Friday, November 12, 2010

Simple Food for Busy Families

Several people have asked me for easy, healthy recipes. I'm kind of a wing-it person, so I'm always on the look-out for good websites or books to help with quick, easy cooking. I found one that's definitely a keeper. Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach is a fabulous resource with step-by-step instructions on how to turn your family's bad eating habits around. The first half of the book addresses everything from getting enough sleep to why it makes sense to eat seasonal food. Each section gives practical tips on how to implement changes slowly in your family's routine so that eventually you're eating better and feeling better.

The second half of the book is why you'll want to keep a copy in your kitchen. The authors describe basic kitchen tools, basic cooking techniques, give core pantry ingredients and great information about spices and herbs. With buying, storage and cooking instructions for veggies, beans, and grains this book is a one-stop resource for cooking whole foods. My favorite part is the Mix and Match section of recipes, so in a small space, they give you several options for everything from pasta sauces to smoothies.

You also get important tips such as which oils to use (stay away from solvent-extracted oils; use cold-pressed oils instead) and the best oils for specific purposes. And fun tips like the size of your stomach is about the size of both of your fists put together.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The GMO Campaign

Genetically modified organisms (GMO) were supposed to be the great savior of the world. GMO technology was touted as being the key to ending world hunger. It hasn't really turned out that way. Instead of ending world hunger, GMOs have the potential to plunge us into world-wide famine because the plethora of seeds used for crops world-wide are quickly being reduced to just a few engineered varieties.

GMOs have not been properly researched before being unleashed on the American public, and what research has been done is not favorable. Below is a set of four videos featuring Jeffrey M. Smith of The Institute for Responsible Technology. Each video is about 15 minutes long. They really are worth watching, even if you don't have time to watch all of them at one sitting.

Politics are mentioned in the video, but don't let that turn you off. He mentions both the (first) Bush and Obama administrations. This is a political issue, but not a partisan one.

While almost all processed food contains GMOs, most American's don't realize it. (I didn't realize it was so many items. I thought corn was the main culprit. It's corn, soy, rice, cotton, and sugar.) According to a survey cited by Mr. Smith when asked if they ate GMO foods, 60% of Americans said no and 15% said, "I don't know." So 75% of Americans don't know that they're eating GMOs in almost every meal.

The agriculture industry claims that the GM seeds are no different than non-GM seeds, yet they race to patent their GM seeds. We have to take back our food supply. It's already happened in Europe. Consumers refused to buy GMO foods and companies stopped putting GMOs in their foods. There is no reason we can't do it here. Mr. Smith acknowledges the economic disparities that keep some people from buying organic and/or local food, but points out that enough people CAN afford to do so to reach what he calls "the tipping point" at which the industry will realize that we will no longer stand back and let this happen.

Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:

Friday, October 22, 2010

What Do You Do If A Doctor Won't Listen To You?

So you've read books and websites and talked to friends and you go into your doctor's office with specific questions. But the doctor is only prepared to talk at you, not listen to you. What do you do then? Don't give up. I had an experience yesterday that made me so mad I was almost in tears. I posted it on my personal blog, then it occurred to me that this has probably happened to many people who are trying to take control of their own health. I know I posted it on facebook with the doctor's name and two other people who saw it have had trouble with this doctor. How many people that I don't know or who didn't see the facebook post have also had problems with him? And he's just one of many. So I'll repost here.

I was going to send a letter of complaint to the clinic (he's one of about 15 doctors), but I couldn't find a name of someone to send it to, so I used the email address listed for sending resumes. I have no idea who received my email or if anything will ever be said to the doctor, but I feel like I've done all I can do by reporting him to the insurance company (Did you know that if an insurance company receives enough complaints about a doctor, they'll drop them?) and the insurance company will file my report with the state.

Here's my original post:

The $40 Argument

I took Jeffrey to be tested for food sensitivities this morning. It didn’t happen. When I called to make the appointment, I specifically asked the receptionist (and yes, I realize she’s the receptionist, not a nurse or doctor) if they did blood testing for food sensitivities. I explained that I was not looking for a food *allergy* test, but a food *sensitivity* test. I told her I didn’t want to get in there and pay my $40 co-pay only to find out that they can’t do what I want. (Can you guess where this post is going?) She put me on hold and came back after a couple minutes and said that yes, they do blood testing for food sensitivities in the office, but the only treatment is avoidance. That was fine with me and certainly sounded like they knew what I was talking about. So I made the appointment.

My first clue that this visit might be a problem was when I had to print out the new-patient paperwork this morning because they didn’t mail it as promised. I didn’t realize until last night that we hadn’t received it. We got there five minutes before our appointment time (10 AM) and waited about 10 minutes in the waiting room. Then we waited until almost 10:40 to see the doctor. How can they be 40 minutes behind that early in the day? Anyway, I could tell right away that he was going to be difficult. Some doctors just can’t deal with patients (or their mothers) who dare to ask questions or have thoughts of their own. I tried to be polite and explain why I was there. After he made a few notes and checked Jeffrey’s ears, nose and throat, he sat down and said something like, “Most people don’t understand food allergies and food sensitivities.” I told him I do understand the difference and Jeffrey had a skin-prick test 4 years ago that said he was not allergic to anything. (An excruciating skin-prick test that had my child *climbing* up me to escape the needles. Short of him breaking out in hives, we are never repeating that experience.) And that since then I had seen no evidence to make me believe that he had developed any food allergies (or any other allergies). Then he goes on to tell me that food “sensitivity” tests are not scientific. Isn’t it funny how they seem to be accurate for so many kids, though? I mean, they stop eating the foods these unscientific tests say are a problem and they start feeling better.

Me: “So you’re saying you can’t help me. I specifically asked when I made the appointment if you do blood tests for food-sensitivity here so I wouldn’t pay my co-pay only to find out you can’t do what I want. So I’ve waited 40 minutes for you to come in here and tell me now that you can’t do it?”

Doctor: “You can’t expect the staff to know the difference between allergies and sensitivities.” Really? The staff at an allergist’s office doesn’t understand the terminology of allergies and sensitivities? And he was going to educate *me*?

Me: “Maybe you should educate your staff, then. If you can’t help me, we’re leaving. I’m sorry I wasted your time.”

Doctor: “You aren’t wasting my time.”

Me: “Well, you’re wasting mine.”

Doctor, as he jerks open the door: “You need to get a new attitude.” Probably, but I hadn’t said anything rude to him at that point, so this was really inappropriate.

Me: “No, I need to get a new doctor. And I want my co-pay back since I was told before I made the appointment that your office could do what I specifically asked about and now you tell me you can’t.”

Doctor: “You’re not getting your co-pay back after the significant time I spent with you.”

Me: “Significant time? I waited for you for 40 minutes and you were in there for 10 minutes. That’s NOT significant time.”

I left and came home and called the insurance company. Because I did have contact with him, it qualifies as an office visit and we (and they) have to pay. I did, however, file a complaint with the insurance company that will also be filed with the state. I will not mention the doctor’s name here because I’m not sure if there are any legal ramifications of saying something like this about someone in public. These days, who knows? If you’re in the Atlanta area, and you want to avoid this doctor in the future, you can email me (you can email me through my profile) and I’ll give you his name privately.

It’s not that I couldn’t bend him to my will, although Jedi mind tricks would have been handy. It was his rude, patronizing attitude through the whole visit. When are doctors going to acknowledge that you don’t have to be a medical professional to have a brain?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Asperger's and A New Blog

We just found out that my 8-year-old has Asperger's Syndrome. I happen to believe it can be cured. I've started a blog and if you or someone you know has an Aspie child, you may be interested in checking it out. The program I found is also helpful for autism, OCD, Tourette's, dyslexia, ADHD, and other neurological disorders. Head on over and check it out. And feel free to share if you know someone who may be interested.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Can You Pinch an Inch?

Do you remember those Special K commercials? Those ads have haunted me for years and I've been skinny most of my life. I can't imagine how they affected people who weren't thin. Even now, I'm in excellent shape, not from dieting, but from exercise and eating real food, but I can still "pinch an inch". On both sides. At the same time.

Pinch *this*, Special K!

I was trying to find the old Pinch an Inch commercial online, and ran across this post about a Special K billboard ad.

For years, Special K has focused their ads on making ordinary, healthy women believe that if they're not frighteningly skinny, then the only answer is to spend all day eating Special K products. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are to be SK cereals, shakes or snack bars. It's an excellent marketing strategy, but a poor health strategy. The third ingredient in Special K's original cereal is sugar. The fifth and six are salt and high fructose corn syrup (which is also sugar). I couldn't even bear to check the other variations, like Chocolate Delight. The Milk Chocolate Protein Shake contains sugar (third ingredient), as well as four other forms of sugar AND "nutritive sweeteners and non-nutritive sweeteners". The shake also contains soy protein isolate, which was approved in the late 70's as a binder and sealer for cardboard boxes, but has never been approved for human consumption. Somehow, through the magic of FDA loopholes, SPI has made its way into our food supply anyway. Special K is far from the only place you'll find it.

So we can be skinny if we load up on sugar and questionable chemicals? Special K has done women a huge disservice. I know that nothing has stuck with me like those ads from my childhood. I never became anorexic or even dieted, but that slogan was always in the back of my mind. I've always scoffed at all the articles and news stories that blamed the fashion and movie industry for making skinny look healthy and throwing young girls into dieting frenzies, because I believe that people are responsible for themselves and their own decisions. And Barbie dolls. Please. What five-year-old cares if she looks like Barbie? I still don't think Barbie is the devil-doll's spawn, but when you step back and look at all the messages we get from every side, it is rather overwhelming.

What can we do? As in everything else, it comes back to the money. As long as consumers are buying enough Special K (or SlimFast or fill-in-the-blank-weight-loss-product) to keep them in business, companies will continue to produce the products. And advertise to sell them. Because the ads are working. But, the truth is all around us if we'll just pay attention. All the yo-yo and fad diets don't make us healthy, and usually cause more problems than they solve. (If they work at all.) It all comes back to a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and eating real food. Being skinny isn't the ultimate goal. Being healthy is. Overweight people who exercise are healthier than sedentary skinny people. So forget the sugary cereal, eat something truly healthy, quit watching those stupid TV ads and go exercise.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


As I was browsing my favorite cookbook for ideas for supper tonight, I realized I had put the wrong title in my last post. I said I absolutely love the cookbook, then went on to call it How to Cook Absolutely Everything. And, that my friends, is what happens when you write late at night. The actual title is How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food. What's sad is the book was right beside me when I wrote the post last night. :-O

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Garbage In, Garbage Out

There are so many factors that affect our health; some beyond our control. Some would say what we eat is completely within our control. Unfortunately, that's not the case. I'll explain why and give a few suggestions on what you can do to make your food a little healthier.

The first step is to eat as much real food as you can. I'm not just talking about Twinkies vs. apples. (Though you may want to rethink eating something that's expected to survive a nuclear attack.) Most of the food in your grocery store isn't food at all. It isn't grown on a farm or raised in a pasture. It's made in a factory. I know it's cheap. I know it's convenient. But any money you save when buying faux food is almost always lost to medical bills. Our bodies just aren't made to live on chemicals with a vitamin thrown in here and there. If the package says the product is "enriched", that's a red flag. You never see anything in the produce section claiming to be "enriched". That's because produce "as part of a balanced diet" (as many products like to proclaim) is perfect just the way it is. Naturally. Messing with nature never ends well. Never.

As for convenience, there are solutions to that, too. However, if you just hate to cook, I really have no suggestions. Because eating real food involves actual cooking. (Unless you're a raw foodist, but I digress.) There are ways to make it faster and easier, though. Find a couple of good cookbooks. I have one that I absolutely love. How to Cook Absolutely Everything by Mark Bittman. And he ain't kidding. Aside from telling you how to cook everything from chicken stock to brownies, he has hundreds of recipes that take 30 minutes or less to fix. He believes that everyone can cook real, healthy food and he proceeds to tell you how in detail. (Not everyone will, of course. And I said "healthy" food, as in from real ingredients, not "health" food as in tofu... which is actually a topic for another post, but it'll wait.) Obviously you don't want to eat brownies and cookies every night, but they really do taste better when you cook them yourself and know exactly what your family is eating. I'm sure there are similar cookbooks out there; when I find them, I'll share them with you. Just beware of cookbooks that use faux food as ingredients. (Like Cream of Anything soup...Campbell's originated those types of recipes to manufacture a market for their soups.)

Next, be aware of where your food comes from. I watched Food, Inc and while I had heard most of the information in bits and pieces, it was very eye-opening to see where our food comes from these days. I really encourage you to watch the film yourself. Even if you feel, as my husband does, that there is nothing you can do about it, so why have those images in your head? Because you can do more than you think. The meat you buy at the grocery store and at the fast food restaurant doesn't come from animals raised on a farm. The animals are raised in crowded, unsanitary feed lots (or in the case of chickens, crowded, unsanitary, windowless chicken houses). They're fed the cheapest thing possible, which is usually corn. ALL the animals are fed corn. Even cows, who are made to eat grass. They can't digest corn properly, which is what led to the lovely E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. It literally didn't exist before the widespread feeding of corn to cattle. And it doesn't take much to cause a problem. In the 70’s there 1,000’s of slaughter houses in the US. Now there are 13 slaughter houses where almost all our food comes from. One hamburger will be made from the meat of thousands of cows, so one bad “apple” literally can ruin the whole bunch.

Even when the USDA makes an attempt to regulate, they run into obstacles. In 1998, the USDA implemented testing for salmonella & Ecoli. The idea was that if a plant repeatedly failed the tests, the USDA would shut them down. Courts ruled that the USDA couldn’t do that. So who’s protecting us? If cows were taken off their corn diets and fed grass, within 5 days, they would shed 80% of the E. coli bacteria. But the industry isn’t willing to do that. Instead, they use an ammonia bath to clean the meat.

Did you ever stop to wonder how Tyson and the other chicken companies make all those chickens the same size? Or did you just assume that maybe they do something else with those that aren't a certain size. Cut them up into those legs or breasts, maybe. The truth is that scientists have figured out how to manufacture chickens. Because of the "great scientific breakthroughs" chickens are now slaughtered at half the age they were 50 years ago, but they weigh twice as much. Because people like breasts, chickens have been redesigned to have bigger breasts. They have been engineered so every chicken in every chicken house grows to almost exactly the same size.

The pork industry isn't any better. The Smithfield pork plant in Tar Heel, NC is the largest slaughterhouse in the world. Even being located in an economically depressed area, they have to bus workers in from a 100-mile radius because of the atrocious working conditions. They’ve already run through all the local workers who are willing to work there. If they don’t care about the workers – who are handling your food – what makes you think they care about how clean your food is?

And of course, we all know about the pesticides on the produce.

While there are ways to reduce food costs, like planting your own food or buying at a Farmer’s Market, they’re not available to everyone. Many people have to choose between buying a little bit of healthy food or buying enough food to feed their family – even if it means buying junk. The biggest predictor of obesity is income level. Many people have to choose between paying for medication or buying healthy food. If we would spend more on healthy food early on, when we’re still able, the cost of food would be offset by lower medical expenses. Yes, that may be over-simplifying in some cases, but think about how much more disposable income you had before you started a family. Now think about how much you spent on eating out or buying junk food at the grocery store. Now look at your current health. If you've been eating junk all your life and you're still healthy, congratulations. Really. You're one of the few. Most of us have abused our bodies for years and we're paying the price now.

The current industrial food system is not working and it’s getting worse. The ultimate answer is changing laws and regulations. The way we get there is buying organic when you can, buying locally grown when you can, buying 100% grass-fed beef and farm-raised chickens when you can. If you can’t, do the best you can with what you have. Just being aware is the first step.

Companies are paying attention and they’re going to follow the money. Every time you buy healthy food, not only are you improving your health, but you’re telling manufacturers, farmers and the government that you want real food.

We’ve become a culture who is disconnected from the origins of our food. Chicken doesn’t come “from the grocery store.” It started out somewhere else. Most likely someplace you would prefer to never see..

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Knockout: Interviews with Doctors Who Are Curing Cancer and How to Prevent Getting It in the First Place

Whether you get this book from the library, from (for free, although you may have to wait a while for it), or buy it (I suggest or Amazon to avoid paying full price), you want to check out this book. There is a lot of great information in here and it will probably make you mad. The gist of it is that doctors know that the traditional methods of cancer treatment don't work. But they don't know any other way. The medical schools are funded by pharmaceutical companies, so the doctors are trained from the beginning to prescribe drugs to treat symptoms. They're not taught to find the cause or to treat it naturally. Most doctors are good people, who want to help, but they are coming at it from the wrong direction.
The doctors in this book are all using different methods to treat and cure cancer, but they all revolve around proper nutrition.

The one thing all the doctors agree on is that sugar(as in the over-processed white stuff most of us know as sugar) is bad for your body and especially bad if you have cancer. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are a definite no-no.

Suzanne Somers, the author of the book, has a list of resources available on her website. Go to her Knockout page and click on Doctor Resource Guide. You may want to check out the other information in the .pdf file, but starting on page 46 of the document, you'll find the "Integrative Health Care Practitioners Providing Support for Cancer Prevention During Cancer Treatment and/or Remission".

Video: Can you be fat and fit?

While there are still health risks associated with obesity, studies show that getting 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week can dramatically reduce your chance of disease. Overweight, active people can actually be healthier than skinny, sedentary people.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Sugar

Leptin is the hormone that tells us that we're full and to stop eating. Sugar (in any form) has an adverse effect on leptin levels. Basically, sugar turns off the mechanism that tells you when to stop eating. Also, cancer cells feed on sugar, so by cutting out the sugar, you're decreasing your chances of getting cancer.
Here's an article that explains leptin in more detail.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Greed: Robbing America's Health

This is a preview for a movie produced by Burton Goldberg. Goldberg is the editor and publisher of Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide.

Sugar:The Bitter Truth

You know those ads that say that high fructose corn syrup is just as good for you as sugar? Turns out they're right... and neither one is good for you. Not only do they contribute to obesity and diabetes, but cancer cells feed on sugar.