Category Archives: Health

Get Chills With a Fever

We’ve all been there — as our bodies burn up with fever, we shiver with chills. It turns out that what feels like a bizarre internal thermostat malfunction is actually the body’s way of fighting infection.

Viruses and bacteria multiply best at 98.6 degrees F. By rising the environmental temperature, even by just a degree or two, the body can stop a virus’s ability to grow. That’s why we get fevers.

When the brain increases the body’s temperature set-point, the rest of the body gets confused and feels like it needs to meet that higher temperature. You feel cold because technically you are colder than your body’s new set-point. In turn, the body works to generate heat to warm itself by contracting and relaxing muscles, hence the shivering.

Body Chills With Fever: What You Need to Know

The length of a fever can vary significantly, depending on its cause. Possible sources abound, from colds and the flu to ear and sinus infections, bronchitis, mononucleosis, pneumonia, appendicitis, gastroenteritis, and meningitis.

Other reasons for fever include autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, cancer, blood clots, and even certain medications. In children, fever can flare after immunizations and during teething.

“In some cases with a mild viral illness, a fever can last for a day … or [it can last] for weeks to months with systemic infections,” says Amesh Adalja, MD, an instructor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The first thing to do is play detective to determine the cause of your fever based on the signs and symptoms of your illness, he says.

Body Chills With Fever: When Is Treatment Needed?

The right treatment for body chills with fever depends on the cause, and that’s where your doctor might need to step in. Call your doctor if:

  • The fever is accompanied by serious symptoms like shortness of breath, neck stiffness, headache, rash, swelling of a joint, abdominal pain, or extreme fatigue.
  • The fever is high, or lasts longer than two or three days.
  • You have any serious medical issues and develop a fever.

For infants (under a year old), call the pediatrician if their temperature is higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

Call 911 for anything unusual or alarming with fever and chills, such as when someone with a fever does any of the following:

  • Seems confused or cannot be easily awakened.
  • Can’t walk or move an arm or leg.
  • Experiences a seizure.
  • Has difficulty breathing or has a very bad headache or a stiff neck.

Barring any of the above situations, getting through chills and fever calls for sensible care. Rest, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. A lukewarm (not cold) bath might help, as can taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen (don’t give aspirin to children). A little TLC can’t hurt, either.

Know If Walking Helps Heart and Brain

Regular aerobic exercise such as walking may protect the memory center in the brain, while stretching exercise may cause the center — called the hippocampus — to shrink, researchers reported.

In a randomized study involving men and women in their mid-60s, walking three times a week for a year led to increases in the volume of the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory, according to Dr. Arthur Kramer, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Ill., and colleagues.

On the other hand, control participants who took stretching classes saw drops in the volume of the hippocampus, Kramer and colleagues reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings suggest that it’s possible to overcome the age-related decline in hippocampal volume with only moderate exercise, Kramer told MedPage Today, leading to better fitness and perhaps to better spatial memory. “I don’t see a down side to it,” he said.

The volume of the hippocampus is known to fall with age by between 1 percent and 2 percent a year, the researchers noted, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia.

But animal research suggests that exercise reduces the loss of volume and preserves memory, they added.

To test the effect on humans, they enrolled 120 men and women in their mid-sixties and randomly assigned 60 of them to a program of aerobic walking three times a week for a year. The remaining 60 were given stretch classes three times a week and served as a control group.

Their fitness and memory were tested before the intervention, again after six months, and for a last time after a year. Magnetic resonance images of their brains were taken at the same times in order to measure the effect on the hippocampal volume.

The study showed that overall the walkers had a 2 percent increase in the volume of the hippocampus, compared with an average loss of about 1.4% in the control participants.

The researchers also found, improvements in fitness, measured by exercise testing on a treadmill, were significantly associated with increases in the volume of the hippocampus.

On the other hand, the study fell short of demonstrating a group effect on memory – both groups showed significant improvements both in accuracy and speed on a standard test. The apparent lack of effect, Kramer told MedPage Today, is probably a statistical artifact that results from large individual differences within the groups.

Analyses showed that that higher aerobic fitness levels at baseline and after the one-year intervention were associated with better spatial memory performance, the researchers reported.

But change in aerobic fitness was not related to improvements in memory for either the entire sample or either group separately, they found.

On the other hand, larger hippocampi at baseline and after the intervention were associated with better memory performance, they reported.

The results “clearly indicate that aerobic exercise is neuroprotective and that starting an exercise regimen later in life is not futile for either enhancing cognition or augmenting brain volume,” the researchers argued.

The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging, the Pittsburgh Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. The authors said they had no conflicts.

Nausea

Nausea usually indicates the need to vomit, but it usually goes away by itself.

Nausea is a term that describes the feeling that you might vomit. People with nausea have a queasy feeling that ranges from slightly uncomfortable to agonizing, often accompanied by clammy skin and a grumbling or lurching stomach. Nausea almost always occurs before dry heaving or vomiting, although you can experience prolonged nausea without ever having to vomit.

Nausea is a common symptom that may accompany many diseases and conditions.

Common causes of nausea include drug side effects, food poisoning, motion sickness, pregnancy, and drinking too much alcohol. Sometimes intense or unpleasant smells induce feelings of nausea.

Nausea is often accompanied by symptoms of gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea. Intense pain, as with a migraine headache or injury, can also cause nausea. People who have a head injury often feel nauseous and dizzy afterward.

Nausea commonly occurs in those with infections ranging from influenza to gastroenteritis. In general, vomiting is more worrisome than nausea alone, although vomiting often brings temporary or permanent relief from an upset stomach.

Nausea Symptoms

Nausea is an unpleasant although usually painless symptom.

The most common symptom that occurs with nausea is vomiting. Symptoms that are also associated with nausea include dizziness, faintness, dry mouth, diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and decreased urination.

Serous symptoms that may accompany nausea include chest pain, confusion, lethargy, rapid pulse, breathing difficulty, excessive sweating, and fainting.

Nausea Prevention and Treatment

Treatment for nausea depends on the underlying cause. In most cases, nausea resolves by itself, especially if relieved by throwing up.

Treatment may include plenty of fluids and a clear liquid diet. Severe nausea may require treatment with medications.

If you feel nauseous, you are probably not interested in food or drink, although sometimes light, plain foods such as such as bread and crackers can make you feel better. Avoid any foods that have strong flavors, are very sweet, or are greasy or fried, and these may make nausea worse or even induce vomiting.

Natural remedies for nausea include ginger, ginger and peppermint tea, and bland foods which can help settle your stomach. Some people find relief from nausea by applying gentle pressure with the thumbs to the inside of the wrists.

If you are prone to nausea but otherwise healthy, avoid activity after eating and try to eat smaller, more frequent meals. Avoid riding in the backseat of cars of you are know you get motion sickness. If you feel a wave of nausea coming on, try to take deep, cleansing breaths and don’t think about vomiting, which can make nausea worse.

Know More About Personal Hygiene

Mom was right: Good personal hygiene is essential to promoting good health.

Personal hygiene habits such as washing your hands and brushing and flossing your teeth will help keep bacteria, viruses, and illnesses at bay. And there are mental as well as physical benefits. “Practicing good body hygiene helps you feel good about yourself, which is important for your mental health,” notes Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. People who have poor hygiene — disheveled hair and clothes, body odor, bad breath, missing teeth, and the like — often are seen as unhealthy and may face discrimination.

Personal Hygiene: Healthy Habits Include Good Grooming

If you want to minimize your risk of infection and also enhance your overall health, follow these basic personal hygiene habits:

  • Bathe regularly. Wash your body and your hair often. “I’m not saying that you need to shower or bathe every day,” remarks Dr. Novey. “But you should clean your body and shampoo your hair at regular intervals that work for you.” Your body is constantly shedding skin. Novey explains, “That skin needs to come off. Otherwise, it will cake up and can cause illnesses.”
  • Trim your nails. Keeping your finger and toenails trimmed and in good shape will prevent problems such as hang nails and infected nail beds. Feet that are clean and dry are less likely to contract athlete’s foot, Novey says.
  • Brush and floss. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal. At the very least, brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Brushing minimizes the accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, which can cause tooth decay and gum disease, Novey says. Flossing, too, helps maintain strong, healthy gums. “The bacteria that builds up and causes gum disease can go straight to the heart and cause very serious valve problems,” Novey explains. Unhealthy gums also can cause your teeth to loosen, which makes it difficult to chew and to eat properly, he adds. To maintain a healthy smile, visit the dentist at six-month intervals for checkups and cleanings.
  • Wash your hands. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom, after coughing or sneezing, and after handling garbage, goes a long way toward preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. Keep a hygiene product, like an alcohol-based sanitizing gel, handy for when soap and water isn’t available.
  • Sleep tight. Get plenty of rest — 8 to 10 hours a night — so that you are refreshed and are ready to take on the day every morning. Lack of sleep can leave you feeling run down and can compromise your body’s natural defenses, your immune system, Novey says.

Personal Hygiene: Poor Hygiene Hints at Other Issues

If someone you know hasn’t bathed or appears unkempt, it could be a sign that he or she is depressed. “When people are sad or depressed, they neglect themselves,” Novey says. Talking about the importance of proper personal hygiene for preventing illnesses and providing personal hygiene items may help some people. Be candid but sensitive and understanding in your discussions, Novey says. Despite your best efforts, your friend or loved one may need professional help. You should encourage them to see a counselor or doctor if their personal hygiene doesn’t improve.

Personal Hygiene: Good Habits Help Keep You Healthy

For most people, good hygiene is so much a part of their daily routines that they think little about it. They bathe, they brush their teeth, visit the dentist and doctor for regular checkups, and wash their hands when preparing or eating food and handling unsanitary items. To keep those you care about healthy and safe, help them learn, and be sure that they are practicing, good personal hygiene.

Help the People of Haiti

Since the earthquake struck on Jan. 12, many non-profit organizations have been providing search and rescue aid, medical care, shelter, food, and other essential services in Haiti. All need additional funds to continue their work in the coming weeks and months.

Health and Medical Care

Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)

An international humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists that provides medical and health services, often in emergency situations.

Direct Relief International

Provides medical care to people harmed by poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest.

Partners in Health

An organization that provides medical care and advocacy in Haiti and nine other countries.

Emergency Services and Logistical Support

American Red Cross

The U.S. branch of the International Red Cross, which assists people whose lives have been disrupted by natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies.

Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

A fundraising group started by Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the request of President Barack Obama to support immediate relief efforts such as the provision of food, water, shelter, and medical care, and to work on long-term recovery plans.

The International Rescue Committee

A group of volunteer first responders, humanitarian relief workers, healthcare providers, educators, and other volunteers who provide emergency relief services.

Mercy Corps

A volunteer group of professional engineers, financial analysts, public health experts, and others who help out in times of humanitarian emergencies.

Assistance for Children and Families

CARE

A humanitarian organization that fights poverty by working with poor women to help their families and communities.

Save the Children

Provides prenatal care, immunizations, educational help, and other services to children in need and their families.

Stillerstrong

An organization founded by the actor Ben Stiller to build schools and provide education programs for the children of Haiti.

UNICEF

The United Nations agency that provides health care, clean water, nutrition, education, and emergency relief services for children and families.

Yele Haiti

A group founded by musician Wyclef Jean to support health, education, environmental change, and community development in Haiti.

Food Aid

World Food Program

A United Nations agency that provides food assistance in developing nations around the world.

Make Boost Women’s Health

To look and feel your best at every age, it’s important to make smart lifestyle and health choices. Here are six simple things that women can do every day (or with regularity) to ensure good health:

Health Tip #1: Eat a healthy diet. “You want to eat as close to a natural foods diet as you can,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. That means a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eat whole grains and high-fiber foods and choose leaner cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Include low-fat dairy products in your diet as well — depending on your age, you need between 800 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to help avoid osteoporosis, Dr. Novey says. Avoid foods and beverages that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.

Healthy eating will help you maintain a proper weight for your height, which is important because being overweight can lead to a number of illnesses. Looking for a healthy snack? Try some raw vegetables, such as celery, carrots, broccoli, cucumbers, or zucchini with dip made from low-fat yogurt.

If you’re not getting enough vitamins and nutrients in your diet, you might want to take a multivitamin and a calcium supplement to make sure you’re maintaining good health.

Health Tip #2: Exercise. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in America, but plenty of exercise can help keep your heart healthy. You want to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if not every day. Aerobic exercises (walking, swimming, jogging, bicycling, dancing) are good for women’s health in general and especially for your heart, says Sabrena Merrill, MS, of Lawrence, Kan., a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor and a spokeswoman for the American Council on Exercise.

Health Tip #3: Avoid risky habits. Stay away from cigarettes and people who smoke. Don’t use drugs. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Most women’s health studies show that women can safely consume one drink a day. A drink is considered to be about 12 to 14 grams of alcohol, which is equal to 12 ounces of beer (4.5 percent alcohol); 5 ounces of wine (12.9 percent alcohol); or 1.5 ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof).

Health Tip #4: Manage stress. No matter what stage of her life — daughter, mother, grandmother — a woman often wears many hats and deals with a lot of pressure and stress. “Take a few minutes every day just to relax and get your perspective back again,” Novey says. “It doesn’t take long, and mental health is important to your physical well-being.” You also can manage stress with exercise, relaxation techniques, or meditation.

Health Tip #5: Sun safely. Excessive exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can cause skin cancer, which can be deadly. To protect against skin cancer, wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 if you are going to be outdoors for more than a few minutes. Even if you wear sunscreen faithfully, you should check regularly for signs of skin cancer. Warning signs include any changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, or freckles, or new, enlarging, pigmented, or red skin areas. If you spot any changes or you find you have sores that are not healing, consult your doctor.

Health Tip #6: Check for breast cancer. The American Cancer Society no longer recommends monthly breast self-exams for women. However, it still suggests them as “an option” for women, starting in their 20s. You should be on the lookout for any changes in your breasts and report any concerns to your doctor. All women 40 and older should get a yearly mammogram as a mammogram is the most effective way of detecting cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most treatable.

A woman’s health needs change as she ages, but the basics of women’s health remain the same. If you follow these six simple healthy living tips, you will improve your quality of life for years to come.

Change Emotional Eating

It’s been a bad day at work. The kids have been acting up all day. You’re stressed. How do you deal with it? Maybe by gobbling an extra piece of fried chicken? Or reaching into the bag of chips while zoning out in front of the television? Perhaps by snuggling up with a container of ice cream and spoon in bed? We’ve all caught ourselves giving in to emotional eating.

And yet we also know that we can’t lose weight without limiting the calories that pass our lips. So how do you move beyond the urge to use food to fix feelings of anxiety, anger, or frustration? And how do you keep your kids from falling into the same trap?

Emotional eating tends to be a habit, and like any habit can be broken. It may be hard, especially if you’ve been doing it for a long time, but it is possible.

Weight problems often run in families, so the easiest way to tackle emotional eating is together as a family. You can’t expect an overweight child to stop binge-eating snacks and junk food when other people in the household are eating them.

Preparing Tweens for Middle School

Start

Here are four tips to help you and your family stop using food as an emotional fix.

1. Make your house healthy.

Start with the obvious: If there is no junk food in the house, you can’t binge on it. Instead, keep unprocessed, low-calorie, low-fat foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, hummus, and unbuttered popcorn around for munching. And remember that they’re not just for your kids. Set a good example for them by trying and enjoying healthier options.

Take a look at your refrigerator and pantry and cut down on your go-to temptations.

Before you go grocery shopping, take a breather, go for a walk, and wait until your emotions are in check.

2. Figure out what’s triggering emotional eating.

The next time you reach for comfort food, ask yourself, “Why do I want this candy bar? Am I really hungry?” If not, try to figure out what emotions you are feeling. Are you stressed, angry, bored, scared, sad, lonely? A food diary — a written record of what, how much, and when you eat — may help you see patterns in how mood affects what you choose to eat.

Check in with how your kids are feeling, too. If you’re aware of the social and emotional issues they are facing, it will help you guide them to make better choices when dealing with their emotions without eating. Find out what’s going on in their personal lives. Ask about school, friends, and how they feel. Do they feel good or bad about the way life is going?

When times get tough, it helps to have some go-to healthy ways to handle stress. You and your kids can try deep breathing, going for a walk, or listening to music.

Sometimes, an outside perspective can give you an “aha!” moment that lights the path for change. If you’re having trouble controlling your emotional eating, don’t be afraid to seek the help of a mental health professional. Although professional counseling or psychotherapy might not be comfortable for elementary school children, it can help you or older kids figure out what’s behind emotional eating and offer help for eating disorders.

3. Find satisfying alternatives.

Once you figure out why food makes you feel better, you can come up with alternative behaviors that can help you cope instead of emotional eating. Frustrated because you feel like you’re not in control? Go for a walk on a path you choose. Hurt by a co-worker’s mean comments? Take it out on a punching bag, or make a plan for how you’re going to talk it out. Bored? Distract yourself by calling a friend or surfing the Internet.

If you deny yourself all treats, that can lead to cravings and binge eating. Instead, allow yourself to have your favorite foods occasionally and in smaller portions. Limit the amount of chips or candy by putting a few in a small bowl instead of mindlessly eating them out of the bag.

Keep the focus on fun and feeling good so that new, healthier habits are easier to adopt. A study in a British health journal showed that teenagers were more likely to take a walk when they heard that it would make them feel good than when they heard it was the healthy thing to do.

4. Celebrate success.

Focus on the positive changes you are making, one step at a time. You’ll get better results with encouragement than with harsh criticism. For example, praise your child when he takes only one cookie out of the box instead of a handful.

Changing an emotional eating habit is a process. Some backsliding will happen, so acknowledge when it does and use it as a chance to plan how you’ll deal with the same situation in the future.

Successes are sweeter when you can share them. Celebrate a week of healthy eating as a family by taking a walk in the woods, having a swim night, or going skating together. When you work together to build better eating habits, the support you can offer each other and the rewards you enjoy can be priceless.

Eat a Healthy Diet

If you are what you eat, it follows that you want to stick to a healthy diet that’s well balanced. “You want to eat a variety of foods,” says Stephen Bickston, MD, AGAF, professor of internal medicine and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. “You don’t want to be overly restrictive of any one food group or eat too much of another.”

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks

The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should eat:

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings, butter, and mayonnaise, except on occasion. A serving of raw or cooked vegetables is equal to 1/2 cup (1 cup for leafy greens); a serving of a fruit is 1/2 cup or a fresh fruit the size of a tennis ball.
  • 2 to 3 servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Choose dairy products wisely. Go for fat-free or reduced-fat milk or cheeses. Substitute yogurt for sour cream in many recipes and no one will notice the difference. A serving of dairy is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt or 1.5 to 2 ounces of cheese.
  • 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, and nuts. For a healthy diet, the best ways to prepare beef, pork, veal, lamb, poultry, and fish is to bake or broil them. Look for the words “loin” or “round” in cuts of meats because they’re the leanest. Remove all visible fat or skin before cooking, and season with herbs, spices, and fat-free marinades. A serving of meat, fish, or poultry is 2 to 3 ounces. Some crossover foods such as dried beans, lentils, and peanut butter can provide protein without the animal fat and cholesterol you get from meats. A ¼ cup cooked beans or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is equal to 1 ounce of lean meat.
  • Use fats, oils, and sweets sparingly. No diet should totally eliminate any one food group, even fats, oils, and sweets. It’s fine to include them in your diet as long as it’s on occasion and in moderation, Bickston says.

Healthy Diet: Eat Right and the Right Amount

How many calories you need in a day depends on your sex, age, body type, and how active you are. Generally, active children ages 2 to 8 need between 1,400 and 2,000 calories a day. Active teenage girls and women can consume about 2,200 calories a day without gaining weight. Teenage boys and men who are very active should consume about 3,000 calories a day to maintain their weight. If you’re not active, you calorie needs drop by 400 to 600 calories a day.

The best way to know how much to eat is to listen to your body, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “Pull away from the table when you’re comfortable but not yet full. Wait about 20 minutes,” he says. “Usually your body says, ‘That’s good.’ If you’re still hungry after that, you might want to eat a little more.”

Healthy Diet: Exercise Is Part of the Plan

At the bottom of the new USDA food pyramid is a space for exercise. Exercise is an important component of a well-balanced diet and good nutrition. You can reap “fabulous rewards,” says Dr Novey, just by exercising and eating “a healthy diet of foods that nature provides.”

Learn More About 8 Healthy Foods That Aren’t

Let’s face it: When you’re trying to eat healthy, the grocery store can be downright confusing. Sure, the produce department is a no-brainer, but what about all the aisles of packaged products proclaiming themselves a “healthy” choice?

The trick is to keep it simple. “The simpler a food is, the greater the likelihood it’s a healthy option,” says Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, wellness manager at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

Some foods might seem like a safe bet because of trendy terms or ingredients. Here are the facts about eight foods that might have you fooled.

1. Sports Drinks and Enhanced Waters

It’s easy to think of sports drinks as healthy, especially because of all the famous athletes who guzzle them in ads. But unless your kid is exercising intensely, for a long stretch of time, or in high heat, he should pass on them.

“Most kids don’t need a sports drink for refueling or rehydrating,” says Jackie Newgent, RDN, author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook. And the extra, empty calories can add to unhealthy weight gain and tooth decay, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The same goes for waters that have been enhanced with vitamins and minerals since they usually have artificial flavors and sweeteners.

Bottom line: “Plain water and a well-balanced diet are the best way to stay healthy and hydrated,” Newgent says. Too boring for your kids’ taste buds? Make your own fruit-infused water with fresh lemons, limes, or berries.

2. Trail Mix

It’s an easy, tasty way to refuel between school, dance practice, and study groups. But be careful: Many grocery store versions are packed with not-so-nutritious add-ons, like chocolate, salty nuts, and pretzels or peanuts covered in “yogurt.”

“Watch out for trail mixes that are borderline candy mixes,” Newgent says.
Bottom line: Look for trail mixes that are mostly plain nuts, dried fruit, and seeds. Or make your own at home. And watch the portion size. A small handful of this high-calorie snack is usually enough.

3. Veggie Chips

The pieces of actual veggies in veggie chips are so thin and processed that most of the nutrition from the vegetable is gone.

Raw veggies are obviously a healthier way to go, but let’s face it: Sometimes those carrot sticks just aren’t going to satisfy your crunch craving. Try whole-grain pretzels, baked corn chips, crackers made with seeds and nuts, or popcorn, Kirkpatrick suggests. To keep from turning a bag of chips or box of crackers into a meal, divvy them up into sensible portions ahead of time.

Bottom line: Don’t assume veggie chips are as nutritious as veggies.

4. Nutrition Bars

Some are filled with so much sugar that you may as well be eating a candy bar. For instance, the best-selling energy bar, according to a 2013 survey, has 230 calories, 10 grams of sugar, and 160 milligrams of sodium. A Snickers bar clocks in at 250 calories, 27 grams of sugar, and 120 milligrams of sodium.

Bottom line: If you’re going to eat them, choose one that’s low in added sugar and made mostly of nuts, seeds, fruits, and whole grains. Better yet, make your own.

5. Raisin Bran or Flavored Oatmeal

The classic breakfast cereal is another sugar trap. Although some are high in healthy fiber, the already-sweet raisins usually come coated in more sugar.

The same goes for flavored instant oatmeal. Even though it offers whole grains, the flavored packets have more sugar and salt than plain rolled or steel-cut oats.

A better option for cold or hot cereal: Start plain and add your own extras. Buy bran flakes and sprinkle a tablespoon of raisins into your kids’ bowls. Or dress up plain oatmeal with fresh fruit or a small dab of honey.

Bottom line: “There’s lots of smoke and mirrors on cereal boxes, especially the ones marketed to kids,” Kirkpatrick says. She suggests looking for cereals that have less than 135 milligrams of sodium per serving and no added sugar.

6. Smoothies

What could be healthier than drinking a smoothie made of fresh fruit? The fruit itself.

“A smoothie every once in a while is OK, but you’re removing the fiber and taking in a high concentration of sugar,” Kirkpatrick says. “So you’re going from having 9 grams of sugar in a bowl to 30 or 40 grams of sugar in a smoothie — even more if it’s a commercially made one.”

Bottom line: Make smoothies at home so you know exactly what’s in them. Better yet, just eat the fruit.

7. “Low-Fat” and “Fat-Free” Products

“We have to get away from this thinking that ‘low fat’ is a good option,” Kirkpatrick says. “Naturally occurring low-fat foods like an apple are one thing, but packaged low-fat foods are a bad choice 90% of the time.” That’s because low- and no-fat foods typically replace the fat with other stuff, like salt, sugar, or thickeners, which can add calories.

Bottom line: Don’t assume “low-fat” or “fat-free” is healthier than its full-fat version. Check the label for the calories and serving size.

8. Gluten-Free Products

There’s no need to avoid this protein unless someone in your house has a medical problem like celiac disease, in which gluten damages the small intestine.

That’s not to say that naturally gluten-free whole foods, like quinoa, aren’t good for you, Newgent says. “But, unfortunately, most people who switch to a gluten-free eating style when they don’t need to far too often reach for overly processed gluten-free products, like gluten-free cookies.”

Also, when manufacturers take out gluten, they often remove the B vitamins, minerals, and fiber that come with it. Plus, gluten-free products tend to be more expensive than their regular counterparts.

Bottom line: Skip foods labeled “gluten-free” unless you have to eat them for medical reasons.

Some Running Injuries

usually happen when you push yourself too hard. The way your body moves also plays a role.

You can prevent many of them. Here’s how.

1. Runner’s knee. This is a common overuse injury. Runner’s knee has several different causes. It often happens when your kneecap is out of alignment.

Over time, the cartilage on your kneecap can wear down. When that happens, you may feel pain around the kneecap, particularly when:

  • Going up or down stairs
  • Squatting
  • Sitting with the knee bent for a long time

2. Stress fracture. This is a small crack in a bone that causes pain and discomfort. It typically affects runners in the shin and feet. It’s often due to working too hard before your body gets used to a new activity.

Pain gets worse with activity and improves with rest. Rest is important, as continued stress on the bone can lead to more serious injury.

3. Shin splint. This is pain that happens in the front or inside of the lower leg along the shin bone (tibia). Shin splints are common after changing your workout, such as running longer distances or increasing the number of days you run, too quickly.

How to Pick a Workout Shoe

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People with flat feet are more likely to develop shin splints.

Treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Stretching exercises
  • Slow return to activity after several weeks of healing

4. Achilles tendinitis. This is inflammation of the Achilles tendon. That’s the large tendon that attaches the calf to the back of the heel.

Achilles tendinitis causes pain and stiffness in the area of the tendon, especially in the morning and with activity. It is usually caused by repetitive stress to the tendon. Adding too much distance to your running routine can cause it. Tight calf muscles can also contribute.

Treatment includes:

  • Rest
  • Icing the area
  • Calf stretches

5. Muscle pull. This is a small tear in your muscle, also called a muscle strain. It’s often caused by overstretching a muscle. If you pull a muscle, you may feel a popping sensation when the muscle tears.

Treatment includes RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation