Category Archives: Food

Every documentary and/or book I’ve linked on the sidebar should be watched or read by every American. These movies are an eye-opener into how some of our everyday conveniences are produced, marketed, and worst, accepted. I’ve now seen each of these twice, with exception to Super Size Me – which wrapped up my past week “food supply” documentary-binge.

You Are What You Eat was one of the first during my evolution into dairy-free breastfeeding. I had long been reading health and exercise magazines – especially Runner’s World, having then completed six marathons. So diet, exercise and nutritional education wasn’t a new topic for me; however, eating healthy, and eating well, was. For many years the goal was probably more along the lines of determining how big my pasta dinner could be given the number of miles run that day.

But having been witness to the drastic change in skin and stomach issues in my newborn by simply removing milk from my diet was what finally prompted me to give healthy food a new attitude. I’ve long had a huge sweet-tooth, enjoyed carbs, alcohol, etc…and was embarrassingly avoidant of vegetables. And it’s a little like the obvious elephant in the room when you realize the old mantra of “you are what you eat”…really means just that.

What’s worse is that for many people, they might think “well, duh”….however, for so many more, I believe, truly do not. Super Size Me clearly illustrates how the giant food corporations of today have utilized child-focused marketing to not only lure kids into wanting their food but to also give parents a false sense of safety in eating their “food”. To further that, the size and prevalence of the existence of these companies on every main street in nearly every American town only adds to that false perception of “safety”.

I also watched each of the bonus sections of the listed DVDs and have to admit, I was completely surprised and utterly disgusted at the condition of the french fries at the end of 8 weeks (see bonus to Super Size Me) – they were perfectly intact, appearing as if they had just been bought. Preservatives. Probably the most prevalent, yet least noticeable, agent affecting our health – and the very same reason you may have heard to “shop around the edges of your grocery store” (i.e., to evade processed foods in the center aisles). Never mind the empty calories and gobs of sugar dumped into processed foods – but what about the preservatives? If they can maintain french fries for eight weeks at room temperature, what are they doing to the cells in your body?

This is why “Never Fear Cancer Again” makes my list. The title itself makes one think of something they might see on the cover of The National Enquirer – a piece of fiction used only to make money – because after all, why would we need so much cancer research, chemotherapy, and huge research hospitals and clinics if such a “super cure” really existed? But this book bridges the gap between understanding which foods to buy and why to buy them. At the root of this book is cell health and it helps you understand things such as the gap between regenerative farming practices and not just healthy foods – but healthy foods which still contain the essential nutrients to actually have an impact on your health – even to the point, according to it’s author – to cure and prevent cancer. Prevention being the key idea.

So as a start, learning which foods are best is invaluable. But as you travel down the path of holistic health you’ll start to see why broccoli from the grocery store is far different than broccoli from a farmer’s market – and if you take it the next step – you’ll see how each level in the process – from choosing the food to farming, harvesting, storing, and cooking all have an impact on your overall health.

Ironically, I was surprised at the hesitance of some of the doctors in “Super Size Me” to believe that dietary modifications were going to have such an impact on the filmmaker’s overall health (which they did). Similar to how I was unable to find “dietary modifications” as the best first option in improving my crying baby. But as he states in the movie, we really need to move from a “Sick Care” mentality to a “Health Care” mentality…and it is up to each of us as individuals to be our own care provider.


I should probably break down this post because many of the topics here deserve their own space….

  • Changing the mentality/perspective on health care.
  • Changing the mentality/perspective on exercise.
  • Changing the mentality/perspective on the food we consume – as in, is cereal (for example) really good for us, or our kids? Or is it just the packaging and old thought processes that keep us consuming these types of products?
  • Examine other countries’ cultures, food habits, etc…in comparison (e.g., many countries in Europe have GMO labeling yet we do not?)
  • Offering up solutions for everyday mom’s and dad’s who want to fit this into their lifestyle and budget – IMHO this also requires a drastic change in mentality about how much we really need to eat, and what it is that constitutes a “good meal”. This is  tough one because our culture places a lot of emphasis on eating, and doing so with others, and as a group…so something to think about. Why not go for tea, rather than lunch? Etc. CA I know has raw food restaurants…something we don’t see much of in the Midwest….
  • Actually making the conversion. Having just spent a couple years with too much time on the road, and far too many gas station “entrees”….I completely understand about convenience. And sometimes something warm is just what is needed when temps drop below zero (especially here in the North). Not to mention, those McDonald’s french fries really do taste good. Ugh.

In any event, I’m hoping my movie-binge will help me jump-start the conversion I’ve been longing to make. I’m not sure I know anyone who isn’t concerned – whether its about weight or health or money it seems like there’s always talk about what we’re eating.

 

I had to post this as a phrase, or term, I want embedded in my mind. For almost a decade words, phrases, and acronyms like “organic”, “all-natural”, “GMO”, “IMG_0022BPA”, “rBGH”, “certified”, “soy lecithin”, “cow’s milk protein”, “high-fructose corn syrup”, along with additives, preservatives, and other words I can’t pronounce have tumbled around in my mind over many a shopping experience. While easier to avoid at local farmer’s markets, not so much at many regional grocers.

Following my experience with milk allergies, and a complete change in career path, everything in my inner-being continues to push me down the path of holistic health. And while I dream away the idea of a hobby farm raising my own cows, sheep, alpaca, and organic garden, the term “regenerative organic agriculture” just came full circle for me today while researching the Rodale Institute website.

It came full circle because as I’ve been considering work as a Holistic Health Practitioner, I’ve been reading “Never Fear Cancer Again: How to Prevent and Reverse Cancer” by Raymond Francis, M.Sc. This term, “regenerative organic agriculture”, brought to mind the chapters regarding the lack of nutrients in our foods given the depletion of the minerals in our soil. This book goes on to discuss how, even if you are eating a well-rounded diet including fresh fruits and vegetables, you may not find your health significantly improved.

A number of factors contribute to the decline in nutrients. Modern chemical farming with artificial fertilizers, harvesting before ripening, shipping, along with storage and cooking all have an impact on the nutrients available once the food hits our plates. But like so many issues facing our world today, we are quick to apply a band-aid to the problem as opposed to working at the root source of the problem.

Especially when it comes to disease, in general.

While this is simply a quick post to remind myself, and cement this concept in my mind, I can’t help but think C.S. Lewis sums up the band-aid issue rather well in his quote from Mere Christianity where he states: “There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake. […] it is pretty plain to see that humanity has been making some big mistake. We are on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.”

Dairy allergies – the second round

As stated in my previous post, I wanted to bring light to what happened with the milk allergies at a later time. If you are experiencing this with your own baby, you are no doubt wondering, “When will things improve?!?! And will he/she ever grow out of this?!?!”

From our experience, we finally allowed small amounts of dairy around age 14 months (well, one of us did, the other did not). String cheese on occasion, then slowly and gradually other items such as ice cream or other milk/dairy/cheese products. I did my best to stick to the basics that, as a picky 1 year old, might normally allow. Organic chicken nuggets, unsweetened applesauce, steamed finger-sized broccoli (surprisingly!), raisins and whole foods as able.

But as the pickiness increased, my resistance to the “easy” foods decreased. I too, started to allow various cereals or string cheeses or cakes, even if they contained dairy.

That is, until around 2 years and 4 months of age….and this was when the nightly vomiting started. As it ran its course, a few nights in a row – and we went to the doctor. Then a few more nights in a row – back to the doctor again. And this went on for a few weeks.

Allergy skin tests, a top Peds GI doc, and an endoscopy to evaluate her esophagus (this was done to check for eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) – which is a food allergy where the reaction occurs in the esophagus) – and there was nothing found. The best advice we were to receive was to use OTC GERD medications and that it was acid reflux. All this over the course of 2-3 months. And, this is where I’m forgetting, but even with the GERD medication, while it would seem to suppress the vomiting for a while, it would come right back.

She would vomit nightly, usually starting anywhere from midnight to 3am, and it would continue for a good hour or two. It was abnormal vomit; it was white and creamy and seemed to smell sweet – not like normal stomach acid. It would also have little chunks in it (I likened them to pineapple). In any event, as this went on for about 3-4 months, and despite the best, and well-intentioned efforts of her doctors, I was completely frustrated after the endoscopy (as this is not a procedure any mom wants to see their child go through, I get sad and teary thinking of it to this day – and if I had had this knowledge prior to then, I would have never gone through with it).

This is when I put my foot down on the dairy (as the other side was not as easily persuaded that the milk allergies existed – but was, however, having to deal with the vomiting as well). And as the ice cream was put on the shelf, the vomiting subsided, and nearly overnight.

She would later go on to have a few more episodes, as in, a single night with vomiting – throughout the next couple of YEARS. This was how dramatic and effective the result was – of removing dairy from her diet.

That said, I personally am not a big fan of dairy, but I do love cheese. I can, however, live without it if need be. The other side consumes it much more. In either event, the bright side to this story is that finally around age 5 she was able to tolerate dairy and has not much trouble with it since. So if you are a parent struggling with these issues early on in your child’s life, and love your dairy, there is hope.

My story isn’t to bash any one type of food or industry – but it is rather to bring relief to parents of little ones…and to perhaps shed light on some issues I do believe we are facing with our food supply. I plan another post about this when I talk about the GMO OMG movie and other documentaries I’ve watched on this very topic. But for now, hoping I can pass some hope to any tired or worried parents.

Dairy allergies – the first round

My journey down this path stemmed from the birth of my daughter. She was born with an allergic reaction to cow’s milk protein. While it took a number of months to diagnose this as a baby, it took about 4 years before she was able to readily digest it without issue.

For any mom searching out there about how to calm a fussy, crying baby I want to tell you the symptoms we experienced in hopes that I can save you some of the anxiety and stress associated with this.

My daughter was born with what was described by other mom’s and the post-partum nurses as baby acne, cradle cap, AND eczema. And in the time after returning home from the hospital those conditions only worsened. She also cried much of the time at the hospital, even to the point the nurses commented on it…and could only offer sympathetic reassurances that things would eventually improve.

Upon arriving home, I began to log her feeding times, which side she was nursing from, and for how long she would nurse. Being a new mom I was terribly fearful she was not “getting enough”…which as I understand is common in new breastfeeding moms…even, I believe, in second and third-time moms! So while my confidence was not high, I was particularly detailed in documenting it all. Especially since the crying we experienced in the hospital was not improving.

Here is what I noticed (and I was strictly breastfeeding):

  • Her skin was not improving. Some days it appeared worse than others. (I began to wonder if it was irritating to her but I couldn’t see any indication of that, outside of crying.)
  • The cradle cap was very thick – on her eyebrows, ears, and scalp.
  • The baby acne covered her entire face.
  • She had “tough” skin on her shins and arms.
  • If she wasn’t nursing, she would begin to cry within 10 minutes or so.
  • I would put her back on the breast but within 10-15 minutes she would fall asleep….only to awake and begin to cry again(!)
  • She was never very “aggressive” while eating…she would hang out on it all day, going back and forth from gentle nursing, to sleep, to only short periods of being awake and then crying again.
  • Also, the crying, or “colicky” behavior that is most often read about was not occurring during the evening only – it was all day/night.

Along with logging her feeding, I was also working very hard on developing a sleep routine. She eventually began sleeping the longer hours at night, starting with around 4 hours at a time – then with the intermittent sleeping throughout the remainder of the time. I was working toward a morning nap and an afternoon nap – and for as long as I could get her to sleep, I would! (I didn’t wake her to feed because she was already sleeping so little anyway, and nursing the rest.)

After about 3-4 weeks of this, I took her to the pediatrician with my concerns. After the typical suggestions (on getting babies to sleep, feeding routines, etc…) and an assurance they could see nothing physically wrong (outside of the skin issues – addressed with creams or lotions), I was sent home with no answers. And not long after this, maybe a few more weeks, we noticed little threads of blood in her diaper. They were so difficult to notice but her Dad caught it one afternoon while changing her diaper. It was at this point I realized she was truly have stomach issues.

This was around her second month, and three pediatricians later,  after receiving negative results from an FOBT, we were blessed with another pediatrician, mom of 3, who suggested that I remove milk/dairy from my diet. After one week off dairy I started seeing a noticeable difference in her skin. It was almost night and day difference as the acne first started to disappear, then the cradle cap. But because it was so severe to start, it was easy to see even the slightest improvement.

The colic/crying/fussiness, however, was not as quick an improvement. As I learned, it takes about a month to eliminate cow’s milk protein from first, the mom’s system, and then followed by the baby’s. So it was suggested that to resolve the crying may take longer. And it was, truly, after about 2 months of eliminating dairy from my diet before she seemed to improve (sorry to say, for any mom out there looking for answers).

I returned to work at 4 months and the daycare provider felt things were going fine for her. And it was also around that time that I started to notice a “happier” baby. So it definitely seemed to be a good month that the issues she was having in her stomach began to subside – her skin, however, I believe was a good indicator that the milk protein was definitely an issue, which gave me hope to continue down that path for longer.

We both ultimately gave up dairy for at least another two years. While the story doesn’t end here, I’ll write another post of it’s recurrence and how it affected us and reinforced my original beliefs.

If you’ve read my post, this is recall from quite a number of years ago so I had to update regarding her stool, because I was thinking that didn’t appear until later….and my memory is not so good these days. That said, however, I have medical records to prove how good my memory probably is without having looked back at them, just might take a rewrite or two.

Which, by the way, every writer/blogger/speaker, etc, is human. It’s pretty much a God-given right to be allowed to filter your words. Meaning, personal journals, electronics, etc. should be a private space. Imagine if every thought of yours came out in public?….ah…not a one could imagine.

Thankfully, the Lord has many verses regarding this very thing and, while, there are of course reasons to clear impure thoughts from your mind, he also makes many, and more, reference to “guarding one’s mouth”, watching the words that “pass one’s lips” – the actual physical action of talking, blogging, tweeting, and facebook commenting to make your thoughts public. (Yikes.)
Proverbs 10:19: Where words are many, sin is not wanting; but he who restrains his lips does well.