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Archive for December, 2016

listIt’s hard to believe that we are approaching the beginning of 2017. This is the time when many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions.  Do you make a resolution or two each year? How successful are you at fulfilling your resolutions?

I recently saw a definition of a New Year’s Resolution as a “to do list” for the first week in January!

For many people, unfortunately, this joke is their reality. Research shows that only 8% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved. Some say that the reason our resolutions don’t work is that they are sometimes based on wishful thinking. Who doesn’t want to be happier, thinner, fit, more financially secure, etc.!  If only we could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Since that’s not possible, how can we help to ensure that the changes we want to see for ourselves are carried out?

The best advice for making positive changes in our lives is to be ready for the challenge.  There are  two basic strategies that can help you be successful:

1st Set realistic goals

  • Choose one or two achievable goals.
  • Don’t be overly aggressive with behavior change – take it slow!
  • Write them down. If you can see them each day, it may give you the motivation you need.

2nd Create an environment that will help you to succeed.

  • If you want to lose weight or become more fit, find an activity that you enjoy.
  • Ask others to help. A walking buddy can help you commit to that daily walk.
  • Enjoy a piece of fruit (or vegetable) every afternoon as a snack. This behavior helps you increase your fruit and veggie intake which may lead to behavior changes that encourage weight loss.
  • Don’t buy junk food – fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food and snacks.
  • If saving money is your goal, be sure you know the difference between your “wants” and “needs”.
  • Increase your money management skills by taking a class on budgeting or finance.

As you are making these new habits a part of your life, it would be good to avoid places, people, and situations that you know encourage your old habits. Stay away from people who try to sabotage your plans for a healthier life. Start with a small change and once it becomes a habit, explore the next step that you can take to achieve your overall goal.

Set some milestone markers and reward yourself when you reach them. That first marker might be walking at least 3 days per week when your goal is 5 days.  Buy yourself something fun – maybe a new pair of funky socks.

Maybe most importantly, don’t expect perfection!  Remember, you want this to be a new-years-resolutionlifelong change. There will be times that you will slip back into old habits but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your goals. Recognize your mistake, refocus and move forward.

Author:  Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County

References:

http://moneysmarts.iu.edu/tips/basics/new-years-resolution.shtml

http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statisticshttp://extension.usu.edu/htm/news-multimedia/articleID=4157

http://extension.psu.edu/health/news/2016/be-successful-in-keeping-new-year2019s-resolutions

http://uwyoextension.org/uwnutrition/2013/01/31/new-years-resolution-solutions/

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/the_three_most_important_tactics_for_keeping_your_resolutions

 

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I’ve noticed that more people are expressing concern over the use of plastic in the kitchen. It seems like there is always some email being forwarded around the country about the hazards of cooking and/or storing food in plastic. As Jack Webb’s ‘Joe Friday’ character in Dragnet used to say; “all we want are the facts, ma’am.”

The problem with “getting the facts” is that research is still challenged to find definitive answers. The long term effects of plastic usage are not readily observable.  If you have a nut allergy and eat peanuts, you feel sick right away.  If you ingest chemicals when you eat food that was microwaved in a plastic container, you don’t immediately feel or notice anything different (if ever). But there may be epigenetic changes to your cells that eventually surface in your children or grandchildren as serious health issues.

Our ancestors used to take cloth bags and glass or metal containers to the general store to purchase food stuffs; now we go to grocery stores where everything is pre-packaged. The four types of materials currently used to package food include glass, metal, plastics and polystyrene, and paperboard/cardboard. Chemical migration from packaging into food is much more likely to come from plastic, paper, and/or cardboard.

What chemicals should I be concerned about?

BPA: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical produced in large quantities in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Services (NIEHS), “the primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet. While air, dust, and water are other possible sources of exposure, BPA in food and beverages accounts for the majority of daily human exposure.”

NIEHS says BPA can leach into food from the epoxy resin coatings inside canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers, water bottles, and baby bottles. The amount of BPA that leaches into your food or liquid depends on (1) the temperature of the liquid, food, and/or bottle, and (2) the age of the container.

Currently the National Toxicology Program, in partnership with the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research is carrying out in-depth studies to clarify safety issues regarding BPA migration.

Recommendations from the NIEHS:

  • Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from overuse at high temperatures.
  • Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle code numbers 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
  • Reduce your use of canned foods.
  • When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
  • Use baby bottles that are BPA free.

Sources:

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/sya-bpa/

http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm064437.htm

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

 

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Holidays seem like they should be a joyful time, but when you’ve experienced a loss, the grief can make you painfully aware of the sharp contrast between how you feel and what the holidays ‘should’ bring. These tips may help you get through a difficult time.

  1. Only do what is doable. Holiday time tends to be busier than usual and it’s easy to overload your calendar. This can leave you feeling tired and burned out. It’s up to you to decide which activities you will participate in. It’s okay to say no.
  2. Accept your feelings. The way we experience and express grief is different for everyone. There is no timeline or ‘normal’ path through grief. Holidays can intensify grief because we tend to make a lot of memories with our loved ones at celebrations. Some people feel guilty when they have period of joy. Whatever your feelings, accept them as they come with each up and down.
  3. Ask for help. Reach out to family or close friends who can lighten your load. Maybe they could run an errand for you, or maybe you just need someone to listen to you.
  4. Plan ahead. A little planning can save you time, money and hassle. Combine some errands. Save some time for yourself in all the planning. Create some comforting rituals that help you take care of yourself.
  5. Scale back. Simplify your giving. Cut your Christmas card list in half. Don’t bake quite as much. Put up fewer decorations. There are many ways to simplify at holiday time.
  6. Give. Consider giving to a charity in memory of your loved one. Volunteer to serve others for a cause that honors your loved one. Making a positive difference in someone else’s life can be brighten our spirits as well.memory
  7. Acknowledge those who have passed on. It can help with healing to honor the memory of loved ones in a special way during the holidays. Perhaps you can light a candle in their honor or share stories about them.
  8. Do something different. Sometimes traditions and rituals help us remember special times with loved ones. Other times it may be more painful to experience the tradition without a loved one. This might be just the year to start a new tradition. You could go to a different location to celebrate, maybe even a good time to get away for a bit. Do what seems right for you this year.

References:

Goyer, A. “Dealing with Grief During the Holiday Season: 10 things to help get you through this difficult time. AARP. Dec. 2012.

Alvord, M., Fu, M. & Palmiter, D. “Making the most of the holiday season.” American Psychological Association. Nov. 2016.

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

Reviewed by: Jami Dellifield, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Hardin County

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1017151259gThere are many things I love about the holiday season: the lights, cheer, traditions, time with family and friends, just to name a few. At the same time, there is one thing I dread: baked goods and sweet treats seem to be everywhere, and avoiding them takes significant planning and effort!

I have many friends who enjoy baking, either as a tradition during the holiday season or as a hobby throughout the year. Most of these individuals will tell you that they like to give away the treats they make because they don’t want to keep them in the house. This statement leads me to wonder, if bakers themselves don’t want to be tempted by baked goods in their homes, what leads them to think that others will appreciate the temptation if given these items as a gift?

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the average American adult gains about a pound between mid-November and early January each year. Although a pound might not seem like a big deal, those pounds add up when they’re not burned off in the spring, summer and fall months, which is the case for many Americans. A study published in the same journal concluded that at least half the weight gained during the holiday season remains into the summer months and beyond. With this information in mind, giving baked goods to people who are trying to watch their weight, cut back on sugar consumption, count calories or generally make more healthful food choices is hardly a gift. Presenting well-intentioned people with tempting sweet treats can sabotage even the best of efforts!

cookies-1314196_640

If you like to bake during the holiday season, consider trying an alternative hobby or starting a new tradition that supports health. If you are a regular recipient of holiday baked goods, don’t be afraid to suggest the following ideas to the bakers in your life:

  • Make and exchange ornaments, small gifts or hand-written cards in place of cookies and candies
  • Create fruit santas (such as those pictured above) or other holiday fruit treats instead of baked goods
  • Give fruit baskets as gifts in place of cookie trays, cakes and pies
  • Play board or card games with children when you would typically spend time baking together
  • Take a family trip to a park, museum, theater production or holiday lights display
  • In the workplace, suggest a “no dumping” policy to discourage coworkers from bringing cakes, cookies or other desserts from home. Bring healthy snacks and pack healthy lunches throughout the holiday season so you’ll be less tempted to fill up on sweet treats that you do encounter.
  • Write thank you letters to firemen, policemen and members of the armed forces to express your gratitude for their service instead of donating baked goods.

What will you do this year to make your holiday season healthier? Share a comment with your plans!

 

Author: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

 

Sources:

Chieh, Helander & Wansink (2016). Weight Gain over the Holidays in Three Countries. New England Journal of Medicine; 375:1200-1202. Available at http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1602012.

Yanovski et al. (2000). A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain. New England Journal of Medicine; 342: 861-867. Available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336296/.

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It’s that time of year when the buzz words of gratitude and gifts circulate. We strive to be grateful for the things we have and show gratitude for the things we receive. It is also astress time when we wait with excitement to see what gifts we will receive, and the reaction of those we love when they open their gifts. Just as important as gratitude and gifts during the holiday season we should also introduce the idea of guided imagery.  What is that?  What could it possibly have to do with the Holiday Season?

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, guided imagery is “any of various techniques (as a series of verbal suggestions) used to guide another person or oneself in imagining sensations and especially in visualizing an image in the mind to bring about a desired physical response. It is often times used a tool to reduce stress, anxiety and pain.

The Holiday Season is a time for family, friends, joy, peace, gratitude, love, sharing, caring and giving.  However, it can also be a time of stress, anxiety, remembering a lost loved one, arguments, pain, exhaustion, regret and financial challenges.  Therefore, what better time than the Holiday Season to understand what guided imagery is and to utilize it?

Ohio State University’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center states that “guided imagery practices can help patients relax, improve sleep, prepare for surgery, experience greater clarity, compassion and gratitude and feel more calm, confident and comfortable. The Center offers the following free guided imagery recordings in the following topics for practice of guided imagery.

  • Accessing Inner Intuition and Wisdom
  • Autogenic Training
  • Breathing Deeply for Relaxation and Stress Reliefmug
  • Comfort in the Face of Grief and Loss
  • Easing Pain
  • Prepare for
    Procedure
  • Prepare for Surgery
  • Progressive Muscle Relaxation
  • Relaxation
  • Relaxation for Children
  • Relaxation Imagery with a Pool of Light
  • Safe Place
  • Skill Master
  • Sleeping Deeply, Easily, Restfully

During the Holiday Season, please take time for YOU and listen to a “guided imagery exercise to promote your health and well-being.  So, close your eyes and remember, all you have to do is breathe”.

“Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice.  We are uncommonly and marvelously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne”.
– Alice Childress

Written by:  Janet Wasko Myers, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development, Ohio State University Extension, Clark County, myers.31@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, O
hio State University Extension, Clark County, green.1405@osu.edu

Sources:

The Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/guided-imagery

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Improving Your Health Through Stress Reduction.  http://wexnermedical.osu.edu/patient-care/healthcare-services/improving-your-health-through-stress-reduction

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.  Mindfulness Practices – Mindfulness practices can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, insomnia and stress.  http://go.osu.edu/wexnermindful

 

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Did you know that giving gifts can be good for the gift giver? There are numerous research studies showing the health benefits to gift giver of improved physical and mental health. Giving can lower your blood pressure, heighten happiness, and improve our self-esteem.  While we are often on the lookout for that perfect gift for our family members, maybe this is the year to look for a gift that encourages wellness.

Several years ago our Blog featured an article that had many wellness gift ideas for adults, while those ideas are still wonderful we thought it might be time to focus on healthy gift ideas for children too. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • Board games are great – they typically promote family time, often include physical activity, boost math skills, and get everyone away from the TV.
  • Little ChefsChildren’s cookbooks and child size cooking equipment – purchase equipment they need to make the recipes in the book or give them their own grocery store gift card to buy the food they need for a couple recipes. I can still remember the year my daughter got an apron, tiny rolling pin and baking sheet when she was about 6 years old. She loved using them.
  • Play farms, farmer’s markets, or kitchens – these toys encourage young children to think about where their food comes from and how it is prepared.
  • Books – especially those that encourage physical activity. Almost any child’s book is a great gift for the family who reads together, but those that encourage activity are even better. Look for themes like hiking, dancing, soccer, or swimming. Books that encourage giving are also a positive addition.
  • Craft or electronic kits and building blocks – gifts that encourage creativity and building work the side of our brains that often gets neglected. They also promote problem solving and originality.
  • Bikes, sleds, hula hoops, or fishing poles – all encourage families to get moving. Don’t forget to get the necessary safety equipment like a helmet or shin pads.outdoor-play
  • Pay the registration fee for a child to participate in lessons – think dance class, soccer club, archery, or swim. You may want to check with parents before getting this gift or be prepared to help with driving the carpool.
  • Give a coupon for the child to pick a day at a city, state or national park. This may include hiking, canoeing, or participating in a class offered by wildlife personnel. Promise to go with them!
  • Seeds, herb gardens, or plants – they promote science, encourage children to learn responsibility, and can be used when cooking if they grow herbs or vegetables.
  • Help children pick wellness gifts for their friends or other family members – this encourages them to think about healthy options and helps them to promote wellness in others.

What gifts are you going to buy your family to encourage wellness and health? Comment below to let us know your ideas.

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

Reviewers: Pat Brinkman, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Fayette County, and Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Perry County.

Sources:

Harvard School of Public Health, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/12/03/healthy-gift-guide-17-ideas-for-giving-the-gift-of-health/

The Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/11/why-giving-is-good-for-your-health/

Ohio State University Extension, Live Healthy Live Well, https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/12/04/give-a-gift-of-wellness-this-holiday-season/

Purdue University, http://www.purdue.edu/uns/html3month/2006/061205T-DeHavenFitness.html

Penn State Extension, http://extension.psu.edu/youth/betterkidcare/news/2014/art-an-opportunity-to-develop-childrens-skills

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The holidays are a time for eating delicious food and spending time with friends and family. Studies show the average American gains one pound during the holiday season.  If you are on a special diet due to elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol, holiday foods can be tricky.  No one food or beverage is good or bad, but some have more health properties than others.

Review the following five holiday foods to indulge in this year (and the seven to limit consumption of) to ensure a healthy holiday season.

NICE Holiday Foods

  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Tangerines
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts

Eat these lighter, nutrient rich foods more often during the holiday season. Make it a challenge to try and get the healthiest version of each dish available.

NAUGHTY Holiday Foods

  • Egg Nog
  • Pecan Pie
  • Gravy/Sauces/Dips
  • Cheese Cake
  • Fudge
  • Croissants
  • Coffee Beverages

These foods and drinks are special occasion foods to enjoy on a limited basis. Reach for these foods less often or modify the recipes to make the dishes healthier.  Choose wisely during the holidays.  Plan ahead for holiday parties, drink water prior to eating out, and eat the “naughty foods” in moderation.

Take care of yourself this holiday season, and remember that fitness, stress management and sleep also play important roles during the holidays!

Written by: Beth Stefura, RD,LD, Ohio State University, Extension Educator, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

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

Resources: http://www.webmd.com/doet/healthy-holidays-8/holiday-food

Healthandwellness.vanderbilt.edu/files/hpHTSHolidayTips.pdf

 

 

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