Lemon and Lime Infused Water

Lemon Lime Water

As a child, I remember taking a sip of cola and feeling my throat and nose burn from the fizzy, acidic concoction. The only soda I could get down the hatch was lemon-lime flavored beverages (or the ever rare peach soda).

For many Americans, however, soda is their beverage of choice. I have several friends and family members who used to consume almost no water while drinking several cans of cola each day.

Unfortunately, research has shown us that consumption of sugary beverages is linked to a number of chronic conditions, most notably type 2 diabetes, in addition to obesity, dental caries, and hypertension.¹

Instead of reaching for a can of soda, go for a healthy glass of lemon and lime infused water.

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The Toxic Truth About Talc

The Toxic Truth about Talc

As you may have heard, on February 22, 2016 Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer which was linked to her life-long use of talc-based powders sold under Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower brands.

I remember working in the hospital years ago and many women patients would use baby powder to fight excess moisture and yeast. I don’t really remember ever hearing anyone advise against this practice.

In fact, I didn’t know how toxic it was until I made it my mission to weed out harmful chemicals in my personal care products and began researching the topic extensively.

When I posted about this story on social media earlier this week, I realized that many women are still not aware of the link between talc and ovarian cancer. In addition, most consumers assume that a product is safe if it is on the market. And the longer a product is on the market, the more trusted the product becomes.

In reality, Johnson & Johnson continued selling talc-based baby powder despite decades of research suggesting it’s link to ovarian cancer and despite formulating a corn-starch based version of their baby powder.

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Non-Toxic Allergy-Friendly Citrus Bathroom Scrub

Non-Toxic, Allergy-Friendly Citrus Bathroom ScrubWhen I was a young kid, I remember cleaning the tub after every bath with one of those powder cleaners that come in a can. Afterwards, I always seemed to have a bit of respiratory irritation from indirectly inhaling the powder as I sprinkled it around the bathtub.

When I was a teenager, my grandmother mistakenly mixed Comet® Powder Bathroom cleaner with bleach. As you can probably guess, that did not go very well.

Mixing comet with bleach, or mixing cleaning supplies in general, can be very dangerous. Mixing bleach with ammonia, or anything acidic is a big “no-no” as it creates a very dangerous chemical reaction that can result in the formation of toxic chloramine vapor or toxic chlorine gas which can cause death at very high levels. Even at low levels, chlorine gas almost always causes respiratory distress and irritation of mucous membranes.

Luckily, my grandmother was okay. Needless to say, after that my family removed all of the dangerous cleaning products from her home.

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The 5 Biggest Modern Environmental Health Challenges Facing Women and Children (and 5 Tips to Overcome Them)

Many modern conveniences, luxuries, and lifestyle habits seem great. And many of them are great when it comes to saving 5 Big Environmental Challenges1time and convenience. But they are not necessarily healthy for us.

In fact, most of the common chronic illnesses and conditions that we see skyrocketing today are directly related to our modern lifestyle, or what experts call, “environmental factors.”

Chronic illnesses like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, allergies, asthma, reproductive issues, Alzheimer’s, cancer, mood disorders, etc., are all triggered by lifestyle and environmental factors.

Right now we are living in what I call, “The Age of Modern Chronic Illness” which is characterized by a general state of “un-wellness” and soaring rates of diseases that were fairly rare in the western world just 50 to 100 years ago but are frighteningly common today. Unfortunately, women and children are disproportionately paying the price and bearing the brunt of our modern lifestyle challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases and conditions are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

Here are just a few statistics you should know:

• As of 2012, about 50% of all adults had at least one chronic health condition (CDC).
• 65.8% of US women are overweight or obese (source: NHANES, 2011-2012).
• 78% of people affected by autoimmune disorders are women (source: AARDA). As a group autoimmune disorders make up the 4th largest cause of disability in the US and they are increasing.
• The #1 cause of death for women (and men) is heart disease (source: CDC, 2013).
• The #2 cause of death for women (and men) in the US is cancer (source: CDC, 2013).

The good news is …

As I mentioned above, chronic illness is preventable. Research shows that only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90-95% have their roots in environment and lifestyle. In fact, lifestyle and environment account for 90-95% of MOST chronic illnesses, not our genes.¹ This is good news because we can’t change our genes but we can change our lifestyle and environment.

Here are the 5 Biggest Modern Environmental Health Challenges:

#1 Threat:  Exposure to Toxic Substances

This is one of the biggest health challenges we face in the modern world. There are thousands of chemicals in use today and only a small portion of them have undergone toxicologic evaluation to determine whether or not they are safe.
In fact, research shows that many of them are not safe and have a significant impact on our health and the environment.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, environmental toxins may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, reproductive issues, cognitive impairment and many other chronic health conditions. Children are particularly susceptible to chemical exposures and exposures during child development may contribute to health problems that arise later in life.

In a recent report issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, it states that the widespread exposure we experience in daily life to toxic environmental chemicals, such as pesticides, plastics, and metals (like lead), can lead to fertility problems, stillbirths, miscarriages, cancer, and neurological problems.²

What can you do today? Begin reducing your exposure to toxic substances in your home. Choose paper, cloth, glass, wood, or stainless steel containers over plastic whenever you can. If you live in a home that was built before 1970, consider lead testing. One way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to buy organic foods as much as possible.

For more ways to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful pesticides download my FREE guide, “Pitch the Pesticides: 5 Strategies to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Pesticides.”

Click Here to Get the FREE Guide: Pitch the Pesticides

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Never Eat Directly From a Bag of Chips and 6 More Ways to Overcome Mindless Eating

How many times have you sat down in front of the TV with a bag of chips for a quick snack only to mindfulness eating quoterealize moments later that you have practically consumed the entire bag?

We’ve all had this happen at some point in our lives. This is just one common example of mindless eating and how it can derail your efforts to get or stay healthy.

The good news is that this problem has several solutions, from not eating directly from the bag to not buying the potato chips in the first place. The one thing that each of these solutions has in common is that they stem from a place of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the foundation of healthful eating.

What does it mean to be mindful?

Being mindful means being attentive, careful, conscious or aware of something. According Merriam Webster, mindfulness means the practice of maintaining a non-judgmental state of heightened awareness of one’s thoughts emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis. It is a state of awareness.

So why does mindfulness matter when it comes to eating real food? Because when we’re not mindful this happens:

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7 Tips for Eating Out with Kids with Food Allergies

Eating out with young children can be stressful.  Add in food allergies and it can be down right anxiety-provoking!  Sometimes it can be quite a Kidatdinnertablechallenge to find a safe place to eat, especially if you are dealing with multiple food allergies.

Eating at restaraunts and other establishments is a big part of our culture and not participating in social acitivities that involve food can feel very isolating.  So how can you and your family minimize the risk of an allergic reaction while still enjoying the opportunity to dine out once in a while?

Here are my top 7 tips for eating out with the kids:

1) Do your research before you go.

Search online to find restaurants that are allergy-friendly. There are websites dedicated to making your search a little easier.  I particularly likewww.AllergyEats.com. They have a great mobile app that comes in handy when traveling. Always take a look at the menu before heading out.  It saves you the hassle of getting to a restaurant only to learn that there is nothing on the menu for you to eat.

I always look for menus with simple dishes. I love when a restaurant has a kids’ menu because those dishes are pretty simple fare.  To limit the risk of cross-contact, avoid eating at places that use your particular allergens in a large number of their dishes. You will also want to avoid buffet-style restaurants and self-service food areas that are prone to cross-contact between foods, such as salad bars.

2) Call ahead.

Assuming the restaurant has some allergy-friendly dishes for you to choose, give them a ring to make sure they are accustomed to dealing with food allergies.  Again, you don’t want to arrive at the restaurant and find that everyone is clueless about how to safely handle food allergens and minimize cross-contact.

3) Always carry your epinephrine, other allergy medications, and your emergency plan.

This goes without saying. If you arrive at the restaurant without your allergy emergency kit, make the trip back to get it.  If you have multiple children with allergies, make sure you have enough meds for each child.  I have had two children have an anaphylactic reaction to the same food.  You have to be prepared.

4) Make sure your table is clean.

Before you are seated, you can inform your host of your food allergies and ask that the table be cleaned, if you think it is necessary.  You can also travel with your own wipes and wipe things down, as well.  If you are not comfortable with the cleanliness of your surroundings, don’t be afraid to ask to have your area cleaned or to be re-seated.

High chairs and booster seats are potential source of cross-contact.  When my children were younger we traveled with our own booster seats and disposable placemats.

You also want to avoid using the salt and pepper shakers and condiment jars on the table.  They are another potential source for cross-contact. My kids have a mustard, egg,  and sesame allergy so we rarely use condiments, but if you do.  Ask for fresh bottles or have your server bring you “to-go” packets of condiments, salt, and pepper.

5) Inform your server of your food allergies.

Always tell your server about your food allergies and ask to see their allergy menu, if they have one.  If you can speak directly with the chef, that’s great, too.  Never assume a food is safe to eat without checking on the ingredients, even if you have had the same dish before.  Make sure they understand that you or your child cannot eat food containing your allergens or that may have come into contact with your allergens.

You might consider carrying allergy cards to give to your server.  This way, they have your allergens in writing.  The more ways you can communicate, the better.  If you feel like your server isn’t understanding your completely or you don’t feel like they can handle your food allergy requests, do not be afraid to leave.  I have left restaurants that I did not think could accomodate our food allergies.

6) Order simple foods.

It easier to avoid “hidden” allergens by ordering simple foods with the least amount of ingredients possible or foods that don’t typically have your allergen as an ingredient. The safest meal choices are whole foods such a  simply-prepared protein, vegetables, and fruits.  I eat alot of chicken breasts and veggies when I eat out.  You also want to be careful about eating deep-fried items that may have come into contact with your allergens.  Again, always ask your server about the safety of each dish.

7) Double check your order before eating.

Mistakes do happen.  Even though you think you may have communicated clearly, sometimes things slip through the cracks and people make mistakes.  First, when the server brings your dish, verify that it was prepared without your allergens.  Secondly, always look at your food to make sure it does not contain any obvious allergens.  I have had food prepared incorrectly on numerous occassions.

If you implement these 7 tips you will greatly reduce the risk of having an allergic reaction and be able to enjoy dinner away from home.  Remember you can live life to the fullest with food allergies, it just takes a little extra planning.

Be sure to pass these tips onto your children, as well.  Even small children can practice telling servers what their food allergies are.  It is a great way to teach them how to be empowered self-advocates.

I would love to hear your tips on how to stay safe while enjoying eating out. Please leave a comment below.

 

Disclaimer: Information on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice.  Please seek the advice of your physician regarding any diagnosis or treatment. Any implementation of the information contained herein is at the reader’s discretion. The author and publisher disclaim any liability for any adverse effects resulting directly or indirectly from information contained on this site.

Kids and Kale Chips

A couple of weeks ago Food Network posted an article to their Facebook page called, “8 Kids’ Foods That Sound Healthy ButKalechips Aren’t.” As the title suggests, the list consisted of processed and prepackaged foods that aren’t healthful despite being marketed that way. Boy did it cause an uproar! Many of their posts get thousands of likes and some even get 100+ comments, but this post got nearly 6,000 likes and 503 comments. The comments ranged from “Of course these aren’t healthy” to “Oh, no! I just fed these to my kid.” However, there was a huge number of negative comments condemning Food Network for pushing the “healthy foods agenda,” judging parents, and being out of touch with what kids will really eat.

Many people chimed in to ask “What are you supposed to feed your kid?” as if there aren’t any alternatives to prepackaged foods. I get it though. Our culture is so conditioned to eat manufactured food produced by big food companies that it is almost unimaginable to go without them or even suggest that they might not be good for us. One comment stated, “Oooooo spare me. The only thing that makes kids unhealthy and obese is the electronics they spend all day glued to.” Sure, a sedentary lifestyle contributes to the development of chronic illnesses, but you cannot discount the impact of diet. In fact, when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, a healthful and nutritious diet actually trumps exercise.

A large number of parents took the time to write that their children just won’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables. And kale chips? Kale chips were definitely out of the question! Many refused to “starve” their children so they give in and let their children have their favorite unhealthy snack foods.

Here’s the truth, not every kid is going to eat kale chips, but they might if given the chance. It may take more than one exposure before they develop a taste for a particular food. Even as an adult, I used to gag whenever I ate a sweet potato, now I love sweet potatoes and yams. When you begin to eat more real food, your palate adjusts and you begin to crave more real food.

The more you eat processed foods, the more you want processed foods. In fact, processed foods are created to be highly palatable. They are full of salt, sugar, and fat–which we love! They are actually quite addictive, which is one of the reasons why the whole “everything in moderation” argument doesn’t always work. It is no accident that the Pringles tag line is, “Once you pop, you can’t stop” and why Lays says, “betcha can’t eat just one.”

Here’s the simplest solution, if you don’t buy them in the first place, you remove the temptation to over-indulge and your kids know that they aren’t getting those foods no matter how much they protest because there aren’t any to get. This removes the struggle.

On a side note, I’ll also add that when you’re managing a potato allergy and celiac/gluten sensitivities, you quickly learn that potato chips, crackers, and even “veggie” chips aren’t going to be players in your diet. Kids will not go hungry if they can’t get their hands on the most popular snack foods.

My oldest daughter is in the “won’t touch a kale chip” camp but she loves fruit and she knows she is not going to get certain processed foods no matter how many times she asks. The result: she rarely asks for junk and eats mostly real whole foods. My other two daughters like kale chips. My youngest daughter actually loves them! She even sneaks them when I’m not looking.KalechipsRd

If you want your kids to eat better, feed them better and don’t give into their demands for junk. It really is that simple. It’s okay to have treats occasionally, but do make sure the majority of their diet comes from real whole foods that are produced from the earth, not a factory. And if you decide you do want to experiment with kale chips, they are about the easiest thing you can make.

Here’s all you need to make kale chips:

1 bunch of kale

2 tbsp of olive oil or coconut oil

sea salt

garlic powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the kale. Pull the kale leaves from the stems and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder to taste. Mix with your hands to make sure the kale is evenly covered, then place on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the kale is crispy. Enjoy!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you incorporate healthy snacks into your diet. Feel free to leave a comment below.

Have Food, Will Travel

Last week I had the fabulous opportunity to travel to New York City to present my book, Fantastically Free: The Savvy Mom’s Guide to Living a Safe, Happy, and Healthy Life with Food Allergies. Overall, it was a great experience, but getting there was a huge pain in the rear, if I do say so myself.

First, my flight was delayed because of wind conditions. Next, my flight was delayed because the cargo door wasn’t showing that it was closed. Then, my flight was delayed again because it was too complicated to fix the door so they decided to get a different plane from Cincinnati. Finally, my flight was canceled at around 11:00 pm because they couldn’t find another crew to fly the new plane. This was very frustrating to say the least–especially since I needed to be in New York by 8:00 am the next morning. In this moment of shear frustration and despair I decided to adopt an attitude of gratitude.

What was the one thing I was grateful for in that moment? Well, I guess it was two things really. First, I was grateful that we didn’t crash due to an open cargo door. But, the second thing that I was grateful for was the fact that I had packed my dinner.

You see, after being at the airport for 7 hours of wasted time, while everyone else was sitting in their seats being served soda and pretzels, I was eating grilled chicken breast, broccoli, berries, and a sweet potato that I packed in my cooler bag. One thing

10-Inch PACKiT Folded

10-Inch PACKiT Folded

that I have learned from managing food allergies and autoimmune conditions and from just being committed to being healthy is this: never travel without food.

One of the biggest challenges my clients (and nearly everyone else I know) have is eating healthfully while on the go. If you have food allergies, an autoimmune disorder, or another condition that impacts what you eat, you have the added challenge of finding safe food while eating away from home–you don’t have the luxury of eating at any old place or grabbing any old snack food off the shelf. You have to plan ahead. The same is true if you’re committed to eating healthfully.

On the flight back home from New York, I enjoyed pastured herb-roasted turkey, avocado, a mixed green salad with olive oil and vinegar, roasted cauliflower and kale, and blueberries, which I had packed in my PACKiT cooler. Everyone else had their choice of cookies, pretzels, or peanuts–not exactly a satisfying or healthful dinner, if you ask me.  No wonder everyone is so grumpy when they fly. They’re tired and hungry! This must be how the term “hangry” originated.

Before I go any further I should tell you about this PACKiT cooler that I keep mentioning. The PACKiT is actually a freezable lunch bag that cools your food for up to 10 hours. I love it! I am not an affiliate or a reseller of PACKiT and they don’t sponsor my site (although it would be great if they did). I just think their products are a life saver (literally, figuratively, and however else you might use the term). We use their lunch bags and salad bags every single day because they allow us to basically take a tiny fridge of safe and healthy food wherever we go. My girls use them to take their lunches to school each day and I use it anytime I will be eating away from home. They also make picnic bags and shopping bags.

10 inch PACKiT Freezable Lunch Bag

10 inch PACKiT Freezable Lunch Bag

If you’re committed to eating well while traveling, here are 5 tips to help you on your journey:

  1. Plan ahead. If you are traveling with a group of kids, you might find it easier to schedule your flight or travel time around your eating schedule so you only have to worry about packing snacks rather than full meals during the flight or the car ride. Sometimes this just isn’t possible, though. Either way, make a list of food that you plan to take with you.
  2. Be prepared. Cook and prepare your food ahead of time so you can just pop it into your freezable bag before you leave. And don’t forget to put your freezer bag in the freezer the night before.
  3. Scout out the area. Before you leave for your trip, get familiar with the grocery stores and healthy restaurants that are near your destination so you aren’t scrambling to find someplace to eat while you’re starving. That never leads to a good decision-making.
  4. Make sure your accommodations meet your needs. When I travel with my entire family, we only stay at places that have a full kitchen. This allows us to make most of our meals “at home.” When it’s just me or the hubby and me, I make sure that I at least have a mini-refrigerator in my hotel room. This allows me to keep fresh fruits, veggies, salads, and meats. It also allows me to refreeze my PACKiT for the trip home.
  5. Make some of your own meals. When I travel, I definitely still eat at some sit-down restaurants that can accommodate food allergies and that have healthy choices available, but the majority of my meals are made by me. When I don’t have a full kitchen available, I eat a lot of fresh green leafy vegetables, avocado, olive oil, vinegar, and the healthiest/safest protein options I can find. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can experiment with coffee pot cooking. I haven’t tried it myself but it looks interesting.

Next week I will discuss some quick and easy, healthy, Top-8-Free, snack options that even your kids will love. Yep, kids do like healthy snacks, too. In the meantime, I would love to hear how you eat healthy while you’re on the go or what challenges you face when trying to eat healthy away from home. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Hard-Core Blueberry Smoothie

I don’t drink sports drinks or much of anything besides water. However, I do occasionally enjoy a nice refreshing smoothie from time to time.hardcoreblueberrysmoothie One of my favorite drinks is my Hard-Core Blueberry Smoothie. I call it “hard-core” because I usually drink it either prior to my strength-training sessions or between strength-training and cardio. I also call it hard-core because, as you’ll see below, one of the ingredients is a pineapple core (Aren’t I so clever?). ;-)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Blueberries (organic)
  • 1 cup Dandelion Greens (organic)
  • 1 cup Ice (approx. 6 ice cubes)
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 thin slices Ginger (approx. 2 grams)
  • 1 Pineapple core (optional, if you’re sensitive to citrus)

Preparation:

  1. Place all of your ingredients in your blender (I use a Vitamix) and secure the lid.
  2. Select variable 1.
  3. Turn on the blender and quickly increase speed to 10.
  4. Blend on high for about 30 to 45 seconds, or until you’ve reached your desired consistency.

(Yields 2 cups or 500 ml)

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Research Shows a Low FODMAP Diet Helps Manage Symptoms of IBS

People with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  typically report symptoms of abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, gas, and/or diarrhea. Recent Young casual girl woman is having stomach ache.studies support the use of a Low FODMAP diet to help manage symptoms of IBS and other digestive disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Disease.

FODMAP stands for Fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. FODMAPS are osmotic, which means that they pull water into the digestive tract, may not be digested well and could be fermented upon by intestinal bacteria when they are consumed in larger amounts. This process is what leads to the symptoms mentioned previously.

FODMAPs in the diet include:

  • Fructose (ex. some fruits, honey, high fructose corn syrup, etc.)
  • Lactose ( ex. milk)
  • Fructans (ex. wheat, onions, garlic)
  • Galactans (ex. legumes)
  • Polyols (ex. sweeteners and stone fruits)

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