Favorite Things…..

23 11 2009

The holidays are quickly approaching and I hope that you are looking forward to making memories with family and friends. The season is so much more than just giving and receiving gifts. It’s a time to savor family traditions that can be built upon for the weeks leading up to your family gatherings.

There are really three different kinds of traditions that most families observe. As we talk about them, think about what your family’s rituals are.

First is the family patterns: the little things like what you do when the alarm goes off in the morning. Do you get a shower first, or do you need to hit the snooze 3 times and get a cup of coffee before you wake anyone else? What happens to your morning routine, if the power goes out and the alarm doesn’t go off? How does that affect your day if you don’t have your morning “time”? Think about how your routine changes when the kids are home from school as the holidays approach, what do you look forward to?

Another pattern, may be mealtime, or bedtime or something that you do as part of your family’s daily routine. All families have to get up, but your family may do it differently, by rubbing a child’s back, or singing a song, or just turning on the light. It’s the little things, as children will remember the special stories or songs you may share during the holidays.

The second are your family traditions. These are things created by individual families to fit their life style. All families have them, how they celebrate them is different. Where do you always go on vacation? What do you look forward to on winter break? This could also be like a family game night or visiting relatives on Sunday afternoon. Does your family have family meetings to discuss things? That’s another example.

The third type is that of your celebration traditions, these are the times you celebrate with family members like holidays, birthdays, anniversaries. At our home the birthday person always gets a birthday balloon tied to their chair to begin the day. They get to choose their favorite foods for the meal and decide what the dessert will be. Where do you always go for Thanksgiving, Christmas or your Holiday of Faith? Who always brings your favorite food? Those could be part of your family’s traditions.

Traditions give families a sense of identity, a belonging. All of us need to feel that we are not just a cluster of people living in a house, but a family that is unique, we have personality and a heritage to carry on. It’s the little things we do that make families unique, that’s what traditions and rituals are, some are very simple and some are more elaborate or complex, they in a sense weave the fabric of daily life.

A tradition is not something you are going to find written down. It’s carried on by generations by word of mouth or by example without written instruction. During the holidays this year, ask some of your family members about your traditions: When did they start? Who started it? Why do you still do it? What would you like to let go of or start new?

Listen to your children, reinforce the things they remember throughout the weeks to come and enjoy the season, not just the day.

Author:  Melinda Hill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences

Sugar and hyperactivity

12 11 2009

1177694_lollypopGive a child a giant pixie stick and what happens?  Many people would say, watch out!  Refined (processed/added) sugars may have some effect on children’s activity, according to the National Institutes of Health. Refined sugars enter the bloodstream quickly, so they produce rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels.  This might trigger adrenaline and make a child more active.  And falling adrenaline levels may bring on a period of decreased activity and/or a desire for more sugar to kick the level back up to high.

However, research is inconclusive as to whether or not sugar is linked to hyperactivity.  Some child may be genetically predisposed to hyperactivity after doses of sugar, while others may not respond in the same way.  Scientists also reason that if a special diet of foods with less sugar works for a child, it may be because that family has begun to interact with each other differently when they are following the special diet.  These behavioral changes, not the diet itself, may improve the child’s own behavior and activity level.

For every child, there are many reasons to eat whole grains and less sugar.  Sugar remains a key cause in tooth decay.  High-sugar foods tend to have fewer vitamins and minerals, and may replace more nutritious foods.  Also, high-sugar foods have many unnecessary calories that can lead to obesity.  Adding fiber to your child’s diet may help to keep adrenaline levels more constant.  Check out previous posts on identifying added sugars and improving fiber intake for ideas.

Cheers, Julie

Who pays attention to nutrition labels?

9 11 2009

College students — according to a study by Ohio State University Extension’s Dr. Gail Kaye.  The findings published this month in the American Journal of Public Health suggest posting labels at the point of food selection change behavior.  The average energy (calorie) content of entrees purchased by patrons dropped immediately when nutrition labels were made available and increased gradually when nutrition information was removed.  And the food service operators didn’t mind because the number of entrees sold and the revenue remained the same.  A win-win situation! pointofpurchaselabel

How about you? Would calorie information posted for the food choices at your favorite lunch or dinner location change your choice?

Cheers, Julie

Fruits and Vegetables Can Help Reduce Childhood Obesity

2 11 2009

A new report the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation shows that Ohio ranks #15 in rates of Childhood Obesity. That means 33.3% of our children are obese.  How can we help change this statistic?

One way is to increase the number of fruits and vegetables served to our children each day.  Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients like fiber, potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C and low in fat, sugar, and calories.

Making fresh fruits and vegetables available daily is important.  Also, when making foods for family get-togethers replace at least one of the high calorie dishes with a lower calorie alternative.

Visit Ohioline to find ways to modify a recipe.

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.