Another food list…but not of the good kind.

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Another food list:

This week I got an email which contained a link to 51 foods that you think are healthy, but in reality they are not.  I initially thought that was a long list of items, but the more I read the list it seemed pretty short. In case you would like to see it, this is the link:

http://www.ivillage.com/51-healthy-foods-really-arent/4-b-472304?nlcid=xd|08-08-2012|

What is nice about the list is that it gives reasons WHY each item isn’t as healthy as you would assume that it is. Some great examples were flavored almond milk (lots of sugar, suggested that you use unsweetened original flavor), frozen diet entrees (crazy ingredients which are difficult to pronounce but have to be added to keep calories low and not have the consumer gagging on the food), 100 calorie packs (you’re still eating cheetos honey, just 100 cals at a time), granola bars (high sugar, high fat). The list also sheds light on a few key points to a healthy diet:

You still have to read labels. Items labeled as “organic” or “natural” doesn’t mean that it’s still healthy. You have to be vigilant about learning what the ingredient list details about the item.  If it’s got more than 4 ingredients, or any of the ingredients are difficult to pronounce…then it’s probably not good for you.

Just because it’s gluten free doesn’t mean it’s good for you.  Gluten free simply means that it does not have wheat, rye, spelt, barley or malt. That’s only part of the equation for paleo people. If you’re going gluten free because you have celiac disease then these foods will be fine for you. If you’re gluten free because you want to lose weight or become healthy (like Miley Cyrus has purported), then gluten free is not enough. I’ve had friends say that they were gluten free and gained weight because frequently the items have added processing to make the food taste acceptable.

Another case in point:  Gluten free Rice Chex, GF Corn Chex. Sure. These items are rice and corn based. But does paleo allow for rice or corn in a normal diet? No- because rice and corn are simply carbohydrates which are quickly metabolized into sugar.  Just because it’s Gluten Free doesn’t mean it can go in your basket.

Shop on the outside aisles of the grocery store.   You don’t like reading labels?  There’s whole sections of the store which have items that have very short nutrition labels: Fresh Produce and Meat sections. They are almost always on the outer edges of the grocery store.  I mean, you look at a head of broccoli and you know what’s been done to it. It’s been cut and sent to the store. It’s not loaded with food colorings, artificial sweeteners, preservatives or anything else to make it “natural”.  It’s just broccoli. Pretty easy to get the read on that nutrition label.

The items in the middle aisles of the store have been processed and in general they aren’t allowed on paleo.  Does that mean you should never get items there? No. But you shouldn’t get the majority of your items there.

Don’t put all your trust in items labeled “organic” or “natural”. Organic soy mac and cheese? Really?  Are you feeding this to your kid and thinking it’s “healthy”?  Organic hot dogs?  Ok, so the meat is organic but you know what hot dogs are made of, don’t you?  If you don’t, please google “Dan Aykroyd Great Outdoors hot dogs”.

Eating healthy can be easy when you make it a habit. However, you can’t check out and rely on product packaging and promotion to create a short cut. Think about it, and read your labels.

Another rant on parenting magazines…and their questionable nutritional advice

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Y’all know I don’t like to whine much on the blog, but there’s something I feel needs to get out in the open. Here it is.

During my break I spent time reading through the backlog of magazines. It took some time, but I got it down to now I only have to read my current issues. It also helps that many more publishers are utilizing a digital format for subscribers. I can read on my iPad when we are traveling, on the back deck while kids are playing in the sprinklers, or in bed before I go to sleep.

So yes, I canceled the subscription to Parents after the insane suggestion that you add sugar to vegetables to get the kids to eat them.  But I still get Parenting.  See how they did that?  Those sly magazine marketers took a similarly named magazine and made it “better” by giving it an “active” name. 

I still can’t explain why I read this magazine. I have to say that my degree is in Child Development and I agree with the importance of taking useful parent information and packaging in short easily read articles.  But sometimes I just feel as though the information presented there is not new to me- yet I am conned into thinking that there is something groundbreaking that will make my life easier. I see an enticing “The no BS behavior guide” luring me beyond the front cover- only to find that I’m already doing all of it so there’s nothing new for me to do when my preschooler flips her $*#t in the middle of the grocery store.  I just have to understand that she’s a smart and creative child and that I can’t stifle that kind of spirit- see how I turned it into a humble brag?

The August 2012 issue has Michelle Obama on the cover. There’s a gushing article about her and her dedication to nutrition that frankly you could replace her name with One Direction then you’d have the same level of enthusiasm because it was apparently written by a 12 year old girl. I mean, It. Was. Over. THE. TOP.

Earlier in the issue there is a flavorful , two page missive about how to serve waffles any time of day. Yes, with marshmallows and chocolate chips for a play date; make it into a roll up with warm jam; put them on a stick and sprinkle with powdered sugar. YES. These are real suggestions. I’m not making this up as a point of exaggeration.

I did enjoy seeing the article regarding the benefits of the family dinner. You probably already know my feelings on the importance of one meal each day with the family all together. So I will give snaps all around for that. **snaps**

There’s another article about how children are larger and fatter today than 40 years ago.  Well, sure. People eat out more. Food portions are larger. We still think it’s acceptable for a child to aim to be a member of the “Clean Plate Club”.  So none of this should be shocking. Except one statistic: amount of regular soda drank daily (1977) 4 oz.  VS (2006) 9 oz.

(Excuse me while I clear my throat)

WHO IN THE BLANKETY BLANK IS FEEDING THEIR KID 9 OZ  OF REGULAR SODA EVERY FREAKING DAY?

I mean, I guess you have to drink that much to wash down all those smores waffles.

My kids rarely get soda. In full disclosure, we went to the morning movie and $2 gets you admission, popcorn and a drink. Kids got Sprite, and I think it was W’s first one and SM has maybe had 4 soft drinks in her almost 4 years. It just doesn’t happen with my kids. It’s an extremely rare occasion that they get a soft drink- and it’s NEVER a caffeinated beverage. We keep soft drinks in the basement fridge, but we should really stock it next to the fancy soap and towels that aren’t allowed to be used. All that is for guests. We don’t use it. And we sure as all get out don’t give it to the kids.  So yeah, there’s two kids out there chugging at least 18 oz a day thanks to my kids who don’t get any at all. Just think of all the caffeine their little bodies while we are trying to get them to think and stay on task in school.  I have enough trouble getting my preschoolers to focus and they aren’t wired on sugar and caffeine.

When did it become so wrong to give your kids milk (hee-hee, almond milk) and water and to use lemonade and soda as a very rare treat?

So while they had a somewhat good collection of informational articles (why we have fat kids, importance of eating dinner together) the mixed messages of the “Let’s make a breakfast dessert even more desserty, because your kids don’t have enough sugar in them after that regular soda” stuck amongst these still makes me arrive at the same conclusion.

I still hate parenting magazines.

In which I say “Yes, he’s lactose intolerant…”

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A few posts back I mentioned that I decided to move William off of cow milk and replace it with almond milk. Happily, I can report that his intestinal distress seems to be a thing of the past.  It did take about 2 weeks to get everything straightened out, but bless his gut it’s better. He’s had normal stools, no diaper rash.  I weighed him a few days ago and he’s gained two pounds since his two year checkup in mid June.  Poor bud was in the 15th percentile for weight (note: Pete is tall and was super skinny as a child; I was short but very thin. Genetics aren’t working in favor of a tubby buddy). The best part is that the constant clear runny nose is GONE.  He has had the annoying nasal drip that just doesn’t seem to be pinpointed to spring blossoms, dust, grasses or anything else that he was tested for in the fall. As a matter of fact, he only tested as allergic to eggs- nothing else.  So It was always curious to me that he had this clear runny nose.

Pete has always maintained that once he removed dairy he quit getting sinus infections. At one point he would get 3 or 4 major sinus infections each year. I can’t remember the last time he had a cold- which should tell you something because lawd knows he becomes a big baby and acts like he’s dying when he gets the sniffles.  I guess he had one last year, but it didn’t progress into a sinus infection, that’s for sure.

At any rate, I didn’t truly believe him that there’s a link between dairy and sinus infections/runny nose business until I saw it with William.

The transition off of milk was very easy. He doesn’t seem to miss cheese, and I found that Yoplait makes a great lactose free yogurt. Unfortunately it comes in only strawberry and peach varieties, but it tastes great and he will eat it like no one’s business.  Any time I can give him a great treat and it doesn’t upset his tummy is a good day in my book.

It’s Mommee. Remember?

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So we are half way through the summer. I’ve taken a bit of a break from the blog. It’s all a sequence of crazy events that I can point to that lead to it:

First the fridge stopped cooling and it took forever to get the new fridge in.  During those two weeks we had to eat out a good bit.

Pete went out of town and I took the easy way out with the kids.  We ate out a bit more. If it’s all me for 3 days, I’m worn out at the end of the day and I’m not cooking. Period.

We vacationed in Boston and loved it. Great food, great sightseeing if you’re a history nerd. Pete put up with my love for the Freedom Trail. I put up with a Red Sox game. I discovered that the North End has the best Italian food that I have ever tasted, Mike’s Pastry has cannoli that I still think about the luscious crème,  and that Kashmir is a great mid afternoon treat, complete with garlic stuffed naan. And it never hurts to book a hotel that is a 5 minute walk  from Tasti-d-lite. 

Then William turned 2- and yes that involved 3 days of eating cake and I don’t regret one single bite!

The kids are out of school- and in Mother’s Day Out for 3 days a week for only 6 weeks in the summer…so we are busy a lot of days trying to keep kids entertained in ways that don’t involve 100 degree heat.

In summary, it’s been busy over the last eight weeks.

My first grade teacher made us write each day on a selected topic. She felt that if you didn’t exercise writing each day, you get out of the habit of forming creative thoughts. It’s true. If you take a break, it’s hard to get back in the habit of it. Today a friend emailed and asked about paleo again, saying that she and her husband were ready to try it.  I realized that it’s been too long and it’s time to start journaling again.

So after a break, I’ll try to be better about updating the blog. I will try to post more food ideas, and occasionally report what I ate during the day. I found that if I reported every thing I ate, I was very strict with it and I started losing weight. I frankly got a little lower than I am comfortable with- and my husband said I was getting too skinny so I knew it was ok to start eating a bit off paleo- like splurging in Boston. What?  What is that you’re thinking?  Honey, your kids might not hear those nasty thoughts right now, but Jesus does and He doesn’t appreciate you calling me them names, chile. 

(PS- have I mentioned my diamond shoes are too tight and my wallet can’t seem to fit any more hundreds?)

Yeah. I’m back.

(Cue the Welcome Back, Kotter theme song or Elton John’s “The Bitch Is Back”- which ever you prefer)

Pour Some Sugar On Beets!

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This morning I was at the doctor’s office in triage and got a beep on my phone. I saw that a friend of mine tagged me in a Facebook comment regarding a nutritional tip for parents of picky eaters. I was FLOORED. It shocked me so much that a source of sound parenting advice would actually suggest such a crazy idea. Can’t get your kids to eat their veggies?  Add sugar to the water when you’re preparing the veggies and it helps them eat them.  Yes, you read that correctly.

In fairness, it suggested a small amount of sugar in the water when preparing vegetables and then taper off after they start eating it. And you realize that when you boil vegetables, you’re leaching the vitamins into the water. It’s not the best way to prepare your meal. But my goodness! Adding sugar? The other tip they gave was to let kids dip their vegetables in ranch dressing, hummus or applesauce. Read an applesauce label lately?  It’s a whole hot tranny mess of high fructose corn syrup. That’s precisely what you need on your three year old’s carrot sticks. Let’s make sure that the kids have to doctor up their meal so that they can eat it. Teach the kids that vegetables should be disguised, that they are not good to eat and that nutrition is unappetizing. Sounds like a great way to teach your kids to eat well.

Are we saying that is acceptable to teach children that food shouldn’t taste like the original item? Really?  Is that what you’re putting out there, Parents Magazine?

I had to get Amanda to send me a picture of the clip of the magazine. I got mine in the mail yesterday and I threw it away.  I’ve got a large stack of magazines to read, in addition to two books on my iPad- and oh yeah, I have a household to operate and kids to rear. I’ve gotten to where Parents and Parenting are the last magazines that I would read right now.  A few months ago, either Parents or Parenting had a suggestion to make a delicious breakfast treat- by using brownie batter in your waffle maker to make brownie waffles!  Cause that’s what kids need more of in their breakfast- dessert!  After that point, I was just a bit done. It’s got neat new child products and toys but other than that I am not finding a lot of redeeming value to reading these magazines. I can spend my time reading things which are much more edifying like InStyle, Us Magazine and Real Simple.

I just don’t think I’m ready for a magazine to suggest to parents that we should sugar coat (pun intended) things that really don’t need that dressing. When I make dinner, it’s on the table. If the kids are hungry, they will eat it. We model eating vegetables for the kids. They see that they are delicious and they eat them. In general, vegetables are not disguised in casseroles or hidden in other ways. They are steamed or sautéed and right there on the plate.  It’s all part of good nutrition and my kids are learning how food should taste.

I am also not a big fan of letting the kids run the household here either. They are given plenty of choices but the choices are both acceptable and appropriate. Icing on the broccoli is not an option at this house.

There’s a startling obesity epidemic in this country, and we all know it. It’s frequently in the media.  One in three meals eaten by children today are from fast food operations.  The most prevalent vegetable in a child’s diet is a french fried potato.  You shouldn’t surprised by this from the CDC website- but you should be disgusted that we have let ourselves get into this epidemic:

Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 33.9% (2007-2008)

Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight (and not obese): 34.4% (2007-2008)

Percent of adolescents age 12-19 years who are obese: 18.1% (2007-2008)

Percent of children age 6-11 years who are obese: 19.6% (2007-2008)

Percent of children age 2-5 years who are obese: 10.4% (2007-2008)

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm

That’s an astounding number of children under 19 who are obese. Not overweight. OBESE.  Can this be the fault of the child?  I’m thinking it’s not. That 10% of 2-5 year olds who are obese aren’t driving themselves through the McDonald’s drive thru and they aren’t paying for the junk food at the grocery store. There’s an adult in that equation for sure. I’m betting that the adult in that situation fits into the obese or overweight category too.

Set the standard at your house.  Watch what your kids eat. Teach your kids to eat their vegetables without the sugar. It’s a struggle sometimes but child rearing isn’t meant to be smooth as silk. Healthy happy children are no accident. It takes your time, thought and concern. But it’s your children and they are worth it.  At least I think mine are.

And yeah, I’ll be cancelling my subscription to Parents Magazine. 

The milk is mooooooving out of the fridge

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So for several months, my not quite two year old has been having a bit of , how shall we say… tummy trouble. Of the runny variety.  He had a stomach virus in January and keeps getting the runs several times a week. Poor buddy has sensitive skin and it seems that he’s constantly got some kind of diaper rash from his intestinal distress. He never seems sick other than the obvious issue- no fever, no crying and whining. Just gas and explosions. If my brother is reading this, right about now he’s laughing uncontrollably and singing something that ends with “cha-cha-cha!”.  Because he’s only 36 and a teacher. This is what we should expect from a boy, right?

So it finally hit me that he might be having problems with milk. It seems to be triggered around meals and it doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything specific in the food. The common denominator seems to be cow milk and processing lactose. I sent an email to the pediatrician asking if I was doing something that was too hair-brained or if I needed to supplement with a vitamin.  He talked me through it and said that he thought it was absolutely fine to eliminate cow milk and to use almond milk instead. It’s got as much vitamin D as cow milk and has more calcium.  Also, it’s got good fatty acids from the almonds. He suggested we try it for a few months to see if it makes a difference and if not, then we need to find out why this is happening.

So we are a week into a milk switch. So far so good. He doesn’t notice any difference, and drinks it like a champ. He’s still got some issues but they seem to be improving. Oddly enough, he’s had a runny nose for months on end that doesn’t seem to go away. After a few days off cow milk, it’s dry.  Diaper rash is gone.  The three year old wanted to drink some too and she now calls it “chocolate milk”, which is interesting since she’s never had chocolate milk. 

After my daughter drank it with gusto, I started thinking about how the whole family could really be off of cow milk. We wouldn’t have to worry about the children drinking hormones and it seems to be a better nutritional source of vitamin D and calcium. Not to mention, we aren’t giving the children something that was never intended for human consumption. It’s meant for calves. If you haven’t read up on your milk, here’s a link:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/is-cows-milk-meant-for-human-consumption-part-1/

It will take a few weeks to see how this turns out for my buddy’s belly. Hopefully this will help. I can keep it updated.

But at this point, no more cow milk in the fridge. 

Fruit and sugar

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I have another friend who is starting the detox this week. She emailed me her food journal and was eating a lot of fruit. I hated to break it to her, but too much fruit especially during the detox can be bad. I know, it’s hard to quit the fruit sometimes. I love fruit and fully acknowledge that it can be the hardest portion of the detox. She was asking me how much fruit you should include and which fruits are high in sugar. Even though sugar is naturally derived, the sugar will still cause spikes in blood glucose. Fruit can be good in the diet in the whole form where you’re getting the fiber with it. In general dried fruit has more sugar too, which means you might want to limit prunes, raisins, dried blueberries/pineapple/cranberries.  I know, quit laughing at the prunes. Some people like them, really. Fruit can be fabulous, but remember, the goal is to teach your body to find a source of energy that is not sugar. You want it to burn fat instead. Christy found a good link for fruits which are high in sugar. I found a few more links. Check these out if you’re questioning fruit. 

Fruits HIGH in sugar:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/278972-which-fruits-have-the-most-natural-sugar/

Fruits LOW in sugar:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/279250-what-fruits-are-low-in-natural-sugar-content/

And I don’t know why I thought this was interesting, but who doesn’t like a photographic descriptor of how much sugar you’re consuming?  Sugar Stacks!

http://www.sugarstacks.com/fruits.htm

How cool is that?

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Today I got an email from a friend from back in tha day who mentioned that with some alterations, he’d been doing paleo kind of by accident. He has removed dairy and grains after an effort to improve nutrition. He mentioned that he has had GI problems resulting from radiation treatments and needed better meals that would deliver high nutrition to him. He said that after removing some things from his diet, he has felt better.  Amazing!  Of course, it’s just one person’s observation but how nice is it to see people feeling better.  I’m not saying that paleo is a cure for all that ails you.  It just makes me think more and more that we don’t need all this trash in our diets. 

Can I go it alone?

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Tonight we will go to a 40th birthday party for one of our friends from church. I am not sure what is on the menu for dinner, but I’m betting it’s at least semi paleo friendly.  Scott has been doing paleo for a while and Stacey has gotten on board in the last few months. She was telling me that she decided to give in and give it a try. While he’s been paleo she’s been very low sugar and low carb so I don’t think it’s been a big stretch for her. However, it brings to mind a question I hear on occasion.

Can I do this by myself if no one else in the family eats paleo?

Sure. I think you can. I don’t think it’s simple though. When Pete decided to go paleo, I was near the end of my pregnancy with William. I had terrible morning sickness for the vast majority of pregnancy and when I actually had an appetite I wanted to eat what I wanted. The last thing I wanted to do is to eat some “strange” food.  I was also trying to feed a toddler and they can have finicky diets. I wasn’t in the mood for cooking several different meals or make a child eat something that probably wasn’t going to be touched. There was just no way I was going to do it.

Bless him, Pete forged along. He ate a different dinner than I did. We cooked two different meals- a lot of duplication. More cleaning, more preparing, but I was still determined to not change my habits. I think it was difficult on Pete, particularly since he was reading about all the health benefits (aside from just losing weight) and he wanted me to have good health too. He kept at it for well over a year before I decided to give it a shot. I found that it was definitely easier for both of us to eat the same meal. It’s definitely easier on me since everything is ready to eat (or close to it) when he gets home from work. He’s not having to cook his own food after working 12 hours .  It’s one less thing he’s got to do- not to mention he doesn’t particularly love cooking. Oh yeah, he is a typical man who when he cooks he doesn’t simultaneously clean.  That means that there’s just more for me to clean too.

The easy answer to this is that yes, paleo is easier if your partner is eating the same meals. It makes decisions much easier for planning meals and finding restaurants. It keeps the pantry more streamlined and it can also  eliminate any of the foods that are “bad” since you don’t have another adult in the house eating poorly.  But if you’re the only person who is paleo, that can definitely be done.

When you’re making choices to better your health, remember that this is a choice that each person makes on your own.  Same goes for your partner or friends. It’s always funny to be the person who has to hear everyone complain about your “strange” diet, hear excuses why they can’t do it or tell you that you are freakish to even try to make changes. I’ve heard it before. Heck, I’ve said it before. I said it to Pete. I thought it was crazy for him to eat this way and I was really irritated that he started losing weight quickly. Isn’t that how it always works?  Men can lose weight at nothing and women have to really put the nose to the grindstone to get a pound or two off.  I was sure that if it was easy it was probably just due to the gender differences. When I decided to try paleo I realized it’s not- it is accomplished through healthy eating. Pretty simple.

When your partner is eating paleo with you, it helps you both out because you’ve got someone else to share the meal, you don’t feel like you’re out there alone and you can at least bounce ideas off the other person. Pete was very helpful from the beginning because I already knew what foods to eat and didn’t feel like I was getting in a food rut. Now I feel like I help him because I have the time to search for recipes to try that bring more variety into our meals.  Pete was never a person who enjoyed cooking, where I do. It is easier for me to see a recipe online, and just through experience, know what can be done to substitute parts and how to alter a recipe so that it will still work. I also have the time to search online for new entrees and sides. Most of the recipes I post here are from an online source, whether it’s a paleo site or a regular recipe.  I’ve said it plenty of times, it’s all about doing what makes this work best for you.

Yes, you can do this on your own. I’m sure it’s hard when you have lots of questions, you don’t have someone to commiserate with and you have people who constantly tell you it’s a “strange” or “crazy” diet. But you know what is best for you.  Keep plugging at it and make it work!