Monthly sessions help you be well

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Kris Juelfs

The Monroe County University of Illinois Extension Office is hosting a series of sessions aimed at helping educate residents about food and health.

Wellness Wednesdays are the extension’s latest offering for local food and nutrition education.

Led by U of I Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator Kris Juelfs, the sessions will cover a variety of topics focusing on cooking tips, eating habits and general nutritional wellness.

Juelfs said she has 20 years as a registered dietitian, earning a Master of Science degree with an emphasis in community nutrition from Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

She has since worked in a number of areas in her field – including food sanitation and clinical dietetics – while working in hospitals, long-term care facilities and other settings as a consultant.

Juelfs, a native of Waterloo, has overseen a number of cooking classes and other sessions in the community already.

One ongoing project of hers is a partnership with Human Support Services which sees some of their clients attending a six-week program focusing on basic cooking skills, food safety and how to follow recipes.

Juelfs has also recently started an after-school Kids Cooking Club, which she says is a spin-off from the annual Youth Cooking School program which similarly emphasizes a basic familiarity with the kitchen for young students.

Juelfs spoke quite positively about her experience teaching cooking classes in the community, expressing her eagerness to expand those classes with the Wellness Wednesdays sessions.

“I’m so excited to start helping out here in the community, especially that I grew up in, to be a resource for adults and kids and really have an impact on improving their overall health as well as just giving them life skills to continue to grow,” Juelfs said.

The latest Wellness Wednesdays session was hosted Oct. 19 and centered on the effect that diet can have on arthritis.

Following the event, Juelfs said conversation focused on osteoarthritis and chronic inflammation as well as how people can use proper dieting to help manage symptoms.

“People are unaware that the main issue with arthritis is inflammation and how what you eat, what you put into your body can really cause more inflammation, whether it’s processed foods, sugar,” Juelfs said. “Those types of things that aren’t quite the best for us can actually cause inflammation to increase in our body.”

Future sessions are planned for Nov. 9 and Dec. 14, titled “Air Fryer 101” and “Healthy Holiday Eating,” respectively.

Juelfs expressed her hope to help those in the community make healthy choices in their lives, both in the ongoing cooking classes and the various Wellness Wednesdays sessions.

“I would like to be a resource to answer questions for individuals, to make it well known that the University of Illinois has all kinds of resources, whether it has to do with cooking, canning, disease prevention,” Juelfs said.

Those interested in signing up for the Nov. 9 session can call the extension at 618-939-3434. Additional resources can also be found at extension.illinois.edu/mms.

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