Don’t Let Your Vacation Sidetrack Your Diet

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Submitted by The Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital….

scaleThe dieting has gotten you ready for vacation, but what to do about the tempting foods once the vacation starts?

Kristi King, registered dietitian with Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, offers some tips to keep your vacation diet on track.

“Eating out while on vacation can be tricky. You want to enjoy and ‘let loose,’ but you also don’t want those unwanted calories and pounds to sneak up on you,” said King.

She offers the following tips:

* Plan ahead: check out restaurants near where you are staying and get an idea of the local cuisine and menus.

* If you’re renting a house or condo, plan to have some meals at “home.” This saves calories and money.

* Get to know the locals: Grocery shop or find a local farmer’s market as soon as you get there.

* Order half portions at meal times or, better yet, split the meal with the family.

* Get active: Walk for your sightseeing tours, swim in the ocean or hotel pool or find other fun activities such as hiking and biking that will get you moving and burning calories.

* Don’t obsess: Don’t stress over calories on vacation. Enjoy the local cuisine and allow yourself small amounts. A good rule of thumb is to limit local treats to one per day.

Don’t Let Diabetes Spoil Your Halloween Fun

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This article is courtesy of the Baylor College of Medicine…..

pumpkinsWhether it’s a festival celebration, a haunted house visit or trick-or-treating, parents of children with diabetes need to be prepared for the sugar-fueled festivities, said experts at Baylor College of Medicine.

“Halloween shouldn’t be scary for children with diabetes or their parents,” said Dr. Maria J. Redondo, associate professor of pediatrics – pediatric diabetes and endocrinology at Baylor. “By planning ahead, children with diabetes can have a fun Halloween without their blood glucose getting too low or too high.”

In type 1 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes in children, insulin injections (or a device that continuously delivers insulin, called an insulin pump) must be taken to regulate sugar levels in the blood stream. People with type 2 diabetes may do well with only diet modifications and exercise, or may require medication in the form of pills or insulin injections.

“When too much sugar is present in the blood stream it causes increased thirst, increased urination, unintended weight loss, tiredness and frequent infections such as urinary or wound infections,” Redondo said. “If untreated, particularly in type 1 diabetes, this situation can progress to a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.”

For a safe Halloween, Redondo offers the following tips for parents:

* Take diabetes supplies on outings

* Focus on costumes, decorating and spending time with family and friends, rather than candy

* Eat the candy at home and count the carbohydrates

* Trade candy for stickers or small toys

* Check blood glucose levels more often than usual

* Check for ketones if blood glucose is elevated

* Stay hydrated

“You may also replace some of the candy with sugar-free sweets,” she said. “However, beware of the amounts because sorbitol, used in place of sugar, can cause diarrhea if consumed in excess.”

By focusing on the fun of the holiday and not restrictions, children with diabetes will have a safe and healthy Halloween.

When Preparing For “Back To School,” Don’t Forget About Healthy After-School Snacks

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groupkidsPreparing a child’s lunch is an important part of the back-to-school routine, but experts at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital say that thinking about healthy after-school snacks is also important to consider.

“Having one-to-two healthy snacks in addition to three meals a day is what is typically recommended for school-aged kids,” said Dr. Teresia O’Connor, assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor and pediatrician at Texas Children’s. “If you’re eating three healthy meals a day, then the snacks should be small, and parents should think of it as an opportunity to get good, healthy nutrition into their child.”

O’Connor recommends picking foods that will help children get the energy they need for the rest of the afternoon while also offering snacks that will help them meet daily nutritional goals. For example, it is recommended that children get at least five fruits and vegetables per day, so a way to achieve this is to offer fruit and vegetable snacks.

“Many kids come home after school having had an early lunch and are pretty hungry, so picking snack foods that will help them feel full, but not over full or stuffed is important. That way they are not ravenous by the time dinner comes around, but hungry enough to eat a healthy meal” said O’Connor.

O’Connor suggests incorporating proteins and whole grains for satiety and also combining fruits and vegetables with proteins and whole grains. See her recommendations here.

What to avoid

She notes that snacks to keep to a minimum are those with added or excess sugar, such as candy, cookies; as well as fried foods, such as chips. These snacks should be the exception, not the rule.

“Everything can be eaten in moderation, but those kinds of foods are the ‘every now and then’ types of food and not the ‘go-to every day’ as an afternoon snack,” she said.

Snacks can be important

O’Connor emphasizes the importance of giving children a healthy snack to be sure they are able to focus on their homework and have the energy to engage in playtime or sports. However, make sure that the snack is healthy and has good nutrients in it instead of a high-calorie snack that does not have many nutrients but adds a lot of fat and sugar.

Timing of snacks

What time children have a snack varies on what your family schedule is like. Snacks should not be eaten less than an hour before dinner, because children may then not be as hungry for dinner. A healthy snack allows them to avoid being extremely hungry for dinner and eating too fast or more than they need.

“Snacks provide that balance so that you go into dinner feeling a little bit hungry but not ravenous,” said O’Connor.

After-school care

If kids are in an after-school program, check to see if the program offers snacks and talk to program leaders to see if they are healthy. If the snacks are not healthy, talk to the program coordinator to see if you can pack something small and healthy for your child.

After-school sports

boysoccerIf children are involved in after school sports, it can be important for them to have a snack before they spend an hour or two in physical activity after the school day.

“Proteins and whole grains are going to stay with them a lot longer than a candy bar. The kind of nutrients you get from proteins and whole grains give you energy for a much longer sustained time than processed simple sugars,” said O’Connor.

Healthy drinks

It is also important to think about what your kids are drinking – be sure they are not taking in empty calories and excess sugars from their drinks. Try to avoid sodas, sports drinks and fruit drinks.

Instead, try to incorporate a glass of water or a glass of skim milk.

“I find that a lot of kids don’t get adequate hydration during the day,” said O’Connor. “Try getting your kids used to drinking a glass of water when they get home to make sure they’re keeping their bodies hydrated.”

Older children

Many middle school and high school students arrive home before their parents, and O’Connor says parents should be sure they are creating an environment where these teens are more likely to pick healthy snacks rather than unhealthy snacks. This means making sure foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain crackers and low-fat yogurt without a lot of sugar are available to them and making sure that the pantry is not full of potato chips, candies and cookies.

“Think ahead of time about how you are setting up your pantry and refrigerator and make the environment at home a healthy one,” she said.

Set the example

There are a few things that parents can do to help their kids make healthier choices. The first is getting them involved in helping you pick healthy snacks at the grocery store – they are more likely to eat the foods if they are able to choose themselves. Also, parents should act as role models for healthy eating. If parents come home and have a glass of water and fruits and vegetables, their children are more likely to follow this.

O’Connor also notes that in some cultures, the after-school meal is the main dinner and says that this still fits into a healthy diet as long as there are still only three meals and one-to-two snacks a day.

– Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine

Don’t Get Sucked Into The Latest Fad Diet

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By Kelly Brown

redapplerulerFadA fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period of time; a craze.

Everyone wants to be fit and healthy. We all know how to achieve said fitness (through diet and exercise), but the majority of people still fail to lose the weight and keep it off. Why? Because getting healthy sounds hard. Can’t we just take a pill instead? We don’t want to work; we want a quick fix. And a quick fix is exactly what fad diets promise. Drink only water for a week! Only eat foods that start with the letter “C”. Lose 15 pounds in one week! They sound great, but they actually end up hurting us or making us worse off!

Why Fad Diets Don’t Work

The number one reason why fad diets don’t work is because they aren’t sustainable. Most fad diets are not healthy enough for long term use. And once you go off the diet, the weight reappears… sometimes multiplied! Many fad diets either starve you for a short period of time or don’t supply you with all the nutrients and vitamins you need to live a healthy life. Without these nutrients, you won’t have any energy for exercising or enjoying life.

To really get fit and change your life, you need to make long term life changes. That sounds serious and scary. Change is hard. So it is important to start small and build from there. That is how you can make lasting changes, instead of fleeting attempts at change, which leave you feeling like a failure.

Some Tips to Get Started Without Changing Anything

Whenever you are changing a habit, it is good to start small. Don’t start going to the gym every day if you’ve never gone before. That is a recipe for burnout. Instead, start with the smallest of steps. These tips will help you lose weight without consciously changing anything. What is easier than that?

1) Write down everything you eat. This simple step brings your awareness to what you are eating and holds you accountable. It only works if you really write down EVERYTHING. Don’t lie to yourself. Next time you go for that piece of cake, you will think twice if you know you have to record it on paper. (or in your cell phone)

2) Wear a pedometer. This will, once again, bring your subconscious awareness to your daily habits. You will want to walk more when you see how much (or how little) walking you are actually doing.

There. Two easy changes that don’t require you to actually change anything at all. Do yourself a favor, and try these steps instead of the newest fad diet. The New You will thank yourself.

– Kelly Brown is a writer for the site Medical Base. She is interested in healthy living and health products.

Schools Don’t Sacrifice Academics For Athletics

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vectorboysoccerFrom Your Health Journal…..”I have not promoted the Education Week web site in a while, as it is one of my favorite web sites. Recently, I found an article by Bryan Toporek called Schools Don’t Sacrifice Academics For Athletics. So many times here, we have discussed the correlation between physical activity and cognitive skills. In fact, I 100% believe that children who regularly participate in sport and fitness (as well as physical education) benefit academically. Related to this, academic and athletic success may actually be correlated. The authors of a recent study found that schools which emphasize athletic success and participation also tended to have higher scores on standardized tests and higher graduation rates. The authors of the study call for further research into determining whether there is a causal relationship between athletic and academic success. Still, they’re confident enough to say, based on their findings, that winning on the field and winning in the classroom tend to go hand in hand. Please visit and support the Education Week web site (link provided below) to read the complete article.”

From the article…..

High schools that succeed athletically are not necessarily punting on their academic success, according to an analysis published recently in the Journal of Research in Education.

As it turns out, academic and athletic success may actually be correlated. The authors found that schools which emphasize athletic success and participation also tended to have higher scores on standardized tests and higher graduation rates.

The authors, Jay P. Greene, the head of the department of education reform at the University of Arkansas, and Daniel H. Bowen, a distinguished doctoral fellow of education policy at the university, set out to investigate the link between athletic success and academic success in Ohio high schools.

They weren’t initially sure what they’d find. In the introduction of the analysis, the authors theorize that “producing success in one arena” (athletics) might cause a reduced “investment in success in another” (academics). However, they also suggest “the potential for synergies in education,” with athletics being able to teach students skills such as self-discipline.

As it turns out, the latter theory appears to be more on target.

The authors examined data from 657 public high schools in Ohio over a five-year span and found that “a school’s commitment to athletics is positively related to academic success,” according to the analysis. A 10 percentage point increase in a school’s overall winning percentage was associated with a 1.3 percentage point increase in an estimate of its high school graduation rate.

Football produced the largest impact of any sport, but each sport analyzed “independently produces a positive, significant effect,” the authors found.

The number of sports that each high school offers also appeared to have an effect on academic success. The estimated graduation rate of a high school rose by 0.3 percentage points for every new sport added.

Athletic success also appeared to be correlated with academic proficiency. Increasing a school’s overall winning percentage by 10 percentage points was associated with a 0.25 percentage point increase in the number of students achieving academic proficiency or better. Adding one sport increased the number of students reaching academic proficiency by 0.2 of a percentage point, the authors found.

To read the full article…..Click here

Don’t Skimp On Vital Eye Examinations

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By Chelsea Hasbrouck

eyeWhile all five major senses – vision, smell, taste, touch and hearing – are important, your sense of vision is arguably the most important. Protecting your vision by having regular eye examinations is an essential element of maintaining good health. Eye examinations often disclose serious eye conditions in their early stages, when they are more easily corrected. However, eye examinations may also uncover serious diseases not related to vision, such as diabetes, hypertension, or abnormally high cholesterol levels. Cost should not be a factor in whether you receive eye exams. Various community organizations conduct eye examinations free or at low cost to those who cannot otherwise afford them.

Eye Exams for Children

The vast majority of material children absorb in school is presented visually. This is especially true as computers and smart classrooms become increasingly prominent in every level of education, beginning with preschool. Detecting vision problems while children are young can save years of frustration and faltering grades.

Under normal circumstances, the American Optometric Association, abbreviated as AOA, recommends that children receive their first eye exam at six months of age.

Under normal circumstances, the American Optometric Association, abbreviated as AOA, recommends that children receive their first eye exam at six months of age. Children without risk factors should have subsequent exams at age three and right before they begin school. After beginning school, children should continue to have regular examinations every two years until reaching 18.

Children who have risk factors for vision problems, including low birth weight, developmental disabilities, strabismus (also called crossed eyes) or a family history of eye diseases should have their first examinations before they are six months old. More frequent eye exams are usually called for during childhood. Specifically, children who wear contact lenses or eyeglasses should have eye exams every year, the AOA advises.

Eye Exams for Adults

seniorcoupleexercisesmallAfter reaching adulthood, healthy individuals should have comprehensive eye examinations every two years between the ages of 18 and 60, the AOA recommends. Adults with risk factors such as a family history of glaucoma should have more frequent examinations. Adults who wear contact lenses or eyeglasses, as well as seniors over age 60, should have an eye examination every year, according to the AOA.

Free and Low Cost Eye Exams

Eye examinations vary in cost according to where they are conducted and the type of medical professional conducts the examination. In general, examinations conducted in optical department of retail outlets are less expensive than exams conducted in doctors’ offices or a medical clinic. Eye exams conducted by ophthalmologists who are trained to perform all phases of eye care including surgery, are generally more expensive than those conducted by optometrists – doctors who are authorized to prescribe corrective lenses and vision aids, but who do not perform surgery. Exams conducted by opticians, professionals trained to fit and repair glasses and contact lenses are even less expensive than those conducted by physicians.

If cost is a barrier, adults and children who need eye exams have a variety of options. InfantSEE is a program conducted by the AOA to provide examinations to infants from six to twelve months of age, regardless of income. Older children and adults who need eye examination but who cannot afford them may be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare. Organizations such as Lions Club International, and EyeCare America, a program conducted by the American Academy of Ophthalmology also provide eye examinations to adults at no charge.

– Chelsea Hasbrouck is an optical technician that is studying optometry. She enjoys sharing her findings and insights on health blogs. is an online contact lens retailer. Visit the link for more information.