Healthy Living

Question of the Month

Q. I’m a mom with two teenagers and am always tired. Could I have a thyroid problem?

While you’re correct in connecting the thyroid gland and energy level, the relationship is more complex. Only a visit to your doctor with measurement of key blood factors can confirm whether your thyroid function is normal and whether correction with medication is warranted.
There are other lifestyle reasons that might also contribute to fatigue. You should consider these and keep this information handy to provide at your medical evaluation. Are you getting enough sleep on a regular basis – at least seven hours each night? Do you have a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables (for B vitamins and folic acid)? Do you include red meat or other dietary sources of iron and vitamin B12? Are you taking a daily multiple-vitamin supplement? Mental stress can also cause fatigue, so how are your stress-management skills? The comprehensive approach to managing "tiredness" is important for long-term resolution.

"Fruit" Bouquets for Mother’s Day

We’ve all heard the term "Say it with flowers." Now there’s a way to purchase a Mother’s Day gift that also provides the gift of health – a "fruit bouquet" available from two area businesses, Edible Arrangements and FruitFlowers. These fabulous franchises are now open in several locations for both pickup or delivery. From chocolate-dipped fresh strawberries in a decorative vase to large flower-shaped cut-outs of melons and pineapples in a re-usable mini watering can, the selections offer a variety of tasty fruit collections for every price range. That’s what I call a fun and easy way for the whole family to up their intake of fresh fruit! For more information, visit and

De-stress Your "Drive Time"

Whether you’re carpooling your children to after-school activities or crawling in rush-hour traffic, driving can become a major daily stressor. With some minor mental adjustments, you can transform this time to a little personal positive time. Here’s how:

Allow an extra five to 10 minutes to avoid the frantic rush to be on time. Use this time to chat with your children about their day; it’s often a good time to find out what’s on their minds. Alone in the car? Listen to some of your favorite music or select a book on tape/DVD you can’t find the time to read. If it’s still a couple of hours until dinner (and lunch was hours ago!), take along an easy portable snack to tide you over. A piece of fruit, small bag of nuts or mini protein bar can help re-energize you.

In the News

Count Calories to Lose Weight

A recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that when it comes to losing weight, calories count. Study participants were followed for two years in one of four diet plans that varied the protein and fat contents of the diet. All the diets were calorie-controlled, and each person had a daily calorie limit, no matter what the meal composition. Counseling and daily activity also were provided.

After two years, the average weight loss was 9 pounds (down from a high of a 13-pound average after the first six months), and 2 inches were trimmed from participants’ waistlines. The interesting finding was that weight loss was the same no matter what diet plan the person was on. It was controlling calories that produced the weight loss, not the nutrient combination.

If you have a health question for Dr. Fernstrom, e-mail her at


Dr. Madelyn H. Fernstrom, Ph.D., C.N.S., is the founder and director of UPMC’s Weight Management Center. She is the diet and nutrition editor for NBC’s "Today Show" and is the author of The Runner’s Diet. Also visit "Health Journal with Dr. Madelyn Fernstrom," a health and wellness blog at 

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