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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Group of diverse volunteers

And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world.
~ Louis Armstrong

Being environmentally well means “recognizing the responsibility to preserve, protect, and improve the environment and appreciating your connection to nature.” In other words, environmental wellness happens when the different surroundings in your life enhance your health and wellbeing. This includes your home, your workplace, your local community, your natural surroundings, and the planet.

Three aspects of environmental wellness include: paying attention to the different environments that you spend time in, making an effort to spend time outdoors, and being more sustainable (AKA “going green”).

Health Benefits of Environmental Wellness Across the Lifespan

No matter what your age, research demonstrates the far-ranging health benefits of environmental wellness. For example:

  • Children who play outside in nature develop superior motor skills, balance, and coordination compared to children who play on traditional playgrounds.
  • Teens and young adults report feeling calmer, less stressed, and lower anxiety after spending time in nature.
  • Adults reduce their risk of chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke when they spend time in green space.
  • Senior adults who garden reduce their risk of dementia by 36%, even more than those who walk every day.

How can you start improving your environmental wellness? Commit to spending more time outdoors, being more green in your purchasing decisions, and actively caring for the environment. You can also try these simple activities:

  • Write nature into your schedule. Grab a bag and pick up litter while you are out.
  • Bike or walk rather than drive. If you drive, carpool when possible.
  • Use reusable water bottles, mugs, and shopping bags to limit waste.
  • Add houseplants to your home and work environments to improve indoor air quality and to psychologically link us to nature.
  • Learn about recycling in your community and recycle as much as possible.
  • Avoid purchasing single-use plastic and pack waste-free lunches.
  • Plan your food purchases to avoid food waste and compost food scraps.
  • Encourage local schools to recycle, compost, and host community gardens.
  • Decrease your use of energy and water.
  • Grow native plants to provide shelter and food for wildlife and support pollinators.
  • Donate your time or money to organizations that protect the environment.

Satish Kumar said, “We are nature.” Environmental wellness helps us recognize our connection to the natural world and realize that when we help our environment, we help ourselves. It is important, however, to point out that not everyone has equal access to nature or green environments, due to limited green space, accessibility limitations, safety concerns, and financial resources. We all need to work together not only to protect the natural world but to also ensure that everyone can reap the health benefits of environmental wellness equally.

For More Information:

  • On sustainability, visit the OSU Extension Sustainability website to find Trash-Free Trails, Reducing Your Single Use Plastic Waste, and many other tip sheets. In addition, there are many educational videos as well as a sustainable home tour: https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/resources/sustainability
  • On the importance of nature and spending time outdoors, visit the Nature Matters website created by OSU Extension, Warren County: go.osu.edu/nature-matters

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

Reviewed by Shannon Carter, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County, carter.413@osu.edu.

Photo Credit: Image by rawpixel.com

References:

Bickel, N. B. (2021, September 13). Youth report feeling physically, mentally better after spending time in nature. University of Michigan Health. https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/wellness-prevention/youth-report-feeling-physically-mentally-better-after-spending-time-nature

Ingunn Fjørtoft. (2004). Landscape as playscape: The effects of natural environments on children’s play and motor development. Children, Youth and Environments, 14(2), 21–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.14.2.0021

Kumar, S. (2019). Elegant Simplicity: The Art of Living Well. New Society Publishers.

Melnyk, B. M., and Neale, S. (2018, January). Nine dimensions of wellness. American Nurse Today, 13 (1). https://www.myamericannurse.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/ant1-Wellness-1218.pdf

Simons, L. A., Simons, J., McCallum, J., & Friedlander, Y. (2006). Lifestyle factors and risk of dementia: Dubbo study of the elderly. The Medical Journal of Australia, 184(2), 68–70. https://doi.org/10.5694/j.1326-5377.2006.tb00120.x

Stanton, L. (2021) Ten tips for packing waste-free lunches. Ohio State University Extension. https://go.osu.edu/waste-free-lunches

Twohig-Bennett, C., & Jones, A. (2018). The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628–637. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2018.06.030

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A person in a lab coat giving someone a vaccination in the arm.

The first week of April is National Public Health Week. Prior to the Covid-19 Pandemic, many people were unfamiliar with this local government organization and the work that it does to keep us safe and healthy every day. 

We are fortunate to live in a state with a well-established public health system. The Ohio Department of Health is one of only 11 accredited state public health departments in the United States. The Ohio Department of Health “Strives to protect and improve the health of all Ohioans by preventing disease, promoting good health and assuring access to quality care.” According to the ODH website, the Ohio Department of Health is involved with over 170 programs that help them meet this mission. Programs range from the oversight and inspection of health care facilities, nursing homes and food service operations to direct healthcare services such as performing screenings and administering vaccines. Local health departments are also involved in ensuring the safety of swimming pools, public beaches and drinking water. Most of us are now familiar with the organization’s role in tackling large public health issues as they arise, such as curbing the spread of communicable diseases (such as Covid-19) on a community and state-wide level by tracking transmission and imposing necessary emergency public health orders. They also play an important role during natural disasters, collaborating with other government and private organizations to navigate such emergencies and coordinate effective responses. Local health departments are charged with investigating and responding to more common situations, too, such as local outbreaks of foodborne illness and exposure to harmful substances such as lead to minimize harm to area residents. 

Another role of the Health Department is gathering and maintaining data including vital statistics such as birth and death certificates and prevalence of diseases, as a way to monitor health trends locally and nationally. Local organizations and governments draw on this data for state and community health assessments and for use in creating Health Improvement Plans, which allow resources to be distributed and used for optimal impact on the health and well-being of those served.

The history of public health in the United States was born out of necessity, as seaman guarding and defending the country, in its infancy, often had difficult living conditions and no place to receive medical care. The New England coast also served as a port of entry for diseases such as yellow fever. In 1799, the first Board of Health and Public Health Department were established in Boston, Massachusetts. One of Boston’s most famous sons, Paul Revere, was the first president of the new Board of Health.   

Today most every community across the U.S. is served by a designated public health department. Ohio communities are divided into local health districts which may either serve a city or the entire county, depending on the geographic location and population. Local health departments are overseen by a Board of Health, made up of local healthcare workers, government representatives and community members who ensure that health and safety needs and priorities of area residents are met, and that public health laws and regulations are enforced.  

Be sure to take advantage of this local source of health services such as immunizations and childhood screenings, as well as health education and community health information and statistics. Your health department is your local “Health Force”, on the front lines fighting for your health and safety.   

Written by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

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

Sources: 

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Three young people standing outside, one looking through binoculars and one pointing

Recently, I met an 11-year-old who likes birds. Since I self-identify as a bird nerd, we started talking and I quickly realized this young person had a genuine curiosity and passion for birds. She told me she had checked out Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America from her school library and had no intention of returning it.

As a parent of teenagers, I struggle to get my kids off screens and out in nature, despite my constant reminders about the health benefits of getting outdoors. Here was a young person who wanted to get outside, so we made plans to go birding together.

And birding we did. The two of us spent 5 hours out in the cold on a gloomy, gray day and we had a blast. She brought (and I carried) the large, heavy Smithsonian library book with her. When we spotted a bird, she knew exactly where to find it in the book.

It was delightful to bird with a young person who was excited and engaged. I look forward to birding with her and other young people in the future. After spending time with a young birder, it became clear to me why we should take young birders under our wing:

  • They are connecting with nature: Our young people are disconnected from the natural world. Studies found that 8- to 12-years-old spend 4 to 6 hours on screens every day, while teens spend up to 9 hours. Time spent on screens almost always equates to time spent indoors, disconnected from nature.
  • They can showcase their strengths: Birdability is a non-profit organization that “ensures that birding truly is for everybody and every body, regardless of disability or other health concerns.” Their blog has stories from birders who are autistic, color-blind, hearing-impaired, and mobility-challenged. One young birder described her ADHD as her birding superpower since she saw and heard so many details around her!
  • They benefit from Vitamin N (Nature): There are decades of research that show the positive impact that spending time outdoors has on our mental and physical health. Nature has unique health benefits to young people, especially when it comes to kids with ADHD, allergies, asthma, weight issues, and mental health challenges.
  • They are becoming environmental stewards: Children who spend time in nature are more likely to feel connected to nature as adults, and therefore, more likely to care for and protect the natural world.

After our birding outing, I purchased my new birding buddy her own copy of the Smithsonian Handbook. I am selfishly hoping the returned library book will inspire another young birder at her school. I also added a Birds of Ohio Field Guide to her collection so the next time we’re out birding, neither of us has to lug a 752-page handbook.

Additional Birding Resources:
To find more information about birds and birding, please visit: go.osu.edu/nature-matters-birds

25th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count photo

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

Reviewed by Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Photo Credit: Kindel Media from Pexels

References:

Alsop, F. J. (2001). Smithsonian Handbooks: Birds of North America: Eastern Region. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

Wells, N. M. & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the Life Course: Pathways from Childhood Nature Experiences to Adult Environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16(1), 1–24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.16.1.0001

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

Scripps Health. (2022, January 10). Do Your Kids Spend Too Much Time in Front of a Screen? https://www.scripps.org/news_items/4688-do-your-kids-spend-too-much-time-in-front-of-a-screen

Stanton, L. M. (2021, February 11). Benefits of Being a Bird Nerd. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/02/11/benefits-of-being-a-bird-nerd

Stanton, L. M. (2021, April 19). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Stanton, L. M. (2021, November 30). Wonder and Wander in Nature this Winter. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/11/30/wonder-and-wander-in-nature-this-winter

Tekiela, S. (2020). Birds of Ohio Field Guide. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications.

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Two people walking in the snow with a small dog

Getting outside is a wonderful thing to do any time of the year. The health benefits of spending time outdoors have been well documented and validated over the last four decades. For example, spending time in nature can improve your psychological wellbeing, lower your stress, and reduce your blood pressure. Although science shows all the positive ways being outside can benefit us, we also know that Americans spend 93% of their lives indoors. We challenge you to change this statistic and make plans to get outside this winter!

If you are looking for unique opportunities and ideas of what you can do outside during the colder months, consider these activities:

  • Go tubing, skiing, sledding, ice skating, and snowshoeing when there is snow on the ground. Of course, building snow forts and snowmen are also classic winter activities.
  • Find a safe place to have an outdoor fire. Invite friends and family over, bundle up, and sing or tell stories. Be sure to follow outdoor fire safety tips.
  • Watch the stars, planets, and moon during the dark winter months. Clear, cold nights are perfect for watching the night sky. Check out What’s Up: Skywatching Tips from NASA, an educational website full of great tips and resources.
  • Invite the birds into your yard. Providing bird seed and a heated water bath is sure to attract feather friends. If you enjoy birds and birdwatching, consider signing up for Project Feeder Watch and/or Audubon’s Christmas Bird Count.
  • Read a book about winter to the children in your life and then re-create the story in real life. To get ideas, check out The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats or Owl Moon by Jane Yolen.
  • Explore seasonal and holiday-themed opportunities. Many communities have light shows, ice rinks, and outdoor activities for you to enjoy during this time of the year. Check with your area parks, museums, zoos, and nature centers for events.

Before heading out, remember to follow these winter weather safety tips:

  • Monitor the weather and plan ahead.
  • Wear layers.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Protect your head, hands, and feet.
  • Wear sunglasses, apply sunscreen, and use a lip balm with sunscreen.

If you or someone you love has limited mobility or a difficult time getting outside, consider bringing nature closer to you and if possible, bring nature indoors. For example, if it snows, bring some snow inside in a plastic tub. You can also purchase a houseplant that has a seasonal scent, like rosemary or pine. A window bird feeder is another option. Each of these ideas is a way to enjoy the benefits of nature without leaving your house.

Every day is an opportunity to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer, even during these colder and darker months. Make it a priority to wonder and wander outdoors this winter!

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

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

Sources:

Gallup, S. (2021, May 19). Falling in Love with Nature. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/05/19/falling-in-love-with-nature

Harvard Health Publishing (2018, December 1). The Wonders of Winter Workouts.
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-wonders-of-winter-workouts

Kelpies, N. E., Nelson, W. C., Ott, W. R., Robinson, J. P., Tsang, A. M., Switzer, P., Behar, J. V., Hern, S. C., & Engelmann, W. H. (2001). The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of exposure analysis and environmental epidemiology, 11(3), 231–252. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.jea.7500165

Stanton, L. M. (2021, April 19). Get Out! Celebrate Nature on Earth Day and Every Day. https://livehealthyosu.com/2021/04/19/get-out-celebrate-nature-on-earth-day-and-every-day

Photo Credit: Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

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A cardboard sign at an event that reads "you'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change"

I’m sure you have heard the words climate change. Are you familiar with their meaning and impacts? Climate change describes a change in the average conditions, such as temperature and rainfall, in a region over a long period of time. Most people are aware of the affects of climate change on the world we live in including temperature, environment, air quality, and many others. Did you know climate change can impact our health? In 2015, former Director of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, publicly acknowledged climate change as an urgent public health issue. She stated “The evidence is overwhelming: climate change endangers human health. Solutions exist, and we need to act decisively to change this trajectory.”

According to the US Global Change Research Program, climate change affects human health in two ways:

  • It changes the severity and frequency of health problems that are already affected by climate and weather factors.
  • It creates unanticipated health problems or health threats in places where they have not previously occurred.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors and the affects they can have on our health. Rising temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels and increasing carbon dioxide levels lead to a variety of conditions that affect our environment and ultimately our health. Listed below are some results of climate change and the impacts they can have on our physical and mental health:

  • Severe heat – injuries, fatalities, mental health issues
  • Air pollution – asthma, cardiovascular disease
  • Increasing allergens – respiratory allergies, asthma
  • Water quality impacts – bacteria and viruses in the water
  • Water and food supply impacts – malnutrition, diarrhea
  • Environmental degradation – forced migration, civil conflict, mental health issues
  • Extreme heat – heat-related illness and death, cardiovascular failure

How we live, work, and play together in our communities and cities can have a huge impact in tackling climate change. What can communities do to combat this issue?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Inspire, educate, and raise awareness on how our everyday behaviors affect the local environment and planet. Introduce people to actions they can implement into their daily routines to reduce their negative environmental impact. 
  • Encourage sustainable commuting – walking, biking, ride shares
  • Support local businesses who produce products and food locally
  • Address the needs of the most vulnerable
  • Reduce the use of energy in buildings
  • Recycle
  • Create wealth from waste – upcycle, practice responsible production and consumption patterns
  • Reclaim green spaces – community gardens, parks, green roofs, trees
  • Implement community sharing – some objects are not necessary to be owned by every household

Working together to curb the negative affects of climate change is going to take everyone working together. It doesn’t have to be difficult. Just remember what’s good for our climate is good for our health, and what’s good for our health is good for our climate.

Written by Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Belmont County

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

Sources:

NASA Climate Kids. What is Climate Change? https://climatekids.nasa.gov/climate-change-meaning/

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Cities and Local Action to Combat Climate Change. https://unfccc.int/topics/education-youth/youth-engagement/global-youth-video-competition/global-youth-video-competition-2019/cities-and-local-action-to-combat-climate-change U.S. Global Change Research Program. Climate and Health Assessment. https://health2016.globalchange.gov/


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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. When people think about heart health, they often think about the impact of diet and exercise. However, a growing body of research has also established a connection with positive thinking, optimism, and happiness.

For example, do you tend to view the cup as half empty or half full? If you view the cup as half full, you are less likely to develop heart disease than if you view the cup as half empty. While negative emotions such as depression and anger are risk factors for heart disease, optimism and happiness seem to protect the heart.

In one study, people with the most negative emotions had the highest risk for heart disease while people who scored highest for happiness had the lowest risk. In another study, women with the highest levels of optimism had a 38% lower risk of death from heart disease than those with negative attitudes. In this study, optimism was defined as feeling hopeful and confident about the future.

Cheerful diverse people together in a park

How can the connection between positive psychology and heart health be explained? Three possible explanations are:

  1. Lifestyle: Happy people tend to sleep better, eat better, smoke less, and get more exercise; all behaviors that lower the risk of heart disease.
  2. Physiology: Happiness produces positive chemical changes and reduces stress hormones.
  3. Genetics: People who are predisposed to happiness may also be predisposed to have lower rates of heart disease.

If you tend to see the cup half empty, don’t despair! Research suggests that negative people feel happier when they:

  • Express gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Practice being optimistic.
  • Initiate random acts of kindness.
  • Engage in mindfulness activities.
  • Visualize their best self.
  • Savor joyful events.
  • Practice forgiveness.
  • Get outside.

Medical professionals advocate that you should devote 15 to 20 minutes a day doing something that brings you joy. What can you commit to doing every day to increase your happiness and take care of your heart at the same time? We would love to hear your ideas and plans.

If you still find yourself searching for happiness but not quite achieving it, you should reach out and talk to a health care professional. Together, you should consider environmental factors that could be impacting you, such as your diet, lack of sleep, or potential mental health side effects from medication.

To learn more about the importance of happiness and your health, join us for Happiness 101 on August 25, 2021 at 12noon. To register for this free, 30-minute Wellness Wednesday Webinar sponsored by Live Healthy Live Well, visit: go.osu.edu/WellnessWeds

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

Reviewed by: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fayette County, brinkman.93@osu.edu.

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, September 8). Heart Disease Facts. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Davidson, K. W., Mostofsky, E., & Whang, W. (2010). Don’t worry, be happy: positive affect and reduced 10-year incident coronary heart disease: the Canadian Nova Scotia Health Survey. European Heart Journal, 31(9), 1065–1070. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2862179

Kim, E. S., Hagan, K. A., Grodstein, F., DeMeo, D. L., De Vivo, I., & Kubzansky, L. D. (2017). Optimism and Cause-Specific Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 185(1), 21–29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5209589

Kraft, T. L., & Pressman, S. D. (2012). Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response. Psychological Science, 23(11), 1372–1378. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797612445312

Pitt, B. & Deldin, P.J. (2010). Depression and cardiovascular disease: have a happy day—just smile!, European Heart Journal, 31(9), 1036–1037. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehq031

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A great way to celebrate Earth Day is spending time outside and connecting with nature. Time in nature offers an easy and inexpensive way to increase your happiness, improve your mood, and feel part of something larger than yourself. Studies have shown that getting outside can:

  • Improve your memory and attention: After just an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20%. In workplaces designed with nature in mind, employees are more productive and take less sick time.
  • Heal: Patients in hospital rooms with a view of trees had shorter stays and less need for pain medications compared to patients with views of brick.
  • Improve psychological well-being: Joggers who exercised in a natural green setting felt less anxious, angry, or depressed than people who jogged in an urban setting.
Child running outside under flowering trees

We also know from research that children who spend time outdoors are more likely to develop positive environmental attitudes and behaviors as adults. One of the best ways you can take care of our planet is to encourage children and youth to get outside.

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods, has created an expansive list of activities to encourage children to spend more time outdoors. Here are just a few ideas you can try with your children or grandchildren:

  1. Maintain a birdbath, grow native plants, or build a bat house. For more ideas, read National Audubon Society’s Invitation to a Healthy Yard.
  2. Collect lightning bugs at dusk and release them at dawn.
  3. Keep a terrarium or aquarium and learn about the plants and animals you observe.
  4. Be a cloud spotter; build a backyard weather station. A young person just needs a view of the sky. Check out The Kid’s Book of Weather Forecasting for more ideas.
  5. Encourage a “green hour” every day. Give kids a daily green hour that includes time outside, unstructured play, and interaction with the natural world.
  6. Collect stones. Even the youngest children love gathering rocks, shells, and fossils. Read Rock and Fossil Hunter by Ben Morgan together.
  7. Learn about and raise butterflies. Consider purchasing a monarch rearing kit and growing milkweed so you can hatch and release your own butterflies.
  8. Hang up a bird feeder and watch birds. Have them close their eyes and just listen. For more tips, check out National Audubon Society’s Easy Ways to Get Kids Birding and Bird Sleuth Investigator from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

No matter what you do while you are outdoors, remember that simply going outside is the most important step. Despite all the positive benefits of being outdoors, according to the EPA, Americans spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. On this Earth Day, make a pledge to get out more and bring some young people with you. Nurturing the next generation of our planet’s caretakers is a perfect way to celebrate!

References:

Bratman, G. N., Daily, G. C., Levy, B. J., & Gross, J. J. (2015). The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition. Landscape and Urban Planning, 138, 41-50. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.02.005

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

Taylor, A. & Kuo, M. (2006). Is contact with nature important for healthy child development? state of the evidence. Children and their Environments: Learning, Using and Designing Spaces. 124-140.
https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511521232.009

Ulrich, R. S. (1984). View through a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science, 224 (4647), 420–421. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.6143402

Wells, N. M. & Lekies, K. S., (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children, Youth and Environments, 16 (1), 41663.

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

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu.

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A bowl of raspberries

It’s 3 pm – a few hours since lunch but not quite time for dinner. Your stomach starts to rumble a bit and you are low in energy. You open the fridge and cannot find anything you want so you turn to the cupboard and end up mindlessly snacking.

I know I am not alone when I say this: I often need a snack in the afternoon! However, a snack can turn into an additional meal if you do not have the right snacks on hand. On average, about one-fourth of daily calories are provided by snacks.  In fact, snacking more times in a day has been found to be associated with consuming more calories. For this reason, it is important to have healthy snacks available so that when you do get hungry between meals, you have something nutrient-dense ready. Follow these three simple tips to improve your snacks and avoid mindless snacking:

Plate of Hummus, sliced vegetables and pita chips

1. Plan your snacks

Next time you go to the store, make sure to add your snacks to the grocery list. Preparing single-serving snacks can help you have just enough to satisfy your hunger. Some staples that I keep on hand in the fridge are baby carrots and hummus or guacamole. Rather than eating out of the tub of hummus or the bag of carrots, portion some out onto a plate or cup. This will help you avoid excessive snacking.

2. Make healthy shifts with snacks

Try different fruits and vegetables to find the perfect snack for yourself. Foods and beverages that contribute the most calories for snacks are not the most nutritious options. By opting for a more nutrient-dense snack, you are making a healthier choice for your body and can improve your health. Rather than opting for chips and nacho cheese, try cowboy caviar and fresh veggies. Instead of opting for a granola bar with added sugar, try eating fresh fruit. Switch any refined grains to whole grains. Transition beverages with added sugars to no-sugar-added beverages. These small changes can make a big difference over time.

Plate of bean, corn and veggie salsa

3. Keep temptations out of sight

Keeping tempting foods out of sight may help you avoid choosing them as snacks. It may also be helpful to keep them out of the house altogether! If you don’t have them in your house, you cannot have them unless you go to the store to get them.

What changes can you make to enjoy healthier snacks? Are there any Healthy Snack Hacks you will try?

Written by: Miriam Knopp, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University.

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

Sources:

USDA Choose MyPlate (2016). “10 Tips: MyPlate Snack Tips for Parents.” www.choosemyplate.gov/ten-tips-snack-tips-for-parents.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020, 8th Edition. “Shift to healthier food and beverage choices.” https://health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-10/DGA_Shift-to-Healthier-Choices.pdf

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). “NHANES – What We Eat in America.” www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/wweia.htm.

UCSF Health. “Behavior Modification Ideas for Weight Management.” www.ucsfhealth.org/education/behavior-modification-ideas-for-weight-management.

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Today many of us may wake up feeling overwhelmed, disconnected, worried, or isolated. At least that is how I have felt some days during this difficult time. It feels like a dream; how can one feel so disconnected and overwhelmed by work, school, or family at the same time? There are even memes that are shared reminding us what day it is, or how many days we have been under the Stay at Home Order. Some of us may struggle to find meaning and purpose throughout this pandemic. The stark reality is that the flood of emotions we are experiencing can be categorized under trauma. Some of us will be able to cope with the trauma easier than others. It is okay if you need more support, consider this list of resources for each Ohio county.

Check out the video created by a few Ohio State University Extension FCS Educators inspired by YOU!

In This Together Ohio

Thankfully, Governor DeWine has made not only physical, but mental health a priority during this time. Many agencies are offering telehealth services where you don’t even have to leave your home for your counseling visits. Please visit the website Coronavirus Ohio Individual and Family. Many support groups are now meeting virtually, as are churches, and small groups. We must all stay connected during this time. Studies have shown that healing from traumatic events occurs in relationships whether it is with peers, family, neighbors, mentors, co-workers. We can all come together to be resilient during this time.

Just because we must maintain physical distance, doesn’t mean we have to be socially distant. If you’re struggling to put this into action, here are a few easy ideas to engage in community and relationships:

  • Reach for the phone and call a friend, write a letter, video chat, or have a virtual game night.
  • Celebrate milestones like birthdays and weddings by putting signs in the yard, having a car parade, or asking everyone to share favorite memories and photos of the person on the internet.
  • Take lots of pictures and make unique keepsakes for grandparents and great-grandparents who are missing their precious little ones.
  • Write letters to nursing home residents. If you have stamps and envelopes at home, you don’t even have to leave your house!

Every day we thank the nurses, doctors, and nursing home staff that are caring for our loved ones and rightfully so. There are so many others risking themselves daily such as:

white volvo semi truck on side of road

  • Truck drivers
  • Factory workers
  • Retail workers
  • School staff delivering meals to families and food pantry workers
  • Parents and caregivers helping the children with schoolwork
  • Individuals delivering meals to senior citizens
  • And countless others who are working hard throughout this pandemic

Throughout this journey we are on, we have been told numerous times that we won’t just wake up one day and it will all be over. The same is true for the trauma and the effects it can have on some of us. Yes, for some it is impacting more than others, but we need to all come together to foster resiliency and recovery. Be physically distant but not socially distant. We are all in this together!

Written By: Bridget Britton, OSU Extension Educator Carroll County

Reviewed By: Dan Remley, Field Specialist, Food, Nutrition, and Wellness, OSU Extension

References:

https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/healthy-relationships-0/trauma-informed-care

https://u.osu.edu/cphp/ohio-mental-health-resource-guides/

https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/index.htm

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Good Mental Health is a Precursor to Good Physical Health

It’s no secret that our society is living longer.  Based on the U.S. 2017 Census Report, by 2040 the number of individuals 85 years old and over are projected to increase by 129%.  The thought of my friends and family living longer is certainly appealing to me.  However, with the aging process comes added physical and mental health concerns for caregivers.

According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the most common chronic physical conditions aging adults experience include:

            Health Disease

            Cancer

            Chronic bronchitis or emphysema

            Stroke

            Diabetes mellitus

            Alzheimer’s disease

Many of us are familiar with the physical conditions but did you know, mental conditions can be just as debilitating if not treated?  Mental health issues are often overlooked or viewed as a “normal” part of the aging process.  Let’s be clear, mental health problems are not a normal part of aging and should not be overlooked!  One in four (6 to 8 million) older adults age 65 or older experiences a mental health disorder and the number is expected to double to 15 million by 2030.  The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and depression/bipolar. 

Good physical health is a precursor to good mental health and good mental health is a precursor to good physical health.  To age at our full potential, we must place the same value for treatment of mental conditions as we do on physical.  Recognizing the warning signs and seeking treatment can improve quality of life.  Signs and symptoms can vary but examples include:

            Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite

            Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

            Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much

            Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge

            Increased worry or feeling stressed

            Anger, irritability or aggressiveness

            Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain

            A need for alcohol or drugs

            Sadness or hopelessness

            Suicidal thoughts

            Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions

            Engaging in high-risk activities

            Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior

            Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life

            Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people

If you notice any of these warning signs in yourself or a loved one, please make an appointment to discuss these concerns with your doctor.  Treatment works and the earlier the intervention the better the outcome for recovery and improved quality of life. 

Please remember if you or someone you know is in crisis, call the toll-free National Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.  Both hotlines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and all calls/texts are confidential! 

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, M.S., Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University

Reviewed by: Emily Marrison, Extension Educator Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

References:

Older Adults Living with Serious Mental Illness – The State of the Behavioral Health Workforce. store.samhsa.gov/system/files/new_older_adults_living_with_serious_mental_illness_final.pdf.

“Older Adults.” Older Adults | Healthy People 2020, http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/older-adults.

“Behavioral Health for Older Adults: Mental Health.” NCOA, http://www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/behavioral-health/.

“Older Adults and Mental Health.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/older-adults-and-mental-health/index.shtml.

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