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Health Advice from Doctor Moms

There's a doctor in the house! Thirteen to be exact. And these women are about to give you their personal prescriptions for beating stress, eating smart and keeping yourself (and your families) healthy. Got a question for one of them? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com

By Arricca Sansone

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Alexandra Page, M.D., Orthopaedic Surgeon with Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, California

I keep my kids healthy by...
making sure my teenaged son and daughter drink skim milk at breakfast and dinner. Teen girls especially need calcium because they build peak bone mass by age 20.

When I need to de-stress...
I do Sudoku.

Best thing moms can do for themselves:
Pay attention to bone health by getting a daily dose of 600 IUs of vitamin D and 1000mg of calcium—1,200mg if you're postmenopausal.

The #1 question I get from patients:
Is it broken or fractured? They're the same thing.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D., Nutritionist in Rockville, Maryland, and author of Doctor's Detox Diet: The Ultimate Weight Loss Prescription.

I keep my kid healthy by...
making sure he brushes and flosses twice a day. I give my son pick flossers because they're easier to use.

What's for dinner in a pinch?
A super-fast vegetarian chili. It's a can each of low-sodium black beans, diced tomatoes and corn with some chili powder. I also make and freeze burgers of half lean beef and half turkey so my 9-year-old can cook one by himself in a hurry. It takes one minute in the microwave and a few minutes of broiling in the toaster oven.

When I need to de-stress...
I take a 10- or 20-minute power nap right after I come home from work. Then I feel refreshed for the rest of the evening.

My favorite smart snack:
If I'm having a meal in an hour, pink grapefruit or an apple will do. When I need something to stay with me longer, I choose a small handful of unsalted almonds, pistachios, walnuts or peanuts.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Polly Dunn, Ph.D. Child Psychologist and director of the Auburn University Psychological Services Center in Auburn, Alabama; founder of ChildPsychMom.com.

What your doctor won't tell you but I will:
Be the kind of person you want your children to be. If you're concerned that they're yelling too much, examine your own actions.

The best thing moms can do for themselves:
Resist the temptation to compare yourself or your spouse to others. In reality, none of us are perfect.

Boost your emotional quotient by...
strengthening your friendships. You need a core group of friends to provide support through the ups and downs of life. Otherwise, you end up internalizing problems and becoming overwhelmed.

When I need to de-stress...
I get away alone with my husband for a long weekend. It's important for our four kids to know everything is not always about them.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Sakina Bajowala, M.D., Allergist in private practice at Kaneland Allergy and Asthma Center in North Aurora, Illinois

I keep my kids healthy by...
having everyone wash their hands and faces and change their clothes when we get home. That way we aren't passing around germs and pollen.

When I need to de-stress...
I garden. I started with flowers but am planting strawberries, basil and mint this year.

I keep myself healthy by...
eating breakfast with my family. If you start off strong, you're more likely to make good choices throughout the day. A favorite combination is whole-grain waffles with strawberries and honey and turkey bacon.

My favorite smart snack:
Clementines. No utensils needed, they're the perfect size and they quell my hunger and my sweet tooth at the same time.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Lisa Matzer, M.D. Cardiologist in Burbank, California

Best thing moms can do for themselves:
Don't make health your lowest priority. That means keeping your doctor's appointment even when your child's ball game creates a conflict.

What's your wellness splurge?
Organic produce and milk.

I keep my kids healthy by...
not letting my two sons drink soda, eat junk food or consume anything with partially hydrogenated oils or trans fat.

What your doctor won't tell you but I will:
If you take statins for high cholesterol, you can't just eat what you want. Supplements and prescription drugs are not as good as exercise and a low-fat diet.

My favorite healthy snack:
Greek yogurt and blueberries or a few Frosted Mini-Wheats for a sweet fix.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Kris Deeter, M.D., Pediatric Intensivist with Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida in Hallandale, Florida

What your doctor won't tell you but I will:
You're the boss—not your kid's friend. You can be their friend when they're in their 20s. Set rules now.

I keep myself healthy by...
always wearing my seat belt, never speeding and never, ever talking on the phone while driving. Being a trauma surgeon, I see so many accidents. That's why I'm setting a good example for my two daughters who are often sitting in the backseat.

Best thing moms can do for themselves:
Keep your hands off your face! It's so easy to spread germs and get sick when you touch it.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Stella Dantas, M.D., OB-GYN at Kaiser Permanente in Hillsboro, Oregon

What your doctor won't tell you but I will:
An IUD is a good choice for contraception. It's what I myself use.

What's your wellness splurge?
I work out with a personal trainer once a week because I just don't have the patience to do core training on my own.

What's for dinner in a pinch?
Soup, because it freezes well and still tastes good. One of our favorites is Italian sausage, carrots and spinach, and another I make frequently is potato-leek.

The #1 question I get from patients:
How do I lose weight? Especially since obesity drives a lot of gynecological health issues—including irregular periods and cancer—and your metabolism slows with age. I tell patients to count calories. When you see that something you want to eat is 300 calories, you may decide not to have it!

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Jenna Sawdon-Bea, P.T., Ph.D., Physical Therapist and assistant professor at California State University, Fresno

I keep myself healthy by...
drinking about 10 cups of water a day to stay energized and headache-free.

I keep my kids healthy by...
taking them outside. My three daughters ride scooters, play kickball and shoot baskets instead of always watching TV.

Best thing moms can do for themselves:
Think about bone health before your first bone density test at 65 or older. There's so much more you can do to reduce risk when you're younger.

What's your wellness splurge?
Good running shoes. I spend about $125 every six months on them. I meet another mom at 5:15 a.m. four or five times a week for a run. It's my mental and physical therapy, especially since I became a breast cancer survivor.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Leigh Vinocur, M.D., ER Physician, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians and adjunct professor at LSU Health Shreveport in Louisiana

What your doctor won't tell you but I will:
Telling scary health stories doesn't motivate people, so I say get fit so you look good. Let's face it: Even I don't drag myself out of bed at 5 a.m. to go spinning for my arteries.

I keep my kids healthy by...
letting my 16-year-old son have what he wants when he's out. But at home, food is baked not fried, we have organic fruit and we don't eat a lot of sugar.

When I need to de-stress...
I take a bath using baby wash. It's cheap, gentle and smells great.

The #1 question I get from patients:
Do I need antibiotics? Not if it's a virus, like the flu. And not if you have the sniffles for only a few days.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Katherine Chretien, M.D., Internist and associate professor of medicine, George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; founder of mothersinmedicine.com

Here's what your doctor won't tell you but I will:
We follow the five-second rule at my house. Basic hygiene is important but germs are unavoidable, and if one of my three kids eats Cheerios that fell on the floor, it's not the end of the world.

I keep my kids healthy by...
trying to be in bed by 10 p.m. to get eight hours of sleep each night. When I don't get enough sleep, it's good for no one!

The #1 question I get from patients:
What's the best thing I can do for my health? It's definitely to stop smoking, but one in six women still smoke.

What's for dinner in a pinch?
Pot roast with veggies in the slow cooker. It takes five minutes to prepare.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Jennifer Litton, M.D., Oncologist and assistant professor of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston

The #1 question I get from patients:
Why did I get cancer? People shouldn't feel they're somehow to blame. Cancer can happen to anyone.

What's your wellness splurge?
Thick hand creams (like Eucerin), because I wash my hands so many times a day.

In my purse, I always have...
sunscreen of SPF 50 or higher.

Here's what your doctor won't tell you but I will:
There's no magic diet. Enjoy everything in moderation, even an occasional treat. When you do indulge in something like a chocolate chip cookie, savor it so that you feel satisfied instead of guilty.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Arielle Kauvar, M.D., Dermatologist and director of New York Laser and Skin Care in New York City

My favorite smart snack:
Raspberries and blueberries, because they're filled with antioxidants.

In my purse, I always have...
aspirin. It's a good all-purpose anti- inflammatory.

The #1 question I get from patients:
How can I look younger?The best anti-aging product is sunscreen. Don't miss areas such as the tops of your ears and hands. Underneath, wear an over-the-counter product that contains antioxidants such as vitamin C, idebenone or phloretin. Before bed, opt for a retinoid like Retin A, which you'll need a prescription for, or retinol, which is sold over the counter.

What's your wellness splurge?
A luxurious mattress, Siberian goose down pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets for a good night's sleep.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

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Ruth Williams, M.D., Ophthalmologist and president of Wheaton Eye Clinic in Illinois

I keep myself healthy by...
writing down five things I'm grateful for as soon as I wake up. It sets a positive tone for my whole day.

What's your wellness splurge?
Retin-A. It makes my skin so soft.

Best thing moms can do for themselves:
Get an eye exam by age 40. Some of the most serious eye diseases, such as glaucoma, have signs only your doctor can see.

I keep my kids healthy by...
feeding my three teens leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard and kale several times a week. I put them in omelets, couscous, spaghetti and lasagna. Research indicates they help prevent everything from macular degeneration to dementia.

Got a question for her? E-mail us at health@familycircle.com.

Originally published in the September 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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