Tis the Season to Be … Stressed Out and Sad?

November 29th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

I don’t know about you, but my Christmases as a child were simple perfection. Oh, sure there were the occasional scuffles, but how could you not be thrilled with a day of presents, food, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, food and presents?

As an adult, the holidays can still be joyful, but things are … different. Cooking, cleaning, shopping, spending, cooking, cooking. It can get overwhelming. Add to that the fact that some of those family members may not be around anymore, and it’s no wonder some of us react to “Joy to the World” with a lump in our throat.

For our featured article this week, family doctor Andrea Gordon answers three winter mental-health questions. It’s is a quick read and sheds light on some issues, like how expectations from childhood can mar our adult enjoyment.

How’s your holiday season going? How do you deal with—or ward off—holiday stress and sadness?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Thanksgiving Recipes From Today and Yesteryear

November 22nd, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Happy Thanksgiving week!

As we prepare to stuff ourselves and reflect on our nation’s history, how about taking a quick hop back to the first American cookbook? At the Library of Congress website, you can see a recipe for the original American pumpkin pie.

It calls for a quart of milk, a pint of pumpkin and four eggs. Spice it up with molasses, allspice and ginger, and pop it in the oven for an hour. Yum.

Jet-setting back to today, we’ve got some modern-day Thanksgiving recipes for you, with a healthy slant. To start, we just added these two scrumptious delights to our holiday collection:

And here are three more for your palate’s pleasure:

Plus, a bonus: A colleague of mine, Piper Evans, sent me one of her favorite easy Thanksgiving recipes. She’s  a consultant for the Silver Century Foundation, an organization that promotes positive, proactive aging.

To add a little nutrition to a devil’s food cake, mix in a can of pure pumpkin. “Nothing else! Really!” she says. Bake the batter in oil-sprayed muffin tins at 400 F until done, 20 to 25 minutes.

What’s your favorite quick Thanksgiving recipe?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Pop Quiz: What’s the Most Festive Animal-Head Dish in England?

November 15th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Years ago, the story goes, Tom Bawcock braved a harsh winter storm to feed his English village of Mousehole. He caught enough of a certain small animal to tide them over. The animals were baked into a pie.

Now, on December 23 every year, people in Mousehole celebrate “Tom Bawcock’s Eve” by eating Stargazy pie, which has heads of the small animal sticking out of it. What was the small animal?

a. Mouse
b. Squirrel
c. Fish

Get the answer in this month’s quiz, “Holiday Food,” celebrating the upcoming holiday season … with some rather interesting trivia.

A Pumpkin Recipe a Day Till Thanksgiving–and Beyond!

November 8th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

If you didn’t get your fill of pumpkin last month, now’s your chance.

We’ve found 19 yummy, fun and healthy pumpkin recipes. There are 16 days until Thanksgiving. That means, you can chow down on a different preparation of this sweet, meaty delight through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and even I can’t-eat-one-more-bite-of-turkey day.

The recipes include Pumpkin Spice Granola, Colonial Stewed Pumpkin, Baked Pumpkin Pasta and a couple of somewhat lightened-up pumpkin cheesecake recipes. Yum.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Occupy the Internet! Doctors Unite to Build Accessible, Reliable Health Site

November 1st, 2011

stethoscope and keyboardby Leigh Ann Otte

It’s amazing how much misleading information there is on the Internet, isn’t it? People claim just about anything—and do it with such authority that it seems like they must know what they’re talking about.

I’ve come across some doozies over the years. I’m convinced that dubious health claims must make up a good 50 percent of the Interwebs. Once, I stumbled upon a psychologist(!) blogger who was spreading the myth that antidepressants didn’t work. He drew his claims from an “expert’s” book on the subject. Just by looking into the first study, you could get a feel for the quality of evidence relied upon. It was on a different class of medicine (tricyclics, not SSRIs—the type prescribed most commonly today) and a tiny amount of people. I posted a comment. The blogger wrote me privately and admitted fault; he hadn’t looked into the studies himself. He was just repeating information.

Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t too much dubious information; it’s not enough of any information. Often, with lesser-known disorders, you can find a smattering of overviews online, if that. Well, there is more-detailed information, but it’s written for doctors and stuffed with so much jargon it might as well be Greek. (I think some of it is Latin).

The lack-of-information syndrome seems to be the case with a disorder called MGUS. Ever heard of it? Probably not, but 3 to 4 percent of people over 50 have it, according to S. Vincent Rajkumar, a hematologist-oncologist from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. It’s a blood disorder that usually causes no symptoms, but some people who have it end up getting a certain kind of cancer.

We published an article about MGUS a while back, and people started flocking to it. They posted so many questions in the comments section that we decided to do a follow-up answering them. Two top MGUS experts were kind enough to share their knowledge for the piece. The result is this week’s featured article, “MGUS: Questions About Symptoms, Related Diseases.”

That brings us to the early-Thanksgiving portion of this post—a gushing thanks.

We’d like to thank the doctors who took the time to answer the MGUS questions: Dr. Rajkumar of Mayo Clinic and Hani Hassoun, M.D., of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Our purpose at My Family Doctor has always been to give you trustworthy information straight from doctors. We couldn’t do that without the experts who are willing to work with us. Turns out, they like to spread reliable information too. They just need an outlet.

So thanks to you guys—our readers—for supporting that outlet. Down with the 50 percent! Let’s make it 49.5. I think we might be able to do it.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

How to Beat the Body Snatchers: Be a Body Donor!

October 25th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Last week, in a some-say-morbid celebration of Halloween, we talked about giving away your organs. Well, All Hallows Eve’s just a few days away now, so it’s time to take things up a notch. How about giving away your body?

Some folks donate their bodies to science. Medical students study on them. Ever thought about being a body donor? In this week’s featured article, “Donating Your Body to Science: FAQs,” you can hear one woman’s story about why she’s decided to give away her corpse.

“I was never comfortable with the idea of being cremated or buried,” she says. “Burial seems cold and lonely. Cremation is too hot.” She’s practical too. “I believe very strongly in the philosophy of reduce, reuse, recycle. Why waste a body if it can help others?”

You can read her story here, and get answers to your questions from an anatomy professor—questions like, how do you donate your body, anyway?

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

What If There Is No Ambulance? New Blog Teaches DIY Medicine

October 19th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Duct tape. It can do a lot of things. But did you know it could help save your life?

That’s the kind of thing you’ll learn at the new blog The Survival Doctor: What to Do When Help Is NOT on the Way. It’s do-it-yourself medicine for when a natural disaster or terrorist attack strikes and you can’t get expert help right away.

After reading just one post, you’ll be able to stop a bleeding artery, clean the wound by puncturing a jug of water, and close the wound with duct tape. You can even use honey on it if you don’t have antibiotic ointment. (Don’t use it on babies though.)

The Survival Doctor is written by our publisher, James Hubbard, M.D. He spent years as a family doctor in small-town Mississippi and says the blog is “a combination of science, improvisational medicine, and Grandma’s home remedies.”

You can subscribe easily by email at the site. You’ll learn a little more with each post. Just imagine how glad you’ll be when phone lines are down, the Internet won’t work and the roads are blocked. When all you have is you.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a freelance writer specializing in health and aging. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Slimy Eyeballs and Squishy Intestines: This Halloween, Give Away Your Guts

October 18th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Remember the squishiness, the sliminess—that stuff in a bucket you couldn’t see but could vividly imagine? It was, of course, … human body organs!

Every year, innocent children are subjected to unmerciful Halloween tricks from adults. Live scarecrows guard candy, witches answer doors and, yes, buckets full of gooey eyeballs await curious fingers.

This Halloween, we’re turning the theme around on adults. Our version focuses on a real life-and-death issue: organ donation. Some people find that as scary as a haunted house. Perhaps that’s because of frightful myths, like the doctors might not try as hard to save donors, and you can’t have an open-casket funeral.

In “13 Organ Donation Questions: Busting Myths, Spreading Facts,” we’ve answered your common and uncomfortable questions. (Funny, it just worked out to 13.) If you haven’t registered as a donor, perhaps this Halloween is the time to do it. You can sign up easily online. (There’s a link in the article.)

Well over 6,000 people die waiting for a transplant each year. One donor can save as many as eight live and help perhaps dozens more.

Signing up to be a lifesaver—a pretty cool way to celebrate Halloween. Almost as cool as scaring the sheets off some innocent little ghosts.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

What NOT to Do When Making Your Own Peanut Butter

October 11th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

Have you ever made your own peanut butter? I just did. That’s because we’re featuring a nut-butter recipe this week. And, after slaving over the hot food processor for five minutes (it’s really easy), I’ve come up with some don’ts for you. I’m no gourmet cook, you see. I’m more of a, um, kitchen experimenter.

Keeping that in mind, when making your own peanut butter:

DON’T:

  • Use the last of the peanuts if you’re using the preroasted, salted kind. Or at least make sure you don’t get all that salt from the bottom of the can. Your tongue will shrivel up. (Next time, I’m getting the raw kind and baking them in the oven as directed. I just happened to have some roasted ones on hand, OK? Don’t judge.)
  • Put sugar in it.  Sure, the recipe doesn’t call for it, but I wanted to try it since most people are used to sweetened peanut butter. The sugar cut the rich nutty taste. The result was more bland and not as satisfying or mouth-watering. This coming from a sugar fiend.
  • Expect a completely creamy texture. I think the best way to describe mine is grainy. It’s still delicious, but if you get it creamy, I’d love to hear how.
  • Be afraid of putting olive oil in it. The recipe calls for olive or vegetable oil. I went with extra-virgin olive oil, and it didn’t affect the taste—at least from what I could tell. It only took a couple of teaspoons.

Finally, one do: Expect a savory, scrumptious result. (My results are pictured at the top.) Man, it’s good.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

Skeletal Knowledge: Happy Halloween Trivia!

October 4th, 2011

by Leigh Ann Otte

I think the stores started selling Halloween decorations in July, so I apologize that we’re so late to the game, but now that it’s October, Happy Halloween!

We’re kicking off this eerie month by getting our skeletons out of the closet and onto the website, in quiz form. Test your bony knowledge in our “Bones Halloween Quiz.” Here’s a warm-up question to get you started:

What’s a crack that happens on one side of the bone only?

  • Skeletal crack
  • Sidehair split
  • Greenstick fracture

Get the answer by taking this month’s quiz. Then share your score with your friends and see how they do. You can try more health quizzes here.

Feel healthy. Live well. Smile. With our free, upbeat health newsletter.

Leigh Ann Otte is the managing editor of MyFamilyDoctorMag.com and a professional writer. This information is not meant to be individual advice. Please consult your doctor for that. See our disclaimer here.

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