Halloween: costumes, frights, and CANDY! The special joys of Halloween are enjoyed by millions each year. However like most big events or holidays, fun can quickly turn negative if proper safety and health precautions are not followed or taken seriously.
Make yourself visible - You or your child may be dressed in costumes that are made to be dark and replicate something that goes “bump in the night”. While this may be creepy and fun, others that are out and about will most likely not be able to see you. Get a flashlight for each person in your trick or treat party and consider reflective bands or glow sticks to add even more visibility. Be sure to walk, not run, to your next designation. This will give drivers time to see you! Stay on designated walking trails or pathways. If you’re going to be in an area without sidewalks or walkways, reach out to your local police station and ask what they recommend. Staying in areas well lit by street lights also helps!
Candy - Who doesn’t love candy? Halloween is sure to provide plenty of sweet treats for the entire family. Although the holiday only comes once a year, it is still a good idea to limit how much you eat. Also be sure to check for tampering or damaged candies that may be better to discard for safety. Depending on your child’s age, checking for choking hazards may be vital as well.
Costumes - Costume accessories should be soft, flexible, and short. If a costume has weapon replicas, make sure they have orange tips to indicate they are fake. If you or your child’s costume requires face or body paint, test a small area of skin days before ever applying it to an entire area. This will let you make sure there will be no allergic reactions that could ruin a fun night!
Lit candles and luminaries - Always step around open flames and make sure costumes do not drag or get close to them. For an extra layer of safety, only purchase flame-resistant costumes. It never hurts to be safe!
Taking extra precautions won’t put a damper on fun but will be sure to help you and your loved ones stay safe! Visit SafeKids.org for even more Halloween health and safety tips!
Monday, October 10, 2016
How many times a day do you really need to clear your head and concentrate? Concentration is often needed in your every day life from everything from work to driving down the road. In a world full of electronic gadgets, noise, and multi-tasking, finding time to concentrate so that you may do your best is often near impossible. Studies have shown that certain modern day luxuries along with basic human concerns are making our ability to focus near impossible. Eliminating distractions is vital to ultimate concentration.
Log out of social media: Closing your browsers and apps aren’t enough. If you’re like most, you may have notifications set up to let you know about different actions that take place. If you’d rather not disable notifications, turn your device on silent and put it away. If you’re logged in on a desktop, close out all open windows connected to social media.
Push stress away: Having too much on your plate can make it hard to concentrate on individual tasks. It is too easy to let your brain get off track on the current task to think about other things or jobs that lie ahead. Try to learn stress reducing techniques such as meditation or doodling until your brain clears. Research has found that activities that require energy or movement of some sort are better to clear your mind.
Sleep, sleep, and more sleep: Fatigue is often enemy #1! Being tired can ruin your concentration even when other distractions aren’t present. Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. Instead of trying to finish things or staying up late, make sleep a priority. Your mental and physical well being will thank you. Set up alarm clocks to help you wake up and remind you when it’s bed time.
Food is fuel: The brain can’t function without fuel. Skipping meals, breakfast especially, can set you up for a whole day of mental fog. Talk with your doctor or nutritionist about how many meals and snacks you should eat daily. Typically, high protein foods like cheese and nuts can quickly eliminate hunger and help you to focus.
If you find that natural means aren’t helping your concentration or mind, talk with your doctor about other options. They will be able to ask more questions and help you to determine if you have any other options.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Fall is rapidly approaching! Despite still being a few weeks away, pumpkin has already taken over and seems to be everywhere! Sure, it makes a great flavor addition to desserts and coffee and it is certainly a must for decorating. But did you know that pumpkin is actually excellent for your health?
To start, pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps with skin health, the immune system, and even eyesight. In relation to vitamin A, pumpkin also contains beta-cryptoxanthin which helps reduce the risk of developing inflammatory diseases. It is actually ranked as one of the top beta-cryptoxanthin containing foods and is highly recommended by rheumatologists across the world.
Pumpkin is also an excellent source of healthy fats. Seeds, in particular, are full of protein, zinc, and a plethora of other vitamins and minerals. They are also a source of unsaturated fat, fiber, and various antioxidants. One cup of pumpkin contains nearly 12 grams of protein and about half of the average individual’s recommend daily dose of magnesium. Pumpkin seeds can be roasted freshly in your oven with little preparation and are an easy snack to take with you on the run. Their easy preparation, affordability, and shelf life make them a must have snack.
Potassium is essential for our hearts and muscles to be strong and to work properly and optimally. One cup of pumpkin contains over 500mg of potassium making it one of the highest sources amongst various fruits and vegetables. Because of pumpkin’s high potassium levels, it is great to eat post workout since it has been found to help with electrolyte and muscle recovery. Try adding a few bites of pumpkin to your post workout routine to get the benefits listed above and to help with recovery.
Unfortunately, like most fruits and vegetables, pumpkin tends to be seasonal and can be hard to find throughout the year. Although canned foods can lack the nutrients and vitamins found in fresh versions, canned pumpkin still maintains enough of its benefits to be useful and enjoyed. Keep cans in your pantry for a quick addition or substitution in your favorite recipes or as a snack.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Sure – pets are adorable! They provide companionship and purpose. But did you know that owning a pet can actually help with your health? Spending time with and caring for a pet can help with both your mental and physical health in a variety of ways.
Getting more active – If you have a pet that has to be taken outside frequently, by default you get exercise, fresh air, and sun. Studies have shown that dog owners walk more and tend to have lower blood pressure than those who don’t. These studies also went on to show that heart attack survivors and others with serious heart conditions who owned pets went on to live longer than those with the same conditions and no pets.
Socialization – People who have pets often connect easier with other individuals, particularly those with pets themselves. Taking out pets also helps to start conversations with random people and may help to build friendships. There have been a great deal of studies done showing that pets are great for those with social anxiety! In some areas, pets are even being “prescribed” as emotional support tools in lieu of medications!
Stress relief – Petting and scratching on a pet is a proven way to help alleviate stress levels. Loving on your pet helps your body to release a relaxation hormone while also helping to cut down levels of stress hormones. Focusing on your pet also helps to take your mind off of other things that may be bothering you.
Companionship – It’s no secret that pets help to eliminate loneliness. But they can also help to improve your mood and general outlook on life. Scientists believe that pets help to give life meaning and encourage responsibility. Those with anxiety or depression are often particularly helped by this.
Certain allergies may keep you away from ever owning a specific animal. If you do have allergies, talk with your doctor before adopting a new pet. Your doctor will most likely be able to offer you resources to which options are best for you and your family. Although a pet may help with some health issues, they could also wreak havoc on your allergies. Also check with local regulations and housing codes to ensure that your pet is “legal” where you live. Taking on a pet is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly. Make sure that everyone in your family is on board to help love and take care of it before ever beginning the process. Reach out to local pet organizations and rescues for other information and help making the right choice for your health and family.
Friday, July 29, 2016
There are many reasons to start a new diet or change your eating habits completely. Perhaps you want to be healthier or maybe your doctor recommended changes. Regardless of the reason, changing your diet isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Eating habits are just like any other habit and can take some work to change. Setting up a plan before you start can help to eliminate some of the challenges you may encounter as well as help to make sure you don’t end up too overwhelmed.
Set a proper eating plan- A proper eating plan should include foods you enjoy along and nuts. Try to pick low calorie foods that will “stick” with you and help you to feel full along with satisfying your palette. Be sure to eat foods with a good deal of fiber as well.
If you are able, slowly wean yourself off of your favorite foods that are heavily processed or unhealthy. Do research and try to replace your old favorites with new, healthy options. There are many recipes available to help you get a specific flavor you may crave while using healthy ingredients.
If you have any allergies or specific nutritional needs, have your doctor or a dietician look over your plan to find any gaps or to provide recommendations on how to better it. They may recommend vitamins or supplements to go along with your plan.
Set Realistic Goals – Regardless of if you are trying to lose weight or just change your diet for other health reasons, be sure to set realistic goals. Being realistic helps you to have long term success. Set up a reasonable time line for your changes to occur!
Take small steps – Change can be hard! By making small changes over a period of time, you’ll find that new eating habits sink in better. Some experts suggest making just one change each week, to give you time to get used to the new behavior. You want your new habits to last a lifetime so don’t attempt to rush it!
Get started by stocking your fridge and cabinets with healthy food. Avoid stocking unhealthy foods! By keeping better options around, when you get hungry you have no choice but to pick a good option.
Team up – The “buddy system” is fantastic for major lifestyle changes such as diet! Support is an essential part of any habit change. Even if you can’t find someone to team up with in person, check out online communities. In the digital age we live in, support can be found in many places!
Track your meals – Keep either a physical or digital diary of your meals including snacks. If you are aiming for a calorie specific diet, be sure to keep track of each food item’s calories. There are many apps and books available to help you!