Understanding Dyslexia

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“It’s frustrating that you can’t read the simplest word in the world.”Thomas Lester grabs a book and opens to a random page. He points to a word: galloping.

“Goll—. G—. Gaa—. Gaa—. G—. ” He keeps trying. It is as if the rest ­­of the word is in him somewhere, but he can’t sound it out.
“I don’t … I quit.” He tosses the book and it skids along the table.

Despite stumbling over the simplest words, Thomas — a fourth-grader — is a bright kid. In fact, that’s an often-misunderstood part of dyslexia: It’s not about lacking comprehension, having a low IQ or being deprived of a good education.

It’s about having a really hard time reading.

Dyslexia is the most common learning disability in the United States. It touches the lives of millions of people, including me and Thomas. Just like Thomas, I spent much of my childhood sitting in a little chair across from a reading tutor.

Today, Thomas is working with his tutor in an office building in northwest Washington, D.C. The suite they’re in is an oasis of white couches and overstuffed pillows. In the waiting area, a kid is curled up sucking her thumb, and a mom reads a magazine quietly.

In the back of the suite — a Lindamood Bell Reading Center — Thomas fidgets with everything in arm’s reach.

“All right, I am going to give you some air-writing words,” the tutor says to Thomas, speaking rapidly as if daring Thomas to keep pace. She spells the first one out loud: “C-O-R-T.”

With his index finger, Thomas writes the letters sloppily in the air.

Then his tutor asks a question: What sound do the two middle letters make? “Eer? Aar?”

Thomas squints at whatever visual memory he can retain from the letters he has just scribbled in the air. Then, with a burst of enthusiasm, he stumbles on the answer: “Or!”

“Good job!” his tutor replies, with what seems like genuine excitement, before moving on to her next question about the letters.

I also have a question for Thomas: What’s it like to have dyslexia?

Thomas stops his fidgeting. “It’s hard,” he pauses. “Like, really hard.”

Thomas, 9, has trouble reading, but he likes books. Just give him the audio version, he says, and he’ll “listen to the book on Audible like 10,000 times.”

“His comprehension is that of a 13-year-old,” says Geva Lester, Thomas’ mom. “He can understand Harry Potter, but he can’t read it.”

Before they started coming to this Lindamood Bell Reading Center, Lester says, she’d watch with alarmed confusion as her son struggled with the most basic text: “See Spot run.”

She remembers trying to read with him. “On one page he would figure out the word: ‘There.’ And on the second page, he would see it and he would have no idea what it said.”

Sitting there with Thomas and his mom, I remember doing that myself — and in some ways, I still do.

As a child, my dyslexia was a closely guarded secret. In kindergarten, I’d leave class to work in a tiny closet, with a space heater and a reading specialist. Walking there, down the locker-lined hallways, I’d avoid eye contact, hoping nobody would notice me.

In middle school, I struggled to read even picture books. In class, I’d pretend. Then, at home, I’d listen to my books on cassette tapes — at double speed. And during the summer, I’d go to Lindamood Bell, just like Thomas. (The reading centers, which offer tutoring and reading programs around the world, also provide financial support for NPR.)

Over the years, I survived by memorizing words. It started with boxes and boxes of index cards. I’d practice each night, looking at a word and saying its sound as quickly as I could. I memorized hundreds and hundreds — maybe a few thousand — words this way.

I’ve never been able to sound out unfamiliar words. And I still can’t.

Dyslexia causes difficulty in recognizing words.

When I come across a word I don’t know, I freeze. It’s often a last name or a street name that never made it onto those index cards. It takes a great deal of focus for me to clump the letters into groups, link those groups with sounds and, finally, string those sounds together.

Since dyslexia is not something you outgrow, I have learned to work with it, and work around it. It’s always there, but it is rarely the focus of my thoughts. That was true through college and graduate school, but when I became an education reporter, it changed.

As I returned to elementary school classrooms and interviewed parents and teachers, dyslexia kept popping up in places I didn’t expect. I saw teachers who were mystified by their students’ struggles and parents whose stamina and empathy were tested.

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Dyslexia is so widespread that it forces schools and parents to take action. And yet, it is deeply misunderstood. Even basic questions don’t have easy answers.

Exactly how many people around the world have dyslexia? Well, it’s complicated. Estimates vary greatly, partly because it depends on what country or language you are talking about (English speakers may be more likely to have it than, say, Italian speakers) and partly because many people who have dyslexia never get a formal diagnosis. However, most estimates in the United States put it at somewhere between 5 and 17 percent of the population.

Many people think that dyslexia is seeing letters in the wrong order, or getting b and d mixed up. Not true. Researchers, experts and people with dyslexia dismiss these as common misconceptions.

So, if dyslexia isn’t any of those things people think it is, then what is it?

“It’s basically like looking at a foreign word,” says Jonathan Gohrband. He’s a videographer in Chicago and, at 31, he says dyslexia is still part of his daily life.

When reading, Gohrband says, his eyes often lurch to a stop in front of a word that looks utterly unfamiliar. His best solution, he says, is to turn to his girlfriend, asking a now familiar question: “What’s this word?” And as she answers, he almost always has the same response: “Of course that’s what it is!”

Here’s the thing: There’s nothing wrong with Jonathan Gohrband’s vocabulary. Or 9-year-old Thomas Lester’s vocabulary. They know what “galloping” means. And they can use the word in spoken English 20 different ways. They just can’t read the word.

That’s why dyslexia used to be called “word blindness.” People with dyslexia don’t naturally process the written word. They don’t easily break it into smaller units that can be turned into sounds and stitched together.

Dyslexia causes many obstacles for reading.

This makes reading a laborious — even exhausting — process. Writing, too. Gohrband remembers when his former boss pulled him aside after she’d received emails littered with spelling mistakes.

” ‘Hey, I know it’s the weekend, but don’t email when you’re drunk,’ ” he recalls her saying. He was, of course, perfectly sober — just dyslexic. Now, he can spend hours scouring emails he’s drafted, looking for typos. “It’s very time-consuming and very exhausting.”

Consuming. Exhausting. There’s an emotional dimension, too. Gohrband recalls that when he was a child he would fantasize about not “being broken.” He would avoid telling people about it: “If they know that you’re dyslexic, they’ll think you’re dumb.”

Yet, he says, there came a turning point when the shame faded. For him, it was when he found videography. There he discovered a “language” that came easily, and suddenly his talents were visible to others.

“I felt so much more confident,” he says.

And with time, Gohrband says, he has found benefits hidden inside his struggles. He thinks that being pushed outside his comfort zone by dyslexia has made him more creative and less judgmental.

I’ve felt that myself, and as I’ve talked with many others, I heard one thing again and again: When things don’t come easy, you learn to try new things and work hard at them.

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Tonight Is A Record-Breaking Supermoon – The Biggest In 68 Years

A supermoon rises behind Glastonbury Tor, Somerset in 2015. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

There will be an amazing spectacle tonight as the first supermoon in almost 70 years appears in the night sky. In fact, if you’re younger than 68 you have never witnessed this record-breaking supermoon in your lifetime.

Tomorrow morning, November 14th, the moon will be the closest it has been to Earth since 1948. It will appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the average monthly full moon. Of course that’s dependent on hopefully viewing the supermoon without the obstruction of a cloudy night. Thankfully it appears most of the United States will remain mostly clear for tonight’s supermoon.

If you happen to miss the moon tonight, you’ll have to wait until November 25, 2034 so take some time to go outside tonight and witness the impressive moon.

What Is A Supermoon?

A supermoon typically refers to the concurrence of two phenomena. One is when the moon is within 90% of its closest position to Earth in its orbit. Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical the moon during perigee is about 30,000 miles closer to the Earth than the apogee. The other phenomenon is syzygy, which is when the Earth, sun and moon all line up as the moon orbits Earth. When both a perigee and syzygy occur and the moon is located on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun we get a supermoon.

A supermoon sets behind the Statue of Liberty, New York in 2015. (Credit: Gary Hershorn/Corbis)

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Using Digital Devices Around Bedtime Can Disrupt Kids’ Sleep

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A new study discovers use of devices such as smartphones and tablets at bedtime more than doubles the risk of poor sleep in children.
Previous research suggests that 72 percent of children and 89 percent of adolescents have at least one device in their bedrooms and most are used near bedtime.
The speed at which these devices have developed — and their growing popularity among families — has outpaced research in this area, meaning that the impact on sleep is not well understood.
Researchers from Kings College, London reviewed 20 existing studies from four continents, involving more than 125,000 children aged six to 19 (with an average age of 15).
Their findings appear in JAMA Pediatrics.
Investigators discovered bedtime use of media devices was associated with an increased likelihood of inadequate sleep quantity, poor sleep quality, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

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Bedtime use was classified as engagement with a device within 90 minutes of going to sleep.
They also found that the presence of a media device in the bedroom, even without use, was associated with an increased likelihood of poor sleep.
One potential reason for this is that the “always on” nature of social media and instant messaging means children are continuously engaged with devices in their environment, even when they are not actively using them.
It is thought that screen-based media devices adversely affect sleep through a variety of ways, including delaying or interrupting sleep time; psychologically stimulating the brain; and affecting sleep cycles, physiology, and alertness.
Sleep disturbance in childhood is known to have adverse effects on health, including poor diet, obesity, sedative behavior, reduced immune function, and stunted growth, as well as links with mental health issues.
Dr. Ben Carter from King’s College London, said, “Our study provides further proof of the detrimental effect of media devices on both sleep duration and quality.
“Sleep is an often undervalued but important part of children’s development, with a regular lack of sleep causing a variety of health problems. With the ever-growing popularity of portable media devices and their use in schools as a replacement for textbooks, the problem of poor sleep amongst children is likely to get worse.
“Our findings suggest that an integrated approach involving parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals is necessary to reduce access to these devices and encourage good sleeping habits near bedtime.”

 

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Diwali Festival

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Diwali is the most significant religious festival among Hindus. Diwali, which is also known as Deepavali, is also known as the festival of lights. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair. At most places Diwali is celebrated for five days.

Diwali Origin and Significance
Diwali is historically a Hindu religion festival having its origin in the Era of Lord Rama or probably even before that at the time of churning of milky ocean when Goddess Lakshmi came out as the boon to the Gods and whole humanity.

Hinduism, being the oldest religion whose history goes back to thousands of years, it is not surprising that numerous legends are associated with Diwali. However all of them signify the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair.

Etymology 

Diwali (English pronunciation: /dᵻˈwɑːliː/)[4] or Sanskrit dīpāvali means “series of lights”,[23] and is derived from दीप dīpa “light, lamp”[24][25] and आवलि āvali “series, line, row”.[26] Diwali is also known as दीपोत्सव dīpotsava “festival of lights”.

The holiday is known as dīpavaḷi in Kannada: ದೀಪಾವಳಿ, Malayalam: ദീപാവലി, and Telugu: దీపావళి, dipawoli in Assamese: দীপাৱলী, dipaboli or dipali in Bengali: দীপাবলি/দীপালি, dipābali in Odia: ଦିପାବଳୀ, divālī in Hindi: दिवाली, dīvālī in Punjabi: ਦੀਵਾਲੀ, divāḷi in Gujarati: દિવાળી, Marathi: दिवाळी, and Konkani: दिवाळी, diyārī in Sindhi: दियारी‎, tīpāvaḷi in Tamil: தீபாவளி, Galungan in Balinese and Swanti in Nepali: स्वन्ति or tihar in Nepali: तिहार.

Diwali Deity(s)
Various deities are worshipped and appeased during five days Diwali festivity. However Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesha, Lord Kuber are the most prominent names which come to the mind when Diwali Puja is mentioned.

Lord Yamraj, God Dhanvantari, God Hanuman, Goddess Kali, Goddess Saraswati, Lord Krishna and Demon King Bali are other prominent deities who are worshipped during Diwali.

Diwali Date and Time
As per Amanta Hindu Calendar, five days Diwali festivity spans over two months.
Diwali begins – Krishna Paksha Trayodashi (28th day) of Ashwin (7th month)
Diwali ends – Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (2nd day) of Kartik (8th month)

As per Purnimanta Calendar
Diwali begins – Krishna Paksha Trayodashi (13th day) of Kartik (8th month)
Diwali ends – Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (17th day) of Kartik (8th month)

Diwali is celebrated as per luni-solar based Hindu calendar, its date(s) varies on Gregorian calendar and usually falls in mid-October and mid-November. Diwali Calendar lists all five days of Diwali festivities for 1000 years.

Diwali Festivals List
Day 1 – Dhantrayodashi
Day 2 – Narak Chaturdashi
Day 3 – Lakshmi Puja
Day 4 – Govardhan Puja
Day 5 – Bhaiya Dooj

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The third day of Lakshmi Puja is the most important day of five days festivities and most of the times this day is referred as Diwali Puja itself. Apart from above five festivals, the most famous festivals for which Diwali is known, Diwali Calendar lists several other festivals which are celebrated during 5 days Diwali festivities.

Diwali Observance
Numerous rituals are followed during Diwali. These rituals vary from state to state and within a state region to region. However,
cleaning and decorating homes usually by giving new whitewash or fresh paints,
buying new clothes and jewelry,
buying new household items either big or small,
preparing traditional home-made sweets,
worshipping numerous deities,
lighting Diya(s) and decorating home with blinking electric lamps,
bursting firecrackers,
trying Diwali remedies to gain wealth,
visiting relatives and family friends,
distributing sweets, dry-fruits and gifts,
calling distant family members, relatives and friends to exchange Diwali wishes are the most common activities during Diwali.
Diwali Regional Variance
Diwali celebrations are more extravagant in north Indian states. In South India like Holi, Diwali is a not as spectacular as that of North India. If one wants to enjoy spectacular fire-work at night then Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai are the most suitable metros to be in during Diwali.

Diwali celebrations are moderate in Chennai and Kolkata. In Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Narak Chaturdashi is more significant than Lakshmi Puja and in Kolkata, West Bengal, devotees worship Goddess Kali rather than Goddess Lakshmi on the third day of Diwali.

Diwali Public Life
Most of the public places function as normal during Diwali. On the eve of Diwali most restaurants, pubs, metro trains, buses, taxies, cinema halls and shops, emergency and critical services at hospitals function as normal. However, at most commercial places more than half of the staff would be on leave.

As most businessmen perform Chopda Puja and Lakshmi Puja on the day of Diwali, most shops and private offices are open due to this reason. Stock Exchanges in India, although being closed due to Diwali holiday, are opened only for an hour for Muhurat trading in the evening. Muhurat trading is a symbolic ritual which is considered auspicious among traders and getting performed for years now.

For most big and small businesses Diwali, like Christmas in western countries, is the peak season when maximum sales are record. Many Bollywood blockbusters are planned and released during Diwali.

However Diwali, being marked as Gazette Holidays, all government offices and closed. Most schools and colleges are closed during Diwali.

In recently years, in most metros, time limit has been imposed for displaying and bursting the firework to curtail the noise pollution and for those who want to sleep peacefully on the night of Diwali. At most places either 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. time limit is imposed for bursting the firework.

Diwali in other Religions
Diwali is historically a Hindu religion festival having its origin in the Era of Lord Rama or probably even before that. However, Diwali is also celebrated in Sikhism and Jainism but for separate reasons. Sikh celebrates Diwali as Bandi Chhor Divas and Jain celebrates it as a day to commemorate Mahavir.

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Difference Between Eagle and Hawk

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Difference Between Eagle and Hawk
It’s hard to admit it but many are really confused about the real difference between an eagle and a hawk. People around the world just identify any huge flying bird to what they are accustomed in calling them. Nevertheless, if there is a popularity contest, the eagle will surely win by a landslide as more people know about the term eagle compared to the hawk. But little did these individuals know that there really are some differences between the two, it’s just difficult to pinpoint the disparity by just taking a glimpse of these birds at a far distance.

Eagles and hawks are raptors (birds of prey) that belong to the family Accipitridae. There are around 60 species of eagles and more than 250 species of hawks that can be found on all continents except on the Antarctica. Eagles and hawks inhabit forests, grasslands, alpine meadows, tundra, deserts, sea coasts, suburban and urban areas. Both eagles and hawks are diurnal birds (active during the day). They hunt and eat different types of animals. Despite many common features, eagles and hawks can be differentiated from each other by:

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Body Size and Morphology
Eagles are usually larger that hawks. Typical eagle weighs 18 pounds, while large species of hawks rarely exceed weight of 8 pounds. Red-tailed hawk is an exception. It is much bigger than the Australian little eagle (species of small eagle). Eagles are generally stronger. They have heavily-built, muscular body, hooked beak, curved talons and very strong legs. Their hind talon is especially strong and well-developed to facilitate gripping and transport of heavy prey. Hawks have curved beak and very sharp talons. Legs of both eagles and hawks are at least partially covered with feathers.
Wingspan
Eagles have a wingspan of 8 feet, while most hawks have a wingspan of less than 5 feet. Hawks can soar for long period of time thanks to their long, broad wings and wide tail.
Color of the Body and Beak
Eagles are usually covered with golden, blackish-gray and brown feathers and have yellowish or light-colored beak. Hawks often have grey or reddish-brown plumage on the back and white feathers on the chest and belly. Their beak is dark-colored.
Hunting Technique
Both eagles and hawks have keen eyesight which facilitates detection of food. Eagles fly and hunt their prey in the air and carry it in the claws to the nearest perch where they will tear it apart and eat. Hawks often hide in the trees until potential prey appears. Once the prey is detected, hawks rapidly leave their perches and attack by using the element of surprise.
Diet
Eagles hunt larger prey such as snakes, medium-sized vertebrates and mammals and other birds. Sea eagles hunt fish and marine creatures. Hawks hunt and eat rats, mice, gophers, rabbits and large insects. They do not consume fish.
Sound
Eagles produce subtle screams, while hawks produce high-pitched screeching noise.
Eggs
Most species of eagles lay 2 eggs in the nest located in the tall trees or on the cliffs. Older chick often kills its sibling to ensure more food for itself. Hawks lay 2 to 7 eggs in the nest on the cliffs, hills, trees or occasionally on the ground. Both parents take care and provide food for their chicks.

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If You Are A Nail Biter You Probably Have This Personality Trait

If You Are A Nail Biter You Probably Have This Personality Trait

Ever wondered exactly why we bite our nails and why it is so darn hard to make it STAHPPP?

Well, researchers from the University of Montreal now have the answers as to why and apparently it’s related to our personalities.

The experiment, which sampled 48 nail biting obsessed peeps revealed that nail biting is more likely to occur in ordinary situations rather than stressful ones. Who would have known…

Dr. Kieron O’Connor, the main author of the study stated, “We believe that individuals with these repetitive behaviours may be perfectionistic, meaning that they are unable to relax and to perform task at a ‘normal’ pace.”

Sounds about right don’t it? No wonder why we bite them so much whilst at work! Just trying to be perfect and all.

5 Little-Known Risks to Biting Your Nails

Nail biting may actually be harmful to you beyond the emotional effects. For instance…

1. Disease-Causing Bacteria

Your nails are an ideal location for bacteria to thrive, and that includes potentially pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli (which would love to call the underside of your nail tips home).

As you bite your nails, those bacteria easily transfer into your mouth and the rest of your body, where they may lead to infections. Your fingernails may actually be twice as dirty as your fingers,2 considering they’re difficult to keep clean, making this a prime point of transfer for infectious organisms.

Although I’m not aware of any research on this, it’s often suggested (anecdotally) that people who bite their nails have stronger immune systems, and therefore get sick less often, than those who do not.

One potential explanation for this is that nail biting may help introduce pathogens from your environment to your immune system, helping it to learn and build defenses, similar to what occurs when people eat their boogers.

2. Nail Infections

Nail biters are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails. As you chew your nails, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around your nail.

This painful condition may have to be drained surgically. Bacterial infections caused by nail biting are actually one of the most common nail problems, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).3

3. Warts Due to HPV Infections

Warts on your fingers caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, are common among chronic nail biters. (Here I’m referring to the types of HPV that cause warts on your hands, as opposed to those that lead to genital warts and, rarely, cervical cancer.) These warts can easily spread to your mouth and lips as you bite your nails.

4. Dental Problems

Nail biting can interfere with proper dental occlusion, or the manner in which your upper and lower teeth come together when you close your mouth.

Your teeth may shift out of their proper position, become misshapen, wear down prematurely, and become weakened if you bite your nails over time. The Academy of General Dentistry estimates that frequent nail biters may rack up $4,000 in additional dental bills over the course of their lifetime.4

5. Impaired Quality of Life

A study published this year found that people who chronically bite their nails report significantly higher quality of life impairment than those who do not.5

The level of impairment rises with time spent on nail biting, the number of involved fingernails and those who report visible nail abnormalities. Tension when trying to resist nail biting, suffering due to nail biting or nail-eating behavior also negatively influenced quality of life.

Is Nail Biting a Mental Disorder?

In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association decided to re-classify nail biting as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), along with other forms of “pathological grooming.”

If nail biting is taken to the extreme that it is significantly interfering with your life and causing you extreme emotional and physical pain, you could, perhaps, make a case for a psychiatric-disorder connection, but in the majority of cases this appears to be another case of disease mongering to sell more psychiatric drugs.

As reported in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy, most cases of nail biting in young adults does not appear to be the result of a psychiatric disorder but rather simple boredom or stress:

“Nail biting in young adults occurs as a result of boredom or working on difficult problems, which may reflect a particular emotional state. It occurs least often when people are engaged in social interaction or when they are reprimanded for the behavior.”

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Credit: Womens health.com and Dr Mercola articles

 

 

Teach Your Kids to Pick, Prepare and Pack Their School Lunch

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If kids help plan and prepare their school lunches, they’re more likely to eat them, an expert says.

Give children a list of choices in each of the main food groups — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy — and let them pick favorites in each category, Penn State University dietitian Kara Shifler suggested.

“This definitely takes time, but past third or fourth grade, they should be taking on some of the responsibility themselves. That will help them have more control over what they eat and be more experimental in the kitchen,” she said in a university news release.

Pre-planning a menu and shopping for the entire week will reduce how much time parents have to spend packing a healthy lunch on busy weekday mornings, Shifler said.

Her colleague, Dr. Marsha Novick, recommended packing a rainbow of fruits and vegetables.

“Look for things that are quick — that you can easily grab and put into baggies like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas. That can help with the time pressure we all face in the morning. It’s also helpful to pack some of it the night before,” said Novick, director of the pediatric weight loss program at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

Other healthy choices include dinner leftovers such as soup with vegetables and pasta with vegetables in the sauce, Novick said in the news release.

While a home-packed lunch is often best, school cafeterias now offer a fruit, vegetable, whole grain and low-fat dairy item at each meal.

“The key is to know what is on the menu for each day and discuss the choices with your child ahead of time,” Novick said.

Source: Medline Plus