5 Ways to Help Boost Your Happiness

Tuesday, June 9, 2015 13:40

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

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Here are five simple ways to help boost your happiness right now.

1. Master the moment with wonderment and enthusiasm.

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” — Socrates

With mindfulness, relish and enjoy the simple things with wonderment and enthusiasm. Whether it’s laughing with your family and friends, feeling sand on your feet, listening to the rain, running a 5k, walking in the park, cooking your favorite meal, throwing a Frisbee, playing with your puppy (or other favorite pet), reading a new book, hiking a new trail, organizing your photos, visiting a farmer’s market, taking a bath, dancing to your favorite music, singing your favorite song, playing a board game with your kids, appreciating the sunset, gazing at the stars, or sitting quietly by yourself to feel your breath (the list goes on and on), master and appreciate the moment with wonderment and enthusiasm. It’s the simple things in life that bring us pleasure.

2. Savor sleep

Sleep is vital for your health and well-being. If you’re getting the right amount of sleep that is something to smile about. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declares “Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic.” Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your health. According to the CDC (reference to Institute of Medicine), “An estimated 50-70 million U.S. adults have sleep or wakefulness disorders.” Sleep helps your brain work properly. If you’re not getting enough sleep you may have difficulty making decisions, trouble controlling your emotions and behavior, and problems coping with change and solving problems. “Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide and risk-taking behavior.” Sleep can also help repair your heart and blood vessels. According to the National Institutes of Health — National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Ongoing sleep deficiency is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.” How much sleep is required? For adults, between 7-8 hours is recommended. How many hours of sleep do you get each night?

3. Push positive thoughts

Positive thinking can be as important as getting enough sleep, eating right and moving more. According to the Mayo Clinic, “positive thinking just means that you approach the unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way. You think the best is going to happen, not the worst.” Cut out the negative self-talk and focus on positive thoughts. Positive thinking is great for your overall health and well-being. According the Mayo Clinic, health benefits of positive thinking may include:

• Increased life span

• Lower rates of depression

• Lower levels of distress

• Greater resistance to the common cold

• Better psychological and physical well-being

• Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease

• Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

4. Show kindness

Random acts of kindness can boost happiness. Think about how you feel when you are kind to others. Recharge now by initiating random acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. These random acts don’t need to be grand to make an impact on someone’s life. A small, simple act is all it takes. Even something as simple as holding the door for the person behind you, complimenting a colleague for a job well done, acknowledging someone when they enter a room, or helping to mentor a student can have an impact.

5. Be grateful

Expressing gratitude can boost your happiness and health, according to Harvard Health Publications, and it is associated with increased levels of optimism and energy. “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” It’s important to express gratitude. Let the people in your lives know how grateful you are for them and that you appreciate them. Simply say, “I am grateful to have you in my life and I appreciate you.” Keeping track of what you are grateful for in a gratitude journal can help you focus on the positive and become more optimistic. I like to call my gratitude journal a bliss journal because by writing down things that I am grateful for, it immediately brings a sense of pleasure, bliss. But whatever you call it, it’s something very easy to do, so why not give it a try?

Actionable Tip

Keep these tips with you as a simple reminder that it’s the simple things in life that can bring you joy.

______ Master the moment with wonderment and enthusiasm

______ Savor sleep

______ Push positive thoughts

______ Show kindness

______ Be grateful

Your turn

How do you boost your wellbeing? We would love to hear your thoughts in the conversation section below. As always, thank you for your time.


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Social Media: What Consumers Need to Know About Online Health Information

Friday, April 24, 2015 21:17

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

It’s an exciting time in health care today. The health care landscape is rapidly changing and digital technology has transformed the way we communicate, interact and search for health information.

Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, to name a few, are powerful and phenomenal platforms to educate the public, raise awareness of health issues and collaborate and engage in conversations. Social media platforms gives a voice to consumers.

Pew Research Center reports 87% of U.S. adults use the Internet and 72% of Internet users say they looked online for health information.

What do consumers need to know about health information?

For starters, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

It’s important to be an empowered consumer. Know the warning signs. For example, if a product promises a quick fix, or if it seems exaggerated or unrealistic, be cautious.

Gary Schwitzer, publisher at HealthNewsReview.org offers these seven words that shouldn’t be used in medical news.

  1. Cure
  2. Miracle
  3. Breakthrough
  4. Promising
  5. Dramatic
  6. Hope
  7. Victim

If you encounter these words, be cautious and question the information.

Takeaway

Be empowered. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research—gather information from different sources. Talk to your doctor or other health care provider before making any changes to your lifestyle or medical regimen. 

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World Health Day: How to Keep Food Safe

Tuesday, April 7, 2015 14:27

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA

WHO: #WorldHealthDay, April 7, 2015, Food Safety-the Global View

“Everyone, everywhere needs safe food, free from microbes, viruses and chemicals. But globalization means the food you are eating today may have come from the other side of the world…we all have a role to make food safe – from farm to plate.”-WHO

How to Keep Food Safe

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

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Refrigerator Strategies: Keeping Food Safe

In addition to keeping the temperature in your fridge at 40 °F, you can take additional steps to make sure your refrigerated foods stay as safe as possible.

  • Avoid “Overpacking.” Cold air must circulate around refrigerated foods to keep them properly chilled.
  • Wipe Up Spills Immediately. In addition to helping reduce the growth of the Listeria bacteria (which can grow at refrigerated temperatures), getting rid of spills — especially drips from thawing meats — will help prevent “cross-contamination,” where bacteria from one food spread to another.
  • Keep It Covered: Store refrigerated foods in covered containers or sealed storage bags, and check leftovers daily for spoilage.
  • Check Expiration Dates On Foods. If food is past its “use by” date, discard it. If you’re not sure or if the food looks questionable, the simple rule is: “When in doubt, throw it out.”
  • Clean The Fridge Out Frequently. Make this task part of your kitchen cleaning routine!

Quick Chill

Whether you’re dealing with leftovers or just-purchased foods, it’s important to get foods that need refrigeration into your fridge quickly. Leaving perishable foods out for two hours or more allows bacteria to multiply rapidly — and can put you at serious risk of contracting foodborne illness.

  • Groceries: When you get home from the grocery store, put your refrigerated items away as quickly as possible. Never allow raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or produce that requires refrigeration to sit at room temperature for more than two hours; the limit is one hour if the air temperature is above 90 °F. (If you’re not sure whether certain produce requires refrigeration, ask your grocer.) 
  • Also, keep in mind that your car is probably even hotter than typical room temperature, so it’s important not to leave groceries in your car longer than absolutely necessary — and never more than 2 hours (or 1 hour on a hot day).
  • Leftovers: These need to be refrigerated or frozen within two hours, as well. Despite what some people believe, putting hot food in the refrigerator doesn’t harm the appliance. To help hot food cool faster, divide leftovers into smaller containers before putting them in the refrigerator.
  • Doggie Bags and Take-out Foods: Again, the “two-hour rule” applies to carry-home foods. Leftovers from takeout or restaurant meals need to go into the refrigerator within two hours at most. If you can’t get home within two hours after eating out, don’t request a doggie bag.
  • Marinated Foods: Always keep food in the refrigerator while it’s marinating. Bacteria can multiply rapidly in foods left to marinate at room temperature. Also, remember this tip for marinating safely: never reuse marinating liquid as a sauce unless you bring it to a rapid boil first.

 

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Healthy Eating: Smart Recipes for a Healthier You-Barbecue Broccoli Sandwich

Thursday, March 26, 2015 13:36

Here is a simple, healthy and delicious recipe with broccoli taking center stage. Enjoy!

By John La Puma, MD

Barbecue Broccoli Sandwich

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 224 per serving

Percent from Fat: 21%

Cuisine: Vegetarian, Vegan

Course: Lunch

Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian

Food as Medicine(SM) Ingredient: Broccoli

Food as Medicine(SM) Tip

An active compound in broccoli called sulforaphane not only helps the detoxifying efforts of your liver and skin cells, but also helps protect and repair sun-damaged skin.

Culinary Taste Tip

The barbecue sauce adds a zesty, smoky sweetness that complements the broccoli surprisingly well.

Culinary Technique Tip

Using a stainless steel pan for cooking vegetables allows them to retain all of their vitamins; nonstick cookware and glass cookware can actually cause vitamins to leech out.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) extra-firm light silken tofu 
  • (Such as Mori-Nu brand)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • 4 whole wheat or whole grain English muffins, split, toasted

Preparation

Combine tofu, parsley, lemon juice, water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth; set aside. In a skillet, over medium-high heat, add oil and onion. Cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broccoli, remaining salt and pepper. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add barbecue sauce; continue cooking 2 minutes or until thickened. Spoon broccoli mixture evenly over bottom halves of muffins/ Top with tofu dressing and muffin tops.

Substitutions

Any sweet onion will work. Try Walla Wallas and Vidalias; both are specialty onions, and both are occasionally eaten out of hand! Seasoned rice wine vinegar can substitute for the lemon juice; it is a little milder and smoother than lemon juice, and good by itself as a dressing.

Nutritional Analysis

Total fat (g) 5.6; Sodium (mg) 902; Vitamin A (RE) 126; Fat Calories (g) 51; Calcium (mg) 116; Beta-carotene (RE) 754; Cholesterol (mg) 0; Magnesium (mg) 82; Vitamin C (mg) 70; Saturated fat (g) 0.9; Zinc (mg) 1.5; Vitamin E (mg) 1.1; Polyunsaturated fat (g) 1.4; Selenium (mcg) 24; Thiamin B1 (mg) 0.3; Monounsaturated fat (mg) 3.2; Potassium (mg) 500; Riboflavin B2 (mg) 0.2; Fiber (g) 10.1; Flavonoids (mg) 4.7; Niacin B3 (mg) 2.6; Carbohydrates (g) 37; Lycopene (oz) 0; Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.3; Sugar (g) 6.0; Fish (oz) 0; Folic Acid (mcg) 98; Protein (g) 9.0; Nuts (oz) 0; Vitamin B12 (mcg) 0;

More healthy eating on Healthin30.

Your turn

What’s your favorite smart healthy recipe?  Please share them with us in the comment section below. As always, thank you for your very valuable time.

About John La Puma, MD

John La Puma, MD

John La Puma, MD

John La Puma, MD is the leading physician voice for healthy eating as part of health, and a wellness, ethics and lifestyle expert. Both a board-certified practicing internist and professionally trained chef, he is a New York Times best-selling author, REFUEL and CHEF MD Big Book of Culinary Medicine, and co-author of Real Age Diet. He hosts PBS’ ChefMD® Shorts and PBS Specials on diet and fitness, and serves on the Board of the Food Bank of Santa Barbara. He is the first physician to teach a cooking and nutrition course in a U.S. medical school (SUNY-Syracuse), with Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. La Puma specializes in weight management in Santa Barbara’s Chef Clinic.

To learn more, please visit Dr. John La Puma, MD.

Twitter: @johnlapuma

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Thank you Dr. La Puma for sharing this great recipe!

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Media-TV Guest Appearance: Healthy Living | Prevention | Empowerment

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 10:27

I’m thrilled to be a guest on WMCN44 TV, Power Your Life with Dr. Jo Anne White.

Media Power Your Life WMCN Dr. Jo Anne White Guest Barbara Ficarra

 

Today, March 17, 2015, tune in at 1:30 p.m. EST to watch a very exciting show with guests Rose Rivera, Judy O’Beirn, and me, Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA. I’ll discuss ways to live a healthier life, focusing on prevention, and empowerment.

 

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WMCN TV is an independent broadcast television station reaching nearly 3 million homes in southeastern Pennsylvania, central and southern New Jersey, and Delaware. 

Power Your Life is hosted by Dr. Joanne White, author, speaker and professional coach.

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Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA, is an award-winning broadcast journalist, registered nurse, writer, international speaker, health educator, lifestyle expert and consultant.