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Be Well, Be Well Informed
Americans are obsessed with losing weight, and with good cause. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 68.8 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. This condition can cause a wide range of health problems, from type 2 diabetes and gallstones to coronary disease and strokes.
But despite all the headlines about one “magic diet” or another, there’s really only one way to achieve and maintain your healthy weight, says Erica Framsted, M.S., R.D. CSO, a dietitian at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Turn healthy eating into a lifelong habit you enjoy.
Healthy eating, she says, is not a diet. It’s more like a hobby that you can get better at over the years. Here are her tips to help you get started.
This is the time of year we all resolve to lose weight, exercise more or become better parents. In short, this is the time of year we all want to be perfect. But before you set your New Year’s resolution bar too high, take a minute to consider the perils of perfectionism.
Perfectionists deal with chronic stress from trying to fulfill nearly impossible expectations in every area of their life, says Ronesh (Ron) Sinha, M.D., an internal medicine specialist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. As a result, they’re susceptible to psychological disorders like anxiety and depression.
What’s the difference between perfectionism and “healthy striving” that helps you achieve your goals? People who strive and fail learn from their experiences and move on. A perfectionist, on the other hand, feels shame from missing the goal, and may never try again.
Health Consequences of Perfectionism
Dr. Sinha was inspired to consider the health consequences of perfectionism after watching Brené Brown, Ph.D., LMSW, give a TED talk on the power of vulnerability. He has these words of advice for those who want to be perfect.
“When it comes to achieving health goals, individuals who are perfectionists often fail,” Dr. Sinha says. “For example, to lose weight, they might set a near impossible goal to eat a highly restrictive diet and exercise hard five days a week. Inevitably the realities of life settle in, and they fall into old patterns and don’t reach their goals.”
A perfectionist may view falling off their diet plan as a personal failure, and give up on healthy eating and regular exercise. Worse, chronic stress from a perfectionist approach to weight loss can result in rebound binge eating. Any form of stress makes us crave unhealthy foods typically loaded with sugar and excess carbohydrates. Read More about The Perils of Perfectionism
Parents often wish they had a crystal ball to help them figure out whether their sick child needs urgent medical attention. Is the sore arm after a fall really broken? Is the rising fever a sign of serious illness?
Palo Alto Medical Foundation pediatrician Lauren Brave, M.D., says everyone wants to avoid unnecessary and costly trips to the emergency room, but it’s also important to trust your instincts as a parent. When in doubt, try to contact your doctor for advice. If you think your child’s life is in danger, don’t hesitate. Call 911 or head for the nearest ER.
Here are Dr. Brave’s top tips about how to handle urgent medical care for your child.
When should I go to urgent care instead of the emergency room?
Urgent care centers can treat moderate, unforeseen medical problems that – while not emergencies – require care within about 24 hours. For example, this might include a cut that needs stitches, abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea, a sore throat, severe cough, or worsening of an existing condition, such as mild to moderate asthma. Routine injuries such as sprained ankles, simple fractures or minor falls are also appropriate for urgent care. Read More about When to Go to the Emergency Room
The holiday season – it’s the most delicious time of the year! But it can also bring lots of extra sugar, fat and calories. A study by researchers at Texas Tech University found that participants gained an average of 1.7 pounds between mid-November and early January – more than half the average adult’s annual weight gain.
“Sharing traditional holidays foods with family and friends can be one of the most pleasurable parts of the holiday season,” says Andrea Lerios, a registered dietitian at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. But you don’t have to sacrifice your waistline. “By using a few simple strategies, it is possible to enjoy your favorite holiday foods without overindulging.”
Follow these seven tips from Lerios for healthy holiday eating:
Read More about Healthy Holiday Eating
The holidays are supposed to be filled with peace and joy. But for people struggling with chronic pain, this time of year can be especially challenging.
Stress, free-flowing alcohol and pain medication can increase the risk of abuse and send people to the ER during the holidays. Painkiller abuse is a growing problem, and one that takes many people by surprise.
“Many people don’t realize they can become dependent on painkillers,” says Bruce Hill, LCSW, a psychotherapist who counsels people with substance problems at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. He often hears, “How can this be? I was just taking this for pain and my doctor prescribed it!” Read More about The Painkiller Problem
Winter often brings on sniffles, coughs and sometimes the flu. Beyond a flu vaccination, what else can you do to stay healthy? Research suggests you can boost your immune system by getting enough sleep, exercising, and – most importantly – eating key healthy foods.
“The three main antioxidants that help boost our immune systems are vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. And the best way to get those antioxidants is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables,” says Judy Farnsworth, R.D., CDE, a registered dietitian at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Food That Fight Illness
Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which can damage the body’s cells and compromise the immune system. Different fruits and vegetables contain different types of antioxidants, so it’s important to eat a colorful variety, Farnsworth says. Stock up on green leafy vegetables, broccoli, garlic, citrus fruit and berries. Dark berries such as blueberries are especially potent, antioxidant powerhouses. Read More about Foods to Boost Your Immune System
While your kids are young, you might think it wise to postpone any ambitious travel plans. But it’s worth reconsidering. Don’t let your children – and the whole family – miss out on travel, which provides enriching learning opportunities.
Palo Alto Medical Foundation pediatrician Manisha Panchal, M.D., answers parents’ common questions about traveling with children, and offers these tips for safe, healthy and happy travels together.
Read More about Tips for Traveling with Kids