Posts Tagged ‘health’

If you do just one thing this year, give up soft drinks, all drinks with added sugar, and all drinks with artificial things in them (such as “vitamin waters”), and don’t allow your children to drink them, either. This could easily be the single most healthy thing you could do for your family.

I recently finished a wonderful and horrifying book called we the EATERS, by Ellen Gustafson. More on that in a later post. But the statistics she cites and that I’ve seen in other places are horrifying.

  • The amount of added sugar (not naturally occurring sugar in food or dairy products) that we ingest yearly has risen from 6.3 pounds/person/year in 1822 to over 100 pounds/person/year today. Between 1980 and 2005, the increase was 18%.
  • Ahh, desserts you say. But no. Almost half of the added sugar comes from sweetened pop/soda/soft drinks, energy and sport drinks, and fruit drinks.
  • A large soda from a fast food restaurant has between 17 and 20 teaspoons of added sugar, over three times the amount recommended for women by the American Heart Association and double that for men.
  • Sugary drinks are the largest single source of calories for teens (226 on average/day.)

What else has risen during this time period and has been shown to be tied to this inrcease? Heart attacks, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and a host of other health problems. Studies also show that when we consume sugary drinks, we tend to eat more; hence the low price of them in restaurants, fast food or otherwise.

What’s bad for adults is worse for children with their smaller size and growth yet to go. We take pop out of schools, yet allow chocolate milk (take a look at the sugar content) and sports drinks. Prices kept low means that low-income families can easily afford these drinks, much to the detriment of their health.

The good news? Soda consumption has dropped.

The bad news? What’s being offered instead is just as bad. The companies who sell pop are now putting out “healthy” tea drinks and enhanced water drinks that are filled with sugar. A 20 oz. SoBe green tea has over 12 teaspoons of added sugar. The coffee drinks offered at Starbucks and other places that well them are crammed full of sugar.

More bad news. Soda consumption has spread around the world, pushing out healthier alternatives in countries where nutrition already suffers. And artificial sweeteners, while less caloric, come with their own set of deadly issues.

The bottom line? Whether to lose weight or just for other aspects of health, one of the easiest things you can do in 2015 is to cut drinks with added sugar out of your life. Check the bottle or cans and you’ll be shocked at the amount of sugar. Remember that the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women per day, no more than 9 for men, and no more than 8 for someone eating 2,000 calories a day!

Don’t add sugar to the coffee and tea you consume or at least add as little as possible. I drink tea daily and sweeten none of it.  It may take a bit of time for your tastes to adjust, but cut out a little at a time and you’ll soon be down to zero (or at least, every little.)  It doesn’t matter whether a company adds the sugar or you do, it’s still bad for you.

Finally, cutting out these drinks will save you lots of money, whether in food costs or future health care costs. So my health advice for you for the upcoming year is:

Cut it out!

At the start of a new year and after several holidays in a row, a young man’s (or most likely, woman’s) fancy turns not toward love, but towards losing weight and getting in shape.  New Year’s resolutions often include one or both of these goals, goals that often fall by the wayside after either never starting or never finishing.

I want to encourage you to make this the year you DO get in shape.  You don’t need to become a triathlete or power lifter.  Start simply and build on your success.  One building block of getting into shape is, of course, eating healthily and in moderation.  People make many different choices about what sort of eating plan to use.  But getting into shape is less daunting than trying to decide how you want to eat.

Before I started participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge, I did a few Fitness Friday posts.  I’m going to share the links with you and guarantee that if you follow the advice, your health and fitness will improve without any huge financial investment and without any special programs.  Just so you know, my background is in PE and I ran my own personal training business for 16 years.  Feel better?  🙂




Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes their list of  foods with the most pesticide residue and those with the least.  This year, the Dirty Dozen list is really a Dirty Dozen Plus list, as hot peppers, kale and collards “merit” special notice as being contaminated with unusually bad pesticides.  If you want to try to buy organic, the Dirty Dozen Plus list is the place to start, while buying conventional works for the Clean Fifteen.

The Dirty Dozen Plus goes from highest amount of pesticides to least, while the Clean Fifteen starts with the cleanest, avocados.



Travel and real life have put a cramp in my Friday Fictioneers style for several weeks and threaten to again.  My 100-word story is found below, but as I’m fortunate this week to be traveling to an OWL meeting in Branson, Missouri, while getting to meet fellow Fictioneers Rochelle, Kent, Madison and possibly Russ, as well as writers such as Jan Marler Morrill and Beth Carter, I won’t have time for much online activity.  So forgive me if I don’t get to your story until much later (I leave Thursday morning and arrive back home Sunday night, then have company Monday and part of Tuesday) or if I don’t get to it at all this week.  Because of that, I considered not doing a story again this week, but I decided to publish or perish.

I stared at the photo for some time, a variety of thoughts running through my head.  All seemed to me too obvious and as Fictioneers, we’re trained and encouraged to avoid the “obvious” (and does the obvious then become not obvious?)  In the midst of my contemplation, this story showed up, grabbed me around the throat, gave me some good shakes and refused to let me go until I wrote it, however feebly.  It’s something I’ve been experiencing lately and which I think threatens to take much pleasure from our lives.  Is it thus fiction or not?  Am I this week a Fictioneer or a Factioneer?  That’s for you to decide.  So without further blathering or ado, here’s my offering, based on the intriguing photo prompt by Kent.

Copyright Kent Bonham

Copyright Kent Bonham

Give Us This Day Our Daily…

Hungrily perusing the menu, his mind suddenly dredged up a variety of warring advice.

“Only eat whole grains!”
“Eliminate wheat products.”

“Don’t eat anything with a face.”
“Grass-fed and cage-free makes all the difference.”

“Meat raises your cholesterol.”
“My blood pressure dropped 50 points on the Atkins diet.”

“Darling, you simply must try this fabulous raw milk cheese!”
“U.S. government bans raw milk and raw milk cheese.”

“Salmonella outbreak linked to raw veggies.”
“A raw diet and juicing!”

“Have a glass of red wine daily.”
“Avoid drinking!”

Choice stymied and pleasure gone, he wearily left the restaurant, hunger completely routed.

Wondering how on earth I got here from there?  There’s a pathway (alley) with many shops on the side (things on all sides) and my character is headed somewhere (for a good meal) when things come at him from all sides.  That’s the gossamer yet strong connection I turned into this story, with my disheartened character making his way wearily along the way at the end of the story.  🙂

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

If you stay away from grocery stores, Michael Pollan’s admonitions become much easier to follow. Join me in my weekly Saturday morning trip to the North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland for food, mostly plants. You can also get eggs, cheese, and grass-fed, no-antibiotic meat if you choose, local honey and much, much more. (All quotes are by Michael Pollan.)


Today at the farmer’s market, I bought the largest head of romaine lettuce I’ve ever seen for a mere $3. While it’s true that romaine is both delicious and nutritious, lettuce look at its beauty.



As someone once said…oh, wait!  I said this.

Take heart, all ye brave Fictioneers
For Wednesday is finally here.
Look at the prompt.
Create what you want.
Work through the blood, sweat and tears.

One week I’m sure that I heard,
“One hundred words? That’s absurd!
I can’t tell my story
In all of its glory
With that few,” some authors averred.

Now that the deadline is near
Even tho’ that story’s so dear
If you wield the scalpel
Relief will be palpable
And your writing all that much more clear.

EL, this picture is so you!  😉

copyright el appleby

copyright el appleby


What do you give someone who might shortly need nothing?

Poking around a dusty antique store, we serendipitously unearthed the perfect cancer-fighting gift, a gift that was us.

First came Jessica, always nosy, Christmas-present-ferreter-outer extraordinaire,
Nigel, giraffe-tall and gangly,
Mom, “a real tigress” as Dad fondly called her, and
me, an adopted polyglot of colors.

We smuggled the Elezegeraffe into Dad’s hospital room, aided and abetted by willing nurses.  Today “E” resides in our side yard, reminder of a time of joy and laughter.

To this day, we remain convinced that the ensuing hilarity was the beginning of Dad’s healing.


Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.
Mark Twain

A day without laughter is a day wasted.
Charlie Chaplin

Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers.  And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.
Bill Cosby

According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to:

  • Boost the immune system and circulatory system
  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles throughout the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
  • Ease digestion/soothes stomach aches
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

Laughter therapy may also help to:

  • Improve overall attitude
  • Reduce stress/tension
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve sleep
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Strengthen social bonds and relationships
  • Produce a general sense of well-being
Cancer Treatment Centers of America

 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.          Genesis 2:2

Wait!  If you don’t believe in God, don’t run off.   This is about resting, not about faith.  If God rested (which we all know He didn’t really need to do, except as an example), surely we mere humans can use a rest as well.  But do we get one?   (more…)

I mentioned to Bill one day that our three lilac bushes needed pruning, then forgot about it.  One memorable day not long after, I drove home and saw that he had pruned them (was, in fact, just finishing)–to about a third of the original size.  I was appalled.  But fortunately, the lilacs came back strong and every spring we see dark purple, lilac, and white blooms, one large bush of each.  (more…)