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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

Asthma is a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe. If left uncontrolled, it may have serious consequences. No one likes wheezing, coughing, or feeling short of breath.  Taking control of your asthma can lead to an active healthy life. Create an action plan to live your best life.  Start today by:

  • Identifying your asthma triggers. Work with your healthcare provider to identify and minimize exposure to these triggers. Triggers include allergens, irritants or conditions that cause symptoms to worsen.  Being able to identify and avoid your triggers is important.
  • Learning to use your inhaler properly.  Follow the directions.  Shake the inhaler well. Check with your health care provider if you have any questions. 
  • Go smoke free.  If you smoke, quit.  Ask your doctor for ways to help you quit.  Ask family members to quit smoking, too.  Do not allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Enjoying a physically active lifestyle.  Work with your health care provider to develop an exercise plan. This plan will help you manage your symptoms so you can stay safe while exercising.
  • Taking medication as prescribed.  Medication is an effective way to control asthma symptoms.  Remember to take your medications as prescribed and carry your inhaler with you every day.
  • Eating healthy.  A well-balanced diet helps keep the mind and body strong.  Choosing the right foods supports your immune system and overall health, including your lung health.
  • Communicating with your healthcare team.  Learn as much as you can about your asthma.  If you experience short- or long-term side effects, let them know.  Do not suffer in silence.
  • Managing your stress. Stress can be an asthma trigger.  Implement stress-reduction strategies such as breathing exercise and mediation.
  • Monitoring your emotional health.  People with asthma are more likely to develop anxiety and depression.  If you begin to feel sad, anxious or depressed, talk with your doctor.

Written by Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County  lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

American Lung Association (2020). What is Asthma? https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/asthma/learn-about-asthma/what-is-asthma

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Asthma. https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/default.html

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"Fake news" on wooden game tiles.

Misinformation, disinformation, fake news…. All these terms, in general, describe the same thing: information that is out of context, missing details, lacking reputable sources, or is just plain false. We hear about misinformation within the context of world or political news a lot, but misleading information can appear elsewhere. Misleading and incorrect information shared about health and wellness and can lead to health decisions that could put you at risk. If something seems suspicious, it might be worth a fact check!

Mediawise, a branch of the fact-checking site Poynter suggests these three questions when looking to discover if something is factual or missing the mark.

  1. Who published the information?
    • By answering this question, you may uncover a potential bias by the author or agency. For example, a company selling a weight loss supplement may not be the best place to learn about a new “miracle” vitamin that the company is selling. A good place to begin this step of the fact-check is to look at who is sharing the information and how they will benefit from such a claim.
  2. What is the evidence?
    • Looking more into the evidence behind the claim can shed light on information that supports or discounts the claim. This article claims, “Teenager left ‘blind’ from diet of Pringles, chips and bread”.  When reading this headline alone, it is easy to be skeptical of the information presented. Looking at the evidence, it is a BBC article and they are a reputable news source without a bias for reporting the story. They interview experts familiar to the case in question and share the science behind what happened. The article also cites a case study from a reputable medical journal that shows further evidence to support the headline’s claim.
  3. What do other sources say?
    • A search of keywords in the suspicious article is a good way to find out what other sources say about the topic. When investigating a “miracle” vitamin or fact checking another claim, look for trustworthy, evidence-based sources. Depending on the topic, a reputable fact checking site may have already done the work for you!

Doing a fact-check only takes a few moments, it can help you make evidence-based decisions. A fact check might just prevent you from sharing misleading or false information on your social media feed.


Author: Courtney Woelfl, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Cuyahoga County

Reviewer: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County         


Sources:

Roberts, M. BBC. (2019). Teenager ‘blind’ from living off crisps and chips. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-49551337

WBUR. (2020). ‘Everything’s Worth A Fact-Check’: Network Teaches Teens To Debunk Online Myths. https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2020/08/11/mediawise-teen-fact-checking-network

World Health Organization (2020). Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters.  https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters#pepper

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Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia. It is not part of the normal aging process. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease that begins with mild memory loss and can later affect one’s ability to carry out activities of daily living.  On a personal note, my Mom – an Alzheimer’s patient – no longer recalls who I am and struggles with most daily activities.   Alzheimer’s caught up with us in November 2011.  After she received her diagnosis, we developed an action plan to direct her care with a goal for her to live well with Alzheimer’s.  

When seeking to take control of your health and wellness after an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, it may be helpful to focus your energy on the aspects of your life that are most meaningful.  Recognize that there will be good days and bad days, and an emphasis on living a healthier life will help prepare you to center your energies on what is most important to you.  Start today by:

  • Managing your physical health
    • Get regular checkups
    • Establish a relationship with a physician you trust
    • Get plenty or rest
  • Taking charge of your emotional health
    • Allow yourself to experience a range of emotions
    • Consider meeting with a trusted friend
    • Maintain close relationships with loved ones
    • If experiencing rapid mood changes or a short temper, be mindful of negative responses and understand your reaction is caused by the disease
    • If today is not going well, do not force it.  Stop. Do something you enjoy.
  • Increasing mental stimulation
    • Take a class
    • Try a new hobby
  • Educating yourself about the disease    
    • Plan for the future

Examine the influences that impact your experience living with Alzheimer’s.  Choosing to live a healthy life by maintaining your physical, social, and emotional well-being will help improve your daily life.

Written by: Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County.  lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/aging/aginginfo/alzheimers.htm

https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers

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Today we are reminded of the importance of a healthy immune system.  Our body’s ability to fight infection and disease depends on our immune system.  Good nutrition is important to support a healthy immune system.  Eat well by choosing nutrient rich foods, such as the following to boost your immune system:

  • Choose more orange and brightly colored foods. like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, mango, tomatoes, and broccoli. These foods contain the antioxidant Beta Carotene which has been shown to strengthen the body’s infection fighting methods.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C including citrus, red peppers, kiwi, broccoli, berries and tomatoes. Start the day with a grapefruit, add sliced peppers to a sandwich at lunch and enjoy a cup of berries for a snack.
  • Herbs and spices such as garlic, ginger, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. These herbs and spices contain ingredients that help fight off viruses and harmful bacteria and give your immune system a boost. Try garlic hummus or raw ginger tea, or add oregano and rosemary to salads, roasted vegetables, and tuna salad to increase your intake of herbs and spices.
  • Get your Vitamin D. Found in fatty fish, eggs, mushrooms, fortified milk and fortified orange juice. Vitamin D is essential for optimal immune function and has been shown to help address respiratory infections. Add mushrooms to salads, stir fry’s and soups to increase your Vitamin D intake.
  • Zinc is key to optimal immune function but intake tends to be lower in those who are older, vegetarians, vegans and those who take antacids. Foods containing zinc such asmeat, seafood, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
  • Probiotics  is good bacteria that promotes health.  It is found in cultured dairy products like yogurt and in fermented foods such as kimchi.
  • Protein from both animal and plant-based sources including, milk, yogurt, eggs, beef, chicken, seafood, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.

In addition to increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods, you can protect your immune system by:

  • Minimize your intake of sugar, processed foods, and alcohol. Consumption of these foods may suppressthe immune system.
  • Practicing good hygiene and hand washing to help prevent the spread of germs. Remember to wash produce before eating or using in recipes. Clean glasses, dishes, forks, spoons, and knives to reduce the spread and growth of bacteria.
  • Manage stress. Physical activity, meditation, listening to music and writing are great ways to manage stress and help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases that could weaken your immune system.
  • Getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep contributes to a variety of health concerns including a weakened immune system. Seven to nine hours is recommended each day for adults and children need eight to fourteen hours depending on their age.

Take charge today of your health and add these tips daily to support a healthy immune system!

Written by:  Beth Stefura, OSU Extension Educator, Mahoning County. stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County. lobb.3@osu.edu

References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2020). Support your health with nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition

WebMD (2019). How can my diet affect my immune system? https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-can-my-diet-affect-my-immune-system

WebMD (2019). Super Foods for Optimal Health. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/antioxidants-your-immune-system-super-foods-optimal-health

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We have all been impacted one way or another by the Coronavirus pandemic. During a health crisis, taking preventative measures is important. The CDC has listed precautions people should be taking right now. These include washing your hands, staying away from people who may be sick, and protecting your nose and mouth with an appropriate mask. Another way to protect yourself from sickness is keeping your immune system strong, which is your body’s defense against illnesses.

The Cleveland Clinic notes 3 vitamins to boost your immune system:

Vitamin C: found in many fruits especially melons, berries, and citrus, bell peppers, and dark leafy green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, anFresh Vegetablesd spinach.

Vitamin B6: found in chickpeas, green vegetables, chicken, and fish.

Vitamin E: found in spinach, seeds, and nuts.

Additionally, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states these nutrients listed will also help boost your immune system:

Vitamin D: found in fortified milk and juice, eggs, and fatty fish.

Zinc: found both in animal and plant sources such as meat, beans, tofu, and nuts,

Beta carotene: found in plant foods such a potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and mangos.

Probiotics: found in cultured dairy and fermented foods such as yogurt and sauerkraut.

Protein: both animal and plant-based sources, such as nuts, eggs, meat, beans, and fish.

Eating healthily during a pandemic can be tough but having long-lasting food on-hand is a great way to ensure you and your family are fed when practicing social distancing. There are also ways to focus on consuming the food listed above to keep those immune systems in tip-top shape. Before you stock up on all the frozen and non-perishable foods you can find, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Frozen meals: Be sure those frozen meals include some of the foods listed above, for example fruits and vegetables.

Pasta: Add some razzle dazzle to pre-packaged pasta meals such by adding vegetables to the dish or pair it with your favorites on the side. You can also try this stir fry recipe that includes meat and vegetables with packaged ramen noodles for a yummy twist.

Canned goods: great way to add some fruits, vegetables, and beans to any meal. And make sure your canned soup has vegetables in it for extra nutrients, and always look for the no-salt added version.

Smoothies: Make a smoothie with your favorite frozen fruit and be sure to use a little yogurt and orange juice for some added nutrients.

Snacks: Snacking is inevitable! Snack on things such as dried fruit, nuts, seeds, hummus, raw veggies, and more!

Below are two family fun snack and meal recipes that are sure to give you those nutrients that could give your immune system that extra boost!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Fruit and Veggie Snacks

All in all, you eat your way to a stronger immune system. Note that supplements are not recommended unless necessary. And always consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian first. We will get through this uncertain time together!

About the author: Carmen Bell is a senior Nutrition and Food Science-Dietetics student with a Health and Human Performance minor at Middle Tennessee State University. She is a part of the MT Nutrition Team where she works to provide nutrition education to children, students, faculty, and staff on campus. Beginning summer 2020, she will be an Iowa State University Dietetic Intern and upon completion of the program will continue her process of becoming a registered dietitian. In the future, she will obtain her master’s degree in Leadership in Nutrition and wants to work will all ages on their health.

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

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Monday I shared that to celebrate my 40th birthday my friends and I joined forces to fill our local communities with random acts of kindness.  We spread our kindness amongst 20 states and 5 countries and we all learned many lessons along the way.

Small Acts Big Changes

One part I enjoyed about this project was the variety of acts that were done. Some acts influenced many people such as a donation to a food bank. Other acts were smaller yet still inspiring.  A simple act can have a large impact on a person when done at the right time with the right intentions. One act of small kindness can release an enormous chain of positive events. Any act of kindness can be contagious and inspire others to pass on another kind act. It is hard to measure the impact of one simple act, so never think an act is too simple or small to spend time on.

One of the kindest acts someone ever did for me was to show up at my house with a plate of cookies as I was going through a tough time. She set those cookies on my counter, sat on the floor and played with my eight-month-old baby. She might not remember that day, but I will never forget it.  A plate of cookies and a half-hour of time, something I remember more than ten years later.

Missed Opportunities

 Often I find myself second-guessing a kind idea or intention I have. I will overthink something so long that an opportunity passes me by and I promptly switch to beating myself up for missing an opportunity. I was so inspired by my friends and what they were accomplishing that acting on a kind deed became easier for me to do. It became more second nature and I was more confident offering to help someone or pass on a compliment.

More Gratitude

Kindness promotes gratitude. Being kind to others encourages one to consider what is positive in their own life. As we went through forty days I noticed this happening in our group. We started posting about how others were being kind to us and the deeds that made our days a little better. Some of these acts happen so frequently or regularly we forget to show gratitude for them. For example, I noticed the bus drivers who get my children to school safely every day, the mailwoman who reliably delivers my mail, the people at the gym whose positivity make working out fun, and drivers on the road who let me over or wave me on at a stop sign.

According to Psychology Today, Kindness means a behavioral response of compassion and actions that are selfless; or a mindset that places compassion for others before one’s interests. In performing the selfless act, a person may undercut their selfish interests. This process can lead to more gratitude.

 Did we change the world? No. This reminds me of the song lyric; I can’t change the world but I can change yours. I don’t know if we permanently changed anyone’s world. I like to think we lightened a few loads, and added some extra smiles to our communities and that is enough. It is enough because it changed us.

When you can, hold the door, let someone over on the freeway, smile at a stranger. Do what you can where you can to make your corner of the world a little kinder- it is enough!

Sources:

I Can’t Change the World, but I Can Change Yours. (2019, November 4). Retrieved from https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/11/04/i-cant-change-the-world-but-i-can-change-yours/.

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

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

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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I turned forty this year. That is a big milestone to celebrate and yet I did nothing except manage to stay alive 14,600 days in a row. Nevertheless, the fact that forty came for me and I am somewhat excited means that this milestone deserves a celebration. I grew up with a dad in the Air Force, and we moved every four years or less. My spouse is an Air Force civilian and we’ve spent his career calling different places in the US and around the world home. This means that my friends are scattered all over the world. Gathering them together for a celebration would have been impossible.

 Last year I took on the “Kindness Boomerang” book as my resolution. It may be the only resolution I have kept my entire life. The book supplies an idea for a kind act and a quote for every day of the year. Even if I was unable to complete the suggested act, I still found inspiration in the daily quotes such as:

“A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions.” Amelia Earhart

“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can so something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

I combined social media and the book and found a way to celebrate with my friends all over for forty days! I asked all my Facebook friends to sign up for a day to share a small act of kindness for 40 days leading up to my birthday. The response was overwhelming. Many friends responded, and for those 40 days shared their kind act on our Facebook group. We covered some distance. We had participants in all corners of Ohio, 19 other states and covering the globe in Germany, Japan, Italy, Finland, and Spain. We had a lot of fun, strengthened connections and learned a few things along the way.

Health benefits from being kind?

Do you want more energy or to feel happier? Raise your hand if you want to live longer! Are you looking to decrease feelings of depression or anxiety? Be kind!!

Research proves kindness is good for health. About half of the participants in a research study reported that they felt stronger and more energetic after helping others; many also reported feeling calmer and less depressed, with increased feelings of self-worth.

People who practice kindness regularly have 23% less cortisol, (the stress hormone) than the average population. A 2010 Harvard Business School survey of happiness in 136 countries found that generous people are happiest overall. There are many other health benefits of being kind; lower blood pressure, reduced pain and increased positivity.

Next post we cover lessons learned about opportunities for kindness, the impact of small acts and my final thoughts on the project.

Sources:

Wahba, O. (2017). Kindness boomerang: how to save the world (and yourself) through 365 daily acts. New York: Flatiron Books.

Harvard Health Publishing. (2019). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier.

Make Kindness The Norm. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

Why Random Acts of Kindness Matter to Your Well-being. (2017, November 16). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-nourishment/201711/why-random-acts-kindness-matter-your-well-being.

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

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

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In the near future, your doctor may prescribe getting outside and embracing nature. Your doctor may suggest that you participate in green exercise, or they may write a nature prescription.

Green exercise includes any physical activity that takes place outdoors. Think about taking a walk in nature, exploring a park, or discovering a new forest area.

Michigan State University Extension has an interesting article about the benefits of green exercise. Some of these benefits may include:

  • boosting the immune system
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing stress
  • improving mood
  • increasing ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • accelerating recovery from surgery or illness
  • increasing energy level
  • improving sleep

According to research from the University of Washington, exposure to trees and other natural features provide positive changes to our emotional well-being, such as reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.

Driftwood

While visiting Whidbey Island, Washington, I enjoyed finding this artistic piece of driftwood and rocks. Someone left this “gift of nature” for anyone who came upon it to enjoy. If we take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature, we may find that our stress levels are reduced, our mind calms and we feel more positive.

I love being outdoors – it is good for me both physically and mentally. Spending time in nature helps me slow down the pace and embrace the beauty of nature.

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

Do you need a little more motivation to get started? Join Ohio State University Extension for their free October webinar series on Hiking and Health. Register by September 24th at go.osu.edu/HikingHealth . You will enjoy learning about topics such as food safety on the trail, proper gear selection, plant identification, tick prevention and proper hydration techniques.

Sources:

American Heart Association (2018). Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/spend-time-in-nature-to-reduce-stress-and-anxiety.

Fogel, A. (2010). Green Exercise. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/body-sense/201009/green-exercise

Green Cities, Good Health. University of Washington. https://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/

BBC News (2018). ‘Nature’ being prescribed by GPs in Shetland. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-45758016

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health. https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/90720.html

Tiret, H. June, 2017. Green exercise can improve physical and mental health. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/green_exercise_can_improve_physical_and_mental_health

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

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

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Have you finished your holiday shopping for the year? Or, like me, do you tend to put off shopping until the last minute because there are people on your list that are hard to gift? When lacking creative ideas for those hard-to-gift individuals, many of us default to items such as clothing, electronics and gift cards. This year, maybe it’s time to think outside the box and give gifts that promote health and self-care!

These gifts do not have to be expensive or forceful; rather, they serve as small suggestions that can go a long way toward promoting health and wellness. Consider the following scenarios:

  • Perhaps a friend has mentioned wanting to be more fit in the past, but she can’t seem to find the motivation to hit the gym. You could purchase cute and comfortable athletic outfits in her favorite colors that she might like to use!
  • Maybe your significant other can’t seem to shake his sugary soda fix because he doesn’t enjoy the taste of plain water. A good suggestion would be to buy a water bottle with a fruit infuser to encourage him to drink more water!
  • Maybe your father has been trying to control his carbohydrate intake, but he loves eating pasta multiple times a week. A vegetable spiralizer might allow him to enjoy the taste of Italian-style food with more fiber, vitamins and minerals and fewer carbohydrates and calories!

For more healthy holiday gift suggestions, see the infographic below. Don’t forget to consider gifts to promote lifelong healthy habits in the children on your list, too!

Give the Gift of Good Health this Holiday Season. Physical Activity: Equip your loved ones with the tools they need to continue their fitness journey or give them the push to start a new lifestyle. Gift ideas include resistance bands, hand weights, a yoga mat, gym bag, towel, athletic wear, socks, and water bottle with infuser. Cooking: Sleek new cooking gadgets can encourage your friends and family to experiment with new healthful cuisine. Homemade meal mixes can also be a heartfelt and economic option. Gift ideas include fresh herbs, veggie dip mix, homemade soup mix (like the friendship soup mix recipe available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/food-nutrition/mix-it-up-to-expand-your-gift-giving-dollar-with-food-mixes-in-a-jar), a vegetable spiralizer, a healthy magazine subscription, recipe book or cookbook, slow cooker, or petite wine glass.

With the New Year just around the corner, these gift ideas can help keep your loved ones on track toward their potential resolutions in the upcoming year. They are just a few examples of how to give the gift of health and self-care this holiday season, a gift that keeps on giving for years to come!

 

Written by: Katie Minnelli, Dietetic Intern, The Ohio State University College of Medicine, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of Medical Dietetics

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

Sources:

Barlage, L. (2016). Give children gifts that encourage healthy habits. Live Healthy Live Well. https://livehealthyosu.com/2016/12/08/give-children-gifts-that-encourage-healthy-habits/

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2015). Healthy Gift Guide – 17 ideas for giving “the gift of health”. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/2015/12/03/healthy-gift-guide-17-ideas-for-giving-the-gift-of-health/

Schuster, E. (2018). Give the gift of health and self-care this holiday season. Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.  https://www.sneb.org/blog/2018/11/26/general/give-the-gift-of-health-and-self-care-this-holiday-season/

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When was the last time you paid attention to something you ate?

That might seem like a silly question, but all too often, we rush through our meals and snacks without stopping to think about what we’re doing: how our food looks, smells and tastes. I have to admit, even as a dietitian and food educator, I am just as guilty as the next person! I often eat lunch at my desk while working, since my office does not have a formal break room or lunch hour. Consequently, because my mind is focused on tasks other than eating, I consume my lunch without noticing its taste, appearance or texture.

pasta-salad-1967501_1920One day while eating lunch at my desk, though, I was struck by the saltiness of an olive in a bite that I took of Mediterranean pasta salad. The taste caused me to pause, eat my lunch one bite at a time, and pay more attention to the dish. In this instance, I was practicing mindful eating.

Mindful eating is a form of mindfulness, which is the practice of paying attention in the present moment without judgement. Mindful eating is the practice of being more aware of your eating habits, the sensations you experience as you eat (tastes, smells, textures, etc.) and the thoughts and emotions you have about your food. When you eat mindfully, you:

  • Use all your senses
  • Acknowledge your responses to food (i.e. like, dislike or neutral) without judgement
  • Become aware of hunger and satiety (fullness) cues

When you practice mindful eating, you allow yourself to choose to eat food that is both satisfying and nourishing to your body. And, not only do mindful eaters tend to enjoy their food more than distracted eaters; research suggests that mindful eating can help with weight control and also steer people away from processed food and other less-healthful food choices. The underlying premise here is that it takes approximately 20 minutes for the brain to catch up with the stomach and register fullness after eating, so slowing down your eating may help you to realize when you’re full before you overeat.

If you tend to eat too quickly and need some strategies to slow down, try: cutlery-908480_1280

  • Eating with your non-dominant hand
  • Putting your fork down between bites
  • Taking a sip of water between each bite
  • Using chopsticks if you don’t normally use them
  • Putting away cell phones and other electronic devices
  • Practicing gratitude for your food as you think about where it came from and all the people who worked to bring it to you
  • Eating with others and having a conversation over your meal

 

Sources:

Carter, S. (2013). Mindful Eating. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2013/10/21/mindful-eating/

Harvard Health Letter (2011). Mindful Eating. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/mindful-eating

University of New Hampshire, Office of Health Education and Promotion. Mindful Eating. https://www.unh.edu/health/ohep/nutrition/mindful-eating

 

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

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

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