December 2007

Although not associated with long-term consequences, eyestrain resulting from computer use can be bothersome and uncomfortable — and may cut your work short.
Minimize computer-related eyestrain by following these tips.

Your eyes hurt. Your head aches. And there you sit, peering at your computer monitor. If you’re one of the many people who use computers every day — either for work or personal use — you may experience eyestrain as a result.Eyestrain: Signs and symptoms

Common signs and symptoms include:§                  Sore, tired, burning or itching eyes §                  Watery eyes §                  Dry eyes §                  Blurred or double vision §                  Headache and sore neck §                  Difficulty shifting focus between monitor and paper documents in your work area §                  Color fringes or afterimages when you look away from the monitor §                  Increased sensitivity to light Eyestrain associated with computer use isn’t thought to have serious or long-term consequences, but it’s disruptive and unpleasant. Though you may not be able to change the nature of your job or all the factors that can cause eyestrain, you can take steps to reduce the strain. New habits can help relieve eyestrainA few simple adjustments in how you work or surf the Internet can give your eyes a much-needed rest.Follow these simple tips to reduce eyestrain:§                  Take eye breaks. Throughout the day, give your eyes a break by forcing them to focus on something other than on your screen. Try the following exercise: Hold a finger a few inches in front of your face; focus on the finger as you slowly move it away; focus on something far in the distance and then back to the finger; slowly bring the finger back toward your face. Next, shift your focus to something farther than eight feet away and hold your eyes there for a few seconds. Repeat this exercise three times, several times a day. §                  Change the pace. Try to stand up and move around at least once every hour or so. If possible, lean back and close your eyes for a few moments. At the very least, try to give yourself a five-minute rest every hour. Do other work, such as phone calls or filing, during this time. §                  Blink often to refresh your eyes. Because many people blink less than normal when working at a computer, dry eyes can result from prolonged computer use. Blinking produces tears that can help moisten and lubricate your eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink more often. §                  Consider using artificial teardrops. Available over the counter, artificial tears can help relieve dry eyes that result from prolonged sessions at the computer. §                  Practice relaxation. Ease muscle tension with this relaxation exercise: Place your elbows on your desk, palms facing up; let your weight fall forward and your head fall into your hands; position your head so that your eyebrows rest on the base of your palms, with your fingers extended toward your forehead; close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose; hold it for four seconds, then exhale. Continue this deep breathing for 15 to 30 seconds. Perform this simple exercise several times a day. §                  Get appropriate eyewear. If you wear glasses or contacts, make sure the correction is right for computer work. Most lenses are fitted for reading print and may not be optimal for computer work. Glasses or contact lenses designed specifically for computer work may be a worthwhile investment.§                     Dry eyes

Put your workstation in orderTake some of the strain off your eyes by making sure your desk space is set up in an appropriate and eye-friendly way.§                  Adjust your monitor. Position your monitor directly in front of you about 20 to 28 inches from your eyes. Many people find that putting the screen at arm’s length is about right. If you need to get too close to read small type, consider increasing the font size.Keep the top of your screen at eye level or below so that you look down slightly at your work. If it’s too high or too low, it can lead to a sore neck. If you have your monitor on top of your central processing unit (CPU), consider placing the CPU to the side or on the floor. And if you wear bifocals or trifocals, keep in mind that you may have a tendency to tilt your head backwards so that you can see through the lower portion of your glasses. To adjust for this, consider lowering your monitor a few inches or buying glasses designed for computer work.§                  Position your keyboard properly. Place your keyboard directly in front of your monitor. If you place it at an angle or to the side, your eyes have to focus at different distances from the screen, a tiring activity. §                  Keep reference materials nearby. Place reading and reference material on a document holder beside your monitor and at the same level, angle and distance from your eyes as the monitor is from your eyes. This way your eyes aren’t constantly readjusting. §                  Check the lighting and reduce glare. Bright lighting and too much glare can make it difficult to see objects on your screen and strain your eyes. To check glare, sit at your computer with the monitor off. This allows you to see the reflected light and images. Note any intense glare. The worst problems are generally from sources above or behind you, including fluorescent lighting and sunlight.If possible, place your monitor so that the brightest light sources are off to the side, at a right angle to your monitor. Consider turning off some or all of the overhead lights. If you need light for writing or reading, use an adjustable desk lamp. Close blinds and shades and avoid placing your monitor directly in front of a window or white wall. Use a glare-reducing screen to minimize glare from overhead lighting. Finally, adjust the contrast and brightness on the monitor to a level that’s comfortable for you, making sure the letters on the screen are easy to read.Also wipe the dust from your computer screen regularly. Dust on the screen cuts down on contrast and may contribute to glare and reflection problems.If problems still persist, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. See your doctor if you have:§                  Prolonged eye discomfort §                  A noticeable change in vision §                  Double vision But if you’re like most people, making a few simple adjustments can help keep your eyes rested and ready. 


butterfly-on-blu-world.jpgExperts share their top tips for weight loss success.
By Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD WebMD
Weight Loss Clinic-Feature Reviewed by Louise Chang,MD

Everyone knows the keys to losing weight:
Eat less and exercise more. Sounds simple enough, but in the context of real life and its demands, it can be anything but simple. So how do successful losers do it? To find out, WebMD asked experts across the country for their best diet tips. Here’s what they said:
Best Diet Tip No. 1: Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages. People sometimes confuse thirst with hunger. So you can end up eating extra calories when an ice-cold glass of water is really what you need. “If you don’t like plain water, try adding citrus or a splash of juice, or brew infused teas like mango or peach, which have lots of flavor but no calories,” says Cynthia Sass, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Best Diet Tip No. 2: Think about what you can add to your diet, not what you should take away. Start by focusing on getting the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. “It sounds like a lot, but it is well worth it, because at the same time you are meeting your fiber goals and feeling more satisfied from the volume of food,” says chef Laura Pansiero, RD. You’re also less likely to overeat because fruits and vegetables displace fat in the diet. And that’s not to mention the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. More than 200 studies have documented the disease-preventing qualities of phytochemicals found in produce, says Pansiero. Her suggestion for getting more: Work vegetables into meals instead of just serving them as sides on a plate. “I love to take seasonal vegetables and make stir-fries, frittatas, risotto, pilafs, soups, or layer on sandwiches,” Pansiero says. “It is so easy to buy a variety of vegetables and incorporate them into dishes.”
Best Diet Tip No. 3: Consider whether you’re really hungry. Whenever you feel like eating, look for physical signs of hunger, suggests Michelle May, MD, author of Am I Hungry? “Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need fuel, so when a craving doesn’t come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it,” she says. When you’re done eating, you should feel better — not stuffed, bloated, or tired. “Your stomach is only the size of your fist, so it takes just a handful of food to fill it comfortably,” says May. Keeping your portions reasonable will help you get more in touch with your feelings of hunger and fullness.
Best Diet Tip No. 4: Be choosy about nighttime snacks. Mindless eating occurs most frequently after dinner, when you finally sit down and relax. “Sitting down with a bag of chips or cookies in front of the television is an example of eating amnesia, where you mindlessly eat without being hungry, but out of habit,” says American Dietetic Association spokesperson Malena Perdomo, RD. Either close down the kitchen after a certain hour, or allow yourself a low-calorie snack, like a 100-calorie pack of cookies or a half-cup scoop of low-fat ice cream. Once you find that you’re usually satisfied with the low-cal snack, try a cup of zero-calorie tea, suggests Perdomo.
Best Diet Tip No. 5: Enjoy your favorite foods. “I think putting your favorite foods off limits leads to weight gain because it triggers ‘rebound’ overeating,” says Sass. Instead of cutting out your favorite foods altogether, be a slim shopper. Buy one fresh bakery cookie instead of a box, or a small portion of candy from the bulk bins instead of a whole bag. “You can enjoy your favorite foods, but you must do so in moderation,” says Sass.
Best Diet Tip No. 6: Enjoy your treats away from home. When you need a treat, Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Food Network’s Healthy Appetite, suggests taking a walk to your local ice cream parlor or planning a family outing. “By making it into an adventure, you don’t have to worry about the temptation of having treats in the house, and it is a fun and pleasurable way to make it work when you are trying to lose weight,” says Krieger. And for those times you just can’t get out? Krieger stocks her kitchen with fresh fruit, which she thinks can be every bit as delicious as any other dessert.
Best Diet Tip No. 7: Eat several mini-meals during the day. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. But when you’re hungry all the time, eating fewer calories can be challenging. “Studies show people who eat 4-5 meals or snacks per day are better able to control their appetite and weight,” says obesity researcher Rebecca Reeves, DrPH, RD. She recommends dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks and enjoying as many of them as you can early in the day — dinner should be the last time you eat.
Best Diet Tip No. 8: Eat protein at every meal. Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates or fats, and thus may be the new secret weapon in weight control. “Diets higher in protein [and] moderate in carbs, along with a lifestyle of regular exercise, have an excellent potential to help weight loss,” says University of Illinois protein researcher Donald Layman, PhD. Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you feeling full. So be sure to include healthy protein sources, like yogurt, cheese, nuts, or beans, at meals and snacks.
Best Diet Tip No. 9: Spice it up. Add spices or chiles to your food for a flavor boost that can help you feel satisfied. “Food that is loaded with flavor will stimulate your taste buds and be more satisfying so you won’t eat as much,” says Perdomo. When you need something sweet, suck on a red-hot fireball candy for a long-lasting burst of sweetness with just a few calories.
Best Diet Tip No. 10: Stock your kitchen with healthy convenience foods. Having ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes staples on hand sets you up for success. You’ll be less likely to hit the drive-through or call in a pizza order if you can make a healthy meal in 5 or 10 minutes. Sass stocks her kitchen with:
• 94% fat-free microwave popcorn (20-25 calories per cup, and you can make it in two minutes or less)
• Frozen vegetables
• Bags of pre-washed greens
• Canned diced tomatoes
• Canned beans
• Whole-grain wraps or pitas
• Pre-cooked grilled chicken breasts
• A few containers of pre-cooked brown rice
Within minutes, she can toss together a healthy medley.
Best Diet Tip No. 11: Order children’s portions at restaurants. “When you are eating out, order a child’s pizza or a small sandwich as an easy way to trim calories and get your portions under control,” suggest Perdomo. Another trick is to use smaller plates. This helps the portions look like more, and if your mind is satisfied, your stomach likely will be, too.
Best Diet Tip No. 12: Eat foods in season. “If you don’t love certain fruits or vegetables, it could be because you ate them out of season when they have little taste or flavor,” says Pensiero. “When you eat seasonally, fruits and vegetables are more flavorful, at their best, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.” At GiGi’s Trattoria, her restaurant in Rhinebeck, N.Y., she serves simple fruit desserts, like naturally sweet strawberries topped with aged balsamic vinegar, or low-fat yogurt or fresh berries in a compote.
Best Diet Tip No. 13: Swap a cup of pasta for a cup of vegetables. Simply by eating less pasta or bread and more veggies, you could lose a dress or pants size in a year. “You can save from 100-200 calories if you reduce the portion of starch on your plate and increase the amount of vegetables,” says Sass.
Best Diet Tip No. 14: Use non-food alternatives to cope with stress. Sooner or later, you’re going to be faced with a stressful situation. Instead of turning to food for comfort, be prepared with some non-food tactics that work for you. Sass suggests reading a few chapters in a novel, listening to music, writing in a journal, practicing meditative deep breathing, or looking at a photo album of loved ones.
Best Diet Tip No. 15: Be physically active. Although it may seem counterintuitive, don’t use exercise either to punish yourself for eating or to “earn” the right to eat more. “When you do, it sets up a negative thought pattern, which is why so many people say they hate to exercise,” says May. Instead, focus on how great you feel, how much better you sleep and how much more energy you have when you exercise. Physical activity is good for you whether you are trying to lose weight or not, so keep it positive and build a lifelong habit.

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