Happy Halloween!

All month long, kids look forward to the final day of October. The 31st means staying out later than usual, running around the neighborhood with friends, dressing up, carving pumpkins and pillowcases full of treats. While children see this as a field day, some parents can’t help but worry about the health and safety of their children on Halloween. Proceeding are some helpful tips to ensure everyone can enjoy the festivities!

Crafts

For the little ones who can’t carve pumpkins, painting or using markers are great alternatives for decorating pumpkins. Or, allow the kids to draw the outline of what’s to be carved. Then, after an adult cuts the top off, have the kids scoop out the fruit and the seeds of the pumpkin. This is a great way to keep children involved in the carving process without having to worry about knife safety.

Miniature ghost puppets made of cotton balls, popsicle sticks,  tissues, string and makers are a simplistic craft that any age can enjoy. How? Lay the tissues flat. Place a popsicle stick with cotton balls glued to either side of it, in the center of the tissue. Wrap the tissues around the cotton balls. (The cotton balls create the head of the ghost.) Tie the tissues in place around the cotton balls and popsicle stick with string. Then, draw your ghost’s face!

Construction paper cut-outs to make witch’s hats, jack-o-lanterns, ghosts and monsters allow kids to be creative and construct decorations for any door or wall in the house.

Costumes

Before sending kids out, make sure they are dressed for the weather. Layering up underneath costumes can help prevent a sick princess or cowboy tomorrow. Utilizing bright colors in costumes can help kids stand out in the dark while trick-or-treating and using face paint rather than a mask can help ensure safety, too! Even for the parents, don’t dress in something your child won’t be able to recognize you in once the street lights come on. 

Trick-or-Treating

Go in groups! Let Halloween be a time for the kids of the neighborhood to come together as a community. Traveling in a group will not only make sure the kids are safe, but it can also teach the kids social skills. Emphasizing the importance of a community at an early age can be incredibly beneficial for a child later in life.

Treats

You can’t control what others hand out for Halloween, but you can control what you give and what you allow your child to consume. Switching out candy for toys, coupons or healthier snacks like granola bars or pretzels aren’t bad ideas. When kids empty their pillowcases, go through the candy with them. Throw out anything that looks tampered with or that is open. Ration out the candy in a way that works for you and your child or trade out the candy for something with less of a negative impact on their nutrition.

With these tips, we wish you a healthy, safe and happy Halloween!

For more information, please visit the links that were utilized in creating this post:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/halloween-safety/CC00072

http://www.pinterest.com/produceforkids/happy-healthy-halloween/

http://www.pinterest.com/jvanthul/halloween-crafts-ideas/

Portion Control

In a world of all-you-can-eat style dining, super-sized options and bottomless servings, it’s no wonder society’s idea of what constitutes a “normal portion” is skewed. At fast food joints, the old large became the new medium and the new large now requires two hands to hold. People assume upgrading to the super-sized option for an extra $0.89, or chowing down at an all-you-can-eat buffet is really getting their bang for their buck. In reality, society is purchasing a one-way ticket to obesity, heart complications, and sky-high pharmaceutical and medical bills. Granted, eating until the button on your pants pops one or two times isn’t going to cause a huge detriment to your health; allowing these eating habits to become part of your daily routine, can. To prevent this from happening, here are some ways to remind us all what exactly is a healthy portion…

First and foremost, you eat with your eyes before anything else. When you’re “starving”, filling an entire plate with food seems logical- to your eyes. But, have you noticed the sizes of our plates? A platter and plate should not be interchangeable! Utilizing smaller plates will first and foremost keep your portion sizes down while still thinking you’re getting the satisfaction of a full platter-sized plate.

Second, tailor your portions to your lifestyle. If you’re physically active for multiple hours a day, the nutrients your body needs will vary significantly from those needed for a couch potato. Eat to replenish your body with nutrients, not until you’re stuffed. Also, by eating at a slower pace, you gain the sensation of being full faster. So, enjoy your meal- don’t make it a race.

Finally, use familiar objects when thinking of correct portion sizes. For example, when preparing protein, the portion should be no larger than a deck of cards. Or, if you’re indulging in frozen yogurt, the healthy portion size is said to be half of the size of a baseball. Inkling for a baked potato? Make sure it’s no larger than a desktop mouse. Having waffles or pancakes for breakfast? Measure up with a CD! By comparing portion sizes with things you can easily visualize in your head, you can ensure you’re preparing the healthiest portions!

Questions about this topic? Check out the trusted links below that were utilized in creating this post!

http://www.sharecare.com/health/diet-nutrition/article/how-to-pick-the-perfect-portion

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/are-you-overeating-guide-serving-sizes

http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/serving-sizes/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition-pictures/picturing-proper-portion-sizes.aspx#/slide-1

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/nutrition-labels-10/slideshow-serving-sizes

“Keep Calm & Carry On”

Regardless of the extremity, stress is an every day occurrence. Stress comes in all forms and different triggers affect people in varying ways. Whether it be financial, mental, physical, emotional, or social stress- stress affects. Depending on personal preference and the type of stress that you’re feeling, there are different ways to handle stress. According to MedlinePlus, managing stress can include a physical or emotional alteration. The outcome of a stressful situation solely relies on how a person chooses to respond. If a stress management technique is not implemented, the body is continuously on high-alert which can result in more serious health problems.

In order to avoid or beat stress, maintaining a healthy diet and remaining active are very important. By providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly, physical stress will be less likely to occur. Working out is a good outlet for stress and releases endorphins into the body, producing a good mood.

Relax- whatever that means to you. Whether you find going for a walk, taking a break, listening to music, writing or reading to be relaxing- do it. Finding ways to help you calm down and reach a state of relaxation is essential to stress management. Avoiding alcohol or caffeine and surrounding yourself with a good support system or being social are other ways to keep stress at bay.

HelpGuide.org explains how beneficial the ‘Four A’s’ can be to dealing with stress: Avoid the stressor, Alter the stressor, Adapt the stressor and Accept the stressor. The ‘Four A’s’ can be practiced through avoiding stressful situations, learning to cut back on your “to-do list”, being assertive, learning to compromise, looking at the big picture, focusing on the positives, sharing your feelings and accepting what cannot be changed.

One of the most important things to remember is that stress is normal. Life comes equipped with stressors; be sure to equip yourself with the proper mindset and tactics to avoid being consumed by the stress.

 

For more information on stress and how to handle stressful situations, you can either seek advice from your doctor or from the websites listed below that were used in the creation of this post:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001942.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-management/MY00435

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm

The Fruit of Fall

Whether it has been on a refrigerator magnet, wrapped around a pencil from the “Treasure Chest” at the doctor’s office, or told to you by your grandmother, we’ve all heard the expression “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” What’s the truth behind this old saying? Will eating an apple a day really improve health?

According to a Canadian magazine source, there are at least 15 health benefits to eating an apple/sauce or drinking apple juice. Before diving into the list, the magazine article states “in 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size. Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectively,” (Best Health, 2013). Antioxidants are a staple to the body’s defense to oxidation and are essential to a healthy diet. The other 15 health benefits listed are:

  1. Whiter and healthier teeth- Chewing an apple increases saliva and decreases bacteria in the mouth.
  2. Avoid Alzheimer’s- Drinking apple juice can help fight the effects of an aging mind and increase the levels of acetylcholine.
  3. Protect against Parkinson’s- Fruit and fiber consumption (fiber is also found in apples) creates a protection against Parkinson’s.
  4. Curb all sorts of cancers- Compounds found in the peel of an apple help reduce the growth of caner cells in the liver, colon, and breast.
  5. Decrease risk of diabetes- women who eat apples at least once a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type two diabetes than women who don’t eat apples.
  6. Reduce cholesterol- Fiber from the apple captures the fat in your intestines reducing cholesterol.
  7. Get a healthier heart- Fiber and compounds in the peel of the apple work to prevent cholesterol build up in your arteries.
  8. Prevent gallstones- Again, the fiber is at work to reduce cholesterol build ups that could turn into gallstones.
  9. Regulate bathroom usage- The fiber in the apple’s peel helps the irregular bathroom-goers become more regular.
  10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome- IBS is affected by the consumption of foods containing dairy or are high in fat. An apple, neither a dairy or fatty food, and a good source of fiber, can help the IBS flares.
  11. Avert hemorrhoids- Hemorrhoids are created by straining to use the restroom. The fiber in the apple that helps regulate the system will prevent the discomfort of hemorrhoids.
  12. Control your weight- Foods that contain fiber are also said to be more fulfilling. Snacking on an apple can curb appetites and eliminate overeating.
  13. Detoxify your liver- Fruits are the best foods to aid in the removal of toxins in the liver.
  14. Boost your immune system- Red apples house quercetin, an antioxidant proven to help boost the immune system.
  15. Prevent cataracts- Those who’s diets consist of fruits high in antioxidants are ten to fifteen percent less likely to develop cataracts later in life.

Apples aren’t just healthy for humans- a study showed that the consumption of apples reduced bone loss in animals, according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website. The link below for WHF provides nutritional facts, quick recipes, and even a glimpse at the history of the apple.

Clearly, there are many health benefits to consuming apples, especially on a regular basis. Apples are a quick, healthy, and snack you can feel good about. So, it seems as though there is some truth behind the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

For more information about the health benefits of apples, please visit the sites below that were utilized in creating this post.

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/nutrition/15-health-benefits-of-eating-apples

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=15&tname=foodspice

How sick is too sick?

With the cold and flu season underway, there’s one question left on the avid gym-goer’s mind: Should I still work out if I’m sick? While digging for the undiscovered answer, helpful guidelines were found…

The most common– know by the neck. If symptoms are being harbored below the neck, stay on the couch. Do not push your body if you have an upset or achy stomach, muscle tension or pains, and cough or congestion in the chest. Those running shoes won’t do your body any good; stick to the slippers in this instance. Experiencing a runny nose, sore throat, or sinus pressure? These symptoms, above the neck, can actually be reduced through physical activity; lace up the tennies!

Tailor the workout for your body’s condition. While fighting off bugs, viruses, and bacteria, you don’t want to overwork your body. Health.com suggests walking or lightly jogging for twenty-odd minutes to break up head congestion. Low intensity yoga, dancing,  biking and swimming are also considered to be good exercises to resort to while sick. Things to avoid? Working out close to others, in cold temperatures outdoors, or in a team sport. Lifting weight and utilizing gym equipment are also suggested to avoid- even if the equipment is wiped down.

Stay hydrated. By drinking plenty of water, you can help flush your system and give your body the extra energy it needs.

Your body is the boss. Listen to it. While you’re working out, if your symptoms aren’t improving or are becoming worse, stop! Your body is telling you that you are pushing it too hard and to rest. If you need it, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat healthily. Give your body what it needs to get you back to feeling like yourself again.

So, who wins? Slippers or the tennis shoes? It’s up to you!

For more information on working out while you’re sick, please visit the following websites that were utilized to create this post:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20719696,00.html

http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/exercise-while-sick-expert-advice-preventioncom

http://news.menshealth.com/are-you-too-sick-to-work-out/2012/01/17/

234,580. 40,030.

234,580 cases. 10,490 women in Pennsylvania. 40,030 deaths. In 2013, these are the estimated numbers for those that will personally be affected by new cases of breast cancer. 1,660,290 new cases of cancer will emerge this year, as well.

October serves as the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). Although many organizations dedicate year-round efforts to the cause, the tenth month of the year brings the organizations together to propel the drive the similar mission of each group forward.

The NBCAM is a collaboration of national public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to services.

The NBCAM has been around for over twenty-five years and, as stated on their website, “has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues…” Along with promoting awareness, NBCAM urges women to take more care of their breasts’ health. The wesbite also includes a list of additional organizations that, too, dedicate time to promoting the awareness of the consuming cancer.

One of the organizations listed is Susan G. Koman for the Cure. This organization started three decades ago as a promise Nancy made to her dying sister, Susan. Nancy promised Susan to dedicate her life to finding a way to end breast cancer forever. After thirty years, the organization is well on its way of fulfilling this promise. So far, Susan G. Koman for the Cure has dedicated nearly $2 billion to the fulfillment of this promise, according to Nancy G. Brinker, founder of the roganization. The site is a cornucopia of information, event details, message boards and blogs, support groups, merchandise, donor information, and more.

Although this cause deserves attention and resources year-round, the month of October is the time to truly get involved to put an end to the devastating and consuming disease. Holding an awareness event, creating a fundraiser, or even conducting monthly self-checks can help keep the alarming statistics from rising even higher. For more information about breast cancer or how you can help, please visit the links below or your family-preferred physician.

Sources Used: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@epidemiologysurveilance/documents/document/acspc-036845.pdf

http://www.nbcam.org/

http://ww5.komen.org/AboutUs/AboutUs.html

It’s that time of year again…

It’s time to break out the extra boxes of Kleenex, over-sized sweaters and preferred decongestants. Your favorite blanket and collection of DVDs aren’t bad ideas either. October marks the unofficial start to the dreaded cold and flu season which means now is the perfect time to stock up on those cold and flu weapons and necessities, like:

  • Hand soap and sanitizing products- help out your immune system!
  • Plenty of rest and reducing stress- both of these can help increase the productivity of your immune system.
  • Gym time- higher body temperature means viruses can’t survive!
  • Soups, teas, and juices- great for hydration, gentle on the stomach, and can help those congested sinuses.
  • Humidifier- Increasing the moisture in the air can aid in sinus pressure and sore/dry throat.
  • Appropriate medication- antibiotics won’t help cure a cold or flu because they are caused by viruses, not bacteria.
  • Vitamin C- helps reduce the amount of time you’re sick for.
  • Influenza vaccine- this shot can help prevent the flu virus from attacking.

Catching your cold or flu at the beginning stages is important so you can get back on your feet and feeling better, faster. Fighting your sickness early-on can also prevent the cold or flu from morphing into something even worse. 

When you are sick, remember that your body is putting in over-time to fight the virus. Providing your body with what it needs, like the proper nutrition, can only help. Also, be mindful of those around you; do your best to keep your germs to yourself by sneezing or coughing into the crease of your elbow, washing your hands regularly, and if possible, stay home!

The link below provides more tips for prevention and further explanations. For more information, check it out!

http://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ss/slideshow-cold-flu-tips