Safe and Green While Cleaning

Green While Cleaning Your Home

Magazines, newspapers, TV, and the internet all remind you to go green whenever possible, at the office, while driving, even at the grocery store.  But what about at home? Do you go green while cleaning?

Even better, do you go green at home and save money while doing so?

Try a non-toxic approach to cleaning your house. Ammonia, bleach, and other toxins can be harmful to you, your children, and your pets. When there are affordable ways to clean all naturally, why not go green in your home?

Green While Cleaning Swaps

Swap these natural cleaning solutions for harsh store-bought chemicals.

To clean countertops and cutting boards

Take hot tap water and mix with vinegar. Dip a nylon scrub pad into the water and scour your countertops and cutting boards. “That’s all you need to remove the bacterial film that even strong disinfectants have trouble penetrating,” says Allen Rathey, president of the Healthy House Institute.

To clean toilets and bathtubs

To combat stains, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the surface and scrub with a brush. To kill germs or mold, spray the surface with a 10% vinegar, 90% water solution, and let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse with water when finished.

To clean stains, mildew, or grease on tile

Spray or douse the area with lemon juice or vinegar. Let sit a few minutes, then scrub with a stiff brush.

To clean mirrors and glass

In a spray bottle, mix a solution of 10% vinegar and 90% water. Spray the dirty glass and wipe down with a microfiber cloth. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, you can substitute undiluted lemon juice or club soda.

To clean wood furniture

Barely dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe off dust. If you prefer a shine on your wood furniture, follow dust removal with a soft cloth dabbed with olive or lemon oil.

To remove carpet stains and spills

Lift off any solids, then pour on club soda. Blot with a rag. The soda’s carbonation has the power to bring the spill to the surface, and the salts in the soda prevent and stop staining. For bigger spills, dump cornmeal on the mess, wait 5 to 15 minutes, and vacuum up the gunk.

Healthy Weight for Kids

Help Your Kids Reach a Healthy Weight

Childhood obesity is a regular topic in the news, and with more than a third of American children above a healthy weight, there’s a real reason for concern.

While many stories talk about school lunch programs and possible laws in the food industry, it can be hard to know what to do when when it’s your child. Then, it’s not about statistics or national efforts — it’s personal.

Get the Facts

The first step is to take an honest look at your kids, even though that’s incredibly hard to do. But denying a weight problem won’t help.

If you’re worried about your kid’s weight, the first step is to talk to their doctor. Some kids develop differently, and it’s possible that yours are still shedding their baby fat. Their doctor can give you a better idea of whether or not it’s a problem.

Getting Started

If their doctor diagnoses your kids as overweight or obese, the next step is to take it in without blaming them or yourself. These days, it can be harder and harder to be healthy when everything has sugar, salt, or chemicals hidden in the ingredients. But it’s not too late to learn to change bad habits and make better ones.

The key is for you to set a goal for your family to get healthy and active, and to stick to it. By helping them make healthy habits now, you can set an example that will last them a lifetime.

Talk About Weight

Next, it is important to really talk through the reasons for the coming changes with your family. Kids usually don’t understand the link between what and how much they eat and their bodies. And if you don’t explain what’s happening, they may think that you taking away their favorite foods is a punishment.

Make sure they understand that they haven’t done anything wrong, and that this is to help you all feel and live better. Don’t put it in terms of weight or looks, instead, talk about feeling good and being healthy and strong.

Kids can be sensitive about their weight, especially if they’ve been teased or bullied about it before. Make sure you always work to build up their self-esteem, and never make them feel guilty for being overweight.

Create a Weight Plan

Now it’s time to create an action plan to make big changes doable.

Get Active

Limits on screen time, like TV, video games, and computers, can help get them moving. You can also have them earn screen time, like playing outside for an hour could earn them 15 minutes of their favorite video game.

Try turning physical activities into family time. Take a bike ride together through your neighborhood. Teach your children games you played as a kid, like freeze tag, or kickball.

Play to what they’re interested in. If they like watching sports on TV, teach them rules or plays during a pickup game. If they love science, find experiments online that will get them moving, like learning about motion, or outside, like looking at plants and animals. Ask their friends or school about groups or teams your kids might want to join, or convince them to play with their dog after school each afternoon.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating better also needs to be a family effort. Kids’ eating habits are often learned from their parents, so first, take a look at what you eat and what you feed them. Again, don’t blame or stress about the past, just set goals for moving forward.

The biggest change you can make is to bring fruits and veggies into every meal. They should make up half of your plate at every meal, and they make great snacks.

Also, cut back on fast food and pre-made snacks like store-bought chips and cookies.  You can’t control how these things were made, which usually means extra calories. Swap these for healthy snacks like string cheese, nuts, grapes, rice cakes, and apples with peanut butter.

Cut out soda in your home. Don’t allow it at the dinner table, and drink low-fat milk, unsweetened tea, or water instead. And if your family misses the bubbles, switch to sugar-free flavored soda water.

And the most important thing you can do is to start cooking at home. When you cook a meal, you control what goes into it, how it was made, and how big a serving is. When you eat out, you don’t always know what your family’s getting.

Make It Stick

These changes can seem huge at first, but you don’t have to make them all at once. Start small, like setting a goal of serving veggies with dinner five nights a week.

You can’t change your family’s diet and exercise routine overnight, and you wouldn’t want to. Change can be hard for kids (and adults!), so get the whole family into it:

  • Never single out one child who’s struggling with a weight issue. Even thin siblings will feel the benefits of healthy eating and exercise.
  • Make your kids a part of meal planning, shopping, and cooking. When they help pick out and prepare veggies for the stir-fry or cook ground turkey for tacos, they’re more likely to try new foods.
  • A good rule is 90% healthy food, and 10% fun food. Limit the not-so-healthy stuff, but definitely don’t ban it. Diets with strict rules are more likely to backfire, and could cause your kids to develop long-term issues with food.
  • Find great advice. With the internet, other parents’ tricks are always on hand. Many have found ways to sneak healthy ingredients into their kids’ favorite foods, like Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese, zucchini, pumpkin, or banana breads, and desserts like these protein-rich Black Bean Brownies. They’ll be healthier without even knowing it!
  • If you’re having a tough time getting your kids on board, find outside help. As parents, we all know that some kids are more likely to follow advice when the info is coming from someone else. Find a registered dietitian for kids in your area at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Eat Right. website.

For more articles and tips on keeping your kids healthy and happy, and many more healthy recipes, visit our Pinterest.

Keeping Your Kitchen Clean

Tips to Keep Your Kitchen Clean

Keeping Your Kitchen Clean

Most of us would like to think we do a pretty good job of keeping our kitchen clean. Basics like washing countertops, sweeping, and mopping the floor might seem like enough, but other things you might not notice can let germs and bacteria hide in your kitchen. These tips can help you keep it spotless.

Clean the Kitchen Sink and Counters

Your dirty dishes are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and germs are easily spread to your faucet handles. Kitchen counters can also collect germs from everything that touches or passes over them.

A wet dishcloth isn’t enough, it will just move the bacteria around. Use hot water and soap or an antibacterial cleaner often.

Change Sponges and Dishcloths Every Week

These are crawling with bacteria, and can even contain E. coli.

Between uses, make sure they dry completely to stop bacteria from growing. Sponges should go in an upright holder, and dishcloths should be hung up to dry.

Wash Your Cutting Boards in the Dishwasher

Hand-washing with hot water and soap is not always enough to kill germs. And knives create nicks in the surface, which are the perfect place for bacteria to grow. It’s also a good idea to reserve one cutting board for meat and another for fruits and veggies, so you never accidentally contaminate something you’re going to eat raw.

If you don’t have a dishwasher, pour boiling water over the surface after each use.

Wash Reusable Grocery Bags

These can transport germs from the grocery store, and using the same bags to carry raw meat and veggies over and over again can cause bacteria to grow on the bag’s surface.

Wash these bags often, either by hand or on the gentle cycle in your washing machine.

Keep the Microwave Clean

You might forget about your microwave because you can’t always see its messes, but it can collect bacteria from food that spills or splatters. And its heat can let bacteria grow and spread.

Make sure to scrub the outside, the handles, and buttons, as well as the inside.

Clean Eating Done Right

5 Steps to Clean Eating

What Is Clean Eating?

There’s a new buzz word being thrown around in the world of nutrition, clean eating. It’s a pretty simple concept: eat foods that aren’t processed and are as direct from nature as possible. They’re whole and free of additives, colorings, flavorings, sweeteners, and hormones.

Evidence shows that the closer to nature you eat, the fewer calories it will take for you to feel full. Processed foods are low in fiber and water, have few nutrients for the amount of calories and added flavors from salt, sugar, and chemicals.

Clean foods are the exact opposite, with lots of fiber, water, many nutrients to the amount of calories and no added flavors. This combination tells your brain that you are satisfied.

For example, if you were eating raw almonds as a snack, you are likely to eat fewer than if you were diving into a bag of honey roasted almonds. The sugary coating on the almonds makes the snack harder to resist.

Give clean eating a try for yourself. It’s easier than you think. Instead of an apple pastry, applesauce, or apple juice, go to the source and eat an apple.

Clean Up

  • Toss heavily processed food, full of things like corn syrup, oil, and salt, and soda.
  • Shop the outskirts of the grocery store, which is where the freshest foods are.
  • Read labels for the fewest and simplest ingredients. The longer the list, the more room for the additions of chemicals, sugar, salt, and bad oils.
  • Cook more meals at home. Restaurants rely heavily on processed foods to make things quickly and uniformly.
  • Train your tongue. If you are used to salt, sugar, and fat, you’ll need some time to appreciate the more subtle flavors of natural foods.
Deciphering Diabetes

Diabetes 101

Diabetes’ Reach

Diabetes affects 29.1 million people in the U.S., a whopping 9.4% of our population. That number has doubled in the last 10 years. And each year, it costs Americans more than $245 billion.

Worldwide, it affects more than 380 million people.  And the World Health Organization estimates that by 2030, that number of people living with it will more than double.

Diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputations, heart failure, and stroke.

What Is Diabetes?

When you eat food, your body turns it into sugar. Then, your body releases a chemical called insulin, which opens up your cells so they can take in that sugar and turn it into energy.

Diabetes is a group of diseases that breaks that system, causing there to be too much sugar in your blood, or high blood glucose.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is normally diagnosed in kids, and it’s the more serious kind. Its is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the cells that create insulin.

Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood, starving your cells. This can cause eye, heart, nerve, and kidney damage, and in serious cases, can result in comas and death.

 Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common kind of diabetes, and it’s frequently called adult-onset diabetes because it’s usually diagnosed when you’re over 35.

People with this form of it produce some insulin, just not enough. And sometime, the insulin isn’t able to open the cells, which is called insulin resistance.

While many people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or inactive, there is a new group of patients emerging—young, slim females. Molecular imaging expert Jimmy Bell, MD, calls this condition TOFI, thin outside, fat inside.

Instead of building up below the skin’s surface, fat gathers on their abdominal organs, which is more dangerous. Risk factors for these women include a lack of exercise, daily stress, and yo-yo dieting.

Gestational Diabetes

Some pregnant women who didn’t have diabetes before and won’t have it after develop a form called gestational diabetes.

Your high blood sugar can cause your baby to make too much insulin. When this happens, their cells can absorb too much sugar, which their bodies then store as fat. This can raise their risk of a difficult birth and breathing problems.

Symptoms

Early detection is key to preventing serious complications from diabetes.

These are some common symptoms:

  • Peeing often
  • Feeling very thirsty or hungry, even though you’re eating
  • Extremely tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Weight loss, even though you are eating more (for type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands or feet (for type 2)

There are often no symptoms for gestational diabetes, so it’s important to get tested at the right time.

Does any of this sound like you? Learn more about how your doctor can test and diagnose you. And learn more about the different treatments.

Healthy Breakfast

Avoid the Morning Slump with Breakfast

No matter how many times you hear, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” in the decision between skipping breakfast or being late to work, breakfast tends to lose.

Coffee may get you through an 8 a.m. meeting, but by 10, the mid-morning slump hits, and rightly so. Your body has now been on a fast for eight to 10 hours, often fueled by coffee alone.

Studies show those who skip breakfast are more irritable, restless, and tired. Not to mention, that if you have diabetes, this can be extremely dangerous to your blood sugar levels.

While to you, breakfast might mean pancakes and eggs, any healthy food is a good choice to start your day. Try stocking foods that are easy to grab and go or preparing breakfast the night before.

Make Breakfast Easy

Here are some easy breakfast ideas from the American Diabetes Association:

  • Breakfast shake: 1 cup fat-free milk or non-fat yogurt, blended with ½ cup fruit (fresh or frozen), 1 teaspoon wheat germ, 1 teaspoon nuts or nut butter, and 1 cup ice.
  • Baked potato and cheese: Top last night’s potato with low-fat cheddar cheese and a spoonful of salsa.
  • Ham sandwich: Toast a whole wheat English muffin or pita and top with 1 ounce lean ham and a squirt of mustard. Add fruit or ½ cup of low-fat cottage cheese on the side.
  • Egg Beaters burrito: Microwave ¼ cup Egg Beaters (or egg whites), add low-fat feta cheese, 2-3 sliced cherry tomatoes, and cubed lean ham.
  • Rice and beans: Warm ½ cup brown rice, add a spoonful of black beans, peppers, and cilantro. For even more flavor, top it off with your favorite salsa.
  • PB and banana sandwich: Two slices of toasted whole grain bread, 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter, and a sliced banana.
  • Maple oats: Microwave ½ cup oatmeal, and add ½ cup skim milk. For sweetness, add 2 tablespoons of sugar-free syrup.
Diabetes and Your Teeth

Caring for Your Teeth with Diabetes

We’re taught the importance of brushing and flossing from a young age. Although we no longer brush with bubble gum-flavored toothpaste and a vibrating cartoon toothbrush, it’s still just as important. In fact, it’s more important as your teeth age. Caring for diabetes and your teeth and gums at the same time needs even closer attention.

Diabetes and Your Teeth

High blood glucose promotes germs’ growth. When bacteria constantly attacks your teeth and gums, you can get red, sore, and swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.

If you have diabetes, you may have trouble keeping your blood sugar levels steady. High levels are not only bad for your health, but also your teeth. Teeth and gum problems occur more often when your levels stay high.

Smoking also makes it more likely for you to get a bad case of gum disease, especially if you have diabetes and are 45 or older.

If you have one or more of these problems, you may have tooth and gum damage from diabetes:

  • Red, sore, or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Your dentures no longer fit correctly

Caring for Your Diabetes and Your Teeth

To avoid permanent damage to your smile:

  • Keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible.
  • Use dental floss at least once a day. Using a sawing motion, gently bring the floss between your teeth, scraping from bottom to top several times.
  • Brush your teeth after each meal or snack using a soft toothbrush.
  • If you wear false teeth, keep them clean.
  • Get your teeth cleaned and your gums checked by your dentist twice a year.

When you do to the dentist, it’s important to plan ahead. If you’re taking a diabetes medicine that can cause low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, talk with your dentist before the visit about the best way to take care of your blood sugar during long procedures. You may need to bring some diabetes medicine or food to the dentist’s office.

If your mouth is sore after dental work, you might not be able to eat or chew right away. Talk to your doctor about how best to adjust your normal routine while your mouth is healing.

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