Get Healthy and Be Cheery by Celebrating Candy Canes

Whether they’re hanging from tree branches, being used to stir hot cups of cocoa or sprinkled on Christmas cookies – candy canes are everywhere this time of year.

This year, celebrate this winter classic with one of December’s lesser-known holidays National Candy Cane Day on Dec. 26th

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Aside from being a tasty treat with finger-licking, minty appeal, there are a lot of hidden advantages to eating candy canes. That’s because their key ingredient, peppermint, is packed with health benefits. 

Throughout history people have used peppermint to aid all kinds of stomach problems, including nausea, indigestion, heartburn and cramps. It is also often used to ease stress and help cure tension headaches. 

And it is great for soothing a sore throat, cough and stuffy nose, since its main active ingredient is menthol, the same compound used in over-the-counter cold medicines. 

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So this holiday season, chomp down on another candy cane or try one of these delicious recipes – for your health. 

Increase Employee Performance By Building Trust

When it comes to business, it’s all about trust. At least it is for employees. 

Recent study shows 86 percent of employees say they must trust their boss to do well in the workplace. Yet trust in their superiors decreased in the last year for 26 percent of people polled, according to a report by the Interaction Association

Employees that trust their bosses tend to achieve more customer loyalty and retention, profit growth and competitive market positions. 

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Here are five ways to build trust in your organization: 

  1. Ask for input – Especially for decisions that directly affect your employees, ask for their opinions.
  2. Fill in the background – Give staff members the background information concerning why company decisions are made. 
  3. Set for success – Offer your employees the opportunity for additional education and research so they can thrive. 
  4. Admit your mistakes – Be honest with your team about errors; explain what happened, why it happened and move on.  
  5. Don’t shoot the messenger – Do not punish employees for pointing out problems or issues with how operations are running. 

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For more information, check out the infographic and study published by the Interaction Association.  

FDA Requires Calorie Labels at Chain Restaurants

As soon as next year, consumers will see the calorie content of food on the menu at any chain restaurant, prepared foods section at the supermarket or even movie theater.

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Companies have until November 2015 to add the calorie information“clearly and conspicuously” to any menus, menu boards and displays in order to comply with the labeling rules from the Food and Drug Administration.

The new regulations are intended to encourage people to think twice before consuming a high-calorie cheeseburger and fries. And, as a result, restaurants will be motivated to make their food healthier to keep calorie counts down. 

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“Americans eat and drink about one-third of calories away from home and people today expect clear information about the products they consume,” FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg said to the Associated Press. The effort is just one way Americans can combat obesity, she added. 

For more information, read the full article by Associated Press reporter Mary Clare Jalonick this post summarizes.

Consumer Reports Publishes Report Card for ACA

At this time last year the Affordable Care Act seemed destined for disaster, with the rollout of the nearly inoperable HealthCare.gov marketplace. But as the second open-enrollment period continues, evidence shows the ACA had some success in its first year. 

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Did it reduce the number of uninsured? 

Yes. As of October 2014, 13.4 percent of adults in the U.S. were uninsured, the lowest rate since 2008, when the Gallup poll began tracking this information. It is also almost a 5 percent drop from the previous year, when the first open enrollment period began.

Was the insurance truly affordable? 

Yes and No. For people with low and moderate incomes – about $29,000 for an individual or $59,000 for a family of four – the law was particularly helpful. Twenty percent of people in this group reported paying $0 for insurance and only 23 percent said their premium was more than $125 per month. But people with higher incomes said they were paying more per month and had greater difficulty affording coverage. The people that fall into this income bracket receive lower subsidies. 

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Did HealthCare.gov ever really work? 

Yes and No. The part of the site that consumers used to sign up for plans worked so by the end of the first open enrollment period, more than 8 million people had bought insurance through the marketplaces. However, the “back end” of HealthCare.gov, the part that connects the marketplace with individual insurance companies is not fully automated. 

For more information, read the full article by Consumer Reports this post summarizes.