May 26, 2009 [Volume 3, Issue 13]
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In this issue of To Your Health:
Don't Wait to Lose Weight
No Substitute for Good Parenting
Three Ways to Fight Fatigue

Don't Wait to Lose Weight

Believe it or not, if you're trying to lose weight, the ideal healthy meal plan involves eating six meals a day so you're never hungry. These six meals should be broken down into two whole-food "regular" meals, two whole-food snacks and two high-energy, nutrient-dense, low-calorie meal replacement shakes. Daily scheduling of these meals could be as follows:

Breakfast: meal replacement shake
Mid-morning snack: whole-food healthy snack
Lunch: whole-food regular meal
Afternoon snack: meal replacement shake
Dinner: whole-food regular meal
Evening snack: whole-food healthy snack

Meals: Your whole-food regular meals should consist of lean protein (meat or vegetarian) plus salad and/or vegetables. You can enjoy whole-food regular meals any time during the day; however, most people find it best to eat them for lunch and dinner. You can prepare them yourself, grab them on the go, or enjoy them in a restaurant, as long as you follow the following general guidelines in terms of content: 5-7 ounces of cooked, lean meat, such as chicken, turkey, fish, beef, pork, lamb or shellfish; or meatless options including eggs and garden burgers. For complex carbohydrates, select three 1/2 cup serving of your favorite vegetables, such as cucumber, celery, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli or peppers.

Snacks: Your healthy snacks could consist of a small portion of lean protein (1-2 ounces) or a small portion of vegetables, such as celery, cucumber, radishes or peppers (green, red, yellow, etc.). You can also choose from a variety of fruits for your snack, but remember, fruits have more sugar content than vegetables, which may increase your hunger. Always choose whole fruits; avoid sugar-sweetened fruit cups, juices, etc., and do not substitute fruit juice, which doesn't have the fiber and complete nutrient content of a whole fruit. Enjoy your healthy snack at a mid-morning break or in the evening.

Meal Replacement Shakes: Enjoy your high-energy, low-carb meal replacement shakes any time during the day or whenever you get hungry. Most people use them at breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or in the evening. Make sure you select a natural whole-food vegetarian meal replacement shake that contains a quality vegetarian protein source, a vegetarian form of essential fatty acids for the healthy oils and an enzyme active greens blend that will provide complex fruit and vegetable carbohydrates.

When you incorporate a healthy meal plan into your daily routine, you're taking an important step toward long-term health and wellness while losing those extra pounds your body doesn't need and you certainly don't want. Talk to your doctor for more information.

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No Substitute for Good Parenting

Recent research tells a discouraging tale about children and television habits. According to a 2007 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics, sustained television viewing (two or more hours per day from ages 30-33 months to 5.5 years) was associated with poor behavioral and social skills compared to children who watched less daily TV. The study also found having a TV in the child's bedroom contributed to sleep problems and emotional issues at 5.5 years of age. (A whopping 41 percent of children had a TV in their room at age 5 1/2.)

It's no wonder the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents limit children's TV exposure to no more than one to two hours of quality programming daily and not keep a TV in their child's bedroom. If there's any good news, it's that the study found heavy exposure in early childhood did not have enduring consequences if viewing habits were adjusted; children with early exposure only (less exposure at 5 1/2 years) did not have behavioral and social difficulties compared to children with heavy exposure at both ages.

Another study in Pediatrics, published three years earlier, suggests early television viewing (at ages 1 and 3) can contribute to problems with attention at age 7. The number of hours viewed per day was associated with an increasing risk of developing problems with attention span.

So-called "educational" programming may help children learn if parents don't have the time to teach them, but it doesn't seem to make them any smarter, according to a 2008 study, again in Pediatrics. Researchers concluded, "Contrary to parents' perceptions that TV viewing is beneficial to their children's brain development, we found no evidence of cognitive benefit from watching TV during the first two years of life."

Other studies suggest a clear link between television viewing in childhood / adolescence and lack of exercise and poor eating habits. After all, sitting on a couch all day doesn't leave kids with much time to exercise or eat right, especially when they're being bombarded with ads for chips, soft drinks and fast-food items.

The bottom line is, there are plenty of fun, stimulating ways to entertain your children while teaching them at the same time, and none of them involves staring into a television or computer screen.

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Three Ways to Fight Fatigue

Is fatigue getting you down? It can be downright depressing when you don't have the energy you need to perform your daily tasks and responsibilities. Here are three simple suggestions to help put those tired days behind you:

1. Get a Move-On

While it may seem a bit counterintuitive, moderate physical activity actually increases your energy levels. Even something as simple as a brisk walk around the block can be enough to get you out of your couch potato doldrums. In fact, fatigue can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle; the less you move, the more tired you are, particularly when movement is required.

2. Chow Down

Eating the right kinds of food at the right intervals is vital to maximizing energy throughout the day. It all starts with a balanced breakfast, followed by small meals and snacks every two to three hours. Choose low-fat, complex carbohydrates to fuel your body, and avoid foods that can deplete energy stores; sugar and caffeine, though temporary boosts, will sap energy quickly.

3. Stay Balanced

Stress, anger and other types of negative energy can lead to profound fatigue, particularly if you're losing sleep over it. Obsessing over an irritating co-worker or a personal financial crisis will do little to solve anything, but it definitely will expend valuable mental and physical energy. Whenever you're stressed or angry, find ways to stay balanced and let it all out productively.

Remember to always talk to your doctor if you experience persistent, unexplainable fatigue or if fatigue/weakness comes on suddenly, as this may be a sign of an underlying health condition.

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The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. MPA Media is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.

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