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From food to finance, 9 life hacks from Life Kit experts

Life Kit editors share some of our favorite tips from our March episodes (clockwise from left): How to prevent eye strain, how to quickly get a messy house back in order and how to manage adult sibling relationships.
From left: We Are/Getty; Becky Harlan/NPR; Francesco Carta Fotografo/Getty; Collage by NPR
Life Kit editors share some of our favorite tips from our March episodes (clockwise from left): How to prevent eye strain, how to quickly get a messy house back in order and how to manage adult sibling relationships.

The great thing about working on Life Kit is that the editors and producers get to pick up all sorts of nifty life hacks that improve our daily lives, save money and enhance our relationships.

Here are nine expert tips from our March episodes we were most excited to share — and put into practice in our own daily lives.

Greek yogurt is a great source of protein. It has about 17 grams per ¾ cup serving. You can eat it plain, add sweet or savory toppings, or throw it into a smoothie. "It's super versatile and high in casein protein, which is slow to digest, which keeps you full while also promoting muscle protein synthesis," which is the process of building muscle mass, says nutrition and exercise scientist Rachele Pojednic, a researcher at Stanford Lifestyle Medicine.

Pack a dark-colored bath towel when traveling with a baby or toddler. "It's a blanket, it's for tidying up, it's a tablecloth, it's a sun cover, it shields bottoms from hot slides, it dries off swings. It's a multi-tasking powerhouse," says Life Kit listener Judith Heise.

Don't be swayed by seafood labels like 'wild caught' and 'farm raised' when buying fish. Just because a fish is "farm-raised," meaning it was raised in a pen or tank, doesn't mean it's sustainable. The same goes for a fish that is "wild-caught," or caught from its natural habitat. The most important factor is its impact on the environment, says Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly of Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif.

If you are in a lot of debt, call your creditors and see if they can lower your payments or your interest rate. Just explain your situation, says Monique White, a credit counselor and the head of community at Self Financial, Inc. Be kind and see what they might be able to do for you. Sometimes it's a lot.

If a business you don't expect to ask for a tip is suddenly asking you for a tip, what should you do? It's up to you to decide whether or not to tip and how much, but Shubhranshu Singh, a marketing professor at Johns Hopkins University, likes to leave a 10% tip. If an establishment is asking for a tip, it's often an indication that the workers there are not getting paid a minimum wage. So it's good to err on the side of leaving something.

To help prevent eye strain at your workspace, make sure the top of your computer screen is at or just below eye level. That way you're not positioning your head and neck at an uncomfortable angle. Increase your screen's contrast and match its brightness to the level of light around you, so your eyes don't have to work as hard to see the screen.

Quickly get a messy house back in order (with minimal effort). Go around the house with a trash bag and collect all the trash. Then go around andcollect all the dishes — like those water glasses on your bedside table — and put them in the sink. Then go around with a hamper and collect any dirty laundry.

Don't worry about actually taking out the trash, washing the dishes or doing the laundry until later when you have more energy.

Want to grow food but don't get a lot of light? Go for something leafy. Not every plant needs a ton of sun. Yolanda Burrell, owner of Pollinate Farm & Garden in Oakland, Calif, has a simple rule of thumb for sunlight: "If you pick the fruit off of the plant, then it needs more sun. If you're just eating the leaves, then you need less sun." So tomatoes, squash and cucumbers need sun to ripen. Leafy greens, not so much.

It's OK not to have a close relationship with your sibling. If you're hitting your head against the wall trying to figure out how to be super close, maybe it's best to lower your expectations. People often feen like they should have a "level of closeness" with their siblings, but those relationships don't "have to look any particular way," says Nedra Glover Tawwab, a licensed therapist and the author of Drama Free: A Guide to Managing Unhealthy Family Relationships.

A sibling relationship is more like a book that you're writing together, says Geoffrey Greif, co-author of the book Adult Sibling Relationships. That begins with asking, who am I in this story? What kind of sibling do I want to be?

The digital story was written by Malaka Gharib and edited by Clare Marie Schneider. The visual editor is Beck Harlan. We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us at

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