Tag Archives: kids

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.

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My Top 5 Green Juice Recipes.

My toddler and I drink green juice every day. I just don’t feel the same if I don’t drink my green juice, sort of how people who are accustomed to drinking coffee every morning can’t survive without it. My daughter has also become accustomed to starting every day with green juice, and I’m hoping that it will remain a life-long habit. I only give her about 4-5 ounces for now since she’s just a tot.

I wish I could make fresh juice every morning, but since it’s so time consuming I make 2 days worth every other morning and store the next day’s juice in the fridge. I’m hoping that when my daughter is older and more independent I will be able to juice every day, but for now I simply just don’t have the time.

Although fresh pressed juice is the most nutritious, a cold-press juicer allows most of the nutrients and enzymes to be retained for a few days. Also, storing the juice in a glass mason jar filled close to the brim prevents oxygen from degrading the enzymes.

I alternate between 5 different recipes, so that I’m never making the same juice more than once a week (although I do drink the same juice for 2 days at a time). This ensures that we get a variety of nutrients and also because too much of a good thing can lead to trouble. No matter how good Kale is for you, overdosing on it can still cause harm. Certain leafy greens like Swiss chard, spinach and kale have a high oxalic acid content which can cause kidney stones if you have too much. But don’t worry, you would have to eat or drink a large amount of them every day for a long period of time in order for that to happen. Just make sure that you juice a variety of greens and you should be fine. Additionally, the good bacteria in your gut help to break down oxalate acid (one more reason to eat probiotic food).

Each of the following recipes yields approximately 3 glasses of juice – you may get more or less depending on the size and ripeness of the produce that you use.

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1. Refreshing cucumber juice.
2 large cucumbers (or 3 small)
2 bunches of kale leaves.
1 bunch of mint
2 lemons
1 apple
2-inch piece of ginger (optional)
This juice is the most refreshing due to the cooling effect of the cucumber and mint.

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2. Carrot-beet juice
7 large carrots
3 small beets
3 small apples
1 lemon
1 bunch parsley
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional)
This red juice is my toddler’s favorite because of the sweetness.

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3. Celery-Chard Juice
1 stalk of celery
1-2 bunches of Swiss chard
1 bunch of parsley
2 lemons
2 apples
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional)
I find this juice to be the most bitter tasting, which is why I include 2 apples to add a little extra sweetness. If you are new to juicing, I do not recommend this recipe as both the celery and chard have a strong taste.  This one is for the regular juicers.  The picture shows a reddish juice because I used red chard.

IMG_4712.JPG4. Carrot-Apple-ginger juice.
10 carrots
3 apples
2-3 inch piece of ginger
You can add some greens to this if you like. This is a great starter juice to those who are new to juicing.

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5. Broccoli-carrot-apple juice

2 large stalks of broccoli
4 large carrots
1 bunch of leafy greens (any kind)
2 apples
2 lemons
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional) 

If you have any leftover veggies in your fridge that didn’t get used during the week, throw them into your juicer before they go bad.  You can add spinach to any of these juices as well.  Personally, I do not juice spinach because I already add it to my smoothie almost every day and I don’t want to turn into Popeye The Sailor Man. I try to keep a balance between the veggies that I juice and eat in the same day so that I don’t overdo any one particular vegetable. Variety is key.  



Ginger-Ale or Sugar-Ale?

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When I was a kid my mom would give me ginger-ale every time I had a stomach ache. Even in my teens and early 20’s I would drink ginger-ale every time I had an upset stomach. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I noticed a particular brand (Canada Dry) had “made with real ginger” written on the front label. It made me think: “aren’t all store-bought ginger-ales made with real ginger?”

Apparently not.

If you actually read the ingredients, they’re mostly made of carbonated water and sugar with both natural and artificial colours and flavours thrown in.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4980.jpgThe only brand that I’ve seen that makes the claim “made with real ginger” on the label is Canada Dry, but if you read the ingredient list it’s still mostly sugar and additives.

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A pregnant friend of mine recently told me that she drinks ginger-ale sometimes for her morning sickness, because she thought it contained ginger which is a proven remedy for nausea. It made me wonder how many pregnant women out there are unknowingly consuming sugar and harmful artificial additives under the false impression that they are drinking a “healthy” beverage to help with their morning sickness. It also got me thinking about all the parents who probably still give it to their kids for tummy troubles.

If you look at the ingredient list for soda, it’s not much different.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/db5/63410078/files/2014/12/img_4979-1.jpgMost pregnant women wouldn’t drink 7-up to cure morning sickness, nor would most parents give their children sugar filled soda to cure an upset stomach. But store bought ginger-ale is basically the same thing.

As a better option, try boiling some ginger in water and then add a natural sweetener like honey. You’ll get the benefits of ginger without any added sugar, colors or flavors. If you or your kids prefer fizzy drinks, add a little plain carbonated water and you’ve got yourself some homemade ginger-ale.

Need vs. Want: 5 things we could live without

Many of the harmful chemicals that we expose ourselves to on a regular basis can easily be avoided. We don’t need a lot of products that contain hazardous synthetic chemicals, we just think we do. The following is a list of some avoidable, yet common products that contain chemicals which are hazardous to our health.

1. Artificial food coloring. Food dyes have been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in numerous studies and although they are not the only cause of ADHD, they definitely have a negative impact on most children with the disorder (Stevens et al. 2011) Food coloring has also been speculated to be linked to cancer but there is no solid evidence to support this theory yet. So why do people keep buying food with added colors? You don’t need your cheddar cheese products to be yellow or your juice to be bright red. There’s nothing wrong with eating pale food. It’s providing your body with nourishment, not being entered into a beauty contest.

2. Cosmetics. Now even if you are entering a beauty pageant, you still don’t need conventional beauty products. Many of them contain carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals (David Suzuki Foundation, 2010). Going makeup-free would be the safest bet, but I’d be a hypocrite if I advocated that. Luckily, there are plenty of safer, more natural alternatives out there these days for us beauty-obsessed, media-brainwashed gals.

3. Fragrance. Chemicals used in fragrances have been found to worsen both allergy and asthma symptoms, and could even possibly cause asthma in kids (David Suzuki Foundation, 2010). For these reasons, hospitals as well as an increasing number of schools are becoming “scent free zones”. So how else can people ensure that they smell good? Take a shower. Wear clean clothing. Use deodorant. It’s simple, really.

4. Dryer Sheets/Fabric softener. They make your clothes smell good and keep static at bay. They also potentially cause cancer (CBS NEWS, 2011). Use dryer balls instead.

5. Antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers. What is the difference between regular soap and antibacterial soap? A chemical called triclosan. Does this chemical make a difference? According to this study, NO! Not only does it not make a difference in the amount of bacteria left on your hands but it also creates antibiotic-resistant strains. And it may be an endocrine disruptor (David Suzuki Foundation, 2010). Yet it’s still on the market. Way to go Health Canada and FDA…

References

1. Aiello, A. E., Larson, E. L., Levy S.B. (2007). Consumer Antibacterial Soaps: Effective Or Just Risky?. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 45, 137-47.
DOI: 10.1086/519255

2. David Suzuki Foundation. (2010).
THE “DIRTY DOZEN” INGREDIENTS INVESTIGATED IN THE DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION SURVEY OF CHEMICALS IN COSMETICS. Retrieved from http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/downloads/Dirty-dozen-backgrounder.pdf

3. Jaslow, R. (2011, August 26). Scented laundry products release carcinogens, study finds. CBS NEWS. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/scented-laundry-products-release-carcinogens-study-finds/

4. Stevens LJ, Kuczek T, Burgess JR, Hurt E, Arnold LE. (April 2011). Dietary sensitivities and ADHD symptoms: thirty-five years of research. Clinical Pediatrics (Philadelphia), volume 50, issue 4, pages 279-293.
doi: 10.1177/0009922810384728.

When Germophobia Meets Chemophobia: My daughters first trip to the park

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I remember taking my baby to the park for the first time last summer. It was a beautiful sunny day. I decided to sit on a swing with my daughter in my lap. She was cooing and babbling happily as we swung gently back and forth. It was a lovely mommy-baby moment.

Until she reached up with her precious little hand and grabbed hold of the filthy, grimey chain.

I cringed. I didn’t know whether I should immediately wipe her hands with an antibacterial hand wipe or wait until we got home to wash them. She was very likely to put them in her mouth before we made it home. If I didn’t use the wipe I would run the risk of who-knows-what-germs getting into her mouth. If I did use it however, she would be getting some not-so-safe antibacterial chemicals in her mouth.

I decided that the germs were the lesser of the two evils and waited until we got home to wash her hands with regular soap and water. I figured a few germs could be good for her immune system anyway.

Later that day I decided to google how many germs can be found in an average playground. I came across an abcNEWS report by Good Morning America that tested samples taken from 12 playgrounds in 4 major cities in the U.S. All of the playgrounds were found to have evidence of fecal flora. Some of the samples contained illness-causing germs like E.Coli. Salmonella, Hepatitis A, and norovirus among others.

Next playground visit I’ll opt for the antibacterial hand wipe. Or dress my child in a hazmat suit.

As I was researching germs and playgrounds I stumbled across another issue: developmental toxins in and around playgrounds. Weed killers and other pesticides are commonly used for lawn-keeping at parks and schools, and synthetic turf has been found to contain harmful chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Some playground equipment is also treated with harmful preservatives and insecticides (Environmental Working Group, 2001). A lot of newer playgrounds have flooring made of recycled rubber tires which have been found to contain PAHs, pthalates, BHT, benzothiazole as well as other hazardous chemicals (Llompart et al. 2013). The vapour phase above synthetic flooring made from rubber tires also contains these chemicals, which means not only are young children exposed to them via ingestion (hand-mouth transfer) and skin absorption, but they may also be inhaling them while playing (Llompart et al. 2013).

After reading this you may feel like avoiding playgrounds altogether, but we can’t deprive our kids of fun. Here are some rational tips for choosing which playground to take your children to:

1. Look for playground equipment that is not shaded from sunlight by trees or buildings. According to the abcNews report, UV rays kill germs.

2. Call the parks department and ask them about their cleaning schedule. Some parks clean their equipment more frequently than others.

3. Avoid playgrounds adjacent to farms or large fields where pesticides are sprayed.

4. Make sure children wash their hands after playing on playgrounds, to remove both germs and toxic chemicals.

5. Avoid playgrounds with synthetic turf

Remember that occasional exposure to these chemicals is not the end of the world. You can’t put your kids in a bubble. Do your best to keep them safe, but also let them be kids and enjoy watching them grow up instead of worrying about what’s out of your hands.

I should go take my daughter out of her hazmat suit now.

References:

1. Environmental Working Group (2001). Poisoned Playgrounds. Washington, D.C.: Sharp, R., Walker, B.

2. Llompart, M., Sanchez-Prado, L., Lamos, J.P., Garcia-Jares, C., Roca, E., Dagnac, T. (January 2013). Hazardous organic chemicals in rubber recycled tire playgrounds and pavers. Chemosphere, volume 90, issue 2, pages 423-431. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2012.07.053 .