Childhood obesity is on the rise – about 17 percent of North American kids are beyond overweight. At the same time, children and teens are inundated with glorified images of super-skinny women, from runway models with thigh gap (extoled on Tumblr pages) to Miley Cyrus. No wonder experts estimate that 60 percent of high-school girls, 80 percent of 10-year olds and 40 percent of 9-year-olds have dieted.
What’s the result of this focus on restricted calorie intake? According to a new study of women 18-30, the younger a girl is when she starts dieting, the more likely she is to use extreme weight-control measures such as vomiting or taking diuretics. And by the time she turns 30, she’s more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse and, ironically, to be overweight.
So, if your pre-teen or teenage daughter is dieting, help her adopt habits that will give her a genuinely healthy body and a great body image.
Help her discover activities she enjoys: joining a school sports team, walking for 45 minutes with you after dinner, doing a yoga video in her room.
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Shop for and cook fresh foods; banish anything with added sugars or syrups (including soda) and all grains that aren’t 100 percent whole from your home. And don’t count calories; focus on good nutrition.
Limit social media: Hours spent on Facebook (or other social media) amplifies risk for developing a poor body image and an eating disorder.
Don’t be critical of your child’s looks. Instead, make her feel more confident as she becomes healthier and happier.
What really eases low-back pain
When low-back pain strikes (it hits about 80 percent of folks at least once) almost everyone is told to take a Tylenol and take it easy. But until now no one bothered to check if taking that pain reliever really made you feel better.
Seems for most folks, it does not. That was the conclusion of the Australian double-blind, randomized PACE study. The participants who took acetaminophen (or paracetamol, as they call it down under) three times a day, those who took it as needed and those who got a placebo reported no differences pain and disability, symptom change, sleep or recovery time.
So where does that leave you and your aching lower back?
The good news is that most folks with low-back pain get well in six weeks whether they see a Labrador retriever or a neurosurgeon. One caution: If you have nerve-related symptoms, see a doctor pronto. And if pain persists longer than six weeks, see a specialist. In the meantime:
Ease your discomfort by applying heat and cold packs (20 minutes each; two or three times daily).
When seated, use a high-back chair with arm rests and good lumbar support; your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
Standing, maintain a relaxed, balanced posture.
Keep moving; for moderate to mild back pain, the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Spine Health says you should keep a near-normal schedule from the onset.
Also, get physical therapy. You’ll learn a simple exercise program that’s designed to speed your recovery.
Dishing up fruits and veggies
“The Grapes of Wrath,” “The Bad Seed” and “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”! These movies from the 1940s, ’50s and ’70s might make you think North Americans aren’t on very good terms with fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, since the ’70s, consumption of produce has gone up about 21 percent, and 90 percent of you now say you try to include fruit and veggies in your diet.
But (there’s always a but) you still need to put your tomatoes, kale and blueberries where your mouth is. Over half of you (52 percent) get four servings or less of produce every day.
A new study of 800,000 people found that five servings of fruits and veggies a day are associated with a lower risk of every cause of mortality. For each additional serving of fruit and veggies (up to a total of five), you slash your risk of premature death by 5 percent and 6 percent respectively.
So how can you get started with your life-extension plan? It’s not that hard. A big salad for lunch, a cup of broccoli for dinner – there’s three servings of veggies. An orange for breakfast and 1/2 cup blueberries for dessert gives you two servings of fruit. You’ve hit five a day without much effort. But don’t stop there. While the study says the life-extending benefits level off after five servings, we say eat up to nine a day and you’ll increase protection from quality-of-life problems like osteoarthritis and dementia, not to mention diverticulitis, cataracts and macular degeneration.
Healthy restaurant eating
The latest survey of restaurant meals in America reveals how easy it is to set off a nutrition bomb when you eat out. The Big Hook Up platter from Joe’s Crab Shack (crab balls with cream cheese, beer-battered fish and chips, coconut and crab-stuffed shrimp, hush puppies and the token veggie – coleslaw) weighs in at 2,700 calories, 114 g of fat and 5,850 mg sodium (per Joe’s website). The Center for Science in the Public Interest, who did the survey, says it’s 3,280 calories, 50 g saturated fat and 7,610 mg sodium. Either way is a disaster.
Clearly, when eating out, you want to reshape a menu so it works for you, not against you. After all, you’re paying for the meal, so you’re the CEO of your dining experience and deserve to get what you want.
Decode tantalizing descriptions. Is a dish creamy, crunchy, crispy, cheesy or crumbly? You’re looking at to-be-avoided high-fat appetizers and entrees. Is something drizzled, gooey or flaky? It’s probably loaded with added sugar and fat.
Bravely make substitutions: Ditch heart-stopping appetizers; ask for salad as a first course (olive oil and balsamic on the side). For your main course, say you want skinless poultry or fish that’s grilled, poached or steamed. Insist on sliced tomatoes or steamed veggies in place of French fries and onion rings. Stick with fresh fruit for desert.
Eat around the unavoidable: Eighty-six the bun (unless it’s 100 percent whole grain) on your veggie burger. Take croutons, bacon bits and cheese off salads. Now you’re the CEO of your plate.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.