Study: Honey Works Better Than Cough Syrup

•December 6, 2007 • Leave a Comment

A Penn State study found that honey was more effective than
dextromathorphan for treating nighttime coughs in kids ages 2-11. The
dosages used in the test were equivalent to the cough syrup: half a
teaspoon for kids 2-5, a full teaspoon for kids 6-11.

Both parents and kids reported better sleep quality. Kids reported
they liked the bear-shaped bottle. Also, remember that episode of ER? Don’t give honey to a kid under 1yo.

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30 Different Code Words for Sugar

•September 19, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Read the label folks…

Brown-rice syrup
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
Cane Juice
Dehydrated cane juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Maple syrup
Raw sugar
Rice Syrup
Sorghum or sorghum syrup
Turbinado Sugar

Things ending in “ose” or “ol” are probably sugars.

Not all sugars are created equal, some of these are sugar alcohols
which are not absorbed as fully by the body as regular sugar. It all
depends on how an item falls on the glycemic index.

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How to Store Your Food So It Lasts Longer

•September 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

On average, American families trash 14% of the food they buy, often
because it spoils. But you can extend the life of groceries with these
easy storage tricks:

  • Organize fruits and veggies: We often
    toss produce into crispers together, but apples and some other fruits
    give off gas called ethylene that speeds ripening in vegetables. So
    store them separate, so vegetables don’t ripen too fast
  • Know which need room temperature: We tend to keep most of our
    fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator. But cold temperatures can
    actually damage some produce, like squash, tomatoes and oranges
  • Use
    your own packaging: That flimsy package from the butcher won’t protect
    your meat from freezer burn. Put it in a vacuum sealed or sip lock bag
    with the air squeezed out
  • Protect your dry goods: Dry kitchen products like flour,
    cornmeal and other grains can attract bugs that make them unusable.
    Instead, stash them in the refrigerator or the freezer where they will
    be safe from pests
  • Chill your bananas: Most of us keep our
    bananas on the kitchen counter. But it seems like they spoil almost as
    soon as they ripen. Instead, store them in your refrigerator once they
    have ripened. The skin will turn brown but the inside lasts a lot longer
  • Shield leftovers from the air: Many of us end up throwing out leftovers
    because they went bad. To prevent it, don’t just cover the top of the
    bowl with foil or plastic wrap. Instead, transfer your leftovers to an
    airtight food storage container to keep them fresh

So keep it fresh longer. Oxygen damages food, so air tight packaging will help keep things fresh.


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10 Things Your Grocery Store Doesn’t Want You to Know

•September 13, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Grocery shopping seems like a harmless enough activity. It’s a chore, but it’s one that most of us do at least once a week, without giving much thought to what’s going on behind the scenes at the supermarket.

How we shop has become a science that’s studied endlessly. “Market researchers have worked for years to come up with ways to make sure shoppers see as many products as possible, because the more they see, the more they buy,” says Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating.

So to make yourself a smarter shopper, learn about the top tricks and other secrets lurking at the supermarket.

1. The shopping carts have cooties.

According to studies done on shopping carts, more than 60 percent of them are harboring coliform bacteria (the sort more often associated with public toilet seats). “These bacteria may be coming from raw foods or from children who sit in the carts,” says Chuck Gerba, Ph.D., a microbiologist at University of Arizona. “Just think about the fact that a few minutes ago, some kid’s bottom was where you are now putting your broccoli.” According to studies done by Gerba and his colleagues at University of Arizona, shopping carts had more bacteria than other surfaces they tested—even more than escalators, public phones and public bathrooms. To avoid picking up nasty bacteria, Gerba recommends using sanitizing wipes to clean off cart handles and seats, and to wash your hands after you finish shopping. 

2. Dates are open to interpretation.

Except for baby formula and food, product expiration dates are not required by Federal regulations (some states, however, have their own rules requiring product dating). Labels that give a “Best if Used By” date are more of a suggestion than a safety issue—the food will taste best if eaten by the date on the label, but won’t necessarily be unsafe if eaten after that. If a product is stamped with a “Sell-By” date, that is how long the store should display it. Once you bring it home, perishable products (like meats) should be kept refrigerated and used within a few days. For more detailed charts explaining the shelf life of various products, go to USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

3. Kid-friendly food is purposely placed within their reach.

Anyone who shops with a child (or several) in tow has to keep an eye out for products the kids grab and toss into the cart. “I always tell parents never to bring a kid to a store,” says Nestle. “The packages with the cartoons on them are often placed on low shelves where even toddlers can reach for them.” A trip down the cereal aisle will confirm this. “Sugary cereals are at kid’s eye level, while the healthier, all-bran options are usually on the highest shelves,” says Tara Gidus, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. It’s the same situation at the cash register, where candy and gum are strategically placed to encourage impulse buys by adults and kids can easily grab low-lying products.

4. They cut up food so they can charge more.

In the produce department there are luscious-looking slices of pineapple and melon, veggies cut up and ready for cooking or salads. At the meat counter, chicken breasts and beef are cut into chunks and marinated—ready for immediate grilling. There’s no denying that these pre-cut foods can make life incredibly easy. And nutritionists agree that if they get people to eat more healthfully, there’s nothing wrong with them. But realize that you’re also paying a tremendous premium—sometimes up to twice as much as uncut versions of the same food—just so you don’t have to bother picking up a knife.

5. Good-for-you foods require bending and reaching.

Not surprisingly, grocery store eye candy (which sometimes is actual candy)—those foods with enticing come-ons and delectable photos on the packaging that aren’t on your shopping list—are prominently placed to encourage you to reach for them. Even in the pasta aisle, you’ll find the most popular noodles (including packaged mac and cheese) at eye level. Look up to the highest or lowest shelves if you want to find healthier whole wheat options.

6. End-of-aisle displays are there to distract you from your mission.

“Food companies pay the stores to place their products where they can be seen most easily—such as in a display at the end of an aisle,” says Nestle. That prime real estate is likely to hold high-profit items or grouped items (such as marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers for s’mores) designed to inspire impulse buys. And although sometimes those aisle-ends are used to promote sale items, we will buy even when there is no discount. “People are 30 percent more likely to buy items on the end of the aisle versus in the middle of the aisle—often because we think what’s at the end is a better deal,” says Brian Wansink, Ph.D., director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating.

7. Bargains aren’t always a bargain.

Who can resist an offer like “buy five, get one free,” or “three for $1”? Apparently, very few people can. “Any time you see numbers in a sign, you’re likely to buy at least 30 percent more than you may have purchased otherwise. “So if you go looking for soup and the sign says “limit 12 per person,” chances are you’ll purchase several more cans than you intended to buy,” he says. And of course, if you buy more than you need, it’s not necessarily a bargain. Or worse yet, it could lead to over-indulging. “Mindless shopping leads to mindless eating,” says Wansink. “Once the stuff is in the house, you’ll eat it whether you really want it or not.”

8. You’ll walk the store the way they want you to.

There’s nothing haphazard about the layout of your grocery store. Sure, some of it is practical (like refrigerated cases along the periphery or meat cases in the back by the store’s loading dock), but some is carefully calculated to help you part with more money. Walk in the front doors and chances are you’re faced immediately with hard-to-resist items (not on your list) like fresh-cut flowers or just-baked loaves of bread. Just try walking past them en route to a carton of milk without tossing something extra into your cart. In fact, research has shown that 60 percent to 70 percent of what ends up in our carts is unplanned.

9. The salad bar can make you sick.

Raw produce at the salad bar, pre-made salads at the deli counter and other pre-cooked prepared foods all have the potential for harboring harmful bacteria (like E. coli, salmonella and Norovirus). “The biggest contributors to unsafe food are foods that are held at unsafe temperatures, handling of food by individuals with poor hygiene, and refilling partially used containers of perishable food with fresh food,” says Michael Doyle, Ph.D., director of the Center for Food Safety and Quality Enhancement at University of Georgia. He recommends that consumers pay attention to cleanliness, freshness (all prepared food should be thrown out if not sold by the end of the day), and way food is stored (cold foods need to be kept at 41 degrees or below; hot foods at greater than 135 degrees). As for those bulk bins of candy and trail mix—while it might be a bit gross to think about people reaching in and “sampling” the goods with their dirty fingers, according to Doyle, the risk of catching anything from them is very low. “Harmful microbes are not likely to grow in bulk-bin foods because most of those foods do not contain enough moisture to support microbial growth,” he says.

10. They don’t always clean as often as they should.

Health inspectors routinely visit supermarkets to look out for the red flags that may signal unsafe conditions for your food. But you can do a little snooping yourself. Flies in the produce or meat departments could be depositing bacteria on raw food. Roaches scurrying across the floor could also be harboring dozens of different diseases. And of course, check the shelves and products for dirt and grime—cans that are covered in dust may be an indication that they’ve sat around past their shelf life.

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Out of the mouths of toddlers…

•August 23, 2007 • Leave a Comment

As many of you know, my life has been a bit turned upside down over the last 5 or 6 months with my new career. I’m on the road a day or two per week and it has really changed the dynamics of our home life. The biggest challenge is always leaving my wife and kids; even if it’s only for a one-night stay at the Four Seasons (roughin’ it).

I came home the other night from an overnight stay in Houston. By the time I got home, the kids were in bed. It’s a ritual for Angela and I to step into their rooms and gently pat them good night before we go to bed. Many nights we just make sure they’re not cold or whatever. It’s just a little love pat to reassure us and them.

In keeping with ritual, I went in and checked on Jack. I placed my hand on his chest as usual, and he opened his eyes. He looked up with that half-awake look and then reached up to feel my face to be sure it was me. Then, he rolled over and said, “I love you dayee.”

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Truth in Advertising

•June 11, 2007 • Leave a Comment

The pictures at this link speak for themselves.

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How employers can help boost the happiness of their employees

•June 4, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Research shows that people’s happiness is affected by their sense of
control over their lives. Being able to do your own work in your own
way, or to influence your environment, gives a big boost in

Employers can look for ways to amplify employees’ sense of control over their work, schedule, and environment. In particular…

Bad commutes are a major source of unhappiness. People feel frustrated, powerless, and stressed.

Employers can consider whether telecommuting or staggered start/end
times for work might be practicable, to allow people to avoid rush

Wasted time
According to a recent study, one factor that most upset people’s daily moods was having tight work deadlines.

One way to free up work time to meet deadlines is to stop having long, inefficient meetings.

Employers can take a look at meetings – how often are they being
called? Is anything actually being accomplished? Could conference calls
substitute? One easy fix: have a meeting without chairs. In Bob
Sutton’s book The No A****le Rule (he also has a great blog),
I read about a study which compared decisions made by groups where
members STOOD during the meeting compared to decisions made where
members SAT. Groups that stood took 34% less time, with no loss in
quality. (Might cause a lot of grumbling, though.)

Social connection
Studies underscore the critical importance of social relationships to
happiness. Also, interacting with others gives people a boost in mood –
surprisingly, this is true even for introverts.

To foster strong connections among employees, employees can consider
office designs that make social interactions more pleasant and
convenient, encouraging office celebrations, like birthday or holiday
parties, and other ways to help people have closer relationships.

Health and energy
Corporations pay a heavy cost for stress-related illnesses, such as
hypertension, gastrointestinal problems, and substance abuse.

Employers can consider ways to bring down the stress level of the
workplace. Employers can also take steps to educate and encourage folks
to take steps that will help them manage stress:
 Sleep – surprisingly, lack of sleep (which many of us take for
granted as a part of daily life) is a major disrupter of people’s daily
 Exercise – exercise is one of the most effective and easiest ways of
lifting people’s moods, and even a ten-minute walk will boost a
person’s spirits.

An atmosphere of growth
People have a strong desire for growth, progress, and advancement in their lives.

Employers can consider creating benchmarks for people whose jobs
don’t provide a sense of completion and accomplishment, providing
opportunities for training so employees can expand their skills, giving
employees a chance to take risks and enlarge their responsibilities.

Even a small treat can boost people’s happiness – and people get a bigger kick from an unexpected pleasure.

Employers can consider some kind of intermittent small benefit or
give-away. This might seem kind of childish, but we’ve all seen adults
scrambling for little freebies in very undignified ways. People love a

But these suggestions don’t just hold for employers. We should all
be trying to bring these elements into our own lives. Find a way to
bring “an atmosphere of growth” into your day, get more sleep and
exercise, make plans with friends, surprise your family with some
little treat.

From The Happiness Project @

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