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Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month

Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month

July is Herbal/Prescription Interaction Awareness Month. Just because something is natural or a “supplement” doesn’t mean it’s safe, especially if you’re taking other prescription drugs.

Herbal supplements with cranberry extract as a primary ingredient can interact with blood thinning medications, so you shouldn’t take both at the same time.

Cranberry Extract Interactions

 

Ginkgo, most commonly taken to improve memory, has been shown to interact with aspirin, diuretics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and blood thinners.

Ginko Interactions

 

Echinacea, largely used to fight the cold and flu, can interact with some chemotherapy agents, caffeine, liver medications, and meds that decrease your immune system.

Echinacea Interactions

 

Saw palmetto, a popular active ingredient in supplements, can be dangerous during pregnancy and can  interact with birth control, hormone therapy, and medication that prevents blood clots.

Saw Palmetto Interactions

 

Fish oils, taken for heart and bone health, may interact with high blood pressure meds, birth control, and some meds that prevent blood clots.

Fish Oils Interactions

 

Keep a list of all your prescriptions and supplements and talk to your doctor about them to make sure there aren’t any interactions. You can also learn more by reading warning labels on your medications or talking to your pharmacist.

Talking About Drug Interactions

Warm and Cozy Winter Relaxation

Chasing Health: Writing, Resting, and Winning Winter

Even with an occasional 60-degree day, February isn’t exactly my favorite month for getting active (or doing anything really, except maybe watching college basketball and catching up on TV shows). I prefer to spend my winter under a warm blanket with a giant sweatshirt and my bunny slippers, remote in hand, butt on couch.

The Infamous Bunny Slippers

As someone who thinks the first snow of the season is magical and who saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens (chock-full of hope from crawl to credits) three times this winter, I know if I’m running a little low on hope and motivation, lots of others probably are, too. After the holiday goodies go stale, I’m kind of done with winter. The mere thought of being outside in the cold makes me cringe. (Once again, thank goodness for those rare warm February days.)

Despite the snow, ice, and occasional subzero wind chills (gross), you don’t have to hibernate for the whole season. A little rest mixed with a hobby here and there is a great recipe for a productive and satisfying winter, even if you’re like me and think stepping outside in the cold is pure torture.

Winter is the perfect time to knock some indoor projects, big or small, off your to-do list. Hobbies can be great for your overall health, even if they’re not fitness related, by helping you reduce stress and sharpen your mind. And there’s no shame in resting, either.

In fact, relaxation is healthy, too. It not only helps refresh your mind, but it also helps lower your risk for certain diseases. Relaxation doesn’t mean lying in bed all day doing nothing. You can take some time to do something you love, catch up with a friend or family member on the phone (or in person if you’re ready to brave the cold), or try a new, relaxing hobby.

Winter is a gift-wrapped, guilt-free excuse handed to us each year (at least in the northern half of the United States), allowing us to put off our outdoor activities for about three months.

I need to cherish that gift, and here’s a short list of how I plan to do so with a mixture of stimulating and relaxing hobbies. You can customize the list and make the most of winter, too.

Nicole’s Ultimate Relaxation & At-Home Projects List

Make my dream a reality.

Although writing is literally my job, after years of writing about real-life events and health facts, I want to try my hand at fiction. I’ve dreamed of writing a novel since grade school, and it’s at the top of my bucket list (or sunshine list, as my friend aptly named it).

The verdict is still out on whether I’m any good, but this item is mostly about achieving a personal goal. Plus, writing is the perfect indoor activity for me (I can wear my bunny slippers AND make my dream come true).

Complete a major organization project.

Although it’s not quite as empowering as writing an entire novel, I would love to someday have every photo I’ve ever taken, or at least the good ones, organized both digitally and in print. (Not having printed photos makes me uneasy every time I watch a post-apocalyptic TV show or movie). Like my book, this one will take more than a season, but it’s another activity I can do inside.

I’m staying away from scrapbooking, though. I learned firsthand while creating a (very thorough) scrapbook of my senior year of high school that my perfectionism and scrapbooking don’t mix well when stress relief is my goal.

Take something old and make it new.

I spent a large chunk of last winter painting Mason jars to use as brightly colored vases in my apartment. I also started saving and painting olive, pickle, and pepper jars in the process, and suddenly, I had a winter hobby. I love olives, pickles, and peppers almost as much as candy, so my collection grew pretty quickly.

They were easy to paint (there are different techniques with varying degrees of difficulty) and reminded me of spring.

Mason Jar Project

Get active.

There are plenty of physical activities you can do without getting out in the nasty weather. Last winter, I started a step challenge. I got a LOT of steps, about 10,000 per day, sometimes closer to 20,000, mostly by walking around my apartment during commercial breaks, sporting events, and phone conversations. (Sorry, downstairs neighbors.)

I sometimes also do pushups, squats, crunches, and various other exercises while watching TV, and my all-time favorite exercise, dancing, is living room-friendly as well. Basically, as long as dancing and/or being able to watch TV is on the table, I’m a fan of exercise.

Channel my inner kid.

I’m somewhat of an expert at this one. For instance, I ate SpaghettiOs while writing this blog post.

Anyway, adult coloring books are a thing now. My co-workers and I have started having coloring nights after work. I use a kid coloring book, though. To me, the adult ones look too tough to be fun, and I’m a bigger fan of Disney characters than abstract designs anyway.

Coloring books can help you relieve stress and relax while also stimulating your brain, and they’re a nice indoor escape.

Get Coloring

Health Alliance Coloring Club
Health Alliance’s Coloring Club

Spruce up for spring.

Spring sprang in my apartment about a week ago because, like I’ve mentioned again and again, I’m tired of the cold. Decorating helps me cut back on boredom and allows for some creativity. Once it’s done, it’s a daily reminder that spring isn’t too far away. I highly recommend this one.

Spring Decor Everywhere

Enjoy those rare warm days.

If it’s going to be 60 degrees outside (or even upper 50s), I intend to get out and enjoy the spring-like temperature. As much as my relaxation and indoor projects list motivates me, nothing is quite as motivating as being able to go outside on a sunny day in a spring jacket.

 

Disclaimer: While the items on this list can help you fight boredom, escape from stress, feel accomplished, and stimulate your mind, they’re not magic. Winter will still be winter.

When the relaxation and indoor hobbies aren’t masking the winter grind, just remember, jelly bean season is in full swing, and pitchers and catchers reported this week. Spring will come.

Jelly Bean Season!

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Controlling Carbohydrates for a Healthy Lifestyle with Diabetes

Around the Web: Your Healthy Lifestyle for Diabetes

When you’re diagnosed with diabetes, it affects many parts of your life. Making healthy lifestyle choices is important when trying to manage your diabetes.

Things you might not think about, like sleep, stress, and salt, can affect your diabetes. Keep these lifestyle tips in mind.

Your food choices have a huge impact on your blood sugar, and a healthy diet is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing your diabetes. Counting carbohydrates can be an important part of managing your diabetes, especially if you use insulin, and this WebMD guide can help.

Sometimes, it can feel like diabetes is limiting your choices when it comes to food, but there are still lots of options. This list goes over 11 Drinks for People With Diabetes, so you have more options than water, and this guide can even help you choose the occasional cocktail safely.

You can also check out these helpful examples of the best and worst meals for dining out with diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association’s YouTube channel has a Healthy Eating and Recipes playlist with video tutorials to help you choose and prepare healthy meals.

Exercise is also an essential part of any healthy lifestyle. It’s important to get up and get out there for your body and for your diabetes.

Try these 10 muscle moves that help with your diabetes to begin strength training.

These tips can help you use exercise to prevent diabetes-related nerve pain and to improve your balance.

For more workouts and a huge variety of healthy recipes, head over to our Pinterest. And to learn more about nutrition, weight management, and the great fitness discounts we offer to our members, visit our online Wellness section.

Treat Yourself During a Move

My Healthy Journey: Another Year, Another Move

Time to Move, Yet Again

My roommate just got a big job promotion and skipped town on me, which means that while I am thrilled for her, it’s time to move again.

I have moved 13 times since I started college in 2008. I went to school in Chicago, and so each year, I moved all my belongings up in the fall and then back down in the summer. Then my senior year, I moved to Manhattan… and then back to Chicago. And since I’ve been back in Central Illinois, it hasn’t been much better.

So you would think I would be a pro at the nomadic life, right? Wrong.

Moving still stresses me out. They say moving ranks high on the list of life events that cause the most stress, among things like death of a family member and divorce. I don’t know if that’s true, but by the time you get to lucky move number 13, it definitely starts to feel like it.

I’ve already signed a new lease and have until April to get everything out, which puts me in a pretty good situation. But I can feel it hanging over me like a storm cloud.

Even though you’d think the most stressful part of the process would be finding a new home, the truth is for me, that physically moving all my stuff is what I dread the most.

So here it is.

My Plan to Stay Sane for My ONLY Move in 2015

(No, really, I mean it. I refuse to move again until 2016.):

1. Make a list.

I’ll make the biggest list you’ve ever seen, so I don’t forget anything. I’m going to make a schedule, so I know which days I need to pack which rooms. Plus, this will remind me to set aside time for things like setting up my electricity, water, and renter’s insurance.

2. Do a little every day.

I’m going to plan it just right so that I get a load of stuff moved in each day when I commute before the big final furniture push. Because moving one load a day sounds totally doable, right?

3. I’m going to burn all my books…

That’s a lie. I love my books. But moving them for the 13th time will make me reconsider my life choices the next time I’m having trouble leaving Barnes & Noble without 6 new hardcovers. It’ll be great for my wallet! Positives people, focus on the positives.

4. Take my time.

I have two and a half weeks to make the switch, no need to go crazy trying to do it all the first weekend.

5. Clear out the clutter.

Each time I move, I swear I eliminate at least 3 boxes of stuff when I realize that half of the things I move, I WILL NEVER NEED AGAIN. What will go this time?! Round and round it goes! Where it lands, nobody knows…. DingDingDing! We have a winner! It’s time for those college notebooks to GO! (It’s wise to do this before physically moving them to the new place and discovering you don’t have anywhere to put any of it, trust me.)

6. Get help.

I’m going to wrangle every innocent passerby into helping me with the offer of cookies and all of the FREE things that I was planning to throw away or donate! Okay, not really. (Warning: Don’t actually welcome total strangers into your new home.) But I will torture all the family members who are still talking to me 13 moves in.

7. Stay fueled.

I’m going to get plenty of sleep and eat well. This means I will not binge on TV shows instead of sleeping. (Must not start House of Cards. Must not start House of Cards…) And I will eat a proper number of (preferably) healthy calories. Then I will have enough energy to move without replacing all bodily fluids with coffee, as I have in past moves.

8. Don’t fight the elements.

I will pay close attention to the weather, which I’m usually really bad about, so that I don’t try to move my mattress in a snowstorm  and so that I do not fall on ice and break my hip.

9. Stay safe.

I will protect my back by packing correctly (heavy items in the right size boxes and on the bottom, not overpacking, etc, etc.), not falling on the ice from #8, wearing a brace when needed, and lifting with my knees. Also by having very little furniture.

10. Control myself.

I will not unpack EVERYTHING the first day I get there. My more obsessive habits usually take over, and I must have everything perfect before I will sit down. It’s exhausting. I will not do this.

11. Focus on the positives.

My, what a wonderful, long workout this is! My new apartment is newer and nicer and will therefore be much warmer than the older house I’ve been in, (my feet will finally thaw!). My complex has a gym! And pools! It is about five minutes from my work, getting rid of my long commute, wasted gas, and added miles on my car. And because I have almost no furniture, this is a wonderful opportunity to reinvent my home. Would I like to pretend I live on the beach? In a Frank Lloyd Wright house? The future? Or perhaps Downton Abbey? The options are endless! (Or, you know, whatever’s cheapest.)

12. Treat myself.

This means that I am buying ice cream post-move. Oh, and a terrarium. What is a terrarium you ask? They’re these awesome little plant ecosystems that you keep in glass jars and bowls in your house that look kind of like this:

Look a Terrarium!

They’re adorable, they never grow too big, and you only have to water them like every two weeks. Much better than a houseplant.

13. Find my normal.

Then I will resume my schedule of working/eating/cuddling my dog in bed to Netflix/sleeping. And then I can focus on my 2015 goals of finishing my novel, getting fit, and actually watching every Oscar-nominated movie of 2015 (and 2014… and 2013…)

So there you have it, the perfect plan, ready to go for your next (now) stress-free move! You’re welcome.

Wish me luck.

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Snacking Smart with Healthy Snacks

Healthy Snacks

This week in food, we gave you healthy snacks for the whole family to help you find ways to stick to healthy resolutions.

These are certain foods you can snack on for all-day energy, like melons. Find more on Cooking Light’s list.

Energy-Filled Melon

 

Make these Quinoa Coconut Cacao Bars for a chocolate fix even your kids will love.

http://wholeheartedeats.tumblr.com/post/75995145491/quinoa-coconut-cacao-bar-melt-together-6-tbsp

 

These Slow Roasted Pear Chips with Chocolate Sauce are crunchy, sweet, and the perfect adult snack.

Slow Roasted Pear Chips with Chocolate Sauce

 

Go over to Real Simple for 24 snack ideas like these Spicy Soledad Almonds.

Spicy Soledad Almonds

 

Cooking Light has an easy recipe to make your snacking favorite much healthier, homemade Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips.

Sour Cream and Onion Potato Chips

 

Homemade Raspberry Fruit Leather is better than store-bought for your kids, and tasty enough that you’ll love it too.

Homemade Raspberry Fruit Leather

 

Make your kids’ favorite with these oven-baked, homemade Doritos, in 3 flavors, that are even vegan.

Homemade Vegan Doritos – 3 Different Flavors

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Healthy Breakfast Parfait

Healthy Breakfast

It’s a new year and time to stick to those resolutions! So this month in food, we’re giving you healthy recipes for all the times you eat. This week, it was healthy breakfast.

First up was a list of ideas for fast and easy energy-boosting toasts.

21 Energy-Boosting Breakfast Toasts
Image and Recipe via Buzzfeed Life

 

Look at a whole month of 350-Calorie Breakfasts from Rachel Ray, like this Cheesy Bacon and Tomato Strata.

Cheesy Bacon and Tomato Strata

 

These Skinny Vanilla Glazed Raspberry Swirl Scones can be made ahead for a quick and tasty breakfast on the go.

Skinny Vanilla Glazed Raspberry Swirl Scones

Skinny Vanilla Glazed Raspberry Swirl Scones

 

Oatmeal is a hearty winter favorite and heart-healthy. Get some inspiration for all the things you can do with it.

Oatmeal Variations

3 x Breakfast Oatmeals & Copenhagen

 

These Baked Vanilla Bean Doughnuts  are easier than the fried treat and a much healthier breakfasts.

Vanilla Bean Doughnuts
Image and Recipe via Cooking Classy

 

This Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Raspberry Quick Bread is a great baking project for the weekend that will make a tasty breakfast all week long.

Low-Fat Chocolate Chip Raspberry Quick Bread

 

Vegetarian Benedicts with Thyme Sabayon are a unique twist on the Eggs Benedict classic that will be perfect for a weekend breakfast.

Vegetarian Benedicts with Thyme Sabayon

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