DIET & HEALTH – When her parents left her with Grandpa and Grandma for a weekend last October, Morgan Greenfield was an adorable 7-year-old who happily devoured ice cream and pizza. They came home to an avowed chicken-finger-shunning vegan. “Morgan just decided, ‘I’m not eating anything that has to do with animals anymore,’ ” says a gobsmacked Felicia of her vigilant second-grader. “It wasn’t gradual. She was, ‘No, I’m done.’”
In 2009, just 1 percent of the US population classified themselves as vegans and vegetarians. Now 5 percent do, and the trend is trickling down to the sandbox set. Long before they hit puberty, precocious local kids are going vegan of their own volition, influenced by social media and a growing awareness of animal cruelty.
“Young people are tuned in to this issue more than ever,” says longtime vegan Gene Baur, co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, a livestock protection organization in upstate New York. “We’re connected to animals and we’re eating these animals.”
To hear Morgan tell it, her come-to-Jesus moment was one of profound clarity, though she can’t recall if there was something — a TV show, a book or a Facebook post — that inspired it. “Something popped up in my mind that said, ‘Don’t hurt the animals, no dairy or eggs,’ ” says the youngster, who admits she misses M&Ms. Morgan’s parents are struggling to keep up with her new diet, and that of her sister, Danielle, 10, who went vegan a few months after Morgan.
Their mother, Felicia, worked with a vegan coach for six weeks to learn to cook plant-based meals. “I thought, ‘Oh boy, I have to teach her to eat her veggies, and I don’t even know that much about it,’” says the Upper East Side mom, who wasn’t much of a cook and had previously served her kids lunch meats and hot dogs. –NY Post
“There’s been two people I’ve met that’s amazed me. One was Angelina Jolie, and the other was Dakota Fanning. I’m convinced this child has the soul of a 40 year old person.” -Denzel Washington, discussing his film Man on Fire
Precocious Children – “Getting into everything,” “stubborn” and, sometimes, “a pain in the neck” are just a few of the ways precocious children are described. Many personality traits associated with precocious children stem from their advanced language and reasoning abilities. Unfortunately, this makes it that much harder to trick your toddler into believing that his fish “went swimming” down the toilet or that the hair dryer only works when it’s held by an adult. Understanding these personality traits can make it easier to handle those “memorable” situations.
When she was 2 years old, your precocious little one sobbed seeing a bird eating a live worm, and by 5 she’s contemplating a vegan lifestyle. A lot of precocious children decide to become vegetarians. Early on in life, they may develop a heightened awareness of the treatment of animals and may decide they want to become vegans or vegetarians. Precocious kids often have a highly developed sense of morality and emotional understanding, notes Linda Silverman, Ph.D., in “Early Signs of Giftedness.” Such children are often described as sensitive and caring by their classmates and peers, even during situations that would leave her peers unfazed.
Precocious children are often dogged in their pursuit of solving a challenge; like that cell phone back you thought was so securely in place. Their ability to think of alternative solutions combined with the desire to learn means precocious children may spend long periods trying to solve a challenging puzzle or building a difficult block tower. This trait may be misinterpreted as being stubborn, given that a precocious child may become so relentless in his pursuits that he resents interruption for other necessary activities.
The creativity of a precocious child doesn’t necessarily end with the recent “mural” she drew on the dining room wall. A precocious child often finds several different ways to reach the same end-point, whether it’s solving a shape puzzle or figuring out how to lasso the cookie tin with a dress sash. Her work habits may appear unconventional or non-conforming, which can make her seem uncooperative or uncontrollable since she’s always figuring out new ways to accomplish a task or access prohibited items.
Curiosity can equate to asking “why” every five minutes or wanting to talk about connections he’s making. For example, a precocious toddler listening to a story about a magic scarf might ask lots of questions about how the magic scarf was made, where it came from and the material, rather than simply accepting that the scarf was magical. One-sentence answers rarely satisfy a precocious child’s curiosity, and it can feel overwhelming to keep up with the barrage of questions. As noted in “Education of Gifted and Talented Children,” by Gary Davis et al., it’s important to stimulate his curiosity by searching for the answer together. –Our Everyday Life
Body & Health – There are five key health behaviors that can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, according to researchers, but little more than 6 percent of Americans adhere to them. This is the finding of a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice, and Policy.
According to the CDC, chronic diseases – such as stroke, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease – are among the most common and costly health problems in the United States. Approximately half of all adults in the United States – around 117 million people – had at least one chronic health condition in 2012, while 1 in 4 adults had two or more. What is more, in 2010, more than 83 percent of healthcare spending in the United States was for people with at least one chronic health condition, with heart disease and stroke costing $315.4 billion alone.
However, there are a number of health-related behaviors that can lower the risk of such diseases. Dr. Yong Lu, of the Division of Population Health at the CDC, and colleagues set out to investigate the proportion of Americans that adhere to them. The team analyzed data from the 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) – a system of telephone surveys that gathers health-related information from residents across all U.S. states.
The data included almost 400,000 adults aged 21 and older, and the team looked at what proportion of these individuals adhered to five health behaviors known to reduce the risk of death from chronic disease. These five health behaviors are: Not smoking, Exercising regularly, Avoiding alcohol consumption or only drinking in moderation, Maintaining a healthy body weight, Getting a sufficient amount of sleep.
Only 6.3 percent of adults engaged in all five key health behaviors. The results of the study did have some good news; they revealed that only 1.4 percent of the adults failed to engage in any of the five health behaviors. A total of 8.4 percent of the adults engaged in one of the health behaviors, 24.3 percent engaged in two, 35.4 percent engaged in three, and 24.3 percent engaged in four.
However, only 6.3 percent of the adults engaged in all five behaviors, with women, older adults, college graduates, and Asians most likely to report doing so. Compared with adults living in southern U.S. states, adults who lived in the Pacific and Rocky Mountain states were more likely to adhere to all five health behaviors. Based on their results, Dr. Lu and colleagues believe there needs to be increased focus on strategies that encourage more Americans to engage in all five health behaviors, which may reduce their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. –Medical News Today
Body & Mind – Positive thinking really can make you healthy, it seems. An optimistic attitude can do wonders for patients’ recovery, according to researchers who reviewed 16 studies that looked at patients’ attitudes toward health. The studies spanned 30 years and looked at patients’ attitudes after surgery. The review appears in a recent issue of Canadian Medical Association Journal. “In each case the better a patient’s expectations about how they would do after surgery or some health procedure, the better they did,” said author Donald Cole, of the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto.
The review says that the power of positive thinking is real, said ABCNEWS’ Medical Correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman on Good Morning America today. “This mind-body connection that we have been toying with for the past couple of decades really does have hard science behind it,” Snyderman said. Across a wide range of clinical conditions, from lower back pain to heart surgery, patients who felt they would do well in recovery did, according to Cole. Patients who were scared or pessimistic about their recovery did not recover as quickly as the optimists or as well.
“Less pain [after surgery] was directly associated with better expectations, positive expectations,” Cole said. Cole says the findings suggest several things that employers as well as physicians and family members can do to help a person’s recovery. “If an employee is going off for surgery it could be helpful to ask that employee, ‘What do you think is going to happen to you?’” said Cole. “If a person has fears or is feeling pessimistic then it is time to think, ‘We better deal with those fears.’” Dealing with those fears not only helps a person recover but also means a healthier work environment and the ability of that person who is going to surgery to come back to work quicker, said Cole.
“Clinicians should talk to their patients and find out what their hopes and fears are before a procedure,” Cole said. “If this were part of the process, recovery expectations could be talked about and then, according to the results of this study, at least, recovery could be better.” But can you decide or make a person have a positive attitude? Can a pessimist become an optimist? “You can’t blame people for their diseases,” Snyderman says. “But how you go through your life with the grit and determination to make it through, that you do have control over and that makes a difference.” –ABC News