Top Ways To Get Your Kids (& Family) Healthier!

In the U.S. today, around 40% of children are either overweight or obese! That statistic would have been unheard of 20 years ago, but unfortunately the prevalence of salt, sugar, and fat in processed foods, combined with lack of physical activity has led our children down an unhealthy path. The only way we can prevent today’s children from having a shorter life-span than their parents is by making significant changes. And that all starts with you parents! Imagine if your child had a peanut allergy…you would go out of your way to make sure to protect him/her from any food containing peanuts. So why would you feed your children food that could cause them diabetes, heart disease, stroke, ADHD, cancer, dementia, migraines, autoimmune disorders, depression, and the list goes on and on. That’s exactly what too much processed food, dairy and animal products will do to your children in the long run.

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Now, I’m fully aware that there are a lot of challenges out there when it comes to eating healthy. Cost, convenience, kid’s taste buds, peer pressure, lack of knowledge, just to name a few. But instead of giving up, let’s discuss what changes you can implement to increase the health and wellness of your children and family one step at a time.

Cook at Home: Cooking at home can not only save you money, but you get to control what goes into your dishes. Almost all restaurant & pre-made food has a TON of excess salt, sugar, and fat in it to keep it fresh and edible. Those three things lead to weight gain, lack of energy, bloating, and all of the other diseases and ailments I mentioned earlier. Short on time? We all are! That’s why it’s so important to PLAN AHEAD! I suggest making a few dishes a couple of times a week that you can eat more than once. You can also prepare food and freeze it, like soups or a healthier vegetarian lasagne. This will definitely cut down your cooking time. Have your kids help you prepare the meals too! They love getting their hands messy, and they also learn the importance of eating healthy. Not to mention you get to spend quality time together!

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Go through your pantries and refrigerator and get rid of all the processed food! When you don’t have junk in your home, you’re not going to be tempted to eat it. An occasional splurge is always fine, but if you always have chips, soda, sugary cereals, and cookies in your cupboard, you’re going to be in bad shape. Your children will associate those empty calorie foods with what it means to eat. So change their perception as soon as you can, so they know what broccoli, quinoa, green juice, salmon, and apples are. A bonus to eating nutrient-rich foods like fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins, is that you will not have the desire to snack as often because your body will be satisfied. It’s when you eat empty calories that you feel the need to snack as it’s your body’s way of telling you to fuel it with vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

Create Healthy Alternatives: This might be the MOST important tip I give in this entire article! Healthy doesn’t mean you have to get rid of some of your favorite indulgences. I’m not going to lie, my cheat foods are pizza and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Instead of depriving myself of the occasional splurge, I’ve found healthier recipe choices to my two favorite treats. For pizza, I’ve found an amazing Cauliflower Crust recipe to replace the standard pizza dough crust. I also load up on veggie toppings and minimize the amount of cheese I use to reduce the salt and fat content. For my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, my friend gave me a delicious recipe that uses oat flour instead of white flour, coconut oil instead of butter and eggs, and honey instead of refined sugar. I actually end up eating A LOT less when I do indulge because my recipes have REAL ingredients with REAL nutrients, so I become satisfied a lot quicker. I encourage you to find alternative recipes (Pinterest is a great resource) to some of your family’s favorite dishes so you don’t feel deprived, and so you aren’t forcing your kids to “eat their vegetables” (Because you are already sneaking in more HEALTHY ingredients without them knowing!)

Find Your Local Farmer’s Market: Almost every city in America has a Farmer’s Market, Co-op, farm, or fresh local produce alternative, so find it! The fruits, veggies, and herbs are fresher than at grocery stores, they are organic and they can often times be more affordable. You can also find farm-raised animal products that don’t contain pesticides, hormones or antibiotics. Plus you are supporting the local economy and you know where your food is coming from and how it was produced!

Buy Frozen Fruits & Veggies: If fresh produce is scarce in your neck of the woods, try buying frozen fruits and veggies instead! They are often fresher than most produce because they are flash frozen at the peak of ripeness, so they will not only taste great, but have an abundance of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients. You can also buy in bulk since they won’t go bad like fresh produce. A side note – make sure to never buy canned or fruit in syrup. There’s a ton of sugar as well as the toxic chemical BPA, which has been linked to a whole host of terrible things, especially in children. Lastly, make sure to refer to your “Clean Fifteen” and “Dirty Dozen” list to see which fruits and veggies you should buy organic and which ones you don’t have to: http://kaleighwalker.com/nutrition/should-i-buy-organic/

Grow A Garden: This is a fun activity to do as a family as it teaches kids responsibility, as well as how food grows! Even if you can only grow herbs or a couple of tomatoes, give it a try! When you get to make a dish with something you grew, it always seems to taste a little bit better! 🙂

Limit Dairy Intake: I recently posted a blog about why you should avoid dairy, so read up: http://kaleighwalker.com/uncategorized/10-reasons-why-you-should-avoid-dairy/ But the good news is, there are a lot of healthy alternatives that are equally as good! Almond milk and Coconut Milk are two great alternatives to use in lieu of dairy products for Milk, Ice Cream, and Yogurt. There are also nut-based cheeses. If you are going to have dairy, goat’s milk is the easiest form for our bodies to digest and assimilate. Another good point to remember is that dairy is one of the top allergen-causing foods. If you child suffers from allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders, migraines, ADHD, acid reflux, acne, chronic colds or constipation, dairy could most definitely be the culprit.

Get Rid of the Refined Sugar: Refined White Sugar is EIGHT TIMES more addictive than cocaine. Yes EIGHT TIMES! On average, a child in the U.S. consumes around 34 teaspoons of sugar PER DAY. To put that number into perspective, our hunter/gatherer ancestors only consumed around 20 teaspoons EACH YEAR. To make matters worse, a children’s tolerance for sugary foods is much higher than adults. That is one of the main reasons why they can more easily stomach ice cream, nerds, snickers and fruit loops in one sitting. But unfortunately, refined sugar in processed foods is one of the top reasons why our children are obese, as well as suffering from a multitude of ailments including ADHD and migraines. I recommend you replace your sweets with fruit or dried fruit (with no added sugar), or to use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, or stevia as sweeteners in desserts. I also encourage you to talk with your children (in an age-appropriate way) about how sugar does not give your body the fuel it needs to have fun and be healthy. They are like sponges and will absorb everything you say and do. A great documentary recently came out called “Fed Up” that I encourage you to watch to better understand the effects of refined white sugar.

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Get Involved At Your Kid’s School: Do you know what your kids school lunch menus look like?  If not, you are probably in for a big surprise, and not a good one. Both Michelle Obama and activists like Jamie Oliver are working towards changing school lunches, but more pressure is needed by parents like you! If you demand change and work towards finding healthier alternatives, or demand to get rid of processed foods and vending machines, or demand that kids not sell frozen cookie dough for fundraisers, a lot of progress can be made. So get involved!

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Get Your Kid’s Moving: Our children are growing up in a much different world than we did. Computers and technology limit the amount of time a child is moving and exerting energy. Make sure that doesn’t happen to your child by getting them involved in something active! It could be a sport, bike ride, rollerblading, dancing, yoga, jump rope, hide & seek, whatever! Just make sure they are moving and stretching their bodies for a couple of hours each and every day. It is so important for both their physical and mental well-being, and it creates positive habits that will remain with them for years to come.

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10 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Dairy

I’ve never been a huge dairy consumer, but I do enjoy the occasional slice of cheese pizza or ice cream. However, my outlook on the effects of dairy have drastically changed as I’ve continued to educate myself, especially after reading “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell. Here are the top 10 reasons why I try to avoid dairy as often as possible. Hopefully they will also persuade you to reconsider your intake of this controversial food.

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1. Dairy is highly ACIDIC – Dairy is naturally highly acidic when consumed by humans. When you consume highly acidic foods, a lot of inflammation occurs in the body. Inflammation is actually the body’s attempt at self-protection, the aim being to remove the harmful stimuli. Inflammation can be experienced in the form of headaches, body aches, chronic pain, Rheumatoid Arthritis, MS, Allergies, some Cancers, Heart Disease, and Alzheimer’s to name a few. So why would you consume something that causes your body to react in such a way?

2. Dairy actually promotes OSTEOPOROSIS – When you drink milk or consume any dairy product, the body recognizes it as highly acidic, just like any other animal protein. In order to bring the body back into a more alkaline state, our digestive system pulls calcium from our bones to neutralize the acidity. What does that mean? Well, less calcium in the bones = more fractures and the promotion of osteoporosis. In fact, according to the Nurses’ Health Study dairy may increase risk of fractures by 50 percent. So if you are worried about keeping your bones healthy, you should be consuming calcium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, almonds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, oranges, and figs – A supplement is not a bad idea either. But the most important thing for bone health is actually Vitamin D (15 minutes of sunshine everyday!)

3. Most dairy contains ANTIBIOTICS, PESTICIDES, & HORMONES – We’ve all heard the term, “You are what you eat!” Well when you eat cow-based products, you are most likely consuming antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones. To keep up with the demand for dairy in the U.S., cows are injected with growth hormones and steroids to make them grow unnaturally larger to produce more milk and beef. Because of the inhumane living conditions in most dairy plants, cows are also injected with antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease. And lastly, the corn, soybeans and wheat given to the cows as food contains pesticides. So when we consume dairy products, we are definitely eating more than we bargained for.

4. Dairy has been directly linked to CANCER – As I mentioned earlier, “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell, is a fantastic read if you would like to know more about the studies conducted linking dairy to cancer growth, especially prostate and testicular cancer, as well as breast and ovarian. In his particular study, Dr. Campbell found that he could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk. Scary stuff! Other research concludes that dairy consumption leads to increased levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) in the bloodstream, which is a potent stimulus for cancer cell growth. There have also been studies linking high calcium levels in dairy, and galactose, a component of the milk sugar lactose, as reasons to why cancer risk increases.

5. Dairy promotes MUCUS, PHLEGM, and ACNE – Casein, the naturally occurring protein in dairy products, can promote the formation of mucus and phlegm. It can also make existing mucus thicker in your nose and sinuses, leaving you completely congested. It may also cause a runny nose or the ever annoying post nasal drip. When it comes to acne, much of the milk that we drink is produced by pregnant cows and contains high levels of hormones that can send oil glands into overdrive. Progesterone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) as well as compounds that the human body turns into dehydrotestosterone (DHT) are passed on to the milk, which can aggravate acne as well.

6. Our bodies were not designed to easily digest LACTOSE – Do you ever get a gurggly tummy, acid reflux, or bowel issues after you consume dairy? Well you are not alone! About 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance. Why? Because the majority of humans naturally stop producing significant amounts of lactase — the enzyme needed to properly metabolize lactose, the sugar in milk — sometime between the ages of two and five. In fact, for most mammals, the normal condition is to stop producing the enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize milk after they have been weaned. Our bodies were just not made to digest dairy on a regular basis after infancy!

7. Besides HUMANS, no other animal/mammal on earth drinks milk from another animal/mammal – Have you ever seen a dog latch onto a mama cat for her milk? No. And if you did, you would probably be like OMG what is going on? So why do humans think it’s okay for us to consume another mammals milk? As I’ve already stated, humans bodies were just not designed to easily digest and assimilate lactose. Another point to consider is – imagine a calf. It drinks its mothers milk to grow into a large, hefty cow. What do you think will happen when you consume a lot of milk-based products? Just saying!

8. The DAIRY INDUSTRY and GOVERNMENT are the ones paying for the “GOT MILK” campaigns – Did you know that between 1995 – 2012, $5.3 BILLION tax dollars went to subsidizing the Dairy Industry? It’s quite sickening, but yes, our government pays farmers to over-produce milk. The government and dairy farmers want to make sure U.S. residents are consuming all of the excess dairy, so they advertise and market the heck out of it. Hence the clever “Got Milk?” campaigns encouraging you to eat more milk-based products and “do your body good.” They also have encouraged processed food manufacturers to add more cheese into its products – such as the Cheese-stuffed crust pizza at Pizza Hut or Kraft Four Cheese Macaroni and Cheese Bowls. They could care less about the health consequences, it’s a business and it’s all about making money.

9. Dairy is full of SATURATED FAT –  Dairy and animal products are the top foods containing saturated fats. As you may know, a high intake of saturated fats are directly linked to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and stroke.

10. Dairy is known to cause ALLERGIES & CHRONIC HEALTH ISSUES – Do you suffer from sinus problems, ear infections, allergies, eczema, Type 1 diabetes, chronic constipation, asthma, IBS, anemia, or migraines? You might want to consider eliminating dairy from your diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens. When your body exhibits signs of distress, it’s usually trying to fight off something that it doesn’t want in it. Because dairy is one of the top allergen-causing foods, it could very well be the culprit to a wide array of health issues.

So what can you eat in lieu of dairy? Don’t worry! There are some fantastic alternatives out there for ice cream, cheese, milk and yogurt! I suggest you try almond milk and coconut milk products, as well as nut-based cheeses. They are delicious and a much healthier choice to “do your body good” 🙂

 

Cycle House LA Studio Review on BurnThis

Checkout my BURNTHIS review of the amazing cycling studio, CYCLE HOUSE LA! I highly recommend you try a class!

You might just run into Madonna…

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http://sweat.burnthis.com/studio/cycle-house-la-spin-studio

We have heard amazing things about Cycle House LA, and we are not just talking about the incredible workout said to burn 500-1000 calories, but also the studio’s mission to improve our world. Upon arriving, we could immediately sense the community vibe with the quaint outdoor seating area. Complete with potassium-rich bananas to munch on before or after class, it was the perfect setting to meet our fellow riders.

We were greeted by the friendly staff who immediately made us feel comfortable by giving us a quick tour of the studio and a bike tutorial. We loved the “green” aspect, using wall-size chalkboards versus printouts for class times, pricing and inspirational quotes, as well as the complimentary filtered alkaline water. Most impressive? Cycle House donates two meals for every class purchased to feed a person in need. How amazing is that? You not only feel good physically, but feel as though you are making an impact on a larger scale.

The added motivation, coupled with the bumping hip hop tunes got us inspired to work hard! And we definitely needed that added push because as soon as the lights were dimmed, we could sense our instructor meant business. Right away she pushed us to our max, encouraging us to dig deeper and never give up. This class was not just about burning calories, but about finding out what you are made of.

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