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Around the Home: New Years resolution time
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It’s that time again. A new year is about to unfold, and we vow to "do (fill-in-the- blank) better this year!" It also follows on the heels of the most festive time of the year, a time when we throw caution to the wind and eat our way through mountains of calorie-laden foods at every opportunity.

Who can resist Nana’s Muddy Buddies and Chocolate Cookie Truffles, or Aunt Ginger’s Pecan Toffee? New temptations appear every year to be added to the list of "must haves" for next year.

In the cold light of day, as 2011 comes to an end, we dare to look in the mirror and realize that all of those goodies have come home to roost.

Is it any surprise that my number one resolution for 2012 is to eat more of the good-for-me foods and less of the not-so-good foods? Resolution No. 2 is to get up and move! I need to find a physical activity I can enjoy while burning more calories.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are a lot of us in the same boat. More than À of children and more than à of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. And chronic diseases that normally appear in adulthood are affecting children in increasing numbers — diseases like Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

As you can see from my photo, I belong in the group of obese adults. Here’s the deal, I’m making a commitment to make 2012 a healthy, happy, balanced and productive year. Come join me in my quest to begin a healthier lifestyle. To do that, we’d be wise to take a look at the latest USDA guidelines for healthy eating:

Build a better plate. Start by making half of your plate fruits and vegetables. Choose foods with lower sodium content. And drink water instead of sodas or sugary drinks.

Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars and salts. Added sugars and fats load foods with extra calories you don’t need. Too much sodium may increase your blood pressure.

Eat the right amount of calories for you. You may calculate your daily calorie limit at Keep that number in mind when deciding what to eat.

Cook more at home, where you are in control. Measure your food and avoid oversized portions. You may find that you and your family will eat less if you start using salad plates rather than dinner plates for meals. One of my college professors lost nearly a hundred pounds by eating only half of what she had been eating previously.

When eating out, have the server box up half of your entrée before bringing it to your table.

Think before you eat. Switch to fat-free or low fat milk. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so sensibly. Women should limit themselves to one drink per day; men, two drinks per day.

Be physically active your way. Pick activities you like and start by doing what you can, at least 10 minutes at a time. Every little bit adds up, and the health benefits increase as you spend more time being active.

OK, we’re armed with our goals to help us eat better and feel better. If you’re game, hop aboard! Let’s encourage each other. Email me with ideas or successful techniques you’ve discovered that work for you. I’ll share them with other readers once a month.

Ginger Bennett is a Northeast Georgia Radon Educator with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Based in the Hall County Cooperative Extension Office, you may contact her at 770-535-8290.

January is Radon Action Month nationally and here in Georgia. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas and is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths in nonsmokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the U.S. Now is the ideal time to test your home for radon. Do-it-yourself radon test kits are available at area UGA Cooperative Extension offices at reduced cost.

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