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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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walk-to-school

I can remember my grandmother telling us how she used to walk several miles to school, and if she was lucky she got a ride in a horse and buggy. She was always healthy even in old age, when I knew her.

October is International Walk to School Month. Students in different countries, including the United States, will be walking to school this fall. The goal of International Walk to School Month is to promote bicycling and walking as viable transportation options to and from school. Why? According to a Talking Points bulletin from the National Center from Safe Routes to School:

  • 1 out of 5 children are overweight. Walking or biking allows students time for physical activity of which they need at least 60 minutes per day. More active children are less prone to becoming overweight and developing chronic diseases earlier in life.
  • Walking and biking to school gives children a sense of responsibility and independence. It also allows time to socialize with parents, friends and neighbors which enhances sense of community.
  • Walking and biking reduces traffic congestion and thus improves air quality.
  • Steady increases in gas prices and greater distances between school and home have strained school transportation budgets across the country. In 1980, the average cost of transporting a student was $466. After adjusting for inflation, the average cost per student in 2006 was $765! Walking and biking are low-cost alternatives.

Unfortunately, fewer children walk or bike to school than did so a generation ago. Today 16% of children walk to school today as compared to 42% in 1969. There are many reasons for this statistic including distance to schools, perceptions of crime, lack of sidewalks, school busing policies, traffic concerns and lack of motivation. Many students are not able to walk or bike even if they wanted to due to the distance between their schools and home. Schools are moving out to the edge of town where land is less expensive and more available. In 1969 about 45% of students lived less than a mile from school as compared to about 25% today. However, many students who live relatively close (<1 mile) chose not to walk due to one or more of the aforementioned barriers. Many of these barriers could be addressed during Walk to School events in October.

During the month, participating students could meet at designated locations and will walk with adult volunteers along designated safe routes to school. Students and volunteers could complete “walking audits” and identify barriers along the way (dilapidated sidewalks, barking dogs etc.) The audits could later be used to engage the community to address these barriers. After the walk, the school could offer a breakfast and celebration for participants and volunteers. Non-walking students might be able to participate in special walking activities during recess. To encourage walking throughout the rest of the year, students could be eligible for prizes if they walk or bike to school or if they participate in designated walking activities.

If you are interested in learning more about Walk to School you can visit the walk to school day website at http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/ready/about-the-events/walk-to-school-day. This website offers much of the information that your community would need to plan for a walk to school event.

Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition and Wellness, OSU Extension

Reviewed by: Susan Zies, FCS Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Source: National Center for Safe Routes to School. Why Walk or Bicycle to School? Talking Points accessed from http://www.walktoschool.org/downloads/WTS-talking-points-2009.pdf

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Yoga for Kids?

What is yoga? The word yoga comes from ancient Indian language of Sanskrit word meaning ‘union.’ Yoga is the coming together of body and mind. Yoga is performing a series of poses and also about breathing and relaxation, which makes people feel more calm, clear-minded and refreshed. Yoga has been around for about 6,000 years, so it must work! We have long known that yoga provides many benefits for adults. But did you know yoga also has many benefits for kids? Yoga engages the whole child – mind and body working together. Studies show a correlation between yoga practice and positive outcomes for children and teens.

Physical Fitness

Doing a yoga pose helps to build strength, flexibility and balance. This helps add to the 60 minutes of recommended physical activity for children.

Mental Health

Learning to breathe deeply triggers relaxation in the body and brings feelings of both peace and energy. Yoga also helps to build confidence in your mind and body.

Academics

Children who are physically fit perform better in school than children who are not. Yoga practice has been tied to fewer discipline issues and better behavior.

Self Awareness

During yoga, one has to listen to his or her own body to know if a certain position is painful or too difficult. It also helps one learn to be more aware of the sensations in his or her body. Yoga helps improve concentration and can even foster compassion for self and others.

yoga for kids logo

Want to get started with yoga for your child? There are many organizations that offer yoga for children. You might look for yoga at local recreation centers, fitness studios and community centers. Look for an instructor that has been trained specifically in yoga for children. Some schools even teach yoga during class as a way to teach the children to clear their mind and re-focus. You might find yoga in youth-serving organizations such as 4-H. This week in Columbus, Ohio, 36 Extension Educators and staff were trained by the University of Arkansas’ 4-H Yoga for Kids to teach yoga to children and teens.

Yoga for children tends to be a little more active, fun and even silly compared to adult yoga classes, but why not make the animal sound that matches the pose you’re in, like frog, cow, dog or gorilla? Children can do yoga by themselves at home, with family and friends. The whole family can have fun doing yoga together. You can try out yoga together with your child at home with a good DVD or online video. Yoga is a great way to be physically active and contributes to a healthy lifestyle.

WRITTEN BY: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

REVIEWED BY: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Clark County, Ohio State University Extension

SOURCES:

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potatoYou may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” Several recent research articles have sounded the alarms about the cardiovascular risk association with too much sedentary behavior. One study compared people who logged more than four hours of screen time to those with less than two and found a 125% increased risk in cardiovascular disease in the sedentary group. In response to the alarms, standing desks, standing meetings, and walking meetings have become more prevalent in some workplaces and schools. Devices such as Fitbit now measure sedentary hours that have less than 250 steps and buzz the user if it is time to get up and walk around. Although these changes in workplace culture and technology are certainly helpful, the cards are still stacked against us when it comes our (and our kids) daily routines. I probably fall into the category of active couch potato, since I jog three times a week and lift weight 2-3 times per week but gravitate to sitting 95% of my waking hours. Although, experts suggest that being an active couch potato is still better than being an inactive couch potato, and that there is still more research needed to understand the risk of sitting too much, most would agree that being couch potato is still a problem. On reflecting on my own daily routine, and my kids:

I spend at least an hour each day in my car sitting, to get to work, or to get to an Extension program (where I might encouraging people to be less sedentary).

Every meeting room, classroom, office has chairs, tables. The expectation is to naturally sit. Most people sit. I’ll stand, and others might stand or walk around, but sometimes we will get funny looks, or a look from the speaker we are listening to.

My kids are encouraged to sit in school. The one time that they are not encouraged to sit very long is during school lunch, the one time when they should be sitting longer.

I have a nice couch in my living room in front of the TV…

My daughter’s concert is in an auditorium with nice comfortable seats. If you stand in the isles, whether in the front or the back, you might be in someone’s way, or blocking someone’s view.

Softball and baseball games have bleachers, but also we have comfortable folding chairs that we can sit in. Basketball games are even more difficult to stand or even walk around.

The golf course I occasionally play on discourages walking in favor of carts in order to promote faster play.

There is nowhere to stand in a movie theatre.

I have a standing desk now, which can adjust up and down. I do stand most of the time but find it easy to lower it and sit for longer periods.

I push mow our lawn now, but riding mowers are fairly inexpensive.

Public health experts have this complex theory called Socio-ecological theory. It suggests that our health behaviors such as physical activity are shaped not only by our own motivations, knowledge, awareness and skills, but also by other people, environments, systems, policies, norms, etc. Although I am motivated to be less sedentary, there are many other influences besides gravity that are countering my efforts as suggested above.

TAKE A STAND. Social ecological theory also suggests that OUR behaviors can change or influence others. In other words we have the power by our own behaviors to influence the culture and the environment. If you stand in a movie theatre, you might feel awkward, or may get some looks, but in a way you are changing culture or what people perceive to be normal. Who knows, you might get some followers. Talk with your teachers and advocate for more classroom activities. Ask your supervisor about a standing desk, even if it might feel awkward. Stand up in a meeting, even if it feels strange. Keep it up, changing culture and norms takes time. This is an interesting YouTube video that illustrates the point.

Other Sources

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005

National Institutes of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/

Author: Dan Remley, PhD, Ohio State Univesity Extension, Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness.

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

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If you haven’t already registered for our Spring Email Wellness Challenge – now is the time!

Who can participate? Any adult wanting to live healthy life with support from Ohio State University Extension.

What is it? A “Spring Clean Your Wellness Routine” email challenge, which provides you with two emails a week on a variety of health topics.

Where? In the convenience of your own home, office, or pocket.

When? March 30 through May 10, 2015

How do I participate? Click on http://go.osu.edu/sp15ross to register.

Why?  We work better together.  Supporting one another in living a healthy lifestyle is a smart and fun thing to do.

Participants will learn about these topics or wellness behaviors:

Vegetables and Fruits—Find ways to eat vegetables and fruits on half your plate.

 Fitness Focus—Ideas to move more.

Roasted Vegetables—Try new recipes for veggies and fruits.

Local Foods—Visit a Farmer’s Market or the local foods section of your store.

Gardening with Herbs—Plant an herb, vegetable or fruit in a container or plot garden.

Seasoning with Herbs—Use herbs instead of salt to season foods.

Stress Relief—Manage stress and maintaining a positive attitude.

Contact: Lisa Barlage, barlage.7@osu.edu for additional information.

The program is funded by Ohio State University Extension and County Commissioners Cooperating.

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After 21 years, I no longer resolve to be a morning exerciser. I have tried and failed numerous times. If others can do it, why can’t I? Simply because I AM NOT, nor ever will be a morning person.  Keeping New Year’s Resolutions realistic can be difficult for many people. We set goals to lose weight, start exercising, train for a marathon, stop smoking, have a cleaner house, pay off debt, spend more time with friends and family, sleep more, eat healthier….the list could go on and on, yet we achieve very few. New Year’s Day is a time to reflect back on our behaviors in the previous year and to take a look at small changes we would like to make. Promising yourself to overhaul your life will just result in frustration, disappointment and hopelessness by the end of January or February during the cold, grey winter months.

How can you prevent “failure” and achieve your goals? Consider these tips:

  • Start small. Aim for progress, not perfection. If you want to increase your exercise, start out with 3 times per week, not every day. Don’t punish yourself by taking goals to the extreme, this is not about deprivation. Saying you will never eat a cookie again is just not realistic!
  • Change one behavior at a time. This is not the time to seek out a total life transformation or overhaul. Choose one behavior to work on. Want to spend more quality time with your family? Agree to spend an hour 3 times a week in a tech-free zone.
  • Talk about it. Open up and share what your goal is. You might find others who want to achieve the same goal. Having others to share your struggles and success with makes achieving that goal easier.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Minor missteps are part of the journey. The most important aspect is to get back on track. We all make mistakes!
  • Have specific, measurable, attainable goals. Set a deadline for yourself. Track your progress so you have a visual indicator of your achievements. review your goals periodically and adjust if necessary.

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It’s ok if you choose not to have any resolutions surrounding January 1. It’s important to always be working on small goals at all times of the year, which will alleviate some of the stress and pressure.  Incorporating small changes in everyday life is much more manageable. Here’s to 2015-Happy New Year!

 

Writer: Melissa Welker, M.Ed., B.S., Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fulton County, Maumee Valley EERA , welker.87@osu.edu

Reviewer: Donna Green, MA, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

Sources:               www.apa.org

www.webmd.com

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smart goalsAre you one of the thousands of people that decide to make a New Year’s resolution each year? Do you always swear you are going to work out more, go on the latest diet craze, or lose weight?

Research has shown that after one month of making a New Year’s resolution, about 64% of people still stick with their goal. After 6 months, the number drops to 44%. Why do many people who vow to become more fit, eat better, or change another behavior have a hard time keeping their word?

Our society has adapted to performing behaviors that will produce quick results. Because of this, the planning and proper goal-setting get thrown to the wayside and goals become unrealistic and too difficult to reach. Now that we’re half-way through the year, it may be time to look at how your New Year’s Eve goal is coming along. Using a tool called the SMART objectives is an effective strategy to keep on track with your goals, no matter what they are related to (health, job, stress-relief, academics, etc.). The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-phased. Below gives a breakdown of the SMART objectives.

Specific: Who is the target population? In other words, who will be doing the behavior to reach this goal? What will the action, activity, or behavior be? What will you be doing?

Example: ‘I will exercise.’

Measurable: How much change is expected? Can you actually measure the results?

Example: ‘I will go for a brisk walk outside for 30 minutes twice a week and document it on a sheet of paper or in a log.’

Attainable: Is your goal practical? Are you able to carry out this behavior knowing your resources and constraints?

Example: Even if you don’t have the financial means to join a gym or fitness club, choose to walk outside somewhere close to home or in inclement weather have a back-up plan of using a DVD to work out at home.

Realistic: Is this goal something you can actually do, or is it too difficult to achieve?

Example: If you haven’t exercised in years or never at all, would you be able to walk for 30 minutes twice a week or would it be more realistic to start off doing 10 or 15 minutes twice a week?

Time-bound: Does your goal have a time-frame? When will you meet your goal?

Example: ‘I will go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes twice a week for two weeks and log it each time.’ Then you can build on this goal and increase the amount of time or days you walk – doing 30 minutes three times a week instead of twice.

I always like to say that it’s never too late to start over with your original goal or create a new mid-year resolution! Remember – positive behavior change should be a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix. Taking a little time to plan, set realistic goals, and have a strategy to overcome obstacles will ensure you’re set up for success. When creating goals related to living a healthier lifestyle, make sure to be SMART about it!

References:
http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/evaluation/pdf/brief3b.pdf
http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/features/new-years-resolutions-1-month-later
Photo reference: http://workablewealth.com/are-you-being-smart/

Written by: Shannon Erskine, Dietetic Intern/Liz Smith, OSU Extension
Reviewed by: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.

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