Wellness Matters

Blog Posts

In Pursuit of Perfection: Kids and Body Image

Kids and body image
Body image is a multidimensional construct or idea that includes how we perceive, think, feel and act toward our bodies. Understanding how to cultivate a positive body image is an important skill to help you be successful, and it’s very important as parents to help your children to develop those same skills from an early age. Body image can range from health to unhealthy, changing with time and influencing their behavior. A negative body image can affect your self-worth and your perceived value, encouraging a person to participate in unhealthy or destructive behaviors, such as over-exercising, not exercising at all, developing an unhealthy relationship with food, discouraging yourself from something you want or creating relationship problems with others.

There are many different things that can influence our body image, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, individual experiences and differences in our brains and the way we experience our bodies. Puberty and adolescence can be an especially difficult time for teenagers emotionally, socially and psychologically, and it can be tempting to make body comparisons during this time. Try to remind your children that everyone develops and grows differently, physically and otherwise. The media can also impact our body image, which is why it’s important to be “media literate,” by being aware of the practices used to perfect the images we see, and develop strategies to counteract the desire to compare your body to the most often altered images in magazines.

Fortunately, there are steps parents can take to avoid issues with body image in their children and teens. As a start, parents should be mindful of how they talk about their own bodies around their children, and model positive self-statements and behaviors. Other ways to encourage positive body images in your children are:

  • Stop comparisons, it’s lose-lose
  • When you compare yourself to be “less” than someone else, you feel bad.
  • When you compare yourself to be “more” than someone else, that momentary ego boost might fade into feeling judgmental and isolated from that person.
  • Challenge hurtful thoughts
  • Ask yourself, is what I’m thinking the objective truth or a judgment Would I say the same thing to my best friend?
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Use stickies! Put sticky notes on the mirror in the bathroom to remind you everyday.
  • Everyday, remind yourself of 3 things that you like about your body or 3 amazing things your body can do.

If parents notice developing body image issues in their children or teens, it is important to seek professional help as well. Early intervention and treatment is key, and Cone Health has an exceptional network of behavioral health specialists, dieticians, primary care physicians and other related healthcare providers whom are dedicated to providing proper treatment to individuals in the community dealing with body image issues.

About the Author

Lauren R. Preston, MSW, LCSWA is a Behavioral Health Clinician at the Cone Health Center for Children

5 Ways Minorities Can Avoid Falling Victim to Cardiovascular Disease

5 Ways Minorities Can Avoid Falling Victim to Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, and it impacts a disproportionately high number of minorities. There are many factors that contribute to this disparity including culture, income, education, genetics, access to care and communication barriers.

According to the American Heart Association:
  • African -Americans have a 33 percent higher death rate from cardiovascular disease than any other group.
  • African -Americans are twice as likely to have a stroke than Caucasians.
  • Native Americans are much more likely to die early from heart disease. 36 percent will die of heart disease before the age of 65 as opposed to 17 percent of the overall U.S. population.
  • African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have a much higher prevalence of type 2 diabetes than Caucasians.
  • African-American and Mexican-American women have a much higher rate of obesity, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, than Caucasian women.

With the proper diet and exercise, everyone, regardless of ethnicity, can reduce their risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Here’s how:

  1. Reduce bad foods. Choose foods that have no or low levels of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Saturated and trans fats are in fatty beef, pork, poultry with skin, lard, butter and dairy products made with whole milk. Sodium comes from the amount of salt in your food.
  2. Eat heart-healthy foods such as fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains, fish, nuts and seeds. Eat the leanest cuts of meat you can find or have meals without meat. Drink beverages without added sugar.
  3. Stay physicallyactive. Try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, or 75 minutes of intense physical activity, such as jogging or running, every week.
  4. Strengthen yourmuscles. Do muscle strengthening exercises that work all major muscle groups at least two days a week. This includes back muscles, legs, hips, chest, shoulders and arms.
  5. Stop smoking and reduce alcohol intake.

Parents can also help reduce the risk for their children by encouraging 60 minutes of activity each day.

It is important to learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. Receiving treatment as quickly as possible greatly increases chances for positive outcomes.

About the Author

Dr. Tiffany Randolph
Tiffany Randolph, MD is a cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare at Church Street

How to Safely Dispose of Prescription Drugs [Infographic]

Prescription medication disposal
Medications are important in the treatment of illness. When left sitting around unused, prescription drugs can also pose a significant danger. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 93 percent of all unintentional poisoning deaths are from medications or other drugs.

When prescription drugs are no longer needed, you need to dispose of them in a safe manner. The best way to do this is by taking them to a prescription drop box or other medication take-back program in your area.

If there are no take-back programs in your area, and there are no specific disposal instructions on the label, you can follow these simple steps to dispose of most medicines in the household trash:
  1. Take the medicines out of the bottles
  2. Do not flush down the toilet
  3. Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with unappealing substances such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
  4. Seal the mixture in a disposable bag and throw away.
  5. Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of it.

Properly dispose of your prescription medication

Share this Image On Your Site

5 Tips for Healthier, Happier Feet

Woman with Healthy Feet

Most people don’t understand how poor foot health can impact their overall health. April, National Foot Health Awareness Month, is a terrific time to go over a few simple steps you can take to keep your feet healthy and pain-free.

According to a study by the Institute of Preventative Health, 80 percent of people ages 21 and older have at least one problem with their feet. Often, foot issues are indicators of other problems. Back and leg pain, among many other ailments, can arise because of unhealthy feet.

Here are a few simple steps you can take to get on the path to healthier feet:
  • Buy healthier shoes – Look for shoes with arch support and flexible soles with a minimal heel. Toes should have sufficient room without the sides of the shoes pressing against the toes.
  • Avoid high heels – While many women subscribe to the theory “beauty is pain,” there is nothing beautiful about painful feet. When deciding what shoes to wear every day, make the healthier choice. By saving sky-high pumps for the occasional night on the town, women reduce their risk of developing lower extremity problems such as bunions, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, interdigital neuromas and ingrown toenails.
  • Stretch regularly – Stretches enhance overall foot health. Stretching can also alleviate pain and lengthen tight muscles and tendons. There are many good videos online demonstrating stretches. 
  • Maintain Foot Hygiene – Washing the feet daily with mild soap and warm water and drying between the toes can keep many foot infections and diseases away.
  • Get Active – Physical activity is not only great for overall health, it provides a lot of benefits to feet. Walking, running, rollerblading, hiking and bicycling all get feet moving. This keeps feet flexible and improves muscle tone.

Finally, get help when you need it. Foot pain is something you don’t want to ignore. If you had an excruciating headache every day, you would most likely see a doctor. The same goes for your feet. Aches and pains aren’t something you should have to live with. Healthy feet allow you to have a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the things you love doing. If eyes are the windows to your soul, then feet are the doors to your health. Spring is here. Open them and enjoy.

About the Author

Norman Regal, DPM, is a Podiatrist at Triad Foot Center

9 Ways to Combat Seasonal Allergies

Girl enjoying outdoors despite seasonal allergies
This time of year, when the flowers are in full bloom and the weather is optimal for outdoor fun, many people begin to suffer the effects of seasonal allergies. Over 35 million people in the US suffer from seasonal allergies. There are steps you can take and preventative measures you can use to help alleviate the effects of pollen. Here are 9 tips  to help make your spring fun more enjoyable.

3 Ways to Help Your Tween or Teen Daughter With Body-Image Issues

My daughter is 14 and constantly talks about being fat, although she is definitely not. What's the best way to respond?

Teen girl looking at scale
In a culture saturated with digitally altered images on social media, raising girls with high self-esteem can be daunting. But as parents, you have a great deal of influence starting with comments about how you view yourself. For example: You glance into a mirror and say, “Do these jeans make me look fat because I had pizza?” There is an underlying message about food and self as either good or bad. And think about who is listening and watching.

A recent Dove survey of 2,000 moms found that girls as young as 7 mimic their mom’s behaviors, such as sucking in their stomach or describing themselves as fat. And according to a survey of 13- to 18-year-olds by Keds and Girls Leadership, 48 percent turn to their mother for support when they have a problem. Girls may get into the mix with their friends during the day, but mom is their safe haven. Chances are you’re everything to your daughter, including her biggest role model.

  1. Teenage girls start comparing body types as social influence runs wild in schools, sports and the community. When praising your child, direct your praise away from appearance and more on what she does well with her world. Balance compliments about appearance with compliments about who she is as a person and how that impacts other people. Challenge yourself to match every compliment you give about your daughter’s appearance with at least two about something nonappearance based.
  2. While watching TV or looking at a magazine, talk with her about what she sees and how that affects her view on her body image. Awareness is key when helping her develop a critical eye and learn to filter media messages that are unrealistic. If you have a tween or teenager, then you know the constant demand of being on social media. Don’t be afraid to enter her world by asking questions and showing interest in what she is being exposed to develop sense of self with her passions and interests. If she can communicate to you about what she likes and enjoys, then she is building confidence and developing a strong sense of self, which makes it easier to navigate adolescence.
  3. Praise her imperfections. You might be surprised to learn that letting your daughter mess up is one of the best ways to build her confidence. The theory: Girls are inadvertently groomed to become perfectionists by being praised for “good girl” behavior, so they quickly learn that making mistakes means “not good enough.” This becomes problematic because researchers have found that it’s the very process of taking risks and messing up that builds confidence, explains Katty Kay, coauthor of “The Confidence Code.” “We tend to make our kids’ lives easy by doing things for them because we’re so desperate for them to succeed. But then when you tell a child she can do anything, she has no evidence to support that because she hasn’t had to work hard at anything,” says Kay. Show your daughter that mistakes are a normal part of life. And as cliché as it may sound, for all the challenges a girl may face, there is nothing more grounding or powerful than your unconditional love.

About the Author

Hannah Coble, LCSW, MSW, is a licensed clinical social worker at The Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital