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Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Have you finished your holiday shopping for the year? Or, like me, do you tend to put off shopping until the last minute because there are people on your list that are hard to gift? When lacking creative ideas for those hard-to-gift individuals, many of us default to items such as clothing, electronics and gift cards. This year, maybe it’s time to think outside the box and give gifts that promote health and self-care!

These gifts do not have to be expensive or forceful; rather, they serve as small suggestions that can go a long way toward promoting health and wellness. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Perhaps a friend has mentioned wanting to be more fit in the past, but she can’t seem to find the motivation to hit the gym. You could purchase cute and comfortable athletic outfits in her favorite colors that she might like to use!
  • Maybe your significant other can’t seem to shake his sugary soda fix because he doesn’t enjoy the taste of plain water. A good suggestion would be to buy a water bottle with a fruit infuser to encourage him to drink more water!
  • Maybe your father has been trying to control his carbohydrate intake, but he loves eating pasta multiple times a week. A vegetable spiralizer might allow him to enjoy the taste of Italian-style food with more fiber, vitamins and minerals and fewer carbohydrates and calories!

For more healthy holiday gift suggestions, see the infographic below. Don’t forget to consider gifts to promote lifelong healthy habits in the children on your list, too!

Give the Gift of Good Health this Holiday Season. Physical Activity: Equip your loved ones with the tools they need to continue their fitness journey or give them the push to start a new lifestyle. Gift ideas include resistance bands, hand weights, a yoga mat, gym bag, towel, athletic wear, socks, and water bottle with infuser. Cooking: Sleek new cooking gadgets can encourage your friends and family to experiment with new healthful cuisine. Homemade meal mixes can also be a heartfelt and economic option. Gift ideas include fresh herbs, veggie dip mix, homemade soup mix (like the friendship soup mix recipe available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/mix-it-up-to-expand-your-gift-giving-dollar-with-food-mixes-in-a-jar), a vegetable spiralizer, a healthy magazine subscription, recipe book or cookbook, slow cooker, or petite wine glass.

With the New Year just around the corner, these gift ideas can help keep your loved ones on track toward their potential resolutions in the upcoming year. They are just a few examples of how to give the gift of health and self-care this holiday season, a gift that keeps on giving for years to come!

 

Written by: Katie Minnelli, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Medical Dietetics

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

Sources:

Barlage, L. (2016). Give children gifts that encourage healthy habits. Live Healthy Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/12/08/give-children-gifts-that-encourage-healthy-habits/

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2015). Healthy Gift Guide – 17 ideas for giving “the gift of health”. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/12/03/healthy-gift-guide-17-ideas-for-giving-the-gift-of-health/

Schuster, E. (2018). Give the gift of health and self-care this holiday season. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.  https://www.sneb.org/blog/2018/11/26/general/give-the-gift-of-health-and-self-care-this-holiday-season/

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thyroidI’m beginning to notice a higher than normal amount of questions about the thyroid at my nutrition programs. Since January is Thyroid Awareness Month, I decided to refresh my brain and hopefully yours as well about the purpose and structure of the thyroid gland.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland wrapped around your windpipe. It produces the thyroid hormone, which regulates body temperature, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, respiration, brain development, cholesterol levels, the heart and nervous system, blood calcium levels, and menstrual cycles.

How Does the Thyroid Work?

One of the clearest explanations I’ve found comes from Dr. Jeffrey R. Garber (Harvard Medical School).

“Think of your thyroid as a car engine that sets the pace at which your body operates. An engine produces the required amount of energy for a car to move at a certain speed. In the same way, your thyroid gland manufactures enough thyroid hormone to prompt your cells to perform a function at a certain rate.

Just as a car can’t produce energy without gas, your thyroid needs fuel to produce thyroid hormone. That fuel is iodine. Your thyroid extracts this necessary ingredient from your bloodstream and uses it to make two kinds of thyroid hormone.

When your body needs thyroid hormone, it is secreted into your bloodstream in quantities set to meet the metabolic needs of your cells. If the amount is unbalanced, you may develop a thyroid disorder.”

Thyroid Disorders

There are different types of thyroid disorders, but hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are the most common. Other thyroid disorders can range from a small, harmless goiter (enlarged gland) that needs no treatment to life-threatening cancer.

According to the American Thyroid Association, approximately 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid disorder. Other details include the following:

  • Thyroid disorders are common, however 60% of people are unaware they have a thyroid issue.
  • Women are more likely than men to have a disorder. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime.
  • Stress can exacerbate a thyroid disorder (make it worse).
  • Genetics, an autoimmune attack, removal of the thyroid gland, nutritional deficiencies, and/or toxins in the environment can contribute to thyroid imbalances.
  • Untreated thyroid issues can affect other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

Can Food Help?
Eating lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, heart-healthy fats and omega-3s, high-fiber foods, and appropriate portions can help manage or prevent illnesses associated with thyroid disease such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. Nutrients to monitor include:

  • Iodine: Iodine is a vital nutrient in the body and essential to thyroid function because thyroid hormones are comprised of iodine.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is linked to Hashimoto’s (the most common cause of hypothyroidism). Sources that contain vitamin D include fatty fish, milk, dairy, eggs, and mushrooms, as well as sunlight.
  • Selenium: The highest concentration of selenium is found in the thyroid gland, and it’s been shown to be a necessary component of enzymes integral to thyroid function. Healthy sources include Brazil nuts, tuna, crab, and lobster.
  • Vitamin B12: About 30% of people with autoimmune thyroid disorder experience a vitamin B12 deficiency. Food sources of B12 include mollusks, sardines, salmon, liver, and dairy.

How do you know if you have a thyroid problem?

Many symptoms may be hidden or mimic other diseases and conditions, the best way to know for sure is to ask your doctor for a TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test, a simple blood test to verify your thyroid gland’s condition. Because thyroid disease often runs in families, a review of their medical histories may reveal other individuals with thyroid problems.

Bottom Line?

If your thyroid gland isn’t working properly, neither are you.

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

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

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/women/manage-hypothyroidism-17/balance/slideshow-foods-thyroid

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2935336/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/17557-thyroid-disease-description

https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/thyroid-diseases

https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/do-you-need-a-thyroid-test

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070112p40.shtml

 

 

 

christmas-table

Are you trying to eat healthier this holiday season but having problems?  These ideas may help you to make a few changes that can add up over the holidays.

  • Plan ahead – This includes making menus and shopping. You can usually do some of the prep ahead of time such as chopping and cutting up vegetables.  You may want to cook your meat a day ahead, slice, refrigerate, and then reheat before ready to serve.  Be sure to check temperatures of meat:  145°F for beef, pork, lamb or fish and 165°F for turkey or any kind of poultry.
  • Start with a good Breakfast, whether you are having the party at your house or attending one. Ideas for a quick breakfast include:
    • overnight oatmeal with toppings (fruit dried or fresh, nuts, cinnamon, cranberry sauce)
    • Frittata – use cut up vegetables and/or meats ( You can make ahead as muffins and then freeze, unthaw, heat and eat).Breakfast vegetable muffins
    • Breakfast casserole – make one the night before and leave in the refrigerator. Cook in the morning and serve. (Just watch the cheese and processed meats so you don’t over indulge.)
    • Breakfast Burrito – Cook eggs and add a can of refried beans, salsa and cheese. Heat until bubbly and serve in a tortilla.
  • Get Your Family Involved. Check Pinterest for decorative veggie or fruit tray ideas.   Let your children or grandchildren decide which you will make, and then turn the process over to them.  (With younger children you may need to pre-chop for safety.) They will eat more veggies or fruit this way.  Examples:  Wreath, Santa, Tree, snowman, Words – like joy.   Vegetable Christmas tree
  • Side Dish Swap Out. Instead of the usual, try roasted vegetables; sweet potatoes with apple slices and dried or fresh cranberries, or mashed with crushed pineapple; reduce the amount of extras you put in mashed potatoes; instead of green bean casserole try a green beans and cranberry dish; and/or make your own cranberry sauce with less sugar and actual cranberries in it.
  • Make-over your drinks. Serve infused water with cranberries, raspberries, apple or your favorite fruit.  Mix seltzer water with cranberry juice or your favorite juice.  Serve unsweetened tea or coffee.  Remember alcoholic drinks are high in calories, so use caution.   water with raspberries
  • Bake-It Healthier. For baked goods swap out the oil or butter for unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas, or other fruit baby food.  In pumpkin pie use non-fat evaporated milk and cut back the sugar by ¼ to 1/3.   Switch half the flour to whole grain flour.  Use low-fat yogurt in place of sour cream.  Try salt-free seasoning and spice mixes.
  • Sweet Switch Out. Serve a Trifle, baked apples with cinnamon, miniature desserts, or banana pudding parfait using ginger snaps, bananas and pudding.
  • Get Physically active. It helps us all feel better and helps limit the weight gain.
  • Wrap it Up with Food Safety. Be sure to follow food safety rules.  Wash your hands.  Follow the 2-hour rule.  Questions on meats and Food storage containersturkey – Call the USDA Meat/Poultry Hotline – 1-888-674-6854 available year around.
  • Enjoy the Holidays. Allow yourself to enjoy the Holidays!  Plan some time to enjoy the things you enjoy doing during the Holidays.

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

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

References:

Brinkman, P. (2015).  Modifying a Recipe to be Healthier.  Available at https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/HYG-5543

Food Safety Information. (2018). Available at https://www.foodsafety.gov/

Pinterest. (2018). Holiday Veggie Trays.  Available at https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?rs=ac&len=2&q=holiday%20veggie%20trays%20christmas&eq=Holiday%20veggie%20trays&etslf=14631&term_meta[]=holiday%7Cautocomplete%7C4&term_meta[]=veggie%7Cautocomplete%7C4&term_meta[]=trays%7Cautocomplete%7C4&term_meta[]=christmas%7Cautocomplete%7C4

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline:  Available at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/programs-and-services/contact-centers/usda-meat-and-poultry-hotline

Do you need to purchase a gift for the person who has it all? Are you trying to avoid the crush of busy stores? Or maybe you aren’t great at cyber shopping? If one of these describes you or you’re just intrigued, let’s look at a list of “Outside the Box” ideas for gifts this year.

  • Custom Photo Book – Put photos from the past year, a vacation, family events, or even family pictures over time in a custom book you design. These are available online or from pharmacy photo departments. This is a great gift for older family members who don’t really need anything and who perhaps aren’t as involved with social media. ($10 – $25)Bag of gifts
  • Make a Donation in their Name – Think about what really matters to your friend or family member – shelter pets, the local school, their church, the pee wee football program, cancer prevention/treatment, or a youth organization like 4-H or Scouts. Make a donation in their honor to sponsor a future event.
  • Pass on a Family Heirloom – Do you have cookbooks that belonged to Grandma or Grandpa’s military records? Often family or friends would like to have gifts of these items – and you as the giver can make sure they go to someone who really appreciates them.
  • Give the Gift of a Special Day – Present a certificate describing a day at the beach, zoo, water park, Geocaching, or learning to make their favorite cookies. You can pay the fee for you both to attend a sip and paint night at a craft center or some other activity they will enjoy.
  • Make Your Own Coupon Book – Present a coupon book with things your spouse, child, friend, or parent will like. It might include: a lawn mowing, a favorite meal, a back rub, control of the radio station in the car for the weekend, a trip to the ice cream shop, free babysitting or dog walking, a car wash, movie night, game night, nature walk, or a date night (even children enjoy this with just mom or dad).
  • Give a Game – Give the gift of a new game (or classic) with a package of local popcorn or some mini prizes. Play the game together over the holiday. (Both sides of my family do this and it is a great way to cut the kids’ screen time and it promises lots of laughs).

We can’t wait to hear unique gift ideas you have tried, so be sure to comment below with ideas you would like to share. While you try to think of an “Outside the Box” gift idea this year – remember that the gift of our presence just might mean more to your family and friends than the gift of presents.

Sources:

University of Arkansas Research and Extension – https://www.uaex.edu/health-living/personal-finance/Think%20Outside%20the%20Gift%20Box.pdf.

Iowa State University, Extension and Outreach – https://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/tag/traditions/.

 

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

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

 

2018 Reflections

christmas tree with decorations during nighttime

Photo by Sebi Pintilie on Pexels.com

Here it is–December 2018. Another year is ending!  It is a wonderful time of year to celebrate with family and friends.  A time to share joy and kindness.

Let’s look back for a moment. Did you reach all your goals this year?  Did you keep those New Year Resolutions?  Every year we resolve to make changes and improve ourselves, yet often end up feeling tired and over-extended.  Challenge yourself to end this year, and begin 2019, with being present and living your best life.

Before the end of the year:

  • Create a list of the 15 best things you accomplished
  • Make a list of 5 things you wish you’d done
  • Extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to the people who helped get you thru the year
  • Forgive
  • Be grateful
  • Donate 10 personal items to a good cause
  • Apologize for all of the mistake you made
  • Visit that person you kept saying you would visit
  • Make a list of 10 items that surprised you
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Create an action plan to define your path for 2019

Enjoy December.

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

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

Sources: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/stories/ten_tips_for_enjoying_holidays.html

 

 

 

 

 

Truth About Trauma

After watching Oprah Winfrey’s report on 60 Minutes about Treating Childhood Trauma, I began seeking out more learning opportunities on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and a Trauma Informed Care Approach. I wanted to share with you what I have learned.

Trauma is defined as a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident or an experience that produces psychological injury or pain. Trauma occurs when an individual, family, or community experiences an event or series of events that are harmful, and it affects functioning and well-being. Traumatic events can include abuse, neglect, bullying, terrorism, and war. Trauma does not discriminate. An important point is that what may be traumatic for one person may not affect another person in the same way. For example, being in a car accident may become a traumatic event for one person, and another person may not appear to be affected by it at all.

As a friend, family, or concerned community member, you can help someone who has experienced a trauma by:

  • Asking  “What happened” and “How can how I help?”
  • Allowing the person to express their emotions. Some emotions may be anger, numbness and fear.  There is no one way that individuals express themselves after experiencing a trauma.
  • Listening to someone’s story and showing empathy and concern.
  • Offering practical support.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that happen to children and adolescents, and they are categorized in this infographic from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

infographicResearch has shown that infants, children, and adolescents with ACEs are more likely to experience mental health, physical health, and behavioral health problems.

THERE IS HOPE!  Even if you, a loved one or your community has experienced a traumatic event, it does not mean that all is lost. There are many protective factors that can help to overcome the experience of trauma and build resilience at individual, relational, and community levels. Protective factors will always promote growth, independence, and healing for an individual.

Some protective factors are:

  • Caring adults outside family who can serve as role models or mentors
  • Communities that support parents and take responsibility for preventing abuse
  • Supportive family environment
  • Adequate housing
  • Access to health care and social services

As you live each day, remember that each of us has the chance to make a difference to another person. Trauma can be experienced by anyone. When we begin to recognize the humanity of each person, to not believe that we already know their story based simply on looks or rumor, and to come together as a community of broken people, each person and each community will become stronger.

 

WRITTEN BY: Jami Dellifield, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

REVIEWED BY: Jenny Lobb,  Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

RESOURCES:

Brown, Asa Don. Protective and Risk Factors Associated With Trauma: The process of recovery and resiliency. Psychology Today, 2017.  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/towards-recovery/201704/protective-and-risk-factors-associated-trauma

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. What Are Adverse Childhood Experiences? https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/aces.html

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Trauma. https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Types of Trauma and Violence. https://www.samhsa.gov/trauma-violence/types

Victoria State Government Health and Human Services. Trauma – helping family or friends. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/ConditionsAndTreatments/trauma-helping-family-or-friends

Winfrey, Oprah. 60 Minutes News Program. March 11, 2018. Treating Childhood Trauma. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/oprah-winfrey-treating-childhood-trauma/

Youth.gov. Risk & Protective Factors. https://youth.gov/youth-topics/youth-mental-health/risk-and-protective-factors-youth 

Caring for a family member with dementia can be challenging and the holiday season can add more to an already full plate for many caregivers. The holidays are a time for family and friends to come together, share traditions, and make memories, but for families living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, it may take additional care.

One of the things to consider when planning for the picture of familyholidays with a person with dementia is the stage of the illness. Those family members in the early stages can experience minor changes, and some may go unnoticed. However, the person with dementia may have trouble following conversations or may repeat himself or herself. They may feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable, and might withdraw from the group.  Do not point out errors in their conversations or their difficulty recalling specifics. Periodically checking in with them with a simple “How are you coping with everything?” can help you determine their comfort level with the activities.

It is also helpful to inform other family members as to what to expect from their loved one when they arrive. A group text or email explaining changes to memory or behaviors can help the family prepare in advance. In the message, you can explain any unpredictable emotions, memory loss or possible soothing techniques.

As the caregiver, you also need to be good to yourself. The stress of caregiving responsibilities layered with holiday traditions can take a toll. Some variations might need to be made to your holiday traditions. Some things that may assist in lessening the holiday stress are:

  • Adjust your expectations. Talk to family members about your current caregiving situation and make them aware of what you realistically can and cannot do.
  • Ask for help. No one should expect you to be the sole person responsible for maintain every holiday tradition. Have other family members contribute to the meal or even hosting an event at their home.
  • Set limits. Break large gatherings up into smaller visits. Set time limits for visitors to help the person with dementia and yourself from getting overtired.
  • Make some variations. Sometimes evening is a time of agitation for people with dementia. Move the celebrations to mid-day and have a holiday brunch instead of dinner.
  • Mind Your Mindset. Negative thinking actually activates your body’s stress response, so steer your mind to the positives when you start down that slippery slope. Try to stay mindful, concentrating on the present moment. Think about what you can accomplish instead of what isn’t getting done; revel in the holiday joys you experience instead of focusing on those you bypass; appreciate the help you are receiving rather than resenting those who aren’t supportive.
  • Avoid triggers. Be careful of blinking lights and noisy locations as this might exaggerate confusion and agitation.
  • Maintain a normal routine. Keep routines as normal as possible. This will help keep the holidays from being disruptive or confusing.
  • Plan time for a break or rest period. While your loved one may relish in the company and holiday celebrations, he may need a place to retreat. Arrange for a quiet place for your loved one to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday celebration if needed.

Remember that perfection is not the goal of the holidays. There are many factors we can’t control when it comes to our loved ones’ health and abilities, so adjust your view of a successful holiday. Focus on what feels necessary to produce a holiday feeling and create good memories.

For more ideas and support, join ALZConnected, an online support community where caregivers like you share tips on what has worked for them.

 

Writer: Kathy Goins, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, goins.115@osu.edu

 

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

 

Sources:

Alzheimer’s Association, (2017). The Holidays and Alzheimers. Retrieved from: https://www.alz.org/help-support/resources/holidays

 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2018). Helping Alzheimer’s Caregivers. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/features/alzheimers-caregivers/