Tag Archives: heat

Healthy Popcorn Recipes for Movie Night

Healthy Popcorn Recipes

It’s National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, and air-popped popcorn is a great healthy snack. Jazz it up further with our healthy popcorn recipes.

First up is a Healthy Caramel Corn that will satisfy your cravings.

Healthy Caramel Corn

 

Get in the mood for fall and spookiness with this Pumpkin Spice Popcorn.

Pumpkin Spice Popcorn for Healthier Snacking

 

Get some heat on movie night with Sriracha-Lime Popcorn.

Easy Gourmet Popcorn

 

Lighten up your favorite holiday dessert for the kids with Apple Pie Popcorn.

Apple Pie Popcorn Snack Mix Recipe

 

Skip your latte craving with this Matcha (Green Tea) Stovetop Popcorn.

Matcha (Green Tea) Stovetop Popcorn

 

Class up classic, cheesy popcorn with this Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn.

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn

 

Get ready for the holiday season and cold winter nights with Dark Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Popcorn

Chronic Back Pain

My Healthy Journey: Chronic Back Pain

The Opioid Epidemic and Chronic Back Pain

Over the last year, the leading news story in health care has been the opioid epidemic. And chronic pain, particularly chronic back pain, has been at the top of the list of reasons why people use opioids long term. 

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 12 weeks, and for many, it’s pain that can last the rest of their lives. Chronic pain can happen because of a genetic problem or disorder or an injury or accident. Many people who survive serious car accidents or workplace accidents deal with chronic pain for the rest of their lives. 

And back injuries are a leading cause of chronic pain. Business Insider took a look at a study that dug into the relationship between chronic back pain and opioid use disorder:

Amino - Chronic Back Pain and Opioid Use Disorder

Having back surgery increases your chances of relying on opioids to manage pain by over 7 times! Other back problems raise your chances by over 2 times. 

Obviously, these are also people who are likely to get long-term opioid prescriptions from their doctors.

How Doctors Treat Chronic Pain

For decades, the standard for doctors has been to treat this kind of ongoing pain with opioids. Now, with opioid drug overdoses skyrocketing, doctors are making changes.

Early estimates show that opioids took 53,000 American lives in 2016, more than those killed in car accidents.

Opioids don’t just turn off your pain receptors. They also let your brain release more dopamine, which can help relieve stress and anxiety and make you happier.

But when you take an opioid permanently, you can build a tolerance to it, which means you need more and more to manage your pain and to feel good. Both the pain relief for chronic sufferers and the way it makes you feel can become addictive.

Not to mention, opioids can change how often certain neurons in your brain fire, which means that when you’re not on opioids, you actually get more anxious and unhappy until you take more, causing serious withdrawals. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revised their guidelines to help doctors try other treatments first, and doctors are hard at work to find new ways to treat pain.

Waiting for Chronic Back Pain

So why is this part of my healthy journey? I have my own chronic back pain.

I’m lucky. I’ve never taken opioids for my back pain, so I’ve avoided those issues, but I do understand what it’s like to live with pain as a part of your daily life and why people would be willing to take opioids to stop it.

My father has had a slipped disc in his back my entire life. I’ve always known what back pain looks like. I also always thought it might happen to me. Not only can these issues be hereditary, but I also take after my father physically.

Combine that with the slouch of someone who hated always being the tallest in her class as a child and now sits in front of a computer all day, and I always suspected that back problems were coming for me.

My Chronic Back Pain

The pain started for me in college, when I was no longer playing sports or working out in P.E. every day. One year, I chose to live in the loop in Chicago instead of by my campus, so as part of my daily commute, I walked about an hour and a half. That was when I really started to throw out my back once in a while.

But it wasn’t until I worked at Starbucks after college that I really started to have serious problems regularly. Being on my feet all day and bending up and down with milk jugs all the time really started to take a toll on my back.

I’ll get building back pain on one side of my lower back. It can switch sides, and one side is usually worse than the other. And when it fully goes out, my knee on that side can sometimes buckle, which if I’m not ready for it, can actually knock me down. And sometimes it’s so bad that getting out of bed, getting up and down, or just falling asleep, is a challenge. 

Getting Help

I’ve always known this pain might hit me one day, and when it started, I talked to my dad a lot about what was going on. My symptoms match his exactly.

Since I knew what the issue was from my father’s medical history, I wasn’t really worried about getting an official diagnosis.

I also already knew that I didn’t want to take opioids or painkillers long term. I’m one of those people who rarely takes even Tylenol. And when I had serious opioids after I had my wisdom teeth removed, they made me feel disoriented and nauseous.

My older brother had a serious workplace injury when I was in high school. He broke his pelvis and some of his spine. He’d seen a chiropractor, among many other specialists, when he was recovering, and he still sees one sometimes to cope with his own chronic pain.

I decided to explore that as a treatment option instead. My new chiropractor ran some X-rays and told me that my pelvis is tilted, which lets my disc slip back and forth instead of holding it in place. 

Through a series of adjustments, he worked to bring my pelvis back in line, and brought me some real relief. 

Unfortunately, I’ve done some state-hopping since then, and while I’m still in better shape than I used to be, I haven’t had time to find a new chiropractor yet. 

Starting to Deal with Your Pain

So what can you do to tackle your chronic pain? 

  1. First and foremost, go see your doctor, especially if you’ve been injured or don’t have a family history of back issues. You might need surgery or other serious help.

  2. Consider your treatment options. Surgery can be an option for many chronic back problems, but it has costs. It’s expensive and can cause its own set of pain problems. Opioids are highly addictive. Talk to your doctor about other options, like chiropractic treatment or acupuncture.

  3. Talk to your insurance company. Insurance companies want to stop the opioid epidemic too, and more plans are covering alternative therapies like chiropractic visits than ever before.

  4. Talk to your employer. If you have insurance through your employer, talk to them about making sure other therapies are covered on your group plan.

  5. Work with your care team on a treatment plan to cope with and manage your pain.

Learning to Manage Pain

So how do I manage my chronic back pain without drugs?

  • Set expectations. Knowing I would probably grow up to develop chronic back pain means I’ve always been ready for it. Accepting that pain will be a part of my life helps me feel in control.

  • Find a treatment that helps. For me, this has been regular chiropractic adjustments that help relieve tension and keep my disc in place. 

  • Get massages. I get the occasional massage to help relieve tension in the muscles in my back too. Many people with back pain get regular massages and swear by them.

  • Exercise and eat right. Even just a few extra pounds can put enormous stress on your spine if you already have back problems. And exercise can strengthen the muscles in your back. Focus on low-impact activities and strengthen your core if you’re already in pain.

    And choose your cardio wisely. Running outdoors or on inclines can be really hard on your back and pelvis. Try running on a treadmill, walking, or biking instead.

  • Try yoga, pilates, or tai chi. Yes, these are technically forms of exercise, but they’re more than that too. A new study found that yoga can actually help relieve back pain itself, but recommends gentle poses. And the routine they used is free online. I find it highly relaxing and a nice way to stretch and wind down, and you can do it as often as you want.

  • Get plenty of sleep. You’d be surprised how sleep affects other parts of your life. When I’m sleep deprived, my back is much more likely to go out. And since I struggle to sleep once my back’s out, it makes for a long sleepless week in that situation.

  • Try little treatments and tricks. I ice my back and use heating pads. I also take over-the-counter pain meds before bed if my back feels like it will go out during the night. If my back’s already out, lying on the floor (if I have someone handy to help me get up later) can help. Putting a pillow between my knees can also help while I’m trying to fall asleep.

  • Meditate. Meditation can help you clear your mind and refocus, and mindfulness can be surprisingly helpful in overcoming pain. There are easy apps you can try to get started too.

  • Talk to someone or journal. Chronic pain can be emotional. You hurt. You can’t escape it, and it can feel hopeless. Talk to a close loved one, journal about what’s happening, or visit a therapist. It can help you blow off steam, lighten your mental load, feel heard, and document your pain’s progression.

  • Practice self-care. Stress and tension can tighten up everything in your back. Find ways to reduce and fight stress in your life. And find little pleasures that you can focus on each day, like your favorite coffee, trading back rubs with your significant other, or cuddling your pet.

Most importantly, get help when you need it. Never let your pain push you so far that you can’t handle it or you fall into depression. Talk to your doctor to keep your mind and body healthy, even in the face of chronic pain.

Family Fun Month

Family Fun Month

It’s Family Fun Month, and in honor of it, we’re helping you make exercise fun so you can get moving with your whole family.

Go for pre- or post-dinner walks as a family. They’ll help with your digestion, and walks are the perfect time to explore your neighborhood.

Dinner Walks

 

Crank a record or a playlist, move the furniture, and have a dance party. Music can help cognitive development. You’ll get moving, and you can hand down your favorites.

Make a game out of household chores to improve imagination and get active. Put on capes and have your kids save their toys from the slimy pit of the rug by putting them away.

Clean-Up Made Fun

 

Have a weekly sports night. Go to your kid’s baseball game, play tag or catch in the backyard, or make or buy an exercise deck of cards.

A New Kind of Sports Night

 

Walk or run for charity. Teach your kids the value of helping others and about good causes, and meet people while working out.

Moving for a Good Cause

 

Put kids to work in the yard. Tell them they can only jump in the leaf pile if they help rake and bag them too.

Yard Work Made Fun

 

Garden together! Kids already love playing in the dirt, so have them help you plant a garden and learn about healthy fruits and veggies.

Learning Through Gardening

Healthy Frozen Pop Recipes

Healthy Frozen Pop Recipes

Summer’s winding down, but it’s never too late to stock your freezer with some refreshing and tasty treats with this week’s healthy frozen pop recipes.

First up is a colorful treat, Tropical Coconut Chia Pops.

Tropical coconut chia pops

 

Skip the iced latte with these Roasted Blueberries ‘n’ Cream Matcha Pops.

Roasted Blueberries n’ Cream Matcha Pops

 

Rehydrating Electrolyte Pops are the perfect treat after a day at the pool or working outside.

Rehydrating Eletrolyte Popsicles

 

 

Relive your childhood or excite your kids with these Healthy Fudge Pops.

Healthy Fudgesicles

Healthy Fudgesicles Recipe

 

Dress up your ice pop for adults with these easy Herb-Infused Fruit Pops.

Herb-Infused Fruit Popsicles

 

Have Coconut Lime Pops to feel like you spent the day at the beach.

Coconut Lime Popsicles

 

Ditch the ice cream pint with these Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yogurt Pops.

Mint Chocolate Chip Greek Yoghurt Popsicles

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Beat the Summer Heat

Summer Heat

It’s officially time for summer fun, which means lots of outdoor activities. But it’s important to protect yourself in the summer heat.

In 2014, 244 people died in the U.S. from excessive heat exposure, and these problems are avoidable.

You can help yourself avoid heat-related illnesses by drinking more liquid than you think you need and avoiding alcohol.

Stay Hydrated

 

Wear loose, lightweight clothing, hats, and plenty of sunscreen on any exposed skin. Sunburns affect your ability to cool down.

Dress for the Sun

 

If you’re sweating a lot, replace lost salt and electrolytes by drinking juice or sports drinks.

Replace Your Salt

 

Avoid spending time outside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the hottest part of the day, and try not to over-exert yourself.

Hottest Part of the Day

 

Babies, the elderly, pets, those with heart problems, and people who exercise or work outside are at the highest risk of heat-related issues.

Risk of Heat-Related Issues

 

If you think someone is experiencing heat exhaustion or cramps, move them to the shade or AC, give them water, use wet towels to cool them down, and if you’re worried or symptoms don’t ease, call 911.

Cooling Down Fast

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Adding a Fresh Bite with Jalapeño Recipes

Healthy Jalapeño Recipes

This week, we featured some healthy jalapeño recipes that will let you add a little spice to your summer with the in-season pepper.

First up is a vegetarian BBQ must, the Jalapeño Popper Black Bean Burger.

Jalapeno Popper Black Bean Burgers

 

Whip up this easy family-favorite side, Twice Baked Jalapeño Sweet Potatoes.

Twice Baked Jalapeno Sweet Potato Recipe

 

Make this Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Chili to work up a sweat.

Slow Cooker Paleo Jalapeno Popper Chicken Chili

 

This Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa will add a sweet, spicy kick to your next party.

Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa

 

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Taquitos combine your favorite appetizers.

Slow Cooker Jalapeño Popper Chicken Taquitos

 

This Healthy Crock Pot Jalapeño Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup is fresh and easy.

Healthy Crock Pot Jalapeno, Chicken & Sweet Corn Soup

 

Make these Jalapeño Popper Quinoa Bites for a healthy snack or appetizer.

Jalapeno Popper Quinoa Bites #WeekdaySupper #ChooseDreams

Serving Health for National Food Safety Education Month

National Food Safety Education Month

September is National Food Safety Education Month. And this year’s theme is about restaurants. If you own or work in one, use these activities for a refresher.

Do you know how best to store your food and keep it fresh? We can help.

Some things you should wash as soon as you bring them home. Others should wait until before you eat them. Learn how to clean your produce.

Do you really know what organic produce can give you? We can help.

Safe food prep is key to healthy cooking at home. Make sure you’re doing it right.

Do you know expiration dates aren’t standard? We can help you make sense of them.

Food poisoning is serious, and nothing kills foodborne illness like heat. Make sure you’re safe.