Archive for the ‘Healthy People’ Category

"If you want to reach your goals, you must shrink the size of your but." - Toby Mac #speaklife

July was a big month for me. After evaluating and reflecting on my personal wellness in a blog post in June, I decided it was time to act. Motivated in part by the meme pictured above, which I initially saw on a friend’s social media page, I knew it was time to stop making excuses for my lack of inactivity and re-invest in my personal well-being.

In June, I had identified coping with stress as a priority area for my overall wellness. I knew I needed to either resume an exercise routine (my former go-to method for coping with stress) or identify an alternative stress coping strategy. I decided to resume exercising, and I set a SMART goal for myself to re-establish a routine. 

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. My goal was to attend at least one fitness class for a week for a month. This goal was:

Specific – I stated what I wanted to accomplish.

Measurable – At the end of the month, I could tell whether I had achieved my goal by looking at my fitness class attendance.

Attainable – Because I did not have a current routine when I set this goal, I started small by challenging myself to attend just one class a week.

Realistic – In setting this goal, I knew I had the time and financial resources to attend fitness classes at a convenient location for me.

Timely – My goal was for the coming month.

I am proud to say that I met my goal, and now I am working toward a new goal of attending two or more fitness classes each week this month!

Before setting and achieving this goal, I was not entirely inactive; I used resistance bands and my own body weight to do simple strength training exercises while at work, and I took walks around my neighborhood when I was able. But, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, while some physical activity is better than none, engaging in moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity is key to experiencing substantial health benefits.

Regular moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity:

  1. Reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes such as coronary heart disease, stroke, certain types of cancer, diabetes, hypertension and Alzheimer’s disease; and  
  2. Promotes brain health by reducing anxiety and depression risk while improving sleep quality and overall quality of life.

The guidelines state that the benefits of physical activity generally outweigh the risk of adverse outcomes or injury. However, if you are starting a new physical activity routine, make sure to choose types of activity that are appropriate for your current fitness level, knowing that you can increase your activity over time to meet your goals. If you have a chronic condition and/or are unsure about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for you, take time to consult with a health care provider before setting a goal or beginning a routine.


Stanford BeWell. Achieving your SMART health goal. https://bewell.stanford.edu/achieving-your-smart-health-goal/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2018). Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County, lobb.3@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu


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mushroom kit

One of my co-workers received a mushroom kit as a Christmas gift last winter. They are becoming very trendy as “the gift that keeps on giving” because you can harvest 2-3 crops from the kit and they are an alternative to the more traditional fruit bouquets or cookie food gifts. If you enjoy gourmet mushrooms such as Portobello, Shiitake or Enoki varieties, you can grow them at home for a much lower cost.

Gourmet Mushroom Kits

Most mushroom growing kits usually consist of a 12 by 12 inch square block of compressed sawdust “medium” that has been enriched and inoculated with spawn of the particular mushroom variety being cultivated. Mushrooms, being fungi, do not grow like regular garden vegetables. They are generated from spores, not seeds. The growing medium may vary, depending on the type of mushroom in the kit. Manure and compost may also be used to start mushrooms.

Mushroom growing kits are low-maintenance. All they really need is fresh air, water, a decent location, and a little patience.

Harvesting Time

Once you harvest the first crop of gourmet mushrooms, you will probably generate 1-2 more crops. Allow the spawn to rest for a couple of weeks and then you can repeat the entire process to produce additional harvests.

The subsequent crops of mushrooms will tend to grow smaller and produce fewer mushrooms as the nutrients contained in the growing medium become depleted. Once the crops have finished producing, discard the compost (you can throw it in your mulch or dig it into garden beds). If you decide to get serious about growing your own mushrooms, you may want to take the next step which is growing mushrooms on logs.

Nutrition Tips

Mushrooms are high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and counteract the bad effects of sodium in the diet. Mushrooms are low calorie and low carb; one cup of mushrooms contains about 15 calories and three grams of carbohydrates.  They are virtually fat-free.

If you like the big Portobello mushrooms, they can be used as a meatless entrée as well as a side dish. Portobellos have huge, flat, open caps that lend themselves extremely well to being grilled. Eat one in place of a hamburger or steak to reduce your saturated fat intake and lower your risk for heart disease.





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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What are Ultra-processed foods?  Ultra-processed foods are manufactured foods that Picture of brightly colored candies.went through many processes before getting to the supermarket.  Most of these foods could not be made at home, as you would not be able to purchase all the ingredients needed, such as colorings, emulsifiers, anti-caking agents, hydrogenated oils, protein isolates, and modified starches (to name a few).  Food examples include sugary cereals, ready-to-eat meals that contain additives, packaged baked goods such as cookies and croissants, potato chips, instant soups, and processed meats like salami, chicken nuggets (reformulated chicken pieces), sodas,  and hot dogs.  Usually ultra-processed foods have a long list of ingredients. The production techniques used reduce costs while making the products convenient.


NOVA Food Classifications (developed by Brazilian scientists and being widely used by others) have these four categories:

  1. Unprocessed foods such as vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, legumes, moPicture of vegetables and fruitst meats, poultry, seafood, whole grains, yogurt (fermented milk), natural juice, coffee, and water.
  2. Minimally processed cooking ingredients such as vegetable oils, sugar, salt, honey, butter, and lard. Some of these can cause health concerns.
  3. Processed foods like fruit and vegetables canned, frozen or dehydrated; pasta; condensed milk; cured ham; traditional breads; beer and wine are examples.  These processes are not health concerns.
  4. Ultra-processed foods as defined in first paragraph.

The first three categories are used in homemade culinary preparations making cooking easier.

What is the problem with consuming ultra-processed foods?

  • Consuming more ultra-processed foods increases the risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, irritable bowl syndrome, diabetes, and cancer. Researchers are not certain why ultra-processed foods cause health problems.
  • Many ultra-processed foods are high in sugar, salt, saturated fat, and calories and low in fiber and important nutrients. Some researchers estimate that 60% of the calories Americans eat are from ultra-processed foods.
  • One major concern is when people choose these foods they tend to overeat causing weight gain. One study found people who ate more ultra-processed foods tended to eat 500 more calories a day than people eating unprocessed foods.

Ways to eat more whole foods

  • Check the ingredient label on foods. Limit as much as possible anything that contains artificial flavors, hydrogenated oils, or substances you can’t pronounce or recognize. All ingredients should be ones you would be able to put in a food from your kitchen.
  • Be a Smart Shopper. When you go to the market think produce, dairy, nuts, legumes, meat, and fish. Most frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are good choices.
  • Make it yourself. Stock up on staple ingredients.  Making salad dressings only take a few minutes. Add fruit to plain yogurt instead of purchasing sugary-fruit flavored yogurt.
  • PlPicture of fruits- apple, grapes, kiwi, pear, orange and other fruitsan ahead for snacks. Choose whole fruits, nuts (make your own trail mix), hummus with veggies, etc.   Many whole fruits are easy to take with you and don’t require refrigeration.
  • Skip creamers and sweeteners in your tea and/or coffee. Use milk instead and get used to not using a sweetener.

Consume whole foods which are unprocessed or minimally processed to help control your weight and maintain your health.


Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, brinkman.93@osu.edu


Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension



Hall, K., Ayuketah, A., Brychta, R., Cai, H., Cassimatis, T., Chen, K.Y., Chung, S. T., Costa, E., Courville, A., Darcey, V., Fletcher, L.A., Forde, C. G., Gharib, A.M., Guo, J., Howard, R., Joseph, P.V., McGehee, S., Ouwerkerk, R., Raisinger, K., Rozga, I., Stagliano, M., Walter, M., Walter, P.J., Yang, S., and Zhou, M. (2019) Ultra-Processed Diets Cause Excess Calorie Intake and Weight Gain: An Inpatient Randomized Controlled Trial of Ad Libitum Food Intake. Cell Metabolism, 30(1) 67-77  Available at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413119302487?via%3Dihub


Levine, H. (2019). The Mounting Evidence Against Ultra-Processed Foods, Consumer Reports. Available at: https://www.consumerreports.org/packaged-processed-foods/the-mounting-evidence-against-ultra-processed-foods/?EXTKEY=NF96NCF2&utm_source=acxiom&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190608_nsltr_food


Monteiro, C.A., Cannon, G., Moubarac, J-C., Levy, R. B., Louzada, M. L.C., and Jaime, P.C., (2019). Freshly Prepared Meals and Not Ultra-Processed Foods. Cell Metabolism 30(1) 5-6   Available at https://reader.elsevier.com/reader/sd/pii/S1550413119303092?token=01A385B03B05C6BAFDF3C4626BA2E81134778C18F68A189AFD3C6E7FD5D6CCF26C827D2760A7647668D8D2DA391A618D








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Allulose is a new low calorie sweetener that is beginning to make an appearance in foods on grocery store shelves.

If you are used to scanning the sweeteners on grocery store shelves, you may have noticed a new ingredient recently. Though it has been on the market here in the US since 2015, allulose is beginning to make an appearance in more foods for a wide variety of reasons.

Allulose is often called a rare sugar. I just figured this was a clever marketing term, but there is actually an International Society of Rare Sugars in Japan. Though we think of sucrose (that white granular substance we use while cooking and baking) as sugar, there are actually over 50 kinds of rare sugar that show up in nature. A little tweak here or there to a basic sugar molecule can result in a different sweetness level, different browning characteristics, and a different way of being metabolized in our gut.

In April of this year the FDA announced that allulose can be excluded from the total and added sugar counts on Nutrition Facts labels when used as an ingredient. Susan Mayne, Ph.D. and director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition stated “The latest data suggests that allulose is different from other sugars in that it is not metabolized by the human body in the same way as table sugar. It has fewer calories, produces only negligible increases in blood glucose or insulin levels, and does not promote dental decay.”

So what does that mean for us? If a food contains allulose as an ingredient, it will be declared in the ingredient statement on the label. However, it will not show up on the label as an added sugar in the Nutrition Facts. Each gram of allulose can be calculated as contributing 0.4 calories per gram rather than 4 calories per gram like sucrose. I recently saw a bag of allulose in a grocery store with a front label that read “100% sugar free.” Be on the lookout for these types of claims. Allulose is still a sugar.

Allulose occurs naturally in very small amounts in foods like wheat, jackfruit, figs and raisins. However, on a commercial scale, allulose can be made through a special processing of carbohydrates from corn, sugar beets and other sources of sucrose.

Allulose is an intriguing new ingredient for food manufacturers who are striving to give consumers what they say they want: a reduced sugar product that tastes great without the aftertaste or controversy of artificial non-nutritive sweeteners. It will most likely begin to show up in products marketed toward those trying to lose weight and those with Type 2 diabetes as research continues into the effects of allulose on blood glucose and insulin levels.

Like all novel ingredients, remember that this is just one promising tool to aid in achieving sweetness at a lower calorie level. In most cases, allulose is going to be included in foods that we should only be eating occasionally as special treats anyway. It is hard work to eat a balanced diet in moderation and enjoy physical activity, yet these are the keys to healthy living. Make it a healthy day!

Written by: Emily Marrison, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Coshocton County

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County


International Society of Rare Sugars (2019) at http://www.isrs.kagawa-u.ac.jp/index.html

Arnold, N. (2019, April 17) FDA in Brief: FDA allows the low-calorie sweetener allulose to be excluded from total and added sugars counts on Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels when used as an ingredient. athttps://www.fda.gov/news-events/fda-brief/fda-brief-fda-allows-low-calorie-sweetener-allulose-be-excluded-total-and-added-sugars-counts

The Calorie Control Council (2019) Allulose Low Calorie Sugar at https://allulose.org/

Green, E. (2018, June 27) Allulose potential: German start-up develops “real sugar without calories” at https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/sugar-without-calories-german-start-up-eyes-emerging-potential-for-allulose-in-europe.html

Wenli, Z., Yu, S., Zhang, T., Jiang, B., & Mu, W. (2016) Recent advances in D-allulose: Physiological functionalities, applications, and biological production. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 54, pp.127-137. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2016.06.004 at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tifs.2016.06.004

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/cupcake-cake-sweets-sugar-carrot-279523/

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I admit I am a book addict, and reading is by far my favorite hobby. If I miss more than one day of reading, I start to get grouchy. Reading relieves my stress. When I heard there was a “National Book Lovers Day”, I felt I had to share a few of the benefits that I find, and that research also supports.

If you are reading this you likely won’t say, “Why should I read?” You realize that while your brain is technically an organ, you can think of it like a muscle and if you don’t use it – you will lose it. This is important for all ages. The mental stimulation of reading prevents or slows the progression of Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Research supports that reading just six minutes a day can reduce a person’s stress level by up to 68% (more than listening to music, playing video games, or going for a walk). Baby sitting on an adult's lap is looking at a book

Reading aloud to children, and even prenatally, can improve their language skills, build vocabulary, and prepare them to learn. There is strong research that shows children who read independently score higher on achievements tests and display more empathy. Remember that reading is contagious, if children see you reading books they are more likely to read books as well.

How to celebrate Book Lovers Day:

  • Visit the library – renew your library card, sign out regular books or e-books, or take part in a program.
  • Attend a book or author festival – while you probably won’t be able to do it this week, it may be an idea for your next vacation or girl’s trip. Several years ago I took a road trip with my daughter to Kentucky to an author event so she could meet a favorite author. It was interesting to meet the authors and we stocked up on books. There are all types of themes – children’s, romance, teens, or authors from a specific state, for example.
  • Give the gift of books – baby shower, birthday, secret pal, or even your parents. Books are a loved gift for people of all ages. You may need to do a little research to find out what they like before you shop or order.
  • Host or join a book club – but make sure you actually read at least some of the books.
  • Follow your favorite authors on social media – they often give books away and may actually be signing at a book store or library in your area. Birdhouse shaped book exchange cabinet
  • Reread a favorite book or read a classic you may have missed – reading it again may bring back memories from your youth. Look at a listing of classic (nonfiction, children’s, religious, historical, etc) books that everyone should read? How many have you read?
  • Donate books – donate used books to a non-profit, the hospital waiting room, the local book sale for scholarships, or an elementary school. Several teachers I know have asked for friends and family to sponsor a child in their class the last few years by giving the child their own new book for the start of the year.
  • Make sure you read the book before you watch the move – many movies are based on books, why not read it before you watch to see how close they are to the original.

We can’t wait to hear your ideas for ways to celebrate “National Book Lovers Day” or discover the benefits you experience from reading. I know my husband would probably comment that I read enough to have no stress at all.

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

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.


University of California, Santa Barbara, https://geog.ucsb.edu/10-benefits-of-reading-why-you-should-read-every-day/.

Rasmussen College, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/education/blog/benefits-of-reading-to-children/.

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woman holding blue vape pen
Photo by Thorn Yang on Pexels.com

Most people are aware of the dangers and health risks associated with smoking.  Over the last several years this has caused the consumption rate to experience a steady down turn.  The tobacco industry has rallied back by creating and introducing a sleeker, sexier, new product known as e-cigarettes.  E-cigarettes have grown to be the most commonly used tobacco product among U.S. middle and high school students.  The U.S. Surgeon General reported in 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. youth, including 1 in 5 high school students and 1 in 20 middle school students, currently use e-cigarettes.  Adults are not immune to this trend, a whopping 10.8 million adults use e-cigarettes in the U.S.  Even more shocking, one study published by the American College of Physicians reported 15% of e-cigarette users had never smoked cigarettes before.

Trying to make sense of what has been referred to by the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome M. Adams, as an “e-cigarettes epidemic” can be quite confusing and overwhelming.  The National Institute of Drug Abuse defines an electronic cigarette as an e-cigarette, e-vaporizer, or electronic nicotine delivery system which are battery-operated devices that people use to inhale an aerosol.  They typically contain nicotine, flavorings, and other harmful chemicals.  There are over 450 different e-cigarette brands on the market but some common nicknames for them include: e-cigs, e-hookahs, hookah pens, vapes, vape pens, and mods.

You might be asking yourself, “What is the appeal of e-cigarettes”? People cite several different reasons for using e-cigarettes but some of the most popular include: 

  1. The taste – there are over 15,000 different e-liquid flavors containing nicotine and other chemicals such as:  propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, benzaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde, etc.
  2. Curiosity – currently there are no restrictions on e-cigarette marketing like there is on tobacco products
  3. Accessibility – e-cigarettes can easily be purchased on the internet by minors
  4. Friends and/or family use them – most youth report receiving their device from friend/family with a positive message of no harmful risks associated
  5. The belief that they are less harmful than other forms of tobacco – e-cigarettes are highly addictive, contain harmful cancer-causing chemicals, and damage the brain and lungs

Most health organizations and officials agree it is still too early to know the potential long-term impacts of e-cigarettes.  According to the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, there is evolving evidence supporting negative impacts including irreversible lung damage, lung disease, addiction, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases.  While only time will reveal the overall negative health consequences, the CDC suggest practicing the following prevention strategies:  be tobacco-free, talk to your kids, friends, and family about why e-cigarettes are harmful for them, and let your children know you want them to stay away from all tobacco products because they are not safe. 

Author: Lorrissa Dunfee, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Miami County


“The 3 Main Reasons Youth Use e-Cigarettes.” Truth Initiative, 2018, truthinitiative.org/research-resources/emerging-tobacco-products/3-main-reasons-youth-use-e-cigarettes.

Mirbolouk, Mohammadhassan, et al. “Prevalence and Distribution of E-Cigarette Use Among U.S. Adults: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2016.” Annals of Internal Medicine, American College of Physicians, 2 Oct. 2018, annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2698112/prevalence-distribution-e-cigarette-use-among-u-s-adults-behavioral.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes).” NIDA, 2018, http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/electronic-cigarettes-e-cigarettes.

Surgeon General’s Advisory on E-Cigarette Use Among Youth. e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/surgeon-generals-advisory-on-e-cigarette-use-among-youth-2018.pdf.

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Have you joined the Instant Pot craze? This kitchen appliance has gone viral, changing the way we cook.  The primary reason for its popularity? Convenience!  In addition to the versatility of usage with the basic Instant Pot, you can utilize Bluetooth connectivity on the Instant Pot “Smart,” which allows remote use with the help of an app.  It is Alexa and Wifi enabled. Imagine turning on dinner from your Smartphone while you are still at work!

The Instant Pot functions as a:

  • Pressure cooker. It uses pressure and heat to cook foods, which will provide quicker cooking of foods – usually in half the time of traditional methods.
  • Slow cooker. Want to cook more slowly? The Instant Pot does that as well.
  • A fryer and steamer. The Instant Pot sautes and steams – the built in heat source at the base of the machine allows you to use the pot to sear meats and/or saute vegetables, as well as simmer liquids for steaming.
  • Rice Cooker. Easy to use; this feature makes perfect rice with liquid and sensors. You don’t have to watch over it or stir.

An instant pot is a programmable all-in-one pressure cooker. It offers many healthy food options.   It quickly batch-cooks healthy staples such as chicken breasts, eggs and potatoes.  Keeping your refrigerator stocked with pre-cooked healthy basics is a convenient way to quickly prepare different meals throughout the week.

Pros of using an Instant Pot include:

  • Uses only one dish – the instant pot! So there is a reduction in the amount of dishes to wash.
  • Uses less fat. Great for reducing the amount of fat in cooking since moisture is used instead to pressure cook. This leaves the product moist and tender with no additional fat.
  • Includes a handy timer. Set the timer and the instant pot will beep when the cook time is complete.
  • Possesses a variety of settings. Includes settings for making yogurt, searing meat, steaming, boiling and baking.
  • Dinner can start with frozen items – no need to defrost. It is safe to put frozen meats and vegetables into the Instant Pot. However, it will require additional time to pre-heat and cook.

There are many healthy Instant Pot recipes now available to use for quick meals. Most of your favorites will easily adapt to being cooked in an Instant Pot.  Just avoid recipes using lots of cheese or butter.

Written by: Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

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






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