Archive for April, 2012

If you’re like most people in this country, you could lose a few pounds for either personal appearance or for health concerns. A simple way to accomplish this is to avoid overeating. Overeating is when you eat more food than what your body needs for daily maintenance and growth. The extra food you consume simply has no purpose for your body and therefore gets stored as fat. Overeating is triggered by different signals in different people. These may be the temptation of seeing delicious looking food or even just smelling food.

The first step to conquering overeating is portion sizes. In a study examining recipes from The Joy of Cooking cookbook from the last 75 years, recipes have 63% more calories in them now compared to 75 years ago. About 2/3 of this is because the serving have increased in size, the other third is because the recipes have more energy-dense ingredients such as butter. Next time you cook from a recipe, look at the suggested serving size and compare it to how much you should be having. If it’s more than what you need, adjust the recipe size to make as much as you need or put some away for leftovers right away so you’re not tempted to eat everything.

The size of your plates also makes a difference in how much you eat. Believe it or not, people who eat with larger plates, bowls and glasses consume more food without even realizing it. If you’re the type of person who knows they’re done eating when your plate is clean, you will consistently eat more food. In a famous study by Dr. Brian Wansink of Cornell University, some participants were given soup bowls that constantly filled with more soup and others normal soup bowls. The bottomless soup bowl participants consumed on average 72% more soup. The surprising result was that these people said they were not full even after consuming well over a normal bowl of soup because their brain did not register how much they have eaten.

To prevent these events from happening, simple steps can be taken.

  1. Look at the portion sizes given in recipes and restaurants. If it is too much, set it aside immediately to take home as leftovers. Ask for a to-go box when you order even.
  2. Start using smaller chinaware. Plates, bowls and even glasses all contribute to overeating. Try using tall, skinny glasses that look like more fluid than short, wide glasses.
  3. You don’t have to clean your plate. Times have changed since you were a child, and it is perfectly acceptable to leave food on your plate. Just save it for leftovers.

Written by: Andrew R. Richardson, Dietetic Intern with Wood County Extension FCS Program, Masters Food & Nutrition Program, Bowling Green State University, School of Family & Consumer Sciences.

Information gathered from:

Brain Wansink. Modifying the food environment: from mindless eating to mindlessly eating better [pdf document]. Retrieved from Con Agra Foods Science Institute at http://www.rippeinfoservices.com/conagra-foods-science-institute/webinars/introduction.htm


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Increases in blood pressure increases your risk for heart disease. People from very young to seniors can take steps each day to keep blood pressure levels normal.

  • Eat a healthy diet. Eating healthfully can help keep your blood pressure down.  Eat many  fresh fruits and vegetables of varying colors which provide nutrients such as potassium and fiber. Also, eat foods that are low in saturated fat and cholesterol.  Avoid sodium by limiting the amount of salt you add to your food. Be aware that many processed foods and fast foods are high in sodium.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure. Losing weight can help you lower your blood pressure!
  • Be physically active. Physical activity can help lower blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate physical activities for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. Move more!
  • Cholesterol is a fat-like substance in the body. High levels in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke.
  • Saturated fats come largely from animal fat in the diet, but also from some vegetable oils such as palm oil.  Studies1 have shown that people who eat a healthy diet can lower their blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, see CDC’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Web site


  • NIH: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
  • NIH:, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; 2003. The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure

Author: Marie Economos, Ohio State University Extension Educator,  Family and Consumer Sciences.

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MyPlate is designed to introduce an easy-to follow food guide icon for figuring out how to eat healthy.  The colorful divided plate is a great tool to plan healthy meals.  The USDA’s MyPlate method helps people consume a variety of foods.  MyPlate recommends half the plate consists of vegetables and fruit, with the other half made up mostly of whole grains and a portion of lean protein.  The higher fiber content of these foods will help you stay full longer.  Including low fat dairy products as a part of a healthy diet is a good source of calcium.

MyPlate defines the five food groups as the basics for a healthy diet.  Fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins and dairy are the framework for building a healthy daily intake.    Different colors provide different benefits, so eat a variety!

The targeted message of MyPlate includes:

  • Balance your calories
  • Enjoy your food
  • Avoid oversized portions
  • Compare sodium on food labels
  • Choose water instead of sugary drinks

Visit the ChooseMyPlate.gov website to learn more about MyPlate, weight management, physical activity and to use the super tracker to plan, analyze your diet and daily physical activity.

Source:  ChooseMyPlate.gov

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

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Are you guilty of spending more time watching TV than talking to your family? If most of us kept track of our daily activities we would probably find that this is unfortunately true. A number of organizations have begun promoting a TV or Screen Free Week over the last 10 to 15 years, with many of them holding activities in 2012 during April 30 to May 6. So why is cutting back on TV or screen time important?

  • There are many studies which show that we spend on average 4 to 5 hours per day watching TV, but only 35 minutes per day having a meaningful conversation with our family members.
  • Unfortunately American TV also is increasingly violent, which may promote violent or mean children.
  • Too much TV viewing has been shown to result in poor student grades, because they problem solving skills and creativity levels decrease and children who watch more TV usually read less.
  • Research studies also support that children who watch more TV are more often overweight. Causes may be because they are less active, or because they watch more commercials for sugar sweetened or high calories snacks and drinks.
  • Many homes also have multiple televisions or other screens that pull families apart and encourage lack of family time and conversation.

Once you have decided to do a TV or screen free day or week you may need to plan ahead with a list of possible activities if you usually spend your evening in front of a screen. Why not try a few of the following:

  • Let family members pick a different game to play together each night. You will probably have to use your brain for a few math problems in the process.
  • Explore nature, plant a garden, work in your yard, play with your pets, or visit a park.
  • Work on a craft or scrapbook page together. It is a perfect time for starting a Mother’s Day gift from the heart.
  • Read a book (by yourself or together as a family is even better), go to the library, or write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while. Everyone loves to get mail!
  • Clean out your garage or closets and have a yard sale or donate the items to a charity.
  • Go bowling, take a picnic, or ride bikes.
  • Spend time cooking a real family meal together, with everyone involved in the preparation and clean-up.
  • Organize a TV or Screen free fun night for your neighborhood, friends, church group, or youth club.

If you don’t think you can go the whole week without watching television, why not try to reduce your TV time by taking a few TV free nights or setting a limit of 1 hour of TV viewing? You will probably get more done and have more meaningful conversations with your family members or friends.


University of Michigan Health System, Television and Children, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm.

Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/.

LimiTV: Promoting Growth and Achievement, http://www.limitv.org/.

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

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RELAX!!! Today is National Stress Awareness Day. This is your opportunity to recognize that there is plenty of stress in your life… as if you didn’t already know. More importantly, today is an opportunity to learn, and to do something about the stress…… before it drives you batty or worse.

The sights and sounds of stress are all around us: a newborn baby crying; a coach psyching up the softball team; and a college student biting their nails before a midterm.

Stress can be good or bad.  It can work against you or for you.  Psychologists point out, stress is normal.  And it’s not always unhealthy – if you learn to handle it.  To get stress under control, one must learn to “Simplify”.

S – Slow Down

I – Imagine Doing Less

M – Make Time for Loved Ones

P – Practice Patience

L – Learn to Gently Say No

I – Increase Your Quiet Time

F – Follow Your Heart

Y – Yield to Life – Yield to Peace – Yield to Joy

For most of us, work is an inescapable fact of life – it is the way we obtain the physical necessities of existence.  However, everyone needs to renew, recharge and relax.  But making an effort to enjoy life’s little moments simply means taking the time to stop and smell the roses.  The secret is in slowing down long enough to savor the sunrise, stroll in the park, sip your coffee – to enjoy the things that are the essence of life.

Let go! Take a chance.  Simplify.

Writer:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, OSU         Extension, Perry County or http://perry.osu.edu


Ebron, A. (1996). Why Goofing Off is Good for You. Family Circle, February 1, 28 -31.

Hansel T. (1983). When I Relax I Feel Guilty.  Elgin, Ill.: David C. Cook Publishing.

Hill, E.J., Ferris, M., & Weitzman, M. (2001).  Finding an Extra Day a Week: A Positive            Influence of Perceived Job Flexibility in Work and Family Life Balance. Family            Relations, 50, 49 – 58.

Jenkins, M. P., Repetti, R.L., & Crouter, A.C. (2000).  Work and Family in the 1990s. Journal of       Marriage and Family, 62, 981 – 995.

McGee-Cooper, A., Trammell, D. & Lau, B. (1992).  You Don’t Have to Go Home From Work   Exhausted!  Bantam Books.

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Just last month another group of lawmakers proposed a bill to eliminate trans-fats from grade-school lunches. Why do trans-fats continue to be used when all you have heard is bad?
Synthetic trans-fats raise you “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and increase your triglycerides. Thus, these synthetic trans-fats increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. An increase in just an extra two percent of calories from synthetic trans-fats per day increases your risk of coronary heart disease by 23 percent. In a 2006 Harvard study on women those that ate the most synthetic trans-fats were more than three times more likely to develop heart disease than those who ate the least amount. Another 2006 Harvard study found that an increase in synthetic trans-fats showed an increase in weight during an eight year study. It has also been associated with inflammation and a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
There are two kinds of trans-fats, natural and synthetic (manufactured). Natural trans-fats are found in certain meat and milk products in small amounts. Researchers are not sure whether these natural trans-fats have the same bad effects as synthetic trans-fats. Health advocates are not suggesting you avoid or limit these natural trans-fats.
Synthetic trans-fats are inexpensive to produce, easy to use, and will last a long time on the shelf. Synthetic trans-fats give food a good taste and texture. Restaurants like trans-fats as they can be used multiple times, especially for frying foods. Trans-fats are made by adding hydrogen atoms to liquid oil, like vegetable oil. On the ingredients label they are listed as partially hydrogenated oils. They are used in many food products including pastries, pie crust, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarine and shortenings. Fried foods such as French fries and doughnuts usually contain synthetic trans-fats.
Experts are agreeing that no amounts of synthetic trans-fats are safe to consume. We need to avoid or at least limit them. So how do you find them? The Nutrition Facts label on food can provide part of the information. Trans-fats do appear on the label, but the government allows the manufacturers to claim 0 trans-fats if the food contains less than 0.5 grams of fat. If you want to avoid trans-fat completely you need to look at the ingredient label of the food and see if “partially hydrogenated” is listed. These key words identify synthetic trans-fats in food. You want to be sure to limit your consumption of trans-fats to less than one percent of your total calories per day. If you consume 2000 calories a day that would be eating less than 2 grams of trans-fats a day.
When shopping look at the ingredients of the food if “partially hydrogenated oil or shortening” is listed try to find a similar food that does not include the words “partially hydrogenated.” Check the ingredients on the foods listed above and pot pies, and microwave popcorn.
When cooking at home use oil preferably olive, canola, or vegetable oils. Limit or avoid use of shortenings and stick margarines unless trans-fat free.
Being choosy now can lower your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and possibly, type 2 diabetes.
American Heart Association, [2011]. Trans Fats, Downloaded on 2/26/12 from

Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source: Shining the Spotlight on Trans Fats, University of Harvard, Downloaded on 2/26/2012 from

Mayo Clinic staff, [5-6-2011]. Trans Fats are double trouble for Your Heart Health , Mayo Clinic
Downloaded on 2/26/12 from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/trans-fat/CL00032

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Live Healthy, Live Well Spring Email Challenge

Sign up today to get healthy with us. This email challenge may be just what you need to jump into wellness this spring.

When: April 23 – June 4, 2012

What does it cost: Nothing it is Free!

Who can participate? Any adult with an email account.

What is included: Twice weekly educational messages, tracking log for progress, Facebook account for group interaction, weekly drawings from participants for wellness and fitness prizes.

Why: To improve your overall health and well-being while providing valuable research as to the effectiveness of social media as a means of disseminating educational information.

How do I sign up? Email treber.1@cfaes.osu.edu with subscribe in the subject line.

Sponsored by: Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners Cooperating.

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