Choices - Health Matters for Women

(Front Cover)
Health Matters for Women

Are You Ready? Beyond Skin Deep
Planning ahead for your family

Eat Smart, Move More
5 easy steps to a healthier body

QUIZ: Are you a good listener?
Answer the questions and find out?

Positive Steps
Making Choices, Making Changes

(Inside front cover)
Letter from the Editor - page 1
Life is all about choices. Read how this magazine can help you make the best ones for a healthy life.

Health isn't just about your body - page 2
Relationships need to be cared for to stay healthy. Learn the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and get tips on creating positive partnerships too.

Food, Mood, Cravings and You - Page 4
Read why you crave certain foods and how to make smart food choices.

Are You Ready? - Page 5
If you are thinking about pregnancy, see why planning ahead is essential for increasing your chances of a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Why Women use Drugs and Alcohol - 6
Learn more about alcohol and drug use, their effects on the body and where to get help with a substance abuse problem.

Stressed Out? - Page 8
Get some fresh ideas for coping with stress and understanding when you may need more than just a quick pick-me-up to feel better.

Love Doesn't Hurt - Page 9
Domestic violence comes in many forms. Learn the warning signs of abuse and where to call for help.

Smoking is more than just a Habit - Page 10
We all know smoking is bad for your heart and lungs. But did you know how many other things are affected? You may be surprised.

Positive Steps - Page 12
Use this step-by-step guide to making positive changes in your life and see how you can control what happens to you next.

She may be your Sister, your Friend, your Neighbor - Page 13
Change can be hard. Get ideas on how to support someone as she tries to make a positive life change.

Partner Power (insert)

Look for the "partner power" boxes for tips on how friends and family can support each other in making tough life choices.

(Page 1)

Letter from the Editor

Are you like everybody else?
The latest trends, the coolest places to hang out, the best new music... it's easy to get caught up in what "everybody else" has or is doing. It feels good to be a part of the crowd. But life shouldn't be about keeping up with others or saying yes to something just to please a friend or partner. It's about choices and deciding for yourself what's best for you. And if you are pregnant, thinking about getting pregnant or having sex, you need to think about what is best for baby, too. The choices you make about your body will affect you and your child.

How smart are you?
Inside, you'll find information about how to make smart decisions for a healthier you. It includes questions to help you think about your life and offers resources to help you make positive changes. Making healthy choices can improve the quality of your life in many ways, including how you physically look and feel and how your feel about yourself!

It is all about YOU.
At the end of the day, everything you do is about making choices. Sometimes you make a great choice and things work out just the way you hoped. Other times, you need to change your focus, try again or make a different choice in order to get where you want to go. That's ok. Whether it's about food, stress, relationships, smoking, alcohol, or more, choices can help you make positive changes for life. And it's never too late. You can make the choice to change any time you want.

(Page 2)

Health isn't just about your Body

In a healthy relationship you...

In an unhealthy relationship, one or both of you...

Quiz: I'm all Ears! When friends talk to you about something that is important to them, do you:

Yes or No - Ask them about their feelings and listen to their answers?
Yes or No - Check in with them to make sure you truly understand?
Yes or No - Focus on them and their feelings without trying to tie the conversation back to you and your experiences?
Yes or No - Sometimes miss what they are saying because you are thinking about what you want to say next?

If you answered "yes" to all but the last question, you are a great listener. If not, think about how you can better focus your attention on others so they can be heard. As the saying goes, "To have a good friend, you have to be a good friend." Good friendships (and any other kind of healthy relationship) start when people hear each other and respect each other's feelings and needs. They can communicate openly and honestly.

(Page 3)

Creating Healthy Relationships

Life is full of relationships with friends, co-workers. family and romances. In a healthy relationship, you feel comfortable, happy and respected. Sometimes, it can be just the opposite - you feel scared, sad or worried. In an unhealthy relationship, you may feel like you don't have control over choices about how you act or what you do.

Am I the only one?

Sometimes I feel like I am the only one of my friends who doesn't party all the time. I really want to take care of myself but find it hard to do on my own. What can I do?

If someone is trying to get you to use alcohol or drugs, smoke or something else that is bad for you, you need to think hard about your relationship. Research shows that people who have friends that make unhealthy choices are more likely to make those same bad choices. Perhaps it's time to move on.

It takes energy, but god friends are worth the effort. Remember that in a good relationship, both people feel good about themselves. If you believe in yourself and your right to be treated well, you're on the right track. The keys to a good relationship are respect and trust. And the best way to earn that trust is to communicate well. You need to be able to talk AND listen to each other.

Ask Yourself:

If you can't name two people who are positive influences in your life, look for new friends who will support you in making healthy choices.

Partner Power (insert)

(Page Four)

Food, Mood, Cravings and You

What triggers you to eat?

Do you go for the chips when you're stressed or ice cream when you feel blue? Your emotions can trigger you to seek "comfort" food, something that reminds you of a happy time or was given to you to feel better as a child.

Food triggers can be physical, too. Craving sweets or salty snacks before your period can be because of hormone changes. If you crave something unusual, like crushed ice, check with your doctor. You may need to add certain vitamins or minerals to your diet.

Don't skip out! It's not just what you eat that matters. Skip a meal and your blood sugar may drop too much. You could wind up with a headache, feel dizzy or be moody. To avoid feeling bad, don't let too much time pass between meals or snacks.

Eat Smart, Move More

Enjoy more fruits and vegetables. Make fruits and vegetables more than half your plate at every meal and for every snack. Fresh, frozen, dried or canned all count so mix it up!

Right-size your portions. Eat smaller portions of food and drinks at a slower pace to fill you up, not out.

Re-think your drink. Try water with lemon or flavored, unsweetened drinks instead of sugary drinks.

Prepare more meals at home. Healthy home cooked meals can be quick, easy and inexpensive. Follow simple recipes to reduce preparation time.

Choose to move more everyday. Walk, dance, play, work in your yard... 30 minutes a day of movement can help you stay in shape and feel good. Can't find 30 minutes all at once? Break it up into three 10-minute activities instead.

did you know ... ? Caffeine can give you energy. But it can also make you cranky or nervous, or make it hard for you to fall asleep. Cut back on coffee, cola and chocolate ... and you cut back on problems.

(Page five)

Are You Ready?

Planning ahead for your future family

Do you dream of a big family with lots of children? Is one or two enough? Maybe you don't see any children in your future. Do you have a plan? If you see yourself with any children in the years ahead, you need to make sure you are healthy before getting pregnant. Women with certain health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and those who smoke, drink alcohol or use illegal drugs may be at a higher risk for preterm birth, low birthweight babies and babies born with mental or physical problems.

Planning ahead is the key to helping you have a healthy pregnancy. Ask yourself and your doctor, do I need to:

You need to talk to your doctor and be truthful about how your behaviors can affect you, your baby and the rest of your life.

A Vitamin a Day...

All women should take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before getting pregnant and throughout pregnancy. This can significantly lower your risk of having a baby born with certain birth defects.

Timing is everything

After your first baby is born, it is important to plan ahead for your next one. Consider spacing out your pregnancies. Most research suggests that waiting 2-3 years between children is ideal for mom and baby. Having babies too close together (less than 1 1/2 years) or too far apart (more than 5 years) can lead to complications for both baby and mom.

Not Ready Yet?

That's ok. Having a child is a big decision and one you need to consider seriously. Whether you see yourself with one child, many, or none at all, you need to plan for your future. Half of all pregnancies in North Carolina are unplanned. If you get pregnant unexpectedly, it can lead to a lot of stress for you, your family and your child. If you have decided that now is NOT the time for you to have a baby, have you thought about how to prevent yourself from getting pregnant? There are many kinds of birth control. Talk to your healthcare provider to decide what is the best kind for you.

Take the First Step

To learn more about family planning and birth control, talk to your healthcare provider. If you do not have one, contact your local health department or call Planned Parenthood at 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) to find a clinic in your area.

(Pages 6 and 7)

Why Women Use Drugs and Alcohol

Some women use alcohol and other drugs to escape. Getting high makes them feel better. It helps them forget about their problems. For others, it's all about the thrill of doing something they shouldn't or the feeling they get from the drug itself. Other women start out by trying a little for fun at parties or clubs, because others are doing it, or they are curious. But they fall into the trap of thinking that being high is the only way to have a good time ... or their bodies crave more.

Lower your alcohol intake and get:

Alcohol and the Sexes

Alcohol affects women differently than men. How? Women break down alcohol slower. Why? Because women typically weigh less and have less water and more fat in their bodies than men, so more alcohol does directly into the bloodstream. Alcohol gets to a woman's brain faster and she feels the effects sooner. Binge drinking - too much alcohol in a short time - can cause you to pass out, vomit a lot, or can even kill you.

Have you heard these reasons?

Sex is better. Some women say drugs can increase pleasure "in bed." The truth is alcohol and drugs can make you lose your ability to make good choices. You could end up with a stranger or with a nasty sexually transmitted infection from a one-night fling. You could pass out and become vulnerable to physical and sexual assault. You can even get pregnant when you didn't plan on it.

It helps me cope with stress. Have you ever felt like your life is out of control? Some women turn to drugs and alcohol for a pick-me-up or to relax if they are stressed. You might feel better for a short time. But, keep it up and you could end up with hangovers, withdrawals and even worse problems, including addiction.

I'm too fat. If you use drugs to lose weight, you may hurt yourself more than the extra pounds do. Drugs can make you physically sick. If you become dehydrated, you risk heart and liver damage.

did you know ... ? Cocaine (including crack cocaine) is extremely addictive. It can cause panic attacks, paranoia, stroke and death. Meth also is very addictive. It causes rapid, irregular heart beat as well as extreme energy and alertness. Long term use can lead to violent behavior, anxiety, confusion and sleeping problems. Marijuana may cause memory loss, increased heart rate, breathing problems and makes you feel less able to fight off germs. It has many of the same cancer-causing ingredients as cigarettes.

What are the chances?

There is no way to predict if you will have problems with alcohol. However, many women who drink to much:

Single women in their 20s or early 30s also are at higher risk. When friends or a partner are heavy drinkers, some women find it harder to stop. Drinking tends to get out of control for women whose friends also drink too much.

Think before you drink and be sure you have a choice.

When you are under the influence, it can be harder to say "no." You may be at a greater risk for sexual assault. If you are sexually active and drinking, use reliable birth control, including a condom. If you ever think someone has forced you to have sex or do something you didn't want to, get help and sort it out.

Take care of yourself so someone else can't take advantage of you!

If you or a friend needs help ...

With help and support, many people will stop using and rebuild their lives.


CARE-LINE: 1-800-662-7030

Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina: 1-800-688-4243

Treatment Facility Locator:

Alcoholics Anonymous:

did you know ... ? Carbonated beverages can make a hangover worse.

Partner Power (insert)

Why Chance It? Alcohol causes more damage to a baby before it is born than any other substance, including marijuana, heroin and cocaine. While breastfeeding is best for your baby, if you use alcohol or other drugs, you share them with your baby through your breast milk.

(Page 8)

Stressed Out?

Get the Stress Out Now ...Here's How

How do you react to stress? Does your heart race? Do you have muscle pain? Headaches? Trouble sleeping, an upset stomach or skin breakouts? That's normal. We can feel stressed when good and bad things happen to us.

Try to lower your stress in a positive way. Take a warm bath, listen to music, watch a favorite movie, care for your pet - things that help you relax and regain control.

Sometimes people do things to feel better that are harmful. Overeating, smoking, drug and alcohol use can give temporary relief from a stressful reactions in your body. They also hide the true causes of stress, making it harder to face problems and develop long-term solutions.

Think about starting habits that will help you and your body. For instance, exercising will not only make you healthier, but can decrease your stress, fight depression and anxiety, and help you sleep better.

Reducing stress in the long run means changing habits, attitudes and emotions. Here are some ways to make positive changes.

Lifestyle Changes

Attitude and Emotional Changes


Sometimes life may be too much to figure out on your own. It's okay to admit that you can't solve all you own problems all the time. if you or a friend have any of these signs, it might be time to seek help from a doctor, minister, counselor or other professional:

(Page 9)

Love Doesn't Hurt

Love doesn't hurt, or at least it shouldn't. And we're not talking about a broken heart. Domestic violence is a form of abuse that happens within the family or a couple. It comes in many forms. Not all leave you with physical marks. Besides physical violence, there is also emotional, verbal and sexual violence. No one deserves to be abused. And it is never your fault. Answer the questions on this page. Do you recognize these signs in your life?

Stop the Cycle of Violence. Domestic violence affects the entire family. Children learn to solve problems the way the adults in their lives do. Domestic violence is a learned behavior. What are your children learning?

Are You Being Abused?

Does Your Partner...

If you answer "yes" to one or more of these questions, you could be in an abusive relationship. And you're not alone. Almost one out of every three women is a victim of domestic violence in this country. This includes women of every race, religion, age and income level.

Partner Power (insert)

Friends help friends. Do you think your friend is being abused? Here's how you can help:

Leaving an abusive relationship can be difficult. Be there when she needs you.

there's a connection: Studies show that physical and sexual abuse among young women is associated with increased substance abuse, unhealthy weight control. risky sexual behavior, pregnancy and suicide. Making the choice to reach out for support could help you avoid lots of other problems later.

Learn about domestic violence. A good first step:
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). This is a free call, and the line is open 24 hours a day. To find help in your area, call the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-888-232-9124.

(Page 10 and 11)

Smoking is more than just a habit

Health Matters

Adult smokers, on average, 13 -14 years earlier than nonsmokers. That's like not being around to see your first grader graduate from high school.

Smoking is a leading cause of heart disease, many types of cancers and breathing problems. Smoking also puts you at greater risk for:

Women who smoke and use certain birth control methods may be at a higher risk for serious health problems.

Are nic-fits real? Yes.
When a smoker doesn't have a cigarette for a while, the body sends out a message asking for it. Nicotine is as addictive as some street drugs. The good news is all smokers can kick the nic habit, no matter how long they've smoked.

Women who smoke as few as three to five cigarettes a day double their risk of heart attack.

For kids' sake!

Smoking during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or cause your baby to be premature or low birthweight. Your baby also has a 3-4 times greater risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Set a good example. Quit smoking, especially before your child turns eight, and she will be less likely to start smoking as a teenager.

Secondhand smoke hurts everyone. Even if you don't smoke, breathing secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer, heart disease, allergies and trigger asthma. It also increases your baby's chances of dying from SIDS.

Try these tips for quitting gradually:

Think about when and what you are doing when you smoke. (Do you smoke after dinner?)

Think of something you could do instead. (Take a walk.)

Most Smokers want to quit and wish they had never started smoking in the first place.

Just Ask

Many resources are available to help smokers to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider about ideas for quitting including using nicotine patches or gum or taking oral medications. Staff at your county health department can provide counseling and link you to services. You can also call the numbers below:

North Carolina Tobacco Use Quitline 1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids 1-202-296-5469

There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. There is no safe cigarette. Clove and low-tar cigarettes are harmful, too.

Partner Power (insert)


To find out how dependent you are on tobacco and for quitting tips, go to:

(Page 12)

Positive Steps

Life is about the choices we make. From everyday decisions like what to wear and what to eat, to harder choices like giving up smoking or staying away from negative influences. Although it's not always easy to make changes, the choices we make affect the direction of our lives. Don't give up. Take a moment to think about where you are in your life and what choices you can make to improve it.

6 Steps to Making a Change:

Partner Power (Insert)

Ask a friend to attend a support group meeting or help you through the tough times.

Appreciate how far you have come ...

Today I am grateful for (fill in the blank)

I am proud of myself for (fill in the blank)

I appreciate my body because (fill in the blank)

My best quality is (fill in the blank)

Then ask yourself where you want to be ...

Am I living the life I want? (fill in the blank)

What can I do to improve my situation? (fill in the blank)

What is getting in the way of my making these changes? (fill in the blank)

What would my life be like if I make these changes? (fill in the blank)

You Deserve to Live Your Best Life! Did you know ... ? In just 29 days a new behavior can become a regular part of your life.

(Page 13)

She May Be Your Sister, Your Friend, Your Neighbor

For most people, there will be a time when a friend or family member needs you. Here are some ways to help someone you care about get away from a harmful habit, an unhealthy relationship or a challenging situation.

Be Caring

When it comes to caring about someone who is struggling with addiction, remember the seven Cs:

(Back Cover)

You are in charge ... of your life and your choices.

-----(clip and save)-----

If you are a friend needs help, call the resources below:

Planned Parenthood

1-800-230-PLAN (7526)

Alcohol/Drug Council of North Carolina



Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator

(web only)

Alcoholics Anonymous

phone numbers on website

National Domestic Violence Hotline


NC Coalition Against Domestic Violence


North Carolina Tobacco Use Quitline

1-800-QUIT-NOW (784-8669)

Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids




(logo) North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation and (logo) North Carolina Public Health

75,000 copies of this public document were printed at a cost of $12,233 or $.163 each (5/11)

Developed through support provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Office of Adolescent Health (grant #SPIAH000004).