Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Artificial Colors and Hyperactivity in Children

As a stay at home mom, I get to spend a great deal of time with my children. This offers many benefits, such as getting to know them inside and out and knowing when something is not right with them. About four years ago, when both of my children were eating more junk food than usual, their behavior grew more and more aggressive toward each other and to me. I didn't make the correlation until we ran out of all the junk food and replaced it with healthier options. The two items that stick out in my mind were purple gatorade and popsicles (which is weird, because it was the middle of winter!)
The next day, it was as if I had my normal, sweet kids back and the demon-children had returned to the mother ship. That was the first time I made the correlation between something in these foods and my children's behavior.
This summer, my daughter played her second year of t-ball. It was the last game of the season, and her turn to play "pitcher." She had a great season playing the other positions and was a good, attentive little player most of the time. Her aunt had come all the way from Georgia to visit and to watch the kids play their games. Before I realized it, her aunt had purchased a bag of Skittles and a blue Gatorade from the concession stand for her to eat while we waited for her game to start. By this time, I had already figured out that we needed to avoid as many colored foods as we could, because she consistently complained of headaches and stomach aches, as well as turned into a completely different child when she ate or drank artificially colored foods.
The game began, and as I expected she would, she danced around on the pitcher's mount like she was at a party. She could barely concentrate and it almost looked like she didn't know where she was. As the game went on, I could literally see her coming down off of these colors. The game was extra long, as they wanted to let both teams get in practice. By the end of the game, she was almost in tears as she realized that she had pretty much missed what she had looked forward to all season- playing pitcher better than any other girl on the team.
When you are a parent and you are watching your own child go through an almost drug-like trance, the studies that say that artificial food colors are safe just don't really matter. I've been reading on the internet, and my favorite statement is that "food colors may cause hyperkinetic behavior in children with ADHD..." Well, helllooooo! Maybe that is WHY they 'have' ADHD!! Duh!
Anyway, there are two sides here, most probably because some kids react to artificial food colors and some don't. It's pretty simple really. They can spend millions of dollars on scientific studies, but most parents can probably tell you the truth for free. I found this great article summing up whether or not artificial colors cause hyperactivity that you might find interesting. And, hey, if you notice your kid acting high sometime, think about what he has eaten and chances are, he needs to avoid it. That's not that difficult to figure out, is it?

How to Save Money on Drinking Water

Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that our economy is not what it used to be. As a matter of fact, it is probably worse than you have ever seen it in your lifetime (if you are a young parent anyway...) At the same time that we are trying to pinch every penny we can, we are also being told that our tap water is bad, and we need to clean it in order to safely consume it. Or, like many people, we count on other companies to do that for us and we purchase bottled water. Bottled water is one of those things that we may not think much about because we pay a little here, a little there, and we don't see how much we are actually paying for WATER. If we had to pay for our water in one lump sum at the beginning of the year, we would be shocked! Not to mention, getting to see all those bottles that will end up in the landfill. (Yes, I know you recycle. Still not good enough. Sorry!) What's even more scary are the stories in the papers and magazine articles that remind us that the bottled water industry is less regulated than our tap water! GULP.
So what do you do? Since about 2004, we have been drinking tap water that we distill ourselves. Not only is it the purest form of water possible, gallon after gallon, but it is also a cost affordable alternative to lugging home the bottles that waste our precious resources. As a matter of fact, the purchase of a home distiller and the processing of every gallon over a year will save you 70% over bottled water. Learn more at our informative website on water distillers and let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Things All Parents Should Know

First, I have something silly to mention, and then I'll get more serious. This has bothered me for a while, and every time I see it I think about mentioning it on my blog, and well, today is the day. Do you ever buy chocolate chips cookie dough in the little tube? There are two main brands available, probably at every large chain across the country: Pillsbury and Nestle. I used to buy Pillsbury, and not sure exactly why, but maybe it has always been cheaper or something, who knows? But one day...I noticed on the label...that it says, "Chocolate Chip FLAVORED." I thought that was strange, and then read the ingredients. Sure enough, the chips in Pillsbury's Chocolate Chip Cookie dough are not chocolate. They do boast that the cookies contain "real cocoa," while Nestle boasts that their cookies are made with REAL semi-sweet chocolate chips (check it out...it's right there on the label). Maybe this doesn't matter to you, but with the small benefit that chocolate provides to our health, I'm going to get the product with REAL chocolate. Just thought you should know this if you didn't notice it yourself!
On to more serious subjects. The news has really hammered us with stories of the swine flu. No matter what flu hits your area, you want to put up the best defense possible for yourself and your children. Even though my kids stay home, they come into contact with other children (or their germs) during sports, playing outside, church, and the stores. So no matter what your situation, unless you are hibernating this winter, you need to take precautions to keep your kids healthy. How do you do this?
1. Boost immunity. Provide a healthy diet for your children that does not contain soda pop, excessive sweets, artificial sweeteners, and artificial colors. Add more fruits and veggies, fresh water, and good, healthy meats (not hotdogs, lunch meat, or "chicken" nuggets). Give a daily multivitamin.
2. Increase Vitamin D intake. Multivitamins will often contain Vitamin D, but not enough for winter months (or even summer months for most people). Here is a great article (with links to other articles) about the role of Vitamin D in flu prevention.
3. Wash your hands. Here is more information about the flu with a link to a great hand wipe recipe that you can make at home. Many hand sanitizers on the market contain ingredients that you would want to avoid, and they are immune to viruses in the first place. So a good hand washing after being around people or visiting stores is your best bet, or using our hand wipe recipe that IS anti-viral.
If your child does come down with the flu, using high doses of Vitamin C is very valuable to aiding and hastening his recovery. Here is a great article about a man on his death bed who received IV Vitamin C to save his life. I have done this with my own son when he ran a very high fever a few years ago. I did not know what was wrong with him, but with Vitamin C, it doesn't matter. Whether it's bacterial or viral, Vitamin C will help. Within two days he was 100% better. The best way to know that your child has reached saturation levels is by watching his bowels. If he starts getting cramping or loose stools, give less C. I gave my son a 500 mg chewable every hour. He was 4 or 5 at the time. (No, I'm not a doctor...but search for this stuff on the internet and you will find lots more info on this!)
Another thing all parents should know is that all kids need saturated fats in their diets. Dieting parents often feed their kids the same foods they eat, causing a lack of saturated fat in their kids' diets. And by the way, parents need saturated fat as well! If you saw how thin I was and I told you how much saturated fat I consume daily you would either pass out or beat me up. The problem is that we have been told over and over that fat makes us fat. It does not. Read about saturated fat and all its benefits. And give that kid some whole milk!
By the way, to get the best sources of saturated fats, your best bet is to find a local supplier of grass fed cows where you can get beef, whole raw milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, etc. We have been getting our products from a local farm for a couple of years now and we drink raw milk every day (that means unpasteurized, and not homogenized). You can find a source of these healthy products near you at www.realmilk.com .
Well, I guess that's all for now. Here's hoping you have a healthy fall and winter, and that something you read here helps you accomplish that!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Legos Banned from School


Now I don't know what the real truth is here...you know how the media works (both sides). But this really concerns me. I remember when I was in college, learning to be a public school teacher (because EVERYONE is already a "teacher"), that the emphasis was on "cooperative learning." Kids were supposed to have jobs within their group and roles to play to get a community project or task completed. I guess the idea was to teach kids in school how to work well with others because adults in the real world were not able to do it. So how well do you think those cooperative groups functioned? Adults can't do it, so we force it on our kids? I wonder how many cooperative learning activities ended up in bloody noses.
My point is this. Legos is an individual activity. Building uses so many different parts of the brain, and stimulates parts that nothing else can. It is hard work! Why are we then forcing kids to work with other kids (which adults can barely do!) who they probably don't even get along with during mundane activities like lunch, and expecting them to emit a certain behavior? Let the kids PLAY! Let me build my own town, with whatever pieces I got my hands on, and leave me alone! If you want that piece, you'd better come up with a good negotiating plan or get over it. And if my building looks better than yours, then next time get your work done before me and get to the Legos first!