Q: I am a 45-year old woman in good health, but I’m not as thin as I used to be. What’s the best way to tell if my weight is still within a healthy range?
A: The most widely used measurement of healthy weight is the Body Mass Index, or BMI, which is calculated using a person’s weight and height. A BMI in the range of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy. A person with a BMI of 25 to 30 is considered overweight, while a BMI over 30 indicates obesity. You can visit www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/ to calculate your own BMI.
You don’t need to look like a high-fashion model to have a healthy weight. It’s more important to combine a healthy weight with good nutrition and exercise habits. Being overweight greatly increases the risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and osteoarthritis. Recent studies suggest that overweight women may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and dementia.
Q: I’m finding it difficult to handle the stress of working full time while raising two young children. Is there anything I can do to reduce the stress?
A: Many parents struggle with the demands of work and the needs of their families. Caring for small children can be especially tiring. Scheduling specific time periods for yourself and for your spouse can help you take back some control over your time. You can also reduce stress by including exercise in your schedule and eating a healthier diet.
Keeping a written “to do” list is another simple way to help you manage everyday tasks; it can help you prioritize what needs to be done today, and what can be left for tomorrow.
Your doctor can also discuss a variety of ways to reduce stress, including relaxation techniques, nutrition and exercise.
Q: I suffer from moderate heartburn. Besides taking medication, are there other ways to reduce the frequency and severity of heartburn attacks?
A: Most cases of heartburn can be easily prevented. Here are some simple tips:
- Eat smaller meals to keep your stomach from getting too full; a full stomach raises the risk of a heartburn attack.
- Reduce your intake of spicy foods, chilies and acidic foods like grapefruit and oranges. High protein, low fat foods are a better choice.
- Avoid chocolate, fatty or fried foods, and mint-flavored food. Drink less alcohol, coffee and fizzy drinks.
- Don’t wear tight clothing like belts, waistbands or panty hose as they can add pressure to your stomach.
- Avoid smoking, as it can aggravate heartburn.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight adds pressure on the stomach and increases the chance of stomach acid backing up. Even losing just a kilo or two can help reduce heartburn problems.
In some cases, heartburn symptoms may be a sign of a more serious problem. If you’re taking over-the-counter medication for heartburn more than twice a week, be sure to talk to your doctor.