Teacher-Recommended “Healthy” Snacks for Kids

goldfish

“Teacher Recommended Healthy Snacks for Kids” is another Oldie-but-Goodie that was originally posted in March of 2011. (Still “rebuilding” my archives after the hack attack!)

It’s really no wonder at all that we can be so confused by nutrition.

It’s also no surprise that our kids end up equally, if not more, confused.

Recently, following our nutrition and lifestyle consultation, one parent in our practice brought in the “Recommended Health Snacks” list from her child’s class for my reading enjoyment. She thought I’d get a “kick” out of its contents.

Apparently, it’s enjoyable to others to watch me grow new gray hairs and wrinkle prematurely.

This mom explained that their school is participating in a much-publicized “wellness initiative” this year in an effort to “stamp out” childhood obesity and improve “heart health”, amongst other commendable goals.

Obviously, that’s all good.

They’re doing interesting things in gym class to chart their progress throughout the year, wearing pedometers to encourage additional movement, as well as sponsoring fun events like jump rope contests and so on.

Nutritionally, I’m not so sure.

I continue to hear very confusing, inaccurate nutritional messages in circumstances like these.

I get a little edgy when the term “healthy” is thrown around so loosely… carelessly, at times. I reserve the use of “healthy” for choices that are “health-building” and “health-enhancing”. That keeps it pretty simple and clear when it comes to making choices. Takes care of much of the confusion.

I definitely have an issue with using the term healthy for a lifestyle choice that clearly subtracts from our optimal cellular function, or has the potential to subtract from it.

Anyway, back to the list this concerned mom brought me.

Although this list isn’t horrifying by any means, it’s just disappointing… knowing that this was apparently based on the school’s “big improvement in nutrition” this year.

Check it out:

List of Recommended Healthy Snack & Lunch Choices:

Sunflower Seeds
Goldfish Crackers
Crackers
Cheese
Pretzels
Fruit
Veggies
Bagels
Muffins
Yogurt
Granola Bars
Breakfast Bars
Popcorn
Nuts
Trail-mix
Peanut Butter
Applesauce

At first glance, you might not think it’s too bad, right? That’s what most parents have shared with me.

“What?! There’s no chips or chocolate bars or candy on that list. It’s HEALTHY!”

In the case of the nuts & seeds and the fruit and vegetables, I agree. Well, if the nuts and seeds are raw & unsalted, that is!

What do YOU think about the rest of the list?

The cheese, yogurt, trail mix and applesauce might be a decent choice – depends on their source and quality. Although dairy is not required for optimal cell function… so we can argue that we shouldn’t even be consuming it at all! Whenever possible, clean it up. Organic and raw are better choices. Don’t choose dairy products based on the number of calories, or whether or not it’s “low-fat” or “fat-free”. Choose based on the ingredients and the source of those ingredients.

I repeat – we do not require dairy in order to experience optimal cell function (i.e. “health”). In fact, most times, dairy directly subtracts from our health.

By the way, our brains NEED fat. A low-fat diet (from processed, factory foods) is NOT the direction we should be headed with kids in particular. Their developing brains need all the help they can get. (So do mom and dad’s!) When we choose low-fat and fat-free foods we miss out on the critical fat soluble vitamins found in healthy fats. This is NOT the answer to the childhood obesity epidemic!! Real food, whole foods, more raw foods, non-toxic food PLUS daily exercise and an active lifestyle… that’s more like it!

Back to the list.

When my kids were in school, every “healthy” trail mix provided at various school functions always contained cereal and pretzels… and usually some type of colorful candy. Not my idea of healthy trail mix! For a “healthy” trail mix, focus more on raw nuts and seeds as the main ingredients.

Peanut butter can be a slippery slope. Many health experts say that we shouldn’t consume peanut butter because it contains aflatoxins that are harmful to our health. Almond butter is a better choice. At the very least, consuming “natural” peanut butter without all the added sugar and chemicals is a step in the right direction. Consider, too, that peanuts are legumes. We don’t actually need those in our diet. (I’m still bummed out about that, too. Trust me!)

Breakfast bars? Guess that would depend on their ingredients. Definitely not the conventional junk that’s out there. Those can be no better than glorified junk food. If you can, make your own, or look for raw bars with “clean”, real food ingredients. Granola bars can be tricky, too. Leading brands tend to be high in sugar and processed ingredients… plus, they’re loaded with grain, which leads me to the next point…

All righty. Let’s get down to the biggest problems on this list.

Gold fish crackers? As a “recommended HEALTHY snack”? Crackers, pretzels, bagels??

Fillers? Yes. Stop a kid’s stomach from growling? Yes. Health-promoting fuel for the body AND brain? NO.

Processed, refined, toxic grains trigger the stress response in children and adults alike.

This is one of THE root causes of ALL chronic illness… whether it’s obesity, attention & learning deficits,  emotional dysfunction, or even the ‘bigger’ illnesses like diabetes and cancer.

Grains are carbohydrates. (So are veggies, by the way. However, most Americans are in no danger of over loading on carbs from vegetables anytime soon!) Carbohydrates break down to glucose. Carbohydrates elicit a physiological response that favors fat storage. This entire hormonal cascade of events taxes the pancreas, the adrenal system and the immune system and contributes to an insulin roller coaster.

Also, there’s an inflammatory response to boot – you know, that same inflammation I’ve described as one of the root causes of all chronic illness?!

Then there are the issues of gluten and lectin, which, in a nutshell, can cause massive GI disarray and lead to serious autoimmune ailments.

Plus, grains just flat out do not offer us anything we can’t find in superior forms from other foods, like vegetables. grass-fed and pasture-raised meats,  and healthy fats & oils.

 

 

Maybe these foods on the list are indeed a step UP from the nastier more toxic snacks that contain even more artificial ingredients and colors and sweeteners… but that doesn’t mean we should confuse kids OR parents by calling them “healthy”.

That’s quite a stretch.

I know it’s challenging to provide a healthy lunch and healthy snacks day after day… after day. I get it.

Mixed messages make it even harder for everyone, kids included.

SO… let’s be PROACTIVE here! Let’s be part of the solution, rather than continuing to wallow in the problem.

What are some of YOUR favorite healthy snack choices you like to provide your kids?

The Drugging of Women

depression

How sad is this…

Yesterday, as I was reviewing one of the new patient’s assessment forms before heading in to the exam room with her, I noticed that she had left the “Medications you are currently taking” line blank.

The sad part is that my initial thought was, “She accidentally missed this one… OR, her list is so long that she’ll just hand me a previously prepared list of meds she’s on.”

I’m not a glass-half-empty negative thinker by nature. I was going with the statistical evidence on this one!

It is a rarity to meet someone in our practice who is NOT on drugs these days! Especially anyone over 35. Especially, especially women!

I’d estimate that at least 8 out of 10 women that we consult with in recent years are taking some form of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drug. Really, it seems like it’s more like 9 out of 10. I’m always pleasantly surprised to meet “The One” who’s not taking prescription medication for depression and anxiety.

That’s a whole lotta’ women out there who are not feeling ‘complete’ and ‘connected’. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Are WE all wrong? Is there something inherently wrong with women now… that only medication can soothe away?

I sure don’t think so. Not from a scientific perspective. Not from an intuitive perspective.

There are countless interacting, overlapping, underlying causes that contribute to why we can end up feeling the way we do as a societal whole… feeling the need to be numb… to shut things off for awhile.

It has been a long time since I’ve met a woman, seeking care for her health, that consistently gets a good night’s sleep, that doesn’t feel overwhelmed, that isn’t under some financial stress, that’s eating pure and sufficient fuel and avoiding toxic and deficient fuel, that’s avoiding obvious toxic triggers like gluten (actually, grains in general), conventional dairy & meat, that’s using non-toxic household and personal care products, that takes the time to consistently move her body with variety and intensity, that plays and has balance in her life, that regularly spends time connecting with nature, that doesn’t worry about the future and feel some regret about the past, that feels fully appreciated and respected by the people she loves the most…

Really? Is it any wonder that women in particular feel like something’s missing?? C’mon. Do we really think that drugs can ever replace a lack of abundant nutrition, movement, sleep, self-worth, love of self and others…?

(No, it can’t fix a lack of essential ‘fuel’ in guys either!)

I understand the desire to cover up the pain and stress that our lives bring. I do not live under a rock! However, I also understand the consequences – now and in the future – of being chronically medicated. It’s becoming more and more frightening as pharmaceuticals become more potent, and used in greater combinations. We are a chemical time bomb waiting to explode!

 

 

Anyhow, this new patient yesterday provided one of my rare “Hallelujah moments”! She did not miss that question. She did not hand me a laundry list of medications she’s taking. She is one of those rarities who is over 35 and NOT medicated.

Her reason kind of cracked me up! When I questioned her, she said she hadn’t been to a (medical) doctor for years because she “hated going to the doctor”. Then she said, “It’s amazing how many drugs you DON’T end up taking when you DON’T go to the doctor!!”

So true!

Yes, yes… “there’s a time and a place” for drugs. Obviously. I support the use of drugs for life-saving intervention: NOT as a long-term strategy. And NOT for an entire population! Drugs do not create or restore proper function… and therefore, they do not create improved health.

(Sure, they “change” function… but I certainly won’t say that’s necessarily a ‘good’ thing in many cases!)

Health and happiness come from within. We can certainly take better care of our “withins” without chronic reliance on medication.

To clarify, I certainly don’t “judge” or “blame” the individuals who end up in this situation! That would be ridiculous. I see it like this: “God sent this person to see us. It’s my job to help… to figure out what I can do to help her (or him) get better. She needs some help in creating better function and restoring some balance to her health. The drugs she is currently taking just add some complications to the restoration… that’s all!”

Wouldn’t it be fabulous to have a “health care” system that focused on restoring HEALTH?? We’d focus on adding purity and sufficiency to our lifestyle choices: how we think, how we eat, how we move, how we sleep, how we respond to stress… that’s how we create health, one choice at a time. Then again, that’s not the job of a health care “system”. It’s the job of each and every one of us!

 

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The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness: The Precursors to Why We Get Sick (Oldie-But-Goodie)

pillars

(This post is actually a RE-post of an oldie-but goodie I had originally posted back in May of 2009. Due to the detailed “hack attack” a few months ago, my original Dr. Mom Online site is gone AND, unfortunately, so is much of the back-up. Boooo! However, I did manage to dig up some of my previous posts and articles from a back-up of a back-up! I’ll slowly start re-posting some of these over the next little while… to fill in some of the gaps!)

The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness 

*** The overall concept of the 5 Pillars, as well as “rocks in the backpack”, comes from a colleague and mentor of mine, Dr. James Chestnut, B.Ed., M.Sc., D.C., C.C.W.P. ***

Despite all the attention shed on health, exercise & fitness, diets and the “miracles of medicine” during the last few decades, our society is witnessing a drastic increase in all chronic illnesses.  These illnesses and conditions include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, osteoarthritis, depression and anxiety disorders, Alzheimer’s, dementia, autoimmune issues, acid reflux, constipation, infertility, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, decreased sex drive, and so on.

Science continues to demonstrate that over 99% of these illnesses are truly preventable – they are not “genetic” as has been the message so long perpetuated. Our lifestyle choices and our environment determine whether or not we will express health and wellness. This relationship between the environment and our genetic expression is summarized by the Science of Epigenetics.

There are clearly some direct relationships that have been confirmed in the study of chronic illness. We do not develop any of the aforementioned chronic illnesses due to random chance or faulty genetics. The “5 Pillars of Chronic Illness” represent the prerequisites to chronic illness. We do not develop chronic illness without at least one of these five pillars existing first.

The 5 Pillars of Chronic Illness are:

1)         Stress Hormones

2)         Insulin Resistance

3)         Chronic Inflammation

4)         Decreased SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin)

5)         Decreased Immunity

For example, it would be highly implausible (many would say “impossible”) to find someone experiencing cancer that did not have at least one of these five pillars first. In the simplest of metaphors, we could liken cancer or any of the other chronic illnesses to a cooked potato. The potato didn’t just magically end up that way. It wasn’t bad luck or bad potato genes that cooked the spud. Something must have preceded the end result of that potato being cooked.

It may have been baked, roasted, slow cooked, fried, microwaved… or any combination of these. These cooking methods are like the five pillars. They must precede a cooked potato! Obviously, developing chronic illness is far more serious and detailed than cooking. But, if we don’t understand the hierarchy of how sickness truly happens we can never fully restore health.

In the case of chronic illness, the five pillars are innately intelligent physiological adaptations to yet another level of precursors. In order for the body to respond in the form of these pillars, or adaptations to the environment, there must be a preceding state of Toxicity and Deficiency.

This means that lifestyle choices incongruent with our genetic blueprint for health and the prevention of chronic illness are being made. It doesn’t matter if the lifestyle choices are related to nutrition, movement or mindset – if they are toxic and deficient, rather than pure and sufficient, the end result is that the body will intelligently express adaptations to this toxic and deficient environment in the form of the physiological stress response. This response is neatly summarized by the five pillars of chronic illness.

The physiological stress response does not create health; it does not heal. What it does is it allows short term survival in the pathogenic environment. Essentially, it buys you time to get to a healthy environment – one that is less toxic and deficient, more pure and sufficient.

Our toxic and deficient lifestyle choices are like rocks in a backpack we wear as we tread water. They slowly sink us and make our existence more challenging and stressful. If the rocks are left in the backpack, and we continue to choose more rocks, our bodies make the highly intelligent decision to adapt to this new environment.

This is known as allostasis – the body’s attempt to maintain stability in a changing environment. The rocks are known as the allostatic load – the cumulative effect of our body responding to the stressors (toxicity and deficiency).

It’s this allostatic load that results in the physiological stress response and the 5 pillars of chronic illness. Without the rocks, we don’t move to the next stage.

Therefore, if we can prevent putting rocks into our backpack in the first place (by consistently making pure and sufficient lifestyle choices) and remove the rocks that are already there (by decreasing toxic and deficient choices), then our body no longer has a reason to express the five pillars. Without any of the five pillars, we don’t develop chronic illness.

Our lifestyle choices are the linchpin in this relationship between chronic illness and the environment. Choose wisely!

 

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Finding the Time…

balanced rocks

Not much of a blogger these days, am I?!

Evidently, being hacked late last year must’ve struck a nerve with me… an “I-don’t-feel-like-putting-it-all-out-there-again” pouty nerve!

Nah, that’s not really the reason. Well, it’s only part of the reason.

The other reason is that the clone I ordered several months ago has failed to show up thus far. You know, that clone that could masterfully write witty blog posts while I go to the practice every day… or the clone who can keep our home relatively tidy and clean so that I have a clear (enough) mind to sit down and write… or, the clone who would so lovingly prepare ‘clean’, healthy meals and snacks for my grateful family so that I could invest more time in Dr. Mom-isms.

Yeah, that clone.

She’s nowhere to be found.

It has just been a c-r-a-z-y year.  I look back at the “master plan” I laid out for 2012 and can’t help but laugh. Or scream. Or just give in to the ultra-mature behavior of kicking my feet, pounding my fists and crying! (Not really… but it’s a good visual, yes?)

What on earth happened???

I had grand plans of the second half of the kids’ home school year being a wonderful balance of academic “book time” along with fascinating field trips, various sports & extracurricular activities, music lessons, clubs, play dates…

Not.

I had a plan for my “work” schedule. I’d go to the practice and lovingly serve our practice members two, maybe three, days per week, as well as teach all the seminars with my hubby.

Nope.

Apparently, 2-3 days was a complete joke to the universe.

I think I may have sent my prayers, intentions, planning and affirmations to the wrong address!

(I know, I know. “People make plans and God laughs.” Yes. Heard that one a few times this year. Hardy har har! Good thing I have faith in His plan… otherwise, I may have thrown in the towel by now!)

The kids and I have been going in to our practice daily… for the entire year. Oy.

There is only so much you can do to keep children busy and entertained in a healthcare practice! So much for all those great field trips and extracurricular stimulation!

They are officially DONE with the current arrangement!

So WHY have we been at the practice daily for so long now? Nothing earth-shattering, really. Just a combination of things and the evolution of things.

It started with being staff-less back in January & February. Then again in May. Then training all the newbies. But, now it’s mostly because of all the new work we’re doing in the practice. The metabolic weight loss programs, other metabolic recovery programs, the neuro-structural work, the Integrative Cancer Recovery… they all take a massive amount of time and energy compared to a traditional Chiropractic practice. Rightfully so.

As a result, we just haven’t found our balance in the midst of this yet.

Better order a second and third clone while I’m at it!

The other piece of this time warp puzzle has been my dad. The very short version of the story is that: 1)  he moved (down-sized) back in late May; and, 2) he hasn’t been feeling all that great for several months now – I think the cancer is moving further into his bones now.

April, May and June involved weekly trips across the border, initially in an effort to help him find a new place to lay his head at night, and then eventually to help him sort through 48 years worth of memories and stuff… and then packing and tossing and donating and more packing, cleaning, more cleaning… and finally moving… and, of course, unpacking!

While the move, and everything it entailed, has been exhausting on this end, it has taken much more of a toll on dad. Physically, yes. But mostly emotionally. It’s tough to move when you’re not a “mover”! 48 years is a long time in one place. A lot was ‘stirred up’ as a result. {sigh}

Maybe I’ll do an update post about dad’s condition soon. Maybe not. That’s a tough one to write about. Also, it depends how soon the team of clones arrives.

Anyhooo, just wanted you to know that I’m not skipping out of my Dr. Mom Online duties and chillin’ in a hammock, looking for animal shapes in the clouds! I’ve been spinning a few too many plates for awhile… and realized that I (realistically) couldn’t/shouldn’t get back to regular posting ’til some of those other plates were placed back in the cupboard. Or tossed out the window. Whichever seemed like the more suitable choice.

We have a couple of lovely newbies in our practice now. I’m hoping, with a bit more training, and the grace of God, that I’ll be able to slowly peel myself from the daily schedule! I keep trying… but that schedule sure does fill up quickly and demand attention. It’s a blessing in many ways… but there’s definitely a sneaky curse in there, too.

My kids could use a bit more of a “traditional” summer vacation, that’s for sure!

(Lord help us if this continues for another home school year come fall! Not gonna’ happen!)

Dad’s moved in. In theory, that should be a source of relief on my schedule. However, he’d still like me there every week for a variety of reasons. I get that. Unfortunately, my work schedule – and mental health schedule – doesn’t always get that! Then there’s the guilt… trying balance time with dad, time with my hubby, time with the kids… ugh. Tough choices.

So, while the title of this post is “Finding the Time…”, that’s not really accurate. It’s always about choices. How I choose to spend my time… how I manage to make the time to do what’s important.

I’ve revised my 2012 plan… I’ve tweaked my prayer requests and continue to ‘listen’ for direction. We’ll see where this goes. At this point, my plan is to get back to Dr. Mom Online on a regular basis.

If you hear laughter coming from the direction of heaven, well, you’ll know what happened!