It’s Not About Calories

If you listen to media or look through any magazine, you would think we Americans are obsessed with our weight. And you are probably right. All the popular diet books preach that they have the answer to long-term weight loss, but they don’t emphasize the need to eat healthy. They do make billions of dollars every year selling the newest diet craze!  Even Weight Watcher’s, who has been around for years, makes most of their money selling their own brand of diet food. It comes in a box. Food in a box is not healthy, at least long-term. Any so-called nutrients are removed through processing and artificially re-added in some laboratory. Artificial anything cannot hold a candle to the real deal, Mother Nature.

These days our food not only contains chemicals, there are genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) we have to contend with and WE DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHICH FOODS CONTAIN THEM! (But we have a rough idea) That is because the chemical companies (like Monsanto) lobbied our government officials to prevent them from passing laws to get those foods labeled. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (like Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Con Agra) is guilty of this as well. However, they are willing to put information on their packaging that adds up to diddly squat and ends up confusing consumers even more. My recommendation is: don’t eat any of that crap. If you make your own: salad dressing, granola, etc. you at least know what’s in it. If you insist buying packaged foods, at least go for organic or NON GMO verified. Organic doesn’t mean there isn’t a bunch of sugar or salt added though.

We humans come in all shapes and sizes. I have been naturally slim most of my life but I still got cancer. I called my self a vegetarian for eight years prior to my cancer diagnosis. Eighty percent of my calories came from processed foods (made from GMO corn and soy). I ate cheese and yogurt and drank milk (with added rBGH) by the gallons. I love milk but now I know it is bad for my health so I stopped. I don’t even miss it anymore.

I was like you, the average American. I went to the store, picked out what I wanted and ate it. I never thought about it. If it was sitting on the grocery shelf, it had to be  safe to eat right?  After all, we have government agencies like the USDA and FDA that made sure our food was not only safe but is healthy. Boy was I wrong!

It took a cancer diagnosis to wake me up and inspire me to find out why I got sick. Colon cancer does not run in my family. Heart disease does so I figured I was eating the right foods to make sure my ticker kept ticking (my dad died of cardiomyopathy at fifty-three).  My radiologist told me to keep eating and it didn’t matter what I ate, just so I ate something (weight loss is the number one side effect for cancer patients. Chemotherapy and radiation can make food taste bad and some patients just doesn’t feel hungry). My doctor’s advice didn’t sound right to me so I went to my go to place when I need to verify information to be correct. All the cancer survivors I found ate healthy, organic, plant-based diets. That’s all I needed to convince me. If you want to be successful at something, find someone who already is and do what they do.


I now understand it isn’t all about being skinny. The majority of us will never look like the models on magazines covers and we now know that even their photos  are air-brushed!  The main thing to be healthy and feel good. It’s important to love ourselves enough to eat foods that keep our bodies running at their optimum best.


I came across a post by Dr. Lipman, integrative doctor and author, who calls himself a Health Evangelist (I love that!). He writes about the importance of eating healthy and forgetting about counting calories. Here’s a snippet of his article:

If you think that a calorie is a calorie – and it doesn’t matter if it comes from kale or cookies, then it’s time to rethink what you think you know about calories. Contrary to what your Momma, track coach or even Doctor led you to believe, all calories are NOT created equal, and thinking you’ll lose weight simply by counting them or cutting them will likely leave you hungry, irritable, malnourished and not much lighter than you were when you started. So instead of slashing and burning the caloric field, let’s level it with the following food for thought: read more here.

So throw away the scale and fill up your pantry and refrigerator with nutrient-rich foods. Your body will thank you.

Eat Your Veggies!




When Did Parents Stop Acting Like Parents?


I volunteer at a local hospital once a week and eat my lunch in the staff lunchroom. I like to think of myself as a “fly on the wall,” while I’m there because the nurses and support staff talk amongst themselves and I like to stay quiet and just listen. I think of it as part of my Buddhist training which teaches — it’s better to listen than talk (I am paraphrasing here).

Yesterday’s conversation was especially interesting to me. One of the staff said that her nine-year old refuses to eat anything but chicken nuggets and Mac and Cheese (I noticed the mom in question was eating a large salad for her lunch though). She went on-and-on about what a picky eater this little girl is and how she couldn’t do anything about it, except give this girl what she wanted because for God sakes — she might starve!

It’s really hard for me to keep my big, opinionated mouth shut, but I managed — I couldn’t stop thinking about what she said though. Her attitude was that she did not have a say in the matter. She believed she was powerless. I wonder what the other staff were thinking? They didn’t say much. Was I the only one bothered by what I heard? I am glad I stayed quiet — but I had to write about it here. By the way, this is not the first time I heard a parent complain that their kid would not eat what was served at the family meal.

The best complaint I heard and this is the God’s honest truth,”Bobby wouldn’t eat the pizza we bought for him because it wasn’t ’round’!!!

My first question is this. When did parents stop acting like parents? When I was a kid in the 60s, my mom and dad told me what to do. I was not given a vote and I certainly could not dictate what I was willing to eat. If I didn’t eat what was on my plate, I went hungry until the next meal. My mom was the worst cook on the planet! She was the Queen of canned or boxed foods. She would heat stuff up and throw it on a plate. Our mashed potatoes even came from a box!

She did cook up liver though and I remember soaking each piece in ketchup to cover the taste. I will admit I did stuff some pieces in my pants and flush them down the toilet later– BUT to tell her I would only eat certain foods?! Never! She would have knocked me into the middle of next week!

Coincidently, that same day I was talking to someone else who works in a high school cafeteria and she told me that schools are now required to put at least 50% fresh vegetables and fruit on school lunch plates. I told her that was a positive change but she told me that the students won’t eat them and throw them away. The kids end up still being hungry and the parents basically threw away five dollars (the cost of a school lunch these days) — which dovetails nicely with the hospital employee story. I am betting the high school kids eat pretty much what they want at home, so why would they want to eat a healthy lunch at school?

Processed foods taste good if you eat a steady diet of them. They are made that way on purpose. If a kid eats these foods at home, no wonder they turn up their noses to healthier choices at school.

We have a health crisis on our hands in the United States and a big part of the problem are the foods we eat. I know the parents are eating the same processed, junk foods as their kids and we are getting sicker as a nation because of it.

I would think the employee at the hospital would know better. She sees what cancer does to patients on a daily basis. We don’t have kids getting treatment at the hospital I am at; they go to a children’s hospital down the street.

There are plenty of studies showing that kids today are getting diseases caused by poor nutrition.

Exactly how much nutrition is the kid getting who eats nothing but chicken nuggets and Mac and cheese? How about zero! It’s not the kid’s fault. She is being a kid. It’s up to the parent to give her better foods. If that kid missed a few meals, you better believe she will eat what’s on her plate next time.

It’s up to each of us to choose better foods. There is enough information out there to make an informed decision. The food manufacturers exist to make money and don’t care if you get sick…or at least make sure you are not be able to link your disease to their particular product.

Parents need to teach their kids good eating habits right from the start — before the child decides to dictate what he/she is willing to eat. Healthy foods do taste better when the person is finally weaned off processed foods. The child or adult will feel the difference quickly just by how much more energy they have. Eating fresh foods help the person stay full longer.

Parents need to be parents. If your kids don’t hate you some of the time, you aren’t doing your job. Parents are not their kid’s friends. Children need parents to guide them to become responsible adults and that includes taking responsibility for the food choices they make. Parents are the ultimate role models, not Miley Cyrus.

Kids bodies are still growing and are especially sensitive to the chemicals in processed foods. Their immune systems must be as strong as possible to combat the plethora of environmental toxins they are exposed to on a daily basis. Eating a diet of fresh (preferably organic) fruits and vegetables is a way to make sure they grow up healthy.

Peace and Good Health!