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'Time of Renewal'

6. Teach better eating habits. "Fall is a time to restart, a time of renewal, a time of year to dig back into projects," says Lanou.

"One of those might be working with your kids to have healthier eating habits," she says. That may mean working directly with the schools to have healthier lunch options, or changing what you put in lunch boxes. Instead of stuffing your child's lunch box with the usual packaged and processed convenience foods, says Lanou, make an effort to get the kids involved and create more healthful midday meals. Try slicing apples and putting in a small container of peanut butter for dipping or making hummus dip and putting it in with carrots.

"Find things that work for your child," she says, "Engage them in the process, so they are agreeing to do this with you.

7. Take charge of medical health. Physician, author, and patient empowerment expert Marie Savard, MD, says fall is the time to get a handle on your personal health care, past and present. "Just as we keep track of our car maintenance records and our financial records," says Savard, "we need to keep track of our health records."

Keep track of your list of medical problems and an updated list of your medications and how you are taking them. Make sure that you have the names and numbers of all doctors who are current providers. If you change to a different primary care provider, make sure that a copy of your records is sent to your new primary care provider.

"We see multiple doctors and specialists [throughout our lives]," she says. "No one doctor today has cradle-to-grave medical records."

Next, take charge of your own personal health, including getting a physical, gynecological exam (for women), and up-to-date immunizations, including a flu shot.

"Protection from the flu is well worth the inconvenience, minor cost, and pain in the arm," Savard says.

For college freshmen, Savard recommends the meningococcal vaccine to protect against bacterial meningitis, the highest incidents of which are found among college freshman living in dormitories.

Savard also recommends having a health buddy. Just as a workout partner keeps you more consistent with exercise, a health buddy will offer you encouragement to schedule medical checkups, quit smoking, or get more rest.

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