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Local families and individuals, start food diaries

April 30, 2007|by JULIE E. GREENE

Glen Sargent wants to be able to keep up with his 6-year-old daughter without getting winded.

Kellee Smith wants to learn how to incorporate healthier food into her busy schedule and lose some weight.

Lisa Michael wants to lose at least 32 pounds and become more energized.

Sargent, Smith and Michael are members of three Washington County families who volunteered to participate in a food-diary program created by The Herald-Mail and the Washington County Health Department.

We wanted to know about local families' eating and activity habits. For more than three weeks, families will track their regular eating habits - what they eat, how much they eat and the setting in which they eat (at home with the family or at their desk, for example). They also will write down the exercise they get.

Then each family will meet with Tammy Thornton, nutrition/wellness services coordinator for the health department to discuss their diaries so Thornton and exercise specialist Angela Kershner can develop a healthy food and exercise program for the participants.

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Then the families will again keep track of their eating and exercise habits through diaries for a month.

At the beginning, middle and end of the project each participating adult will be weighed, their waists will be measured and their blood pressure taken to keep track of any resulting changes.

Participating families are:

· The Sargents, who live near Funkstown. Glen, 58; Kathy, 54; and their daughter Sophie, 6.

· Smith, 34, of Hagerstown.

· The Michaels of Williamsport. Lisa, 38; Brian, 31; Lisa's daughter Kayla Brice, 10; and the couple's children Madison, 4, and Noah, 2.

The Herald-Mail will periodically publish stories about how the participants are doing with their diaries and, later, their food and exercise plans. These will run in Monday's Health section.

During their weigh-ins, Thornton met with the adults to discuss their habits and goals. She had them fill out surveys about their eating habits as well as the habits they have regarding feeding their children.

One of the reasons people say they have trouble eating healthy is that it takes time and effort to plan, shop and prepare healthy meals, Thornton said. Healthier diets usually don't result in fast rewards, so they can be difficult to stick with, she said.

While the families were not asked to change their eating and exercising habits for the first phase of the food diaries, at least one participant admitted to eating a lot of junk food in the first week.

"I've been kind of bad this week, but it's good for me to see that," Smith said. Her cravings last week included candy bars and potato chips, which she ate at night. She also had eaten a piece of birthday cake at work.

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