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Honor Your Heart by Quitting Smoking

ThinkstockPhotos-166468551

Written by Michelle Chen

Quitting smoking is tough, and for many, takes more than one try. It may be one of the hardest things to do, but it will be one of the best decisions of your life. In addition to saving thousands of dollars each year, you will protect your family from cancer-causing toxins and live a longer and healthier life. Your heart will benefit from the relief—your risk for heart attack and heart disease will go down when you quit. After one year, your risk for heart disease will be half that of a continuing smoker’s. Over time, it will be that of a non-smoker’s. For American Heart Month, we encourage you to kick the butt for better heart health.

7 Ways to Make Quitting Smoking Easier

  1. Prepare yourself. Have support—from family, friends, a counselor or provider, or an online program—ready by your quit date.
  1. Create new habits. If certain places and situations tempt you to smoke, come up with new routines. Instead of joining your coworkers for a smoke break, tell them you are quitting and take a walk instead.
  1. Use medications. Talk with a counselor or provider about nicotine patches and other medications that can reduce cravings. Many are covered by insurance.
  1. Stay away from that cigarette! There is no such thing as having ‘just one.’ The first puff can make you start back up.
  1. Find a quit buddy. Ask a friend or coworker who smokes to quit with you. Support each other through the quitting process.
  1. Reward yourself. Use the money you have saved from quitting for a movie night or a dinner with your family. Marking milestones can improve spirits for all.
  1. Be kind to yourself. If you start smoking again, don’t be discouraged. You have not failed—you have learned about the triggers and situations that make you smoke. It takes a few tries for most people to quit for good.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out more tips and reasons to quit, and learn more about secondhand smoke.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.


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Eight Lucky Dishes to Enjoy for Lunar New Year

Original Table

For many Chinese and ethnic families, February marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year.  Celebrated over 15 days, it is one of the most eventful times of the year. In the Chinese community, the biggest festivity starts on New Year’s Eve, when loved ones come together for a banquet. We would like to share healthy versions of these lucky dishes.

Whole Fish

Fish

One of the most important dishes to eat during Lunar New Year is a whole fish. Serving a fish from head to tail is associated with starting and finishing the New Year with good luck. Loved ones bless each other with the saying, “Nian Nian You Yu” or “May each year be plentiful”.

Families enjoy whole fish pan-seared, steamed, or boiled in soup. For a healthy celebration, we recommend going light when cooking with oil and choosing a low-sodium soy sauce when eating the fish. No matter the cooking method, use fresh herbs such as ginger and green onion to bring out the flavor of this dish.

Prawn

Shrimp

For a year filled with “happy laughter”, families prepare prawn for the New Year feast. Prawn in Cantonese sounds like the laughing sound “ha”, and eating it is believed to bring you plenty of happiness for the New Year.

Prawn is also a suggested source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that is healthy for the brain and helps prevent heart disease. Eating two servings or 8 ounces of omega-3 rich seafood like salmon, tuna and sardines per week will give you the amount of omega-3 fatty acids you need, but enjoy prawn in a small amount to keep bad cholesterol low.

Whole Chicken

Chicken

Another favorable dish is a whole chicken. Like fish, it is important to plate the chicken whole from head to tail because it resembles “completeness” and “togetherness”. Many Chinese families prepare the chicken by steaming or boiling it without herbs or marinades. While dark meat is delicious, consider eating more white meat without the skin for less fat and fewer calories.

Dried Oysters, Mushrooms and Lettuce

Oyster and mushroom

For many Chinese business owners, this meatless dish may just be their favorite to eat during the New Year. The star of this dish is dried oysters, or “Ho See”. Often added to soups or vegetables, dried oysters bear significance to having “good business” or “good things to come”. Mushrooms complement the rich seafood flavor of the oysters, and lettuce not only adds a vibrant color, but is also symbolic of “growing more fortune”. For a healthy and tasty celebration, be sure to enjoy oysters in moderation to keep cholesterol levels under control.

Buddha’s Delight

Buddha Delight

Many families will eat “Zhai” or Buddha’s Delight on the first day of Lunar New Year to cleanse oneself, show kindness to animals, and bring in good luck. While the ingredients and recipes differ across families and restaurants, this dish has an abundance of heart-healthy vegetables like wood ear mushrooms, Chinese celery, snow peas, and bean curd.

Tangerine, Mandarin and Pomelo

Citrus

Tangerines, mandarins, and pomelos signify wealth, good luck, and fortune. Mandarin in Cantonese sounds like “gold” while tangerine sounds like “luck”. Eating a pomelo is believed to bring blessings. Families may also decorate their homes with a tangerine tree, as it symbolizes the blessing, “Dai Gut Dai Ley” or “bringing safety to the family and guests”. Kid-friendly and rich in vitamin C, these citrus fruits are great as New Year snacks.

Nian Gao

Nian GaoCake

Many families eat “Nian Gao” to start the year on a positive note. The blessing that comes with the dish translates to, “May you reach higher and higher each year”. For some families, Nian Gao is a savory dish that includes fried rice cakes, Napa cabbage or Chinese mustard greens, minced meat and mushrooms. For other families, “Nian Gao” is a pan-fried dessert that is soft and crispy when coated with a thin layer of egg.  Many love the sweet Nian Gao, as it’s only made once a year. To keep a healthy weight, enjoy these sweet rice cakes in small portions and cook the savory rice cakes with less salt and oil.

Sweet Glutinous Rice Dumplings

Tong Suey and Tray

“Tang Yuan” or sweet glutinous rice dumplings are loved for its tasty fillings, sweet soup and chewy bite. It is popular to eat this dessert during Lunar New Year and Winter Solstice, as the roundness of the dumplings resembles “reunion” and “togetherness”. The dough is traditionally made with rice flour and can be plain or filled with red bean paste, sesame paste, creamy or crunchy peanuts, or sweet mung beans. Served with a sweet gingery soup, this is a warm dessert perfect for the winter. For a healthy new year, enjoy this dessert by lightly sweetening the soup and eating in moderation.

We at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center wish you and your family a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!