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Easy tips to change the way we eat

Two-thirds of Americans are overweight and obese. With this trend, diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, gout, arthritis and sleep apnea have become commonplace with my patients.

While there are key steps that we can all take to be healthier – don’t use tobacco, limit or abstain from alcohol, make exercise a part of our daily routine – I want to focus on a few simple ways to change the way we eat.

I think Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and other books on food, said it best: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

So how can you get started and make it permanent?

1. Eat real food
Foods that can sit on a shelf for years are usually loaded with salt, genetically modified ingredients, high-fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives. This is not the food our body was meant to eat.  Instead ....

9 tips for avoiding holiday weight gain

Amongst the cheer and merriment, parties and soirées, often come unwanted extra pounds that sneak their way around our waistlines. The span between Thanksgiving and New Years are filled with traditions and an extra average weight gain of 1-2 pounds. It may not sound like much, but consider over the course of a decade that can lead to an extra 10-20 pounds.  That extra luggage then leads to another tradition - the New Year’s resolution to lose weight!

Stop the insanity and start eating smart. Simple lifestyle changes will put an end to the cycle of overindulging, weight gain, and feeling miserable once the season is over. It is said the best offense is a good defense. By practicing these time-honored tips, you’ll likely feel fulfillment without getting overfilled.

1. Plan ahead.

If you know the party you are headed to will lack healthy options (hello, cookie exchange!) have a low-calorie, high protein snack prior to attending a party. This will keep your appetite in check and you will be less likely to arrive ravenous and overeat.  Hummus with vegetables, whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese, a piece of fruit with natural peanut butter, or Greek Yogurt with high fiber cereal are a few great choices to tide you over. Pair foods that are high in protein and rich in fiber to keep you satiated longer. At the party, keep to light appetizers.

2. Host a healthy holiday.

Control the nutritional content of the meal by throwing the party yourself. Plan the dinner menu with lean meats and seafood, fresh vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, beans, and low-fat dairy. Use the opportunity to try healthy recipes from sites such as www.cooklinglight.com and www.eatingright.com (Ed. Note – check out our healthy recipe collection here or on Pinterest.) In lieu of a potluck, have party guests bring non-perishable foods to donate to the food bank.

3. Lighten up your menu.

Revamp your recipes by ...

Nicotine addiction and quitting smoking

The presence of tobacco dates back at least 8,000 years in the world’s history.  Throughout time, this plant was central to religious ceremonies, thought to have healing powers, delivered as gifts, traded for goods, and smoked by many.  As early as the mid 1700s tobacco was formally manufactured and distributed in the form of cigarettes.  Interestingly doctors were featured in promotional cigarette ads in the 1930s.  However, the ill effects of tobacco were identified long before this and Massachusetts state law banned smoking in public in 1632.

Nicotine is a stimulant and a very addictive substance contained in tobacco.  It is extremely easy to become addicted to nicotine.  With repeated exposure to the chemical, the brain’s nicotinic receptors crave more and drive the need to smoke at higher levels.  Nicotine is well known for its pleasurable physiological and psychological side effects.  These pleasurable side effects result in addiction to the substance and make it difficult to quit smoking, even when an individual is highly motivated to stop.  Tobacco companies have complicated this addiction by adding numerous other addictive chemicals that strengthen the difficulty in quitting, making cigarettes the most common form of chemical dependency in this country.

Use of cigarettes in the United States (U.S.) has dropped considerably since an all-time consumption high of 640 billion cigarettes in 1981.  Currently the U.S. consumption is about half that volume but smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illnesses and death in this country; attributing....

What you should know about influenza or flu vaccines

Influenza or the “flu” is a contagious viral disease that occurs every winter in the US from October to May.  While anyone can get a “flu” infection, some people are especially vulnerable and at risk for severe disease.  Each year thousands of people die from influenza infections and many more are hospitalized.  Getting your annual flu vaccine is the best protection against the flu and its complications.

The influenza virus is spread by coughing, sneezing and close contact.  The symptoms can occur quite suddenly. Typical symptoms are high fevers and chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache and runny nose.  Although anyone can get the flu, children, people over 65 years old, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions are at risk for severe disease and complication. 

The flu virus is always changing. Each year the flu vaccine is made to protect from the virus strains most likely to cause disease.  Typically the vaccine protects against 3-4 different influenza types. It takes 2 weeks to develop protection after the influenza vaccine is given.

Which flu vaccine is best for me?

Two types of influenza vaccine are currently available. It is always best to talk with your physician about which vaccine is best for you and your children.  The two different available vaccines are:

How you can get the most out of your office visit

To some, when a possible problem gets to the point where we decide to “have it looked at,” there are many questions that come up. If you are like me, I have several questions to ask. However, by the time the check in happens and all the tests are performed, I forget most of my questions. Or, sometimes, I feel like there is no more time to have them answered. Often times I make up excuses for why I didn’t ask. My frequent one is that they, or I, didn’t have the time.

Time may be limited sometimes, but asking the right questions really helps. Some of the best answers you get about your hearing come from very simple questions that you wrote down ahead of time (so nobody forgets). I have listed a few below to help us all make sure you get the answers you want, at the time you want them.

More tips for feeding picky eaters

In my last post, I shared a few tips about what to expect and how to help encourage your child to eat more. Here are some more tips to help your child eat more variety of foods, including more vegetables:

How can I get my child to eat more variety?

  • Offer a "nibble tray". At snack time, fill a muffin tin or ice cube tray with bite-sized portions of colorful, nutritious foods. Try cooked macaroni, cheese cubes, kidney beans, grape halves, broccoli florets, ready-to- eat cereal, and canned pineapple tidbits.
  • Let children cook. Your child is more likely to eat what he has helped to make.
  • Children can help wash vegetables, tear up lettuce, scrub potatoes, or stir batter.
  • Be playful. Call these finger foods playful names that a two-year-old can appreciate, such as: apple moons (thinly sliced), avocado boats (a quarter of an avocado), banana wheels, broccoli trees (steamed broccoli florets), carrot swords (cooked and thinly sliced), cheese building blocks, egg canoes (hard- boiled egg wedges), little O's (o-shaped cereal). "Olive or raspberry fingers" are much more appealing to be nibbled off their fingertips.
  • Serve new foods over and over again. A food not eaten at first may ...

Healthy tips for parents and kids to help prevent the spread of colds and the flu

Summer has ended, the kids are back in school, and fall is officially here. Which means….cold and flu season is upon us! Hospitals are already seeing documented cases of seasonal influenza. There are no known cures for colds and flu, so cold and flu prevention should be your goal.

Why do we care about preventing influenza? The flu can be very dangerous for children, causing illness, hospital stays and death each year. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports about 20,000 children below the age of 5 are hospitalized from flu complications each year.

The most effective way for preventing the flu is to get the flu shot. It works better than anything else. (Flu vaccination is recommended for all children aged 6 months and older). There are additional strategies you can employ to help ward off those nasty viruses.

Here are 6 tips you can use to help prevent colds and the flu:

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