Boy, people do not like anyone to mess with their bacon and hot dogs. This study, about the increased cancer risk associated with eating processed meats, released by W.H.O (world health organization) has created quite a stir. Bottom line with this study is that “processed” meats, those with added man-made chemicals increase our risk for some cancers. However, the risk was relatively small according to their numbers (I believe it is almost impossible to evaluate this risk due to so many other variables). Once again it comes down to the adding of artificial ingredients that is the problem. Man-made preservatives are much more concentrated than natural ones, and do not have the synergistic benefits of other natural compounds (say like using celery or real salt, which are both natural chemicals used to preserve meat) and therefore are more difficult to metabolize and utilize by the body.
The study they should be doing is to have some people eat the artificially treated meats then take their blood pressure (and blood work), then compare to people who eat the natural versions. I guarantee the folks who eat the “processed” meats will have higher blood pressure, and over time higher markers of other issues like cholesterol, etc. Personally I cannot eat any artificial preservatives because they trigger migraines for me (and they are a known trigger for most migraines), yet naturally preserved meats do not cause headaches, so that is evidence enough for me that they should be avoided. There are many “uncured” or naturally preserved meats out there, that are probably fine. So the message here isn’t you need to stop eating bacon and hot dogs, you just need to eat natural versions of them… like your grandparents did.

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Former Stanford dean explains why helicopter parenting is ruining a generation of children – The Washington Post

Former Stanford dean explains why helicopter parenting is ruining a generation of children – The Washington Post.

We’re all familiar with the saying: when I was a kid, I had to _____fill in the blank___.  All parents have used this line at some point in their lives. It’s not new. Each generation finds fault in the previous and the next generations. And I’m pretty certain it will continue to happen ad infinitum.

I hate to be a traitor to my generation, but having had the unique perspective of being a parent to a child born in 1987 and another born in 2001, I have been privy to observing the differences in parenting, and I have to say that the current trend is not looking good.

I haven’t read this author’s book, but definitely agree with the title. The new so-called  trend of “helicopter” parenting is definitely creating more problems than good. Recent studies show repeatedly that children raised with over-involved parents suffer more anxiety and depression than children who are raised more independently. Aside from the internal damage this style of parenting is creating, I am nervous about what kind of adults these children will become.

One of the main over-reaching activities Lythcott-Haims scolds parents for is doing their children’s homework. I couldn’t agree more. Not only as a parent, but as a prior school teacher, I can tell you that instilling independent school habits early on will be one of the best traits your child develops for life.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remind our kids they need to do their homework, and even occasionally help them work through a tough question or assignment. But what I hear from many parents today is that they are literally sitting down at the table with their kids everyday while they do their homework and often do the work with them, and sometimes for them. Especially “projects”. I have seen 4th grade projects that look like a famous artist made them. It is quite obvious that a 10-year-old child didn’t make that miniature perfect replica of Apollo 13.

Another negative practice parents are using today that on the surface seems good, is over-praising. As my husband has grumbled about for years, we give awards to kids today for everything and anything. All a child has to do today to earn a sports award is show up. Yep that’s right, we now award people for doing the very basic thing they all have to do every day of their life- show up.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong believer in fostering positive self-esteem. But you see the thing about self-esteem is it isn’t something you can “give” to someone. Yes we can nurture it, but self-esteem is something the individual develops over their lifetime and usually comes as a result of “doing” things themselves and feeling proud or a sense of accomplishment from it.

And I have proof that more hands-off parenting works well (please indulge my bragging as an illustration of how this parenting style can work). My 27-year-old daughter,  a child of divorce (btw, my ex and I are good friends and worked hard to provide a stable and loving environment for our daughter, another area parents today fail, but that’s a whole other article), got her driver’s license at 16 (many kids I know today are scared to drive), has had a job since she was 16, moved away to go to college, and stayed there the whole time (yes, she actually stayed at college, so many children today get nervous away at college and move back home), graduated college with a Bachelor’s, has lived on her own since she was 18, and works full time for a company that she has been with for almost 5 years now. She also hasn’t married yet because she hasn’t found the right person, and she refuses to settle just for the sake of marriage. She has rarely asked for money (if she has, she has paid it back). Also, she does not take any type of psychological medications (anti-anxiety meds, etc), and is pretty happy.

My 14-year-old son does his homework either in study hall or as soon as he gets home from school, and seldom even asks me a question about it. I have never sat at the table with him, or even need to ask him anymore if he has homework to do. He achieves mostly A’s on his report card, doesn’t get in trouble in school and is pretty much a happy, kind, funny and very smart kid.

Sure some of this is good genes, some of it is luck, but mostly we allowed our children to succeed (and here’s the hard part, sometimes fail) on their own. I’m not saying we were perfect, or even great parents (a mythical creature for sure), and I personally made lots of mistakes; but the one underlying parenting tactic that governed us was a little bit of healthy neglect (a term my own mother often used).

Now let’s talk about why parents today don’t let their kids ride the bus to school… (ok I’ll save that rant for another time).



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New Studies Link Soda and Diabetes

New Studies Link Soda and Diabetes.

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Eat Real Food: Adopting a Natural, Organic Lifestyle

Eat Real Food: Adopting a Natural, Organic Lifestyle.

Like the athlete in this article, my husband discovered the same truth. Even though he had always been a very physical, athletic guy, he struggled for years with an extra 10+ pounds. But ever since he switched to eating a diet of “real” foods (mostly organic), his weight has pretty much remained in his optimal range.

As a nutritionist, I have always told my clients that if they eat a healthy diet, consisting mostly of real, natural food, their weight would fall in line. That’s not to say that just by eating organic a person will be thin. Calories still count in organic food. Too many organic cookies can still pack on the pounds. But when you eat organic, or at least real, unprocessed foods, your whole metabolic system works more efficiently.

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Might Alzheimer’s Disease Be “Foodborne”?

Might Alzheimer’s Disease Be “Foodborne”?.

After reading this article I reviewed several verified studies, and there does appear to be a possible link between meat and neurodegenerative diseases. This article (as well as others) argues that the culprit may be meat that is from CAFO animals (confined animal farming operations). Specifically, when animals are confined with hundreds of animals and eat a diet that may be tainted or not indigenous to the animal (ex: cows eating meat instead of plants) they could get sick and develop prions (basically infected proteins). Then they can pass on these prions to humans if we eat the meat with the prions (think mad cow disease).

The take-home message is that if you eat meat, it is probably a good idea to try to eat organic, or at least cage-free, plant-fed meats.


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6 Cancer Causers at Home You Should Get Rid Of – Healthy Holistic LivingHealthy Holistic Living

6 Cancer Causers at Home You Should Get Rid Of – Healthy Holistic LivingHealthy Holistic Living.

I stopped using all artificial scents years ago now and swear that is part of the reason my Fibromyalgia is more manageable (that and a clean diet and certain supplements).

I use essential oils and things like lemons and oranges to create natural scents. You can find lots of natural alternatives online or at natural grocery stores like Whole Foods and Earthfare.

Artificial scents have been linked to increased allergies, asthma attacks, eczema, headaches and even arthritis. Unfortunately, they can be found in so many everyday products, it’s tough to avoid them. But I have found great unscented or natural-scented products out there now like shampoos, soaps, cleaning products, nail polish and air fresheners. Check out my “Favorite Things” on my website for some of my favorites.

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How to Win an Argument With a Vegan

How to Win an Argument With a Vegan.

I don’t like the name of this article. I have never argued with a vegan, per se. In fact, I respect all people who make a conscious choice about the way they eat, it’s much better than people who don’t think about their food at all. However, I personally believe that eating a balanced (omnivore), natural diet is probably the healthiest diet for humans, and I am concerned that some new vegan food products are low in nutrients, and are harmful in the long run.

First let me talk about the positive side of choosing to eat vegetarian and vegan. Modern agribusiness farming is definitely having a negative impact on the earth. Livestock emits approximately 65% of the nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, which is even more potent that carbon dioxide. Water is also used in excess to raise animals for food. And more than 1/3 of all fossil fuels are used to raise livestock. Aside from the damage this practice causes to the earth, the current inhumane methods of containing animals in closed, dirty quarters and feeding them food that is not indigenous to them, injecting them with antibiotics and hormones and then of course slaughtering them in often gruesome ways; are all unhealthy practices for everyone.

So I get it why many people (especially after watching movies today about these inhumane farming methods) have chosen to avoid eating animal products. But agricultural farming practices are also harming the planet. The use of pesticides is causing a massive kill-off of bees, we waste tons of water on primitive irrigation processes, GMO’s are unhealthy for everyone and we over till the land stripping it of vital nutrients that we don’t replenish. So it seems neither way is sustainable for the earth.  

It is becoming more and more obvious that we need to create and use more sustainable farming practices. But cutting out one food source to achieve this unfortunately leaves us with a less than optimal diet for human health. I compare this choice to the current “green” building rage in our country. My husband and I chose to build an “energy-efficient” or “green” house about 5 years ago. We wanted a house that used up less energy and created a smaller “footprint” on the planet. A good cause- right?

We thought so. But once we started to undertake this project we quickly learned that there were many trade-offs in building green that were not really so healthy in the long-run. Our builder recommended we use spray-in foam for the insulation because it provides the highest level of insulation on the market today. And the more insulated a house is, the less energy is wasted. Makes sense. But what they don’t tell you is that the spray itself is very toxic to humans. In fact they have to wear specific suits and head gear when spraying it, so as not to come into contact with it. Basically it is made from polyurethane, which many studies are showing has a very bad impact on our endocrine systems and may cause many health problems. (tip: use natural insulation made from recycled blue jeans, or formaldehyde-free fiberglass)

There were several other “green” building practices that we would do differently today now that we have learned which ones are unhealthy for us, even if they are more energy-efficient (I will save for another article). Point is, we need to figure out how to provide healthy choices for us that also benefit the planet. That’s why I advocate more for healthier farming practices so that we can eat meat in a more sustainable way. Also, as a nutritionist, I recommend we all eat much less meat (I obviously don’t advocate for the Paleo diet either), and we shouldn’t eat any processed meat (think hot dogs, deli meat, etc).

Now on to the bad side of eating a vegan diet. If you choose to eat all natural, unprocessed vegetables, fruits, grains and some plant-based fats, then you are probably getting most of the nutrients you need, and may be able to maintain a healthy life (although you should still probably take supplements for B12 and D3- very tough to get without meat/fish sources). What I take issue with is the vegan meat substitutes out there today. Most of them are not healthy choices, and in fact can be detrimental for your health.

The main ingredient used in vegan meat substitutes is TVP (texturized vegetable protein). This is a man-made product made mostly from soybeans. Basically soy flour is extruded into various shapes and is heated to a degree that is becomes a “thermoplastic” protein. Yes, “plastic”. It becomes a polymer which makes it mostly indigestible. There is much controversy out there whether TVP is safe. Bottom line, TVP is not found in nature and as history has shown time and again, “processed” food is not healthy for us.

Also, vegans tend to eat more soy products overall, which in their natural state probably are healthy in moderation, but eating too much soy may predispose a person to other health issues. Some vegans also consume more protein-based shakes, which can create an imbalance of nutrients if they are ingesting too much protein. And many shakes are filled with unnatural ingredients that can cause other problems.

Overall, I have to continue to say that I think the omnivore path is still the healthiest and safest path.  And I am hopeful that our farming practices, both livestock and agriculture, will keep improving. If you would like to read a good book about being an omnivore, I recommend “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. Not only is it an interesting read, his writing is fantastically entertaining.


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Nestle Researchers May Come up with Fat-Burning Drink | Wall Street OTC

Nestle Researchers May Come up with Fat-Burning Drink | Wall Street OTC.

Oh the irony… Nestle, a company that makes foods that contribute to obesity, is developing a drink that burns fat. Sound familiar Phillip Morris? But it looks like it may actually work, at least in part.

The chemical compound called “C13″ is the secret behind Nestle’s fat-burning elixir. It interacts with an enzyme that plays a role in muscle glucose intake. So it could help with fat-burning.

One of the main concerns about creating such a drink is that people will use it in place of exercise. Nestle is quick to defend this product by saying it is not intended to replace exercise, but could be helpful for people who are not able to exercise regularly due to disabilities, etc.

It’s too soon to tell if this drink will have a real impact on weight loss. Like many other weight-loss “miracle products”, it will probably have minimal affect, and could produce unwanted side-effects. Hopefully people will not use it as a replacement for exercise, which provides so much more than just burning fat, but as a supplement to aid in weight loss.

We’ll see if this product ever makes it to market. And I suppose the proof will be in the pudding…. haha… get it?


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How Trans Fat Eats Away at Your Memory | TIME

How Trans Fat Eats Away at Your Memory | TIME.

More evidence that “trans fats”, not saturated fats, contribute to dementia. While this study is pretty small, it corroborates other studies that link trans fat consumption to heart disease and higher body weight.

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Preventing Kidney Stones May Be As Simple As Changing Your Diet

Preventing Kidney Stones May Be As Simple As Changing Your Diet.

For all my friends and family who have endured the pain of passing a kidney stone, here are some tips for you. First and foremost, stay hydrated. This means drink lots of water, and limit or avoid drinks that have the opposite affect, especially soda and sports drinks (and limit coffee).

If you take any calcium supplements, make sure it is balanced with plenty of magnesium. Avoid unfermented soy and exercise regularly.

Yes, there is a genetic link to kidney stones, but that doesn’t mean you are doomed to getting them if you avoid the foods and drinks that increase their formation. Once again, soda and high fructose corn syrup are one of the biggest offenders in triggering kidney stones.

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