This article as originally appeared on Mind, Body, Green November 1, 2013.
By now we all know that October was National Breast Cancer Awareness month. This means that for a month, everyone wears pink and buys “pink” products to support awareness. But aren’t we already aware of breast cancer? I don’t need pink products thrown in my face all month to make me more “aware.” If anything, it really bothers me. What infuriates me is seeing what companies do to market their products, all in the name of "awareness."
This was blatantly obvious recently as I paid for a salad at my local café. There was a basket full of brown cookies with pink things in them.
“What kind of cookie is that?” I said.
The lady told me that they were chocolate cookies with pink M&M’s to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Really? Are you kidding me? Since when did a cookie serve as awareness for anything besides Type II diabetes?
She asked if I wanted to buy one and I politely declined. Why would I buy a cookie just to add to their bottom line? There was no note saying where the proceeds would go and she had no idea. So in reality, this was just a way
to sell more cookies.
There is actually a term for this kind of marketing: Pinkwashing. Wikipedia describes pinkwashing as “the promotion of consumer goods and services using the pink ribbon that represents support for breast cancer-related charities.”
Sure, this sounds great in theory, but how many of these goods and services are actually sending their money to any charity? That’s really the question and there's no real way to know the answer when it comes to smaller companies.
When researching, I found that the Susan G. Komen foundation receives over $55 million, (YES MILLION), a year from corporate partnerships that sell their products and make a donation. The real issue here is that some of these
products are harmful for anyone who is healthy, much less someone going through any kind of cancer treatment. If you're buying beauty products or perfumes, you can bet that they most likely contain cancer-causing ingredients. If the product contains “fragrance” then it’s a sure bet it is not safe. If it has ingredients that you cannot pronounce, it most likely is harmful to use.
Does anyone remember KFC and their “Buckets for a Cure?” They sold their chicken in pink buckets and the proceeds went to Komen. This marketing strategy actually made $4.2 million for Komen, which is the largest single contribution in the organization's history.
Has anyone looked into what is in that bucket of chicken? It's filled with harmful ingredients known to cause obesity, which plays a role in inflammation, diabetes and cancer, among other diseases. I am sad for all the families who ate that bucket of chicken thinking they were doing something good for “the cure.”
It seems like every product in the store this month has a “pink” version. This is great if the money is actually going somewhere useful. But how do you know? Some reputable stores will give you full details. Some won’t. My advice?
Just be cautious buying something that you don’t need only because it's pink.
Many larger companies claim that they will donate a certain percentage of sales to a specific charity. However, many of these companies put a cap on their donations and don’t mention it. So if the cap is lower, the majority of the sales go right back to that company instead of any reputable charity that is actually helping those battling breast cancer.
Perhaps my dislike of this month is for more personal reasons. My mom died in 2009 at the age of 61 of breast cancer. It was devastating for me. Prior to that, we participated in the Walk for the Cure and I remember her proudly standing with a huge smile on her face in the “Survivor Photo” as well as receiving a pink rose at the finish line of the walk. Those are great memories and I am thankful to the Komen group for organizing. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do any kind of walk like that since she passed away. It's just too emotional for me.
So let’s focus on prevention and helping those who are already diagnosed. Let’s see what can be done to help the families as they go through this horrendous disease. But please don’t ask me to buy junk food to raise awareness. I’m already aware.
I have recently started going to yoga at least 5, if not more, times per week. I have dabbled with it in years past and enjoyed the stretching and the balancing poses. But it wasn't until I started going faithfully each week that I have truly found why people love it. It took me a while to "get it" and I finally feel that I am doing just that. I struggle on a daily basis with maintaining my anxiety. It is something that is a constant battle for me as I have a thousand things running through my head at any given time. Yoga is the one hour of my day that I block all that out and truly just focus on my breathing. And it has made amazing changes in my life. If I miss a day, I can tell in my mood and my body. Never have I felt that way about running or going to a gym!
For me, practicing yoga is very spiritual as well as relaxing. I love going to the harder classes to challenge myself. It's a great feeling when I can stretch a little farther or hold a pose a little longer than I could the day before. I also feel like I am at least an inch taller when I leave. For real, I think I grow in there!
I can feel the changes in myself and the way that I handle situations. I am now much calmer and more relaxed about things. When I get home, I literally feel happier and healthier. And I am sure I am much more pleasant to be around.
I used to look at the last few minutes of class as a quick little nap, but now I see that time as so much more. It is weird how it just changes you. Tonight, for example, a big storm blew in at the end of class and it was so incredibly peaceful to be in a room with the sound of heavy rain and lightning. I wasn't worried about getting wet or driving home, I just enjoyed the sounds of nature.
But there is one thing that bothered me and I'm not sure I should have been irritated but I will let you tell me your thoughts. A couple days ago I was at a class that was packed. We all had a decent amount of space, but not near as much as normal. I ended up near the shelves that hold the blankets and bolsters which was totally fine with me. I like being closer to a wall in case I lose my balance I can just grab the wall! Anyways, TWO different women stepped ON my yoga mat while making their way over to the shelves. Not one, but two! For some reason, I just found this a bit rude. I mean, this is my mat...my sacred space for one hour. All mine, no sharing with anyone. And they just stepped right on it when they could have very easily gone around. Am I wrong for getting a little grossed out by their bare feet on my sacred mat? Of course, I didn't say anything but it did throw me off for a bit.
But with a few deep breaths, I was able to get over it quickly. And once I got home, I quickly cleaned my mat to get off any germs.
If you have not tried yoga, I highly recommend it. It has made amazing changes in my life and I know it could in yours as well. And if there are any single guys out there, yoga is the place to find cute girls!
Parabens are synthetic preservatives used in foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products such as deodorants, moisturizers, shampoos and even toothpaste. Common parabens include methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben. These preservatives allow skin care products to survive for months or even years in your medicine cabinet without going rancid. The problem with this is that they are absorbed by your skin when you use products containing parabens. According to Mercola.com, the body can absorb as much as five pounds of cosmetic chemicals every year. That number is astounding! We all know that eating healthy is good for us, but many people forget or don’t even realize that what we put on our skin is just as important. Parabens can mimic hormones in the body and disrupt functions of the endocrine system. What does this mean to you? In tests, parabens have been shown to slightly mimic estrogen which is known to play a role in breast cancer. There are also studies showing that parabens could be related to the increasing prevalence of early puberty in girls.
”The World Health Organization and United Nations this year concluded : “Exposure to E.D.C.’s (endocrine disruptors) during fetal development and puberty plays a role in the increased incidences of reproductive diseases, endocrine-related cancers, behavioral and learning problems, including A.D.H.D., infections, asthma, and perhaps obesity and diabetes in humans.” See source & article here.
So why do companies make and sell products with known endocrine disruptors?
Well, because it is cheap. They are efficient at preserving the life of the products at a low cost. The health of the consumer is not taken into concern with many companies; it is more about their bottom line.
There are studies out there showing that parabens might be safe, and others stating that they are not. I would rather purchase products that do not contain this preservative just to err on the side of caution. My mom died of breast cancer at the age of 61 which led me to research all I could about different products that we put on our bodies. I don’t want to wait another 10 years for studies to come out saying that parabens are definitely playing a role in the increasing rate of breast cancer. And for my daughter, I want her to grow up as toxin-free as possible.
I urge you to read the labels of all your personal care products and see what is really inside. If there are ingredients you cannot pronounce, chances are, they aren’t good for you.
The Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database is an excellent website where you can go and check the toxicity level of your products. I encourage you to go online to be aware of what you are putting on your body, which ultimately gets absorbed into your system. SKIN DEEP DATABASE EWG is constantly working to make sure we all know what is in our products. They have made great strides in making companies clean up their products which is a huge benefit to all of us.
Currently, you can join their petition to clean up the ingredients in both L’Oreal and Revlon products. “Many companies are reformulating their products to remove DMDM Hydantoin, which releases cancer-causing formaldehyde, and four parabens linked to endocrine disruption. But Revlon and L'Oreal are sticking with their formulations and leaving customers at risk.”
If you are looking for a place to start, check your deodorant. This is something you use every day and that goes right under your arm around lymph nodes. You will be shocked by what you find in these that are known endocrine disruptors, toxins and tied to cancer. For my family, we use Ava Anderson’s deodorant that is free of all toxins and actually works. For more information, see my website here. The top 5 harmful chemicals you want to avoid in deodorant are: Aluminum, Parabens, Propylene glycol, Phthalates and Triclosan. If you see any of these listed, don’t use it!
"When our bodies become toxic, it means that our natural means of ushering out metabolic waste from a normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD diet) have exceeded the threshold for what the body's innate detoxification system can tolerate on its own. With this toxic load, every system in the human body can become affected. From our head to our toes and everything in between, toxicity makes us sick!" --Dr. Mark Hyman, Functional Medical Doctor & Teacher
Cleansing and eating "clean" is such an important and productive process for your body. Our bodies need to clear out the built-up waste in our systems to leave you feeling lighter and cleaner.
Some people do a detox or cleanse in order to lose weight, but it is so much more than that. Sure, it will result in weight loss but it will also improve your digestion, improve your metabolism, uncover any hidden food allergies and decrease inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of all major, and minor, illnesses. These are things such as chronic colds, brittle nails, hormonal imbalances, dry skin, dry hair and constipation...just to name a few!
Every food you consume, every breath you inhale and everything you touch each day brings contaminants. This constant barrage forces your liver to work hard to detoxify your body daily. There is no way to avoid these toxins so our bodies have to work that much harder to process them. When we stop and give the body a rest by eating whole, clean foods, your body will naturally detox and reset itself. This will leave you feeling amazing!
So why is detoxing in the Fall a good thing? For starters, it prepares your body for the winter months both physically and emotionally. It helps to prevent common winter illnesses and attaining a clearer and more focused mental state. We could all use that, right? Our bodies tend to build up toxins over the summer months of heat that can lead to coughs, migraines and stuffy noses in the coming weeks. Fall is a wonderful time to slow down and move the focus inward, purging the toxicity that is keeping us from being the best version of ourselves. It is similar to the trees losing their leaves; you are shedding what is no longer serving you as you ready yourself for the coming cold months.
During a Fall Cleanse or Detox, we honor the lungs and the large intestine.
Physical: Optimal delivery of oxygen. Supports healthy immune system and good digestion. Preventative against colds and winter congestion.
Emotional: Release feelings of sadness and prevent the "winter blues."
Physical: Cleanse and support for healthy functioning, better support of the immune system and optimal digestion.
Emotional: Release negative emotions that are not serving the body well. Letting go.
Hopefully this helps to understand why cleansing in the Fall is so vital and important to our health in the coming winter months. It really is essential to keeping your immune system up and running at its best to protect you!
My first Fall Clean Eating Group Program began today and we have an amazing group that are committed to cleansing in a fun, healthy way. That group is now closed but the second group is now open for registration and will begin November 4th. In addition, if you are looking to get started on your own schedule, there is a DIY option available as well.
I highly recommend joining in this Fall with my incredible program and support the entire step of the way. You will be so glad you did!
My article as it originally appeared on Mind, Body, Green October 1, 2013:
Have you ever felt like you needed a bag of chips or chocolate bar immediately, and you couldn't focus on anything but feeding that craving? This is typical for so many of us, but it isn't entirely normal and can often indicate several different issues.
For starters, you may just be thirsty and a glass of water can help satisfy the craving. Or it could mean you're hungry, plain and simple. But it can also be something deeper. If the majority of your diet consists of packaged and processed foods, your body is most likely lacking the nutrients that it needs to thrive.
Needing acceptance, pleasure or love can also manifest in cravings. These intense urges can cause you to fill this need with something crunchy or savory. This is when you need to stop and listen to your body to figure out what it's truly trying to tell you.
In the parenting world, it seems that every reward comes in the form of food: cupcakes, ice cream, chips or candy. What happened to the time when you were rewarded with a dollar to put in your piggy bank? I see parents all the time bribe their children with candy and junk food. This tells them at an early age that if they do what they are told, they'll be rewarded with junk food.
This also happens in the work environment. At my job recently, there was an all-day health fair at the office. We all got weighed, had our fingers pricked for cholesterol, and our BMIs calculated. This was great, but two days later there was an all-company email letting everyone know there was “CAKE IN THE BREAK ROOM.” So here we are, as adults, still being rewarded with food that doesn’t nourish our bodies and that only contributes further to the vicious craving cycle.
Here are questions to ask yourself next time you are craving something unhealthy:
1. What's my hunger level?
If you haven’t eaten in four hours, then your body is most likely telling you it is time for lunch. If you just ate, rate your hunger level on a scale of 1 to 10. You might find that hunger isn’t really the issue.
2. What have I eaten today?
If you can't remember, it might be good to keep a food journal for a few days to notice any patterns. Figure out what you've already had, and determine what was lacking. For example, if you had a donut and coffee for breakfast, your body is most likely craving a good salad with protein for lunch to counteract the sugary breakfast.
3. What's my mood?
Try to really get in touch with your emotions about eating. If you're tired or cranky, you may feel that eating will solve this problem. But if you find you're binging on unhealthy foods, it could be your body telling you that you're lacking support or love in your life. This is where you really have to dig deep to uncover what these emotions and cravings are really about. Many times, they aren't about food at all.
4. What diet and lifestyle am I following?
If you're vegan or vegetarian, but are craving red meat, it's most likely your body telling you it needs this right now. If you've cut out a major food group and you feel intense cravings for it, your body is speaking to you. If you aren’t getting enough protein from certain food groups, your body will let you know by signaling certain cravings.
Here are a few suggestions for healthier alternatives when you have a craving for “bad” food:
Chips/Crackers: Try crisp vegetables, like carrot sticks with hummus.
Cookies/Cake: Try oatmeal bars or dried fruit instead.
Ice Cream/Milk Shakes: Make a healthy smoothie with frozen bananas, strawberries and almond milk.
Candy/Sour or Tangy: Try water with lemon or fresh salsa on greens.
No one likes to feel deprived, and that's really at the heart of why diets don’t work. They focus on cutting out certain foods rather than adding in delicious, healthy ones. If you have a craving for something sugary, you don’t have to deny yourself for the rest of your life. You can still enjoy treats sometimes, but pay attention to the portion and try to only eat half of what you were planning. If you sit down and chew slowly, you won’t need as much to really enjoy and feel satisfaction.
If you are eating well-balanced, healthy meals on a regular basis, you'll find your body stops craving junk food. It takes time, but it's so worth it in the long run.
My husband, like most men, will eat just about anything. But he has always told me that he hates Brussels sprouts. I was at the grocery the other day and they had tons of them on display and they looked so green and yummy. I bought them and tried cooking them on the stove. They were okay, but still not that great. So I decided to try again and bake them this time. And it was incredible! We were both practically licking our plates whishing there were more. I don't generally follow recipes, I prefer to wing-it and create things my own way. So I will try to explain how I made these little yummy green sprouts!
Start with pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees.
About 20-25 Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons olive oil (or any other healthy oil like coconut)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
Cut off the hard end piece of the Brussels sprouts and peel off any discolored leaves. I then cut them in half to make them bite-sized. If any leaves fall off, go ahead and bake them too... they turn out like a chip! In a bowl, mix your Brussels sprouts with the oil, garlic, salt & pepper. Make sure they are all coated well with your mixture. Place them on a baking pan and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. I recommend checking them at 15 minutes, move them around a bit to make sure they are getting roasted on all sides, then put back in the oven. My oven cooks really fast so I have to be careful not to burn things. Once they are brown and crispy, pull out of the oven and serve immediately.
I promise this might just change your mind on how delicious these can be! Oh, and they are good for you too. Just don't tell the kids!
By now almost everyone has heard about gluten but many may not understand why all the buzz. Well, I am going to break it down for you today! Gluten is a protein complex found in wheat, including kamut, spelt, barley and rye. Having a diet free of gluten is the only real treatment option for those with Celiac Disease. The number of people with Celiac is fairly small, but there is a very large population that are gluten intolerant. This means that consuming foods containing gluten can cause all kinds of side effects, not all related to stomach aches. You can test for gluten sensitivity as well as for Celiac. If you feel you might be sensitive, the easiest, and cheapest way is to take all gluten out of your diet for a week and see how you feel. Most people find the results to be incredible! We do this in my 7 Day Clean Eating Program and I love hearing all the incredible success stories from my clients as they go through the program. If you are interested, click here for more information and to sign-up!
The main problem with gluten is that it causes inflammation, and if you have been following me long enough, you know that inflammation is at the heart of almost every major illness that could affect us.
So what foods are naturally gluten-free? Here's a quick list:
Anything with Wheat, Kamut, Spelt, Rye, Barley, Modified food starch, oats (generally avoided as they are almost always processed in mills that process grains containing gluten) and barley enzymes. Barley enzymes are found in almost all breakfast cereals.
Here are a few tips to avoid cross contamination:
(Makes 12 cups)
DIY Gluten-Free Flour Mix (Light)
(Makes 12 cups)
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons butter; melted
1 cup milk (almond, coconut, etc)
In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and then add the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Drop approximately 1/4 cup batter per pancake into an oiled, preheated griddle. Cook pancake on each side until golden brown and cooked through the center. Serve hot with maple syrup or fresh berries. Enjoy!
It happens to almost everyone... the middle of the afternoon and you get hungry for a snack. Since I work from home most of the time, there is no vending machine for me to secretly stash a dollar into and pop out a Butterfinger. This is a good thing, really!
I had a light lunch today so was looking for something a little more filling to tide me over until dinner. So I made Sweet Potato Chips and they were delicious! They are really simple to make:
Heat oven to 425 degrees
1-2 sweet potatoes, sliced thinly (I used my new spiral slicer!)
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
Yep, that's it! Cut up your potato and put on an oven-safe pan. Drizzle olive or coconut oil lightly over the top. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper and pop in the oven for around 15 minutes. You have to check it often so you don't burn these tasty little chips. You can really spice it up however you wish. Often I sprinkle with cinnamon as well. This recipe is 11 year old approved as well!
I wrote a quick "5 Things" for my daughter's middle school PTA newsletter and thought I would share it here as well. I might add, we are not perfect over here. Now in our 4th week of school we are finally getting the routine down and I have only had to make one trip up to school with a forgotten item. Which technically should have been avoided but I gave in to my daughter's argument that it was "just fine" to wear flip flops to school. No sooner had I dropped her off when my phone rings with her asking me to bring "closed-toe shoes" because it is required in her science class. Don't you wish our kids would just trust us sometimes???
Anyways, now onto the quick 5 things you can do to have healthy, happy kiddos:
Now that school is back in full swing, we have all hopefully settled into our new routines. This abrupt change in schedule from the relaxed weeks of summer can be stressful for the entire family and put kids at risk for getting sick. Starting a fresh year is a great time to implement healthier habits for our kids. Here are 5 things we can do as parents to keep our kids healthy and happy:
1. Plenty of sleep: For kids 12-18 years old, it is recommended they get at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and try to have lights out by 9 or 10pm to ensure they are well rested for the school day.
2. Healthy breakfast: When we sleep too late and rush out the door, it causes our kids to have anxiety and stress before getting into the classroom. Get up a bit earlier to make sure there is time for them to sit down and enjoy a healthy breakfast. Some suggested ideas are: Coconut yogurt with granola and fresh berries, apple slices with nut butter and toast, green smoothie, or even a burrito with black beans, eggs and salsa. Try to keep away from anything packaged as they are filled with preservatives and sugar.
3. Stay active: This is very important for the middle school years as our kids are developing habits they will take into high school and their adult years. Make sure as parents we are encouraging them to be involved in sports that interest them or even taking a family bike ride. If your child shows interest in something, do your best to allow them to explore new things. Team sports are a great way to stay active as well as meet new friends in the community.
4. Lay off the caffeine: Our children should not need caffeine to get through their days. Always make water the easiest and fastest drink for them when thirsty. Many kids are mildly dehydrated every day because they are consuming way more sugary drinks than water. Set the example as a parent and drink your share of water as well. If possible, don’t have
sodas and sugary juices at home. Save these as a treat when you go out or on the weekend.
5. Stay organized: I know this is difficult to do, but it takes the anxiety and stress off of everyone in the busy mornings. Have your student pick out their clothes and pack their backpacks the night before. Establishing this healthy routine will set our children up for success as adults by planning ahead. It will also mean less trips by parents to the school dropping off forgotten items.
Here’s to a great, healthy new school year!
As seen today on Mind, Body, Green:
I used to see ginger at the grocery store and wonder who would buy it and what exactly they would do with it. Now that I know the benefits, and how easy it is to incorporate into my daily life, I include it on my shopping list weekly.
Ginger has long been regarded in traditional Chinese medicine as a treatment for many different conditions. It can be used medicinally, as a delicacy, and as a hot, fragrant cooking spice. There are many ways to consume ginger, but my favorite is as a juice. You can also make ginger tea, which can help reduce inflammation and ward off colds, all while aiding digestion. Here are two of my favorite ginger recipes to try out if you're new to this crazy-looking root!
Simple Ginger Juice
Bring water to a full boil, then add the ginger and turn the heat down to a simmer to avoid burning. You can simmer longer if you want a stronger tea. After 10 minutes, pour the liquid in a mug and add honey and lime. This tea tastes
amazing and is so simple to make! It is great for an upset stomach or when coming down with cold/flu symptoms.
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!