Blog Posts by Reader s Digest Magazine

  • 20 Holiday Gifts Under $50 You Can Order Online

    By Liz Kennedy and Janice Lieberman

    Your family's life story in print? Priceless. A "Smitten" for your loved one? Super cute! An appetizer plate that holds a wine glass? Genius. Read on to see our picks for the best holiday gifts on the web -- all available at bargain prices.

    1. For Your Family
    Share your life story with your kids and grandkids. Record your answers to 500 questions from "What was your engagement proposal like?" to "What is a typical family meal?" This hardcover book is a great tool for self-reflection and can be passed on for generations to come.
    Story of a Lifetime: $49.95 at

    2. For Your Soulmate
    Keep you hands and your heart warm with Smittens. Designed to allow two people to hold hands in one mitten, Smittens are the perfect gift for your spouse, loved one or favorite couple. Each set comes with one pair of regular size mittens, and one oversized mitten for hand-holding.
    Smittens: $35 at

    Plus: 8 Marriage Busters to Give Up Today


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  • Is Your Doctor Out of Date?

    By Meryl Davids Landau

    Sharon Sakson was walking into her kitchen to make a sandwich one February afternoon when a sudden burst of what felt like indigestion made her change her mind. She went to bed, hoping the pain would pass quickly. Instead, Sakson, then 51, lay there for hours, listening to her six show dogs bark in the background as the crushing sensation in her chest became so intense, she could barely breathe. Finally, the agony subsided, but when it returned the following day, a friend insisted on calling an ambulance. At the hospital, doctors informed the Pennington, New Jersey, resident that she'd had a heart attack, one that had left the lower part of her heart damaged.

    Plus: 6 Mistakes Your Doctor May Be Making

    Image: ©2009 Jupiterimages CorporationImage: ©2009 Jupiterimages CorporationFive years later, "I feel like I have a sword over my head," she says. "Every time I get a pain, I'm afraid it's another attack and that this time I might not survive." What hurts even worse: She suspects her heart attack could have been avoided.

    When Sakson was

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  • 10 Ways to Control Your Cravings and Save Your Diet

    By Paula Dranov

    Boost your weight loss plan with these tips to resist temptation.

    1. Avoid Your Triggers
    "You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you're eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones," says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, of the Monell Center. This can happen pretty fast. For five days, her study volunteers drank bland dietary-supplement beverages. During that time, they craved fewer of their trigger foods. By the end of the study, the volunteers actually wanted the supplements instead. The first few days are always the hardest, and you probably can't completely eliminate your old cravings. But the longer you avoid your trigger foods, the less likely you may be to want them. In fact, you'll probably begin to crave the foods you eat, a real bonus if you've switched to fresh fruit.

    Plus: 7 Tricks to Drop Pounds

    2. Destroy Temptation. If you've succumbed to a craving and bought a box of cookies or some other trigger food and start to feel bad while eating

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  • 5 Best Healthy Halloween Snacks and Treats

    By Erin Semple and Chandni Jhunjhunwala

    Looking for healthier options for your kids and neighborhood trick-or-treaters? Try these delicious and wholesome ideas.

    1. Dark Chocolate Bites

    Skip the milk chocolate and sneak antioxidant-rich dark chocolate into trick-or-treat bags. Dark chocolate contains a healthy dose of flavonoids known for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.

    We Like: Organic Dark Chocolate Bug Bites
    These delicious treats are all-natural and have a high cocoa content (72 percent). Get the adorable Halloween Treat Fun Pack for $6.72 per bag. Not a bad price for gourmet, socially-conscious chocolate. On the outside of the bag, trick-or-treaters can learn about the National Wildlife Federation and their Backyard Wildlife Habitat program. Available at

    Plus: 13 Things Your Trick-or-Treater Won't Tell You

    2. Organic Munchies
    Let's face it, Halloween isn't the same without candy. But you can still do your bit for the environment and for the health of

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  • 6 Free Pumpkin Carving Stencils to Try With the Kids

    Image and stencils from Halloween! Your Best Ever

    Nothing captures the playful spookiness of Halloween more than glowing jack-o'-lanterns. So rev up your creative juices with our twelve ready-to-carve designs.

    Who Me?
    Get the stencil

    See: Step-by-Step Pumpkin Carving Guide

    Cat's Whiskers
    Get the stencil

    See: 10 Tips for Perfect Jack-o'-Lanterns

    Casper the Friendly Ghost

    Get the stencil

    See: 8 Halloween Craft Printables

    Starry Night
    Get the stencil

    See: 7 Printable Funny Pumpkin Designs

    Hissing Cat

    Get the stencil

    See: 7 Easy Halloween Treat Recipes

    Lopsided Grin

    Get the stencil

    Get 6 more easy pumpkin carving stencils

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  • Flu Prevention: 5 Critical Lessons from History and What They Mean Today

    By Arthur Allen

    It's just about impossible to predict what a flu virus is going to do. But history offers a critical guide anyway, showing public health officials which moves are likely to pay off in the battle against the disease.

    1. What works: Shutting things down

    In the so-called Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1919, three waves of disease swept the world, killing approximately 50 million people, including 500,000 Americans. But Minneapolis and Milwaukee suffered fewer than 3 deaths per 1,000 people -- less than half the rate in cities like Baltimore, Boston, and San Francisco. One reason: The Midwestern cities quarantined the sick, closed schools and churches, and banned public gatherings. Another city, Gunnison, Colorado, escaped the plague by physically blocking the main roads into town. On the other hand, Philadelphia officials refused to ban meetings or parades on grounds of patriotism, and city newspapers downplayed the flu's severity. The result: Philly had one of the highest

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  • Save big on furniture, fabrics, floors and more

    By Janice Lieberman

    When I finally moved from an apartment and into a house, I had plenty of space to fill but very little money. Luckily, my designer pal, Jeff Wade, knew how to work magic on an austere budget. He dragged me to a million sample sales. At one place, we scored so many insane bargains that I had to ride in the backseat, sprawled on top of fabric bolts. "What are we going to do with this stuff?" I asked. "You'll see," he said. And I did!

    The owner of Chic Design on a Dime in Coral Gables, Florida, Jeff says anyone can score the kinds of deals designers get: You just have to ask. "Nothing is nonnegotiable," he says. A few of Jeff's best tips:

    Furniture: Most furniture companies have an outlet or a website that sells floor samples, discontinued styles, and returned merchandise at 25 to 40 percent off the designer price (typically 40 percent below retail). Jeff scored a $6,000 armoire for $850 at the Baker Furniture outlet in Kohler, Wisconsin. Find out if your

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  • 8 Weight Loss Secrets From Around the World

    Whatever happened to just enjoying good food, in moderation, without guilt? These global tricks reveal it's possible, and show you how.

    1. Stop eating before you're full.
    The Okinawans, whose average BMI is 21.5 for those who eat a traditional diet, call this hara hachi bu, or eating till you're 80 percent full. Of course, we're not suggesting that you leave the table hungry. But eating until the buttons pop stretches the stomach by about 20 percent each time you do it, so you inevitably need more food to feel satisfied, explains Bradley Willcox, MD, co-author of The Okinawa Diet Plan. He says that putting your fork down "when you feel that first twinge of fullness" gives your brain a chance to realize that you are full before you overdo it.

    2. Drizzle on the healthy oils. Healthy fats like olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and canola oil, a staple of Okinawans, make vegetables tastier, so you're likely to eat more of them. And, as we know, eating a diet rich in produce

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  • What Your Child's Teacher Won't Tell You

    Adapted from interviews with teachers by Neena Samuel

    ©2009 Jupiterimages Corporation©2009 Jupiterimages Corporation1. My first year of teaching, a fifth-grader actually threw a chair at me. I saw him recently, and he told me he just graduated from college. That's what makes it all worthwhile.

    2. I have parents who are CEOs of their own companies come in and tell me how to run my classroom. I would never think to go to their office and tell them how to do their jobs.

    3. We don't arrive at school 10 minutes before your child does. And we don't leave the minute they get back on the bus. Many of us put in extra hours before and after school.

    4. We are not the enemy. Parents and teachers really are on the same side.

    5. The truth is simple: Your kid will lie to get out of trouble.

    6. Encourage your child to keep reading. That's key to success in the classroom at any age.

    7. We can tell the difference between a parent helping their child with homework and doing it for them (especially when they're clueless in class the next day).

    8. Teaching is

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  • 13 Habits of Naturally Thin People

    Here's a simple way to make weight loss a natural part of the life you already live. And guess what? It's fun! You don't have to give up the foods you love or join a gym. It's about balancing calories in tiny ways that add up to big benefits. You just adopt some tricks naturally lean people do. Pick the ones you like, stick with them, and you'll slim down and tone up -- for good!

    By Cynthia Dermody

    1. Wake-up workout When your eyes open, sit up slowly without using your hands. With legs straight out, lean forward until you feel a gentle stretch in your back and hamstrings. Hold; then, using your abs, lower yourself flat. Rest and repeat two more times. Strengthens core. Burns 10 calories

    2. Go for the grains Not ready for Twigs & Rocks cereal? Sprinkle on a few tablespoons of wheat germ or oat bran. Work up to 3/4 cup of low-sugar whole-grain cereal with at least three grams of fiber per serving, and you'll pass on that Danish. Saves 100

    3. Add some protein The more you eat earlier

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