Do We Send Our Troops Our Halloween Loot?

As my kids get all excited to dress up and pretend to be someone or something that they are not for Halloween, I can’t help but cringe at the thought of all that candy coming into my house.  You would think that my first concern would be for my two boys, age 4 and 10 but it is not. I am afraid for me! You see I am a sugar addict.

In fact I just wrote a book on sugar addiction and kids so I know all the statistics and scary facts that would make Halloween seem like a tea party.  Our children are eating their weight in sugar each year and adults are doing no better with an average intake of 140 to 150 pounds of added sugar each year. How is that for frightening?

As I looked into methods of getting rid of my kids’ loot before I can get into it, I came across an initiative to send our troops oversee leftover Halloween candy: it is part of Operation Gratitude. At first I was appalled. How could we be sending our soldiers this unhealthy food, full of sugar that will wreck havoc on their health? When I put on my nutrition scientist hat, it is clear that this is indeed a very bad idea.

But when I settled down and thought of my own struggles with sugar, I came up with an entirely different answer.  As I thought about the real reason I wrote the book on sugar, my response changed.  My goal for my boys and other children is to bring them up in an environment where candy is an OK thing in moderation but needing it, well that is unacceptable to me.

As a girl I grew up with a father who was both an alcoholic and an ex-marine. I do not think I could have survived such a stressful childhood without sugar by my side.  It was my best friend and companion.  I turned to sugar for comfort and for an escape of my everyday reality at home.

Candy immediately made me feel better and connected.  It only lasted a brief moment before the crash came, but those few precious moments each day were what carried me through my childhood. I turned to candy for an escape and I ended up reaching for sugar anytime my life got stressful.  Today I see it for what it really is: my drug of choice.

So if our troops need a little escape and a rush of pleasure who am I to deny them that?  They are putting their life on the line for me; the least I can do is send them some lovin’ in a sweet form.  When they get back home, I’ll be to there help them in any way I can especially if that means helping them to get off of sugar.


Don’t Blame it on the Dads

The rates of autism have reached an all time high.  One in eighty eight children have some form of autism says a recent government report.  That is insane! Sure some of the increase is due to the fact that we are getting better at diagnosing autism but that is not the whole story.  Parents and researchers have been scrambling to find the reason so many kids are afflicted with this disorder.  The most recent finding is that a child is at higher risk of developing autism if their dad is over the age of 35 when they were conceived.
What concerns me the most over this recent finding is that I see and hear people taking a collective sigh of relief.  “Oh, OK ,its because of older dads.” I don’t think we can rest easy here.  I believe that this generation of kids have reached the tipping point.  Their little bodies are saying ENOUGH!  You can not load me up with dozens of vaccines when my immune system is not even fully developed, eat a diet full of processed junk food or produce with pesticides, breath polluted air and drink water with contaminants without thinking and believing that it is all collectively doing something to my DNA. OK so they maybe wouldn’t be that articulate but I am speaking for them.
As a ‘future parent’,what you eat, breath and surround yourself with does effect the DNA that you pass on to make your baby and I don’t mean just the time around conception but the months and years leading up to that magic moment.  Until recently, scientists and doctors used to think that you could not influence your genetic makeup.  If you had a gene that said you are at a higher risk of developing a certain cancer, the thinking was there was nothing you could do to stop it.  We know a lot more now. What you eat can turn off and on some genes. Really!  How cool is that.  So perhaps the reason babies are at risk when their dads are older is that the collection of chemicals, pesticides, and toxins have built up in their system so much that it effected the DNA in their sperm.
Babies are the most vulnerable of all humans.  As such, they will be the first to show signs of distress, illness and symptoms of a society that has become so toxic that it changes our genetic expression.  As parents, or “wanna be” parents the food we choose to eat can have a profound impact on our offspring. Let’s make healthy choices not only for ourselves but for future generations.

Kids in the Kitchen

I do not have many memories of when I was 4 years old but one stands out in my mind like it was yesterday.  I was at the kitchen table “cooking” while mom made dinner. I mixed milk and peas in a cereal bowl with some other ingredients that I don’t recall. I was so excited that I created my own recipe and was beaming with pride when I showed it to my mother.  She took one look at my creation and immediately took it away and placed it on top of the refrigerator. I was devastated. Couldn’t she see what a budding chef I was?  I guess that was lost on her as she cared for a 5, 4, 3 and 1 year old while cooking dinner.

What brought this memory back so vividly was cooking with my three year old son the other day.  Bryan was having the same fun creating his own recipe as he washed vegetables and played in the sink.  He measured out pretend ingredients with made up measurements. Needless to say, I praised him to the high heavens when he was done. Even at the young age of three he had mastered several essential cooking concepts: measuring ingredients and mixing them, plus the creativity that is essential when pulling together ingredients for a recipe. Another great benefit during this time of “play cooking” is that this is when he tries new food quite often without hesitation.

He understands at three years of age that ingredients go into making a dish.  For example he knows that sugar, flour and eggs make a cake. This awareness is huge.  Many children think chicken nuggets come that way or their glow in the dark candy is actually a food.  They don’t have the ability to distinguish whether something is food or junk. Most of their generation has never been to a farm, grown food in a garden, or seen how food is prepared in a kitchen.  They are so removed from learning what food is that we can not blame them for choosing the great tasting junk.

With life’s frantic pace, I do not meet many children that know how to cook these days.  It is so important that kids know how to cook from scratch (even if you don’t know how yet), instead of just how to order out at a restaurant.  Their future health will depend on how much control they have over their food choices.  If they only know how to order out, their health will suffer in the long term. If your child does not already help you in the kitchen, try to get them in the kitchen at least on one night of the week.  Choose a night when you are less harried and stressed because it will be more fun for the both of you.

There is work that even a two to four year old can help with: wash fruit and vegetables, mix ingredients in a bowl and help you measure. My whole family loves Bryan’s fabulous tarter sauce. As your child ages they can work on other essential cooking elements that you help them with until they have mastered the technique: cutting up ingredients, reading and following a recipe, stirring a pot on the stove.  You will know when your child is ready and mature enough to handle each stage.  Focus on teaching them how to cook one meal really well so that by the time they are twelve they can make it themselves. Your goal is to send your son or daughter off to college, trade school or just out of the house mastering at least 4 recipes.  Common ones that many teens enjoy are chili, a pasta dish, an egg dish, and tacos.


The Poop Train

Let’s take a moment to talk about poop. I know it may be uncomfortable but poop can tell you so much about your child’s body (and yours). As a nutritionist there are several areas of the body that I focus on to determine if a person is digesting their food properly as well as to determine if there is a potential food allergy or sensitivity. These areas are the skin and bowel. Rashes, blisters and unhealthy skin say to me that I need to look into a possible food allergy or sensitivity and asking questions about a persons poop tells me so much about how their diet is affecting their body.

This may seem like an obvious statement but a person’s poop tells a lot about their digestion. Here are some questions that you may want to look into. Does your child poop every day? Is it painful? Does it take more than several minutes to poop? Is the poop in one long piece or does it look like rabbit pellets (this means they are dehydrated and constipated). It may seem gross but it is important to take a moment to determine if your child’s bowel movements are healthy (you may want to take a peek at yours too).

Once children are eating table food they should be having a bowel movement every day. If they are not, you should look into it. My 3 year old went from pooping several times a day during breastfeeding to very infrequently at the age of one. His pediatrician said not to worry but I knew better having worked as a nutritionist for over two decades. I paid attention to what my son ate and figured out that if he had any dairy in his diet he pooped every 5 days and when I removed all dairy he pooped every day. He may not have a “diagnosable food allergy” but he certainly has an issue (sensitivity) to dairy.

You may think that pooping every several days is no big deal but it is. Our bodies are designed to eliminate every day. The following are just some important reasons:

• Toxins have more time to hurt the wall of the intestine and potentially cause harm the longer they are in the bowel
• We do not re-circulate hormones and fat effectively when we don’t poop daily
• Constipation can cause low grade inflammation around the bowel that leads to a host of ill effects

For little children it is important to get them into the habit of sitting on the toilet to try and poop daily. For many, they dislike to do this because 1) it is boring and 2) it may be uncomfortable. You can tell your child that their poop is a train and their toots are a way of letting them know the train is ready to leave the station. This analogy has turned around my son’s bathroom habits. He now understands that when he gets that feeling and hears the toots, that means he has to go. Toot toot!

Nutrition Advice Hasn’t Changed since 1937!


I came across a magazine that was published in 1937 and distributed to new mothers.  Here is how the article started: “The American housewife today is offered an opportunity such as never before been known in the history of our country.  This opportunity is one of cooperating with her government in a national crisis, by intelligent planning, buying and preparation of daily food for her family. To make a strong nation, we must have strong individuals; and to have strong individuals, we must have proper nutrition.”  1937 was a time when finances were scarce, some food was rationed, and many had to live on little. Is some of that sounding familiar to many today?

4 types of food were listed to serve as a guide for mothers when making meals and snacks. Moms were asked to serve food from each group every day until “new discoveries produced a guide that was better”.  The 4 types of food were:

  1. Body building and repairing: protein and minerals. This included the food groups “meats/beans”, including legumes, “dairy” and whole “grains”.
  2. Body regulating: vitamins and minerals: Included “milk” and soy beans
  3. Energy foods: starches, sugars and fats
  4. Roughage or bulk materials: included “fruits”, “vegetables” and “whole grains”

It certainly looks identical to what we are asked to follow today. I guess in 75 years a healthy well balanced diet hasn’t changed despite the enormous efforts of scientists and nutritionists to fine tune it. That is not to say that we haven’t learned things along the way but I think the single most irrefutable fact is that a healthy diet is made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, meats and legumes. Taking these whole foods and processing the life out of them has cost many years off of their life. Stick to eating as close to nature as possible and you will never go wrong.



I recently got a Planet Fitness work out and I love it. Since May is exercise month it got me thinking, how much should we exercise a day? We should be exercising at least 60mins per day, but that can be difficult. So with the little time I do have I do the 30min express work out at Planet Fitness. I work my arms, legs, and more. During each break I also do stretches. It’s a full work out in a little amount of time. How convient! Days after this work out I am still sore, so I know(and feel)that it’s done its job. Still, everyday I have gym class where I do laps and other exercises. For some kids who do not have a gym class everyday try to get them to walk the dog, and anything else.

Lets Break the the fast!

The definition of fasting is not eating for a long period of time for religious or other reasons. When you sleep you are fasting for eight or more hours. In the morning you break the fast with breakfast. Breakfast is not only yummy, but the most important meal of the day.

Soda or Water

Tomorrow I have my first triathlon. I need to have long lasting energy all day, should I drink water or soda? Cast your vote and reasoning below

Personally, I don’t like soda but I love water! To be healthy, you should drink eight cups of water each day. Soda is very surgery and almost as bad as candy. You my feel like soda or other drinks such as Redbull are giving you energy, but there are really only making you feel that way for a small amount of time. After the sugars run out you crash and lose lots of energy, but if you had just eaten a filling meal and drank some water you would have real, healthy, and long lasting energy.


Orange Juice Experiment

I got up early in the morning with my friends (after my little brother jumped all over us) and we did an experiment to see which is healthier: orange juice or a bowl of oranges. We cut the oranges in half from a bowl and squeezed out the juice. We put the juice from the bowl of oranges in one glass and poured out orange juice from a carton in another. We tasted the juice and we all thought the orange juice from the bowl of oranges was healthier and tasted better because the one from the carton tasted WAY too sweet but the one from the bowl of oranges had just the right sweetness. When my friends went home, I searched and found out this:                          

Store Bought Orange juice      Fresh Orange juice                                                                                                           

Calories: 110                                Calories: 85
Carbohydrate: 26                          Carbohydrate: 21
Fiber: 0                                          Fiber: 4.3
Sugar: 22                                       Sugar: 17
Vitamin C: 72                                Vitamin C: 96                             

Which one do you think is healthier?

12 times

It only takes 12 times to like a food. Try it, it really works! Try the food once now and then and soon… you might like a vegetable or something you never thought you could like! Be brave and put yourself to the test.

11 more times