Introducing Healthy You in 2022 Quarter 3!

Subscribe to Healthy You updates by email or text

Healthy You: Activity, Minds, Bodies, Habits

Good food and sleep, for keeps 

Healthy Choices Close to Home. Healthy You 2022


Eat healthy food. Get enough sleep. You will find these six little words on many (if not all) lists of things to do for a healthier you. And yet, many of us have trouble doing these simple things. Could it be because . . . they are not so simple?  


Some barriers can get in the way of these fundamental health habits. You may find it hard to access and afford healthy food or to find the time to prepare it. You may be dealing with stress, which can lead to unhealthy eating habits. You may live somewhere you feel is unsafe – or you may be living with trauma, anxiety, medical conditions or even furry friends (however much you love them). Any of those factors may make sleeping soundly at night and eating healthy foods challenging.


We see you. We got you. Let’s dive a little deeper in this blog – and in the third quarter of our Healthy You in 2022 campaign – to focus on sleep, food and how we can nourish ourselves:



Add More Sleep. Healthy You 2022


Five changes one mom made

Because we all live with so many different situations, maybe it’s helpful if we give you an update on Jennifer. Do you remember her? Jennifer is the realistic (but fictitious) person we introduced in our April blog about mental health. At the end of that post, we left Jennifer at a crossroads, coping with a variety of family and financial stresses—and ashamed to share her struggles with others. 


Let’s imagine that, since then, Jennifer did call Careline, Alaska’s judgment-free phone and text line (for suicide prevention or someone to talk to if you’re experiencing a difficult time), and was encouraged. She is feeling better these days, and she and her family have made some real progress.


Forward movement, however, is not always a straight line. Due to increasing prices of, well, just about everything, plus the additional cost burdens of her ailing parents, Jennifer is now having trouble affording healthy food for her family. This is keeping her up worrying at night. What’s more, her husband Michael was just diagnosed with restless leg syndrome in addition to his traumatic brain injury, so nights can be rough. The diagnosis added to the pile of things they were already coping with, but at least they know it’s a common and often-treatable condition, and are hopeful he will get better with treatment.  


So healthy food and good sleep are now added to Jennifer’s list of concerns, but she has made improvements that help those new concerns seem manageable in the bigger picture. Here are five positive changes Jennifer has made in recent months.


Staying Active

Even though she misses some days, Jennifer started a daily yoga practice with a free yoga app to help move her body and ground her thoughts. She is learning to be more forgiving with herself on days she skips this new practice. Even short active breaks improve how you feel physically and mentally, so Jennifer also takes quick walks around the neighborhood.


Cutting back on alcohol

Therapy and a support group helped Jennifer face her expanding alcohol use during the pandemic, so she decided to cut drinking out of her life. That has been saving her money, which, along with these resources, has helped her buy more fresh fruits and vegetables during our summer bounty here in Alaska. She is also starting to feel more energetic and is proud to be modeling healthier choices for her children. 


Choose Less Booze. Healthy You 2022


Improving brain health

Jennifer’s mother-in-law’s early signs of dementia got Jennifer interested in her own lifelong brain health (see our prior blog about brain health throughout life). Jennifer was relieved to find out dementia is not a normal part of aging and is usually not genetic. Reducing alcohol use, eating healthy food, and getting enough sleep are three recommended actions. These healthy habits also reduce Jennifer’s chances for other diseases such as diabetes, cancer and depression. 


Connecting with family

Since it is summer, Jennifer and her husband — who have taken a parenting class since we first met them, which they found by calling Alaska 211 — have been bringing the kids fishing and foraging. The time spent together making delicious meals with their bounty gives their pre-teens a chance to learn new skills. Plus, they are building resiliency against potential future substance-use temptations. Today, their dinners more often feel relaxed and restorative. Michael has even started talking about opening a food-truck business. The State of Alaska offers some great guidance on that.


Take it to the Street. Healthy You 2022


Building resiliency

Both children participate in sports now with help from Healthy Futures’ Game Changer program, which has improved her daughter’s physical and mental health and provided a positive outlet for her son. Jennifer has been encouraging they “fuel” themselves with healthy snacks and meals and has noticed her kids sleep better when they stay active. Between eliminating alcohol, practicing yoga and finding some more affordable food options, she is starting to sleep better, too.


Tips and resources

We know this: When we make one positive change, it can lead to others. Jennifer and her family are moving toward becoming healthier one meal and one night’s sleep at a time. Sure, there are some new

challenges, but there are ways to find new support – ­and one healthy habit can lead to others. Does this help you see some new ways forward for you and your family as well?


Here at the Alaska Department of Health, we recognize the wide range of situations in which Alaskans are struggling. During this season of light in the Last Frontier, we hope to shine a light forward to help you improve your health and well-being with tips, resources and good old-fashioned understanding.


Visit the eating and sleep page on the Healthy You in 2022 website for links to helpful resources. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for tips and resources throughout the quarter as we continue our focus on healthy eating and sleep. And reach out to your friends and loved ones to share meals, memories and mutual support. 


What’s to come 

Stay tuned for our August blog about the ripple effect of healthy food on our overall health. In September, we will be sharing useful information about common sleep disorders — and a dozen (or more) dozing tips for everyone. Our third series of Healthy You in 2022 videos, titled How I Nourish, launches in September as well. These short videos will feature Alaskans sharing their lived experiences with healthy food and sleep. If you haven’t seen the How I Move videos (featuring physical activity) and How I Thrive videos (featuring mental health), you’re in for a treat! 


Get Your Daily Dose. Health You 2022.


Healthy You 2022: Activity, Minds, Bodies, Habits