Monday, October 27, 2014


What to do with all that Halloween candy

Let’s face it — kids are going to go trick-or-treating on Halloween and come home with a lot of candy.  As parents, we want to teach our children how to develop healthy habits, but we also want them to experience all the joy of this fun holiday. 

Luckily, there are several ways to handle this dilemma and some of them are a great way to teach our children about not only health, but the importance of giving.  After all, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving in just a few short weeks!  Here are some great ideas: 
1) Halloween candy buy-back: Many dentists offer to buy back children’s Halloween candy for money or other prizes.  This way, the candy is gone but your child still gets to have all the fun of trick-or-treating.  Call your dentist to see if they are participating in this service.

2) Buy it back yourself: If you don’t have a dentist that offers Halloween candy buy-back, you can offer to buy back the candy yourself.  Tell your child that the more candy they “sell” the more money they will get. 

3) The Great Pumpkin/The Switch Witch: If you have younger children, you can add to the fun of Halloween by telling your child that if they put the candy that they don’t want in a bag on the front porch, the “Great Pumpkin” or the “Switch Witch” will take it and leave them a toy instead.  What to do with all that candy now that it is yours? Take a look at the next ideas.

4) Donate to a local food bank or shelter: This is a great way to teach kids about charity.  Let them know that they can help others who may be less fortunate by donating some of their candy to those in need.  Offer to let them come with you to make the donation so that they can share in the good feelings that come from giving.  

5) Make a soldier’s day: Many are not aware that you can donate candy to be put into care packages for our troops overseas. You can even have your child write a letter or draw a picture to go along with your donation. It’s always good to teach children to appreciate the sacrifices our soldiers make for us every day.  For more information, go to
Whatever method you choose, do your best not to make a big deal about it.  The more you try to force your ideas onto a child, the more likely they are to resist you.  

Always give your child the choice of what they wish to do with their candy.  A great suggestion is to give your child the option to keep their favorite types of candy and “sell” or donate the rest. Whatever your child decides to do, respect that choice and follow through.  A day or two of binging on candy is not going hurt your child, but being too strict can turn sweet treats into “forbidden fruit,” leading to unhealthy eating habits down the road. Try to make this experience as positive as possible because in the end, you want them to have the same fond memories of this spooky holiday that you do!

Jennifer Fetterley is a registered dietitian for the Backus Health System and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal healthcare provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Fetterley or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

Monday, October 06, 2014


Decoding the health care jargon

The health care field has a language all to its own — one that is nearly unintelligible to the average person.  Hearing unfamiliar acronyms and abbreviations can be intimidating when they are being used to describe you and your health care problems.   

And there are so many of them!  In fact, the Healthcare Association of NY State has compiled a list of acronyms, abbreviations, and medical terms into a book that is 75 pages long.  When I scanned that long list, I was surprised at how many were unfamiliar to me, a person with decades of health care experience. 

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to process and understand information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

If your health are provider says that you have C.A.D. and wants to do a MUGA scan, your mind might race ahead and try to decipher those acronyms.  Does that mean you have “Chronic Alzheimer’s Disease,” and the plan is for you to get “mugged” in the X-ray department?   Actually, C.A.D. is the acronym for Coronary Artery Disease, and a MUGA scan, even though it’s pronounced “MUGGA,” does not involve violence; it stands for “Multiple Gated Acquisition” — a non-invasive  test used to measure heart function and performance. 

The point here:  ask questions.  Don’t be intimidated by medical jargon.  It’s easy for anxiety to be heightened when dealing with healthcare issues anyway. You shouldn’t have to ask “what does that mean?” after every sentence, but sometimes it’s necessary.   

Health care providers that communicate clearly to their patients will have the most success. It’s a two-way street — patients need to communicate their concerns and health habits to their provider, too. People will make better health care decisions with clear communication and understanding. That’s a win-win situation for everyone.  One last note: if your practitioner says you’re “S.O.B” that simply means, “Short of Breath.”

Alice Facente is a community health nurse for the Backus Health System. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?