Monthly Archives: February 2014

Changes to Nutrition Labels

The Food and Drug Administration for the first time in 20 years is proposing a revision to nutrition labels on our food packaging. More emphasis on calorie count and serving size are apparent with larger font size. Serving size is a critical aspect of keeping weight under control. For example, twenty-ounce bottles of soda would be counted as one serving, rather than the 2.5 servings often listed now. Many people do not realize they may be eating 2 or 3 servings of food even when they are eating healthier foods, the calories can add up.

An additional category is also being suggested for added sugar. Sugars that are added to our foods are strongly linked to obesity and other adverse health outcomes such as increased risk for heart disease. This recommendation comes after numerous studies were released, including a study from the American Medical Association which observed a significant relationship between added sugar consumption and increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.

The recommendations hope to raise awareness of what type of foods and how much Americans are eating. Take a look at the proposed labels below. Do you think it will make a difference in what you eat?

New Nutrition Facts

Author: Kya Schnettler, Living Well FDL Coalition Coordinator



Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to months. This mental illness causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, energy and the ability to think clearly. Cycles of high (manic) and low (depressive) moods may follow an irregular pattern that differs from the typical ups and downs experienced by most people. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can have a negative impact on a person’s life. Damaged relationships or a decline in job or school performance are potential effects, but positive outcomes are possible.

Two main features characterize people who live with bipolar disorder: intensity and oscillation (ups and downs). People living with bipolar disorder often experience two intense emotional states. These two states are known as mania and depression. A manic state can be identified by feelings of extreme irritability and/or euphoria, along with several other symptoms during the same week such as agitation, surges of energy, reduced need for sleep, talkativeness, pleasure-seeking and increased risk-taking behavior. On the other side, when an individual experiences symptoms of depression they feel extremely sad, hopeless and loss of energy. Not everyone’s symptoms are the same and the severity of mania and depression can vary.

More than 10 million Americans have bipolar disorder. Because of its irregular patterns, bipolar disorder is often hard to diagnose. Although the illness can occur at any point in life, more than one-half of all cases begin between ages 15-25. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally.

What Does Recovery Look Like?

As people become familiar with their illness, they recognize their own unique patterns of behavior. If individuals recognize these signs and seek effective and timely care, they can often prevent relapses. But because bipolar disorder has no cure, treatment must be continuous.

Individuals who live with bipolar disorder also benefit tremendously from taking responsibility for their own recovery. Once the illness is adequately managed, one must monitor potential side effects.

The notion of recovery involves a variety of perspectives. Recovery is a holistic process that includes traditional elements of physical health and aspects that extend beyond medication. Recovery from serious mental illness also includes attaining, and maintaining, physical health as another cornerstone of wellness.

The recovery journey is unique for each individual. There are several definitions of recovery; some grounded in medical and clinical values, some grounded in context of community and successful living. One of the most important principles of recovery is this: recovery is a process, not an event. The uniqueness and individual nature of recovery must be honored. While serious mental illness impacts individuals in many challenging ways, the concept that all individuals can move towards wellness is paramount.

Bipolar disorder presents a special challenge because its manic, or hypomania, stages can be seductive. People with bipolar disorder may be afraid to seek treatment because they are afraid that they will feel flat, less capable or less creative. These fears must be weighed against the benefits of getting and staying well. A person may feel good while manic but may make choices that could seriously damage relationships, finances, health, home life or job prospects.

It is very common for people living with bipolar disorder to want to discontinue their medication because of side effects or because it has been a long time since the last episode of illness. However, it should be remembered that the progress one has attained is reliant upon continuing to take medication.



For further resources and support go to



Olympian Brings Home the Message About Alcohol and Athletes

Katharine Merry, bronze medalist in the 2000 Sydney Olympic games, experimented with the dangers of binge drinking. The results over a two week period were shocking. This Olympian suffered skin problems, loss of appetite, felt weak and lethargic, gained two inches around her waist area, and developed flu-like symptoms for which she needed to take several prescribed medications.

Why did this athlete, who was in great shape, choose to harm her body? Miss Merry wanted to show young athletes how alcohol can affect and even jeopardize one’s athletic career. She now mentors promising young athletes and encourages them to lead healthy and disciplined lifestyles to reach their potential in the sport.

Athletes, in general, are often unaware of physical consequences drinking alcohol poses to them. Along with social consequences within school administration and athletic departments at the high school and college levels, alcohol additionally causes several symptoms such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Decrease in Performance
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Problems with Social Situations
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Attention or Alertness issues
  • Problems with Fat Storage

Alcohol can quickly dehydrate an individual and cause severe electrolyte imbalances. When dehydrated, an athlete is at higher risk of injuries such as cramps, muscle pulls, and muscle strains. On a more significant level, dehydration can lead to severe brain impairment and even death when elevating one’s body temperature in intense practices or workouts.  Additionally, an athlete who binge drinks can experience a loss in muscle mass resulting in fatigue and a decrease in strength and performance.

Athletes should be aware that alcohol can also cause performance damage several days after consumption. Many experience impaired or delayed reaction time, a decrease in hand-eye coordination, and even impaired judgement. Additionally, performance is reduced and an increased risk of injury. Alcohol can also cause nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness for days after consumption.

Even though many athletes are told that alcohol inhibits peak performance, some still partake in drinking alcohol. More and more schools are enforcing athletic codes and policies for students who underage drink. In addition to schools creating alcohol and drug abuse policies, professional sporting clubs such as, NCAA, Olympic sports, NFL, NBA, and USOC, are beginning to acknowledge alcohol and drug use and abuse among athletes.

Athletes should be aware:

1. for your body’s best performance those 21 or older, drinking during an athletic season should be avoided

2. for those under the age of 21 drinking alcohol is illegal in the state of Wisconsin and has consequences in the community, school, and to one’s physical health

 Drug Free Communities of Fond du Lac County and Healthy Fond du Lac County 2020 would like remind parents, students, and the community of the risks and consequences of consuming alcohol and the impact it has on athletic performance. With your help, alcohol use and abuse can be reduced and unforeseen injuries in athletics can be prevented.

Link to Katharine Merry article, How just two-weeks of binge drinking destroyed a female Olympic athlete’s body.