Category: Health

Cold Season & Winter Wellness Top Tips

Cold Season & Winter Wellness Top Tips

Cold Season & Winter Wellness Top Tips

cold season and winter wellness tips for seniors from medicare life health co.

Baby it’s getting cold out here! Today we will cover simple winter wellness tips for seniors to stay well in cold season and throughout the year.

Here’s what we know:

  • Staying healthy is important in any year and in any time of the year.
  • Staying healthy is even more important in a pandemic year. Moreover, in the winter when we are all stuck indoors.
  • This is all especially true if you are entering into, or already are in, your Medicare years.

Let’s talk about what you can do to protect yourself and keep your body as healthy as possible during these ever changing times and seasons.

An Important Disclaimer

It is important to note that this article is not intended to replace a doctor’s care or recommendations. You should consult with a doctor on important health concerns. This article compiles what the medical community at large has researched that has been effective for the general population.

Beyond the Basics

In this article we will go beyond our day to day healthy practices (which we certainly need to be following carefully) laid out by the CDC, and into what we can be doing now that will have a positive impact on our health and wellness into the next days, months and years.

Some of these will be obvious, but important, reminders for maintaining good health, especially during flu / cold season and winter. However, others might be ideas you have not considered before, but are no less important or powerful.

As a reminder, our daily healthy practices for all virus protection are…

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often
  • Cover your mouth (not with your hand) when you sneeze or cough
  • Use a face mask when in public and maintain social distancing guidelines
  • Disinfect surfaces you use often
  • Be aware of your body and call your doctor if you think you are experiencing symptoms.
  • Visit https://www.coronavirus.gov/ for more information.

In addition, the CDC has special information for those who are older or have underlying medical conditions (like diabetes, heart and/or lung disease) that put them at higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Please read more about this here.

Cold Season Protective Health Tips for Seniors

To start, I am writing this article during the 2020/2021 pandemic. The infamous COVID-19 virus is reported to affect many of the body’s systems including the respiratory system (including the lungs) and the circulatory system (including the heart). So, what practical things can we do to protect our body from viruses?

Let’s look at two obvious, two not so obvious (but still simple) steps, and one bonus suggestion.

  • Eating Healthy, Natural Foods
  • Exercising Regularly
  • Getting Enough Vitamin D
  • Getting Enough Omega 3’s
  • Bonus: Using the Sauna

Eating Healthy, Natural Foods

Diet goes a long way in protecting your immune system. Good foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals bolster your body’s health. We need a variety of nutritious foods with varying amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats to fuel our immune system and keep us healthy. Nutrition science has shown us …

The immune system protects versus illness. Exposure to contaminations, stress, malnutrition and other factors that impact on immune dysfunction has increased in the modern lifestyle hence paying attention to adequate amount of calorie, protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is necessary.

http://immunopathol.com/PDF/ipp-1-e04.pdf

One instant way to improve your diet is to include whole foods, fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Filling your plate with these foods will begin to inch out less nutritious foods that are hard for our bodies to digest. (For example – eating less sugar, processed foods and fast foods.)

Eating healthier foods will not only help you to improve your immune system and overall health, but will also help you to save money in the long run. Read more about saving money with our number one health hack here.

Need help kicking a sugar habit? Start here.

Exercising Regularly

Even just a small increase in your activity level can help keep your body healthier. Moreover, exercise helps strengthen your lungs, your heart and even your immune system. Your lymph system (which is like your body’s garbage collection and removal system) works much more efficiently with exercise.

Just Start Moving

Wherever you are in your exercise routine, start small with any changes, and consult your physician with any personal health questions. It is important to find exercise you enjoy and will continue to do regularly.

If you are stuck at home, there are still resources available to you:

In addition to diet and exercise, there are a few additional health practices that have the potenital to enhance your immune system over time.

Cold Season & Vitamin D

One of the simplest steps you can take to protect yourself during cold season and bolster your winter wellness is to make sure you are getting an adequate amount of Vitamin D.

To start, Vitamin D is very important to your body. In fact, it is actually more than just a vitamin – it is a steroid hormone your body needs for proper functioning. However, more than 41% of the U.S. is getting deficient levels of Vitamin D and perhaps up to 70% of Americans are getting insufficient levels of Vitamin D.

Most of us know that vitamin D helps our body regulate calcium to keep our bones, teeth and muscles strong. Interestingly, recent studies have shown that Vitamin D might have a protecting factor against lung injury. This is big news in this time where our world is fighting a virus that can damage our lungs.

According to Science Daily, reporting on a study done by the University of Queen Mary London, Vitamin D can protect against respiratory infections including colds and flus.

“Daily or weekly supplementation halved the risk of acute respiratory infection in people with the lowest baseline vitamin D levels, below 25 nanomoles per litre (nmol/L). However, people with higher baseline vitamin D levels also benefited, although the effect was more modest (10 per cent risk reduction). ”

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170216110002.htm

Dr. Rhonda Patrick (who has a PhD in Biomedical Sciences) has a very through and insteresting video on Vitamin D available here. The video addresses how “Vitamin D may reduce susceptibility to COVID-19-associated lung injury.”

Am I Getting Enough Vitamin D?

You may now be wondering if you are vitamin D deficient or insuffient. Typically, the only direct way to tell is with a blood test. During this time, it might be prohibitive to get a blood test.

We get vitamin D from the sun’s UVB rays during certain times of the year (and based on where you live relative to the equator) and we can get it in small amounts through some foods. However, most of us are not getting enough through these avenues and might have to consider supplementation.

We suggest talking to your doctor about vitamin D supplementation. If you would like to read more about “How much vitamin D do I need?” then I also suggest reading this article from the Harvard Medical School website.

Getting Enough Omega 3’s

Omega 3 fatty acids work together with Vitamin D to keep your immune system functioning at its highest capacity.

According to “Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells,” a peer reviewed study you can read all of here, “Both omega-3 and omega-6-derived metabolites have important immune-regulatory functions.” To get specific and scientific, Omega 3s regulate cellular membrane properties and can be signaling molecules to cells. This means they help cells figure out what is good and what is bad to let into cells – for example, viruses.

Since Omega 3’s are important to immune function, it would be a good idea to make sure you are including these into your diet – especially during flu season. So where do you get them?

Ways to Get Your Omega 3’s

According to the National Institute of Health, you can find Omega 3’s:

  • Fish and some seafoods such as salmon, sardines, tuna
  • Nuts / Seeds like chia, walnuts and flax, including their oils
  • Fortified foods like some milks and eggs
  • Supplements like fish oil caplets

A varied diet including these Omega 3 rich foods will help to bolster your immune system. You can always ask your health care practitioner about supplementation if you think that is needed.

How Much Omega 3’s Do I Need?

According to the NHI, “recommended amounts of EPA and DHA have not been established.” On the other hand, ALA recommended amounts have been established, but the amount needed by each person depends on their age and sex. You can see ALA recommended amounts here.

Bonus: Using the Sauna

Ok, I understand that this final winter wellness suggestion is not an option for everyone. As a result, I am including it as a “bonus” suggestion. However, the benefits of sauna use are very tied to a healthy immune system and can be an effective way to stave off the unwanted viruses of cold season.

When we are talking about “saunas” we are talking about the small, wooden rooms with either a Finnish, hot rock heater or an infrared heated sauna. Both of these sauna methods can be effective in training your immune system to be more effective through timed exposure to high heat.

The benefits of sauna use include:

  • Strengthening immune responsive
  • Better heart health
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Reversal of cognitive decline
  • And even mood lifting (Click for Source.)

If you are interested in learning more about sauna benefits and use, I suggest you start with this very detailed article from Dr. Rhonda Patrick.

Conclusions

In summary, there are several good first steps to taking care of your immune system during cold season. Your winter wellness regimen should include:

  • Eating Healthy, Natural Foods
  • Exercising Regularly
  • Getting Enough Vitamin D
  • Getting Enough Omega 3’s
  • And as a Bonus: Using the Sauna

By following these suggestions, you should give you immune system a head start during the winter months (and all year).

Best Hearing Aid Alternatives

Best Hearing Aid Alternatives

Best Hearing Aid Alternatives

hearing aid alternatives with medicare life health - what is a psap

Hearing aids are expensive. We are talking thousands of dollars, sometimes even with insurance. In addition, they may be overkill for the amount of hearing support you require.

Fortunately, there are hearing aid alternatives. You just need to know where to look and what to look for.

Hearing Aids are Not Covered by Medicare

Does medicare cover hearing aids doctor examining patient

One of the main problems is that hearing aids are not covered by Original Medicare. (Read this article to learn more, and how they are sometimes “covered” or subsidized by select Medicare Advantage plans.

Just as a refresher, Medicare Advantage Plans are private insurance plans (Medicare Part C) that are available to Medicare Beneficiaries in certain geographic areas. Some of them do have hearing care benefits.

So, What is a Low Cost Hearing Aid Alternative?

Before 2009, the only solution for procuring a hearing aid was through a doctor. In addition, to make matters worse, these solutions were (and still are) thousands of dollars.

Enter the PSAP…

What is a PSAP?

However, in 2009, a court decision finally allowed sales of OTC (over the counter) hearing aids. They changed the name of these “hearing aid alternatives” to Personal Sound Amplifier Products or PSAP.

What is the Difference Between a Hearing Aid and an Amplifier?

To be frank, the main difference between a hearing aid and a hearing amplifier is FDA regulation. To get a hearing aid, you will

To get an amplifier (PSAP), you just need to purchase one online. No doctor or prescription required. However, you may want to see a hearing specialist just to be sure your hearing loss is not connected to another condition.

How do Amplifiers Work?

Personal Sound Amplifiers are basically over-the-counter hearing aids. They “manage” noise around you and help you hear what is important, like the sound of voices directed at you. Some of them even have noise cancelling technologies. (Affiliate Link)

Our PSAP Brand Recommendation

One of the first, and still very popular, brands of PSAP’s is Otofonix. We recommend this brand, and our links for them are affiliate links. The company was started by an ENT (ear, nose and throat) doctor and the company has many different options and price points.

Otofonix has some limited time offers for our readers. They are listed here:

Otofonix is known for having great customer service, a 1 year warranty and a up to 45 day return window.

Hearing Health Tips for Improving and Protecting Hearing

Finally, we are ending our hearing aid alternatives article with a few tips for naturally improving hearing. They might not be a substitute for an amplifier or hearing aid, but they might make a difference.

To Start, Keep Your Ears Unclogged

There are multiple ways your ears can get plugged up. You could have an infection, allergies, pressure build-up (like from a plane ride), or even too much war wax.

I remember when my mom spent months not being able to hear and thinking she needed hearing aids. However, when she went to the doctor, they found out she just had a prolific amount of ear wax! After they drained her wax out, she could hear again.

There are ways to “irrigate” your own ear canal, but that also might be something to consult your doctor about. It is always a good idea to be safe and gentle your ears. (And stay away from putting things in your ears like cotton swabs.)

Finally, Prevent Further Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Prevention is the Key to hearing health! Make sure you are protecting your hearing by:

  • Wearing ear plugs when you know you will be experiencing loud sounds. For example, at a concert or fireworks show.
  • Give yourself some quiet time. Your ears and brain work hard together to interpret sounds. Make sure to give them a break every once-and-a-while.
  • Turn down the volume on the TV and on your music.
  • Take care of your whole self. Exercise and a healthy diet will help to keep all your body’s systems in proper working order, including your ears.
  • In addition, foods rich in magnesium may help bolster hearing health. Studies have been inconclusive in how other vitamins and minerals help hearing health.

How Much Does an MRI Cost?

How Much Does an MRI Cost?

How Much Does an MRI Cost?

how much does an mri cost

There is nothing worse than getting a hospital bill with an unexpected number on it. So, if your doctor says you need an MRI, you might be wondering, just how much does an MRI cost?

First, MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. An MRI machine can scan the inside parts of your body and create pictures for medical professionals to use for diagnostics. Moreover, it is considered “noninvasive” as it uses magnetic fields, radio waves, and computer technology to create images.

MRI’s are commonly used to discover issues in your brain, neck, arteries and spine. (Among many other uses.)

So, let’s look at cost estimates for an MRI with and without insurance, including Medicare options.

How Much Does an MRI Cost Without Insurance?

There is not a national “set price” for an MRI. The U.S.A. has a private healthcare system, so costs vary state-to-state and even facility-to-facility. For this reason, you will see estimates varying on the question of how much does an MRI cost in the United States.

Estimates for How Much does an MRI Scan Cost

  • According to Money.com, the average MRI cost is $2,611.

Cost Estimates for MRI as an Inpatient vs an Outpatient

  • However, MRI costs also vary significantly between inpatient and outpatient facilities.
    • According to this website, the national average for an MRI is $1,325, but the outpatient average is $650, while the inpatient average is $2,250.
    • That is over a $1,500 difference in price if you have the procedure done while you are admitted as an inpatient, versus being an outpatient.

The Cost to Get an MRI Scan Varies by State

  • As mentioned, the estimated cost of a MRI also varies across the country. The United States uses private hospital systems and they can set their own prices based on their expenses.
    • According to American Health Imaging, the most expensive state for an MRI is Alaska (at $3,200).
    • And the least expensive state for an MRI is Mississippi (at $97).

What is the Cost on an MRI with Private Insurance?

Private insurance may reduce the cost of your MRI if it is considered a covered service. It may reduce the cost of your service more if you get your procedure done at an in-network facility vs an out-of-network facility.

According to Money.com, insurance companies, on average negotiate MRI costs down to $511 to $2,815. After that, your costs for an MRI will depend on your insurance co-pays, deductibles and max out-of-pocket expenses.

How Much Does an MRI Cost with Medicare?

Depending on what type of Medicare Plan you have, and it your MRI is considered a “covered service,” you may have different costs associated with getting an MRI. Let’s look at each Medicare option and what costs might be associated with each.

Original Medicare

Medicare is a national healthcare system that negotiates with facilities to accept Medicare Beneficiaries as patients, and it negotiates prices. You just have Original Medicare and not a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Supplement on top of Medicare, then you can find the price of your MRI scan on the Procedure Price Look-up page on Medicare.gov.

This page lists off 54 different MRI procedures that are covered by Medicare and how much they may cost you and Medicare. For example,

  • A simple “MRI Scan” (Code: 76498) is listed at a total cost of $32 (patient pays $6, Medicare pays $25) at ambulatory surgical center or $62 (patient pays $12, Medicare pays $49) at a hospital’s outpatient center.
  • While a “MRI of heart before and after contrast with stress imaging” (Code: 75563) can have a total cost of $356 (patient pays $71, Medicare pays $285) at ambulatory surgical center or $691 (patient pays $138, Medicare pays $553) at a hospital’s outpatient center.

However, most people on Medicare do not just have Original Medicare. They also have a Supplement (which is also called a Medigap plan) or a Part C, Medicare Advantage Plan to help them cover the costs that Medicare does not pick up.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) Plans

If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, then an MRI might not cost you any additional money, depending on your supplement. Plans like F (or G after the Part B deductible) cover all expenses that Medicare does not pick up.

There are different Medigap Plans available listed out by letter names, and Medicare Beneficiaries get to choose which one fits their needs best. To learn more about Medigap plans, click here.

Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage Plans (also called MA or Medicare Part C) are bundled plans that replace Original Medicare and offer more coverage than what Original Medicare offers. They often have co-pays or a co-insurance for listed covered services.

For example, a plan might have a set price co-pay for an outpatient service or an inpatient hospital service. If you have an MA Part C, you will need to consult your plan information to see how much an MRI costs with Medicare Advantage.

To learn more about how to pick a Medicare Advantage or Medigap Plan:

Why are MRI’s so Expensive?

Here is why MRI Scans are Expensive:

  • Research and Development Costs: MRI Machines have life-saving technologies that took years to develop. The development costs alone makes them expensive.
  • Little Competition: In addition, there are only 5 companies that make MRI machines.
  • More Power = More Money: MRI machines come in different sizes and strengths. Scientists measure their imaging power in “Teslas”. The more Teslas, the more power, the more the machines cost. Each machine can cost from $150,000 to $3,000,000.
  • Expensive Housing: Finally, the rooms that hold the MRI machines are also expensive because they must be safety proofed and large.

Ways to keep your MRI costs down:

  1. Have the MRI done in an outpatient facility. This is the #1 way to keep your costs down as the price difference (on average, up to $1,500) is significant between in and out patient MRI procedures.
  2. Use insurance and stay in network. Learn what and how your insurance covers an MRI. In addition, if you have a network of medical providers and facilities provided by your insurance, then use them. It is much cheaper to use “in-network” providers because your insurance company has contracted with them and negotiated with them lower prices.
  3. You might also wonder, how much is an MRI if you pay cash? Is there a discount? Sometimes, yes! If you do not have insurance, pay in cash and negotiate your price upfront when possible. We know some MRI’s are done in emergency settings, but when possible, see if you can negotiate your price.
  4. Even if you are not paying cash, see if you can negotiate the price down. The insurance companies do the same thing with hospitals. You can also attempt this after the fact, but it is easier to do upfront.
  5. Call around. Shop your procedure to see where your least expensive options exist. Call all your “in-network” options if you have insurance, or call all your local options if you are uninsured. As mentioned, private healthcare systems set their own costs, so not every facility will be the same.

Healthcare Further Reading

Health Hacks to Save Money
Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

Does it sometimes seem like Medicare and Insurance companies are trying to make things as complicated as they possibly can? Just when you think you have Medicare Advantage down, something else comes up! For example: Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers.

Not so very long ago, there was one main senior fitness program when you joined a Medicare Advantage Plan: SilverSneakers®. Then, in January 2019, one carrier dropped SilverSneakers and replaced it with Renew Active™. Many people were concerned when this first happened. However, it now seems like Renew Active is a reasonable replacement.

Who is Affected?

The people affected by the change to Renew Active are those that are a part of a Medicare Advantage Plan that has the program as a benefit. (In addition to those people considering whether or not to join their plan.) The majority of the other Medicare Advantage plans still use Silver Sneakers as their main plan.

How to Make a Decision?

If you are trying to decide on a Medicare Advantage Plan in your area, Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers may play a part in your decision.

Let’s take a quick look at the two programs, how they are similar or different, and whether or not there are advantages to either one.

What is Silver Sneakers?

what is Silver Sneakers Senior Fitness

SilverSneakers® is a fitness and wellness program for seniors age 65 and up. It includes free gym memberships across the country, and it is included with many Medicare Advantage Plans.

Click here to read our article: What is Silver Sneakers?

What does a SilverSneakers Membership Include?

  • LOCAL GYM MEMBERSHIPS: Silver Sneakers has an extensive list of gyms that participate in their program that offers free gym memberships to seniors. Their website boasts having more gym facilities than there are Starbucks locations in the U.S. (at over 16,000).
    • If you are a part of a Medicare Advantage (MA) program that uses Silver Sneakers, then you can access the gyms in their network at no cost. You can use as many of these facilities as you like while you are a part of your MA plan.
  • ONLINE FITNESS CLASSES: If you prefer to workout at home, or do not have a physical location close to you, SilverSneakers offers online fitness classes.
  • APP: They also have an app to help you track your fitness goals and schedule your fitness plans. The app can also help you locate participating locations.

What is Renew Active?

Renew Active™ is another program offered by a carrier with select Medicare Advantage plans. It also offers access to gyms and fitness places across the country.

What does a Renew Active Membership Include?

  • GYM ACCESS: When we looked into all the benefits offered by Renew Active, we found the standard access to local gyms.
  • BRAIN TRAINING: Interestingly, they also offered a unique feature of online brain training. The company partnered with BrainHQ to offer an app to keep your brain sharp with games and tools available on a PC or mobile device.
    • The BrainHQ service is available for purchase from $8-$14 a month, so getting this included with your Renew membership does seem like a good deal.

Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers: How are they Similar?

renew active vs silver sneakers pin

When comparing Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers, you will find they are very similar in their main functions.

  • To start, both programs offer free gym memberships at local fitness facilities.
  • In addition, you can sign-up for multiple fitness locations with both memberships.
  • Both plans offer at-home options for people that are too far away from any participating facilities.
    • For at home options with Renew Active you must call their customer service phone number. Apparently, you can find this on the back of your health plan member ID.
    • You can find SiliverSneakers at home programming information online here.
  • Finally, Medicare Advantage Plans include one of these programs at no additional cost to plan members.
    • (Some Medigap plans in certain states may have access to some sort of fitness benefit, but that is all dependent on the insurance company and the service area. This is not near as common. Mostly fitness plans are an extra benefit of Medicare Advantage plans.)

How They are Different: Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

renew active vs silver sneakers comparison chart or checklist from medicarelifehealth.com
  • The first difference we see at this time is Silver Sneakers seems to be in more facilities.
    • SilverSneakers boasts over 16,000 locations.
    • At the start of 2019, Renew Active mentioned over 7,000. However, it seems like their program has grown since that mention.
    • Check the location searches for both programs to make sure your gym preference is covered.
  • The second difference is that Renew Active has an online brain training application included, and Silver Sneakers does not (at the time I am writing this article).
    • The BrainHQ app seems to retail at $8-$14 a month if you wanted to buy it separately, so that does suggest added value.
    • We have not tried this app, and could not find a lot of research or reviews on the platform at the moment. Please leave a comment if you find something useful!
  • In our Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers comparison, the third difference we see is that Silver Sneakers has an good list of online classes.

What’s Better About Silver Sneakers?

To start, if you are someone who likes to do workouts at home, and likes to stream different workouts online, Silver Sneakers has more to offer you in this area. Their online “on-demand” workout section boasts hundreds of online workouts available.

Also, Silver Sneakers seems to have the larger network of physical fitness facilities at this time.

Finally, multiple Medicare insurance company plans use SilverSneakers. This means your coverage might not change if you change Medicare plans.

What’s Better About Renew Active?

Renew Active is only associated with one carrier’s Medicare Advantage Plans. It’s major advantage over SilverSneakers seems to be the access to BrainHQ training games. It’s network might be a bit smaller than SilverSneakers, but it is still impressive and very useful.

Should Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers be a Deciding Factor on Your MA Plan?

In my opinion, there are much more important factors to consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan than Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers. Your network access to doctors and medical providers should be your first consideration. Your drug plan and hospital facilities and costs should also be more important.

However, if all your plans seem comparable, your decision might include the convenience of using a local wellness facility, streaming exercises at home, or participating in brain health activities.

In this case, it is a great idea to hop onto the facility location tools and online resources for both Renew Active and Silver Sneakers. You can then make sure the program you choose covers your gym or desired services.

Double Mastectomy: How to Prepare and Recover

Double Mastectomy: How to Prepare and Recover

Double Mastectomy: How to Prepare and Recover Quickly

double mastectomy

Medicare Life Health’s author Crystal gives you first-hand information on having a double mastectomy including preparation and recovery information, helpful lists and tips.

Approximately 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime.  In addition, many of these women will have a mastectomy or bilateral, aka double mastectomy, as part of treatment.  The prospect of this surgery may seem overwhelming but preparing in advance can make the experience much easier.

How to Prepare for a Double Mastectomy

After losing my grandma and then my mom to an aggressive form of breast cancer, my doctor and I decided that we needed to take significant action to reduce my risk.  When I was done having children, I opted for a preventative double mastectomy to reduce my risk.

The process was daunting – I was mostly focused on the statistics, the right screenings, and the surgery itself.  Moreover, a few weeks before surgery, I realized that I had no idea how to get through the actual process.  There was lots of information readily available on the surgery itself.  However, I had no idea how to get through the weeks that followed. For instance, I wondered, what happens after I got home from the hospital?

What I learned was, I needed to prepare not just a list of things to help with surgery, but more importantly, a list of people. You need a support team.

Preparing Your Support Team

how to prepare for a double mastectomyhow to prepare for a double mastectomy

First of all, a single or a double mastectomy is no small procedure.  This is not something that you should do on your own. In fact, you will want the support of friends, family, and the community during this time to assist in your recovery. 

Those who care about you will want to help, so try to determine in advance who you have on your support team, and what needs you anticipate.  I suggest making an actual list of people and how they can help.

To start, here are some places to look for support:

  • Cancer support groups – First, numerous nonprofits exist that help women battling breast cancer.  Your doctor, or an online search, can connect you with one.  These groups provide resources such as support meetings, recovery advice, and pre-surgery gift bags.
  • Online support groups – Second, look for informal Facebook groups. You can find online communities of women there going through cancer treatment.  This can be a great source of support and advice. 

    When I was preparing for my procedures, I appreciated the online dialogue with other women who understood what I was going through. In addition, they could offer advice on various challenges I encountered throughout the process.
  • Friends and family – Finally, put some thought into who wants to help – as well as who is actually helpful. In addition, consider what they are good at. 

    You may have a well-meaning sister who causes you a lot of stress.  She is probably not the person to have with you at the hospital the day of surgery. However, she could be great at stocking your fridge with pre-made meals. 

    Or you may have a brother who would love to help, but you feel awkward having him around in the first few days after such a personal surgery.  Perhaps he could be enlisted to mow the lawn or take you grocery shopping a week after your surgery.

What Your Team Can Help With

Knowing what your team can help with is half the battle! Since you have not been through this before, you probably don’t know exactly what support will be the most helpful. However, I have, and this is what I wish someone would have told me:

  • Transportation Help – First, you will need someone to drive you to the hospital and be there during your surgery.  You will also need someone to drive you home after you are released.
  • Personal Needs Help – Second, you will likely need some assistance with very personal needs in the early days after a double mastectomy. 
    • Your surgery drains will need to be “stripped” several times a day.  While it is possible to do this yourself (I did), it may be challenging, especially if you have had chemotherapy.  If you have a support person to help with this, he or she should come to the hospital to have a nurse show the proper way to strip drains. 
    • Your doctor will tell you how often to change your dressings.  While also possible to do this yourself, it is helpful to have assistance.
    • If you have shower restrictions after surgery, you may wish to wash your hair in the sink.  This is another task that is helpful to have assistance with.
  • Basic Needs Help – In addition, you need to eat, laundry has to be done, trash needs to be taken out, you need to go to follow up doctor’s appointments, etc. Line someone up to do these things for you.
  • Emotional Support Help – Finally, a mastectomy is a very personal and emotional process.  Having a friend to talk with, or to get you out of the house and distract you, is a blessing.  Knowing in advance who can come visit you, accompany you for a walk, take you out for lunch, etc. gives you confidence that you are not alone in this process.

What to Do in Advance

Here is your “To-Do” list of what needs to get done in advance of your surgery.

To Do:

Make your Support List

  • To begin, make a list of all that you think you will need help with for the first 2 – 3 weeks after your surgery.  (Remember that you will have driving restrictions, so don’t forget to include transportation to follow up appointments.) 
  • Then think about what you can do in advance.  Then think about your sources of support who could help with the things that can’t be done in advance.

Plan for Food

  • You can make freezer meals in advance.  A simple online search will show many tasty meals that can be prepared in advance and stored in your freezer, then cooked/heated up when you are ready to eat them.
  • Ask a friend to coordinate a meal delivery service for you if you have friends and family who would like to help in this way.  Meal Train is a free online service that allows you to create an event and email a link to friends.  They can sign up to provide meals on a specific day.  If you are part of a faith community, they may have a group of volunteers who provide meals to those recovering from surgery or illness. 
  • Purchase pre-made meals from a grocery store.

Plan for Personal Assistance

  • Plan to need some assistance on a regular basis for the first few weeks after surgery.  Your needs will be more personal in the first few days, so that is a good time for your closest friends and family to visit.  Keep a calendar with the schedule of who is coming when.  Be sure to have transportation assistance for follow up doctor’s appointments and any errands that you must run.
  • For a fee, Meal Train offers online scheduling for people to come help you.
  • Also, if you know that you won’t want to sit at home alone for weeks on end, proactively plan fun outings with friends or family.  A quick lunch or coffee date could do wonders for your emotional well-being.

Ask for Help

  • When you know your specific needs and who you are comfortable having help, you will have a response ready when people say “Let me know if there is anything I can do to help”. 
  • And don’t forget, restaurant gift cards are a great option for well meaning friends or family who aren’t nearby or who are extremely busy.
  • Additionally, be vulnerable – most people like being needed, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Get Your House in Order

  • In the days before your surgery, have your cupboards stocked, laundry done, lawn mowed, and any cleaning or tidying complete.  Don’t assume that you will feel up to any of those tasks immediately after surgery.  Enlist the help of a friend if needed.
  • Purchase all items that you will need during your recovery period (see Preparing for a Double Mastectomy – What to Buy for tips).

Pack Your Double Mastectomy Hospital Bag

  • The hospital will provide most of what you need while you are there, but be sure to bring any personal hygiene items that you prefer.
  • Bring a comfy set of clothing to wear home, and a pillow to protect your chest area from the seat-belt on the way home. 
  • Additionally, bring good book or something else to help pass the time. 
  • Oh, and don’t forget your cell phone charger!
  • Then, take a deep breath – even with the best made plans and lots of preparation, something will go wrong or get missed.  It will be ok.  This is a difficult process and there will be hiccups, but you will get through it!

What you Need to Recover from a Double Mastectomy

In the months leading up to the surgery, I was focused on doctors’ appointments, screenings, and applying for FMLA.  But then a few weeks before surgery, I realized that I had no idea how to prepare for recovery. 

Even though I took care of my mom after her surgery, and I had several aunts who had also been through the process, no one had any solid advice on how to make recovery easier.  There was lots of information readily available on the surgery itself.  But I had no idea what to do once I got home from the hospital.

When you make the decision to have a mastectomy, you will want to find out in advance what your doctor recommends for recovery.  You will likely have a brief stay in the hospital, followed by restrictions on lifting, driving, showering/bathing, sleeping positions, how high you can reach, etc. 

Be sure to ask your surgeon about these topics prior to surgery.  If you know this information ahead of time, you can understand what your needs will be and have time to prepare to minimize the discomfort and inconvenience afterward. 

Double Mastectomy Must Have’s

First, let’s start with the basics. Here is your shopping or gathering list of the most important things you need to make your recovery as smooth as possible.

Comfortable Clothing

  • Post surgery you will likely be sent home with a compression bra and surgical drains.  Your arm mobility will somewhat limited, so your normal clothing may not work well during this time.  I recommend loose button up or zip up shirts. 
  • If your surgery is during the cooler months, then zip up fleece jackets work well.  Be sure they are loose so that your drain bags will fit underneath. 
  • The summer months present a different challenge as you may be hot from the extra layers and unable to shower.  Try to find loose, lightweight clothing to get you through the first few weeks. 
  • You needn’t spend a fortune on clothes that aren’t your normal style – your local thrift store may have great options.  It’s fine to wear the same outfit multiple times in those first few weeks. 
  • Also, keep in mind that you will likely have compression stockings to wear initially to reduce your risk of blood clots.  So plan your pants and footwear accordingly.  A pair of nonslip socks for wearing around the house may be a good investment as well.

Drain holders

  • You will have post surgery drains to help with the healing process.  The drains are tubes fastened inside of you with bulbs on the end that will fill with fluid. 
  • You’ll want to keep these protected so that they aren’t caught on anything, and you may feel more comfortable keeping them completely out of sight. 
  • Your doctor may send you home with safety pins to clip them to your clothes, or you may receive complimentary drain holders from a breast cancer group – however those are often plastic and bulky. 
  • Drain holders such as these are soft and comfortable to wear under your clothes.

Reclining Arm Chair or Multiple Pillows

  • Your doctor may recommend that you sleep in an inclined position for a period after your surgery. 
  • If you do not have a reclining chair, consider borrowing one or renting one. 
  • If that is not an option, then plan to have multiple pillows in bed to support you. 
  • Wherever you sleep, have a nightstand next to you that you can store a water bottle and your pain pills on.  When you wake up in pain, you will be glad to have your medicine within an arm’s reach.

Hygiene Products

Your doctor may have restrictions on showering, possibly up to a couple weeks.  While not ideal, you can purchase products to help you get through this time period.

  • Dry shampoo – After my double mastectomy, I washed my hair in the sink every 2 – 3 days.  I sprayed dry shampoo in my hair in the evenings so that my hair would not get greasy in between washes.  This brand worked well for me.
  • Facial wipes – While you will likely be able to wash your face, these are an extremely convenient way to freshen up when you aren’t feeling well.
  • Baby wipes – Use these to clean/freshen up your body when you aren’t able to shower.
  • Large gauze pads – Your doctor will tell you how often to change your dressings, but you will need to buy the gauze pads yourself.  Mastectomy incisions are large and typical gauze pads aren’t big enough.  Many pharmacies do not carry the larger sizes that the hospitals use, but Walmart offers these surgical dressings at a reasonable price. 
  • Small gauze pads – You will need smaller gauze pads for covering the sites where the surgery drains are removed.
  • If you have sensitive skin, be sure to buy tape for sensitive skin.  My personal favorite is this brand, which I found at Target. 

Other Double Mastectomy Helpful Items

In addition, to the “must-have” items above. Here are some of the other very helpful things to consider having on-hand.

  • Slip on walking shoes – Once your doctor approves walking, you’ll want to follow his or her recommendations.  Walking may help with reducing soreness, building strength, and preventing blood clots.  It’s also a good chance to get out of the house.  Slip on shoes are helpful when your mobility is limited after surgery.
  • Large water bottle – Hydration is important in healing.  Keep it full and drink often.  Your hospital may send you home with one as well.
  • Over the counter pain medication – As recommended by your doctor.
  • Ice packs – Your doctor may allow you to use an ice pack to help with pain on the incision site.
  • Heating pad – I found that I had a lot of back soreness due to the physical discomfort, reduced mobility, and reclined sleeping position.  The heating pad was helpful in managing this back soreness.
  • Activities to pass the time – In the early days after a mastectomy, physical activity will be limited and it’s easy to get bored.  Plan to have activities to pass the time, such as books, puzzles, crossword puzzles, adult coloring books, or a streaming service to watch your favorite movies.

Helpful Services

Finally, recovery is much faster if you can truly rest. As much as you can (or can afford), try to enlist professionals or volunteer to do your labor for at least a few weeks.

Cleaning Services

Cleaning your home after a single or double mastectomy will be difficult due to limited mobility, lift restrictions, and fatigue. Consequently, this is a good time to invest in a cleaning service if you can afford it. 

The nonprofit Cleaning for a Reason offers free cleaning services to women with cancer.  You can find out more at here to see if it is offered in your area.

Grocery Delivery Service

Lifting and driving restrictions may make it difficult to shop for groceries the first few weeks after your mastectomy.  Many grocery stores offer delivery service for just a few dollars, or even free if you purchase a certain amount. 

In addition, consider buying pre-made meals during this time.

Mowing Service

Finally, if you do not have someone else to mow your yard and you are having your surgery during the summer months, look for a lawn care service that can help you in the interim. 

Conclusions

Choosing to have a single or a double mastectomy is a big decision. However, the recovery period does not need to be overwhelming.  By preparing in advance, you can make the time go smoothly and more comfortably. 

Furthermore, this is a major life event, and it is important that you set yourself up for a successful recovery.  Remember that recovery is just a season. Eventually you will get back to the way you normally live. 

In the meantime, take care of yourself, follow your doctor’s orders, and follow these tips to make the process easier.

Your Story

What tips, comments or suggestions do you have for others considering a double mastectomy? Would would love to hear your advice, stories or comments.

Also by Crystal Bayliss:

What is Silver Sneakers?

What is Silver Sneakers?

What is Silver Sneakers?

what is Silver Sneakers Senior Fitness

Maybe you just overhead your neighbor talking about his free gym membership, or maybe your doctor asked you if you are a SilverSneakers user. You might then be wondering, just what it Silver Sneakers?

SilverSneakers(r) is a fitness and wellness program for seniors age 65 and up. It includes free gym memberships across the country, and it is included with many Medicare Advantage Plans.

NOTE: If you are a part of AARP’s Unitedhealthcare’s Medicare Advantage Plans, then you will be a part of Renew Active. This is a similar program, but has several differences you can read about here.

Renew Active vs Silver Sneakers

What is Included in a Silver Sneakers Membership?

  • LOCAL GYM MEMBERSHIPS: Silver Sneakers has an extensive list of gyms that participate in their program that offers free gym memberships to seniors. Their website boasts having more gym facilities than there are Starbucks locations in the U.S. (at over 16,000).
    • If you are a part of a Medicare Advantage (MA) program that uses Silver Sneakers, then you can access the gyms in their network at no cost. You can use as many of these facilities as you like while you are a part of your MA plan.
  • ONLINE FITNESS CLASSES: If you prefer to workout at home, or do not have a physical location close to you, SilverSneakers offers online fitness classes.
  • APP: They also have an app to help you track your fitness goals and schedule your fitness plans. The app can also help you locate participating locations.

What you Need to Know About Silver Sneakers

First, there are a few things you need to know to get started. Here is an overview and some frequently asked questions about the program.

How do I know if I am a member of SilverSneakers?

Well, if you are part of a Medicare Advantage Plan, then there is a very good chance you are already a part of the program.

To check on your eligibility, click here.

Where can I find participating gyms and wellness facilities?

As an overview, SilverSneakers tries to be in as many convenient fitness facilities as possible. Moreover, they are doing an excellent job of reaching this goal! Right now, they are in over 16,000 fitness facilities.

Here is the official link to search for a participating fitness facility near you.

What if there are no facilities close to me?

If you are in a smaller town or rural area, there might not be a class or gym close to you. However, even if there is not a Silver Sneakers contracted location close to you, you can still participate. The program features online classes and workout kits.

Do I have to take the Silver Sneakers Classes?

what is silver sneakers?

Often, people will ask me if they have to attend the SilverSneakers branded classes at the gym. The answer is no. The program gives you access to the whole facility. This includes Silver Sneakers classes, but also all the other classes at the gym. You can also just go walk on the treadmill or lift weights.

Best Gifts for Seniors

Best Gifts for Seniors

The Best Gifts for Seniors and Grandparents

Best Gifts for Seniors

Here are the best gifts for seniors! Whether you are looking for a present for a grandparent, elderly parent, senior relative or friend, we have the top and trending gifts listed here!

Best Gifts for The Elderly in Nursing Homes

If you are looking for a gift for a senior that is in a nursing home or assisted living, please see our article on the best gifts for them too!

The Top Gifts for Seniors

1. Best Gifts to Create Memories and Share Love

One of the best ways to create memories and strengthen bonds is through story telling. Letters to my Grandchild is a gift that continues to give – give it to your grandparent and then they can give it back!

The letters come with story ideas and writing prompts for those that need a little inspiration. It also comes with stickers to seal the letters and ideas for when and how to open the letters.

Letters to My Grandchild: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever. (New Grandma Gifts, New Grandparent Gifts, Grandparent Memory Book)

2. Best Senior Gift to Challenge Your Brain & Stay Young!

Grandpa knows, if you don’t use it, you lose it! Challenge your brain, create new neuro-pathways, and keep your mind young with the Games, Puzzles & Trivia.

399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young.

3. Best Gift to Make Reading Easier & More Enjoyable

Reading can be easy and even more enjoyable for seniors with a little help from the MagniPros 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier with 12 Anti-Glare Dimmable LED. This is the upgrade from your typical magnify glass. It is easy to grip and easy to use.

MagniPros 3X Large Ultra Bright LED Page Magnifier with 12 Anti-Glare Dimmable LEDs(Evenly Lit Viewing Area & Relieve Eye Strain)-Ideal for Reading Small Prints & Low Vision Seniors with Aging Eyes

4. The Best Gift to Keep Mobile and Go Anywhere

Having the freedom to go where you choose and not have to worry about needing support to stand or sit is one of the best gifts you can offer a senior citizen. The Drive Medical Deluxe Folding Cane Seat will give your senior the gift for mobility and safety.

The cane is light enough (1.3 lbs) to walk comfortably with and the chair is comfortable enough for short rests and medium waits. The chair can support up to 250 lbs.

Seniors that love to travel swear by this product to keep them feeling safe in new circumstances.

5. The Gift of Turning Back the Clock

Both men and women over a certain age appreciate the ability to turn back time, even if just a little bit. This is especially true in regards to our skin. That is why TruSkin Vitamin C Serum for Face, Topical Facial Serum with Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E is a great gift for your beautiful senior.

This Vitamin C Serum is a #1 seller, highly rated anti-aging product that provides an advanced antioxidant to stimulate collagen production in the skin.

6. Best Gifts to Stay Fit at Any Age

Now, here is a gift for those needing a gentle way to keep mobile or get back into fitness. The Grow Young Fitness Chair Exercises for Seniors is a very popular program.

The DVD Starter Pack includes Cardio, Core work, Balance and gentle Yoga. It is an easy, safe, effective workout DVD for beginning fitness seniors and the elderly. This starter kit is by Grow Young Fitness.

Click here for More of the Best of Senior Fitness

7. Best Gift for Making Cleaning Easy

The Shark Rocket DuoClean is one of the most “Senior Friendly” Vacuums on the market. It has a very light structure and is under 10 lbs. We like this bagless version with the cord so you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged. Plus, the suction is stronger.

Many seniors have vacuums that are old and heavy. Replacing an old vacuum with a light, effective one might not be a very glamorous present. However, it is a very thoughtful one!

Shark Rocket HV382 DuoClean Ultra-Light Corded (Non-Cordless) Bagless Carpet and Hard Floor with Hand Vacuum, Charcoal

Even More Best Gifts for Seniors / Grandparents

Finally, here is a trending list of hot gifts for seniors. For those of you that need even more inspiration for Grandma or Grandpa:

The No Sugar Diet Book List

The No Sugar Diet Book List

The No Sugar Diet Book List

We will help you find the best no sugar diet book for you. There are a few good ones out there, but this list will help you find the one(s) that speaks to you.

In my quest to get our family healthy for the long-haul, I did extensive research to find the books that would not only help us all cut sugar, but eat in a sustainable, healthy way.

No Sugar Diet Books that Produce Results

These are the books that really helped. When I say they really helped, I mean it. As a result of the information in these books, I lost 60 lbs (after baby number two) and my husband lost 100 pounds. We have both kept the weight off for two years now! Moreover, I feel like the lifestyle changes we have made are sustainable.

In addition to the weight loss my family saw, we also saw an increase in energy, an increase in the desire to workout more, better skin, a decrease in inflammation, and the elimination of heartburn/digestive issues. It was a big deal! Also, my 65 year old mom quit sugar and improved her inflammation issues with her arthritis in her hands.

This is my experience, and it has made me a “No Sugar Evangelist.” If you have taken part in our Free Ten Day Sugar Detox Course or read any of our no sugar articles then you will remember many of the other reasons for reducing or eliminating sugar. Such as:

The Top Reasons to Eliminate/Reduce Sugar

  • SUGAR MAKES YOU FAT
    • Some people show sugar fat to the world and some people hide the fat around their organs, but it has the same consequences.
  • SUGAR MAKES YOU SICK
    • Diabetes, Heart Disease, Inflammation, Tooth Decay, Fatty Liver Disease, and probably Alzheimer’s, Cancer and Aging.
  • SUGAR MAKES YOU AN ADDICT
    • Just as some people can be addicted to cigarettes and alcohol, some people are addicted to sugar. Take back your control.

So, let’s get to it! Let’s find you a no sugar diet book to change your life.

The Top No Sugar Diet Book List

1. Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It
By Gary Taubes

Best No Sugar Diet Book: Why we get fat and what to do about it

This is the first no sugar diet book I read that helped me to reevaluate sugar in my life and lose 60 lbs. This is your book if you are like me in that you enjoy learning the science behind everything. Once I understood just how my body works in regards to processing carbs, sugars, and fats, it all just clicked!

That said, Why We Get Fat is actually a more to the point version of Taubes’ book Good Calories, Bad Calories. So, it covers no sugar diet science, but it also delivers a to the point action plan to help you kick your bad habits to the curb.

Thanks to Taubes excellent reporting of the research behind sugar, I will never go back to eating the way I did before.

Extra Credit No Sugar Diet Book: The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

I listened to this one on Audible. It was really the only way even I, an admitted super nerd, could get through it. It is a dry account of how sugar has changed our culture over the last hundred years. However, it is a good and necessary book for America. The information in it is fascinating, in its own way – promise!

2. The Obesity Code
By Jason Fung

the obesity code by jason fung

The Obesity Code is so much more than a no sugar diet book, although it talks about sugar extensively. I will tell you that this book is intense, but it picked up where “Why We Get Fat…” left off in changing our lives forever. It is because of Fung’s book that my husband is now able to keep off the 100 lbs that he lost when we first cut sugar.

Jason Fung, MD is a kidney specialist. As a result, he has a unique perspective on what sugar and processed foods do to our body and organs over time. This is another “science-y” book that takes some time to read. However, it is worth it to get through it. The Obesity Code would be a good one to listen to on Audible.

The book kept me interested to the end. I could not wait to see how all the research in the front of the book would come together in an action plan in the back of the book. I am happy to report that it does. After reading The Obesity Code, I knew what was necessary to keep my family healthy for good.

3. Year of No Sugar: A Memoir
By Eve Schaub

year of no sugar, best no sugar diet book

A Year of No Sugar is a no sugar diet book for those of you who do not like diet books. Written as a memoir, Eve writes about her family’s whole year of living sugar free. They cut out fructose (sugar) completely and this book tells the story of why and how they did it. There is great advice for all of us on how to live sugar free or low sugar – especially with children.

I loved this book. Eve’s journey gave me the motivation to start my own. The book still explains some sugar science, but it is more story than research book. Does that sound better to you? I listened to this one a couple of times as an audio book. It is a good one to listen to. You can try Audible for free with this link if you want to give it a shot.

4. I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook By Sarah Wilson

I quit sugar

If you are looking for a step-by-step process to getting sugar out of your life, Sarah Wilson gives it to you in I Quit Sugar. Remember, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine. While we have a free 10 Day Sugar Detox for you on this site, sometimes you need a bit more. I Quit Sugar has sugar science, detox advice, a week by week plan, and recipes to help you detox sugar from your diet.

While I didn’t complete her 8 week plan day by day, I did use her book to help in my month to month journey to reduce sugar. I appreciated how she offers advice on how to beat sugar cravings with natural alternatives. In addition, I have used many of her recipes for the last couple years.

Added Help From Sarah: The I Quit Sugar Cookbook: 306 Recipes for a Clean, Healthy Life.

No Sugar Book Summary

The Top No sugar diet books to help you eliminate sugar

The No Sugar Diet Book list should give you a good start on your journey to eliminate or reduce sugar. Start with either Why We Get Fat or the Obesity Code if you enjoy reading about the science and research behind why you are cutting out sugar. On the other hand, if you are more motivated by stories, recipes and a little less data, start with Year of No Sugar or I Quit Sugar.

Personally, I read them all and benefited from them all. They are the kind of books you want to own and return to often (or lend to friends). I got a couple of them from the library originally, before deciding I needed to own them all for reference.

Good luck with no sugar! Please let us know how your quitting sugar journey is going.

How to Stop Eating Sugar

How to Stop Eating Sugar

How to Stop Eating Sugar – 10 Day No Sugar Diet

How to Stop Eating Sugar - A 10 Day Sugar Detox Program

Welcome to the How to Stop Eating Sugar – 10 Day Sugar Detox Challenge!

Get ready to feel better and to make a difference in your own health as well as the health of your bank account! It is time to eliminate sugar from your diet once and for all.

There are a few ways to approach the Sugar Detox Challenge, and we want you to chose the path that you know you will be successful following.

Sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine…

how to stop eating sugar - a sugar detox guide

… so some of you might need a powerful approach to tame a long standing addiction while others of you might just need a little push in the right direction again. The goal of the 10 Day Challenge is to help you in creating awareness of sugar in your life and then to re-evaluate the role of sugar in your diet going forward.

You can start this challenge at any time and repeat it as many times as you need. Sugar reform in your diet is for life, not just for 10 days. When you do start your challenge, you will make an announcement to your friends / family / social circles, whatever you need to stay motivated and accountable.

Let’s start with WHY we need to stop eating sugar before we get to the how:

“I am not against sugar, when it is appropriate and rare.”
Dr. Lustig

Just a few UCFS Sugar Science Facts:

10 Day Sugar Detox Plan
  • Added sugar is in 74% of our packaged foods.
  •  Scientific evidence shows too much added sugar, over time, is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, non alcoholic fatty liver disease, lipid problems, and hypertension; all of which are part of what is called Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Evidence is also mounting that high levels of sugar consumption can fuel some cancers and is linked to inflammation, dementia or Alzheimer’s and more rapid aging.
  • 31% of American adults and 13% of kids suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • 75% of health care costs are from metabolic syndrome diseases. – This is not just about overweight people. 20% of obese people have a healthy metabolism, and 40% of skinny people actually have the metabolic diseases caused by sugar consumption. That means 60% of the entire US population is suffering from metabolic diseases.
    source: sugarscience.ucsf.edu

What is the end result of the How to Stop Eating Sugar 10 Day Cleanse?

Now, that will be up to you. There is no real nutritional value in having any sugar in your diet. Therefore, you will need to decide what role sugar will play in your life going forward.

Remember, just like the toxin alcohol, when sugar is used seldom and in small amounts, it is much easier for your body to process and dispose of properly and keep you healthy.

Here are some conclusions you could come to:

  • I need to eliminate all sugars (fructose) from my diet.
  • I need to follow the American Heart Association recommendations. Including that women and children take in no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. (No sugar for children under two.) Men no more than 9 teaspoons a day.
  • Or some other similar goal.
    MY GOAL: ____________________________________

Am I Addicted to Sugar?

Before starting your How to Stop Eating Sugar 10 Day Challenge, perhaps you would like a baseline for where you are starting in your journey. Taking a “Sugar Addiction Quiz” will help you contour your Sugar Detox Program.

This will help you decide if you need 5 days of prep first and then 5 days without sugar, or if you can go cold turkey from day one and do 10 days without sugar. It will also help you decided what you need to cut out of your diet for 10 days to be successful. Whether that is all fructose, or just added sugars, and whether or not you can keep simple carbs in your diet.

Here are some of our favorite Sugar Addiction quizzes:

Resources Available

best how to stop eating sugar books

There are many resources available to help you on your 10 day sugar detox journey, and this guide is one of them. We will provide you with steps/goals each day as well as food suggestions for your zero sugar days.

How to Stop Eating Sugar Elimination Program Part One

The First Five Days

The first five days of the Ten Day Sugar Detox Challenge are about creating awareness and educating you on how sugar is present in your life. This is a time to slowly cut back on the sugar as well since the last five days will be totally sugar free. However, if you feel ready to go without any sugar from day one, go for it! Please still participate in the activities in Part One, but go ahead and cut out all the sugar right from the start.

Most of us though will need some easing into this challenge, plus sugar is sneaky! First, we will need to hunt for the sugar that is “hiding” in 74% or more of our processed foods (see the list of different names sugar goes by in Day One.) Let’s get started!

Day One: Sugar Hunting

First, your challenge is to find the sugar that is living in your house/work/car at this moment. Remember that the majority of your packaged foods are going to have sugar in them. Namely, look for sugar in your snack and breakfast cabinets. Contrarily, for this challenge, the sugar in your fruit does not count. (Whole fruits have fiber and other good stuff in it.) However, fruit juice does count towards your added sugars. Think of fruit juice the same way you think of soda, just loaded with sugar ready to hit your body hard and fast!

Keeping a Food Journal

Every day in this challenge you will keep a journal of the foods that you eat. You can use an app or you can write it down. In addition, write down/enter in all added sugars eaten in grams as this is how they are listed on nutritional labels and charts.

You might need to do some hunting on this – especially if you eat out. There are a few apps out there that will give you added sugars, but not many. Try Fooducate. Also, check online for restaurants’ nutritional information. Then, add up all your added sugars for the day.

Ten Day How to Stop Eating Sugar Challenge Photo

Your first photo challenge is to gather all foods that have added sugars from your house. Then, put them in one location such as your kitchen table, and take a picture with them! You can be in the picture or not, your choice.

Next, using the hashtag #MLHsugardetox post this picture to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of your other favorite social scenes so we can all share our shock together! In addition, make sure to search for other peoples pictures too. Finally, tag others to take the challenge as well and direct them to medicarelifehealth.com.

Individual Change that Leads to a National Movement

Making changes individually is great, but we need as many people as possible to start making changes in their sugar consumption to make a difference at a collective level. Remember, we are all paying as a nation for our health care crisis and reforming our sugar consumption could just be what we need to tackle this mounting financial and health crisis.

Sugar List

Here is a list of various ways sugar is represented in our foods. According to the Sugar Science Program of UCSF, here are 61 different names for sugar, and these all count as added sugars:

Agave nectar
Barbados sugar
Barley malt
Barley malt syrup
Beet sugar
Brown sugar
Buttered syrup
Cane juice
Cane juice crystals
Cane sugar
Caramel
Carob syrup
Castor sugar
Coconut palm sugar
Coconut sugar
Confectioner’s sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup
Corn syrup solids
Date sugar
Dehydrated cane juice
Demerara sugar
Dextrin
Dextrose
Evaporated cane juice
Free-flowing brown sugars
Fructose
Fruit juice
Fruit juice concentrate
Glucose
Glucose solids
Golden sugar
Golden syrup
Grape sugar
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Honey
Icing sugar
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Maltodextrin
Maltol
Maltose
Mannose
Maple syrup
Molasses
Muscovado
Palm sugar
Panocha
Powdered sugar
Raw sugar
Refiner’s syrup
Rice syrup
Saccharose
Sorghum Syrup
Sucrose
Sugar (granulated)
Sweet Sorghum
Syrup
Treacle
Turbinado sugar
Yellow sugar

A Word on Dairy

Lactose is counted as sugar on food labels as it is a form of sugar, but it is not fructose, so it does not count as part of our challenge. Added sugars that include fructose are what we are looking at for the sake of this challenge. For example, a lot of yogurt has added sugars in it. So, for the sake of this challenge, stay away from yogurt unless you know there is no added sugar in it. Finally, check ingredient lists and watch out for all the sugar words. You can research more about milk and dairy products at a later time to decide what role they will play in your diet.

How to Stop Eating Sugar Day Two: Documenting

Sugar Detox Guide Meal Planning for How to Stop Eating Sugar

Keep investigating all sugars in foods – packaged, restaurants, at home. Remember to keep a journal of the foods that you eat using an app or writing it down and write down all added sugars eaten.

Add up all your added sugars for the day. There are about 4 grams in a teaspoon (4.2 if you want to be precise) so divide your grams by 4 to see how many teaspoons you consumed today (and from Day One of the Challenge as well). How close did you come to the recommendation of less than 6 teaspoons for women and children and 9 for men?

Now, try each day, for the first five days of this challenge to decrease your intake to get you ready for your zero sugar days.

Getting Social with the MLH Sugar Detox

Post online grams using #MLHsugardetox how much sugar you consumed today and/or from day one.

Make a Difference: Then, call out a product that has sugar in it that you think should do better. Together we can start real change in a sugar-flooded industry.

Day Three/Four/Five: Easing into Your New Sugar Free Diet

Sugar Detox Meal Plan 5 Day Chart for How to Quit Sugar
Click pic to enlarge

By this time, some of you might be ready to go “cold turkey” and cut out the sugar right now. If that is you, go ahead and skip ahead to Day Six and elongate your zero sugar time period. However, others might still need these next 3 days to slowly decrease the sugar. Maybe aim to decrease your sugar by a teaspoon or two a day, or whatever is needed to get you to zero teaspoons by Day Six.

Coming up, it will now be time to be very proactive about what we are eating each day. It will be easiest if you prepare your own foods for the coming days so you know WITHOUT A DOUBT that you are not consuming any hidden sugars.

We have put together some sample meal plans in Part 2 that include not only foods that are without sugar, but also foods that will help your body
run even cleaner and healthier. Just cutting out the sugar is going to give your poor liver a break, so consider this your “detox” time!

Use these days to go grocery shopping and to plan ahead your meals as much as you need to be the most successful at this Challenge as possible.

How to Stop Eating Sugar Elimination Program Part Two: Days 6 – 10, Zero Sugar

Day Six / Seven / Eight / Nine: Zero Sugar

You are now ready to eat zero sugar for five or more days! We have a few zero sugar five day meal plans on this page for you. In addition, we have a large Pinterest Board with TONS of zero sugar meal plan options that you should follow!

Part 2 Everyday Day Photo Challenge:

Instagram/Facebook your meals! Use #MLHsugardetox as your hashtag.

Taking photos of your meals may actually help you to lose weight and/or stick to your zero sugar plan! Not only will it make you more mindful of what you are eating, but it also gives you some accountability to share socially what you are putting into your mouth during your no sugar challenge. It may also help someone else to see what options are available in the no sugar world.

Zero Added Sugar Food Planning

We do have How to Stop Eating Sugar Meal Plans pictured below to help you plan your zero sugar days. However, here are some notes to consider when doing your own planning.

Note One: Fruit

Fruit has fructose in it, but it also has fiber in it. (Fruit juice does not have fiber, and is not allowed during the challenge.) However, some of you might want to eliminate fruit for the last 5 days of your challenge as sometimes the sweetness will lead you to crave “the hard stuff.”

I would personally suggest cutting out fruit besides berries and avocados which has a ton of fiber in them, just for these last 5 days to truly feel the benefits of being “sugar free.” I am completely for fruit in my own diet otherwise as I love the fiber, vitamins and minerals that fruit provides.

Note Two: White Flour

Another consideration is white flour. White flour is also something you might consider leaving out for these 5 days. Bread without any sugar is hard to come by in the grocery store anyway, but if you would like to try a bread that is free from sugar or strange sugar substitutes, try Ezekiel Bread.

Note Three: Dairy

Again, on Dairy – Lactose is counted as sugar on food labels as it is a form of sugar, but it is not fructose, so it does not count as part of our challenge. Added sugars that include fructose are what we are looking at for the sake of this challenge. A lot of yogurt has added sugars in it, so for the sake of this challenge, stay away from yogurt unless you know there is no
added sugar in it. Check the ingredient list and watch out for all the sugar words.

Note Four: Carbohydrates

This isn’t a low-carb / no-carb challenge, just a fructose elimination challenge, but there is growing evidence that limiting carbs may help the body in many ways.

Note Five: “Sugar-Free” Labels

Watch out for “sugar free” as this typically means that the messed around with strange sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols that we want to avoid for this challenge.

Note Six: Diet Sodas

Cut them out. They are not good for you. Yes, they are “sugar free,” but I am sure you can quickly search online for all the reasons that they are not beneficial for your health and may even cause you to crave sweet things. If you must, you must. I get it, but if you need to caffeine, go for coffee if possible. Cream in your coffee is just fine. Real cream like half and half is good and heavy creams is even better! Watch out for the sugars in coffee creamers.

Note Seven: The “Health Halo”

Finally, “organic,” “gluten-free,” “non-gmo” things can also be sugary things. Watch out for the “health halo” that hovers around packaging that wants you to think its innocent. Perhaps it is, perhaps it is not. Remember that 74% of packaged food has sugar lurking in it!

How to Stop Eating Sugar – Zero Sugar Meal Planning Examples

Now, here are a couple different meal plans you can use to help you design your zero sugar days.

Sugar Detox Plan Zero Sugar
Simple Zero Sugar, Detox Plan

How to Stop Eating Sugar – Zero Sugar Options for the Tough Stuff – Breakfast, Drinks & Snacks

Breakfast Options – Zero Sugar

  • Smoothie (if including fruit): Berries, Vanilla Unsweetened
    Almond Milk and/or Coconut Milk, Unsweetened Protein
    Powder, Leafy Greens
  • Wrap: Zero Sugar Tortilla, Egg, Avocado, Cheese, Chalula
    (Hot) Sauce
  • Avocado and String Cheese
  • Toast (check your bread for sugars) with no sugar peanut
    butter (ingredient list should be 2-3 items long) or butter
  • Almonds
  • Shredded wheat cereal (no sugar) with berries if eating fruit
  • Coffee with half and half/heavy cream
  • Homemade peanut butter oat bars (no sugar or honey or
    maple syurp)
  • Unsweetened Almond milk and protein powder
  • Eggs, bacon and toast (again, check your bread)
    Drink Options – Zero Sugar
  • La Croix
  • Unsweetened Iced Tea
  • Green/Black Tea or Herbal Tea
  • Dry Red Wine – Red Zin, Cab, Pino (For the last 5 days of the
    challenge, try to avoid alcohol all together, but if you must,
    these are the best options with very small amounts of sugar)

Snack Options – Zero Sugar

  • Popcorn
  • Apples and no sugar added peanut butter
  • String Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Carrots and hummus
  • Mini Cucumbers
  • Nuts
  • Spoonful of Coconut Oil

How to Stop Eating Sugar Day Ten: Looking Forward

This is your last day of the Stop Our Sugar 10 Day Challenge, but is only the beginning of your new relationship with sugar. Today we want you to share with as many people as you can what sugar is to you now.

Please write down the answers to these questions. Then, share online or talk with your friends and family:
  • How do you feel after 5 – 10 days without sugar?
  • How will you eat sugar (or not eat sugar) going forward?
  • Next, what have you learned about your body, yourself or about how sugar interacts with you?
  • What do you think everyone should know about sugar?
  • Finally, what do you think needs to be done on a national level/international level to save us all from our current health crisis?

Tell Your Sugar Elimination Story

how to stop eating sugar to prevent weight gain and aging

Finally, tell your story and be a part of the no sugar movement that is unfolding all over. We all need each other on this journey to make permanent changes in our habits and behaviors.

Let’s work together to make changes where they are the most effective. Our goal with the Ten Day Sugar Detox project is to do everything in our power to change individuals’ lives in regards to their relationship with sugar and then to be a part of the national story through organizations that can make a difference in our government, in our schools and in our grocery stores.

Please join us however you can in making a difference in the lives of those around you, and email us or talk to us on Facebook about what you are doing!

Thank you for being a part of our How to Stop Eating Sugar – Ten Day Sugar Detox Challenge.

Remember, you should always consult a physician if you have any concerns, and know that this plan contains general information nutrition, health and diets. The information is not medical advice. Please don’t treat it as such.

10 Day No Sugar Diet Pin
Health Hacks – How to Save Money on Health Care Costs

Health Hacks – How to Save Money on Health Care Costs

Health Hacks – How to Save Money on Health Care Costs

What are health hacks? They are tricks or lifestyle changes that can save you money on your health care costs.

Health Hacks to Save Money

You may recall from our last health care costs post: a study done by Fidelity finds that American couples will need about $285,000 saved to cover health care costs in retirement.  Moreover, that is an estimate in today’s dollars, and it doesn’t include long-term care costs.

So, if there are health hacks or lifestyle changes that would save you thousands of dollars in the future, would you do them?

I hope so. Let’s start with the Number One Money Saving Health Hack:

#1 Health Hack: Cut out sugar from your diet

This isn’t a joke, and it is not something to take lightly. Cutting out or significantly reducing sugar from your diet will save you thousands of dollars, and there are studies to prove it.

How Much Sugar are You Eating? You may be surprised.

Maybe you think you do not eat that much sugar, but I want you to take a closer look here. Sugar hides in our modern foods all the time. If you eat out a lot or eat a lot of processed foods (including breads and snacks), then you are probably eating more sugar than you think.

The majority of Americans are eating too much sugar. Our sugar-laden Standard American Diet (SAD) is the number one reason why our health care costs are rising so rapidly.

In addition, it is the number one reason that you might have to take a lot of drugs in retirement.

Don’t believe me? Read on.

Here are a few sugar science facts from UCSF that should scare the pants off of you:

  •  Added sugar is in 74% of our packaged foods.
  •  Scientific evidence shows too much added sugar, over time, is linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, non alcoholic fatty liver disease, lipid problems, and hypertension; all of which are part of what is called Metabolic Syndrome.
  • Evidence is also mounting that high levels of sugar consumption can fuel some cancers and is linked to inflammation, dementia or Alzheimer’s and more rapid aging.
  • 31% of American adults and 13% of kids suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • 75% of health care costs are from metabolic syndrome diseases. – This is not just about overweight people. 20% of obese people have a healthy metabolism, and 40% of skinny people actually have the metabolic diseases caused by sugar consumption. That means 60% of the entire US population is suffering from metabolic diseases.
    source: sugarscience.ucsf.edu

This is your health hacks wake-up call.

If you eat a “normal” American diet, even if you are skinny, sugar is secretly creating havoc in your brain and body.

If you don’t want to ever have to take blood pressure medicine, heart medicine, acid reducers, pain medications, or suffer from brain problems, one of the best health hacks you can do is stop eating sugar.

Cutting Sugar is the #1 Lifestyle Change to Save Money on Health Care Costs

Harvard Medical School will tell you, sugar is linked to cardiovascular disease. Read that linked article!

Dr Jason Fung, in his book the Obesity Code will also tell you, sugar leads to diabetes, which leads to kidney failure.

Yes, Dr. Fung will also tell you, even more good can be done when you stop eating processed foods (especially refined carbs) all together and eat as many vegetables and whole foods as you can.

However, eliminating sugar from your diet is the first step.

How this Health Hack Saves You Money

According to The Diabetes Journal:

  • “Abdominal obesity, low HDL cholesterol, and hypertension… are important predictors of long-term costs in the Medicare population.”
  • These researchers found a +20% difference in Medicare costs in people with the disease factors named above.
  • Drug costs for chronic illnesses quickly add up for metabolic diseases, and retirees pay a lot of out of pocket costs each year with their Part D coverage.

However, don’t despair, some or even much of the damage is reversible.

Doctors have been known to help their patients with eating changes that eventually change their drug regimens meaningfully. Inflammation can reduce quickly, and weight loss is often a happy benefit.

Health Hacks Action Steps

Let’s do something about this today. Cutting out or significantly reducing sugar is the #1 lifestyle change to save money on health care in retirement. Here is where to start today:

10 Day Sugar Detox Program

Check back as we add more health hacks to our list in 2020!

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