Archive for October, 2010

Halloween is just around the corner, and if you have young kids, I’m sure you have been gearing up for it for quite some time now.  You’ve had the “What do you want to be this year?” conversation numerous times as your kid has probably changed his/her mind more than once, and you’ve done a lot of shopping and preparing – getting the costume together, the decorations, and of course, lest we forget, the candy.  Halloween is a fun holiday for kids, and one of a kind.  What other holiday gives kids the license to get dressed up and pretend to be something/someone they are not and then go door-to-door asking for (and getting!) candy?!

For many parents who try their best to feed their kids healthy and nutritious foods, the sudden onslaught of high-sugar, high-fat, highly processed junk that is about to enter their house is a bit of a conundrum.  After all, how can you deny your kids what they have been anticipating and dreaming about for so long?  My advice is to use it as an opportunity to teach your child(ren) a lesson in moderation.   It is equally as important as a parent to teach your children how to eat unhealthy foods as it is to teach them to eat healthy foods.  Long ago, before we had such foods readily at hand, nature took care of that lesson for us.  The not-so-healthy foods just weren’t as readily available and in such abundance as the healthy ones (and very many didn’t even exist yet, candy bars included).  As a result, we ate unhealthy food much less because we only had the opportunity to do so every once in a while.  Now, in our modern day industrialized society, we’ve got stores full of junk food and all we have to do is pick them up and pay for them.  The opportunity to eat unhealthy foods is always there, and will always be there as your children enter adulthood and begin to make these types of decisions on their own.  That’s why it’s so important to teach them the appropriate manner in which to treat themselves to these unhealthy foods.

Here’s what I suggest you do.   At the end of Halloween night, let your kids eat as much candy as they want.  After all, they are dying to dig in and gorge themselves and if you start the moderation train too early, it could backfire.  Also, Halloween only comes once a year, and eating too much candy is part of the fun.   It’s important to let your kids have that fun.  Once they have eaten so much candy they are almost sick, you can begin the “eat in moderation” discussion.  It’s best not to approach it as a lecture, but rather to lead your kids to the right conclusion with the right questions.  Remember – you’ve let them eat so much candy they feel sick, which is an advantage to the discussion.  You can start with the question, “How do you feel?”  Or “Did you enjoy your candy?”  Then, you can gently lead them into, “I bet you’re first couple of pieces tasted the best, right?”  (Nod, nod, nod.  Nodding your own head will help get them to nod theirs.)  “Do you know why that is?  Because too much candy is not good for your body.  It doesn’t like it, so it gives off signals that make you stop enjoying it.  You become more and more numb to the taste, and your stomach starts to feel sick.  All that sugar causes your insides to swell up and become inflamed.  After a couple of pieces, it’s like your body is screaming at you to please stop.”  Etc., etc., you get the gist of it.  Once you’re pretty sure you’ve got them hook, line and sinker, you can offer them the following two options:

Option A:  Eat the rest of your candy in one or two more sittings like you did tonight.

Option B:  Spread it out and make it last for a WHOLE MONTH OR MORE, eating only 1 – 2 pieces a day.  (The best pieces, you can remind them.)  Let them know that they can decide when to eat the candy each day.  They will most likely respond well to having that type of control over it.  You might want to tell them how you would choose to eat yours if you had the option.   For instance, I would choose to eat the candy after dinner or after lunch, but never too early in the day, because anticipation is half the fun.  I would concentrate solely on eating the candy – not eat it while reading or watching TV – so I could savor each bite.  I would eat it slowly and methodically, taking tiny bites and chewing thoroughly, so I really got to enjoy the taste of all the flavors in the candy.  When you’re telling them when and how you would choose to eat the candy, try to make it sound enticing and decadent and fun!.

If, after all that, your child still wants to gorge and eat all his/her candy over the next couple of days, you must let him/her do so.  That way, they will learn the lesson of moderation the hard way, but they will learn it.  At the end of the first candy gorge after Halloween night, when they are feeling full and gross and completely candied out for the second night in a row, you can ask them again if they want to spread out the remainder of the candy or if they want to continue on the gorge route.  They may very well give spreading it out and moderation a try.  If not, there is always next year!  And at least you will have gotten rid of all that candy!

Stress is not good for us.  Most of us know that by now.  We hear it daily from doctors, news reporters, medical journals, health magazines and talk shows.  There is plenty of research about the adverse effects of chronic, unmanaged stress.  They include:  a weakened immune system, heart issues such as high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, blood clots, and hardening of the arteries, muscle pain in your neck, shoulders, or back, stomach issues such as aggravated irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers, reproductive issues such as low fertility, erection problems, problems during pregnancy and painful menstrual cycles, a worsening of certain lung conditions like asthma and COPD, and skin issues such as acne and psoriasis are also made worse by stress.  As if all that is not reason enough to get your stress level under control, there are a myriad of emotional issues linked to chronic stress such as feeling generally cranky all the time, feeling overwhelmed by even the smallest of issues, lack of patience, feelings of frustration, lashing out for no reason, finding it hard to focus, feeling either jumpy or tired all the time, and chronic fear as you imagine all the bad things that can happen.  Bottom line, being stressed out all the time is no way to live.  So where does all the stress come from? Have you ever wondered if there is an external force affecting the stress level of our world?  What can we do to reduce our stress and get back in sync with the world around us?  Please read on and consider this….

Did you know the Earth has a heartbeat?  I’ve recently been reading a fascinating book called Nature’s Secret Messages by Elaine Wilkes, which is where I first learned about it.  The heartbeat is known as the “Schumann Resonance” – named after the German physicist W.O. Schumann who predicted it.  More scientifically speaking, the Schumann Resonances are “quasi-standing electromagnetic waves that exist in the Earth’s ‘electromagnetic’ cavity (the space between the surface of the Earth and the ionosphere).” (1) They are not caused by anything internally in the Earth, rather they are related to electrical activity in the atmosphere, particularly lightning storms.  “In the normal mode descriptions of Schumann resonances, the fundamental mode is a standing wave (also known as a stationary wave because it is a wave that remains in constant position) in the Earth–ionosphere cavity with a wavelength equal to the circumference of the Earth. This lowest-frequency (and highest-intensity) mode of the Schumann resonance occurs at a frequency of approximately 7.83 Hz.” (2)  There are variations in frequency, depending on the electrical activity in the Earth’s ionosphere, but what we do know is that the Schumann Resonances typically stay well below the 50 Hz – 60 Hz frequency most of our technology runs on.

The human race evolved in this frequency, this Schumann Resonance.  It is very important to us.  So important that NASA created a Schumann wave simulator (basically a magnetic-pulse generator that mimics the Earth’s frequency) because they noticed that without it the astronaut’s physical condition severely deteriorated while they were in space, away from Earth’s heartbeat.  There are many people today who believe that all the manmade frequencies of our technology is “polluting” the Earth’s heartbeat, the Schumann Resonance, thereby causing us to feel more stressed, fatigued and out of balance.  If astronauts’ physical condition can deteriorate because of a lack of it, it stands to reason that the general population’s physical condition may also be affected by its distortion.

So, what to do?  We can’t shut off all our power, that’s for sure.  That is not a practical solution.  However, we can get more connected to Earth and to nature by spending more time in it.  I’ve often noticed how the energy changes when I vacation with my family at the Jersey shore.  We cross that bridge into Ocean City and it’s as if all the troubles of normal, everyday life just disappear and I instantly feel more relaxed.  I’m sure it is influenced by the collective energy of all the other people there who are also in “vacation mentality” so to speak, but I wonder if the fact that we spend a majority of our time there barefoot on the beach and in the ocean, connected to nature day after day for hours at a time, also plays a significant role in that collective, more relaxed energy.  Maybe our increased connection to our collective heartbeat is what helps us all feel more relaxed.

Have you ever spent a day hiking in the woods, or just lounging at a park, and felt as if you lost time somehow?  I think that feeling is due to being exposed to Nature’s rhythms, which are so different than our own manmade ones full of alarm clocks and artificial lighting and cell phones that never stop ringing.  The astronauts have shown us how important it is for us to be connected to our Earth, and specifically its heartbeat.  Being in touch with nature can ground us, and help us to feel more centered.  It can take us back to our roots as human beings.  Next time you are feeling stressed out, give it a try.  (Better yet, use Nature as a way to prevent stress by visiting it regularly.)  Take a trip to the nearest piece of nature – even if all you can do that day is simply stand barefoot in your own backyard – and just take in all that nature has to offer.  Breathe deeply.  Feel how Earth’s gravity roots you to the ground.  Look up at the sky and watch the clouds roll by.  Look around and watch the other forms of life sharing your piece of nature – the squirrels, the insects, the birds.  Close your eyes and feel the wind as it moves around you, listening closely to all the sounds of nature that surround you.  Reset your rhythm to Mother Nature’s rhythm.   It may be just the medicine you need.



Other sources:  Web MD

Childhood Obesity

It’s the start of the new Biggest Loser and, as always, it gets me thinking about the obesity problem we have in this country.  There are a lot of young contestants season, so it’s got me thinking about childhood obesity in particular.

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States.  For the first time in two centuries, kids today have a lower life expectancy than their parents.   Doctors are reporting that kids are increasingly coming in with what used to be considered “adult” health issues  - high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes to name a few.  Worse, obese children are more likely to become obese adults, when the health issues associated with obesity only get more complicated because youth is no longer on your side.  One study found that approximately 80% of children who were overweight at ages 10-15, were obese adults at age 25.  Another study showed that if a child became overweight before the age of 8, his/her obesity as an adult is likely to be much more severe.

Beyond the physical damage that is caused by obesity, we must also look at the emotional and psychological damage, especially in the formative years of childhood.  A person’s brain isn’t completely developed until they reach the age of 25.  If you become overweight or obese beyond the age of 25, you too will suffer the psychological and emotional damage associated with obesity, but at least you will have had years of living without those particular issues behind you.  Some part of you knows what it is to not feel shame about being overweight, to not feel a lack of self-worth, to not face the social discrimination that accompanies obesity, to not feel easily depressed.  For a child that is obese or overweight, they do not have the luxury of those years.  They can, of course, grow and move beyond it with the right help, but it is that much harder to do so.  There have been numerous contestants on the Biggest Loser over the years that were overweight as kids and there is a difference between them and the other adults who were not.  They literally don’t know what it feels like to be at a healthy weight.  They don’t even know who they are as that person.  There is no frame of reference.

So, the practical question is what do we do as parents?  First, it is important to note here that when it comes to children, one should not begin a weight reduction diet without consulting your doctor.  Instead, you can focus on slowing weight gain as your child’s normal growth and development catches up with their weight.  If your child is severely obese, check with a physician before beginning any new diet or exercise program.  Which brings me to the other side of the issue – physical activity.  There are plenty of studies that show that all this new media kids are exposed to today contributes to their sedentary lifestyles, which contributes to their weight gain.  As important as the foods you feed your child is their level of physical activity.  Not every child will be into sports and want to be on a team, but it is imperative to find some kind of physical activity they enjoy – whether it is hiking through the woods because they are really into bugs, or dancing, or going for bike rides, or skateboarding, jumping rope, or simply playing tag.  It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as they are physical and it can hold their interest.

On the nutrition end, serve lots of vegetables and fruit, serve meals in the right portion size, and limit the high-calorie and high-fat temptations.  Choose lean meats, fish and legumes for protein; limit high fat red meats.  (Note:  It is important to allow your child a treat every once in a while, like ice cream or pizza or french fries, but they should be enjoyed as treats, not everyday food.)  Encourage your kids to drink a lot of water.  Limit high-sugar drinks.   Another good tip is to get your kids involved in making the healthy meals.  It will teach them good life skills, but more importantly they will naturally want to eat what they have been a part of creating.

Of equal importance is to educate your children about what it means to eat healthy and why it is so important.  It’s hard to make healthy choices if you are not an informed consumer.  Teach your children about what calories are and how to judge the proper amount to consume daily.  Teach them about the difference between good fats and bad fats and which foods contain which.  Teach them about fast-digesting simple carbohydrates as opposed to slow-digesting complex carbohydrates and which to have when.  Teach them about the benefits of fiber.  Teach them about how vegetables and fruits help fight cancer and other diseases.  Teach them about why fish oil is so healthy and beneficial for the body.  This type of knowledge will help empower them to make the right choices when it comes time for them to decide what to eat on their own.  Also, it would be beneficial to teach them how to cook because it is much easier to eat healthy when you can make your own meals.

As always, as a parent you must lead by example.  It is hard to ask your child to eat healthy if you don’t.  It is equally important to your child’s health – physically, psychologically, and emotionally – for you, the parent to be healthy.  If you are a parent who is overweight or obese, consider getting healthy as a way to bring your family closer.

For more tips on helping your child achieve a healthy weight, as well as other useful information and links, you can go to the CDC website at:

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