The secret to healthy holidays? Plan ahead

With the season of merry-making just around the corner, don't fret—just follow these top tips to keep your health in check.

The secret to healthy holidays? Plan ahead
If you have a say in the holiday meal plans, give ample space to dishes that incorporate fruits and vegetables. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

As fall gets underway, it signals the approach of seasonal festivities. Halloween and Thanksgiving are on the horizon—and winter holidays aren’t far behind.

With all that fun comes plenty of great food. And that means sweets, treats and savory eats.

If you’re worried about your diet going off the rails amid the temptation, consider these ideas to keep you on track.

Eat healthy foods first

Filling up on healthy foods at mealtime is a great way to set yourself up to enjoy the other delicious foods last. When you fill up on foods that contribute best to your health, you leave less room—but room nonetheless—for your favorite holiday treats.

Distance yourself

At mealtime, sit where the less healthy foods are out of sight or out of reach. When you’re in close proximity to those junk foods, it makes it hard to resist to them.

Make half your plate veggies

You may have heard this piece of advice before as part of the MyPlate initiative. When veggies take up 50% of the space on your plate, you consume more food rich in vitamins and minerals—as opposed to foods high in sugar and saturated fat.

Exercise before the party

A 30-minute workout before your event can help set the mood for your diet. After you’ve exercised, you’ll hopefully feel less inclined to spoil your hard work by eating food that’s high in calories.

Plan ahead

If possible, be involved in the planning process for your holiday event. If the host is someone you know, consider helping them plan the meals. This way, you could have some control over the healthfulness of the foods served at the function.

Set fruits and veggies at center stage

Make fruit-based desserts and vegetable-based appetizers. Holiday foods that keep fruits and vegetables in mind will leave less room for the not-so-healthy ingredients, while still serving up delicious treats for guests.

Recipes abound on the internet, so try to find something you and your partygoers will all enjoy.

Drink plenty of water

To help curb your appetite, drink eight to 10 ounces of water before the party and sip on water during the event. Even if you make a path straight to the desserts, you may feel less inclined to binge on them if you’ve already filled up on water.

Eat healthy ahead of time

By eating something healthy before you leave for the event, you’re filling up on things that are good for you—before you go anywhere near the sweets and treats.

Involve your kids

If you have little ones, have them participate in the party planning. When they have a say in what gets served at the holiday parties and mealtimes, it sets them up for healthy choices now and into the future.

Be kind to yourself

If you fall short of your plans to stay healthy, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are all human and we make mistakes sometimes.

When things don’t go your way, don’t give up on your health goals. Continue to treat your body as well as possible—because the next day is another great opportunity to get back on track.

Keep in mind you don’t have to follow all these tips. Just pick the ones you think will work best for you as you set out to combat the temptation to overindulge.

Source : Health Beat More   

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Why a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Breast Cancer Prevention Can Leave Women Vulnerable

When Heather Mann learned she had breast cancer, it was a complete surprise. “I had never thought that I was at high risk for breast cancer,” the 49-year-old says. “I don’t have any family lineage or history of breast cancer. My grandmother on my father’s side had breast cancer, but apparently that’s not usually a…

Why a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Breast Cancer Prevention Can Leave Women Vulnerable
breast cancer, it was a complete surprise. “I had never thought that I was at high risk for breast cancer,” the 49-year-old says. “I don’t have any family lineage or history of breast cancer. My grandmother on my father’s side had breast cancer, but apparently that’s not usually a significant factor. So I was very surprised when I found out that I had a malignant tumor.”

Shelia Bauer ‘s breast cancer journey took a very different route. After her twin sisters died of the disease in their 50s, Bauer, now 73, assumed that she likely carried some genetic risk factors. For three decades, she got both a mammogram and an MRI every year to make sure no aberrant cells were seeding tumors in her breast tissue. And every year, she waited anxiously for the results; based on her sisters’ history, she simply assumed that she was at higher risk of developing the disease.
[time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”]

In her case, however, she was wrong.

Both Mann, who lives in San Francisco, and Bauer, who is from Cape Cod, are part of the WISDOM study, Women Informed to Screen Depending On Measures of risk, led by Dr. Laura Esserman, director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at University of California, San Francisco. And because of the comprehensive evaluation of their risk factors for breast cancer, which includes genetic testing as well as their family history and lifestyle habits such as their diet and exercise regimens, that they received as part of the trial, they each learned that they needed to make changes to the way they were managing their risk for the disease. (Marc and Lynne Benioff, the co-chairs and owners of TIME, have been philanthropic supporters of Dr. Esserman’s breast cancer research. The WISDOM study receives software support from Salesforce, where Marc Benioff is chairman and CEO.)

Both women were already following existing advice to screen for breast cancer, adhering to the guidelines that vary a bit but basically suggest women over 40 start getting annual or biennial mammograms. But it turns out that schedule wasn’t the ideal one for either woman.

When the WISDOM team sent Mann a DNA testing kit in the mail as part of the study in March 2018, she provided a saliva sample and sent it back to the lab, curious about her genetic risk but relatively certain she didn’t harbor mutations that put her at increased risk for breast cancer. The results proved otherwise.

The test showed that Mann carried a mutation called CHEK2, which doubles her risk of developing breast cancer over the average risk. “Breast cancer wasn’t a thing in my family,” she says. “We really thought they needed to go back to the lab and recheck the results because they had the wrong patient or the wrong phone number. I was absolutely in shock.”

The CHEK2 mutation also puts Mann at higher risk of developing other cancers, so doctors now monitor her thyroid for any unusual growths. And instead of getting a mammogram once a year, “[the WISDOM] researchers recommended alternating between mammograms and MRIs every six months,” she says. “It ensures that if there’s anything that comes up again, it will be caught early. Finding out that I was CHEK2 positive directly impacted how I screen for breast cancer.”

In fact, Mann’s mammogram a month after her genetic test results continued to show no abnormalities, and it wasn’t until she had an MRI, as part of the WISDOM study, triggered by her genetic predisposition, in November 2018 that doctors found her cancer. “I had a clean bill of health from my mammogram. Six months later, I had an MRI, and they saw something. Then they did a biopsy, and it was breast cancer, early stage,” she says. “If I hadn’t participated in WISDOM, I never would have known that I had the CHEK2 mutation … which then resulted in me getting the MRI. If I hadn’t had the MRI I would never have known.”

Read more: Meet the Women Participating in the Study That Could Change Future of Breast Cancer

“To me, this is one of the great success stories of WISDOM,” says Esserman, who removed Mann’s cancer through surgery in January 2020. “Her tumor was very small, and she was able to do a fairly small surgery and take it out. And CHEK2 mutations are almost all hormone-positive, so by taking endocrine therapy, she reduced the risk that she would get breast cancer on the other side, and she didn’t feel that she had to have a bilateral mastectomy. And she’s done incredibly well.”

Mann says she is confident that the current six-month screening schedule, in which she gets alternating mammograms and MRIs, will catch any potential recurrence and is the best way to manage her cancer risk. “I know in the back of my mind, and I am able to sleep at night and look myself in the mirror because I know I’m doing everything I can,” she says. That also applies to her family members—she asked her sister to get genetically tested, and hopes her daughter, when she’s older, will also benefit from knowing her genetic family history for breast cancer and make similarly proactive choices about how she is screened for the disease.

Bauer is also thinking about her daughters and granddaughters and hopes that what she learned by joining WISDOM will help them as well. Because both of her sisters died of breast cancer, and an aunt passed away from ovarian cancer, for 30 years, her doctors recommended that she get an annual mammogram, MRI of her breasts and a pelvic ultrasound. While she followed their advice, she didn’t relish the experience. “It’s very, very stressful waiting for the results,” she says, which were spread out over the year, so “you spend a good part of your life doing that.” In addition, she is claustrophobic and being slid into the tight space of the MRI tube made her anxious—“but I’ve done it because that’s what the protocol has been,” she says. She also isn’t thrilled with the radiation exposure she gets every year from the mammogram, even though doctors say it’s at a low enough level to be generally safe.

So, when her genetic test in April didn’t reveal any significant mutations related to breast cancer, it was a huge relief on several levels. She could scale back her mammogram screening to once every two years, and she could rest more assured. “I thought, ‘oh my god I can exhale.’ I was just so relieved to know that I don’t carry [risk] genes,” she says. “Knowing that, I thought ‘thank God now my children and my two granddaughters possibly won’t have [them].”

Convincing her doctor to let her shift to getting a mammogram once every two years, however, is a little more complicated. Bauer is concerned that her relief might not be shared by her doctor, who for years has been advising her based on the assumption that she is at higher risk of developing the disease. Esserman has offered to speak to her physician and address any questions—something that she’s accustomed to doing as she encounters doctors who aren’t quite on board with the idea of tailoring existing screening guidelines to each woman’s individual risk. “I call their physicians and explain what we’re doing and why,” she says. “I’ve had many of those conversations, and most of the time, they are on board. We now have this tool that really goes through all the data—we have all of the prevention data, all of the risk data—and we have a model where we can explain it.”

As part of WISDOM, Esserman will also be looking at other genes, besides the 10 or so major ones that are now known to increase the risk of breast cancer. While these other genes and mutations might not change a woman’s risk of the disease on their own, certain groups of them, if they occur together, might. And those sets of mutations are what Esserman is hoping to isolate by comparing women’s genetic tests with whether they develop breast cancer or not.

For both Bauer and Mann, joining WISDOM has helped them to feel more confident that what they’re doing to protect themselves from breast cancer is the right thing for them, based on their specific risk for the disease, culling from their genetic makeup, their family history, their diets and exercise habits and more. “I think it’s insane that women have a false sense of security walking around and doing what they think they should be doing, getting a mammogram every year, and lo and behold, there could be cancer sitting in their breasts,” says Mann. “It feels almost negligent to be walking around not getting this information when it isn’t that complicated. We have the tools in place, but people are making decisions in a vacuum because they just don’t know.”

“I hope that we can change the way we do testing for all women,” says Bauer. “I really do believe it’s time, and we need to change.”

Source : Time More   

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