May is also Better Hearing and Speech Month, and we had education for you all week.
Your balance and risk of falling are tied to your inner ear, so ear infections, inner ear disorders, and objects in your ear can actually make you fall. Audiologists can help.
As a parent, do you know the early warning signs of speech, language, and hearing disorders?
Make sure you know how to recognize the signs of a communication disorder.
If your child is falling behind, you may want to have their hearing checked.
Hearing loss affects sentence structure and speech development.
If your child doesn’t use these sounds or letters, talk to their doctor about a hearing test.
Hearing loss makes learning vocab even harder for children.
Taking care of yourself with a healthy pregnancy diet and exercise routine is an important part of a healthy pregnancy overall. These tips can help you plan a balanced diet, exercise routine, and more.
Eat a Balanced Diet
While it’s normal to have crazy cravings while you’re pregnant, it’s also important to get plenty of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Together, you and your baby have different nutritional needs than you do separately.
It’s less like eating for 2, and more like eating for yourself and 1/8. You’ll need to get around an extra 300 calories a day. For example, if you’d normally drink a 10-oz. glass of juice, now you should drink an 11- or 12-oz. glass.
Most pregnant women need about:
- 1,800 calories per day during the first trimester
- 2,200 calories per day during the second trimester
- 2,400 calories per day during the third trimester
You should also be careful when eating out because you’ll be more susceptible to foodborne illness while you’re pregnant.
Take a Prenatal Vitamin
Pregnant women need more folic acid, iron, and calcium. Folic acid, a B vitamin, can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken early in your pregnancy.
Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day during early pregnancy as part of a healthy diet. Avoid any supplements that give you more than 100% of the daily value for any vitamin or mineral.
While you may not always feel like it, moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day during pregnancy can benefit both you and your baby. It helps you prepare your body for labor, and it will help you feel better before and after birth.
Safe Exercises to Try
- Riding a stationary bike
- Water aerobics
Activities to Avoid
- Too much up and down movement
- Exercise that could make you lose your balance
- Laying flat on your back after the first trimester
- Anything where you could get hit in the stomach
- Sitting in saunas, hot tubs, or steam rooms
Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine, drink plenty of water, don’t get overheated, and be sure to listen to your body.
It’s Get a Balanced Life Month, and we have tips to help you balance your life between work and personal this week.
First, decide what a balanced life means for you. A balanced life doesn’t have to mean you spend as much time on work as personal activities if that’s not where your priorities are at this moment. It’s important to adjust with your life changes.
You don’t have to stick to a 9 to 5 work schedule if it’s not right for you. If checking your email late at night to make the morning easier helps, embrace it. If work is a priority, don’t apologize for treating it like one.
Create boundaries to enforce what matters to you. If you can’t take a work phone call while helping your kids with homework in the evening, call back when it works for you.
Don’t feel bad when you have to say no. Saying no can be necessary for balance. If you have the flu, you can miss that work meeting.
Be realistic. Don’t overbook your time trying to be a superhero. If you know you won’t have time to bake treats from scratch for the bake sale, don’t tell someone you can.
Set priorities and let them grow with you. When you’re young, keeping a tidy home with nice things can be like having a sanctuary. But once you have kids, don’t let a little chaos in your home, like toys in the living room, ruin your balance.
Keep a journal. Journaling helps you understand what’s taking up your time and helps you evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. Write down what you spend time on each day, from the gym to work meetings.
Relaxation is the state of being free from tension and anxiety. When I think of relaxation, I imagine myself having no to-do list, sitting back, and watching my son play. Now that I’m raising a family, I understand the importance of taking time to just relax.
On the weekends, I tend to clean my house top to bottom. I get so focused on these tasks that by the time I’m done with my chores, I realize it’s already 5 o’clock on Saturday evening. I get so upset with myself because I spent a whole day cleaning instead of taking a stroll in the park, going on a hike with my family, or just sitting in the backyard and enjoying the nice summer weather.
Then, I rush to get myself together to go do something “fun” before night falls. This defeats the whole purpose of relaxing because I’m so tired by the end of the day, I don’t even get to enjoy the activities with my family.
I now more than ever see why it’s so important to take time to relax. Time and time again, I hear about all of the benefits of relaxation, like lowering blood pressure, increasing blood flow to major muscles, improving sleep quality, and much more. I need to be the best version of me so I can be around and have a good time with my family.
This summer, I am trying something new. I’m giving myself small tasks to do at home every day after work, so when the weekend comes around, my workload isn’t so big. I’m also giving myself a set time frame to clean each Saturday morning. When I’m all done, it’s usually time for my son to take a midday nap, which gives me some dedicated “me time.” When he wakes up, I’m relaxed and ready to have some family fun.
So far, I’m really enjoying my new approach to handling my time. Sometimes, relaxing is much harder than setting up a new plan. There are a lot of reasons you might need a new plan too, like a diagnosis that requires you to try a different approach.
When that happens, our case managers are here to help you make your new plan work in lots of way. They can provide motivation, tools, and lifestyle skills to help minimize your risk of complications and share resources that are available in your community.
So get started finding a plan that works for you, and don’t forget to take some time to relax this summer.Jessica Arroyo, born and raised in Wenatchee Valley, is a Medicare community liaison for Health Alliance, serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan counties in Washington. During her time off, she enjoys spending time with her husband and infant son.
Focusing on a balanced diet is one of the best ways to make healthy eating a part of your life.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
The USDA sets Dietary Guidelines for Americans regularly to help guide balanced diet choices. While these guidelines can seem complicated, there are key takeaways from them you should know.
The Importance of Healthy Eating
Healthy eating helps prevent and slow the onset of diseases, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Include in a Balanced Diet
A healthy and balanced diet, which for most people is around 2,000 calories a day, includes a variety of:
- Vegetables, including a variety of dark green, red, and orange veggies, legumes, which include beans and peas, and starchy veggies, like corn and potatoes.
- Fruits, especially whole fruits, like apples and oranges, which are the perfect serving size.
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grain.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy (like milk, yogurt, and cheese) or appropriate substitutes.
- A variety of foods high in protein, like lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, soy-based products (like tofu), nuts and seeds.
- Oils (like canola, olive, peanut, and soybean) or naturally occurring oils in nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados.
Limit in a Balanced Diet
- Added sugars should make up less than 10% of your daily calories, which can be hidden in processed and prepared foods, like soda, cereal, cookies, and more.
- Limit saturated and trans fats, which should make up less than 10% of your daily calories. Foods high in these include butter, whole milk, and palm oil. Replace with unsaturated fats, like canola and olive oil whenever you can.
- Limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day. Processed foods, like pizza, and canned soup and sauces can be high in this salt.
A Balanced Diet with MyPlate
MyPlate replaced the food pyramid as the guide to making sense of servings. It helps you look at your plate and strike a balance with each meal.
Fruits and veggies should make up about half of your plate, with just over a quarter filled with whole grains, and protein should be under a quarter. (A few ounces of meat, a piece about the size of the palm of your hand, is a good serving size for most people.) Also work in a small serving of dairy through milk, cheese, or yogurt to round out your meal.
Making Smart Choices
Combine these guidelines with smart choices, and you’ll be well on your way to eating a balanced diet. And making these smart choices doesn’t have to be difficult. There are lots of tips and tricks that can help you make a balanced diet a part of your daily life.
Tracking Your Food
- First of all, make sure you know how many calories a day you should eat.
Then, you can target the number of servings you should be getting of the different food groups.
- Use food labels to guide your decisions.
These can help you figure out calorie counts and limit sodium and sugar.
- While you’re switching to a more balanced diet, it’s a good idea to track your food or calories.
This can help you understand how balanced your diet and food servings are and set and reach food goals.
Making and Meeting Food Goals
- Start small.
Making small changes in your eating habits can have long-term effects:
- Switch to high fiber, low-sugar cereals.
- Give up soda with flavored sparkling waters.
- When you’re hungry, try drinking a glass of water before you eat something.
- Plan for all of the places you go in life:
- Instead of eating out for lunch at work, start planning and meal-prepping ahead of time, and avoid the vending machines.
- If you know your kids aren’t making great food choices at school, get them involved in packing lunches they’ll love ahead of time.
- When you know you’ll spend the day at the mall, carry snacks and a water bottle, eat a healthy breakfast or snack before you head out, and skip the food court. If you just can’t avoid a meal or a snack while you’re out, find the healthiest option. Load up a sandwich with veggies, get frozen yogurt without all kinds of extra sweet toppings instead of ice cream, and choose hot tea or unsweetened iced tea instead of a frappachino.
- Check menus for calorie counts when you’re eating out. Ask for salad dressings and sauces on the side, avoid fried foods, and keep in mind that alcoholic drinks can be full of calories.
- Many communities have community gardens. Join in and help out to get moving and to grow things your whole family can enjoy in meals.
Results and Rewards
- Don’t beat yourself up when you have missteps.
Everyone struggles with giving up the foods full of sugar and salt that they love, so it’s important to stay positive and get back on track.
- Plan your cheat day.
Many people have found that planning a weekly cheat day can help them stay on course knowing they can treat themselves later. And once you get used to a balanced diet, you’ll find that you’ll cheat in smaller and smaller ways, even on the day you’re allowed to.
- Find healthy ways to treat yourself.
For example, do you love watermelon or raspberries? Splurge on the healthy treats you love. Enjoy a piece of dark chocolate each day or a glass of red wine each week. Another option, reward meeting your goals with a treat that isn’t food-related, like a new outfit, book, or manicure.
Some friends and I made a New Year’s resolution to climb a mountain in Colorado and circled a date in July on the calendar. To prepare, one friend decided to change one thing – just one.
As a hospital nurse practitioner, she decided to take only the stairs throughout the day. She climbed to the 5th floor for daily rounds, down to her office, back up to the 3rd floor for clinics. You get the idea. When July rolled around, her legs were toned and her lungs were strengthened to the point that she climbed that mountain and lived to tell about it. One simple change was all it took – pretty impressive.
Many people set ambitious nutrition and fitness goals for the New Year. If you’re anything like me, those ambitious goals are scrapped by Super Bowl Sunday. What if we all committed to making just one change for the coming year? What if we circled a date on the calendar (January 2 doesn’t count) and stuck to it? Would the cumulative effect make us healthier?
Some small changes you could make to your eating and fitness habits:
- Start by switching out your afternoon vending machine snack with a piece of fruit and some nuts one day a week.
- Is lunch a fast food adventure? Switch those large fries with a small order of fries, and get water instead of soda. Better yet, trade your fast food meal with a lunch you packed yourself once a week.
- Walking more is one thing we all can add to our daily lives, and it can be easier than you think. Try taking one full lap around your local big-box store before you start shopping. Chances are you’ll add an extra quarter of a mile to your daily mileage.
- Tai Chi is a wonderful exercise to add. Chris Cady-Jones coordinates Tai Chi for Balance in our Omaha market. She says, “Tai Chi is a low impact exercise gaining popularity due to its positive effects on social and mental well-being, improved balance, and physical functioning. It also reduces your risk for falls.”
We won’t all climb a real mountain in 2016. But by making just one small change in our everyday lives, we might climb our own personal mountain toward a healthier and more active New Year.
Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of two terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.