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Your Child

Healthier Choices for Students in School Lunch Lines

1:30

School lunches have changed over the years and in many school cafeterias, food options are healthier than ever before, according to a new study.

Elementary school cafeterias are offering more vegetables, fresh fruit, salad bars, whole grains and more healthy pizzas, while the availability of high-fat milks, fried potatoes and regular pizza has decreased, researchers report.

"School food service programs have worked hard to improve the nutritional quality of school lunches, and largely have been very successful," said lead researcher Lindsey Turner, director of the Initiative for Healthy Schools at Boise State University, in Idaho.

Although in some schools food choices are improving, that’s not the case everywhere. Turner noted that more work needs to be done to make sure every student has the same healthy choices in the lunch line.

In the study of more than 4,600 elementary schools that are part of the U.S. National School Lunch Program, researchers found that school lunches improved significantly between 2006-2007 and 2013-2014.

Despite improvements in food choices, disparities were still found. For example, schools in the West were more likely to offer salad bars than schools in the Northeast, Midwest or South, the researchers found.

Schools with a majority of black or Hispanic children were less likely to offer fresh fruit than schools with a preponderance of white students.

Also, schools in poor areas were less likely to offer salads regularly.

Over the course of the study, Midwestern schools slightly reduced offering pre-made salads in favor of salad bars, but Southern schools were more likely to offer pre-made salads and less likely to have salad bars, the researchers found.

On the other side of offering healthier foods is choosing to eat those foods. Just because there are better food options available, doesn’t mean that kids will eat them. One expert noted that it takes time and effort for kids to change their eating habits. It not only has to look good, it has to taste good.

"It is not only important to improve the quality of school lunches but to make these foods attractive, tasty, easily seen and accessible," said Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center, in New York City.

Studies have found that putting fresh fruit in a nice bowl, in a conveniently located, well-lit area in the school cafeteria increased sales of fruit by 102 percent, she noted.

"A brightly lit, hot-and-cold salad bar filled with colorful fresh fruits, vegetables, beans and nuts, mushroom and spinach pizza, and veggie tacos center-stage in the lunchroom would be very attractive to students and staff alike," Heller said.

This approach works well at home, too, she added.

"Kids are more likely to grab healthy foods like cut-up melon, carrots, peppers, edamame and hummus when they are upfront and easy to grab in the fridge," Heller said.

The study was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.

Story source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/food-and-nutrition-news-316/america-s-school-lunches-getting-healthier-study-709097.html

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Fight the Flu

The Facts About Flu Season

Daily Dose

Fit Foods for a Healthy Lifestyle

1:15 to read

Wherever you are on your healthy lifestyle journey, you are not alone.  I tell my patients that the key to being healthy is being disciplined in eating the right foods, staying active and getting enough sleep...and that’s for both you and your kids.

Committing to your overall health and wellness should start early on.  When you’re pregnant, it doesn’t always mean you’re eating for two. A growing baby needs nourishment from their mother’s diet throughout the day but experts say nutrition during pregnancy should be about adding extra nutrients and not extra meals. Moms to be need to be eating foods that are good for them and their baby.  You just need to choose the right ones.

Avocados are a power food loaded with critical vitamins and minerals pregnant moms need to pass along to their unborn baby.  Nutrients like folate which helps prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Avocados contain powerful antioxidants like lutein an ingredient found in breast milk which is known to protect important cells in a baby’s eye. 

It’s so important for pregnant moms to consume a host vitamins and minerals and avocados are a great resource.  You might say avocados are a very similar to a prenatal vitamin!  And avocados may even help reduce morning sickness!

And the health benefits of avocados don’t stop once your baby is born.  If you’re breastfeeding…avocados are high in monounsaturated fats which are good fats and are important for a baby’s weight gain, growth and brain development. 

Avocados are the perfect first food for your baby.   Between 4 and 6 months you can introduce avocados into your child’s diet.  They work perfectly because they are easily mashed and slightly sweet.  This is a good time to introduce new food textures as well.

What’s the foolproof way to know that your family’s favorite fruit is ripe?  Push lightly near the neck and feel for a gentle yield.  If you’re still not sure it’s ready to eat? Pop the stem button.  If the stem button pops off easily, then the fruit is ready to eat.

Moms and dads…we always put our children first…so don’t forget about yourselves.  Avocados are a fit food fruit.  Studies show avocados may reduce total cholesterol levels while they lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.

Avocados are also loaded with dietary fiber which may help you lose weight and reduce blood sugar spikes.

The next time you’re grocery shopping, make sure you add a few avocados to your cart.  They’re nutritious, heart healthy and taste delicious.  They’re good for you and everyone in your family! What more could you ask for in a fruit?

For more information, visit worldsfinestavocados.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Dose

Track Your Family's Heart Health

1.00 to read

It is the end of Heart Health Month and I found a great way to help everyone with their healthy eating initiative.  Supertracker can help “plan, analyze and track” you and your family’s diet as well as physical activity.  Just go to www.choosemyplate.gov and click on SUPERTRACKER.   

As we all know, the desire to keep our families healthy is what all parents really want.  It is just sometimes overwhelming as to where to start and how to make simple changes.  This website has incorporated the original My Pyramid Tracker and My Pyramid Menu Planner as well, which were taken down in 2012. 

Go to the website and take a look at how user friendly it is!  The website has all sorts of information on nutrition as well as easy ideas for making simple changes in a recipe or ingredients to make it healthier.  This is not just about counting calories, but rather about portion control and little changes to a meal that may make a big difference. 

The site is interactive and can help parents decide what portions are age appropriate for their children based on age and activity level. Even a younger child can start to look at plates and get ideas about portion size. (Even healthy meals should have portion control). 

Since we just finished talking about healthy eating and exercise, thought this was the perfect ending or rather beginning to some lifestyle changes to keep all of us “heart healthy”.  Keep up the good work!

Your Toddler

AAP: Winter Car Seat Safety

2:00

So far in Texas, this year’s El Nino weather pattern has made for a pretty mild winter compared to previous years. But, other areas around the country are being hit hard with a wintery punch and it’s only a matter of time till temperatures drop and snow and ice find their way to the Lone Star State.

Winter can be a bit tricky for child car seat use. While it sounds like the opposite might be true, bulky clothing such as coats and snowsuits should not be worn under the car seat harness.

More padding - more cushion right? That seems logical until you know what happens when a car crashes. In a wreck, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.

So how can you keep your little one warm and protected while buckled up? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has these tips to help strike a comfortable and safer balance.

·      Use a coat or blanket over the straps. You can add a blanket over the top of the harness straps or put your child's winter coat on backwards (over the buckled harness straps) after he or she is buckled up. Some parents prefer products such as poncho-style coats or jackets that zip down the sides so the back can flip forward over the harness. Keep in mind that the top layer should be removable so your baby doesn't get too hot after the car warms up.

·      Use a car seat cover ONLY if it does not have a layer under the baby. Nothing should ever go underneath your child's body or between her body and the harness straps. Be sure to leave baby's face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing. Many retailers carry car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in a car seat. Just because it's on the shelf at the store does not mean it is safe!

·      Dress your child in thin layers. Start with close-fitting layers on the bottom, like tights, leggings, and long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warmer top, like a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. Your child can wear a thin fleece jacket over the top. In very cold weather, long underwear is also a warm and safe layering option. As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and a coat on, your infant will probably need a hat, coat, and blanket.

·      Don't forget hats, mittens, and socks or booties. These help keep kids warm without interfering with car seat straps. If your child is a thumb sucker, consider half-gloves with open fingers or keep an extra pair or two of mittens handy — once they get wet they'll make your child colder rather than warmer.

·      Get an early start. If you're planning to head out the door with your baby in tow on winter mornings, you need an early start. You have a lot to assemble, and your baby may not be the most cooperative. Plus, driving in wintry conditions will require you to slow down and be extra cautious.

·      Tighten the straps of the car seat harness. Even if your child looks snuggly bundled up in the car seat, multiple layers may make it difficult to tighten the harness enough. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child's chest.

·      Remember, if the item did not come with the car seat, it has not been crash tested and may interfere with the protection provided in a crash. Never use sleeping bag inserts or other stroller accessories in the car seat.

·      Store the carrier portion of infant seats inside the house when not in use. Keeping the seat at room temperature will reduce the loss of the child's body heat in the car.

·      Pack an emergency bag for your car. Keep extra blankets, dry clothing, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in your car in case of an on-road emergency or your child gets wet on a winter outing.

·      Make sure your cell phone is charged. If there is an emergency, you want to be able to reach 911 or call for assistance in case of a flat tire or engine trouble.

This is a time when there is a lot of holiday travel from state to state or just down the road to grandma’s house.

Remember, it’s not just children in car seats whose coats shouldn’t be tucked under the harness, adults and older children should make sure their coats are on the outside of the seat-belt.

Little steps can make a big difference in everyone’s safety.

Source: https://healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Winter-Car-Seat-Safety-Tips.aspx

Your Baby

Exercising During Pregnancy

2:00

If you’re pregnant, you may be wondering if you should start or continue exercising. The answer is a resounding, yes!

Regular exercise throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy, improve your posture and help decrease common discomforts such as backaches and fatigue.

There is even evidence that physical activity may help prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

All of these benefits are good things.

If you were physically active before your pregnancy, there’s no need to stop. However, don’t try to exercise at your former level; instead, do what's most comfortable for you now. Low impact aerobics are encouraged versus high impact.

Check with your obstetrician for guidance if you are a competitive athlete, you may need specialized monitoring.

What if you have never been into exercise, should you start now that you are pregnant?  Absolutely!

You can safely begin an exercise program during pregnancy after consulting with your health care provider, but do not try a new, strenuous activity. Walking is considered safe to initiate when pregnant.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise per day on most if not all days of the week, unless you have a medical or pregnancy complication.

While exercise is great for most moms-to-be, there are some women who should not exercise during pregnancy. They are women with medical problems such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. If you have one of these conditions, check with your OB/GYN about your options and follow his or her recommendations.

Exercise may also be harmful if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as:

           ·      Bleeding or spotting

           ·      Low placenta

           ·      Threatened or recurrent miscarriage

           ·      Previous premature births or history of early labor

           ·      Weak cervix

Talk with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. Your health care provider can also give you personal exercise guidelines, based on your medical history.

Most exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy as long as you don’t overdo it.

The safest and most productive activities are swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor). These activities carry little risk of injury, benefit your entire body, and can be continued until birth.

What about jogging, tennis and racquetball? All these activities require balance and coordination– which may change as you progress during your pregnancy.  If you’re healthy and have discussed these sports with your OB/GYN, go ahead and enjoy, but in moderation.

There are certain exercises that can be harmful during pregnancy. What exercises should be avoided? They are:

·      Holding your breath during any activity.

·      Activities where falling is likely (such as skiing and horseback riding).

·      Contact sports such as softball, football, basketball, and volleyball.

·      Any exercise that may cause even mild abdominal trauma such as activities that include jarring motions or rapid changes in direction.

·      Activities that require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running.

·      Deep knee bends, full sit-ups, double leg raises, and straight-leg toe touches.

·      Bouncing while stretching.

·      Waist-twisting movements while standing.

·      Heavy exercise spurts followed by long periods of no activity.

              ·      Exercise in hot, humid weather.

Stretching exercises can help make the muscles limber and warm, which can be helpful during pregnancy.

Kegal exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus and bowels. By strengthening these muscles during your pregnancy, you can develop the ability to relax and control the muscles in preparation for labor and birth.

Tailor exercises strengthen the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles and can help relieve low back pain.

Many health providers have DVDs, websites or exercise pamphlets with instructions and examples available for their pregnant patients. There are also classes with instructors trained in leading exercise programs specifically for pregnant women.

What should a pregnancy program consist of?

A total fitness program should strengthen and condition your muscles. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and never exercise to the point of exhaustion.

Exercising during pregnancy has many advantages, but there are warning signals you should look out for. Stop exercising immediately and contact your health provider is you:

             ·      Feel chest pain.

             ·      Have abdominal pain, pelvic pain, or persistent contractions.

             ·      Have a headache.

             ·      Notice an absence or decrease in fetal movement.

             ·      Feel faint, dizzy, nauseous, or light-headed.

             ·      Feel cold or clammy.

            ·      Have vaginal bleeding.

            ·      Have a sudden gush of fluid from the vagina, or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily.

            ·      Notice an irregular or rapid heartbeat.

           ·      Have sudden swelling in your ankles, hands, face, or calf pain.

           ·      Are short of breath.

           ·      Have difficulty walking.

           ·      Have muscle weakness.

The big question many women have after delivery is – when can I start working off these extra pounds? It’s best to start fitness routines gradually and follow your health provider’s recommendations. Too often, women who have just given birth are inundated with images of celebrities who look as though they have dropped 50 pounds and returned to their former sleek selves within weeks after delivery. However they accomplish this (think spandex & a personal trainer that works you relentlessly), it’s not necessary or even healthy to try to capture your former body immediately.

Most women can safely perform a low-impact activity one to two weeks after a vaginal birth (or three to four weeks after a cesarean birth). Do about half of your normal floor exercises and don't try to overdo it.

Exercising during pregnancy is not a “one routine fits all” kind of thing. You can strengthen your muscles and reap the benefits of exercise while pregnant, just do it under the guidance of your health provider. He or she knows your limits, your medical history and will be able to help you achieve the best results.

Story source:

Traci C. Johnson, MD, http://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/exercise-during-pregnancy.

 

 

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Food Allergies

Food Allergies

Your Child

40% of Children 3 to 11 Are Exposed to Secondhand Smoke

2:00

The good news is that exposure to secondhand smoke dropped by half in the United States between 1999 and 2012. While more and more people are giving up the unhealthy habit, the amount of children being exposed to secondhand smoke is still significant – particularly in the African-American population. 

In a recent report, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 58 million American nonsmokers are exposed to secondhand smoke.

In that group, the CDC suggests that 40 percent of children aged 3 to 11 are breathing in secondhand smoke and among black children, the number is much higher at 70 percent.

"Secondhand smoke can kill, and too many Americans -- and particularly too many children -- are still exposed to secondhand smoke," Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said during a midday press conference.

Frieden, citing the U.S. Surgeon General, said, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals including about 70 that can cause cancer, he added.

The connection of secondhand smoke and illnesses in children has been widely studied and reported. In infants and children, secondhand smoke has been linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma attacks.

In adult nonsmokers, passive smoke has been tied to heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, according to Frieden.

Each year, secondhand smoke kills more than 41,000 Americans from lung cancer and heart disease, and causes 400 deaths from SIDS, Frieden said. "These deaths are entirely preventable," he added.

Susan Liss, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a statement: "The high level of child exposure to secondhand smoke also underscores the need for parents to take additional steps to protect children, such as ensuring that homes, cars and other places frequented by children are smoke-free. For parents who smoke, the best step to protect children is to quit smoking."

Smoking can become such a mindless habit that parents and caregivers forget that their children are breathing in the smoke they exhale. In nonsmoking homes, it can be difficult when friends or other family members want to light up when visiting. Asking people to either step outside or not smoke in the house has caused many a friends and family rift. But, standing your ground will protect your child from the influence of smoking and the polluted air that flows from a smoker.

Most restaurants, bars and workplaces have issued smoke-free policies but one's home and auto are open to personal choice. The number of U.S. households that are now smoke-free has increased in the past 20 years from 43 percent to 83 percent and that’s truly amazing considering our long love affair with cigarettes and cigars!

However, when 1 in 4 nonsmokers – including many children-are still being exposed, it’s going to take more parents, friends and family members to put down their cigarettes for good to finally stop children and adults from suffering the disastrous effects of breathing in secondhand smoke.

Source: Steven Reinberg, http://consumer.healthday.com/kids-health-information-23/adolescents-and-teen-health-news-719/58-million-americans-exposed-to-secondhand-smoke-cdc-696149.html

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College Health

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