Every day is April Fool’s Day at the supermarket – learn how not to be the fool.

shell-2152029_640

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” is a famous quote by Hippocrates that I like to use as a reminder to help keep me on track for eating healthy.  It’s easy to get side-tracked by all of the unhealthy options of food on the grocery store shelves.  Especially when marketers do such a good job of packaging and labeling things in a way to make them sound healthy. Instead of choosing foods that have attractive packaging with ingredient lists full of unhealthy chemicals, try to find items with the least amount of ingredients.  Get used to reading labels.

Just think about what the definition of food is:

“Any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to   sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.”

Ingredients to Avoid:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup- made from genetically modified corn, causing obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance
  • Hydrogenated Oils
  • Artificial Sweeteners Sucralose (Splenda), Aspartame, Acesulfame potassium, Saccharin (Sugar Twin or Sweet N’Low), polydextrose
  • TBHQ – a controversial additive to preserve processed foods
  • Sodium nitrate – found in processed meats.  Linked to cancer in humans.
  • Sodium benzoate – a preservative that is also a known carcinogen
  • BHA/BHT – a fat preservative linked to cancerous tumor growth
  • Carageenan – a stabilizer and thickening agent usually found in coffee creamers. It can cause ulcers and cancer
  • Butane – found in chicken nuggets to keep them fresh. A known carcinogen
  • Parabens – may be linked to breast cancer
  • Artificial Colors: Blue#1, Blue#2, Citrus Red #2, Red#3, Red#40, Yellow#5, Yellow#6, Green#3. Red#40 is the most used and consumed dye.  It’s known to cause hypersensitivity reactions in some people and hyperactivity in children.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reported “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are contaminated with known carcinogens. Red #3 has been acknowledged for years by the FDA to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”  How crazy is that???  The FDA allows manufacturers to use these toxic food dyes, most commonly in kids’ foods, while the European Union puts warning labels on foods that contain artificial food dyes.  They actually asked their food manufacturers to remove most artificial food coloring from food in 2009.

It is best to get the colors of the rainbow in your food from natural sources and to shop only in the produce, dairy and meat sections.  If you must buy packaged products, I found this amazing app called “SIFT Food Labels” to help you decipher the food labels.

College Food

hamburger-1318807-1279x1069My son, Nicholas, is away at college in his Freshman year and his biggest complaint is the food. The variety and selection appears to be abundant, but when you actually eat the food, I’m sure most of you remember, the quality is quite lacking. Most people end up with the famous “Freshman 15” because of all the junk food and other liquid calories that are consumed during this year of independence.

My son, on the other hand has probably lost weight because he hates the food so much. He is used to eating high protein, whole fruits and vegetables, fresh organic eggs, things with lots of flavor and nutrients. As the oldest child, he has actually adopted a very healthy lifestyle before going away to college. Ever since joining the wrestling team in 8th and 9th grade, having to go through those grueling practices everyday after school, building up strength and stamina to be able to handle an opponent one-on-one on the mat put him into a mindset of wanting to be healthy and in good shape. Even after leaving the wrestling team to pursue his musical passion, he continued to go to the gym regularly, avoids processed food and fast food.  He even refuses to use the microwave because he is worried about what the effects are on our food and ultimately, our health.  I am most proud of how amazingly strong he is in his decision to avoid drugs and alcohol.   He understands how much damage this can do to his body and, of course, state of mind and he wants no part of it.  He is very focused on his future and is working very hard on accomplishing his goals.

When he comes home for a weekend I make sure I send him back with healthy snacks, frozen fruit, protein powder to make protein shakes, coconut water, coconut or almond milk and some home cooked meals. One of his favorite snacks are these protein bites from Enjoy Life

Read More

Mother Nature’s Medicine Cabinet

StockSnap_S6H8VL1IALEssential Oils are like Mother Nature’s private stash.  She keeps them hidden inside all kinds of flowers, plants and trees. She has them on hand for all kinds of ailments and injuries or when you just need a pick me up or when you want to de-stress and relax.

 They have been used for thousands of years dating back to ancient civilizations as far back as 2000 b.c. by Chinese herbalists, in Tibetan temples, Indians, Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. They used them as perfumes, massage oils, in ceremonies and rituals and as remedies for several ailments. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, was known for using myrrh, cinnamon and cassis to treat skin inflammation and battle wounds.

Aromatic oils can be found in various parts of a plant including the seeds, bark, roots, leaves, flowers, wood, balsam and resin.

The term “Aromatherapy” was first used by a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse in 1928.  He accidentally learned that lavender oil healed a burn that he had and also prevented scarring.  After that incident in his lab, he continued studying the therapeutic uses of essential oils for most of his life.

The effects of these oils provide a lot more benefit than just smelling nice.  They actually provide:

  • Pharmacological changes (when absorbed through the skin or inhaled)
  • Psychological effects (when inhaled)
  • Physiologically (giving you a sense of relaxation or invigorating you)

When applying essential oils to the skin, I recommend mixing them together with some kind of carrier oil such as:

My favorite way to enjoy essential oils is by diffusing them.  I have a small diffuser that I bought online from GreenAir.   They sell several types of ultrasonic diffusers that gently lets out a mist of whatever oil you choose to use.  The scent wafts through the air and creates a comforting sense of peace and calm.

Here I am using my Green Air diffuser at work. This compact model is called the “Scenttrekker”.  As you can see, it doesn’t take up a lot of room. It has a USB connection cord that you can plug into any computer or USB adapter.  You can turn on the soft lavender light on top which is really nice in a darker setting.  It’s very easy to use: just unscrew the top, fill with a small amount of tap water up to the fill line and add  5 drops (or more if you want) of your favorite essential oils.  You can try a single oil such as Lavender or a pre-blended mixture for multiple, synergistic benefits such as Plant Therapy Germ Fighter Synergy Essential Oil Blend. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. Blend of: Lemon, Clove Bud, Cinnamon Cassia, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. 30 ml (1 oz).to fight off germs, which is what I use at work. We are surrounded by sick people all of the time and patients are always asking me how I don’t get sick.  I tell them it’s the essential oils!

IMG_3240

You can purchase the “Scenttrekker” HERE

Here is a great guide for creating your own essential oil recipes for your diffuser:

CLICK HERE:

Finding Wellness

IMG_2966
Cupsogue Beach, Long Island, NY

I’ve studied a lot about “Health and Wellness”. I went to nursing school, I’ve worked in many different healthcare settings from pediatrics to a nursing home facility with all types of health conditions.  I’ve learned a lot, and continue to learn, about the human body and disease processes.  I have also studied and practice a lot of “alternative” healing modalities such as Reiki and Essential Oils.  I believe that they are all very effective and we all have access to endless products that anyone can purchase on the internet, but I feel the first step to “True Wellness” has to first come from within.

This requires a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving our full potential in all aspects of our lives.  We all need to take responsibility for our own health.  Don’t look for a pill to solve your problems.  The human body is an amazing thing.  It is an intense structure that operates like a machine with a number of very complex systems that all work together to enable us to breathe, eat, sleep, dream, think, walk, talk,  and every other daily task we accomplish without even thinking about it.  I feel that the most amazing function of all is the body’s ability to HEAL ITSELF!!  As long as your body is in good physical condition and fueled with the proper nutrients and stress is properly managed, it can and WILL heal itself!  It’s up to you to take care of the only body you have and treat it with the respect it deserves.  Look inside yourself and love yourself enough to start taking steps towards reaching true wellness.  Let’s work together to find your best version of you in every way!