Soft Drinks: The Downfall of the American Diet

eat fast die young

I have been jumping up and down, screaming until I’m blue in the face, about soft drinks. Now, the medical community is doing the same thing. It doesn’t matter if they’re regular or diet, soft drinks are a major cause of obesity and type 2 diabetes. I wrote about it in my book, Evolve or Die Single, and I blog about it quite a bit. Soft drinks never enter my house and never touch my lips. In my book I write:

Soft drinks are nothing but carbonated sugar water. A can of Coke contains no actual sugar since they use high fructose corn syrup; but, loosely translated, it is about nine teaspoons of sugar per can. In one of the latest studies published, Danish researchers discovered that drinking regular soda leads to dramatic increases in fat buildup around your liver and your skeletal muscles, both of which can contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. The study revealed that people who drank a regular soda every day for six months saw about a 137% increase in liver fat, a 169% jump in skeletal fat, and about a 30% increase in both triglyceride blood fats and other organ fat. Their consumption also led to an 11% increase in cholesterol, compared with the people who drank other beverages such as water or milk.

Think diet drinks are better? Think again. Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that those who drank diet soda had a 70% increase in waist circumference over the course of the 10-year study, compared with those who didn’t drink any soda. Those who drank more than two diet sodas per day saw a 500% waist expansion! People who drink diet sodas can gain even more weight because the artificial sweeteners cause your body to store fat. Women especially should not drink soft drinks because the high levels of high fructose corn syrup can cause potassium levels to drop.

If that’s not enough to make you cut down on your consumption of soft drinks then maybe this will:

A new study from France suggests that women who drink large amounts of diet soda are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The findings also support the previously documented association between high intake of regular sugar-sweetened beverages and the condition, report Guy Fagherazzi, from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif, France, and colleagues in a study published online January 30 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Highest Intake of Diet Soda More Than Doubles Diabetes Risk

The data come from a large prospective cohort study of 66,118 women in France investigating links between diet and cancer. There were 1369 new cases of type 2 diabetes diagnosed during the follow-up period from 1993 to 2007.

Based on self-reported dietary consumption, the average intake of regular sodas was 328 mL/week, while for diet sodas it was higher, at 568 mL/week.

The risk for type 2 diabetes was elevated among the women in the highest quartiles for both sugar-sweetened beverages (>359 mL/week) and artificially sweetened beverages (>603 mL/week) compared with women who did not consume those beverages….

Tapering off anything takes time. Try substituting one soft drink per day for a glass of water with lemon every day until you reach your goal. A sensible goal would be just one per day, perhaps none per day. :) It’s your body…you decide.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Say “No” to Diabetes in Kids

eating right

This is a guest post by Carolyn Fallon.

November was American Diabetes Month, a time where Americans recognize that the disease is still around. For me personally, I never paid much attention to diabetes, but that all changed this past November (ironic, I know) when my little cousin was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Sadly, diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases; more children receive a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes every day than almost any other medical condition. In fact, according to St. Joseph’s Hospital Cardiac Center, 1 in 3 of today’s kids are diagnosed with diabetes, and that number continues to grow. Many parents wonder what they can do to prevent the condition from affecting their own children, and the simple truth is that there are many things that parents, educators and others can do to prevent diabetes.

The children most likely to suffer from diabetes are those that lead a sedentary lifestyle. Kids that spend a majority of their time playing on the computer, sitting on the couch and generally being couch potatoes are at risk for developing diabetes. Diabetes can also come about as the result of a poor diet. Sugary and fatty foods can put a child at risk of diabetes, and kids who are overweight or spend less time engaging in physical activities are also at risk.

Fighting Back with a Healthy Diet
Proper nutrition is a key component in fighting back against diabetes. The best foods for kids are those that are low in fats and white sugar, which include any processed food. Fresh vegetables, pretzels, fresh fruits and low fat meats are all suitable replacements. That doesn’t mean that kids need to eat boring or bland foods though – it just calls for some creativity!

Taking kids into the kitchen is a fun way to get them involved in the process of cooking foods that they will actually eat. Children can become their own Iron Chef or celebrity chef by mixing and matching foods that they love with foods that are good for them. It can be something as simple as swapping an after-school cupcake for fruit dipped in slightly sweetened yogurt or replacing fatty fried chicken with crispy baked chicken.

Fighting Back by Being Active
Diet alone won’t make much of a difference, which is why getting kids active is so important. The newest video game consoles have dozens of games that will get kids off their feet, including dancing games and even sci-fi games like Star Wars (my cousins love to have dance competitions using Just Dance!). Parents can also get involved in activities like yoga, Pilates, or simply taking a long walk around the block or hiking together. When parents get involved, it shows the children that they are not in this alone, and helps to sustain a healthy lifestyle for many years to come.

Carolyn is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well-being. She is an avid cycler, golfer and has been known to bust some serious moves on the dance floor. Check out Carolyn’s blog, Fullonfit.

10 Health Benefits to Eating Chocolate

chocolate

We all want to indulge sometimes so I was thrilled to read on Medscape and Huffington Post that there are multiple health benefits to eating chocolate, not to mention that chocolate just screams seduction and sex. So while delicately nibbling chocolates this Valentine’s Day, either to seduce your sweetheart or if you’re just licking chocolate sauce off of each other for some oral foreplay, here are ten reasons to enjoy every mouth watering bite (of the chocolate or each other):

1. Heart Health. Regular chocolate eaters are truly boosting their heart health. Medscape states that chocolate consumption may lower the risk for heart failure, heart attack, and death from coronary heart disease. The flavanols present in chocolate can actually reduce your blood pressure, cut your risk for stroke and lower your cholesterol.

2. Chocolate Fills You Up. Because it’s rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you’ll eat less. Remember to just eat a bite for snack. Instead of reaching for 10 other things, that one bite of chocolate can hold you over until mealtime.

3. Fight Diabetes. A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.

4. Protect Your Skin. You know how I am about skin care…The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. And no, that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!! NEVER skip the sunscreen!!!!

5. Quiet Those Annoying Coughs. An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs.

6. Chocolate Always Boosts Your Mood! There’s no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. I say go for it…and share the love!!

7. Improve Blood Flow. Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin which can improve blood flow and circulation.

8. Chocolate Improves Vision. Because of chocolate’s ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.

9. Chocolate May Make You Smarter. That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa’s flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.

10. It’s Fun & Sexy. This is the most important reason…it’s fun & sexy and represents romance and sex. Chocolate sauce is intimate and can be licked off your lover. Chocolates can be fed to each other across the table after dinner and chocolate can be licked off your lips in a seductive manner. Bottom line, chocolate oozes sex. In my book, Evolve or Die Single, I give out my recipe for my super sexy chocolate sauce. Chocolate is a must-have in any relationship!!

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Weekend Dads

dads

Weekend Dads. We all know one. But exactly which one do you know? And which one are you?

There are two very distinct types of weekend dads. Mind you, these dads do not have to be single or divorced dads. I know plenty that are married that completely freak out when their wife goes out of town and they have to be the “single parent” for a weekend. You know the one…he’s updating his Facebook status immediately upon hearing the news, stating that he’s a single parent for a few days and “how will I ever make it through?” He wants a pat on the back for making it through meal time and for getting the kids bathed just before his wife returns home. We truly-single-parents want to bitch-slap this idiot because actually helping raise your kids for a weekend does not make you a single parent. The fact that you feel this way just makes you a douchebag.

After years of being single and dating many single dads, I have lumped them all into two distinct categories, one of which I look upon with disdain and will not date.

Category 1.
These dads think they’re in line for father of the year, but most definitely are not. They have never set foot in a children’s museum, a zoo, or anything else that their kids want to do. They rarely make it to a sporting event, practice, and never take the kids to doctor appointments. Quality time revolves around what dad wants to do and thinks that junior would want to do. They actually have no clue what the kid truly enjoys. They never push for more time with the kids and don’t blink an eye at passing on their weekend for a date, golf, business trip, or a vacation. While the kids are there, they will spend countless hours on their phone, the computer, and watching TV. In fact, they love television because it is a built-in babysitter. They are clock watchers because Sunday night can’t get here fast enough. “What do other dads do to pass the time when their kids are here? This shit is hard!”

Category 2, aka Awesome Dad.
These dads are clock watchers, too, except that they watch it on the other end. They watch the clock and count down the seconds until the kids arrive. They greet them with open arms, kisses, hugs, and sometimes tears of joy! They can’t stand that others are raising their kids without them. They are involved in the kids’ lives; they gladly take them to sporting events, practices, and doctor appointments. Their weekends are filled with fun plans that are sometimes made in advance, other times planned together. Sometimes there are injuries from crazy play time, climbing, and down-right fun time! Forts are built and taken down and built again. Their time together is too short and the dads wonder, “How do other dads do this? This shit is hard. It’s not enough time. I miss my kids so much.” Tears stream down their faces as good-byes are exchanged.

Which dad are you? More importantly, which dad do your kids think you are?

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

Money versus Family

family

Two days ago, I turned down what I thought was my dream job. I would finally get out of pharmaceutical sales and would make more than twice what I’m making now. So why the hell would I turn it down??

We all need to make money to live and most of you know that I like nice things. But more and more I realize that money doesn’t buy happiness. Right before I asked my ex to leave five years ago, I was sitting in my kitchen with my sister. I told her that I had everything I thought I ever wanted: a beautiful home, a decorator, I could shop and buy pretty much what, when I wanted. Yet I had never been so miserable in all my life. The life I dreamed of was not what I expected.

So here I am…with my bank account low, credit card debt for the first time in over fifteen years and my dream job in front of me. This job would expect me to work 7-7 every day. Take clients out to dinner three nights a week, every week, and have endless hours of paperwork. Long story short, I would always be working. Just doing leg work over the past few weeks for this company had me very stressed out and working long hours. It made me think. Do I really want to feel like this all the time? And do I really want to work for a company that would ask me to start working for them while I’m still employed by someone else? And then, reality really hit.

My little guy told me, “Mommy, you’re always here to meet my bus after school. I don’t want that to change.” And finally, after we discussed the job for a few more minutes and I reminded him about the dinners he said, “I don’t want you to take it.” I am mom first and foremost. It is the most important and fulfilling job I have ever had. My friend John told me, “You only get one chance to raise your kids.” Wow. Powerful words from a very smart man (my mentor for many years).

I sent a text and turned down the job. Their response? Total silence. Not that I needed validation, but that certainly told me I made the right decision. I’m refocused on my current job and still looking for something that does pay enough to pay the bills and allows for adequate family time. After all, that’s what life is all about.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom

My son, the vegetarian

shutterstock_124970456

As many of you know, I became a vegan last year. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have never felt better nor have I looked better. I love the variety of foods I can eat and the fact that I can pretty much eat as much as I want without gaining weight. Do I miss meat? Actually, the thought of eating meat makes me gag.

Recently, my soon to be eight-year-old son informed me that he is now a vegetarian (he still eats dairy). Let me be clear. I have never pushed my eating habits on my son but after a year of seeing me not eat meat and eating so healthy, it just naturally trickled down to him. While many of you, including my ex, are screaming that kids needs lots and lots of meat in order to live, let me dispel the myth.

First, in 2009, the American Dietetic Association released this statement:

The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on vegetarian diets that concludes such diets, if well-planned, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life-cycle including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.

When I tell people that I don’t eat meat the first question I get is, “How do you get enough protein?” Here’s a news flash: Meat is not the only source of protein!! How do you think gorillas grow to be king of jungle????

Dr. Sears, a well-known pediatrician, had this to say about protein:

It’s a nutritional myth that you have to eat muscle to make muscle. Vegetarians who eat fish, dairy products, and/or eggs get plenty of protein, and even a strict vegan can get enough protein by eating enough grains and legumes, which provide a feeling of fullness, along with the necessary quantity and quality of protein. There’s no need to worry about vegetarian children getting enough protein. Each day, for example, preteens can get all the protein they need from an egg, a peanut butter sandwich, a couple glasses of milk, a cup of yogurt, or a black bean burrito.

In fact, the plant-based sources of protein are soy foods, legumes, nuts & seeds, vegetables, and grains.

Overall, the experts agree:

Yes, you can raise a healthy vegetarian. It’s relatively easy if your child’s diet includes eggs, fish, and dairy products.

Now…why would I do this? Here are just two startling facts from The China Study, which pulls together “…more than 8,000 statistically significant associations between lifestyle, diet and disease variables.” There are so many jaw dropping statistics in this book, even for someone like me who already is a healthy eater.

As blood cholesterol levels decreased…cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, adult brain, stomach and esophagus (throat) decreased. As you can see, this is a sizable list. Most Americans know that if you have high cholesterol, you should worry about your heart, but they don’t know that you might want to worry about cancer as well.

The strong association of a high-animal protein, high-fat diet with reproductive hormones and early age of menarche (menstruation), both of which raise the risk of breast cancer, is an important observation. It makes clear that we should not have our children consume diets high in animal-based foods. If you are a woman, would you ever have imagined that eating diets higher in animal-based foods would expand your reproductive life by about nine to ten years? Our investigation of breast cancer is a perfect example of what makes the China Study so convincing. Rather than a single, simple association of fat and breast cancer, we were able to construct a much more expansive web of information about how diet affects breast cancer risk.

The benefits of a healthy lifestyle are enormous! Here are the reasons cited:

- live longer
- look and feel younger
- have more energy
- lose weight
- lower your blood cholesterol
- prevent and even reverse heart disease
- lower your risk of prostate, breast and other cancers
- preserve your eyesight in your later years
- prevent diabetes
- avoid surgery in many instances
-vastly decrease the need for pharmaceutical drugs
- keep your bones strong
- avoid impotence
- avoid stroke
- prevent kidney stones
- keep your baby from getting Type 1 diabetes
- alleviate constipation
- lower your blood pressure
- avoid Alzheimer’s
- beat arthritis
- and more…

If you have not read The China Study, I highly recommend it. It will change the way you view food.

Still Rockin’ It
Scarlet Mom