Category Archives: Random Rants

Living A Healthy Lifestyle Is Not Extreme, But The Consequences Of An Unhealthy Lifestyle Are.

One of the most common deterrents people have with switching to a clean and healthy lifestyle is that they think they’ll have to give up all the fun things in life. They think taking all the junk out of their diets is “too extreme”.

Losing all your hair and feeling nauseous everyday due to chemotherapy is extreme.

Having your chest cut open to unblock your arteries is extreme.

Being put in a care home at age 65 because you get lost going for a walk around the block and can’t recognize your own kids is extreme.

Eating real, whole foods while making time for exercise and meditation every day is NOT extreme.

Avoiding junk and any foods you may be allergic to is NOT extreme.

And it definitely doesn’t take the fun out of life. If consuming crap is the only thing you do for fun then you need to re-evaluate your life. I get that there is a social aspect to food but there are plenty of restaurants that offer healthier options now, and eating unhealthy food once in awhile at a social event isn’t going to give you cancer or heart disease or Alzheimer’s; it’s your daily habits that count.

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My Kid Does Not Need Your Pity: Avoiding Junk Food Is Not A Deprivation, It’s A Gift

If I had a nickel for every time someone expressed pity for my child because she’s never been to McDonald’s I’d be a billionaire.

While I let my child eat treats at parties and school events to avoid having her feel left out, I do not keep them at home nor do I take her through drive-thrus. I buy and make healthy treats at home and we either order takeout or go to a restaurant as a family once a week, but fast food restaurants are off limits, and the other 6 days of the week we eat a healthy home-cooked meal. She does not feel deprived because our way of eating is normal to her.

She is only 5 so she is not even aware yet of the difference between her diet and most kids’ diets. When she is old enough to notice and asks to try some of those other foods she will also be old enough to notice a difference in the way her body feels when she eats them. I am confident that that difference, coupled with the education I will give her about nutrition will make her want to continue eating healthy. And I have no doubt that 20 years from now, when the knowledge of the harmful effects of processed junk food on kids and the impact it has on their lifelong health is more mainstream, she will thank me. She will not have to struggle in her 20’s or 30’s or any age to figure out why she feels so crappy and “unwell” all the time.

If you follow similar food rules in your family, don’t feel bad about not giving your kids junk food. Feel good about giving them lifelong good health. Because what they eat now will affect their disease risk in adulthood. Everything you feed your kids is either nourishing them or harming them, so choose real food, not processed artificial junk.

The long-term benefits of eating healthy far outweigh any short-term happiness that comes with eating chicken nuggets and doughnuts.

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]

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?