Category Archives: Random Rants

Don’t Ignore A Food Intolerance!


One of the biggest differences between food allergies and food intolerances is that allergies usually cause more severe symptoms that cannot be ignored while intolerances tend to cause milder symptoms.  Because these milder symptoms seem to not cause any significant harm, people can make the grave mistake of ignoring them.

If it’s not causing your throat to close up it can’t really hurt you right?

WRONG!

One of the biggest risks of untreated food intolerances is chronic inflammation.  If you are regularly consuming something that your body can’t digest properly, your immune system will create a state of chronic, low level inflammation.  Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, behavioural problems in children, depression, and many more health problems.  Undiagnosed food intolerances are one of the causes of chronic inflammation.  Some causes are unavoidable (stress, pollution, etc) but a food intolerance is definitely something you can treat in order to reduce the amount of chronic inflammation you have in your body.  You just need willpower.

Ask yourself: is the regular enjoyment of a particular food worth a chronic, crippling disease in the long run? Is it worth aging faster than you need to? Is your child’s need to enjoy a particular food greater than her need for lifelong health?

Another major problem with undiagnosed food intolerances is insufficient absorption of nutrients.  If your digestive system can’t break a food down properly, then your body can’t absorb all of the nutrients from that food.  Malnutrition has an even longer list of health problems than chronic inflammation.  You could eat all the healthy food you want but if you’re not able to digest it then what’s the point?

Now for all of you paranoid hypochondriacs out there, there is no need to go and eliminate gluten, dairy, and eggs for no reason.  Make sure that you actually have a food intolerance before eliminating an entire food group from your diet.  Get tested if you can, keep a food journal along with a symptom journal, and/or try an elimination diet.  And don’t forget to consider any nutritional “holes” you may be creating in your diet by removing a certain food.  Make sure you are able to get any lost nutrients from other food sources or consider supplementation as a last resort.  Seek help from a nutritionist if you find it difficult to figure out what you should and should not eat.

Lastly, find other foods that you enjoy equally as much as the one you had to eliminate, because being miserable isn’t good for your health either!

References
 1. Blasko, I., Stampfer-Kountchev, M., Robatscher, P., Veerhuis, R., Eikelenboom, P. and Grubeck-Loebenstein, B. (2004), How chronic inflammation can affect the brain and support the development of Alzheimer’s disease in old age: the role of microglia and astrocytes. Aging Cell, 3: 169–176. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9728.2004.00101.x
2.  Leonard, Brian E. Inflammation, Depression and Dementia: Are they Connected? Neurochemical Research, 2007, Volume 32, Number 10, Page 1749
3.  W. Herbert Haught MDMichael Mansour MDRobert Rothlein Takashi K. Kishimoto Elizabeth A. Mainolfi BSJames B. Hendricks Claudia Hendricks MSJawahar L. Mehta MD. Alterations in circulating intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and L-selectin: Further evidence for chronic inflammation in ischemic heart disease. American Heart Journal.,July 1996, Vol.132(1):1–8, doi:10.1016/S0002-8703(96)90383-X
4.  Shacter E , Weitzman SA.  Laboratory of Immunology, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-4555, USA. shacter@cber.fda.gov.  Oncology (Williston Park, N.Y.) [2002, 16(2):217-26, 229; discussion 230-2]
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Eat Everything In Moderation: Truth, or Excuse? 

  

One of the most frustrating arguments that I hear from friends and family whom I try to persuade to eat healthier is that “everything in moderation is perfectly fine”.  But is it? 

The first problem with this reasoning is that everyone’s definition of moderation is different.  Eating a doughnut on Monday, a drive-through burger and fries on Tuesday, greasy pizza on Wednesday, a full size chocolate bar on Thursday, and fried chicken on Friday is NOT moderation. Eating a pastry with sugary, cream-topped coffee at breakfast plus a bag of chips in the afternoon and a few unhealthy cookies after dinner all in one day is DEFINITELY NOT moderation (I actually know a few people who argue that it is, you know who you are 😉). Eating healthy meals every day drowned in unhealthy sauces (ketchup is NOT healthy!) is also not moderation.  

Yet so many people don’t realize that what they think is moderation actually isn’t when they tally up all of the different foods that they claim to eat only occasionally.  One common mistake that I see people make is to look at each type of junk food they eat individually instead of looking at all the junk food they eat in a day or week collectively.  Sure, one doughnut a week is moderation, as is one bag of chips or one chocolate bar or one pizza etc.; but when you add all of these things up its simply too much.  

The second problem is that a lot of what you hear and read is promoted by companies who stand to lose a lot of money if everybody were to eat healthy.  Just like the tobacco industry had doctors and researchers on its payroll for decades to convince people that smoking didn’t cause lung cancer, the junk food industry has people out there promoting the idea that a little junk food isn’t all that bad.  And just like smokers who couldn’t fathom the thought of quitting supported and perpetuated the tobacco industry’s denials of a link to lung cancer, junk food addicts also support the junk food industry’s motto “everything in moderation is safe”. 

 If this were true, smoking crack in moderation would be safe too.  

Every time a new study comes out confirming the ill-effects of a certain unhealthy food or additive, junk food addicts are quick to argue “well it’s still ok in moderation” 😒.  Just like addicts of any other substance, they will ignore reason and logic and look for any excuse to continue eating the crap that they think they can’t live without.  And taking the moderation angle is the perfect excuse. 

The third problem is that because we are exposed to an increasing amount of harmful stuff that we cannot control (pollution, radiation, etc), we must do everything in our power to avoid exposure to the toxins that are in our control.  And that includes food.  Yes, our bodies can handle a small level of toxic substances without any ill-effects; but when you add the cumulative effect of pollution, stress, radiation, and decreased nutrient content of food, there really isn’t any room left for “moderate” consumption of processed junk food.  Eating mostly healthy food is not a license to eat whatever extra junk you want.  

I dont believe in quitting all processed food cold turkey, as that is likely to be short lived. The transition to a clean diet and lifestyle should be gradual and taken one step at a time.  The best way to start your road to healthy eating is to slowly eliminate unhealthy foods that you know you can live without first, then work your way up to foods that are harder to part with.  Pick a few select “junk foods” that you absolutely love and use those as your occasional (not daily) treats.  For everything else, find a healthy alternative. 

 This may seem difficult but it’s not; a simple Google search will show you that for any type of food you can think of, there is someone out there who has come up with a healthy version of it.  If you love French fries, learn to make your own healthy baked version, or ask for your fries to be baked at restaurants (more and more restaurants are accommodating this request).  If you love sweets, try making a big batch of naturally sweetened baked goods at the beginning of the week that you can eat when you get a craving.  If you can’t survive without coffee every day then cut the sugar and cream and find healthier ways of flavouring it.  If you fall off the healthy eating wagon a few (or several🙄) times, don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t give up.  Just get back into it the next day.  The further you go on your clean eating journey, the less those relapses will happen because you will simply lose the desire to eat or drink things that you once thought you could never give up.  

If you are pregnant or have kids, it is even more important for you to understand that everything is not safe in moderation.  Babies and kids are developing so fast that exposure to toxins can have a negative impact on not only their growth and brain development, but also on their future health (more on that in a future post).  The field of epigenetics is discovering exactly how early exposures to the right or wrong chemicals can have lifelong consequences.  So stop including that mini chocolate bar in your child’s lunchbox every day as a treat for eating their vegetables.  You’re basically just negating the positive effect of the healthy foods that they eat.  

Invest In Your Health: Eat Real Food

   
One of the reasons why people choose processed food over real food is the cost.  Real food costs more, and if you’re comparing organic food the price difference is even greater.  I understand that it’s hard for a lot of families to afford fresh, wholesome food.  But it needs to be at the top of everyone’s priority list.  Your health and your family’s health should come first.  That may mean cutting costs in other departments (housing, clothing, entertainment, etc), but nothing is more important than your health.  The old saying goes “you are what you eat”, NOT “you are what you wear”, or “you are what you live in”, or “you are what you drive”…..

Good quality food made with real ingredients and nothing artificial is worth the investment; your return on that investment will be good health.  That, in my opinion, trumps everything else.  

Junk Food Police: Why I don’t allow my child to eat what all the other kids are eating 98% of the time.  

    

 
I can’t count how many times someone has told me that kids shouldn’t be deprived of junk food or that “all the other kids eat it”.  If all the other parents were letting their kids jump off a bridge, would you let yours? 
I didn’t think so.  

So why on earth would you feed them junk that not only provides little to no nutrition but also contains toxins that could harm them in the long run?  So they can “fit in” or “be a kid”?  Playing and having fun is a normal part of childhood.  Consuming food and beverages that sets kids up for a lifetime of health issues should NOT be a normal part of childhood. 

But unfortunately it is.  Because we made it so.  

I too, end up allowing my child to eat junk occasionally (and by occasionally I mean at birthday parties or other events).  I too, see the sad puppy dog look on her face when she wants to eat what everybody else is eating at a social gathering, and give in to spare her the feeling of being left out.  Sometimes this even means giving her small wheat or chocolate-based goodies, both of which cause her varying degrees of gastrointestinal trouble.  I understand that she needs to be healthy not only physically but emotionally as well, and fitting in or feeling “normal” in social settings is important, within certain boundaries.   While I want her to learn to think for herself and not do what everybody else is doing, I also don’t want her to feel like the oddball at every single party.  I too, struggle with balancing all of her needs.  And in the modern world that sadly means feeding her the occasional toxin.

But what I don’t do is make junk food available at home.  Because if everyone is eating healthy at home, there is no opportunity for her to feel left out.  There is no sad puppy dog look, no guilt, no feeling of being the oddball.  And home is where she is going to eat most of her meals and snacks.  I know that if I lead by example, she is more likely to make healthy choices on her own outside of our home when I am not there to make those decisions for her.  I also make healthy homemade baked goods so that she can still enjoy treats without the excessive sugar, preservatives, food colouring and other additives.  Do the processed, toxin-filled, store bought versions taste a little better? Of course.  But if I keep my child away from the processed stuff, her taste buds will develop normally; and real, wholesome food will continue to taste good to her as she grows older, if not better. 

The more exposure kids have to processed junk, the more desensitized to regular food they become until real food is simply not enjoyable anymore.  I wish more parents understood this.  
I think most parents believe they are depriving their kids if they don’t give them junk food and candy because they themselves feel deprived if they don’t eat those things.  We project our own feelings on to our kids.  We think our kids will feel the same joy and pleasure as we do, but they don’t get the same feelings of nostalgia when eating a Twinkie or Oreo.  At least not yet.  If you choose to make these things a part of your kids’ childhood then they too will grow up to have an emotional connection to unhealthy food.  

There is also the theory that kids (and adults) who are deprived of junk food and candy will “binge” when tempted, but if it is made available regularly it will lose its allure; therefore kids will learn to eat those items in moderation.  And moderation is better than bingeing.  

I am living proof that this theory is hogwash.  

Growing up, I had an ample supply of junk food and candy available 24/7.  Did I learn to eat things in moderation? Nope.  Did junk food become less alluring? Ha!

For example, I would regularly consume 7-8 chocolate chip cookies, 2-3 packets of “Gushers” fruit snacks, and a large handful of candy in one sitting as a bedtime snack.  And that would be the same day that I ate a couple of Pizza Pops followed by half a container of Pringles chips earlier as an after-school snack.  Not to mention all the Pepsi, Popsicles, and slurpees that I regularly consumed.

 I wish I was exaggerating but unfortunately for my future health, I’m not.  

My mother always prepared a fresh, balanced and healthy dinner every night; but because my taste buds were so badly tainted by the junk, I would eat a small dinner and just follow it with a large unhealthy snack later.  Despite having access to BOTH healthy food and junk food in my home, I did not learn to balance both.  Miraculously I never struggled with my weight, which is probably why I continued eating so much junk for so long.  

 Now that I’m eating healthy every day I still cave and “binge”once in awhile when I’m exposed to junk food and candy, but my idea of a “binge” from then and now has changed drastically.  I still use the word binge, but you can’t really call 2-3 small Halloween-sized candies a binge.  

Yup, my occasional weak moment now equates to less than ONE full-size chocolate bar or a couple of small cookies. 

 I was at a baby shower recently and all I chose from the impressive dessert table was ONE cupcake as a treat.  Anyone who knew me 5 years ago would have expected me to eat everything on the table and then go back for seconds.  I wasn’t restricting myself, I honestly didn’t want anything more than that.  

Despite not buying any type of soda pop for the last 4 years, I have no desire to drink it when I have access to it outside of my home.  I simply lost the taste for it.  

By “depriving” myself of junk food, I am slowly but surely losing the desire to consume it.  There are many foods that I used to love that no longer taste palatable.  When I eat them now, the strong, processed taste actually makes me feel sick.  (I still can’t say this for chocolate unfortunately).   There are many processed foods that I no longer consume or even want to consume, but I didn’t quit them all at once. I gave up one thing at a time as my knowledge of toxic substances in our food grew.  

Kids will only crave junk food and sweets if you allow them the opportunity to become addicted to them.  Because that’s essentially what cravings are, a strong desire to consume something that your body either needs or is addicted to.  You don’t need processed food, you are simply addicted to it.  Do you want your kids to be addicted too? 

Is Mommyshop The New Photoshop? Moms On Social Media

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Social media can make a lot of people feel inadequate after seeing everyone else’s seemingly perfect lives, especially moms. With all of the photos of gourmet meals snapped in a seemingly spotless kitchen with seemingly perfect kids in the background, it’s no wonder that some moms are feeling down.

People tend to put their best face forward on Instagram and Facebook, which can be misleading. Those photos may have been taken in the only clean corner of the kitchen after countless mishaps while making dinner.

Some moms have nannies and maids to help, while others have no support or help at all. So it’s not fair for a woman who is trying to juggle everything on her own to compare herself to another who makes fantastic pastries while her nanny watches the kids and the maid cleans the house.

My point is that no one is perfect, and moms have enough on their plate without worrying about not being able to make elaborate meals like Mary on Facebook or have a clean house all the time like Susan on Instagram. Everyone has their strengths, so instead of feeling depressed about others’ skills remember that they have flaws as well (no matter what their social media accounts portray). Focus on your own strengths and don’t compare yourself to others. If you are genuinely doing your best for your kids then drop the guilt.

Note to Celebrities: You ARE Role Models Whether You Like It Or Not

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I had some “me” time the other day and decided to spend it watching the latest pop music videos. I was quite disturbed to say the least. As a mother, I find the direction Hollywood is currently going in to be frightening.

One of the most common defense mechanisms of celebrities who receive backlash from parents for publicly exhibiting bad behaviour is to claim that they did not sign up to be role models. They also complain that parents are responsible for what they allow their children to watch and listen to.

You’ve probably heard the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. Well, in today’s media-driven world celebrities are unfortunately a part of almost every child’s “village”. So if they don’t want to be role models they shouldn’t get into show business; it goes with the job.

I do agree with them that it is ultimately the parents’ job to censor media.

I do not plan on letting my child play violent video games or watch television shows and music videos with inappropriate content.

I will not allow her to listen to inappropriate music under my roof.

I will not allow her to follow celebrities with racy or otherwise inappropriate pictures on social media.

I will definitely not allow her to have unlimited and unsupervised access to the Internet.

However, I cannot say the same for other parents.

There are, unfortunately, plenty of bad parents these days who irresponsibly let their children be exposed to inappropriate content in the media. I personally know parents who let their children watch adult programs and play violent video games all the while neglecting to monitor their internet usage.

The children of those parents will go to school with my kid one day.

What happens when those children start to expose my kid to inappropriate things at school and other places?

What happens if the kid whose parents allowed him to watch too many violent movies, listen to violence-promoting music and play too many violent video games shows up at my child’s school with a gun?

I can protect my child in my own home but I cannot keep her locked inside the house, nor can I completely protect her from the kids of all the bad parents that unfortunately do exist out there. I can try to strengthen my bond with my child as much as possible and teach good values at home, and in some situations this will be enough to prevent her from being corrupted or harmed by outside influences.

But she may find herself in a situation where no amount of good parenting on my part can save her. What then?

It really does take a village to raise a child. The media and celebrities need to be mindful of that. They cannot simply say that it’s the parents’ job to censor all the bad stuff. We’ve already established that there are a lot of bad parents out there. It is society’s job to help the kids of those parents. They did not choose their parents. We cannot change what they learn from their families.

We can, however, change what they learn from the rest of their “village” by demanding that the media as well as celebrities act more responsibly. We can ignore celebrities that exhibit bad behaviour instead of giving them more publicity. We can refuse to buy their albums and boycott any companies that pay those celebrities for endorsement. We can pay less attention to news programs that focus on celebrities and more attention to actual news.

I am not saying that all celebrities are bad people. There are some that are extremely talented at what they do yet still manage to remain humble and keep their morals intact.

But unfortunately there are too many who climb to the top by shaking their scantily clad derrières every chance they get to distract their audience from their lack of any actual talent. Others use sex tapes to catapult themselves and their entire families to fame. Some glorify violence or objectify women. Then there are the ones who make excessive partying and substance abuse look like a great “lifestyle”.

Even more disappointing are the “role models” who actually did make it to the top with real talent, but once there started using less than respectable gimmicks in a vain attempt to stay at the top.

Those kids who grow up with bad or no parents look to other role models for guidance. Sadly, many of those other role models are too focused on making money at any means necessary to care.

Shame on you Hollywood.