When you look at your children, do you see a picture of a healthy, active child? The United States Pentagon just released a report stating “77% of young Americans would not qualify for military service without a waiver due to being overweight, using drugs, or having mental and physical health problems.” Even worse, this is a 6% increase from the previous study. No matter the wish of a parent or youth as to their desire for military service, this study paints a disturbing picture of the health of our youth in the United States. Where have things gone wrong and what could be some simple corrective actions?
Exercise is a word many people dislike. But reframing the chosen exercise activity as a family outing, such as a daily debriefing walk to discuss the day’s events or an indoor activity such as a basic yoga class at a local gym or via video at home, can be a fun, purposeful way to incorporate physical activity without it seeming like “exercise.” The point is to increase the activity level of not just the youth but also the parent or guardian.
Replacing sugar sweetened beverages with water or fruit-infused water is an easy way to decrease excessive caloric intake and provide better hydration. Water is a basic need of the body and performs many roles from joint health and nutrient delivery to cells to regulating body temperature and proper organ functions.
Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future research indicates that persons who frequently prepare meals at home eat healthier. Eating more fruits and vegetable with attention to healthier preparation methods can lead to better health outcomes over time.
It’s time to paint a new picture with you as the role model. Slowly adjusting to the adoption of a healthier lifestyle can take time. Speak openly with the youth in your life and let them help to decide the changes they feel they can make. Place this in writing using SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. Revisit these goals and adjust them as needed. The reward over time could be a picture of health.
July is National Grilling Month, and there is nothing quite like the aroma of delicious food sizzling on the grill. However, it is important to prioritize safety when it comes to outdoor cooking to avoid any accidents or mishaps. Whether you are a seasoned grill master or a novice, here are six essential grilling safety tips to keep in mind for a worry-free barbecue experience.
Choose the right location. Selecting the appropriate location for grill setup is crucial to ensuring the safety of people and property. Place the grill on a stable, non-flammable surface, such as concrete or bricks, and ensure it is a safe distance away from any flammable objects like trees, fences, or wooden structures, or heat-sensitive objects like vinyl siding. Avoid grilling in enclosed spaces, such as garages or covered patios, as it can lead to carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause death if inhaled in a large enough quantity. Grilling in open spaces will allow this gas to dissipate to safe levels.
Keep a safe zone. Establish a designated “safety zone” around the grill to prevent accidents and injuries. Create a clear area of at least three feet in all directions, free from children, pets, and any foot traffic. This zone will provide a buffer between the hot grill and any potential hazards, reducing the risk of burns or accidental contact.
Practice proper handling of propane. When using a gas propane grill, it is essential to handle the propane cylinder with care. Always inspect the cylinder for any signs of damage, rust, or leaks before connecting it to the grill. When transporting or storing propane cylinders, ensure they are in an upright position and never place them in hot or enclosed spaces. When connecting or disconnecting the cylinder, make sure all burners are turned off, and never smoke or place any other open flames (such as citronella candles) near the grill.
Follow proper food safety practices. Safe food preparation practices are just as important as the grilling process itself. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, utensils, and plates for raw and cooked foods. Keep perishable items refrigerated until they are ready to be cooked, and don’t let them sit out in the heat for too long. In hot summer temperatures, food should not sit out longer than two hours. If the temperature is 90 degrees F or higher, the time limit is one hour. Use a food thermometer to ensure that meats such as poultry are cooked thoroughly and reach the appropriate internal temperature to prevent foodborne illnesses. Contact the Extension office for a list of proper internal cooking temperatures for different food types.
Monitor the grill. Never leave the grill unattended while it is in use. Grilling requires constant attention to avoid accidents and flare-ups. Stay vigilant and keep a close eye on the grill at all times. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby, ideally a Class B or multipurpose one, and know how to use it effectively. In case of a grease fire, never use water to extinguish it, as it can cause the flames to spread. Instead, use baking soda or a fire extinguisher specifically designed for grease fires.
Clean the grill. Maintaining a clean grill is not only essential for food safety but also for preventing flare-ups and extending the life of the grill. After each use, scrub the grates with a grill brush to remove any residue. Additionally, periodically inspect and clean the burner tubes and ports to prevent clogs and ensure proper gas flow.
By following these six grilling safety tips, outdoor cooking can be safe and fun.
You probably have heard the term “spring cleaning” before and with good reason. The changing of the season offers an opportunity to declutter our homes and start fresh. In Florida, the weather is warming up and flowers are starting to bloom. It is time to store away the winter blues and embrace the new growth happening all around us.
It is time to deep clean the floors, windows, pantry, closets, and refrigerators, and time to throw out or donate items collecting dust in the house. It can be overwhelming to start thinking about cleaning everything in the house, so make it manageable by prioritizing what needs to be done first. You could start by cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator. Toss the expired food away and donate those items you haven’t used in months that have not expired. Chances are, if you have not used them in months, you probably won’t any time soon. Look at your spice cabinet and take inventory of what is good to use and what is not. Yoss the expired spices away. Wipe down your cabinets and appliances.
Open your curtains or lift your blinds and start cleaning your windows and wash your curtains. It is amazing how much dust can build up on blinds and curtains. Take out a dust rag and dust those spaces that aren’t commonly used. Take down the photos on the wall and give them a nice wipe down as well. While you are at it with the dust rag or duster, get those ceiling fans and other hard-to-reach places. Don’t forget to clean the baseboards. There are a variety of ways you can clean them: wipe with a rag, mop, vacuum, or sweep them. Go ahead and wash that shower curtain and replace the curtain liner if it has been a while. Vacuum or wipe down your furniture to remove dust, hair, and crumbs. Take inventory of your closets and donate what you do not use or haven’t used in a long time. You could also have a yard sale to get rid of excess items in your house that you no longer want or need (and make a little cash at the same time!). Sweep or vacuum the floors, clean the rugs by washing or spot-cleaning them, and finish off the inside cleaning by mopping if you have hard floors.
Now is a good time to do any DIY projects or hire someone to come in and touch up things that need to be done. You may need to touch up some paint, or re-caulk your tile or windows. Also, be sure to change your air filter on a regular basis to ensure proper air filtration and to help extend the life of your unit. Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Fixing small things around your house can have a huge impact on the overall condition of your house. Small changes make a huge difference.
Cleaning and decluttering can be a daunting task, but making a list and tackling items on that list one at a time can help get your house ready for the Spring season. Play music or an audiobook aloud to give you some motivation or encouragement while cleaning. You can even add a dance move in while you’re at it for a little extra exercise!
Finally, don’t forget the outdoors. You may have some projects you would like to do outside, and spring is a great time to mark those items off the list because the weather is typically enjoyable. Pressure or soft wash the exterior of the house to remove built up dirt and debris. Weed the garden, plant those flowers, put out that bird feeder, and enjoy your outdoor space. Create your own sanctuary by decluttering and cleaning your living areas, inside and out. Now you are ready to enjoy the spring season and all it has to offer!
How many of you feel like your days are go, go, go and feel tired and uninspired by the time you get home to make dinner? I am in the same boat and have decided my fast, go to dinners are now sheet pan meals. Add protein(s) (of your choice) and vegetables (of your choice) tossed in oil and spices (of your choice) and place it in the oven to cook, and you have dinner ready in less than an hour. My favorite part of these meals is that you and your family choose the foods you like and make them your own. This makes it easy to please everyone – even picky eaters – and you can mix it up with different proteins and vegetables to keep it from getting boring.
These meals are great for introducing new vegetables and proteins to children and adults. Why is it important to eat vegetables? Eating a diet rich in vegetables provides your body with important nutrients for proper health and maintenance, protects against certain types of cancers, and helps reduce your risk for heart disease, including heart attacks and stroke.
Be sure to check out the MyPlate Vegetable Group table for more information. The Vegetable Group is divided into five subgroups: Dark-Green Vegetables, Red and Orange Vegetables, Starchy Vegetables, Beans, Peas, and Lentils, and Other Vegetables. When you click on each subgroup it gives you a list of vegetables. Be sure to eat a variety of different vegetables for the most health benefit. It is recommended for us to eat many types of vegetables in a variety of colors to get the proper amount of nutrients we need.
These balanced sheet pan meals are also very easy for cleanup. You use one sheet pan for the entire meal. I highly recommend putting parchment paper down on your sheet pan before adding any ingredients. It will make the cleanup so much easier. There may still be some oil that needs to be washed off the pan, but nothing will get stuck or will need to soak before cleaning it.
As a busy, working adult I highly recommend the sheet pan meals to make your evenings easier and to diversify your meals and types of foods you enjoy at dinner. Happy Easy Meal Prep/Cleanup! Enjoy your delicious, nutritious sheet pan meal.
Did you know a heart-healthy diet is a brain-healthy diet? A diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants is not only great for reducing the risk for heart disease and diabetes, but also for boosting brain function. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), research has shown that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of developing dementia. A Mediterranean diet focuses on all the good food mentioned above and limits foods with added sugars, fewer portions of meat, and carbohydrates compared to a standard American diet.
Foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats slow down our brain function often causing us to be tired or feel sluggish. Eating these types of foods long-term may lead to lower cognitive function as well as increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Physical activity is very critical for positive brain health. Research has shown that regular physical activity is beneficial for the brain because it may increase glucose metabolism, using glucose for fuel quickly, which could reduce the risk for cognitive disorders as you age. This is one reason it is important to strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Brisk walking is an example of moderate-intensity exercise, and it is generally cost-effective or free and does not require special equipment. So, while you may be walking to get ready for a vacation or an event, you are not only getting into physical shape but also boosting your cognitive function at the same time!
There are other ways besides diet and exercise that you can help boost your cognition. You may engage in activities such as sewing, quilting, reading, playing games, and socializing. These are great ways to challenge our brains while also having fun. Maybe you just learned someone you know is expecting a baby, so if you enjoy making blankets, make one for that person; maybe the local community center holds game nights – take a friend and go play some games! Try learning something new – if you enjoy dancing, try picking up a new style of dance or if you enjoy cooking, try different recipes or techniques in the kitchen. Trying something new can be fun and rewarding.
Managing stress is important when we think about our brain health. It is easy to get caught up in the stressors of daily life and if we do not have effective ways to manage this stress, it can take a toll on cognitive function. Taking a short walk, listening to music, reading a book, and talking with a friend can help manage stress. Engaging in meditation, prayer, or yoga can also help manage or reduce stress. It is important to take deep breaths and relax throughout the day so you can regain focus and tackle the issue(s) at hand. Stress is inevitable, so finding ways to manage or reduce the effects of stress on you can be beneficial to overall cognitive health.
Keeping our brains healthy is a life-long task. It is never too late to start working on our cognitive health. The brain is continually changing every day so add in healthy foods, exercise, and activities to help grow your brain positively or beneficially. It is important to find ways to manage stress that work for you; this helps with decision-making, problem-solving, and overall cognitive function. Take brain breaks throughout your day to de-stress and recharge.
Physical activity is vital for all individuals. Everyone can benefit from being physically active throughout their lives. Physical activity helps to reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. Chronic conditions may be manageable by regular physical activity. Being active can help people maintain a healthy body weight as they age or help people lower their body weight, if needed, when paired with a healthy diet. Physical activity can help with balance, which reduces the risk of falling and lessens the risk of injury if a fall does occur.
How much physical activity is recommended? Some activity is better than none—small amounts of daily exercise like walking, folding laundry, grocery shopping, and gardening benefit health. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that individuals get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week. Moderate-intensity exercise increases heart and breath rate, but the person should still be able to maintain a conversation. Vigorous-intensity movement causes you to become out of breath and unable to hold an entire conversation. It is important to know that exercise is most beneficial spread throughout the week, for example, brisk walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Some people do not have time to set aside a 30-minute block during the day to walk and choose to do 10 minutes at a time three times a day, which counts for 30 minutes of exercise that day!
Physical activity can benefit overall health, including mental health. Grab a friend or two and plan to meet up a couple of times each week to socialize and exercise together. Group exercise can be a great way to maintain healthy relationships and physical health. Research indicates that people with an accountability partner tend to stick with their exercise goals longer than those who do not have an exercise partner. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans also recommend that adults should do at least two days per week of muscle-strengthening exercises, such as lifting weights and resistance training. You do not need fancy equipment; you can use food jars, cans of soup, milk jugs, etc., as your weights. Also, you can use your body weight for resistance training, such as push-ups, squats, and planks. When doing muscle-strengthening exercises, it is essential to work out all major muscle groups each week, including the legs, back, chest, and hips.
Always consult your healthcare provider before beginning an exercise program. It is also essential to keep a few safety tips in mind: be aware of your surroundings, dress for the weather, stay hydrated, and ensure the area is well-lit to avoid fall or trip hazards.