NEW YEAR, NEW YOU, NO EXCUSES:
Public Health Helps with the Resolutions that Matter
Reigning in the New Year usually means making lots and lots of New Year's resolutions. In fact, according to a study done by clinical psychology professor John Norcross of the University of Scranton, about 45% of Americans make resolutions each year. The most common resolutions are health related, such as weight loss or smoking cessation, but unfortunately, less than half of all these resolutions are kept. Failure to follow through with healthy resolutions could be due to many factors, including setting unrealistic goals, and a lack of time or resources to make necessary lifestyle changes.
Kern County residents, however, have plenty of resources at their fingertips to make 2011 their healthiest year yet. The Kern County Public Health Services Department, made up of the four divisions of Public Health, Environmental Health, Animal Control, and Emergency Medical Services, offers programs, services, and advice to guide Kern County into a healthier New Year.
Environmental Health Resolutions:
Cook More at Home (without Making Your Family Sick!) Cooking at home is a great way to save money, control calories, and increase quality time spent with family members. Just because you are in your own kitchen, however, does not mean the food you prepare is not at risk to grow bacteria and potentially cause foodborne illnesses. To keep food safe and germ-free, make sure to wash your hands constantly during preparation to avoid cross-contamination of foods, and to cook all food at the proper temperature. For more information on cooking safety, visit the Kern County Environmental Health Services website at www.co.kern.ca.us/eh.
Animal Friendly Resolutions:
Volunteer: Studies show that people who volunteer tend to live longer, have less heart disease, and have lower rates of depression, and volunteering for any cause you are passionate about is a great way to start the New Year. Pet lovers have a fantastic opportunity to volunteer at the Kern County Animal Control Department: volunteers can choose what activities they are interested in and volunteer around their own schedule. To fill out a volunteer application, go to http://www.co.kern.ca.us/acd.
Eat Seasonally and Locally:
Many New Year's resolutions are diet or weight-loss related. Eating fruits and vegetables is the best way to fill up without filling out, and fruits and vegetables that are in season for Kern County and grown locally offer the best value for your money. Locally grown, seasonal produce is nutritionally superior, less environmentally damaging, and often cheaper than conventional produce that may be harvested thousands of miles away. For information on seasonal produce visit www.harvestofthemonth.com and when the summer months arrive, check the Public Health website (www.kernpublichealth.com) for information on local farmer's markets.
Emergency Preparedness Resolutions:
Plan for a Disaster: Preparing for emergencies is something many people put off until it is too late, but getting prepared could be your most important and necessary New Year's resolution. Don't get caught in a disaster without a plan! The Red Cross stresses three steps to preparedness: 1. Get a Kit 2. Make a Plan 3. Be informed. For more information on emergency preparedness, visit www.kernpublichealth.com or www.redcross.org.
Quit Smoking for Good:
Over 20% of Kern County adults smoke cigarettes, even though tobacco is the agent most responsible for avoidable illness and death in America today. Quitting smoking isn't easy, however, and that is why the Kern County Public Health Services Department stresses tobacco education and prevention for the younger generation. Schools can call the department at 868-0306 to request tobacco information and resources. For current smokers, visit www.smokefree.gov or www.cdc.gov/tobacco for information on quitting for good.