Archive for the ‘Women's Health’ Category

I don’t even know why, but I have been hearing more and more about gluten-free diets. I had thought it was only for people with celiac disease, but it seems that a non-gluten diet is actually catching on with health-conscious people. Oddly enough, people with  celiac disease —the people who genuinely need gluten-free food—seem to have little to do with the current boom in gluten-free products. The question is why?

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks itself when triggered by gluten, a portion of the protein present in grains. This attack by the immune system on the intestines causes damage which leads to malabsorption of nutrients, many gastrointestinal problems, and possibly many other symptoms that may be associated with other diseases.

The Low-Down on Gluten-Free
According to Children’s Hospital Boston Pediatric, “A recent survey reports that 15 to 25 percent of consumers are looking for gluten-free choices when they shop for food. The same survey reveals that only 1 percent of those shoppers actually have celiac disease—a permanent sensitivity to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and some contaminated oats.”

Anecdotally, stories are being shared online of children and adults who have credited a gluten-free diet for improvements in everything from infertility and ADHD to helping clear up severe acne or depression.

Alan Leichtner, MD, senior associate in medicine in Children’s Hospital Boston’s Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, is quick to refute these tenuous connections, worrying that the public’s fascination with “going gluten-free” could lead to inappropriate self-diagnosis. “There are no studies showing that the gluten-free diet has an impact on anything other than celiac disease,” he says.

Another misconception is that gluten-free is synonymous with healthy, because many people automatically associate the word “free” with something unhealthy being removed from their diet. For example, many prepackaged foods may be gluten-free, but it doesn’t mean they’re nutritionally complete. Some gluten-free alternatives can be just as high in fat and sugar—or just as lacking in fiber—as their gluten-containing counterparts.

My thoughts? Don’t just be “gluten-free” as a fad – most kids with celiac disease don’t go on a gluten-free diet unless it is medically required. Make sure you are looking at nutrition as a whole for your kids. You should understand your child’s needs and sensitivities. Some children may be only mildly intolerant to gluten or dairy, allowing you to keep it in the house with minimal precautions or to use products produced in the same facility as wheat or dairy items. More sensitive children, and particularly those with celiac disease, may require that you avoid even the smallest traces of gluten, according to Celiac.com. All in all? You should consult your child’s pediatrician for information and support before making a major dietary change. Your child may have specific nutritional needs that require additional care.

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I am now quite a few weeks into my pregnancy! I promise I won’t drag you through the minute details of pregnancy. Just a few fun things to share with you…Right now I know this body is definitely hard at work. How do I know? Because I am exhausted!!!  All I want (more than anything in the world) is a Venti Caramel Frappaccino and my nice comfy bed.  

It’s definitely amazing to think that my now lime of a baby has only 28 more weeks ahead to go (or at least I am crossing my fingers for nothing more than that time span). I haven’t outright started planning  for the arrival of our little one, merely gathered thoughts in my head; even though we have known for two months now, I am still trying to process this new life. What are the steps I need to take at home? How much and how hard of exercise should I be doing? What and how much should I be eating? I am a candy-holic, and after all – this isn’t going to be an easy road.  I think I will have to sneak a candy bar or two- hmmm maybe Chocolate Pattie in Rockford, IL will be a cohort in that evil scheme and send me some yummy chocolate?! 😉

I have started reading the “key” books and have downloaded great applications on my iTouch – What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Pregnancy 411 by the Bump. These two great apps are really getting me through these long weeks. I am also surfing http://www.letop-usa.com/ and dreaming of all the clothes that I will soon be dressing my child in! Ooooh temptation!

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We all know the importance of sunscreen for both kids and adults — But, did you know that a recent study found that many Americans aren’t properly putting sunscreen on — either on themselves or their children?
“It only takes one severe sunburn to potentially double your child’s chances of getting melanoma later in life,” according to Andrea Cambio, MD, FAAD, a board-certified pediatric dermatologist in Cape Coral, Fla. 

The sun can be intimidating, but don’t keep your kids away and/or out of it – just follow these safe and fun tips!   

This post has been moved to our website. To view the post post go to: http://blog.letop-usa.com/?p=11652

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Firstly, why “morning sickness”? Who termed it morning? Why not afternoon or evening because it can happen any time of day! Although there is no clear answer why nausea happens during pregnancy, it is believed the cause is hormonal changes.  My friend Chloe is recently prego and voila – nausea just around her 6th week as most doctors would say. Fortunately she reassured me for when I get pregnant that “it isn’t too bad” and by mid-pregnancy I would be fine.

According to AmericanPregnancy.org, “More than half of all pregnant women experience morning sickness. Many health care providers think morning sickness is a good sign because it means the placenta is developing well.” The good news is that morning sickness doesn’t harm you or your baby, but if you are experiencing excessive nausea or vomiting, then talk to your doc because it may be hyperemesis gravidarum, a rare complication that results in a poor intake of fluids and food (and your wee little one will be quite hungry!).

Here are some DO’s and DON”Ts to help ease your morning sickness:


  • Eat small meals as this will help keep your blood-sugar level steady and will keep your stomach filled
  • Drink fluids a ½ hour before after a meal, but not with the meals
  • Of course drink fluids also during the day to avoid dehydration
  • Eat soda crackers 15 minutes before getting up in the morn (Snacking on easy-to-digest foods, such as whole wheat toast, baked potatoes, pasta and fruit)
  • Ask someone to help cook for you or with you and open the windows if the smells are bothering you
  • Rest, rest, rest during the day!
  • Avoid warm/hot places
  • Natural remedies can help – Sniff lemons or ginger, drink lemonade, or eat watermelon to relieve nausea (it works!)
  • Eat salty potato chips (they have been found to settle stomachs enough to eat a meal)
  • Safely exercise – it helps you sleep at night and relieve stress
  • Get out of bed slowly
  • Avoid greasy foods


  • Do not lie down after eating
  • Do not skip meals
  • Do not cook or eat spicy food

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The jury has been called to order and whether or not caffeine can actually hurt your fetus – most health-care professional do recommend limiting intake. Sorry Starbucks. Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it pulls fluids and calcium from both you and baby and will keep you running to the bathroom. Ha! As if you aren’t peeing enough during pregnancy! Caffeine has no nutritional value and can affect your mood, sleep schedule and iron absorption. Remember, caffeine is also found in not just coffee, but most teas, soft drinks and chocolates. Play it safe by totally eliminating caffeine, but If you simply can’t kick the habit, at least cut back. Some studies show that excessive caffeine consumption (more than300 mg or two or three 8-ounce cups a day) can increase chances of miscarriage or premature birth. In the March 2008 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology that showed that moms-to-be who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine a day had double the risk of miscarriage compared with those who had no caffeine.

Going cold turkey can be pretty hard, so try lowering your caffeine intake little by little. If you’re a coffee drinker, work your way down to half-caf before becoming a full-fledged decaf drinker. Of course, if you decide to cut out caffeine altogether, you won’t get any arguments from your doctor or midwife.

So which foods and beverages contain caffeine?
Coffee is one. The amount of caffeine in a serving of coffee varies widely, depending on the type of bean, how it’s roasted, and how it’s brewed – and, obviously, on the size of the coffee cup. (Although espresso contains more caffeine per ounce, a full cup of brewed coffee will deliver more caffeine.)

To cut your caffeine intake, though, you’ll need to be aware of other sources like tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, and coffee ice cream. Caffeine also shows up in herbal products and over-the-counter drugs, including some headache, cold, and allergy remedies. Read labels carefully.

Caffeine chart: Amounts in common foods and beverages*

Source: http://www.thebabycenter.com

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Like clockwork, it’s “that” time of year again – allergy season.  Let’s see…chronic runny nose, hacking cough, itchy and watery eyes, and scratchy throat – check, check and CHECK.  I was endowed with the hand-me-down symptom from my parents – hay fever.  Seasonal allergies growing up were never fun, but fortunately I learned some useful tricks and tips to help ward off pollen, and keep my sneezing, itchy/watery eyes, and overall allergy misery to a minimum.

Many researchers don’t fully know why some people are highly allergic and others are symptom-free (a.k.a. scot-free!), or why some things set-off allergies while others don’t. I have learned over the years that common nasal type allergies can occur in spring and carry on through fall (when ragweed pollinates).

I am no doc, but for a kid growing up with seasonal allergies, experts (and I) offer these tips to breathe a sigh of relief: 

  1. Check the pollen count.  Let’s get real, pollen is everywhere and practically invisible; it comes from grasses, trees, weeds and flowers.  Usually your local TV and radio news stations will announce the amount of pollen in the air or just hop on the computer and go to www.pollen.com to find out pollen levels.
  2. Plan your outdoor time wisely.  It is unpractical to try and keep your child indoors, but try to have he or she avoid days outside when it is windy and a high pollen count.  In the springtime, pollen counts are usually the highest in the early morning.  If you walk your pet in the morning, please remember they are a pollen-carrier too and try to walk your pet later in the morning if possible.
  3. Change your babe into clean clothes.  If your kid does play outside, try to change his or her clothes when coming inside the house to avoid the pollen sticking to his or her clothes that can trigger allergy symptoms.  Also, if you are a fan of hang drying your child’s clothes, try to avoid it in the springtime and early fall and opt to use an electric dyer.
  4. Keep the windows closed.  It is best to try and keep the windows in both your home and car closed, especially on the days that the news forecasts medium to high pollen levels.
  5. Use the air conditioner.  Fans in my opinion blow and circulate pollen.  Using an air conditioner not only filters the air, but also cools down any temperature relieving hot/burning and itchy eyes. 
  6. Bath time!  Try to set your child’s bath time just before he or she goes to bed. This helps to wash pollen off that could make for a sneezy night! (A bath before bed especially helps with kiddies with long hair that might pick up pollen during the day).

The information on this blog site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding you or your child’s condition.

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…submitted by Guest Contributor: Dawn H.

A few weeks before I was preparing to leave town for my annual five-day women’s retreat, my eight-year old daughter told me, “Every mother should have a week-long retreat for each child they have.” Since I am parenting only one child, I deserve only one a year, she told me, but our friends who have four children, that Mom deserves four retreats! Now it was a fun conversation, and I liked her viewpoint, although sometimes, my daughter takes as much energy to parent as a large family! 😉

Tif and Kelly helping each other in one of our creative arts projects - mask-making!

Tif and Kelly helping each other in one of our creative arts projects - mask-making!

I began taking a retreat from my family when my daughter was five years old. I really struggled with the guilt as well as the worry that she would be sad and unhappy during my absence. She had/has a great, close relationship with her Dad, and I knew he’d do fine being the single parent. They went on a vacation together while I was at my retreat, and after she got over being very sad and crying herself to sleep the first night, my husband told me the rest of the week was great for them. It worked best for me not to call them, and I was able to just focus on being present in my new surroundings and activities. I came back from my retreat refreshed, invigorated and in a new frame of mind. It had been a wonderful combination of kundalini yoga, creative art projects, and personal growth work offered by Allyson Rice (The Total Human). I’ve now made it a personal commitment to do at least one of these retreats a year. I also have added in some solo traveling with girlfriends (also sans children) each year in order to balance my needs with the demands of being a mother. At times my daughter still gives me grief about leaving, but I just remind myself that I’m doing the best I can as a mother to set an example that it is okay to nurture myself in order to help nurture others. She may not realize it now, but someday she might be a mother and need similar retreats.

Tif with her mask

Tif with her mask

Now, I also realize that not everyone can afford the time or money to go away each year, but there are so many little things we can do as women (and mothers) to nurture ourselves. I do my best to carve out some time each week (a high expectation) or once a month (more realistic goal for me) to do something just for fun, just for myself…what ever works!

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I was reading a blog entry about Maya Rudolph gaining 70 pounds with her first pregnancy. And I’m thinking, “OMG! That’s a lot of weight.” But I don’t think it’s completely out of the ordinary. A lot of my mommy friends gained around 50 pounds, and some up to 100 pounds. And these women are small and petite.

When I was pregnant (both times), my doctor suggested that I gain no more than 25 pounds. The first time around, I said, “Sure, no problem.” But as the pregnancy progressed, my total weight gain was around 35-40 pounds. It wasn’t like I pigged out on everything, nor was I “eating for two.” But I definitely couldn’t control my weight gain. With my second pregnancy (since I had gestational diabetes), I was put on a low-carb, no sugar diet, and I followed this diet to a T for the health and well-being of my unborn child. Trust me. It was HARD not to give in to my cravings. Yet, I still gained about 30 pounds. My point is, whether I followed a nutritional diet or not, I still gained over the recommended 25 pounds.

Just out of curiosity, how much weight did you gain?

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O2Mask…submitted by guest contributor: Dawn H.

I was amazed at how demanding having a child was. I was also amazed at how I felt like I never got anything done! I had been married ten years prior to having my daughter. I was used to getting free time and completing my daily “to do” list most days. When my daughter was born, I joked to friends that she was my “new boss”.  Little did I know how demanding she would be, wanting to be held most of the time, along with nursing often and only happy if I held her. Shortly after I became a new mother, I had a health care practitioner recommend making it a priority to do something for myself at least once a week. I was surprised to hear this – especially since it came from a male. I guess I was overloaded with my body showing adrenal fatigue. I needed some rest and fun in my life. It was sort of like the announcement that the airlines warn you about “in case of loss of oxygen, please secure your mask first, then help others”.  How could I continue to care for my young child (especially when my husband traveled for overnight business often) if I wasn’t balanced myself? I realized I had not done much for myself in those first six months of being a mother.

I tried my best to figure out little ways that I could nurture myself. I started out slow like choosing an activity once a month that I enjoyed. I’d plan a creative outlet with a girlfriend and let my husband care for our daughter. At that time, my main passion was scrapbooking. I could enjoy and relax by getting photos into an album for others to enjoy. I realized after awhile that it was an activity that was still goal-oriented. I was supposed to be doing things for fun, right? If I was worried about finishing something, was that the most fun I could allow myself?Coloring
It’s taken me several years to get past this compulsion. I have managed to try a few new things with less pressure – things like playing in a monthly Bunco group, or doing some sort of art project. I rediscovered coloring books – yes, adults can color – it’s not just for kids! A friend shared with me woman’s coloring books with detailed designs that are just fun to color – a little or a lot at once. No deadlines, no pressure, just creative fun. I’m always looking for more ideas of simple, easy-to-do activities and ways to help nurture myself, so please share things that work for you!

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