The stomach flu (otherwise known as viral gastroenteritis) recently ripped its way through my household, which was great fun. I’ve seen a lot of it in my practice lately, too. A question I’m commonly asked by parents whose kids have the stomach flu, is: what can I give my kid to eat?
Here’s my answer (and this applies for both kids and grownups):
Dehydration is a potentially serious consequence of the stomach flu, and kids are particularly vulnerable. Start off with tiny amounts of clear fluid, given frequently. Water, ginger ale, Pedialyte (the adult version is called Gastrolyte), popsicles, jello, and clear soup broth. Some kids love Pedialyte, some don’t (my kids hate it), so here’s an alternative: make your own simple rehydration solution!
Recipe for homemade electrolyte replacement drink:
Some clear fluids contain a lot of sugar (and sugar can make diarrhea worse), like fruit juice, pop, and Gatorade. These are fine if they’re all your kid will take, but try to dilute them with water, or alternate them with other less sugary fluids.
How much to give? Just start with tiny amounts—sips, basically. Filling up a fragile stomach with large volumes of fluid will not feel good, and vomiting will inevitably follow. Just give small amounts until your little one can tolerate more, then gradually increase.
After the first 24 hours, once they’re not vomiting so much and they’re able to keep things down, they will probably start feeling very hungry. Once your child’s symptoms have subsided for about 12 hours, you can begin to move beyond clear fluids. But it’s important to NOT go back to a normal diet right away. Start gently, with mild, bland food. Specifically, now is the time for the BRAT diet:
Why these? All these foods are very easy on the digestive system and won’t cause more stomach upset. Again, the key is just tiny amounts to begin, and work your way up to larger amounts.
Once your kid is doing well on the BRAT diet, you can start to introduce other plain food, as tolerated. But ease into it.
Here’s a list of foods to avoid for the first couple of days, as they present more of a challenge to the GI tract:
The thing is, if you go back to regular food too quickly, it can flare up a kid's GI symptoms again. I see this all the time. People say, “He was just starting to get better, then suddenly got worse again!” It’s almost always because they went back to regular food too quickly.
Remember, your child's GI tract just got royally rocked—it needs a little time to recover and start functioning properly again. Give it time, and be gentle.
Got kids? Then you've got health questions. Here, what to do when your kid has a fever. And do you know how to get rid of head lice? (Even if you're not dealing with these issues right now . . . well, you might want to bookmark these for a future date. Just sayin'.)
I get it. You’d love to be healthier...but who has the time? Well, here's some good news: you don't need a ton of time to make positive changes in your lifestyle.
Below are ten quick and easy ways to take your health to the next level.
Studies have shown that the simple act of clipping on a pedometer can boost your weekly walking amounts, by almost double—without you even being aware of changing your behaviour. Aiming for 10,000 steps per day seems to be the magic number. Less than 5,000 steps per day is a marker for a “sedentary” lifestyle, and people who are averaging 10,000 steps a day are maintaining an “active lifestyle,” and are healthier and less obese.
We're not talking a total dietary makeover here, just switching a couple of your less-than-healthy weeknight staples for a simple fish meal. Cold water fatty fish has been repeatedly shown to be extremely healthy, primarily because of the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. The American Heart Association recommends fish twice a week—an eminently achievable goal. Not sure how to cook fish? Here: the easiest salmon recipe ever.
Keeping a food diary is one of the best ways to avoid mindless munching and to keep track of your eating habits. Truth is, most of us really have no idea how much we're eating. Multiple studies have shown the extreme inaccuracy of relying on our own recall for this. Also, when people keep a food diary—even if they're not trying to make any other changes—they automatically start adjusting their diets in a healthier direction. If a food diary seems like a hassle to you...guess what? There’s an app for that. My Fitness Pal is one of the best, but there are others.
Not only does this one not take any extra time, it will actually save you time. A study published a couple of years ago showed that once you're over the age of 25, every hour of TV you watch reduces your life expectancy by 22 minutes. Ouch. But it makes sense, right? Time spent watching TV is time not being active, but probably is time spent munching your way through a bag of Cheetos. I know TV is the way many of us relax at the end of the day—and I'm not saying you have to hide the remote permanently—but maybe you could cut back a little and do other things for stress relief?
Let's face it, moms—we're good at keeping up to date with our kids' checkups, but not so good about making our own health a priority. There’s a good chance you’re overdue for your own checkup. So don't think about this one too much, just do it right now. Even if you're not due for your checkup, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably feeling something, you wish you had more energy, you wish you were sleeping better, you’d love to lose a few pounds, these are ALL things you could talk to your doctor about.
Your mom knew the wisdom of this one, and so did your grandmother. Fresh air is good for the body and the soul—it's a great de-stresser, and the air itself is full of negative ions that work to boost mood, energy levels, and oxygen flow to the brain. Plus, if you combine that outside time with a little exercise, you're winning on multiple levels.
Breathing is one of the best, quickest, and easiest de-stressers out there. But it's exactly because of these features that many people dismiss the power of this practice. Proper abdominal breathing, using your diaphragm, has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve headaches, combat fatigue, lessen anxiety and battle depression. Sound good? Here's a primer on breathing exercises.
This one really doesn’t take any additional time at all—it’s more about willpower. Which, admittedly, doesn’t particularly align with the “easy” theme of these tips, but...lucky for you, I happen to have compiled a list of no-brainer ways you can trick yourself into becoming a portion control pro.
Research is piling up to demonstrate the health benefits of meditation. And, even better, you don't have to dedicate a Dalai-Lama-esque two hours a day to benefit. A mere ten minutes of meditation has been shown to help, and the benefits of regular meditation are many: lower blood pressure, less pain, better sleep, lower stress, improved immunity. It really is something you can squeeze into those small wedges of time in your day (carpool pickup, perhaps? naptime? just before bed?).
This, intuitively, may not seem like it has much to do with health. But I happen to be a big believer in the connection between happiness and health, and focusing on gratitude has been shown, through much research, to be a significant happiness booster. Here are some easy ways, including keeping a journal, to incorporate gratitude into your daily life.
For more quick health tips, go here to read about 4 Easy Ways To Live Longer. And here, find out about one simple thing you can do to cut your cancer risk.
Photo from Flickr CC: Kat (modified with text)
It all starts when you begin thinking how nice it might be to have a baby.
And then comes a little of this:
And whether it happens easily for you or it takes, well, a bit longer than you planned, eventually you get to this:
And you’re all
And your man is all
And your fantasies of life with baby look a lot like this:
So, you wait through nine long months of pregnancy . . .
And then comes your delivery, which goes a little something like this:
But then your baby is born, and for a few hours afterward it’s all
. . . mostly while your meds wear off and your baby recovers from the trauma.
But it's not long before this begins:
and feels like it just might never stop. You're into one never ending string of sleepless nights and cluster feeding and you’re like
And, of course, there are all. those. diapers.
And then, one day, another mother tells you her little angel has slept through the night since age three weeks. And you’re all
And when people (your mother-in-law, perhaps) give you unsolicited advice, you feel like:
But then, at last, your baby sleeps through the night.
And you start feeling more confident. You've nailed this mothering thing.
It's not long before your little one starts sitting . . . crawling . . . standing . . . and at first you’re all
But then you look around and realize all the dangers and you’re like
And then he starts to talk, which is super sweet, until he learns his fave word
And then he hears you swear for the first time. He takes to this fun new word like a pro.
Shortly after that you hit the tantrum stage. And you feel a bit like this
And then . . . your toddler stops napping.
You try to stay organized and productive during the day, but taking a kid to the grocery store is a little like this:
At last it’s time for your darling little one to go to school for the first time. And, in spite of everything, you’re all
But then you go home after drop-off and the house is oh-so-quiet.
So you go
But the truth is, what you're really looking at is years and years of this:
and hour upon hour of baffling math homework.
When you take your kid to school you want to drop him off looking all
but really it's more like this.
And then one day . . .
One of your kid's friends calls on the phone . . . just to talk. And then he doesn't want you to kiss him at school drop-off anymore. And then he says he wants a Facebook account. And before you know it, your baby is going to be all . . .
Because that baby of yours is growing up. And part of you feels
and another part feels
but mostly you feel like you want to
because you know it won't be long before the teenage years arrive. So for now, you're going to enjoy all the cuddles you can get.
And, perhaps, the best thing you can look forward to about your baby growing up is this: the memory wipe that will undoubtedly make all those early years feel like:
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