Healthy Tips for Thanksgiving

By Sandra H. Spann, MS, RDN, LD, DHEC Office of Professional and Community Nutrition Services


Thanksgiving is a time to express our thanks with friends and family, but it is also a time when many Americans over-indulge in a bounty of meats, casseroles and sweets. This holiday season, follow these simple tips to help you feel as light on your feet as you do in your heart with loved ones around you.

Start the day with a small but healthy breakfast to keep you energized and your metabolism moving. Trying to “save yourself” for a big meal at the end of the day can leave you feeling sluggish and extra hungry – leaving you more likely to overeat at Thanksgiving Dinner.

Take a walk early in the day and then again after dinner. It’s a wonderful way for families to get some physical activity and enjoy the holiday together.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day and with your meal. Drinking at least eight glasses of water throughout the day will keep your whole body hydrated and help your digestion.

Skip the salt! Use herbs and spices instead of salt to enjoy the flavor of your food. Too much sodium can increase your blood pressure.

Build a Healthy Plate

Fill ½ half of your plate with vegetables such as carrots and green beans, broccoli, salad and asparagus.

Fill ¼ of your plate with starches such as sweet potatoes and dressing. Other choices for this section may include corn, rice, or mashed potatoes.

Fill ¼ of your plate with lean turkey slices. Remove the skin from the turkey before eating.

Avoid casseroles or dishes that have heavy creams, sauces, butter or crusts. Skip the bread or rolls.

For more information, please visit the DHEC website.

Diabetes Prevention and Management

By Rhonda L. Hill, PhD, MCHES, DHEC Director of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Healthdiabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, which is a great time to understand the impact of diabetes in S.C. and how to prevent and manage this chronic disease. Diabetes is diagnosed when a person’s body does not make enough insulin or cannot properly use insulin (insulin is a hormone needed to turn food into energy).

There are three types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes is when your body does not make insulin. This is a problem because you need insulin to take the sugar (glucose) from the foods you eat and turn it into energy for your body. You need to take insulin every day to live.
  • Type 2 diabetes is when your body does not make or use insulin well. You may need to take pills or insulin to help control your diabetes. Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes.
  • Gestational diabetes is diagnosed when women are pregnant. Most of the time, it goes away after the baby is born. But even if it goes away, these women and their children have a greater chance of getting diabetes later in life.

Diabetes in S.C. and the U.S.

South Carolina ranks 4th highest in the nation in the percent of the adult population with diabetes. Approximately 1 in 6 African-Americans in S.C. has diabetes and S.C. has the 3rd highest rate of diabetes among African-Americans in the nation. Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes increases with age and a dramatic increase can be seen among those 45 years of age and older. Diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. today—nearly 10 percent of the population. Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by 2050 unless we take steps to Stop Diabetes®.

Risk Factors for Diabetes

Risk factors for diabetes include older age, obesity, family history of diabetes, prior history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, physical inactivity, and race/ethnicity. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, and some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.  Complete the diabetes risk assessment test to determine your risk status.

Personal and Economic Impact of Diabetes

About 81 percent of adults with diabetes have high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes can lead to many complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes and amputations. Diabetes can affect many parts of your body, including your:

  • Heart – Increases your risk of having a heart attack
  • Eyes – Worsens your eyesight and may lead to blindness
  • Mouth – Increases your risk of dental and gum disease
  • Kidneys – Can lead to kidney failure requiring dialysis
  • Feet – Can decrease blood circulation to lower extremities, which can result in leg or foot amputations
  • Nerves – Can damage nerves, affecting many parts of the body
  • Genital organs – Can cause sexual problems
  • Brain – Can lead to a stroke

However, by lowering your blood sugar levels, you can prevent or delay these complications. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is $245 billion and the direct medical costs reach $176 billion. The average medical expenditure among people with diabetes is more than two times higher than those without the disease and indirect costs amount to $69 billion (disability, work loss, premature mortality). One in 10 health care dollars is spent treating diabetes and its complications.

Resources to Help You Prevent and Manage Diabetes


Quit Like a Champion – Great American Smokeout

By Sharon Biggers, director of DHEC’s Division of Tobacco Prevention and Control

Get ready to lose the habit, and become victorious over tobacco.

How does your body reocver after smokingThe S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reminds smokers and tobacco users that the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 19, is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of resources available through the S.C. Tobacco Quitline.

About 42 million Americans still smoke, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States. The American Cancer Society Great American Smokeout  encourages smokers to quit that day or to make a plan for quitting.

The health benefits begin the moment you stop smoking.  Quitting at any age can give you back years of life that would be lost by continuing to smoke.

Ready to Quit?

The S.C. Tobacco Quitline is a free counseling service that helps South Carolina smokers and tobacco users quit.  Whether you smoke cigarettes, e-cigarettes, or use smokeless tobacco products (dip or chew), the professionals at the S.C. Tobacco Quitline can help you deal with cravings, identify triggers, develop your quit plan, and connect you with local resources to help you quit. Services are free and are available from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m., seven days a week. Services include:

  • One-on-one coaching with phone or web-based counseling and support
  • Development of a personalized quit plan
  • Free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges for eligible South Carolinians

Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or click to call.Click to Call

For more information on the health benefits of staying away from tobacco and tips to quit, click here. 

National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month

By Beth M. Sulkowski, Vice President of Communications & Advocacy, Alzheimer’s Association, South Carolina Chapter


In 1983, when November was designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, fewer than 2 million Americans had the disease. Today, the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s has soared to more than 5 million.  An estimated 81,000 South Carolinians are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, and that number is expected to grow 48 percent to 120,000 people affected by 2025.

While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s, early detection and diagnosis is critical to ensure that those living with Alzheimer’s have the power to plan their own health care and future. Those who receive an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s can gain the best possible benefits from current medications, play an active role in decisions about treatment and care, and even participate in Alzheimer’s clinical trials of treatments being developed.

Many people think of Alzheimer’s disease as a normal part of aging, or simply memory loss.  While age is the greatest known risk factor, the reality is that Alzheimer’s can strike as early as in a person’s 30s, 40s, or 50s. It also impacts far more than a person’s ability to remember names or recall where they left their keys.

The Alzheimer’s Association teaches warning signs to help people recognize when they might need to consult a doctor about changes in a loved one or in themselves.

10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or during leisure time
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

Individuals may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees, so if you recognize any of these signs, please talk to a doctor right away.  For more information, please visit the national Alzheimer’s Association or the South Carolina Chapter’s webpage.

Recycling Mini-poster

Recycling Supports Healthy Communities and Healthy Economies

By Daphne Neel, Director of DHEC’s Bureau of Land and Waste Management

America Recycles Day, celebrated on November 15 every year, is dedicated to promoting the environmental and economic benefits of recycling. Across South Carolina, more individuals, businesses, organizations and government agencies are recycling than ever before and you can make a difference by doing your part to recycle more.

Not sure of what to recycle or where? South Carolina collects a wide variety of material for recycling from aluminum cans to motor oil. Visit and click on “where to recycle locally.”

Compost it. Don’t waste it. What are you doing with your food scraps? Your yard debris? Instead of throwing these items in the trash, consider composting them – it’s nature’s way of recycling.

Do you know what Not to recycle? Putting the wrong items in a recycle bin can waste money and time. Please don’t place these 12 items, known in the recycling world as the Dirty Dozen,  in a recycling bin or cart:

  1. Plastic bags
  2. Plastic bags containing recyclables
  3. Shredded paper or other smaller items
  4. Scrap metal
  5. Hazardous household materials
  6. Flattened bottles or cans
  7. Non-recyclable plastics
  8. Caps / lids on glass bottles or jars
  9. Liquids or foods
  10. Non-recyclable glass
  11. Rope or rope-like items
  12. Diapers or bio-hazardous waste

 Why Recycle?

  • Recycling means business in South Carolina. More than 520 companies in South Carolina rely on material recycled by residents, businesses, schools, colleges and other organizations.
  • Recycling creates jobs. There are more than 22,000 jobs directly related to recycling in South Carolina.
  • Recycling has a huge economic impact. Recycling has a $13 billion annual impact on the state’s economy.
  • Recycling conserves natural resources. Recycling reduces the amount of raw materials like trees, minerals, oil and water that are needed to make new products.
  • Recycling saves energy. Did you know that it takes less energy to make a new product from recycled material than raw material? For example, recycling aluminum cans saves 95 percent of the energy required to make the same amount of aluminum from virgin sources.
  • Recycling reduces litter. As much as 75 percent of litter is material that can be recycled! Recycling helps keep our state clean and green and reduces costs associated with litter cleanup.
  • Recycling reduces the need for more landfills. Recycling saves landfill space by diverting valuable material from disposal. The more you recycle the less you throw away!
  • Recycling turns waste into valuable raw materials. Manufacturers rely on recycled material to make recycled-content products.  For example, did you know that your recycled plastic bottles are used to make carpet and clothing?
  • Recycling is easy. Whether you are at home, work, school or on the go, there are plenty of opportunities to recycle.

South Carolina has a goal to achieve a 40% recycling rate by the year 2020, and we need your help to reach that goal.

Learn more about how you can do your part and recycle more by visiting or