Preparing and eating a healthy diet while getting enough exercise can seem overwhelming, especially during these challenging times.
Sumner County residents have an opportunity to enroll in a free, eight-week online course called Eat Smart and Move More that shares healthy, easy to prepare recipes, as well as ways to live a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise.
Instructor Jenny Biggs, with the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program for UT Extension in Sumner County, said that eating a balanced diet helps keep one’s immune system healthy, along with getting enough sleep and exercise.
“Since more people are eating at home, it is important to know what a balanced diet entails so that they are able to improve meal planning strategies and make healthier decisions when in the grocery store,” Biggs said. “Eating a balanced diet helps in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”
A balanced diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
Fitting in all of the ingredients for a healthy diet can be challenging with busy schedules, so the free course will focus on easy to prepare and nutritious recipes, according to Biggs.
“Quick and healthy recipes give people an alternative to buying frozen meals or take-out on a regular basis, which are usually higher in sodium and fat, and can cost more money over time,” she said. “When cooking at home, there is more control over what goes in the food being prepared, which allows one the opportunity to eat healthier.”
With more people working from home, Biggs reminds residents that it is important to remember to move throughout the day to build flexibility and endurance.
Exercise can help with weight loss, and decrease the risks associated with osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
The Zoom course will help attendees be inspired to move more, even if it be as simple as following along with a stretching and exercise video online during inclement weather.
“Because of the pandemic, many people are experiencing more stressors than usual, and exercise is a great way to help reduce stress,” Biggs said. “Tips for moving more include walking on your breaks, stretching throughout the day and finding physical activities that you enjoy, such as playing pickleball, hiking, swimming or gardening.
“Find activities that you enjoy and to go at your own level, while slowly increasing the length and intensity over time as needed.”
As with any exercise or diet plan, it’s important to talk with a doctor about any specific questions or individual needs before beginning a new routine.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the format of many UT Extension programs has changed, but Biggs was grateful she and the other staff could still serve their communities.
While there are some advantages to conducting the course through Zoom, such as negating travel and childcare concerns, it also prevents attendees from taste-testing the recipes as they decide what to incorporate their diets.
Despite that key challenge, Biggs said she hopes participants will share ideas with each other about what to cook, while still receiving helpful information in the online format.
Despite this Biggs is still grateful that the online option is available so participants can still share ideas with each other while receiving all of the helpful information.
“UT Extension’s goal is to deliver educational programming that helps people make informed decisions and identify solutions to improve everyday life,” she said.
If you want to participate:
Zoom classes will start on Sept. 28 and run for 8 weeks.
Registration is required by Friday
Classes will be held from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on Mondays
Participants will review a new recipe and exercise tips each week. Certificate and kitchen goodies awarded upon completion.
Contact Jenny Biggs at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 615-452-1423 to register.
The program is delivered under the federal Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, which is funded by USDA and NIFA.
The website, choosemyplate.gov, is a great resource that goes over food groups and the amounts that should be consumed based on one’s age, height and activity level.