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There are things I’ve heard and seen lately that I don’t really agree with and I thought I’d bring it up in this week’s blog and let my readers decide how they feel about the subject.  I’ll call it the “all or nothing” mentality.  Let me explain…

Many of us are doing things to better our health these days–eating more fruits and vegetables, getting more exercise, drinking more water, etc.  I believe for most of us this has been a learning process that began slowly and gained momentum when we started to feel better as a result of the changes we were making.  I’m also going to guess that most of us still indulge in a piece of cake here or there for a special occasion or enjoy our favorite food (if it’s on the “no-no” list) once in awhile.  I know I sure do!  (See the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters Healthy Weight Management section for more info on this topic.)

This is why I’m so bothered when I see comments from well-intentioned people telling consumers not to drink 100% juice because it’s filled with sugar or not to eat canned vegetables because they’re full of sodium.  Are you kidding me???  Let’s be serious folks.  People who really have a weight issue aren’t that way because they’re drinking too much 100% juice, just like those who have high blood pressure aren’t like that from eating too many canned veggies.

If you look at the dietary guidelines, you’ll see that the recommendation is for 6 ounces of 100% juice per day–that’s the serving.  And, it’s a complementary way that people can get their required servings of fruits and vegetables each day.  Don’t forget that 100% juice is packed with vitamins.  As for canned veggies–first of all, compare canned veggies with many condiments or dressings and you’ll see they have much less sodium.  If you are concerned about sodium intake, there are low sodium varieties available or you can always rinse your veggies before preparing since the juice the vegetables are packed in is what contains the most sodium.  I, for one, drink one small glass of 100% juice every morning and regularly use canned beans in my recipes and canned tomatoes and tomato products all the time.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s no secret our nation has an obesity problem.  There are a lot of people who are used to eating really unhealthy food, so when I see them taking small steps to incorporate some healthier foods into their diet I want to stand up and cheer them on.  I don’t want to discourage them or act as if there is only one right way to do it.  For those folks who eat superbly well, I admire you–keep it up!  And, for the rest of us who do the best we can–let’s keep striving to do better.  Remember that every little change makes a difference because they all add up.  To help, I want to share a great page with information about all forms of fruits and vegetables that you can add to your diet to make it healthier. 

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This week’s blog is off my usual topic of nutrition and exercise, but it’s definitely something we, as Moms, should be aware of with the summer season almost upon us–protecting yourself and your kids from the sun.  I will be the first to say that I am walking proof of how overexposure to the sun can result in skin damage.  Even though I have olive-toned skin and rarely burn, years of spending too much time in the sun with minimal protection from UVA rays when I was a teen have left me with sun spots and discolorations now that I’m older.  Likewise, a friend has had a few “suspicious” looking moles removed and now goes yearly to her dermatologist to get a full body inspection of all her freckles and moles because of overexposure to the sun and lack of adequate sun protection when she was younger.

The good thing is there are lots of great products available on the market today, which you can apply to protect your skin when you’re spending time outdoors.  The key is to make sure you apply enough of the product to cover all areas that will be exposed to the sun and I always continue to reapply throughout the day as perspiration and swimming will weaken its effect.

I speak from experience that Moms of younger children tend to have an easier time with making sure their kids are protected from the sun’s rays than those of older kids.  Years ago, I would simply grab mine when it was time to reapply and slather them up.  What I face now that mine are teens is they are at that stage where they want to look tan and I guess it’s not “cool” to use sunscreen.  I’m amazed at how many teens today are ignoring all the warnings and coating themselves with baby oil before lying in the sun for hours at a time.  Yes, my generation used to do that too, but that was before all the research and information we now have that shows us how much this puts us at risk for skin cancer (not to mention the wrinkles and skin spots!).  My teens have even told me that some of their friends frequent tanning salons, a big no-no in my book.  In any case, I really have to keep an eye out and hound them when I see them heading outdoors to make sure they’ve put sunscreen on.  Chances are if I don’t tell them to do it, they won’t and will end up fried by the end of the day.  I’d suggest paying special attention to your teen so you can try to minimize the damage.  You know teenagers, they think they’re invincible–it’s our job to remind them they’re not.

I know the experts will tell you that it’s best to avoid the sun during the peak times, which is between 10 AM and 3 PM, but let’s be honest, if I’m on vacation or heading to the pool, that’s typically when I’m there.  I simply don’t do it every day–everything in moderation and when I do go outside I use sunscreen.  By the way, umbrellas are great too!  So, have fun this summer, enjoy the sun and protect your skin!

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Although I’ve been writing this blog for over a year, I’ve stayed away from sharing too much about the fact that my husband is a Type 1 diabetic.  And then just this week I saw a report on the news that a new study, presented at the CDC’s Weight of the Nation Conference in D.C., predicts that unchecked, the obesity rate of Americans could increase by 33 percent by 2030.  Seriously folks???  We’ve already been warned of the consequences that obesity brings–high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and yes, Type 2 diabetes.  So, I’d like to share with you what it’s really like to live with someone who has diabetes and is insulin dependent.

I witness first hand what my husband has to go through each day in order to maintain a semi-normal life.  While there have been great advancements made in the medical field in regard to diabetes treatment, nothing can compare to a healthy pancreas that secretes insulin normally.  My husband’s biggest challenge, as with most diabetics, is keeping his blood sugar stable.  Everything impacts it.  What he eats, how much he eats, how much he exercises, stress, if he has a cold or infection–the list is endless.  When his sugar goes too high he gets irritable and his stomach and muscles ache.  What’s more frightening is when his sugar goes too low, which can happen suddenly for many diabetics, and he can appear confused until he is able to consume something that will bring his blood sugar back up to normal levels.  It’s a constant battle and the only way to know where those levels are is by continuously pricking his finger and testing his blood throughout the day.  I feel bad when I look at the tips of his fingers, but I know it’s necessary.  To really drive this point home for you, I have probably said the words, “Have you checked your sugar?” to my husband more than, “I love you.” during our 9 years together.  That’s how much diabetes is a part of our marriage.

I will also mention that we’ve got a multitude of doctors since diabetes has long term effects on the body.  Most diabetics, like my husband, have a cardiologist, a nephrologist and a podiatrist along with their primary care physician.  If you read my blogs you know that I make certain my family eats healthy and my husband and I exercise together regularly, but once you’re diabetic you’re basically trying to minimize the damage.

My point is that my husband never had a choice–he was diagnosed at age 13 with Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes.  For anyone who is making unhealthy lifestyle choices and heading down that road toward Type 2 diabetes, please stop.  You do have a choice and trust me, there is no snack or food item that is worth the risk.  Here are some tips to get you started on a healthy eating plan.  Do it for yourself and your loved ones.

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