Archive for March, 2012

We have been enjoying a beautiful early spring with warm days and comfortable nights. This might be the perfect time for you to start a walking program.  There are few other types of exercise that are as easy, accessible and affordable as walking.

Walking provides so many benefits for our bodies. It can help lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. It can help lower your blood pressure and help you control your type 2 diabetes. Walking can help manage your weight and improve your mood!

If it has been a while since you’ve done any type of exercise, you should check in with your doctor first and start gradually to prevent injury and sore muscles. Start with a time and distance that is comfortable for you – it might only be 5 to 10 minutes the first few days then gradually increase both time and distance.

Be sure that you wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. Wear loose fitting clothing and dress in layers to accommodate the weather. If you are walking at night, wear reflective clothing so that motorists can easily see you!

Spend about 5 minutes at the beginning of your walk to warm up your muscles. At the end of your walk, walk slowly for about 5 minutes to cool down your muscles. Don’t forget to stretch!

Keep safety in mind when you walk outdoors. Walk with a friend when you can. Carry your cell phone, put your name and contact phone number in your pocket. Avoid dark and deserted areas, carry a whistle or pepper spray in case of an emergency, and don’t use a headset that might keep you from hearing traffic.

You can walk alone, with a friend or a pet. You could gather your entire family together!  Some people will enjoy the peace and quiet of walking alone; others enjoy the time spent with family and friends doing an enjoyable activity. Whichever one of these appeals to you, lace up your walking shoes and start walking today!

Sources:  www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking.; www.ohioline.osu.edu/ss-fact/0105.html ; www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/guide/walking-for-exercise

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University ExtensionFurther Reading:


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Feeling Down and Out….

If you or someone you care about are depressed it is important to take action to combat the issue. Therapy and medication are used to control depression but changes to behavior or lifestyle can be beneficial too. Physical activity, healthy diet, and lifestyle — can be effective natural depression treatments.
“Lifestyle changes are a very important part of treatment,” says Ian A. Cook, MD. Dr. Cook is the director of the Depression Research Program at the University of California Los Angeles. Dr. Cook recommends six natural ways to fight depression. Routine is very important too. Without routine one day can bleed into next and you can feel a sense of loss of control.
1. Exercise. Study after study has found that physical activity can boost mood. Recommendations of at least one half hour several times per week are noted. The type of exercise you use as a natural depression treatment doesn’t seem to matter. Your physician may have recommendations on a certain type of aerobic exercise needed for your health, such as to help your heart, but the benefit of moving is what seems to be needed for depression. Music or reading while exercising may have a positive effect on your mood too.
2. Diet. Although there is no special diet recommended for depression, a healthy diet is really the key.
“Nutrition is an important element in your effort to help treat your depression,” Dr. MacKinnon, John Hopkins Associate Professor of Psychiatry, says. “Healing from depression is a physiological process, just like healing from a physical injury and without good nutrition medications for depression can’t work as effectively.”
Some medication used to treat depression can lead to weight gain, so working with your health care professional may be helpful too.
3. Sleep. Sometimes those with depression sleep too much and often insomnia is a problem with those suffering from depression. No matter which one is occurring, taking actions to correct it is important.
Try to make your lifestyle more sleep friendly. Healthy sleep tips include: Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, avoid too many or napping too long, and take all the distractions out of your bedroom — no computer and no TV.
4. Goals. Realistic goals are important for depression treatment. Accomplishing these realistic goals make you feel good about yourself. You have succeeded! You can then add extra additional realistic goals as you improve. You may have to get help from a therapist, friends or family to set priorities and break things up into reasonable amounts.
5. Responsibilities. A natural inclination when depressed is to give up all your responsibilities at home and at work. This can be more damaging. Having a sense of accomplishment is really important; just like staying active has really big benefits. Likewise know when you are pushing too hard. Maybe rather than full time work or school, part time might be better for a period of time, or consider volunteering. Giving to others can be a great way to feel better!
6. Relaxation. You have to make this happen. This doesn’t happen on its own. Plan a lunch, dinner or coffee date with a friend or meet them at the gym. What a great way to reconnect and relax.  

Depression is not something to be ignored. Even with the springtime weather approaching depression still takes its toll on people. Coping techniques and awareness of ways to improve it are important! Do it for yourself or those you care about now.

Source: Griffin, R., Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression, WebMD, 3/20/12.
Author: Liz Smith, FCS Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

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As spring time arrives, there are many busy schedules with work, school activities, children’s sports schedules and other countless activities that can leave families with minimal time for sit down meals. This ultimately can affect food choices and family meal time.  Ideally, it is healthiest to avoid the fast food venue. In the event you need a “quick fix” for a family meal, use these strategies to make smart choices at the drive at the drive through or counter.

Once In A While

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests keeping trips to fast food restaurants as treats, rather than routine meals. If you keep your family’s usual diet well-balanced and low in fat, a occassional fast food trip won’t hurt you. On the other hand, frequent consumption of high fat foods is unhealthy for adults and children.


A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods will benefit your family’s overall health, setting a standard for healthy eating habits. Review what your family eats over the course of the whole day, rather than the meal itself.  If your dinner will be at a fast food venue, eat foods throughout the day are lower in fat, calories and sodium to compensate for excesses you get in a fast food meal.

Smart Choices

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that whenever your family dines out, you need to pay attention to food portion and remember that drinks contain calories, too. Try some of these tips :

  • Watch portion sizes.  Do your really need to upgrade and get the supersized or “combo” meals.  20 years ago a portion of french fries in an average fast food restaurant consisted of about 20 fries, weighed 2.

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    4 oz, and contained about 210 calories.Today’s portion is 6.9 ounces and has 610 calories.  This is 400 more calories than the 2.4 oz of 20 years ago.
  • Choose lean meats, like turkey breast and thin sliced roast beef from the deli.
  • Steer away from fried foods. If your family can’t resist them, order only a small serving or share an order.
  • Save empty calories from soda and sweet tea.
  • Choose grilled or broiled chicken on a whole grain bread with low-fat condiments like mustard, ketchup, salsa, or low-fat mayonnaise if it’s available.

Written by: Susan Zies, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

Source: Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Fact Sheet FS1091,  Eating Together- Eating Well: Fast Food.. Can It Be Healthy In A Pinch?

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We all love a cold refreshing drink with a meal, after physical activity or as a snack.  Sodas, sweet tea, energy drinks and other sugary drinks taste great; yet contain a lot of calories and no nutrients.  What you drink makes an impact on your health.  Do we stop and think about how much sugar we drink daily?  Do we really want to drink these extra calories daily?

Americans consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 20 years ago.  Nearly 50% of this increased calorie consumption is from sugar-sweetened beverages, Drinking one soda a day can equal an extra 25 pounds per year.

Sodas are getting bigger.  Super-sized sodas can be as large as 4-5 regular cans.

  • 20 oz. soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar
  • 16 oz. Iced Mocha contains 14 teaspoons of sugar
  • 16 oz. Apple Juice contains 13 teaspoons of sugar
  • 20 oz. Sports Drink contains 12 teaspoons of sugar
  • Water contains 0 teaspoons of sugar

Next time you pour yourself a drink, don’t pour on the pounds!  Drink plenty of water and add cut up fresh fruit for added flavor.  If you drink juice, add some water or seltzer to cut calories and sugars.  Skip sports or energy drinks and choose water.  This will quench your thirst.  Read labels and menu boards to learn how many calories and sugars are in your favorite drinks.

Written by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Sources:  nyc.gov/health

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According to the Harvard School of Public Health “Nutrition, exercise, and sleep are the three pillars of good health”, but while nutrition and exercise get a lot of press, sleep isn’t mentioned nearly as often. Think about yourself, “Did you get 7 or 8 hours of sleep each of the last couple nights?” I know that I didn’t. So why should we be concerned about sleep and our health?

First let’s think about why we need sleep:

  • During sleep our body produces valuable hormones and chemicals are replaced.
  • Our brain is reenergized and repaired during sleep.
  • Our immune system increases our resistance to infections during sleep – which may prevent a cold or the flu.
  • Cells, tissues, and muscles are repaired during sleep.
  • Adequate sleep improves our mood and relationships with others.
  • Our thinking process is improved and we react more quickly with proper sleep.

Fatigue from lack of sleep can contribute to a number of serious health problems including: heart disease or heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, depression, stroke, irregular heartbeat, and even an increased risk of breast cancer. Other risks associated with a lack of sleep include workplace and traffic accidents – studies show that 1 of 6 traffic accidents are due to falling asleep at the wheel. Workplace tiredness is reportedly causing US industries over $100 billion each year as well.

Tips for getting better sleep:

  • Avoid caffeine for about 6 hours before bedtime. This stimulant takes that long to work its way through your system.
  • Alcohol and nicotine are also stimulants to avoid close to bedtime. They will disrupt sleep and cause awakening.
  • Exercise regularly, but not close to bedtime. Exercise will raise your body temperature and cooler body temperature is associated with better sleep.
  • Avoid using electronics, which stimulate the brain, close to bed time. This includes TV’s, cellphones, e-readers, and computers.
  • Move your pets out of your bedroom – they disrupt your sleep with noise and movements.
  • Maintain a regular bed and wake time, even on weekends.

To improve your sleep and your health avoid using sleeping pills and create a bedroom that encourages sleep. To do this: move the TV out, get a comfortable pillow, put a note pad by the bed for jotting down ideas, make sure your room is dark and cool – which may mean you need to move the night light or alarm clock, don’t snack in bed, and most important – use your bedroom for sleep and sex – not a bunch of other things.


American Psychological Association, http://www.apa.org/.

Wellness Council of America, http://www.welcoa.org.

WebMD,  Coping With Excessive Sleepiness. 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss,  http://webmd.com/.

Progressive Insurance, Workplace accidents prevention and tiredness, http://www.progressiveic.com.

The Harvard School of Public Health, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Your Guide to Healthy Sleep, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/sleep.

Written by: Lisa Barlage, Patricia Brinkman, and Jenny Even, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences Educators.

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Raising kids, eating right, spending smart, living well – that’s the theme of a national Living Well campaign being promoted by Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educators, both at the national level and here in Ohio. The goal of the Living Well Campaign is to provide people with the education and information they need in order to “live well.”

OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Educators work through Ohio State University Extension to offer all kinds of information that will help families achieve a positive, healthy lifestyle. Whether you are trying to lose weight through meal planning and exercise, save money for retirement, or balance work and family responsibilities, Extension probably has the answer.

March 11-17 is National Extension Living Well Week, and it’s a good time to get better acquainted with your local Extension office. Visit OSU Extension online at http://extension.osu.edu/ to learn more.

In recognition of the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS), the Ohio Live Healthy, Live Well team is sponsoring a “blog” contest.  Please share your “personal story” as to how you have benefitted from the Cooperative Extension Service.  By sharing your story, you will be entered into a drawing to win your own personal copy of our NEAFCS Living Well More Than a Cookbook.  Please send your personal story to shuster.24@osu.edu by 12 a.m. EST, March 18th.  The entrant of the winning entry will be notified via email during the week of March 19.

The NEAFCS Living Well More Than a Cookbook answers your questions with research-based information for Living Well with practical tips. The first section, Recipes for Living, includes the following:

  • Healthy Lifestyles
  • Living Green
  • Home Safety
  • Financial Management
  • Care of Textiles
  • Etiquette

Living Well offers you a world of adventure in food from across the United States including recipes for planning a party or feeding the family.

— Thinking of a Western barbeque – check out Montana’s Big Sky Elk Roast or Nebraska’s Cucumber Ranch Steak with Alabama’s Fried Green Tomatoes and Missouri’s Blackberry Cobbler.

— Enjoy a Seafood Feast with Maryland’s Crab Cakes or Connecticut’s Clam Chowder topped off with Maine’s Wild Blueberry Gingerbread or Indiana’s Sugar Cream Pie.

— Summer Picnics won’t be the same once you serve Hawaii’s Chicken Lu’au, Nevada’s Pine Nut Salad, Mississippi’s Grilled Sweet Potatoes, or Georgia’s Peach Crumble.

You’ll find recipes from all 50 states and family favorites from Family and Consumer Science Educators. Members of the National Association of Family and Consumer Sciences deliver nutritional information, food safety tips, preparation suggestions and recipes for Living Well.

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

OSU Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all educational programs conducted by Ohio State University Extension are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, age, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or veteran status.

Keith L. Smith, Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, OSU Extension TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868

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Have you wondered just how lean that piece of meat is?  When comparing ground meats do you get confused as to what may be the leanest?

As of March 1 fresh meat and poultry has to carry the Nutrition Facts label we see on other packaged goods.  Not all packages have to contain a label but the information has to be on a poster or in a brochure at the store.  However, all ground meats must be individually labeled.   You should be seeing Nutrition Facts for the most popular cuts of beef, chicken, lamb and pork.

These Nutrition Facts labels will make it easier to identify what meat and poultry items are the leanest.  The label has to include calories in a defined portion size, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrate and total protein.

The USDA’s rules use averages for the nutritional data.  Certain factors can make a difference in the nutritional data such as portion size, cooking method, grade of meat, and non-trimmed fat.

For most whole cuts of meat the nutritional facts are based on the three-ounce cooked portion.  However, shrinkage during cooking of some cuts of meat can make a big difference.  Ground meat labels are based on a four ounce raw portion which cooks down to about three ounces.

The cooking method can reduce the fat content of the meat, thus affecting the numbers.  The labels give the numbers for healthier cooking methods such as broiling, grilling, roasting on a rack and sautéing.

Grades of meat contain different amounts of fat marbling in the meat which affects the numbers.  Thus, you will see different numbers for meat from choice to select grades.  The Facts label assumes that all but one-eighth inch of fat has been trimmed away.  This may not be the case so the trimming the fat can save you in fat content and calories.

Understanding the labeling on ground meats will be easier.  The new label will include the lean and fat percentages by weight.  You will be able to check the saturated fat per serving to decide which ground meat is leaner.

When shopping look for these leaner cuts of meat:  eye round steak and roasts, sirloin steaks, ground beef that is 90% lean, pork tenderloin, skinless chicken and turkey breasts.  Make sure your portion size is not oversized.  A portion of meat is usually considered three ounces which is about the size of a deck of cards.  Happy Shopping!


Tufts University, [2012].  No more meat mysteries, Health & Nutrition Letter,  The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, March 2012, #3(1)   3.

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