I am a creature of habit. I find comfort in an environment that is structured, orderly, neat, and reliable. I enjoy having a procedure for everything I do. However, the past week has been anything but predictable. Like you, my home and work schedules and routines have flown out the window! As a result, I have been overwhelmed with stress and my reaction has been emotional eating.

Emotional eating is when you consume foods in response to your emotions rather than eating when you are hungry. Negative emotions such as stress and anxiety, boredom, sadness and even positive events such as wedding and parties all can result in emotional eating.  Happy or sad, most of us correlate comfort food with making us feel better. Ice cream after a breakup, a bag of chips when we are bored, too many helpings of dessert at Thanksgiving all result in the potential to over-eat.

With everything going on in our lives right now, how do we take steps to stop emotional eating?

Journaling or a Food Diary: For me it is a food diary. Writing down what I eat, how much, and what I am feeling as compared to if I am really hungry shows me the patterns I develop connecting my stress/mood to food.

Mindful Wellness: Practicing mindful wellness has also shown to be a great way to tame your stress and encourage mindful eating.  When you slow down, pace yourself and enjoy your food using all of your senses, you are able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab unhealthy foods, decide if you are really hungry, and choose to eat healthy during the stressful times. MyPlate Kitchen is a great resource to find healthy and affordable meals and snack ideas.

Build a Support Network: Thankfully I work with an amazing group of people at OSU Extension, and I know that I can call on them, a friend or a family member if I am having a really bad day. Having a support network helps your efforts to change your eating habits and improves your chance of success! It may also be helpful to join a support group specifically for individuals with similar emotional eating behaviors to learn better ways of coping.

Substitute other activities for eating: This could look like a taking a walk, reading, calling an old friend, playing with your cat or dog, giving yourself a break, or if you are like me, cleaning and organizing. Doing something that reduces your stress, fights boredom, or takes away the temptation to emotionally eat and substitutes a healthier behavior is a great way to reduce emotional eating.

We are currently in a phase of constant change; we can’t control everything, but we can control how we choose to cope with our emotions.  My goal is to make better choices when I am stressed, reduce my emotional eating, and enjoy the here and now rather than live in the past or worry about the future. May your goal help you to grow and learn as you learn healthy way to adjust to our ever-changing world.


Brinkman, P., (2016). Eating Healthy During Stressful Times. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5244

Harvard Healthy Publishing, (2020). Why Stress Causes People to Overeat. Harvard Mental Health Letter retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

Mississippi State University Extension, (2017). Stress and Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from http://extension.msstate.edu/sites/default/files/publications/information-sheets/is1783.pdf

Ohio State University Extension, (2019). Stress Management. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/aex-591106

Powers-Barker, P. (2016) Introduction to Mindfulness. Retrieved on March 23, 2020 from https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

The Mayo Clinic, (2020). Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/in-depth/weight-loss/art-20047342

University of Rochester Medical Center, (2020). Emotional Eating; How to Cope. Retrieved March 23, 2020 from https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4517

Photo credit: Dylan Lu on Unsplash

Written by: Dr. Roseanne E. Scammahorn, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Darke County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

I have officially made it through one week of working from home and I’m going to be honest with you: It feels like I’m stuck in the movie Groundhog’s Day with no end in sight. I have three small children under the age of eight that demand a lot of my time and energy. I’m trying to find a new routine for our family during the temporary stay at home order. Sometimes, I feel that what I’m doing seems mundane. There are times where I feel like a broken record, repeating the same phrases continually. I know that I have put myself on the backburner. I’m often exhausted after helping everyone else and I don’t have the strength to do anything for me. My mind and body have given me signs that I need to take time for myself, such as these signals:

  1. Nothing sounds fun anymore
  2. Wanting to eat “All the things”
  3. Feeling overwhelmed by little things
  4. Snapping at loved ones
  5. Wanting to hide in the bedroom… or bathroom… or closet…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes to the bathroom for a little peace and quiet. Those five signals are letting me know that I’m not taking care of myself. I feel guilty scheduling time for myself, but know I shouldn’t. Someone once explained it to me using this analogy:

When flying on an airplane they tell you that if the cabin pressure changes you must put your own air mask on first. Then, you help the others around you. This is no different for us, we need to take care of ourselves first so we can better help the ones around us.

I know I will be a stronger, healthier person if I take time to refuel and recharge. In no way, shape, or form can I take an hour every day or spend lots of money on self care. However, there are things I can do that just take a few minutes and require items I already have on hand. Implementing these small ideas and changes can make all the difference in the world:

a person meditating
  • Sit on a porch and watch the clouds go by
  • Call a friend just to chat and check-up on them-no agenda needed
  • Exercise. Go for a run, walk up a flight of steps or take a walk around the block.
  • Breathe. Take a few minutes to take some deep breaths and clear your mind.
  • Spend time with a pet
  • Read a book
  • Take a nap
  • Soak in the bathtub
  • Wake up 30 minutes before the rest of your house
  • Temporally unplug from electronic devices
  • Listen to positive, uplifting music
  • Mediate or pray

For additional ideas and resources check out Why “Me” Time Matters When It Comes to Your Happiness.

My challenge to myself is to make “me” time a priority and schedule my time everyday. I will hold myself to it just like I would any other meeting. I would love to hear what your “me” time consists of.

Written by: Amanda Bohlen, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County.

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County.


Ebba, A. (2019, May 9). 5 Signs Your Brain and Body Are Begging for “Alone Time.” Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/time-for-alone-time#5

Shaw, G. (2015, September 4). A Women’s Guide to “Me” Time. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/women/guide/womans-guide-to-me-time#1https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/time-for-alone-time#4

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented action in regard to temporary business restriction and closure. Within the last week, Governor DeWine has ordered the closure of all dining rooms of bars and restaurants; closure of bowling alleys, movie theaters, recreation centers and similar businesses; and the closure of barbershops and nail salons.  Yesterday’s “Stay at Home” Order from Ohio Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton, orders that all non-essential business and operations must cease by midnight tonight. These orders have affected tens of thousands of Ohioans. In just three days last week, the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services received 77,817 claims for unemployment benefits. Compare this to two weeks ago when only 2,905 claims were filed.

If you find yourself without a job, I encourage you to visit “COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide” which has been compiled by OSU Extension. It features Individual Resources, Employee Resources, Small Business Resources, Available Ohio Food Access Options, Financial Wellness Resources & Consumer Protection, and Finding Local Resources.

University of Wisconsin Extension also has a website for “Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times” with a special section dedicated to the financial effects of COVID-19 for individuals, families and businesses. There is also a section called “Dealing with a Drop in Income” that answers questions like “Where do you start if you can’t pay bills?” and “Deciding Which Debts to Pay First.”

Another resource I especially appreciate from The University of Delaware offers advice for Surviving a Family Crisis. Losing income from a job is not inherently more manageable for an individual than a family. However, there are different challenges when multiple people are involved. The University of Maryland Extension also offers some ideas for talking with children about needs and wants.

I have been inspired this week as acquaintances, who are now without work, have shared their struggles in positive ways on social media. They’ve shared their fears and disappointments, but even more, they have shared the encouraging words and even mentioned financial help they’ve been receiving from others. It has been motivating for me to see the support that people are receiving. It has caused me to act and help others who may be facing more uncertain times than I am, even if it is in small ways.

If your job is secure, consider what you can do to financially bless a friend or acquaintance during this time. I’ve heard some great suggestions to set aside the money you might normally spend on gasoline or parking or other daily expenses and use that to make a donation in your community.If you are in a difficult place, please know that many people want to help right now. Let others know your needs, even if that is a listening ear for you to voice your concerns without judgment.

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Patrice Powers-Barker, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Lucas County


Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (2020)  COVID-19 – A Financial Resource Guide. at https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-finances-0/covid-19-financial-resource-guide

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Managing Your Personal Finances in Tough Times. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/

University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension (2020) Financial Resources to Help Get Through COVID-19. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/covid-19-financial-resources/

Olive, P. University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. (March 2020) Dealing with a Drop in Income. at https://fyi.extension.wisc.edu/toughtimes/files/2019/01/Drop-in-income-2020-state-version-new-logo.pdf

Park, E. and Nelson, P.T., Surviving A Family Crisis. (2012) (Ed) Families Matter! A Newsletter Series for Parents of School-Age Youth. Newark, DE: Cooperative Extension, University of Delaware. at https://www.udel.edu/academics/colleges/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/surviving-family-crisis/

University of Maryland Extension (2013) Helping Your Child Become Money Smart. Factsheet FS-962. at   https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/publications/FS-962%20Helping%20Your%20Children%20to%20%20Become%20Money%20Smart_0.pdf

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/fJTqyZMOh18

During this time of uncertainty, I am choosing to focus on the things that remain the same. I am still a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a co-worker, a friend, an educator, and much more. My family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers, and my community still need me, maybe more than ever. With all the changes and unknown, I am keeping as many things as I can consistent.

Welcome To Our Home, Welcome, Tablet, An Array Of

My younger son, a college sophomore, just returned “home”. While our house is certainly familiar, this is not his HOUME. That’s not a typo, it’s the way home is spelled at OU/Ohio University. My daughter, a high school sophomore, nor the rest of us, were expecting him to be home now. It’s nice having him home, but it is going to be an adjustment. Additionally, my older son, a college graduate, is living here while working and deciding his next step. Needless to say, our once near empty nest, has filled back up. While the sudden changes will take some adjustment, we are family and we will get through it.

My husband and I are working from home. Next week, my older son will be as well and my younger son resumes his college classes on-line. It makes me a little anxious, but with some planning and preparation, and a lot of patience, all will be fine. Some people think schedules are for younger kids, but with four adults REQUIRING internet and some peace and quiet, we are going to HAVE to develop a schedule. Knowing ahead of time when each of us needs to be on conference calls or doing classes will help alleviate some stress and last-minute scrambling.

Office Work, Studying, Office, Working, Computer

With much focus on the adults, I don’t want my teenage daughter to feel like her needs and feelings are not important. She is still an integral part of our household, so we will include her in the planning. I will also check in with her daily to see if she has any homework assignments. I will ask how her friends are doing and we will talk as a family about the current situation. My daughter has mentioned a few times that she and her friends are bored, and they would rather be in school. So, as the weeks continue, I will look for ways to help keep her involved and engaged. The CDC gives these tips to help support teens and younger kids:

  1. Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  2. Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  3. Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  4. Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  5. Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

While we are going to be home pretty much 24/7 for the near future, I am focusing on how we can adapt and grow in the face of this challenge. I hope we each use this experience as a growth opportunity. Perhaps focus a little more on how to stretch ourselves, do things in a new way, help someone we don’t know, be a little more forgiving and patient of ourselves and others, because right now we are all outside of our comfort zone.

What are you planning or doing during this uncertain time?

Author: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County

Reviewer: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County


Lisa, A. (2019) Moving Back Home After College A Survival Guide for New Grads & Parents.  AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org.  https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/how-to-survive-moving-back-home-after-college/

Greenbaum, Z. (2019) The future of remote work. American Psychological Association.  https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/10/cover-remote-work

Melnyk. B. (2020) How to Talk to Your Children about the Coronavirus and Ease their Anxiety. Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University.  https://wellness.osu.edu/story/children-covid-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020) Manage Anxiety & Stress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fcoping.html

Harmon, M. (2020) How Comfortable are You? Live Healthy Live Well, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/01/30/how-comfortable-are-you/

Flattening the Curve

If you live in Ohio or are keeping up with national news, you likely know that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a series of orders last week to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the state. Last Monday, DeWine declared a state of emergency to protect Ohioans from COVID-19 and to allow state departments and agencies to better coordinate their response to the virus. In a press conference on Wednesday, March 11, DeWine was joined by Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton to provide an update on the impact of the coronavirus in Ohio.

In her update, Acton used a chart to illustrate and explain how the precautions Ohio is taking to slow the spread of COVID-19 are intended to flatten the pandemic’s bell curve. By flattening this curve, the COVID-19 outbreak in Ohio will remain below a certain threshold, a threshold that represents the capacity of the healthcare system within the state of Ohio and the country at large. Below this threshold, the outbreak will remain manageable. Above this threshold, the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed.

Although the governor’s directives are aggressive, and while they are certainly creating disruptions in the day to day lives of Ohioans, their purpose is to ultimately keep Ohioans safe and to not overwhelm the healthcare system. The governor’s orders may be difficult to follow, but keeping up with and abiding by state and national guidance to prevent the spread of disease is critical at this time. Specific measures the CDC recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • avoiding large gatherings
  • practicing social distancing
  • working remotely to the extent possible
  • washing hands frequently
  • covering coughs and sneezes
  • staying home when sick

For additional resources, checklists and more information on Ohio’s response to COVID-19 visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Hardin County


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Office of the Governor in the State of Ohio https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/news-releases

Ohio Department of Health https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/home/

brown bag lunchMany Ohioans are working to provide access to nutritious meals for students facing the extended break from school and face-to-face learning.  While many educational entities normally provide weekend food backpacks and/or food pantries when schools and universities are in session, it will be challenging to continue this during the next several weeks without the help of more people.

It is wonderful to see so many individuals, agencies, groups, and businesses offering to help their neighbors in this time of need.  Let’s look at some healthful options to provide students and their families directly and for donating to food pantries and other distribution groups. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides us with a list of foods and food groups that are shelf-stable and broad in their nutritional offerings:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, beans, fruits, vegetables, spaghetti sauce, and soup
  • Microwaveable meals such as macaroni and cheese, chili, spaghetti, etc.
  • Pasta, rice, breads and crackers
  • Meat jerky
  • Protein or fruit bars
  • Dry cereal, instant oatmeal or granola
  • Peanut or other nut/seed butters and jelly
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned or boxed juices
  • Instant or ready to eat pudding
  • Non-perishable (boxed or canned) pasteurized liquid or powdered milk
  • Food for infants

As news and plans to address Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), continues to evolve, please keep in communication with your friends, family and neighbors to see how to continue support anyone in need.

If you need food, check with your school, church, library, or community center website or social media. Many are working to provide other food options for children and families who will no longer be able to gather at feeding sites or schools.

Good nutrition, hand-washing, cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and social distancing will lead to a healthier and safer future for all of us.

Writer: Cheryl Barber Spires, R.D., L.D. Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, Ohio State University Extension, spires.53@osu.edu.

Reviewer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County, barlage.7@osu.edu.



There are two main types of fat found in mammals: white and brown. White fat has three primary functions: to insulate, to cushion, and to provide energy. Brown fat provides heat/warmth in newborns, because infants can’t shiver to keep warm. Instead, they burn brown fat for warmth; it is literally a heat organ. Hibernating animals also have high levels of brown fat.

a sleeping baby with exposed back and shoulders

A quarter (25%) of an infant’s body mass is brown fat, which is located on the back, primarily along the top half of the spine up towards the shoulders. In adults, how much you have and where it is located varies. Adults have much more white fat than brown fat. Whatever brown fat they have is usually located in the upper chest and the front part of the neck.

Why differentiate between the two? Brown fat, essentially, is awesome. It contains heat-producing cells of mitochondria and – unlike white fat – is metabolically active, meaning it burns calories. Brown fat gets its dark color from its high iron content.

Adults who have larger quantities of brown fat tend to be thinner because of this advantage. Brown fat is more like muscle than like white fat. Experts don’t know exactly how to help adults increase their brown fat stores in the body, but we know that always covering up or spending all of our time indoors in temperature controlled environments decreases over time the amount of brown fat in our bodies.

Parent think they are being solicitous when they sneak into their infant’s bedroom at night to “re-cover” them, but it may be beneficial metabolically for children to sleep in a cooler environment. If you touch their hands, they feel warm. However, constantly piling on blankets and/or clothing is detrimental as the brown fat stores will gradually dissipate.

a couple walking outdoors, dressed in winter coats

Remember–brown fat is activated by cold. Spending time in the cold may enable you to grow new brown fat cells according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. So keep that thermostat at a lower temperature during the winter. Take long walks out-of-doors. It will help you burn more calories, as well as save money on your utility bills.


Healthline (2018). Brown fat: What you should know. https://www.healthline.com/health/brown-fat#1

Rutgers University (2019). Why brown fat is good for people’s health. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/08/190821135238.htm

National Institutes of Health (2019). How brown fat improves metabolism. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/how-brown-fat-improves-metabolism

New England Journal of Medicine (1984). Thermogenesis in Brown Adipose Tissue as an Energy Buffer – Implications for Obesity. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM198412133112407

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

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