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Six seeds to boost vitamins and fiber

This week is National Public Health Week.

Since 1995, the American Public Health Association has encouraged communities across the country to observe National Public Health Week (NPHW) each April.

The big push this year is to highlight prevention and wellness.

One major theme of the campaign is to encourage healthy eating and regular exercise for families. Making small, everyday changes can go a long way toward decreasing the risk of preventable death from causes such as heart disease, cancer and stroke, says the APHA.

Adding seeds to the diet in moderation is one way to boost vitamins and fiber, says nutrition expert Michelle Gorman, RD, of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona.

Gorman, who has served as a nutrition supervisor for the Chandler School District, encourages families to give these six seeds a try in recipes and for snacking: Continue reading


Don’t make these five tragic car seat mistakes

Though parents may say they understand that car seats are intended to keep their children safe, despite best intentions four out of five car seats are used incorrectly, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

Arizona Department of Health Services data provides some alarming statistics:

Nearly 30 of the 45 child passengers in car crashes in 2009 were not properly restrained in a safety seat.

In one-third of those cases, a proper vehicle restraint could have prevented the death of a young child. Correct use of a child restraint can reduce the risk of fatal injury by as much as 71 percent, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Association figures.

Sadly, car seat “mistakes” can result in tragedy. Are you using your car seat safely? How would you know?

Here are five of the most common errors parents and caregivers make when using safety seats:

  • Installing seats too loosely. Give your seat a moderate tug near the seatbelt path or anchoring device used to secure the seat. If you can move the seat more than an inch in any direction the seat is too loose.

Fix this by pushing your weight into the seat and tightening the seatbelt as much as possible, ensuring that your seatbelt locks into place. Older vehicles may not have locking seatbelts, so you may need to refer to your car seat and car owner’s manual.

  • Buckling the harness too loose, too high or too low. If you can pinch the webbing along the length of the harness strap after buckling your child in, the harness is too loose. Fix this by tightening the straps so your fingers slide off during the “pinch test.”

Also, if your child is in the rear-facing position, the top of the harness straps should be at or below your child’s shoulders. If he is in the forward-facing position, the harness straps should be at or above the shoulders.

  • Turning children face-forward too soon. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to keep children in the rear-facing position until the age of two, or until they reach the upper height and weight limits of their car seat.

Under old guidelines, many parents eagerly turned their children around at 1-year-old. However, the rear-facing position is safest because it provides the most support for a baby’s head, neck and developing spinal cord in a crash.

  • Not using a booster. Arizona is only one of three states without a booster seat law, allowing children to transition to an adult seatbelt at the age of five. However, this law is misleading because seatbelts are not designed to fit children until they reach about 4’9”.

 After outgrowing their safety seat, children should use a booster seat to help position the seatbelt correctly. The shoulder belt should rest on the shoulder and chest—not the neck and face—and the lap belt should rest across the hips or upper thigh—not the stomach.

  • Using a seat that is expired or recalled. Look on the sides or bottom of the car seat for a sticker or embossing with an expiration date. If there is only a manufacture date, generally the seat expires after six years unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer.

Additionally, when purchasing a new seat, be sure to mail in the registration card to the manufacturer so you are notified of recalls or defects, or register your seat online.

You can also look up the latest recalls with NHTSA Recall Campaign List. 

AAA members can also benefit from the club’s free car seat inspections and installation training. To schedule an appointment with one of the club’s certified car seat technicians, contact AAA’s Traffic Safety Educator at 602-241-2945 or

RAK Video: Cardon Children’s Medical Center car seat safety expert Tracey Fejt, R.N., talks about securing safety seats properly.

Get the facts on liver disease

It’s the second largest organ in your body. It’s located right under your rib cage on your right side. It’s shaped like a football that’s flat on one side. And it weighs about three pounds.

The liver processes what we eat and drink, and then filters out the harmful substances we don’t need. But when it doesn’t work properly, the result is often very serious, life-threatening illness.

More than 2,500 children are diagnosed with liver diseases each year.

Approximately 4 million Americans are afflicted with hepatitis C, and within the next 20 years, the hepatitis C epidemic is expected to cause more deaths annually than AIDS. And, an estimated 70% are unaware that they carry the virus.

For families who are facing liver disease, education on new developments is key.

 The American Liver Foundation – Desert Southwest Division presents its bi-annual FREE Liver Educational Conference on Thursday, August 25, 2011.

This is an educational conference to assist patients, their families and other parties in learning more about liver disease, the latest advances in the treatment of liver disease, and practical information on how to cope with the disease and its symptoms.

An opportunity for Q &A with participants will be provided.

The program runs from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Mayo Clinic Hospital, 5777 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ  85054, main classroom 1-212.

The event is scheduled to last approximately 2 ½ hours. There is no fee for this event, but pre-registration is encouraged to reserve a seat.

Register by phone or e-mail at 602-953-1800 or

Calories in < calories out = 100 pounds lighter

How does the mom of twin baby girls and and a young son lose weight? There’s so much kid food around the house, little time to cook, no time for the gym, too much stress, too much wine, ya da ya da ya da…

Jen Bowman did it. She made up her mind…and she lost 100 pounds.

To the right is her before picture.

Jen didn’t join a weight loss program or pay buckets of money for prepared meal delivery, she didn’t hire a personal chef, she didn’t starve herself.

She ultimately lost weight  by exercising (first walking, then running, add weight training) looking up low fat recipes on line, and shopping to the grocery list. Every week.

She was lucky in many ways- her husband supported her, and her kids were open to trying veggies and fruits. She didn’t cook separate meals for herself – or anyone in the family. She was the shopper and the cook and the decision-maker- so there was no question that the entire family was in.

Jen says a light went on for her when her daughters were born. She wanted them to grow up in a healthy household, free from any emotional eating issues that had dogged her as a teen and beyond.

We met Jen on the Raising Arizona Kids magazine Facebook page. She responded to our call for stories from parents who decided to lose weight by steering the  entire family’s eating patterns in a healthier direction. You’ll meet her in the July issue of Raising Arizona Kids magazine, out this week.

Jen Bowman

Jen  wrote: “I knew that with rising childhood obesity rates and the self-esteem issues that girls sometimes have with poor body image, I needed to get my health under control before they were at the age where those problems could crop up for them.  I knew the only way I could teach them to value their health was to show them how to do it first hand.”

Jen blogs about what has worked for her recipe-wise at  Notes from the Table.

More tips from Jen:

  • Cut out fast and processed foods
  • Commit to a regular exercise program for yourself
  • Include the family in regular physical activity, like family bike rides or walks
  • Find an app that tracks caloric intake and exercise-and use it
  • Realize that it may take a few weeks to loose the craving for fatty, salty tastes- but it will diminish
  • Do not deprive yourself- make dessert a small square of dark chocolate.
  • Eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains to stay satisfied and avoid hunger pangs.
  • Shop to your list and do not bring any junk food in to the house.

Some of these tips may seem extreme…but like I said, it wasn’t a subtle change for the Bowmans. It was an overhaul! But it worked.





Don’t fear the fever

Fever in a child can be nerve-racking for parents.

When one of my own children felt warm and the thermometer measured over, say, 101, my thoughts would always turn to the story about the monkeys.

I was about 5, long before there were MMR vaccines. I got the measles.

In the days when kids got the measles.

I remember feeling so sick. My throat was sore. I was red and rashy and so tired I couldn’t play. My fever hit 105 degrees.

In my delirium, I imagined that monkeys were dancing on the walls and told my mother so. The doctor actually made a house call, not unheard of in those days, but uncommon.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), fever is one of the most common reasons parents seek a pediatrician’s care.

Surely, it was a night of worry for my parents in the days before Tylenol, with a dangerous (and now, thank goodness, preventable) disease that left some children disabled or worse.

But unless they climb to very high levels, says the AAP, fevers are not dangerous in and of themselves.

Many infants and children develop high fevers with minor viral illnesses. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), brain damage from a fever generally will not occur unless the fever is over 107.6 °F (42 °C). Untreated fevers caused by infection will seldom go over 105 °F unless the child is overdressed or trapped in a hot place.

Fever is a physiological mechanism that has beneficial effects in fighting infection. Most bacteria and viruses that cause infections in people flourish at the normal body temperature of 98.6 °F. A fever signals that a battle might be going on in the body. But the fever is battling for the sick child, not against.

In the interest of helping pediatricians educate parents and families about fever and “fever phobia,” the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a clinical report, “Fever and Antipyretic Use in Children,” published in the March 2011 print issue of Pediatrics (available online Feb. 28).

The primary goal of giving a child antipyretics (medications to reduce a fever), such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, should be to help a sick child feel more comfortable, not simply to maintain a “normal” temperature.

The AAP recommends the following to parents when a child develops a fever:

  • Focus on the general well-being of the child and his/her activity. Watch for signs of serious illness and maintain appropriate fluid intake.
  • Do not wake up a sleeping child to administer a fever-reducer.
  • Store fever reducers and all medications safely to avoid accidental ingestion.
  • The correct dosage for fever reducers should be based on the child’s weight. Always use an accurate measuring device to insure proper dosage.
  • While there is some evidence that combination therapy (alternating doses of ibuprofen and acetaminophen) may be more effective at lowering body temperature, questions remain about whether it is safe and whether it helps children feel more comfortable. Combination therapy also increases the risk of inaccurate dosing, so check with your pediatrician to see if this method is right for your child.

How do I love thee? 14 ways to show a child of any age

It’s a day for candy, chocolates, and pink heart-shaped cookies, all sweet ways to show you care on Valentine’s Day. The American Academy of Pediatrics shares the following tips for parents on how to show love for children – babies to teens and beyond — every single precious day.

1.     Use positive words. Avoid using sarcasm. Children often don’t understand it, and if they do, it creates a negative interaction.

2.     Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs. Banish put-downs from your parenting vocabulary. Listen to your child when he/she wants to talk with you even if it’s an inconvenient time.

3.     Set a good example at home and in public. Use words like “I’m sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”

4.     When your child is angry, argumentative or in a bad mood, give him a hug, cuddle, pat, secret sign or other gesture of affection he favors and then talk with him about it when he’s feeling better.

5.     Practice non-violent discipline. Parents should institute both rewards and restrictions many years before adolescence to help prevent trouble during the teenage years.

6.     Be consistent. Allowing children of any age to constantly break important rules without being disciplined only encourages more rule violations.

7.     Spend time alone with your young child or teen doing something she enjoys. Send a Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen.

8.     Mark family game nights on your calendar so the entire family can be together. Put a different family member’s name under each date, and have that person choose which game will be played that evening.

9.     Consider adopting a pet. Especially for those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, animals can nurture physical activity, enhance positive attitudes, and offer constant companionship. A dog or cat can become a treasured confidant, giving a child a safe place to talk about feelings.

10.  Invite your child to cook or bake with you. Involve him/her in the entire process, from planning menus to shopping for ingredients to food preparation and serving. Eat together as a family as much as possible. Good food begets good conversation.

11.  Provide the resources your child needs. It is never too early to begin reading to your child. Avoid TV in the first two years, monitor and watch TV with your older children and use TV time as conversation time with your children. Limit computer and video games.

12.  Take your child to the doctor regularly for preventive health care visits. Keep him safe from accidents, provide a nutritious diet, and encourage exercise. Teach your child to respect and care for his/her body.

13.  Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community. Your child needs your steady support and encouragement to discover his strengths. He needs you to believe in him as he learns to believe in himself. Loving him, spending time with him, listening to him and praising his accomplishments are all part of this process.

14.  Say “I love you” to children of all ages. It’s never too late.