The Oscar for Good Food
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Often, the chow you'd like to believe is good for you is just masquerading as healthy. As you're rushing to work in Research Triangle Park, here are a few imposters to consider:


Breakfast: Yes, the first meal of the day is considered the most important, so make time to eat it. But watch out for white bread, fried items, processed meat (yes, that includes bacon) and added sugar contained in some yogurt and packaged cereals.


Salad: Of course, veggies will help keep you in great shape. But greens for lunch won't do much for you if drowned in cheese, croutons and creamy dressing.


Granola: Nibbling on products such as this combination of oats, nuts and honey as well as "natural" bars isn't necessarily your best bet. Check the snack's label to see what you're really getting in terms of nutrition and calories.


Dried fruit: Dehydrated prunes, figs, apricots, peaches, pineapples and pears provide that zing of sweetness you may be craving during the afternoon doldrums, but they're loaded with sugar. Nosh on raw fruit instead.



New Drug? 5 Q's to Ask

Are you being put on a new prescription? Be sure to ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist a lot about it. Our friends at Consumer Reports, the nonprofit magazine, suggest five questions to pose before starting any medication:
1. How much should I take, when and how often?
2. Are there any foods, supplements or vitamins I need to avoid?
3. Should I refrain from drinking alcohol while taking this medication?
4. What are the possible side effects?
5. When can I stop taking the drug?


Cough Relief

If you have a cold or the flu, a cough can be useful to help clear irritants and mucus from the bronchial tubes that lead to your lungs and possibly prevent a more serious infection.


The good news is that most coughs associated with simple respiratory infections ease on their own within several weeks. Drink warm liquids to relieve irritation and keep mucus thin enough to easily expel. You can also suck on honey or menthol lozenges.


And if you can't sleep, an over-the-counter cough suppressant may do the trick to help you get some rest.


For a cough related to allergies, antihistamines, such as Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin and their generics, may be helpful. Benadryl can also work but may be more likely to cause drowsiness.


Coughs that linger can signal an underlying problem. If your situation doesn't improve after a few weeks, make an appointment with your healthcare provider.