Mature woman looking in mirror

Overcoming Self-doubt while Living with a Chronic Illness

(BPT) – Many people impacted by rheumatoid arthritis experience feelings of self-doubt – but a head-on approach can lead to self-love.

The mind is directly interconnected with your physical body, and while this stands true for everybody, it is something people living with a chronic illness are reminded of every day.

For people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – an autoimmune disease of the joints that impacts approximately 1.6 million people in the United States – it can be challenging to stay mentally and emotionally positive when your health is always on your mind. The symptoms of RA and their effect on physical functioning can impact overall well-being, which can lead to feelings such as self-doubt.

Does our physical health affect our mental health?

When first diagnosed with a chronic condition like RA, many patients may struggle to accept their disease. The emotional process to acceptance can be difficult, but try to understand your condition better and make a conscious choice to face it head-on.

Further, managing symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness, and fatigue can make it difficult to do common everyday tasks, which can lead to mental and emotional impacts.

So how can you overcome self-doubt?

Turning self-doubt into self-love

For people living with a chronic condition like RA, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to settle. That’s why taking one day at a time is critical in any approach to self-care.

Take the first step by becoming more aware of your emotions and feelings when it comes to the management of your RA. Own your experience with the disease by recognizing and accepting feelings of frustration, anxiety, or guilt about your RA in order to refocus your emotions toward resilience, hope, and joy.

Here are some additional tips and tricks to combat self-doubt:

* Ground yourself: Balance out the negative by thinking about the positive aspects of your life. In doing this exercise, remember that sometimes the positive things are small and simple: a bouquet of fresh flowers on your dining room table, a book that makes you laugh out loud, or a phone call with an old friend. Directing your focus toward these positive aspects of your life can make a huge difference!

* Set a timeline: It’s okay to acknowledge negative feelings sometimes, but don’t let this go on for too long. Give yourself a deadline for when it’s time to mentally shift your focus.

* Invest in yourself: Take some time each day to read, listen, or watch something that uplifts you.

* Set the mood: Create a set of your own soundtracks! One playlist might bring back good memories, another might make you feel motivated to take on a busy day, and perhaps another makes you feel calm and relaxed. Music is a powerful tool, and setting the mood through music is a fun and easy way to practice self-care and redirection of your energy.

* Reflect on your self-perception: Focus on what defines you as a person and learn to accept who you are. Remind yourself of a time when you overcame self-doubt. Ask yourself, “Am I talking to myself the way I would talk to my spouse or my friend?

* Connect with others: Surround yourself with people who love and encourage you. You may also find solace in connecting with others living with RA, whether it is online or in-person.

* Most importantly: Understand your own body and your own needs on your journey to self-love.

Above all, make time for yourself; this alone is an act of love toward yourself! Making time for yourself can take on many forms, including those listed above as well as things like going for a walk, taking a bath, even taking a moment to enjoy the view out of your kitchen window! Making “me time” happen is what can ultimately help you look beyond the negative!

“When I was first diagnosed, I struggled to keep things going,” says Elaine R., patient advocate and administrative assistant living with RA. “Even though I was unable to do my usual yoga routines, I did feel a sense of relief from my yoga music and deep breathing. I think focusing on the positive things in your life, no matter how small, is a great idea. Little joys are a necessity.”

If you have a chronic disease like RA, it’s important to remember that it does not define you and there are steps you can take to better manage lifestyle challenges as a result of your condition. With research and communication with your rheumatologist or other healthcare professional, there are ways to prioritize your health and choose self-love over self-doubt.

For more tips on how to overcome self-doubt and negative emotions, and choose self-love while living with RA, visit www.Arthritis.com.

Content was provided by Pfizer.

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Boomers: 10 reasons to go nuts

(BPT) – For the roughly 75 million Americans who make up the baby boom generation, a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons against age-related diseases.

“It’s vital at any age to adopt good habits to live a strong, fit and healthy life,” says Dr. Mike Roussell, a nationally recognized nutrition consultant and nutrition adviser to Men’s Health and Shape. “Fueling your life with tasty and nutrient-rich foods while making sure to be active every single day are essential components to keeping your body young and vibrant.”

Roussell’s recommendation? Nuts. In particular, pistachios. “Pistachios are a multitasking nut with fiber, healthy fats, and three specific types of antioxidants that may help fight the onset of age-related conditions that lead to poor health in these 10 ways.”

1. Heart health

Large population studies show that people who regularly eat nuts, such as pistachios, have a lower risk of dying from heart disease or suffering a heart attack. Pistachios provide 360-degree cardiovascular support in that they can promote improvements in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood vessel function.

2. Anti-inflammatory

Excessive inflammation is one of the root causes of age-related conditions, such as arthritis. Pistachios contain a special form of vitamin E called gamma tocopherol, which has unique anti-inflammatory properties. Gamma tocopherol levels have also been shown to decrease as we age.

3. Weight loss

Being overweight can also contribute to a number of age-related illnesses. Studies show pistachios positively promote weight maintenance as the dietary fiber, fat and protein all work together to make us feel fuller and satiated longer, plus removing them from the shell slows down eating. Pistachios are also the lowest-fat nut.

4. Digestion

The fiber in pistachios also can help with digestion. Research shows that the fiber in pistachios works as a prebiotic and feeds the good bacteria in our digestive tract to improve the health of our digestive system. A single serving of pistachios contains as much as 3 grams of dietary fiber.

5. Blood glucose level

Developing adult onset diabetes, or Type 2 diabetes, is a common fear for boomers. The American Diabetes Association praises the health benefits of nuts, including pistachios, calling them a diabetes superfood because they improve how the body’s cells use glucose and how insulin responds to a carbohydrate-containing meal, namely, stabilizing blood glucose levels.

6. Skin health and appearance

UV light from the sun promotes damage and accelerates the aging of our skin. Pistachios contain two carotenoid antioxidants that are concentrated in the skin and work to filter out and protect it against the damaging effects of UV light.

7. Eyesight

Pistachios contain lutein, a nutrient known to help improve eye health, especially in older individuals. Lutein has been shown to prevent and slow down macular degeneration by providing more pigment for the eye, thereby reflecting more of the sun’s light, preventing damage to the retina.

8. Memory

Preliminary research shows that the fatty acids and antioxidants found in pistachios can help support brain health. The antioxidants in pistachios can help ward off excessive inflammation in the brain, a major cause of accelerated cognitive decline. Another study found that eating pistachios stimulated brain waves that aid the formation of ideas and memory processing.

9. Sleep

Nuts, including pistachios, are rich in minerals such as magnesium. One benefit of magnesium is that it may aid sleep because it assists in helping the muscles relax and quiet activity in the brain by working as an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

10. Energy

Pistachios have been shown to promote energy, which is why so many professional athletes consume them while training. More energy means we’ll commit to getting enough exercise.

But what is Dr. Mike’s main reason for having his clients eat pistachios? “They taste good. People are much more likely to stick to a healthy diet when the food is tasty and fun to eat.”

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The Organic Label is the Gold Standard [Infographic]

(BPT) – A new USDA study affirms that the organic label is the most comprehensive, most transparent and most tightly regulated food certification in the world, and points to the flaws in single label claims causing consumer confusion. With the proliferation of label claims over the past three decades, consumers’ misunderstanding continues to escalate. For organic dairy pioneer Straus Family Creamery of Northern California, which became the first 100 percent certified organic creamery in the United States in 1994, and is an innovative organic leader to this day, the organic label stands unequivocally for integrity in sustainable agriculture and organic food production.

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4 things no one tells you about preparing for baby

(BPT) – It’s only a matter of time now. Your little bundle of joy is on its way, and for the first time you are about to be a parent. Think you’re ready? Many people do and then the reality of parenthood strikes them. Remember your friends who said being a parent is nothing like they expected? They were right.

Parenting is a wild ride, but it’s also one of the — if not the — most rewarding things you’ll ever do in your life. Just don’t expect it to be smooth sailing right from the get-go. It’s going to be challenging, but there are things you can do to prepare before your life changes forever.

To give you the leg up you so desperately need, Dawn Dais, author of the parenting book “The Sh!t No One Tells You,” offers this advice:

* Take advantage of your freedom. If this is your first baby, you need to maximize every second of freedom you have left. Go to the movies, order an appetizer and a dessert at dinner, travel, decide to leave the house and then do so 25 seconds later. Watch television shows with cuss words.

* Sleep now. Dais recently teamed up with Store Brand infant formula to help get the word out about ways parents can prepare before their baby arrives. Earlier this year, they released a “Baby’s First Year” survey that found 25 percent of new moms confessed their biggest fear before their baby’s arrival was the fear of never sleeping again. You will sleep again, but it might not be for a few months, so it’s important to get it in while you still can!

* Do your research. Make sure to discuss important topics before the baby arrives, such as feeding. The Store Brand formula survey found infant formula is the last topic researched by new moms while pregnant, but the No. 1 topic researched after their baby arrives. Feeding is the most important thing you do with your baby, so why is it so far down on the list? A lot of new parents don’t think about this because they just assume they will breastfeed. They are told that it is the most natural thing on the planet and so it’s not even a consideration or option not to breastfeed. But what people don’t tell you is that breastfeeding can be hard and there may be challenges. The survey also found that more than 50 percent of moms experience issues when it comes to breastfeeding baby, with low breast milk supply being the top concern. So knowing your feeding options before baby arrives is vital.

* Babies are expensive, so know where you can save big. It’s important to note that all infant formulas are required to meet the same FDA standards. That means you can choose store-brand infant formulas that meet the same federal nutrient requirements for baby as nationally advertised brands, and in fact, cost up to 50 percent less!

Make the most of your new role as a parent

Having a child is the most monumental change you can make to your life, but the joys that come with parenting make the process entirely worth it. So, plan ahead now by applying the tips above and you’ll eliminate some of those potential headaches. To learn more about feeding options and the “Baby’s First Year” survey, visit storebrandformula.com.

Headline: Tips to prepare for parenthood

Parenting can be tough. Make the most of it with these tips from Dawn Dais, author of the parenting book “The Sh!t No One Tells You .

* Take advantage of your freedom. If this is your first baby, you need to maximize every second of freedom you have left. Go to the movies, order an appetizer and a dessert at dinner, travel, decide to leave the house and then do so 25 seconds later. Watch television shows with cuss words.

* Babies are expensive, so know where you can save big. It’s important to note that all infant formulas are required to meet the same FDA standards. That means you can choose store brand infant formulas that meet the same federal nutrient requirements for baby as nationally advertised brands, and in fact, cost up to 50 percent less. I wish someone had told me that. Moms who use formula can relate — it can be expensive.

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Brain drained? These habits can help maintain a healthy brain

(BPT) – Everyone has those days. You’re operating in a fog, or perhaps you spaced out on a family member’s name in the middle of dinner, or maybe you just find it hard to concentrate on work or hobbies. When these unwanted situations begin to come up more often, you may start to worry. Aging has long been associated with a slow mental decline.

The good news is there are simple things you can do to clear the cobwebs and regain your focus. Dr. Mike Dow, a psychotherapist and best-selling author, says we often don’t realize the brain is just like the heart, our muscles, our lungs and bones — it needs maintenance, and healthy habits to help keep it working at its very best.

“People understand pretty well that if they eat healthy, quit smoking and start exercising, they can improve their cardiovascular health,” Dow says. “But they don’t always connect the dots of living a healthy lifestyle to improving cognitive health.”

To help you reach your optimal brain health, Dow offers these everyday tips.

Give yourself a daily challenge

If you catch yourself in a rut or locked in your routine, it may be time to find ways to stretch your mind muscles with a new and challenging activity. Researchers have discovered that healthy brains need certain levels of reserves, and challenging them is one way to build those reserves.

“Think of your brain like a bank account,” Dow says. “Every time you learn something new, or play a challenging game or read a book, it’s like depositing a dollar into that account. The more cash deposits you make, the more you have to spare.”

Feed your brain

Like other parts of the body, the brain needs food and nutrients, and the right food can go a long way to support brain health. An antioxidant-rich diet including things like unsweetened tea, berries and turmeric can protect the brain from damage that comes from aging and oxidative stress.

Dow also recommends taking a supplement like Natrol Cognium. It contains a unique silk protein that’s been shown in human clinical studies to protect the brain from oxidative stress. The studies also show that it improves memory and concentration by increasing blood flow and nutrition to the brain. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of Natrol Cognium, visit natrol.com/benefits/brain-health/.

Tend to your relationships

As life and circumstances bring inevitable changes, the number of people we count as friends and loved ones can change over the years. It takes effort, but Dow says it’s important to try to maintain our relationships and be open to creating new ones, because they can have a profound effect on brain health.

“Relationships tend to buffer us from the stress of daily life, which is good because over time, excess stress can cause inflammation,” Dow says. “At the same time, good, healthy relationships give our lives meaning.”

To meet new people, try simple things like inviting a neighbor over for dessert, joining a book club or volunteering for a nonprofit or cause that’s important to you.

Get enough sleep

We often short ourselves on sleep when life gets busy, but it’s important to make it a priority, Dow says.

“Think of nighttime sleep as a wash-and-rinse cycle that clears away the ‘bad stuff’ that builds up during the day,” Dow says. “Brain fog and dementia-causing plaques are washed away by cerebrospinal fluid, and this process is more effective when you’re sleeping.”

Dow recommends practicing healthy sleep habits, such as striving for eight hours each night, being consistent with your bedtime routine and using melatonin instead of prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids to help you drift off.

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5 ways to jump-start your heart health

(BPT) – If you’re looking to improve your heart health, each day is all about making a choice that moves you in the right direction. You’d rather stay in with a big bowl of ice cream. But maybe today, you could click off the TV set and take a walk with a friend.

It’s easy to see why heart health is a pressing concern. One in three adults live with one or more types of cardiovascular disease, according a review published in the journal Circulation.

Over time, changes in the heart and blood vessels can lead to a host of devastating problems, including heart attack, heart failure and stroke. On top of that, lifestyle factors, such as poor diet and a lack of physical activity, lead to one in five deaths in the U.S., according to a study published in 2011 in the Journal of Public Health.

The good news is as the weeks and months pass, these healthy choices do pay off and make meaningful shifts in your health profile.

Turning these choices into habits is well worth the time and effort. Choice by choice, you could see big improvements.

1. Reach for whole foods

Diets abound, but the classic Mediterranean-based diet always comes up as a winner for heart health. It’s simple to follow because it’s made up of whole, healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, olive oil and fish. In 2013, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine said switching to a Mediterranean diet can prevent 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and heart disease deaths in high-risk people.

2. Get up and move more often

The Surgeon General says 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise each week promotes good heart health. To get started, visit your doctor to find out what is safe for you. Then work activities you enjoy into your routine, whether it’s a walk in the woods, a leisurely bike ride or swimming laps at the community pool.

3. Seek the company of others

This may not come up at the doctor’s office, but the time we spend with friends and family does reward us with better heart health. Isolation is linked to depression and that’s linked to higher rates of heart disease. Pick up the phone and call someone. Schedule lunch with an old friend, plan a special day with younger relatives or sign up for an activity.

4. De-stress and decompress

If you constantly feel the effects of stress in your body, it may be time to take steps to reverse that. Scientists haven’t found definitive proof, but they believe stress could trigger inflammation, a precursor to heart disease. So go ahead, and seek some joy: Laughter releases “good” HDL cholesterol. Exercise is also a proven stress buster, and studies show a mindfulness mediation practice reduces blood pressure.

5. Know your risks

Hopefully, you’re already making those annual doctor visits because your blood sugar, blood pressure, weight and cholesterol can all tell us something about our heart health. But what you really want to know is whether there is fatty buildup in your arteries, because toocan lead to stroke, peripheral vascular disease and carotid artery stenosis. Doctor office tests offer indicators and warning signs, but they don’t tell you how much you’re blocked.

Luckily, there’s a safe and affordable test that gives you the hard data on what is happening inside your body: vascular screening. If you think learning the truth will discourage you, one study indicates the opposite may be true.

The report published in the Journal of Community Medicine and Health Education says people who had vascular screening reported more positive changes to their health several months after their vascular screening than the control subjects who weren’t screened. For example, 61 percent of screened respondents said they ate healthier foods since the screening, versus the 46 percent who were not screened.

Truth is empowering and it can give people a powerful incentive to change, even if the news isn’t what you’re hoping to hear. To get your own vascular test, find out when Life Line Screening is coming to your community. You’ll get a results pack you can take to your doctor, so you can work on a plan together to improve your health.

To find out when a Life Line screening clinic may be scheduled in your area, visit www.lifelinescreening.com or call (877) 754-9631.

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Top 4 nutrition predictions in the New Year

(BPT) – Several food and nutrition trends were in the spotlight this year, including the continued rise of plant-based diets, non-dairy ice creams and superfoods that are blasts from the past — legumes, apples and cabbage. It can be easy to experience nutrition whiplash in the New Year, but don’t be a victim. Get a jump-start on understanding the top nutrition trends that will impact quality of life and make it easier to add important vitamins and nutrients to the body.

“The start of a fresh year always ushers in new opportunities to make one’s health better,” said Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD and author of “Eat Your Way to Sexy.” “Study after study consistently finds that most Americans don’t meet even minimum standards of a balanced diet, so it’s important to be aware of advances in nutrition, so you can optimize your health all year long.”

There are four key nutrition predictions that will top 2018.

No. 1 — Personalized nutrition

A one-size-fits-all approach that can be applied to vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and other essential nutrients doesn’t align with what research reveals about individual nutrient needs. Many factors tweak the basic recommendations, including age, gender, health status, medication use, stress level, sleep habits, exercise routines and more.

For example, when the body is exposed to ultra violet (UV) light, it manufactures vitamin D; however, as we age, the body becomes less and less efficient at making vitamin D. This is when dietary and supplement sources become increasingly more important while the needs for the vitamin increase.

It is no wonder there will be a growing trend and demand for personalized nutrition recommendations in 2018. Nutrition innovators — like www.vitaminpacks.com — are already responding by developing comprehensive nutritional assessments to curate unique combinations of vitamins and nutrients designed specifically to the individual consumer.

No. 2 — Awareness of drug nutrient interactions

According to a recent paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition, vitamins and other nutrients play a crucial role in metabolism — the process in the body that supports overall health. How vitamins and phytonutrients interact with prescription medications can impact metabolism.

In one example, antacid medications can interfere with vitamin B12 and calcium absorption, so requirements for these and other nutrients may increase, yet people don’t make the adjustment in their supplement plans. Therefore, it is important to consult a health care practitioner before adding a dietary supplement, so prescription medications and vitamin supplements can live in harmony.

No. 3 — Go with your gut

Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for health, especially the digestive system. It may be easy to think of bacteria as something that causes diseases, but the body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are the “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they have been known for years to help keep the gut healthy. What’s more, research has shown that the benefits of probiotics may span more than the gut, including the circulatory, hormonal and nervous systems. Probiotics are naturally found in the body to varying degrees, and there are high levels of probiotics in some foods and supplements.

Encouraging the growth of probiotic bacteria is important in maintaining an effective intestinal barrier, enhancing nutrient absorption and blocking toxins and pathogens. A focus on gut health and spotlighting food and dietary supplements that support a healthy belly will top 2018 nutrition trends.

No. 4 — Vitamin K2

Don’t confuse this K2 with the mountain in the Himalayas. Vitamin K2 is an overlooked vitamin that helps control calcium movement in the body and supports healthy arteries and bone health. It is found at sub-optimal levels in the traditional diet, but can be found at high levels in fermented foods, like sauerkraut and the Korean dish kimchi. Vitamin K2 will no longer be overlooked in 2018. Ask a health care practitioner about adding this important vitamin to the diet, especially if fermented foods aren’t served regularly for dinner.

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict what will be the hottest nutrition trends in 2018; it only requires a look at the latest nutrition research and connecting with a health care provider or registered dietitian.

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Infuse life into the bath for a spa-like oasis

(BPT) – Today, more than ever, homeowners gravitate toward design elements that transform the bath into a spa-like oasis. Designers look to incorporate pieces inspired by the natural world to bring renewed energy into the room and create a soothing environment. From fixtures inspired by booming waterfalls, to neutral color schemes and natural light, nature infuses life back into luxury bath design for a serene sense of calm.

Neutral calm

Light colors such as cool grays and muted blues evoke tranquility and peacefulness. Neutral colors for walls and fabrics create a soothing aesthetic that fosters relaxation in the space. To create visual interest within a neutral palette, incorporate varying shades of earth tones to serve as complementary accents throughout the room — from decorative rugs and plush towels to cabinetry and tiling.

Nature’s inspiration

Elements inspired by nature work together to produce a sense of relaxation in the home’s oasis. Intuitive in design, the Vettis Bath Collection by Brizo combines solid proportions and angular architecture with an optional four-sided open chamber that mimics the sensory experience of a waterfall. Inspired by the strength found in nature, the defined edges of the spout create a balanced aesthetic, while subtle facets offer visual depth. Paired with natural stone accents, this collection evokes elements of natural inspiration.

Stone serenity

A freestanding stone tub makes a luxurious statement to enhance the spa atmosphere. Sleek, oval architectures provide an organic contemporary touch, while rectangular basins deliver a strong geometric focal point. Take the spa-like experience even further and incorporate the use of essential oils. Lavender and chamomile reduce stress and encourage sleep, while peppermint and lemon oils increase focus and mental alertness in the morning. From modern to transitional aesthetics, a freestanding, natural stone tub paired with the sensory infusion of essential oils creates the perfect at-home getaway.

Living accents

Natural lighting and live plants blur the line between the great outdoors and the enclosed space. Large floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights serve as eye-catching accents while also naturally illuminating the room. Hanging succulents and potted bamboo plants are additional decor options to bring nature indoors without sacrificing clean, simple design.

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Healthy eating at holiday parties? It’s possible

(BPT) – The holidays bring a lot of temptations from every direction if dieting or watching your weight. Holiday parties and get-togethers can be a healthful-eating challenge. Caught up in conversation among friends and family, surrounded by tasty food and drinks, it’s easy to lose track of what and how much is being eaten. Registered Dietitian Sarah Galicki offers tips for staying the course through the holidays.

“There are a lot of calories packed into this time of year. You’re doing your holiday baking, people are dropping off candy and treats, there are parties with all-you-can-eat buffets and creamy drinks like eggnog, so it’s important to be prepared. It is possible to navigate the holidays without gaining weight by doing these things.”

Eat first. Never go to a party hungry. If you do, chances are you’ll wind up eating too much, too fast. Eat a snack before you go, such as some Greek yogurt, which is loaded with protein and calcium. Add fruit for extra taste and nutrients, and top with pistachios for crunch and good fats.

Drink wisely. If you want to indulge a little bit, have some champagne or white wine. A 4-ounce glass has approximately 100 calories. By comparison, a cup of traditional eggnog has 344 calories and 19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat). Skip the creamy drinks. The best bet is to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. Drink a spritzer made with sparkling water, cranberry and a lime instead. It looks festive, tastes great and has hardly any calories.

Fill up on finger foods. Bite-size appetizers limit the calorie impact. A good option? Pistachios. They’re great to snack on; 49 have exactly 150 calories, and they satisfy that crunchy craving. Plus, they’re full of nutrients and fill you up. The healthy fats will help regulate your blood-sugar level throughout the night, which is helpful if you’re drinking. Wrap some up decoratively and take along for a hostess gift to be sure there’s a healthy choice on hand.

Survey your options. Mindful eating is always key in any situation. Once the buffet table opens, take a visual sweep past it before jumping in line and making your selections. This way you’ll avoid piling one of everything onto your plate needlessly when you eventually pass through.

Don’t be first in line. The food in a buffet line looks pretty in the beginning. Once people serve themselves, it’s not as appealing and you’ll eat less.

Get a small plate. This trick helps limit portion size.

Avoid the white stuff. Given other options, skip the white rice, white pasta and white bread. They’re loaded with calories but no nutrients. Choose items with whole grains instead. They’re full of nutrients and have fiber, which will fill you up so you won’t eat as much.

Delight in dessert. Dessert is probably the toughest temptation of all. But there’s no reason to skip. Most of us have a sweet tooth. Satisfy that sweet craving with some fresh fruit. To make sure it’s available, bring some as a hostess gift; it’s always welcome.

“Overall, pace yourself,” advises Galicki. “Enjoy the food and festivities.”

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From cancer nurse to cancer patient: One woman’s story

(BPT) – Throughout her career, Lindsay Norris had a close connection with cancer, helping others battle the disease. Then one day, it became even more personal.

The 33­-year-­old oncology nurse still remembers the moment she heard the news of her own diagnosis — Stage 3 colorectal cancer. “I’ve been in those conversations so many times,” she said. “I’ve shared a plan of care so many times. I’ve explained this stuff so many times.” Lindsay knew the cancer journey but now she was the one on the receiving end of the conversation.

Living with cancer

While the magnitude of a cancer diagnosis cannot be denied, a Pfizer-sponsored survey of over 1,500 cancer patients and caregivers to assess resources, tools and general perceptions of cancer shows nearly 85 percent of the patients surveyed have a positive outlook on cancer and 83 percent have been inspired to make positive changes in their life following their diagnosis. In fact, nearly 90 percent of patients surveyed believe cancer has forced them to prioritize important things in their life and 3 in 5 patients surveyed said cancer allowed them to discover the “real me.” That said, day-to-day life with cancer is challenging and the same survey shows a majority of those patients and caregivers surveyed say it would be helpful to have an all-in-one mobile tool or app while managing life with cancer, stating some of the most helpful resources would be the ability to keep track of questions that come up during the day (77 percent) and during medical appointments (76 percent), keeping track of medications (71 percent) and being able to communicate with loved ones (71 percent). Pfizer recently launched LivingWith(TM), a free mobile app to help patients and their loved ones manage life with cancer and organize certain important information in one place, which may help to address some of these tasks and communication challenges.

While Lindsay has adjusted some things in her life since her diagnosis, her commitment to her work as a nurse has remained steadfast and each day she comes to the hospital as both patient and professional. “I figured I have to come every day for treatment anyway, so I might as well work,” she said of juggling care for her patients with her own treatment schedule. “I’ve always taken pride in my job and taking care of my patients. I have always tried to put others before myself.”

Of course, like most people with cancer, Lindsay, a mother of two young children, has her good days and her bad days. On her good days she can go without taking a nap and is able to make dinner for the family and enjoy bath time. But on her bad days, she simply can’t enjoy these activities and that’s when her husband steps in to help. The missed opportunities sadden her, but she understands these struggles are part of living with cancer and refuses to let them define her.

She still remembers breaking the news of her diagnosis to her family and her 3­-year-­old son Harrison referring to the disease as mom’s “cancer owie.” He said to me, “Mom, after your cancer owies are all gone and you’re done taking your special medicine, you can have a sleepover in my boys­-only fort.” Lindsay keeps this goal in mind, and while her battle with cancer is far from over, she’ll have her sleepover in that fort.

Chronicling a patient’s story

Lindsay’s story is one of several featured now on ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com, a novel program sponsored by Pfizer that allows people to share inspiring stories and follow along on Facebook and Instagram to receive and share daily stories of inspiration. Lindsay is extremely proud to be part of the campaign and is hoping the LivingWith(TM) app and her story connects with others. “I want to make it a positive experience. And hopefully when my son is an adult he’ll look back and be proud of the way his mom handled it. The best piece of advice I received is to ‘do everything you can today, and then do everything you can tomorrow.’”

Lindsay and others involved in the campaign are interested in the possibilities of the LivingWith app, particularly how it may give patients and caregivers a sense of control when it comes to managing the many aspects of life with cancer such as building a network of support from friends and family to get help with daily tasks, recording and remembering important information from doctor visits and finding information about local events and nutrition articles. It even provides a section to track those “cancer-owies” that Lindsay’s son noted, to help people provide an accurate assessment during their doctor visits. Join Lindsay and others affected by cancer who have downloaded LivingWith(TM) from the Apple App store or Google Play and visit ThisIsLivingWithCancer.com to help you or a loved one manage life with cancer.

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