Healthy snacks fuel the athlete! Photo credit: Amy Mullins
When it comes to your kids, you’d do anything to help them succeed… in the classroom, in their relationships, in life. So, why not on the basketball court, soccer field, swimming pool, or whichever sport they’ve fallen in love with? They may have the best equipment, participate in extra training lessons, and put in 110% during every practice and event. But, is this enough? Is there something missing?
It’s no secret that your child is growing. In order to function in their sport, improve performance, and promote recovery, kids need food to help support the increased energy requirements. This ultimately means more planning and more groceries!
Follow these guidelines to fuel your superstar during the week, before the game/event, and after the game/event.
Eat a good-sized meal at least three hours before the event. This gives the tummy time to process all the food to prepare it as fuel. Have a light balanced meal with some carbs and fats. These will sustain you throughout your exercise! Carbs and fats are both great fuel sources, and the fats digest slower to help keep you feeling full. Pick foods that digest well to avoid any nausea or upset stomach. Don’t forget to drink some water to start off hydrated!
- Breakfast Ideas: fruit, lightly sautéed potatoes, scrambled eggs, or toast with nut butter or smashed avocado
- Lunch Ideas: turkey or ham sandwich (avoid fatty cheeses and condiments), peanut butter and jelly, fruit, pretzels, or cereal
- Snack 30 minutes before the event: peanut butter crackers, granola bars, fruit snacks, or goldfish crackers
During Practice and Games
For exercise lasting less than an hour, sip on some water to stay hydrated. For exercise lasting longer than an hour, a sports drink like Gatorade or Powerade will help replenish lost carbohydrates and electrolytes. For longer lasting activities or day trips, bring along some easy to eat snacks with lots of carbs, and some fats and proteins. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and granola bars are great options!
After exercise, it’s important to recover, refuel, and re-hydrate. Protein will help our muscles recover while carbohydrates will help refuel for the next activity. Drink plenty of fluids to rehydrate! Good choices for quick, easy snacks include chocolate milk, peanut butter crackers, cheese sticks, bananas, apple slices with peanut butter, or smoothies with or without protein.
Dinner Plate After Practice and Games
- Grains/Carbs: Should take up roughly 35% of the plate
- Lean Protein: Should take up roughly 25% of the plate
- Fruits and Veggies: Should take up roughly 40% of the plate
- Hydration: Focus on replenishing lost electrolytes and fluid loss
Components of a well-balanced meal include:
- Meat & poultry – great protein sources for recovery. Pair it with a carb!
- Whole grains, fruit, pasta, rice, potatoes – great carb sources to complement your protein. These will help replace the energy you burned during exercise.
- Water, milk, and fruits will help replenish fluids lost during exercise.
Eating right not only on game day but throughout the week will do wonders for your child’s athletic performance. Not only that, it will set them up to be successful and healthy adults in the future!
Guest contributors: Patrick Burns and E. Jane Watts, Dietetic Interns from Florida State University’s Department of Food, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences
The use of trade names in this post is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. It is not a guarantee, warranty, or endorsement of the product.
Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics. Ellis, E. (2020). Hydrate Right. https://www.eatright.org/fitness/sports-and-performance/hydrate-right/hydrate-right
American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, American College of Sports Medicine,
Rodriguez, N. R., Di Marco, N. M., & Langley, S. (2009). American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 41(3), 709–731.
Some house plants are very easy to keep alive, even if you are a first-time gardener. Photo source: Melanie Taylor
As July begins, one mental health topic we repeatedly hear or read about is how stress is negatively affecting so many Americans right now. In these unprecedented times, many people are reaching out for guidance from their doctors, therapists, friends, and family. Depending on how your stress levels are affecting you, there are numerous suggestions ranging from exercise to therapy to medication and the list goes on. There may be one solution right at your fingertips that can help you begin to find a little peace of mind starting today. Gardening…. Let’s DIG IN!
Gardening does not have to be growing a large vegetable garden in the backyard. It can be planting flowers and plants in your landscape, maintaining potted plants on your front porch and deck, or growing houseplants inside your home. One easy way to start if you have never been a gardener is by growing herbs inside or out. Many people find gardening helps them escape to a place of peace as they dig in the soil and watch their plants and flowers grow and prosper.
This idea is not new. Horticulture is the art and science of growing plants. Horticultural therapy is the practice of engaging people in plant or gardening activities to improve their bodies, minds, and spirits. Research confirms that healthful benefits accrue when people connect with nature and plants by viewing and/or interacting with them.
Enjoy socializing with friends and neighbors in the garden. Photo source: Julie McConnell
Horticultural therapy has been around for a very long time. In the 1600’s, the poor often worked in gardens to pay for their medical care. Physicians quickly noticed these patients recovered faster and had better overall health than patients who did not work in the garden. Today, many hospitals, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, prisons, schools, social-service facilities, and community centers use people-plant interactions as a form of treatment for persons with physical or mental disabilities. Horticultural therapy may include meeting with a therapist specializing in this area or trying something on your own or with family, friends, or a local gardening group.
Saturday mornings are family time at the local community garden plot. Photo source: Julie McConnell
Some benefits you may receive from gardening include:
- Physical: Provides exercise at various levels. (Easy, medium, and strenuous levels – it all depends on what you decide to create.)
- Emotional: Promotes and satisfies your creative side, increases your feelings of confidence and self-esteem, promotes a new interest and enthusiasm for it, and even relieves tension.
- Physiological: May help lower blood pressure and heart rate, decrease cortisol levels, and ultimately relieve stress.
Even if you think you do not have a “green thumb,” you should try gardening on any level and see if it will be a healthy mode of stress release for you. Happy Gardening!
UF/IFAS Extension EDIS Document ENH970: Horticultural Therapy, Elizabeth Diehl and Sydney Park Brown.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls by older adults aged 65 and up can often result in serious injuries, decreased mobility and a loss of independence. They are common and can happen at a high cost, both financially and in terms of health and lifestyle for the person who falls. Statistics from the CDC show “each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries” and the death rate from falls in the U.S. has been on the rise—30% from 2007 to 2016.
While many falls don’t cause injuries, some do and can leave the person with bruises, sprains, broken bones or head injuries. Even if a person falls without suffering an injury, that fall may lead to a fear of falling. Both the injuries and the fear of falling can lead a person to limit their daily activities. By being less active, the person increases their risk of falling again.
It’s not all bad news though. Many falls are preventable and several of the steps you can take for yourself or a loved one are low or no cost. Start by looking for risk factors. These are conditions that increase the chances of a fall happening. Here are some to be aware of:
- Taking more than 2 medications daily.
- Having a hearing and/or vision impairment.
- Experiencing dizziness when getting up, changing positions, or walking.
- Having trouble getting in and out of a chair, walking, picking up objects from the floor or reaching overhead without holding on to something.
- Having throw rugs, cluttered walkways, uneven surfaces or slippery floors.
- Navigating stairs without rails.
- Having poor lighting conditions.
- Wearing shoes with high heels or slippery soles.
- Having fallen in the past year or being afraid of falling.
Many of these can be corrected or managed. One of the key steps to preventing falls is talking with your doctor and pharmacist. They can help with evaluating your risk and advise you on specific things you can do, especially in terms of problems with hearing, vision or medications. Staying active or following exercise routines can help with balance and strength. Here is a link to some beginner level exercises to start with if you’re not already exercising.
An elderly persons bathroom can be made safer by adding items that will help them maneuver easier. Photo Credit: UF/IFAS Marisol Amador
Do a check of your home to see if you have any of the risk factors above and correct them. Here are some other steps you can take at home:
Keeping a lamp beside the bed means you don’t have to walk through the dark at night to get to the light switch. Photo credit: Terri Keith, UF/IFAS Extension
- Lower shelves 3 inches for easier access; adjust closet rods to keep clothes within reach.
- Use a reacher or grabber for items that are too high. NEVER use a chair as a step stool.
- Install or add more lighting in your home especially near walkways, stairs and entrances.
- Keep a lamp and flashlight by your bed and night lights where needed.
- Install or secure handrails on both sides of the stairs and use them every time.
- Make sure walkways are clear and uncluttered. Remove or secure throw rugs, cords and hoses out of the way.
- Use textured surfaces for patios, driveways and stairs. Mark any changes in floor level with reflective tape.
- Be aware of your pet’s location when you stand or walk so they don’t trip you.
- Install and use grab bars to help with getting in and out of the bath safely.
- Use a rubber mat in your bathtub or shower.
- Install a handheld showerhead and use it with a bath bench or chair when showering.
If a fall does happen, even if there were no injuries, it’s a good idea to let your doctor know about it the next time you see them. It can help alert them to new medical problems or a need to review your prescriptions. Taking these steps can help reduce the risk of a fall and stop the cycle of falling from being repeated.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Home and Recreational Safety: https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html and https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
University of Florida, IFAS: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy734 and https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy733
National Institute on Aging: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/prevent-falls-and-fractures and https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/fall-proofing-your-home
What does your morning and evening routine consist of? Now that we are adjusting to our new normal of staying at home and social distancing, many routines are different than before. How about starting a routine of walking 30 minutes or an hour each day? There are so many positive benefits to even just adding 15 minutes to your schedule and most everyone, including children, can do it.
Walking is a great form of exercise that nearly everyone can do. (Photo source: Lyon Duong, UF/IFAS)
Walking improves your mood and reduces stress and anxiety. Who doesn’t need that kind of positive influence in their life right now? If you walk in the morning, it will provide you with energy for the rest of the day and walking in the evening helps you to sleep better at night. Taking a few extra steps each day can add some time to clear your head and add to your energy level while creating a positive mindset for other activities.
One of the other benefits of walking is burning calories. Burning calories may lead to weight loss. It seems that almost every American is always looking for a way to improve the fitness of their body. By exercising during a walk, you build stronger muscles, ligaments and tendons. Physically, walking can reduce your hips, tighten abdominal muscles, strengthen your arms, and tone your legs. Walking gives you a chance to improve balance, coordination and flexibility. Your feet can help to reduce the load on other joints while keeping knee joints healthy and lowering the risk of blood clots. Walking makes your heart stronger and reduces risk of stroke. A research team from the University of Michigan Medical School says that people who are in the 50s-60s age bracket who exercise regularly are 35 percent less likely to die in the next eight years than those who do not. Therefore, some walking each day could help you lead to a longer life.
Now that we have so many reasons to take a stroll each day, we must make sure to walk correctly to avoid injury. It is important to move freely and naturally while swinging your arms to avoid back problems. Keep your shoulder back with your head held high and eyes forward. Position your feet straight and push off with your hind leg to engage your hips. Watch for traffic if you are walking by a highway and of course practice social distancing for now. Maybe later ask a friend to join for a social aspect and to have accountability to someone. Keep a log to track progress. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity per week to be considered active adults. That should add up to about 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day but if you can get 10,000, go for it! It is a great time to get into this daily routine and doesn’t require any special equipment or memberships.
So what are you waiting for? There is no better time to start stepping.
For more information on healthy living or other extension related topics, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent.
Healthstyle: A Self-Test (UF/IFAS Extension)
Healthy Living: Beating Barriers to Physical Activity (UF/IFAS Extension)
Improving Savings, Health, and Happiness by Modifying How the Family Operates the Home (UF/IFAS Extension)
Walking: Your Steps to Health (Harvard Health)
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
Can I go outside during the Coronavirus Pandemic? Is it a smart idea? As we are instructed by the CDC to isolate ourselves and embrace social distancing, we may start to feel a little restless or stir crazy after staying inside for a long period of time. Spring weather is great, especially in the mornings and evenings, here in Florida. Normally we would be entering a time when people are the most active outdoors. This year we must be a little more creative when deciding what we can do to enjoy daily activities outside of our home.
Family playing outside
Photo Source: UF/IFAS
Children usually need no encouragement to go outside. Youth that spend more time outside have positive outcomes with their health by interacting with their natural environments. They are curious about the world around them and their experiences outside will benefit them in regard to a positive attitude toward their environment. Adults have those same benefits but tend to forget or not have time in everyday life as it gets busy.
Therefore, the question is, what can we do that will keep us at a distance and be educational and productive? If you live in less populated areas, you might plant a garden, build an outside project that you have been putting off, enjoy a picnic, or hike and sight-see through the woods. If in the city and able, go for a walk or jog with your dog, take a bike ride or do some yoga especially if you are missing the gym. Your medical professionals will be glad you are participating in some physical activity and breathing in some fresh air. You might want to get in a lawn chair and just relax and soak up some vitamin D from a few minutes in the sun.
If you have recently become your child’s teacher, you can have learning activities outside. Science and math can be integrated by building a house out of natural resources, allowing students to collect materials and build while fostering creativity. Talk about ecosystems of trees and plants and how they might provide a home for insects or animals. Students could take a piece of paper outside and define what they see in their yard, integrating spelling and vocabulary, or write a short story based on what they hear and observe.
We are living and facing challenges today that we probably have not encountered before, so it is a good time to find an outlet to relieve stress and detour the onset of depression. The web is full of ideas for all ages if you run out of inspiration and some days we do. Remember to keep a safe distance from others, wash your hands frequently and follow your local guidelines but don’t be afraid to try something new that may be out of your ordinary routine. It might turn out to be your favorite hobby.
For more information on healthy living or other extension related topics, contact your local UF IFAS county extension office.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS Extension EDIS publications:
Kids in the Woods
Why is Exposure to Nature Important in Early Childhood
COVID-19 Preventative Measures
UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.
This month brings awareness and education about the importance of our kidneys in maintaining a healthy life. Kidney function is unique because you may not notice the symptoms until the function is already far gone. The CDC reports chronic kidney disease is a condition that 1 in every 7 adults (age 18 or older) in the United States has, as well as people with end stage renal disease who need dialysis or a kidney transplant.
How do your kidneys keep you healthy?
- Help remove excess fluid levels in the body.
- Make vitamins that control growth.
- Activate Vitamin D for healthy bones.
- Filter wastes from the blood.
- Control the production of red blood cells.
- Release hormones that help regulate blood pressure.
- Help regulate blood pressure, red blood cells, and the amount of certain nutrients in the body, such as calcium and potassium.
There are many complications associated with kidney disease. They include cardiovascular disease, nerve damage, heart attack, weak bones, high blood pressure, stroke, anemia/low red blood cell count and of course kidney failure.
Speak openly with your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding your health. (Photo source: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS)
The main risk factors for kidney disease and the problems associated with it are high blood pressure, diabetes, family history, and being 60 years old and above. Out of these four problems, two of them – high blood pressure and diabetes – may be managed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, taking medications as prescribed, regular visits to your doctor and exercise. If you have been diagnosed with either of these two, you need to regularly monitor your blood pressure and glucose levels, take medications if prescribed, and speak openly with your doctor about concerns or questions you may have. Family history and being over the age of 60 are not issues you can control, but you can strive to live a healthy lifestyle and regularly have blood work drawn so your doctor can help catch any issues that are becoming a problem. Learning to maintain and follow your doctor’s orders will go a long way to keeping you and your kidneys healthy longer.
What are the symptoms you may notice if you are experiencing kidney problems?
- Swelling in your face, hands, abdomen, ankles, and feet.
- Blood in your urine or foamy urine.
- Puffy eyes.
- Difficult, painful urination.
- Increased thirst.
If you notice any of these problems or are just concerned because of family history, your family doctor can order the blood work to check your kidney function. If you find out you are experiencing kidney problems you should see a nephrologist – a kidney specialist.
Although many people ignore the importance of their kidneys, they play a very important part in our daily bodily functions in regulating minerals, fluids, blood pressure, and so much more. Striving to maintain a healthy lifestyle will help to ensure your kidneys keep working hard for you. Be sure to show your kidneys some love this March to celebrate National Kidney Month.
National Kidney Foundation – https://www.kidney.org/
Center for Disease and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/