Healthy lunch boxes for happy kids

A healthy school lunch is the best thing you can send your kids off to school with in the mad morning dash to get out the door. Often hectic routines can get in the way of sending the kids off with a healthy lunch box of food to keep them going throughout the day.

Eating healthy foods helps children concentrate and learn and will set them up for the future with healthier eating patterns.  Encouraging children to select their own lunch box items will mean they will be more likely to eat it. Setting a good example for your children is also important so try to set a good example with your own lunches and encourage your child to sit and eat before heading out to play.

There are so many processed foods such as muesli bars, cookies, crisps and crackers on the market which appeal to parents for their convenience and kids because of their high sugar and fat content. We’re not saying all these products are bad just to be wary of which products you buy we encourage you to take a look at the nutritional content and not to fill up your child’s lunch box of all of these sorts of items.

Some health food suggestions include:

  • Fruit: fresh or tinned and occasionally dried fruit as it is very high in sugar, low in fibre and stick to children’s teeth causing tooth decay.
  • Vegetables: try vegetables with a dip or a small container of mixed vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, capsicum and cucumber.
  • Dairy: a small drink of milk (freeze overnight and wrapped in a cloth in the lunch box), cooled fruit yoghurts, homemade versions of cheese and crackers (avoid sweet dips such as chocolate spread and oven-baked savoury biscuits are just as high in salt and fat as chips are so are best avoided).
  • Breads: attempt to include a variety of bread, particularly if children begin to lose interest in sandwiches. Try bread rolls, pita bread, flat bread, bagels, fruit loaf or buns, corn thins, scones, pikelets, muffins, crumpets, crisp breads to keep it varied.
  • Fillings: keep the sandwich fillings varied also with vegemite, peanut butter, different types of cheese, tuna, egg, sliced cold meats, grated carrot and lettuce, avocado, hommus, the list goes on.
  • Muffins and cakes: try making your own at home to include more fruit and vegetables and to eliminate additives. Sultana, carrot, zucchini, banana or pumpkin can be used in various baking.
  • Muesli and ‘breakfast’ bars: these are almost always too high in sugar and stuck together with fats and sugar. Try to avoid or keep to a minimum.
  • Water and milk: are the best drinks for children and can be frozen to help keep foods in the lunch box cool. Sweet drinks such as fruit juices, juice drinks, cordials, sports drinks, flavoured mineral waters, soft drinks are high in sugar and not necessary as they can increase the risk of tooth decay and are filling so may take the place of healthier foods.

Since time is usually of the essence you can prepare lunch boxes in advance the night before or some items can be prepared for the week and frozen such as bread, cooked meat, cheese, peanut butter, baked beans, mashed egg, yeast or vegetable spreads such as vegemite.

For more tips or information about your child’s lunch box or eating habits you can contact your school nurse, community health nurse, Dieticians’ Association of Australia or us here at Docmate and we will point you in the right direction.

References

Better Health Channel (2012).  Lunch Box Tips. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Lunchbox_tips#

Burrell, Susie (2007). How to pack a healthy kids lunch box. Retrieved 14 October 2012 from  http://www.taste.com.au/news+features/articles/1156/how+to+pack+a+healthy+kids+lunch+box

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Hygienist trips makes for happy teeth

Dental hygiene is an important element for everyone. Poor dental habits can lead to teeth decay, gum disease, infection, and not only the loss of teeth, but poor digestion and stomach problems. Not to mention the fact that of the pain both physical and to your pocket.

Daily flossing, mouth wash, and brushing (preferably with an electric tooth-brush) are an important habit to get into in order to maintain dental health. However it is also strongly advisable to annually visit the dentist or a dental hygienist to help get rid of any missed plaque and debris that can cause tooth decay and cavities as well as provide a general check up.

Caring for your teeth like this will reduce the risk of cavities, keep your gums healthy, your breath smelling fresh, your teeth whiter, can reduce the risk of heart attack. The heart attack reduction is a benefit less known about. The American Heart Association tracked more than 100,000 people for an average of 7 years in Taiwan. They found that those who had their teeth professionally cleaned at least once every two years were 24% less likely to have a heart attack and 13% less likely to have a stroke.

Measures you can take yourself in between dental appointments are to regularly floss, brush, gargle and also to limit you consumption of certain foods and drinks. For example caffeine is a major deteriorate of tooth enamel and sugars such as chocolate and candy can lead to the development of cavities. That is not to say you need to completely wipe caffeine and sugar out of your diet to have healthy teeth but you need to be aware of the risks and counteract them by limiting your consumption and brushing post consumption.

It pays to look after your teeth as many of us know poor dental health is a serious business. It can lead to more grave problems than just the loss of teeth and pain. Not being able to chew food properly will affect your digestion and limit what foods are available for you to eat. In turn this can lead to weak immune systems, weight loss, malnutrition, lethargy and much more.

DocMate highly recommends you visit the dentist at least once a year and you can book your appointment with a dentist in your area right here!

 

References:

Samadi, D (2012). Dental hygiene important for whole body not just your smile. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/03/28/dental-hygiene-important-for-whole-body-not-just-your-smile/

True, L (2012). Importance of Dental Hygiene. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://ezinearticles.com/?Importance-of-Dental-Hygiene&id=6679757

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Easing the mind, body and soul with meditation

We have talked about lack of sleep and stress in other blogs and how they can be so detrimental to your health. One solution to combating both of those problems is through meditation.

Meditation by definition involves deliberately holding a person’s attention on a subject, object or process. It can also involve clearing the mind and leaves people feeling more “alive”, enhanced feelings of calm and heightened awareness. Meditation offers many health benefits, such as reducing stress, and supporting healing and recovery from accidents.

Meditation of one style or another can be found in most of the major religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam as a means of realising spiritual enlightenment. Meditation is practiced for both health and religious reasons although it has become increasingly trendy these days to meditate as a self help tool for promoting good health, managing stress and for spiritual expansion and fulfilment without a religious basis.

You may be thinking this sounds very wishy washy. However it has been scientifically proven that many forms of meditation result in clearing your mind which promotes a sense of calm and heightened awareness which can be a powerful healing tool for many disorders such as anxiety, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, migraines, stress, insomnia, recovery from accident or illness.

The immediate benefits of meditation can include improved physical, emotional and mental health, focused and clear thinking, improved memory, enhancing a sense of self, more equanimity in the face of challenges and an overall satisfaction in life.

It is advisable to seek help from a meditation, yoga, kum nye, qi gong, thai chi teacher or your doctor if you would like some guidance on how to find a form of meditation that best suits you. It isn’t for everyone but it has fantastic health benefits especially when teamed with a healthy diet, regular exercise and healthy sleep patterns. So what’s the harm in trying it right?

References:

Better Health Channel Victoria (2012). Meditation. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Meditation#

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Digital Health Investments Continue to Grow

Over one billion USD has been invested in digital health in 2012 alone. While there are currently no Australian based reports on the growth of digital health investments on home soil. The Australian market closely follows the US market therefore the trends in the US market are applicable to us.

At Docmate we are passionate about innovation, particularly within the healthcare realm. So we are excited at this news and the potential these funds have at bringing about real change to healthcare products and services.

The investment in digital health is an increase of $626 million from 2011 with approximately 103 digital health companies raising $2 million in funds or more in 2012. 128 venture capital firms have invested in digital health companies this year and 10% of the investors are new to digital health. While consumer facing offerings are still significant 2012 saw the majority of investment dollars (approximately $448 million) go towards companies with B2B business models.

For more information you can take a look at the report for yourself at the following link:

http://www.slideshare.net/RockHealth

So what does this increase in investment mean for healthcare consumers? It means healthcare products and services will be increasingly more effective and up there with other industries in terms of leading edge technology. It means saving you time and money when managing your health.

Stay tuned at here at the Docmate blog to stay aboard of more advances in the world of digital health.

References:

Dolan, B (2012). More than $1 billion in 2012 digital health investments so far. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://mobihealthnews.com/18666/more-than-1-billion-in-2012-digital-health-investments-so-far/

Rock Health (2012). Digital Health Q3 2012 Funding Report. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.slideshare.net/RockHealth

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Sleep, sleep, glorious sleep

Sleep is a much valued commodity in most people’s lives. For the majority, myself included, we can’t get enough. But for some getting to sleep and staying asleep is a really big problem which has negative consequences in their lives. For others too much sleep can be detrimental. It seems a little complicated too little and you’re tiered, too much and you’re sluggish. But really like most things in life it is all about balance.

All though everyone’s individual sleep needs vary in general most healthy adults require at least eight hours of sleep a night. However, some people are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours and others can’t perform at their peak unless they’ve slept ten. So pretty much anywhere between 7 to 9 hours is average. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and to stay awake and alert throughout the day without relying on stimulants or other pick-me-ups.

In today’s lifestyle people are so concerned with exercise, healthy diets and stress management but sleep is equally important to these areas in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sleep aids the brain with learning and memory retention, metabolism and weight management, cardiovascular health, mood and quality of life, safety, immunity and cancer prevention.

Sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory. A Harvard University study showed that those who slept before a cognitive task did better. In others, subjects discovered more insightful or creative ways to problem-solve after a good night’s sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can cause weight gain by altering metabolic functions it also contributes to a greater tendency to fall asleep during the daytime which has the potential to cause accidents.

The symptom of sleep loss, whether long or short term, we’ve probably all experience is moodiness. Irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate and moodiness that can lead to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression are all linked to lack of sleep. Too little sleep can leave you so tiered you don’t want to do the things you enjoy and effects the ability to work effectively.

Serious sleep disorders such as insomnia have been linked to hypertension, increased stress hormone levels, cardiac arrhythmias and increase inflammation which are linked to heart attacks. Sleep deprivation also alters the body’s immune function. For example sleep loss around the time of a flu vaccine has shown to reduce the production of flu-flighting antibodies. Keeping up with sleep may also help fight cancer. Harvard researchers have shown that women who work at night are at increased risk of breast and colon cancer.

So getting a good night’s sleep is clearly very important. However for some getting a decent night’s sleep is very difficult. Docmate strongly suggests consulting your GP if you are experience regular insomnia or difficulty with sleep. However some tips for a good night’s sleep include:

  • Regular exercise, but not within 3 hours of bedtime
  • Not using alcohol as a sleep aid
  • No caffeinated drinks after noon
  • Keeping your bedroom temperature cool
  • Establishing a sleep routine for going to bed and getting up
  • If your head is swimming with thoughts when you lay your head down keep a note pad by your bed to write them down and deal with them in the morning
  • A touch of relaxing oils such as lavender oil on your pillow case
  • Relaxing herbal tea before bed such as camomile or lavender tea

On the contrary too much sleep can also be a problem, although it is not as common a problem as lack of sleep. Depression plays a large role in sleeping too much as well as prescribed medications which may make you feel drowsy and feel the need to sleep all the time. Too much sleep can cause headaches, high blood pressure, higher death rate, obesity, poor dietary habits, heart disease and diabetes.

So it is a fine line between too little and too much but everything in moderation is the key here. If you are ever worried about your sleep patterns Docmate strongly advises to consult your GP for their advice. Happy sleeping everyone!

References:

All Sleep (2012). Oversleeping. Retrieved 13 October 2012 http://www.allsleep.com/sleep-disorders/oversleeping-too-much-sleep/

American Psychological Association (2012). Why sleep is important and what happens when you don’t get enough. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx?item=3

Harvard Medical School (2012). Six reasons why you need your sleep. Retrieved 13 October 2012 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HEALTHbeat_011806.htm#art1

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