Archive for October, 2013

Halloweejack o lanternn is right around the corner and can be a fun filled family time.  My sister has an open-house event, complete with healthy chili cooking in the crock-pot and the adults dress up to pass out the treats. It is fun to see the surprise on the faces of the kids when they see the adults dressed up!

Treats are part of the fun but perhaps this year you will share a non-sweet treat with those who visit your house. Kids will get plenty of candy and may welcome this change of pace. Small packages of crackers can be great for those tiny Halloween participants; even toddlers can safely enjoy a cracker snack.

Here are some other Halloween Treats you might want to try:
· Small bags of pretzels
· Small boxes of raisins or other dried fruit
· Small bag of graham crackers
· Apples
· Small containers of modeling clay
· Fall themed pens, pencils or erasers
· Stickers
· Temporary Tattoos
· Spider Rings
· 100% fruit snacks
· 100% fruit juice boxes
· Cereal bars

If you must give out candy, pass out a miniature size. Even if you pass out two, it will be a smaller amount than a full-size candy bar.
Enjoy walking around your neighborhood and visiting neighbors while participating in this fun fall event. You’ll get some physical activity which can help off-set the extra calories you may consume from snacking on sweet treats. When you get home from your Halloween adventure, laugh with your kids as you enjoy a piece of your favorite candy.

Take a few minutes to sort your bounty into piles:
Favorite Treats
Don’t Like/Throw Away Items
Non-food Treats
Food Items – good for Lunches or Snacks


If you are lucky enough to get some non-food treats, such as spider rings, tattoos, pencils, or pens, place them in their own special pile. You may find that your favorite goblin enjoys those treats as much as the candy. When enjoying your treats, remember to do so in moderation. Your candy can last until the New Year and it is OK to throw some of it out!

Writer: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, Ohio State University Extension.

Reviewer: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Source: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Tricks to Enjoying Halloween Treats.” Retrieved 10-21-2013 from http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442458793.


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Brain-Exercise1Many people exercise primarily to firm, tone, and/or lose weight. Those are all admirable goals, but they focus primarily on the outside of the body. A big “inside” part of the body affected by physical activity is your brain. We don’t put our heads into exercise equipment or walk upside down (at least not on purpose), so we tend not to think of the brain as an organ affected by exercise. But exercise improves brain function in both children and adults. “I like to say that exercise is like taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment,” says John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”

Why move to help your brain?

• Exercise increases blood flow within the body. This allows the brain cells greater access to the food and oxygen in the blood, which helps improve attention and memory function.
• Exercise increases levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine; neurotransmitters that make the brain’s neurons function more efficiently.
• Aerobic exercise actually causes neuron synapses to grow denser, improving the ability to learn and remember.
• Physical activity builds self-esteem. Even if your body doesn’t change dramatically, the improvement in your fitness level can cause you to feel better about yourself.
• Physical activity reorganizes the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and you feel less anxious. Excessive stress can alter brain cells, structure and function.
• Exercise protects the hippocampus, the part of your brain that governs memory and spatial navigation. It is one of the first regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease.


Researchers have found that a significant relationship exists between physical activity and cognitive function in children aged 4-18 years. Physical activity improves a youth’s perceptual skills, intelligence quotient (IQ), achievement, verbal tests, mathematic tests, developmental level and academic readiness. Wow! So many good reasons to get your children off the couch and get them moving.


Remember the old song “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the hip bone…?” Your body systems also interconnect when you move. During physical activity, the cardiovascular system ramps up. It in turn tells the renal system to move, which then tells your muscular system to get cracking. Those systems are overseen by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which are also communicating with each other. And topping it all off is the brain. It is the bossiest part of your body; it controls virtually every other part. The brain will be the last part of you that dies. Take good care of it and move–your–body!!


Written by:
Donna Green, BS, MA
Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences
Ohio State University Extension

Reviewed by:
Liz Smith, M.S, RDN., L.D
NE Regional Program Specialist, SNAP-ED
Ohio State University Extension

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Do you eat while watching TV? Or in front of your computer?  Or while working? Recent research has indicated that distracted eatindistractedg can lead to increased calorie consumption. Several of these studies compared two groups of eaters – those who ate in front of the TV and those who didn’t. The basic findings were that those who ate while watching TV tended to consume more calories at that meal; and those who paid attention to their meal tended to consume fewer calories at a later meal.

There is a mind body connection when it comes to eating. Your awareness of the food you’re consuming is one of the cues your body uses to decide how soon to be hungry again. If you are oblivious to what you’re eating, it is not only easier to over-consume at that meal, you also tend to get hungry again sooner because you don’t recall having eaten.

imagesThe opposite of distracted eating is to be mindful or attentive to what you are eating. Unplug the computer, TV, etc. and eat at the table. Take time to set the table with silverware and plates, maybe even candles! Eat at a slower pace. In fact, you can try to eat a normal-sized meal taking at least 20 minutes, since that is the time it takes for your brain to get the message that your stomach is full.

To slow down:

  • Eat with your non-dominant hand.
  • Put your fork down between bites.
  • Take a sip of water between each bite.
  • Notice the color, smell, texture, temperature and taste of your food.
  • Take small bites and savor them.
  • Put away cell phones and other electronic devices.
  • Have pleasant conversations with family, friends or co-workers during your meal.

The benefits of attentive eating are not only consuming fewer calories, but also increasing the likelihood that you’ll eat healthier food and enjoy it more!

Writer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewers:  Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County and Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County


Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, LeWine. “Distracted Eating May Add to Weight Gain.” Retrieved 9-16-2013 from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/distracted-eating-may-add-to-weight-gain-201303296037

Daily Mail, Health Home, Innes. “Why eating in front of the TV makes you fat: You consume 25% more LATER in the day without realizing.” Retrieved 9-15-2013 from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2295303/Why-eating-TV-makes-fat-You-consume-25-LATER-day-realising.html#ixzz2ehZG1Mu8

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As adults, we recognize the importance of getting enough sleep each night. It is easy for us to see how much better we feel and how much better we function when we have had a good night’s sleep. When it comes to our children though we may not think about how a lack of sleep can impact their daily lives.

Children’s mental and physical development is directly impacted by sleep. From the newborn to teenagers, getting the proper amount of sleep is going to help them function better.

There are several reasons why getting enough sleep is important for children.

  • Sleep helps keep the body’s immune system working properly.
  • Sleep helps the brain retain new learning and helps with memory recovery and retention.
  • Sleep impacts the emotional centers of the brain which controls rational behavior.
  • Sleep allows the body to relax and recharge.

Current research also indicates that not getting enough sleep can be one of the causes of obesity. These studies are observational but the Harvard School of Public Health reports that several studies have followed large numbers of children over long periods of time and have observed a convincing association between lack of sleep and obesity in children.

How much sleep does a child need? Here is a table from the National Sleep Foundation:

sleep chart

Would you recognize signs that your child is not getting enough sleep?

  • Always falling asleep in the car – especially on short trips
  • Very hard to wake in the morning – you have to wake them repeatedly
  • Irritable or moody
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Trouble concentrating

So, how can we help our children get enough sleep?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a consistent bedtime routine  – make it positive and relaxing.
  • Be consistent with your child’s sleep schedule.
  • Keep TV’s computers, video games, etc. out of your child’s room.
  • Watch for caffeine in products your child drinks.

So remember, when thinking about healthy habits; include sleep near the top of the list! Helping your child develop good sleep habits at a young age will benefit them for the rest of their life.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewed by Kathryn Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County


Iowa State University Extension   http://www.extension.iastate.edu/polk/news/help-children-get-enough-sleep

Harvard School of public Health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/sleep-and-obesity/

Oregon State University http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lincoln/sites/default/files/family_care_docs/ep-_An_Important_Part_of_Healthy_Development.pdf

National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/children-and-sleep

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Amid all of the crazy busyness of our daily lives, it’s paramount to spend time together as a family. Common activities strengthen family bonds and build a strong foundation for nurturing, communicative, healthy relationships; those feel-good family moments.

Autumn provides opportunities for those feel-good family moments by enjoying the beauty of nature while learning about life on the farm through the neighborhood pumpkin patch. No matter what your age, there’s something very special about visiting a pumpkin patch and what better way to strengthen your family than a fall family outing?

I don’t know about you, but in my travels this fall, not a day goes by that I don’t see an opportunity to visit a neighborhood pumpkin patch.

Agritourism (income from agriculture tourism) allows farm operations to boost their income by adding a variety of activities such as pick your own pumpkin, apple, or produce patches; haunted trail/scary maze; fun-centers with bounce houses and slides; barn parties; and petting zoos with llamas, alpacas, goats, ducks, and geese. These activities bring out the “kid” in all of us.

Undeniably, what people go in search of in the neighborhood pumpkin patch are pumpkins. But, what people are really seeking is a good time, and a memorable family experience.

In addition to the neighborhood pumpkin patch, here are a few suggestions to increase time together with the family this fall – pumpkin patch

• Pumpkin carving or decorated gourd contest – Have a pumpkin carving or decorated gourd contest. Set the timer for one hour and allow each member to create the pumpkin/gourd of their choice. Have a friendly competition, awarding a prize for the best decorated pumpkin/gourd.
• Build a scarecrow – Make a scarecrow together using at least one piece of clothing from every family member. This can be especially fun if you find old pieces of clothing that have a story or a special memory.
• Read some fun fall books – Visit your local library for a variety of fall-themed books you can enjoy as a family. Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert and Pumpkin Circle – The Story of a Garden by George Levenson are two great choices to get you started! Head to your local library and see what titles await you.

Happy fall!

Written by: Cynthia R. Shuster, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ross County/Ohio Valley EERA.

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It takes 21 days to develop a habit. Make a commitment to yourself and mark your calendar for the next 21 days to start a physical activity. Start with small steps. For example, start today before you take your shower with 10 jumping jacks or crunches. Add 10 more jumping jacks or crunches daily until you reach 100. Once you reach 100, stick with it on a daily basis before you take your shower to begin to develop the exercise habit.

Choose activities that are fun and easy to do regularly. Be sure to do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time. For example, walking the dog for 10 minutes before and after work, or a 10 minute walk at lunchtime helps to start the journey to develop an exercise habit. Keep a pair of walking or running shoes and comfortable clothes in the car or at the office to be ready for physical activity.
Ideas to increase physical activity
At work:
• Replace a coffee break with a brisk 10 minute walk
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
• Start a walking club at work during lunch time
• Invite co-workers to take a walk or move to a workout DVD after work

journey walking

At home:
• Get the whole family involved – take a bike ride or walk around the neighborhood
• Walk up and down the soccer field sidelines while watching the game
• While your dinner is baking in the oven, try yoga or Pilates

• Exercise to a workout video
• Walk, skate or cycle
• Join a dance class
• Take a nature walk
• Most importantly – have fun!

Before you know it, 21 days will have passed by, an exercise habit is formed and the journey begins for a more active life!

Sources: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/physical-activity/increase-physical-activity
Writer: Beth Stefura M Ed, RD, LD. Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, MA, LD. Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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