Dieting: What Works, What Doesn’t

Friday, March 22, 2013 9:45 AM comments (0)

There seems to be a diet out these days to appeal to everyone trying to trim down. And, with the barrage of different diets in the media, it's hard to know which diets work and which fall short.

What's important in a safe and healthy approach to weight loss? Before starting a diet be sure that your plan includes the following:

It’s balanced. By excluding food groups, your body is at risk of being deprived of the nutrients it needs to function. For example, the popular Atkins Diet drastically reduces carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are a major source of energy for the cells of the body and also are a main source of your daily fiber needs.

It focuses on portion control. Have you ever seen the MyPlate icon? MyPlate focuses on portion control and balanced meals by dividing a standard dinner plate into four food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein, with a side of dairy. Portion control is important to avoid overeating and can help reduce caloric intake.

It teaches lifelong, healthy eating habits. Longevity is impossible with impractical fad diets like The Hollywood Cookie Diet and The Grapefruit Diet, which severely restrict calories and lack the nutrition (not to mention the variety) that your taste buds crave. By eating balanced meals and controlling portions, weight loss is achievable and can be maintained throughout your entire life without having to crash diet.

For a healthy, balanced diet with controlled portions always remember to:

  • Load up on fruits and veggies
  • Eat whole grains
  • Choose fat-free and low-fat dairy products
  • Pick lean sources of protein
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Make exercise part of your daily routine


Which diet approaches have worked for you?

This article was submitted by Lindsay Sankovsky, Dietetic Intern, and reviewed by Kimberly Hammon, MS, RD, LDN.

Creating a Healthy Meal Plan with Healthy Food Substitutions [Infographic]

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 4:28 PM comments (0)

Eating healthy and staying healthy is something that millions of Americans strive for every day. Unfortunately, it's not always so easy to eat healthy on a daily basis. With 36% of adults in U.S. considered obese, it's becoming more important for both adults and children to start eating healthier. The experts from NorthShore University HealthSystem have provided some general guidelines for the recommended intake of each food group, suggestions for creating a healthy meal plan every day, as well as some healthy food substitutions.

Click on our infographic for more ideas on creating a healthy meal plan with great healthy food substitutions.

Perfect-plate

 

Proper Dosage: Medication and Children

Friday, March 15, 2013 10:48 AM comments (0)

Peds-DosageWhen children get sick, the simple solution isn’t always just a pill or spoonful away. Aside from the fact that many medications are not recommended for children, it's also much easier for a child to overdose on medication than an adult.

In most cases, the amount of medicine a child should receive is determined by age, weight and height. When it comes to children and medication, reading labels is very important.

Dirk Killelea, Manager of NorthShore Evanston Hospital Pharmacy, shares the following “must-know” tips for giving children medications:

  • Do not give your child a reduced dosage of a medication meant for adults. Most medicine labels provide a recommended dosage that is based on age. If your child’s age isn’t reflected on this label, then it is not appropriate to give to him or her. Even liquid medication for infants is more concentrated than liquid medication meant for older children. When in doubt, ask your pharmacist or physician.
  • Avoid giving your child over-the-counter cold medicine. Cold medicine should definitely be avoided in children under the age of two, and the same may also be true for older children. These medications can cause more harm than good, and home remedies--humidifier, steam baths and elevation--may prove more effective.
  • Steer clear of some medications. Unless otherwise instructed by a physician, avoid giving children Aspirin, over-the-counter laxatives, herbal or natural supplements and expired medications.
  • Use appropriate measuring devices. Don’t use a household teaspoon or tablespoon to measure doses of liquid medication.  Ask your pharmacy for an oral syringe or graduated measuring spoon. These devices measure the appropriate amount of medication and don’t vary in size like household silverware.

The best remedy for most kids is rest and hydration. If your child has a fever or cold, keep activities to a minimum and make sure they aren't too strenuous. Coloring, drawing or reading stories is a great way to spend time until he or she feels better. If your child is experiencing loose stools or diarrhea, make sure to provide plenty of water or electrolyte-containing drinks like Pedialyte to prevent dehydration.   

How do you manage your kids’ illnesses? What remedies work best for you?

 

A Silent Killer – Carbon Monoxide

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 9:49 AM comments (0)

Carbon-MonoxideKeeping tabs on the safety of your home often falls by the wayside with all the other tasks and chores in our daily lives. However, failure to take the proper safety precautions can lead to injury, illness and sometimes even death.

While it’s easy to ensure that common household items are out of way and properly stored, used and discarded, there are some risks that you can't see at all. Carbon monoxide poisoning is very dangerous and because the gas is odorless and colorless, it's hard to detect without proper monitoring.

Jerrold Leikin, MD, Medical Toxicologist, shares the following tips for reducing your carbon monoxide poisoning risks:

  • Get a UL-approved carbon monoxide detector. First and foremost, if you don’t already have a carbon monoxide monitor installed in your home, do so immediately. If you do have one, be sure to check and change the batteries frequently. You should also plan to test it on a regular basis.
  • Install your detector properly. Detectors should be placed away from windows and drafty areas. Outside air can offset readings and reduce effectiveness. You should also avoid installing a detector in your bathroom, over your oven range or any another high-humidity area.
  • Place all detectors within several feet of sleeping areas. It is recommended to have a detector on every level of your home. A basement detector should be installed at the top of the stairs.
  • Get your furnace and other gas appliances checked out annually. Having an expert evaluate your appliances can help identify leaks and other health hazards. Make sure you’re using appliances correctly; outdoor grills should never be used inside your home.
  • Know the symptoms and act fast if you suspect you may have poisoning. Some of these symptoms include dizziness, headache, nausea and confusion. Symptoms may not always be present and/or may not be distinguishable. If several members of the household notice similar symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

 

Do you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home? How frequently do you check it?

 

Don’t Sleep through the Signs: Recognizing Sleep Disorders in Children

Friday, March 08, 2013 11:00 AM comments (0)

pediatric-sleep-disordersA good night’s sleep can be the difference between night and day with children. Frequent lack of sleep can greatly impact a child’s physical, mental and social well-being. It's also hard on the entire family.

It's recommended that children between the ages of six and twelve get 10-11 hours of sleep each night. This allows them to be better rested for school, and to further their growth and development. The challenge with childhood sleep disorders is that they aren’t always easy to recognize. In fact, since the symptoms are so similar to other conditions (such as ADD and ADHD), sleep disorders often go misdiagnosed.

Mari Viola-Saltzman, DO, Sleep Medicine specialist, who sees both pediatric and adult patients, identifies some of the secondary effects childhood sleep disorders may have:

  • Lack of focus in school work. This may lead to poor performance, impaired learning/memory and an inability to concentrate on academic tasks.
  • Short temper and moodiness. Children may not “act like themselves” if they are not getting enough sleep. This can often be misidentified as a behavioral problem or depression.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness. Children with sleeping disorders often have a more difficult time sleeping through the night, which can lead to drowsiness during the day and also slower reaction times to daytime activities.
  • Appetite and metabolic changes. Studies have indicated that sleep disorders in children may cause obesity, likely due to sleep deprivation affecting the part of the brain called the hypothalamus that regulates hormonal changes, metabolism, hunger and energy expenditures.

How many hours of sleep do your children get each night? Do they have a nightly routine?

 

Go Green: Your Colon (and Body) Will Thank You

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 1:52 PM comments (0)


ColonCancerAs the old adage goes, “You are what you eat.” When it comes to your health, this saying is true — eating healthier foods will make you feel better, have more energy and help you maintain your weight.

Many of the foods we eat—as tasty as they are—aren’t always the easiest for our system to digest. This is true for highly processed foods, and foods high in sodium, sugar, saturated fats and cholesterol. It’s not to say that, in moderation, we can’t enjoy some of these foods, but research has proven that a diet high in fresh food, especially green vegetables, may help prevent colon cancer.

Considering colon cancer is one of the most common cancers in men and women, it’s nice to know that a balanced, healthy diet may be the first step toward disease prevention. Yolandra Johnson, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore, provides easy ways to work more greens and other vegetables into your daily diet:

  • Add chopped vegetables to your pasta sauces. Add chopped or shredded zucchini, carrot, peas, spinach or eggplant into either homemade or store-bought sauces. You’ll be adding extra flavor and more nutrients.
  • Blend it up. Smoothies don’t have to be made with only fruit. Consider mixing a more savory blend by adding in vegetables. Spinach is a great addition to fruit smoothies.
  • Eat a side salad with lunch or dinner. A salad is a great way to get an extra serving of vegetables, plus it will help fill you up before the main course. That’s good for your diet and for your waistline!
  • Choose ready-made options if you’re short on time. Canned and frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh ones. If you have limited time to prepare meals, go for prepared salads,  pre-chopped veggies, canned goods or frozen items. Remember, there’s no wrong way to add vegetables to your diet.
  • Snack on fresh vegetables instead of chips and other junk foods. Cucumbers, peapods, carrots, peppers and celery all make great snack items. Prepare small bags of these veggies for the week so they’re easy to grab and go.

What are some of your favorite dishes that include vegetables? What are some of your tricks for including veggies in your diet?

 

Rediscovering your Happiness – Managing Depression

Thursday, February 28, 2013 3:26 PM comments (0)

Managing-DepressionIt’s one thing to occasionally feel down, unenergetic and tired out, especially given the busy lives so many of us lead. However, consistently experiencing feelings of sadness, exhaustion and anxiety to a point where it affects the rest of your life can be cause for concern.

Depression is a very common mental illness and impacts people in various ways. It is estimated that one in ten adults suffers from depression at some point during their lifetime.

Frederick Miller, MD, PhD, Psychiatrist at NorthShore, recognizes that living with depression can be a challenge. He offers the following tips for managing and coping with depression:

  • Don’t be afraid to seek help.  It may be hard to admit feelings of depression to others, but you shouldn’t have to go through it alone. Family members and friends may be able to help brighten your spirits, and encourage you to stay active and positive. It can also be helpful to talk with your physician, therapist or a support group for additional assistance.
  • Stay active. Exercise can help relieve stress and provide a positive boost to your emotional and physical health.
  • Keep a positive mental attitude. It's not just our experiences that influence our mood but how we interpret them. Are you prone to "personalizing," that is, taking blame for bad things that happen? If something runs amok, do you "catastrophize" and conclude that everything will always be doomed? You can actually train yourself to be more positive. Try journaling. Pick one event that generated negative feelings and force yourself to write down a more positive or at least balanced view of the situation. Over time, thinking more positively will become habit.
  • Seek out positive relationships. It may be hard to "reach out and touch someone" when you're feeling down but it can make a major difference. Call an old friend or send an email to a relative.
  • Find something meaningful to do. Helping others will make you feel good about yourself.
  • Consider getting a pet.
  • Plan a trip or to commit to a new hobby. Being goal-oriented helps to keep your spirits up.
  • Practice being mindful. Often, folks who are depressed spend too much time "in their heads." Take a walk and just "be." See how much you can notice using all of your senses: sight, sound, touch and taste.
  • Play some inspiring music.

What makes you happy? How to you manage feelings of sadness and/or depression?

Cholesterol – Understanding the Numbers

Monday, February 25, 2013 3:50 PM comments (0)

High-CholesterolRoutine blood work can be done to test whether or not you have high cholesterol. The challenge for many lies in determining what the numbers mean and what risks you may be at for developing other health conditions, including heart disease.

This blood work measures three different components:

  • LDL (low-density lipoproteins), otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol
  • HDL (high-density lipoproteins) or “good” cholesterol 
  • Triglycerides

The general standard for healthy levels state your LDL should optimally be below 100, HDL should be above 40 for men and above 50 for women, and your triglycerides value should stay below 150. So what can you do if your levels are a little high?

Jeffrey Marogil, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, offers the following suggestions for keeping your cholesterol in check:

  • Get regular aerobic exercise and work at losing excess weight. Even losing a small amount of extra weight, such as five to 10 pounds can be a big help. If you aren’t sure what diet is best, seek a registered dietitian to get you off on the right foot.
  • Avoid all trans fats. These are artificial fats that your body is not designed to handle. Also, be sure to read labels and avoid items that include partially hydrogenated oils, as these contain some trans fats.
  • Learn which fats are “good” fats. When trying to lose weight you shouldn’t cut out all fats— the body needs fat and some (like the Omega 3 fatty acids) are helpful for optimal cholesterol levels. A good rule of thumb to follow is to replace some of your carbohydrates with vegetables when trying to lose weight.
  • Know your family history and other risk factors. Medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, smoking and obesity, along with a family history of high cholesterol or coronary artery disease, can be reasons for getting screened more frequently.

Do you know what your cholesterol levels are? Have you made any changes in your diet or lifestyle to reduce them?

Winter Woes: Remedies for Dry Skin

Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:00 AM comments (0)

Dry-skinDoes it ever feel like you just can’t put on enough lotion during the winter months to keep your skin from being dry? With the cold temperatures and icy walkways, winter can be tough on your body. And, it can be just as hard on your skin.

Dry, sometimes even itchy and flaky skin is a common condition for many when temperatures begin to drop. While the cooler outdoor temperatures may be one of the leading causes for dry skin, there are a handful of ways you can help keep your skin soft and well hydrated.

Stephanie Mehlis, MD, Dermatologist, provides the following tips for reducing dry skin:

  • Increase your home’s humidity. Using a humidifier will help add moisture to the air of your house.
  • Keep water cool when showering. While a hot shower can feel good, especially in the cold of winter, when water is too hot it can dry out your skin. You also shouldn’t plan to linger in the shower – keep it short.
  • Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize!  When your skin is dry, be sure to apply plenty of lotion. The best time to use a moisturizer is right after you get out of the shower when your skin is still a little damp. Depending on how dry your skin is, consider using a thicker cream or ointment to create a barrier between your skin and the air. Despite the fact that the cosmetic industry has not produced the ideal moisturizer, studies have shown that most moisturizers will work if used frequently.
  • Choose your soap carefully. Soaps tend to dry out skin as well.  Try to use a moisturizing soap or a soap for “sensitive skin,” and do not use a washcloth or sponge when washing – hands work the best.

What skin products do you swear by to heal dry skin?

Sleep Disorders – When It’s More Than Just Snoring

Friday, February 15, 2013 9:00 AM comments (0)

Sleep-DisorderSnoring can impact more than just a restful night of sleep for you and a partner. Snoring is a condition that is caused by the narrowing of the airways and relaxation of muscles in the back of the throat. When chronic, it can reduce the amount of oxygen being supplied to the body, put unnecessary stress on the heart or cause you to stop breathing.

Snoring can be an indicator of other health conditions. For example, sleep apnea—a condition that nearly half of chronic snorers have—can often be linked to cardiac and pulmonary diseases.

Alfredo Gonzalez, MD, Cardiologist at NorthShore, identifies the following symptoms to help determine if you have a sleep disorder:

  • Trouble staying awake during the day (daytime somnolence). If you have a tendency to fall asleep while driving or while in a conversation, you should consider being screened for a sleep disorder. Having a hard time staying awake when doing less-strenuous activities (such as reading or watching a movie) may also be a signal.
  • Feeling tired or fatigued. Not feeling refreshed and re-energized after a night of sleep can be an indicator of a sleep condition, especially if you feel this way consistently.
  • Complaints by your partner that you snore either frequently or all the time at night. There is no way that you can know if you snore at night or not, so it can be helpful if another person tells you.
  • Leg movement in your sleep that disturbs the other party. This can consist of involuntary movement of your limbs—often  jerky—that may or may not wake you up.

How many hours of sleep on average do you get a night? Do you know if you snore?

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