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Thursday, June 23, 2011


Dehydration can be a problem in the summer, especially for the young and the elderly.  Of course you can become dehydrated at any time, but the heat tends to make things worse.  I decided to talk about dehydration because a child I know had been exercising and working in the heat but not drinking enough.  He became lightheaded at practice and the coach then discovered that the child had mowed the lawn before practice but obviously hadn't had plenty of fluids.  Rest, 3 bottles of water and a lecture about dehydration was the coach's solution.

So what is dehydration and how do we prevent it?  The body is made up of up to 75% water and has very fine parameters for having enough water.  Dehydration occurs when more water is leaving the body than is being taken in.  This occurs through breathing, sweating and urinating.  When the body is becoming dehydrated, it tries to conserve water.  The kidneys limit the amount of water leaving the body and your urine becomes dark yellow and concentrated.  Other signs of dehydration are: thirst, dry mouth, no tears, sweating ceases, muscle cramps, lightheadedness, nausea and vomiting, heart palpitations and loss of skin elasticity.  If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious problems, even death.

When it is hot, and you are working or exercising, it is important to drink extra fluids.  Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink.  When I am exercising, I always have a bottle of water and drink frequently.  If you exercise regularly in the heat, you may need to drink something to replace electrolytes as well, such as Gatorade.

My experiences with the elderly have taught me that they often do not drink enough.  One common reason is that they feel they have to make too many trips to the bathroom.  You can point out that they may become dizzy and fall and break a bone if they don't drink enough but that may not convince them.  If you care for an elderly person, try making lemonade or tea to get them to drink.  Get an insulated glass and set it near them so it is handy to drink from all day.  Give them food that contains alot of water as well such as jello, watermelon, cantaloupe or soups with broth.  Avoid sugary drinks like sodas and too much fruit juice.  Try adding cucumber, lemon or lime slices to a glass of water.  It looks pretty and improves the taste.  These tips will work for children too.

I will not be posting next week so I will see you after the 4th.  Have a safe and happy holiday and remember your sunscreen and water!    

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Skin Cancer and Aging - A Must Read

I hope I don't sound like I'm no fun, always harping on this or that, don't eat that, exercise, exercise, exercise!  But I realized a long time ago that if you don't take care of the only body you'll ever have, you certainly won't be having fun.  Ask my niece if having skin cancers removed from her shoulder and face was fun.  Or my friend who had one removed from her nose recently.  She didn't enjoy her black eye and the lovely stitches at all.  However, both were extremely grateful that their skin cancers weren't melanoma.

So let's talk about the various types of skin cancer.  You should examine your skin frequently and look for changes in moles or for new skin irregularities that might pop up.  It is advisable to have a dermatologist examine your skin once a year as well.  There are five things to look for that might point out a cancerous spot.
1.  The mole or skin lesion is asymmetrical.  If you drew a line through it, the two sides wouldn't be equal.
2.  The border of the lesion is irregular.  Moles tend to have nice, smooth borders.
3.  The lesion has two or more colors.
4.  The diameter of the lesion is bigger than a pencil eraser.
5.  The lesion keeps changing.

There are three types of skin cancer; squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma, the worst.  Squamous cell cancer is the second most common type of skin cancer.  If you have had it once, you have an increased chance of it reoccurring.  Squamous cell carcinomas are slow growing and treatable when detected early.  They may appear as a red bump that bleeds occasionally or a scaly, crusty spot and can appear anywhere on the body, even in the mouth.


Basal cell carcinomas can look like a waxy bump, a scar or a scaly brown patch.  It may bleed or form a depression in the center.  Basal cell carcinomas appear most often on areas exposed to the sun like the face and neck.  You can often see blood vessels running through it.  (See picture.)


While melanoma is the leading cause of cancer deaths, it is treatable if detected early.  Like the other types of skin cancer, melanoma can occur anywhere but shows up most often in areas commonly exposed to the sun.  It often looks like a mole.  Notice that the border is irregular, it has different colors and it is asymmetrical.    


It is important to keep in mind that early sunburns in children do the most damage and can show up years later as cancer.  While UVB rays burn the skin, UVA rays penetrate the skin and cause the damage.  Buy sunscreen that protects against both UVB and UVA rays.  If nothing else, keep in mind that sun damage is the main cause of aging in your skin.  If you want your face to wrinkle and sag, making you look 60 when you are only 30, skip the sunscreen.  AND remember that tanning beds are just as bad because they have UVA rays!


Have a happy summer but take care of yourself!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Skin Cancer And Sunscreen- A Must Read

                                                    Reapplying sunscreen at the beach.

If you didn't hear or read the latest news on sunscreen protection released by the government yesterday, read on.  The government is requiring all sunscreen manufacturers to change their labels by next summer to better inform the public.  What is sad is that European countries made these changes 5 years ago.  Think you've been getting the maximum protection from your sunscreen?  Think again.  No sunscreen is waterproof or sweat proof so it needs to be reapplied more often than you think.  Do you know the difference between UVB and UVA rays?  If not, you are setting yourself up to be a victim of skin cancer.

So what you ask?  I'd rather be tan, I want to look good and have fun.  Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S.?  Skin cancer has increased 45% between 1992 and 2004.  That means 1 in 5 Americans will get skin cancer sometime in their life.  It also means that 1 person dies from skin cancer every hour!  Worse yet, melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is the most common cancer for people in their 20's.  Still like your tan?

I'm going to write about skin cancer and sunscreens today and again on Tuesday as there is so much important information to share.  Today, I will concentrate on sunscreen so you can buy the best available and start applying it properly for all your outdoor activities.

Consumer Reports tested sunscreens for effectiveness against UVB and UVA rays.  I admit I was quite surprised and none of the brands I buy made the list.  It is extremely important that you buy sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays so read the ingredient list.  Buy sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 but anything over 50 really hasn't been shown to be more effective.  Apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outside and adults should use an amount equivalent to a shot glass full.  THEN, you must reapply every 2 to 3 hours!  If you are outside for 6 hours, you should use up an entire average sized tube of sunscreen.

 Here is the list of the top nine.
1.  Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 30
2.  Coppertone Sport Ultra Sweat proof
3.   CVS Fast Cover Sport
4.  Up and UP Sport
5.  No Ad with Aloe and Vitamin E.
6.  Equate Baby
7.  Walgreens Sport
8.  Ocean Potion Kids Instant Dry Mist
9.  Banana Boat Sport Performance  SPF 100

The SPF factor doesn't matter as much as the ingredients in a sunscreen.  Look for Zinc, Titanium and Parsol 1789 among the ingredients for the best protection.  Try to avoid the sun between the hours of noon and 3 p.m. when the sun's rays are at their strongest.  If you can, wear clothing that has an SPF factor built in or at least a hat and a T-shirt that isn't see through.

Don't fool yourself; UV rays can do their damage on cloudy days.  You also should wear sunscreen all year round, even in the winter.  If you are at the beach, sit under a thick umbrella and always seek out shade.  I myself try to do all outdoor activities before 10 a.m. or after 4 or 5 p.m., mostly because I hate the heat.  But I also realized a long time ago that the sun ages your skin and started protecting my skin in my teens.  No, I haven't always been as careful as I should but this information will make me do better.

Next week I will explain UVA and UVB rays and give more information on skin cancers and how the sun does it's damage.  I'm hoping my readers will take this information to heart.  Skin cancer is very avoidable and you could save the life of someone you love.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cook Books

Some people collect cookbooks; they just can't seem to pass one up.  I have always tried to avoid buying cookbooks because they clutter up the kitchen and after a while, it seems like the recipes get repeated.  Still I have a number of cookbooks that were sold for fundraisers and others that were gifts.  I have bought few of them on my own.  One cookbook that should be in everyone's kitchen is "The Joy of Cooking" by Rombauer and Becker.  It is a great reference book and when I need to know how to do something, I look there first.  It also has several great recipes, though it does have a number of strange ones like Broiled Kidneys.  Adventurous as I am, I think I can skip that one.

Simply the best cookbook I have is "Traditions, A Taste Of The Good Life" by the Junior League of Little Rock.  That cookbook has more wonderful recipes than any other I've ever used.  It is worth buying if you can still find it.  We have liked most every recipe from that book that I've tried and many have become family favorites.

I am a sucker for magazines though, and can hardly pass up Paula Deen, Southern Living or a new magazine I discovered, Clean Eating.  This is where I really find most of the dishes I make.  Once I try a recipe and determine that it is worth keeping, I tear it out and put it in my recipe notebook.  My sister took all of my loose recipes once that were once stufed in a file folder and organized them into this notebook for me.  It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me and now I can easily add to it.  Being the foodie that I am, I am constantly finding new recipes that I plan to try.  Sometimes I never get around to it.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all the food I'd like to cook!

I am going to share an old favorite from "The Joy Of Cooking".  After making this dish years ago, I really fell in love with paprika.

Chicken Paprika
Several pieces of chicken, legs, thighs, or breasts
1 Tbsp. of butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 tsp. to 2 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp. flour
1 cup sour cream
Melt the butter in a large pot or skillet.  Add oil and heat over medium heat.  Add onions and paprika and simmer till red and glossy.  Then add the salt and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and add the chicken.  Simmer covered until tender, about an hour.  Stir the flour into the sour cream and mix well.  Stir the sour cream mixture into the chicken and simmer until thickened.  Do not boil.  Serve over rice or noodles.  

Use brown rice and add a green vegetable and you are set!    

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Snacks For Camps

My happy camper at Mizzou swim camp.

Do you wonder what food to pack for your child when they go off to camp?  Sending snacks for a week long camp can be tough, especially if they won't have access to a refrigerator.   If the food at camp is really bad, snacks can help your child make it through the week; therefore, the healthier the snacks, the better off your child will be.  For me, the problem is worse with my more rebellious son than with my more health conscious daughter.

If your child will actually eat them, bake some homemade muffins or make your own granola bars.  That way you can control what goes into them and make them more nutritious.  Nuts are another good option unless you are afraid that your child may be rooming with someone who is allergic to nuts.  You can also make your own trail mix, there again controling exactly what goes into it.  Try adding sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, raisins or craisins, nuts, dried cherries, or soy nuts.  A dusting of cinnamon will give it a taste twist plus add healthy antioxidants.  A bag of apples is an easy snack but most any other fruit will bruise too easy or need refrigeration.  Remember to wash the fruit before packing it as your kid won't take the time.  Most kids like beef or turkey jerky but I don't buy large bags due to the salt content.

My son is attending band camp soon and has a small refrigerator that looks like a cooler.  He uses it primarily for bottled water but I can send some cheese cubes as well.  For drinks, I like to send water and G-2.  If it is a sports camp and you know your child will be exercising strenuously in the heat, Gatorade may be better than G-2.  As a compromise with my son, I will also send a bag of pretzels and a box of Goldfish.

Sharing snacks at camp is a great way to make new friends.  Don't we all love to socialize over food?  I am going to include our favorite granola bar recipe.  My daughter found it in one of her swim magazines and it is packed with good nutrition and tastes like you are having dessert.

Oatmeal Energy Bars
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup non-fat milk powder
1/2 cup raisins or craisins
1/2 cup lightly salted roasted almonds
1 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
Line a 9x9 inch square metal baking pan with foil.  Spray it with baking spray.  Mix the oatmeal, flax seed, wheat germ, milk powder, dried fruit and nuts in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Place the peanut butter, honey and molasses in a large saucepan.  Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbly, melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla, cinnamon and salt.  Pour over the oat mixture and stir till well combined.  Spread mixture in the prepared pan.  Using a large piece of foil, press the mixture down firmly to compact it.  Cool completely.  Cut into 16 bars or squares.  Wrap each piece in plastic wrap.  Keeps several days in the refrigerator.

We have found this recipe does better by cutting back on honey to 1/2 cup.  It is firmer and less sticky.  Pick the right snacks, don't send a bunch of junk food and you will be guaranteed to have happy campers.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Epic Fail - A Confession

Time for a confession: I failed on the Slim Fast Diet in record time.  Actually, the truth is that I am not a good dieter.  I cheat constantly.  When I tried the 17 Day Diet, I only did the breakfast and lunch portion and pretty much ate what I wanted for dinner.  Since I usually eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein, that wasn't so bad.  But the Slim Fast Diet was too hard for me.  By day two, I was hungry after breakfast AND lunch so by 1:30, I broke down and had a piece of whole wheat bread with a smear of peanut butter.  I was starving again by 5:30 but I had a dance class to go to so all I had then was a handful of carrots.  The reality was that I just couldn't starve myself.  I cheated from the get go in that I added a banana to each of the shakes I made and that still didn't hold me.  Yes, I ate the snacks but that still wasn't enough.

In fairness to Slim Fast, yesterday was a hectic day.  I was up before 6, walked the dog, cleaned the barn and rode my horse.  I picked Grace and a friend up from swim workout, then spent the rest of the day trying to purchase a car, deal with the repairman, do my job as treasurer for the swim team including attending a board meeting, wash and iron clothes for Grace who left this morning for swim camp and go to Wal Mart which I hate.  I also cooked dinner and went to my dance class.  Whew!  No wonder I was hungry.  Maybe this stressful time was not an ideal time to diet.

The good news and there always is good news if you look really hard, is that I lost 2.2 lbs!!!  Now how much of that was due to the diet and how much to the long walk, horseback riding, barn cleaning and dance class I cannot say.  I can't begin to imagine how I would manage to stick to the diet for one whole week, much less any longer.

Overall I can't recommend this diet.  If you only need to lose 5 lbs. or so and are very determined, you could be successful.  If you exercise hard and therefore burn alot of calories, you will be very hungry on this diet.  But it is easy to do, the shakes do taste good and it is not terribly expensive.  You could add a vegetable only salad at lunch and a boiled egg at breakfast as a supplement.  If any of you have tried Slim Fast and have a story to share, please feel free in the comment section.

This experience exemplifies the reason I preach healthy eating and exercise to begin with.  It is so much easier to keep the weight off in the first place than to try to lose it later.  Keep this in mind this weekend and don't overindulge every meal and get some exercise!