Small Changes to Eating Habits Can Have a Big Impact

Heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity are all major problems in Texas and across the rest of the United States. While there are a variety of factors that contribute to these health conditions, diet is one of the most significant. If you want to lose weight or improve your overall health, taking a look at what you eat every day is one of the best places to start.

 

When people decide that they’re going to change their eating habits, they often dive into making a radical change. Although there are times when that makes sense, most attempts to follow a strict diet or similar plan end in failure. The reason that type of sudden and significant change generally isn’t best is it’s very hard to stick with.

 

Even if someone sees some initial success in the form of shedding a few pounds or feeling more energized throughout the day, there’s a very high likelihood that they will slip back into their old habits. What’s worse is when people do slip, they often end up gaining back any weight they lost and then more.

 

Although making better choices about food is hard, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. The key to making changes that will stick and have a big impact is to start small. While small changes may not seem like much on their own, the cumulative effect of steadily adopting multiple changes over the course of 3 to 6 months can be very significant.

 

If you’re wondering what types of changes you should make, here are five that you can gradually work into your daily routine:

 

Start the Day with a Big Glass of Water

 

When you wake up in the morning, head to the kitchen and drink a large glass of water. By making a point of drinking at least 16 ounces of water when you first wake up, you’ll hydrate your body, help start up your metabolism and brain, as well as reduce urges you may have during the first part of your day to overeat.

 

Sit Down for Meals

 

Mindless eating is a common cause of eating too much. By actually sitting down to eat a meal, you’ll be able to focus on your food and enjoy feeling more satisfied.

 

Substitute Grilled or Baked Sides for Fried Ones

 

Improving your eating habits doesn’t mean you can never go out. A simple way to enjoy eating out without going overboard is to opt for a grilled or baked side instead of one that’s fried.

 

Pay Attention to Portions

 

One of the main reasons most people are consuming more calories is portion sizes have gotten considerably larger. That’s why you don’t need to feel pressured to eat your entire plate. And before you go back for a second serving, give your body a few minutes to process your food so you’ll know if you’re actually still hungry.

 

Be Careful About Snacking

 

Although smart snacking can be a useful weight loss or management tool, be careful about foods like nuts that can be surprisingly high in calories even when eaten in small quantities.

 

How to Stay on Track with Weight Loss Goals

One of the most frustrating things in life is to make a significant amount of progress with losing weight, only to fall off track and start gaining weight again. The worst case in this scenario is to end up weighing more than when you started losing weight. Although this type of experience can be stressful and make you feel alone, it’s something that countless people go through.

Why is losing weight so hard? Since that’s a very broad topic, we want to focus on a specific aspect of it, which is how to stay on track with weight loss goals. So if you want to break the cycle of building momentum and then falling off track, here’s how to make that happen:

Let Go of Past Failures

Before you can make any progress, you have to let go of failures you’ve had in the past. While it’s normal to be hard on yourself about shortcomings you’ve had, the simple reality is you can’t change the past. However, by letting go of it, you can take control of your future.

Start with a Realistic Goal

A common reason that people fall off track is they set unrealistic goals for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to push yourself. But, when it comes to weight loss, there’s a definite line between pushing yourself and setting yourself up for failure. If you want to succeed, you need to have a goal that’s actually attainable.

Take a Long-Term View

This ties in directly with setting a realistic goal. Thinking that you’re going to exercise 2 hours a day, 7 days a week simply isn’t sustainable. But committing to something like being active for 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week can be done. Understanding the type of results you can get from being consistent with your efforts will ensure that you focus on making healthy changes that you can actually stick with.

Don’t Overlook Little Victories

Another reason that so many people struggle with weight loss is it causes them to have a very negative view of themselves. Avoiding that pitfall is why it’s important to feel truly proud of yourself as you start and continue to make progress. For example, when you step on the scale and realize that you’ve lost & kept a few pounds off, you should take a moment to feel proud and reflect on the progress you’ve made.

Get Support

Trying to lose weight and keep it off all on your own is very difficult. While there are those who do it, the majority end up falling short. If you want to give yourself the best chance of succeeding, it’s important to have support along the way. Whether it’s a workout partner, a weight loss group or even an online community, accountability and support will keep you going even when you encounter a potential roadblock along the way.

True weight loss isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. But as long as you commit to making a change and follow the advice we’ve outlined above, you will find success with your weight loss goals.

Don’t Let Allergies Control Your Life

Allergies are a very common condition in Texas and the rest of the United States. For a large percentage of people who have allergies, this condition is much more of an inconvenience than it is a serious cause for concern. That's why it can be difficult for some people to understand just how significant certain cases of allergies can be. If you are someone who does struggle with severe allergies, you know from personal experience just how much of a burden this condition can put on your daily life.

 

What is the Definition of Severe Allergies?

 

Severe allergies can be caused by many different substances. That's why the definition of this condition doesn't focus on specific allergens. Instead, the general definition for severe allergies is when someone has a condition with allergic symptoms which are serious enough to interrupt that person's life. For example, if someone has allergic symptoms that require them to take days off of work, that individual would be diagnosed with severe allergies. Another common example is people who are so allergic to pollen that they can't go outside on days when the count is high.

 

Are Severe Allergies Limited to One Type of Allergen?

 

Pollen, mold, dust mites and animal dander are the allergens that most commonly cause people to have severe allergic reactions. Although it is possible to only be highly allergic to one of those allergens, it's actually more common for people to have multiple allergies that fall into the severe category. If you've experienced severe allergic reactions but aren't sure what triggered them,allergy testing is the best way to find out.

 

Once you know exactly what you’re allergic to, you will have an easier time taking preventive measures to minimize the likelihood of experiencing any significant reactions. While there’s no way to cure allergies, being aware of what triggers your worst symptoms means that you won’t have to live with uncertainty.

 

Instead, you’ll know when you need to be aware of your surroundings. For example, if you discover that you’re allergic to cat dander, you’ll want to avoid going inside of homes where you know one or more cats live.

 

Tips for Eliminating Allergens in Your Own Home

 

In addition to being aware of other environments where you may encounter allergens, you can also take steps to eliminate as many relevant allergens as possible from your own home. This is especially important during winter or any other period when you may spend a significant amount of time indoors.

 

For dust mites, sticking to a consistent weekly schedule of washing bedding in hot water will drastically cut down on them. Adding a dehumidifier to your home is also a worthwhile investment. Keeping windows shut will minimize the amount of pollen that’s able to come inside throughout the year, while mold is best managed by being diligent with bathroom cleaning.

 

By learning as much as possible about your allergies and then taking preventative action against your triggers, you can maximize your quality of life and minimize the role that allergies play in it.

Is There a Link Between Allergies and Asthma?

Allergies and asthma are both conditions that can make people feel less than ideal. However, it's not the only thing they have in common. Even though it can be challenging enough to deal with just one of these conditions, the reality is that they often occur together. In fact, some substances that cause allergic reactions can also trigger specific asthma symptoms. The most common symptoms that are triggered in this type of scenario are chest tightness, wheezing and shortness of breath.

 

When a substance like pet dander, dust mites or pollen triggers asthma symptoms, the condition is actually referred to as allergic asthma. While those substances are the most common triggers of allergic asthma, there are cases where food or skin allergies result in some degree of an asthma attack.

 

Understanding How An Allergic Reaction Can Result in Asthma

 

Even though the link between these two conditions may seem strange at first, it makes more sense once you have a little more information about exactly what happens when an allergic response is triggered within the body. This type of response occurs when proteins in the immune system attack a substance like tree pollen. Although this specific substance is harmless, the immune system mistakenly identifies it as something that presents a threat.

 

When antibodies bind to an allergen, the immune system releases chemicals. Those chemicals are what cause the types of symptoms that so many people experience as a result of their allergies. Skin reactions, itchy eyes, runny nose and nasal congestion are all symptoms that can be triggered during this process. The link between allergies and asthma comes from the fact that for some people, the same process that causes reactions to be triggered occurs in an individual's airways and lungs.

 

Different Treatments for Allergies and Asthma

 

Another question that often comes up in regards to this topic is if the treatments for both conditions are different or the same. The answer to that question actually depends on all the specific details of an individual situation. There are numerous treatments that are designed to help with allergies, as well as many others that specifically target asthma. While there isn't a huge amount of overlap between these two types of treatment, there are a few that may be able to help with both conditions.

 

A Leukotriene modifier, allergy shots and Anti-immunoglobulin E (IgE) therapy are three types of treatments that have the potential to help with both allergies and asthma. As with any type of medical treatment, the only way to know if a certain option is right for you is to be fully evaluated by an experienced medical professional. It’s also common for people with either severe allergic or asthma reactions to receive additional medication for managing their symptoms.

 

If you have any additional questions about allergies, asthma or both of these conditions, the best way to get answers and find out which treatment options are best for your specific situation is to schedule an appointment with one of ourFamily Practitioners.

 

Your Guide to February and National Heart Month

February is officially here, which means that in addition to celebrating Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day, there’s an important awareness effort going on in the form of National Heart Month. As the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, heart disease is an issue that all of us need to take very seriously.

To help play our part in spreading awareness during National Heart Month, Kaner Med wants to cover some of the steps you can take to help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke:

1. Meet with a Doctor and Discuss Your Heart Health

While this is important for everyone to do, given that men are statistically less likely to visit a doctor for preventive care, it’s especially vital for them. One of the reasons that heart disease is still such a problem across the United States is it often builds up without creating any symptoms. By meeting with a doctor to talk about heart disease, you can find out if you’re at risk. And if you are, knowing this information will allow you to take action to help protect yourself.

2. Make Sleep a Priority

Supporting good heart health is one of the many benefits of consistently getting enough sleep. If you’re wondering how much sleep you should aim for every night, 7 hours is a great target. The reason to aim for that amount is research has found that young and middle-age adults who slept 7 hours a night had less calcium in their arteries than those who slept 5 hours or less and those who slept 9 hours or more.

3. Stop Smoking

Although everyone knows that smoking significantly contributes to your risk of heart disease, that doesn’t change the fact that more than 40 million adults in the US still smoke. So if you or a loved one are a smoker, the absolute best thing you can do for your heart and overall health in 2016 is stop smoking.

4. Consider the DASH or Mediterranean Diet

Many of the most popular diets and related books are focused on losing weight fast. The problem with almost all of those diets is they’re not sustainable. That means even if people are able to lose a little weight, they’re almost guaranteed to gain it back. Two exceptions to that rule are the DASH and Mediterranean diets. While these diets can help you lose weight, they’re actually sustainable approaches to eating. Best of all, they’ve both been linked to supporting heart health.

5. Less Sitting, More Sweating

You should try to exercise for 150 minutes a week. That amount comes from exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. However, it’s also important to make an effort to move around more when you’re at the office or home. Standing up more frequently and moving around can do a lot to help your overall heart health.

By putting these steps into action during February and maintaining them over time, you can help keep your heart at its healthiest!

Winter Allergies - Are You At Risk?

Many people assume that when the cold temperatures of winter arrive, they will be able to enjoy a break from their allergies. While that may be true for people who suffer from pollen allergies, it's not the case for all allergy sufferers. For individuals who are allergic to things like dust mites or mold, winter can actually cause their symptoms to get worse.

 

The reason that certain types of allergies can actually get worse during the winter is due to people spending more time indoors. When it's cold outside and you're inside your home, your furnace is going to run on a continuous basis to keep you warm. As hot air circulates to warm your home, it can include mold spores and dust. Breathing air with those substances in it can be a direct trigger for your allergies.

 

How to Tell If You're Suffering from Winter Allergies

 

Dust mites and mold are the two most common causes of winter allergies. Dust mites are often found in bedding and mattresses. When these microscopic creatures die, they leave their remains and droppings behind. Then if those things get into the air, they can start triggering symptoms of allergies.

 

Mold thrives in areas that are humid and damp. That's why mold is commonly found in bathrooms and basements. However, since mold spores can become airborne and spread anywhere in a home, other rooms can be allergy triggers as well. On the subject of what causes winter allergies, it's also worth mentioning pets. Even though pets aren’t as prevalent of a cause as dust mites or mold, a protein found in pet saliva, urine and dander can lead to allergy symptoms.

 

On the subject of winter allergy symptoms, one of the most common questions people have is whether they're suffering from winter allergies, a cold or the flu. While these conditions do share many of the same symptoms, there are a few key differences. It’s very uncommon for cold symptoms to last for more than ten days. And unlike allergies, flu symptoms often include pains, aches and fever.

 

Symptoms that do often indicate winter allergies are watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, dark circles under the eyes and coughing.

 

Identifying and Treating Winter Allergies

 

If you have reason to believe that you're allergic to things like dust mites or mold, our allergy testing services can help provide you with conclusive answers. Once you know for sure if you do have winter allergies and exactly what you’re allergic to, you can take steps to minimize and manage your symptoms.

 

Antihistamines and decongestants are often used to help with symptoms of winter allergies. Allergy shots may be used in more severe cases. Additionally, there are quite a few environmental changes you can make to reduce allergy flare-ups during the winter. Using a dehumidifier, HEPA filter and washing bedding weekly in hot water are all steps you can take to significantly cut down the amount of dust mites and mold spores that are present in your home.

 

What Type of Exercise is Best for Weight Loss?

Regardless of their exact goal, losing weight isn’t something that most people think of as an easy task. Although there are individuals who seem to be able to shed weight without really trying, a far larger percentage of the population has to work hard in order to see results. Since losing weight is a challenge, it makes sense to give yourself every advantage possible.

 

One of those advantages is choosing exercises that work best for losing weight. If you’re in the process of trying to decide what kind of exercise you’re going to focus on to lose weight, we want to share our thoughts on the type of exercise that is best:

 

8 Exercises That Burn a Significant Amount of Calories

 

Running is the most common exercise that’s associated with losing weight. While there’s no question that running can increase your heart rate and burn a significant number of calories, there are other activities that can burn more calories. Kettlebell swings can keep the heart at 93% of its max for a full 20-minute workout. Indoor rowing can burn 12.5 calories per minute, while every burpee someone does can burn just under 1.5 calories.

 

Because it has resistance that increases as you pedal harder, an Airdyne stationary bike makes it possible to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Jumping rope burns around 13 calories a minute (as do certain CrossFit workouts), while fat-tire biking can take the total per minute as high as 25 calories.

 

Consistency is the Most Important Factor

 

So, should you go with the exercise that allows you to burn the most calories per minute? Not necessarily. The problem with taking that approach is it may result in choosing a type of exercise that you don’t enjoy at all. Forcing yourself to do something every day that you don’t like is not a recipe for success. Instead, it will make it easy for you to come up with reasons why you should skip a workout.

 

That’s why the best type of exercise for losing weight is one that you enjoy doing and can realistically stick to on a regular basis. Losing weight and keeping it off is a long-term pursuit, which is why going full-force for a couple of weeks and then getting completely derailed isn’t going to help you make real progress.

 

On the other hand, even if you choose an activity like walking that won’t necessarily rack up huge calorie burns over the course of 30 or 60 minutes, being able to do these kinds of activities every day or even multiple times a day means you’re going to accomplish a lot over the course of weeks and then months.

 

By taking a long-term view of your weight loss efforts, you’ll be able to avoid the peaks and valleys that commonly accompany new exercise routines and instead find a steady path that will lead to the results you want.

 

How to Have a Healthy Start to 2016

Now that the new year is officially underway, you can focus on all the things you want to accomplish during 2016. For many people, improving their health is one of those goals. Whether you want to lose weight, feel better on a daily basis or do a combination of those things, you don’t need to wait to start making positive changes in your life. In fact, starting now means that you can accomplish a lot by the time you reach the end of the year.

 

To help you make 2016 your best year yet, we’ve put together a collection of tips that you can use to start and maintain healthy momentum throughout 2016:

 

1. Get a Check-Up

 

If it’s been awhile since you’ve had a physical, getting one now will help you understand exactly where you’re at in terms of your health. Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to living a healthy life, so take advantage of ourfamily care services and get your medical check-up appointment scheduled.

 

2. Consider Monthly Changes

 

One of the reasons that so many people struggle to stick with their resolutions is they want to change everything at the same time. While it’s normal to have multiple goals, it’s more effective to spread them out over the year. That’s why a great option is to make a list of your resolutions and then dedicate a full month to focusing on each one.

 

3. Stand More

 

In the past few years, a lot of research has been published about the dangers of sitting all day at work. That’s why making a conscious effort to stand more throughout the day can have a positive impact on how you feel and your overall health. If you’re interested in trying out a standing desk, you can find kits online that make it easy to add this functionality to your existing desk without requiring you to invest in a completely new desk.

 

4. Pay Attention to What You Eat

 

The food you eat on a daily basis affects everything from your weight to how much energy you have. Instead of starting the year off with a strict diet that’s going to be extremely hard to maintain, a more sustainable approach is to simply pay attention to what you eat. By thinking about why you’re eating a specific type of food or choosing to have a second serving, you’ll be able to make incremental improvements that add up to something quite significant.

 

5. Sleep More

 

In addition to standing more, you should also make it a priority to sleep more. Even though we live in a society that celebrates all-nighters and functioning on as little sleep as possible,sleep health is very important. Weight gain, heart disease, impaired reaction time, a weakened immune system and memory issues are just some of the issues that can arise from not sleeping enough. That’s why people who go from being sleep deprived to getting enough sleep are often amazed at just how much their overall quality of life improves from this single change.

 

 

Now that Fall has arrived you may be wondering what is making your allergies so bad?

For most of us it is the Ragweed. Ragweed starts releasing pollen as early as August when the days are hot and the nights are just barely cool and it can last for months. One single Ragweed plant can release one billion pollen grains per season and it can travel around 350 miles in the wind.

 

Ragweed can be found from inside the cracks in your sidewalk to in the gutter on the roof of some homes and buildings. In cold areas the first frost occurs about the time Ragweed pollination is ending. In regions down South, ragweed can pollinate throughout the winter.

 

Some of the other weeds that are probably adding to your misery are lambs quarters, pigweed, curly dock, goldenrod, sagebrush and sheep sorrel.

 

Another allergen that is probably messing with you is Mold. Mold can be found in moist grass, on wet leaves, in soil, compost piles and can easily send spores into the wind. They are common airborne allergens because they are light and very tiny. So tiny and light you are breathing them in and dont know it.

 

How do I protect myself? Well, we know that windy days are particularly bad when it comes to fall allergies. Wind pollinated plants like Ragweed have special flowers that produce large amounts of pollen that is easily released into the wind. Large amounts of this pollen are produced in the early morning hours and people that suffer from fall allergies have a hard time in the morning.

 

Here are some things that you can do to help ease the suffering.

 

  • Avoid yard work if you are a bad sufferer

  • If you must work in the yard wear a face mask

  • Use a clothes dryer instead of air drying laundry

  • Shower frequently removing pollen from your skin

 

 

If you do all of these things but still have a very hard time with your allergies then you should consider seeing a doctor to get tested to see what exactly is causing your misery. There are treatments that may be just perfect for you.

Ways to Stay Healthy as Winter Rolls In

As summer fades away and the winter rolls in there are some things that you can do to make sure that you stay healthy. Here are some of the things that you can do.

 

Add beans to your diet. They are high in protein and easy to add to many different dishes. You should eat about 3 cups of beans each week. Any type of bean will work from Lima beans, black beans and garbanzo beans to pinto beans. They all contain folic acid, iron, potassium and fiber.

Make fitness fun. Try something new this year like renting a bike to ride on the seawall or taking a fitness class at your gym. You can do something like Yoga, Pilates or even Kickboxing if you like the intensity.

If your budget allows, buy a bicycle and go for a ride. The whole family can enjoy this exercise and when you get serious you can Google places to go ride. Find some trails that just right for your experience and begin riding often and increasing your ability to ride. Pretty soon you will find yourself riding the more challenging trails and loving it. That is when exercise becomes more of a fun thing to do that a chore.

Make sure to get good sleep. Well duh... This is said all the time but it is said all the time because it is super important. I you find yourself having a hard time to fall asleep and you tend to sleep a little later than you would like, there are things you can do about it. When you first wake up go outside right away and get some bright light on you for a while. This will help you natural body clock to wake up.

If you find it hard to fall asleep you should avoid bright light for a few hours before bed time. Bright light can trigger your natural response and make you more awake so staying away at bed time is a good idea.

Relieve stress with friendships. Doing these things with a friend has been proven to help motivate you to stick to it as well as to work hard at it. It also has been proven to relieve stress. Having that close friend with you when you are working out is great at lifting your emotions and giving you a positive outlook on your day.