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Archive for the ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ Category

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.

Family meals help kids’ physical and mental health

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Designed by Bearfotos / Freepik

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

Original source:

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

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.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, 70% of all adults have been infected with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the virus that leads to cervical cancer and genital warts.  Fortunately, the majority of these individuals do not develop cervical cancer or warts. Often, their body’s immune system will naturally suppress the virus.  However, for those whose body’s do not, knowing how to detect cancer early can make the difference between life and death.

January is Cervical Health Awareness Month.  Since the 1940’s the National Cervical Cancer Coalition credits early detection tests with a 70% reduction in deaths from cervical cancer.  As soon as a woman reaches the age of 21, she should begin getting regular pap tests, a test that looks at the cellular growth of the cervix.  If abnormal cellular growth is detected, further testing may be required with a test called a colposcopy.  Recent guidelines now advise that women, who have normal pap tests, may be able to have less frequent pap tests. This is something that needs to be discussed with their health care provider.

Furthermore, unlike the 1940’s, there are two vaccines now available that have the potential of greatly reducing risk and incidence of cervical cancer.  It is recommended for girls and boys to get the vaccine between the ages of 11-26.  Regular use of condoms during sexual activity can also greatly reduce the risk. However, HPV is transmitted skin to skin and no intercourse is actually necessary to spread the virus.

Unfortunately, HPV infection is often symptomless and an individual is unaware that they are infected.  For this reason it is important for women to get regular cervical checks with a healthcare provider.  Every Friday from 8:30-3, Lebanon Family Health Services offers a walk-in-clinic for individuals to receive any of our medical services.  One service that is available is gynecological exams offered free or low cost based on household size and income.  As part of Cervical Health Awareness Month, take the first step in preventing cervical cancer.  Call our office to schedule an appointment-273-6741 or stop in during Friday walk-in clinic times.

New Year’s Resolution: Drink more water

Soon after the ball drops (or the bologna as we know New Years in Lebanon County), the next thing we usually do is proclaim our New Year’s Resolution.  Swearing off that last holiday cookie and promising to shed those extra five pounds put on over the holidays, we welcome in a new year.  This predictable tradition is the time when we get back on track to healthier eating and exercise.  However, as we realign ourselves, what about our children?  Will they also commit to the same New Year’s resolution?

While sugar consumption in children has increased, the holidays can’t be credited for this.  According to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Health Statistics, 16% of children’s daily calories come from added sugar-this goes well beyond an overindulgence of holiday cookies and candy.  In fact, since the mid 1970’s the average intake of sugar among children has been slowly rising and the primary culprit—sugary beverages (colas, soft drinks and high sugar juices).  Furthermore, as the consumption of sugary beverages has risen the amount of milk and water children consume has decreased—therefore denying much needed nutrients for bone density and growth.

That is why that throughout the past year the staff at Lebanon Family Health has been out teaching about the 5210 concept.  It’s a simple daily diet concept for parents that recommend children get 5 fruits/vegetables a day, less than 2 hours of recreational screen time, get 1 hour of physical activity and 0 sugary beverages each day.

While encouraging a 5 year old to drink water instead of the red drink at the holiday party is a challenge, the staff at LFHS have been teaching children to drink water in a fun and entertaining way.  “Potter the Otter”, a helpful friend that likes to drink water is introduced to kids.  He teaches children and their parents about the sugar content in popular drinks such as soda, juices and chocolate milk.  Lessons on sugar content are also available for parents.  For more information on the “Potter the Otter” and other nutrition education lessons available at Lebanon Family Health, visit our website at

Celebrate the “Great American Smokeout” by having your workplace go “Smoke-free”

With over 4000 hazardous chemical components in secondhand smoke, it isn’t a surprise that the World Health Organization (WHO) found that secondhand smoke exposure is a major cause of lung cancer, coronary heart disease and cardiac death among non-smokers. Furthermore, WHO found that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke and that ventilation systems and designated smoking rooms do not provide effective protection to the public and company workers.  The International Labour Organization found that each year 200,000 workers die because of exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace.

In recent years, many companies have seen the health and financial benefits of becoming a smoke-free workplace. As healthcare costs soar and as insurance policies charge higher rates to cover smokers, there has been a great benefit to businesses to change their policies regarding tobacco. Numerous studies have found a decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks. Among restaurant workers, there is a documented 26% decrease in respiratory symptoms. When smoke free workplace policies are implemented, there has been a 4% decrease in the number of smokers and a significant decrease in smoking among individuals who continue to smoke, according to the British Medical Journal. This decrease not only benefits the individual health of the workers, but saves on overall healthcare costs among those that participate in the company insurance plan.

Some of the most prevalent criticisms of tobacco free policies are that they will impact the companies “bottom line”. In reality, studies have found the opposite. Studies have found that when companies embrace smoke free policies they experience an increase in employee productivity, reduced sickness and reduced injuries. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that if all US workplaces were smoke free, it would save $280 million in medical costs in the first 7 years.

On November 16, we recognized the “Great American Smokeout”. This year, make a bold move and ensure that your work site is tobacco free. 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 your work site. For more information, call Holly at 273-6741 ext. 310.

New Jersey man pays attention to family history, and lives to tell about it

By American Heart Association News

Sammy Rabin doesn’t like to brag but, until he learned he needed triple bypass surgery, he’d considered himself “the poster child for good health.”

He’d been exercising regularly for 30 years, ate a vegetarian diet and ran marathons.

“I did everything I could to stay healthy,” said Rabin, 65, the director of operations for a travel company in Fairfield, New Jersey. “I had to, because I had genetics working against me.”

Rabin’s father, Jack, died of a heart attack when he was 68. His brother, Arthur, died from one when he was only 46.

Sammy Rabin with his father, Jack, who died of a heart attack at 68. (Photo courtesy of Sammy Rabin)

But Rabin had always felt fit and strong and so he wasn’t concerned when he felt a mild pain in his chest in 2013 while training for the Philadelphia Marathon.

“I thought I’d pulled a muscle, even when it hurt for three days straight,” he said.

But on the fourth day, when the pain started radiating down his arm, he realized it wasn’t something to toy with.

He called his cardiologist to describe his symptoms and, before he’d even finished, the doctor stopped him mid-sentence and said he wanted Rabin in his office the very next morning.

A stress test, heart scan and angiogram revealed serious blockages in three of Rabin’s coronary arteries. The doctor said the situation was so serious, he wanted to do bypass surgery that night.

But Rabin put the brakes on that notion.

“I wanted some other opinions,” he said.

He talked to five other cardiologists, and four of them recommended surgery.

The fifth? He suggested stents, but with the caveat that, if Rabin went that route, he’d never be able to run like he had before.

“I decided to have the surgery,” he said.

Giovanni Campanile, M.D., Rabin’s cardiologist, said it’s rare for someone like him to have such severe coronary blockages.

“I told Sammy that if he didn’t live the kind of healthy lifestyle he did, he might have had a heart attack 10 years earlier,” said Campanile, director of Ornish Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation at Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.

The bypass surgery went well and Rabin was soon walking the hospital corridors. Released after only five days, he was jogging slowly within three and a half weeks.

Sammy Rabin and his wife, Debra, at a resort two months after his heart surgery. His chest scar is visible. (Photo courtesy of Sammy Rabin)

But the recovery wasn’t without its bumps. Several weeks after surgery he had a bout of pericarditis, an inflammation of the fluid-filled sac called the pericardium that surrounds the heart. An anti-inflammatory cleared up the condition and he hasn’t had a relapse.

According to Campanile, at least once a year and for the foreseeable future, Rabin will undergo testing to measure blood flow through his coronary arteries. And, if he continues living his healthy lifestyle, his long-term prognosis is excellent.

Still, Campanile cautioned, when it comes to heart health, Rabin’s story highlights the importance of looking beyond the numbers, such as cholesterol and blood pressure, and taking your family history into account.

“Because both his father and brother died of heart attacks, Sammy knew to see a doctor when he was having those chest pains,” said Campanile. “That probably saved his life.”

Two years to the day following his surgery, Rabin ran the 2015 New York City Marathon. While his time of 5 hours, 10 minutes, 6 seconds was his slowest ever and well off his personal best of 3:36:43, he no longer keeps his eye on the clock.

He has bigger things on his mind.

“That marathon was the most meaningful and rewarding one ever for me,” he said. “After crossing the finish line, I had tears mixing in with my sweat. I felt blessed to be running at all.”

Sammy Rabin in 2015, as he neared the finish line of the New York City Marathon. (Photo courtesy of Sammy Rabin)

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