The question of free range vs. helicopter parenting (not that most of us don't fall in the middle) seems to be a hotter topic than usual this summer.
The discussion has been prompted in part by
Debra Harrell's story. The South Carolina mother was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter in a local park while she worked at a nearby McDonald's. (For a really good take on some of the issues involved in this story, check out
Stacia L. Brown's post about latchkey kids and race and socioeconomic status.) Today in the wake of that online discussion,
results from a reader survey indicating that kids today have a lot less freedom than their parents. It's a bit of a "no, duh," moment in some ways, but I found this analysis pretty in line with my experience:
"Despite the nostalgia, most people, when pressed, don’t want to return to the detached, divorce-boom 1970s era of parenting. But they also feel a little ambivalent about how hovering they’ve become."
I definitely relate. I have some nostalgia for the freedom I had as a kid...but none at all for some of the trouble I got into and situations I ended up in. I am not so worried about stranger danger, but things like getting hit crossing the street, falling down a ravine, or just plain being upset and worried with no one around are things I am so far trying to avoid for my kids. I know that the last in that list is eventually necessary for growth -- for example, learning how to get lost, and how to get found, is a critical adult skill, even if no one wants their child to be lost. I love that the way I grew up, plus many of the experiences I had where I managed to take care of myself, have contributed to a confidence level that lets me travel and explore the world around me. I want my kids to feel that they can handle life's road bumps and do things independently. The only real way to learn that is to gradually take on more and more responsibility for one's self and -- get out there into the world. I also know that in a technologically connected world, they'll probably be dragging GPS and texting around with them the whole time anyway. But I'm aware as well that I had some experiences that weren't just amusingly uncomfortable -- there were times coming home alone from school or being around kids that really weren't nice that I was really, really scared. I don't want my kids to go through similar things. And I also know some of the lessons I learned about relying on myself were a result of being bullied or experiencing a sense that there really was no one else around who would help me. And that has resulted in a whole different set of missed opportunities for connection or to invite people in. I think parents in my generation are maybe just a bit too aware that early experiences help shape our understanding of the world, and that makes us cautious -- sometimes overly so. And what I've learned from the discussion this summer as well as the Slate survey is that handling that ambivalence -- risk and reward, information and too much information, helpful neighbours vs. judgmental strangers -- is what parenting right now is all about. Right now my nine-year-old has some starter level of freedom around the neighbourhood -- but I am getting him a walkie-talkie set for his birthday so I can bother him in my own unique helicopter way. How much freedom are you giving your kids this summer?
Making minor, yet meaningful changes to your lifestyle can help you become a significantly healthier and happier person. Our health expert shares five tips on sleep, nutrition and fitness to help you achieve these goals.
"Why does she look and feel so good? I think I want what she's having!" If you find yourself thinking like this it might be time to adopt some new habits.
After working in health care for over a decade and working one on one with thousands of clients, it has become clear that there are certain habits that are absolute game changers when it comes to your health.
Implementing the following habits will quickly make a huge impact on your health - both physically and mentally.
1. Wake up early
If you wake up late and feel rushed in the morning, the rest of your day tends to continue in a similar hurried and stressful fashion. In order to set the proper tone for your day and to carve out some precious time just for yourself, try waking up a half-hour earlier than you normally do to walk, stretch, meditate or write in a journal.
By doing so you will lower your stress levels and begin your day in a clear and calm fashion. To make life even easier, pack your bags and lunch (and the bags and lunch of your kids) the night before and lay out your clothes for the next day.
2. Do not eat refined carbohydrates or sugar
There is no way around it: Eating too much refined flour and sugar in the forms of cereal, bread, cookies, granola bars and muffins results in a dramatic energy plunge and food fog. To make matters worse, refined flour and sugar also tend to trigger the over-secretion of the hormone insulin, which leads to excess fat storage in the abdominal region and intense sugar cravings.
Highly healthy people treat white refined sugar as a "toxin" and save it as a very occasional treat. Instead of white sugar, opt for naturally sweet foods, such as berries, apples, unsweetened applesauce and mangos, to make morning parfaits and smoothies or frozen deserts. And remember to consume whole grains rather than refined flours.
3. Get active three to five times per week
Highly healthy people keep moving. In order to keep your body mass index in a healthy zone, your heart healthy and your stress levels down, it is important to engage in cardiovascular and weight-bearing activities three to five times per week.
Pick something you love - or try something new! - such as yoga or Pilates, personal training or brisk walking.
4. Drink two litres of water daily
If you are feeling fatigued or bloated simply add more water to your daily regimen. Highly healthy people hydrate!
Whether you opt for water or herbal tea, it is critical that you take in two litres or more of hydrating fluids every day.
For an extra health boost, add freshly squeezed lemon or lime to your water to take advantage of their natural astringent effects.
5. Make time for bliss and joy
Let's face it - life can get so busy and cluttered that we often forget to make time for play and joy. Highly healthy people understand the importance of taking a break and engaging in activities that allow them to follow their bliss. Whether that means going for a massage, spending time with friends or taking an art class, be sure to find something that makes you lose track of time and enjoy life.
Commit to implementing these five tips for seven days straight and you're sure to notice a huge difference in your overall sense of physical and mental wellness.
Joey Shulman is the author of The Metabolism-Boosting Diet (HarperCollins, 2012) and The Last 15 (Wiley, 2007). She is also the founder of The Shulman Weight Loss Clinic. For more information, please visit drjoey.com or shulmanweightloss.com.
Heart disease and stroke are one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women—and risk factors, symptoms and even treatment might vary by age. Here's what you need to know.
It was Dec. 13, 2014. I was getting ready to go out for dinner when suddenly everything went wrong. I lost coordination, almost like I was drunk. I went numb, as if the local anesthetic that dentists use had been applied to half of my body. My arm went limp, I could barely walk and, out of the blue, I got a raging migraine. At 31 years old, I was in the midst of a transient ischemic attack, often called a ministroke, but I had no idea.
It wasn't until the next day, when I was feeling only slightly better, that I realized something was really wrong. I didn't want to wait for an appointment with my family doctor, so I called Telehealth Ontario, the provincial service that connects callers to a registered nurse via telephone. In the very back of my mind, I wondered if I'd had a stroke—but I was too young, or so I thought. But when I described my symptoms, it became clear that I wasn't too young. In fact, the nurse who took my call was worried enough to send paramedics to my house. Soon, I was in the back of an ambulance, rushing through Toronto's busy streets on the way to the hospital.
The statistics Luckily, my stroke was mild, and, in July 2015, I underwent surgery to have a patent foramen ovale closure device inserted to close the hole in my heart. But, to this day, I'm still shocked at how little I knew about the risks associated with stroke and heart disease, or just how common they are. As I soon learned, about 1.6 million Canadians—557,000 of them women over the age of 24—report having cardiovascular disease. And, according to a study looking at factors and behaviours affecting cardiovascular health published in 2013 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, fewer than one in 10 adult Canadians were in ideal cardiovascular health from 2003 to 2011, which means 90 percent of us are making choices that are increasing our risk for a cardiovascular event. In fact, heart disease and stroke is one of the leading causes of death for Canadian women, and most of us have at least one risk factor.
It's a club that I didn't particularly want to be a part of, but having joined, I began wondering what other women's experiences had been like.
Unlike me, when Victoria resident Carolyn Thomas started having a range of symptoms— crushing chest pain, nausea, weakness, sweating and a persistent ache down her left arm—on her 58th birthday, she immediately thought it could be a heart attack and went straight to the ER. But when she got there and told the doctor on duty about her symptoms, he said it was just acid reflux. "I remember exactly what he said," she recalls. " 'You're in the right demographic for acid reflux. Go home and call your family doctor for a prescription for antacids.' " Embarrassed and apologetic, she did just that. But her symptoms persisted for two more weeks. She eventually went back to the hospital, and this time, she was told she was suffering from what was actually one of the most serious types of heart attacks—a complete blockage of her left anterior descending artery, which is often referred to as the widow-maker.
Since then, she has recovered, but it's far from full—she had to retire early and continues to see a specialist at her regional pain clinic.
Irmine MacKenzie also went to the hospital immediately. It's been 35 years since the New Waterford, N.S., resident lost the use of her left arm and leg after suffering a stroke caused by carotid artery stenosis, narrowing of the arteries that carry blood from the heart to the brain. She was 61 years old and, having just finished eating breakfast with her husband, John, she headed to the kitchen to tackle the dishes. Suddenly, plates started dropping from her hands, shattering as they hit the floor.
After a six-week hospital stay and a three-month stint in a rehabilitation program in Halifax, she eventually learned to walk again. Her ability to manage quite well over the past three decades is clearly a testament to her grit— and maybe some kind words from a stranger. "I won't ever forget the ambulance driver who took me to the rehabilitation centre," she says. "He told me, 'We're taking you by stretcher now, but you'll be walking out of there with a cane.' " Sure enough, that's exactly what she did.
A better understanding It has now been two years since I suffered my transient ischemic attack, and I feel like I'm still learning about heart health. I now understand the importance of cardiac rehabilitation, for one thing. When I had my stroke, I didn't know this kind of program existed—my cardiologist didn't refer me to one, but having access to dedicated professionals in a safe, encouraging environment could have helped me navigate the health-care system and guided me toward healthier choices.
One thing I found myself, Carolyn and Irmine echoing is how, as women, we must advocate for ourselves in the health-care system, ensuring that our voices are heard and our health is looked after. We need to put ourselves first, without shame or guilt. As Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, says, "It comes back to education and partnership with your health provider. Don't be afraid to ask questions and be informed."
Heart health by the decade Nearly two-thirds of all heart attacks and strokes occur in Canadians 65 or older, but younger Canadians are increasingly at risk. Here's what you need to know at every age.
In your 20s and 30s: Young people with heart-health issues are part of a growing minority. A study published in 2012 out of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine found that, over a period of 12 years, strokes among people aged 20 to 54 made up an increasingly greater proportion of strokes across all age groups, growing from about 13 percent in 1993–94 to 19 percent in 2005.
Closer to home, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says several studies predict that the rate of strokes among younger adults will double in the next 15 years. The main reason? According to Dr. Tara Sedlak, a cardiologist at Vancouver General Hospital and clinical assistant professor at The University of British Columbia, it comes down to lifestyle—high stress levels, poor eating habits, lack of exercise and smoking. Research bears this out: The University of Cincinnati study suggested that a rise in lifestyle-related risk factors (such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol) may contribute to a higher incidence of stroke.
But there is a way to turn the tide: As with other age groups, simple changes such as exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthily could see the rates of cardiovascular disease—and, more specifically, stroke—decrease, says Dr. Paula Harvey, director of the cardiovascular research program at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.
In your 40s and 50s: Cardiovascular disease is less common among younger women, in part because of their higher estrogen levels; the hormone offers some protection to the arteries. But as women approach menopause and their estrogen levels drop, the incidence of stroke and heart attack increases.
Unfortunately, broad knowledge of their increased risk may not protect perimenopausal women from misdiagnosis. According to research by the Canadian Medical Protective Association, which provides advice, legal assistance and risk-management education to 95,000 Canadian physicians, doctors are missing the signs of stroke in patients nearly 10 percent of the time, largely because symptoms are often nonspecific—patients often complained of headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
And women, who have historically been less inclined to advocate for themselves, are particularly at risk. Research out of the University of Leeds in England showed that, between April 2004 and March 2013, 198,534 heart attack patients at National Health Service hospitals in England and Wales were initially misdiagnosed—and most of them were women. During that time, women suffering a heart attack were 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed compared to men.
It might be difficult to challenge doctors who tell you nothing's wrong, but Dr. Sedlak encourages women to listen to their bodies and to be firm with health-care providers about what they're experiencing. "If you feel there is a real problem, be persistent," she says.
In your 60s and beyond: Women over 65 have the most strokes of all age groups, but they still have fewer strokes than men the same age. However, a Danish study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association in 2015 found that, after 60, women tend to have more serious strokes than men—and they're more likely to survive, which can have serious repercussions on quality of life.
John Sawdon, the public education and special projects director of the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, explains that cardiac rehabilitation programs, which are free with a referral from your doctor, are the perfect next step for recovering cardiac patients of all ages, but they're particularly important for older Canadians, who tend to live more sedentary lives. These programs are supervised by a cardiologist and, after an assessment, are tailored by your cardiac rehab team, which usually includes nurses, physical therapists, kinesiologists and social workers. They can provide exercise training, education on heart-healthy living and stress counselling—all of which can contribute to the health and well-being of people who have heart problems. And they're effective, too: "Research has shown that those completing cardiac rehab live seven years longer than control groups," says Sawdon. It also "reduces incidence of another heart attack by 50 percent."
What's your risk? Ninety percent of adult Canadians have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But while factors such as obesity, hypertension, alcohol abuse, family history and ethnicity increase everyone's risk, regardless of gender, the following three are particularly relevant to women.
Smoking: While we all know that smoking is seriously unhealthy, it can be especially damaging to women's cardiovascular health. Smoking when taking the oral contraceptive pill can drastically increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But quitting can cut your risk within a year.
Diabetes: According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, people with diabetes are at a very high risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, "they may develop heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than individuals without diabetes."
Mental illness and stress: "Women have a higher frequency of stress-induced heart disease, and women's hearts are affected by stress and depression more than men's," says Dr. David Fitchett, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.
Heart health dictionary
Atherosclerosis: When arteries narrow and harden due to plaque buildup.
Cardiomyopathhy: Diseases of the heart muscle, which cause it to become enlarged, thick or rigid.
Cardiovascular disease: A broad term for problems with the heart and blood vessels, often due to atherosclerosis. These conditions can lead to heart attack, angina or stroke.
Heart attack: Also known as a myocardial infarction, these attacks happen when the flow of blood to a section of the heart is blocked, preventing the muscle from getting oxygen.
High blood pressure: Also called hypertension, this is when the long-term force of blood against artery walls is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder, which may eventually lead to heart disease.
Microvascular angina: A disease of the small coronary artery blood vessels. Many angiograms do not view the small blood vessels, so this can be difficult to diagnose.
Spontaneous coronary artery dissection: A tear in the coronary artery wall. Physical or emotional stress appears to play a role. Most cases (around 70 percent) occur in women under 50—and a third of those are pregnant or postpartum women.
Stroke: When the blood supply to a portion of the brain is interrupted. This can happen when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked.
Who doesn't have a sweet spot for sweets? Here, a roundup of our most adored dessert and baked goods recipes of the year.
Whether it's a favourite dish you whip up with the kids, a showstopper you make for an event, or a special dessert you treat yourself to, we all have a few go-to recipes when we're in need of something sweet. But, in case you're looking for a new recipe to add to your list of favourites, we have a few amazing contenders lined up.
For the cake lover, you've got to try our Canada's Best Carrot Cake With Cheese Cheese Icing. This deliciously moist treat is perfect for all celebrations—birthdays, showers, reunions, and beyond.
The Christmas cookie lover will be all over our Cream Cheese Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies. They're soft and chewy and filled with a tangy cream cheese icing.
Like to enjoy your sweets with coffee? Go for our Pumpkin Scones With Whipped Brown Butter Icing, Chocolate Ginger Biscotti, Chocolate Pumpkin Swirl Loaf, or our Best Ever Apple Pie—satisfaction guaranteed.
And finally, for the true Canadians, you've got to try our Maple Fudge, Butter Tarts and Butter Tart Squares.
But, no matter which recipe you try—though we encourage you try them all!—you're guaranteed to have an amazing go-to dessert on your need-to-bake roster.
There are three main types of steak: Grilling steaks, marinating steaks and simmering steaks.
Grilling steaks are quick-cooking, naturally tender and can go straight from the fridge to grill.
Marinating and simmering steaks are generally less expensive, but they need a little TLC to become tender.
Here's what you need to know to choose the best steak cut.
Tenderloin a.k.a. filet mignon, fillet steak, beef fillet, châteaubriand
Price: Special-occasion splurge ($21 to $40 per pound)
The 411: Tenderloin has a soft buttery texture and subtle flavour yet is leaner than most other tender cuts. Be wary of overcooking this steak; it's best cooked to medium or under. This is the cut of choice for raw dishes, such as steak tartare and beef carpaccio.
Top Sirloin a.k.a. baseball steak (when thickly cut), culotte, centre-cut sirloin, cap steak
Price: Weeknight-friendly ($11 to $15 per pound)
The 411: Less expensive than strip loin, tenderloin or rib eye, this cut delivers on tenderness and is more flavourful than many of its pricier alternatives. It's ideal for the
Strip Loin a.k.a. New York strip, strip steak
Price: Weekend splurge ($16 to $20 per pound)
The 411: This steak is known for its
outstanding flavour and good marbling. While not as tender as rib eye, it's leaner and offers a beefier flavour.
T-Bone a.k.a. club steak, porterhouse (when cut to include a large tenderloin section)
Price: Weekend splurge ($16 to $20 per pound)
The 411: This cut gets its name from the
T-shaped bone that separates the larger strip loin on one side of the steak from the smaller tenderloin on the other. Consider it a two-for-one that's good for sharing or for those who can't choose between the flavour of strip loin and the texture of tenderloin.
FlatIron a.k.a. top blade flatiron
Price: Weekend splurge ($16 to $20 per pound)
The 411: Considered a great substitute for tenderloin, this extremely tender steak is gaining popularity. Always check the label to ensure it's a top blade flatiron cut, as there is also a top blade simmering steak.
Flank a.k.a. London broil
Price: Weeknight friendly ($11 to $15 per pound)
The 411: This large oval steak has a
delicious beefy flavour with little to no connective tissue, making it quite tender when sliced across the grain. Marinating greatly improves the texture, but you can get away without it in a pinch. Its tapered ends cook faster than the middle—great for feeding a group that prefers a variety of options for doneness.
Round a.k.a. inside round, outside round, eye of round, rump, minute steak, fast-fry
Price: Great value ($7 to $10 per pound)
The 411: This cut comes in three variations: eye of round, inside round and outside round. Eye of round is very lean and mild; it's best prepared with
strong marinades. Inside and outside rounds have a stronger flavour; inside round is the more tender of the two.
Sirloin Tip a.k.a. sandwich steak, knuckle steak
Price: Great value ($7 to $10 per pound)
The 411: This is a very lean cut with good flavour. Because of its minimal marbling, this steak really needs to be pierced and marinated to tenderize the meat before cooking. Often sold as a roast, it can easily be cut into individual steaks.
Simmering steaks Price: Great value ($7 to $ 10 per pound)
The 411: Think of these as roasts that serve two to three people. They're relatively tough yet flavourful and should be cooked using moist methods, such as
braising or slow cooking. The most common simmering steaks are blade and cross rib. Blade is slightly more tender than cross rib, but both should be cooked low and slow to maximize tenderness.