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Make a plan, but consider balance when it comes to Halloween candy

One of the biggest candy days of the year is upon us, and parents and kids alike are trying to strike an accord on how much candy will be consumed in the coming days.

How much, really, is too much? And is there a magic formula families should follow to ensure the Halloween stash doesn’t lead to bigger problems later on?

According to pediatric dietician Laura Gearman, M.S., R.D., L.D., with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, it’s a good idea to make a plan ahead of time and discuss it as a family but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to Halloween candy consumption.

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Health food movement stops short of vending machines

Hungry and seeking a nutritious snack, vending consumers often find themselves struggling to locate a suitable selection. The lack of healthy options in vending machines has raised concerns among schools, public interest groups and public health researchers.

According to a recent article published in the Star Tribune, the health food movement stopped short of vending machines in public facilities. About 75 percent of items found in vending machines analyzed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest consisted of candy, cookies and chips. Similar trends are seen in beverage vending machines as 56 percent of the drinks are soda, and an additional 20 percent of drinks are energy or artificial fruit drinks.

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How to stay healthy while fasting

With the Muslim observance of Ramadan beginning this Saturday, Health Talk thought it’d be a great time to address best practices for staying safe and healthy during periods of fasting.

For health tips to follow during the next month’s sunup to sundown abstinence from food, Health Talk turned to Community-University Health Care Center medical director Roli Dwivedi, M.D. Not only does Dwivedi educate fellow health care professionals in care modifications for Ramadan, she also sees Ramadan-observing patients in clinic.

Here’s what Dwivedi had to say:

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Alarming number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans struggle accessing enough food

As many as 1 in 4 men and women who served in the U.S. military during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have difficulties accessing sufficient food, found new research from the University of Minnesota.

The study indicates limited or uncertain access to adequate food is a prevalent problem among the newest U.S. veterans, a previously unknown facet of the financial hardships affecting veterans.

“We found that 27 percent of veterans who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have consistent access to sufficient food,” said lead author Rachel Widome, Ph.D., in University of Minnesota School of Public Health. “That’s drastically higher than the prevalence of food insecurity in the U.S., which is 14.5 percent.”

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Mealtime with children: Let them feed themselves

It’s fair to say that mealtime with children may not always be the most appetizing experience. Peas all over their face. Oatmeal in their hair. Some of each course being spit back in your direction. It’s magical.

But for parents, serving a child during a family meal and watching them feed themselves can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Now, a new understanding of children and portion control shows that in addition to letting children feed themselves, it may also be beneficial for parents to take a hands-off approach when it comes to serving their kids during mealtime.

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New sugar recommendations are bittersweet

What do sweet and sour chicken, fruit yogurt, and pasta sauces have in common? It may surprise you, but all of these pre-packaged foods typically contain more than your recommended daily amount of sugar.

According to new draft guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO), people should try and limit the amount of sugar they consume to 5 percent of their daily calorie intake. But if 5 percent is too difficult, the WHO has determined that to avoid weight gain and minimize risk of diseases like diabetes, absolutely no more than 10 percent of a person’s daily calorie intake should be made up of sugar.

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