Posts Tagged ‘food choices’


Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, and sometimes the temptations of processed, unhealthy foods draw us in.  With this temptation we tend to spend a little bit more money than we had planned, so what can you do to keep your health and finance on track when it comes to going grocery shopping? There are many simple tips that can be done to secure your health and your wallet.

  1.  THE List:Grocery shopping is something we all have to do, and sometimes the temptations of processed, unhealthy foods draw us in.  With this temptation we tend to spend a little bit more money than we had planned, so what can you do to keep your health and finance on track when it comes to going grocery shopping? There are many simple tips that can be done to secure your health and your wallet.
  2. Explore coupons: Coupons are a great way to save money while grocery shopping and can be a great activity to do with your family! You will have no problems finding some great deals. Looking for coupons is easy since they are located in a variety of places: in your newspaper, different magazines, at the grocery store, and even your smart phone. Many  grocery stores have mobile apps where you can get coupons with a touch of a button. All you do is bring in your phone with the coupon pulled up and have the cashier scan the bar code on your phone.
  3. Shop the perimeter: Most processed foods are located in the middle of the grocery store such as sugar flavored drinks, cookies, cereals and chips.Shopping the perimeter where the fresh produce, dairy products, meats and most bread are located is a great way to purchase more healthful foods for you and your family.
  4. Eat before: How did those doughnuts get in your cart? Have you ever been a victim of shopping while you were hungry and buying foods that you never went to the store for in the first place? Eating something before you go grocery shopping can satisfy this syndrome of picking up foods that sound and smell good to you at that time.
  5. Be mindful when buying in bulk: Ever buy a huge bag of popcorn because it was on sale and noticed you’ve eaten the whole bag by yourself? I have! Be mindful and strategic when you buy in bulk. You want to ask yourself if you are buying this huge stock of food because it is on sale or if it is something you need. If it is both on sale and something you need, make sure you have a way you can preserve some of the product. For example, if you buy meat in bulk, know that you can freeze half of it and eat what you know you will need instead of trying to eat it all in one week. This can lead to unnecessary overeating and even send you to the store buying more.


These five general shopping tips can help you stay on task and purchase more nutrient-rich foods for you and your family! It’s important to stay focused and make sure you’re buying your needs and not your wants.


Written by :  Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County, and Courtney N  Klebe, Dietetic Intern , Bowling Green State University

Reviewed by: Dan Remley, MSPH, Ph.D, Field Specialist, Food Nutrition and Wellness



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Did you know that 12 ounces of sweetened tea has 135 calories in it? Or that 12 ounces of regular soda has 136 calories? There is an alternative to these sugary drinks that can not only help you cut the calories but increase your overall well-being. The Ohio State University Extension has developed a campaign, “Water First for Thirst”, to get people to put down the pop can and enjoy drinking water. This initiative helps to inform people of the benefits of drinking more water.
Drinking water can be a chore all by itself but that doesn’t mean that it is any less important. Your body needs water to complete everyday tasks:

• Regulating body temperature
• Get rid of waste through urination and bowel movements
• Lubricate joints

Infused Water

Infused Water

If you’re like me, drinking water seems boring and bland. I’ve found some ways to spice things up a bit and help me meet the recommended goal of drinking 64 ounces of water per day. Here are some creative tips that I’ve found:

1. Invest in a stylish water bottle that you can keep with you. Whether you’re at work, in the gym or outside in the garden it’s key that you keep a bottle with you so you can refill it whenever you want.

2. When you can, drink through a straw. People tend to drink more when using a straw.

3. Infuse your water with some of your favorite flavors. Adding lemon, berries or citrus with a dash of mint leaves will change things up. If you’re on the go try some of the pocket enhancers that you can purchase from the store. Even with the flavor, you’re still able to cut the calories.

4. Yes, there’s even an app for that. You can download ‘Waterlogged’ and ‘Daily Water’ for free on your device. It will help you track your intake and reach your goals

5. Eating foods that have more of a water base allows you to consume more water without even knowing it. Foods like cucumbers, watermelon, tomatoes and celery are all made up of more than 90% water. These are naturally low in calories as well!

After hearing tips like these I encourage you to rethink your drink and raise a glass of water!



Photo Credit: KaryeeSays Blog

Writer: Mallorie Wippel, Summer Intern, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, wippel.139@osu.edu

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

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Frequently, college students may not select or purchase the most healthful options while at school. With the major shift in environment and academics, students can put the focus of nutritious eating on the back burner. As a result, several college students tend to gain weight.

Many factors can explain why students may not eat healthfully, including a lack of nutrition and diet education, social pressure, taste, and a lack of exposure prior to coming to college. Students may go for the most appealing, accessible, and easy options which can frequently include energy-dense, nutrient-poor, high-sodium, and high-fat products.

Let’s set the scenario: you are an incoming freshman with an unlimited meal plan. Back home you may have been used to eating home-cooked meals or what your parents provided you, but perhaps for the first time in your life you make all of the selections of what you eat every day. As many dining hall operate, you can basically treat each meal as an all-you-can-eat buffet. The choices are endless and calories never cross your mind. Breakfast could be a healthy choice such as fresh fruit and low-fat yogurt with almonds or it could be bacon, sausage, pancakes, eggs, hash browns, and toast. Which would you choose?

If you were any of the new college students around the country (that are not exactly focused on health), you may have chosen the latter. It’s often hard to keep nutrition and portion sizes in mind when there is such a selection in front of you. What students may not realize at the moment is that making these food choices into their usual dietary behaviors can become an unhealthy habit over time. These poor dietary habits can persist through adulthood, affecting their and their family’s health. Not only do poor dietary choices tend to carry over into adulthood when established at a young age, but they can also affect academic performance in college students. Many studies have found this to be true, noting the extreme importance of a healthy balanced diet while in school.
Social marketing and nutrition advertising in the dining halls have become emerging strategies in influencing students’ dietary choices. These tools can be used to increase awareness and motivate students to select healthier food choices. But, beyond these techniques what can we as parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches and other adult role models do to encourage these young adults to prevent poor eating habits and weight gain. We all know how difficult it can be to lose the weight once it is gained, so prevention is key.

Talking with your young adult and encouraging some good habits early may lead to healthier choices. Some of these include:

• Encouraging calorie free beverages. Many teens and young adults do not realize the number of calories they are consuming simply from their drinks. Encourage water, unsweetened tea, sugar-free sodas, low-fat dairy, or other calorie-free beverages. This simple change can make a huge difference.

• Talk about ways to increase fruits and vegetables in one’s diet. Snacks can be great ways to incorporate more of these daily. Teens and young adults often tend to love dips. Encourage low fat or low calorie dips with fruits and vegetables as a healthy way to snack. www.choosemyplate.org is a fantastic site that offers a plethora of tips on healthy eating as well as a SuperTracker that can help students plan, analyze, and track their diet and physical activity with personalized goal setting, virtual coaching, and journaling!

• Be physically active. This can be easier for young teens and adults on a college campus due to the amount of walking between buildings. Often times the college has a great facility for physical activities to be tried and sustained. Encourage the use of these facilities and ask your teen or young adult about this.

• Finally, talk to your teen or young student about portion sizes. College can be a great social experience and time to try new and different foods. Talk to them enjoying new tastes, but doing so in moderation.

We can all do our part in encouraging healthy behaviors and preventing weight gain. Helping our young adults do that can make a difference in the present and future.

Authors: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic intern/student, Bowling Green State University

Liz Smith, M.S., RDN, L.D. NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, smith.3993@osu.edu

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


Peterson S, Duncan DP, Null DB, Roth SL, Gill L. Positive changes in perceptions and selections of healthful foods by college students after a short-term point-of-selection intervention at a dining hall. Journal of American College Health. 2010;58:425-431.

Wald A, Muennig PA, O’Connell KA, Garber CE. Associations between healthy lifestyle behaviors and academic performance in U.S. undergraduates: A secondary analysis of the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment II. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2014;28:298-305.


Photo credit: kidshealth.org/teen/school_jobs/college/freshman_15.html


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Does your family go through boxes and boxes of store-bought snacks faster than you can replenish them? Do you feel like you’re spending a majority of your grocery budget on sugar-filled, processed snacks that don’t seem to last more than a few days at your house? There is an answer to this madness. Make your own snacks!

You might be thinking, “I don’t have time for that!” and while that may be true, you’d be surprised how much time you’d actually be saving. Yes, making your own snacks involves some planning and prepping. However, this planning and prepping stage might not involve the lengthy process of taking a trip to the grocery store. You can make various snacks for you, your kids, and whoever else may be at your house from foods you likely already have on hand. For example, you could try the Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars shown below. In addition, recipes like these make large enough batches to provide snacks lasting up to two weeks if stored properly. Many store bought boxes of granola bars provide only 5 servings, so why not whip up homemade bars that yield about 24 servings per batch.

Find a recipe for snacks that fits your own personal schedule. On a time crunch this week? Throw together a big batch of trail mix using those nuts you bought in bulk that have been taking up space in your cupboard. Add in cereal, raisins, seeds, or chocolate chips and seal in an air-tight container. Scoop into sandwich-sized bags for an easy, balanced, and healthful snack for any time or place.

Buying ingredients in bulk at your favorite grocery store can help make an abundance of different snacks that add variety to your daily routine. Stock up on versatile foods like oats and nuts and you’d be surprised at your options for snacks and meals as well as how much more full your wallet feels. The recipe below, found on the What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl website provides a snack that costs $0.30 per serving. No, that’s not a typo; $0.30 per serving. These homemade granola bars yield 24 servings making the total cost of the recipe about $7.15 according to USDA. You could get about 2 boxes, or 10 servings, of your average granola bars for that price.

Health bonus: Snacks like these provide more than just dollars in your pocket and variety to your pantry. The nutrition in homemade snacks like these is worth more than all of the previous reasons combined. The carbohydrate and protein provided in healthful, homemade snacks will offer the energy you need along with satisfaction until your next meal. On the plus side, you know exactly what ingredients are going into your snacks without paying for processed sugars and ingredients you can’t pronounce.




Homemade Peanut Butter Granola Bars

From “What’s Cooking? USDA Mixing Bowl

Makes: 24 servings

Total Cost: $7.15

Serving Cost: $0.30


  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 3 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup carrot (grated)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Peel and grate the carrots.
  3. Put the honey and peanut butter in a large saucepan. Cook on low heat until melted. Remove pan from the heat.
  4. Add oatmeal, raisins, carrots, and coconut to the saucepan. Stir well, and let it cool until you can safely touch it with your hands.
  5. Press the mix firmly into the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. Cool and cut into 24 bars.

Authors: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Wood County, and Allision Doriot , Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension.

Reviewer: Cheryl Barber Spires, RD, LD, SNAP-Ed Program Specialist, West Region, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu

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After 21 years, I no longer resolve to be a morning exerciser. I have tried and failed numerous times. If others can do it, why can’t I? Simply because I AM NOT, nor ever will be a morning person.  Keeping New Year’s Resolutions realistic can be difficult for many people. We set goals to lose weight, start exercising, train for a marathon, stop smoking, have a cleaner house, pay off debt, spend more time with friends and family, sleep more, eat healthier….the list could go on and on, yet we achieve very few. New Year’s Day is a time to reflect back on our behaviors in the previous year and to take a look at small changes we would like to make. Promising yourself to overhaul your life will just result in frustration, disappointment and hopelessness by the end of January or February during the cold, grey winter months.

How can you prevent “failure” and achieve your goals? Consider these tips:

  • Start small. Aim for progress, not perfection. If you want to increase your exercise, start out with 3 times per week, not every day. Don’t punish yourself by taking goals to the extreme, this is not about deprivation. Saying you will never eat a cookie again is just not realistic!
  • Change one behavior at a time. This is not the time to seek out a total life transformation or overhaul. Choose one behavior to work on. Want to spend more quality time with your family? Agree to spend an hour 3 times a week in a tech-free zone.
  • Talk about it. Open up and share what your goal is. You might find others who want to achieve the same goal. Having others to share your struggles and success with makes achieving that goal easier.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Minor missteps are part of the journey. The most important aspect is to get back on track. We all make mistakes!
  • Have specific, measurable, attainable goals. Set a deadline for yourself. Track your progress so you have a visual indicator of your achievements. review your goals periodically and adjust if necessary.


It’s ok if you choose not to have any resolutions surrounding January 1. It’s important to always be working on small goals at all times of the year, which will alleviate some of the stress and pressure.  Incorporating small changes in everyday life is much more manageable. Here’s to 2015-Happy New Year!


Writer: Melissa Welker, M.Ed., B.S., Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA , welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewer: Donna Green, MA, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:               www.apa.org


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buffetAs we enter the holiday season, we are often participating in pot-luck celebrations at work and dinners with family and friends. What are some steps we can take to help avoid food borne illnesses at these happy occasions?

If you are the one preparing the food, remember the four basic food safety rules: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill. By following these four simple rules, you can help prevent the spread of harmful bacteria which could make your family ill and make your holidays less than jolly!

  • Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that countertops, cutting boards and utensils are clean by washing with hot soapy water. Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.
  • Separate. Help prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for these raw foods and another for salads and ready to eat food.
  • Cook. Use a food thermometer to tell if a food is cooked to a safe temperature – just going by color is not sufficient. Always bring sauces, soups, etc to a rolling boil when reheating. If using a microwave oven, cover, stir and rotate the food to ensure even cooking.
  • Chill.  Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°F., use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter. After the meal, chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling.

If you are participating in a pot-luck lunch at work or school, there are some things to keep in mind for food safety. The most important rule to follow is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Avoid the “danger zone”! It is often a good idea to appoint one person to make sure that foods are being kept at a safe temperature.

  • Foods that are to be served hot should be kept above 140°F.
  • Cold foods should be kept below 40°F.
  • Make sure that the surfaces where food will be served are clean.
  • Do not allow food to sit out for over 2 hours.
  • Any food that has not been kept at a safe temperature should be discarded after 2 hours.

So enjoy the holidays and the events that accompany them while keeping yourself, your family, friends and co-workers safe from food borne illness.


Safe Food Handling Factsheets http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling

Be Food Safe   www.befoodsafe.org 

EXTENSION CONNECTION: Keeping Food Safe (pot luck party tips) http://www.crestviewbulletin.com/news/community/extension-connection-keeping-food-safe-potluck-party-tips-1.56092?page=2 

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County

Reviewer: Linette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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Need more energy? Have this energy drink. If you are playing a sport, you need a sports drink. Really, do we need sport or energy drinks, vitamin waters, or fruit flavored drinks? The advertisers claim we need them. What is truth and what is hype? sports beverages

• Sports drinks are not necessary unless you are engaging in continuous, vigorous activity for more than 60 minutes in hot weather. Most sports drinks have lots of sugar and calories. Most of us don’t need the extra nutrients, electrolytes and/or protein as your diet usually provides what is needed. Water is the best drink for rehydrating, which is what your body needs. Sports drinks increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, dental caries and cardiovascular disease. Low-fat or fat-free milk can be a better option to drink when engaging in sports or physical activity to regain what you have lost.

• Energy drinks are not needed and may over-stimulate the cardiovascular and nervous system causing some detrimental effects. Most energy drinks have high amounts of caffeine and other stimulates. Energy drinks can be dangerous for people with unknown heart issues. Energy drinks are not safe for youth. In fact, studies have shown youth who drink energy drinks are less able to concentrate and may have a slower reaction speed. Extra vitamins in energy drinks do not really help your body. Energy drinks have been associated with many health concerns such as increased blood pressure, sleep problems, seizure activity, heart arrhythmia and others. Avoid powdered caffeine which is very dangerous.

• Vitamin waters have added vitamins which are better obtained by eating vegetables and fruits. These drinks also contain added sugar and sodium. Don’t pay the high price tag for these which also increase the risk of obesity. Eat a healthy diet and drink water.

• Fruit flavored drinks tend to be high in added sugar and other ingredients. Some of the herbal fruit flavored drink ingredients have not been researched on children. These drinks also increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, dental caries and cardiovascular disease.glass of iced tea

• Sweetened teas and coffee drinks have added sugar and carry the same health risks as sports drinks. They also can cause sleep disturbances and nervous problems in youth and adults.

Beverage manufactures are trying to convince us that they are providing us with “ready-to-go” attractive beverages. Most of the health claims on the bottles cannot be proven true and the added sugars increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.

Drink water!
It is the best drink. Other recommended choices include nonfat or low-fat milk and 100% fruit or vegetable juice in small amounts. Eat a healthy diet, and you will have the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy.

Writer: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Reviewer: Susan Zies, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Center for Weight and Health, (2014). Hiding Under a Health Halo, University of California at Berkeley, Available at: http://www.publichealthadvocacy.org/healthhalo.html
Nelson, J. and Zeratsky, K. (2010). Milk Joins the Roster of Sports Drinks, Mayo Clinic, Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/sports-drinks/bgp-20056125
Nutrition Action, (2014). Caffeine in Food – Caffeine Content of Drinks Revealed! Available at http://nutritionaction.com/daily/caffeine-in-food

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