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 I love walking into the grocery store into the produce section! The colors and textures of the fruits and vegetables are bright and beautiful. Seeing my fridge at home packed with a bright selection of fresh produce is fun too if I have a plan to use them all.

One-third of the world’s food is wasted. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of food waste happens at the consumer level. In the US, the average person wastes 238 pounds of food per year or about 21% of the food they buy. This costs consumers $1,800 per year. Fresh fruits and vegetables account for the largest of these losses. 

Reevaluating your fridge can help not only the environment but your wallet as well. Consider these tips to help optimize your fridge and fresh food storage:

Prep: I often find a member of my household staring at the open fridge then uttering the famous words “there’s nothing to eat.” Doing a few minutes of prep work after grocery shopping can save time later and ensure your fresh produce gets used. Cut carrots, broccoli, celery, and other vegetables. You will be grateful this is done when you are reaching for a snack. Having these prepped also makes them a quick option to add to meals. Finally, unused fruits and vegetables that are already prepped can be added to a freezer-safe container and frozen before they spoil.

Clean: Set aside time each week to clean and take an inventory of your fridge and freezer. This task can be done in 30 minutes. Take time to throw away expired food and leftovers while wiping spills and cleaning surfaces. As the food is returned to the fridge take stock of what needs to be used and plan. Use this cleaning to check the temperature of your fridge and freezer. Your refrigerator should be at or below 40°F. The freezer temperature should be set at 0°F. Checking these temperatures regularly can help ensure your food stays fresh longer.

Glass Jars: Consider using recycled glass or mason jars for food storage. These are great to keep food fresh and are easy to see what is inside. Glass jars are easy to clean and their airtight seal will keep foods fresh. To reuse jars, just wash, remove the label, and they are good to go!

Throw in a Towel: Sounds weird? Wrapping fresh broccoli or cauliflower in a slightly damp towel will keep them crisp. Storing spinach or lettuce in a glass container with a dry towel on top will help them stay crisp and fresh.

Don’t Over shop: Try not to over shop.  You may get excited about a good deal, but if you don’t have a plan to use a large amount of something on sale that good deal may become food waste. Try to keep in mind how much of an item that you will use and avoid buying more than you need. Cleaning and taking regular stock of what is in your fridge will help avoid overbuying.

You know your fridge and your habits more than anyone else. Consider your habits and the foods you enjoy while you figure out a system that works for you. If you are storing food safely there is no right way to stock and maintain your fridge.

View Looking Out From Inside Of Refrigerator As Woman Opens Door And Unpacks Shopping Bag Of Food

Writer: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension

Resources:

Are You Storing Food Safely? (2021) U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/are-you-storing-food-safely

Food Waste Is a Massive Problem-Here’s Why. (2021) FoodPrint.

Tourney Time Snacks!

While many of us are just happy to be able to watch the madness of basketball tournaments this March – we know that it will not be like other tournament years. We will not be gathering for parties, many of us are still not eating in restaurants/pubs, and we cannot watch the games live yet (in most cases) – so you will likely be fixing the game day snacks yourself. When you plan your game-day menu, do not throw out your goals of a healthy diet – keep in mind that there are better snack choices.

You may have heard of the new 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans which focus on several messages that you can follow for a great game-day snack plan:fruit tray

  • Limit food and beverages higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium
  • Limit alcoholic beverages (eat your calories instead of drinking them)
  • Focus on eating nutrient dense foods which include a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins (including meatless meals, nuts, eggs, and fish)

Looking at those guidelines lets choose a few tourney time snack options that keep us on track for a more healthful diet overall:

  • A vegetable tray with hummus or bean dip instead of high fat (and usually sodium) dip
  • Cheese and whole grain crackers or bread
  • Fresh fruit skewers with yogurt and nut butter dip
  • English muffin mini pizzas with veggies on top (instead of ordering takeout pizza)
  • Buffalo cauliflower bites (instead of wings, I personally LOVE these!!)
  • Homemade Banana Nice Cream
  • Infused water made with fruits the color of your favorite team (mine will be scarlet berries)

Most of these snacks can be made the night before for easy game-time serving, you will just need to make your mini pizzas quickly and heat your buffalo bites. I will share a buffalo bite recipe that I enjoyed recently (and I do not even like cauliflower). If you compare this recipe to many others online, it has no butter and a lot less breadcrumbs – and trust me – it still tastes great! I preferred the oven-baked to air-fryer, but air-fryer was super quick.

I cannot wait to hear your favorite healthy versions of tourney time snacks. Comment below to let us know what you serve.

Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe

 

Source: Start Simple with MyPlate Today, file:///C:/Users/barlage.7/Documents/Dietary%20Guidelines%202010/2021%20-%202025/DGA_2020-2025_StartSimple_withMyPlate_English_color.pdf

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

Reviewer: Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County.

It has been almost a year working from home. I look back on the year and have realized how much I have grown practicing self-care. I am going to be honest I can promote and share self-care practices, but it doesn’t come easy for this mom of four! Looking back on the first few weeks working from home learning all the technology, transitioning the kids to virtual schooling, I remember feeling scattered, unable to focus, nervous, and completely overwhelmed! These feelings made me even more frustrated because I am a working mother of four, and an educator. I take pride in my ability to be flexible and adaptable in any given situation. They now have a term for this feeling, pandemic paralysis, a loss of function or movement of your limbs or an emotional way, where you procrastinate, you can’t move, you can’t act, and you’re not doing the tasks that you need or have to do.

One day in the afternoon when I was feeling overwhelmed, all I could think of was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In our house a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is not the literal sandwich that you may be thinking of! I have 12 yr. old triplets and at one time I could hold all three of them in my lap. Since they have outgrown my lap we have come up with a ‘peanut butter and jelly sandwich’. I am the sticky peanut butter and two of them are the slices of bread and then we have the jelly on top! Feeling anxious, I stopped everything I was doing went and laid on my bed and said, “I need a peanut butter and jelly sandwich”, and they came running and we laid there with our legs and arms all intermingled. We giggled, smiled, and talked as we laid there all snuggled together. Afterward I felt so much better. I no longer felt anxious and was able to go back to working.

Did you know when you are hugged it relaxes muscles, increases circulation, and releases endorphins.  This can reduce tension and soothe aches and pains. Hugging increases levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These are the happy hormones that promote positive feelings like pleasure and happiness which boost our mood and relieves stress and anxiety. Research has shown that hugs can boost immunity, lower stress, increase self-esteem, and reduce depression.

The day I was feeling the need for a hug I had my children. But if you are feeling the need for a hug and have no one to hug, you can trick your brain and give yourself a hug.  By hugging yourself your brain will release the same hormones and you will have the benefits of a warm hug.

How To Hug Yourself:

  1. Wrap your arms around yourself. Bring your left arm across your chest and place your left hand on your right shoulder or upper arm. Bring your right arm across your chest, placing your hand on your left shoulder or upper arm. You can reverse the order, just find a position that is most comfortable for you.
  2. Give yourself a nice big squeeze. Press both arms into your body. Mimic the pressure that you feel when you get a reassuring bear hug.
  3. Hold for as long as necessary. Sometimes a quick hug is all you need, while other times you might want a lingering, gentle hug.

References:

Dunfee, L. (2019). Am I in Control or is My Stress? Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/04/01/am-i-in-control-or-is-my-stress/

Carter, S. (2021). Overcoming Pandemic Paralysis. Live Healthy Live Well Blog, Ohio State University Extension.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/01/28/overcoming-pandemic-paralysis/

Lamburg, E., (2020). Health Benefits of Hugging, Backed By Science.  The Healthy. Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/benefits-of-hugging/

Ocklenburg Ph.D., S., (2018). 3 Surprising Ways Hugging Benefits Your Well-Being, Psychology Today.  Retrieved February 25, 2021 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-asymmetric-brain/201812/3-surprising-ways-hugging-benefits-your-well-being

Written by:  Kellie Lemly, MEd, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Are you still wearing your mask?  Do they really work?  Do you still have to wear one after getting the vaccine? 

a woman wearing a cloth face mask

We all want to get rid of these masks. So, do they really help? Sanja IIic, OSU Associate Professor and food safety state specialist, did some research with Case Western Reserve University to see if mask wearing made a difference.  IIic said the research was done to “demonstrate the droplet transmission and serve as an educational tool on how the viruses are transmitted and how we can prevent them in the community.”  

They tested single-layer and double-layer masks made of different materials. 

  • Most effective masks –  double-layer cotton, which was similar in effectiveness to surgical masks
  • Least effective – single layered polyester masks

These experiments showed that wearing a face mask is an effective way to prevent the transmission of droplets. But, masks need to be worn correctly to be effective.  Masks must:

  • Completely cover the nose and mouth
  • Fit snuggly against the sides of your face without gaps
  • Be two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric
  • Ideally have a nose wire to prevent air from leaking out of the top of the mask

Masks help people not to touch their nose or mouth, limiting the spread of the virus. But it is also important to follow social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart, so droplet transmission is less likely if someone sneezes or coughs. Be sure to wash your masks after use and wash your hands before and after putting on or removing a mask. 

Do you need to wear a mask if you have had the vaccine?  Yes, experts recommend you wear a mask after you have had the vaccine. 

  • The pandemic is not controlled until around 50%-70% of the population become immune due to the vaccine or having the virus. 
  • The vaccine was tested on preventing COVID-19 but not on whether a person could be a carrier of the virus. 

Thus, to help keep everyone safe, please wear a mask and practice social distancing until many more people have been vaccinated. Please consider getting the vaccine as soon as you are eligible.

Infographic available from cdc.gov/coronavirus.  "It's a two-way street. Masks protect you & me. When we all wear masks, we take care of each other.  Wear masks, avoid crowds, stay 6 feet apart, and wash your hands. Take all four steps for the most protection.

Author:  Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer:  Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021).  Your Guide to Masks https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html   

Landino, K. (2021). Dispelling the myths:  Face Masks Work to Prevent COVID-19. College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences News, The Ohio State University,  https://cfaes.osu.edu/news/articles/dispelling-the-myths-face-masks-work-prevent-covid-19

Ohio State Insights. (2021).  Are These Coronavirus Vaccines Safe?  An Expert Weighs in”  https://insights.osu.edu/health/covid-19-vaccine-safety

Throughout the years, plastics have made our lives easier and more convenient, goods and services cheaper. We use them and dispose of them easily. I’m in debt to King Plastic. Having type 1 diabetes, plastics basically keep me alive; my insulin pump uses disposable plastic supplies that I throw away every three days. The car I drive and some of the clothes I wear have plastic which I dispose of eventually too. My keyboard and computer is made up of plastic, of which I have to trade in periodically. I’m not sure what becomes of them. My kids have benefited from plastics- they have had probably three times as many Legos, dolls, and electronics than I had growing up. We’ve been getting rid of these too recently. My dog chews on a plastic bone. The many choices of food I have at the store are thanks to plastic packaging. Hail to King Plastic!

You may have heard that there are three giant patches of plastics floating in the Pacific Ocean. You may have noticed more litter in state and national parks or in streams, rivers, beaches and lakes. Landfills are getting larger and larger. The uncomfortable truth of our convenient throw-away culture is that plastics are everywhere and we are starting to drown in them- literally. Plastics are showing up in our foods and the air we breath. Research suggests that we consume about 5 grams a year- the equivalent of credit card’s worth of plastics! Seafood often has small amounts of plastic because of all the ocean trash that they consume. If we prepare food with plastics, it can leach into our food. We breath plastic especially if we use a clothes dryer. We don’t know all of the health implications but some studies are raising some red flags. Plastic consumption is associated with reproductive, behavioral problems in children, and a host of endocrine problems.

For the sake of our health and the environment- we should quit worshipping King Plastic so much. But how? Consider these small behavior changes to keep plastic out of your body and out of the natural environment. Most plastics aren’t recycled either- so focus on reducing or reusing plastics. Although small, they really add up over a month, year, etc. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Limit single use plastics in the kitchen such as sandwich bags, wrap, etc. Use beeswax and reusable storage containers.

Avoid heating your food or beverages up in plastic storage containers or styrofoam.

Use reusable water bottles- avoid single use bottles.

Bring your own cotton reusable bags to the grocery or recycle your plastic bags.

Use laundry tabs or soap berries instead of laundry detergent in a plastic jug or better yet make your own!

Use wool balls for static reduction instead of dryer sheets.

Install a microfiber filter on your washing machine.

Shop for reused cloths.

Check the ingredients for all body care products to see if they have polyethylene or polypropylene in them. Avoid products with these two ingredients.

Use a bar of soap instead of body wash in plastic bottles.

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, MSPH, Field Specialist, Food Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewer: Susan Zies, M.Ed, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences

Sources

Jill Bartolotta. The Toll of Plastics. OSU Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Inservice. February 18,2021. Zoom recording at https://osu.zoom.us/rec/share/CHNxkTyjQcymON8oUe_WN0MQHsln1KI3AzxbHbmNIeQIuM8N2-sT0CLyl12FO06c.hN44c5jppCbXdmw1

National Public Radio. Plastics- What’s Recycled, What Becomes Trash and Why? Access on 2/26/21 at Plastics: What’s Recyclable, What Becomes Trash — And Why (npr.org)

OSU Extension. Sustainable Action Through Video Engagement. Single Use Plastics. Accessed on 2/26/21 at Sustainability in the Kitchen: Single Use Plastics – YouTube

piggy bank

We can think of our relationship with our children as a bank account.  Just like a real bank account, we can make deposits and withdraws each day. We make “deposits” when we feed our relationship with love, hugs and kisses.  Spending time with your children, listening to them and showing encouragement all increase your balance. Unfortunately, as adults we also sometimes make “withdraws” out of our relationship account. This happens when we criticize, ignore, yell or break promises. As adults we need to make sure that our relationship accounts always have more deposits than withdraws.  Making more “deposits” serves as a proactive effort to ensure that the good times outweigh the bad.  A relationship with plenty of “deposits” also assists in building resiliency in kids.  Resiliency is the ability to handle stress and serves as an insulation to the inability to bounce back after adversity.

PAX Tools Manager Kathryn Tummino discusses Emotional Deposits in a short video that can be viewed here:  Emotional Deposits Pax Tools

“Researchers remind us that we need five positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep any relationship healthy. And since we spend so much time guiding — a.k.a. correcting, reminding, scolding, criticizing, nagging, and yelling — it’s important to make sure we spend five times as much time in positive connection.”


Dr. Laura Markham Ph.D., offers 10 Habits to Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship
1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day
2. Play
3. Turn off technology when you interact with your child
4. Connect before transitions
5. Make time for one on one time
6. Welcome emotion
7. Listen, and Empathize
8. Slow down and savor the moment
9. Bedtime snuggle and chat
10. Show up

Sources
Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University, https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/

Markham, Laura. “10 Habits to Strengthen a Parent-Child Relationship.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 June 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/peaceful-parents-happy-kids/201706/10-habits-strengthen-parent-child-relationship.

PAX Tools. PAXIS Institute 2020, http://www.paxis.org/pax-tools.

PAX Tools – Emotional Deposits, 18 May 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=I80VhmAT2fU&t=138s

Written by Heather Reister, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Butler County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Lately I have been feeling even more isolated and alone than I did at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have found myself retreating and not reaching out to others in the same ways that I did a year ago. But a couple weeks ago, some friends called and asked me to join them for a small girls’ night out dinner. We safely socially distanced from others, and the four of us enjoyed an evening at a hotel together. THAT event has changed my train of thought. I was feeling bad for myself and feeling very lonely, which is not easy as an extroverted person. But what I realized was that even if I cannot spend time with people physically, I do not have to wait for them to contact me. Connection is a two-way street. I can reach out even while staying “safe”.

Connection looks different in every relationship. Sometimes you have a connection because of chemistry with another. Sometimes it is a “forced” interaction because you are colleagues, in class together, or share a common interest. We communicate through verbal and non-verbal signals that can drive connection or cause disconnection. Social media is also a major form of connection for many of us.

YOU WERE MADE FOR CONNECTION. Even if you are an introverted person, I am sure you still have a small circle of people you trust and who are important to you. Interactions drive our daily lives. Connecting with others helps us remember that we matter. Our brains thrive from connection. 

We were also made to show connection through safe, physical touch. Hugging releases oxytocin* and dopamine* and directly impacts cortisol* levels. It is recommended that we should receive 10 second hugs– 8 a day for maintenance, 12 a day for growth, and upwards of 18 for optimal mental health.

  • Oxytocin promotes feeling of contentment, reduces stress, and promotes bonding.
  • Dopamine is linked to Parkinson’s disease (low levels) and Schizophrenia (high levels). Dopamine is the pleasure hormone. Lack of dopamine can lead to procrastination, self doubt, and lack of enthusiasm.
  • Cortisol is our fight or flight hormone. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood and motivation.

In high stress states it feels like our body cannot contain emotion without someone to hold us. Touch is not a single sense. Having your back rubbed stimulates neurons that release oxytocin, dopamine, and cortisol. Vicarious touch can help us to soothe ourselves. A hunger for touch means a need is not met.

We are also our own biggest barrier to connection. We tell ourselves we are okay. We tell ourselves that we can handle it. We tell ourselves we don’t want to bother anyone. I encourage you to please stop doing that to yourself. Think about how you feel when someone reaches out to you and wants to spend time with you. It makes you feel wanted and needed and important. 

Take control of your own well-being. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Send a text. Make a list of who you miss and start putting “Connect with _____________________” on your to-do list every day. It will make a difference. I know it has for me.

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

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Ohio State University Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Perry County

RESOURCES

Yahtzee, Yatzy, Play, Cube, Craps, Fun, Leisure, Tricky
Yachtzee-like game

This afternoon my daughter comes into the living room and asks, “Where is the Yahtzee?” I was a little miffed. Why would I be upset that my 17-yo wants to do something that doesn’t involve technology? Let me explain. My parents recently came home from Florida to get their COVID-19 vaccinations and for a couple medical appointments and they are staying with us. My mom likes to play Yahtzee, so the kids usually end up playing it with her. I was miffed because I would LOVE for my kids to play games with me! I have to basically beg or threaten them to get them to play a game. My “kids” are ages 23, 21, and 17.

Since my parents are usually in Florida during the winter, I am happy to have them here. As I listened to my older son, my daughter, and my mom laughing and hooting downstairs, I couldn’t help but smile. You see, it is moments like these that I realize, the little things really are the big things. As much as I wanted to go down and join in the fun, I didn’t want to interrupt this grandparent-grandchildren bonding time. So, I sat upstairs with a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart, listening to them play Yahtzee. I am very happy that my kids get to have the fun experiences they do with both sets of their grandparents.

Corona 19, Mask, Spring, In The Spring I'M Back, Family
Family with masks on

According to research by the American Psychological Association, happy memories from our childhood, especially of our parents, have been linked to better health later in life. I would never claim to be the best parent, but I hope that my children have more fond memories than not. That the times when I was or am frustrated with them or someone or something else are not overshadowed by the absolute love I have for them and incredible joy it has been and still is to be their mother.

I remember the day I brought each of my kids home. I could not believe that the hospital was just letting me walk out the door with this new life without some type of license or certification demonstrating some level of parenting proficiency. I mean, I can’t legally drive a car without a license. I had to take a class to learn how to save a life, but I was able to just walk right out the door with this tiny human.

When I hear parents of young children complaining or apologizing for their kid’s interruptions on Zoom meetings, I tell them that there is no need. When they are frustrated with their child, I remind them that it will pass. For those of us with grown children, we know all too well how quickly time passes. While you are wishing for them to sleep through the night, to say their first word, to become potty trained, etc. etc., you may be missing out on lots of little things. Little things that some day you will realize were the big things. As I read over this blog about mindful parenting that I wrote, I cannot believe it has been almost 3 years! Time ticks on.

As Bonnie Ware observed while working for hospice, the things people regret when they are faced with death, have little to do with the things we worry most about most of our life. When questioned about regrets patients had or things they would do differently, these were the five most common themes:

Pictures, Memories, Nostalgia, Saudade, Old Photos
Black & white pictures
  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So, as we continue to endure this pandemic and all the challenges, try not to forget to embrace the people and the moments that you have, instead of focusing on when we will get back to “the way things were.” Because I guarantee you, there are little things happening right in front of you, that someday you will realize were the big things.

Written by: Misty Harmon, OSU Extension Educator, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Roseanne Scammahorn, OSU Extension Educator, Darke County, scammahorn.5@osu.edu

References:

American Psychological Association. (2018, November 5). Happy childhood memories linked to better health later in life. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2018/11/happy-childhood-memories

Harmon, M. (2018, March 30). Mindful parenting: Enjoy every moment. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/harmon-416osu-edu/mindful-parenting-enjoy-every-moment/

Meyer, M., & Kandic, A. (2017, October 30). Grandparenting in the United States. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177109/

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. (n.d.). How the Covid-19 vaccine works. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/patient-care/covid-19-vaccine/how-the-covid-19-vaccine-works

Ware, B. (n.d.). Dying regrets, wise advice and life lessons. Retrieved February 18, 2021, from https://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-02-2012/top-five-regrets-of-the-dying.html

In our family we joke about our 2-year-old son having two belly buttons, when he has a feeding tube. When he was born, he struggled to learn how to breath, suck, and swallow a bottle due to a medical condition, and has had some sort of feeding tube since birth, and two years later he has what is called a G-Tube that is placed in his stomach to help supply him with nutritional foods.

Did you know that February is not only heart health month, but also feeding tube awareness month? There are almost 500,000 people that are on a feeding tube, and almost 200,000 of them are children in the United States. There are many medical complications that can lead to a person requiring a feeding tube, including ones that are often called “invisible illnesses” or ones that people cannot visibly see. In my son’s case it is his heart condition, that from birth caused him to struggle with learning to eat.

Common myths surrounding why children require feeding tubes:

  • They are picky eaters. Most children have had their feeding tube since birth.
  • If you wait long enough your child will eat. Many children will starve themselves due their complex medical condition before they learn to eat.
  • Your child looks too healthy for a feeding tube. The children with feeding tubes are healthy due to having a feeding tube providing them nutrition.

Education is key in raising awareness and support for those with feeding tubes. I often worry about my son’s future when his peers see him being fed through his feeding tube if he has it when he starts school. There are a few things one can do to support others.

  • Ask questions when you see someone using a feeding tube. As a mom to someone whose child has special needs. I wish more people would come up and ask questions instead of staring at us.
  • Research online more about the different types of feeding tubes like G-Tubes, NG Tubes, GJ Tubes, and J-Tubes, and understand how they work.
  • Be supportive and patient with friends and family who may have a tube fed child or family member. Learn more information about feeding tube awareness. It will mean the world to them.
  • Remember how important it is to instill kindness, love and support for others. Especially if someone has a disability or a feeding tube. We want the world to be a place where our child feels accepted in school so when tube fed children go to school, we are not worried about how others will perceive our child.

Written by: Bridget Britton, OSU Extension Educator, Carroll County, britton.191@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

References:

https://www.disabled-world.com/disability/types/invisible/

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2016-12-21/life-with-a-feeding-tube

Last year, I transformed into a self-proclaimed bird nerd. The change started in the spring of 2020 when I started working from home because of COVID. I placed my desk next to a window and in April, I noticed a robin building a nest. Watching the robin sit on her nest for hours upon hours was fascinating and I was quickly hooked.

In May, bluebirds visited my suburban backyard for the first time and after putting up a bluebird house, we hosted the pair of bluebirds and their 3 adorable babies several weeks later. I was fascinated by the whole process, from the nesting, feeding, and successful fledging (developing wing feathers that are large enough for flight). I cheered the first day the babies flew out of their box and also experienced sadness when they left their house for good. My sorrow was quickly replaced with joy when a pair of Baltimore orioles passed through for a couple of days. I was enthralled watching the colorful birds eat the grape jelly I set out. Summer brought ruby-throated hummingbirds and warblers. This winter, I am enjoying a barred owl who lives nearby and occasionally graces me with his majestic presence.

Picture of a Barred Owl by Laura Stanton.
Barred Owl
Photo by Laura M. Stanton

Although the joy of birding happens right outside my window most days, whenever possible, I safely visit different habitats to expand the variety of birds to watch. Whether I am inside or outside, I notice so much more than just the birds. I notice positive changes happening within.

The benefits I have experienced from watching our feathered friends have been confirmed by research. Why is birding good for your health? Watching birds:

  • Is a form of mindfulness. Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose, in the moment, and without judgment. Whether you are birding inside or out, you are in the “here and now” which has been shown to decrease stress, anxiety, and rumination, and improve attention, memory, and focus. In addition, mindfulness can reduce chronic pain.
  • Requires stealth and silence. Spending time in silence lowers blood pressure, increases blood flow, and enhances sleep. Silence can also be therapeutic for depression.
  • Encourages meditation. During meditation, you eliminate the “noise” in your mind, creating a sense of calm and peace that benefits your emotional well-being and your overall health.
  • Relies on your sense of sight and hearing. A study found that just listening to bird song contributes to perceived attention restoration and stress recovery. Click here to listen to a sample of common bird songs.
  • Prevents nature-deficit disorder, a phenomenon related to the growing disconnect between humans and the natural world. Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors.
  • Benefits your heart. Regular exposure to nature is associated with improvements in cardiovascular disease and longevity.
  • Stimulates a sense of gratitude, which is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness.

Sources
Carter, S. (2016). Nature deficit disorder. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/carter-413osu-edu/nature-deficit-disorder   

Louv, R. (2008). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Algonquin Books: Chapel Hill, NC.

Powers-Barker, P. (2016). Introduction to mindfulness. Ohioline. Retrieved from
https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/hyg-5243

Stanton, L. M. (2020). Noises off: The benefits of silence. Live Smart Ohio. Retrieved from
https://livesmartohio.osu.edu/mind-and-body/stanton-60osu-edu/noises-off-the-benefit-of-silence

Written by Laura M. Stanton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Warren County, stanton.60.osu.edu

Reviewed by Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu