Medication Safety and Your Child

01/28/2012

from the Family Health and Wellness Guide

We all know that medications can help our children live healthier lives, but when medicines are misused or stored improperly, they can also be dangerous. You will want to follow all the medication safety guidelines for adults, but if you have infants or children in your home, here are some special medication safety reminders just for you:

  • Avoid accidental poisonings. This applies to medicines and many household substances. Some common household items and everyday medications are surprisingly dangerous. For example, flavored toothpastes can be tempting to kids, but if children swallow a few mouthfuls, the fluoride can cause serious problems. Another surprising danger is automatic dishwasher detergent. It’s strong enough to clean your dishes without you scrubbing them. If a child swallows a mouthful, it could burn his throat. Fragrances like lemon or orange make cleaning products more tempting to children. Children’s vitamins can also tempt young children to eat them like candy—but they aren’t. And too many vitamins can be dangerous. Keep everything out of reach or securely locked so that kids under the age of five cannot get to things that could poison them. If your child does get into something, or if you think that he might have gotten into something, stay calm and call your regional poison control center.
  • Use child-resistant caps. Make sure all medicines in homes where children live or visit have child-resistant caps. Be sure to put the cap on correctly and tighten it when you’re finished taking or giving the medicine or a child could still get into it.
  • Keep a list. Make sure your child’s health care professionals know all the medications your child is taking, whether prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines, like vitamins or dietary supplements. When it’s time for your child’s annual checkup, bring all of your child’s medicines and supplements with you to the appointment. This serves as a reminder to talk about the medicines and discuss any problems.
  • Mention allergies and reactions. When your child is getting a new prescription, make sure the health care professional is aware of your child’s allergiesand reactions to medicines.
  • Make sure you understand. When the medication is prescribed and when you pick up the prescription, make sure you understand this important information: What is the name of the medicine? What is it for? Is this the right dose for my child’s weight? How often should my child take this medicine and for how long? Should I give the medicine throughout the night or just during the day? Is this medicine safe with my child’s other medicines? Are there any foods, drinks or activities my child should avoid while taking this medicine? When should my child start improving?
  • Take measure. Make sure you understand the proper dosage before giving medication to your child. Medications for children are sometimes dosed by the “dropperful” or by the teaspoon. The definition of a dropperful may not be clear. It may mean to the upper mark on the dropper or filled to the top. Or some parents may use a dropper other than the one that came with the product, which may not be the same size. Even small variances in dosage can be critical in small children, so make sure you understand the directions. Keep the product dropper with the product, and use only the dropper that was supplied. If it calls for a teaspoon or tablespoon measure, don’t use a household spoon. Use a measuring spoon or a marked plastic syringe provided by your doctor or pharmacist. Remember that some infant medicines may be more concentrated than similar medicines for older children or adults. Don’t assume that you can give a baby 2 teaspoonfuls of infant medicine, just because you give your older child 2 teaspoonfuls. Always read and follow the label instructions.
  • Know the side effects. If you know what side effects could occur, you will be better prepared if something does happen. If your child experiences side effects, alert the doctor and pharmacist right away.
  • Create a chart. Children’s medicines often taste good, so if you ask a kid if he’s had his medicine, he may say no—just to get another dose. Create a chart or list to help you track which medicines were given at what times. This is especially important if your child is taking several medicines or several people are involved in the caregiving. But it’s not a bad idea in any busy household—and what household with kids isn’t busy?

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Medication Safety: www.healthywomen.org/condition/medication-safety
Allergies: www.healthywomen.org/condition/allergies

Family Health and Wellness Guide: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/family-health-and-wellness-guide

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Natural Ways to Prevent and Manage the Flu

01/15/2012

from the Flu and Cold Health Center

The best defense against illness is a good offense. Smart health habits can go a long way in preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses like the flu. Protect yourself and your children from getting sick by practicing these healthy habits:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Ordinary soap is sufficient. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand cleaner. Antibacterial soaps add little protection, particularly against viruses. In fact, a study suggests that although hand washing with soap reduced the number of pneumonia-related infections in children under five by 50 percent, there was no difference in the results when antibacterial soap was used instead of regular soap.
  • Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, or cover your mouth and nose with your upper sleeve, not your hand.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs often spread when you touch something that is contaminated with germs and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Remind your kids not to share cups, eating utensils and school supplies, such as pens and pencils.
  • Stay home if you or your children are sick to avoid spreading the virus to others. Additionally, staying home and getting adequate rest will help you get back on your feet faster.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people when possible. If your child attends day care or school, make sure children and staff are encouraged to stay home when they are sick. If your child’s play date is sick, reschedule. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Add germ-fighting foods to your diet. Click here for ideas.
  • Practice other good health habits and keep your family’s immune system strong throughout the year:
  1. Prepare low-fat, balanced meals packed with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein like fish, soy and beans.
  2. Choose natural, unprocessed foods whenever possible.
  3. Don’t smoke.
  4. Exercise regularly.
  5. Get active as a family and plan fun activities.
  6. Manage stress.

Symptom Relief Reminders. While a cold or flu must run its course, there are things you can do to ease the symptoms. If your child gets sick, encourage him or her to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids, preferably water and noncaffeinated drinks. This will help with hydration and the ability to fight the infection.

Other suggestions to keep in mind include:

  • Gargle with salt water to soothe a sore throat.
  • Use a humidifier to moisten the air and help ease congestion and coughing. Be sure to clean the filter often so that mold doesn’t grow.
  • Several studies have found that zinc lozenges may reduce the length and intensity of colds and flu, and that nasal zinc gel appears to reduce the length and intensity of illnesses related to those viruses. Zinc nasal spray does not show the same effects, however. Consult with your health care professional for more information.

Click here for five more tips on fighting a cold naturally.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Flu and Cold Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/flu-and-cold

Flu/Colds: www.healthywomen.org/condition/flucolds

Family Health and Wellness Guide: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/family-health-and-wellness-guide

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (tollfree). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


Could it Be Menopause?

01/04/2012

 

from the Menopause Health Center

 

You’re 40 and suddenly it seems as if you’re falling apart. You wake in the morning soaked in sweat, despite the ceiling fan above. You can’t lose those last five pounds no matter how hard you try. Your interest in sex has gone the way of…well it’s just gone. And suddenly you’re spending more time browsing the face cream aisle than the ice cream aisle.

 

Could this be the start of menopause?

 

Before we try to answer that question, let’s get the nomenclature right. First, there really is no “start” to menopause. Menopause is actually just one day — the day on which you’ve gone twelve consecutive months without menstruating. Normal menopause can occur any time between ages 40 and 58, although the average age is 51.4.

 

The day after that magical day of menopause, you’re considered postmenopausal. The day before: premenopausal. Then there’s this other phase called perimenopause. And that, my friend, may be the realm you’ve entered.

 

Perimenopause refers to the transitional time before menopause. It can last a few months or, most likely, a few years. It usually starts in your forties, although it can begin earlier in some women. The primary cause is loss of follicles in the ovaries, leading to slowly declining estrogen levels as your ovaries age. This decline isn’t consistent, however, which is why your symptoms may come and go as often as your college-aged children.

 

Tests Not Available

 

Unfortunately, there is no conclusive test that can tell you that you are, indeed, in the menopausal transition. No, not even those over-the-counter tests that purport to pinpoint your hormone levels. That’s because those tests, with names like Estroven, Menocheck and RU25 Plus, are designed to measure levels of a hormone called follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH. Your body releases this hormone when estrogen levels drop, because it signals the ovaries to produce more estrogen. So, the thinking goes, if FSH levels are high, it means estrogen levels are low, ergo you’re approaching menopause.

 

And indeed, for years gynecologists used this hormonal measurement as an indicator of menopause. But it turns out that estrogen levels fluctuate nearly as much as the stock market — not only day-to-day, but from morning to night. So a single FSH measure, even a couple, is really no indication of menopausal status.

 

Instead, you’re better off evaluating your status by your symptoms. These include:

 

  • Hot flashes and night sweats.
    Called vasomotor symptoms, we’re still not sure what causes them. Somehow, it seems, declining estrogen plays havoc with your body’s temperature controls, increasing your core temperature and triggering your body’s cooling attempt — sweating. Hot flashes are the second most common menopause-related symptom, affecting about 75 percent of women. It’s also one of the most bothersome. The bad news: In some women, they continue even after menopause itself.
  • Irregular periods.
    Fluctuating hormone levels mean strange things may be happening to your periods. You may find them coming more often — every 24 days instead of every 28 days, for example — or less often. You can even skip several periods in a row only to have them return on a regular basis. You may also find that your periods are considerably heavier or lighter than they used to be, and that they last longer or shorter than they used to.
  • Problems sleeping.
    We don’t really know if fluctuating hormone levels contribute to the sleep problems women say are so common during this time of life. It could be that the night sweats interfere with sleep, or that the stresses of this time of life, including teenaged children, aging parents and career transitions, keep you awake. Regardless, studies find that more women report insomnia as they move through midlife, primarily the type that involves waking up in the middle of the night.
  • Headaches.
    You may find you’re having more headaches, particularly around your period. And if you’ve always been prone to premenstrual headaches, you may find they’re more severe and last longer. The good news? Once you reach menopause, you should experience far fewer headaches.
  • Mood swings.
    There’s good evidence that perimenopausal women experience more irritability, fatigue and “blue moods,” during the perimenopausal transition than before. Again, this could be related to shifting hormonal levels, but is more likely related to midlife stressors. If these mood swings become so intense they interfere with your normal life, however, you should seek professional help.
  • Vaginal dryness.
    Estrogen plays a key role in maintaining the moistness and flexibility of the vagina. So as levels drop, you may find you feel “drier” down there. You may notice other changes, such as a discharge or odor, and you may even find you have problems with some urine leakage.

 

Although all the symptoms listed above are representative of perimenopause, they can also be caused by numerous medical issues. So regardless of whether you think your symptoms are from this midlife transition, it’s important to see your health care professional for a complete medical and psychological evaluation. He or she can rule out any other medical conditions and confirm whether you are or aren’t in the menopausal transition.

 

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

 

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

 

 

Menopause: www.healthywomen.org/condition/menopause

 

 

 

Menopause Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/menopause

 

 

 

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 


How the Computer May Be Damaging Your Eyes

12/20/2011

from the Eye Health Center

Call it the revenge of the electronic screens. Many of us spend hours each day peering at computer screens, televisions, hand-held devices, cell phones, GPS monitors and more. The result: dry eyes, irritation, blurred vision, double vision, headache, and tiredness.

There’s a word for this group of symptoms, or, rather, three words: “computer vision syndrome.” If the proliferation of eye drop products on store shelves is any measure, computer vision syndrome is an increasingly common problem. Here are a few suggestions to help your eyes feel more comfortable:

  • It’s easy to forget about blinking when you’re staring intently at a screen, so blink more often.
  • Women are more likely to have dry eyes than men. You may want to try over-the-counter eye drops known as “artificial tears.” These are available as lubricated, saline, homeopathic and other types. Using a humidifier may also help.
  • Turn down the lights. Reduce the wattage in desk lamps and adjust window blinds to cut down on screen glare.
  • Schedule rest breaks for your eyes during your workday. The American Optometric Association recommends resting your eyes for 15 minutes after working continuously for two hours on an electronic screen. In addition, every 20 minutes, look up from the screen and refocus your eyes on a distant object.
  • Want to try an alternative approach? A study in India tested 291 people who used computers at work and had similar levels of visual strain and discomfort. The researchers, who were from a yoga research foundation, put half of the subjects in a group that practiced an hour of yoga daily, five days a week. The others did their normal recreational activities for the same amount of time. After 60 days, the yoga group had reduced their eye discomfort, while the other group had increased amounts.
  • The easiest suggestion of all? Clean your screen frequently. Dust and smears make words harder to read, causing you more eyestrain.

 For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

Dry Eye Syndrome: www.healthywomen.org/condition/dry-eye-syndrome

 

Eye Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/eye-health

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 

 


Stress Less in 7 Steps

12/04/2011

from the Healthy Living area

You know the feeling: the more you do, the more it seems you have to do. As challenges mount in your work, relationships, finances and health—sometimes in several areas of your life at once—they can easily turn from trying to overwhelming.

The source of your stress may be temporary, such as producing a big holiday party, so the pressure ends in a short time. More serious stressors are long-lasting or out of your control, such as what the stock market is doing or a major medical problem.

Yet, often, we take responsibility for solving every detail, every problem, every adversity, whether it’s realistic or even sensible to do so.

“Women are always chronically multitasking and under stress. This year (with the economic crisis), in particular, it’s more difficult,” says Nancy Molitor, PhD, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.

Preventing stress in real life may be virtually impossible, but managing it well is extremely important for both your physical and emotional health.

When stress hits

Stress floods your body with hormones, weakens your immune system, affects brain function and worsens many chronic medical conditions.

While short-term stress might cause worry or a sleepless night, stress that lasts longer can produce or contribute to high blood pressure, digestive difficulties, fatigue, heart problems, neck and back pain, obesity, breathing disorders, headaches, insomnia, anger, depression, lowered sexual desire, and more. Fortunately, there are many good ways to short-circuit the effects of stress (see suggestions below).

People differ in what triggers their stress as well as in which methods successfully manage it. What works to lower your stress might not work for your best friend. The wisest course is to find several effective de-stressing techniques. “You have to have a whole bunch of things in your toolkit,” says Dr. Molitor, who is also a psychologist in private practice in Wilmette, Illinois, and a Public Education Coordinator for the American Psychological Association.

To manage stress, she says, you need to develop ways to pace yourself and take time out. Stress relievers are vital, she adds, “like paying yourself first, or putting on your oxygen mask (on an airplane) before taking care of your kids.”

Facing challenges

Ramona Russell has been on the Stress Express ever since going to college full-time while working three jobs. “I have a very Type A personality and I’m intense. I’m a recovering perfectionist,” she says.

When she was 29, Russell had a demanding job working for a start-up nonprofit organization in Sacramento. “I did everything, from training volunteers to public relations and marketing.” Then the unthinkable happened: her younger sister, Liz, just 26 years old, was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. At the same time, the nonprofit Russell worked for began to sink. “It made what was going on with my sister so much worse,” she recalls.

Although she had not been much of an athlete in her teen years, Russell had taken up running after college and ran in a marathon the year before her sister’s diagnosis. After her employer folded, Russell put off looking for another job so she could help with her sister’s care. She credits regular running (about 25 miles per week when she’s not training for a marathon) with reducing the ongoing stress she was experiencing. “It helped keep me focused and enabled me to better support my sister,” she says.

Repetitive exercise, such as running, brings forth the stress-busting “relaxation response,” according to research conducted by Herbert Benson, MD, of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Benson and his colleagues found that the relaxation response changes the way your body and brain react to stress. Put simply, you slow your metabolism, heart rate and breathing; lower your blood pressure; and reduce muscle tension. Recent research shows that the relaxation response can change gene expression for long-term benefits.

That process worked for Russell as she coped with her sister’s illness and death, the loss of two other young family members and separation from her brother, who enlisted and went to war. “When I run, I feel things melt away,” she says. “It gives you energy you didn’t have.” Running also sparked an idea for a business that Russell, now 33, created in her sister’s memory. Called Uptown Liz (www.uptownliz.com), the shopping Web site refers customers to products that benefit charitable causes.

Stress-busters that work

Don’t worry—you can get good stress relief from exercise without running a marathon. “There’s tons of research on this,” says Dr. Molitor. “Physical exercise of a very moderate amount, two times a week or more, is the best thing you can do to cope with chronic stress.”

  • Understand what you can control: Stress often comes from trying to control situations or people’s actions that are beyond our control. Avoidance also raises stress. Recognize the choices you do have, Dr. Molitor advises. You may not be able to control world financial markets, but you can read your statements, control how you invest and make choices about how to spend your available income.
  • Say good things about yourself: This one is so simple, but many of us reinforce our stress by piling on with an internal negative voice. Research shows that affirming your personal values keeps production of cortisol, the stress hormone, low. The next time you catch yourself putting yourself down in your thoughts, say or write something good about yourself instead. And make the goals you set for yourself realistic.
  • Encourage the relaxation response: Try activities that use repetitive motion or sounds while also pushing aside everyday thoughts that might pop up. This helps quiet your mind. Good stress-relieving repetitive activities: knitting, running, prayer, playing a musical instrument, meditating or chanting a word or phrase.
  • Keep meals and sleep healthy: Eat more veggies, fruits and whole grains. Avoid sugar, caffeine and fatty foods as much as possible. Good fuel promotes emotional resilience and calm. And avoid eating when you’re not hungry—another sign of chronic stress that can just lead to more tense feelings. Stress might also cause sleep loss, which makes you feel more stressed. Support healthy sleep by winding down at night, avoiding caffeine or food before bed and leaving enough time for a good night’s rest.
  • Find a passion: Stress can narrow your vision, so it helps to move outside the boundaries of your current situation. Start with a small step—a one-night class in an artistic interest you haven’t pursued before or two hours of volunteer effort for a community or charitable project—then see where that first step takes you. Many women find stress relief through a new passion for a career, hobby or cause.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

Stress: www.healthywomen.org/condition/stress

 

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/managing-stress

Mental Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/mental-health

Wellness in Practice Blog: www.healthywomen.org/womentalk/blog/wellness-practice

 

 

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 


Eat More, Weigh Less

11/21/2011

from the Diet and Fitness Health Center

Do you always feel as if you should lose a few pounds? Many of us think of ourselves as being overweight—even fat—when we’re not close to that mark. Yet we watch the numbers on the scale and worry if our weight registers a pound or two (or kilogram) above what we’ve decided the right number ought to be.

That’s because depriving ourselves of food seems an inevitable part of losing weight. When we look at our dinner plate while dieting, we often see more plate than dinner.

No wonder losing weight feels like a battle against ourselves. We’re fighting our natural biological and psychological needs to have our appetites satisfied. Yet it’s possible to eat ample meals, feel full, control hunger, have a nutritious diet and still lose weight or maintain weight loss.

Less is more

Scientists who study the body’s feeling of fullness, called satiety, have shown that foods with high concentrations of calories in each portion increase our body weight and the overall amount of food we eat. The high energy density of foods such as fried onion rings or homemade chocolate chip cookies makes them taste appealing, but they don’t create feelings of fullness until you’ve overeaten.

By contrast, foods with low energy density (vegetables and fruits, nonfat milk, cooked grains, soups, stews, lean protein), have fewer calories, but make us feel more full. They also promote weight loss.

Since most of us eat about the same weight of food every day, it makes a difference whether that food has a high or low energy density. If you combine big portions with high energy density—such as happens in many fast-food selections—you’re cramming your daily food intake with too many calories.

Why water works

The key to keeping energy density low is water—not the stuff you drink from those cute little bottles, but the water content of foods. According to researcher Barbara J. Rolls, Ph.D., professor of nutritional sciences at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, and author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Harper Collins, 2005) and The Volumetrics Weight-Control Plan (Quill, 2000, HarperTorch, 2003) foods with low energy density are loaded with water. When you eat them, you can increase the volume of food you consume for the same, or fewer, calories.

To understand the influence of water on food volume—and its ability to dilute calories—consider that for a 100-calorie snack, you could eat either two cups of water-rich grapes or one-quarter cup of raisins (dried grapes). The volume of grapes you can eat for 100 calories is a more satisfying portion.

The most energy dense component of food is fat, at nine calories per gram. Water has zero calories per gram. So if you cut fat a bit and add more water (with vegetables, fruit or broth) in your cooking, you reduce energy density significantly.

Eating more fiber is also important for lowering energy density. High-fiber foods, such as whole-grain cereals and breads, help you feel full longer.

Calculating energy density

Understanding the energy density of foods and using it to guide eating choices, Rolls says, “can help people eat the way the research suggests they should be eating—not only for weight management, but for optimal health.”

Here’s a simple method she offers for determining the energy density (calories per gram) of foods you buy in the supermarket:

  • Look at the Nutrition Facts label on the food package.
  • Find the serving-size weight in grams and the calories per serving.
  • If the calories are a smaller number than the grams, the food has low energy density. Feel free to enjoy satisfying amounts of that food.
  • If the calories are equal to, or twice as much, as the grams, eat moderately and watch your portion size.
  • If the calories are more than twice the grams, limit your portions.

You’ll discover that dry foods, like crackers, have high energy density (calories more than twice the grams). Surprisingly, fat-free pretzels have the same energy density as cheese. Munching on these without controlling your portions can quickly add weight.

“Do a little pre-planning,” says Jo-Anne Rizzotto, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., a registered and licensed dietitian at Joslin Diabetes Center, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston. “Fill snack baggies with cut-up vegetables or cut-up melon, strawberries or any fruit and line them up in the refrigerator so you can just grab them to go for lunch or snacking on the run.”

To add fiber and lower energy density, Rizzotto recommends looking for breads with at least three grams of fiber per serving and cereals or starches with at least five grams of fiber per serving. In recipes, she suggests using smaller amount of potatoes and using more vegetables like green beans, spinach, cauliflower, peppers, mushrooms and zucchini.

Add another course

It may seem hard to believe, but when you add an additional course to your meal—increasing food volume—you can reduce the overall number of calories you consume.

Rolls and her colleagues conducted a study in which women were given a first course of a large portion (three cups) of low-energy-dense salad. The salad was made with greens, vegetables, nonfat Italian dressing and reduced-fat cheese. Following that, the participants ate a main course of pasta.

Eating the salad boosted the women’s feelings of fullness and reduced their total meal calorie intake. In other studies, having a first-course soup instead of the salad produced similar results.

Why does this work? “You get an awful lot of food without many calories,” Rolls explains, “which then helps to displace the calories in the next course of higher energy dense foods.” Simply drinking more water doesn’t have the same effect.

Tips for low-energy-density eating

  • Want to add a starter salad to your lunch or dinner? Remember to keep the energy density low. That means you can fill your bowl to the brim with greens, veggies, and low-fat dressing, but use only a very small amount—if any—of full-fat cheese or dressings, croutons or bacon bits.
  • When choosing soup as a first course or snack, make it broth-based, such as chicken with rice or vegetable soup. Creamed soups, chowders and hearty bean soups have more calories and higher energy density. They’re better as main dishes.
  • Double the vegetables in your favorite recipes, from chili and beef stew to pasta or chicken salad.
  • Watch what you drink. Each regular soda adds 150 unneeded calories to your daily total. Instead, choose water, tea, coffee (not the fat-laden specialty drinks!), diet soda, or add a splash of fruit juice to seltzer. Alcohol has a high energy density, so limit your daily consumption to one glass or less.

Full-plate menus

In The Volumetrics Eating Plan, Rolls provides satisfying, 1,400-calorie-a-day menus (and recipes), with choices based on the principles of energy density—foods that are rich in water, high in fiber, low fat, or lean protein, with low-calorie beverages and portion control for high-energy-dense selections.

Here are her suggested menus for two days:

MENU #1:  
   
Breakfast: 1 cup wheat bran flakes
1/2 cup blueberries
1 banana
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: Roasted portobello mushroom sandwich on a Kaiser roll
1/2 cup tabbouleh
1 pear
   
Dinner: Sautéed skinless chicken breast with vegetables and Canadian
bacon
2/3 cup brown rice
1-3/4 cups mixed greens and fennel salad
1 cup strawberries tossed with a bit of sugar and balsamic vinegar
   
MENU #2:  
   
Breakfast: 1 packet instant oatmeal
1/4 cup oat bran
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup 1% milk
   
Lunch: One wedge of vegetable pizza, made with nonfat mozzarella
1-2/3 cups chilled gazpacho
1 snack cup, nonfat chocolate pudding
   
Dinner: Baked fish fillets with sautéed vegetables
2/3 cup oven-roasted potatoes
3/4 cup roasted asparagus
fresh fruit dipped in chocolate fondue

 

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit

the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

 

 

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/diet-and-nutrition

 

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness
 

Nutrition: www.healthywomen.org/condition/nutrition

 

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

 

 

© 2011 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.

 

 


Stop the Exercise Guilt and Start Moving

11/12/2011

from the Healthy Living area

When you hear advice to exercise for 30 to 45 minutes or more, nearly every day, you may think, “In whose life? Get real.”

Many women feel the same way. We’re too busy and too tired—from job, family, home and other demands—to squeeze exercise into our overcrowded days. Those time blocks seem like impossible hurdles to get over. Even if we try, it’s difficult to stay on track for long.

Now, instead of feeling guilty about what you can’t do, you can start feeling good about what’s possible for you. Research shows that even short bursts of physical activity improve your health, especially if you spend your day sitting. Adding a little activity helps lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight, cuts your risk of heart attack and diabetes, and improves how you feel emotionally.

You’ll have more energy to carry packages, garden, climb stairs, keep up with the kids at the amusement park, or dance past midnight. Those activities, in turn, will make you even stronger and healthier.

Women who walk for a total of just one hour a week have half the rate of heart disease as women who don’t walk regularly. And it’s never too late to benefit—in a recent study, people over 65 who were physically active once a week had a 40 percent lower death rate than those who were inactive.

It’s easy to start

To get yourself moving, think small. “Take two-minute walks, whether it’s one or 10 a day,” says Andrea Dunn, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Science Research Group at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, Denver.

Walk at a moderately vigorous pace, Dunn says, as if you’re trying to get to an appointment on time. Each week, increase how many minutes you walk a bit, or how often.

Gradually work up to three 10-minute brisk walks a day, several times a week. “It doesn’t matter how fast you move up,” says Dunn. In her research, people who succeeded often kept track of their walks on checklists or calendars.

If you have health concerns and are under a health care professional’s care for a medical condition, review your exercise plans with her or him before you start.

Step this way

You’ll gain more benefits from walking by increasing the steps you take at home, at work and for exercise. Middle-aged women who take more steps have less body fat than those taking fewer steps.

Use a pedometer, a step-counting gadget that clips onto your waistband. Record your step count for one week. Then divide by seven to get your daily average.

Increase your daily step count little by little. Sneak extra steps into your everyday life: Walk around the house while talking on a cordless phone, park at the far end of a supermarket lot (be sure it’s well-lighted and secure), pace the sidelines while your child plays sports, or climb the stairs to your office instead of taking the elevator.

Aim for 10,000 steps a day, but work to that goal slowly. It’s equal to about five miles.

Target fat in your middle

How does physical activity, even small amounts, improve your health?

Think of your body as a jelly doughnut. (Okay, for some of us that’s easy to do.) The outer part of your doughnut—uh, body—is made up of fat that lies just under the skin. When you go on a diet and lose weight, you usually lose this type of fat, says Osama Hamdy, M.D., director of the Obesity Clinic at Joslin Diabetes Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Hidden deep in the center of your body is a more dangerous type of fat. This internal fat—often shown by a growing waistline—is directly related to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. According to Hamdy, physical activity reduces this belly fat more effectively than dieting does.

“Any moderately intense exercise that a person can do is very important. Do it five minutes a day, or 10 minutes a day,” he says. “If you look at it as a routine of your day, you will find it easier over time.”

A recent study Hamdy co-authored showed that obese adults who lost just 7 percent of their body weight—16 pounds in a 220-pound woman—through moderately intense exercise and diet lowered their heart disease risk. In another study, people at risk for type 2 diabetes reduced their risk 58 percent with brisk walking and a small weight loss.

Make it fun

Some women exercise with friends or in walking clubs. Mall-walking is fine, says Dunn, so long as you’re moving briskly and not just strolling and window-shopping.

If walking doesn’t appeal to you, choose another moderately vigorous activity, such as bike riding, swimming or dancing. Or mix up your exercise choices.

“Do things that are fun for you,” Dunn advises. “Start small, work at your own pace and don’t give up.”

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Fitness: www.healthywomen.org/condition/fitness

Weight Management: www.healthywomen.org/condition/weight-management

Healthy Living: www.healthywomen.org/ages-and-stages/healthy-living/fitness

Diet and Fitness Health Center: www.healthywomen.org/healthcenter/diet-and-fitness

© 2011 HealthyWomen All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.


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