A Heavy Breakfast Spells Wonders For Your Health

March 5th, 2012

Many people who want to lose weight try to pick which meals they feel they can skip in order to reduce their intake of calories, and breakfast and dinner are the two meals that most people skip. Some diets promote an after-six timeframe, wherein no food is taken in after six, but with today’s busy lifestyles that go well into the night, few people are actually successful with that. Instead, more people feel they have more willpower to skip breakfast, as they are usually in a hurry to get to work anyway so not having breakfast is usually much more convenient.

However, experts in weight loss insist on this one thing, and that is never to skip breakfast. Although it may sound contradictory to what you believe, as skipping that first meal sounds like a way to avoid the additional intake of calories, there are reasons why having a heavy breakfast may actually spell wonders for your weight loss goals:

1. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and you need the nutrients to fuel you through the rest of the day. When you skip breakfast, your body and brain are deprived of necessary fuels, and you wind up feeling sluggish. By lunch time, you might feel too hungry that you wind up wolfing down whatever you see. It would seem that psychologically, skipping that first meal makes you feel like you deserve a heavy lunch full of high-fat or high-sugar items.

2. When you skip breakfast, your body makes up for the missing energy by preserving whatever energy it can hold in. This means your metabolism is actually put on hold. When you want to lose weight, this means that for those hours you are active but holding off a meal, your body prefers not to burn any calories, so you end up on the losing end.

3. Hormone-wise, studies show that when you first wake up, your body releases a hormone that gives you a craving for complex carbohydrates. This is the perfect time to stock up on this healthy food option, like whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat bread, or perhaps fruits. If that desire is not met, within a few hours, your brain releases a hormone that makes you crave simple carbohydrates like sugar, as well as high-fat food. Perhaps you have noticed that when you skip breakfast, you have a greater temptation to eat sweets at lunch. This is road kill for any diet plan.

4. When you plan on having breakfast, you are not too hungry as to be mindless of what you eat. As such, you will be better equipped to make healthy food choices, such as reaching for sugar-free cereal or healthy oats instead of donuts early in the morning. As a result, you will also be less hungry come lunch time, and you will also be in a similarly healthy frame of mind to pick more fruits and vegetables to put on your lunch tray.

5. When you go to work on a full stomach, you are less likely to be distracted or unfocused, which reduces work-related stress for the entire morning. This means you will be less likely to binge eat at lunch after having a particularly harassed morning session. Instead, you will feel vibrant and alert and less inclined to look for comfort food.

Cradle Cap on Baby’s Scalp

March 5th, 2012

Dry skin may be something you have lived with for your entire life without really bothering to do anything about it. But if you are like most women, you will likely wish your skin was not quite so dry, and will likely be on the lookout for skin care products that would ease the condition. The good news is, there are ways to get around your dry skin without spending a fortune, and also without risking unnecessary side effects. Many home remedies have been known to ease the problem of dry skin without burning a hole in your pocket—or on your skin.

1. Olive oil – The ancient civilizations may have been onto something when they discovered the value of the olive plant. Crushing the olives in what they called olive presses caused the oils to come out over several stages. The first oil released, known as extra-virgin olive oil, were used primarily as medicine, while the next batch was used for topical treatments and cleansing-related treatments. Indeed, the use of olive oil for the skin has been around ever since the Egyptian civilization. For modern use, olive oil continues to be hailed as an effective moisturizer, as it penetrates deep into your skin. Extra-virgin olive oil is considered the best for skin care; apply it after your shower to keep the moisture locked in. Unfortunately, you might not like smelling like a fried egg throughout the day, so you can actually mix some lemon or other essential oils before you apply the olive oil.

2. Baking soda – Baking soda is another kitchen cupboard item that seems to be effective at treating a myriad of ailments, including dry skin. To apply it to your skin, make a paste with a little baking soda mixed with water, and then apply it on the affected areas. If you want to enjoy overall relief, you can soak in a tub of water mixed with one cup of baking soda. Just remember to apply moisturizer after such a bath or even after applying some baking soda to small skin areas.

3. Oatmeal – Before you excitedly snip off the package of your instant oatmeal sachet hoping for a quick cure for dry skin, listen up: the oatmeal used for skin care are plain oats, not the sugar-laden version that comprises our instant cooking oatmeal. You can use plain oatmeal either as a face mask or as a bath. You can choose to cook the oatmeal or use it raw, as it apparently works both ways, but you will need to find what works best for you. If you choose to use uncooked oatmeal, add egg whites or honey to achieve the sticking consistency you need. If you want, you can actually add olive oil or baking soda to your oatmeal mask for an even higher efficacy in fighting dry skin. When it comes to oatmeal baths, you will need colloidal oats, or oats which have been ground into a fine powder, to make them dissolve in the water. You can actually do this yourself, using a blender, a coffee grounder, or a food processor. Once you have this powder-form of oatmeal, put it in your bath and enjoy. Just be sure to apply moisturizer after your bath.

4. Apple cider vinegar – This is also a well-known product that does well to improve your skin when added to a bath. Of course, this tends to smell even more strongly than the fried-egg smell of olive oil, so you will probably enjoy it more when you add some sweet-smelling oils, like rosemary or lavender. After your bath, remember to moisturize.

5. Coffee grounds – This is probably the least expected product for a home remedy for dry skin. What coffee grounds do, though, is to act as an exfoliating agent. When you shower, just rub the affected areas with coffee grounds. Of course, you can put the coffee grounds inside a muslin bag, as you cannot exactly just hold them in your hands. Use this bag as an exfoliating agent during your shower, helping you remove dead, dry skin cells. Once again, be sure to moisturize after your shower.

Diagnosing Skin Rashes on Toddlers

March 5th, 2012

Is your toddler visibly uncomfortable with red, oozy bumps on his skin? Have you found him scratching inconsolably? Interestingly, most rashes on a baby or toddler may not bother him, hence not really requiring action on your part, as they typically go away on their own. In such cases, you can just make sure you keep your baby as comfortable as possible while the rashes are still visible, and wait until the skin will come back to its smoothness again. However, when it is visibly annoying him, it may be time to take notice.

The following are good ways to determine the cause of your toddler’s rashes:

1. Does the rash appear on the diaper area? If so, then it is only diaper rash. Your doctor may prescribe you a diaper rash cream, or you may consider the way you change his diapers. Perhaps you have left the diaper on for too long; if that’s the case, you can decide next time to allow shorter intervals between diaper changes. If you know that you are religious at your diaper changing, then you can look into the possibility of changing diaper brands, or possibly putting your toddler on cloth diapers during the day. The good news about this is that your toddler will soon be potty trained, and you just need to keep the diaper area as comfortable as possible until then.

2. Does the rash come with itching and chapping? If it does, then it is likely caused by dry skin. In that case, make sure you moisturize your toddler’s skin regularly, preferably after every bath or shower. Your doctor can recommend a good moisturizer.

3. Does the rash come with a fever for around two to three days, and comes on after the fever disappears and there are no other symptoms? In this case, it is likely caused by roseola, particularly if it happens during the springtime.

4. Does the rash come on after your toddler eats a new food? Does it come with a swollen face or possibly, trouble breathing? If so, the rash is likely caused by a food allergy. Take note of which new food you offered him, and avoid giving it again for the next few weeks or months. Sometimes you can try offering it again, but typically, doctors would recommend you to put off offering the food trigger until maybe when the child reaches preschool age.

5. Does the rash come with a sore throat or strep throat that your paediatrician diagnoses? Then it may be caused by scarlet fever. Be sure to consult with your doctor in this case.

6. Does the rash appear all over your toddler’s body, on his feet, hands, and around his mouth? Does it last for two to three days and come with a fever? This is likely caused by a virus, and will disappear when the virus has run its course. You can ask your doctor for possible treatment of the rash and the fever, but it will generally go away after the virus has run its course.

7. Does the rash come with a fever and ulcers in your toddler’s mouth? Do the red bumps turn into blisters and crust over, while new bumps continue appearing? Did the rash begin on the back and head? This is possibly chicken pox. Be sure to head over to your paediatrician.

8. Does the rash come with itching around the affected area? It may simply be hives, sunburn, an insect bite, or a reaction to poison ivy.

9. Is the rash red and circular and comes with a center colored like skin? Is it itchy and scaly? This may possibly be caused by ringworm, particularly if the rash appears on your toddler’s scalp.

10. Does the rash come with a runny nose, cough, fever, pinkeye, and has your toddler recently travelled outside the country or spent time with someone who has? If the rash appeared a few days following the appearance of the other symptoms, it may be caused by measles, a tropical country disease.

11. Is the rash shaped like a bull’s eye, and came on between three days to one month of having been bitten by deer tick? If so, it may possibly be Lyme disease.

As you can see, skin rashes in toddlers can be brought about by a myriad of causes. The best thing for you to do, when something seems amiss, is to consult your paediatrician, as he will be the best person to give you the correct diagnosis.

Depression in Teens May Be Hard to Spot

February 29th, 2012

Teenagers have a tough time. They’re dealing with raging hormones plus the social and emotional pressures of growing up. Many juggle the demands of school, a job, and outside activities. On top of that, they often don’t get the sleep they need. It’s no wonder they are sometimes grouchy.

But what seems like a bad mood may actually be depression. It affects about 1 out of 5 teens sometime during adolescence. Girls are twice as likely as boys to be diagnosed with depression. Children of military families and those with sexual identity issues are at high risk.

Parents expect teenagers to be moody, tired, or difficult at times. As a result, depression in teens often goes unnoticed. If it’s not treated, depression can undercut a young person’s self-esteem and lead to destructive behaviors, such as drug abuse and suicide.

Most teens aren’t able to step back and realize what’s happening to their emotions. So it’s up to parents or other concerned adults to help them get the treatment they need to feel better.

What causes depression in teens?
Depression is a serious medical illness that has many possible causes. Teens with a family history of mood disorders are at increased risk for depression. In others, chemical changes in the brain may be triggered by a stressful event such as a death in the family, sexual abuse, or bullying. In some cases it may not be clear why depression occurred.

Regardless of the cause, depression needs treatment. Some teens may gradually get better on their own. But 4 out of 10 teens will have another episode of depression within 2 years.

How can I tell if my teen is depressed?
It can be tough to know if a teen’s behavior is normal moodiness or a sign of depression. Important clues a parent can look for include:

•Irritable or angry mood. You may think a depressed person should seem sad, but depressed teens are more likely to be grumpy or hostile or have angry outbursts.
•Unexplained aches and pains. A teen who is depressed may go to the school nurse more often or complain of vague problems such as stomach ache and headache.
•Self-criticism. Depressed teens may be consumed with feelings of worthlessness, rejection, and failure.
•Drop in school performance. Depression may cause a lack of motivation or organization that results in lower grades.
•Risky behaviors. Depressed teens may engage in unsafe sex, stealing, fighting, reckless driving, or substance use. Self-injury such as cutting, scratching, burning, or excessive piercing or tattooing may be a sign a teen needs help.
If you are concerned, take your child to see a doctor. A complete physical exam can help rule out other conditions that could be causing the problems. In general, a doctor may diagnose depression if a teen acts grumpy or depressed for at least 2 weeks and has four or more of the following symptoms:

•Sleep problems (usually sleeping too much)
•Loss of interest in activities he or she used to enjoy
•Loss of interest in friends
•Change in appetite or weight
•Lack of energy
•Trouble concentrating or making decisions
•Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
•Acting restless or sluggish
•Thoughts of death or suicide
Suicide is a very real risk in depressed teens. Take seriously any talk of suicide or wanting to die. Call 9-1-1 right away if you think a teen might try to harm himself or herself or others.

How is it treated?
The main treatments for teens with depression are:

•Antidepressant medication. A medication called fluoxetine (Prozac) seems to help adolescents with depression.
•Psychotherapy. A type of psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy is often used. This type of therapy challenges negative thought patterns. It can help a teen develop a better outlook and greater sense of self-worth.
Using both medication and psychotherapy often achieves better results than using either treatment alone.

Antidepressants can have side effects. Be sure you understand the risks and benefits of these medications before your child starts them.

Note: Anyone being treated with antidepressants should be watched closely for worsening depression and increased suicidal thinking or behavior. Close watching may be especially important early in treatment or when the dose is changed. Discuss any concerns with your doctor.

Antidepressants should be continued for as long as the doctor recommends. Then the dose needs to be slowly tapered off. Quitting suddenly can have serious effects.

How can I help my teen?

•Learn about depression. Explain to your teen that depression is an illness, and like other illnesses, it needs to be treated. Help the family understand what your teen is going through.
•Be patient and supportive. Understand that it will take some time for treatment to work.
•Encourage your teen to be physically active. Exercise can help fight off depression.
•Urge your child to get out and see friends. Spending too much time alone is not good for emotional health.
•Help your teen follow through on treatment. Be sure he or she gets to therapy sessions and takes medicine as prescribed.
•Keep an eye on your teen’s mood. Call the doctor if depression seems to be getting worse instead of better.

Easing Your Child’s Fear of Needles

February 29th, 2012

Does your child scream at the sight of needles?Tell you he’d rather have the flu than a shot to prevent it? You’re not sure who is dreading this next back-to-school booster more – you, who will have to help hold your son, or him.

An article in the journal Pediatrics suggests that parents can ease a child’s anxiety about shots or getting blood drawn through the art of distraction. Ploys like blowing bubbles or singing with your child can do the trick.

The authors stress, though, that parents should not be too understanding if a child makes a fuss. Otherwise, the attention can increase the child’s fears about what’s to come. Parents need to be supportive but matter-of-fact about the shot. No apologies.

Explain to children that immunizations are a fact of life – that it’s okay to feel a little scared, but taking care of their health is part of growing up.

Before the appointment

Wait till the day of the appointment to tell your child about the shot ¿ an hour before if you can. That way, your child can prepare, but won’t have time to worry.

Even babies can sense a parent’s emotions. If children pick up on anxiety, they will grow nervous, too. If you aren’t relaxed, ask a calm grandparent or spouse to be with the child during the shot. Above all, reassure your child that he or she will not be alone.

Other tips:

•Explain how vaccines protect children and why some medicines have to be given this way.
•If several shots are needed, ask your doctor if a combination vaccine is available.
•Don’t say the shot won’t hurt. Stress that the prick will only last a moment.
•Give children choices so they feel in control. Which arm do they want the shot in? Do they want big brother there?
•Plan something fun after the appointment, like ice cream or a movie. Nursing can comfort an infant.
“Don’t look”

Distracting your child starts in the waiting room. Read a book out loud or have your child bring a hand-held video game or headset for music.

When it’s time for the shot, roll up your child’s sleeve, stroke him or her, and try these other diversions.

For infants:

•Bring a pacifier.
•Comfort, hug, and talk to your baby.
•Pull out a favorite stuffed animal or blanket.
For young children:

•Blow soap bubbles.
•Look at a picture book.
•Sing a song together.
For older children:

•Have a few jokes ready to share.
•Tell the child to squeeze your hand according to how much the shot hurts (which may prevent crying).
•Have your child breathe in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth “to blow away pain.”
Don’t tolerate kicking or screaming. For children who get very upset, your doctor may be able to prescribe a cream or cooling spray to apply an hour before the shot to numb the skin. Placing an ice pack on the injection site minutes before the shot can also lessen the sting. Ask your doctor’s advice about giving your child a non-aspirin pain reliever when you get home.

When the injection is over, praise your child even if he or she cried. Then, count your lucky days before the next vaccine is due