Healthy Holidays

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    As people shop for their perfect Halloween costume and are tempted to complete their look with costume contact lenses bought without a prescription, ophthalmologists – medical doctors specializing in the diagnosis, medical and surgical treatment of eye diseases and conditions – are warning consumers that doing so can lead to permanent vision loss. 

    Although the practice has been illegal since 2005, today non-prescription cosmetic contact lenses are still sold in shops and via online retailers to customers who are unaware that wearing these devices can result in serious eye injuries. The American Academy of Ophthalmology warns that the lenses, which may not be manufactured to meet federal health and safety standards, can cause injuries such as cuts and open sores in the protective layer of the iris and pupil (corneal abrasions and ulcers) and potentially blinding painful bacterial infections (keratitis). These injuries can require serious eye surgeries such as corneal transplants, and in some cases lead to permanent vision loss. One study found that wearing cosmetic contact lenses increased the risk of keratitis by more than 16 times.

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    AUCLA Health answered

    Make sure trick-or-treaters will be safe when visiting your home. Remove lawn decorations, sprinklers, toys, bicycles, wet leaves or anything that might obstruct your walkway. Provide a well-lit outside entrance to your home. Keep family pets away from trick-or-treaters, even if they seem harmless to you.

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    AUCLA Health answered

    The pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA offer parents the following simple safety tips for selecting candy during Halloween:

    When your children get home, check all treats to make sure they’re safely sealed and there are no signs of tampering, such as small pinholes, loose or torn packages, and packages that appear to have been taped or glued back together. Throw out loose candy, spoiled items and any homemade treats that haven’t been made by someone you know. Do not allow young children to have hard candy or gum that could cause choking. It is wise to keep track of how much candy your children collect and store it somewhere other than their bedrooms so you can set limits on how much they can eat.

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    AUCLA Health answered

    When trick-or-treating on their own, have children:

    • Carry a cell phone, if possible
    • Go in a group and stay together
    • Only go to houses with porch lights on and walk on sidewalks on lit streets
    • Know to never go into strangers’ homes or cars
    • Cross the street at crosswalks and never assume that vehicles will stop
    • Carry flashlights with new batteries
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    AUCLA Health answered

    The pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA offer parents the following simple safety tips for trick-or-treating during Halloween:

    Parents should accompany young children (under age 10), and make sure they know their home phone number, cell phone numbers of their parents or how to call 911 in case they get lost.

    For older children who are trick-or-treating on their own, make sure you approve the route they’ll be taking and know when they’ll be coming home. It may be best to limit trick-or-treating to your neighborhood and the homes of people you and your children know.

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    AUCLA Health answered

    The pediatricians at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA offer parents the following simple safety tips for choosing Halloween costumes:

    Consider choosing a light-colored costume or add glow-in-the-dark tape to the front and back of the outfit so your kids can be easily seen by others and by cars. Don’t buy a costume unless it’s labeled “flame-retardant.” Make sure wigs and beards don’t cover your child’s eyes, nose or mouth, since this may make it difficult to see and breathe. Avoid oversized and high-heeled shoes that could cause children to trip, and avoid long or baggy skirts, pants or shirtsleeves that could catch onto something and result in a fall.

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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered

    Eggnog Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

    The secret ingredient to this holiday treat is chickpeas, which fills these cookies with fiber. Add some holiday cheer by sprinkling on some cinnamon – you’ll pump up your metabolism along with the festivity. Makes 2 dozen cookies

    Ingredients
    3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    7.5 oz (half of a 15-oz can) chickpeas
    1/4 cup soy eggnog (or light eggnog)
    2 tbsp agave nectar
    1 egg
    3 tbsp butter, melted
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1 cup chopped walnuts
    3/4 cup dark chocolate morsels


    Directions
    Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine chickpeas and eggnog in a food processor; blend until smooth. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl along with the chickpea-eggnog puree and mix well.
    Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Roll batter into 1-inch balls and flatten on baking sheet about 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until cookies start to lightly brown. Remove from oven and cool before serving.

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    APeter Bongiorno, ND, Naturopathic Medicine, answered
    The actual foods we eat during Thanksgiving have some wonderful health benefits. One favorite of ours is the cranberry. Cranberries are a vaccinium species berry (related to blueberry and lingonberry) that have shown wonderful benefits for protecting the inner lining of our blood vessels for people with heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. They are also a great way to keep bacteria from sticking to the linings of the kidneys and bladder for those prone to urinary tract infections.

    Pumpkin and sweet potatoes have fantastic beta-carotenes that give them their orange color. These carotenes have powerful antioxidants that stop fatty acids from oxidizing in our vessels. Fat oxidation contributes to heart disease and inflammation. Corn has natural vitamin E. Turkey has some tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, and anything dark green has plenty of minerals, vitamins and fiber.
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    APeter Bongiorno, ND, Naturopathic Medicine, answered
    The health benefits of Thanksgiving are plentiful. Gratitude, good community, good digestion and whole foods all have salutatory benefits for you.

    Where can this happy holiday go wrong? Well, some astute researchers from the University of Oklahoma studied the before and after weights of 94 college and graduate students and found out the average weight gain was about one pound per person, with already overweight people tending to gain more weight. Although one pound does not sound like a whole lot, the researchers suggested that this weight gain is typically kept on through the holidays and into the New Year. The authors of the study suggested that if this weight is retained it can contribute to health issues.

    Other studies have shown that the weight we gain during the holidays is 500% more than what we gain during all the other weeks. Since Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season, it is not likely people who put the weight on will have much of a chance to lose it by eating lightly for the next month or two. And given the increased likelihood of heart attacks during the holiday season, adding this weight at this time may have increased significance as a risk factor.

    So, overall, Thanksgiving is an amazingly healthy opportunity: giving thanks, getting hugs, letting our digestive system do its duty and eating good food all have wonderful benefits. Just go easy, and maybe get a little extra exercise to kick up metabolism to make sure those calories don't hang around.
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    AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Wouldn't it be nice if your Thanksgiving dinner didn't send your resolve spiraling down -- and your weight soaring up -- for the rest of the holidays? Do this:
    • Start with nuts. Instead of noshing your way through the sour-cream dip before dinner, pick the walnuts out of the nut bowl. Eating 12 halves 30 minutes before a meal will convince your brain you're not all that hungry.
    • Eat some of everything. Yes, including the pumpkin pie, and -- if you're really into it -- your sister-in-law's Jell-O salad. Just don't eat a lot of it. Take less and savor it more. The fifth (or fifteenth) forkful never has the “wow” of the first few bites anyway.
    • Eat lots of turkey. Turkey breast is super lean -- just 44 calories, 1 gram of fat and no saturated fat per skinless ounce.
    • Make the superberries super. Cranberries contain powerful anti-agers. Skip the canned sauces, which are jammed with added sugar and 170 calories per inch-thick slice. Make your own.
    • Practice the flip. A smart friend calls this trick “flipping” your meal: Make the side dishes (the salad, the asparagus, the baked pearl onions) the stars, along with your white-meat turkey. Make the double-stuffed potatoes a small side dish.

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