Make the most of the time with your doctor
Feel rushed at your medical appointments? So does your doctor. Still, doctors should try to focus on the health issues that concern you most, but we need your help. Here are five important questions that doctors may not address unless patients bring them up. Asking these questions could have a big impact on your health this year.
Do I need any vaccines?
Shots are often the main event at a visit to the pediatrician, but doctors for adults sometimes forget even to mention them. An annual flu shot, a tetanus/whooping cough vaccine every 10 years, and, for certain people, vaccines for shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis, meningitis, and other conditions should be considered.
Why can’t I sleep?
Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep are common. Poor or inadequate sleep can contribute to chronic fatigue, obesity, and even heart disease. People shouldn’t just assume that they are “bad sleepers.” Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and other disorders are treatable.
Is there a cheaper version of this medicine?
If you leave prescriptions unfilled, or you try to stretch out your supply by splitting or skipping doses, ask if a less expensive option is available. Doctors don’t keep good track of medication costs and know even less about which insurance company covers what drug.
Does that disease run in families?
You’ll likely be asked about your family’s medical history at your first visit, but may not be asked for updates later on. Colon, breast, and ovarian cancers as well as diabetes, depression, thyroid disease, certain forms of anemia and arthritis, heart disease, and stroke are only a few of the diseases that cluster in families. If a relative, especially your parent, sibling, or child, develops a new illness, let your doctor know.
Can I ask you about this thing that’s kind of embarrassing?
Whether its a sexual problem, a phobia, or a discharge, tic, or mole that you’re just not sure is normal, you should feel free to ask your doctor about it. If not, find a new doctor.—DR. SUZANNE KOVEN
Ditch the fad diets and make these longterm changes instead
If you want to lose weight, increase your longevity, lower you blood pressure, and fight heart disease and diabetes in the New Year, here are five tips on what and how to eat every time you sit down to a meal.
Load Up on Veggies and Fruit
One of the best strategies for losing weight is to make sure that half your plate is loaded with low calorie, high-volume veggies and fruit to crowd out more calorically dense foods such as fatty meats and fried foods. If you do this daily, you could be a smaller size by spring.
Go for the Whole Grains
Research suggests that a healthy diet that contains high fiber, nutrient- and phytochemical-rich whole grains can help fight against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Choose whole grain cereal and oats in the morning, whole wheat bread at lunch, and quick-cook brown rice, whole-grain couscous, or whole-grain pasta at dinner. But you still need to make sure that only about ¼ of your plate is devoted to grains in order to control calories.
Eat Fish for Longevity
Want to live longer? Studies show that consuming 8 ounces of fish weekly, especially omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish such as salmon and sardines, can reduce the risk of heart disease, the number one killer of Americans, slow the accumulation of artery-clogging plague, and even slightly lower high blood pressure. Consider having at least two 4-ounce fish meals weekly.
Drink Your Milk
Nonfat and low fat milk and yogurt are not only excellent sources of bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin D but also potassium, which can help prevent high blood pressure. To meet the recommended three servings of dairy daily, add low fat milk to your morning java, add a slice of reduced-fat cheese to your lunchtime sandwich, and reach for a vitamin D fortified nonfat yogurt for a daily snack.
Eat Off a Smaller Plate at Dinner
The size of the standard dinner plate has increased 22 percent in diameter, from about 10 inches in 1900 to almost 12 inches in 2010. Let’s face it: the bigger the plate, the more you will eat. Join the Smaller Plate Movement and commit to eating off 9- to 10-inch diameter plate at your largest meal of the day. Do this for a month and you will be shocked as to how effective this small change can make in shrinking your waist. — JOAN SALGE BLAKE, NUTRITIONIST