Monthly Archives: November 2011

US Congress guilty of child abuse

I thought about that title for a while before publishing this post, believe me.  But I just can’t get around how true it is…and I’ll get to my logic in a minute.  First the background: a couple weeks ago Congress changed parts of a bill that contained nutritional requirements for the National School Lunch Program.  In an effort to slow down the devastating increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, the law had several proposed changes, essentially amounting to more vegetables, less salt, more whole grains, and fewer french fries.  Congress changed it back: eliminating or delaying these updates.  Why?  Because the frozen foods, potato and salt lobbies wanted them to ($wonder why$). 

Most public schools participate in the National School Lunch program: 

“The National School Lunch Program is a federally assisted meal program operating in over 101,000 public and non‐profit private schools and residential child care         institutions. It provided nutritionally balanced, low‐cost or free lunches to more than 31 million children each school day in 2010.”   (Italics are mine.)

 This is a tremendous amount of food: 31 million children x 270 school days per year = 7,440,000,000 meals (that’s nearly 7 and a half billion).  To receive reimbursement a school must follow nutritional guidelines established by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).  Those regulations currently mandate a certain number of vegetables and fruits and provide general quidelines around numbers and percentages of calories (from fat, carbs, protein, sugar, etc).  Even children who don’t qualify for free or reduced price meals participate in the program, as their meals are still reimbursed, just at a lower rate.

Those all seem like pretty reasonable guidelines.  So why does school lunch frequently look like a piece of pizza, side of [...]

Homemade Chicken Stock

Upgrate your dinner and give your immune system a boost by preparing homemade chicken stock.  Why bother?

  1. It’s cheaper than buying chicken and stock separately
  2. It tastes way better
  3. Really does provide tons of minerals and boost your immune system
  4. Helps you avoid excess salt and junk like msg in canned stocks
  5. It’s really not that hard: your total time investment will probably be 20 minutes: the time it takes to fill a pot with water, turn on the stove, and then strain and pour liquid into jars.

Read detailed instructions and more on the health benefits here.

Eat away your Bad Mood

Wow are we Americans in a bad mood!  The NIH (National Institute of Health) estimates that 21 million Americans suffer from mood disorders and about 15 million suffer from depression, and I would bet that the numbers are even higher.  But those numbers represent 7 and 5% of the US population, respectively.  The following is from The Mood Cure, by Julia Ross:

“We’re in a bad-mood epidemic, a hundred times more likely to have significant mood problems than people a hundred years ago.  And these problems are on the rise.  Adult rates of depression and anxiety have tripled since 1990, and over 80 percent of those who consult medical doctors today complain of excessive stress.  Even our children are in trouble, with at least one in ten suffering from significant mood disorders.”

Tragic, but not hopeless.  Your mood has everything to do with your brain chemistry – specifically your levels of “good mood” neurotransmitters like serotonin and tryptophan.   Your brain chemistry is directly affected by what you eat.  The foods that we eat serve as building blocks for various proteins and other chemicals in our bodies, including for those same brain chemicals.  So while you can’t necessarily decide “I’m going to be in a good mood today”, you can decide to eat foods that will enable your brain to have the right chemical balance to support a good mood.  Most anti-depressant medications just increase the accessibility of serotonin in the brain.  You can do this naturally, without the nasty side-effects of medication (i.e. weight gain…there’s nothing like an extra 10 lbs to improve your mood!)

So what to eat?  Different mood disorders may require slightly different choices, and I highly recommend anyone with mood troubles to [...]