Friday, December 23, 2011

My Review of So Delicious's Holiday Drinks

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Monday, December 19, 2011

The First Stocking Party After

This is not a post about natural health. It's a post about celebrating and grieving. My apologies if you wanted something else. I promise to return to the norm next post.

Yesterday, we had our first Stocking Party without my Dad. Our family stocking parties originated after my parents divorced. My Dad hated not being able to see us and be with us on Christmas morning, so he started this annual tradition that has grown and evolved through the years. It is now our main Christmas celebration and is my absolute favorite. What makes it so special is that it is a tradition that grew out of love, it is incredibly unique, and it is and always was purely ours.

What is a "Stocking Party"? It is pure fun!The entire family gathers to spend the day celebrating. The focus of the party is that we each stuff a "stocking" for every member of the family. We used actual stockings in the past, but now use paper grocery bags labeled with our names because the stocking stuffers simply won't fit in a typical stocking. I can't describe how much fun it is to shop for the Stocking Party. Whether we find the perfect gag gift, or find something so unique we know the recipient will love it, finding the perfect stuffers for each person is a ton of fun. 

Some years everyone gets serious items, but most years the stuffers are a combination of funny gifts and miscellaneous inexpensive gadgets and goodies. Through the years, the shopping process has evolved to the point that I think we each try to find the most unusual gifts possible. (One year, my dad received more than one gift having a "poop" theme and stopped the party to loudly ask why he didn't get the memo informing him of that year's theme.) Most of us start picking up stocking stuffers as soon as we finish this year's Stocking Party, although I confess that a last-minute shopping trip to fill in gaps has become a tradition that I treasure.

We're up to 14 family members, but this year it was really strange to not buy stuffers for my Dad and to not see his overflowing "stocking" tucked in among everyone else's. Since the Stocking Party was his creation, I think we each took special care to find extra special goodies to stuff in his stocking. I had already picked out a few things for him when he died, so I passed them along to my husband as quickly as I could. I didn't want that reminder lingering.

This year we changed things up a bit. We didn't do anything traditional related to food or other holiday trappings. I made chicken curry and everyone brought several toppings. We also invited my mom to join us. Having the complete family present was wonderful. She and my Dad's wife get along great, so it seemed very natural to expand our circle to include her this year.

I wasn't sure what to expect this year. I was kind of dreading this year's party because I feared we would all find it difficult to not focus on the fact Dad wasn't with us. Instead, the exact opposite occurred. We spent the day laughing and enjoying each other's company just as we always have. We enjoyed fond memories of my Dad but spoke of him with joy instead of sadness. Was he missed? Of course, but it was a sadness tinged with joy. I'm sure that as we move forward our joy will increase. The entire day was incredibly joyful. I'm so thankful for that.

My wish for you this holiday season, regardless of what you celebrate or what form your celebration takes, is that your celebrations are filled with joy and love. May God richly bless you and yours!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Keep It Simple, Smarty!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Makes Me Different from Other Practitioners

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients

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This post is about pampering yourself and improving your health at the same time. One of my favorite ways to detoxify is by taking a long, very warm detoxification bath two to three times per week. Why is it important to detoxify? Because toxins are "pollution" in your body and polluted cells don't  ...


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Create a Detoxification Bath Using Common Ingredients

Please read it there. Thanks much! Be well!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Legacy of Joy with a Killer Punch Line

My dad died yesterday. I could euphemize it, but it wouldn't change the reality that my dad is gone.

Although he had been in the hospital for four weeks, not even his doctors expected him to die or considered death a possibility. My father fought a tough battle against MRSA and sepsis. In the end, his heart simply wore out. After being moved to ICU for extremely low blood pressure, his heart very gradually slowed and then stopped, very peacefully. His amazing caregivers performed CPR for 24 minutes before conceding that his heart could not be coaxed back to life. Those 24 minutes were agonizing, but I'm blessed we could be close to him during that time. There are no words to describe the shock that comes with realizing the man who raised you - who had joked with his doctor just an hour ago - was gone forever.

Yesterday's shock is beginning to be replaced by acceptance. That acceptance includes the realization that the man who taught me what unconditional love is by providing it every day is gone. Forever. I'll never share another Thanksgiving turkey with him, will never again shudder as I watch him share his dinner and his fork with his dogs, and will never again be engulfed in his huge hug and know that everything is going to be ok. He spoke love fluently and everyone in his presence felt his glow.

The common thing to do would be to write a glowing tribute to my dad. The problem with that is that there was nothing "common" about my father. He was a huge man with a larger heart and a personality that filled the room as soon as he entered. People instantly liked him and felt drawn to him. There was no wall flower so shy that he could not coax them out of their shell and convince them they were the center of the universe. He never met a stranger and had a knack for putting anyone of any age instantly at ease. He was one of those rare people who genuinely cared about people and wasn't afraid to show it. 

His love for life was contagious. On a card from his co-workers, almost every wish included a comment that the person missed his smiling face and missed his ability to make them laugh. He blessed others simply by being himself. He inspired them, encouraged them and brought them joy, yet never expected anything in return. He shared love and joy freely, and everyone around him was made a better person as a result.

Growing up, my dad was fun. He was the type of dad who always gave me two pieces of sugar free gum instead of just one. As a kid diagnosed with diabetes at age two, two pieces of gum was a huge treat. He played with us, taught us to laugh, and encouraged us to have fun. My brother and sister and I can thank him for instilling in us the importance of being able to laugh at ourselves. He was the kind of father who held us accountable and doled out consequences, but who never seemed to remember past errors. He was the type of dad who wouldn't hesitate to drive all the way from Indiana to Mexico to rescue me and my kids when a situation became ugly. It was the right thing to do and he did it. Period.

Above all, he was 100% honest. Often bluntly so. You always knew exactly where you stood with him. He taught me to treasure honesty and to value it in my relationships. He spoke his mind because he believed love was always honest, that honesty was a sign of respect, and that honesty made people better. In his final days, frustrated at being confined to a bed, he was as likely to refer to one of the many doctors caring for him as an "arrogant asshole" as he was to stop a nurse in mid-sentence to let her know how pretty she was. (He was right on both counts.)

Few who knew him knew that he lost many years of his life to alcoholism but reclaimed it and recreated it in sobriety. There are also few who know that he gained and maintained 25 years of sobriety 100% on his own, relying on the support of his wife, Diane, instead of a group. He battled his demons in private, and his victory over them was also private. After giving up his addiction, he devoted himself to rebuilding relationships he had destroyed. Everyone in his life forgave him, but he occasionally made comments that hinted he was unable to forgive himself. My prayer is that he found peace and forgave himself before he passed. He had absolutely nothing to regret. He set the example that mistakes can and should be redeemed, and that actions speak louder than excuses.

When I think of my father, the tears often mingle with smiles. He leaves a legacy of unconditional love ... with a killer punch line.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How I Lost Weight By Eating MORE

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Top Ways to Reduce & Avoid Inflammation

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Myths About Inflammation

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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Smart Way to Deal with Zits

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

When Having Insurance is a Bad Thing

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

When Patients Become Body Parts Instead of Humans

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Make Your Own Age-Defying Cream

Today I want to share the recipe for a cream that has amazing anti-aging effects and that is incredibly easy to make. When I created the formula for this cream, it soon became the hottest seller in my organic skincare business. A friend of mine was heartbroken when I closed the business, because she had come to depend on this cream to keep her skin looking young and radiant.

If you enjoy making your own skincare products, be sure to check out my post on how to make your own hand sanitizer: Hand Sanitizer Alternatives.

The base formula for Wonder Creme only uses two basic ingredients. I share suggestions of ingredients to add to bolster its effectiveness or to customize it for specific needs at the end of this post. The recipe is easily increased or decreased, so you can make a tiny amount or a huge amount based on need. It is best used within six weeks if not kept in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly when choosing how much to make. When making your own facial and body products, please use fresh ingredients and please thoroughly cleanse your work space and all containers and utensils used. Wiping everything with an alcohol wipe or with a bit of Tea Tree Essential Oil is a good way to ensure cleanliness. The recipe follows ...

Wonder Creme Recipe

  1. Two Parts Liquid Oil (1 cup)
  2. One Part Aloe Vera GEL (1/2 cup) - note that this is the gel and not the liquid. The product in the link is my favorite because it uses seaweed as a thickener instead of chemicals. It is organic and has a few herbs added which are wonderful for skin health. Most aloe vera gels contain a preservative to inhibit bacterial growth. This product uses a very tiny amount of a more natural alternative.
When choosing which oil to use, use the following guidelines. I've included links to additional information on Amazon for each oil. (On a side note, Amazon has some of the best prices I've found for oils.):
  • Jojoba Oil: One of my favorite oils. Jojoba oil is actually a wax that is liquid at room temperature. Jojoba is known to be anti-inflammatory and to be mildly antimicrobial. One amazing fact about Jojoba oil is that its chemical structure almost exactly matches that of the skin's own sebum, making it a very healing oil that is readily absorbed and which penetrates many layers of the epidermis. In my experience, Jojoba oil is great for reducing wrinkles but is also a "safe" oil to use in moderation with acne due to its antibacterial properties. It is a great "go to" oil for any skin type, but it also known to be a great oil for use on the hair. (If you want to pamper yourself, use Jojoba as a hot oil hair treatment.) Jojoba oil is very easily absorbed, but is a bit heavier than other oils. I love to use it straight or as a bath oil or in creams during the winter to keep my skin moisturized.
  • Grapeseed Oil: Grapeseed is a much lighter oil than Jojoba but is still very easily absorbed. It is known to be a very soothing oil and to have mild anti-inflammatory properties. It is high in Vitamin E, Vitamin C and other anti-oxidants. Grapeseed is known to be highly moisturizing, is known to help repair the cell structure of the skin, and is known to be great for acne because it is lightly astringent. It is commonly used in products for older or damaged skin. It is a great oil to use during the summer months because it is so light.
  • Meadowfoam Seed Oil: Meadowfoam Seed Oil is an amazing oil. It penetrates more layers of the epidermis than almost any other oil. This makes it a wonderful choice for carrying healing herbal extracts or essential oils into the skin. Meadowfoam Seed Oil is known to be extremely high in antioxidants and to contain an extremely high amount of fatty acids. It is known to be wonderfully healing and regenerating.
  • Shea Butter: Shea Butter is solid at room temperature, so be aware that it will need to be melted over VERY LOW heat before being blended into the cream. (Shea Butter will crystallize if heated to too high a temp, so please heat very, very gently in a double-boiler. It liquifies in contact with the skin, so it doesn't take much heat to get it soft enough to blend.) Shea Butter is amazingly emollient and has been used in Africa for thousands of years to reduce wrinkles, heal cracked skin and as a barrier to protect the skin from damaging products. The unrefined variety has the most healing properties, but also has a slight smoky odor. The odor is easily covered by essential oils, but be aware that using Shea Butter will impart a very slight odor to the product if essential oils are not added.

Combine oil (melted if using a solid oil) and aloe vera gel in a glass container. Blend using a fork to whisk the ingredients together. In about five minutes, the consistency will change to a consistency resembling apple sauce or watery tapioca pudding. If adding other ingredients, add them at this stage, but only if the cream is starting to thicken. Continue whipping product. After about five more minutes, the product will suddenly transform into a gorgeous white, fluffy cream. Transfer to a clean container (glass preferred) and store for up to six weeks. (The preservative in the aloe vera gel will help inhibit bacterial growth.) Trust me that this cream will receive rave reviews if you give it in a decorative container as a holiday gift.

Optional Ingredients:

The following ingredients may be added as desired.
  • Essential Oils: Essential Oils can be added to add fragrance to the produce or to add healing benefits. Lavender essential oil is a great option. Please always thoroughly research your chosen essential oil(s) before using. Some do have contraindications. Please do not use essential oils at too high a concentration. Essential oils are best used at a dilution of 3%. This equates to 9-10 drops per tablespoon. For the recipe shown above, the recommended amount would be 1 - 1.5 teaspoons of essential oils.
  • Herbal Extracts: Herbal extracts such as Calendula (wonderfully healing), Chickweed (great for itchiness), or Comfrey (wonderful regenerative properties) may be added if desired. Please thoroughly research before using. For the recipe shown above, I recommend adding 60-90 drops.
That's it! If you make this, please let me know your results. Have fun with it!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Candy Alternatives for Halloween

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Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Protect Yourself or Your Loved Ones During a Hospital Stay

I've spent a lot of time in a hospital the last week while my dad has been receiving treatment. While there, I've been blessed to see numerous dedicated professionals caring for my father. I've also been reminded that it is important for every patient to either be or have an advocate standing by their side to help protect them and to help ensure they receive the best care possible.

One of the easiest things to do to ensure the best care possible while in the hospital is to always carry a list of your current prescription medications (including dosage, frequency and who the prescribing physician is), a list of medication allergies AND a list of food allergies. Having that list with you or easily accessible on a smart phone or via Internet makes it very easy to share the information. Hospital stays tend to be fairly emotional, so keeping important information handy makes it easy to share with medical staff without having to rely on memory.

Iatrogenesis is defined as: inadvertent and preventable induction of disease or complications by the medical treatment or procedures of a physician or surgeon. In simple words, iatrogenesis refers to death or injury caused by physician error or hospital error. We shudder to think such a thing exists, but it exists in much higher numbers than you might think. In 1999, The Institute of Medicine cited extremely high rates of iatrogenesis in hospitalized patients as a result of medical error and negligence that largely resulted from system failures. Reviews of multiple studies done on hospital safety found that up to 36% of hospitalized patients suffer complications or additional illness from iatrogenesis and that 50% of those events could be prevented. It is also estimated that 6.5% of iatrogenic complications result in permanent disability or death. (For an in-depth look at iatrogenesis, please read my friend Andrew Robbin's book, Licensed to Kill: The Growing Epidemics of Iatrogenic Disease And Bureaucratic Madness.)

Although most people receive excellent care while in the hospital, these numbers are significant enough that we should all use some common-sense precautions while in the hospital or caring for someone who is. My recommendations follow.

    1. Don't Hesitate to Ask Questions: I think many people desperately want to trust their doctors, so they fail to ask the questions they should be asking. I personally experienced this while my daughter spent two weeks in neonatal intensive care. She suffered an extreme level of malpractice resulting in severe iatrogenic complications simply because I so desperately wanted to trust that her specialists knew what they were doing that I didn't ask questions that should have been asked. In my case, I didn't do what was needed until a specialist from another hospital who was called in as a consultant pulled my husband aside and told him ... and I quote ... "You need to get your daughter out of here." I understand that sometimes people aren't willing to ask questions simply because they want to trust that their family member is getting the very best care possible. I've been there. It is still acceptable and necessary to ask questions even when your loved one is receiving the very best care available. If you don't understand what procedures are being done, or are curious about why they are being done, please ask. Your medical team has a responsibility to ensure you understand everything being done to help your loved one. If you have questions or if anything is even mildly unclear, ask them to clarify. Please don't feel rushed. Take your time and ask as many questions as you need to. As questions come to mind after the doctors leave, write them down and ask them the next time a doctor is present.

      Also take advantage of the knowledge your nursing staff has. Nurses have an amazing wealth of knowledge and are happy to share information and answer the questions they are legally allowed to. I have friends who are nurses who have said they often wish patients would ask more questions. Please also don't hesitate to openly share if you aren't sure a procedure should be performed.  If you question the necessity or timing of a procedure, do your research and openly share your concerns. Remember that you are a customer, not just a patient, and that you can choose to accept or deny any service or provider offered. Most hospital services are obviously necessary and should be accepted, but there are times that asking the staff to dig deeper before performing a procedure is perfectly fine. Be aware that you have the right to refuse a procedure or to request a different doctor if you are uncomfortable with anything related to the procedure. This leads us to my next point ...

    2. Know Your Rights: Be aware that you are not a "prisoner" of the hospital and that you are guaranteed certain rights. Top among those rights is that you are legally entitled to see your file/chart or the chart of your family member without having a doctor present. Spouses are allowed to view spouse's files, and other family members can view charts with the patient's approval. Many hospitals twist HIPAA laws and try to make it impossible for you to view your own file. A common tactic is to say that your file can only be viewed in the presence of a physician. This is, quite simply, illegal. HIPAA laws are in place to guarantee patient rights, not to make it impossible to review your records. If you ask to view your file or your spouse's and are refused access, let the staff know you are aware of your rights and politely but firmly demand access. If you are still refused access, call the hospital's HIPAA office and speak with someone to request access. If you are still not allowed to view your chart, call an attorney. Your medical information is, quite simply, legally yours and you are legally entitled to have full access to it. Period. If you are denied access, persist until you are granted access. Another trick they use is to say they cannot provide copies of test results until after the patient is discharged, at which point they charge up to $5/page for the copies. Don't let this happen. Demand they grant your legal rights. Some people choose to get around the hospital red tape by having all records sent to their primary care physician and then getting copies from that doctor. This method takes much longer, but can be easier if you are not comfortable being assertive.

    3. Monitor, Monitor, Monitor: I want to very  clearly state I commend the doctors and nurses who work in hospitals. They face incredible stress and pressure on a daily basis and manage to rise above it to provide top-notch service and care. As much as I admire them, it can't be denied that they are human. Humans sometimes make mistakes. I am thankful that multiple checks and balances are in place to ensure mistakes don't happen in medical settings, but they still do. I know medication errors happen because I've had it  happen ... twice ... in two different hospitals. I was brought the wrong medication on two different occasions. Had I not asked what I was being given, I would have taken the wrong medication. In one case, the error could have been deadly. The problem with medication errors is that they create the potential for a cascade effect. If you are given someone else's medication, it creates the chance the other person will also be given the wrong medication, so on and so forth. ALWAYS ask what medication is being administered before taking it. Always. This includes asking what bags are being hung on IV poles and what medication is being injected into IV tubes.

      This is especially important if you have medication allergies. Always, always ask before taking anything or allowing it to be added to your IV. If you have medication allergies, hang a sign on your IV pole clearly indicating your allergies. Please also monitor your meal tray, especially if you have food allergies. Also be careful if you are taking a medication that should not be taken with some foods. For instance, people taking Coumadin are typically advised not to eat broccoli, yet broccoli is often served in hospital meals without regard for medications being taken. I've seen it happen. Be careful. Also monitor the timing of medications. If a medication is supposed to be administered every four hours, you may need to request it. Give the nurses a 10-15 minute window of good faith, then politely request the medication if it has still not been administered.

    4. Bring Your Own Food: I'm not kidding. Hospital food is basically the same as what is served in fast food restaurants. It is highly processed, not organic and is laden with chemicals. It's also just plain NOT healthy. Since it doesn't taste good, bringing your own food shouldn't be an issue. It amazes me that mainstream doctors admit whole foods are healthier, yet the food given to patients who are at their most vulnerable and who need the purest form of nutrition for healing is the farthest thing from whole food. Salads are made with iceburg lettuce, which is nutritionally void, all bread and breading is made with white flour instead of whole grain flours, and white sugar is added to almost everything. They also serve Splenda as a sweetener, which I think is criminal. Read my post on why you should never use Splenda here:

      One hospital tray I was recently "privileged" to view contained EIGHTY grams of carbs in a single meal. In my opinion, the highest number of carbs advised in any single meal is 30-45. (That's 2-3 servings of carbs. MORE than enough.) Eighty grams of carbs in a single meal is enough to guarantee high blood sugar and obesity in a short time. Hospital food seems to be designed to guarantee that people eating it become repeat customers. Bring your own food and ask family members to bring whole, organic foods as gifts. You'll heal more quickly as a result. 
What steps do you take to protect yourself and your loved ones? I'd love to hear them!

On an interesting side note, I failed to take my home made hand sanitizer with me, so I was forced to use the hospital's. Check out my post on Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer: for more info on why this concerned me.
A related post is one that could potentially help keep you out of the hospital: Top Three Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request:

iatrogenesis. Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. (accessed: October 17, 2011). 

Patrick A. Palmieri, et al. (2008). "The anatomy and physiology of error in averse healthcare events". Advances in Health Care Management 7: 33–68. doi:10.1016/S1474-8231(08)07003-1

Brennan TA, Leape LL, Laird NM, et al. (1991). "Incidence of adverse events and negligence in hospitalized patients. Results of the Harvard Medical Practice Study I". N. Engl. J. Med. 324 (6): 370–6. doi:10.1056/NEJM199102073240604. PMID 1987460

Institute of Medicine. To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000.

Quality Interagency Coordination Task Force. Doing What Counts for Patient Safety: Federal Actions to Reduce Medical Errors and Their Impact. Washington, DC: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2000.

Szasz, Thomas S. Pharmacracy: Medicine and Politics in America. Westport, CT: Praeger Trade, 2001.

Tassano, Fabian. The Power of Life or Death: A Critique of Medical Tyranny. Oxford: Oxford Forum, 1999.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Top 3 Blood Tests Almost Everyone Should Request

One of my favorite activities in my practice is helping explain the deeper meanings of blood test results. I love being able to explain what may have caused an abnormal reading and to show connections between abnormal readings in different body systems. While doing this, I'm often surprised that blood tests I consider "standard" are frequently not ordered. What I find more surprising is how shocked people are when I tell them they should request specific blood work. We seem to forget that our doctor is our customer and that he or she needs to listen to our requests. If you wish to have specific blood tests done, please ask your doctor to order it. There may be times s/he may resist due to concerns insurance won't pay for it, but most docs will listen to your desires and order it. If you have a doc that refuses to listen to your concerns, perhaps you should consider finding a different practitioner.

Please note this post only mentions the top three blood tests I feel are most often overlooked. There are a multitude of blood, urine and stool tests that may be beneficial to helping predict or identify a health issue. Please work with your practitioner as a team to determine which tests will be best for you.

Although I identify these tests as being good for people carrying a bit of extra weight, it can be helpful to request these tests as part of a yearly physical in order to establish a baseline and spot early changes. Anyone who has health issues, is overweight or has had trouble losing weight, or has unexplained fatigue, headaches, etc. should always request the following blood tests:

  1. Insulin: Most doctors order a blood glucose level, and some may order a Hemoglobin A1C which provides an "average" of blood sugars over a period of about three months. However, I rarely see insulin levels ordered by anyone other than a holistic MD. Fasting insulin level shows how much insulin your body is producing. High insulin levels are an indicator the body has developed insulin resistance, which may lead to Type 2 diabetes. This test is important to request because people with pre-diabetic conditions or with Metabolic Syndrome may have fasting blood glucose levels that are normal, but often have high insulin levels. Most labs identify levels of around 5-17 as "normal." I like to see levels below 8-10. If someone has levels above 8, I typically start a revised eating plan with appropriate supplements if necessary.

  2. Full Thyroid Panel: When thyroid disorders are suspected, many doctors order a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test, but do not order tests to measure the specific levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. The TSH test measures the amount of TSH hormone being secreted by the pituitary gland. The thought is that you can measure the health of the thyroid gland by measuring whether or not the body is trying to increase or decrease its function. In my perspective, this is somewhat similar to checking the oil level in a car that's overheating instead of actually measuring the fluid level in the radiator. I believe there is value in the TSH test, but only when combined with tests that measure the actual amount of thyroid hormones in the blood stream. Two of the most commonly run tests to measure thyroid hormone levels are Free T3 and Free T4. (Those are two of the most important hormones secreted by the thyroid gland.) If thyroid issues are suspected, PLEASE insist your doctor order the Free T3 and Free T4. I know from personal experience that many docs are unwilling to order these tests. The true health of your thyroid gland cannot be adequately assessed without them. It can also be helpful to request an Antithyroglobulin test to determine if thyroid issues are caused by an autoimmune condition. I share a bit more detailed information in a prior post, Thyroid Hormones & Bone Marrow Biopsies: Please visit Stop the Thyroid Madness for in-depth information about thyroid issues and recommended blood work.

  3. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP): I am pleased that many more doctors are ordering a hs-CRP test for their patients. C-Reactive Protein is a protein produced by the liver in response to inflammation. A regular CRP test may be done after surgery or during various treatments to evaluate the level of inflammation in the body. The High-Sensitivity CRP is currently used as a possible predictor of potential heart disease. The hs-CRP can detect lower levels of inflammation. It is thought these levels often result from inflammation in the tiny blood vessels and other tissues in the heart. Although elevated hs-CRP levels do not guarantee heart disease, studies have found a definite connection between elevated hs-CRP levels and heart disease. I typically begin addressing cardiovascular issues when I see an elevated hs-CRP level. The CDC identifies levels below 1.0 as indicating low risk level; 1.0-3.0 as indicating a normal risk level; and levels above 3.0 as being high risk. These levels are obviously more of a concern when extremely high levels of triglycerides and/or cholesterol are present.
I can often tell quite a bit about a person's health from abnormal results in these tests, especially when combined with other blood work. These tests obviously all need to be used in conjunction with other blood tests and other assessment techniques.

My other encouragement related to blood work in general is to not become concerned by abnormal blood work before discussing it with your practitioner. There are many reasons for abnormal levels in some of the more general tests, so please do not jump to conclusions and assume the worst before discussing the results with someone who knows how to interpret them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tips for Traveling with a Freak of Nature

We returned from a trip to Florida last night. We had an amazing time together and with our son! Having a flat tire on the way to the airport, returning home to find it flat again, and spending a total of almost two hours sitting on various tarmacs due to air traffic control software problems (!!!!!) was mild compared to my experiences going through TSA with all the accoutrements I carried. Let me state that the following is a bit tongue-in-cheek and somewhat sarcastic. I know TSA agents are merely doing their job and I do respect that. Following are a few tips for traveling with a freak of nature:
  1. Leave early to get a good TSA pat down: When I say "early," I mean REALLY early. This is because most of us who choose to protect our health will opt-out of the x-ray scans used by TSA. (A list of links follows as to why we opt out. I encourage you to do your research.) Opting out of the scans means you get treated to a TSA pat down. I've had several of these. They're bothersome, but not as invasive as you may have heard. On a side note, I travel with vials of insulin and B12 that I also won't allow to be x-rayed. Requesting a visual check of these items also slows down the security process. The agents ignore the syringes but often seem convinced that B12 serum is a danger to national security or that I'm "hiding" a potion for world domination in those tiny syringes. This leads us to point 2:
  2. Label & package clearly: When carrying unusual items (such as kefir grains or liquids pre-loaded into syringes), it is important to package them so that TSA agents can easily view them and can easily examine them. In the case of my two B12 injections, I packaged them in a travel container typically used to store a toothbrush put inside the bag containing the prescription label. This kept them labeled, sterile, and guaranteed the plunger couldn't accidentally be pushed during travel. It also made it very easy for me to open the container to display the syringes to the agents.
  3. Leave early so that TSA can unpack your suitcase: Plan ahead for unusual items to be examined. I travel with water kefir grains and natural sugar in separate zippy bags tucked into a small jar so that I can continue my habit of brewing and drinking probiotic-rich water kefir while I travel. TSA agents in Tampa ignored these items; TSA agents in Indianapolis took them out of their protective baggies and had a million probing questions for me.  I'm not familiar with C4 explosives ... do they look like kefir grains? (See pic. Do they????) Were they afraid I'd gain control of the plane by improving the pilots' digestion? Such a mystery! One TSA agent was a bit skeptical when I said the powdered substance in the baggie was sugar used to "feed" the kefir grains, but thankfully chose not to call for drug sniffing dogs. Oddly enough, on our return trip, the water kefir grains went unnoticed, but four small bags of artisinal rice garnered many questions. I'm not sure how rice could compromise national security, but apparently it's a questionable item. Who knew? The bottom line is that if you are taking anything unusual with you while traveling, plan ahead for delays caused by TSA agents doing their job by asking questions about items and ingredients they don't recognize.
  4. Plan for TSA agents to freak out if you take off your insulin pump: This is the third time I've had a TSA agent INSIST I put my insulin pump back on after I took it off to have it inspected. Most insulin pumps do not set off metal detectors; mine does. I therefore turn if off, take it off and request a visual inspection because I've jumped through TSA hoops about my insulin pump one too many times. Here's what I was avoiding: When the pump sets off the metal detector, they insist on scanning me head to toe to figure out what metal I'm carrying. When they isolate the insulin pump as the source of the metal, they then insist that I show them my insertion set, the location where the catheter needle is injected into my body. This is typically in my lower abdomen. (I don't know about you, but I try to avoid unzipping my pants and baring my abdomen to strangers. It's just a thing I have.) They then typically force me to unhook the insulin pump ANYWAY so they can test the pump's software and prove to themselves it's an insulin pump and not a detonator. I therefore typically turn my pump off, remove it from the insertion set, request a visual check, and move on because that is faster. Or, it's faster until a TSA agent decides that if I remove my pump myself it's dangerous, but if he orders me to remove my pump it's perfectly safe. Go figure.
  5. Never lose your sense of humor: I anticipated most of the challenges we had with TSA and was ready for them and the delays they created. Running late because of a flat tire destroyed our schedule, so I was feeling a bit rushed. However, I had decided in advance to smile my way through it and crack as many jokes as I could. (I didn't attempt humor with the TSA agents and don't advise it. Cracking a joke about the C4 explosives hidden in your suitcase won't end well. Trust me.) I was successful at maintaining a positive attitude, laughing at the developments, and avoiding any expenditure of negative energy.
There you have it. If traveling with a freak of nature, plan ahead, keep smiling, and know that you're better of because of it! I think here is the appropriate place to mention that God rewarded our delays and travel challenges by blessing us with a red Mustang as our Priceline "economy" rental at $19/day. It was all very, very worth it. Have a great day!

Resources for information on radiation from TSA scanners:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hand Sanitizer Alternatives with Recipes

This post was permanently moved to my website. It may be read in its entirety there by visiting the link that follows:

Following is a list of my recommended alternatives to chemical hand sanitizer...

This post was permanently moved to my website. It may be read in its entirety there by visiting the link that follows:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer: The Dangers of Triclosan

This post was moved to my permanent website and can be viewed in its entirety at:

While you're there, also read my post containing recipes you can use to make your own hand sanitizer:


Let me start this post by saying I strongly encourage everyone to maintain good hygiene during flu season by using frequent hand washing. Although the use of hand sanitizer seems to be a great way to avoid bacteria when you can't wash your hands, there are many dangers associated with OTC hand sanitizers...

This post was moved to my permanent website and can be viewed in its entirety at:

Friday, September 30, 2011

Dark Circles Under the Eyes: Causes & Solutions

Hello! This post was transferred to my website and may be read in its entirety at:

Please read it there. Thanks much! Be well!


Many people consider dark circles under the eyes to merely be a cosmetic problem that is easily concealed using makeup. The truth is that most cosmetic issues have a physiological cause. Dark circles are no different. There are many different potential causes for dark circles. Some are easy to address and correct; others take a longer effort. Dark circles can also be ...


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Please read it there. Thanks much! Be well!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Corn in my Veins: Dextrose in IV Solutions

I wanted to share an update to follow up on what happened Sunday night. (See my last blog post, EMTs in My Bedroom, to catch up on that.) The good news is that I returned to complete health as soon as my blood glucose levels returned to normal ... with one small exception.

To bring my blood sugar levels up rapidly Sunday night, I was given a 50% solution of dextrose. This would be fine, except that dextrose is directly derived from corn. The problem with that is that I have an allergy to corn. The incidence of corn allergies is rising rapidly, primarily due to the fact that so much of the corn grown in our country is genetically modified (GMO). I was very fortunate the reaction I experienced was not extreme. Many people with corn allergies experience anaphylaxis (deadly allergic reactions) when given dextrose intravenously. These allergic reactions typically include a swelling of the throat and mouth which often makes it impossible to breathe. Again, I was very, very fortunate.

On a side note, I'm also concerned that I had genetically modified material directly injected into my veins. Over 90% of corn grown in this country is GMO (genetically modified). Having that crap in my bloodstream concerns me gravely, but I'm taking measures to protect myself.

Although the physiology of an allergic reaction is the same, there is a huge difference between eating an allergenic food and having it directly injected into your bloodstream. Let's look at what happens during an allergic reaction:
  1. The body is exposed to an allergen, triggering a complex cascade of cellular reactions.
  2. White blood cells release allergy-specific antibodies which then bind to mast cells, a very specific type of blood cell specifically designed to protect the body from allergens and antigens. Mast cells are most commonly found in the digestive tract and the respiratory system, which explains why allergic reactions typically affect those body systems first.
  3. The cells of the allergen bind with the chain created by the bonding of the antibodies and mast cells.
  4. When the allergen cells bind with bonded antibody and mast cell chain, it stimulates the mast cells to release multiple chemicals and hormones that create a chain reaction designed to kill the allergen and protect the body. 
  5. The most common chemical released from the mast cells are histamines. The histamines cause common allergy symptoms (inflammation, itching, etc.) that we are familiar with.
So that's that. Obviously, eating a food and having it digested and absorbed through the digestive tract is very different from having a substance directly infused into the bloodstream. The reaction created by receiving an allergen via IV is typically much more rapid than that caused by eating a food. (The exception to this occurs with severe food allergies in which the sensitivity is so strong that the mast cells immediately release large amounts of histamines and chemicals that cause anaphylaxis.)

I received the dextrose Sunday night and experienced immediate nausea that persisted for four days. Remember those mast cells in the digestive tract? They sprang into action and did their job as soon as the blood containing the corn product circulated into my stomach and colon. (Nice, huh?) The next day, I was extremely congested (the mast cells at work again) and ached from head to toe.

The achiness is what signaled me that I had been exposed to an allergen. One of the most common, although often unrecognized, symptoms of food allergies is sore joints and achiness. This is created by the inflammation caused by the histamines and other chemicals released by the body in an attempt to protect itself from the allergen. I immediately began researching and realized very quickly that the dextrose was derived from corn. At that point, all I could do was help my body eliminate the allergen. I also treated the inflammation using natural methods.

The most visible allergic reaction I experienced occurred in the site where the IV was inserted, the back of my hand. The entire back of my hand and several inches of my arm turned stunning shades of black, blue and red with visible dark red blotches where blood vessels had burst. I wish I had taken a picture, because it was quite a sight. An IV typically produces a bruise, but not one that measures 6" x 6". The entire area was extremely tender, also a result of the inflammation created by the histamines. The inflammation created by the corn in the dextrose caused some of the smaller vessels in my hand to burst, and created leakages in the larger ones. Not at at all dangerous, just ugly and mildly inconvenient.

Was there an alternative? Yes. In my case, I could have been given a medication called glucagon. Glucagon stimulates the liver to produce sugar (glycogen) and to then release it into the bloodstream. Although glucagon has its own set of side effects, the use of glucagon could have eliminated the allergic reaction I had. It's a minor point since the reactions I had were minor, but its use could have avoided disaster had my reaction been severe.

As I stated in my last post, the EMTs who came were amazing. I'm so thankful they were there. I do find it incredible that standard IV procedure does not include asking the patient's family what allergies the patient has prior to the delivery of IV fluids. Dextrose is included in multiple IV solutions. Knowing that a patient has a corn allergy would enable the team to select an alternative solution and avoid disaster.

I'm sharing this to ensure that anyone with corn allergies is aware that some IV solutions contain corn derivatives. When possible, please ask about the contents of an IV solution before allowing it to be administered. Most glucose solutions contain corn derivatives. Be careful!

Monday, September 26, 2011

EMTs in My Bedroom

This is the hardest blog post I've ever had to write. It's hard because it forces me to admit that I am vulnerable. I hate doing that. Seriously hate it. I "have" to write this post because I need to be 100% transparent and because I want to use it to educate others and to encourage others that "vulnerable" does not mean "weak." They are two very different concepts.

Let me clearly state I have Type 1 diabetes, not Type 2. People with Type 2 diabetes typically do not experience this degree of extremes in their blood sugars. I also want to clearly state that I was 100% fine as soon as my blood glucose levels returned to normal.

Last night, for some unknown reason, my blood sugar dropped to dangerously low levels. My husband, Terry, did everything right, but my sugar refused to come up. He was forced to call 911. Before the EMTs arrived, I had a seizure with mild convulsions. For the record, a seizure is caused when the brain receives conflicting signals. Symptoms vary but may include staring into space, appearing awake but being non-responsive, etc. Since the brain's only source of "fuel" is glucose, it is not unusual for diabetics to have seizures - but not convulsions - when they have low glucose levels. A convulsion is a series of involuntary, rapid muscle contractions that are sometimes caused by the abnormal electrical charges occurring in the brain during a seizure. The belief that seizures always cause convulsions is false.

My heart breaks that my husband had to experience this. I can only imagine how frightening it must have been. As I said, he did everything perfectly. I spent today thanking God for him and his wisdom. From what he tells me, I fell asleep (probably due to a low blood sugar) and then awoke but was completely unresponsive. My eyes were open, but I was not acknowledging his presence and would not respond to verbal cues. I was having a seizure.

He fixed a solution of sugar and water and was able to get me to drink from a straw. (He's brilliant, by the way!) He then took a blood sugar. It was 25. I've had sugars of 25 and lower before and been completely coherent. The fact I was still unresponsive with a sugar of 25 indicates my sugar had been much lower and that my brain function was still mildly affected by the seizure. (Which is very temporary and perfectly normal.) He called 911 when I failed to become responsive even after drinking the sugar water.

The EMTs gave me IV glucose and I finally "came to" about 25 minutes later. It took a total of over sixty minutes between the initial seizure and complete coherency. One of the interesting things the EMTs told me was that I appeared to be "ready to fight" when they arrived. The brain is an amazing organ. My survival instincts were fully functioning even when the rest of my cerebral functions were not. Seeing strangers enter my bedroom caused me to react belligerently. On some level I knew I needed their help, but they had to talk me into letting them help me. I apparently changed my mind in the middle of receiving the IV, because I jerked my hand away and succeeded in spraying the carpet with blood.

The EMTs who came were incredible. A man and lady, they were experts but were also very kind and personable. Unfortunately, I failed to ask their names. I owe them a debt of gratitude and need to call to find out who they were.

I want to share what I experienced and what I remember in the hopes it will help others understand what it's like to have a seizure caused by low blood sugars. I remember becoming extremely tired and lying down. The sudden tiredness was a signal my blood sugar was low, but I was not capable of recognizing that at the time. I have no memory of anything until I began having a strange dream where strangers were in my room and a blond woman was speaking very firmly to me. I thought it was a dream, and then wished it were when the realization hit that the woman was an EMT and that my sugar had bottomed out. I became coherent when my sugar reached the mid-30s. The EMT checked my levels and got a 40 after I became coherent and was conversing in a way that made sense. As soon as coherency returned, I began eating fruit to continue the upward rise of my blood sugar. As I said previously, a blood sugar of 40 is low, but is not a level that typically causes incoherency for me. I've had diabetes for over 45 years, so my body has developed an ability to tolerate extremes that most people could not. That fact scares me more than anything else. I hate to imagine how low my sugar was when I first had the seizure. 

After coherency returned, I was embarrassed beyond belief. Was it wrong to feel embarrassed? Of course it was, but that's how I felt. I was mortified to have needed the help and felt horrible to have put my husband through what he went through. Could I have prevented this event? Probably not. I maintain exquisite control of my blood sugars and work hard to maintain control. I probably didn't eat enough yesterday, but there is still nothing that can explain having a sugar low enough to completely destroy my ability to function. Stranger still is that drinking a large amount of glucose failed to raise my blood sugar rapidly enough to restore coherency.

Strangest of all is that my liver had already released the store of glycogen (a natural sugar) that the body typically uses to raise blood glucose levels in emergency situations. My blood sugar should have been in the 400s after that combination of events, yet the highest it got was a very temporary 216. Drinking sugar water, eating fruit, receiving IV glucose and the liver's release of glycogen should have sent my blood sugar through the roof, but did not. My sugar quickly dropped to 95 once the IV glucose wore off This can only mean that my pancreas actually kicked in at some point and did what it was supposed to. I've spent the last 10 years working hard to restore function to my pancreas. The fact my efforts appear to be working is very encouraging, but does mean I must be even more diligent in controlling my blood sugars. I'm ok with that.

The after-effects of an extremely low blood sugar and seizure vary. Mine included a splitting headache and a body temperature of 94 degrees. My body stopped maintaining a normal body temperature in an attempt to provide more glucose to the brain. In effect, I had hypothermia and a reduced core temperature without being exposed to cold. A long, hot bath was the only thing that worked to restore my core temperature to normal.

There you have it. I always want to be 100% transparent when it comes to my health. Sharing this was harder than you know. I hope it helped provide some education and understanding on some level. More than anything, please remember that people with diabetes can't always control what happens with their blood sugar. We try our best, but our bodies sometimes do things that can't be anticipated. Please read my follow-up post, Corn in my Veins, for the unexpected side effects I experienced from the IV solution I was given. Important info for anyone with a corn allergy.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Much Food Do We Waste?

It is my incredible pleasure to share a guest post by Randy Clark. Randy is a top-notch marketer (his bio follows his post) who also has a great sense of humor and an interest in natural foods and community action. I highly recommend following him on Twitter and Facebook. It is an extreme honor to share his post.

How Much Food Do We Waste?

Last Friday evening, my wife and I attended a reception for the Hoosier Auto Show sponsored by the Circle City Corvair Club. Corvair owners, (It’s a car from the sixties) had driven from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio to show their cars. The event was catered. I understand last year they ran out of food. This year, there was plenty of food. As a matter of fact - there was too much food. There were four unopened containers of pasta, and bread. I sent a tweet asking who could use the food and Pamela suggested the Wheeler Mission. My wife and I left the reception to deliver the food. It was needed. It would have been thrown away. It would have been wasted.

The awards banquet was the following night. Jonathan Byrds  had been hired to cater the banquet. The food was excellent and the employee setting up the service was great. But, there was a lot of food left over, unopened containers of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I asked the service person what happened to the food and he told me it was all carefully packed, put in a cooler at Jonathan Byrd’s, and donated to Second Helpings. This is as good of an example of corporate responsibility, community involvement, and caring from a business - as you will find. It made my night.  

Americans waste about one pound of food everyday for every American

According to an article published in the New York Times:  “Americans waste an astounding amount of food — an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study — and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.

Waste not, want not

The Jonathan Byrd service person shared a story with me. His Grandmother had lived in Europe before World War One when much of Europe was in a depression. After World War One she waited in breadlines with her family. As an adult she moved to America and experienced the great Depression. She had learned the hard way. She didn’t let much go to waste. They had some land on Long Island where they planted a large garden, raised livestock, and dogs. What the family didn’t consume was feed to the hogs, the dogs, or both. Like he said - not much was wasted, and the conservation lessons were not wasted on him. My new friend wondered aloud how much we could all learn from his grandmother today. I don’t have to wonder.

Every night 190,000 children go to bed hungry - in Indiana

Green Answers answered the question, “How many people go hungry everyday in America?” “According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 500,000 households suffer from hunger each day.  They are classified as 'food insecure.' “  According to The Guardian over a million American children go hungry every day.”  Feeding Indiana’s Hungry (FIsH) brings it home with this statement, “Every night 190,000 children in Indiana go to bed - hungry.”

Stop Wasting - Start Helping

What else do we waste?

Randy Clark

Randy Clark is the Director of Communications at TKO Graphix, where he blogs for TKO Graphix Brandwire  Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He is a beer geek and on weekends he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under The Radar. He is the proud father of one educator, one Principal, has four amazing grand children, and a public speaking wife who puts up with him. His twitter handle is @randyclarktko, Face book: Randy Clarktko.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simple Ways to Evaluate the Validity of a Research Study

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I know first hand that scientific studies often make claims which are not valid...

This post can be read in its entirety there by visiting:

Friday, September 16, 2011

What Does a Diabetic Look Like?

"Wow ... you don't LOOK like a diabetic!" I hear that comment frequently. I know it's a compliment, and it's one I appreciate, but I confess the comment offends me. There, I said it. Being told I don't "look like a diabetic" offends the heck out of me. Why does it offend me? Because it implies that people with diabetes are sick, can't function normally and should look like invalids or be morbidly obese. Nothing could be further from the truth!

I've had Type 1 diabetes for over 45 years. Yep. Almost half a century. In spite of that, I travel frequently, ride a motorcycle (as the rider, never a passenger), keep a crazy schedule, live life to the fullest, and prefer to say I have diabetes instead of referring to myself as a diabetic. (The difference in perspective is huge.) Diabetes has NEVER stopped me from doing anything, and it never will. Well, ok ... I confess having diabetes could have once stopped me from parasailing, but I lied and said I didn't have it. (God forgave me.) There are laws that say I can't get a commercial driver's license, fly a plane or scuba dive, but I can darn well do everything else. Having diabetes means I have to plan ahead. It doesn't mean I had to give up.

Although I have Type 1 diabetes (the type that is controlled using insulin), most people in the US have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is typically controlled using diet, exercise and oral medication if needed. Some things discussed in this post are more applicable to people with Type 1 diabetes, some are more applicable to people with Type 2. Regardless of which type of diabetes we are blessed to have, people's perception of us changes the minute they hear we have "it." The judgment and assumptions drawn are often incorrect and always unfair.

Based on what I see in the media (I've been known to throw things at the TV during commercials for diabetes products) and hear from people unfamiliar with diabetes, here's what I suspect a diabetic is "supposed" to look like:
  • Diabetics have syringes for arms & legs, a pill bottle for a head, and one leg in the grave: The fact I have diabetes doesn't mean my life is controlled by it. I have challenges and have to consider things others don't, but I control it ... it doesn't control me. Period.

  • Diabetics are all fat: Diabetes has become such a common disorder that it no longer has a "standard" demographic. People with diabetes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are rail thin, some are grossly obese, and most of us fall somewhere in the broad range between the two. Not all fat people have diabetes, and not everyone with diabetes is fat. Please let go of that stereotype and move on.

  • Diabetics spontaneously combust if they eat sugar: The myth that diabetics can never eat sugar is just that ... a myth. People with diabetes do need to make careful choices when it comes to food, but an occasional indulgence is not going to kill us. Frequent indulgences may, but please don't freak out or give us a disapproving look if we eat a cookie in front of you, ok? We're smart enough to know what we can and cannot eat. People with Type 1 diabetes take extra insulin to counteract the effect an indulgence has on their blood sugar. People with Type 2 diabetes hopefully exercise or use other methods to counteract dietary indulgences. I don't mean to imply that people with diabetes can eat like pigs. (Or like most people in the US eat.) People who have diabetes and eat whatever they want with no regard for how it affects their blood sugar typically suffer higher rates of complications, such as blindness, amputation, heart disease, etc. However, eating a single Twinkie won't cause us to spontaneously combust. I promise.

  • Diabetics are weak invalids who have a lot in common with Eeyore: Most people with diabetes lead full, vibrant lives. They do if they choose to, at least. They have challenges, but they choose to control diabetes instead of letting diabetes control them. Yes, it is true that diabetes has the capacity to kill us if we don't control it, but many people with diabetes are invalids because a medical professional at some point in time convinced them they had no other choice. Many people with diabetes have told me the doctor who diagnosed them told them they had diabetes and went on to say their condition would continually deteriorate and that they would eventually die a horrid death from it. Instead of telling them they had diabetes and that their condition could be controlled, their doctor sucked the hope right out of them and then sent them home to die. It's criminal, but it happens more frequently than people realize. The truth is that there is no reason people with diabetes need to let it interfere with leading a full, vibrant life. None. I don't mean to imply diabetes is not a serious disease that is ruining lives. It is ... but not for everyone.
There you have it. Apparently that's what a diabetic is supposed to look like. I guess I can only thank God that people are surprised I don't look like one. When people find out I have diabetes, I often see their foreheads crease with concern and their eyes glaze with pity. I don't choose to spend much time with those folks. The people I adore are the ones who acknowledge I have diabetes but who form an opinion of me based on who I am, not what I have. They are the friends who hand me a bottle of juice when they know my blood sugar is low, but who don't assume it's low when I'm having trouble doing something. They ask before assuming. I love them. Dearly.

If you know someone with diabetes, I can almost guarantee they would LOVE one of these t-shirts as a gift. I want one of each!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why You Should NEVER Use Splenda (Sucralose)

Hello! This post was transferred to my website and may be read in its entirety at:

Why You Should Never Use Splenda

Please read it there. Thanks much! Be well!


The Dangers of Splenda (Sucralose)

I'm often asked which artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes I prefer. The answer, quite simply, is few of them because most create a wide variety of negative side effects. The newest, Splenda (Sucralose), has its own dangerous history and set of dangerous consequences. The dangers of Sucralose and the side effects of Sucralose cannot be denied. Sucralose is marketed as Splenda. I use both names in this post.

If you're interested in reading about another common product which research has proved to be dangerous, please read my post: Why You Should Never Use Hand Sanitizer: The Dangers of Triclosan ...


Hello! This post was transferred to my website and may be read in its entirety at:

Why You Should Never Use Splenda

Please read it there. Thanks much! Be well!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Golden Corral Dilemma

This post was moved to my permanent website, You can view it there in its entirety at:

Today my son turned 17. Birthday tradition in our house is that we go out to eat at a restaurant chosen by the birthday person. For some unexplained reason, Jared chose to eat at Golden Corral. Not Fogo de Chao, not Fujiyama ... Golden Corral. Off we went! So what does one eat at Golden Corral that's relatively healthy? Here's what I had ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lessons Learned at my First Indy Food Swap (It was a blast!)

Last Saturday I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Indy's first Indy Food Swap. I want to start this post by complimenting and thanking Suzanne Krowiak, whose vision and hard work made the event a huge success. Thanks, too, to Sacha Brady (@Zigged), who volunteered to make everything run smoothly. You can learn more about the Indy Food Swappers on their Facebook page: Indy Food Swappers and on Twitter at: Indy Food Swap.

It was so much fun to chat with everyone who participated and to view the amazing diversity of handmade foods shared. I highly recommend attending the next event in October! I failed to take pictures of the items I took with me to trade, but the pic in this post shows the delicious items I traded for. Every one of the unique, handmade items is truly delicious!!

As with most things in life, I made mistakes at this first swap and learned valuable lessons as a result. Here are my tips based on the lessons I learned the hard way:

1) Take small servings so you have more to trade. I wasn't sure what the typical serving size would be, so I took large portions. For instance, I took homegrown, organic herbs and packed large amounts into quart-size bags. In retrospect, I should have packed the herbs into sandwich size bags. Doing so would have given me four items to trade instead of just one. Most people brought sample sizes to share. Quantities traded did vary, though ... everything from 4-ounce jars to 16-ounce jars of liquid items, and everything from plates of four cookies to a plate filled with six cake balls. Obviously, anything goes, but packaging items in smaller quantities will allow you to trade for more items.

2) Don't be afraid to bargain: Because there is such a diversity of sizes and quantities being traded, be ready to get creative and flexible about what you're trading. If someone wants to make a trade you don't think is fair, don't be afraid to offer to trade a different quantity or to ask for two of the item being offered. Most people are more than willing to bargain with you.

3) Niche items may not be popular: I took a jar of kefir grains and coconut water kefir and found that most of the people at this swap didn't know what they were. That gave me a great chance to educate people, but meant that very few swappers showed an interest in trading for them. Obviously each swap will have different attendees with different interests, so it's hard to say what will or will not be popular at each event. I'm such a firm believer in the health benefits of kefir that I'll probably continue to take a jar, but am prepared to take them home if no one wants to trade for them.

4) Is it better to bring single servings of many items or many servings of a single item? I'm still not sure what the best answer is to this question. Please share your thoughts. Is it better to bring one serving of several different items, or multiple servings of a single item? I took single portions of four different things, but wound up wishing I had multiple (smaller) servings of some of them. Most people had a single item with multiple portions to trade. A few folks had two different food items with multiple portions. The bottom line is that you can potentially take home one new item for each item you bring to trade, so having multiple portions allows you to try far more items.

I can't wait for the next Indy Food Swap! Did you go to the most recent one? What lessons did you learn? If you've never been to a food swap, what questions do you have?