Back to School, Cancer Prevention, Dining Out Healthy: Delaware

Back to School Blues?

The fall season can bring several parenting milestones. For my family, it was the first day of third grade, which was an incredibly welcome day after my son climbed the walls during the month of August.

My friend, Judy, had her own milestone this past summer—she dropped off her daughter at college. As I am a parent of a 9-year-old, I had very little advice to offer except for this: “Get on Facebook. Perhaps you will see her there.”

Schools can help prepare families for the college admissions process, as well as consultants, friends and family—but how can parents best prepare themselves to deal with the range of emotions involved when at the end of summer, a child has moved out of the house?

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For Delawareans, there is a local resource: Dr. Leslie Connor, a licensed psychologist. She conducts a workshop called “They’ll be Fine. How about You?” for parents in which she addresses topics such as:

• Where parents fit into their teen’s new life
• How parents can rebalance their own lives through this change
• How often parents can expect to communicate
• When parents should be concerned, when they need to step back
• How parents can manage the impact this transition has on siblings and other members of the household

Sending your son or daughter off to college for the first time can make some parents reminisce about those late August days of climbing the walls and wonder where the time has gone.

When speaking with Connor, I asked how this transitional time could impact the health and wellness issues for the parent who may or may not be struggling with this milestone.  I had heard stories of parents converting the college student’s bedroom to an office or home gym, but I have also heard stories of parents who were uncertain how to move forward with their own interests.

“As far as health and wellness, it’s a matter of parents deciding what is the lens they are going to look at this through?” Connor says. “Will it be healthy or unhealthy? This is a time they want to restock.”

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Connor’s workshop is for parents of new college freshman, but also for parents of high school seniors who may be newly embarking on this critical voyage. I am glad I have some time before this particular milestone but let me tell you, if my boy goes stir-crazy again next August, forget fourth grade, I am dropping him off at college.

For more information on Connor’s workshop, call 477-0708 ext. 2, or visit


Preventing Breast Cancer

As some of my trusted loyal readers may recall, I spent years working in public health, particularly in the area of behavior change. I spent every workday trying to think of new ways to encourage people to prevent diseases that are defined as preventable.

It’s a challenge enough to convince people to get screened for diseases like cancer, so you can imagine how receptive people are to the task of making complete lifestyle changes. But that’s, for the most part, what prevention really is—modifying lifestyle behaviors to reduce one’s risk. It’s a head start in the process of aging well.

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In short, prevention is stuff we should be doing anyway.

Since next month is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to give this disease a “head start” by noting the types of behavior changes that can be made to help prevent breast cancer. And here’s the kicker—save two, they are nothing more than lifestyle changes we should all work to make anyway to lead healthier lives.

This list should look familiar to you, since we see lists like this all the time:

• Maintain a healthy weight
• Exercise regularly
• Eat more fruits and vegetables
• Avoiding or limiting alcohol

Not many of us stop to think, if I do these things, I am working to prevent breast cancer.  I spoke with Vicky Tosh-Morelli, director of information services at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, to ask about other preventative options for women to explore.

“For women who are breast-feeding, it’s important for them to know that healthy positive changes are occurring in their breast tissue that are protective against breast cancer,” she says. “Breast-feeding for the first six months or longer causes these protective tissue changes to essentially lock in.”

Understanding that this specific behavior only applies to a certain segment of women, Tosh-Morelli offered this for women in menopause:

“Women who choose to not use hormone replacement therapy or women who only use it for a short period of time are lowering their risk for breast cancer,” she says. “By supplementing menopausal symptoms with diet and exercise and other alternative therapies, women can reduce their time on hormone replacement therapy and their risk.”

When it comes to diseases like cancer, it’s hard to believe we are actually in control. But if it means eating healthier and living a healthier life in general, preventing breast cancer won’t feel like such a lifestyle modification, it will just be a lifestyle.


Healthful Ordering Hints

My husband and I are two very different eaters. I eat healthy foods and he doesn’t. When we dine out, I am reasonably certain that he and I receive two different menus. My menu usually has options like salad and grilled entrées while his menus clearly say “if you are not going to order it fried or drenched in melted cheese, then what are you doing here?” But I continue to recommend selections from my menu in the hopes that they will someday sound appealing.

One day it hit me. I need to look at “his” menu and help him modify his order so it remotely resembles something from my menu. I have decided to tackle this on a cuisine-by-cuisine basis.

Today, we’re starting with Italian. I contacted Steve Coruzzi, the owner of Salvatore’s Bistro in Newark, and asked him for healthful ordering hints. Here are some takeaways from our conversation:

The Bread.  If you’re going to eat the bread, dip it in olive oil instead of using butter.

• The Pasta. If you need whole-wheat or gluten-free, ask for it, but regardless watch your portion size.

• The Sauces. The healthiest sauces come from restaurants where the food is made with fresh ingredients onsite. Stay away from the processed sauces and their preservatives and avoid the cream sauces, which are loaded with calories and fat. If you want sauce and a lot of taste, go for garlic and oil.

• The Pizza. Ask yourself which you are trying to moderate here—the carbs or the fat? Some people, in an effort to watch the cheese intake, order tomato pie, but keep in mind the crusts on traditional tomato pies are much thicker.

• The Meats and Fish. Always opt for grilled or broiled, but make sure to ask that the chef does not soak the food in something before grilling. One place I know of soaked the chicken in milk before grilling.

• The Salads. Maybe the category should be the salad dressings. Stick with the vinaigrettes and salads with fruit for the extra taste. The Caesar dressing is the greatest offender—if you must order Caesar, order it on the side and dunk your fork in the dressing before taking a bite of your salad.

• The Desserts. When the options are limited, consider the carbs and sugar content.  While the gelato won’t have the fat from the cream and butter found in piecrusts and cannolis, the sugars will add up. Salvatore’s does a flourless chocolate torte that appeals to those who want dessert but are watching their carbs.

• The Portion Sizes. The wonderful comfort food aspect of the American-Italian dining experience is in the generous portion size. Ask if the restaurant will do half-portions or order a to-go box up front. You won’t be tempted to overeat and you’ll guarantee a second delicious meal at home.

No matter what menu you read, don’t hesitate to ask about where ingredients came from—this will help you determine what and how much you want to order. In the meantime, I am going to try to get my husband to read this blog entry. Wish me luck.



Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23
MS Bike to the Bay
Location and time  Starts at 8 a.m. at Delaware Tech Terry Campus in Dover
Starts at 11 a.m. at Lake Forest High School in Felton
Starts at 1 p.m. at Uncle Ted’s Rest Stop in Milton
More info  655-5610 ext. 86115;


Saturday, Sept. 22
Olympiads Open House for National Gymnastics Day
Location  Olympiad Gymnastics, 380 Water St., Wilmington/Newport
Time  11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m.
More info  Email Kelly McCreary at, or call 636-0606


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