Being Irish I love March because Spring is coming and of course right in the middle we have St. Patrick’s Day. The kids love it because they get to wear green at school and pretend they are more Irish than they are. My daughter (the actress) loves to put on the Irish accent she learned from her cousins last summer and we have a good laugh at her developing brogue.
The only thing I dislike about this day of celebration of all things Irish, is the association it conjures up with Lucky Charms, a Mc Donald’s Green McFlurry or a green donut from Dunkin. Take it from me – we do not celebrate products like this in Ireland, we don’t even have them. The most I saw growing up was people drinking green beer and even that was frowned upon (only because of the green part, let’s be honest).
So what exactly is in Lucky Charms that makes them Exhibit A in the fight against the fake phood industry that seems to prey on our children by portraying themselves as a ‘healthy’ breakfast?
I don’t know where to begin. I will pick out my top 3 offenders, and you can decide if that’s enough to make you run to the organic section. Also, these ingredients are in most of the more colorful cereals: Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Trix to name a few.
- Corn Syrup – also known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is a highly processed chemical (yes) derived from corn. It is a GMO food which means it contains glyphosate and should be avoided for that reason alone. It is manufactured in a very complicated tri-enzyme process which you can read more about here. If you want to hear about how HFCS can cause type 2 diabetes then Dr. Hyman explains it quite well here. There is also many reports that HFCS contains mercury, one of the most toxic substances known to man. HFCS is in ketchup, soup, pickles, cereal, sodas, mayonnaise, candy, cakes, breads, bagels and so many more things it’s hard to list. Basically – if it’s not organic, it has HFCS.
- TSP: Trisodium Phosphate – an industrial alkalizing cleaning agent doubling as a food additive. The FDA has given this chemical a ‘generally recognized as safe’ or GRAS category. It has given safe limits for this additive (70 mgs) but the general public have no way of knowing how much of this toxic chemical they are consuming on a daily basis which could reach up to 500 mgs daily. In its dry powder form it is incredibly corrosive to the human body when consumed. So much so, the FDA has recommend it be removed from household cleaning products – because it is bad for the environment! So where does that leave the cereal consumer? Caveat Emptor and run for the organic hills!
- Artificial colors: Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 1 and “Other Color Added” – right away I see a huge red flag because I don’t know what “other color added” means. It usually means I have to call their consumer help line. But I value my sanity so I’m going to take a guess that it means a substitute for Red #3 (since it was banned), made from the cochineal beetle. The other 4 colors listed are derived from coal tar. Added colors have long been associated with ill-health effects and hyperactivity in children although there are few conclusive studies. The most notable study is the Southampton Study in 2007 which asserted that when combined with sodium benzoate (a popular food additive), they caused more hyperactivity in children and recommended that all colors be labeled in Europe. Food colors have a long history with the FDA and now, out of around 80, only 7 remain legal for the food and cosmetics industries to use. If you’d like to learn more, check out these articles and videos on food dyes on Dr. Greger’s website as he discusses their affect on children’s health and in particular ADHD.
I am only giving you 3 things to remember to avoid like the toxic plague because they transfer to so many other products that I hope you will remember them. I didn’t mention “mixed tocopherols” only because it is a synthetic vitamin e and is generally safe. It is used to replace the highly controversial BHT which is widely suspected to be a carcinogen.
So why not try a new tradition in your family if you like to celebrate our national holiday? Enjoy your St. Patrick’s Day breakfast with a hearty, protein-packed traditional Irish breakfast – organic bacon, eggs and sausage… with a slice of soda bread and a healthy pat of Kerrygold butter (see my recipe here!).
“lá sona Fhéile Pádraig duit” – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Each week I run a smoothie club at our local school for 2nd and 3rd graders. It’s so fun to talk about healthy food for an hour with these kids. They are all interested in being healthy and are naturally curious about the food we eat.
Each week we’ve had a different smoothie for each color of the rainbow, representing a different food group or variety of fruits. Tomorrow is our last class and they asked for a fun smoothie that would break all the rules. So I guess that means chocolate. I heard the word “Oreo” so I don’t think my work is done with these kids!
So tomorrow we will make a chocolate smoothie but the Clean Green Pantry way… anti-inflammatory and packed with micronutrients. Here’s the recipe:
One ripe avocado
2 tablespoons of organic raw cocao (or organic cocoa powder)
2 cups of almond or coconut milk
1 cup of ice
1 cup of wild blueberries
1 tablespoon of raw organic honey to taste
Optional for home – 1 tablespoon of nut butter or peanut butter.
Optional – use one banana instead of the avocado 🙂
Optional – use chia seeds instead of the blueberries (soaked in the milk overnight)
It’s been three years since we began our organic journey and our family has benefited in so many ways. I spend a lot of time researching food and how we can improve our family’s health. I try not to worry about being perfect because it’s very difficult to be 100% when surrounded by so many food options, especially for children. It can also be expensive and people ask me all the time; “is buying organic worth it?”. Well I believe it is because our children are growing up with a toxic load which we were not exposed to and I have to do all I can to protect them from that.
After abandoning Costco and other large supermarkets 3 years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Costco are listening to consumer demands and stocking so many organic products. I am now a happy customer once again. So I thought I would share what I fill my cart with these days as most of the items are new. I hope that people will take note and support their local stores which make an effort to supply affordable organic options.
- Organic Coconut Oil – Cold Pressed is best.
- Organic pajamas – avoid flame retardant inhalants.
- Organic Maple Syrup – The dark color means more nutrients.
- Figgy Pops – perfect high antioxidant snacks.
- Organic Frozen Fruit for smoothies.
- Organic Go-Go Squeeze apple sauces – 4 flavors!
- Organic Olive Oil – it’s a blend but the real stuff is expensive.
- Kind Bars – 5g sugar box – perfect for those after school snack attacks.
- Organic Chicken Stock – well, Thanksgiving is just around the corner.
- Namaste Gluten Free Flour – perfect for pancakes and muffins.
- Organic Sugar – avoid GMO sugar!
- Organic Bread – non-organic wheat can be contaminated with glyphosate.
- Organic Back to Nature Oreos – my kids don’t know the difference!
- Seeds of Change organic quinoa and brown rice – perfect for last minute meals.
- Organic apples – a little on the large side but great for sharing.
- Organic ground beef and chicken – I prefer fresh from a butcher but good to have in your freezer.
- Organic chia seeds – add to smoothies or make chia pudding.
- Organic Quinoa – make a lot, it lasts 3 days in the fridge.
- Organic Protein Powder – perfect for smoothies
- Organic Linens – including crib mattresses & towels. We don’t need a crib mattress but I sure wish we had this when our kids were babies.
There are so many more things on my organic list but I do avoid the organic and milk and eggs at Costco (sorry!) – only because I prefer grassfed dairy and pasture raised eggs. I would love to eat less processed food but in the absence of living on a farm, we have to use what we have. I will tackle planting a vegetable garden next year!
I had a wonderful summer with my family but now it’s time for back to school and I guess, back to work! My youngest will soon be in full-time kindergarten and I couldn’t be happier (well, sad really) that she is growing up so much and ready for school. Earlier this year I had a health scare which set me back a few months. I have fully recovered and am taking care of my health and well-being more. I am working with doctors on a detox program and I hope to be back into things very soon. Even health coaches need coaches!
So this fall I am sharing a special offer for my pantry clear out services; A 90 minute consult with a full personalized report, unique to your family, for only $95. I can do a free phone consult beforehand to see if this is right for you.
I do not actually clean pantries by the way! My ‘pantry clear out’ is a food education program encompassing meal planning, product suggestions, dietary supplement suggestions and special food allergy advice if needed. I work with each family to develop a plan to maximize nutritional needs for your children (and the adults too!). My specialized area is childhood allergy and food intolerances which I have studied for many years now both personally and with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. In fact I will soon be embarking on an intensive program with Epidemic Answers which will improve my understanding of working with children who have complications due to food intolerances.
So please email me or call if you are interested in chatting about your family’s needs. I can be reached on 917 495 0043 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy back to school days 🙂
American children consume 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. As a nation we consume 130lbs of sugar on average in one year. How is this even possible? How is it tolerated given the chronic ill health of our population? What can we do about it? What is the one thing that will help? Well, I believe that we can start to reclaim our children’s health by doing one simple thing – stop drinking it.
Childhood obesity rates have tripled from 1980 to 2010. There are over 2 million children in the US in the morbidly obese range. In NY over 40% of children are overweight or obese. This is unsustainable. Even national efforts to reduce childhood obesity have been failing. The First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign has recently admitted that obesity rates in children have only just plateaued and obesity in our youngest children is only beginning to see a slight decrease. The one thing they do not recommend as part of the Let’s Move campaign? Eliminating soda or sugary drinks. For some reason, it is not mentioned even though it is the largest source of sugar calories in our children. And since diabetes and obesity are now the number one health issues of our country, we have a $245 billion reason to tackle the problem in our youngest population.
Drinking sugar is the main problem in my view as it is metabolized in the body differently from fats, carbohydrates and proteins. It is an anti-nutrient source of calories, meaning that not only does it contain ZERO nutrients, it also depletes the body of calcium, vitamin C, potassium, thiamin and chromium.
Sugar is also toxic. Much research has been done on this but the most outspoken proponent of this idea is Dr. Robert Lustig, who’s You Tube lecture has been seen over 5.5m times. Sugar is 50% fructose which is toxic in the pharmacological quantities it is consumed. Fructose can only be processed in the liver where it is quickly turned to fat. It does not stimulate effective insulin production which can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately diabetes. It interferes with our leptin (satiety) and ghrelin (hunger) hormones which are our signals to stop consuming, allowing a vicious cycle of over consumption. There is also the added toxicity of sugar beets being a GMO product which have been engineered to resist the highly toxic herbicide Glyphosate during farming, which is passed to the end product. There is much evidence to support the notion that glyphosate in our food system is leading to many chronic diseases and also childhood developmental issues – see MIT scientist Dr. Seneff’s research here.
So what can we do? I believe we should look to the main culprits and that is soda, fruit juices and sports drinks – and stop giving it to our children. We must also remember that sugar is hidden in many other staple foods for kids such as ketchup, mayonnaise, pickles, sauces, dairy products, soups, bread and cereal bars. It is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to account for the sheer amount of sugar in our family’s diet. Therefore, I believe we should begin with the largest source – the 33% that comes from drinking it. Removing sugary drinks will go a long way to help reduce the largest source of this dangerous food additive (note, it is not food).
Let’s encourage our children to drink water (or infused water!) and eat whole fruit to add that all important fiber!
Coca-Cola Life is here! Woo-hoo! It is marketed as ‘natural’ and lower in calories than Coke so that must be a good thing, right? Well it is, if all you require from a soda is that it is lower in calories than regular Coke, chemicals be damned. But what about that claim that it is sweetened with natural stevia instead of Splenda and so healthier? Hmmmm…. If you are asking that, then we need to delve a little deeper……
What is Coca-Cola Life sweetened with? Well we don’t know the exact formula, we are talking about Coke after all, but we do know it’s a combination of (GMO) sugar and Truvia. Truvia was developed jointly by the Coca-Cola company and Cargill and is made of rebiana, erythritol, and natural flavors. Try as I might, I could not find out what “natural flavors” means. But as we know from my previous post on chemicals and Food Babe’s investigative article on ‘natural flavors’, we may never actually know. It also contains that ‘natural flavor’ caramel which is a carcinogen, but I digress. I drank enough Diet Coke in my time to cringe at that thought so I’ll move along if I may.
The process involving rebiana and erythritol (a GMO sugar alcohol) is also unclear as it all looks like such an easy and ‘natural’ process on Truvia’s website since they claim a lofty “From Field To Table” accolade. I’m a little curious about that so I have to defer once again to my trusty food investigator Food Babe whom has covered this before, here. She explains the 40-step process around creating Truvia which makes me question the ‘natural’ or ‘Life’ label that Coke gives this new generation soda.
So why are they even introducing this new soda at all? What demographic are they trying to capture? I remember Cherry Coke in Europe in the 80s so I have to ask. Why, after 70 years are they suddenly expanding into the ‘healthy’ market? I’m sure you could drink Coke Life on the treadmill it looks so pretty. But are we so gullible?
Did they not learn from the ‘Naked‘ fiasco? Pepsi had to pay out $9m in compensation last year for faking the ‘natural’ label on its products. Although I’ll bet Coke Life’s ‘sweetened from natural sources’ claim is locked in tight. It also seems that Coke feels like it has a moral obligation to America because we now have epidemic rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer since Coke began its unforgettable marketing campaigns in the 70s with its catchy anthem.
What happened since then? Could it be what we’re eating or drinking?? “Oh no”, says Coke, “we just need more exercise and to reduce our calorie intake!” So Coke wants to help us along and sell us a soda that seems to fit that marketing bill so well – lower in calories and ‘natural’. They already tried to sell us water but then we found out that it wasn’t really just water. Oh gas station Dasani, you had such promise.
It may seem like Splenda’s days are numbered (don’t feel bad, we all fell for it) and along with the decline in popularity in Equal, Sweet ‘n Low and Nutrasweet (all for good reason), we are now turning to that sweet plant, stevia. It’s just too bad that Coke is trying to hoodwink us again. But I think they are underestimating the American consumer. We are not drinking Coke as much today, not only because of the high calories, but because it is made from toxic chemicals and GMO ingredients. Coke Life seems to be the same formula, just different chemicals and calories. We’re smarter than that – I hope. I’ll be watching Coke Life, but thankfully as a spectator this time.
“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”
I had great fun working with Nicole from the Hamlet Hub last week. We talked so much in 90 minutes, time FLEW by. There is so much to share – everyone wants to know more about our food system and the additives in food. It’s a mine field. That’s why I love what I do now.
“I feel like I now have GPS and roadside assistance to help me navigate through the fog of food labels, supplements, grocery stores, and meal choices.”
See the article here: http://news.hamlethub.com/rye/life/1328-rye-mom-launches-fantastic-new-business