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Eye Irritation, Abrasion Or Pink Eye: When To See An Eye Doctor

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

When a child has a red eye, it can be hard to tell the difference between a scratch on the eye (abrasion) and an infection like pink eye. Both can cause a pinkish-red color to the white part of the eye and excessive tearing. If the child is not old enough to tell you what is going on, they may just cry and rub their eyes.

Mayo Clinic Health System ophthalmologist Naomie Warner explains key differences between the two:

An abrasion is typically one eye only. Abrasions can happen even if you don’t realize you were scratched with something. Often, if you get something in your eye or have a scratch on the eye, you may not feel it for the first few hours, and the pain starts later.

Abrasions are painful and cause extreme light sensitivity. It’s not uncommon for a person with an abrasion to want to cover their eye or not open it unless the room is dark. Pain from an abrasion is some of the most severe discomfort you can experience. The pain remains when your eyes are closed. The excessive tearing you have with an abrasion is quite bothersome and will constantly run down your cheek if you don’t wipe the tears away. An eye abrasion may also cause a runny nose.

An infection, on the other hand, can start in one eye and spread to the other within a few days. Usually, the second eye is not as irritated as the first. Infections are itchy, and you will find children trying to rub their eyes. This, in turn, can cause the virus to spread to others as tears get on hands and are subsequently transferred to doorknobs or counter tops — where they can live for weeks. Infections may cause light sensitivity as well, but not as severe as an abrasion. Kids typically won’t keep their eyes closed when exposed to bright lights.

When should you bring your child in to see a health care provider? An abrasion will typically heal itself in one day. If the affliction persists longer than 24 hours, seeing a health care professional is important in order to prevent the abrasion from turning into an ulcer. An ulcer is a severe infection in the eye that can lead to permanent vision loss if not treated promptly.

Classic pink eye is caused by a virus and will run its course in two weeks with or without treatment, but it’s essential to see a health care professional to ensure it’s not a bacterial infection that needs antibiotics. This especially is true if the eye has any discharge or mucus that you need to wipe away with a tissue.

“As with any health condition, no matter if it is an abrasion or pink eye, proper hand-washing techniques are absolutely necessary to prevent further infection or spread of disease,” says Warner.

©2016 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: When a child has a red eye, it can be hard to tell the difference between a scratch on the eye (abrasion) and an infection like pink eye. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)

 

What Is Pre-Diabetes?

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

According to the American Diabetes Association, an estimated 86 million Americans age 20 and older have pre-diabetes. “If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it means your blood sugar levels are not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes but are high enough to indicate a need for change,” says Anne Bauch, registered dietitian at Mayo Clinic Health System.

A normal fasting blood sugar level is below 100, whereas a level of someone with pre-diabetes is between 100 and 126. Once levels have surpassed 126, it is classified as Type 2 diabetes, which indicates that your body resists insulin or doesn’t produce enough of it to maintain normal blood sugar levels.

“When you have pre-diabetes, sugar begins to build up in the blood stream rather than fuel your cells. This is when insulin resistance occurs, which is believed to be the No. 1 cause of pre-diabetes,” adds Brauch.

A healthy weight allows insulin to work more efficiently and to keep blood sugars within a normal range. A healthy diet and regular exercise are the best ways to bring your blood sugar levels back to normal.

What are the risk factors for developing pre-diabetes?

— Body mass index (BMI) greater than 27

— Family history of diabetes

— Sedentary lifestyle

— Age 45 or older

— Carrying weight in your abdomen

— Previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes (developed while pregnant)

When should I be tested? If you’re 45 or older, you should have your fasting blood sugar checked every year during your physical. If you’ve had gestational diabetes, it is important to have your blood sugar checked each year, as there is a 60 percent chance of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Are there any symptoms?

Often, people do not know they have pre-diabetes because they do not experience any symptoms. However, Type 2 diabetes symptoms may include:

— Fatigue

— Blurred vision

— Frequent urination

— Increased thirst

What’s my next step?

“After diagnosis, a referral to a diabetes educator can be initiated to begin a carbohydrate control meal plan along with an exercise routine. Diabetes educators teach lifestyle skills to manage pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. We help patients with meal planning, exercise, medication management and monitoring blood sugars,” says Brauch.

Talk to your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about diabetes or if you develop any Type 2 diabetes symptoms.

©2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Doug via Flickr

Study: A Single Energy Drink May Increase Heart Disease Risk In Young Adults

From Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

ORLANDO, Fla. – New research shows that drinking one 16-ounce energy drink can increase blood pressure and stress hormone responses significantly. This raises the concern that these response changes could increase the risk of cardiovascular events, according to a study presented recently at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2015. The findings also are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In previous research, we found that energy drink consumption increased blood pressure in healthy young adults,” says Dr. Anna Svatikova, a Mayo Clinic cardiology fellow and the first author. “We now show that the increases in blood pressure are accompanied by increases in norepinephrine, a stress hormone chemical, and this could predispose an increased risk of cardiac events _ even in healthy people.”

Mayo Clinic researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study on 25 healthy volunteers with an average age of 29. Each participant consumed a 16-ounce energy drink and placebo drink within five minutes, in random order, on two separate days, with a maximum of two weeks apart. The placebo drink was similar in taste, texture and color but lacked caffeine and other stimulants of the energy drink, such as taurine, guarana and ginseng.

In addition to the blood pressure increase in study volunteers, their norepinephrine levels increased by almost 74 percent after energy drink consumption, compared with a 31 percent increase after the placebo drink, Dr. Svatikova says. Systolic blood pressure increased after energy drink consumption by 6 percent, compared to 3 percent with placebo consumption.

“These results suggest that people should be cautious when consuming energy drinks due to possible health risks,” Dr. Svatikova says. “Asking patients about energy drink consumption should become routine for physicians, particularly when interpreting vital signs in the acute setting.”

(Mayo Clinic News Network is your source for health news, advances in research and wellness tips.) (c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Researchers Reduce Inflammation In Human Cells, A Major Cause Of Frailty

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Chronic inflammation, closely associated with frailty and age-related diseases, is a hallmark of aging. Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that inhibiting key enzyme pathways reduces inflammation in human cells in culture dishes and decreases inflammation and frailty in aged mice.

The results appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. While further studies are needed, researchers are hopeful that these findings will be a step toward treatments for frailty and other age-related chronic conditions.

In the study, researchers found that Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, drugs that work to block activity of JAK enzymes, decreased the factors released by human senescent cells in culture dishes. Senescent cells are cells that contribute to frailty and diseases associated with aging. Also, these same JAK inhibitors reduced inflammatory mediators in mice. Researchers examined aged mice, equivalent to 90-year-old people, before and after JAK inhibitors. Over the course of two months, the researchers found substantial improvement in the physical function of the aged mice, including grip strength, endurance and physical activity.

“One of the things we want to do is find some kind of treatment for this other than prescribing better wheelchairs or walkers, or other kinds of things that we are stuck with now that are Band-Aid solutions,” says Dr. James Kirkland, director of the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging and senior author of the study. A clinical geriatrician, Dr. Kirkland says he sees frailty in many of his elderly patients and that it’s often associated with poor outcomes and functional disability.

“Our goal is not necessarily to increase life span, and certainly not life span at all costs. Our goal is to enhance health span — the period during life when people are independent,” explains Dr. Kirkland. “This drug approach and others we are developing look like they might hold some promise in reaching that goal.”

©2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that inhibiting key enzyme pathways reduces inflammation in human cells in culture dishes and decreases inflammation and frailty in aged mice. Researchers are hopeful that these findings will be a step toward treatments for frailty and other age-related chronic conditions. (Georg Drexel/Peter Atkins/Fotolia/TNS)

Understanding Headache Types Is Key To Treatment

Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

We have all experienced the annoying, relentless and throbbing pain associated with a headache. They can slow us down or even bring us to a complete stop. However, did you know that there are several different types of headaches, and knowing the type you’ve got can be the first step in effectively treating it?

Mayo Clinic Health System nurse practitioner Erin Pokorny takes a look at different types of headaches and shares what you can do to fight them.

  • Tension-type headaches: These are considered to be the most common types of headaches. They are often described as dull and achy and are often brought on by stress, neck pain, missing meals and a variety of other things. Treatment options: Tension-type headaches can often be treated by over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may also want to try alternative treatments including meditation, relaxation training and massage.
  • Migraines: We’ve all heard about migraines, and we know that they’re not to be taken lightly. The pain associated with migraines is often described as throbbing and severe. Migraines are often associated with nausea, vomiting or increased sensitivity to light and sound. Pain may worsen with increased activity. Untreated, migraines can typically last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Treatment options: If you know the triggers for your migraines, make sure to avoid these known causes. Over-the-counter medication can help. Other treatment options include prescription medications; rest in a quiet, dark room; or a hot/cold compress to the head or neck.
  • Cluster headaches: These are rare but occur on and off for weeks at a time. Cluster periods can last for days or months, and you may experience one or more cluster headaches a day. Typically, these headaches begin quickly and reach maximum intensity within minutes. They usually affect one side of the head and can be accompanied by tearing/redness in one eye or drooping of that eyelid, and a runny or stuffy nose. Treatment options: Over-the-counter medication won’t help cluster headaches due to their short duration. Preventive medication can help, as well as injections of sumatriptan for quick relief. Inhalation of 100 percent oxygen through a mask and prescription triptan nasal sprays can help.
  • Chronic daily headaches: These headaches occur 15 days or more a month. The different types of chronic daily headaches are characterized by their frequency and duration. The signs, symptoms and time frame vary depending on the type of headache you have. Treatment options: Treatment for chronic daily headaches often focuses on underlying diseases and conditions to stop them. If no underlying conditions are found, preventive medication becomes the focus of treatment.

“Nobody wants their days hindered by annoying and painful headaches. It’s important to be able to identify the type of headache you’re experiencing in order to execute the best treatment options,” says Pokorny. “Make sure to schedule a visit with your health care provider if symptoms persist.”

(Mayo Clinic News Network is your source for health news, advances in research and wellness tips.)
(c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Jugbo via Flickr

Sandman Not Doing The Job? Use Behavioral Tips To Sleep Easy

Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

“Many of my patients face sleep difficulties,” says Dr. Filza Hussain, Mayo Clinic Health System behavioral health expert. “It’s either difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or both. This leads to feeling tired in the morning, having difficulties with daytime sleepiness, attention and concentration problems and irritability. Most of my patients have tried over-the-counter sleep aids or even prescription medications but remain dissatisfied and sleepless.”

Sleep aids certainly can help in the short term, but developing good sleep practices is often key. Sleep hygiene is a term used to describe good sleep habits. Dr. Hussain says the fundamentals of practicing good sleep hygiene are:

  • Set a routine. Establish a regular rhythm by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day. Yes, even on weekends. Don’t take naps during the day. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, and exercise at least four to six hours before bed. These behaviors can affect the quality of your sleep.
  • Listen to your body. Your body will tell you when it’s tired because your eyelids will feel heavy. Go to bed only when you’re tired rather than spending hours in bed waiting for sleep to come.
  • If you find yourself awake in bed, don’t toss and turn for hours. There’s no point in counting thousands of sheep. Don’t watch the clock _ this will only provoke more anxiety and wake you up more. Get up and do something boring, such as reading the phone book. Video games or other computer/television screens or bright lamps will wake your brain up, so try using dim lights.
  • Make your bedroom your sanctuary. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, cool (with blankets to keep you warm) and uncluttered. Using lavender aroma therapy can help. Some people find white noise soothing. Make sure your bed is just for sleep and related activities. Don’t eat, watch TV or work on your laptop in bed.

If sleep problems still exist despite following the above tips, keep a sleep diary for a week to show your doctor so he or she can help better address the issue. A template for such a diary can be found online. Or, you can simply document what time you went to bed, what time you woke up, how many times you woke up in the middle of the night and what the factors were for awakening.

(Mayo Clinic News Network is your source for health news, advances in research and wellness tips.)
(c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: You can improve your sleep by setting a routine and making your bedroom a comfortable, sleep-focused environment. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)

New Imaging Helps Detect Cancer In Dense Breast Tissue

Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

ROCHESTER, Minn. – For women with dense breast tissue, supplementing standard mammography with a new imaging technique called molecular breast imaging (MBI) can lower the cost of diagnosis of breast cancers, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR).

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine found that adding MBI to mammography of women with dense breast tissue increased the costs of diagnosis 3.2 times, compared to costs of mammography alone, and nearly quadrupled the rate of cancer detection. Because the supplemental test found more cancer, screening with a combination of mammography and MBI saved $8,254 per cancer detected.

While mammography is still the standard tool for widespread breast cancer screening, it is now known to perform less effectively in women with dense breast tissue. Both tumors and normal dense breast tissue can appear white on a mammogram, making tumors hard to detect. Nearly half of all women over age 40 have mammograms classified as “dense,” according to Carrie Hruska, a medical physicist in the Mayo Clinic Department of Radiology and the study’s lead author. Supplemental screening techniques like MBI address a significant need for better cancer detection methods for this patient population.

In an MBI examination, a radioactive tracer readily absorbed by cancerous breast cells is injected into the body. A small, semiconductor-based gamma camera then scans the breast, lighting up any areas where the tracer is concentrated. “It works really well in our practice at Mayo Clinic,” Hruska says. “Patients generally like it, and radiologists think it’s relatively easy to read.”

The screening combination of MBI and mammography can detect more cancers than mammography alone at acceptable radiation doses for screening, as the research group reported in a study published in AJR in February. But concerns persist about the cost-effectiveness of MBI. Though the test finds more cancer in dense breast tissue, additional screening could also generate more false-positive results and lead to biopsies that do not result in a cancer diagnosis, ultimately increasing costs unnecessarily.

Hruska and her colleagues used the same data from the February study to compare the cost-effectiveness of screening 1,585 women with dense breast tissue with mammography alone and the combination of mammography and MBI. The comparison resulted in these findings:

  • Cost per patient screened increased from $176 to $571 for the combination of tests. Mammography alone detected cancer in five of these patients. With the combination, physicians detected cancer in the first five women and an additional 14 patients, nearly a fourfold improvement.
  • The cost per cancer detected was $55,851 for mammography alone and $47,597 for the combination of mammography and MBI, a savings of $8,254 per cancer detected.
  • The risk of receiving an unnecessary biopsy because of a false-positive result increased from 0.9 percent with mammography alone to 3 percent with the addition of the MBI examination. However, this 2.1 percentage point increase in the benign biopsy rate is lower than the 6-point increase observed in outside studies using screening ultrasound or screening MRI, two alternative supplemental techniques.
  • The positive predictive value (PPV) of MBI, or the likelihood that a biopsy generated by MBI would result in a cancer diagnosis, was 30 percent. In contrast, biopsies generated by screening ultrasound and MRI have PPVs of 6 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

“Cost saving per cancer detected with supplemental screening MBI is compelling evidence for future coverage of screening MBI of women with dense breasts,” the authors write. The study did not consider any costs beyond the point of cancer detection; however, the authors speculate that earlier detection with MBI may reduce the costs of treatment of advanced cancer further. When dense breast tissue is the only criterion for supplemental imaging like MBI, insurance coverage varies from state to state and among insurance providers. Hruska calls the latest study a critical step in developing MBI as an individualized screening approach for patients with needs unmet by current options.

“The question is: What’s the right screening regimen for you?” says Hruska. “For about half of women of screening age, mammography works well. The other half _ those with dense breasts _ may want to consider adding another test. If you have additional risk factors, like family history or a genetic mutation that predisposes you to breast cancer, then you should have a supplemental MRI. But there’s this huge group of women in-between who don’t qualify for a supplemental MRI and need something more than a mammogram. That’s who we’re trying to reach.”

(Mayo Clinic News Network is your source for health news, advances in research and wellness tips.)

(c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Paul Falardeau via Flickr

Aquatic Exercise: Gentle On Bones, Joints, And Muscles

From Mayo Clinic News Network, Mayo Clinic News Network (TNS)

Done correctly, water workouts can give you gains similar to those on land, including aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility and better balance. Darcy Reber, family medicine provider at Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, recommends aquatic exercise because:

  • Water’s buoyancy supports your weight. When you’re submersed up to your neck, the water cancels out about 90 percent of your body weight, significantly reducing stress on your weight-bearing joints, bones and muscles. Instead of landing on a hard surface with the impact of your full weight, you land with only 10 percent of your bodyweight. This reduces risk of injury.
  • When you’re submerged in water, your circulation may increase, improving your cardiovascular health.
  • The pressure of the water on your body can reduce swelling if you have painful injuries.
  • Water offers resistance, which strengthens your muscles as you push against it.
  • Since the effects of gravity diminish in water, you can do stretching exercises that you may not be able to do on land.

You may want to start with water walking. In water that’s about waist-high, walk across the pool swinging your arms like you do when walking on land. Avoid walking on your tiptoes, and keep your back straight. Tighten your abdominal muscles to avoid leaning too far forward or to the side.

To increase resistance as your hands and arms move through the water, wear hand webs or other resistance devices. Water shoes can help you maintain traction on the bottom of the pool.

Once you’re comfortable walking in waist-high water, try walking in deeper water. As you walk, swing your arms. For a more intense workout, consider jogging in deep water.

Water workouts can help you reach your fitness goals without pain or injury. They can add cross-training variety to your existing exercise routine or offer a safe and fun way to start an exercise program. So, jump on in _ the water’s fine.

If you live with a chronic health condition such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, talk to your health care provider about aquatic exercise.

(c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Whether individually or in a class, working out in water can give you similar benefits to those on land, but be more gentle on bones and joints. (Sergei Butorin/Fotolia)

Sunburn Treatment: Can’t Rush Healing, But Use These Tips For Comfort

From Mayo Clinic News Network, (TNS)

“Unfortunately, there’s no fast-fix sunburn treatment. Once you have sunburn, the damage is done — although it may take 12 to 24 hours after sun exposure to know the full extent and severity of sunburn, and several days or more for your skin to begin to heal,” says Trent Anderson, Mayo Clinic Health System family medicine physician.

In the meantime, the most effective sunburn treatment simply helps ease your discomfort:

  • Keep it cool. Apply cold compresses, such as a towel dampened with cool water, to the affected skin. Or take a cool bath.
  • Keep it moist. Apply aloe or moisturizing cream to the affected skin. Avoid products containing alcohol, which can further dry out skin. Beware of sunburn treatment products containing anesthetics, such as benzocaine. There’s little evidence that these products are effective. In some cases, they may even irritate the skin. Benzocaine has been linked to a rare but serious, sometimes deadly, condition that decreases the amount of oxygen that the blood can carry. Don’t use benzocaine in children younger than age 2 without supervision from a health-care professional, as this age group has been most affected. If you’re an adult, never use more than the recommended dose of benzocaine, and consider talking about it with your doctor.
  • Leave blisters intact. If blisters form, don’t break them. Doing so only slows the healing process and increase the risk of infection. If needed, lightly cover blisters with gauze.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. If needed, take anti-inflammatory medication _ such as aspirin or ibuprofen _ according to the label instructions until redness and soreness subside. Don’t give children or teenagers aspirin. It may cause Reye’s syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease.
  • Treat peeling skin gently. Within a few days, the affected area may begin to peel. This is simply your body’s way of getting rid of the top layer of damaged skin. While your skin is peeling, continue to use moisturizing cream.

“Consult a health-care provider for sunburn treatment if severe sunburn covers a large portion of your body with blisters, (if) sunburn is accompanied by a high fever or (if) severe pain or severe sunburn doesn’t begin to improve within a few days,” says Dr. Anderson.

To prevent future episodes of sunburn, use sunscreen frequently and liberally. Select a broad-spectrum product _ one that provides protection against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation _ with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. If you take medications that make sunburn more likely, be especially careful. A common example is tetracycline taken orally for acne. Common sense counts too. Cover up while you’re outdoors, and stay in the shade as much as possible.

(c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Kevin O’Mara via Flickr

Healthy Eating, Even When You’re In A Hurry

From Mayo Clinic News Network, (TNS)

Most Americans have experienced the rush of daily living with demands from work, school or family obligations. Eating healthy can sometimes take a backseat to more pressing matters.

“Although it may seem nearly impossible to make healthy choices when you’re so busy,” says Grace Fjeldberg, Mayo Clinic Health System registered dietitian and nutritionist, “there are tips and tricks that will make mealtime easier and save you time in the long run. It all starts in the pantry.”

To save yourself time, always have the essentials stocked in your pantry and refrigerator to decrease “emergency” grocery store trips. Always keep fruits and veggies available in any form, such as fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced. When the fresh food is gone, canned or frozen options can help fill the gaps. Also, canned and frozen options are sometimes more convenient as they are already washed and cut. Think convenience _ in some instances you may want to consider purchasing pre-cut fresh veggies or fruit to save time.

Fjeldberg recommends having these foods available in the house for healthy meals or snacks:

  • Whole grains: rice blends, pastas, tortillas, breakfast cereals, crackers, English muffins or mini bagels, and breads/wraps.
  • Proteins: low-fat refried beans or other canned beans, water-packed tuna, lean pork, pre-cut lean beef, tofu, fish and poultry. Even consider pre-cooked meats and low-sodium, low-fat lunch meats.
  • Dairy: Low-fat yogurts and cottage cheese (these often come in single-serve portions, which make it easy to grab-‘n-go), low-fat string cheese, pre-shredded cheese, and fat-free or 1 percent milk.
  • Other foods: Single-serve popcorn bags, whole-grain pretzels, hummus, single-serve peanut butter or low-fat dressing packets, single-serve dried fruit or nut packets and whole-grain granola bars. Also, keep pasta or pizza sauces in the pantry to add to your favorite whole-grain wrap or English muffin for a quick pizza.

Preparation tips and planning:

So, you have all this wonderful wholesome food in your house, but now what do you do with it? The first step in saving time is prepping some of your grocery store goodies, Fjeldberg says. Once you get unpacked from your shopping trip, wash and prep fresh fruits or veggies you’ve purchased. By doing all of this chopping at one time, you’ll save time later in the week and do fewer dishes.

While washing and prepping fruits and veggies, heat up the stove to boil some of those whole grains you packed away in the pantry. Many whole grains take at least 30-60 minutes to cook. By cooking grains in advance, you can reheat them later in the week or add them to a cold salad. You can also pre-cook many meats to reheat later in the week.

Now that you have everything prepped, the fun part begins _ planning. Most people view meal planning as labor-intensive and difficult. To avoid getting stressed about having specific meals planned, be creative in what you prepare. Reading recipes and gathering ingredients takes time. For example, if you already have rice and chicken cooked, pull out a frozen vegetable stir fry mix for a quick stir fry. That same chicken you already have cooked from the night before can be mixed with a Greek yogurt dressing and added to a wrap with fresh veggies.

The possibilities and ideas for healthy eating are endless, Fjeldberg says. With a small amount of preparation and planning, you can have a fresh, wholesome meal prepared in less time than it takes to order and wait for food at the local drive-thru.

(c)2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: It can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet when you’re always on-the-go. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)