Blog Posts by Reader s Digest Magazine

  • 10 Fast Foods That Are Too Convenient

    Do we really need to combine the maple goodness of pancakes or waffles with sausage in a hand-held sandwich?Do we really need to combine the maple goodness of pancakes or waffles with sausage in a hand-held sandwich?As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Heinz is making waves with its new ketchup packet design, which seems to solve the age-old conundrum: "How do I dip my fries while riding in the car?!" The ketchup giant recently unveiled the Dip and Squeeze packet, which can either be peeled open and placed in your car's cup holder for convenient dipping, or squeezed on in the traditional way. While we have no doubt about society's "need" for this innovation, we wonder if making French fry eating more convenient is really the wisest idea. Here are a few other convenient foods that should have been rethought:

    Image by McDonald's

    Pizza in a Cone

    Pizza is a traditionally hand-held food. Why would someone decide to shape it into a cone? More cheese is our guess.

    Try: Getting one slice of pizza, light on the cheese, and add something green.

    PLUS: 11 Biggest Red Flag Words on Packaged Foods

    Chipotle Burritos

    By the time you load a burrito-size flour

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  • When Alternative Medicine Goes Wrong

    As the saying goes, "It's important to have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out." We asked doctors and researchers from across the country-including those who use or at least approve of complementary methods-to share experiences that frustrated, saddened, or simply astounded them.

    1. All remedies can be overused
    "I had a patient with migraines who didn't want to take drugs-she wanted to deal with them by arching her back. There actually is a yoga treatment that involves arching your back to help certain kinds of headaches, but not migraines. The worse the migraines got, the more this woman arched her back. She kept doing this until her back hurt as much as her head, and she agreed to take the medication."
    --Loren Fishman, MD, doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation in New York City

    2. Herbal products are not free
    "I once saw a woman come to the pharmacy counter with a bunch of herbal products while also picking up a prescription. She complained to the

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  • How to Cope with Boomerang Kids

    With 85 percent of the college class of 2011 moving back home, you might think of this group as Generation B, for Boomerang. We asked Carl Pickhardt, a psychologist and the author of Boomerang Kids, for three wise words on how to see kids off, take them back, and move them out.

    1. TEACH
    Before your kids take off for college, teach them the three B's: That's banking, budgeting, and bill paying. "Parents get preoccupied by school performance, and they don't think about their preparation responsibility," said Pickhardt.

    2. CLARIFY
    If they do return home, consider what their presence will now mean for the household. How will they contribute? Will you support them financially? You may need to make a written agreement that both of you will sign. (See below for a link to our Boomerang Contract.)

    When kids leave high school or even college, they are not adults. Between 18 and 23, they're entering the last and most difficult stage of adolescence: trial

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  • 6 Ways Building Muscle Will Improve Your Life

    It helps you to lose weight. Muscle tissue burns more calories per day than fat tissue does - even when at rest.

    It is healthy for your heart. That's because they can perform better with less oxygen, meaning the heart doesn't have to pump too hard when you are active. By extension, strong muscles are good for your blood pressure.

    It protects your joints and your back. More muscle power means you put less strain on your joints and connective tissue when lifting or exerting yourself. And that's important both for treating and preventing arthritis.

    PLUS: Lose Weight Around the Clock

    It improves your looks and gives you a mental boost. You feel more energized and prouder of yourself.

    It requires active living. You can't get strong muscles from a pill, a meal or a herb. The mere fact that you have strong muscles means you're being active.

    It helps to fight free radicals. Research shows that when people lift weights regularly, they suffer less damage from free

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  • How to Eat for Your Food Personality

    Find out what your food cravings can predict about your behavior.Find out what your food cravings can predict about your behavior.Which do you crave more: fruits or vegetables? Most of the population falls into one of these categories, easily spotted by whether you prefer savory or sweet. Which are you? Take the quiz.

    Vegetable lovers

    Like: Bitter flavors and are more likely to try new things.

    Habits: Veggie lovers would take a glass of red wine over dessert.

    Interesting qualities: These people like to entertain and try new things. They are more likely to have dinner parties and cook nutritious meals.

    Fruit lovers

    Like: Sweeter foods.

    Habits: They are more likely to take a look at the dessert menu.

    Interesting qualities: Fruit types tend to eat foods that take less time to prepare. They could actually have more sensitive taste receptors that make them detect a stronger bitterness in broccoli. (Our guess is the scientist that discovered this just didn't want to eat his vegetables.)

    Either of these preferences is healthy overall since vegetables and fruits contain many of the

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  • 8 Biggest Red Flag Words on Packaged Foods

    The words written on food packaging are a contract between you and the manufacturer, as mandated by the federal government via the FDA. Many food producers hire lawyers that help them craft words to get you to buy their products while toeing the line of legality. Here are a few common package proclamations that you should look out for, and what they really mean.

    1. Health claims
    Could a probiotic straw give immunity protection to a child? Are Cheerios a substitute for cholesterol-lowering drugs? The FDA doesn't think so. Foods are not authorized to treat diseases. Be suspicious of any food label that claims to be the next wonder drug.

    2. Flavored
    Both natural and artificial flavors are actually made in laboratories. But natural flavorings are isolated from a natural source, whereas artificial flavorings are not. However, natural flavors are not necessarily healthier than artificial. According to Scientific American, the natural flavor of coconut is not from an actual coconut, as one

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  • What Your Aerobics Instructor is Really Thinking

    1. Follow my lead.
    I get aggravated when students do a different workout than the one I'm teaching -- and they're in the front row! You come to class but choose to do your own thing... really, what's the point?!

    2. Be on time.
    Showing up late to class is rude and disrupts everyone. Plus, you miss the most important part of class - the warm-up! The best is when you walk in, 5 minutes after class starts, to set up your bike or your mat and you're on the phone!

    3. Leave your cell at home.
    Can you not exercise for an hour without checking your text messages?

    4. Stop weighing yourself constantly.

    Newbies expect miracles without realizing that the added muscle will not only make them smaller and leaner, but also heavier (muscle weighs more than fat, remember?). You can't change your physique simply by working out; 80 percent of any change and fat loss is the result of a clean diet.

    PLUS: Weight Loss Secrets From Around the World

    5. Dress appropriately.
    Ladies, consider wearing a cami

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  • 6 Moments That Make You Feel Like a Million Bucks

    With the economy acting like a cat on a leash-come on! come on!-it's great to know that even the simplest event can make people feel as if they're swimming in dough.

    1. Finding something of value on sale

    Melinda Ballengee, 34, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was at an Annie Sez store, "digging through piles and piles of crap," as she so poetically recalls, when she noticed a dress had fallen to the floor. "Because I am polite and because I worked in retail when I was in high school, I put it on a hanger."

    Good girl. Because when she performed her good deed, she saw what she had there: a $450 Tahari dress. Exactly her size. Exactly her style. And exactly her budget. Squeals Ballengee, "It was on sale for $12!"

    Which is not to say that bargains are the secret to feeling incredibly rich.

    Scratch that. Of course bargains are the secret to feeling incredibly rich! And happy! And smart! But there are other ways too, including …

    2. The help of random strangers


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  • The Psychology of Boiling the Perfect Egg

    Do you want the control freak's method or the laissez-faire system? They both work. A lot of cookbooks want you to think there's only one way to do something - their way, of course! In some cases, that's true. If you want to beat egg whites for an angel food cake, you can't allow even a speck of yolk to get into the whites or they won't beat up into a meringue. But more often, there are several ways to do something - like boil an egg.

    The Control Freak's Method

    The control freak's way is to bring the water to a boil and then place the eggs carefully into it. Cover the pan, and when the water returns to a boil, set the timer for 3 minutes for soft-boiled eggs or 13 minutes for hard-boiled. When the timer goes off, remove the pan from the stove and drain off the water. You'll probably be eating the soft-boiled egg immediately, but if you intend to refrigerate the hard-boiled ones, first run cold water over the eggs until they're no longer hot. (That will also make them

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  • Are These Health “Truths” Outdated?

    1. Eating high-fiber foods prevents colon cancer.
    Outdated. Doctors once believed that eating a lot of "roughage" kept the colon free of cancer-causing toxins. Several large studies found, however, that neither high-fiber diets nor fiber supplements prevented colon cancer.

    2. Everyone should drink eight glasses of water each day.

    Outdated. There is no scientific basis for this common recommendation. According to the Institute of Medicine, a man needs about 125 ounces (15 to 16 cups) of water daily, while a woman requires 91 ounces (a little over 11 cups). That amount is easily gotten from a normal diet, since all beverages and many foods contain water. To stay well hydrated, simply drink when you're thirsty.

    3. A "broken heart" is a genuine medical condition.
    True. Doctors have shown that people who experience severe emotional trauma, such as losing a loved one, sometimes develop a condition known as stress cardiomyopathy, also called broken-heart syndrome. The condition causes a

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