Love Yourself, Love Your Heart

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States? Do not become a statistic.

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss whether or not you are at risk for heart disease.

In addition to speaking with your doctor there are a few things you can do to show your heart you care.

  • Eat Healthy
    • Portion control, more fruits and veggies, less sugar and fats
  • Physical Activity
    • The American Heart Association recommends walking for 30 minutes a day
  • Weight Management
    • Eating better, working out/exercising
  • Stress Management
    • Get enough sleep, talk with friends and family, get organized
  • Quit Smoking
    • Try to kick the habit

Want more information? Visit the American Heart Association webpage for detailed information on leading a healthier lifestyle for you and your heart.

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6 Healthy Food Tips for Seniors

Here are 6 tips to help fit your dietary needs as you get older for both your body and your budget.

  1. Important Nutrients

Eating a variety of foods helps you get all the nutrients you need. Making your plate look as colorful as possible is always the best choice. Healthy meals should include:

  • Lean protein (lean meats, fish, egg whites, legumes)
  • Fruits and veggies (green, red, orange, and purple)
  • Whole grains (whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice)
  • Low-fat dairy (milk and its alternatives)

Choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium. Finding foods with extra Vitamin D is a great addition as it is an important mineral as we age.

  1. What does a healthy plate look like?

When we were younger it seemed all we saw about healthy eating was the food pyramid. Luckily for us, the USDA unveiled an easier way to help us see what we should be eating each day. This simple graphic below is called MyPlate. Follow this link to see your recommended serving. It shows us exactly how the five food groups should be laid out on our plates. Easy way to keep track of a healthy diet.

  1. Stay hydrated

Drinking small amounts of fluids throughout the day will help keep you from being dehydrated. Water is best, but if you must drink other items keep the salt and sugar at a minimum, unless your doctor has stated otherwise.

 

  1. Read the label

The best and healthiest foods are whole foods. (Meaning not processed or packaged.) If you must eat packaged foods, make sure to read the Nutrition Facts on the label. Stay away from the foods that are high in fats, sugar, and sodium.

 

  1. Recommended servings

As we get older we need to work on maintaining our weight and eating the right amount of food for our age and body. Lucky for us, the American Heart Association provides recommended daily servings for adults aged 60+.

 

  1. Stretching your food budget

Have you ever heard of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP)? It is a program that helps those in need to afford healthy food for when they need it. There are over 4 million older Americans that use SNAP to buy food, and the average senior receives  $113 a month. Click BenefitsCheckUp.org/getSNAP to see if the program can help you.

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Sometimes it’s okay to quit

I know that trying to quit smoking is extremely difficult. I’ve been there myself, recently in fact. I am proud to say that after 20+ years smoking, I am now a non-smoker going on 5 months. I am not going to lie, it was a hard road, but not impossible. I would like to share with you the tips and tricks that got me where I am today. Hopefully these tips can help you in your journey of kicking the habit.

  1. Deep Breathing

When you get the urge to light a cigarette, take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. I am sure you know by now that stress is a strong trigger for your nicotine cravings. Breathing slowly will help relax and calm you down. The extra oxygen you’re breathing in can help with your headaches and/or the feelings of dizziness/lightheadedness. I searched YouTube for videos that taught deep breathing exercises since I wasn’t very good at doing it on my own. One of my favorites can be found HERE.

  1. Drink Lots of Water

Did you know that drinking water can actually speed up the nicotine detox? What this means is that your cravings will go away quicker as the nicotine leaves your body. Drinking water will also help by breaking up the mucus in your lungs making it easier to cough. Another benefit of drinking plenty of water is it will help combat your increased appetite without changing your eating habits. (Increased appetite is one of the side effects that I did not particularly care for while I was quitting smoking. Drinking water did help me battle my new cravings for food to satisfy my nicotine void.)

  1. Meditation

Although I already covered deep breathing, meditation is a great way to handle some of the psychological aspects of going through nicotine withdrawal. Learning how to meditate can help ease your stress which in turn helps curb that want/need for nicotine. There are several different ways to meditate. A few examples are repeating specific mantras, deep breathing, and envisioning special thoughts or pictures. Learning simple meditation techniques can help you find out what might be triggering your cravings. Once you figure out what these triggers are, you can learn to avoid them.

  1. Limiting Your Caffeine Intake

Coffee is a stimulant that increases your heartrate which makes dealing with stress more difficult. Oddly enough, nicotine suppresses the effects of caffeine, so once you quit, your normal 2-3 cups of coffee will have a stronger effect on you. You can only imagine what these effects are doing to your overall well-being.

  1. Find Yourself a Fidget Toy

Getting into the habit of finding healthier ways to relieve stress can improve your health. Something as simple as using your hands to keep yourself busy can be extremely beneficial in keeping yourself relaxed and calm without the use of nicotine. One of my favorite things to play with is kinetic sand. I also have a stress ball and silly putty. These may not be enough for you, but they might put you in the right direction to keep you from grabbing a cigarette instead.

  1. Snack Light, Snack Healthy

As I mentioned previously, your appetite is going to increase. Having healthy snacks on hand will help with keeping your weight down. It can also help satisfy your need to bring your hand to your mouth for that repetitive motion that your hands are used to doing while smoking. If you’re craving a cigarette, grab a carrot or celery stick instead. I found that the crunchier the snack the more it relieved my stress and kept the cigarette craving away.

  1. Start Up a New Hobby

I know that it isn’t easy to keep your mind off of smoking, especially if it was part of your usual routine for several years if not decades. Finding a hobby to help with this will benefit you in the long run. You might find that you had a hidden talent all along. Learn to paint, quilt, sew, crochet, or even cook. That was my hidden talent. I found out that I am quite the chef and I didn’t even know it. After I quit, I noticed that my sense of smell and taste had come back to me. Everything just tasted and smelled better. Knowing how delicious everything is that I cook was enough for me to not pick up another cigarette. I never wanted my senses to be denied again.

  1. Exercise

Sometimes exercising can help when you try to quit smoking. When you exercise, dopamine is released Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that you also get when you smoke cigarettes. By replacing a cigarette with exercise, you may be able to get the same dopamine your body is used to in a much healthier way. Staying active and working out frequently can help speed up the repair process your body is going through in order to fix some of the damage that the nicotine did.

  1. Get Rid of the Stuff that Reminds You of Smoking

Throw away those lighters and ashtrays. Seeing those things around the house and outside will only remind you of the times you had smoking and will make you think that you need “just one more”. Parting with these items shows your brain who is in control and that you are truly ready to give up the nasty habit. When you leave these things it is much easier to get back into the habit. If they are gone, you would have to go out of your way to replace them which makes it more difficult for you dive back in.

  1. Clean Everything

Take your car to get detailed, have someone come steam clean your carpets, do a Spring Cleaning in the middle of February. Getting rid of the stale smoke smell will keep you from reminiscing all the times you and your cigarettes had together. This means doing laundry, changing all bedding, wiping everything down. Even if you don’t smoke in your house and car, you were in both and your smell was left behind. When this smell is gone the less likely you will want that smell on you again. Trust me, you smell much better without the smell of cigarette smoke hanging around you like a dirt cloud. You will appreciate it and so will those around .

Once you have decided it is time for you to quit smoking, follow these simple tips to keep yourself on track and kick your smoking habit.

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Ahh-Chooo! Oh no, it’s the flu.

It’s flu season. The sneezing, coughing, and body aches that keep us in bed days at a time. Living off of whatever home cooked food gives you comfort and possibly watching TV for hours on end. Here are five simple ways to try and have yourself feeling better in no time.

Drink plenty of fluids.

This sounds like something you might hear from your doctor all the time, and for good reason. Drinking fluids will help break up that nasty mucus, making it easier for you to breathe. Believe it or not, chicken noodle soup is considered a fluid, along with other broth based soups. So keep drinking your fluids and eating your soup!

Keep your flu at home.

No one wants to get sick, and you don’t want to be Patient X. Everyone around you will know you are the reason they feel miserable as well. Stay at home and give your poor body some much needed rest so you can feel better sooner. Read a book, or curl up on the couch and watch your favorite series. This might help you feel a little better and ease those aches and pains brought on by this nasty virus.

Steam yourself

Filling your bathroom sink with hot water and holding your head over the steam might give you a little relief and help break up some of the gunk in your chest and nose. Sometimes people will add a teaspoon of over-the-counter menthol rub or eucalyptus oils for a soothing effect. Another way to get some extra steam is to sit in the bathroom with the door closed. Let the showers hot water run until the room is full of steam. Please make sure to sit away from the water so you can avoid getting burned. It is possible that these might make you feel better, but unfortunately there is no proof that they will really help with your symptoms.

Humidify

Sometimes the air in our house can be dry and this can cause us to feel even more miserable. Running a humidifier or vaporizer might help ease congestion and coughs. When using any device like this, please make sure to follow the instruction manual, and keep it clean by using their required method printed for the device. Failing to follow the directions can promote the growth of bacteria and molds.

The flu shot.

You might be saying “Why should I get a flu shot? I just got one last year.” Unfortunately, the flu virus is sneaky and can change from year to year. This is why it is important to get the flu shot every flu season. According to the Medicare the flu shot is “free for people with Medicare, once per flu season when you get it by doctors or other health care providers (like senior centers and pharmacies) that take Medicare.” Visit the site listed above to learn more about what Medicare can do for you.

Please make sure to take care of yourself and stop the flu before it stops you!

 

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