Random Acts of Kindness Day

Random Acts of Kindness Day

Though not a widely publicized day on most calendars, Random Acts of Kindness Day, February 17th, is worth some attention. Random Acts of Kindness Day is a day when everybody gets the chance to do something nice for someone else.

A Little History

There’s a bit of debate over where and when it started. But it is generally believed to have started in Denver, Colorado in 1995. Then it spread to New Zealand in 2004. Since it apparently worked so well, it has since spread as an international holiday. So, now, we globally have a day dedicated to doing nice things for others.

Why Set Aside a Special Day?

Did someone recently cut you off in traffic? Are you tired of mean social media rants? Do too many of the people you encounter lately just seem rude? Does the only news you get seem to all be bad news? Then having one day to both offer and receive random acts of kindness just may give you the stop and reset buttons you need. You can plan out kind acts or just wing them spontaneously.

Yellow squishy ball with smiley face surrounded by silver bead necklace

Giving and receiving brightens your day and makes you smile. Photo source: Angela Hinkle

Even the littlest kind thing you do for someone else can make a big difference in their day and yours. There’s the story I heard recently of a driver who brought a hamburger to a man living under a bridge at the beach. The homeless man said it was a perfect “surf and turf” lunch. The driver said that was one of the best days he ever had.

What Does the Research Say?

The effects of doing kind things for others is hard to scientifically pinpoint. However, multiple small case studies have shown that those practicing altruism live longer, healthier lives.* Kind deeds have been shown to reduce our stress levels and the negative physiological effects of stress on our bodies. “Happy” hormone levels increase as we care for others. There also is often a giddiness (not a scientific term) we feel when we do that nice unexpected thing for someone.

How to Celebrate

Doing nice for others can produce a ripple effect. You do something nice for someone. Then they do something nice for someone else. And so on, and so on, and so on. Your act of kindness does matter. Here are a few acts of kindness you may want to try:

  • Pay for the person behind you at the drive thru.
  • Give someone a compliment.
  • Donate used business clothes to people who are going on job interviews.
  • Let someone have that prime spot in the busy parking lot.
  • Share your lunch.
  • Clean up someone else’s mess.
  • Leave a really big tip for your wait staff person.
  • Donate blood.

Try a random act of kindness this February 17th. I think it will be worth it. And who knows, you may get so good at it, you start providing those random acts of kindness every day.

*Resource:  The Science of Good Deeds:  The ‘helper high’ could help you live a longer, healthier life.  WebMD https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/science-good-deeds#1

Why Your Numbers Matter

Why Your Numbers Matter

Do you know what the different types of cholesterol are in your body? Do you know what your cholesterol levels are? Do you know why your numbers matter? Cholesterol can be a contributing factor to heart disease. It’s important to understand your numbers so you can take the best care of yourself. Making simple changes in your daily routine can help reduce your risk of heart disease. Talking to your doctor is the first step so he or she can request blood tests to help determine your risk. One of the tests the doctor may run is called a lipid profile, which checks your body’s cholesterol.

What should my cholesterol numbers be?

  • Total cholesterol should be somewhere between 125 to 200 mg/dL
  • LDL cholesterol is called “bad” because it can block your arteries. The level should be less than 100 mg/dL. If it starts with “L”, aim for a lower number.
  • HDL cholesterol is called “good” because it helps to clear out the LDL (bad) cholesterol. This number should be greater than 40 mg/dL for men and greater than 50 mg/dL for women. If it starts with “H”, aim for a higher number.
  • Triglycerides are fat found in the blood. You want these numbers to be less than 150 mg/dL.

If you don’t understand what your numbers mean, be sure to talk with your health care provider. The more you know about your numbers, the more incentive you have to make any recommended changes.

What Can Cause Unhealthy Levels of Cholesterol?

  • Habits like smoking, lack of physical activity, and unhealthy eating patterns.
  • Genetics (family medical history)
  • Some medications
Hands holding knife cutting orange carrot on wooden board with red and yellow peppers, lettuce, and bread

Prepping for a healthy diet
Photo source: UF/IFAS

What Can You Do to Help Lower the “Bad” Cholesterol and Increase the “Good” Cholesterol?

You can make simple changes to your daily routine to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Eat more heart-healthy foods

  1. Eat foods like oatmeal, apples, and pears to give your body more soluble fiber.
  2. Add salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed to your diet. These are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Eat less red meat and switch from whole or 2% milk to skim milk.

Move!

  1. The Mayo Clinic recommends 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 times a week.
  2. Find out more about how to fit physical activity into your day

Stop Smoking!

  1. There are many different resources available to help you or someone you know quit smoking.
  2. Check out how to quit for quitting tobacco tips from A to Z

Drop those extra pounds

  1. If you lose just 5% of your body weight, it can help your heart!
  2. See what a 5% weight loss can do for your health

By making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle, you can help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Change takes time and effort, so don’t get discouraged by trying to make all the changes at once! Pick one habit to work on, such as slowly switching from whole milk to 2% to 1% then finally to skim milk. Once drinking skim milk becomes part of your everyday routine, choose another habit to work on, such as getting more exercise. Adding a half hour walk in the morning or in the evening is a great way to get you moving. To make the walk even more enjoyable, take your dog with you – pets need exercise, too!

Your good health is why your numbers matter. Remember, small changes can make a big difference in improving your heart health. And since February is Heart Health Awareness month, now is a great time to start.

Contributing writer – UF Intern Jennifer Bryson

Dine In:  More Favorite Family Meals

Dine In: More Favorite Family Meals

FCS Ine In Day December 3 Banner

FCS Dine In Day December 3

Is your busy, busy life making it difficult to spend time eating a meal at home with your family?  Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together.  Maybe these favorite family meals from some of our readers will give you some inspiration.

Italian Night

My mother’s chicken cacciatore. She’s Italian and a great cook. She makes it with boneless chicken breasts, rice, sliced peppers, onions, tomatoes, and of course, garlic. It is so good and probably healthy. But maybe not, since I eat way too much of it. Friends and family come together on “Italian Night” to enjoy this and other Italian specialties. Molto delicioso.   Rick W.

My favorite meal was always when my mom made homemade spaghetti sauce for pasta. Wow, that’s good stuff. When I brought my girlfriend home, it became one of her favorite meals too. Thanks mom!   Alex H.

Father and son set the dinner table

Father and son set the dinner table. Photo Source: Wendy Meredith

Home Away from Home Meal

My favorite family meal was pork chops, broccoli, mashed potatoes, rolls and sweet tea, because my son, (my first born), cooked his first meal in his first home away from home at the age of 21 and invited our family to dinner. He was always the one out of five children who liked to have everyone in the family sit at the dining room table together and enjoy a meal as often as possible. Our lives consisted of football, cheerleading, church events, ballet, gymnastics, soccer, school events, jobs, etc. Our family of seven was a very busy family and always running here and there, but somehow due to the persistency of our son, we managed to have one or two meals a week together as a family. I was a very happy and proud mom when I received the invite to have dinner that night. The food was delicious, but the fellowship during “My Favorite Family Meal” was something I will remember and cherish forever.   Wendy M.

Let Them Eat Cake or Bread

Celebrations were very special in my family. Every year on my birthday, my grandmother would always cook my favorite food and bake my favorite cake (Red Velvet – Yum). When I was young I always thought it was about the food. But it was about so much more; we learned about manners and etiquette, and family coming together to share old traditions and make new ones. Whenever I see a red velvet cake or smell one baking, it brings back happy memories. I’m transformed back to when I was a 10 year old girl.   Dorothy L.

Growing up on a farm in Michigan, I’ve got a lot of good memories involving food! From making butter in a churn, to picking blackberries in the woods for Mom to make pie, to getting ripe tomatoes from the garden for a tasty bacon and tomato sandwich and many more.  I consider myself very fortunate to have grown up knowing exactly where our food comes from!

A favorite and happy memory is Mom making bread on cold days, letting the loaves rise by the heat registers, then baking it in the oven. The whole house smelled like delicious bread. Once it was done, Mom would cut it while it was still warm and give us thick slices with warm, melting butter on it!   Cheryl V.

December 3rd is Dine In Day.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.

FCS Dine In Day circle logo

FCS Dine In Day

 

 

 

Dine In:  Thanksgiving Favorites

Dine In: Thanksgiving Favorites

FCS Ine In Day December 3 Banner

FCS Dine In Day December 3

What’s your favorite family meal? Is it an event like a picnic or Super Bowl Party? Is it reoccurring like Wednesday night church dinner? Maybe it’s an annual meal like Thanksgiving. Check out some of these special Thanksgiving meals, then think about a favorite meal for your family to share on Dine In Day.

What about Sweet Potatoes?

I think my favorite holiday meal story is from about 10 years ago when our oldest daughter was away at college.  She asked me what we were going to have for Thanksgiving Dinner and as I went through the list she said, “what about sweet potatoes?” to which I answered “but you don’t like sweet potatoes”.  Then she said, “No, I don’t, but I they’re supposed to be on the table at Thanksgiving”!

It’s such a tiny thing, but it touched my heart because it meant she had fond memories and that our family holiday dinners meant something to her!  PS – now she loves sweet potatoes and serves them to her family all the time!   Susan H.

My “Found” Family

Favorite Fall Things: pumpkins, scarecrow, leaves, flowers, and multi-colored corn

Favorite Fall Things
Photo Source:: Angela Hinkle

My favorite family meal of the year is on Thanksgiving, with my “found” family in Bradenton. Especially now that I live in Tallahassee, taking the trip down there to spend a few days with my best friend and her crazy family is definitely a highlight. It’s even more special now since I don’t get to see her every day anymore.  Plus? Turkey and deviled eggs! Yummy.   Sam K.

Memory We Will Always Cherish

My favorite meal happened 6 years ago during Thanksgiving. It was the first year that I hosted my own Thanksgiving dinner and my husband and I invited everyone we knew- family, friends, coworkers. We had 30 people share their holiday with us and we had so much fun. It was a lot of work and a lot of cooking, but it was so special to us. That day we were able to honor the ones we loved by hosting them and sharing that experience. One day, we will do that again. But for now, it’s a great memory that we will always cherish.   Christina W.

Imagining Warm and Cozy

One of my most memorable meals was Thanksgiving when I was in the 11th grade. My family decided to go camping in our pop-up camper for the weekend at a nice campground in central Florida. In keeping with the season, a cold front passed through that weekend, dropping the temperature significantly. Our little camper did not have a heater, so we shivered in our bunks and scurried to the central bathhouse, passing motor homes and travel trailers with condensation on the windows, imagining how warm and cozy their occupants must be. Despite the frigid temperatures, we enjoyed a campground-wide Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings in the community room. We made fond memories of the weekend, which we still laugh about, and are thankful for a warm house and the comforts and conveniences of home to enjoy the holiday and everyday meals with family and friends.   Judy C.

 

FCS Dine In Day circle logo

FCS Dine In Day

December 3rd is Dine In Day.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.  Maybe you can tell us about your favorite family meal or be inspired to make new ones – for Thanksgiving or any time of year.

 

Dine In:  Uncle Eddie

Dine In: Uncle Eddie

FCS Dine In Day December 3

Uncle Eddie wasn’t actually my uncle. He was my grandfather. But to most everyone in the small town in Connecticut where I spent many summers growing up, he was known as Uncle Eddie.

Edward Scordato aka “Uncle Eddie”

Every Saturday morning, Uncle Eddie got up at some ridiculously early hour and headed for the kitchen. He started a pot of coffee as well as a kettle for tea. He began making pancakes, toast, bacon or sausage, and eggs prepared in a variety of ways. (I think he honed his kitchen/organizational skills as a cook in the Army.)

Friends, neighbors, and relatives from all around came to my grandparents’ dining room and back patio to eat. Just as important, they came to socialize, catch up on how everyone was doing, and hear the latest personal and public events of the week. There was a little gossip and lots of talk of religion and politics. (As a kid, those last two subjects bored me like nothing else could.)

Some folks stayed for 20 minutes. Some stuck around for the whole morning. Uncle Eddie made sure everyone who came got fed. And not just food for their tummies. They were fed with family bonding, love, and a strong sense of belonging (and religion and politics).

Those Saturday morning breakfasts are some of my fondest memories. I honestly don’t remember the taste of the food, but I do remember it just felt good to be with everybody.

December 3rd is Dine In Day.

It’s a chance to make a commitment to have a meal at home with family. Research tells us families are healthier in so many ways when they eat at home together. So, make the decision to eat with your family at home this December 3rd.  I’m going to. And it will even be okay if my family starts talking religion and politics.

Oh, and one more thing. Some of our family at UF/IFAS Extension will be sharing their favorite family meals very soon. Maybe you can tell us about yours.  Maybe you can be inspired to make new ones.