Thriving . . . on Food

Part Three of a Four-Part series on Thriving

What guides you in making the food choices for you and for your family?

Is your family thriving from the foods you eat, or just surviving?

If you knew that certain food choices actually reduced the risk of some health- threatening conditions, would you be at least curious?

Food Quiz #1: Which is more beneficial – one crunchy oats & honey granola bar (they usually come two to a pack so you will have to share) or two slices of a popular, whole grain, 100% whole wheat bread (what you would use for making a nice sandwich)? Answer to follow.

eggs, bacon (nitrate/sugar free), steamed baby kale, butternut squash, 1 serv.

eggs, bacon (nitrate/sugar free), steamed baby kale, butternut squash, 1 serv.

Over the past two years Kathleen and I have been reading a lot of new research focused on how what we eat directly impacts our health. It has been interesting to say the least.  What we’d previously thought as being “healthy” wasn’t necessarily accurate . The biggest change for us was learning how carbohydrates equate to sugar calories (per The 100, I’ll get to this below).

My intent is not to come off as preachy, but rather to share the startling results we experienced. I certainly don’t want to create a power struggle between you and your child around food (you probably have enough of those going on already). From the parenting side of things, I encourage you to be more of a guide and teacher, not a food dictator.  Think about what worked well, and what could have worked better, in your own food journey.

What I’m presenting here is focused more on you. Parenting is probably the most challenging job there is.  Your kids deserve to have you at your best as much of the time as possible. Eating in a way that promotes health and well being will benefit you and your whole family.

beef bone broth, salmon salad, homemade mayo - Nom Nom Paleo, 1 serv.

beef bone broth, salmon salad, homemade mayo – Nom Nom Paleo, 1 serv.

Think about this – the foods we eat that are grain based, are foods that were developed for surviving, not for thriving. They were for quelling hunger, and filling up one’s belly. It was a relatively cheap and easy way to feed the masses. Over the millennium, consuming grains has become a deep-rooted habit.

Culturally, there are a lot of things done out of habit, having been handed down over generations. And when those habits are suddenly challenged — even proved detrimental – uncertainty, even chaos ensues.

Imagine reading for the first time, in 1543, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) by Nicolaus Copernicus, that the earth was not the center of the universe. In fact, the earth revolved around the sun. Provocative then, known fact now.

Food Quiz #2: Healthy start to your day – Yes or No?

1 cup (8 oz.) fresh orange juice1 cup (8 oz.) black coffee
1 cup (8 oz.) “O’s” cereal – plain1 cup (8 oz.) 2% milk
1 medium ripe banana1 tablespoon honey

So, let’s talk sugar calories.  In his book, The 100, Jorge Cruise explains that keeping your daily intake at, or just under, 100 sugar calories per day will not only shed that undesirable belly fat, it will also promote overall health.

Madras chicken salad from Nom Nom Paleo, 1 serv.

Madras chicken salad from Nom Nom Paleo, 1 serv.

To determine how many sugar calories a food contains, multiply the grams of carbohydrate in each serving by 4. For example: You’re in the store and you think, “I bet a better choice for a snack would be one of those nice flavored yogurts I see advertised all the time.” You pick one up, maybe the strawberry flavor, and you scan the Nutrition Facts label looking for “Carbohydrate” and find that it contains 25 grams. Multiplying by 4 you come up with 100 sugar calories. Meaning that if you eat this one 6 oz. “healthy choice” snack, you’ve had your entire daily allotment of sugar calories.  Oops.

Food Quiz #1 – Answer: neither

. . . a single crunchy oats & honey granola bar has 15 grams carbohydrate for a total of 60 sugar calories. If you eat both bars in the package, you’re now at 120 sugar calories and above the limit for the day.

. . . two slices of a popular, whole grain, 100% whole wheat bread has 40 grams carbohydrate for a total of 160 sugar calories. Eating just one sandwich puts you over the 100 sugar calorie limit for the day.

Are you finding this intriguing? Are you wondering what the heck you would eat?

Food Quiz #2 – Answer . . . answer: no

Food ChoiceCarbohydrate
in grams
1 cup (8 oz.) fresh orange juice  26104
1 cup (8 oz.) “O’s” cereal – plain  20  80
1 medium ripe banana  26104
1 tablespoon honey  16  64
1 cup (8 oz.) 2% milk  12  48
1 cup (8 oz.) black coffee    0    0

In one seemingly “healthy” breakfast you’ve just consumed 4 days worth of sugar calories, according to The 100.  And you wonder why, as you get older, it’s more challenging to not only take off the extra pounds but also maintain a healthy weight without being in the gym for 2+ hours every day.

“You cannot ‘out-exercise’ poor food choices
and the resulting hormonal disruption”

from It Starts with Food, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig

And what about the epidemic of childhood obesity that appears to be rising exponentially. It may be more due to food choices than lack of exercise.

It’s been an interesting journey for Kathleen and me. By simply paying attention to sugar calories, we’ve been able to easily shed the extra pounds – I went from 210 to 177 pounds and a waist of 42 inches to one of 34. We sleep better and have more stamina and energy throughout the day – not spiking our blood sugar has a lot to do with that.  And my blood pressure is a very nice 111/ 71, it had been in the 135/95 range previously.

pan seared NY strip steak, baked sweet potato w/ghee, asparagus, 1 serv.

pan seared NY strip steak, baked sweet potato w/ghee, asparagus,
1 serv.

I have so much more that I could say, but I think I’ve given you enough to chew on (I love puns) for now. I’m completely certain that you will benefit by taking to heart the information and guidance presented in the books I’ve listed below.

Thriving on food not only depends on the food itself, but the love put into it’s preparation and consumption.

As often as possible, sit together as a family at meal time.  Appreciate and celebrate the abundance and variety of food we have today. Make meal preparation a fun time together – it’s a great way to learn how to work as a team.

Suggested Reading List

  • The 100: Count ONLY Sugar Calories and Lose Up to 18 Lbs. in 2 Weeks by Jorge Cruise
  • It Starts with Food – Discover the Whole30® and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
  • Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter, MD.
  • Everyday Paleo – Family Cookbook by Sarah Fragoso
  • Nom Nom Paleo; Food for Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong (nominated for a James Beard award)

As always, we’d love for you to leave a comment below and share this post with a friend.

It’s all about the relationship . . .
. . . with yourself, your child, your family, your community,
and yes, even with your food.

And for an enlightening perspective on teen girls and dieting, read
Best diet for adolescent girls
by Doctor Tim Jordan

Thriving . . . through nature.

Connecting You and Your Child with Nature – and THRIVING

(Part 2 of a 4 part series – Click Here if you missed Part 1)

77-1When I was a kid there was nothing better than being with my buddies exploring the woods, scavenging wood for the building of forts, riding bikes, catching crawdads in the creek, flying kites, playing a game of baseball or spending the entire day out in the snow.  The main thing was that we were outside, feeling alive, feeling free – thriving. But since those times a lot has changed. It’s like we have outlawed nature for fear that something bad will happen to our kid, or we will be sued, or both.

Either way, the thought of “playing in the woods” is quickly disappearing and no one explains this better than Richard Louv. In his book,

Last Child in the Woods – Saving our children from nature deficit disorder

Richard explores the increasing divide between the young and the natural world, and the environmental, social, psychological, and spiritual implications of that change. He clearly explains how contact with nature is essential in the development of healthy children – and adults. Continue reading

Time Out – Worn Out

One of the Worst Parenting Tools Ever

The use of “time out” is relatively new and has its share of critics and supporters.

Originally, “time out” was intended to isolate or separate (socially exclude) a misbehaving child for a short period of time, usually 5 to 15 minutes, as a calming-down time and to discourage inappropriate behavior.

In our own parenting experience, and also in working with our clients, we realized that

time out was used pretty much exclusively in an attempt to discipline (replaced by “you’re grounded” with older kids). Instead of stopping to assess the situation, then deciding on the best approach or solution, parents habitually press the “time out” button. Most likely, this is due to the fact that unless people deliberately learn effective parenting techniques, they have extremely limited options in their “toolbag”. Continue reading


. . . how life is meant to be lived!

Say the word THRIVING. How does it make you feel? Joyous? Excited? Alive? Free? Confident? Connected?  Now picture your child thriving. How does that feel? Satisfying? Complete? Proud? On top of the world? I would guess that it brings a big smile to your face.  How could it not?

Now say the word SURVIVING. How does that make you feel? Stuck? Tired? Hopeless? Numb? Frustrated? Discouraged? Now picture your child just surviving in the world. How does that make you feel? Sad? How could any parent want their child to live their life by just getting by, by just surviving? I would venture to guess you would rather see them THRIVING – feeling good and embracing life at its fullest. Continue reading