Thoughts on the evolution of the modern family and how our eating habits and health declined soon after

SPOILER ALERT! There are no recipes to tips or hacks in this post. No nugget at the end. This shall be strictly words. A rant if you will. If you choose to read anyway, thank you, I appreciate that. If you decide to close the tab, I understand, and hope to see you again on another post.

Health is like an RRSP.

You gotta buy into it. It’s best to make small, continual investments to see the gains. Start young. You can’t invest everything at the eleventh hour and think things will be ok.

In the not-so-distant past, households, could be sustained comfortably on a single income. This enabled one of the adults in the family to prepare meals for the rest. Shopping was done several times a week and with trips to the butcher shop and green grocer almost daily. You knew the butcher and he knew your name. The green grocer would let you know there were lots of squash coming in the fall as the crop was good this year. You supported one another in the community by purchasing from their shops.

Someone decided that we needed more. No, we more than needed more. We wanted it. Not wanted. Deserved. Yes, that’s it. We deserved it. We deserved more. We deserved bigger, better, faster and stronger. We devised ways to do more with less effort. We wanted a bigger tv, another car, a boat would be nice, Janey wears XYZ brand of jeans, why can’t I, primary school kids have to have the latest iPhone. We needed more money to get these things faster than our parents, so dual income houses became the norm. Meal time became a chore because both parents weren’t getting home until late afternoon/early evening and the kids were starving. We fixed this problem. We created instant food. Not instant like the Bugs Bunny cartoon with the Acme Instant Martian ~ just add 1 drop of water, kind of instant, but food you can have it ready in an instant, or fraction of the time it would have taken to prepare from scratch.

We took our double income family and decided our kid was going to be the next hockey player/football star/doctor/lawyer/dancer/singer/ultimate fighter so we scheduled every waking moment with activities and lessons. We began placing a lot of importance of what our kid was rather than how or who our kid was. This over scheduling compounded our time problems too. Modern kids are more stressed than ever trying to do all the things we have them signed up for. Some training starts early in the morning for ice time, pool time, then a day of class, lunch bag filled with everything in a colourful package and wrappers, then after school care and more training sessions until dinner. Some more practices in the evening and weekends are reserved for games, tryouts, festivals and recitals. School work was supposed to be done in there somewhere. Meals on these nights are often on the fly. It is not uncommon to see a child with take-out coffee, whipped up coffee milkshakes and energy drinks to keep them going during their day. Those poor bodies. The justification is that it is a half-fat latte or a diet pop. We now recognize and are recognized by the drive-thru employees, pizza and chinese food delivery drivers. Weird thought: we tip these folks for bringing us sub-standard food. Why?

 

More and more of our meals came wrapped in plastic or in a cardboard box. We only need add water, oil or margarine. Occasionally there would be a sectioned meal covered in foil and frozen. These icy meals allowed everyone to choose something different for dinner and all could be popped into the oven at the same time. The family could still eat together but with personal choice satisfied. Of course, each choice came with the mandatory dessert of either apple spice cake or chocolate brownie. Inevitably, in the processing/handling stages, one or two of the veg would work their way into the dessert square. This was modern cooking.

Food products now come with extended expiration dates. Food is supposed to spoil, isn’t it. It is not meant to last indefinitely on a shelf. We are meant to get what we need for a short period of time, consume it within its window of readiness and then repeat. This constant replenishing of food allows us the opportunity for different vitamins, minerals and nutrients from our next selection. Variety baby!

Is it any coincidence our health issues have increased in alarming rates in this same time period? Type II Diabetes, or Adult-Onset as it used to be coined, is now becoming common in younger children. We all know cancer stats are rising. More children are battling cancers. I believe the rates are around 1 in 7 for breast cancer. I recall back when I was in school, it was 1 n 20. Increased numbers and varieties of auto-immune diseases. Autistic Spectrum Disorders and other cognitive function challenges are pretty common. As if Alzheimer’s Disease wasn’t enough, we now have Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. This is being labelled as Type III Diabetes. The list seems endless.

What have we done to ourselves? Is it too late? Can humans be saved?

I think so. We are drowning but someone has chucked us a rope. We need to grab it and haul our sorry carcasses out of the water. No one is jumping in to save us.

Is it difficult to read every label? Yes. Is it time consuming? Yes. Can you avoid it? Yes, you can. Buy things that do not come with labels. Shop the aisles of the grocery store. Buy vegetables that are still vegetables. Buy fruit that is actually real fruit. Not crap like blue-raspberry flavoured gummies. Choose proteins like fish, chicken, pork, red meat, and organ meats (if you are game) that are ready for your personal flavour profiles. Write out meals for the week. Buy what is on your list. Prep it. Cook on the weekend. Use crockpots, pressure cookers and batch cooking to your advantage. Get others to help in the kitchen. Teach a child how to snap asparagus. You are teaching life-skills. Talk about the ingredients while you work. Taste things raw if appropriate.

The question is, how badly do you want to feel better?

 

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Why food quality matters

It’s kind of funny how food has become such a hot topic.

It’s food. We eat it. Shouldn’t really be more complicated than that. Food should be recognizable in its original form when we eat it or at least some semblance of the packaging Mother Nature provided. Obviously we aren’t about to gnaw on the side of a cow or pluck a salmon from the water and bite into it the way a bear would. We are a bit more civilized than that. Zombie apocalypse notwithstanding.

It used to be only the “tree-hugging hippies” who wanted their produce to be free from pesticides and genetic modifications and they were often mocked and ridiculed. Sad thought really. Shaming someone for wanting something better for their body, their children’s bodies and the planet we share. Turns out, they were way ahead of the game. We should have been right beside them, standing up and fighting for our rights as consumers to have explicit ingredient lists on the things we eat. Instead, we ran for the sexy two year shelf-stable meal and opted for super size fries and a large one-calorie soft drink to go with it.

It’s never too late to effect change.

Invest time searching for farmers in your area. Click here to go to Eat Wild. This amazing resource will help you find local farmers who are raising livestock ethically and practicing sustainable farming techniques. You will be amazed to learn who is growing what in your backyard.

Sustainable farming practices and the rotation of crops helps prevent mineral depletion of the soil. Different crops take different nutrients from the soil. Another reason to eat seasonal produce. Eat what is growing for the time of year. Some things grow better together by acting as a natural pest repellant for another crop. Livestock feeds on grasses and then, yes, poops, or fertilizes, the soil to replenish nutrients back into the dirt. Better soil = more nutrients in the vegetables and fruits. The ozone-layer depleting, methane gas horror stories are thanks to the CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) methods of raising livestock. Those creatures are standing shoulder to shoulder and knee-deep (figuratively speaking) in their own waste. Remember the video on how canola oil is made? One of the by-products from the production of this oil, is cattle feed. No thanks. I want to be able to eat the food my food eats.

I truly believe we are what we eat. If you are eating garbage, food-like products, I’d wager you are living in a body that is under duress. Maybe you suffer from frequent colds or illness. Perhaps early arthritic symptoms. Poor sleep. Low energy. Headaches. Eczema. GI issues such as constipation or diarrhea. Behavioural issues. The list is endless. Food quality won’t necessarily “fix” everything that ails you, but it’ll certainly help a whole lot.

Time to stand up for yourself. Don’t just eat. Nourish your body with real food. Plan and prepare your meals and eat them mindfully. Put your fork down between bites. Chew and actually taste the food you are eating. Stop wolfing your meal down while sitting in front of the tv. Give your body time to adjust to eating real food. Giving up the convenient, packaged foods comes with a detox period, not unlike that of an addict. You will go through withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, cold and flu-like symptoms. Your energy will tank. Your skin may break out. At this point, you may be thinking “this sucks! I’m supposed to be feeling better by eating better.” It’ll happen. You just gotta hang on.

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I know this first-hand. When I changed from eating a gluten-free diet to a Paleo template, my skin broke out in a terrible, itchy rash. I thought this food and nutrition shift was supposed to be good for me, why is my body reacting like this? Gluten-free does not necessarily equal healthy. There is a lot of crappy food that is labelled gluten-free. So many of these packaged foods are high in sugars and unnecessary carbohydrates. As your body rids itself of the garbage in your system, it puts that trash curb side, or in my case, on my skin. Think of your skin as a revolving door.

Let’s go back to basic biology. Our cells are building blocks. They are constantly moving “food” and energy across membranes, walls and borders to help our bodies repair, function and grow. This system is extremely complex and delicate in nature. It’s tricky enough for the cells to do their thing correctly when given the correct tools. Why would you put something that is completely foreign into your cells and force them to process something they don’t recognize as food? The body does the best it can with what you put in it. What to do with the things it doesn’t recognize? The cells become hoarders and stash the unrecognizable stuff to deal with later. You can only hide garbage for so long before it smells and things start to fall apart.

What goes on, goes in and what goes in, eventually comes out.

 

 

 

At what cost, beauty?

We begin our chemical christening at a very early age.

Babies are bathed in what is touted as a gentle, all-in-one wash. Powder and moisturizer to finish the cleaning regime. No one wants a stinky kid.

Clean smelling laundry seems to be a hallmark of good parenting. Our detergents and fabric softeners are scented. Dryer sheets are scented. Look at all the smell choices available to us in the laundry aisle of the grocery store. Go walking outside (especially in the evening) and you can smell/tell who is doing laundry. Those chemical blankets are being wrapped all over your person and your little people.

Now, we’re grown up and we are in control of our own hygiene rituals. We use scented soaps and body washes. There are scented shampoos and conditioners. There are the ever-popular deep-conditioning products to help replenish moisture to our dry, over-processed hair. Like most, we apply a liberal amount of various styling products. Mousse, gel, pomade, hairspray, hair colour and perm solutions (yes some folks still go that route) Slather on some body lotion or moisturizer, scented of course, because your skin feels dry after cleaning it in the shower. Anti-perspirant or deodorant, again, scented, because who wants to smell like a monkey?

isolated-red-lipstick_wprw9pNow comes the make-up. Moisturizer, concealer, foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow pencil (?), eyeshadow, blush, lip pencil, lipstick or gloss and a spritz of perfume or body spray. Maybe you need to apply your deodorant a second time at some point during the day for the “sure” factor. Perhaps an extra touch of perfume? Before we go out for the night, we definitely redo our makeup and hair.

What little girl doesn’t like to play in mummy’s makeup and perfume? (we won’t even think about pageant or performing kids)

 

Let’s not forget about hand-sanitizer. Scented and unscented, we find it everywhere. Shopping malls, gas stations, public bathrooms, kids play areas, grocery stores, lunch kits, purses, high school backpacks and lockers. We all know an addict for this stuff. This is now frequently replacing hand-washing protocol. People squirt a good blobby dose of this into their hands, rub away and then chow down on the fast-food burger and fries. Mmmm tasty stuff.

We need to wash all that off before we collapse into bed at night. So out comes the makeup remover designed to melt and strip off everything we painstakingly painted on earlier. Finally, grease up with some night cream to combat what we did to our faces during the day. We drift off to try to sleep for the next 6-8 hours in our “outdoor fresh” scented bed sheets. Wonder why you are tossing and turning all night and often wake up with a headache and stuffed nose or sore throat?

This problem isn’t exclusive to the females. They too are pressured to have nice smelling hair, aftershave, cologne and clothes. Men are exposed to the same chemical onslaught, except most aren’t sporting the same makeup as the ladies.

Remember the revolving door analogy for our skin? All the harsh chemicals in each of those products are transported into our bodies. This chemical storm goes on day in day out. For years. One can’t help but imagine of the cumulative effect of these ingredients in our cells. How can our bodies even begin to battle the chemical warfare we willingly wage? Layer upon layer of toxins are applied to the largest organ of our body. (this doesn’t take into consideration our food choices and what we shovel inside our bodies either) And we wonder why we are getting sicker and staying sicker, longer. Feeling crappy is common. Headaches and stuffy noses are just part of being human these days.

Parabens and phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. Hormones are delicate enough, they don’t need to be assaulted by these things. Sodium laurel/laureth sulfates are common allergen triggers and irritants. These are found in our shampoos, body washes and cosmetics. The best part? They are allowed in our products. Wow.

Be aware of what you put ON your body, the bodies of your loved ones. Read your labels. Make conscious, mindful decisions of the personal care products you choose to use on yourself and your loved ones.

Oh, and if you are that bent on the smell of outdoor fresh laundry? Hang it outside to dry.

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At what cost, beauty?

We begin our chemical christening at a very early age.

Babies are bathed in what is touted as a gentle, all-in-one wash. Powder and moisturizer to finish the cleaning regime. No one wants a stinky kid.

Clean smelling laundry seems to be a hallmark of good parenting. Our detergents and fabric softeners are scented. Dryer sheets are scented. Look at all the smell choices available to us in the laundry aisle of the grocery store. Go walking outside (especially in the evening) and you can smell/tell who is doing laundry. Those chemical blankets are being wrapped all over your person and your little people.

Now, we’re grown up and we are in control of our own hygiene rituals. We use scented soaps and body washes. There are scented shampoos and conditioners. There are the ever-popular deep-conditioning products to help replenish moisture to our dry, over-processed hair. Like most, we apply a liberal amount of various styling products. Mousse, gel, pomade, hairspray, hair colour and perm solutions (yes some folks still go that route) Slather on some body lotion or moisturizer, scented of course, because your skin feels dry after cleaning it in the shower. Anti-perspirant or deodorant, again, scented, because who wants to smell like a monkey?

isolated-red-lipstick_wprw9pNow comes the make-up. Moisturizer, concealer, foundation, powder, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow pencil (?), eyeshadow, blush, lip pencil, lipstick or gloss and a spritz of perfume or body spray. Maybe you need to apply your deodorant a second time at some point during the day for the “sure” factor. Perhaps an extra touch of perfume? Before we go out for the night, we definitely redo our makeup and hair.

What little girl doesn’t like to play in mummy’s makeup and perfume? (we won’t even think about pageant or performing kids)

 

Let’s not forget about hand-sanitizer. Scented and unscented, we find it everywhere. Shopping malls, gas stations, public bathrooms, kids play areas, grocery stores, lunch kits, purses, high school backpacks and lockers. We all know an addict for this stuff. This is now frequently replacing hand-washing protocol. People squirt a good blobby dose of this into their hands, rub away and then chow down on the fast-food burger and fries. Mmmm tasty stuff.

We need to wash all that off before we collapse into bed at night. So out comes the makeup remover designed to melt and strip off everything we painstakingly painted on earlier. Finally, grease up with some night cream to combat what we did to our faces during the day. We drift off to try to sleep for the next 6-8 hours in our “outdoor fresh” scented bed sheets. Wonder why you are tossing and turning all night and often wake up with a headache and stuffed nose or sore throat?

This problem isn’t exclusive to the females. They too are pressured to have nice smelling hair, aftershave, cologne and clothes. Men are exposed to the same chemical onslaught, except most aren’t sporting the same makeup as the ladies.

Remember the revolving door analogy for our skin? All the harsh chemicals in each of those products are transported into our bodies. This chemical storm goes on day in day out. For years. One can’t help but imagine of the cumulative effect of these ingredients in our cells. How can our bodies even begin to battle the chemical warfare we willingly wage? Layer upon layer of toxins are applied to the largest organ of our body. (this doesn’t take into consideration our food choices and what we shovel inside our bodies either) And we wonder why we are getting sicker and staying sicker, longer. Feeling crappy is common. Headaches and stuffy noses are just part of being human these days.

Parabens and phthalates are known endocrine disruptors. Hormones are delicate enough, they don’t need to be assaulted by these things. Sodium laurel/laureth sulfates are common allergen triggers and irritants. These are found in our shampoos, body washes and cosmetics. The best part? They are allowed in our products. Wow.

Be aware of what you put ON your body, the bodies of your loved ones. Read your labels. Make conscious, mindful decisions of the personal care products you choose to use on yourself and your loved ones.

Oh, and if you are that bent on the smell of outdoor fresh laundry? Hang it outside to dry.

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Pass (on) the canola oil please

I’m all for knowledge.

In my home, I control what fats we use. Some of the top budget dollars go to properly sourced grass fed/pastured butter and ghee. Unrefined coconut and palm oils, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, avocado oils, and so on and so on. When we dine out, (which incidentally is happening less and less these days) we are at the mercy of the oils and fats the restaurant uses. One inquires and makes decisions based on the information provided. Hats off to the servers who have the knowledge or go ask the questions. Thank you for going above and beyond. It is appreciated.

One should never stop learning and one should always be open to hearing another viewpoint. I came across this clip on how canola oil is produced. This video is not a “hate on canola oil” production. It is taking us through the refinement stage from seed to bottle in a matter-of-fact narrative. The opening comment states canola oil is one of the best cooking oils available. Lowest level of saturated fat. More healthy omega 3 fatty acids and is high in mono-unsaturated fat. One would almost believe this was a healthy choice if they quit the video there. I won’t poke holes in those claims today. Maybe another day.

From here we see the many steps of refinement. I won’t repeat each step, because, well, you are capable of watching the video again if you felt so inclined. But, let’s hit the highlight reel. Washing the flattened canola cake for 70 minutes in a solvent (mmm, ok) to extract more oil. A 20 minute wash in sodium hydroxide. Let’s flash back to high school science for a moment. NaOH is lye or caustic soda by another name. This stuff can also be used to break down tissue and make bones brittle enough to be crushed into powder with your fingers. Many a criminal in history has used this chemical compound to break down a body to make evidence (almost) disappear. The canola oil is bleached to lighten the colour. Steam is used for deodorization.

The by-products during the refinement process include:

  • cattle feed (from the “foreign material” in the separation process)
  • soaps (“natural impurities” from the oil after washing in NaOH)
  • vegetable shortening (waxy substance left behind after the lye wash)
  • animal feed (from the solvent-washed canola cake)

The by-products appear to be what was left over after each of the refining stages. The way I interpret this, is those other products are laden in the various chemicals used to process the end product. Isn’t soap supposed to clean our skin? Not wash it with something that could be potentially breaking it down? I’m guessing the soap is refined further to remove those toxins introduced during the canola refinement stage. Cue safer skincare products from companies like Beautycounter.

Another plug for grass-fed/grass-finished/pastured meats when at all possible. The animals are consuming these chemical cocktails. Put your money where your mouth is. You deserve better than factory food.

 

 

I’ll take skin for the win, Alex

Hey, your epidermis is showing.

Let’s look at our organs for a moment. We care for our lungs by not smoking and trying to minimize our exposure to pollution. We care for our liver by trying to limit our alcohol consumption. That glass of red wine last night was for medicinal purposes, I swear. We care for our kidneys by staying well hydrated. (Don’t worry, I won’t itemize each one.) By eating good, nutrient rich foods and drinking clean water, we take care of and nourish all of our inner squishy bits. Now what about the organ everyone sees? Your skin. What are you doing for that?

It’s not just wrapping paper to all the muscles, blood vessels, bones and other sinewy stuff that makes up a body. Think of your skin as a revolving door. Let that visual sink in. What we put on our bodies is carried inside (to be handled by the inner organs and systems) and what we put in our bodies is excreted through our skin. We often slather all strong scented soaps, lotions and chemical laden products on it without a second thought.

You apply that beautiful lipstick  isolated-red-lipstick_wprw9p(complete with red dye number 666 – I know that isn’t a real ingredient, but you get the message) onto your lips. Not only are you absorbing all those chemicals through your skin, you are also now consuming said chemical cocktail. Mmmm, not as beautiful as it seemed.

Skin is amazing. It breathes. It grows with us. It stretches around developing babies and the occasional keg of beer. It sometimes snaps back. It heals when we scrape it. Skin forgives. Over time, it tells a tale of laughter and smiles (or pain and misery). Skin tells the tale of your health and your life.

You need a good canvas to write a good story. (yes, I know, you paint on canvas, you don’t write on it)

There are many clean ingredient skin care products out there today. Beautycounter is the one I absolutely fell in love with. They are transparent in the list of ingredients they use and those things they will NEVER use. This aligns with my views on food. Just as I want to know what I’m eating, and (ideally) what my food eats, I want to know what I’m absorbing into my body through my skin. The whole reason I started this food and wellness journey  was an attempt to heal some fantastic eczema.

 

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I don’t want to cause problems with my skin from the outside in, now that I’ve healed it from the inside out. You can read about that first step here if you haven’t read it already. I chose to act as a Beautycounter consultant to help spread the importance of safer skincare.

 

The FDA recently suggested a reduction in the acceptable level of lead in cosmetics. A suggestion, not a rule. The article states nothing about reducing it from hair dye or other cosmetic products. Beauty does indeed have a price. I get and understand cross-contamination and how it is almost impossible to keep anything completely “clean” in terms of ingredients. I’m not expecting perfection in this, but accountability and responsibility would be a good place to start. So much is up to the consumer to do their due diligence. There is apparently an acceptable level of rodent hair and other unsavoury items in chocolate and that certainly doesn’t stop anyone from shoving that down the pipe (it never stopped me anyway; I used to eat four chocolate bars a day, no exaggeration).

As I move into the second half of my potential century here on this green and blue planet, I’m re-doubling my efforts to care for the meat-covered skeleton I’ve been given the privilege to operate, the best ways I can. Clean, safer food and clean, safer skin products. Years ago, I think it was L’Oreal that had a buzz-phrase “Because I’m worth it”. Now, more that ever, the phrase is appropriate but perhaps should be reassigned to humans in general and their own outlook on quality and ethical choices we make regarding our food and skin care.

 

Floss ~ the other F-word

Do you swear to tell the tooth? The whole tooth? And nothing but the tooth?

We are going to chat a little bit about oral health. That in itself almost sounds dirty, but it isn’t. Or it shouldn’t be.

Just a few basic dental facts so we are all on the same page. We’ll keep this simple.

Typically there are 20 baby (or milk) teeth with up to 32 permanent (or adult) teeth. I say up to because that includes wisdom teeth. Not everyone develops these. Now, having stated these numbers, there are always those folks who grow extra teeth and those who never form some. We can chat about this another time.

Teeth are composed of layers:

  • Enamel: hardest substance in your body, mineralized outer layer covering the top or crown of the tooth
  • Dentin: is almost like a bone and makes up the majority of the tooth bulk  and is protected by the enamel for the crown (and cementum on the root, not labelled in this diagram)
  • Pulp or pulp chamber: the middle of the tooth and has the “live” or “vital” connection via blood vessels to your jaws (yes, teeth can die)

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Plaque (you’ve heard of that before) is the film (microbial biofilm) that builds on your teeth during the day and at night. It is usually colourless but it is responsible for bad breath (halitosis), red, irritated gums (gingivitis) and if left undisturbed, can harden into tartar. It commonly forms at the gum line and can work it’s way under the gums, down the root of the tooth. Plaque feeds on sugar (from foods we eat, such as carbohydrates) and produces acid in the mouth. This eventually leads to. . . (dramatic pause) cavities. This is why removing plaque daily, is critical.

Removing plaque is a two-step process. Flossing and brushing. Flossers, in my over 20 years experience in the dental/orthodontic world, fall into several categories.

  1. Those who do it daily
  2. Those who do it when they get something stuck between their teeth
  3. Those who do it a day or two before seeing the dentist/hygienist to try to fool them into thinking that they actually floss every day (doesn’t work, we can tell)
  4. Those who do it for a few days after seeing the dentist/hygienist as they feel motivated by a good pep talk/lecture

Those of you who do it daily, congrats! Pat yourself on the back. You are ahead of the game.

Those who don’t floss daily, well, that’s kinda like not cleaning the underside of the toilet seat. It’s gross.

I get why you don’t do it. When you finally break out that tortuous string, it hurts. Even if your technique is good. Your gums bleed. They get really red. They swell up twice or even three times their normal size. They throb (kinda like when you work a muscle you haven’t used in a while). And at that point, you throw that hateful minty thread into the garbage and vow never again! I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Join the flossers. Drink the proverbial Kool-aid.

The fact your gums bleed when you clean them should cause all the alarm bells to go off in your head. If you washed your hands and they bled, you’d be pretty concerned right? Gum tissue isn’t any different.

Get your floss, waxed, unwaxed, plain or flavoured and get to it. If you opt to use a floss pick, please wipe the little piece of floss before moving on to the next spot, otherwise you are just moving your plaque from place to place. Don’t get me wrong, a floss pick is better than not flossing at all. There are no rules stating you have to floss in the bathroom. If you aren’t offending anyone, do it while watching tv. Do it in the shower (don’t let the floss go down the drain though). Like Nike says: Just Do It. That first time? Yes, it will hurt. Yes it will bleed, maybe even a lot. Yes your gums will puff up and throb. Get over it. It falls under the heading of “suck it up buttercup” and you do it again the next day. And the next. And the next. Keep showing up to your floss date. In a few days, the bleeding settles down and maybe even stops. The puffiness and redness settles down and you may notice your gums are a lighter shade and are hugging your bone more. Hooray! That throbbing or pulsing sensation is likely gone now too. Guess, what? Your breath smells a whole lot better too. Next time you see the dentist or hygienist, you won’t get a lecture either.

 

It’s about labels

Almost everything (and everyone) has a label these days.

The hard part is deciphering the label we are reading. Especially if you aren’t a scientist (which I’m not). Armed with the research wonder capabilities of the internet, instead of logging hours in a library hunched over encyclopedias or micro-fiche (age drop), let’s look at a typical granola bar shall we?

At a quick glance, one would think this to be a terrific lunch box snack or on the go pick-me-up. Only 80 calories. For those counting calories, that must be an acceptable snack calorie quantity. Granola? We’ve been brought up to believe granola is good for us, a healthy, ‘stick-to-your-ribs’ choice. Naturally flavoured? If it’s “natural”, that means it’s good for us right? Let’s put on the brakes for just a second and read the ingredients label, not the box marked Nutrition Facts.

First ingredient: Whole grain oats. Sounds like we are off to a good start.

Second ingredient: Sugar. Hmmmm, a sweetener as a second ingredient doesn’t sound right.

Third item: Vegetable Oil. A blend of canola, palm kernel and palm oil. Hmmmm again.

Next item: Rice Flour. 

Followed fifth by: High Maltose Corn Syrup. We all know this is another type of sweetener.

Sixth ingredient: Cocoa, a real ingredient.

Seventh item: Honey, real too, but another sweetener nonetheless.

Eighth item: Rice Maltodextrin is a fancy name for a type of, you guessed it, sweetener.

Ninth ingredient: Soy Lecithin, everyone’s favourite emulsifier. If you are trying to avoid soy, good luck.

Tenth ingredient: Salt. I like to think of it as flavour’s magnifying glass.

Eleventh ingredient: Milk, whoo-hoo, another real item here, but let’s think about what the cows are eating, because we eat that too.

Twelfth item: Baking soda, another real ingredient.

Thirteenth ingredient: Barley Malt Extract, would be our fifth sweetener. With that many types of sweeteners, how healthy are these things?

Natural Flavour rounds out our list. That alone just sounds suspicious. They can’t even tell me what I’m about to ingest? Natural flavour exists in everything. It could be tomato flavour, beef liver flavour, apricot flavour, earthworm flavour or any other thing under the sun. I’d prefer some clarification before I nibble on this.

Out of 14 potential ingredients, leaving a huge berth of leniency for “natural flavour”, 5 are sweeteners. (The oats and rice flour will convert into sugars eventually too, but we aren’t counting them this way.) A minimum of 36% of the ingredients making up these snack bars are a form of sugar.That doesn’t sound overly healthy to me, but, hey, I’m no expert.

When did our food stray so far away from being real?

Food in it’s real form needs no label. You hold an organic, non-GMO zucchini in your hand, it contains: zucchini. That’s it. No, “may contain corn, wheat, soy, eggs, peanuts” disclaimer. Same goes for any other organic non-GMO fruit or vegetable. You know what you are about to consume. Isn’t that how it should be? I really don’t want to have to research all the unpronounceable ingredients of what I am intending to eat or do some napkin math to add up all the hidden sugars. If I’m hungry, I want to have confidence I am eating something real, something created by Mother Nature and not the Dow Chemical company.

Our chickens and cows and other livestock are ingesting hormones and a slew of chemicals to make them grow bigger and faster. Would it not stand to reason there has to be a trickle down effect with all those chemicals? Our children drink the milk, eat the cheese created from this milk, and consume the meat from these cows. Those same kids are having eggs from these chickens and goodness only knows how many McDonald’s “Chicken McNuggets” (is there even any real chicken in those? I honestly don’t know). Are these chemicals and hormones compounding in our bodies? Then, down the road, when these chemical laden kids have kids, what will their future look like?

Children are reaching puberty at younger and younger ages. Girls are developing breasts and starting menstruation well before the age of 13, which used to be the early end of the puberty norm. Boys are getting their cookie-duster moustaches before leaving elementary school. These young, physically mature, children often have all their adult teeth, with the exception of wisdom teeth, by 10 years of age. 

What has this done to our brains? The brains of our children? We all see the rise in Autism, Asperger’s, Tourrette’s, ADD, ADHD, Early Onset Dementia, Diabetes, numerous Auto-Immune Disorders, Cancer, personality disorders, cognitive impairment and the lists go on and on. Have our food-like products harmed us and these generations? And what about the generations yet to come? Did we do our due diligence and read the labels? Or were we romanced by all the sexy buzz-words the advertising world threw at us? Wooing us into believing 1 calorie soft-drinks were ok? Eating without consequence. Yikes!

We need to turn this around. Now. We need to collectively, as a people, spend our money on food that has ingredients we can pronounce. Food should be the ingredients. Food that we recognize in it’s original nature-given packaging. Invest the time to cook with your family instead of stuffing drive-thru dinners (not to mention all that packaging) down their throats. 

Ironically, and sadly, it is often the wealthy who can afford to eat the food grown in the dirt (read organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, grass-finished, pasture raised) and the lower income demographic who can only afford the food-like products made in the hi-tech factories.