Is Your Child Too Sick For School?

Runny nose, stomach ache, cold….When is a child too sick to go to school? On one hand you don’t want them to miss too much school but on the other hand you don’t want your child to spread the disease or illness to the other children at school and they may need rest to get better. If your child has any of these symptoms, he or she should miss school:

  • Tired, Irritability, Persistent Crying, and/or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Severe Cough
  • Unusually yellow color to skin and eyes
  • Skin or eye lesions or rashes that are severe, weeping, or pus-filled
  • Rash with fever or behavior change(Physician needs to determine that this is not a contagious illness BEFORE sending your child back to school)
  • Vomiting more than two times in 24 hours
  • Mouth Sores with drooling(Physician needs to determine that this is not a contagious illness BEFORE sending your child back to school
  • Diarrhea or stool that contains blood or mucus
  • Severe pain
  • Stiff Neck or Headache with any of the above symptoms

Its never a bad thing to take your child to the doctor, even if the doctor says “they are fine, its just a simple cold”, its better to be safe than sorry. Please make sure and call your doctor/nurse for advice if you feel something serious is wrong, don’t ignore those parental intuitions. WebMD has a great symptom checker and information on just about anything you can think of.

Making After-School Snacks Fun and Healthy

I remember when I was in Elementary School, and I would wait for the school bell to ring so I could rush home and watch my quartet of favorite cartoons: Gummi Bears, Tale Spin, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck. These shows were an enjoyable, albeit not particularly healthy, way to enjoy my afternoon and a background for my homework. Like so many kids coming home from school, the other thing I looked forward to was an after-school snack. It was always a painfully long time from our school lunches around 11:30 until dinner with my family around 6:00. My stomach would grumble and beg for the bus to drive faster to my stop so I could race up the driveway to a food feast. I was always fortunate enough to have my mom or dad at home waiting for me when I got home from school and they always had a great snack prepared for me. To their merit, our snacks were generally healthy, and yet I enjoyed and looked forward to those snacks everyday of the week.

Here are some snacks that you can make for or with your kids that they will look forward to having after school AND that will be healthy for their growing bodies and minds.

The Sweet Tooth: Buy vanilla yogurt and fruit toppings, along with granola and raisins and let the kids create their own toppings each day. The yogurt and fruit can give kids things they need, like milk and fiber, while still satisfying their craving for something sweet.

Substitute Tastes: Try healthier alternatives to their favorite snacks. If they love cookies, try graham crackers. If its chips they like, try Soy Crisps or Wheat Thins.

Keep it Fresh: For the kids who just love Oreos or a Cookie after school, its okay in moderation, but add some fresh strawberries or carrots to the plate, to ‘combine’ flavors and ‘intensify’ the amazing after-school snack experience:

Combo Kings: Some of my personal favorites that blend sweet tastes with healthy foods: Apples and Peanut Butter, Apples and Cheese, Peanut Butter and Celery or Wheat Thins and Jelly. Just some personal favorites, but healthy snacks that keep your kids satisfied and excited.

Check out Top 10 After-School Snacks for more fun ideas that get your kids involved in the snack-making process, teaching them healthy choices while having a good time with you and their siblings.

Have a great after-school snack you’d like to share? Leave a comment below.

Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy Some Dark Chocolate

Imagine my surprise when I read that research showed that eating 2 ounces of dark chocolate a day with a minimum content of 70% cocoa can be beneficial to my health and yours. They even said a 1 1/2-ounce square of chocolate may have as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as a 5-ounce glass of red wine.

Benefits of dark chocolate:

~ Lowers Blood Pressure – Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, which helps to regulate blood flow, inflammation and blood pressure.

~ Lowers Cholesterol – Unlike the saturated fats found in meat and dairy, the saturated fats in dark chocolate do not elevate cholesterol levels.

~ Stimulates endorphin production.

~ Contains serotoin, which acts as an anti-depressant.

~ Contains theobramine and caffeine, which are stimulants.

“Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body.” As stated in the article Health Benefits of Chocolate.

So what are you waiting for? Go buy some dark chocolate today and sit back, relax and enjoy!

8 Tips To Keep You On Your Diet

We can all name about 10 people that we know are on diets this summer, including ourselves. So many people diet in the summer because the weather has gotten warmer and we are all wearing less clothes. Here are some tips to keep you looking great and sticking to your diet.

1. Fill up on Summers bounty! Fresh fruits and veggies are everywhere, snacking on them is your best bet when dieting.

2. Grab a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.

3. Do not skip breakfast. Actually eating a larger breakfast will help you eat fewer calories the rest of the day.

4. Fill up on water or other calorie-free drinks. People sometimes confuse thirst for hunger, grabbing food when all they need is an ice cold glass of water.

5. Eat protein at every meal. Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fat, keeping you feeling full.

6. Stock you kitchen full of healthy convenience food. Having ready-to-eat meals and meals-in-minutes in your kitchen will keep you away from the quick fast food run or pizza delivery.

7. Be physically active. Try to do an activity each day to keep you in shape.

8. Brush your teeth right after dinner to help remind you that you are done eating for the night.

Check out caloriecount.com for help when keeping track of calories consumed. They have calorie counts and nutrition facts for restaurants, name brand foods and recipes.

Five Gym Membership Alternatives

If you’re like me, you’re starting to realize that ‘thinking’ about working out isn’t going to burn any calories. But when I started looking into gym memberships around the city I live in, I was amazed at how expensive some of the monthly costs can be. I looked closer and found out that, on top of the monthly fees were start-up costs and other expenses that quickly added up to much more than we can budget for. So while gyms have some great perks and encourage people paying memberships to work out more often, here are some cheap ways to work out without going to a gym.

1. Find the nearest high school track and begin a walking and/or running regiment. Find a partner and enjoy the social aspect of burning calories while being able to track how far you are walking or running. Check out CoolRunning for a cool way to begin a running program and tips on getting the most out of walking and running.

2. Dust off your bike in the garage and get the family together for a bike ride. Biking on the open ride or in a neighborhood is a great family experience, as well as a great cardiovascular and muscular workout. Plus, it beats the bikes in the gyms where you pedal and pedal but never go anywhere and the scenery is better than the sweaty guy working out in front of you.

3. Buy a set of dumbbells from a garage sale or a local sports store and set up your own lifting regiment in your home. It will save you trips to the gym, your weights are available when you need them and you can pick them up in between chores or other moments throughout the day and workout more often.

4. Learn pilates by purchasing a pilates video and workout mat. This too allows you to workout in the comfort of your home, but gives you the body toning workout that you are looking for. Go to the Pilates website for information about Pilate Methods and videos available for ordering.

5. Pick up a sport like basketball, ultimate frisbee or others that will give you a workout and satisfy your competitive craving. Find some friends that enjoy the same sport and get together on a weekly basis to workout and have fun together.

What are your favorite alternatives to working out at the gym?

10 Stress Reducers

At the office, at home, at school or anywhere you are, stress can overcome you and take a small problem and make it seem impossible. During times of stress certain hormones work to help slow down and calm the brain. Its believed that if stress becomes chronic, these hormones remain activated and can lead to depression. Here are 10 ways to help reduce stress and help you deal better with the problems that do arise.

1. Catch those ZZZZ’s. Sleep is essential for good health, mental and emotional functioning and safety. Check out the Tools and Quizes at sleepfoundation.org. They can help you assess your satisfaction with your sleep.

2. Eat a healthy, low fat diet. You will have more energy, a stronger immune system and fewer mood swings.

3. Exercise regularly. 20 minutes a day is recommended. Check out the article at Mayo Clinic Exercise: 7 Benefits of regular physical activity.

4. Talk. Make sure you have someone that you can talk to when your facing problems. Keeping your feelings and worries to yourself will compound your problems.

5. Restrict the amount of caffeine in your diet. Caffeine is a stimulant and high amounts of caffeine can cause mood swings, lose of sleep and leave you feeling more stressed.

6. Take a deep breath. When feeling stressed our body seems to switch to short, shallow breaths causing muscle tension. Try relaxing all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths.

7. Don’t forget to eat lunch. No matter how busy you are, or think you are, you need to eat lunch, it will help you get through the rest of the day.

8. Don’t worry about tomorrow. For tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

9. Prepare for the morning the evening before. Lay out your clothes, make lunches and set the breakfast table.

10. Laugh. Laughing reduces the level of stress hormones. There is a great article from about.com on The benefits of Laughter.

How do you handle stress?

Asparagus – Why Does it Make Your Pee Stink?

Why is it that about 15 minutes after eating asparagus your pee has a wretched, foul smell?

This is the big question!

As I asked people if their pee stinks after they eat asparagus, I either got the ” I cant believe you are asking me this” look or the understanding, quick “yes”. I thought of doing an experiment but from some of my responses I decided not to. Most people agreed though and I was happy I wasn’t the only one with this stink. I decided I would find out the answer to this mystery and if there is anything that can be done to stop the stink. Here is what I found out.

As stated on the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board website. There is debate on whether the compound that causes the odor in urine after consumption of asparagus is, Methylmercaptan, a sulfur containing derivative of the amino acid, methionine OR asparagine-amino-succinic-acid monoamide. In either case, the product is formed as a derivative during the digestion and subsequent breakdown of beneficial amino acids that occur naturally in asparagus. Thus making your pee stink. The funny thing about it is that there have been studies done and only about 40% of people have the autosomal genes required to smell it. Now that doesn’t mean it doesn’t stink, because they did do another study that showed 103 out of 103 people did have odorous pee. Can anything be done to stop the stink – Well No, but below are some good reasons why you should keep eating and enjoying asparagus.

Facts

-Asparagus is high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C and thiamin.

-Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence.

-Asparagus is used ethnomedically to treat urinary tract infections, as well as kidney and bladder stones.

Charles Lamb, English poet, says it best – “Asparagus inspires gentle thoughts”.

Check out cafepress.com for some great asparagus tees.

Organic Local Farms

I was searching the web for Organic Farms in my area and found localharvest.org. It is an impressive site with a great search engine to find, farms, co-ops, grocery stores, farmers markets, CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) and restaurants, all in your area, just by adding your zip or state. It has an on-line store for those hard to find items. It gives a list of events in your area, photos of farms, a forum with tons of helpful info, news and even a blog. You can sign up for the monthly newsletter and even view the newsletter archives. Check out the Benefits of eating and buying organic, local foods. Have you come across a great website about organic or local farms? Please share.

New ‘Big Breakfast’ Diet

Researchers at The Endocrine Society found a way to avoid the weight regain after dieting by eating a big breakfast packed with carbohydrates and protein, then follow a low-carb, low-calorie diet the rest of the day. They compared their new diet with a low-carb diet. Both diets were low in fat and total calories but differed in the carbohydrate distribution. They found after four months there wasn’t much difference between the two diets but after eight months the women on the new diet kept the weight off and lost more and the women on the low-carb diet regained more then half of the weight they lost after the first four months. The study found that women who ate a big breakfast reported feeling less hungry, especially before lunch, and having fewer cravings for carbs than the other women did.