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August 20, 2014, 6:23 pm

PMS symptoms can be kept under control

My wife goes through some really severe attitude changes before her menstrual cycle comes on. Is there anything I can do to help her? Her physician doesn’t feel that prescription medication is necessary. Please, somebody help me out!



Four out of 10 women suffer with PMS every month. Premenstrual syndrome can cause bloating, irritability, headache, insomnia, diarrhea, food cravings, personality changes, and severe mood swings.

There are several steps that a person can take to help ease the symptoms associated with PMS. Before her cycle starts you can help by gently motivating (not nagging) her to follow some of the advice given below.

Exercise, such as walking, aerobic dance, swimming, cycling or weight training (performed at least three times a week) will help get rid of fluid retention and help relieve tension. Exercise releases hormones, which have a calming effect. Once these hormones are released, they can be effective for several hours. You can help out by inviting your wife to go for a walk or play a friendly game or tennis. Being active will give her something enjoyable to focus on.

A diet low in fat, salt and sugar but high in fiber (100 percent whole-grain breads and pasta, fruits and vegetables) will help reduce breast tenderness and eliminate excess estrogen. Women who suffer with severe PMS symptoms should also avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, especially during this time.

Excess fluid buildup can cause a person to feel out of sorts and irritable. Drinking water throughout the day will help the body get rid of excess fluid.

Getting a little extra rest can also help some people manage this time of month more effectively. To help the body feel rested and rejuvenated, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation and yoga.

Also, a little pampering can go a long way. When you see her going through those mood changes do something nice like cook a light meal, then draw a nice warm bubble bath lit by candlelight. Don’t forget to include her favorite soothing music as part of the ambience. That should send her mood in the other direction.


Fresh Fish

How can I tell if I’m buying fresh fish?



Linda, here are some tips that will help to make sure you’re buying the freshest fish.

Fresh fish should smell fresh. It should have a mild sea-breeze odor. It should not have a strong fishy odor. A whole, fresh fish should have eyes that are bright, clear and shiny. The scales should be shiny and cling tightly to the skin. The gills should be bright red or pink.

Steaks and fillets should be moist and not dry or brown around the edges. Never buy food from a store that has cooked seafood stored next to raw seafood.


Cooking Fish

With all the talk about food poisoning, how do I know when fish is cooked completely?



The 10-minute rule is a good guide to cook fish and applies to baking, broiling, grilling, steaming and poaching. Measure the fish at the thickest part. Figure 10 minutes of cooking time for each inch of thickness. For pieces of fish that measure less than one inch, try three to five minutes. Add five minutes if the fish is cooked in a sauce. Double the cooking time if the fish is frozen.

Fish is done when the flesh is opaque and begins to flake easily when tested with a fork at the thickest part.


Headaches and Food

How much does food play in my headaches?


Camden, N.J.

Before you do anything, you should see a doctor to rule out medical problems.

Foods can play a big role in headaches. The major culprits are hot dogs, cold cuts, aged cheese, red wine, nuts, sour cream, processed meats, chocolate and MSG. You can exhibit visible reactions to foods in the form of rashes or hives.

Eliminate foods that you suspect are causing reactions one at a time from your diet. After a period of 10 days or so, try that food. If the symptoms occur only when you eat this food, your body is allergic to it. More than one food may cause your reaction.


Cheese/Weight Loss

I like cheese, but I do have high blood pressure and a weight problem. Can I still eat it?


Wyncote, Pa.

Caroline, cheese is a good source of calcium, but it is also loaded with fat, and sodium. There are some on the market with low sodium and low fat content, but they may not tastes as rich as you prefer them. You can do one of two things with your problem. You can give up cheese products or you can learn to like the taste of some low-fat low-sodium cheese products. I like the idea of you adapting to the taste of these alternative cheese products. Cut back on your serving size over a two-week period and alternate the low- sodium, low-fat cheese products with your regular cheese products. Pick a cheese with less than 80 mgs. of sodium and less than 2 grams of saturated fat. By the third week, you should have only low-fat, low-sodium cheese no more than two times a week.


Muscle and Weight Loss

I’m lifting weights with my boyfriend. But, I got on the scale and I’ve gained three pounds. Should I stop lifting weights?


Woodbury, N.J.

Gaining muscle weight will help you in your effort to lose body fat. Muscle tissue burns calories at a faster rate than fat. Therefore, the more lean muscle your body contains the less fat it will store. Most people are surprised when they gain weight after they start a weight-lifting program. You have to remember a lean body may weigh more, but it will appear smaller. Two people may weigh the same, but the one with the higher percentage of body fat will appear larger. Fat takes up more space. So don’t worry about the scale, just take a look in the mirror. Use a combination of weight training, aerobic exercises and a sensible diet consisting of vegetables, proteins, fruits and whole-grain breads, pastas and low-fat milk. This will ensure a safe and permanent weight loss. So, which do you want: fat or muscle?

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.


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