Ask doctor Cory.
My husband has family members with eating disorders. We would like to do whatever we can to prevent such problems for our own children, yet we don't want our children to have problems with obesity, either. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you for your help!
Joanna Scott * Albany, New York
Dear Ms. Scott:
The best advice may be: model healthy habits for your family. Children today hear a lot about dieting from television, movies, and radio. Kids may also pick up harmful messages at home. Some parents try one fad diet after another. Others live in a relentless pursuit of thinness. Experts at The Renfrew Center, a leader in treating eating disorders, suggest the following ways for parents to help children develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies:
* Avoid negative statements about your own body and your own eating.
* Model balanced behavior for your kids--eating all foods in moderation and moving your body for fun and fitness.
* Remember that people come in all shapes and sizes--we are so much more than our looks.
* Do not pressure your child to be a superstar, super achiever, or perfect.
* Be involved and actively aware of the messages your kids are getting from school, peers, TV shows, and fashion magazines regarding weight and size.
* Help your child develop interests and skills which will lead to personal expression and fulfillment without undue emphasis on appearance.
* Make family meals relaxed and friendly. Refrain from commenting on children's eating, resolving family conflicts at the table, and using food as a punishment or reward.
* Listen to your children. Create time for real communication.
* Know your child--if you notice a pattern of anxiety or depression--get help immediately.
* Do not put your child on a diet or exercise program.
"Children on low-carbohydrate diets essentially are starving themselves of critical nutrients, which may take a serious health toll on their physical and intellectual development," said Adrienne Ressler, national training director for The Renfrew Center foundation. For more information on this topic, go to www.humptydumptymag.org.
"The focus needs to be on the entire family eating quality and healthy foods--using more fresh foods and less boxed and canned foods," says Ressler. "The diet mentality needs to go by the wayside. No child in the family should be singled out, treated differently, or forbidden certain foods. This may lead to shame about one's body."
Dear Dr. Cory:
I have asthma and I breathe very hard. I do not know what to do. Can you please help me?
Jameesha * Miami, Florida
Are you seeing your doctor to keep an eye on your asthma? You should be able to do your daily activities without having breathing problems. It may be helpful for you to see an allergist, a doctor who specializes in caring for people with allergies and asthma. Together you can make an asthma action plan. This plan will help you learn what brings on or "triggers" your asthma, find the asthma medicine that is right for you, and know what to do when you have an asthma attack. By staying away from asthma triggers and using the right medicine, asthma can be well controlled. Well-controlled asthma means doing everything you can to keep your difficult breathing, coughing, and wheezing from happening.
If you do find it very hard to breathe, please ask your family to call 911 so an ambulance can take you to the emergency room immediately.
Asthma symptoms include:
* cough (often worse at night)
* shortness of breath or rapid breathing
* chest tightness
People with asthma have their own "triggers" or things that make their asthma flare up--causing them to cough and have trouble breathing. If you have asthma, find out what your triggers are and stay away from them as much as possible. Some triggers of asthma might be:
* allergens such as pollen (plant dust), mold, dust, animal dander (skin flakes), dust mites, and cockroach droppings
* certain foods
* tobacco smoke or strong odors
* colds or the flu
* changes in the weather