Concentrate On Your Eating – And Gain Health Benefits

Charletta Harris, 17, a junior from Oakland, Calif., was once a typical teen eater, munching fast food on the run. Today she’s a vegetarian who enjoys sitting down with her older sister, Geralina, to eat a home-cooked meal. Charletta engages in mindful eating, a practice of savoring food and appreciating its nourishing effects. The technique is based on Zen meditation, which calls for the clearing of one’s mind through focus on an activity. She writes about the activity on her blog, The opposite of mindful eating is distracted eating, an all-too-familiar dietary practice. Eating meals in front of the TV has become an American tradition. Forty percent of young people say they always or often watch television during dinner, according to a 1999 study from the National Institute on Media and the Family. And when TV isn’t a distraction, the computer is. Twenty-five percent of young people eat or drink while using the Internet, reports a 2003 study from Knowledge Networks/Statistical Research. Unfortunately, tuning in can cause teens… Read the rest

The Mysteries Of An Old Crash

ON AUGUST 2, 1947, an airplane flying west from Buenos Aires, Argentina, radioed the airport in Santiago, Chile, that it would be arriving in just four minutes. It never arrived. The disappearance of the plane–named Star Dust–became one of aviation’s most baffling mysteries. Then, in January 1998, two mountaineers climbing Mount Tupungato, one of the most formidable peaks in the South American Andes, made a grim discovery. They found one of Star Dust’s engines, along with scraps of metal, tattered clothing, and a mummified human hand. The discovery of Star Dust’s remains served only to deepen the mystery of its disappearance. Why had traces of it shown up now, when exhaustive searches up and down the Andes had revealed nothing? Where had the plane been all that time? And why was the plane, which had radioed that it was only a short distance from touchdown, found more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the airport? READING THE REMAINS Soon after the plane’s discovery, the Argentine army sent an expedition up… Read the rest

Beating Dislexia Is A Battle, But It Can Be Won

Andrew Miller, 13, used to end homework assignments with the slam of his bedroom door. “Homework was hard,” he said. “I yelled a lot.” His mom sometimes yelled too. “It was not a fun environment,” Cynthia Miller said. “Andrew was frustrated because he wanted to be done. I was frustrated because I wanted him to do good work.” Frustration and fights over homework mounted at the Miller home until four years ago, when Andrew finally learned why he was struggling in school. Andrew has a reading disorder called dyslexia. People who have dyslexia have trouble connecting the sounds that make up spoken words with the letters that spell out those words on the written page. Those connections are essential for reading. FAMILY TIES Andrew’s struggle with reading also troubled his older brother, Matt–so much so that it motivated Matt to learn more about dyslexia for an English assignment two years ago. “I wanted to learn about the disability that was influencing my brother’s life,” said Matt, now 15. Matt hoped… Read the rest

Make Holidays The Best They Can Be

Grandma’s pumpkin pie. Aunt Maria’s seven-layer salad. Uncle Ted’s cranberry sauce. And, of course, that big turkey roasting in the oven. All of these are ingredients for a great Christmas. Yet, when it comes to holidays, the most important ingredient isn’t poured into the sweet potato casserole or placed on the table. The most important ingredient at a family feast is, well, family. That’s where problems can begin. Even if the turkey, stuffing, and pie are perfect, your relatives might not be! How can you keep your cool when your sister’s bugging you, your uncle is yammering, and Grandma keeps making comments about your hair? Turkey, Dressing, and Stressing “Holidays can be a very stressful time for families,” admits Jennifer Murray Connell, a social worker and instructor at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. “People want to have that perfect holiday,” Connell explains. “There’s a lot of pressure on families to have that. But at the same time, parents might be tense because of work, travel, or money.” Moreover, at… Read the rest

Really Knowing Your Family Can Help You Live Longer!

“Grandma, could you please pass the stuffing–and, hey, have you ever been diagnosed with hypertension or high cholesterol?” A family holiday may seem like a strange time to discuss matters of life and death, but the U.S. surgeon general says it’s the ideal time to collect information about the health of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins–since they’re all gathered in one place. In fact, Thanksgiving has been officially declared National Family History Day. Why does the country’s top health official care whether you know what disease your great aunt Flora died of? Why should you? Because it could help you live longer. “Many diseases and conditions are at least partially hereditary,” explains Alan Guttmacher, deputy director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. You may have inherited more than just your mom’s green eyes and your dad’s brown hair; the chance of developing some health disorders can also be passed down from generation to generation through genes. For example, if your maternal grandmother… Read the rest