Shared Soil

This episode explores the themes of physical activity, ergonomics, and the transformative potential of growing food for both physical and mental well-being. Kendall and Rebecca tallk with Kate Graves and Amy Hollar, reflecting on insights from their past webinar titled "Farming While Pregnant, Disabled, or Chronically Ill." The conversation emphasizes the importance of physical movement, utilizing food as both medicine and fuel, and accessing locally grown foods.

Show Notes

Wellness Wheel Assessment:



NH Food Access Map:

NH Food Bank:

Granite State Market Match:

Creators & Guests

Kendall Kunelius
Kendall joined Extension as an Agriculture Business Management Field Specialist in 2022. She earned a BS in Equine Studies: Industry and Management from UNH and has a diverse background in the agriculture industry including horticulture, forestry, livestock, and agricultural business retail management.
Rebecca Dube
Amy Hollar
Amy Hollar is the State Specialist and Area of Expertise Chair for Healthy Living, is an Extension Associate Professor with the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Systems and is the Director for the UNH Nutrition Connections Program.
Kate Graves
Kate completed her Sodexo Dietetic Internship program hours with the Nutrition Connections program in the fall of 2020 and holds a Bachelor's Degree from Keene State college and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, licensed in the State of New Hampshire.

What is Shared Soil?

A podcast by University of New Hampshire Extension dedicated to creating community, honoring challenges, and encouraging personal and professional growth for all women in agriculture. Hosts Kendall Kunelius and Rebecca Dube create a relatable and welcoming space to learn and celebrate, that aligns with UNH Extension's commitment to expanding access, strengthening connections, and enhancing well-being for all.

The University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension is an equal opportunity educator and employer. UNH, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and New Hampshire counties cooperating. Direct inquiries to

Kendall Kunelius 0:10
Welcome to this episode of Shared Soil, a podcast dedicated to creating community, honoring challenges, and encouraging personal and professional growth for all people in agriculture. My name is Kendall Kunelius, and I'm a field specialist for agricultural business management with UNH Cooperative Extension.

Rebecca Dube 0:29
And I'm Rebecca Dube, providing communication and technology for the specialists of UNH Extension.

Kendall Kunelius 0:35
So Rebecca, we have so much to talk about in today's episode, so I think we should just dive right into it. How does that sound? We have some great guests today, we are very lucky to have two guests with us from the UNH Extension Health and Well-being team. So to give a little background though, before we introduce those guests; last winter, Kate Graves and I did a webinar about farming while pregnant, disabled or chronically ill. And that is basically what gave us the idea for this episode today, because we had about 12 or 13 people on that call. And they asked some incredible questions and shared information about their lives. Kate shared information about living with chronic illness and pregnancy. So we thought that this is really information that more people need to see, more people need to hear and get exposed to. I'm very excited about the resources and tools that we're going to talk about in this episode as well, because I think it really gives a lot of actionable items for those people who are stuck inside maybe for the winter, and then you're planning your garden for the spring. I always get excited about planning my garden. I'm excited to hear this episode so that I can follow along and start making plans that might help my gardening and backyard livestock adventures be a little bit more accessible for the times that I don't feel like I'm really up for up for things, or I'm struggling through some things. So without further ado, let's get started with introductions

Rebecca Dube 2:06
Sure, will we start with Kate?

Kate Graves 2:07
Hello, so my name is Kate Graves, I am a registered dietitian. I'm also licensed in the state of New Hampshire. I am a field specialist with the UNH Extension Health and Well-being team and I specialize in Maternal and Early Childhood Health. I was also diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS back in 2016, so I have a chronic illness.

Rebecca Dube 2:30
Thank you, Katelyn. How about Amy?

Amy Hollar 2:33
I'm Amy Hollar. I'm a dietitian like Kate, focused on public health. I've worked with Extension for a number of years and in a few different states. I'm from New Hampshire, actually, but worked at the University of Maryland and also Ohio State University in the past. Now I work as a state specialist on our Health and Well-being team. Our Health and Well-being team, overall, takes a whole-person approach to health and well being that emphasizes people's assets and strengths. Something that we can link to in the show notes is our Wellness Wheel Assessment that Michele Krohl on our team has developed. It is a way to describe eight different dimensions of wellness. So in my world, what I focus on tends to be nutrition and physical activity, but there's other dimensions of wellness like emotional wellness, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, social, spiritual. The wellness wheel assessment describes all those different aspects of wellness. It can help individuals to identify four health values and goals that are important to them within that spectrum. So I just wanted to mention that as an overarching view of our health and well-being programs. My focus, being a dietitian and state specialist, is to lead our programs. There are federal nutrition education programs, FNEP, the expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, and then SNAP Ed, which is the education arm of the SNAP program. SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps. I feel like these are a lot of acronyms - my life sometimes feels like a lot of acronyms. So basically, these programs focus on nutrition and physical activity. And overall, we do, in our FNEP and SNAP Ed work, we do a lot of education. So classes, group classes, kids, adults, older adults, parents, and then we also do social marketing work. We are doing a lot more these days of trying to work on engaging partners and communities in policies, systems and environmental changes to promote health and well-being that incorporate education and social marketing. So really a whole community approach to wellness and health and well-being in that way. Thanks for having me.

Rebecca Dube 5:00
All right, well, thank you, Amy. We have three big topics we want to talk about today. Those include physical activity, maybe some of its benefits, its challenges, whether there's tools for self-compassion. We're going to talk about growing food as physical and mental medicine, eating for both physical and mental health. And we're also going to talk about nutrition by addition, whether that includes planning a garden or adding small livestock that adds to your nutritional intake, or adapting your garden plan for physical limitations. So why don't we start with the physical activity for all? What do you think about this, Kendall?

Kendall Kunelius 5:47
That's a great question. I have to first say that in a former life, before I came to Extension, I was actually a professional athlete. I competed in steel timber sports series, that's a national series, but I guess you could say the overarching thing is I competed in professional lumberjack sports. So for me, physical activity has been an incredibly important part of my life. And through that, I have had to really learn a lot of injury prevention strategies, and so much came from eating well, and keeping fueled and hydrating myself. And in addition to that, I also worked in agricultural retail stores for the first 10 years of my career. So that was a very, very physically demanding job. So a lot of ergonomics, a lot of lifting correctly, and again, protecting my body. One thing that I always struggled with, and that's the thing I want to ask Kate the most about is this: I was already so so tired from competing and working out and coming home from a very physically intense job. And yet I knew there were gaps in my strength in my whole body strength and wellness. So Kate, we talked a lot in that webinar about how, even though you have a very physically demanding job as a farmer, or as somebody in agriculture, we know those gaps exist. I don't know if there's like a specific question there, but I really want to hear you say all about those aspects of physical wellness, and physical activity and just kind of give us your approach to that.

Kate Graves 7:16
Yeah, thank you. So I just want to start off by saying, I feel like when people think of physical activity, they have kind of a mindset of going to the gym. And really physical activities, including any bodily movement that you're doing; this can include household chores, labor that's being done on the farm if you're someone in agriculture, activities such as yoga or weightlifting. I mean, it can certainly be going to the gym. But it's really more encompassing than that. There are two types of physical activity: there's aerobic physical activity, which is something that's going to get your heart really racing, breathing harder, I think of it more as like cardio; and then there's anaerobic activity, which is short bursts of intense activity. That's more weightlifting, or potentially sprinting. Rather than the term physical activity, I tend to like to think of joyful movement, because I think it breaks us out of that mind. Because when you hear physical activity, everybody's thinking, "Oh, I have to go to the gym and lift weights. That's the only way to be healthy." But really, there's so much more than that. Joyful movement is really anything that you do that you enjoy doing. People get really rigid with physical activity. And it's this concept of like, if I'm not running a 5k, or doing strength training for a full hour, it doesn't count. But really anything that you're doing where you're moving your body counts towards physical activity and counts towards those physical activity requirements. So I love what you were just saying, and we did, we talked about it at the webinar, but this concept of - look at what you're doing already. And see "Oh, I'm using my arms a lot because I'm doing a lot of gardening and there's a lot of pulling and weeding and this." And then identifying, "Okay, where are those gaps? Is it something that I need to be doing more with my legs? Maybe I could go for a walk during the day, because the gardening that I'm doing involves a lot of sitting." So really identifying the gaps in those physical activities and aiming for that, rather than forcing yourself into this mindset of I need to go to the gym for a full hour.

Kendall Kunelius 9:24
I want to respond to that really quickly. And I agree. And I think the length of time is the other misnomer. One of the things I had a hard time overcoming as I was retiring from my professional athlete career was thinking, if I'm going to the gym, I have to go for two hours and I have to hit this calorie count. It took me a long time to heal from that to say that if today I'm really only up for a 10 minute walk on the treadmill, then that's the healthier option than me feeling like I have to go grind it out at the gym. And I loved your term joyful movement because I found so much more excitement and joy and feeling good about giving my body exactly what it needed and then listening to it. And when I was like, "Okay, I'm comfortable here, I'm done," then just being able to turn off the treadmill and walk away and feel like I've accomplished what I was missing or just wanted to accomplish for that day.

Kate Graves 10:16
I think that's where a lot of people get stuck, is that it's this concept of I have to do an hour of physical activity, but like you're saying, you could do ten minutes, five minutes. What's realistic for you in your day? What are you able to fit in, to be able to do, rather than putting yourself in this mindset of, I have to do an hour of work at the gym. Because people have busy schedules, they have a lot going on. If you have a chronic illness, maybe you're not feeling that great. So fitting in what you're able to do is certainly better than - you're probably going to get more out of it than just trying to do a full hour of activity. If you can do a 10-minute walk, then that's fantastic.

Amy Hollar 10:53
I think I would add to that, too, that the research has moved a lot in the field of physical activity over the years. For a lot of years, we were telling people in our guidelines that it almost didn't count, if you didn't do exercise for 30 minutes or more. Because the research that we had back then was showing that most of the benefits associated with physical activity tended to be for 30 minutes or more duration. That has changed a lot. In 2018, the new physical activity guidelines came out, and we have research now that shows that any movement, like 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there- we still aim for, as a guideline, 30 minutes of aerobic activity five days a week - but you don't need to do it all at once. So part of that is- if anyone feels like a little gaslit by "I always felt like-" and then blaming themselves, "I was the one holding myself accountable, I can only have 30 minutes a day." There was actually a lot of messaging out there, that back then they might not count if you only did 10 minutes here or there. And luckily, we're past that now. And we have research that shows that it does.

Rebecca Dube 12:00
Right. It all comes back to what, as you were saying Kendall, what you can give, right? What energy or ability you have that day, which can alter quite a bit depending on your circumstance and situation.

Kate Graves 12:14
I feel like I totally get it. As somebody who has a chronic disease, and also somebody who's a mother of a very young child, it can be really discouraging when you're not getting yourself out there and feeling like you're doing an hour of rigorous activity. But I heard this quote recently that I really love, and it's if you only have 30%, and you give 30%, you're actually giving 100%. And in today's world, we're constantly go, go go. Especially if you're pregnant, or you have a chronic illness, I think it's really important that we show ourselves a little grace and compassion about these things. Something is usually better than nothing. And we need to get ourselves out of this all or nothing mindset. And especially as women, I think we need to support each other in changing that mindset as well.

Kendall Kunelius 12:58
Totally. I will say one of my very favorite things that I discovered this summer is going to a state park and going and recreating, just going for a nice walk. It's so funny because I always thought, "Oh, well hiking means I have to go hike Mount Washington, or it has to be really intense," or whatever. And one of my favorite tools to help keep my really competitive mind in check is I have my Apple watch, but I think a Fitbit or really anything that helps you reflect your heart rate that you're feeling at that moment. If I set that limit for myself, then I'm like, "Okay, 150 beats a minute is where I like to keep it." And if I'm really pushing too hard to enjoy my walk, then that means that that's going to reflect on my Apple watch, on my heart rate screen. So I developed a little system where I remind myself, I give myself a little checkpoint in my mind that says "I'm here to enjoy this. And I'm not here because I feel like I have to work out hard. I need to take my time." And so that's a great little tool or a little tip I would want to share for people to get something that will help you recognize how hard you're pushing, because sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don't. That's a great thing to work with your doctor on or someone who's licensed and trained to help you work within your heart rate zones.

Kate Graves 14:12
If you don't enjoy it, you're less likely to stick with it. That's the truth.

Kendall Kunelius 14:15
Oh, true, true. Great, anything else Kate that you want to say here or add in?

Kate Graves 14:22
I'd like to point out too that again, anything that you're doing to move your body is going to count towards those physical activity goals. In farming you tend to get in a good amount of physical activity each day. So again, incorporating places where you feel like you're lacking. And also there's so many benefits to physical activity and in finding joyful movement. It's such a powerful tool for us to be able to improve our health. It's not just a tool for weight management, but it's also reducing disease risk, like heart disease. It can be a tool for improving mental health outcomes, increasing your chances of living longer, which is important to all of us, I think! And then helping to manage chronic disease conditions. So it's really such a great tool for us to use as long as we're finding ways to use it that works for us.

Kendall Kunelius 15:12
Yeah, I want to add one more thing in here too, because what you said just sparked something in my brain. I think from an ergonomic standpoint, much of what we do from the Food and Ag team is talk about workflow and ergonomics and whole body health in the sense that, if you're stretching, and you're saying, "Man, why is my shoulder so stiff today? What was I doing yesterday?" So using physical activity as a check and balance system or as a way to check in with your body. That's going to give you a lot of information about the activities that you're doing. Maybe you could reassess how you're set up to do them. The CDC has excellent guidelines about working surfaces, working space. They give you very specific heights, reaching lengths, like 17 and a half inches in front of you. In that zone is the best working zone. So checking in with your body and saying, if my shoulders are sore, "I was pruning raspberries yesterday, maybe there's a better tool out there that I can use, that's not going to make me feel this way". Or "Maybe I should only be doing that for 45 minutes instead of three and a half hours," and then take a break and then come back to it. So I think physical activity also really reflects on our work practices. And that's not just you. If you have employees, or if you manage people, if you manage a whole farm, it's a great question to ask your employees. "How are you feeling today? I know you did two and a half hours of digging potatoes yesterday. Do you think there's a better way we could do that?" Or "Where are you feeling that maybe we could look into some better lifting practices or working practices?" I think to look at this from an agricultural lens, there's a lot of value in doing physical activity that can reflect or help to show you where your work practices could use some reevaluation as well.

Amy Hollar 16:58
I think to a lot of us, when we get stressed, when we're busy, when we're just living our normal lives and there's a lot going on, we can lose touch with our bodies a little bit. And you tend to not realize that. So when you think about physical activity, again, Kate's talked a lot about that. It's not just getting in the gym and stuff, but even thinking about stretching, just stretching. I know so many of us might feel like, "Okay, if I'm going to do physical activity, then I need to get my heart rate up", and there are benefits with getting your heart rate up, for sure. But doing mindfulness technique, along with stretching, maybe some restorative yoga, slowing down and really trying to stay present, especially if you're stressed, especially if you're busy, especially if you maybe did injure yourself or pulled something at work that might be a sign that you're not quite in touch with your body at that time because your mind is elsewhere. So doing some of those, the stretching, the mindfulness meditation, any of that can also help you get back in touch with your body and pay attention to what needs some attention and what what feels good, what doesn't feel good. I guess I'm trying to emphasize that if you're stressed, you're more likely to not be paying attention to those things and injure yourself. It's more important than ever, sometimes, to slow down and do those things that some of us in our heads are like "this is a waste of time", right? It is not a waste of time, it's really important. So stretching and the mindfulness practices, coupled with gentle physical activity can be really beneficial for our mental health and well-being.

Kendall Kunelius 18:37
Yeah, and I just want to also put in some - and then we'll move on Rebecca, I promise - I just wanted to put on a little bit of a plug for two sites. So AgrAbility specializes in helping farmers adapt farming techniques to their disabilities, but they also offer a myriad of resources, videos, and specific stretches that match with the activity that you're going to do to help warm up your body. So that's an excellent tool, we can put that link in the show notes. And then there's also AgriSafe. AgriSafe is actually an organization that was started by nurses that were seeing a lot of farmers come in with specific injuries, like rolled ankles, like strained shoulders, that kind of stuff. So they've also developed - they have their own podcast actually, highly recommended. So go check that out. We'll put that link in the show notes too. But any sort of resource that you can directly see that if I'm going to do this activity, these are the muscle groups I need to warm up and stretch and I should be paying attention to. So just like you're saying Amy, bringing mindfulness to what muscle groups you're using and how you're using your body. Knowledge is power, the more you know, right? So I think that would be a great option. If you want to start start a culture of health and well being on your farm, bring those stretches and do a group stretch or a group workout that morning just to kind of warm up and pay attention to where you're going to be activating muscle groups in your body.

Amy Hollar 20:04
Yeah, there was a viral Tiktok. I don't know, if you guys saw it a while back of construction workers. They get on the job in the morning, (my dad has a construction company) and they all meet on the job. They're in their construction vests and they were all stretching together. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out, it was really cute. But it's like a good reminder that you can create this like culture of wellness, like within your organization, whatever your organization is.

Rebecca Dube 20:30
Terrific! Well, that plays into our next topic, which is also about taking care of your body and overall wellness, and growing food as physical and mental medicine. We know that one way to give 100% is to provide your bodies with the best food that we can. And women in agriculture have the benefit of being at the forefront of food production. So Amy, what are some opportunities and benefits they have for growing the best food for physical and mental health?

Amy Hollar 21:01
Yeah, so starting with the best food, there's a lot of different ways that you can define that. So when I'm thinking about the best food for physical and mental health, there's a lot of things I would consider. From a perspective of supporting overall physical and mental health, there's probably three things I would think about. A lot of us know that eating a lot of highly-processed foods can be inflammatory. Inflammation is a big problem. Stress can lead to inflammation and inflammation can lead to stress. It's this whole nasty process that can happen inside of us. Then when you have inflammation in the body it can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance and other things. So thinking about inflammation is something. Thinking about, brain health, I know a lot of us think about depression, anxiety, our current mood, supporting our mood, even in the moment, those are all things we can consider. But also thinking long-term about reducing our risk of Alzheimer's disease, dementia. Those are big concerns for a lot of us. And there are certain foods that are shown to be associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. So that's another thing I would think about. And then finally, keeping your gut happy. A lot of us have heard about our microbiome, right? We have a wonderful researcher at UNH, Carlota Dao, who studies the microbiome and works with my team on lots of different research projects. I don't know if everyone knows this - but I remember the first time I heard it, I was sort of blown away - that if you counted every cell on your body, that's part of your body, (I don't remember how many that is.) but nine out of ten of those cells are not human cells, they're microbes. A lot of them are living in your gut, or they're in your mouth, they're on your skin, they're everywhere. So you're 1/10 Human, maybe, you're a super organism. That really kind of blew me away. A lot of them do live in your gut, and they do a lot of really important things in there. There are ways that when you keep your gut happy, it keeps you happy, I would say. So thinking about inflammation, thinking about long-term brain health, thinking about getting your gut happy. Based on all of that, I would say that luckily, it sounds like there might be really complicated answer, but it's not, really. There's lots of different complicated studies, oh, well, let's do this, and kale does that, and whatever. But overall, eating lots of plants, which includes beans, that reduces inflammation in your body, that promotes long term brain health. Plants contain fiber, that's a big thing here and those gut microbes, they eat fiber, they love fiber, and you only find fiber in plant foods. So eating lots of plants is really important. I always put in a plug for beans, they get a bad rap and they are so good for you! It's not just the green veggies, even though those are very important. Beans have a special type of starch in them called resistant starch. And your microbes are in heaven when you when you eat that, they just love that stuff. So definitely thinking about including beans when you think about eating lots of plants. Thinking about lots of colors, having a lot of variety, a lot of colors. That's important. Different colors are associated with different like antioxidants, for example, which are really important for fighting inflammation. You don't have to memorize which antioxidant, you don't have to know that tomatoes have lycopene or whatever. You don't need to memorize all that but you can just try to make sure you're having a variety of colors. Color makes me happy, so I like having a pretty colorful plate anyway.

Rebecca Dube 24:57
My mother always had that adage growing up, that your plate had to be colorful. So I didn't learn it as the specifics, but if your plate was all one color it was not a good meal, it was too bland. You had to bring in lots of color. So that's great to hear that reinforced nutritionally.

Amy Hollar 25:15
Absolutely, and that includes green. If your whole plate's green, it might be a time to check in with yourself and be like, okay, am I getting a little overzealous with my pursuit of health? That perfectionist mindset that we'll talk about? You need all the colors, and you need protein and complex carbohydrates, and all of that. Then the other thing I would say is overall, healthy fats, focusing on fats. That's another thing that has changed over the years. There's been a lot of media attention on this, but also a lot of misinformation. Really, it's important not to shy away from eating fat in your diet overall for most of us. If you have a gallbladder condition or something, it might look different, but overall, don't shy away from fats. Research has shown that it's really not the amount of fat you're eating, it's the quality. That you don't need to worry about limiting fat for most of us, it's more making sure you're getting healthy sources of fats. The fat sources that we would recommend as being really healthy are going to be fatty fish, any fatty fish. Salmon is obviously king, but there's so many benefits to lots of different types of fish and having nuts and seeds as well, whichever ones you like. Nuts and seeds, man, those are powerhouses of nutrition. So those would be some recommendations. I would add olive oil and those sorts of things.

Kate Graves 26:36
There's so much misinformation out there right now about the seed oils, for example, and those being inflammatory, but there's no research to back that up. It's a healthy fat and it contains some of the Omega threes, Omega sixes, depending on the seed oil that you're doing. So yeah, I'm in total agreement with Amy with the healthy fats. It helps you absorb some of the nutrients. I think of salad; for a long time people are like, "don't put dressing on your salad because it's fat", but it's actually going to help you absorb a lot of the nutrients in your salad by having dressing on it. And it tastes better when it has dressing on it! So actually go ahead and have the dressing on your salad because that's actually the healthy choice.

Amy Hollar 27:18
Absolutely, and I know Kate is like a superstar at nuts and seeds. She's always putting chia seeds and hemp seeds on things and eating all sorts of different nuts. So you're a good example of that. You remind me when I have my mac and cheese or my salad, I can sprinkle some nuts or seeds on top, I actually think about you. And I agree, canola oil's not going to kill you! Canola oil, especially, everyone's freaking out about it.

Kate Graves 27:45
The other thing that you made me think of Amy, is you mentioned that highly processed foods can be inflammatory, which they totally can. But there's a lot of information or misinformation out there about the difference between processed foods and highly processed foods. I mean, if you buy vegetables at the store that are pre cut, that's considered a processed food. In my mind it's a vegetable, it's healthy, it's still something you want to be consuming. But highly processed foods are going to be more of those that are really high in salt, and fat, and sugar, and have really been processed. They usually come in a shiny package. Certainly it's not that you can't eat those ever, but just watching what you're doing with those, I think more than anything else.

Kendall Kunelius 28:27
So I have a question. We've mentioned this term inflammatory several times now. What do we mean when we talk when we talk about inflammation? I think rheumatology, I think about joints and that kind of stuff when I hear inflammation, but what would you define as a symptom of inflammation that someone might say, "oh, maybe that is what I'm dealing with here and here's a better way to eat to solve that"?

Amy Hollar 28:53
When I'm talking about foods that might be inflammatory, it's not always something you're necessarily going to notice that's like a symptom. There's a lot of inflammatory processes that might be happening in your body and they can manifest in different ways that you may or may not be in touch with or notice. But really it's this inflammatory cascade of, this release of chemicals within your body that then cause different inflammatory processes to occur. I wouldn't necessarily say you might notice, but it's something to keep in keep in mind when you're thinking about overall healthy foods. Which ones promote inflammation and which ones fight inflammation? Foods that fight inflammation might be foods that have healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, those sorts of things. Kate, I don't know if you'd add anything.

Kate Graves 29:39
No, I totally agree. I think a lot of it too, because all of us are individuals and everything so individualized. In my mind, a lot of it comes back to, "How do I feel after eating this?" Sometimes you eat a meal and you're like, wow, that did not make me feel very good. It tasted good, but it did not make me feel very good. So I think a lot It is coming back to self checking, taking mindful minutes when we can. Again, we're in a very go-go-go kind of world. Some of us just eat on the go and then are done. But if we can take an extra minute to just check in with ourselves and how we're feeling when we're eating, I think that's a huge piece of it as well. I mean, if something doesn't make you feel great, maybe next time you don't eat that or you have a smaller serving of it and pair it with with something else that does make you feel a little bit better. Again, it's not a just all-or-nothing mindset. I think is what a lot of people think of.

Rebecca Dube 30:31
I think that really plays into our third topic, which is nutrition by addition, and the idea of making nutrition an enjoyable activity, an enjoyable part of your life. So Kate and Amy, can you speak a little bit more to what that means?

Kate Graves 30:47
This is my favorite topic to talk about, it really is. Nutrition by addition. The word nutrition, it's similar to physical activity. When somebody hears the word nutrition, they immediately start thinking of all the things they shouldn't be doing. I shouldn't eat too much fat, I shouldn't eat too much sugar. I shouldn't eat too much salt, I should not drink soda. Whatever it is, it's all these shouldn'ts in your mind. But I think to make nutrition more manageable and a little easier for all of us, start thinking about shoulds. Okay, I'm eating this meal, what can I add to it to make it a little bit more nutritious? What can I do to add a little bit of fiber, to add a little bit more color? Maybe this is a meal that I really enjoy, that I know my family can eat that I can make on a time crunch, that's manageable for me and my family. But looking at it and saying what can I add to this meal to make it a little bit more nutritious to add a little bit more? Again, fruits vegetables, fiber, beans (as Amy was saying), nuts, seeds; what can I do to add to this meal so that it's a little bit more nutritious? Rather than sitting and telling ourselves, "I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't do this." Because that's what makes it not fun. When people think of nutrition, there's this negative connotation in their mind of, "Oh, I'm only supposed to eat a salad every single day." It doesn't necessarily have to be that. Again, I have a toddler at home. He loves mac and cheese. On a night where I don't have a lot of time we do the boxed mac and cheese, but I'm like, "Okay, what am I missing from this meal that I can add? Okay, I need a little bit of protein, so maybe I can add some beans or some nuts in here. Maybe I'll make it with some Greek yogurt, so it has a little bit more into it. You need color!Yeah! I was gonna say eat some color into it, it doesn't have enough color. So let's do some kind of mixed vegetables in here that we can add to it. So my son has never had a plain mac and cheese, we always have one that is very colorful and has a ton of stuff in it. Because it really is this concept of addition. What can I add to make this a little bit more nutritious, to make it a little bit more filling? So that it's manageable for me and tastes good?

Kendall Kunelius 33:01
I have to say I'm over here giggling because I've had several instances where I'm like, "Oh, I really want a little bit more protein today." Or I just want like something extra and I'm like, "Oh, I have chicken. Man, I should just go squeeze that chicken a little harder. See if I can get an egg." Don't ever squeeze your chickens! I'm just being facetious. But I giggle because I always think like "Yeah, what could I add to this? Oh, I could go get an egg." So to put an ag lens into this, if you're somebody who wants to be doing this practice, adding in, and you want to grow your own food, chickens are a great way to do that. Not only do they give you the egg benefits, it's the physical activity benefit. I find so much joy in going out and spending 10 minutes watching my chickens or petting them or picking them up or interacting with them. (Before of course I squeezed them to get the eggs or my lunch!) I guess my point here is that I am so in agreement with your nutrition by addition concept Kate, but I think it's also like you're giving yourself those opportunities to add things into your life - nutrition for your soul. You're adding things in that give you that physical joyful movement approach. Also, growing your food is great. Putting your hands in soil, even if it's just a little container garden you have for herbs that make your spaghetti sauce taste that much better. It's all very meaningful and fulfilling. And if you're not somebody who's into plants (I love gardening but I don't love vegetable gardening. I love perennial gardening, flowers and stuff), that's cool too. Having a beautiful bouquet on your table as you enjoy your meal and as you enjoy dinner, I think is just as beneficial. And then also the chickens. There are so many great backyard animals that if you don't want to go, I am going to use the term whole hog. If you don't want to go whole hog and get a pig and raise your own meat that way, chickens are a really easy animal to get into. A small coop houses six hens very easily and ten laying hens of a good laying breed should give you enough eggs to feed a family of four for a year. So that is a great standard to say, depending on how many eggs you want to be adding into your diet, you can get the right amount of chickens to match that. So like from an ag lens, from a health and wellness perspective, I love this concept of nutrition by addition.

Amy Hollar 35:23
I love that you brought up that having chickens brings you joy, spending time with them petting them. There are so many mental health benefits associated with connecting with animals, and those include chickens. You touched on the joy that gardening can bring us as well. And I think nutrition by addition, that concept, just like gardening, can be an opportunity to really show yourself that you care about yourself. I think when we think about diets - diets are often more about everything you're denying yourself. I think anyone that's been on a strict diet, which most women honestly have by eighth grade or lower,

Kate Graves 36:00
Most women start a diet by age six.

Kendall Kunelius 36:05
That's crushing. I believe it, but that's a crushing statistic to hear.

Amy Hollar 36:12
I think that we all have experienced how punishing a diet can feel, even though you're pursuing something that you think is good, and you're trying to be the best healthiest version of yourself that you can be. I mean, "die" is literally in the name. And then another thing about diets is that they can be really isolating. We cannot underestimate the value of social connection and the impact that loneliness has on our health. We know a lot about that. We just came out of a pandemic, I think we are experiencing this more than ever these days. Really, it's at the forefront of our minds. There's research that shows that loneliness, when it comes to like cardiovascular disease like having a heart attack for example, loneliness is a bigger risk factor for having a heart attack than smoking. I don't know that people people know that. It has a huge impact. Again, not everyone on a diet is lonelier and isolated. But some people when they're on restrictive diets feel like they can't go to social things because they don't want to eat what's there, they don't want to be tempted, or they're trying to be really "good".

Kate Graves 37:19
It becomes like a self-punishment.

Amy Hollar 37:21
Yeah, and I'm not saying this for everyone, but I think there's elements of this that we've all experienced. What I like about nutrition by addition is that it flips that on its head, and encourages people to practice self-compassion, and a positive mindset, which is incredibly important for our overall health and well being. So when I think about nutrition by addition, you know, for myself, I like to ask myself, "What can I add to my plate to take care of future me?" Thinking about future me, because identifying that, it is important. It's important for our self worth and our sense of self and for self compassion that we acknowledge that we care about our long-term health. We do want to make it a priority, just not an obsession. It's very positive to be working towards a long-term goal of maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active and being healthy and happy in our bodies for as long as we can. But it's when we live over that edge of now we're obsessed, and now we're not going to things and now we're only eating green, that it becomes more detrimental. And so yeah, I think about it in a very loving way, how can I take care of future me today. And not every day is like that. Sometimes taking care of me right now is more important, depending on how I'm feeling, and I might eat ice cream for dinner and enjoy it and move on. But most days I think about future me. And I also think you can think to yourself, "Would adding more color to my plate make this meal a more enjoyable experience?" I think when we think about nutrition by addition, we're often thinking about adding fruits and vegetables, where you find a lot of nutrition. And they're colorful, right? And so I get a lot of joy out of having a colorful plate. I think fruits and veggies add color, they add crunch, they add freshness. I think about what they're adding to my plate and what that means to me, all those positives. Really, overall, it's about steering away from that restrictive black-and-white thinking and overall health and well being that comes up over and over again. The more restrictive and black-and-white you've got, it's harder to feel compassionate for yourself. It's harder to celebrate this life and how you're feeling. I think choosing to focus on how we add to our plates and choosing to focus on how that can bring us joy and support ourselves is a really powerful and compassionate way to practice eating and being well.

Kate Graves 39:43
I think a lot of it too, is changing the language that we're using, too. Exactly what you're saying, Amy is like a self compassion. And actually I misquoted - it's most girls experienced body dissatisfaction by age six and most girls have gone on a diet by age eight. But understanding too that the language that we're saying for ourselves is also impacting future generations. How you talk about yourself, how you talk about other people and their bodies is also impacting the people who are listening. So I think it is that self compassion lens of less of this "I need to go on a diet," and more of "I want to treat myself with kindness and so I want to add more nutrition into my life for future me."

Kendall Kunelius 40:22
You know, if there's one thing that just rustles my jimmies like nothing else, it's when I go to grocery shop and I see packaging that says guilt-free. By principle, I will not purchase the item. I don't care if it's healthy, don't care if it's not. The fact of the matter is that no one should ever feel guilty about eating a food, because everything in moderation, right? I think it's horrible how the companies that produce these foods, but also that package them are able to play into this mindset of "You don't have to feel guilty if you eat our food." It's terrible. I feel better knowing that when I purchase locally grown foods, I feel like I vote with my dollars very, very intentionally. And I support local agriculture. And that's me personally, but it is something I would really recommend folks to look into if it's accessible to you. We're really lucky here in New Hampshire that local food is very easily accessible to most of us who live in rural communities. It would be great if we could find more ways to get those foods into the places that people don't have transportation access or can't access those kinds of services. But it's certainly something that folks should look into. Because it's a lot of fun. It's a great family adventure to go out and just drive around for a couple hours and find all these little farm stands. Pick a treat. A fresh-grown piece of fruit or vegetable is delicious when it's right out of the farm stand and you know it got put in there that morning. Also, we in New Hampshire have access to raw-milk ice cream. So depending on how you feel about that, there's a lot of little creameries and micro-dairies popping up. It's not just like the highly-processed ice cream. So there's some fun options that you will want to research and look into before you start eating those kinds of things. But if you're comfortable with that, it is accessible. So whether it's a vegetable, or it's an ice cream treat, I think it's great for us to enjoy the sourcing of it, where it came from. I'm flipping this idea of you shouldn't be eating something. You should feel great about what you do eat because of where it's sourced. You can meet the cow or meet the chicken that the product came from, or meet the farmer that grew your food. And that's a really interesting way to help yourself transition from feeling like those shouldn'ts to being really excited about the things that you should.

Rebecca Dube 42:49
Which brings us back to our farmers again, Amy, I'll give you a chance to talk as we're going to work to wrap up the episode now. So much good information! But is there anything else anybody would like to add or anything we want to make sure is listed in our notes? Any resources before we go?

Amy Hollar 43:08
I was just gonna say that Kendall, I'm glad that you brought up finding local food in New Hampshire. Our team does have a food access map that we can link to in the show notes that contains lots of different places where people can access foods, including some of those local farm stands and whatnot. It also contains places where people can redeem SNAP benefits and apply for WIC. Bringing up that concept of food assistance I think is important. Kendall, you brought up the guilt packaging, and that you don't like feeling guilted by your food and that's really important. When we feel guilt, it leads to another feeling inside of us that we don't talk about a lot, which is shame. And shame is very detrimental to our well being. Shame is something that can prevent us from asking for help. It's important to remember that shame is really toxic to our well-being. Some people may be familiar with Brene Brown, she's a very famous author and has a podcast and whatnot. She says that shame cannot survive being spoken. And that the opposite of shame is experiencing empathy. It is very important and many of us think about empathy in the context of other people feeling empathy and practicing empathy with each other. But we can also show ourselves empathy. It's incredibly important for us to show ourselves empathy so that we can support our overall well-being. A really powerful act of showing yourself empathy is that if you do need help, if you could use assistance, reaching out for that assistance when you need it, including food assistance. It's a powerful, powerful way to fight against shame and to show yourself that you do care about yourself, and that you are worth getting the resources that you need. In New Hampshire, more people than ever now actually qualify for the SNAP program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. New Hampshire put changes is in place that increased the amount of income you can make to qualify for SNAP benefits. That happened in January (of 2024). So now it's 200% of the federal poverty line. So even if you haven't qualified in the past, you may qualify now, and we know a lot of people, especially with the rising cost of housing and inflation, that may be in a place where they can't afford food, even if they're making more money than in the past. So thinking about applying for SNAP, we'll link in the show notes to New Hampshire Food Bank, which has an outreach program that helps people apply for SNAP, and we'll link to that. If you do get SNAP benefits, you can actually double your map dollars for fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets, and independently-owned grocery stores through a program called Granite State Market Match and Double Up Food Bucks, which is also through the New Hampshire Food Bank. We'll link to that in the show notes as well. And finally, I wanted to mention that in terms of gardening, one of the things that most people don't know about the SNAP program is that if you receive SNAP dollars, you can use those for edible seedlings, edible seeds to grow your own food. You can use your SNAP dollars for that. So there's some caveats to that. The place that you purchase the seeds, or the seedlings have to accept SNAP benefits, to be able to do that. Some garden stores may not, but a lot of us can get seeds and sometimes seedlings, even at our local grocery stores nowadays, and they do accept SNAP, often, if not always. So I just wanted to mention all of that, taking care of yourself includes getting the help that you need when you need it and getting assistance.

Kate Graves 46:34
I just want to add to that too, because we live in the Live Free or Die state. I think a lot of people have this mindset of "I don't want to take advantage of these programs, because I don't want to take from someone else who might be in greater need than me." And I just like to point out that that's not how these programs work. They need people to utilize the programs to show that there's a need for them, so that if there is someone potentially in a greater need than you that they're also able to utilize the program. They want people to come in, they want them to use it to show that there's a need to continue these programs. So again, we have this mindset of I don't want to use it because I don't want to take from someone else but but I just like to point out that that's not how these work. So if you do qualify, if there is a need, please use it because it's not only going to benefit you, but it could also benefit other families as well. And just kind of break the stigma with using these because everybody needs help once in a while. We're living in a crazy economy right now.

Amy Hollar 47:29
SNAP is what's called an entitlement program, which means that everyone who qualifies gets it, there's no cap. It's not like a set amount of money where when it's gone, it's gone. If you qualify, you get it, you're not taking anything from anyone else.

Kendall Kunelius 47:41
Actually, I would argue that you're giving things. Farmers, if they're at a farmers market, the more people at that market, the better. And so it's good for the farmer, it's good for the people, everyone's benefiting. So I am so glad we had this conversation, because I think it's really an important thing to approach from everyone's perspective of, let's stand up for the people who need it and can utilize it, but also the people who are going to benefit from it on the other end as well. Yeah, awesome. Rebecca, do you want to wrap us up? Because we're just gonna keep going like forever!

Rebecca Dube 47:55
I wish we could. But thank you so much, Kate and Amy for all of your information and wonderful insights into these topics. We thank you all for listening and we will talk to you soon on our next episode of Shared Soil.

Kendall Kunelius 48:34
Shared Soil is a production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, an equal opportunity educator and employer. Views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the university, its trustees or its volunteers. Inclusion or exclusion of commercial products in this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire, US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire counties cooperate to provide Extension programming in the Granite State. Learn more at

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