Healthy Lodi Initiative brings balance after holiday binge

Lodi District Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Pat Patrick holds a poster about sugar intake created for the Healthy Lodi Initiative on Nov. 5, 2019. (Bea Ahbeck/News-Sentinel)

With the new year around the corner, Lodians might be regretting eating an extra slice of Grandma’s homemade pie or drinking some creamy eggnog.

According to the Healthy Lodi Initiative, one out of two people in San Joaquin County will be diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes in 2020.

The Healthy Lodi Initiative has set out to raise awareness of such startling statistics and encourage healthy lifestyles in families and local businesses.

Pat Patrick, president and CEO of the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce, is one of six community leaders behind the Healthy Lodi Initiative.

The No. 1 ingredient in a poor diet is excessive sugar, he says. In addition, two-thirds of that added sugar comes from sweetened drinks, which are a top contributor to obesity and diabetes.

A reasonable amount of sugar would be about a teaspoon in a glass of iced tea, Patrick says. However, beverages like soda have much more added sugar, he says. To give an example, Patrick refers to a poster of a can of cola, with 10 packages of sugar taped to it. That represents the roughly 9 teaspoons of excessive sugar in every soda.

Patrick knows first-hand just how hard it can be to stop unhealthy habits — especially during the holidays — but suggests that sugar-lovers start purposefully decreasing their consumption.

Starbucks fans can taper down from a Venti to a Grande or even a Tall, Patrick says.

“Instead of the Caramel Macchiato with whipped cream, you know, make it a two pump to start off with instead of three, and take the whipped cream off,” he says.

Everybody’s got to find a way that works for them, he says.

The holidays may seem like an impossible time to curb the sugar rush, and that’s OK, Patrick says.

“But when the New Year rolls around it’s on everybody’s lips: ‘I got to lose 10 pounds, or I got to lose this, or I got to lose that,’” he explains. “Well, you ought to have a plan and know the reasons why and set goals.”

Patrick also emphasized the importance of being realistic.

“Don’t just join a gym and try to bench press 100 pounds right off the bat,” he says. “You don’t have to spend money and join a gym — you just need to get off the couch and move.”

As part of the initiative, Lodi businesses are partnering with their employees to create a healthier work environment. Statistics show that every dollar invested by an employer in a wellness program will save them $5 in workman’s compensation or other health insurance type claims. Whether it is offering morning stretch routines for employees or healthier snack and meal alternatives in the break room, Lodi businesses are taking their employees’ health seriously.

For resources on how to enjoy healthier holidays and make other lifestyle changes, visit www.healthylodi.com.

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