Watching your waistline? These five fall favorites can really pack on the pounds:
Macaroni and cheese. One cup can have 300 to 400 calories. If you must indulge, modify the recipe by using a low-fat cheese and skim milk.
Cream soups and hearty stews. They may seem like perfect treats for cooler temperatures, but beware. Warm soups and stews that are loaded with cream, cheese or meat are also loaded with calories. If you’re a fan of soups and stews, try broth-based and vegetable-based choices to fill you up with fewer calories.
Seasonal beverages. Fall drinks such as hot chocolate, pumpkin-spice lattes and eggnog, are a quick and easy way to add lots of extra calories. A cup of homemade hot chocolate (without whipped cream) has 190 calories. A 20-ounce (Venti) pumpkin spice latte with whole milk from Starbucks has 440 calories. One 8-ounce cup of eggnog packs 340 calories. Instead, try a hot cup of green or flavored tea, rich with antioxidants and calorie-free.
Mashed potatoes and gravy. There’s nothing like your mother’s mashed potatoes and gravy. But all that butter, cream and whole milk add up to about 240 calories into one cup. Pour on 1/4 cup of gravy and you’re up to 300 calories in a side dish. To reduce calories, limit your serving to 1/2 cup of mashed potatoes, without gravy. Try new, low-fat recipes for mashed potatoes.
Pumpkin desserts. Pumpkins are very low in calories and full of antioxidants and vitamins, namely vitamin A. However, when you add tons of cream and sugar to make pumpkin pie, you negate the health benefits. Substitute low-fat ingredients when baking. Try low-fat pumpkin custard. Make low-fat pumpkin muffins. Roast pumpkin seeds for a tasty, magnesium-rich snack.
Everyone knows the obvious sign of a heart attack: crushing chest pain. But are you aware of small warning signs that could mean trouble is just a heartbeat away?
Snoring. Snoring itself doesn’t indicate heart trouble, but it can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where you frequently stop breathing while sleeping. Sleep apnea causes your blood oxygen levels to drop, which increases your heart’s workload. Left untreated, it can lead to a variety of heart conditions, such as high blood pressure and heart attack. Lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of sleep apnea. Maintain a healthy weight. Quit smoking. Cut back on caffeine. Keep regular sleep routines. Avoid sleeping on your back.
Bleeding gums. Swollen, red or bleeding gums as well as bad breath are warning signs of gum disease. Gum disease can cause bacteria to enter your bloodstream where it attaches to the fatty deposits in heart blood vessels. This condition can cause blood clots and lead to a heart attack. To prevent gum disease, brush and floss often and see your dentist for regular checkups.
Swelling. Swelling (called edema) caused by excess fluid trapped in your body’s tissues, can be a warning sign of heart failure. When your heart weakens, it pumps blood less efficiently. This causes fluid to build up, especially in the areas furthest from your heart (hands, feet and ankles). To control edema, reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Look for changes in your fluid status by weighing yourself daily.
Shortness of breath. Shortness of breath can be a sign that your heart is calling for help. You may notice this most when you are active (doing your normal daily activities) or when you lie down flat in bed. To strengthen your heart as well as your lungs, get plenty of exercise (talk to your doctor before starting). If you smoke, give up the cigarettes. If shortness of breath is sudden and intense, call 911.
If you have any of these symptoms or conditions – especially two or more of them – see your doctor immediately.
September is the most common birthday month in the U.S. Here are some simple (and healthy) gift ideas:
Yoga mat. People should replace their yoga mats more often than they do. Yoga mats are available in a wide variety of styles and colors. Choose a fun mat that fits the personality of the person you are buying it for. Offer to go to a yoga class as part of the birthday celebration.
Blender. Many health-conscious people enjoy making smoothies using fruits, vegetables and protein powder. That’s why a blender makes a perfect gift. Make sure you purchase one that is easy to use so the recipient doesn’t get frustrated when they try to make a protein shake.
Noise-cancelling headphones. Listening to music during a workout is a must for most people. Noise-cancelling headphones block out surrounding sounds, allowing the listener to lower volumes levels. This reduces the risk of hearing loss. Combine the headphones with an iTunes gift card and make their special day even better.
Food thermometer. Does your birthday guy or gal love to cook? Get a food thermometer to help them prepare safer meals by showing when meat has been cooked enough to kill disease-causing salmonella, E. coli and other bugs.
Eye pillow. An eye pillow can help anyone relax and fall asleep. Package it with some scented soaps or lotions for a spa retreat at home.
Fitness tracker. Worn 24 hours a day, these devices can track activities (such as running, bicycling and climbing stairs), estimate how many calories are burned and give a better picture of a person’s overall health. Buy one that comes with a companion iOS or Android app to help make sense of the data.
Have your cake and eat it, too. Just skip the frosting. Frosting alone can add anywhere from 150 to 400 calories to one slice of cake.
This year, the last of the baby-boomers will turn age 50. Millions of generation X-ers will reach the milestone in 2015. Here are five health tips for anyone turning age 50 (and for those who are already there):
Schedule screenings. Beginning at age 50, your risk of developing many illnesses increases. Some – such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes – can go unnoticed until something catastrophic happens. Preventative screenings help diagnose problems early, when treatment can be most effective. Schedule a doctor’s appointment today. Discuss which screenings are right for you. Get any vaccines you may need, such as those for the flu, pneumonia, shingles or tetanus.
Make diet decisions. Pay more attention to your diet. Cut back on the amount sodium (salt) you consume. Limit foods that are high in unhealthy fat and load up on fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats (omega 3s), whole grains and fiber each day.
Energize with exercise. Beginning at age 50, you lose muscle mass at the rate of about half a pound per year – especially if you don’t exercise to retain it. Get at least 30 – 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, including aerobic exercise for heart health and weight-bearing exercise to lower your risk for osteoporosis. Find activities you enjoy – you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program.
Boost your brain. Being mentally strong is another way to stay healthy for years to come. Learn a new computer skill. Try thinking games such as chess and Scrabble. Do crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Find a walking partner, study a topic and discuss it on your walks.
Reinvigorate with rest. Sleeping patterns often change as you get older, but good sleep is important for good health – at any age. Adjust your bedtime to match when you feel tired, even if that’s earlier than it used to be. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and cool. Aim for at least eight hours a night.
Americans are eating less fast food on a daily basis. That’s the good news. The bad news is that eight in 10 Americans still report eating at fast-food restaurants at least monthly, with almost half saying they eat fast food on a weekly basis.
If you’re in a rush and fast food is your only choice, steer clear of choices high in calories and fat. Here’s how:
Look for the ‘light’ menu. Most fast-food restaurants offer ‘light’ menus and low-fat selections. If the nutritional information isn’t on the menu, ask your server about healthy choices. Or check out their website and look up the nutritional content online.
Stick to smaller sizes. Smaller is always going to be better when it comes to fast food. Select the smallest size of sandwiches, burgers and sides. Skip the shame and order from the kid’s menu.
Cut back on condiments.A single tablespoon of regular mayonnaise contains about 9 grams of fat and 100 calories. Ketchup contains added sugar. Have your burger plain or use mustard to add flavor.
Go for grilled. While fish and chicken entrees sound nutritionally safe, the fried versions of either food put them in the same class as burgers. Order your fish or chicken sandwiches grilled or baked.
Forget the fries. If your meal doesn’t seem complete without fries, choose the smallest size (which can be 400 calories less than a large serving).
Dip your dressing. If you order a salad, keep your salad dressing on the side. Dip your fork in it before you scoop up the greens. You’ll still get the taste, but eat fewer calories. Choose low-fat or fat-free dressings. Avoid adding extra cheese, croutons and bacon to your salad.
Skip the soda. Soda is a huge source of hidden calories. An average large soda packs around 300 calories. Order water, diet soda or unsweetened tea.
Share servings. Portion sizes at fast-food restaurants have increased over the past 20 years and continue to get larger. Share your meal with a co-worker, friend or family member.
Approximately every three minutes, someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with a blood cancer. Among the most common blood cancers is leukemia. Leukemia causes rapid production of abnormal white blood cells in your body. These abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection and impair the ability of your bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets. Leukemia is usually described as being either acute (fast growing) or chronic (slow growing).
Although experts are uncertain about the causes of leukemia, they have identified several risk factors that include the following:
Exposure to high levels of radiation
Repeated exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene. Benzene is found in car exhaust, as well as cigarette smoke.
Down Syndrome and other genetic diseases
A strong family history of leukemia
Symptoms of leukemia can include the following:
Fever, chills, night sweats and other flu-like symptoms
Weakness and fatigue
Swollen or bleeding gums
Enlarged liver and spleen
Pinhead-size red spots on the skin
Because the cause of leukemia remains unknown, there is no certain way to prevent the disease. However, there are some preventive measures that you can take:
Live a healthy lifestyle. Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits. Avoid or reduce the amount of red meat you eat. Exercise regularly and get plenty of rest.
Avoid or stop smoking. Smoking increases your risk of getting leukemia by 30 percent.
Minimize your exposure to radiation, herbicides and insecticides. If you’re concerned about any products in your home, look up potential health hazards at www.householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov.
Quick facts. There are more than 310,000 people living with, or in remission from, leukemia in the U.S. Leukemia is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among men; among women it is the seventh.
According to a newly released report, State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America, Kentucky high school students have the highest obesity rate in the U.S. at 18 percent. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, try some of the following tips:
Plan healthy meals for the whole family. Serve plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Watch what you buy. Before you go to the supermarket, take an inventory of your refrigerator and pantry. Write down items and ingredients that you will need to prepare nutritious meals.
Create an after-school plan. The ‘four-hour danger zone’ – after school until dinnertime – is when kids typically consume a third of their daily calories and are least active. Plan snacks and after-school activities for your children. Serve baby carrots or other raw veggies with fat-free ranch dressing or hummus. Spread peanut butter on celery, apples or bananas. Go for a walk or bike ride.
Limit sugar-sweetened drinks, such as fruit juice, regular-calorie sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks and sweetened tea. Have children drink water as much as possible.
Limit the amount of time your child spends watching TV to a maximum of two hours per day. Allow your child to select specific programs. Wait until the selected show is on to turn on the TV.
Talk to your family doctor or a dietitian. Discuss your child’s diet.
Dance fitness classes, such as salsa and Zumba, are all the rage – but as with any form of exercise there are risks for injury. What can you do to avoid the risks and still have a great workout? Here are six steps to follow:
Start slowly. Gradually increase the frequency, intensity and the duration of your exercise. Take a beginner’s class before heading to an advanced level. Take one or two classes a week instead of immediately hopping into every class on the schedule.
Select safe shoes. Choose shoes with few or no grips on the soles (cross trainers or dance shoes), so you can pivot easily without sticking to the floor. Don’t wear running shoes, which are made for forward – not side – movement.
Find forgiving floors. Makeshift dance studios have popped up everywhere. Before taking a class, find out what type of floor you’ll be dancing on. Concrete floors, floors with hard tiles and carpeted surfaces can increase your risk for injury. Look for hardwood floors, which offer a certain amount of give.
Make room to move. Dance fitness classes require plenty of physical space so that you don’t injure others with movements such as boxing punches or chorus-line kicks. Crowded classes can lead to injuries, bumps and falls. Make sure you have a lot of room to move around or find times when classes are least congested.
Warm up and cool down. Warm up with a few minutes of light exercise before a dance class. If your class is at a gym, get there a few minutes early and do the elliptical or ride the stationary bike to get your body ready to boogie. Be sure to cool down after class with some light stretching. Allow your heart and breathing rate to return to normal.
Bring a bottle of water. You’re going to sweat. Dehydration can cause you to lose focus and increase your risk for injury. Bring a bottle of water and stop for frequent sips.
Talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
1 c. evaporated skim milk or fat-free half-and-half
1 c. reduced-fat American or cheddar cheese
Lightly coat a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish with vegetable spray. Add broccoli and microwave using medium heat for 5 minutes, drain. Prepare rice using package directions. Add rice to casserole with broccoli. Set aside. Lightly coat saucepan with vegetable oil. Add onion and cook until transparent. Transfer onion to to casserole dish with broccoli and rice. Melt margarine in the same saucepan. Stir in salt and flour. Add milk gradually, stirring to mix well. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted. Add cheese sauce to broccoli mixture in casserole dish. Stir to blend all ingredients well. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Bake time: 30 minutes.
Nutritional Information Per Serving: Calories: 189; Fat: 5g; Fiber: 2g; Carbohydrates: 16g; Protein: 8g; Sodium: 350mg.
For people with celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder), or those avoiding gluten by choice, restaurant dining can be very challenging. Here are some tips on how to stay gluten-free when eating out:
Get acquainted with the gluten-free diet. To dine out safely, know what grains to avoid, the hidden sources of gluten and how to avoid cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when foods or ingredients come into contact with gluten, generally through shared utensils or a shared cooking/storage environment. For example, restaurants may use toasters for both gluten-free and regular bread.
Review restaurants. Look online for celiac-friendly/gluten-free restaurants (www.glutenfreeregistry.com). Or download one of many apps available for your cell phone. Review menus online. Call the restaurant, during its non-busy hours. Discuss your menu choices with the staff.
Speak with your servers. Tell them you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity and ask if they understand what that means. If they don’t, tell them that you can’t eat anything that has flour, breadcrumbs or soy sauce. If you do, you will become very sick. Remind servers that your food must be prepared on a clean cooking surface, with clean utensils. If your servers do not understand, speak with the restaurant manager or the chef.
Have a backup plan. Don’t assume that anything is gluten-free. Even if a menu item looks safe, you might not realize that the chef’s secret recipe includes gluten. If you’re not sure about a dish, ask the chef to sauté some plain meat or fish in olive oil or butter and steam some vegetables for you. Or bring gluten-free foods such as bread, crackers or pasta with you. Ask the chef to cook in a clean pot.
Tip well and tell others. If you have a positive experience at a restaurant, share the good news with others online. Express your gratitude with your servers, the chef and the manager.
Did you know? Many prescriptions contain gluten. Tell your pharmacist that your medications must be gluten-free. Remind them every time you get a prescription filled. Get the drug company’s phone number and call it yourself.