Briefs: 'Pocket Posh' has right look for a chic shape-up

| Friday, Feb. 4, 2011

More subtle than lugging around a big diet book, it's the "Pocket Posh Complete Calorie Counter: Your Guide to Thousands of Foods From Grocery Stores and Restaurants" (Andrews McMeel Publishing).

The 4-inch by 6-inch book's playful cover disguises the health tips and listings inside. Find calories, protein, carbs, sugar, fiber, fats (total and saturated), and sodium for a range of foods at supermarkets and restaurants (from Applebee's to White Castle).

It's $7.99 at or .

Food labels might mislead rather than inform

Boost your immunity. Protect healthy joints. Improve brain development. Reduce cholesterol. Regulate digestion. Can food products actually do all that?

If you believe the health claims on some package fronts, they can. But the claims are confusing, say consumer advocates and health agencies -- including the national, independent Institute of Medicine and the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which have called for food-labeling reforms.

Here's how to protect yourself:

• Focus on information in the nutritional fact panel.

• Look at the product ingredient list. Ingredients are listed in order of prevalence in a product; the first two items are most important.

• Compare front-package labels with the ingredient list. For example, if a product says, "made with whole grain," the first ingredient should be whole oats, brown rice, whole rye, oatmeal, wild rice or a similar ingredient, not enriched wheat flour.

• Be cautious of "structure/function" claims, such as those saying a product "helps maintain a healthy heart" or "supports your immunity" or "helps protect healthy joints."

• Check the nutrition fact panel of products that claim they have no or low trans fats to see if they are high in saturated fat or cholesterol.

• If a product says, "made with whole wheat," check the fiber content. If the daily value is high or the product has 5 grams or more per serving, whole wheat content is high.

Dealing with hot flashes

What middle-aged woman hasn't begged the question: Is it warm in here, or is it me?

That hot, hot feeling that seems to come at the most inopportune times is a natural part of life. But hot flashes can be avoided. The first step is figuring out what brings them on. Personal triggers could include stress, alcohol, caffeine, diet pills, spicy or hot food, hot tubs, saunas, hot showers, hot beds, hot rooms, hot weather and smoking.

Here are some tips to hot flash survival from from :

• Dress in layers, so you can peel off one layer after another as you get warmer.

• Don't wear wool or synthetics, and be wary of silk. That leaves cotton, linen and rayon.

• Avoid turtlenecks. Stick to open-neck shirts.

• Keep ice water at hand that you can sip to cool down.

• Whenever possible, lower the thermostat. Maybe it's time for a decent air conditioner, or a ceiling fan or portable one.

• Wear cotton pajamas or nightgown. If you perspire a lot at night, your nightclothes are easier to change than the sheets, which should be cotton and not synthetic.

• Take a cool shower before bed.

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