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In order to preserve medical-grade personal protective equipment for health care workers, many people are starting to produce homemade face masks for themselves.

Though they’re not as effective in a hospital setting, Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., said cloth masks can help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets in the general public. So whether you’re an expert seamstress or a novice, it might be time to make one.

We rounded up a few patterns and tutorials for making face masks at home, with or without a sewing machine.

With a sewing machine. 

While patterns of dresses, quilts, and old Halloween costumes might be collecting in your craft drawer, you most likely don’t have any surgical mask patterns lying around. 

Thankfully, there are several free patterns to choose from online, like this standard pleated face mask from craft blogger Sarah Maker, or this cloth health care mask with a special filter pocket, from North Memorial Health Hospital in Minnesota. 

Both masks require cotton weave fabric, elastic or hair ties, thread, fabric scissors (regular scissors will also work), and a needle or a sewing machine. They also each provide YouTube tutorials to guide you through the process. Article continues below

Without a sewing machine. 

If learning to sew is your new quarantine hobby, but you’re not advanced enough to own a sewing machine, don’t worry. It’s possible to make a DIY cloth mask using a needle, some thread, and your own two hands. 

This homemade version from PopSci takes about an hour and half to put together. Materials include non-woven polypropylene (your reusable grocery bags are most likely made of this fabric), ribbon, and pipe cleaners. If you don’t have non-woven polypropylene on hand, a cotton weave fabric could also work. 

For an even more simplified version, Today shared their step-by-step guide to a no-sew mask. All it requires is a square piece of fabric (at least 20 inches by 20 inches), a few rounds of folding, and two elastic or rubber bands.

To get a visual rundown of that technique, watch this video from the traditional Japanese crafts blog Japanese Creations.

Just remember, if you are wearing cloth masks, wash them regularly with hot water and soap, and this doesn’t replace the best practices like regular hand-washing and social distancing.



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Seriously, stop skipping the most important meal of the day.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” may sound like an old wives’ tale at this point, but some time-honored beliefs are worth the hype.In order to avoid potential brain-fog induced by low-blood sugar, you need breakfast. Starting off the day with a full, nutrient-dense meal also allows you to keep making better choices throughout the day, including zapping those late-night snack cravings.

Here are our top guidelines to make your breakfast that much more delicious (and nutritious):

Eat breakfast every day (no exceptions!): A large body of evidence consistently supports the idea that consuming breakfast leads to better overall health and a lower body mass index (BMI). Research suggests that you’re likely to burn more calories throughout the day after having a big breakfast, while skipping breakfast is linked to burning fewer calories throughout the day — negating any weight-loss benefit of taking in fewer calories to begin with.

Skip the sugary stuff: Cereals, granola, oatmeal, bars, bagels, and juice tend to be code words for sugar, which can set you up for an energy crash and ultimately overeating later on in the day. Look for cereals that are in the single digits for added sugar, breakfast bars that are under 4 grams of added sugar per serving, and unsweetened dairy products. Most importantly, steer clear of sugary beverages, which often include sweetened coffee and tea drinks.

Choose lean protein: Prioritize eggs, seafood, unsweetened dairy products (like yogurt), poultry, legumes, beans, and lean cuts of beef and pork, and minimize your intake of processed deli meats.

Power up with produce: Try adding leftover veggies to eggs for a satisfying breakfast combo (plan ahead by making extra at dinner!); add more vegetables to omelets; or grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door. More produce equals more fiber, which can help you stay fuller, longer.

When in doubt, make it bigger:Breakfast should contain at least 300-350 calories for most of us, and you should be chewing, not drinking, your morning meal. (Sipping calories instead of eating them can make you feel less full and more ravenous for your next meal.)

A good breakfast should combine protein, stick-to-your-ribs fat, and some fiber-filled carbs. This is your key to feeling satisfied, energized, and not ready to eat your stapler by lunch. To make any of the breakfast combos suggested below heartier, up the veggies and/or fruit — these are unlimited as far as I’m concerned, especially at breakfast.

If you’re already a breakfast eater and you know that adding more veggies and fruit isn’t going to make you feel more satisfied, then it’s pretty likely that you’re not getting enough protein at breakfast. Add an extra egg, more nuts or nut butter, or some leftover chicken — you get the picture.

Porridge with berries in a bowl


Oats are one of the best foods we can eat for a number of reasons. As a 100% whole-grain, they’re filled with fiber, plant-based protein, B-vitamins, and minerals, including iron, calcium, and magnesium. They’ve been linked to reduced risk of heart disease thanks to a type of fiber called beta-glucan that has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. This fiber also fuels for your body’s probiotics, helping friendly bacteria to survive and thrive.Eggs

toast with avocado, spinach and fried egg


Full of vitamins A, D, and B12, eggs are an inexpensive and nutrient-dense ingredient. Two large eggs contain more than 50% of the choline you need each day, which affects memory, mood, and muscle control. Just one egg has about 8 grams of protein as well. Nearly everything in our bodies requires protein, such as our skin, blood, and bones. Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, keeping you fuller, longer. Make breakfast a combo of filling fiber and lean protein, like scrambled eggs on whole-grain toast with sliced tomato or a spinach-broccoli-mushroom omelet. Or grab a couple of hard-boiled eggs if you’re on the go.Seeds

Chia seeds pudding


Sesame, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, flax … The list of great-for-you seeds goes on. Add them to cereal, smoothies, puddings, and even baked goods. Just 1 ounce can contain 10 grams of protein! The zinc, magnesium, iron, and calcium in seeds will help you stay healthy and boost immunity. Seeds also contain soluble fiber that can help lower your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) while increasing “good” cholesterol (HDL). The combination of protein and fiber is really optimal when it comes to preventing a blood sugar spike (and subsequent crash).Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Whole-Grain Waffles

Savory gluten free breakfast waffles on a blue background, top view. Vegetarian food concept


Frozen waffles are an easy, delicious swap for toast. Look for water or 100% whole grains as the first ingredient, and keep the added sugar content as low as possible. Kashi Whole-Grain Waffles are filled with fiber and protein and contain just 3 grams of sugar for two. Use them as for sandwich bread with eggs or top with 2 tablespoons of nut butter, cinnamon, and chocolate chips for a treat. Van’s’ 8 Whole Grains version tastes similar.Unsweetened Greek Yogurt

Spoonful Of Yogurt


Unsweetened plain Greek yogurt and skyr both provide probiotic benefits. Choose ones that have five strains or more of bacterial cultures per 6-ounce serving. It’s also a great choice if you’re aiming for lower-sugar breakfasts but still like a sweet flavor in the morning — just add fruit! Greek yogurt is full of calcium and many versions get fortified with vitamin D. It also merits an A+ for its high protein content. Our Nutrition Lab loves Siggi’s (all flavors), Fage Unsweetened Greek Yogurt, and Clio Bars (chocolate-coated and super-filling).Bananas

Directly Above Shot Of Bananas Over Beige Background


Bananas help you fill up and come in their own portable packaging. The folate and vitamin B6 in bananas aid in the production of serotonin, which can help improve mood and reduce anxiety. The soluble fiber will also help lower cholesterol by removing it from your GI tract and preventing it from moving into your bloodstream (i.e., clogging your arteries). For an extra heart-healthy boost, slice bananas on top of morning oats with a tablespoon of chia seeds or walnuts.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Black Tea or Coffee

Coffee Brewing


There’s a slew of studies that link the antioxidants and caffeine found in unsweetened tea and coffee to health benefits, including decreased risk of chronic disease and weight management. Black coffee or tea is always a zero-calorie choice. My pro tip: Drink 16 ounces of water or unsweetened tea or coffee before you head out the door in the morning. This will help you get a head start on your hydration goals for the day and ensure you’re making up for overnight losses.
Skim Lattes



This is the one exception to the whole “don’t drink your calories at breakfast” rule. By making a large (16 ounces and up) latte a part of your breakfast, you’re getting around 13 grams of protein! It’s a great solution when you’re pinched for time. Since milk is 80% water but also contains minerals such as calcium and potassium, it can help you hydrate with both fluid and electrolytes. Skip flavored syrups, sugar, caramel, or deceptive calorie bombs in pre-sweetened drinks. Choose coffeebased beverages like café au laits, lattes, or mistos with low-fat milk or unsweetened plant-based alternatives, like soy milk.100% Whole-Grain Toast

seed bread, a slice cut on white background


Whole grains provide antioxidant benefits, protecting your tissues from harmful, inflammation-causing damage. Plus, they’re loaded with minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron — key to your overall immunity and heart health. The B vitamins found in whole grains also help your body convert food into energy.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below


Avocado halves and whole on a blue speckle, top viev.


These fruits have a unique mix of heart-healthy fats, water, and dietary fiber. That combo enhances feelings of fullness, making you less likely to overeat throughout the rest of the day. A winning breakfast combo? Avocado toast, which packs B vitamins and minerals from both avocado and whole grains. (Bonus points if you put an egg on it for extra protein!). The unsaturated fats in avocado are also linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, lifestyle-related cancers, and diabetes.Nuts and Nut Butter

Glass bowl with peanut butter on wooden background


What can’t peanut butter do?! It contains 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving plus heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Tree nuts and peanuts in general (like GH Nutritionist Approved Hampton Farms Peanuts) have been linked to reduced risk of chronic disease and weight loss or maintenance. Look for nut butters made from only nuts and salt with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving, though brands that use oil as a stabilizer are okay, too. Nut butter packs we love: Justin’sBarney Butter, and Wild Friends. As for nut-based bars, choose ones made from 100% real food ingredients in the 110-250 calorie range.Berries

Wild berries in bowl


Just a cup of blueberries can pack up to 9 grams of fiber and 50% of your vitamin C needs for just 60 calories. The antioxidants found in berries (including raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries) also have cell-protecting properties.Eating more of these foods can help protect your blood vessels from harmful plaque and have a circulation-boosting effect. If you’re not as keen on berries, citrus fruit, apples, stone fruit, and melon are all great alternatives. They’re filled with potassium to help balance blood pressure and mitigate bloat.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Sweet Potatoes

Breakfast bowl close up with sweet potato, egg, avocado and spinach


Just one medium-sized sweet potato provides almost 400% of your daily vitamin A. Its orange-flesh is rich in beta-carotene, which is crucial for immunity. A single sweet potato also contains 15% of our daily recommended fiber intake, which can lower LDL cholesterol levels and boost your GI health. Use sweet potato as a swap for your usual morning bread, bagel, or muffin.Part-Skim Cheese

Fresh cottage cheese with fresh strawberries, healthy breakfast concept


Just one piece of part-skim mozzarella can add 8 grams of protein (that’s the same as one egg!) to your breakfast. A half cup of lower-sodium cottage cheese can pack up to 20 grams. Dairy also provides calcium, magnesium, and potassium that’ll aid in reducing bloat, balancing blood pressure, and helping you stay energized. Use around 1⁄3 cup of cheese as the main source of protein in the meal; use 1⁄4 cup if it’s for adding flavor (e.g., an omelet).Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast Burrito with Scrambled Eggs


Breakfast is tricky, so having something on hand that’s quick to prepare and easy to eat while you commute, apply mascara, or dial-in to a conference call is crucial. Look for frozen sandwiches made from real, whole food ingredients, like Sweet Earth’s Get Focused Breakfast Burrito or Amy’s Gluten Free Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap. Aim for a minimum of 4 grams of protein and fiber a piece (the more, the better!) and try to cap sodium at less than 500 mg. Check labels for the good stuff: 100% whole grains, veggies, and eggs. They should contain least 300 calories a pop, and stay as low in saturated fat and added sugar as possible.Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

How to Organize a Complete Breakfast, Fast

Oatmeal porridge bowl with blueberries, cranberries and almonds


Some of my favorite breakfast-in-a-hurry options are combos of these delicious foods — especially since the idea of “making” breakfast can sound daunting (compared to the idea of simply organizing it,right?). Here are some ideas from my book, Dressing on the Side:

• 2 frozen 100% whole-grain waffles with 1 tablespoon peanut butter, plus 1 cup berries

• 2 eggs on a slice of 100% whole-grain toast with 1⁄2 of an avocado and 1⁄2 cup tomatoes; add salt and pepper to taste

• 1⁄2 to 1 cup cooked oatmeal with 1⁄2 cup milk of choice, plus 2-3 tablespoons mixed nuts (or 1-2 tablespoons nut butter), plus 1 piece of fruit

• 1⁄2 to 1 cup Greek yogurt with 1–2 cups berries of choice, plus 2 tablespoons of nuts

• 1⁄2 to 1 roasted (or nuked!) sweet potato with 1⁄2 tablespoon nut butter, plus sliced apple/pear/banana

• Last night’s leftover veggies, plus 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 100% whole-grain English muffin with 1 ounce cheese and sliced tomatoes, plus seasoning to taste


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thermometer reading

If you have a cough, fever, or shortness of breath, how can you tell if you’ve got Covid-19, a common cold, the ordinary flu, or a bad case of the worries? Should you get tested? When should you seek medical care —and when should you just stay home?

Two of us (M.H. and M.W.) are primary care doctors who have received numerous calls from concerned patients with symptoms such as cough, fevers, or shortness of breath. Those calls prompted us — with the help of several colleagues — to develop a simple self-triage tool to help individuals decide when to treat their symptoms safely at home and when to seek medical help. One of the most important things each of us can do during the ongoing pandemic is to free up medical providers to concentrate on the seriously ill.

First the good news: The vast majority — perhaps 80% or more — of people who come down with Covid-19, especially those under 50, will suffer symptoms that are no more serious than a bad cold or a mild flu and will be better within two weeks. There is no need to seek testing or go to a doctor’s office. A test result won’t change your medical care because there is no treatment at this time other than the usual recommendations for any cold or flu: drink plenty of liquids, rest, stay home, and try over-the-counter remedies. (A test will, however, alert you to be extra careful not to infect others.)

In some people, though, Covid-19 is a more serious illness, particularly among the elderly and those with chronic conditions. That’s why the current outbreak must be taken so seriously.Related: 

Our team at the Gehr Family Center for Health Systems Science and Innovation at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, in partnership with Akido Labs, developed a triage tool to help guide patients. It’s available online for anyone to use. This tool will help most people effectively manage mild and moderate symptoms of Covid-19 at home.

We have also compiled the general advice and tips for self-care at home below.

Caring for yourself at home with Covid-19

Although the news reports about Covid-19 are alarming, reports from China, Italy, the U.S., and elsewhere indicate that for most people, infection with the novel coronavirus is on par with getting the flu. These steps can help you know if you need formal medical care and, if not, how to care for yourself safely at home.

Know when to seek medical care. The reasons to seek immediate care today are no different than they were before the Covid-19 outbreak. The severe symptoms listed in the table below suggest that you need medical attention. Otherwise, if you have a fever and cough or other cold or flu symptoms, but are otherwise healthy, are under age 60, aren’t having difficulty breathing, and don’t feel seriously ill, you’re better off caring for yourself at home.

Severe symptoms that suggest the need for medical attention (please note that this is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but provides general guidance)

Consider calling an expert (e.g. your primary doctor) for guidance if you:Considering seeking urgent medical attention (call 911 if appropriate) if you:
Feel dehydrated or produce little urine even though you are drinking plenty of fluidsExperience shortness of breath (difficulty breathing) at rest or with simple activity
Experience symptoms associated with Covid-19 like cough and fever AND you are over age 60 or have a chronic medical condition like diabetes, heart disease, or lung diseaseHave chest pain
Have symptoms and were in direct contact with someone known to be infected with Covid-19 (you might be a candidate for Covid-19 testing)Become confused or light-headed
Have any other worrisome symptom for which you typically would call 911

Don’t go straight to a doctor’s office or urgent care. Start by calling a medical advice line or a telemedicine option instead. It’s wise these days to stay away from crowded places, and that includes emergency departments, hospitals, doctors’ offices, urgent care centers, and clinics — unless you are seriously ill. These are places where you could pick up the coronavirus if you don’t have it, or spread your batch to other people.

Many health plans have 800 numbers with nurses or doctors on call to answer questions by phone, as do some doctors’ offices. Look at your insurance card and make the call. Some clinics are conducting video visits, also known as telemedicine. If you call an advice line first, you can often get the guidance you need without spreading infection or unnecessarily exhausting yourself.

Save testing for those sick enough to need hospitalization. Testing for Covid-19 will not change your medical care because there is no treatment available or necessary for mild symptoms. (People with serious symptoms, such as difficulty breathing, should get supportive care in the hospital.) Tests are currently in short supply and are being prioritized for those who have severe symptoms or who have been exposed to someone diagnosed with Covid-19. If you do not fall into one of those two categories, resist the urge to request testing unless public health officials encourage you to get tested for tracking purposes. (We know as we write this that the indications for testing may loosen in the days ahead as testing supplies increase.)Related: 

Practice self-care. Viral infections are dehydrating. Drink plenty of liquids. Pedialyte and soups that contain salt are helpful, as are plain water, tea, juice, and soda. Drink enough so your urine is its normal pale color and you produce as much urine as you usually put out. Note: Not urinating normally is a sign you may need medical attention. If you have special dietary restrictions due to diabetes, kidney disease, heart failure, or other condition, get medical advice by phone or email about the fluids that are best for you.

Some over-the-counter medications may help. As anyone who has experienced a cold knows, over-the-counter remedies tend to provide only limited relief, and some may have side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, and raised blood pressure. Try flushing out your nose and sinuses with saline solution. Fever-reducers and pain medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) can help, and honey can be an effective cough remedy. There is anecdotal evidence that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or naproxen may make Covid-19 worse, though more research is needed.

If you have one or more chronic medical conditions, seek telephone advice from an expert to make sure you choose a treatment that is safe for you.

Don’t ask for antibiotics. Antibiotics do not work for viral illnesses like Covid-19. They also often cause side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, and rashes.

Get plenty of rest. Infections stress the body. Lots of rest — including sleep — will help keep your immune system strong so it can devote itself to ridding your body of the virus.

Separate yourself from others to prevent the virus from spreading. If you have the symptoms of a cold or the flu, play it safe and act as if you have Covid-19. Wear a face mask when in a room with others and if you must leave the house. Avoid close interactions with others for 14 days.

Follow the advice of public health authorities. Even for those who aren’t ill, social distancing will avoid fueling this pandemic. Please heed the advice of your local officials.

This is a scary moment in history. No one should be faulted for feeling anxious. Most people with viral illnesses — including Covid-19 — can be cared for effectively in their own homes without seeking formal medical care and will recover within two weeks. But it’s also important to know when to seek expert care.

We hope that our simple tool for self-triage and general advice and tips for self-care at home can ease some of the anxiety. and help you take the best care of yourself and your loved ones without putting yourself or others at unnecessary risk.


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