World Home Economics Day – March 21, 2024

World Home Economics Day – March 21, 2024

Since 1982 the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) has sponsored World Home Economics Day.  The event promotes the home economics profession and acknowledges the hard work that home economists do for their communities.  The International Federation of Home Economics brings together professional organizations, research institutions, and educators to help develop a sustainable future.  Their mission is to advocate research and education for the resources at the household and consumer level.

In 2024, the theme is “Home Economics 3.0: A Critical Update.”  According to the IFHE website:

Home Economics is well prepared as a discipline to help families cope with the challenges of home in the future. However, home economics is just like any “operating system” that requires updating to ensure continuing efficiency and to meet the needs of consumers in the 21st century. Many in education are excited about advancing to Education 3.0, the third major innovation in teaching and learning. Keeping our Home Economics up-to-date is more important than ever as digital technology, climate change and global markets place pressure on vulnerable consumers. Join the International Federation for Home Economics as we celebrate how home economists around the world have provided a “critical update” to the way they teach, research and serve to make homes, families and consumers of the future safe, happy and healthy. Use this event to highlight how you, your students, clients and professional associations are engaging with the most advanced theories, tools and technologies to keep Home Economics on the leading edge of 21st century life.

https://www.ifhe.org/events/world-home-economics-day
digital technology concept
Home Economics 3.0 uses digital technology to connect global communities together to address emerging issues affecting individuals and families. (Photo source: Getty Images Pro via Canva)

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World Home Economics Day – March 21, 2024

National Kidney Month, March 2024

Did you know that keeping your kidneys healthy has a positive effect on your heart?   Kidneys are on the left and right sides of the spine and the backside of the stomach. The kidneys are no longer than 5 inches, and both have a big job when it comes to keeping the body synchronized. Kidneys have many responsibilities, such as monitoring blood pressure, constructing healthy bones, equalizing pH levels, filtering blood, and contributing body energy.

It is imperative to keep both the heart and kidneys healthy by exercising, getting tested for heart disease, consuming a healthy diet, watching cholesterol levels, and stopping tobacco use.  Researchers state that 50% percent of Americans between the ages of 30-49 will develop kidney disease in their lifetime.

In my first week at my job with UF/IFAS Extension Service, I was diagnosed with the “famous” kidney stones.  In June, I had three surgeries to help remove the kidney stones.  Before this happened, I was not knowledgeable about my body and following a healthy liquid diet.  It is imperative to find a family practice to stay current with yearly checkups.

Recovering after surgery to remove kidney stones. (Photo source: Gretchen Thornton, UF/IFAS Extension)

March is National Kidney Month.  The goal is to encourage people to support kidney disease research and promote kidney safety and health.  Kidney Disease is symbolized by green, so purchase green ribbons, green waistbands, or green magnets from a Kidney Disease Awareness partner during March. If anyone wants to observe National Kidney Month, they can join the organ donor registry, donate to a kidney non-profit, and keep their kidneys healthy.

You can also find more information at the National Kidney Foundation of Florida.

More information and Reference:

FSHN16-9/FS287: Chronic Kidney Disease: Potassium and Your Diet (ufl.edu)

National Kidney Foundation of Florida (kidneyfl.org)

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Healthy Habits

Healthy Habits

We are well on our way into the new year, so that means you have kept up with your new year’s resolutions, right? Most individuals begin the new year with a resolution that they are going to participate in healthier habits, whether that be eating right, drinking more water, or exercising regularly. After the first few weeks, it can be hard to keep yourself on track. I know that I tend to fall short when I make meal and snack choices. Follow along below to learn more about why it is important to make healthy choices, as well as how to keep up with these healthy habits! 

Why should I make healthy choices? 

That is a great question! As a busy mom of two, I am always trying to balance work, school, family, and our social calendar. Your eating habits can contribute to physical movement, sleep, health, energy levels, and education. I can tell a large, positive difference in my overall attitude, energy levels, and sleep when I am making healthier choices. This is not something that someone can force upon you. Only you can make the decision to make these changes.

When you say healthy choices, what does that mean? 

This does not mean “diet” or that you cannot have the cookies or ice cream. Busy people don’t have a lot of time to prepare and eat healthy meals. It can be helpful to have a quick list of ideas to maintain healthy eating. It is important for you to balance your meals. Consider eating at least 3 of the following every day:  dairy, fruit, grains, healthy fats, proteins, or vegetables. Check out MyPlate to learn all about healthy eating habits, food groups, and how to shape your meals to you. Foods in moderation are okay but try to not overindulge.

Some high protein breakfast ideas:

  • Boil eggs at the beginning of the week and offer them with a low-sugar, high-protein cereal, and an apple to go. 
  • Make breakfast burritos filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, chicken, or beef on a Sunday and freeze them. 
  • An egg sandwich, a cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit, and peanut butter on wholegrain toast can all be eaten on the way to school.

If I keep junk food in the house, I tend to eat it. I always make a point to keep healthy snack options available rather than boxes of junk food. Healthy snack options at home include fruits, vegetables, and healthier beverages. Soda is high in sugar, so to help cut the sugar, I keep water, milk, and pure fruit juice in the fridge. (NOTE: Fruit juices contain natural sugars, so they should also be consumed in moderation.) It is easy for me to make those choices since I am the adult that goes grocery shopping. 

Ideas for healthier alternatives:

  • Instead of fried chicken, try baked or grilled chicken.
  • Instead of potato chips, try baked vegetable chips or nuts. 
  • Craving something crunchy? Try carrots or celery.
  • Craving something sweet? Try vanilla Greek yogurt with some fresh fruit.
  • Craving something salty? Try popcorn or edamame.  

On top of eating from different food groups, cut down on fats or sugars and remember to drink lots of water. Your body is unable to continue functioning properly without fluids. Staying hydrated may seem like a difficult task, but it is extremely important for us to stay hydrated for optimal health and performance throughout the day. Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. 

What about exercise? 

two people walking their dog

It is extremely easy to come up with excuses as to why you cannot exercise.

  • I don’t have time.
  • It costs too much.
  • I don’t like physical activity. 
  • I can’t do this by myself. 

Your new healthy habits should be made a priority. If you cannot take care of yourself, then you will not be able to take care of others. Physical exercise does not always have to be drastic. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking an extra block to work or around the neighborhood, or standing up instead of sitting.

How do I hold myself accountable?

Accountability for your new healthy habits can come in all shapes and sizes. The most helpful way that I have found is tracking my progress. This helps me find strengths, areas I can improve on, and helps me stay on track. You can record what you ate, how much water you drank, as well as any activity you performed. Try record keeping on an app, online, or the old-fashioned way – with pen and paper. There are several apps for your phones and websites online that will let you tailor your calorie and physical activity plans to reach your personal goals within a specific time period.

Sources:

https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/what-is-myplate

https://www.scripps.org/news_items/6630-6-simple-ways-to-stay-hydrated

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/hsph-in-the-news/the-importance-of-hydration/

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World Home Economics Day – March 21, 2024

Healthy Teeth, Healthier Body

October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Maintaining good dental hygiene is not only essential for a bright smile but also for overall health. Poor oral health can lead to various dental issues, including cavities, gum disease, and even other health problems throughout the body. Fortunately, there are several simple yet effective ways to ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy.  

toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss
A regular regimen of proper brushing, flossing, and rinsing can help keep teeth healthy and promote overall better health. (Source: Samantha Kennedy, UF/IFAS)

The cornerstone of any effective dental hygiene routine is regular brushing. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, ideally in the morning and before bedtime. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque, food particles, and bacteria from your teeth and gums. Brushing not only keeps your breath fresh but also prevents the buildup of harmful plaque that can lead to cavities and gum disease. 

Be sure to brush properly for the most benefit. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use gentle circular motions to clean all surfaces of your teeth. Do not forget to brush your tongue as well to remove bacteria that can cause bad breath. 

While brushing is crucial, it cannot reach all the areas between your teeth and along the gumline. That is where flossing comes in. Dental floss helps remove trapped food particles and plaque from these hard-to-reach places. Make it a habit to floss at least once a day, ideally before bedtime. Use a gentle back-and-forth motion and be careful not to snap the floss against your gums, as this can cause injury. 

If traditional flossing is challenging, consider using floss picks or interdental brushes, which can be more convenient and just as effective. 

Mouthwash and antiseptic rinses can be valuable additions to your dental hygiene routine. These products can help kill bacteria, reduce plaque buildup, and freshen your breath. Look for mouthwashes and rinses that contain fluoride for added protection against tooth decay. 

Please keep in mind, however, that mouthwash is not an adequate substitute for proper brushing. It’s essential to use these products as a complement to, not a replacement for, regular brushing and flossing. Rinses should be swished around your mouth for the recommended time on the label and then spit out. Avoid swallowing them, as they may contain ingredients that are not meant to be ingested. 

What you eat can significantly impact your dental health. A diet rich in sugary and acidic foods can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Limit your consumption of candies, soda, and other sugary snacks, and opt for healthier alternatives like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

Calcium-rich foods like dairy products, leafy greens, and almonds can help strengthen your teeth. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day also aids in rinsing away food particles and maintaining optimal saliva production, which is crucial for neutralizing acids and protecting your teeth. 

Even with a diligent home dental care routine, regular visits to the dentist are crucial for maintaining good dental hygiene. Dentists can detect early signs of dental issues and provide professional cleanings to remove stubborn plaque and tartar. Aim to see the dentist at least every six months or as recommended by your oral healthcare provider. These visits can prevent minor issues from turning into major dental problems and ensure your smile stays healthy and bright. 

Maintaining good dental hygiene is not a difficult task, but it requires consistency and diligence. A healthy smile goes beyond aesthetics; it is an essential part of overall well-being. So, make dental hygiene a priority in your daily routine, and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful and healthy smile for years to come. 

An Equal Opportunity Institution. 

National Seafood Month

National Seafood Month

October is one of my most favorite times of year. Fall is in the air and the temperatures are starting to “fall.” School is back in session for our kids. The holiday season is beginning. Did you know that October is also National Seafood Month? There is no better time than National Seafood Month to start trying new recipes with your family and digging into heart-healthy meals!

“For a healthy heart, the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating two, 3.5 oz servings of fish per week” (Picklo, 2020). According to the USDA, there are several studies that show that eating fish reduces risk of heart disease. Fish is an excellent source of protein, which is great for losing weight or building muscle. Fish is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help reduce blood clots, triglycerides, and irregular heartbeats.

Including at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish in your weekly meals can reduce heart disease risk. (Photo source: Cristina Carriz, UF/IFAS)

Try to incorporate more seafood into your diet by adding it in twice a week. Fried shrimp or fish is so delicious but can contain more fat than we need to consume. For heart-healthy-conscious meals, consider baking or grilling the fish instead. You may be surprised at the delicious results. If you are unsure of where to start, take a look at the Med Instead of Meds curriculum. Many counties throughout the state of Florida are offering classes, in person and virtually.

Med Instead of Meds focuses on a Mediterranean diet and provides a variety of simple and delicious recipes! Recipes range from salmon and tuna burgers to fish tacos and much more! You can easily tweak the recipes to get creative with the herbs to make it your own dish. The possibilities are endless! Click here to visit the Med Instead of Meds website, created by a group of nutrition and health professionals from North Carolina State University and the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

One of my personal favorite recipes from their website is the “Honey Balsamic Glazed Salmon.” This recipe is simple to make, but the results are oh so sweet. The balsamic and honey glaze complements the salmon in ways I could not imagine, so much so that my mouth is watering just thinking about it! My family does not like the rosemary taste as much, so we tend to use oregano or thyme instead. Again, a simple change that my family loves. Little do they know they are eating heart-healthy seafood!

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Garcia, J., & Purser, E. (2021, October 12). National Seafood Month. NC Cooperative Extension News.

Picklo, M. (2020, April 2). Eat fish! Which Fish? That Fish! Go Fish!. Eat Fish! which fish? that fish! go fish! : USDA ars.

National Apple Month

National Apple Month

Summer is coming to a close, and Fall is in the air. What better way to kick off the Fall season than by bobbing for a deep red, bright green, or yellow apple? Currently, there are over 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States, and 7,500 varieties grown throughout the world. Apples are also grown in all 50 states. That is a lot of apples to celebrate throughout the month of October!

Photo source: Claire Davis, UF/IFAS Extension

Have you ever heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? This was something that I was told throughout my childhood. I did not believe that an apple a day would keep me healthy and away from the doctor’s office. Now I understand that the saying is a tribute to the apple’s nutritional value and its health benefits. Per the USDA, an apple is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C!

Fiber affects the rate of digestion of foods, the absorption of nutrients, and the movement of waste products (stool) through the colon. It also provides a substrate for beneficial intestinal bacteria (Cornell). Vitamin C supports your body’s health by forming collagen used to make skin, tendons, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds, repair or maintain bones and teeth, and helps absorb iron (Medline Plus). It is best to eat the apple with the skin on, because the skin contains fiber and right under it is most of the vitamin C. One medium sized apple, about 2.5 inches in diameter, has a total calorie count of about 80 calories.

Apples are a great fruit to add to our diet! Check out a few ideas below on easy ways to add them in.

Photo source: Claire Davis, UF/IFAS Extension
  • Apples chopped up into bite size pieces taste great mixed in with a salad.
  • Mix up a yogurt dip using yogurt, cinnamon, and vanilla, to dip apple slices in. Or try spreading peanut butter over apple slices.
  • Add a peeled apple into a smoothie for added nutrients.

If you are not convinced yet, consider this. Apples are delicious, easy to carry around for a snack, low in calories, and can be refreshing on a hot day! With the hundreds of varieties available, there is an apple to suit almost anyone’s taste. Apples can be sweet, tart, crisp, crunchy, soft, or mushy, however you like them. Try an apple today!  

Fiber, digestion, and health – Cornell University. (n.d.). https://health.cornell.edu/sites/health/files/pdf-library/fiber-digestion-health.pdf

Food data Central Search Results. FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171688/nutrients

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2023, January 19). Vitamin C: Medlineplus medical encyclopedia. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002404.htm