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Decadent descriptions make veggies more appealing

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You know veggies are good for you. But do you tend to find them a little boring? If so, maybe it’s all in your ear.

A new study suggests that labeling veggies with flavorful foodie terms, like “dynamite,” “sweet-sizzlin'” or “twisted,” can make even basic dishes seem more indulgent. And that may lead people to eat more veggies.

What’s in a name?

The study took place in a college cafeteria. Each day, researchers labeled different featured veggie dishes in one of four ways:

  • Basic. For example, “green beans.”
  • Healthy restrictive. For example, “light ‘n’ low-carb green beans and shallots.”
  • Healthy positive. For example, “healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots.”
  • Indulgent. For example, “sweet-sizzlin’ green beans and crispy shallots.”

Only the labels changed—not the way the veggies were prepared or served.

Researchers found that more people chose the vegetable when the labeling was indulgent:

  • 41 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy restrictive label.
  • 35 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a healthy, positive label.
  • 25 percent more people chose veggies with an indulgent label than those with a basic label.

According to the researchers, the findings could be a first step in busting a commonly held belief: that healthy foods aren’t as tasty as less-healthy choices. Labeling foods with exciting descriptions may make us feel like we’re indulging—not depriving—ourselves. And in the future, this approach may coax more people to eat healthy in many different dining situations.

The findings appear in a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Beyond superlatives: 3 ideas for making veggies more exciting

Try these ideas from the Produce for Better Health Foundation to entice your family to eat more good-for-you veggies (and don’t forget fruit!):

  1. Bring the heat. Add sliced mushrooms and diced tomatoes and onions to sliced green and yellow squash. Mix in some chopped jalapeño, sauté and serve over brown rice.
  2. Give spinach salad a fruity twist. Add your favorite fruits (consider cherries, mangoes or berries) and chopped walnuts to fresh spinach. Toss with an orange vinaigrette.
  3. Grill them up. Drizzle grilled zucchini with a little bit of olive oil. Add oregano or your favorite spices.

For even more exciting ideas on making tasty fruits and vegetables, check out this infographic.

National Park Service’s Find Your Park resource

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America’s kids are facing an outdoor crisis. A generation ago, kids spent more than 4 hours a day outside – now, it’s less than 40 minutes per week. Being outside has a multitude of health benefits. Help kids escape the indoors and connect with nature during Great Outdoors Month through the free National Park Service’s Find Your Park resource.

11 free places in PA to swim, splash and cool off this summer

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If you’re looking to stay cool without breaking the bank this summer, we’ve got your back. Here is a list of destinations where you can take a dip, make a splash or otherwise relax with some water-based entertainment, all free of charge.

  • Middlesex Township Splash Pad: The Middlesex Splash Pad, 50 Beagle Club Road, Carlisle, has been open since 2009 and operates 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. every day from Memorial Day through Labor Day. It’s a 30’ x 30’ area with underground water sprinklers, and the surface is a brushed concrete (you should have your kids wear rubber-soled water shoes). If you’re bringing a group of 10 or more, the township asks to you contact the office.
  • Memorial Park, Carlisle: The 2-acre Memorial Park has a spray pool where the kids can cool off. The park, located at 149 Penn St., Carlisle, is adjacent to Hope Station, a community aid organization.
  • Doubling Gap Lake, Colonel Denning State Park: The sand beach at Colonel Denning State Park is open from late May to mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. There is no lifeguard available, so it’s swim at your own risk. The park is located at 1599 Doubling Gap Road, Newville.
  • Pine Grove Furnace State Park: The beaches at Fuller and Laurel lakes are open from May 1 to September 30, 8 a.m. to sunset. The park is located at 1100 Pine Grove Road, Gardners. Laurel Beach is swim at your own risk, while Fuller Beach has lifeguards from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Labor Day weekend. The parks department advises swimmers to exercise caution because of extreme depths and cold subsurface waters.
  • Gifford Pinchot State Park: The large, ADA-accessible beach in the Quaker Race Day Use Area is open from late May through mid-September, 8 a.m. to sunset. There are no lifeguards on duty. Boat rental, picnic facilities, a snack bar and a children’s play area are located near the swimming beach (which is grass).
  • Veterans Memorial Pool, McClure: This free public swimming pool is located off Route 522 at 34 E Ohio St., McClure, in Snyder County. They’re open 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday and 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturday. There’s a snack bar, and they accept donations. There’s also a park a few blocks away. For more information, 570-658-8352.
  • Splash Pad at Fairmount Park, Red Lion: The park at 108 Boundary Avenue in Red Lion has a free splash pad, open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily, in addition to changing rooms, rest rooms and pavilion. The activator is found at the center drain, and features are motion-activated. Parking can be found at the Community Building at 190 S. Charles Street, or along South Charles or Fairview streets. For more info, call 717-244-3475.
  • Penn’s Park Splash Pad, York: York City Recreation and Parks Bureau opened the Penn’s Park Splash Pad early this year, and it will be open from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, weather permitting. The park is found at 100 W. College Avenue in downtown York.
  • Seven Tubs Recreation Area, Wilkes-Barre: Seven Tubs in Luzerne County is so named due to the seven “tubs” carved out of the surrounding stone by glacial action, which are filled with water today thanks to the Wheelbarrow Run stream. The stream and the tubs are found on a 500 acre nature area.
  • Locust Lake State Park: The sand beach at Locust Lake, found in Barnesville, Schuylkill County, is open from late-May to mid-September, with hours from 8 a.m. until sunset. Swimming areas are marked with buoys.
  • Yellow Breeches Creek, Mechanicsburg: The Yellow Breeches Creek is a destination for fishing, kayaking and yes, swimming. There are a few places the public can access the creek, including at Messiah College’s campus at the historic covered bridge. Click here for more info on the Yellow Breeches Creek Water Trail.

Family meals help kids’ physical and mental health

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The value of a family dinner isn’t exaggerated, according to a new study. It found that children who eat meals with their family benefit from better physical and mental health.

Sharing a family meal has been linked to children having a better diet. Research has also suggested that these meals promote language development in children.

Study follows kids and meals

In the new study, researchers followed a group of about 1,500 children in Canada. They already knew a lot about these kids, so they felt they could determine if family meals were making a difference.

When the kids were age 6, the researchers asked their parents about the family meal environment. They focused on the family’s enjoyment of the meal and if it felt like a chance to talk. Families were also asked if they could confide in each other or if they had bad feelings toward one another.

When the children turned 10, the researchers focused on their well-being. They asked the children, their parents and their teachers about academic success, eating habits, and behavior at home and school.

Benefits of family meals

The results were telling: Having better-quality family meals was linked to better physical fitness in the children. It was also linked to drinking less soda.

Kids who had a higher quality of family meals were less likely to fight, attack others and dominate other children. They were also less likely to be defiant, steal and tell lies.

The study didn’t find a link between family meals and success in reading and math. But the researchers noted that teacher and student relationships, which affect academic success, are often related to the family environment.

Why do family meals have such a positive effect? The researchers said family meals give parents a chance to connect with their children and monitor their activities. Parents can act as role models for healthy eating. And family meals may give kids a sense of belonging, as well as a chance to talk about issues that bother them.

The study was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

Bring your family together

The researchers pointed out that family meals aren’t the only characteristic of a good home environment. But it’s an easy place to start to improve a child’s well-being.

Making an effort to share family meals is worth the effort, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says. If you don’t share family meals already, you can get started with one meal a week. Keep the menu simple, and ask your family to help prepare the meal.

To learn more about the positive influence of eating together as a family, you can read this article: “Family meals: A time for health and happiness.”

Infographic: Pick your produce by the season

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Whatever the season, there’s always produce to pick from. Finding out when your favorite fruits and veggies are in season. Learn ways to incorporate them into your diet throughout the year with the interactive infographic below.

Click here for recipes that will shake up your routine with refreshing fruit smoothies or veggie-packed meals

How to nurture your child’s mental health

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You can’t protect your kids from stress and difficult times. But you can help them develop good self-esteem and give them the tools to cope with adversity in a healthy manner.

As parents, we want our kids to be happy. But no matter how hard we try, we can’t guarantee their happiness. What we can do, however, is help them build a strong foundation for lifelong mental health.

To support good mental health, parents can help kids feel good about themselves, develop healthy strategies for coping with difficult times and strive for physical health. Parents should also be able to recognize the signs of more serious mental health problems—and know where to go for help.

Building Self-esteem

Kids with good self-esteem are happier, says Jane Meschan Foy, MD, FAAP, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who served on the Mental Health Leadership Work Group and is a professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. “They are also less subject to peer pressure and able to make better decisions under stress.”

To help children build self-esteem, parents can:

Offer sincere encouragement and praise.
It’s important to acknowledge kids’ efforts—not just their accomplishments. Be descriptive in your feedback—for example: “Good job turning your book report in on time. You included a lot of great details about the main character.” Try to avoid vague feedback, like: “You’re so smart!” or “You’re terrific!”

Give Kids age-appropriate responsibilities.
Help children develop a sense of purpose and contribution by giving them age-appropriate tasks that matter. Then, let them do the job without your constant supervision.

Let them know they belong.
Every child needs one-on-one time with parents, Dr. Foy says. This should be a time when phones, TVs and computers are shut off.

“Even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, it should be protected and should never be subject to discipline,” she says.

Let the child decide, within reason, what he or she would like to do during that time—such as reading, singing, playing a game or just talking.

Promoting Resilience

Resilience is a key component of overall mental health, according to the AAP.

“We can’t give our children perfect childhoods, but we can help them learn from stress and loss,” Dr. Foy says. “Most children will experience some sort of loss during childhood. Many experience multiple losses—moving, divorce, deployment of a parent, death of a grandparent or loved one, or change of school.”

Each child responds differently to stress and trauma, but all kids can benefit from certain tools, such as:

Good Communication Skills
“Help children from a very early age put emotions into language and to use language to reach out to others,” Dr. Foy says. By being a good role model, you can help kids learn how to express their own needs—and to respond kindly to the needs of others.

Good Relationships
“It’s important that kids have a social network they can rely on,” Dr. Foy says. Help kids build relationships early by teaching them how to help, how to take turns, how to win and lose graciously and how to accept responsibility.

Methods for Managing Stress
For example, teach kids ways to relax, such as stretching, exercise and spending time in nature.

A Positive Outlook
“Parents can help children feel appreciative of the good things in life,” Dr. Foy says. “Draw attention to positive things about life.” A gratitude journal is a good tool, for example. For some people, prayer can also express appreciation, she says.

Minding the Body
Mental health requires a healthy body. Kids need sufficient sleep, a balanced diet and regular exercise.

“Sleep is very critical to mental health,” Dr. Foy says. “Children who are sleep-deprived may have symptoms of emotional disturbance.”

Help kids get the sleep they need by establishing a regular bedtime routine. And make sure kids use beds for sleeping only—not for homework or texting. If they have their own cellphones, have them give you their phones at a set time every night to ensure that they aren’t on them all night.

A healthful diet and daily exercise are also important to mental health, in part because they help kids maintain a healthy weight. “Being overweight is associated with lower self-esteem and more stress,” Dr. Foy says.

All children have to cope with challenges. Parents need to monitor their child’s reaction to problems and know when to seek help.

“Children will vent in different ways,” Dr. Foy says. “Some vent through misbehavior and acting out. Some internalize and become more anxious or dependent or cautious.”

Often these behaviors will pass as the child works through the difficult situation. Talking with your child and listening to his or her concerns and fears may help. But sometimes outside help is needed.

“If a child settles into a pattern of being irritable or sad most days, withdrawing from friends, or struggling academically, these could be signs that a child is in trouble,” Dr. Foy says. If problems persist, talk with your child’s doctor.

What does endometriosis mean for you?

by Thomas Fromuth, MD, from UPMC Pinnacle Lititz and Ob-Gyn of Lancaster

If you are like most women, you are probably thinking “endo what?” About 10 percent of reproductive-age women suffer with this potentially debilitating disease. In fact, many famous women have or had endometriosis, including Lena Dunham, Marilyn Monroe and Susan Sarandon. Worldwide there are 176 million women suffering and yet… very few people know what it is.

What is endometriosis?

The best way to think of endometriosis is as a disease that causes killer cramps in women. Not just your normal menstrual cramps. These cramps are so bad you have to lay on the bathroom floor or on your sofa immobilized. Motrin, Aleve, Midol do not touch the pain. Worst, no one believes your pain could be that bad. They think you are overreacting or faking it, saying “Suck it up! It’s just part of being a woman.” If that is not all bad enough, you can also have heavy and prolonged menses, pain between periods, painful intercourse, and infertility. You feel isolated and alone because nobody understands and nobody believes you…sometimes not even your doctor. 

Is this you? If so, you don’t have to suffer. There is hope.

The Facts of Endometriosis

Before I get into the diagnosis and treatment of endometriosis, here are some basic facts. They’ll give you a better understanding of the disease.

  • Endometriosis is a disease where cells like those that line the uterus grow on tissues and organs outside the uterus, usually in the abdomen but elsewhere too.
  • It affects 1 in 10 women worldwide.
  • It affects women during childbearing age (from first period until menopause).
  • There is no one clear cause of endometriosis, but genetics is involved. If your mother had endometriosis, you are six times more likely to have the disease.
  • Symptoms typically begin during puberty but can start later.
  • There is an average of a 10-year delay in diagnosing endometriosis.
  • Thirty to forty percent of women with endometriosis experience infertility.
  • Endometriosis affects all races and economic classes.
  • There is no cure for endometriosis. But there is help, sometimes with medications and surgery.
  • Hysterectomy with removal of the ovaries is NOT the cure for endometriosis.

How does endometriosis affect you?

Endometriosis negatively affects a woman’s life in substantial ways. Because of this pain, you experience 38 percent more work productivity loss then those women without it. Non-work-related activities, such as housework, exercising, studying, shopping and childcare, can also be significantly impaired by its painful symptoms. Painful intercourse can cause you to not only not enjoy sex, but also to avoid sex. This often leads to difficult relationship issues.

Adolescent girls may not get help because people so rarely believed them when they complain of pain. Women who have had children often have their endometriosis misdiagnosed because they were not infertile.

How is endometriosis diagnosed?

Endometriosis is diagnosed by your doctor in a few different ways. Tests to check for physical symptoms of it include:

  • Listening – a physician with a good understanding of endometriosis will listen to your symptoms. He or she can tell a lot about whether you may be experiencing endometriosis or another condition.
  • Pelvic exam – your doctor manually feels areas in your pelvis for abnormalities like cysts or scars. This test will not directly determine whether you have endometriosis, but it can identify cysts associated with the disease.
  • Ultrasound – an abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound may be ordered. This test takes images of your reproductive organs. Although this test will not directly determine whether you have endometriosis, it can identify cysts associated with the disease.
  • Laparoscopy – although medical management is typically recommended first, laparoscopy is another diagnostic tool. While under general anesthesia, your doctor will make a small incision by your navel. They will then insert the laparoscope to look for endometrial tissue outside of your uterus. They may take a biopsy to test the tissue. Laparoscopy can provide information about the location, extent and size of your endometrial tissue.

How is endometriosis treated?

Treatment of endometriosis can vary from medications to surgery. The approach you and your doctor choose will depend on the severity of your symptoms. These treatment options include:

  • Pain medications
  • Hormone therapy
  • Conservative surgery to remove the excess endometrial tissue
  • Hysterectomy (in extreme cases) along with removal of any endometriosis if present

Unfortunately, there is no cure for endometriosis. But treatment options are available to help manage your symptoms.

If you or someone you know have these symptoms, please talk to your ob-gyn or your primary care provider. See a complete list of our ob-gyn providers online

Teen Substance Abuse Assessment


Are you concerned that your teen is using drugs or alcohol? Answering the following questions can help you learn more about the signs of substance abuse.

Note: This assessment is not intended to be a substitute for a visit with your healthcare provider.

Why some adapt to time changes easier than others


Whether you barely noticed the time change or are still feeling the effects of the end of Daylight Saving Time, you probably have your genes to blame.

Dr. Sheila Asghar, a pediatric neurologist at Penn State Children’s Hospital who is trained in sleep medicine, said changing the clock by an hour twice a year may seem like a simple thing that your body can work around, but it isn’t always easy for everyone.

“The effects – and reasons you feel them – can be more far-reaching than we thought,” she said. “Genetics play a role in why some of us are very adaptable but others are not.” It’s those same genes that are responsible for whether you are a night owl or a morning lark.

Every living thing – including animals and plants – has its own particular circadian rhythm; an intrinsic biological pattern of physical, mental and behavioral changes that follows a cycle of approximately 24 hours as it responds to light and darkness in the environment.

“An older child might adapt more easily than an infant,” Asghar said. “The infant may start waking up an hour earlier than usual after the end of Daylight Saving Time.”

Adults who are already sleep deprived may suffer the most from the twice-a-year time changes.

“We are limited on how quickly that circadian rhythm can adjust,” said Dr. Amy Meoli, medical director of the Penn State Sleep Research and Treatment Center.

She said people who are more sensitive to the time change should start shifting their bedtime by 15-minute increments every few days in preparation for springing forward or falling back: “It can take a week or two.”

Other effects of the time change may not be so obvious right away. Meoli said chronic sleep deprivation and disruption can lead to increased cortisol and insulin levels and problems metabolizing glucose. “That can cause weight gain over time,” she said.

Asghar said there can also be unpleasant longer-term side effects of spending more of our waking hours in the dark. “When it’s dark out we are not doing a lot of activity outside like playing and exercising, so sometimes you can put on more weight in the winter,” she said.

Those who already suffer from depression may find themselves affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition in which a lack of sunlight is thought to cause depression.

“If an adult goes to work in the dark, comes home in the dark and had a rough day at work, they can feel a bit down,” Asghar said. “Most people bounce back, but if you are already depressed, that’s a whole different ballgame.”

Women’s heart health awareness month

For decades, the diagnosis of heart disease has been an afterthought in the area of women’s health.  Conventional thought led us to believe that heart disease was an issue more for men than their female counterparts.  In reality, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease every year.  That’s one woman every minute, according to the American Heart Association.

Heart disease strikes more women than men and claims more lives than all cancers combined.  Knowing your personal risk factors is the first step in preventing one’s personal risk of heart disease.  Risk factors include having a sedentary lifestyle, having an elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.  Some women may also have a genetic predisposition to heart disease.  Above all however, the one behavioral element that puts women, as well as men, at an elevated risk of heart disease is smoking.

The nicotine in cigarettes causes the user’s heart rate and blood pressure to elevate.  Furthermore, the carbon monoxide in tobacco robs the smoker’s heart, brain and arteries of needed oxygen.  Clotting risk is increased by tobacco because it damages the smoker’s blood vessels and makes their blood thicker.  Individuals who smoke also have a decreased tolerance for physical activity which indirectly lowers an individuals HDL’s, the good cholesterol that helps the body manage the bad cholesterol (LDL’s).  According to many researchers in the field of cardiology, smoking damages every tissue and organ in the human body.

This month, as we create awareness for heart disease,  take action by eliminating a risk factor you can control, quit smoking.  At Lebanon Family Health Services we are working with companies to implement tobacco free policies that include a research based tobacco cessation class for employees called Freedom From Smoking© and/or a “fax-to-quit” program.   Services are free and are available at work sites.  For more information, call Holly at 273-6741 ext. 310.

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