Tag Archives: shopping

Family Wellness Month

Family Wellness Month

It’s Family Wellness Month, and we’ve shared great ideas to help you improve your family’s wellness each day this week.

An easy way to get extra steps as a family? Park farther away at the store and ask the kids to count the steps it takes to get to the door.

Take More Steps

 

Go grocery shopping together and have everyone help plan the meals. Kids are more likely to get interested in cooking and be less picky when they’re involved.

Shopping and Eating with the Family

 

Set goals together as a family, especially healthy goals, and share your dreams with one another. Talk about how to support and help each person achieve those goals and dreams.

Setting Goals Together

 

Develop family rituals that connect you together, like holiday traditions, reading as a family, or weekly yoga or meditation sessions.

Give each child alone time with parents. One-on-one time helps you forge strong relationships and can make them feel special and heard.

One-on-One Time with Each Child

 

Listen and fight fair with your loved ones. Your kids learn from how you handle these difficult moments. If this is something you struggle with, a therapist can help.

Learn to Fight Fair in Your Family

 

Set bedtimes for everyone in the family so that they get a healthy amount of sleep for their age, which is especially important for growing children.

Bedtimes for the Whole Family

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Learn more about the types of blood cancer, including Leukemia and Lymphoma, and join the fight!

Get videos, webcasts, drug listings, and free info booklets and get smart about blood cancer.Researching to Prevent

 

Learn more about blood cancer in the news with these handy news releases.

Cancer Right Now

 

If you’re suffering from blood cancer, find the support you need.

Conquering Cancer Together

 

Join a community advancing blood cancer research and driving change.

Teamwork to Beat Cancer

 

Show your support by shopping to fight blood cancer.

Fighting for a Cure

 

Donate to fight blood cancer before September ends and be the change.

Supporting the Cause

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Shop Smart by Reading Labels

Breaking Down Food Labels

While you’re shopping, understanding the nutrition labels on food can help you make smart choices for your family. We can help you make the most of them.

New Food Label for a New Era

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new Nutrition Facts label with some important improvements:

What's Different?
Image via the FDA

When you see them side by side, you can see that the new label calls out the actual serving size and calories per serving much bigger. At the store, this can quickly help you see how good for you something is in terms of calories, and how much bang for your buck you’re getting in what you buy.

New vs Old Label
Image via the FDA

It also calls out added sugars, which are sugars (like sugar, honey, or corn syrup) that are added to packaged food. Fresh fruit has natural sugars, so juices don’t list the sugar that’s naturally occurring from the fruit as added sugar.

And now it calls out the exact amount of nutrients, like vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.

The FDA’s new labels have also changed serving sizes to better show how much people actually eat of certain foods:

New Serving Sizes
Image via the FDA

While a half a cup of ice cream used to be the recommended serving size, most people are scooping out closer to a cup, so the FDA wanted to make sure you know how many calories you’re actually eating in that bowl of ice cream.

Making the Most of Food Labels

1. Serving Size

Serving SizeWhen you pick something up at the store, start with the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label.

It will tell you the total number of servings in the package, and the new serving size, which better shows how much of it you actually eat.

These serving sizes are standard, so it’s easier for you to compare the calories and nutrients in similar foods to find the healthiest brand for you. Serving sizes also come in measurements you know, like cups, followed by grams.

2. Calories

CaloriesNext, look at the number of calories per serving. Calories are a measure of how much energy you’ll get from food.

Many people eat more calories than they need to, so keeping track of how many you eat can help you with your weight. Most people should eat around 2,000 calories per day.

When you’re looking at the calories, if you’re eating around 2,000 calories a day, then 40 calories is low for a serving, 100 calories is in the middle, and 400 or more calories is high. In fact, you should shoot for whole meals to be around 400 calories.

3. Nutrients to Limit

The nutrients listed first are Nutrients to Limitones that most Americans get plenty or too much of.

Eating too much fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, or sugar can raise your risk of certain diseases, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

The bold headlines are most helpful for you when you’re shopping, so you can quickly see how much of these is in something, while the subheads, like saturated and trans fat, can help you focus on a nutrient you’re interested in.

The percentages along the side tell you how much of your 2,000 calorie diet this food takes up. So in this image, the total fat in this food takes up 10% of all the fat you should eat in a whole day.

Dietary fiber and protein that are mixed into this list are good for you and important to keep an eye on. Fiber can help you better process food and reduce the risk of heart disease, and protein can help you stay full longer and is important if you’re trying to build muscle.

4. Nutrients You Need

Important NutrientsThe bottom section of nutrients are ones that many don’t get enough of, so they’ve been highlighted to help you buy foods rich in them.

These are nutrients that can help you improve your health and help lower the risk of some diseases. For example, calcium and vitamin D can help you build strong bones and lower your risk of getting osteoporosis later in life, and potassium can help lower your blood pressure.

5. Footnote

Label FootnoteThe footnote is more simple in the new design, too. It just reminds you that the percentages are based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Now that you know what the different sections of the Nutrition Facts label are telling you, it will be easy to look for food with good calorie counts, limited salt, fat, and sugar, and plenty of healthy nutrients, like calcium.

Up Next:

Why shop organic? Our Organic 101 guide makes it easy!

Make sense of expiration dates while you’re shopping to make the most of your groceries.

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Finding Doctors & Personalized Care

Finding Doctors Made Easy

Finding doctors and care that’s covered on your plan, like from a Primary Care Physician (PCP) or a clinic in your service area, is key to helping us pay for the care you get.

For some plans, like HMOs, you must go to a doctor in your provider network. And for some plans, like PPOs, although you can go to out-of-network doctors, going to doctors in your plan’s network can help you save.

Log In

The best way to find doctors in your network is to log in to Your Health Alliance, our one-stop member website. If you’ve never used Your Health Alliance before, you’ll have to register for an account first.

On Your Health Alliance, when you choose Find a Doctor or Hospital from the very top menu on your dashboard, you’ll see a list of all the providers you can use on your plan. From there, you can filter these or search by doctor or hospital name to find what you’re looking for.

Plan Details Search

If you can’t log in to Your Health Alliance, you can also find a doctor by looking at your plan’s network through our Plan Details Search.

You can find this feature by choosing learn how to use your benefits on HealthAlliance.org’s home page. This takes you to our Member Benefits & Forms page. The first bullet under Using Your Benefits, What Your Plan Covers, will take you to the search.

On the search, you just need to enter your member number from your ID card to see a list of all your plan’s documents, which will include your network of doctors. You can find your member number here:

Finding Your Member Number

Finding Doctors

You can also search for doctors on HealthAlliance.org. Choose Find a Doctor from the top menu to start your search.

Once you’re here, you can search for your network or by a doctor’s name, or you can look at a list of all our directories.

The best way to find your network is to search with your member number from your ID card. (The above image can help you find your member number.)

Or you can find your network by choosing your state and plan type and directory. If you have our insurance through your employer, you’ll choose employer groups. If you’re on a Medicare plan, you’ll choose that. If you shopped for and bought our insurance for yourself (and it’s not a Medicare plan), you’ll choose individual and families from the list.

Then you’ll choose your directory. Your directory is based on what type of plan you have. If you or your employer bought your plan from a public exchange, like Healthcare.gov or a state exchange, it will say public in your directory name. If you bought it directly from us, it will say direct.

It will also say your plan type, like HMO, PPO, or POS. If you bought a plan in a specific market, like Riverside or Methodist, it might say that, too. Your plan policy or plan documents can tell you what the name of your plan is to help you know which plan type you have.

Once you’ve chosen one of these, you can also add filters, like doctor or location info, to find certain providers.

Now that you’ve searched and found your network, you’ll see details for each of the doctors in your plan’s network, like address, if they’re taking new patients, and more. You can also add filters at this point to narrow your search.

And if you’re shopping for a new plan, we’ve made it easy to find doctors on those plans by connecting you to their networks while you’re shopping.

Still need help finding doctors or have questions about our providers? It’s no problem! Our Customer Service is here to help! Just contact us.

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Grocery Shopping Fresh

Grocery Shopping Like a Pro

Even after you’ve gotten ready to head to the store, grocery shopping on a budget for healthy meals can be hard. But there are some things you can do to make it easier.

Stock Your Pantry

Keeping your kitchen stocked with certain key things can make cooking easy. This list has some items that are perfect for this. And this article has some healthy foods perfect for your pantry that only cost about $2.

Add one item that won’t go bad, like a spice, grain, beans, or frozen veggies to your cart each shopping trip to help you build your pantry without dropping a lot of money at once. (These are also good things to buy in bulk when they’re on sale if you have space to store them.)

Having this stocked pantry will help you throw together meals fast, help you save on packaged or premade meals you might’ve grabbed in a hurry, and make shopping easier.

Choosing Your Store

Choosing where you shop can also help you save. Besides the grocery store, some great places to find good deals are:

  • Ethnic markets
  • Dollar stores
  • Retail supercenters
  • Wholesale clubs
  • Farmers markets

At the Store

Once you’re at the store, you should try to shop the outer edge of it as much as possible. The outer edge usually has the fresh produce, like fruits and veggies, meat, dairy, bread, and frozen food. It’s typically the inner aisles that are full of boxed and processed foods.

Fruits & Veggies

It’s recommended that you eat 5 servings of veggies a day, so it’s important to really use that part of the store. With that in mind, fruits and veggies, fresh or frozen, should take up about a third of your cart on each shopping trip.

  • Shop in season 

At the farmers market, you have to buy what’s in season, but at the grocery store, there are lots of choices. But when you buy what’s in season, you can save a lot, and your food will be the tastiest and freshest it can be. This list can help you find what’s in season when.

  • Buy bags at the right time

With certain go-to things your family will always use, like apples, oranges, potatoes, and onions, buying them in the big bags when they’re in season can help you save even more.

  • Stock up on canned and frozen fruits and veggies

Canned and frozen fruits and veggies are picked while they’re in season and tasting best, and they’re good for you, too. So instead of buying fresh peas when they’re not in season, stock up on frozen ones to save and get the best flavor. Plus, they last much longer.

Look for frozen veggies without added sauces or butter. Choose canned fruit in 100% fruit juice and veggies with “low-sodium” or “no salt added.”

Canned veggies and broths are perfect for easy soups and stews, and canned fruit makes great fruit salad and snacks for the kids.

Packaged Goods

Avoid a lot of the packaged and processed foods in the center of the store. Cookies, candy, chips, crackers, and soda are all high in things you don’t want, like sugar, salt, and bad fats, and low in things like protein and nutrients. They’re also expensive.

  • Look for whole grains

Be careful you don’t get fooled by things that just call out wheat. Instead, look for whole grains and whole-grain breads.

  • Find high-protein foods besides meat

Yogurt and cheeses are great sources of protein, as are beans and other legumes, which you can find dried or canned.

  • Be smart about cereal

Cereals are one of the top foods for hidden sugar. Look for ones with little or no sugar. You can always add honey to flavor it in the bowl. Also look for cereals high in fiber to start your day right.

  • Try new things in the bulk aisle

If you want to try a new grain, nut, or dried fruit, the bulk aisle with bins is a great way to taste test. Scoop out a small bag for your family to taste before buying bigger servings.

Shopping Tips

Make the most of your trip by paying attention to how your store organizes things, their price tags, and food labels.

  • Don’t shop at eye level

Stores oftentimes stock the most expensive things right where they’ll catch your eye. Looking at the upper and lower shelves can help you find the best deal.

  • Grab from the back

Stores also stock from the back, putting newer things behind the older ones. Grabbing from the back gets you fresher food with better expiration dates, so your food will be good for longer.

  • Look for store brands

Many stores have their own brands of items, and in most cases, you’ll get the exact same or very similar thing at a much better price.

  • Read the label

Reading the nutrition label can tell you a lot about what’s in a food, if it’s good for you, and help you choose between brands.

  • Pay attention to serving sizes

Some things might seem good for you until you check the serving size. Sometimes the serving size is much smaller than what you’d actually eat in a sitting, which makes the numbers on the label look better.

  • Learn how to read unit price on the price tag

Unit price tells you how much something costs per pound, ounce, quart, or other unit of measure. It can tell you which brands are the most affordable. This guide can help you read or calculate unit price.

  • Have a calculator handy

Whether it’s on your phone or you bring a small calculator along to the store, having one on hand can make it easy to compare labels and costs.

Up Next:

Learn how to read and make sense of nutrition labels to get the most out of your food.

Reaching New Heights through Change

Long View: One Small Change for Better Health

Some friends and I made a New Year’s resolution to climb a mountain in Colorado and circled a date in July on the calendar. To prepare, one friend decided to change one thing – just one.

As a hospital nurse practitioner, she decided to take only the stairs throughout the day. She climbed to the 5th floor for daily rounds, down to her office, back up to the 3rd floor for clinics. You get the idea. When July rolled around, her legs were toned and her lungs were strengthened to the point that she climbed that mountain and lived to tell about it. One simple change was all it took – pretty impressive.

Many people set ambitious nutrition and fitness goals for the New Year. If you’re anything like me, those ambitious goals are scrapped by Super Bowl Sunday. What if we all committed to making just one change for the coming year? What if we circled a date on the calendar (January 2 doesn’t count) and stuck to it? Would the cumulative effect make us healthier?

Some small changes you could make to your eating and fitness habits:

  • Start by switching out your afternoon vending machine snack with a piece of fruit and some nuts one day a week.
  • Is lunch a fast food adventure? Switch those large fries with a small order of fries, and get water instead of soda. Better yet, trade your fast food meal with a lunch you packed yourself once a week.
  • Walking more is one thing we all can add to our daily lives, and it can be easier than you think. Try taking one full lap around your local big-box store before you start shopping. Chances are you’ll add an extra quarter of a mile to your daily mileage.
  • Tai Chi is a wonderful exercise to add. Chris Cady-Jones coordinates Tai Chi for Balance in our Omaha market. She says, “Tai Chi is a low impact exercise gaining popularity due to its positive effects on social and mental well-being, improved balance, and physical functioning. It also reduces your risk for falls.”

We won’t all climb a real mountain in 2016. But by making just one small change in our everyday lives, we might climb our own personal mountain toward a healthier and more active New Year.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of two terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.