Archive for 2011

On New Year’s Eve we realize more than at any other time in our lives that we can never go back in time.  We can look back and remember, but we cannot retrace a single moment of the year that has past.  Additionally, we may fear the future because of events in the past.  But we need not remain chained into our memories because we can move ahead.  The old familiar saying, “Out with the old, in with the new”, is appropriate as we embark upon the New Year . . . personally and professionally.  It’s a time to reflect upon our accomplishments for the past year and plan for the year ahead.  However, in order to begin anew, we must release the old.  According to Michael Angier of SuccessNet.org (2009), “a trapeze artist cannot swing from one bar to another without letting go, thus in order to prepare for the New Year, we must review the past year – release it – and learn from it.”

Our busy schedules and hectic pace of life can take a toll on our time and energy.  Daily we find we have places to go, people to see and a never-ending to-do list, with little time for daily rest, reflection and an the opportunity to re-focus our priorities.

According to Angier (2009), setting aside time for daily reflection is part of our personal development and time well spent.  I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “don’t just sit there, do something.”  I’m suggesting, “just sit there, allow yourself time to reflect.”  Connect with those you love.  Practice journaling, jot down your thoughts and feelings. Write a letter to yourself; it can be very insightful to write and interesting to read it in the future.

According to Angier, here are some suggestions to get you started in reflecting on the past year . . . or, a year in review.

What did you learn about yourself?

What did you accomplish? How did you feel?

What were the most significant events of the year?  List your top three.

What would you have done differently, if anything?

What was your greatest contribution to your family?

What do you feel especially good about?

What were the fun things you did?

Did you try anything new in 2011? (skill, hobby, sport, etc.)

How are you different this year than last?

Anything you can do to make the year ahead more powerful in terms of your own personal and professional growth will be time well spent.  I challenge you to establish a regular, daily reflective practice.  Grab and create every opportunity, relish every moment, both large and small; don’t miss opportunities to celebrate “life”.

Source:  Michael Angier, SuccessNet.Org

Written by: Cindy Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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The goodies of the Holidays are hard to resist.  Now that the holidays are almost over how do you stop your body from wanting more of those goodies you ate?   How do you stop the mid-afternoon, evening or all-day cravings?

First, it may help to understand your body.  Our body thrives on routine and wants us to eat at the same times.  The fat and sugar in many goodies satisfies our tests preferences.  Thus, our body actually opposes us when we make changes in the way we eat.

There is hope!  Although our body likes the goodies and constant eating, we just have to replace with good habits and follow them.  Every time you resist temptations you set up a pattern to resist the next one.   Each time you eat a healthy meal, one you planned to eat at a set time, you start up a positive eating cycle.  So, if you have not been a breakfast eater and start eating breakfast every morning, before long your body will desire breakfast everyday.   You can make your body work for you.

When you are hungry try to eat a healthy food instead of candy or left over cookies.  Eat an apple or orange.   By eating a healthy food you actually weaken your urge to eat the high-calorie treats when you are “starving.”  It will probably be hard at first, but it does work

Don’t watch the food commercials or the food channel on television when you have low resistance.  Turn pages quickly in magazines when you see food or recipes.  It’s hard to resist tempting foods when we smell them too.  So, breathe through you mouth when you are around tempting foods.

By eating regular meals and snacks you can avoid being very hungry which will help  decrease your cravings for certain foods.  Setting up this planned meal and snacks routine will help as your body likes structure.  Your body will be less likely to encourage you to break the rules.

You can use the tapping technique which has been proven to work to help people resist cravings.  Place your five fingers of one hand on your forehead.   Tap each finger in turn at intervals of one second while watching each one carefully as it taps.  Keep repeating until the craving disappears.  Other suggestions when trying to stop a craving include tell yourself “not today”  and wait 15-20 minutes while you call a friend, chew a piece of sugar-free gum, brush your teeth, drink a glass of water, go for a walk or meditate.  Keep a record of your thoughts and feelings leading to the craving and what methods worked best.

Starting some healthier habits can be hard.  One way is to make it a gradual transition from the old way to the new healthier way.  Give yourself some time but remember that each time you resist or change to eating healthier you are making progress.


Roberts, S. and Sargent, B.K. (2009).  The Instinct Diet, Tufts Media., Medford, MA.

USDA website, Choose My Plate available at http://www.choosemyplate.com

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For most people, this time of year is filled with happiness and good cheer.  However, many individuals dread the coming of the holiday season and the sadness that it brings.   What causes the holiday blues and what can we do to help alleviate the sadness that overcomes us?

  • High Expectations  Don’t worry about having a perfect party or family get-together.  Instead try to maintain realistic expectations and have a good time.
  • Overdoing it  Trying to attend every party and get-together will only make you tired and feeling worn-out.  Try to stick to your usual routine, including meals, exercise and sleeping habits.  Try to avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can depress moods.
  • Spending too Much We all want to please others and buy that perfect gift, but paying the bill in January can be stressful.  Make a budget for gifts and stick to it!
  • Unpleasant Holiday Memories  Try not to think of holidays that were sad and lonely.  Create pleasant memories by starting a new tradition.
  • Being Single, Alone or Divorced  Call a friend and make plans to get together over the holidays.  Invite them to lunch, an uplifting holiday movie, or a walk around town to view the holiday decorations.
  • Emphasis on Shopping and Commercialization  Consider giving a donation to a charity in lieu of a gift that the recipient won’t use.

If you find yourself feeling down any time of year, make a list of the good things you have in your life.  Another way to feel better about yourself is to volunteer your time to help someone less fortunate than you.

Finally, we all feel down sometimes but  if the “blues” last longer than a few weeks, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or seek professional help.

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.  Source:  Judith S. Beck, PhD, Huffington Post, Avoid the Holiday Blues.

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Hunger strikes and you are out shopping for the holidays.  No time to cook?  It is so convenient to go through the drive thru and pick up a meal.

Instead of ordering the first thing you see on the menu, plan ahead to pick some healthier choices.  If you have those choices in mind, you can make good selections at the drive thru window.

How can you make a healthier choice?

  • Think SMALL not large.  Check out the child’s menu.  Order a smaller sandwich or side dish.
  • Watch anything that is breaded or fried.  Choose GRILLED instead.
  • Choose a SALAD but go easy on the dressings, bacon, cheese and sour cream.  Ask for light or low-fat dressings.
  • Watch the calories in BEVERAGES.  Order water, unsweet tea or diet sodas to reduce calories.
French Fries

French Fries

Here are some calorie and fat comparisons from some national chain restaurants.

Be informed, know the calorie content and use that information to make a healthier choice.

McDonald’s Restaurant

Single Cheeseburger                                             300 calories       12 grams fat

Double Quarter Pounder w. Cheese                        740 calories        42 grams fat

Small Fries                                                           230 calories        11 grams fat

Large Fries                                                           500 calories       25 grams fat

Taco Bell

Crunchy Taco                                                       170 calories        10 grams fat

Fiesta Taco Salad- Chicken                                    730 calories        35 grams fat


6″ Veggie Delight                                                 230 calories         2.5 grams fat

6″ Spicy Italian                                                    480 calories         24 grams fat

Remember “extras” add up.  Adding mayonnaise to your sandwich can add 100-110 calories and 12 grams fat.  Veggies, vinegar, pickles and peppers only add flavor, not calories.  Add a variety for additional flavor.

Veggie Sub

Veggie Sub

As you can see, you can make healthy choices while visiting a fast food restaurant.  Think fresh, grilled and portion size.  Watch the “extras” – they may just add fat and calories.  Pack a piece of fruit or vegetables with you so you aren’t famished.
Please note:  this article is not endorsing restaurants but is for informational purposes only.
Nutritional Guide to Fast Food  Healthy Ohioans (2004).  www.healthyohioans.org
McDonald’s USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items from http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/getnutrition/nutritionfacts.pdf
Subway Nutrition Information from http://www.subway.com/nutrition/nutritionlist.aspx

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During the holidays there are many temptations put in front of you.  Many companies send you food to show appreciation for your business throughout the year – boxes of chocolates, tins of cookies, and bins of flavored popcorn.  And, there are business meetings, church and social events you attend which have more high fat, high sugar snacks to tempt you during the holiday season.  Don’t lose sight of how many “treats” you try in one day or throughout the week.  You don’t have to avoid them altogether but be conscience of what you are eating.  Allow yourself one treat a day, especially if you don’t want to gain weight over the holiday season.

If you are going to a party, bring your own healthy treat to share.  Here’s one to try:

Cheesy Popcorn


¼ Cup margarine

½ Teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

¼ Teaspoon garlic powder

8 Cups warm popcorn

1/3 Cup grated parmesan cheese


Stir margarine in a large pan over medium heat until melted. Add the seasonings and popped popcorn and stir until it is completely coated. Add the cheese and stir until it melts.

Yield: makes 8 – 1 cup servings.

Nutritional Analysis:

Calories: 80, Total Fat: 3 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Protein: 3 g, Total Carbohydrates: 6 g, Sodium: 105 mg, Cholesterol: 5 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Vitamin A: 255 IU, Vitamin C: 0 mg, Calcium: 62 mg, Iron: 0 mg.

Source:  West Virginia University Extension Service.

To help you curb the temptation of too many food “treats,” sip water by keeping a container of water on your desk.  Add a little flavor to your water by adding slices or lemon, lime, or orange.  Research has shown that people who drank 2 cups of water before meals, over a 12 week period, lost 5 pounds more than those who did not.   If you drink sugar sweetened beverages such as sweet tea, soda or lattés try to replace them with water.  Think “WATER FIRST FOR THIRST!”  A high calorie beverage can really add on the calories.

Just keep your eye on the goal to maintain your weight over the holiday season.

Author:  Linnette Goard, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension.


American Chemical Society (2010) Clinical trial confirms effectiveness of simple appetite control method.  Available at: http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=223&content_id=CNBP_025477&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=1d38a07c-5dc8-4718-b0eb-d8455408a0ac

Iowa State Extension, Holiday eating tips.  Available at: http://www.fshn.hs.iastate.edu/nutritionclinic/handouts/newsletters/HolidayEatingTips.pdf

eXtension, Families, Food and Fitness (2009) Make water your number 1 beverage.  Available at:  http://www.extension.org/pages/19893/make-water-your-number-1-beverage

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Few things could spoil your family’s holiday celebrations like foodborne illness! Handling your holiday foods safely can prevent harmful bacteria from making your family sick. While some individuals are at a higher risk for foodborne illness: pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, we should follow the four steps below to control the spread of bacteria throughout the kitchen and keep our families healthy and happy.

1 . Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that countertops are clean by washing with hot soapy water after preparing food, and keep cutting boards and utensils bacteria free by washing with hot soapy water or running through the dishwasher. A mild solution of bleach and water can be used to help Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Chill. Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°, use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

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!

Source: http://www.fsis.usda.gov and http://www.befoodsafe.org

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator,OhioStateUniversityExtension

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family mealDuring the holidays we are more apt to sit down for a meal with family and friends. During the rest of the year it is not as common, although as educators in the Family and Consumer Sciences area we wish it were, for families to eat a meal seated together. So regardless of when the family meals are eaten, table manners and etiquette are an important and often neglected art.
Stress during the holidays is common and the holiday meal is no exception. Sometimes this is the only time of the year we see some of our family members. The age groups, different opinions, unfamiliar cuisine and fancy tableware may all be factors in that stress. Conversations can sometimes be tense or a source of stress. Frequently holiday meals last longer than daily meals. Avoiding topics that might make people uncomfortable is best. Staying away from discussions about politics, religion, or sex helps. More appropriate topics include: weather, sports, travel, movies, where people are from or professions. Trying to get all involved in the conversation is best.
Some rules of manners and etiquette that help include: assisting the host if they would like help, and asking about seating arrangements rather than just assuming. Also, once seated, food should not be eaten until everyone is served or has their food. Utensil use can be confusing. Rule of thumb is to start with the utensil furthest from the plate and work toward the plate. Remembering not to talk with your mouth full is critical.
After eating, the napkin should be placed to the left of the plate and your chair should be pushed in. Offering to help with the cleanup is always appreciated. The holiday meal can be a tremendous amount of work for the host so allowing them to rest and unwind after their work can be a nice gesture.
In conclusion, despite the stress the holiday meal can cause, using manners and etiquette can make the whole experience much smoother for all.
Source: Pesci, Pat, Kansas State University, Director of Hotel and Restaurant Management, 2011.
Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

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The month of December and all the Holiday events, can be stressful for familes. Here are a few tips to help reduce the stress during this month of December.
One step at a time
* Those around you will appreciate more time with a relaxed you- the best “present” you can give is your unruffled presence.
*Honesty counts. Be frank about your needs verses wants when it comes to spending and shopping, eating, and exercise or extra
holiday activities.

” Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity” Oprah Winfrey
* Take the time to plan menus, shopping lists and event calendars. The investment in planning time is worth it.
* If you’re the host, make sure you line up reliable help for party preparations and clean up.
* Let the calendar or PDA do their job. Don’t forget to ad “me” time, “down” time, or “break” time.

Enjoy holiday events, just don’t overdo it.
* Some indulgence is OK, but also practice balance. Balance your food choices, spending and time committments. Budgeting is
not only for money, but also for time and energy.
* Get plenty of rest, eat healthy meals and snacks, and keep up usual routines for exercise.
*Connect with others. Identify someone as a stress reduction partner who can be a call or text away.

Information compiled from Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com, E
at Right Montana http://www.eatrightmontana.org, OSU Extension, http://www.ohioline.osu.edu, and Patrice Powers Barker, MA., CFLE

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What is your holiday family tradition? Do you have certain foods that you have to have on New Year’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, or during a football bowl game? Do you have a special way you decorate your holiday tree, your porch, or front door? Do you have a special book you read together or a game you play? It doesn’t really matter what your tradition is, but it is important for strong families to have holiday traditions.

Research shows that developing rituals around the holidays create a sense of belonging among family members. Strong families have a sense of family history, spirituality, and unity – all which tie into family holiday traditions. Family holiday traditions are also important because they connect family members who may be separated by distance, working different schedules, or just busy with sports, school or jobs. These traditions help us to remain close to our family members and create a connection between our past and the future.

As you decide what family traditions you want to keep and those that you may be ready to give up think about why you enjoy them? Is it spending time together, sharing your talents with others, or maybe a spiritual belief you have? Holiday traditions don’t have to be expensive, often the things we remember the most about spending time with our grandparents is the day they taught use to play a special card game, or when they let us help make the favorite family meal. Don’t forget to ask you children or other family members what traditions they want to make sure you keep, and which ones aren’t so important to them – you might be surprised. They may say that the evening you drive around the neighborhood looking a holiday lights, making homemade cookies together, or reading the book about the snowman are their favorite things.

Here are a few fun family traditions:

  • Volunteer – work the food bank or donate toys or food to someone who needs it more than you do.
  • Camp out under your family tree while listening to holiday music.
  • Read at least one holiday book together.
  • Attend a community music program, play, or musical together. They are usually very reasonably priced and would love to have more people in the audience.

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


Holiday Traditions Bring Families Together, Texas Woman’s University, J. Armstrong.

Building Family Strengths, Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

Holiday Traditions, Ohio State University Extension, T. West.

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A  piece of pie after dinner, an extra serving of stuffing and gravy – it all adds up to excess calories and a few extra pounds.   We all  know that watching our calories this time of year is particularly difficult.  But what about limiting your liquid calories during the holidays?  Having a couple of extra drinks a day almost adds up to eating an extra meal.  But you don’t have to limit your beverage choices to water or diet soda.  Here are some tips for you to enjoy your favorite beverages while saving on calories, too!

  • Skip the alcohol   Eliminating alcohol from any cocktail trims almost 100 calories per shot.
  • Cut back on whipped cream  Although whipped topping adds richness and flavor, it can also add fat, sugar and extra calories.  Try low-fat whipped topping or skip it altogether.
  • Fizz it up  Adding a splash of club soda or a flavored seltzer makes any drink more festive.  You’ll avoid calories and extra sugar, too!
  • Like egg nog?  Try the low-fat or non-fat versions.  A dash of nutmeg spices things up, so you won’t miss the extra fat and calories.
  • At the coffeehouse…  Flavored coffee drinks – hot or cold – can have up to 800 calories and almost 50 grams of fat!  Ask for your coffee (or hot chocolate) to be made with non-fat milk, sugar-free syrup and light (or no) whipped cream.
  • Watch what you add   One teaspoon of honey adds 20 calories, while one teaspoon of sugar adds 16 calories.  One ounce of cream equals 39 calories and 4 grams of fat.

When possible, read the nutrition label on products and go for the lighter version.  Enjoy, but in moderation!

Submitted by:  Jennifer Even, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Hamilton County.  Source:  Consumer Reports Quick and Easy Shopping Guide, ShopSmart, December, 2011.

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