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Lead Poisoning’s Lifelong Toll Includes Lowering Social Mobility, Researchers Find

Cynthia Brownfield was lucky. When her daughter, then 2 years old, tested for high levels of lead in her blood, she could do something.

Brownfield, a pediatrician in St. Joseph, Miss., got her home inspected and found lead in the windows. She got them replaced and had her pipes fixed, too. Her daughter, now 12, was probably affected, says Brownfield. But quick action minimized the exposure. Her daughter is now a healthy, fully-functioning preteen.

“We were in the financial position where we could hire a plumber and change the windows,” she said. But others — even her own patients — may not be so fortunate. This reality may have implications even more far-reaching than generally accepted.

Findings published Tuesday in JAMA break new ground by suggesting the effects of childhood lead exposure continue to play out until adulthood, not only harming an individual’s lifelong cognitive development, but also potentially limiting socioeconomic advancement. Specifically, Duke University researchers tracked a generation of kids based on data collected through a nearly 30-year, New Zealand-based investigation known as the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.

They studied the development of more than 1,000 New Zealanders born between April 1972 and March 1973. Because at that time gasoline still contained lead, exposure was common, creating a sizeable sample that included people across class and gender. More than half in that data set had been tested for lead-exposure at age 11, and the study tracked brain development and socio-economic status over the years — making for “a natural time” to use them to study lead’s health effects, said Aaron Reuben, a PhD candidate in neuropsychology at Duke University, and the study’s first author.

By the time study participants reached age 38, a pattern emerged: Children who were exposed to lead early in life had worse cognitive abilities, based on how their exposure level. The difference was statistically significant. They were also more likely to be worse off, socioeconomically, than those who had not been exposed to lead. The study found that no matter what the child’s IQ, the mother’s IQ, or the family’s social status, lead poisoning resulted in downward social mobility. That was largely thanks to cognitive decline, according to the research.

“Regardless of where you start out in life, exposure to lead in childhood exerts a downward pull to your trajectory,” Reuben said.

Though this research was set in New Zealand, it offers insight into a problem experts said is fairly ubiquitous in the United States and across the globe. The CDC estimates that as many as half a million children between ages 1 and 5 had blood lead levels high enough to cause concern: 5 micrograms per deciliter and up. At least 4 million households across the country have children experiencing significant lead exposure.

Last year’s water crisis in Flint, Mich., brought lead exposure front and center as a public health concern. Meanwhile, a Reuters investigation published this winter found elevated lead levels in almost 3,000 communities around the country. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its guidelines to suggest that any childhood exposure to the chemical is harmful, and is pushing to get rid of lead poisoning in kids by 2020.

In the U.S., children at risk are typically poorer and racial minorities — in part because they more often live in older houses with lead paint. This is a stark difference from the research population, which tended to be white. However, because the study spanned a period of time in which lead was still used in gasoline, the lead exposure measured in the study spanned a wider class spectrum.

That adds greater consequence to these findings, many said.

“Kids who are poor, or who have some of these other social determinants of health that are negative — they end up with a double whammy. Whatever health consequences they have from being poor, those are added to the additional consequences of being exposed to lead,” said Jerome Paulson, an emeritus professor and pediatrician at George Washington University. Paulson has researched lead’s effects on children, although he wasn’t involved with this study.

“If you want to talk about ‘breaking out of poverty,’ kids who have lead exposure are probably going to have more difficulties,” he added.

That said, these conclusions aren’t perfect. For instance, the research doesn’t account any variation in how the children who were tested may have been previously exposed to lead, or how their continued lead exposure through adulthood may have differed. Those who worked in jobs like construction, for instance, may have had greater lead exposure than those in white-collar jobs, Paulson noted. But on the whole, he said, it makes a strong case for the long-term impact of childhood lead exposure.

Pennsylvania, Maryland and Massachusetts, which all have cities with concentrated areas of older housing, have identified lead poisoning as a major child health hazard. The CDC has also embraced “primary prevention” — testing homes for lead and removing it before people move in and risk exposure. But securing resources for lead testing, screening and abatement poses its own set of challenges.

The JAMA study illustrates, in part, one such difficulty. Lead poisoning happens over years, not overnight. So illustrating the impact, even if it’s ultimately significant, is hard to do.

“Prevention doesn’t have a lot of pizzazz. If you prevent something from happening, it’s a wonderful thing, but it’s hard to measure and take credit for,” said David Bellinger, a neurology professor at Harvard Medical School and a professor in the environmental health department of the university’s public health school, who wrote a commentary that ran alongside the JAMA paper.

And funding for such programs is often unreliable, said Donna Cooper, the executive director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that advocates on behalf of young people. For instance, the White House’s initial budget plans would boost some lead abatement funds but slash other grants used for similar purposes. And for many states, she said, even what’s long been available isn’t enough to meet the scope of the concern.

“We have very clear CDC guidance on what should be done, and no money to back it up,” Cooper said. “It ebbs and flows with the headlines.”

Woman, 94, celebrates 44 years of work at McDonald’s

An Indiana woman who has been caring for hungry customers for more than four decades is celebrating a milestone.

Miss Loraine, as she’s known to customers and staff, has been an employee at McDonald’s since 1973.

“I didn’t come to stay,” Miss Loraine told WEHT. “I just needed something to do after my husband had to retire.”

Now at age 94, she’s celebrating 44 years with the restaurant.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“She’s more like the sunshine of this place,” said customer Andrea Feller. “You come in, she’s always smiling, always doing her best.”

Her customers said they can always count on her for amazing service.

“Loraine knows her customers so well that sometimes she even has their order prepared for them before they even walk through the door,” said another customer.

WTF Is Jackfruit? (Plus 7 Recipes That Use It)

If you’ve never heard of jackfruit before, you're not totally out of the loop (yet). This starchy member of the fig family is a staple in South and Southeast Asian cuisine, but has become more popular, and readily available in canned form, in the Western Hemisphere in recent years. And it's time we all get well-acquainted.

Packed with potassium, fiber, and anti-inflammatory benefits, it’s not only a nutritional powerhouse, but when cooked and shredded, it has a freakishly similar texture and flavor to pulled pork—how great is that? While there are many ways to enjoy the versatile ingredient, start with these seven easy jackfruit recipes.

1. Jackfruit Sweet Potato Curry With Spinach Photo: Blueberry Vegan Canned, unripe jackfruit gives this curry a meaty texture while keeping it entirely plant based. Given its roots in the tropical climates of Southeast Asia, the fruit is also a natural fit with the coconut milk in this recipe.  2. Spicy Chipotle Garlic Jackfruit Tacos Photo: Vegan Richa If you’re sick of tofu or mushroom fillings but still need your vegetarian taco fix, use jackfruit instead. Shredded and then flavored up with all the usual spicy seasonings, it’s a great alternative to soy but still helps you stick to a meatless menu.  3. Vegan "No Tuna" Sandwich Photo: Nutritional Foodie Jackfruit is known for tasting like pulled pork once cooked, but combine it with mustard, mayo, and relish, and it could pass for tuna too. Stuff between two thick slices of bread for a simple five-minute sandwich.    4. Pulled Jackfruit Enchiladas Verdes Photo: One Ingredient Chef Spiced with cumin and chili powder, jackfruit, black beans, and corn make for a hearty filling in these vegan enchiladas. Drizzled with that addictive green sauce, they’ll make you completely forget that there’s no dairy or meat involved.   5. BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Bowls With Asian Peanut Slaw Photo: Euphoric Vegan It looks and tastes just like pulled pork, but the BBQ-soaked stuff here is actually shredded jackfruit. Pile it on top of white rice and pair with a nutty cabbage slaw for a bowl that’s perfectly balanced in taste, nutrition, and texture.    6. Jackfruit and Black Bean Wraps Photo: Quite Good Food Spicy black beans give the smoky and sweet jackfruit filling some extra protein in this easy twist on tacos. Even if you don’t have tortillas, the mixture tastes just as good in sandwich buns or even lettuce wraps. 7. Jackfruit Pilaf Photo: Veggie Zest Jackfruit’s a super-popular ingredient in Indian dishes, like this fragrant basmati pilaf, where it’s combined with ghee and spices such as garam masala and cardamom. While this blogger cooks it in a clay pot, it isn’t a requirement—the dish comes together just as well in a regular skillet.  

 

How to Quit Being Indecisive About Life Decisions

“Start knowing. Try saying those two words to yourself in a very calm, very wise, very ancient, very adamant voice—the next time you panic. Just say it and then breathe. Then get quiet and see what comes up. I promise you that your very next thought will be the truth.” - Elizabeth Gilbert

“Um, I just knew I had to.”

That's the answer I'm given (in some form or another) by every successful entrepreneur I’ve ever coached, when I’ve posed the question, “What made you start your business?”

In fact, this answer applies to most significant things. Having a baby. Writing a book. Deciding to take a six-month sabbatical and travel. Saying yes to curiosity and accepting that first date. Yes to that (scary!) promotion. Yes to that unlikely opportunity to move to a new city, start blogging, buy a puppy. 

When something is stirring within you, stop saying, “I don’t know!” Because you do. Here’s why:

1. Logic is limited.

Logic has a place in the world, yes. We can do the numbers. We can consider the options and the outcomes. We can weigh the pros and cons until the cows come home. But the most important decisions in life are seized by instinct. We feel them. That’s why confident decision-making is so commonly referred to as “listening to your gut.” Logic isn’t everything—and it never can be. 

2. Your answer exists, but your permission might not.

Most often what’s lacking from our inner knowing is the absence we permit ourselves to obey our own call. We might think, “But I have a decent job, friends, a good family… must I want more/something else/something different?” 

The answer is yes, if something stirs within you. Because you cannot eradicate your desires. All that’s missing is your permission to let them become real.

3. You are stuck in judgment.

When you type an address into Google maps, it tells you the fastest route and the time it will take you to get there from your current location. That’s it. All it needs is where you are right now and the destination. It doesn’t ask, “Wait, have you been there before? But are you sure? Where were you yesterday/last week/last year?”

A big part of truly knowing what you want and going for it is losing what’s happened in the past as a barometer of where-to-from-here. Maybe you regret not taking a job because it scared you. Maybe you regret breaking off a relationship because commitment freaked you out.

Forget (and forgive yourself!) for what you have or haven’t done until now. It’s all OK! All that matters is today and what’s next for you. Yes, really.  

4. Intuition is real. (It’s in there!) 

If you don’t feel intuitively guided, it just means you are not fully aligned with yourself in the present moment. Maybe you are stressed out, over-tired, or over-thinking. That’s OK too. You might just need some quiet time or more sleep. 

A clear (rested) head provides massive mental and emotional clarity. “Sleep on it” is sage advice. If you still need help with decision-making even when you're in a calm, relaxed place, you can ask yourself these 12 questions.

5. Fear is your filter. 

Fear is behind every excuse we give ourselves to keep saying, “I don’t know!” So ask yourself: “If fear could leave my body for just a few seconds, what would I do next?”

Try this for a few minutes. Sit down. Relax your shoulders. Do whatever it takes to even make your body feel even 5 percent more comfortable. Take 20 deep, calming breaths (not just two or three). Imagine that, just for a few minutes, fear could leave your body entirely—poof! Without fear as a meddler, what comes up for you? What do you really, truly know for sure?

The answers to your life’s questions begin and end with you. You’re the only person who knows what you truly want. So stop asking around. Stop saying “I don’t know!” Turn inward. Start knowing. It might not be easy, but you do have the answers, don’t you? 

And you are ready for them. I promise. 

Susie Moore is Greatist's life coach columnist and a confidence coach in New York City. Sign up for free weekly wellness tips on her website and check back every Tuesday for her latest No Regrets column!

21 (Not-Boring) Chicken Breast Recipes Made for Meal Prep

There are a lot of benefits to prepping chicken meals for the week on Sunday. For one thing, you’re not dealing with raw meat more than once. Plus, who wants to think about what to pack for lunch or what to make for dinner once Monday rolls around and that to-do list explodes? Stay ahead of the game (at least where eats are concerned) by cooking chicken into pre-portioned, healthy dinners—or lunches—to enjoy throughout the week. And we’re not talking about unseasoned, blah-tasting stuff either. These 21 chicken breast recipes are simple, but they’re anything but boring. 

1. Healthy Roasted Chicken and Veggies Taste the rainbow—the healthier, non-Skittles way—with this super-straightforward recipe. The veggies and chicken are roasted at the same time in the same pan, so there’s minimal prep necessary. Add a cooked grain to round out the meal.  2. Chicken Shawarma and Sweet Potato Fry Bowls Skip the Middle Eastern food truck and create your own version of shawarma at home, using spices such as paprika and cumin to coat your chicken. With couscous, olives, and a tahini yogurt sauce making this portable dish taste even more authentic, you’ll be the envy of your coworkers.  3. Healthy Greek Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls Sectioned plastic containers are a must for meal-prep purposes, and this recipe is a perfect example of how useful they are. The yogurt sauce, chicken and veggies, and farro are best kept divided until it’s time to eat. 4. Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Chicken Meal-Prep Magic It’s easy, it’s got fewer than five main ingredients, it makes eight servings, it’s well-balanced, and it’s delicious. Magic is a pretty perfect word for this meal-prep recipe. 5. Pesto Chicken Pita Pockets You can always make your own pesto, but, like most meal-preppers, if time is a limited resource for you, a store-bought version works just fine. Stir it into a pile of roasted chicken and veggies, and pack the mixture into pita pockets. 6. Cilantro Lime Chicken With Cauliflower Rice Lime juice and cilantro keep the chicken tasting light and fresh, while the spicier cauliflower rice and black bean combo gives it a kick of flavor. And since it’s equally tasty eaten hot or cold, it’s an ideal option for an on-the-go meal.      7. Jerk Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls Recipes like this prove that meal prepping is totally worth it. With spicy chicken, sweet pineapple relish, and fragrant Spanish rice, it might be hard to believe, but this flavor-packed combo really can come together in just 30 minutes... and last you through four lunches or dinners.  8. Fiesta Chicken Rice Bowls Fiesta is right—brimming with spiced corn, brown rice, salsa, and peppers, these colorful chicken and rice bowls make every meal feel festive. They’re also prepped and ready to go in just 20 minutes. If only all parties were this easy to put together! 9. Meal-Prep Chicken Burrito Bowls Skip the lines at Chipotle, but not your Mexican fix. From the chicken and the corn to the rice and the beans, these quick and easy combos give you everything you want in a burrito bowl, while kale and cherry tomatoes add even more nutrition.  10. One-Pan Healthy Chicken and Veggies These vibrant meals are as tasty as they are good-looking, thanks to seasonings like chili powder, onion powder, and paprika coating the colorful veg. There’s the option to add cheese, but with so much other fun stuff going on, we doubt you’ll miss it if you leave it out.  11. Tex-Mex Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls The Tex-Mex flavor in these hearty chicken, rice, black bean, and veggie bowls comes from the easy addition of taco seasoning. They keep well for four days, so you’re set from Monday to Thursday, with the night off on Friday to celebrate your (not so) hard work.  12. Asian-Style Chicken, Veggies, and Rice Meal Prep Sweet, sesame-coated chicken is a great complement to the simpler steamed veggies here, while brown rice (instead of the usual white) adds some extra fiber. Pack into separate containers, and it’ll look just like something out of your local Chinese take-out place. 13. Chicken Butternut Squash Pasta Pasta salad is a pretty popular make-in-advance dish, but you can make it even easier by pre-portioning it for your weekday meals. This one is a satisfying mix of goat cheese, butternut squash, and walnuts; nutmeg and basil add some unique flavor.  14. Chicken, Apple, and Pecan Salads in a Jar Pack your meals in mason jars and you’ll look forward to digging into them every day. This layered salad doesn’t just look pretty, but with dried cranberries and apples alongside the chicken in a creamy Greek yogurt dressing, it gives you tons of flavor in every bite.  15. Italian Chicken Meal-Prep Bowls This recipe uses quick-cooking, microwave-friendly rice for when you're short on time (isn't that always?). Better yet, you can be completely flexible on the types of veggies and seasonings you choose to add to the dish. So open the fridge and use whatever you have in there. Just treat this recipe as an easy guide to making simple Italian-style dinners that’ll last you all week. 16. Harvest Chicken Salad Buying a salad can be a smart, nutritious option, but it can also get expensive and not so healthy (can you please add goat cheese, avocado, and bacon? Oh, and eggs, and wow, that fried chicken looks good. I'll have ranch dressing, please.). This one keeps things wholesome, but with apples, sweet potatoes, blue cheese, and almonds, it’s nowhere near boring.  17. Thai Chicken Lunch Bowls A creamy peanut butter sauce jazzes up chicken, rice, and veggies with some sweet and tangy Thai-inspired taste. Drizzle it on top right when you’re packing the portions into their individual containers so that there’s plenty of time for the flavors to soak up.  18. Teriyaki Chicken Stir-Fry Meal-Prep Lunch Boxes This recipe calls for chicken thighs, but you can easily use breasts and get away with it. Whatever you use, it’ll easily soak up the homemade teriyaki sauce, which keeps the sugar count much lower than if you were to use a bottled variety.  19. Meal-Prep Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki Bowls If you have no time to meal-prep, let your kitchen appliances do the work for you. A slow cooker lets the chicken, pineapple, and peppers simmer for three hours in a sweet and tangy sauce, while a rice cooker takes care of the quinoa. All you have to do is scoop everything into containers. 20. Baked Chicken, Broccoli, and Sweet Potatoes It’s back to basics with this three-ingredient meal. The combo is the quintessential healthy dinner—and for good reason: It’s easy to prep, affordable, and doesn’t require a lot of seasoning to be delicious.  21. Pizza Chicken Meal Prep Hold off on grabbing a greasy midday slice for lunch. This recipe, designed to make four individual meals, has the seasonings and sauce of a classic pizza, but pairs them with chicken and spaghetti squash instead of bread for a higher-protein, fiber-packed meal that’ll keep you full longer. 

 

New Vaccine Recommendation Cuts Number Of HPV Shots Children Need

You’d think that a vaccine that protects people against more than a half-dozen types of cancer would have people lining up to get it. But the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can prevent roughly 90 percent of all cervical cancers as well as other cancers and sexually transmitted infections caused by the virus, has faced an uphill climb since its introduction more than a decade ago.

Now, with a new dosing schedule that requires fewer shots and a more effective vaccine, clinicians and public health advocates hope they may move the needle on preventing these virus-related cancers.

In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended reducing the number of shots in the HPV vaccine from three to two for girls and boys between the ages of 9 and 14. The recommendation was based on clinical trial data that showed two doses was just as effective as a three-dose regimen for this age group. (Children older than 14 still require three shots.)

The study was conducted using Gardasil 9, a version of the vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration in late 2014. It protects against nine types of HPV: seven that are responsible for 90 percent of cervical cancers and two that account for 90 percent of genital warts.

In addition, the new version of Gardasil improved protection against HPV-related cancers in the vagina, vulva, penis, anus, rectum and oropharynx — the tongue and tonsil area at the back of the throat.

An earlier version protected against four types of HPV.

From the start, clinicians have run into some parental and political roadblocks because the vaccine, which is recommended for preteens, protects against genital human papillomavirus — a virus transmitted through sexual contact. Many physicians are also reluctant about discussing the need for the vaccine, and for many parents, the vaccine’s cancer-prevention benefits were overshadowed by concerns about discussing sexual matters with such young kids. Yet for maximum protection, the immunizations should be given before girls and boys become sexually active.

The focus should not have been on sexually transmitted infections, some say. “You only get one chance to make a first impression,” said Dr. H. Cody Meissner, a professor of pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases. “This vaccine should have been introduced as a vaccine that will prevent cancer, not sexually transmitted infections.”

The HPV virus is incredibly common. At any given time, nearly 80 million Americans are infected, and most people can expect to contract HPV at some point in their lives. Most never know they’ve been infected and have no symptoms. Some develop genital warts, but the infection generally goes away on its own and many people never have health problems.

However, others may develop problems years later. There are approximately 39,000 HPV-related cancers every year, nearly two-thirds of them in women. In addition to cervical cancer, more than 90 percent of anal cancers and 70 percent of vaginal and vulvar cancers are thought to be caused by the HPV virus. Recent studies show that about 70 percent of cancers in the oropharynx may also be linked to HPV.

A 2015 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute estimated that earlier versions of the HPV vaccine could reduce the number of HPV-related cancers by nearly 25,000 annually, and the new version of the vaccine could further reduce the number of such cancers by about 4,000.

The vaccine is estimated to prevent 5,000 cancer deaths annually, said Dr. Paul Offit, professor of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

But compliance is an ongoing problem. “They’re not getting the one vaccine that protects against diseases from which they’re most likely to suffer and die,” Offit said, noting that deaths from pertussis and meningococcal disease, for which adolescents are also vaccinated at that age, are minuscule compared with HPV-related cancers.

In 2015, 87 percent of 13-year-olds were up-to-date with the Tdap vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, and 80 percent had received the meningococcal vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But just 30 percent of girls and 25 percent of boys at that age had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine. In contrast to other vaccines, however, the HPV vaccine is required only in a few states for secondary school.

Public health advocates say they think the shift to a two-dose regimen could make a big difference in the number of adolescents who get all the necessary doses of the HPV vaccine. For one thing, the fewer shots the better, in general, they say.

In addition, because the second HPV shot is supposed to be given anywhere from six months to a year after the first one, “parents can fit it into a routine regimen when people go in for their 12-year-old’s regularly scheduled visit,” said Dr. Joseph Bocchini Jr., chairman of pediatrics at Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport who is president-elect at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Please visit khn.org/columnists to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

Leggings on a plane: Delta weighs in on United Airlines controversy

It was the leggings policy heard ’round the world.

After United Airlines declined to allow girls who were wearing leggings to board a flight on pass travel and another passenger tweeted about it, the question of airline dress policies went viral.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: United Airlines kicks two girls off flight for wearing leggings

But some have also pointed out that airlines often have more stringent policies for employees’ friends or family who are traveling on reduced-rate buddy passes. It’s a familiar issue in Atlanta, where Delta Air Lines is the largest employer and the metro area is home to tens of thousands of airline employees.

Actress Justine Bateman, best known from the 1980s TV show “Family Ties,” is among those who pointed out the distinction on Twitter over the weekend.

>> Read more trending news

“To be fair, these guidelines for ’employee passes’ have been in place for decades. All the traveling airline employees know about them,” Bateman tweeted on Sunday.

“I had to do the same when I flew on ‘passes’ as a kid, to be fair,” she tweeted.

Delta says it does not have an “item-specific” clothing policy for employees and pass travel.

“We ask our employees and their family and friends flying on pass privileges to use their best judgment when deciding what to wear on a flight,” Delta said in a written statement.

And Delta emphasized that in a tweet on Monday.

11 Nice Ways to Say 'No' to Food Pushers

During family gatherings, food temptations are everywhere. From stuffing and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving to eggnog and sugar cookies in December, to barbecues in the summer, the seasonal temptations are endless. It can be tough enough to navigate the buffet without having your great aunt force an extra helping of potatoes on your plate or resisting Grandma Dolly's pleas that you take a second piece of her famous apple pie. There's always some kind of event going on: birthday parties, family get-togethers, company meetings, bridal and baby showers--and all of these events have one thing in common (besides all the tempting food): food pushers.   Food pushers range from well-intentioned loved ones to total diet saboteurs. Regardless of their motivation, it's important to stick to your guns. You can always be honest and say that you're simply trying to eat healthier, but if that response gets ignored (or doesn't come easily), the following retorts to their food-forcing ways will keep you in control of what goes on your plate and in your mouth!   The Push: "It's my specialty, you have to try it!" Your Response: "I will in a bit!" Why It Works: Stalling is a great tactic with food pushers. Odds are the offender won't follow you around making sure you actually try the dish. If they catch up with you by the end of the party to ask what you thought, tell them that it slipped your mind but you'll be sure to try it next time.   The Push: "This [insert name of high-calorie dish] is my favorite. You'll love it!" Your Response: "I had some already—so delicious!" Why It Works: A white lie in this situation isn't going to hurt anybody. You'll get out of eating food you don't want or need, and the food pusher will have gotten a compliment on what probably is a delicious dish.   The Push: "It's just once a year!" Your Response: "But I'll probably live to celebrate more holidays if I stick with my diet plan!" Why It Works: People can sometimes see healthy eating as vain—a means to the end result of losing weight and looking better. It's harder for a food pusher to argue with you if you bring attention to the fact that you eat right and exercise for better health and a longer life. Looking good just happens to be a side effect!   The Push: "Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting…" Your Response: "I wouldn't say obsessed, but I am conscious of what I eat." Why It Works: Words like "food snob" or "obsessed" are pretty harsh when they're thrown around by food pushers. But don't let passive-aggressive comments like this bring you down—or make you veer away from your good eating intentions. Acknowledging your willpower and healthy food choices might influence others to be more conscious of what they eat. Sometimes you just have to combat food pushers with a little straightforward kindness.   The Push: "If you don't try my dish, I'm just going to have to force you to eat it!" Your Response: "Sorry, but I don't like (or can't eat) [insert ingredient here]." Why It Works: It's hard to argue with someone's personal food preferences. If someone doesn't like an ingredient whether its sweet potatoes, pumpkin, or butter, odds are that he or she hasn't liked it for a very long time. If you'd like to get creative with this one, go into detail about how you got sick on the ingredient as a kid or how your mom says you always threw it across the room as a baby. Who can argue with that?   The Push: "You need some meat on your bones." Your Response: "Trust me, I'm in no danger of wasting away!" Why It Works: This food push is definitely on the passive-aggressive side. Using humor to fight back will defuse any tension while making it clear where you stand.   The Push: "One bite isn't going to kill you." Your Response: "I know, but once you pop you can't stop! And I'm sure it's so delicious I wouldn't be able to stop!" Why It Works: This is another situation where humor will serve to distract the food pusher from his or her mission. It's a way to say "thanks, but no thanks" while making it clear that you're not interested in overindulging.   The Push: "But it's your favorite!" Your Response: "I think I've overdosed on it; I just can't eat it anymore!" Why It Works: If you have a favorite holiday dish that everyone knows you love, it can be especially tough to escape this push. If a loved one made the dish specifically for you, the guilt can be enough to push you over the edge. But people understand that food preferences change, and most have been in that situation of enjoying a dish so much that they can't touch it for awhile.   The Push: [Someone puts an extra helping on your plate without you asking.] Your Response: Push it around with your fork like you did as a kid to make it look like you tried it. Why It Works: While putting food on someone else's plate can be viewed as passive-aggressive, it was probably done with love. (Let's hope!) Making it look like you ate a bite or two can be an easy way out of the situation, but you can also just leave it alone and claim that you've already had your fill. (After all, you didn't add that extra helping!)   The Push: "Have another drink!" Your Response: "I have to drive." Why It Works: No one will argue with the fact that you want to drive home sober. If they do, you should have no qualms walking away from the conversation, period. If they offer a place for you to stay, you can always get out of the situation by blaming an early morning commitment or the fact that you need to get home to let the dog out. Kids will also get you out of everything.   The Push: "We have so many leftovers. Take some!" Your Response: "That's OK! Just think, you'll have your meals for tomorrow taken care of." Why It Works: Not every party guest wants to deal with the hassle of taking food with them, and this makes it clear that you'd rather the food stay. If the host is insistent, you can feign worry that they'll go bad in the car because you're not going straight home, or it'll go bad in your fridge because you've already been given so many leftovers at other parties recently. Or be polite and take them. You'll have more control of your food intake away from the party anyway. So whether you don't eat the leftovers at all or whether you split a piece of pie with your spouse, you're in control in this situation.   These tactics can work wonders in social situations, but honesty is sometimes the best policy. A simple "No, thank you" is hard for a food pusher to beat, especially if it's repeated emphatically. Remember, too, that it's okay to have treats in moderation, so don't deprive yourself of your favorite holiday foods. Just make sure that you're the one in control of your splurges—not a friend, family member or co-worker who doesn't know your fitness and health goals!     Do you have a favorite way to say, "No, thank you," to food pushers? Share your strategies in the comments section to the right. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1685

10 Tips to Keep from Overeating at a Party

Temptations abound at parties, but celebration doesn't have to mean overindulgence. Follow these tips to stay on track. Say no the first time to passed hors d'oeuvres. Chances are good that food will come around again. See what's being served before you decide what to eat. Limit your alcohol. Inhibitions are lowered with every drink, and those cocktails aren't calorie free. Alternate alcohol with water or another calorie free drink. And don't combine alcohol with caffeine. Caffeine speeds up the rate at which alcohol is metabolized, and it masks the effect of the alcohol. Eat before you go. Don't go to a party starving. Eat a hard-boiled egg and an apple, a banana with some peanut butter or a slice of turkey. The protein will fill you up for few calories. You'll be less likely to binge if you're not overly hungry. Treat appetizers as a meal. If you're going to eat 400 calories worth of appetizers, know that that's your dinner. Don't expect to go home and eat a "real" meal. Survey the spread before you fill your plate. Confronted by so many rich foods, you might want to start piling up the food, but stop and take a deep breath. Think before you serve yourself (and try to serve yourself, so you control the serving size). Keep track of what you're eating. Don't mindlessly eat, and try not to eat and make conversation at the same time. If your eating and drinking is spread out, you might not realize how many calories you're eating. Just because you're not eating an entire meal doesn't mean that those are free calories. Buddy up. If you're worried about eating too many sweets, share your dessert with someone else. You'll eat less and not do as much damage. Use a smaller plate, or commit to just one round of food. Don't pile your food so high that's it's falling off the plate. Be choosy, and stick to proper serving sizes. Take only those foods you really like, and don't overload on them. Bring a dish, if appropriate. If you bring something healthy, like salsa with vegetables, whole-grain crackers and light dip or a large salad, you know there's at least one option for you at the party. Take small helpings of other dishes and load up on your healthier one.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1355

Foods That Keep You Healthy from Head to Toe

There are many motivations for sticking with a healthy diet. Eating more of the good stuff (and less of the junky stuff) can help you prevent cancer, extend your lifespan, protect your heart and manage your weight. But one thing we don't always remember is that your diet affects not just your weight, but your body from the top down, the inside to the outside. Your body transforms the foods you eat into the cells that make up your hair, nails, skin and bones, along with your brain, heart, blood and joints. You literally are what you eat.   Here are some of the key nutrients that keep your body in tiptop shape from head to toe.   Hair At its staggering growth rate of 0.4 millimeters per day, it takes more than 2 years to grow 12 inches of hair. Add lean meats and beans to your diet to make the most of every millimeter. These foods will also give you zinc to help keep your body in hormone balance and prevent hair loss. B-vitamins from leafy greens, peas, tomatoes and carrots also support cell growth for healthy hair.   Brain Boost your brainpower by noshing on foods with high ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) scores—a sign that the food is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants. Plums, cherries, avocadoes, berries, navel oranges and red grapes top the ORAC charts. (Glance through the alphabetical list for more disease-fighting ratings at oracvalues.com.)   Considering your brain is about 80% water, drink at least 64 ounces of water per day. Essential fatty acids (named "essential" because your body cannot make them) help you grow brain cells and stay sharp, so feed your brain with regular doses of fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil.     Eyes Good nutrition can keep your peepers peppy throughout the years. The antioxidants for brain health also help the eyes, but really keep your eye on including foods with lutein and zeazanthin (pronounced zay-a-za-thin). These carotenoids, found in spinach, collard greens and kale, protect the retina from macular degeneration.   Teeth & Bones Everyone knows you need calcium for bone health, but are you getting enough? Most adults need between 1,000 and 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, spinach and soybeans are all good sources of dietary calcium. And calcium doesn't act alone! Its partner-in-crime is vitamin D, which is necessary for proper calcium absorption. Some fish and eggs provide this key vitamin, but there are not many natural food sources of this bone builder. Instead, vitamin-D is often added to milk, margarine and some breads and cereals.   Joints Put a wiggle in your walk with gelatin and vitamin C. These nutrients are key precursors to collagen, the material that cushions our joints and keeps our tendons and connective tissue strong. Gelatin can be found in powdered supplement form or in your basic Jell-O mix. Boost your vitamin C intake with fruits and veggies, especially strawberries, oranges, pineapple, cauliflower and green peppers.   Heart Soy and flaxseed both pack double punches when it comes to heart protection. Soymilk, edamame, tofu and other soy products are packed with cholesterol-lowering phytochemicals and heart healthy soluble fiber. Flaxseed is also another source of soluble fiber that comes with a side of omega-3 fatty acids, which may help reduce your risk of heart disease. Sprinkle some ground flaxseed in your oatmeal or yogurt, or even add it to your favorite baking recipe.   Intestines Protect your gut with probiotics. These powerful little bacteria support the natural environment in your intestine and combat disease-causing microorganisms. You can find yogurt, kefir and milk supplemented with probiotics. They are often under the name L. Acidophilus.   Fiber is also essential to a healthy gut. Whole grains, especially oats and bran, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables can help you reach your goal. Getting your daily 20-35 grams of fiber keeps your gut and colon health moving in the right direction.   Skin We'll wrap it all up, literally, with nutrition for the skin. It is important to nourish your body's largest organ. Maintain disease-free and healthy looking skin with alpha-lipoic acid (ALA). This antioxidant is more powerful than vitamins C and E, and protects your skin cells from damage and many of the elements it's exposed to each day. Get your fair share of ALA with spinach, broccoli and beef. Vitamins C, E, K, and A, as well as B-vitamins are also important for radiant, nourished skin. Enjoying a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can help you reach the recommended amount of these vitamins.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1669

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