I can’t believe that we’re almost at the end of the school year. And with summer almost upon us, that means that many of us will be off to the beach, visiting family or just on the go…which means lots of fast food and meals on the road. It is really difficult to eat healthy while traveling but Wholesome has a new tool in its arsenal to help with summer road trips. It’s a little book by David Zinczenko, the editor of Men’s Health magazine, called “Eat This, Not That! Restaurant Survival Guide”. We have friends that love this book and leave it in their car so they always have it when they are on the road. The book covers over 60 national chain restaurants – everything from Starbucks to McDonald’s to the Cheesecake Factory – and gives you healthier alternatives of what to order at each of the restaurants. Typically the book lists several “eat this” items and several “not that” items while also listing calories, fat and sodium content. For instance, it will suggest to not eat Domino’s Thin Crust ExtravaganZZa (medium, 2 slices) with 460 calories, 31g fat, and 1210mg sodium but suggests trying the Hand Tossed Chicken and Bacon Pizza (medium, 2 slices) for 410 calories, 14g fat and 940mg sodium. Each listed item will give you some of the nutritional information typically focusing on calories and total fat. This book series also includes “Eat This, Not That! Supermarket Survival Guide”, “Eat This, Not That! for Kids!” and “Eat This, Not That! The Best and Worst Foods in America!”
Now we think these books can be of help when eating out is inevitable. The information can assist you in making lighter, lower calorie or fat-dense choices in a pinch particularly for those on a weight loss regime. However, the book does not touch upon some of the healthy lifestyle choices that we focus on at Wholesome – but let’s be honest, fast food is not about fresh and healthy meals. We still want you to be conscious of the preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and most importantly the heart-clogging trans fats in roadside meals. Fast meals are about quick, inexpensive and (arguably) tasty food not quality ingredients. So, in light of fast food’s limitations, we think this book is a great tool to at least not totally blow your healthy diet out of the water. The way we see it, every little bit helps.
Have you noticed an upswing with children with allergies? When I was growing up, I’m not sure I knew of anyone with allergies. I’m sure there were but it certainly didn’t seem like the epidemic it seems today. I can think of five children off the top of my head that must get allergy shots because their allergies are so bad that over the counter medication can’t can keep their symptoms under control. There is new data that shows that children deficient in Vitamin D may be more prone to allergies. A recent study was comprised of 6,590 people half of which were older than 21 years old and the other half younger than 21. Among the children under 21 with lower Vitamin D levels, the children experienced more allergies to food and to the environment. They were more likely to have peanut or ragweed allergies and almost five times as likely to be allergic to oak. A host of other allergies were also common among the youth with lower Vitamin D levels. Children are becoming increasingly deficient in Vitamin D with 1 out of 7 teens having low levels. Some people attribute lower Vitamin D levels to increase usage of sunscreens, indoor activities such as video games, and poor nutrition.
The study did not conclude why children were more prone to allergies with lower Vitamin D levels while adults were not. However, the study gives us one more good reason to monitor our children’s intake of Vitamin D. So not only is Vitamin D shown to help reduce bone fractures, improve mood, reduce risk of heart disease, and help ward off cancer, it may also keep your children from developing allergies. There are several easy ways to get sufficient Vitamin D: get 15 minutes of sunshine three times a week; consume fortified dairy products; consume fatty fish; or take supplements. The current guidelines suggest people need 600 IU every day up to age 70. Many experts believe these limits are too low and often suggest a minimum of 1000 IU per day.
Along with spring baseball season and the summer come the bugs. There’s nothing worse than going to the baseball park or a friend’s cookout and getting eaten alive. It’s always interesting how some people are more susceptible to insect bites than others but it’s best to always be prepared. The most common ingredient in bug repellents is DEET. Listed as N, N-Diethyl-m-toluamide or N, N-Diethyl-3-Methyl benzamide, DEET is highly effective at repelling mosquitoes but is also an eye irritant and can cause blisters and rashes. DEET has been known to cause fatigue, confusion, disorientation, and mood swings. If you choose a product with DEET, be sure to use one with less than 10% concentration.
The natural alternative is using products that contain oils such as lemon eucalyptus and citronella as deterrents. We love Jason Natural Cosmetics Quit Bugging Me. California Baby also has one called simply Bug Repellent Spray. There’s another repellent we saw online called Bite Blocker All Natural Insect Repellent Herbal Wipes. These wipes look really easy to apply on children without getting product in their eyes or mouth. Just remember that a product may work for one person but it may not work for you. Be sure to test it out on your family members first to be sure they like the formula and that it works effectively for them. Also be careful to reapply natural repellents often since they do not last as long as DEET products. Always check the directions to be sure you are applying the product correctly and wash it off as soon as repellent is no longer needed.
Many of you are just back from the beach for Spring Break. You have an entire spring of sports and summer at the pool ahead of you slathering sunscreen on you and your family. But what sunscreens are you planning on using? That’s what we would like you to think about. What is in your sunscreen? We ask that you consider several things in selecting products. First of all, how effective are the sun blocking ingredient in your sunscreen? Well, the most effective and least harmful sun blocking ingredients are the mineral or physical blockers titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. They block most of the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB rays – remember that the term SPF only refers to UVB rays so you need to be careful to look for ingredients that block damaging UVA rays as well. Look for a sunscreen that says “broad spectrum”. Secondly, how harmful are the ingredients in the sunscreen? You should try to avoid the chemical sun blockers like oxybenzone as they have cancer causing agents and may act as hormone disruptors. Does the sunscreen contain parabens? Parabens are known cancer-causing agents and should be avoided whenever possible. Look for words like ethylparaben, propylparaben and butylparaben on the ingredient list.
There are several rules of thumb when choosing a product. Just because a product says it’s for sensitive skin or is a baby formula does not mean that it may not still be harmful. We looked up Coppertone Water Babies Quick Cover lotion with SPF 50 and according to the Environmental Working Group the safety rating was 7 out of 10, with 10 being the worst. It contained the chemical blocker oxybenzone which should be avoided especially on children. Furthermore, just because an SPF has a higher number does not mean it is better or safer for you. The EWG says that SPFs higher than 50 don’t typically give you significantly higher sun protection and are usually loaded with sun blocking chemicals which can cause tissue damage and hormone disruption. Antioxidants added to the sunscreen don’t necessarily mean the sunscreen is better; data from an FDA study suggests that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions. Most importantly, spray sunscreens are dangerous because of the inhalation of nano-sized particles. The cans are typically loaded with chemicals and are usually rated poorly for safety.
In a nutshell, according to the Environmental Working Group, among the sun blocking ingredients with the lowest risk (but not necessarily broad spectrum protection) are avobenzone, mexoryl SX, and octisalate. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which are broad-spectrum, are of medium risk but since they do not seem to get absorbed into the bloodstream the EWG considers them relatively safe. Oxybenzone and 4-MBC on the other hand are considered high risk and easily absorbable into the skin. They should not be used on children due to their known allergic reactions and hormone disruption properties. Always apply more sunscreen than you think you need. Studies show that people often use 1/5 the needed amount to provide the indicated sun protection. Please keep these tips in mind when looking for sunscreens throughout summer. Some of our favorites are Elta MD’s facial sunscreens (the ones with moisturizer apply well under makeup) and many of which are paraben-free, and Jason Naturals Sunbrellas 30. Kiss My Face Face Factor 30 rates well, as do most Jason Natural, Badger, Nature’s Gate and Alba Botanica sunblocks. We also like Aveda and Tarte tinted moisturizers with SPF since they are free of parabens, phthalates and petrochemicals. For a pharmacy run, we found Johnson and Johnson baby sunscreen lotion SPF 40 rated as one of EWG’s best rated sunscreens! We encourage you to look up your favorite products on the Environmental Working Group’s website to be sure they are safe and provide broad-spectrum protection: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com. The EWG’s sunscreen guide is also extremely helpful: http://www.ewg.org/2010sunscreen/
A friend made these biscuits for us and they are fabulous! They can be frozen and are delicious with soup, meat or even for breakfast. This recipe is adapted from a recipe that was featured in Coastal Living in which our friend paired down the butter and substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream. You can even mix in chives for a different flavor.
2 cups self-rising flour
8-9 ounces Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Stir together all ingredients just until blended. Spoon batter into lightly greased miniature muffin pans, filling to the top. You can also make these as drop biscuits on parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown, and serve warm. Makes 2 1/2 dozen.