Archive for May, 2009
I was recently at a reunion of my family. We all got together in Texas where one of my sisters lives. There were four of us – my mother and two sisters. This is the first time we have all been together in years. Every time I do get together with them I am reminded what a different path my life took from that of my sisters. I first joined a gym in my teens and started becoming aware of health at that point. My life took me through gradual changes in the choices I made to be as healthy as possible. I changed my eating habits little by little; gradually eating healthier with each year. As I learned new discoveries about what to eat and why, I applied them to my life. Now, years later, I find myself feeling really great with little to no aches and pains.
When I got together with my family, I was especially surprised to see how much my oldest sister had aged. She complains of rheumatoid arthritis, numbing in the hands, pain in the back, pain in the leg, pain in the foot, swelling in the foot. I could go on and on as she did for the entire trip. I not only found it sad that she focused on her poor health so much but was incredibly frustrated that she does not work to eat better. She knows what I do for a living and what I practice in my daily life. In fact, she even commented on how healthy I seemed to be and yet whenever I tried to bring up the idea of her starting to make better food choices, she not only ignored it but talked about the burrito that she likes from Taco Bell, about eating pizza, or how she just doesn’t have the time to eat well.
Now I do realize that there are limitations on what is available depending on where you live yet this particular sister lives in Southern California where the choices are as great as here in Boulder, Colorado. Given this, I find it baffling why she doesn’t choose to learn more about health – she could read my blog or ask me. I do know that there are statistics that indicate that what you eat as a young person will most likely affect your food choices as you become an adult. To some extent I can buy into this. On the other hand, the two of us grew up in the same household so this tells me that we can also adapt to better choices and habits if we so choose.
This brings me to the reason for this blog entry. My ultimate goal is to educate people about health and healthy choices in life. I really want to find ways to affect people to the extent that they want to become healthy. I am trying to figure out just what makes this happen. I did speak with a woman, a friend of my ‘Texas’ sister, about her health. Apparently she had been very overweight and sick, with lots of pain, for a long time. At some point she had had enough and started down that path to health. Today she is a healthy weight, is very aware of what she puts in her body, and seems pretty much pain free.
As far as I can tell my oldest sister must be in as much discomfort and yet still chooses to remain unhealthy. I am therefore asking each and every one of you that has made the decision to become healthy just what was the deciding factor? What is it that motivated you to change? What could I do or say to someone that would really have enough impact to make them want to take a different path? I would appreciate any and every insight you can offer me.
Thanks and I look forward to your comments!
There are no two ways about it. Our children are getting heavier; some even falling into the category of obese. It is now estimated that one in five children will be overweight by the end of elementary school. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three children born in 2000 will develop diabetes. In fact, early signs of atherosclerosis are showing up in children by the time they graduate from high school. According to the American Heart Association, studies are indicating that the arterial walls of overweight and obese children looked more like those of a 45 year old person!
This is not right. As you can well imagine, a large portion of these issues are related to poor dietary choices. These choices are being made at home but also through school lunch programs. Unfortunately, a lot of foods that end up in the school lunch programs are based on where the money comes from. For example in 2005, the USDA allocated 60% of food commodity funds to meat, dairy and egg products whereas only 5% of food commodity funds went to fresh fruits and vegetables.
So what can we do about all this? It seems we are all so busy it is just too difficult to imagine doing anything other than letting your kids eat the school lunches and/or running by a fast food restaurant and grabbing something quick. The tragedy in this is that we often don’t really know what is in any of that food.
I decided to interview a busy mom to see how she handles things.
Steph Ryder is a full time mother of 2 that also works part time. She has a great husband that helps when he can but most of the food choices fall to her. Her daughter, Georgina is 6’1” at 14 years old. Needless to say, she plays basketball! She practices three times a week for about two hours each. Her son, Frank is about 5’5” at 11 years old and is a major hockey player. During hockey season, he plays 5 days a week for about an hour per day. Can you imagine just how hungry these kids are???
Here’s what Steph told me:
JW: So what is your basic philosophy?
Steph: I have always cooked at home for the kids. They are used to eating healthy food; in fact they actually hate fast food! Although my life is busy, I make a point of preparing their meals. It really isn’t that difficult. I put something on the grill and have something with it like fresh vegetables and potatoes. I also keep healthy food in the house for snacks after school. Frankie’s favorite snack is a Caesar Salad. So, I always have everything to make that so when he walks in the house it is available.
JW: Do you plan your meals in advance?
Steph: No way! I don’t have time so I mostly fly by the seat of my pants. If I am really rushed, I get a whole roasted chicken and serve it with steamed asparagus and potatoes. I just do stuff that is easy and doesn’t take much time.
JW: Are the kids picky?
Steph: No. They’re used to eating healthy. In fact, if we don’t have a lot of time, I go by Whole Foods and let them pick out what they want to eat.
JW: What do you do for breakfast? For lunch?
Steph: I always cook them breakfast. It always has some kind of protein, like eggs for example. I also always make their lunch. I don’t feel good about what’s available at school so I usually do it myself. I will make them a sandwich with some fruit, maybe chips and always water. I NEVER give them soft drinks!
JW: What about dinner?
Steph: They often have practice shortly after school so we tend to eat dinner late afternoon. As I said earlier, I usually throw something on the grill. Then when they get home later they might have another snack. I always keep eggs in the house. Georgina loves an egg on a bagel. Then, on Sunday’s we always eat dinner together as a family. I think this is really important.
JW: Do you eat out?
Steph: Hardly ever! I don’t trust what is in the food. Besides it is much cheaper to eat at home, even with eating really good food. For example, I don’t like them to eat meat out because you just don’t know what you are getting. I don’t want them to get all those hormones and antibiotics that are in a lot of meat! Also, I try to buy organic whenever possible.
JW: Anything else you would like to share?
Steph: Eating healthy really isn’t that hard. It doesn’t take that long to prepare. I think it’s easy. Also, if we do ever eat out, we never let the kids order off the children’s menu. The food is always fried! Instead we have them pick a main course and split it between them. This was the case when they were younger. Also, just to emphasize it, I always give them lots of water to drink. I don’t buy junk. Oh and I just realized they haven’t been side once this year!
JW: Would you like to share any of your easy recipes?
For a fast vegetable dish I sauté zucchini, yellow squash, sweet onion and mushrooms in a little olive oil. Then, right before I serve it, I drizzle a little balsamic glaze over it. The kids love it!
I also make a corn dish that they love. I sauté sweet corn (frozen organic) and onion in a little butter and thyme. I then cut up a chipotle pepper and add it along with a little of the adobe sauce it comes in. It has a great spicy taste.
In the winter I make a lot of soups and dishes in the crock pot. Those are so easy and can be made ahead of time.
JW: Thanks for taking the time to share all this with me.
Steph: Sure. I hope it gives other mom’s ideas!
This salad is especially great as it is loaded with calcium. It is a great indication of just how easy it is to get an abundance of nutrients in one easy and delicious dish.
Note that the amount of calcium in milligrams is listed after each ingredient
3 cups Lettuce Mix 45 mg
1 cup Watercress 41 mg
3 TBSP Parsley, chopped 15 mg
6 tsp Sesame Seeds, toasted 178 mg
2 oz Feta Cheese 280 mg
1 cup Strawberries, sliced 24 mg
½ cup Olive Oil
¼ cup Grapeseed Oil
¼ cup Olive Oil
3 TBSP White Miso 130 mg
3 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, minced 15 mg
6-8 Basil leaves, chopped
Total Calcium 728 mg Divided by 2 = 364 mg calcium per person!
Blend all dressing ingredients in food processor or blender.
Mix all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle salad dressing over to taste, reserving balance of dressing in the refrigerator for future use. Celtic salt and pepper to taste.
 I prefer sheep or goat feta as it is higher in nutrients, lower in fat and easier to digest.
 Miso is a fermented soy product. It comes in a paste and is delicious to add to various dishes.
The name calcium is not only familiar but we are often told we need to make sure we are getting enough. First, let us take a look at calcium. It is the most abundant mineral in the body whose adequate intake helps to make a healthy skeletal structure as a growing child and helps to maintain that structure as we age.