Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions

goal habits

The arrival of the New Year reminds us that we have a clean slate to start all over again or to keep working on our goals from the previous year. So many people focus on great goals like losing weight, living healthier, and finding ways to be happier. Each New Year is a fresh page for us to decorate with new financial aspirations, a goal to kick some bad habits, or even resolutions to improve various aspects of our lives.

What Is a Resolution?

Oxford Dictionaries cites the definition of resolution as “A firm decision to do or not to do something.” Your New Year’s resolution could be a decision to stop doing a habit you've been doing for a while, or a decision to proactively make choices to live healthier. You might also choose to make your life “greener” and friendlier for the environment.

Resolutions are important because they allow us to stretch ourselves toward a target goal that helps to improve our lives in some way. If you begin to wonder what is goal planning, or how is it going to help me, you just need to have a little faith in yourself and your abilities. First, choose a SMART goal. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. These goals are especially effective in allowing you to reach real results.

Welcoming a New Year: Resolutions Galore

The start of the New Year is the perfect time to come up with a resolution all your own. WebMd lists twenty resolutions for better overall health, consider one or more of them to help you live a happier, healthier, and more productive life:

Health Resolutions
· Try to add more fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet.
· Stay on top of your doctor’s visits and health concerns.

Resolutions for Happiness

· Spend more time with family and friends.
· Reduce clutter in your home.

Financial Resolutions
· Make a plan to pay bills on time.
· Start a college fund for your children.
· Make a budget your family can follow.

For more ways you can improve your life in the New Year, check out USA.gov’s Popular New Year’s Resolution Ideas.

A Fresh New Year: Day to Day Goal Planning and Tracking

To set yourself up for the best chances of success, consider day to day goal planning and goal tracking. Make yourself accountable for both the results you want to achieve and those you actually do achieve. Take the time to measure, record, and think about your daily results in working toward your long-term goals.

The International Business Times recommends choosing just one resolution to start your New Year off right. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with trying to change all aspects of your life at once. Pick one. Then, once you achieve that one, move on. Bonus time!

resolution
Keep track of your New Year goal or resolution.
You might also find greater success if you share your resolutions with those you know, or at least if you write them down somewhere for your own personal benefit. You can even plan out specific, smaller activities to help get you to your goal. For example, let’s say you would like to lose 10 pounds. First think about all the healthy ways you can lose weight, such as eating better and exercising. Now, set aside a half hour to an hour a few times a week to exercise, even if it's a family walk after dinner. Give yourself reachable goals at first so that you can achieve them. One reason that people give up on resolutions is that the overall goal is too hard to reach. It's OK to downsize your goals to make them achievable. You can always raise the goal as you progress.

Remember, if you can dream it, you can achieve it. Believe in yourself and your goals. So kick those bad habits, take steps toward financial improvements, if not financial independence, live a healthier lifestyle, and improve relationships with those around you. Welcome the New Year, wish and dream about your greatest goals, and get started on a path toward success and happiness.

Here’s to hoping all your New Year wishes come true!

P.S. – If you find yourself now wondering, when is Chinese New Year, it begins Sunday, February 10. Anyone up for another resolution?

Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Friday, December 28, 2012

Safely Celebrate the New Year

The New Year is just around the corner and there will be people celebrating all around you to bring in the New Year. With those celebrations come plenty of food, laughs, music, and the consumption of alcohol

Going to a New Year's celebration is always a lot of fun but for some reason there are always a few people that get a little over zealous and have a better time than some. And then regret it in the morning! 

It's always good to think ahead and plan wisely for the party so you aren't starting off the New Year on a sour note. People might feel fine to drive home, but their reflexes could be impaired with much less alcohol than they realize. The CDC reveals that only two beers can cause impaired judgement and inability to multitask. Here are a few tips to bring in your New Year safely and have fun at the same time with no regrets.

party
Bring in the New Year Safely:
Don't drink and drive.
  • Drive Safely - If you know you will be drinking make sure you have a designated driver or know the number to a taxi service. I would suggest programming it in your phone ahead of time so you aren't scrambling around for it at the last minute. Even if you have only had a few drinks and you think you are fine to drive it is never wise to drink and drive. If you are planning on going to a New Year's Eve party, a good plan is to take a taxi to the party so that way you have to take a taxi home. It is a win win situation. AAA has offered taxi service on New Year's Eve and some areas have Tipsy Taxi services that are free.
  • Drink Wisely - Not only should you drink in moderation but pay attention to where your drink is. Never leave your drink unattended and then come back for it. There are many different drugs that can be easily slipped into your drink without your knowledge. They only way to monitor that is to always hold onto your drink and never accept any drinks from anyone unless you see it made yourself.
  • Be Responsible - If you did drive and still want to have a few drinks make sure you are still at the legal alcohol level to drive. A good way to monitor this is to space your drinks apart by having a couple of glasses of water or club soda in between. If you have any hesitation about driving, don't drive! It's not worth it! 
  • Know Your Surroundings - Go to a party that you know you can easily get home from or where you can stay the night if you aren't able to drive or find a taxi.
  • Don't Let Your Friends Drive Drunk - If you came with a friend who was the designated driver and that person ended up having a few too many don't let them drive. Even if they insist that they are fine, get their keys and call a taxi. They may be mad at you at the time but they and their loved ones will thank you in the morning.
If you're hosting a New Year's Eve party, here are a few tips that will help your party run smoothly without any unwanted problems.

  • If alcohol will be served, collect people's keys at the door. If someone wants to drive home intoxicated, call them a taxi.
  • Make sure you have plenty of space if you do need some people to stay the night. Maybe have a few inflatable beds and extra blankets ready.
  • Have taxi numbers available for your guests if they need one. It will be good for you too just in case you notice someone that shouldn't be driving and you can call for them before they try and leave. Just tell them better safe than sorry.
  • Make sure you have plenty of nutritious food and non-alcoholic beverages available too for your guests, or set a time when you will stop serving alcoholic beverages.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that nearly 10,000 people were killed in drunken driving accidents in 2011. That's almost one person per hour. Remember, while you are driving home, you want your wits about you because someone else might not be as considerate as you and could be intoxicated behind the wheel. If you are also impaired you might not be able to avoid an accident.

Make this New Year the best one yet and start it off by making smart choices and "Live the Life you Love."

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Boost Your Health With Fruits in Season

Whenever possible, choose the freshest fruit you can get. Studies suggest that, for many kinds of fruits and vegetables, the more time passes from when they were picked until you eat them, the less nutritional value they retain. While refrigeration will slow the nutrition decay for some fruits and vegetables, it cannot be stopped. One good example is green beans. Studies show that their nutritional value wanes considerably after five days from the vine. And kale’s decay rate is even more startling.  In a 2007 study, The Effect of Cold Storage on Bioactive Compounds in Curly Kale, scientists discovered that the nutritional vitamin C content of refrigerated kale after six weeks was 600 percent less than freshly-picked kale.

fruit recipes
Kumquats are a tasty winter fruit.
Freshness is one of the best reasons for selecting local foods; a locally grown fruit or vegetable is much more likely to have been recently picked. Buying your fruits and vegetables locally increases the likelihood that they have been ripened while still attached to the plant. Such vine-ripened foods are often much higher in nutritional content than foods that were picked earlier, as is often the case when foods are grown far from your market, because ripe fruits and vegetables are too fragile to make the long trip. 
 
In a perfect world, you would pick the fruit and use it immediately. That’s possible for very few of us, unfortunately, as most Americans no longer grow their own foods and more of us than ever are city dwellers, where even our neighbors may not grow food during warmer seasons.

And then comes winter – is it possible to enjoy vitamin-rich healthy fruits in winter? Fortunately, yes, if you make a few strategic adjustments to your buying habits and fruit selection.
 

Winter fruits

Winter
Many citrus fruits naturally ripen
in winter.
Taking advantage of local resources for fresh fruits and veggies is trickier in winter, but absolutely possible, if you choose wisely. Some foods are known as cold weather crops, – those which naturally ripen in winter. Plus, farmers these days use such things as hoop houses or other ways to extend the natural growing season far beyond what the local weather would allow otherwise. Finally, consider choosing a tried-and-true way of enjoying vegetables beyond the Fall by selecting storage vegetables – those which store well without going bad. This includes root vegetables such as cabbage or potato.
 
Winter time fruits are available locally, depending on where you live. Here are some that may be available to you locally:
  • CLEMENTINES – a small, sweet orange available fresh in many areas of the U.S. from December until Spring.
  • GRAPEFRUIT – if you live in the state of Texas, California, Florida, or Arizona, it comes into season in the heart of winter.
  • KIWIS – in temperate areas, they can be fresh-harvested winter through Spring.
  • KUMQUATS - often eaten raw and whole, they have a sweet rind and sour center throughout winter.
  • LEMONS – often tastiest when harvested in winter or spring.
  • MANDARINS small citrus fruit also known as the Christmas orange, peak season is December.
  • ORANGES different varieties ripen at different times, but as a winter fruit, you can't go wrong with this vitamin C packed citrus.
  • PEARS different varieties are in season from late summer through early spring.
  • PERSIMMONS – catch ‘em quick – they ripen between Autumn and early winter.
  • TANGERINES in season from October through April.


Where to find in-season fresh fruits

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting the freshest of fresh picks is to buy from local sources. And unless you've got a fruit or vegetable farmer living next door, your best resource is your nearest farmers market.
 
If you’re not sure where your local farmer’s markets are, you’re in luck, thanks to the Internet. Here are two great resources for locating farmers’ markets in your area, or anywhere you may be traveling to in the U.S.
 

LocalHarvest

The Local Harvest site focuses on helping you find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainable grown food in your area.  Local harvest provides two ways to search: either by clicking on their interactive map of the U.S. to zoom into your area, or a more traditional search engine. The latter option allows you to zero in on just farmers’ markets and even on a specific fruit or vegetable, using the product search box:
tangelo
Farmers' market search options available at Local Harvest

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory 

This federal site is designed to provide members of the public with convenient access to information about U.S. farmers markets. Its listing includes locations, directions, operating times, product offerings, their website address, if any, and accepted forms of payment. You can search by zip code.  To hone your search even better, go to the Products Available tab and select Fresh Fruits and Vegetables:
lime fruits
USDA Farmers' Market database, with the option to filter search by fruit

In-season fruit recipes

Depending on where you live in the U.S., you may be able to enjoy one of the following in-season fresh fruit recipes, from Food Fit (From the HealthCentral Network), incorporating fun options, such as tangelo, blood orange, pomelo, and lime fruits:

For a full list of fruits by season, see the seasonal fruits charts at Fruits InfoFood Fit  provides a detailed list of winter fruits and vegetables. And remember: fresher is better!

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Keep Your Hands on the Wheel


Image from cas.illinoisstate.edu

You are sixteen years old and you've just received your license. You are about to hit the road and enjoy a short drive in your new set of wheels, but Mom won’t stop lecturing you about road safety. You laugh, thinking that you are mature and have learned car safety by now just from watching the people around you. After all, statistics show that 48% of young drivers have seen their parents talking on a cell phone while driving and 15% have witnessed their parents texting and driving. They survived. Why wouldn't you? 

Sadly, this could very well be the mindset of today’s drivers, and those statistics are true. Did you also know that 77% of young adults are somewhat to very confident that they can safely text while driving? Or that 55% think it’s easy to text and drive?

MYTH: It’s okay as long as you text and drive safely. There are plenty of ways to justify your phone usage while driving, especially if you are only reading a text instead of composing one. Here are some commonly held safety tips:

  • Hold your phone so that the windshield is in the background; you’ll have greater visibility that way. 
  • Be sure to keep a longer following distance from the car in front of you.
  • Only text at a stop sign or red light.

Does this sound sensible to you? I hope not! Texting while driving is dangerous— no matter what the circumstances are. In fact, it causes nearly 25% of all driving accidents and is recorded to be six times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving. These are scary statistics that should be taken seriously. Your health and safety is a priority. Don’t make excuses to “just send a quick text” while driving. It could get you killed, or otherwise seriously injured. Just ask Wil, who is suffering from a severe, permanent traumatic brain injury because he was the passenger in a car driven by someone who was reading a text message while driving.

If the value of your own safety is not enough to keep you from texting while driving, imagine how you would feel if an accident and injury affected someone you know, possibly a child, or inflicted a devastating injury to a passenger in your own car. There are other lives at stake; consider more than your own. Don’t ruin a family’s holidays by taking the life of their mother, father, or child through reckless actions.

The reality of the situation is that your reaction time is drastically shortened if you are texting and driving. It's wiser to keep your attention solely focused on the road. Not only is it unsafe, but it could also be a hefty ticket to pay. Currently, 39 states plus the District of Columbia have outlawed texting and driving. More states may follow.

To showcase the dangers of texting and driving most effectively, young adults in Belgium were actually asked to try texting while driving on a crash course and avoiding obstacles. The drivers are told that they must prove their ability to text and drive in order to obtain their license. While trying to do this during their test, they express their frustrations with the impossibility of the task. Participants did not pass the test and many exclaimed that, “People will be killed on the road.” The purpose of the experiment is clear: to illustrate the impossibility of texting and driving safety, and to show the risk of injury. 

Please share this article with friends and family, especially those you know text while driving. Before you think twice about keeping this to yourself, be aware that 1/3 of your commuting colleagues are guilty of putting their lives in danger with this risky driving behavior. Sharing the link to this article, or simply having a conversation with those close to you could save someone’s life. The most effective way to stop this behavior, in addition to preventative laws, is to make texting and driving generally socially unacceptable in our culture. Be a part of that movement and take a stand. Take the Text Free Driving Pledge and encourage your friends, kids and colleagues to do the same.

To learn more about texting and driving and to the view laws of your specific state, visit the Governors Highway safety Association website. 


Amanda Gilmore
Contributing Writer


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Holidays from FamilyWize

Tis' the season for twinkling lights, homemade cookies galore and smell of pine and candy canes.
giving
Giving the gift of a free FamilyWize card is
worth its weight in gold! 

It's also the season of giving.

Often times, we get so caught up in playing "keeping up" that we only focus on which new gadget we want to get our hands on or which pair of shoes we want in our closet.

In all that keeping up we catch ourselves playing, many of us forget about those who have no wants because they simply have needs.

For the last few weeks, there have been three boxes patiently sitting in the lobby of our office building. One is a receptacle for coats, one is for toys, and the other is for canned goods. All three boxes are symbols of what the holidays are all about- giving. This brings us to this:

This (and every) holiday season, how about giving on behalf of those who wish they could?

If you know someone who said "nothing" when you asked what gift they would like for Christmas, make a donation on their behalf to an organization they support and believe in. Instead of vegging out on the couch after indulging in eggnog and plum pudding, help serve dinner for the homeless at your local shelter. If Santa brings new toys, talk to your children and see if they would be willing to donate their old ones to a secondhand store so other boys and girls can make new memories with them.

If you want to make a big impact by giving something else, give someone a free FamilyWize card.  Often times, people who are given FamilyWize cards tell us that they felt like they were given gold. It's amazing that a little piece of paper can be so precious and valuable. The cards are accepted at over sixty thousand pharmacies and can cover pet medications too.

Leave a stack at the Laundromat. Drop a bunch off at your local foot pantry. Pin a couple to a community bulletin board. Keep a few in your wallet in case you come across someone who is having hard times. You can even attach them to gifts! No one should have to choose between paying for their rent or medicine. And who knows, by the simple action of giving someone a FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, you might be able to help them stop choosing.  

Not only can our card help people save money over the holidays; they can save all year long. When you give your friends, family, or even acquaintances a card, you are keeping them healthy by allowing them to adhere to the directions on their medication.

To all of the participating pharmacies, United Ways and other organizations we proudly partner with as well as those individuals who assist in getting cards in the hands of people in need-  as the great Bing Crosby sang-  may your days be merry and bright!

Krysta Weiss
Contributing Writer


Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve Traditions


Christmas Eve - A Special Time of Year!

Christmas parties
Ornaments adorn trees and make
a festive decoration.
It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! From the smallest little towns to the biggest cities across the country, Christmas Eve traditions will be honored by many. All the decorations are being hung on the trees with lights adorning houses everywhere. I just love this time of year. Christmas seems to bring out the good cheer as people as people are bustling to get that special gift for that special someone. And it's a wonderful time of year for reflecting on all of our blessings.
Every family seems to have their own special way of spending Christmas Eve. I am lucky enough to have been able to spend each Christmas Eve with my immediate family. When my girls were young we were fortunate to live in an area that had forested areas nearby.  We made it our tradition to go cut our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. What fun it was trudging through the snow to find that perfect tree on Christmas Eve! Just a note of caution if you choose to do this, though. The trees look much smaller in the forest than they do in your living room so "go small!" 
ornaments
Stockings hung by the chimney
with care.
We would have everything ready to start decorating when we got back home. My daughters loved making our tree look so special every year while they sang Christmas carols.  All of our ornaments were handmade throughout the years by them, and of course we added new ones each year. We also made our own stockings to hang from the mantel. Thirty-five years later, we still use these stockings!
Now that my girls are grown and have children of their own, we've found some new traditions. Christmas Eve is the time for the kids to make their gingerbread houses. This is so much fun. And who cares about the mess? Lots of memories are being made. 

Parenting magazine lists twenty fun activities to keep kids active as they anticipate the arrival of Santa. Watching Christmas movies, making a new decoration for the tree and watching a favorite movie are great ways to stay busy. K
ids are usually pretty excited about this time of the season. The anticipation is sometimes overwhelming for some of them. Keeping busy can help the time move more quickly for them. 
Christmas carols
We cut our own tree and decorate it
on Christmas Eve as a family
tradition.
To make this time of year even more magical, Christmas Eve is a great day to take in a holiday show or take a walk, weather permitting, or drive to see Christmas lights. As a special treat, you can even track Santa's progress as he makes his way to your house. 
If you are looking to start a tradition for your Christmas Eve activities, you could check with the local charities to see if any are in need of assistance such as serving at a Christmas Eve dinner or helping distribute baskets to needy children and their families. Many organizations are looking for volunteers and there is no better feeling than giving back to the community. Check with the American Red Cross, local food banks or Toys for Tots programs to name a few. You can Google local food banks + your location to find one near you.
This Christmas Eve will include family from ages 6 to 91! We are so blessed to still have our two Great Grandparents (my husband's parents) who will be with us again this year.  We will get to share the stories of Christmas' of yesterdays. These are stories that NEVER get old!  o, I am hoping that you all have your own special traditions that will once again be observed, and that you find this as magical a time of year as I do. Merry Christmas to all and here is to traditions!!! 

Cindy Foley
Contributing Writer


Friday, December 21, 2012

Traveling for the Holidays


As if wintertime itself isn’t a big enough excuse to get out of town, the holidays provide special reasons to travel, like enjoying the sights, and spending the holiday with loved ones.

Simply getting away from it all is a great reason to travel this time of year. I have a cousin who enjoys taking cruises with family during the holiday season, whether tropical or a trip to Disney. One of my braver friends is visiting South America over the holidays.

If you plan on traveling over the holidays, be forewarned that the airport is likely to be packed and storage space on flights could be limited. Many people will be in a rush, too, scrambling to get here or there, to buy this or that. These tips can help you survive the craziness of holiday traveling.

Traveling by Plane

Flying can be a bit more stressful around the holidays due to the mass volumes of travelers and the urgency to get to their destinations on time. Flights may be fully booked and seating your family together might be difficult. Even if you book seats together for your family, your airplane flight could still change at the last minute, leaving your group separated across different rows.

TSA
Make a list for packing and check with your airline first
to see what you can fit in the overhead compartment.
International air travel may also become more complex, due to already busy airports fielding many connecting flights to get all the travelers to their holiday destinations. Should you choose to fly internationally, or on any flight requiring a connection for that matter, be sure to pack a carry on bag with your essentials—medicines, a change of clothes, and other must-have possessions. This way you can still make it through the day if you and your checked luggage get separated. The Federal Aviation Administration gives great tips about your carry on bags. Always be sure to check with your airline to verify what you can bring with you and how big the carry on can be.

Keep an eye on fares to ensure you get the best deal possible. Look for online coupon codes and check top deal sites to help defray the cost of your travel. Realize that the cheapest flights may not be the “best” flights—you may find yourself on the red eye on Christmas Eve, having a long lay over between flights, or multiple connections.

It's natural to be anxious if you are separated from your family on a flight. If you aren't able to get seats together with your family or significant other, or if your seats get moved around at the last minute, ask the agents to see if they can find any seats together. Sometimes other passengers will switch seats with you, especially if children are likely to be separated from parents. For additional tips on airline seating, here are some tips for getting seats together.

What to Pack for Your Holiday Trip

Packing is always the fun part! It can take some time, though, and if you rush, you definitely increase your chances of forgetting something important. Make a list for packing a week or two before you travel. This will ensure you bring everything you need, and keep that list so you can use it for packing for the trip home.

Consider these other packing tips for your holiday travel:

traveling
Check with TSA regulations
before packing carry on bags.

  • If you don’t absolutely need it, don’t pack it. The lighter (and fewer) your bags, the more easily you can move about the airport. Remember, the larger the carry on, the longer it takes to screen it, making the security lines move slowly.
  • Consider bringing some small snacks in your carry on bag in case your flight gets delayed. Try granola bars, trail mix, and individually packaged snacks. Check with TSA to see what is allowed on flights.
  • Bring magazines, an mp 3 player, and other small, containable items to hold your interest.
  • Bring your health insurance information, your FamilyWize card for discounted prescriptions, and any important medicines or medical supplies.
  • Follow all TSA regulations to minimize delays and loss of personal property. Be aware of what you can bring and what must be checked or left at home. 
  • If you plan to bring gifts with you on the plane, consider wrapping them once you get to your destination, as TSA reports that they may need to unwrap a gift if it does not pass through screening.


Whether you are planning a trip home for the holidays or a relaxing vacation away from the daily grind, holiday traveling can be a lot of fun—especially once you get through the actual traveling part! Holiday breaks to tropical destinations, fun-filled cruises, and other getaways may be the best way to decompress after a long and tedious year, before we get ready to do it all over again.

What are your plans for travel this holiday season? Share any of your favorite winter travel tips in our comments below!

By Kathryn M. D’Imperio
Contributing Writer

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tripping Out on Tryptophan

Truth and fiction about tryptophan, poultry, and how it affects you 

If you’ve heard the word tryptophan, it was probably around Thanksgiving or Christmas conversations – times when many Americans go hog-wild for turkey. The context is usually around the common post-feast sleepiness. You may be surprised to find that many things you thought were true about tryptophan could be wrong. Here are some facts and tips about tryptophan that are not only useful to your health knowledge but will also be great information you can share as conversation starters at holiday gatherings.

What is tryptophan?

Tryptophan is one of many essential amino acids. For most of us, that begs the question, what is an amino acid? Amino acid is a compound that combines to form proteins. Amino acids and proteins together are considered the building blocks of life.  

Important stuff, right? Indeed: Infants require tryptophan for normal, healthy growth.  Adults benefit from its nitrogen balancing properties.

Even more important to note is the term essential amino acid. Essential means that it is a type of amino acid that our body does not produce by itself. The only way we get it is from our diets.  

Does tryptophan cause sleepiness and fatigue?

sleepiness
Does tryptophan cause sleepiness?
Sort of yes, and sort of no. The body uses tryptophan to produce serotonin, which our bodies use to make melatonin – a hormone that aides in the regulation of your sleep and awake cycles. What this means is that turkey is capable of affecting a state of relaxation and restfulness, but no more so than any other protein food.  

But does it cause sleepiness? Not necessarily. The sleepiness you feel after gorging yourself on a massive holiday feast is more likely the result of "feast-induced drowsiness" – the result of consuming any heavy meal that is rich in carbohydrate. 

When we gorge ourselves, our bodies rightly focus on digestion to deal with the overload, which focuses blood into the digestive organs. So the inclination to snooze after eating a large feast is our body’s way of shutting down bodily processes so that it can focus its attention on digestion. 

What does tryptophan do then?

The amino acid tryptophan helps you regulate your sleep and wake cycles, and can elevate your mood.  Many people have found that increasing their intake of tryptophan has helped reduce problems with anxiety, impulsiveness, problems with concentration, weight gain, carbohydrate cravings, and depression. 

Any tryptophan downsides? If you are eating foods that contain tryptophan, no. It was once believed that tryptophan could have some dangerous sideeffects, based on some early studies. As a result, tryptophan was removed from the supplementation market. However, no subsequent studies have shown any negative side effects from eating too much turkey. So there is no such thing as tripping out on tryptophan! Have as much as you want.

Turkey is the best source of tryptophan, right?

Actually, no. Turkey is one source of tryptophan – a good one – but it is not the only source and not even the food with the most of it. 

You can boost your tryptophan level by consuming foods with protein; nearly all foods with protein naturally contain some tryptophan, although often in small amounts relative to the other essential amino acids

Particularly good sources of tryptophan include:
amino acids
Turkey is a good source of tryptophan,
but there are other sources too!
  • Chicken
  • Legumes
  • Red meats
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Dairy products
  • Tuna
  • Shellfish
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu
  • And, yes: turkey
But should you want a serious boost of tryptophan, start with the top item on the above list:  chicken. In the average serving of chicken, you get nearly 130 percent of the daily recommended intake of tryptophan; that's about 11 percentage points more tryptophan per serving than you will find in turkeyTurkey provides 118.7 percent of the daily recommended intake of tryptophan. Therefore, it is certainly correct to say that turkey is a good tryptophan source too, as is any poultry food. But start with chicken to really “beef up” on this essential amino acid. 

Learn more about tryptophan sources and side effects

If this article has whetted your appetite for more information on tryptophan, and how you can benefit from it, check out these resources:
Now that you know the positive benefits of tryptophan, why not put some more of it in your diet? To help you get started, click here for a selection of recipes for turkey. Or to keep that tryptophan coming, check out these turkey leftovers recipes

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

 Try to stay one step ahead!


FEMA
A tornado, earthquakes or flooding
rains can strike without warning.

Would you be prepared if a natural disaster occurred in your hometown? Most people don't really spend a lot of time thinking about something of this magnitude happening to them. Although people living in areas that are hit every year by a hurricane, a tornado, earthquakes or flooding rains should realize the odds, but most don't really think about it happening until it actually does!  

There is no time like the present to make sure that you are ready if a disaster should strike. Do you have a family emergency plan so that your children know what to do if they get separated from you? Hopefully, they won't be so frightened by the event if you have gone over your plan.

Do you have contact information for your elderly parents or other friends and family readily available to them? You can actually download a Family Emergency Plan form from www.ready.gov which is from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) website. It includes information on how you can communicate with one another should you not all be together when the disaster occurs. It is a simple form that you just fill in to help you cover all areas necessary to help you stay safe. 

tornado
FEMA Disaster kit
info from www.ready.gov.
Of course some disasters are sudden and require a different emergency plan than others. For instance, a fire during the night in your home requires immediate action on your part. Do you have an escape plan, and do the children know what to do should they not be able to find you in the house in the dark? Take the time to rehearse this exit plan a few times so the kids are familiar with it. It is very easy to forget things when you are upset or anxious, so having practiced it will help a lot and allow everyone to try to stay calm.

You can also check with your local Emergency Response Team through your county to see what type of warning systems they might have in place for certain types of disasters such as severe storms or flooding situations. They can assist you with where you might evacuate if necessary. Learning about the local area response to the emergency will help you with your families' emergency plan. Your plan should include phone numbers, as well as addresses of places identified as evacuation centers. 

Do You Have your Disaster Supply Kit Ready to Go?? 


One of the most important things to make sure you have on hand is water. You will need at least a gallon of water per person which should last about three days. Also, make sure you have access to non-perishable foods for a three day period. You will also need a flashlight and extra batteries in case you should loose power. It would also be wise to have a portable radio handy to stay tuned to the local emergency response  team authorities. You can refer to the FEMA website for this information, as well as to see the specific items that you need to include in your Disaster Kit. They also have information on maintaining your kit, which is very important as you don't want outdated canned foods and other first aid supplies when you REALLY need them! The FEMA website also includes activities to get the kids involved in putting your kits together. This would be the perfect time to discuss the plan as you assemble the kits. Read our previous article, Be Prepared: Emergency First Aid Kits for further information.


Emergency Response Team
Mad River, CA Nov 2012

Having grown up in California, I learned early on in school about earthquakes. We practiced earthquake drills monthly all through elementary school. DUCK and COVER were our key words to get under our desks and cover our heads. This drill stuck with me all through my lifetime time so the practice does help! 

Recently, I experienced a situation that almost turned into a disaster. My husband and I live on the Mad River, in Northern California. We just relocated here this past summer so everything is new to us. Our river is controlled by a dam at a lake that is about eight miles up the river from us. We weren't worried at all about the river coming up since it is controlled by the dam releases. Well, that is all well and good, but what happens when you have 17 inches of rain in a matter of five days? We are in the mountains and with the mountains comes runoff -  runoff from EVERYWHERE! We watched our peaceful little river rise so fast and the ground get saturated so that water had nowhere else to go! We saw the lake rise 15 feet in a matter of two days from runoff and start tumbling over the spillway! 

We are currently staying in our motor home while we build our house.  Remember that we are NOT in a 100 year flood zone according to the county records! At this point we would not be able to drive our motor home out because the ground was too saturated. We parked our truck up by the road ready to get out if needed. There were places where others living on the river were sandbagging to keep their homes dry. The old timers here tell us that it never rains in November very much so this is an UNUSUAL event. Fortunately, the rain finally stopped and the river has returned to its almost peaceful state once again. This has been a very valuable lesson for us in that we know now that WE NEED TO GET PREPARED!  I am using the www.ready.gov website to help us so that next time we have that NOT NORMAL rainfall we will be ready! 

SO PLAN AHEAD, GET PREPARED AND HOPE YOU DON'T NEED YOUR DISASTER PLAN!!  BUT BE READY IF YOU DO!


Cindy Foley
Contributing Writer