Archive for the ‘ Health ’ Category

Non-Petroleum Candies Melt In Your Bed, Not In Your Hand

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

I imagine it’s pretty typical for parents to reward/bribe their child with M&M’s during the process of potty training.

However, we’ve watched a few too many documentaries on Netflix to let you eat candy that contains petroleum-based dyes, like M&M’s do.

Instead, we found that Kroger now has their own brand of healthier (and less chemical friendly) alternatives to classic favorites.

I don’t you want to end up like I did as a kid, suffering from anxiety problems and digestion issues due to food dyes that aren’t actually food.

After all, no one willingly chooses to eat petroleum… yet the FDA approves it as a food additive.

Just like with the beaver [body parts] in vanilla and strawberry flavorings

But Kroger’s brand, called Simple Truth, makes what they call “Candy Coated Milk Chocolate Drops.”

Basically, they’re M&M’s without petroleum and tar ingredients. Instead, they’re colored with vegetable juice.

So, the deal is, Mommy lets you have two of them every time you go potty… on the potty.

Saturday night, you convinced her to let you sleep with the bag, which only contained about 5 remaining candies.

Mommy trusted you not to eat the candy, but to simply hold the bag all night, like you do your monster trucks and trains.

And you did.

You woke up in a haze Sunday morning, as Mommy and I walked into your room after hearing you mutter something about cats.

There you were, wrapped up tightly in your blanket, with your arms tucked down inside.

As we unwrapped you like a stuffed burrito, we discovered the bag of chocolate candy, still clenched tightly in your grip.

Well, you didn’t eat them, just as Mommy trusted you wouldn’t.

But as you look at the comparative picture above, you can see that your candies melted to mush in the night.

Good thing we had another bag ready for you in the pantry.





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Nashville Dad Attempts To Give Up Caffeine For Life

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

I should start off this letter to you with what I have as my current status on Facebook:

“In the past 5 years, I have completely and successfully given up pork, shellfish, processed sugars, then meat altogether, then dairy, eggs, and honey; more recently, all alcohol and carbonated drinks (which I only had in moderation anyway)… and all of that, was NOTHING… compared to my newest current challenge: Caffeine (and therefore, coffee). I have officially survived Day #1. I heard the first 5 are the worst. This is misery; suffering both physically and psychologically. Caffeine is a highly addictive, easily accessible, completely legal and unregulated drug that has got me in a powerful state of withdrawal right now. I shall overcome…”.

Yeah, that about covers it.

Our family drove home from buying groceries at Whole Foods today and all I could do was collapse on the floor once I walked in the door. You started to run over to me as if to tackle me. I had to say, “I’m sorry, Son. I can’t wrestle with you tonight. Daddy isn’t feeling well.”

You kept asking me why I wasn’t feeling well. How do I explain to a nearly 3 year-old that, without realizing it, Daddy has been addicted to coffee (in the form of one to two cups a day at work, then at least one Starbucks over the weekend)?

I was familiar with this sort of urban legend that Starbucks’ coffee has more caffeine than “normal coffee” you would make at work or at home. Mommy and I spent some time this week researching that claim. The best evidence was this recent article on The Huffington Post, called “How Much Caffeine Is Actually In Your Coffee, From Dunkin’ to Starbucks?

The story included this pictogram which pretty much clears it up for me.

Part of the difficulty that comes with removing certain food and drink staples from my life, being that I could now be labelled as a caffeine-free, alcohol-free, soda-free, kosher vegan, is the nostalgia I have to let go of. And that definitely is the case here with caffeine.

After all, the friendship between Mommy and me, that eventually led to us dating, was first nourished in a weekly Sunday night meet at Starbucks; which didn’t simply include coffee, but more importantly, caffeine.

I’m not banning Starbucks as a company or a brand. I admire their cleverness. They have found a way to capitalize on one of the most addictive and unregulated drugs in the world and get people to pay at least 4 dollars a pop for it. I respect that, as a Libertarian capitalist.

But as for me, I plan for that half a cup of coffee I drank at work Friday morning to be my last ounce of caffeine for the rest of my life.

I just hate the thought of being at the mercy of a food, drink, and/or drug. Instead, I’d rather discipline my body and bring it into subjection (Biblical reference); especially knowing that the process of detoxing from caffeine makes me feel like a drug addict.

That is how I feel, by the way. I am a drug addict going through a baptism-by-fire withdrawal period. It is brutal.

I can feel my nervous system under attack right now. I’m a little freaked out by it, to be honest.

While I am so happy to have you and Mommy here with me now, I have to admit it feels like the Smoke Monster from Lost is trying to win this battle with me this weekend. That is how I am portraying my withdrawals from caffeine addiction.

I wish I could be fully present with you this weekend in mind, body, and spirit, but I know I’m not me right now.

From what I learned thanks to the girl in the tea aisle at Whole Foods today, who is now caffeine-free, having been through this herself, it takes a solid 10 days to recover from a caffeine addiction, but the first 5 are the worst.

I can do this. Cold turkey, to be exact.





Top photo: Coffee Addict Concept, via Shutterstock.

Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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The Difference Between Organic And Non-GMO Foods

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Our family cares about buying organic and non-GMO foods.

To put it lightly, I’m personally not a fan of Monsanto.

In fact, I recently (jokingly?) referred to them as the antichrist and GMO foods as the mark of the beast:

“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” [Revelation 13:17]

A good amount (that’s an understatement!) of the food bought or sold in America is GMO and not organic.

What’s the different between non-GMO and organic foods?

To put it simply, non-GMO (“GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism”) means that a company (like Monsanto) has not synthetically interfered with the seed of the food to fit a uniform, worldwide model.

If the food is organic, it means that chemicals and additives (like pesticides and fertilizers) were not used in the process of the food being grown.

Yes, a food product can be one without the other. I think of it this way: “Non-GMO” refers the the seed, “organic” refers to what happens to that seed once it is planted in the ground.

So how can we know which of our foods are both non-GMO and organic?

We’re definitely not waiting on the government to force companies to label their products…

Instead, we’re paying our respects (and money) to the food brands out there who not only have organic and/or non-GMO products, but who are smart enough to label their products that way, so that families like us know to buy them.

We’re not putting our blind trust and health in the hands of companies who use chemicals and synthetic modifications to “make” their foods.

We prefer our foods the way God intended them to be, instead.

And by now, enough people are passionate enough about this, like we are, that it’s getting easier to identify the labels for non-GMO and organic.

So we look for the “Non-GMO Project Verified” logo with the butterfly and the circular USDA Organic logo. We try to buy those options as much as possible.

We can’t stop non-organic, GMO foods from being sold. But we can certainly choose to buy the alternative. By alternative, I mean, the original.





Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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What I’ve Learned From Being A Vegan For 6 Months

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

*TMI Warning: Contains “too much informantion,” which may be deemed as innappropriate, controversial, and/or offensive to some readers.

Dear Jack,

It was 6 months ago I took that funny picture of you chowing down a messy, vegan chocolate cookie from Whole Foods, as I officially publicly identified myself as a vegan.

I have learned a lot since then about this growing alternative lifestyle; which now represents about 2.5% of the American population.

For one, I learned to stop using the word “vegan.” It’s not as marketable and has a bit of a negative, stereotypical connotation.

So instead, I refer to myself as “living a plant-based lifestyle.” It doesn’t offend people like the other word tends to do.

That’s a cue I took from several influential documentaries currently available for streaming on Netflix: Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Vegucated, and Hungry For Change.

I also learned that I am no longer allergic to cats. Seriously, I can rub my hands and arms and face on a cat… and nothing happens- no itching, no sneezing, no headache. That has never been the case for me, until now. (Was I ever allergic to cats, or just eggs and dairy instead?)

Plus, and I apologize in advance for being so open about this, but since this is just between you and me, my sinuses are completely cleared out now. (In other words, I only produce a very small amount of clear, thin mucus. I see now that dairy products were the source of the thick, white and yellow stuff that led to my chronic sinus infections and non-stop sinus pressure which had plagued me since I was a kid.)

And while I’m being gross… I don’t really wear deoderant anymore. It’s not actually disgusting, though, considering that I don’t have body odor under my arms anymore. If you ask me, it’s only gross to not wear deoderant if you need it: No problem means no solution. I guess plants don’t produce as much odor when processed by the human body?

Another bizarre side-effect of removing eggs, dairy, and even honey, from my diet is that now, the thought of alcohol (I considered myself quite the expert of knowing a good craft beer or bottle of wine) sort of makes me nauseous.

It’s like the health benefits of drinking a responsible amount of beer or wine became irrelevant when I began only consuming plant-based foods. My body started getting enough of all the nutrients it always always wanted and needed. I  have learned that for me, alcohol now messes up the natural good vibes that the plant-based lifestyle gives me on a daily basis.

I’ve traded in my Blue Moon for coconut water, which is about the same price, but enhances my sense of well-being, instead of knocking it down. Plus, I’m getting into Yogi Tea, too.

After 6 months of living this way, I can honestly say I’ve never been happier, more energetic, or as clear-minded as I am now.

And I have seen how even though you and Mommy have remained vegetarians, like I was up until 6 months ago, my switch to eating only plant-based foods has influenced our family’s lifestyle as a whole.

Now more than ever, we try to buy as much organic and non-GMO foods as possible. What’s the difference between those two? I’ll be covering that more in my next letter to you…

I can see that my conversion to the “plant-based life” has caused our family, by default, to incorporate more fresh fruits and veggies into our meals and snacks.

Plus, some of my plant-based food alternatives have replaced some of the normal food options in our fridge.

We use Earth Balance butter (made from olives) instead of dairy butter. When Mommy makes cookies, she uses almond milk and/or applesauce instead of eggs.

After 6 months of this alternative lifestyle, I am convinced this is how I want to live the rest of my life. It’s not for everybody, but it is for me. And since you have me as a daddy, you sort of have no choice but to know about all this weird stuff.





Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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I’m 32, The Age I’m Supposed To Turn Into My Parents

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

A concept that is going viral right now is that at age 32, according to a poll on, we “turn into our parents.”

The Netmums News Team explains it like this:

“It is at this age when we are most likely to find ourselves echoing our own parents’ phrases or mannerisms…

The grown-up responsibilities of having children, owning a house and having a busy career all contributed to the feeling of becoming more and more like your own parents.”

Fate would have it that I just so happen to be a 32 year-old daddy blogger at the exact moment in history when this concept has gone viral. That’s pretty cool, huh?

So, have I become my parents? Do I echo their phrases and mannerisms? Do I feel more like my own parents because I have a child and own a house and have a busy career, too?

Yes and no.

No, because I feel like they made this parenting thing, as well as the busy career and owning a house thing, seem so worry-free and easy.

In that way, I feel like I haven’t turned into them, though I want to.

Maybe I’m realizing that I am giving myself an extra challenge as a parent because I want this all to seem as easy as I thought it was for my own parents.

As far as how I have definitely turned into my parents, I do admit to using my hands a lot when I talk- which tends to happen when your mother is half Italian.

Basically, my personality comes from my mom. I’ve never really thought about that before… interesting.

And it’s pretty evident to me that I am ultimately a vegan (I mean, I’m living a plant-based lifestyle; which is the more marketable, less offensive term) because it seems like my dad was always teaching me as a kid to question where our food comes from and to relate eating processed foods to getting cancer and diseases.

So it should be no surprise that, as a 32 year-old adult, I now associate Monsanto with the devil and I see GMO foods as the mark of the beast. (That’s a slight exaggeration. Not really.)

I felt so deprived because it seemed I was the only kid I knew who wasn’t allowed to eat white bread or drink soda at his own house except for on very special occasions. (I thank my dad for that now!)

He seemed to always have a distrust of medicine and the FDA, instead teaching me to rely on what was already available in nature to prevent and cure health problems. (Which is exactly what I successfully did with my eczema, severe allergies, and sinus problems!)

Plus, he was always open-minded to the unpopular theories that mainstream society and popular culture often ridiculed or ignored, which I think was fundamental in me becoming a Libertarian, in regards to my political stances.

So yes, at age 32, I’m pretty much a mix of my parents the way I remember them while growing up; which again, wasn’t at all a negative thing.

The question is, will you become me in about 30 years? If so, you’ll basically become your grandparents.





P.S. The pictures of me with my parents, featured above, are from around Christmas 1983, nearly 30 years ago, which is when I was about your age now.


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