Dash of pizza seasoning


  • Heat grill to medium high.
  • Meanwhile, place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8 inch round crust, about ¼ inch thick. Place crusts on a floured baking sheet. Carry crusts and toppings out to the grill.
  • Lay crusts on grill (they won’t stay perfectly round). Cover grill and cook until crusts are lightly puffed and undersides are lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Using tongs, flip crusts, remove from grill. Immediately spread crusts with pizza sauce. Top with turkey ham, sliced tomatoes, pineapple, cheese, and seasoning.
  • Replace pizzas on grill. Cover grill and cook until undersides are lightly browned, and cheese is melted about 5-8 minutes. Serve immediately. 

Yield: 4 individual pizzas

Getting kids cooking:

  • Kids can help to form the pizza crust by hand or with a rolling pin.
  • If they are old enough to use a knife safely, they can chop the pineapple and slice the tomatoes.
  • Once the crusts have been grilled on one side, kids can place on the toppings on the cooked side.
  • Serve directly off grill - with a fresh fruit plate or tossed green salad, made with farmer’s market produce.
  • Substitute other lean protein (grilled chicken or shrimp, for example) for the turkey ham. 

Nutrition Analysis: 1/4 recipe

  • Calories: 483
  • Total Carb: 57.3 g
  • Protein: 9.2 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.8 g
  • Total Fat: 8.44 g
  • Calories from Fat: 15.4%        
  • Saturated Fat: 3.78 g                
  • Calcium: 134.4mg
  • Iron: 3.8 mg

Source: Adapted from Eating Well, www.eatingwell.com

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