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Help Yourself: How to Eat Healthy
Test Yourself: How Clean is Your Crib?
How to Get Information Over the Phone


Help Yourself: How to Eat Healthy

Natasha Santos

Teens are not known for eating well. In fact, we’re notorious for supersizing fast food. But we can improve our eating habits and our health by taking just a few tiny steps. I learned this when I took a workshop on healthy eating. Here are some suggestions for eating healthy.

1. Eat at Least Three Times a Day. That means reasonable portions of nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, chicken, turkey, fish, and whole grains at least three times a day. Skipping meals won’t help you lose weight or concentrate. (A “meal” does not mean nachos, Twix bars, or anything containing manufactured sweeteners or hydrogenated oils—basically anything that sounds like it can burn a hole through your stomach.)

2. Know Your Limits. If you drink a lot of soda or eat a bunch of candy, you’ll get hyper and then really tired. Limit the junk you eat so you’ll feel energetic all day.

3. Read Labels! Manufacturers are required to list ingredients and nutritional information on containers to let you know how much—or how little—nutrition is inside. Nutrition facts give you a general idea of the fat, calories and nutrients in foods. You want to eat foods with lots of vitamins and fiber, and avoid fats and sugars.

4. Snack on Fruit, Vegetables, or Pretzels Instead of Chips, Chocolate, or Candy. This takes some getting used to, but it pays off. The less sugar you eat, the sweeter fruit will taste.

5. Avoid Fried Foods. Fast food and greasy foods like fried chicken and French fries are OK only once in a while—and in small portions. When you’re cooking, remember that olive, canola and vegetable oils are much better for you than butter, lard or margarine.

6. Drink Eight Glasses of Water Each Day. Water cleans out your body, and it fills you up so you don’t eat too much. Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re just thirsty. Water is a lot better for you than juice or soda.

7. Know Your Body Type. Don’t starve yourself for any reason—for attention, to prove you’re in control, or to get a “perfect” body. Accept and celebrate what you’ve got.

8. Indulge Occasionally. Everyone needs a taste of Haagen Dazs or a cherry cheese danish once in a while. Allowing yourself treats now and then can even help you eat better overall, if it keeps you from feeling deprived. But if this becomes habit, you need to re-evaluate your eating habits and get back on a healthy track.

9. Only Eat When You’re Hungry. Don’t eat to feel calm, comforted, happy, or loved. If you’re eating to soothe your emotions, find activities to help improve your mood (a hot bath, a good book, exercise, dance, writing in a diary). Some people find that therapy helps them to understand why they eat when they don’t really need to.

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Housekeeping Quiz: Test Your Knowledge

1. Putting a wool sweater in the dryer will:
a) Make the rest of your clothes smell like the lamb the wool came from.
b) Cause the dryer and possibly laundromat to burst into flames. Wool combusts under heat.
c) Make a new sweater for your baby sister! Wool shrinks in the dryer.

Read about Christine's crazy cleaning experiences.  

2. Spilling bleach directly on your jeans will:
a) Give them that fresh, clean smell you can’t get enough of.
b) Give you an excuse to ask for help from the cute girl or guy at the laundry machine next to you. The bright white, permanent spot the bleach makes will make it clear you need help.
c) Turn your skin alarmingly white next time you manage to fit into them.

3. You know it’s time to wash the sheets on your bed when:
a) It’s your birthday. Once a year is about right!
b) It’s time to buy a new set—the sheets start looking holier than swiss cheese.
c) You wash your underwear—about once every 1-2 weeks. After all, you change those once a day but you lie in your bed every night.

  Take Christine's quiz: Do You Have What it Takes to Live On Your Own?

4. When buying cleaning supplies, buying the generic (or store) brand will:
a) Mean you’ll never get your house to sparkle like you can with the brand-name product.
b) Save you mega money and wow visitors with how smart you are. Generic is the same as the brand name, only cheaper.
c) Create a health hazard—who knows what the heck they put in those products?

5. Before you mop any floors without carpet, it’s a good idea to:
a) Pray for rain and a leaky ceiling. Then maybe you won’t have to mop after all.
b) Take a few laps around the place on something with wheels, since it will be too slippery for that when the floor is drying—skateboards, rollerblades, or motor bikes will do.
c) Sweep first. That way you won't mop the dirt into the ground.


Answers: How Clean is Your Crib?

1. Putting a wool sweater in the dryer will:
c) Make a new sweater for your baby sister! Wool shrinks in the dryer.

2. Spilling bleach directly on your jeans will:
b) Give you an excuse to ask for help from the cute girl or guy at the laundry machine next to you. The bright white, permanent spot the bleach makes will make it clear you need help.

3. You know it’s time to wash the sheets on your bed when:
c) You wash your underwear—about once every 1-2 weeks. After all, you change those once a day but you lie in your bed every night.

4. When buying cleaning supplies, buying the generic (or store) brand will:
b) Save you mega money and wow visitors with how smart you are. Generic is the same as the brand name, only cheaper.

5. Before you mop any floors without carpet, it’s a good idea to:
c) Sweep first. That way you won’t mop the dirt into the ground.



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How to Get Information Over the Phone

Calling for information is more complicated than calling a friend or calling MovieFone. Many things can go wrong and you won’t get the information you need. But keep in mind that there is someone at the other end who wants to give you the right information. You just have to find them, and then communicate in a way that gets what you want.

What to anticipate:

  • Right number, confusing voice mail: What if the voice mail system is confusing or doesn’t mention the department or person you’re trying to reach? Press “0” or the number they recommend to talk to an operator (and see instructions below for talking to a busy receptionist). If that doesn’t work, try any number that gets you a person. When that

    person picks up, pretend you got their extension by mistake. Politely    

    say, “Oh, I was trying to reach so-and-so. Do you know their

    extension?" He/she will look it up in the company directory and give it

    to you. Write it down. Then, either ask him/her to transfer you, or call  

    back.

  • Busy receptionist: Remember, the person at the other end of the line might be very busy. (And, in a few months, that person might even be you when you get your first job at an agency, so don’t stress her!) Before you dial, have as much information as you possibly can so that the busy, distracted person who picks up the phone will switch you to the right place. If you know the name of the person or program you’re trying to reach, tell him/her. If you know what kind of help you want, tell him/her. “I’m looking for a GED prep program and heard that your agency offers one. Who can I talk to about the program?”

What to keep in mind:

  • Dig for useful information: Almost everyone you talk to has information that could be helpful to you, but they’re not going to volunteer it. Why? It’s not because they don’t like you or want you to fail. Rather, they are busy. They are distracted. They sometimes even forget how much they know. And they don’t know you, so they’re not sure which information they have would be best for you.
               
  • Make them want to help you: Your job is to make them care about you. Let them know what you need, and be respectful.  Be prepared with a pencil and paper, as well as a list of questions.

  • Whenever possible, use referrals: Tell the person that so-and-so suggested you call. Being referred by someone else is the best way to get people’s attention. This is easier than you think. If someone from your agency suggests you call another program, be sure to mention their name when you call!

    When you get through—or even if you get voice mail—be sure to start out by saying, “Ms. Jones, my caseworker at such-and-such an agency suggested I call. She said that I might be a good candidate for your job readiness program. How can I find out more about it?” They are much more likely to be helpful if you mention that Ms. Jones referred you.
  • ASSUME that you will get voice mail: Have your message rehearsed in your head. If you leave a clear message you are much more likely to be called back. If you’re not ready to leave a good message, hang up, think about your message, and call back.

    Second—and this is more important than you think: Get rid of the sexy voice message on your phone! Get rid of the selection from your latest favorite song! You’re trying to get a job or get training or get help with your education. The person who is trying to help you is about business and being professional. A sexy message is highly unprofessional. In the working world you need to separate your personal life from your private life. If you’re asking a business contact to call you back, your message is part of your business life, not your private life.

    And, in the business world, time is money. No one wants to sit around waiting for your song to finish before they can leave a message. Get rid of it.

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