The One About Oak Allergies

Ah…  

Ah, spring!  What a beautiful time of year!  These are the days of perfect weather, not too hot and not too cold.  The weather is just right, in fact! 

These are the days that you want to spend as much time outdoors as possible!  And then… the oak pollen starts to fall.  That yellow coating accumulates on cars and sidewalks, seemingly everywhere.  In our area, it really cannot be avoided.

Ah…choo! 

For many seasonal allergy sufferers, oak season leads to sniffling, sneezing,and wheezing.  The beauty of being outside in March and April disappears in a cloud of yellow pollen.  And yet, the weather doesn’t get any better for outdoor fun than it is now! 

Tips:

Many would recommend staying indoors on high pollen count days.  I think that is hard to do in spring around here!  For people with severe allergies, it may be necessary at times, but what else can be done to help with allergen exposure and symptoms?

  • Shower and change clothes when coming in from outdoor activities.  This should at least be done before bedtime so that pollen is kept out of the bed sheets.  If you have a toddler or preschooler who goes in and out all day long, at least washing off hands and faces after playing outside will help.
  • Keep windows closed and change air filters to decrease pollen inside the house.
  • Clean out that nose!  For younger children, using nasal saline spray and a good nasal suction can help remove mucous and allergens from the nasal passageways.  For older children and adults, nasal sinus rinses that use sterile saline (Neti Pot or NeilMed sinus rinse) are very effective.
  • Over the counter antihistamines can help with nasal and eye symptoms.  The older generation diphenhydramine (Benadryl) tends to cause drowsiness so is best given at bedtime.  Newer generation antihistamines cause less drowsiness and are usually dosed once a day.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids are prescription nose sprays that are very effective in reducing allergy symptoms.  They must be used daily to be effective.

The bottom line is this: reduce allergen exposure where you can, talk to your doctor about appropriate medications for your child, and enjoy the outdoors this spring!

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The One About Eating More Veggies

I have finally learned to eat my vegetables first, and I am proud of it!

My husband and I joined a local farm delivery service last fall and now receive a “bushel” (large box, really) of fresh local produce once a week. This has been a fun adventure at our house.  Each week we get a variety of produce grown on several local farms in our area.

This has really changed the way that we cook and plan meals at my house.  We now start with an abundance of vegetables in the fridge and try to plan meals that put them to good use.  Planning ways to use the vegetables has challenged our creativity and cooking skills.  Fortunately, most of our experiments have been successful!  And those that haven’t been so great, have at least been good learning experiences.

We live in a country plagued by obesity where there are new fast food restaurants popping up every day.  Most people would like to make healthy changes to their diets, and I propose that eating MORE vegetables is a great start.  For most, this will naturally lead to eating less of other things.

I challenge and encourage you to eat more vegetables in your household!  Focusing on increasing your fruit and vegetable intake will lead to healthier eating all around.  The government recommends using the MyPlate guideline for eating a healthy and nutritious diet, this includes fruit or vegetables on half of your plate at every meal.  I think many people find this to be a difficult goal.  In my household, this has been easier since we started getting our veggies first!

Starting with veggies was really the key, and it has improved my diet and increased my vegetable intake.  I encourage you to try focusing on which vegetables you’d like your family to eat first and then filling in the rest of your meal around the veggies!   I know that it’s not feasible for every  family to sign up for a farm delivery service, but it is possible to start meal planning with vegetables first.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Start meal planning with produce items that are in season at the grocery store.
  • Visit the farmer’s market and take the kids along to help choose things that they would like to try.
  • Let your kids choose a new vegetable, and then have them help you look up a way to prepare it.
  • It takes time and energy, but a home grown garden is a great way to get the whole family involved and invested in the produce that you eat.

No matter how you go about it, the more invested your family is in the vegetables that go on the table, the more likely everyone is to eat and enjoy them!  More broccoli, please!