Friday, 24 May 2013

Encouraging a healthy weight in children

Recent figures hit the headlines that younger children than ever are becoming weight conscious. A study at Essex University found a startling one in 17 children are too thin, with 6% now being classified as underweight. It’s been claimed that these children are being missed because of society’s obsession with tackling obesity. However, being underweight can also cause a variety of health problems such as a lack of energy, weakened immune system and delayed development.

Eating disorders most commonly occur in 14-19 year old teenage girls, but clinicians are diagnosing younger and younger children and many more boys, so it is a problem that parents should be aware of. But how can we help our children feel better about their weight when there is so much pressure from society to be thin?

Numerous studies have shown links between exposure to thin bodies and a desire to lose weight. So be careful about leaving fashion magazines around the house. However, the media isn’t the only problem as parents often guide a child's self-image. If you're very weight conscious, your children will copy you and may start saying things like, “I’m so fat" without really understanding what it means. Encourage health in your family, not weight loss per se.

Communicating with your children about weight is key. When they hit puberty their bodies will change suddenly. This may happen at a different time to their friends, leaving them feeling self-conscious. Talk to them about these changes and explain that it is normal. Try to understand their feelings and the source of any untrue beliefs they may hold.

If you believe your child may be developing unhealthy weight goals it is important to consult with your GP quickly to determine whether they have a weight problem and decide on the most appropriate action.

Being aware of potential issues and taking action quickly can really help your child develop a more healthy relationship with their body in childhood, puberty and beyond.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Coping with fertility problems

Recent statistics found that a shocking one in six couples have trouble conceiving, making it an issue that affects many of our lives. Our fertility is influenced by factors such as age, hormonal disorders, smoking, alcohol, stress, sexually transmitted infections, unhealthy body weight or even just bad timing. No matter the cause, it is normal to feel a monumental sense of loss, guilt and sadness if you are struggling to conceive. However, there are certain things you can do to overcome this overwhelming flood of emotions….

  • Resist the urge to blame yourself. It is easy to feel a sense of failure and guilt but no matter what the cause of your problems they will not be solved through placing blame. Focus on the solution rather than the problem. 
  • Face and accept your emotions. Trying to bury your head in the sand will only prolong the pain. 
  • Work through this time with your partner, but this does not mean you should be feeling the same things at the same time. Understand that you may be experiencing different processes and dealing with your issues in different ways. 
  • Communicate with your partner and pay attention to what your partner is thinking. Overcoming these problems together can help make your relationship stronger. 
  • Gain control of the situation by educating yourself. Read, speak to doctors and make use of online forums to chat with couples in similar situations. 
  • Give yourself permission to say no to baby-focused activities such as Christenings if you feel it would be too difficult. 
  • Pursue other interests. It may be difficult, but making your life baby focused will make it even tougher. 
  • If you’ve made decisions such as abortions in the past, don’t dwell on them. It is important to concentrate on your future. 
  • Friends and family can sometimes find it difficult to empathise, and it can be infuriating to keep hearing things like “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant”. Use the internet to make contact with others who will understand what you're going through. 
  • Counselling shouldn’t be seen as a sign you’re not coping, it is perfectly normal for you to want a chance to talk. 
If you are having trouble conceiving, remember there are other options available. Communicate with your partner and doctors to discuss your future and remind yourself of the areas of your life that you have been more fortunate in.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Is your relationship worth working at?

Deciding a relationship is over is one of the hardest things to do. You may feel torn, remembering once happy times while also feeling sad about how things are at present. In addition, when children and shared assets are involved, things can be very complicated. 

Unfortunately, there is no sure way to tell your relationship is over and no-one can make that decision but you, however the following questions may help you decide whether you want to put in the effort to make things better or end the relationship and move on.

1. Ask yourself, in your heart of hearts, is your partner the right person for you?

2. Does your partner make you a better person?

3. Are you afraid of losing your partner more than you're afraid of the break-up process.

4. Think about why you fell in love with your partner in the first place, are those reasons still enough?

5. Imagine yourself in ten years' time, do you see your partner with you?

6. Again, imagine your future self, do you think you would regret staying with your partner for so long?

7. Are you considering a break up with a calm and rational mind, having thoroughly thought it through? (Rather than in the heat of an argument).

8. Do you look forward to seeing your partner?

9. Are you faithful? Both physically and emotionally?

10. Is your relationship worth fighting for?

Breaking up with your partner may feel like the most devastating thing to happen, but it is important to believe that you can be happy again in the future. 

If thinking about your relationship has made you realise that what you have is worth working at, then you may wish to consider relationship counselling. This is a process during which an experienced, non-biased counsellor can help you identify issues and work through them.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Walk the walk to better health

May is national walking month, and with the weather finally improving it is the perfect excuse to get outside and sneak some exercise into your daily routine. 

Research shows that walking 8,000 steps a day significantly improves your health, not just in the short-term. In the long term walking reduces risk of long-term conditions such as heart disease, colon cancer, osteoarthritis, hip fracture and even mental illnesses such as depression and dementia. There’s no need to make huge life changes to reap the benefits of walking and exercise, here are our hints and tips to squeeze exercise into our increasingly busy lives…

  • Walk to work, the longer days and better weather make this all the more possible. If you live too far to walk try getting off the bus a couple of stops early or park further away from work. 
  • Invest in a shopping trolley and do your food shopping locally rather than driving to a super store. 
  • Walk with friends, family or your dog. Not only will this make it more enjoyable, but it is also a great bonding opportunity. 
  • Play with your kids. Rather than just watching, join in and run around with them! They’ll love it too. 
  • Take the stairs rather than the lift. If there’s too many, get out half way or just walk down them. 
  • Go on active dates! Rather than going out for dinner or to the cinema with your partner or friends play tennis or go for a cycle. 
  • Take a break from work and walk round the block. Not only will this improve your concentration but it a great way to sneak in some extra steps. 
  • Check out the Apps available for your smart phone. There are great apps out there ranging from stepometers to walking route suggestions to activity logs so you can track your progress. 
Remember, it’s little changes like these that can really make an impact to your life so don’t be daunted by '8000' steps… you may be surprised how easy and enjoyable they are to do!