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Diet, health and sleep: Lifestyle tips from the Opinion section

April 22, 2011 |  1:05 pm

Sleep From an Op-Ed article on how to give up sugar to an editorial recommending more sleep, this week's Opinion pages were packed with lifestyle tips. Here's a roundup, in case you missed them.…

Adopt religion (if only for 40 days and 40 nights)

For novelist and sugar-fiend Diana Wagman, there’s a better way to abstain from sugary treats than a half-hearted New Year’s resolution. Give it up for Lent. Not that she’s Catholic, or even religious. But when she makes a deal with herself that’s rooted in spirituality, those 40 days and 40 nights of sugar-free living pass by without incident.

Volunteer with breast cancer patients

To cancer survivor and author Peggy Orenstein, there’s a better way to raise breast cancer awareness among teen girls than wearing rubber bracelets emblazoned with the word "boobies" or T-shirts that say "ta-tas." Orenstein would like to see girls actually interact with breast cancer patients. "They could organize childcare or meals for mothers of small children going through treatment," she writes. "They could volunteer in cancer resource centers. They could hold fundraisers for affected families whose mothers can no longer work. They could spearhead projects on potential carcinogens in beauty products (which, to be fair, is something 'I ♥ Boobies,' in the wake of criticism of its mission, has now begun to emphasize). All of that would take effort and time, but it would be more meaningful to women with cancer and, I imagine, to teenagers themselves."

Think for yourself

Meghan Daum also offered a challenge to teenagers to get more involved, though in a different context. In her Thursday column, "Kids, do your own homework," she challenged students to start thinking for themselves, that they'd be better off using their own noggin than lazily relying on other people to answer questions for them. "So kids, don't be offended when I don't answer you," she concluded. "Consider yourselves lucky instead."

Embrace your job -- it just might make you live longer

Then there's doctor and professor Katherine Schlaerth, who offers this sage wisdom to young people: Bumping up the retirement age is the best thing for you. What Schlaerth has learned over the years is that her healthiest and happiest patients are the ones who still work or actively volunteer. "Increasingly," she writes, "it has become obvious that the old dictum 'use it or lose it' definitely applies where humans are concerned."

Slow down and smell the seafood

On the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill, author and environmentalist Charles Wohlforth also weighed in with some lifestyle advice: We need to slow down and pay attention to the environment; it might not be as exciting as a celebrity scandal, he writes, but it is closely tied to our economy, our source of food, and people's livelihoods. We have to keep caring so that communities are empowered when dealing with disaster; and so that action can continue at the federal level.

Get some sleep

And speaking of slowing down, the editorial board pointed to what seems like an epidemic of under-sleeping and referenced a study that concludes people actually need eight hours of sleep to function at their very best. "It's tough to make sleep a priority when juggling job responsibilities, family obligations, gym workouts and social engagements. But more than that, there's a certain who-needs-sleep bravado in our culture," the board wrote. They concluded: "[I]nstead of glorifying how little sleep we get, we should make eight hours a night a point of pride."


Japan's well-built society

Gregory Rodriguez: Our civility deficit

Social experiment: Know thy neighbor

-- Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: It can take time to recover from sleep deprivation. Credit: Blasius Erlinger / Getty Images

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