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INSPIRE TO MOVE - Healthy Skin
NOURISHING YOU - Southern Chicken and Dumplings with Rotisserie Chicken
HEALTHY HARMONY - Diabetes Awareness Month
GOOD DECISIONS - Recycling 101
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Dr. Karriem Watson, a Public Health Researcher and Community Health Scientist, Answers some Common Questions Regarding Lung Cancer

Feedback - SOWellness@uillinois.edu
The System Office Wellness Committee strives to cite relevant information from reputable sources. Employees should always consult with their physician before making any kind of health decision or change.

INSPIRE TO MOVE - Healthy Skin
Milky Way with Nearby Constellations by Matt Dieterich 

By Lydia Schillinger
Who wants healthy, glowing skin all year long? We all want to look our best and we often forget that our skin is our largest body organ, so we need to keep it healthy. Here are two of several things we can do to keep our skin healthy. Drinking plenty of water and exercising are a good start. Drinking enough water flushes out our system to improve the appearance of skin and exercise helps to keep skin nourished by increasing blood flow. 

Exercise gets our heart rate up which improves blood circulation. When we increase our heart rate, we sweat, which can clear out pores and leave us with that after-workout glow. When blood flows throughout our body, it delivers oxygen and nutrients to skin, promoting collagen production, which keeps us looking healthy and vibrant. When working out, we want to remember to take care of our skin.  It is important to keep our skin clean and dry. After working out, wash off or jump in the shower and make sure to dry off properly. Getting that excess sweat off skin will help keep our pores clear and our body feeling fresh and dry. Do not forget the skin in our armpits. To avoid chafing and/or irritation, we should use deodorant that is not too strong for our body.

No matter what time of year it is we want to protect our skin from the sun and wind. Our Walktober newsletter reminds of the importance of safeguarding from the sun in summer. Most of us slather on sunscreen when we are at the beach or planning to spend hours outside, but did you know that fall calls for skin protection too? Even though autumn brings less-direct UV rays, experts recommend protecting ourselves throughout the year. Some reminders:

  • Opt for a sunscreen with both UVA and UVB protection, preferably SPF 30+, and reapply often.
  • Wear protective clothing, including long sleeves, pants, and a hat.
  • Find shade under a tree, umbrella, or structure, especially when you are outside at midday or for long periods.
  • Do not forget your sunglasses, which protect both your eyes and the delicate skin around them.
  • Remember sun damage can happen even on cloudy or overcast days.

Finally, when we choose a sunscreen for our face, select a sunscreen labeled oil-free. This will help to keep pores from getting clogged. Drinking enough water and getting enough exercise will help us keep our skin glowing and leave us feeling refreshed!

 Southern Chicken and Dumplings with Rotisserie Chicken

Recipe by Leana Coffey
Serves 8

This Chicken and Dumplings recipe is comfort food at its finest! It’s also a healthier and easier version of the recipe your mother used to make. Using a rotisserie chicken cuts down on prep time and you could use a bag of frozen veggies if you’d like to save even more time (although I prefer fresh onions and carrots). Don’t let the homemade dumplings intimidate you, they are very easy to make and go together quickly. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of sage and nutmeg so I’ll leave that out next time. Feel free to make this recipe your own. I love leftovers, but don’t always eat every bit of them. Not true for this recipe! This was my lunch for the next two days and was even better than the night I made it for dinner. Delicious! 


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 5 oz. can sweet peas, drained
  • 1 lb. rotisserie chicken, meat only without skin
  • 32 oz. reduced sodium chicken stock
  • 5 oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • ½ tsp. sage
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Dumplings:

  • 1 ½ c. all purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar or sugar substitute (Swerve)
  • ½ Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. light butter (ex. Land of Lakes w/ Canola)
  • ¾ c. fat free Greek yogurt


  1. Prepare the vegetables and remove the breast meat from the rotisserie chicken. Discard the skin.
  2. Add olive oil to a large pot over high heat, add carrots and onions. Cook for 6-8 minutes until softened.
  3. Add garlic, black pepper, sage, and nutmeg. Stir and cook about 1 minute.
  4. Add chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, rotisserie chicken and bay leaves. Bring to a boil before reducing to low-medium heat and adding peas.
  5. While the chicken soup comes to a boil, begin mixing the dumpling dry ingredients together and cutting the butter in with a fork.
  6. Add the Greek yogurt and mix until a dough begins to form. Don’t over mix.
  7. Use your hands to work the remaining dry ingredients into the dough and divide the finished dough into 16 small pieces.
  8. Remove the bay leaves before placing the dumplings on top of the chicken soup. Cover the pot and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  9. The dumplings should be tender and buoyant. Use the toothpick test to make sure they’re cooked thoroughly.

Nutrition Information: (serving size 1 ¼ cup with 2 dumplings) Calories 280 | Fat 8g | Carbs 27g | Protein 23g

Photo Credit: Fitsum Admasu - Link to health information to prevent diabetes 

By Jackie Billhymer
November is National Diabetes Month. Having diabetes means your body does not make enough insulin to regulate the glucose in your blood. The disease affects 34.2 million people (over 10 percent of the United States population) and is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. The most common types of diabetes are Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Type 1 diabetes means your body does not produce insulin, Type 2 diabetes means your body does not respond to insulin as well as it should or it does not make enough and gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Eighty-eight million people also have prediabetes, which means they are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (the most common type) without changes to their diet and an increase in exercise.

If diabetes is not controlled through proper management and prevention, it can cause major health problems, such as blindness, nerve damage, and kidney disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a great resource called “Your Game Plan to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes.” The plan outlines these steps for preventing Type 2 diabetes:

  • Set a weight loss goal – use the charts they provide to lose at least 5-10 percent of your current weight.
  • Follow a healthy eating plan for weight loss – check out their recommendations for reading food labels, eating from each food group, and eating on the run.
  • Get moving – be active for at least 30 minutes, five days a week.
  • Track your progress – weigh yourself at least once a week, track the food you eat and your activity.
  • Talk with your healthcare providers – always check with your doctor before making any changes.
  • Get support for changing your lifestyle – find family, friends, neighbors and coworkers who will support you and research programs and resources that can help.

Don’t forget that the University of Illinois System and the State of Illinois Central Management Services (CMS) offer wellness programs, including a weight-loss benefit that offers a maximum $200 rebate towards the cost of an approved weight-loss program. Check with your health insurance provider as well, as they may have additional programs available to you.

Photo Credit: Jasmin Sessler of Unsplash 

By Christina A. Worthington
America Recycles Day falls on November 15 this year! But recycling isn’t just for a day—it’s a change we can all make to our lifestyles to benefit our communities and the environment. Recycling plastic, paper and other materials can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators but also helps create jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industries.

Take a look at the list below to get an idea of what you should and shouldn’t recycle, but always check with your local recycling facilities to determine what materials are accepted in your area.


YESPlastic bottles and containers. Typically bottles, jars, jugs and tubs can be put into the recycling but the symbol doesn’t necessarily mean it’s recyclable. These symbols are telling of the type of plastic resin the product is made from. Any plastic container that has touched food should be thoroughly cleaned prior to recycling to avoid contamination.

NO Plastic bags, plastic wrap, and Styrofoam. Traditional recycling facilities usually don’t recycle plastic bags and plastic wrap. If you have an abundance of plastic bags to recycle visit https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/ to find a recycling location near you. Sytrofoam, such as to-go food containers and traditional packing peanuts, are not recyclable. When possible, try to find an alternative product to use!


YESNewspaper, magazines, and cardboard. All these materials can be recycled if they are dry and clean of food waste.

NO Coated cups. Disposable cups with plastic or wax coating are not eligible for recycling.


YESFood and beverage cans. Like other materials, be sure the containers are clean of food waste. Empty aerosol cans are also recyclable. Be sure to remove any plastic caps from the can prior to recycling.

NO “Tanglers” and garage waste. Things like wire, chains and other materials that are easily tangled should not be recycled as it can pose a danger to recycling workers. Garage waste such as car parts, scrap metal and propane cylinders are also considered safety hazards in the recycling process.


MAYBE – Glass recycling collection varies in communities across the U.S. Some communities recycle glass with all other recyclables; some collect glass separately at the curb in its own container; and some cities have specific recycling drop-off locations for glass. Please refer to your community’s recycling guidelines for local program information.

EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT - Dr. Karriem Watson, a Public Health Researcher and Community Health Scientist, Answers some Common Questions Regarding Lung Cancer

By Seth Yoder
Dr. Karriem Watson is a public health researcher and community health scientist with the University of Illinois Cancer Center. He also serves as the director of the Office of Community Engaged Research and Implementation Science for the UI Cancer Center and the Mile Square Health Center, a group of Federally Qualified Health Clinics (FQHCs) affiliated with the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System.  

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, so Dr. Watson answered some common questions about the disease.

Q: Who is most at risk for lung cancer?

A: Based upon the leading causes of lung cancer, anyone who smokes or is exposed to second-hand smoke, radon gas, asbestos, and other carcinogens are at greatest risk to develop lung cancer. Current research has identified African American men to be one of the most at risk groups impacted by lung cancer. This largely has to do with limited access to screenings and education around preventative care. In addition to these factors, healthcare providers’ limited knowledge on how to obtain the most useful patient information during screenings contributes to the poor health outcomes for this group. 

Q: What are the leading causes of lung cancer?

A: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer; however, environmental exposure at work or at home can significantly contribute to the development of the disease. In particular, settings where exposure to radon gas, asbestos, and carcinogens such as coal products, chromium, and nickel, all put individuals at higher risk to develop lung cancer. Other causes include arsenic in drinking water, poor air quality, and family history. Recent research in the field of epigenetics has also revealed that external environmental factors, like the degree one is exposed to stressful situations, domestic violence, and social inequities, can lead to alterations in DNA sequences which contribute to lung cancer and other types of health ailments.   

Q: What are the early signs of lung cancer?

A: Signs and symptoms of lung cancer often do not present themselves in the early stages of the disease. By the time symptoms of lung cancer typically occur the disease is already in an advanced stage. Contributing to the difficulty of identifying lung cancer is the fact that most of the signs and symptoms are not distinguishable from similar ailments. Some signs and symptoms could include shortness of breath, chest pain, a persistent cough, and sudden loss of weight. For the aforementioned reasons it is critical to follow lung cancer screening guidelines, particularly for people with a higher risk of getting lung cancer.

Q: What are some ways to prevent lung cancer?

A: The number one method to prevent lung cancer is to quit smoking. It is also important to seek a better of understanding of why people smoke in the first place. Developing an understanding of the factors that influence people to smoke can increase awareness of mental health issues related to smoking and, in turn, potentially remove some of the stigma associated with smoking. The American Cancer Society (ACS) also recommends yearly lung cancer screenings for people who are 55-74 years old, are in fairly good health, and fall into one of the following categories:

  • Current smoker or smoker who quit in the past 15 years
  • Have a 30 pack-year smoking history – for example, someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years [2 x 15 = 30]

Q: What is UI Health currently doing to help advance the fight against lung cancer?

A: The UI Cancer Center and the Mile Square Health Center are actively partnering with the local community through programs like MY QUIT™, a smoking cessation program for teens. UI Health is also a strong partner with the Illinois Tobacco Quitline and various other tobacco cessation programs. In addition to the partnerships with these community outreach programs; UI Health is also working with local healthcare providers to find out when patients have gone through smoking cessation programs to provide those individuals with additional resources and assistance.

Quitting smoking is hard. If you are a smoker and want assistance with quitting, the State of Illinois Central Management Services (CMS) offers a smoking cessation program. You should also check with your health insurance provider to see if they offer similar programs. The Great American Smokeout® on November 19 offers a starting point for taking one day at a time towards your journey to living smoke-free.  

Additional information:

American Cancer Society - Great American Smokeout®

Illinois Department of Central Management Services - Smoking Cessation Program

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