The Many Reasons for Headache.
As a Chiropractor, headaches are among the top three reasons most people come to visit me. While chiropractic manipulation remains highly effective at reducing headaches, it is rare that headaches come from a single source.
Subluxations, the tiny malpositions of vertebrae in your neck, cause interference in the flow of both nervous impulses and blood flow between brain and body, causing headaches. Muscle spasms in the small muscles of the neck can also be a major contributor to headaches, particularly when these tight muscles begin to interfere with the tiny arteries in the neck and upper shoulders. Both of these contributors need to be carefully assessed and specifically treated if headache treatment is going to be effective and last.
There are many other contributors to headaches that are much less direct, and often more difficult to detect. Reactions to toxins or chemicals in food and medicine, or undiagnosed food and seasonal allergies can provoke headaches as well.
Dehydration is another commonly overlooked factor, a cause increasingly common as we move into summer here in Texas, and people often drink sports drinks or sodas instead of water. Keeping a food diary, listing all your food and drinks along with when you have symptoms, is a simple way of finding out what dietary or medicinal triggers might be involved. Stress and other mental factors can also play a part, and cause changes in blood pressure, body chemistry, and neurology that can often be the final trigger between a good day and a pounding headache.
There are also rare and serious possibilities that can cause headaches, ranging from cancer to strokes and chronic illnesses. Thyroid and adrenal problems, for example can often present with chronic headaches. It is important that you see a practitioner that will carefully assess your history and do a proper examination to make sure that you are being treated in the most effective way for your needs.
For more questions about headaches, call us here at Excelon to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.
Princeton Review Lists all Six Naturopathic Medical
Schools in their Prestigious “Best 168 Medical Schools” Directory.
The Princeton Review, long known for it’s invaluable
education and career guidance has recently included
all six Naturopathic Medical schools in it’s highly
competitive “Best 168 Medical Schools, 2007 edition”
directory. The book offers medical school
application information as well as profiles of each of the six naturopathic medical
schools to help prospective medical students. One excerpt from the Review compares
Naturopathic medicine to other forms of medicine.
“Naturopathic physicians (NDs) take a holistic approach to healing, and aim to cure disease
by taking advantage of the body’s self-regenerative powers and harnessing the restorative
power of nature. Like osteopaths, naturopathic physicians endeavor to treat the whole
person by taking into account the emotional, genetic, and environmental factors that
have influenced their state of health. Unlike osteopaths, however, naturopathic physicians
emphasize natural remedies. NDs also differ from allopaths (MDs); rather than limiting
their treatment to synthetic drugs and invasive procedures, NDs predominantly utilize
natural medicines and procedures. Naturopathic physicians work to identify and eliminate
the cause of disease, and are guided by six basic principles:
New Radio Show for People’s Pharmacy!
Natural Skin Care - Oxygen Therapy Facial.
Oxygen Therapy is a process designed to infuse the skin with oxygenating substances, which stimulates tissue detoxification. It is extremely beneficial in the case of acne as it kills bacteria; or any congested or sluggish skin condition, such as those caused by air pollution, cigarette smoke, medications, heavy metals, high levels of stress or maturing skin. In Addition, the promotion of cellular detoxification is a preventative, anti-aging measure that benefits the health of all skin-types and will impart better color and texture to the skin. Immediately after the Oxygen Therapy Facial the skin looks and feels smoother, softer and more radiant. Excelon Health is proud to unveil this latest in natural skin care through our licensed Esthetician, BB Keville, owner of New Alternative Skin Care. Please call 512.451.8662 for an appointment to experience the “Oxygen Facial” for yourself.
At Home Biofeedback Unit is Personalized
Bio-feedback is a process of training your mind to consciously control your body. By monitoring body responses such as muscle tension, temperature and heart-rate we can learn to control body functions that are typically thought of as involuntary, such as brain activity, heart rate and even blood pressure. Bio-feedback has helped countless people increase their overall wellness and manage conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure and headaches. Previously, bio-feedback has only been available in medical centers or ineffective home devices that can only measure one response (such as temperature).
Deepak Chopra, well known speaker and author has worked to make this technology more widely available and has helped to develop a new software program called “The Journey to Wild Divine.” This software is easy to use, similar to playing a computer game and can be used in the home or office. It guides the user through a series of exercises and uses finger sensors to monitor your body’s responses. Whether you want to work on a specific medical condition or are just interested in boosting your overall wellness, this software can be an invaluable tool.
Is Your Vitamin Good for You?
Vitamins are an important part of any healthy lifestyle, and 60% of all Americans take them in some form, but what are we really getting out of them? The vitamin industry is largely unregulated, and although the FDA makes sure that products are “safe” they do not ensure that they are helpful. This means that you could be paying a lot of money for very little benefit.
The best way to get good quality supplements is by asking a trusted source. This could include your general practitioner, naturopathic physician, nutritionist or other qualified health care provider. Your practitioner will have already verified that the products they recommend are well researched, independently tested and quality controlled.
If your healthcare practitioner doesn’t know, then try a high-end store such as People’s Pharmacy, Whole Foods or Central Market. The worst place to find high quality products is in large chain grocery stores, discount stores, and retail pharmacies, as these places usually look more for bargains than quality.
Here are some simple things to look for in a good Multi-Vitamin:
Austin is Underwater: 15 Tips to Banish your Mold Now!
Austin is experiencing the wettest summer in recent memory and paying the price for it. Mold allergy symptoms are plaguing even the most non-allergic Texans, not to mention those of us who sniffle and sneeze regularly. Here are some simple things you can do to mold-proof your home, reduce your reactions, and generally get back on your feet without having to carry the Kleenex everywhere.
Create a mold-free home:
· Dehumidify: mold loves damp places so keep the relative humidity of your home between 35 and 50%. Remember to change your air filters regularly and to clean your dehumidifier with a mold-killing solution.
· Catch and Kill: HEPA filters can help you to trap mold spores to keep them from spreading. Ozone machines can actually kill mold and spores, but make sure to run them only when the house is empty because they can also give you a headache if you hang around in high ozone for too long.
· Ventilate: humid areas like bathrooms should have ventilation that leads outside if at all possible. No sense spreading mold from those areas around the rest of the house.
· Shut Tight at Night: mold spore concentrations reach their highest levels at night, so keep those bedroom windows shut - no matter how nice the breeze.
· Clean, Clean, Clean: mold grows anywhere with moisture exposure so spray surfaces with natural mold-killing solution. Best is 3% hydrogen peroxide or Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) 20 drops per 8oz water in a spray bottle. Bleach will kill mold, but can be dangerous to use in the home.
Create a mold-free body:
· Strengthen: the stronger your immune system is, the less likely you are to react to non-threats like mold. Support your system with adrenal and immune boosters like Drenamin, Vitamin C, Zinc and NAC.
· Unburden: think of your body's resistance to allergies like a bucket. The more allergens we put in that bucket, the more likely you are to overflow and trigger a reaction. Eliminating food allergies is one of the best ways to reduce seasonal allergies. See Dr. Amy for testing and diet options.
· Rinse: your nasal passages get dirty too. Using a nasal wash like Xlear or a netipot with a few drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract in saline or xylitol solution can flush out those sinuses and prevent mold and other allergens from causing problems.
· Avoid: mold-friendly foods like cheese, dried fruits, yeasty foods, wheat and sugars.
· Open: if your sinuses can't drain, then mold, bacteria and everything else will be more likely to colonize. Open your nasal passages with NST - a chiropractic technique that helps unblock your nose permanently.
Don't forget the basics:
· Sleep: this is your body's repair time. If you are prone to allergies in a particular season then make sure you are giving your body the rest it needs to repair allergy-related damage.
· Water: plenty of it. Filtered or purified water is best and a good guideline is 1.oz water for every 2 pounds of body weight per day (so 75 oz for a 150 lb person daily).
· Exercise: regular exercise improves circulation, immune response and mood. It's always a great tool to boost your overall health.
· De-stress: high stress environments reduce your body's threshold for a response so higher stress means more allergies. Take time to relax.
· Fruits and Veggies: if you don't have the nutrition you need then how can your body do what it is meant to? Nourish yourself well and if you're not good at eating your reds and greens then try Greens First or Red Alert - convenient, drinkable fruit and veggie concentrates.
Nothing will make all of Texas' mold disappear, but at least you can cope by clearing your house, cleaning your body and following some common-sense steps towards allergy-free health.
That's what I say anyway!
MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Stapholoccocus Aureus is a strain of the common Staph bacteria that has become resistant to almost every known pharmaceutical antibiotic. Many of my patients have been concerned about MRSA for themselves, their children and especially for loved-ones who are immune compromised.
While I do think it's a great idea to be as mindful as possible about our bodies and our health, I also think the general media terror surrounding MRSA is overblown and is causing a number of people (my patients included) more panic than is necessary.
Here are some basic facts about MRSA:
Risk factors for MRSA include:
There are many simple steps that you can take to prevent MRSA as well as other community acquired bacteria. These are great health-protective measures and it is always a good idea to make sure that doctors and nurses do their part, sometimes with a gentle reminder from you.
MRSA looks much the same as any other skin infection, at least at first. Usually it will occur in a cut, scrape, scratch or pimple – especially in children. Like any other infection, the skin around the wound will become red, warm to the touch and swell slightly. If it is MRSA the area will develop into a boil or even an abscess and will last longer than normal. The only way to tell if it is MRSA initially is to have your doctor test the infected area before beginning treatment. Testing generally takes about 48 hours to complete, although rapid genetic testing is becoming more widely available in hospital settings.
What to do if you start to develop a skin infection:
The great thing about this is that MRSA responds very well to natural treatments, which is excellent news for all of us. It is important to start treating any skin infection right away so that it doesn't develop into a boil or abscess, but even if it does MRSA is still treatable.
If the skin infection doesn't respond within the first 24 – 48 hours to natural treatment, or if you are immune compromised, the infection is on a child or someone who is elderly, then it is best to consult with your physician. Generally, infections respond very well to treatment.
These steps are not necessary for a normal wound, only if the wound becomes infected. If you do cut yourself, it is a good idea to rinse with peroxide anyway, just to make sure the wound is clean before you bandage it.
Homeopathy can help to bring MRSA boils to a head, help them drain and help your body fight the infection faster. As always with homeopathy there is no one-size-fits-all and you will respond best to a remedy that is individually prescribed.
MRSA does not have to be a crisis, especially when it is a skin infection. Be prepared, have treatment items like peroxide, grapefruit seed extract and clay available in the house and relax.
If you suspect an internal infection with MRSA, if you develop a high fever with a skin infection or if red streaks start to appear around a skin infection, then please consult your family physician, an urgent care center or the hospital.
Dr. Amy’s Heart Healthy Wellness Plan
Make sure you are working with a physician if you have high blood pressure, abnormal blood clotting, a strong family history of heart disease, or are having chest pains.
Healthy Skin 101
Six Elements of Healthy Skin:
Avoiding Skin Stressors:
Damage to our skin comes in many forms, some external and some internal. The most well known is excessive sunlight or tanning beds. The ultraviolet rays that effect our skin are only beginning to be understood, but we do know that UVB is most known to cause sunburn and skin ageing, while UVA is now becoming more known as the main contributor to skin cancer. Sunscreens generally protect against UVB but not UVA. UVC rays are poorly understood but may contribute to skin damage as well. Our skin is also affected by air pollution, cigarette smoke in particular. Indoor air pollution is worse than outdoor because of cleaners, home products, candles, smoke, frying oils and poor air filtration. Over or under cleaning can damage the skin. Internal factors show on our skin, the most notable being mental or emotional stress, poor nutrition, food sensitivities, and dehydration.
Boosting Skin Helpers:
In spite of the fact that the sun's rays cause damage, the sun is still absolutely vital to the functioning of our skin. Optimal sun exposure without blocks or screens for 20 min per day will provide your body with enough sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D, which is protective against skin cancer, elevates mood and decreases pain levels. Stress relief and meditation, even for as short a time period as 5-10 minutes will help to protect your skin, your heart and cardiovascular system and your mental functioning as you age.
Addressing your underlying health issues also helps your skin. If you need help in one of these
areas, or you suspect that genetically your skin may be compromised (family history of eczema,
psoriasis, skin cancer or other long-term skin disease) then make an appointment with Dr. Amy
to address these issues.
Nourish your skin from the inside:
Our skin, like the rest of our organs, needs good nutrition to function properly. This is not a complete diet plan, but it is a basic step towards boosting your nutritional intake and getting some of the junk out of your food. If you have specific dietary needs then discuss any dietary changes with your doctor.
Our bodies are at least 70% water, so hydration is key to all of our health and one of the first places that dehydration shows is in your skin. It can be helpful to get your water from the inside and from the outside. Mineral water is best, simply because the minerals help it to absorb into our cells and our body needs those minerals to function. If you can't get mineral water then make sure your water is well filtered. Optimal fluid intake is1 ounce of water/liquid per 2 pounds of body weight per day especially in the summer in Texas. Try to minimize sugary or caffeinated liquids as much as possible because they actually push as much water out of you as they put back in.
Hydrating your skin from the outside can be helpful as well. Carry a small spray bottle to keep your skin hydrated during dry days: I use a mixture of water, aloe gel and sometimes a few drops of skin oil to keep my skin soft. Also I'll add a couple of drops of essential oil so that it smells nice.
As with every other area of our health, there are a few supplements that can really help you to
maintain or improve the quality of your skin.
Exercise and skin therapies:
Believe it or not exercise is even important for the health of your skin, not just the rest of you. We clean out our surface tissues and detoxify the fat under our skin predominantly by sweating, so exercise is vital for skin health. Cardio for 40 minutes three times weekly can help boost circulation, allow you to sweat and keep your skin healthy. Facial and neck exercises, or muscle stimulating therapies can help to maintain and restore tone in the facial muscles and prevent sagging. Dry skin brushing helps increase circulation, decrease cellulite and helps your body to detoxify those tissues. Sweating in either a steam sauna or an IR sauna helps detoxify the skin and deeper tissues and reduces cellulite.
Clean and Condition:
Our skin absorbs everything we put on it, which is why medicated patches are gaining so much popularity. It's important to use good products - if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your body. Avoid toxic or harmful addatives like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS), Cocamide DEA (Diethanolamine), Formaldehide, Benzyl Violet, Nonyphenols, Parabens, Phthalates, EDTA, Polyethylene Glycol, Triclosan, Synthetic Dyes and Fragrances. These ingredients have been shown to cause damage to the skin cells and even lead to cancer at high doses. Simple products are generally better so make sure products are as clean as possible. Don't assume that because a company markets their products as "natural" or "gentle" that they don't contain these ingredients. Your skin works well on it's own and overusing soap can cause problems - especially anti-bacterial soaps. The pH balance of our skin is delicate, so in general minimal, gentle cleaning is best. To develop a good skin care routine it can be extremely helpful to talk with an esthetician who uses all-natural products. This can point you in the right direction for your particular skin-type.
Your skin is the outer reflection of your inner health, so if you have a skin problem that is not responding to topical treatment then it is time to examine your internal health more closely. Make an appointment with Dr. Amy Neuzil today to help with these deeper internal issues.
Food Allergies – the Forgotten Danger
Theron Randolph, MD, the visionary allergist has said that food allergies are most commonly undiagnosed illness in medicine today. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, over 40 million people have allergies of some type. Millions of Americans are suffering from the effects of food allergies, often without knowing that what is causing their complaints is the very food they eat on a daily basis.
Most people believe that food allergies are only present in those cases of extreme, immediate symptoms. The stereotypical case is immediate stomach and intestinal distress, followed by vomiting and/or diarrhea. But with due respect to Linda Blair, most food allergies usually manifest much more subtly. One of the forms of antibodies, IgG, can start showing symptoms up to 72 hours later, and often present cyclically as the body moves in and out of phases of inflammation. Some common IgG related food allergy symptoms include:- Migraine Headaches
- Digestive Problems
- Hyperactivity & ADD
- Arthritis & Joint Pain
- Chronic Fatigue
- Auto-immune conditions
Many of the forms of autoimmune disorders are also related to food allergies. As the allergenic food moves into the intestines, it irritates and inflames the gut. This inflammation eventually causes gaps and breaks in the seal of the intestines, allowing larger and larger particles of undigested material to be exposed to the blood. Seeing intact "invaders" presenting into the blood, the immune system builds up a reaction. In cases of autoimmune conditions, this reaction also attacks tissues in the body that look similar to it, such as the joint tissue in Rheumatoid arthritis or the thyroid gland in Hashimoto's disease.
Proper identification and elimination of the irritating food is the first step in reducing the allergic reaction. This can be accomplished either through a carefully monitored food elimination diet, or by blood testing for circulating antibodies. Once the offending foods have been removed from the diet, treatment must include a system of natural medicine designed to reduce the overall immune inflammation, and to re-establish the seal of the gut. Whether these food allergies are permanent or eventually changeable is largely determined by the extent of the reaction, and what type it is. In any case, consultation with a trained physician to identify possible food allergies is often the first step in solving chronic disease issues that have proven to be resistant to other forms of treatment.
Genetic Testing at Excelon Health
Have you ever wondered if you're taking the right vitamins and supplements for you? There are so many things that are just "good for you" so how do you know what is really good for YOU? The answer is in your genes.
Testing your genes is one of the easiest ways to get a look inside your unique body – to see where you are at risk for disease and where you are protected. It allows you to find the best ways to support your body and protect yourself from the conditions that your body is most likely to have problems with.
Many people are fearful of having their genes tested because they "don't want to know" and that is understandable. The wonderful thing about the type of testing we offer at Excelon is that every one of the genes we test can be affected by diet and supplements. This means that by knowing your genetic pattern you can actually protect yourself from the conditions that you are most likely to get.
The genes we are testing are "actionable" genes – meaning that by using different supplements and lifestyle factors we can "turn off" these bad genes so that you never see the negative effects that they would otherwise have. We can't change the genes, but we can change their potential to do damage.
Genetic testing can give you a picture of your risk for conditions such as osteoporosis, kidney stones, lung cancer, drug reactions, heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, premature aging, diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer, Alzheimer's and even depression.
The procedure is simple – just a cheek swab that is sent in to a lab. Results take 4-8 weeks to arrive, but once they do we can establish a life-long wellness plan.
The test is just $325 and the best part is that you never have to do it again because your genes stay the same even if we change the way they express in your body.
Teens and the Summer Blues...
Increasing Your Odds of Having
Healthy, Productive and (maybe even) Happy Teens this Summer
By the beginning of July, those teenage summer blues might have already settled at your home. In the summer adolescents are prone to boredom, unhealthy eating, arguing more with you or other family members, constantly wanting to be with friends rather than family and always needing money. To decrease the boredom and arguments and increase the odd of a healthy and happy family dynamic, here are a few things to think about this summer.
Rules can be hard to enforce when your schedule is less structured and more flexible during the summer. Remember the best way to set and enforce a rule is to be sure everyone is clear on what the rules actually are. Be open and up-front about your expectations with your teens including curfews, TV, computer & video game time, chores and having friends over. This includes during the day when you and your partner might be at work and the teens are home alone. If your teens also have the opportunity to give some input on those rules, there will be less resistance. Be sure to praise healthy behaviors and not react only when something is done wrong or a rule is broken. Adolescents are still growing and developing and need encouragement and acknowledgment when things go right!
Adolescents need 8 .5, 9, or even more hours of sleep each night. Too many teens aren't getting what they need. When does your child go to sleep? When does s/he wake in the morning (or afternoon)? While setting a bed time might not be doable, setting boundaries elsewhere might work. If your child stays up at all hours on the computer, you might consider setting a computer curfew. If the TV keeps your teen awake, then you might set a TV off time. While not directly a bed time, this will decrease being over-stimulated and your child just might wind down sooner. Also be aware of what foods your adolescent is consuming. Buy lots of fruits and veggies that are convenient to eat. Have bottles of water or a pitcher of water in the fridge, and reduce the amount of sweets in the house. These simple things will encourage your kids to eat better.
Exercise can be a dirty word for some teens, yet it is vitally important for good overall health. During the summer months there are so many outdoor activities. Take advantage of all the hike and bike trails as a family. Join a gym. Go to Barton Springs for a swim. Some kids might even like to join a sports team. The goal is just to get moving. And when exercise is done as a family, it also promotes healthy family relationships and communication.
Speaking of healthy family dynamics...summer is a great time to get in some extra family time, but that doesn't mean that your adolescents will be thrilled with the suggestion! Doing things together as a family is great for the dynamic of the entire family as well as individual relationships. Family vacations are usually planned for the summer, but you may have a teenager that is begging you not to go. First decide if the trip is even negotiable. If it is and there are other options for your teen, then make those plans. If it's not, let your teen know that up-front. Then get them involved on the planning. Have them help you decide where to go, what to see and do, and where to stay. This gives them some much needed and deserved decision-making power. And if a longer, out of town family vacation is not in the cards this summer, you can still plan family outings that are just as beneficial to the family unit. Pack a lunch and take a day trip to Hamilton Pool. Cheer on the Round Rock Express. Take a family museum tour. There are so many fun things to do in the Austin area – take advantage and have some family time. If your teen is still not interested, let him/her bring a friend. This makes it more enjoyable for your child and allows you to get to know his/her friends even better.
Jobs & Volunteering
Teens and tweens always seem to need or want more money in the summer. Everything seems to cost something. Getting a job might be a great option for your child. There are not only financial benefits, but it can also increase responsibility, time management skills, and help with all the boredom. Teenagers that are legally able to work should apply at places they frequent such as the mall, video stores, or the Austin Parks and Recreation department. You might know of a job at your place of employment as well. Adolescents can also start their own business. Babysitting, pet sitting, lawn care, car maintenance or PC tutoring are all possible options, even for those adolescents not yet at the age to work a traditional job.
Internships can also provide great experience for a teenager. Many businesses and organizations around town welcome student interns that want to learn about the business and work hard doing so. These usually don't pay, but they can provide outstanding experience for your child. It can also help teens begin career and degree exploration hands-on!
Volunteering is another great option to get your teen out of the house and doing something productive. The benefits of volunteering not only lie in the organization in which your adolescent is working but with your teen as well! A great resource for finding volunteer opportunities is Volunteer Match. Just log on to VolunteerMatch.org. Plug in your zip code, and a list of volunteer opportunities comes up. There is even information about whether it might be a good fit for a teenager.
Keeping the Mind Working
It is true that students need a break from school. That's why we have summer, of course. But it is also true that students can lose some of what they've learned. It is important to encourage your adolescent to keep their mind active this summer. I'm not suggesting pulling out the Algebra II book and working on a problem set a night, but there are things to do that will help your child maintain his/her critical thinking skills and not lose everything learned the previous nine months. Head to the library to check out some books, obtain some sudoku or logic puzzles for your teen, or visit CollegeBoard.org to see what they suggest to begin preparing your child for college. This website is great for thinking ahead about potential colleges as well as what students can do each year of high school to prepare them for college.
One final note – it's important to remember that teenagers need some down-time too. As a part-time high school counselor, I see daily the stress and demands that adolescents face during the school year. So while healthy activities are important during the summer, so is a little R&R!
Allen, Elizabeth A. Drug-Proof Your Teens This Summer. Parenthood.com
Hansen, Randall S. A Guide for Teens: How to Find a Summer or Part-Time Job. QuintCareers.com
Hansen, Randall S. Job Ideas for Teens 15 and Younger: Beyond Babysitting and Lemonade Stands.QuintCareers.com
Moore, Sarah. What to do with Tweens and Teens this Summer: Expert Advice on Negotiating Summer Plans with your Kids. CanadianLiving.com
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Summer Activities: Keeping Youth Mentally Healthy & Drug Free. SAMHSA.gov
Witmer, Denise. 3 Things Your Teen Needs to Do This Summer. About.com
11 Ways to Save Your Money AND Your Health
By Dr. Amy Neuzil, ND
Health can be expensive - especially if you are looking into extra care not covered by insurance such as alternative medicine, or if you have insurance that doesn't meet your needs. In this time of economic crunch there are many steps you can take to decrease your health spending but help to improve your health. Here are some simple suggestions:
Overall the best way to save money on health care is to make your health a priority in all things and to make better choices about taking care of yourself. Getting sick, especially with a long-term illness like diabetes or heart disease is extremely expensive! Focus on boosting your health now and your bank account will thank you!
Bring Dinnertime Back!
By Dianne Bailey, M.Ed., LPC-I
As we enter October (can you believe it’s already October?), most of you should be settled into your “Back to School” routine. This includes soccer practice, band competitions, piano practices, loads of homework, carpooling, tutoring, school carnivals…the list goes on and on. You are all sure to be busy running up and down the busy Austin streets, hopping from one event to the next. So the last thing you probably want to think about is, “What’s for dinner?”
In my experience with adolescents, I find all too often that they just don’t sit down each night (or even most nights) for dinner with the family. As one of my former students put it, “Mom makes sure my little sister has something to eat, and then I just usually just fend for myself.”
With the busy schedules that so many children, teens, parents and families keep, this is no surprise. Sometimes there just isn’t time to all gather together, at the same time, long enough to share a meal. Or when you do, it’s a bit painful or awkward. (There’s usually nothing LESS exciting to a teen than sitting eerily quiet at the kitchen table while having their parents staring blankly at them over a plate of spaghetti!) But I am (still) here to campaign and advocate to Bring Dinnertime Back!
Dinnertime is a great time to reconnect as a family. It’s just a small bit of time to find out about everyone’s day, check in about school and activities, or just to look your kids in the eyes and see what’s really going on with them. Great memories can be made during dinner. Stories can be shared, advice can be given, plans can be made.
If those reasons alone haven’t quite persuaded you to sit down as a family for dinner each evening, then perhaps these statistics will encourage you:
Pretty amazing statistics for a simple 30 minute meal with your family!
Now I understand that the “Leave it to Beaver” picture I’ve created is probably not the reality for you. Or at least, not yet! But I encourage you to give it a try. Parents are always wanting to know more about what’s going on with their children – especially their adolescents. Dinnertime is the easiest way to get this done.
And remember, it doesn’t even have to be a home cooked meal, just a meal shared by all at the same time at the same table. This is a great way to repair, build, or support a positive relationship with your child. So, set a time when you’ll all be home (even if you have to have dinner later than you’d like), and announce to your family that dinner will be served and all are expected to attend!
Now once you have them there, how do you avoid the awkward silence, you ask? Well, once you have been having dinner as a family together consistently, conversation will come much more easily. Until then, though, here are a few tips and conversation starters:
Set a few rules so that everyone knows what’s expected. Just a few and keep them simple. Here are a few suggestions:
Keep things light-hearted. This is not the Inquisition, and you don’t want to alienate your teens by making it feel that way.
If you ask questions, be sure they cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or a one-word answer. Questions begin with words such as What, How, Who, When, Where.
Be sure that you share too! It shouldn’t just be a “spotlight” on them. If you aren’t sure what to share, then tell a story about dinnertime when you were growing up!
You can always come up with more questions. You could even have everyone write down a couple of questions before mealtime, put them in a bowl, and have each person randomly draw one. Then everyone takes turn answering.
I hope that you’ll join me in Bringing Dinnertime Back! You just might be surprised at the results!
Fiyush, Robyn. Building Strength Through Stories: Family Dinnertime Narratives. APA.org
Fitzpatrick, Diane Laney. Dinner Table Conversation Starters: Start Family Discussions Your Kids
Won’t Want to Stop Talking About.
Prevention Is The Best Cure For Swine Flu.
By Dr. Amy Neuzil, ND
Swine Flu has been reported here in Austin, and public health officials are preparing for widespread occurances in the fall flu season so it's important to keep your family safe. So far in the US the Swine Flu has been relatively mild but there is still the potential for viral mutation. We can all do our parts to prevent a major outbreak by practicing good public health measures, boosting our immune systems and testing immediately if there is a possibility of infection.
There is a high probability that the flu will disappear over the summer only to return more strongly for the fall flu season, just like the Asian flu in 1957. One model from the CDC predicts that 40% of the nation could be struck - approximately 140 million people - with a possible six-figure death toll if an effective vaccine campaign isn't implemented, so it is best to stay ready. Read below for practical tips on what you can do right now.
Practice Good Public Health:
Wash your hands: I know it sounds too simple to be effective, but washing your hands helps save lives. Make sure the first thing you do every time you enter your house is to wash your hands thoroughly. Any time you are in public you are exposed to germs, so its best if you can spread as few around your house as possible. Antibacterial hand wipes can help while you're out and about. Make sure you wash every surface – front and back of your hands as well as fingertips and under your nails. Scrub for the amount of time it takes you to sing the ABC song.
Sneeze into a tissue: Sneezing into your bare hands just helps germs to spread. Sneeze into a tissue, throw it out right away and wash your hands.
Don't put your hands near your face: Your hands come into contact with everything in your world, keep them away from convenient entries into your body like eyes, nose and mouth.
Wipe down the house: If someone has been in your home or office who may be sick, then hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle will help you kill viruses on counters, doorknobs and other surfaces.
Stay home: If you feel like you're coming down with something, stay home. The only place you should be going is to the doctor's office, but don't go to the grocery store, bank, work, school or any public place. Likewise, if your kids are sick keep them home from school. The more we can isolate Swine Flu, the better chance we have of avoiding high death tolls.
Masks: If you work in an environment where you are exposed to people who may be ill or who are traveling, like the airport, then it is a good idea to wear a breathing mask to help protect yourself. Also be sure to wash your hands frequently, especially right before you leave work and right after you get home.
Protect your kids: Right now the group most at risk for serious effects or death from Swine Flu are older children and adolescents. We don't know why the virus effects them more. Make sure your children and teens are washing their hands, avoiding anyone who is sick and generally protecting themselves.
Boost your Immune System:
What to do if you think you have the Swine Flu:
Seek emergency care if you have any of the following symptoms:
Remember the Swine Flu has been mild so far in the US and there is no reason to panic. For the most up to date information on Swine Flu see TexasFlu.org If you have questions or concerns, call your doctor or health care provider.
DIY Health: For Women
The New Book By Dr. Amy Neuzil, ND
What people don't know won't hurt them, but in health matters what your doctor doesn't tell you can be harmful. Dr. amy Neuzil offers women a fun and engaging way to learn everything their doctors don't tell them about themselves in DIY Health: For Women.
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