Archive for the ‘Healthy People’ Category

My Christmas Tree

Did the holiday season arrive sooner than you expected? For many people this week will be a very busy time. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or another holiday this winter, take time to establish healthy holiday traditions.

Want some ideas to help you get started?

Think Fresh! Make fresh fruits and vegetables available for snacking. If they are readily available, your family may choose vegetables and fruits over calorie-rich snacks. Have the veggies ready to go to encourage healthy snacking. Take a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana for those last-minute shopping trips. If you have a healthy snack, you may avoid the temptation to eat a high calorie fast food or rich dessert.

Move more! If you are shopping don’t worry about finding the parking space that is closest to your store, park further away and get extra steps in.

Have fun! If it is snowy, get outside and play in the snow. Play active indoor games or dance to holiday music. Take a family walk after dinner. Get up and move – make it a family tradition to take a New Year’s Day walk or Christmas Eve walk around the neighborhood to see the lights.

Give back! Encourage your family members to donate food for the food pantry, help serve at a community meal site, or volunteer to serve meals at a shelter. Adopt a family, purchase mittens and hats for the local mitten and hat tree, or ask guests to bring a food donation instead of a hostess gift at your holiday party. Food pantries often experience a shortage with an increased need over the holidays. Include your family in the giving traditions so they can experience the joy of giving to others.

Thank others! Write an annual letter to your child or your parents. If you are a parent, take the time at the end of the year to reflect on the past year including the milestones and small activities that your family enjoyed over the past year. If you have elderly parents or grandparents, take time to ask for that favorite recipe or holiday tradition. Your family member will be happy to share their ideas and you will be able to capture important information about what makes your family special. Take time to write a short “thank you” to your parent, grandparent or significant person for something they did that touched your heart or enriched your life.

Let’s Cook! Cook or bake with your family or friends. Show children how to cook or bake those special foods your family enjoys. Talk about these foods or special baked goods as you prepare them and encourage everyone to taste them.

Explore cultures! Share customs from your own heritage or enrich their lives by exposing your children to other cultures. Share information about holidays, customs and foods that others may enjoy during this time including Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanza.

What ideas can you share for establishing healthy holiday traditions?

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

Reviewer: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu



Hardy, Bethany, 5 Meaningful Holiday Traditions for Kids available from http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/5-meaningful-holiday-traditions-kids/

Enjoy Foods from Many cultures available from http://choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet31EnjoyFoodsFromManyCultures.pdf

Make Healthier Holiday Choices available from http://choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet32MakeHealthierHolidayChoices.pdf


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The holidays are a wonderful time of year, especially for those of us who enjoy food! Traditional holiday food is tasty but often high in calories, sugar, fats and sodium. This can present a challenge to those who have diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or other chronic conditions that need to be managed with healthy meal plans.


Many people equate healthy food with poor taste: dry texture, aftertaste, and overall bland flavors. Traditional foods can be prepared healthfully without sacrificing taste. OSU Extension offers some healthy cooking guidelines (not rules!) that one can use to modify traditional recipes:


  • Fats can be reduced in baked products by ¼ to 1/3. For example, if a cookie, quick bread or muffin recipe calls for 1 cup oil, use 2/3 cup instead (this method should not be used for yeast breads and pie crusts). Fats and oils add flavor and moisture so decreasing any more than 1/3 could result in poor products.
  • Use vegetable oil instead of solid fats such as lard, shortening, and butter. Solids fats, also know as saturated fats, can be detrimental to your cholesterol levels. When substituting vegetable oils for solid fats in recipes, use ¼ less than what is called for in the recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of butter, use 3 tablespoons of oil instead.
  • Use plain lowfat or nonfat yogurt instead of sour cream. If replacing 1 cup of sour cream with 1 cup of yogurt, you can save up to 44 grams of fat!
  • Use skim or 1% milk instead of whole or half and half in recipes. By replacing 1 cup of half and half with 1 cup of skim you save 25 grams of fat.
  • Replacing ¼ to 1/3 of sugar in baked goods with artificial sweeteners or flour can help lower carbohydrates (do not use this method for yeast breads). Adding spices such as cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla will also enhance sweetness.
  • Add fiber such as whole grains instead of highly refined products. Fiber aids digestion, slows absorption of carbohydrates, and can lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Use whole wheat flour, oatmeal and whole corn meal. Whole wheat flour can be substituted up to ½ of all purpose flour.


Please be aware that diabetic individuals can eat any type of food as long as it fits into their diabetes management plans (balancing carbohydrates, medication, and exercise). Therefore, when preparing holiday meals and snacks for diabetic individuals it is especially important have information on serving sizes and associated grams of carbohydrate or calories. Keep in mind as well that many products labeled as “sugar-free” still have carbohydrates and can raise blood sugars!


Source: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/5000/pdf/5543.pdf

Author: Dan Remley, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, remley.4@osu.edu

Reviewer: Joanna Rini, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Medina County


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It goes without saying; the holiday season can be stressful.  During the holidays it’s even more important to take care of yourself every day!  Use these practical tips to minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays.

  •  Be physically active. How do you get daily exercise?  Remember you need a total of 30 minutes a day (walking, housework, and exercise machines – all count).  Get moving!
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all.  Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.  Practice strategies to get adequate sleep and eat healthy; maintain a healthy life style.
  • Nurture yourself, take a breather.  Make some time for yourself.  Spending just 15 minutes alone without distractions may refresh you enough to handle the challenges of the day. Try a massage, a hot bath, mini-relaxations, or a quick walk to ease tension.  Be sure you’re eating right, sleeping well and laughing often.
  • Share your feelings and thoughts.  Take a break from holiday shopping and preparation to call a friend or meet them over a cup of tea.  Letting out your feelings to a supportive friend can be an invaluable and important way to relieve holiday stress or any kind of stress and anxiety.tinsle tangle
  • Laugh!  Try to find humor in everyday situations.  Laughter is a great stress reliever! Don’t let anyone dull your “sparkle”!

The key to less stressful holidays may lie in the way you perceive them.  Adjusting your attitude and your expectations can help turn an otherwise stressful holiday into an enjoyable and relaxing one.


Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress, by Charlotte Libov – WebMD retrieved 11/17/14 from http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/features/tips-for-reducing-holiday-stress

Relax During the Holidays, by Dr. Mercola, December 2013.  Retrieved 11/17/14 from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/23/holiday-stress-relief.aspx

Writer:  Cynthia R. Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, shuster.24@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Kristen Corry, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Noble and Monroe Counties, corry.10@osu.edu

Image search for tinsle / Compfight / A Flickr Search Tool// // //

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familyDoes the rush of the holiday season leave you feeling as if you might be missing something? With so many things to do and places to go, it is important not to overlook elderly family members. For many, the holidays are filled with celebrations and festivities with family and friends, but it can be a difficult time for those who have difficulty getting around, or are confined to their homes. Many seniors report feelings of loneliness and isolation, and these feelings can be exaggerated during the holidays. Seniors might choose to forego family celebrations and festivities for fear of falling or being a burden.

Unfortunately a day out with an elderly person cannot be spontaneous. However, with a little pre-planning and modifications, holiday traditions and activities can be made easier and safer for senior family members.  Contemplate ways to include older relatives who may have difficulty getting around.

First, consider the activity. Is it suitable for elderly family members?  When planning, some factors to think through are:

  • How far can the elderly person travel?
  • Are the costs affordable to the senior?
  • How much walking is involved?  Are there hills or other obstacles that would make it hard to navigate?
  • Is there wheelchair access?
  • Is there parking nearby?
  • Are restrooms easily accessible?
  • Are there benches or chairs that can be used?

It is also important to think about what you need to take with you on any outing. You will want to be prepared for anything. For example:

  • Make sure you have all the medications needed. Take an extended supply, just in case you are still out when the next dose is due.
  • Have clothing appropriate for the weather and the outing. Comfortable shoes and warm weather clothes are important. Bring along extra clothes in the case of an accident.
  • Bring some snacks and plenty of water.

Once you get to the activity, the next step is to be alert to any hazards or problems that might occur. Holidays are a joyful time of year meant for get-togethers, memories, and a touch of nostalgia. However, the holiday season can be one of the most dangerous times for seniors. For example:

  • You may be perfectly capable of navigating the string of Christmas lights sprawled across the living room floor, but an elderly person may trip over them and experience a severe fall.
  • Be aware of how decorations may affect your loved ones ability to move freely throughout the home without increasing the risk of falls. Just because you can easily navigate the extra decorations, doesn’t mean that your loved one will.
  • Look for extension cords or floor rugs that can lead to a fall.
  • Consider the effect that too much clutter can have on a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Too many lights, music and decorations can prove to be too overwhelming.
  • Make sure that walkways are clear of ice and snow.

The holidays give seniors something to look forward to, provide a stimulating change of scene, and create pleasant memories to carry with them. So, even though it may take a little extra planning and work, involving your senior family members in holiday celebrations can improve the meaning of the holiday season.





Writer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

Reviewer:  Cheryl Barber Spires, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, West Region

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This holiday, why not give a gift that encourages health, rather than the quick and easy gift, or one that actually discourages wellness? While the possibilities are endless, we have developed a list that has something for everyone.

Wellness Gift Ideas:

  • giftCookbooks – Think about the new trends such as root vegetables, gluten free, or farm to table.
  • Teas – whether green, black or white. There is research to support the health benefits of teas.
  • Gift cards to farmers market , local fruit farm, or nursery (this may be for future plants or garden supplies)
  • Insulated lunch or grocery bag
  • Insulated water bottle (with fresh fruit infuser)
  • Adult lunch containers (include dressing slots, small compartments for sides, etc.)
  • Pretty apron and new holiday inspired dishtowels
  • Bath and shower gels, candles, or lotions
  • Fresh fruit or nuts
  • Gift card to a cooking store
  • Gift card for a massage or mani/pedi
  • Salad spinner
  • Yoga mat, workout DVD, or a certificate to an additional service at their favorite fitness center
  • Workout clothes, shoes, or bag
  • Canning supplies, such as new jars or equipment
  • Food processor, immersion blender, or slow cooker
  • Cordless activity and sleep tracker
  • Dance video games – There are choices for every age and music preference (country, kids, Broadway, current music, summer hits, and much more).
  • Humor books – cartoons, funnies
  • Books on positivity – such as, Jon Gordon’s “Energy Bus” or books on Mindfulness
  • Gift basket with a new cookbook, the ingredients for one recipe, and a cooking tool that might be needed
  • For many people music is a great stress reliever – Purchase CDs, music download cards, or even tickets to a local musical

Who are you going to give a wellness gift to this year?

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Kathryn Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

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Family Eating BreakfastJoin us on December 3rd for “Dine-in Day for Healthy Families.” The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences are encouraging people to eat at home for a least one meal on December 3rd. Why eat meals together?

Many benefits especially for youth and children have been documented by having three or more family dinners a week. These include:
• Teens are half as likely to smoke, do drugs or get drunk.
• Avoidance of depression, higher grade point averages and increased self-esteem
• Lessen the risk of teen pregnancy
• Positive impact on literacy and language development
• Increased family connections and memories
• Opportunities for parents to monitor child’s or teen’s friends, activities, and attitudes
• Develop better dietary choices and food preferences
• More family meals correlates with lower BMI in youth
• Less eating disorders

If we examine all the benefits of family meals, it can make you feel guilty for not eating together. How can you make family meals happen?
1. Decide on a meal that will work for everyone. It does not have to be dinner. If you can’t do dinner together try to a breakfast, lunch, or a snack time. If you can’t have everyone have as many family members as possible.
2. Try to schedule eating together three or four times a week or if possible once a day.
3. Decide on a menu. It does not have to be an elaborate meal; make it simple. Just be sure you have the ingredients you need.
4. Involve everyone in the cooking or preparation of the meal. Children can cut up vegetables, set the table and other tasks. Cooking skills will benefit youth and children in the future. Have teens prepare the meal with guidance from you.
5. When possible make enough for two meals, cutting down on future meal preparation. You can freeze the other half if you want. Most stews, casseroles, chilis, and beans can be doubled and then frozen.
6. Stock your pantry with ingredients to cook a fast, tasty meal. Examples include whole grain pasta, pasta sauce, canned beans, frozen vegetables, oatmeal, potatoes, spices, dried herbs, onions, garlic, brown rice, and oils and vinegars.

Let’s all “Eat In” on December 3rd and make it a weekly occurrence.

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Liz Smith, Program Specialist, Supplemental Nutrition and Assistant Program – Education, Ohio State University Extension


American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, (2014.) Dine In With Us, Available at http://www.aafcs.org/FCSday/

CASA Columbia Foundation. (2011). “The Importance of Family Dinners VII,” Available at http://www.casacolumbia.org/addiction-research/reports/importance-of-family-dinners-2011

Food and Health Communications, Inc. (2014). “It’s Possible: Easier Family Meals” Available at http://www.foodandhealth.com

Science Daily, (2014). ‘”Family Meal’ Ideal is Stressful, Impossible for Many Families” North Carolina State University Available at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140903105642.htm

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microbes2Many of us learned about cells in high school biology class. We learned that bodies are made up of different kinds of cells—skin, muscle, blood, etc. But most of us did not learn about the trillions of non-human, microbial cells.

Those cells, or “microbiome,” are important for maintaining human health; if things go wrong with our microbes it can contribute to our risk for disease. But what is the microbial make-up of a healthy human being? What types of microbes are present, and what are they doing?

Microbe communities can be very different from one person to another. There is even a difference from one location to another on the same individual. Our microbial genomes record what we have eaten, where we have lived, and who we have been in contact with. We literally have microbial “ecosystems” in and on different parts of our bodies that differ drastically from one to another and supply a wide range of functions.

The scientific study of microbiology grew out of society’s desire to control pathogens and infectious diseases. Doctors always thought microbes were bad things to be gotten rid of, such as measles or strep throat. But most microbes do NOT make us sick. We are starting to recognize that microbes also keep us healthy, unless they become unbalanced. “Unbalance” can occur because of antibiotic usage, an unhealthy diet, or other variable. The end result may be an increased risk for chronic disease or health conditions such as:

• Acne
• Asthma
• Autism
• Cancer
• Autoimmune disease
• Diabetes
• Inflammatory bowel diseases
• Obesity

The study of microbiome is still in its infancy, but major strides have been made since the inception of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) in 2005. “Knowing which microbes live in various ecological niches in healthy people allows us to better investigate what goes awry in diseases that are thought to have a microbial link,” such as Crohn’s disease, ulcers and obesity, said George Weinstock of Washington University in St. Louis, one of the project’s principal investigators.

For example, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found fewer types of vaginal microbes in pregnant women (as opposed to non-pregnant women). The take-away? A pregnant, female body naturally reduces the diversity of her microbial species in the weeks leading up to birth so that the newborn — who developed in a sterile womb — can be exposed to the proper intestinal and vaginal bacteria when it goes through the birth canal. Exposure to mother’s bacteria is the signal to the infant’s immune system to start. A baby born by C-section does not get the same exposure to mom’s microbiome, and because of this difference, may be more likely to develop allergies and asthma.

Over the next year, we will examine the influence of “gut bugs” on nutrition, health, and behavior. Hopefully you will learn a lot more about your personal microbes and how food choice affects microbial levels and your risk for chronic disease.

Written by: Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Bridgette Kidd, Healthy People Program Specialist, Ohio State University Extension, kidd.149@osu.edu




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