-Sharon Gray, Nutrition Education, EFNEP Associate Extension Educator
The US Dietary Guidelines recommend a limit of 2300 mg for people ages 14 and up. That is a single teaspoon of salt. Most Americans consume 3,400 mg or more of sodium each day which equals 1.5 teaspoons of salt. About 70% of the sodium in American diets comes from packaged, processed and restaurant foods, not the salt shaker.
Hidden salt is everywhere in the typical American diet and it adds up quickly.
A high sodium diet puts too much strain on the kidneys . Eventually this leads to high blood pressure, and an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and kidney disease.
-You can reduce your sodium intake by carefully reading nutrition labels on packaged foods.
- The Daily Value (DV) for sodium is less than 2,300 mg per day
- The percent DV shows how much of the maximum recommended amount of sodium in a single serving
- Aim for less than 5 % DV for sodium if you are looking for low sodium foods
- Limit or avoid foods with 20% DV or more for sodium
– When you are at restaurants, eat less and consider ordering sauces and dressings on the side
– Try using herbs and spices in recipes to season your food instead of salt
Merging Fitness and Nutrition to Create Healthy Lifestyles
Umekia “Mickey” Taylor ’83 (CAHNR) merges fitness and nutrition to help people create healthy lifestyles. She is a community nutrition extension educator and the supervisor for Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) in New Haven County. “UConn Extension’s nutrition outreach education is valuable because we meet people where they are. Then, we bring them to whatever level they want to go to,” Mickey says. “We’re here to serve the people of Connecticut and bring value to their lives.”
Growing up in Meriden, she always had an interest in food and experimented with recipes in her family’s kitchen. She wanted a health-related career that included food and education. Taylor found a brochure in her high school guidance department about the Allied Health Sciences dietetics program at UConn. She had not heard about it this career, but it intrigued her.
Seniors in UConn’s dietetics program complete different practicums. Taylor gravitated towards the community nutrition practicum. She went on to earn her master of science degree in human performance from Southern Connecticut State University. “I wanted to incorporate fitness as a thread in my career,” she says. “Fitness is practical choices too. Parking farther away from your destination and walking makes a significant difference. Speed walking while running errands, all these small actions add up.”
Her first role was the nutritionist with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program in New Haven. Taylor is bilingual and immersed in the Spanish language as she worked with the program participants. She began her career with UConn Extension in 1993.
“In working with EFNEP, there’s a lot of linkages we make with other fields in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources and throughout UConn,” Taylor says. “I had close relationships with the UConn 4-H program through Wanda Little, who is a retired UConn 4-H educator and was my mentor. I’ve kept that model in my programming.”
Taylor works with collaborative teams at UConn. One of these is the People Active on Trails for Health and Sustainability (PATHS) team. The team uses trails and exercise to improve health outcomes in residents statewide. Extension educators are not islands, and she emphasizes the benefits of different expertise.
The rewards of being an Extension educator are when participants are engaged and learning – that is when you can make an impact. Taylor and the EFNEP teamwork with people over time. They start slight changes with them that have positive impacts on their health.
“Nutrition involves balance and variety is important,” she says. “You don’t need to go to one extreme or another. We all have cravings, and it is okay to have a treat occasionally, and then get back to healthy eating. A diet should be a well-balanced approach and fun.”
New discoveries and recommendations challenge nutrition and health educators. All science-based educators face this same challenge. This causes mistrust or negative public perceptions. Taylor follows the research and educates her audiences as the science changes. She addresses those misconceptions because people are looking for accurate information.
Taylor’s recent focus is on social media, online education, and training community leaders. “I love the model where we work with teens and then they teach nutrition education in their communities,” she says. Taylor had a USDA-AFRI grant to build this model and is pursuing another grant for further work in the field. Other 4-H and nutrition programs replicated her project.
The past few years have also highlighted the racial inequities that still exist. Taylor participated in UConn’s Anti-Black Racism Course. She connected to the topics and concepts as an African American woman whose parents are from South Carolina. She found the course enlightening, and timely in the wake of violence, hate crimes and injustice against black and brown people. She continues engaging in topical discussions with the Extension Anti-Racism Learning Group.
Taylor’s community nutrition and fitness programs improve the lives of Connecticut residents. Her work is representative of the land-grant mission as she engages audiences with UConn’s research and teaching. Taylor brings enthusiasm and creativity to community nutrition and established models that are enhancing the lives of residents across the nation.
Article by Stacey Stearns
Under the USDA FRTEP grant we have with Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, on the morning August 15th, Erica Benvenuti, Mike Puglisi, and Alyssa Siegel-Miles of the UConn Extension EFNEP program conducted a food preparation workshop for the tribal youth. There were 13 teens and seven adults at the event. Erica and team did an excellent job engaging and teaching the youth to prepare three sisters meal – corn, squash and bean (tribe’s traditional meal) and salsa. The objective of the workshop was to teach the tribal youth the importance of healthy food and give hands-on training on food preparation (from washing hands to following recipe to serving food). This falls under our goal of improving the overall health of the tribal members. I personally very much enjoyed the workshop.
Submitted by Shuresh Ghimire, PhD, and PI on the grant
Our Hartford County Extension Center is moving. As of Friday, August 3rd, please use the following address and new phone numbers:
Exchange Building – Suite 262
270 Farmington Ave
Farmington, CT, 06032
Fax (860) 409-9080
Please be patient with our faculty and staff over the next week as it may take a bit longer than usual to respond to any requests. All educators phone numbers have been updated at extension.uconn.edu.
By Dianisi Torres
This has been an exceptionally busy year for Nutrition Education. In addition to the EFNEP (Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program) being held at public schools and libraries including Windham, Moosup, Putnam, North Grosvenor Dale, and Killingly, the SNAP Ed program offers nutrition assistance to millions of low income families in need. The EFNEP educator works in collaboration with non-profit organizations as Cooking Matters offering nutrition and cooking workshops for adults which is taught in Spanish and English. Another non-profit program is CLiCK, Inc. located in Willimantic. EFNEP collaborates every year with CLiCK offering summer programs for children, youth and adult cooking classes using fresh vegetables from the CLiCK community garden that the Willimantic students have grown. We hope to offer even more programs in the coming year. For more information, contact Dianisi Torres at: email@example.com
Healthy and homemade meals and seasonal vegetables were part of nutrition education outreach conducted by Extension educator Heather Peracchio in September. Heather works with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) and is based in the Fairfield County Extension Center. She reports on her programming for September:
Nutrition outreach at the mobile pantry in Bethel on September 27th reached a record high 220 families. United Way suspects the great increase in numbers this month might be due to families being sent flyers home in school backpacks.
A two-part series of nutrition classes were presented at the Veterans Affairs office in Bridgeport on September 6th and 13th. One class focused on sugar sweetened drinks and how to make healthier choices, participants taste tested a fresh fruit smoothie. The other class focused on budget-saving tips like making simple cook ahead meals. All participants received a 2018 calendar and taste tested a salad with homemade honey mustard dressing and a tamale pie, both recipes were featured in the Healthy and Homemade calendar from Iowa State Extension. Dietetic intern, Anna VanderLeest, assisted with both of these classes.
Eat Smart Live Strong at Elmwood Senior Center on Wednesday, September 20th reached 42 seniors; and New Hope church in Danbury on September 27th reached 28 seniors. Each class had the opportunity to taste test a kale salad with homemade honey mustard dressing. Each senior was encouraged to continue to follow the two key healthy behaviors from the series, eating at least 3.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day and participating in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Each participant was given a 2018 Healthy and Homemade calendar as well.
SNAP-Ed participated in the Danbury Farmers market Saturday September 23rd. Participants learned all about seasonal vegetables including kale and apples. Extension educators Heather Peracchio and Juliana Restrepo-Marin offered an in-person food demonstration of a kale apple slaw. 30 participants attended the class offered on-site at the market. The next class is planned for Saturday October 14th.
This month Fairfield County Extension nutrition programs partnered with Western Connecticut Health Networks Dietetic Internship. Three dietetic interns from Danbury and Norwalk Hospital, Candido Gonzalez, Christian Aguilar and Angelina Campbell accompanied Heather to shadow and assist with programming on September 20th and September 27th.
A new program combining fitness and nutrition with Extension educator German Cutz’s current 4-H soccer teams had a third class on Thursday, September 14th. Participants included 46 parents and children, where they learned about label reading and how to identify fat and sugar in common snack foods as part of the Choose Health: Fun, Food and Fitness curricula. There was a hands-on demonstration of an apple cinnamon yogurt tortilla snack where parents participated, and everyone taste tested. They also held a class Friday, October 6th.
Heather continues to coordinate with Danbury’s Morris Street School Family Resource Staff and a new EFNEP program at Morris Street School is planned Monday evenings beginning October 16th. Interested participants can contact Morris Street Family Resource Center to sign up.
Extension is a nationwide effort to give the public access to research-based information, scientific expertise, and educational programs they can use to enhance their everyday lives. UConn Extension, a program of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR) works in all 169 towns of Connecticut with a network of over 100 educators and scientists. Over 2,900 volunteers leverage the ability of Extension to work in every community.