Monthly Archives: September 2014

Workplace Wellness … Cleveland Clinic leads by example

The Cleveland Clinic is well known for providing excellent health care. A bustling, brisk medical campus, the clinic has been ranked the top hospital in the country for cardiac care for 16 years.

But the clinic has a more interesting and important story to tell, and it has nothing to do with providing health care to its patients and everything to do with controlling health care for its workers.

With 40,000 employees, the clinic is the second-largest employer in Ohio. Like most employers, it struggles to contain health-care costs. But according to Michael Roizen, the clinic’s director of wellness, over the past seven years a series of reforms instituted by the clinic’s chief executive officer, Delos Cosgrove, slowed and then arrested the growth in employee health-care costs at the clinic. This year, inflation-adjusted spending might actually fall — an all but unprecedented achievement in employer-based insurance.

What happened? Health care costs rose 6 percent a year nationally. Yet there was no rationing of care or squeezing of providers at the clinic. The clinic’s employees simply got healthier. Whether that success is a model for American health care or a preview of a dystopian surveillance state is an open question.

Roizen says the initiative sprang from a single fact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70 percent of all medical costs are related to smoking, physical inactivity, food choices and portion size, or stress. Cut smoking, increase physical activity, persuade people to make better dietary decisions, and help them manage their stress, and you can reduce health-care costs before an employee ever steps into a hospital.

But consider what that actually entails: Changing habits. Breaking addictions. Getting people to the gym. Who wants to hear about any of that from their employer?

The clinic, however, didn’t give employees a choice. “First thing we said was we had to make our institution toxin free,” Roizen said. “The biggest toxin we have in the U.S. is tobacco. So we began offering free tobacco-cessation programs to our employees. Then we banned smoking on campus. You can’t even smoke in the parking lot in your car. The first offense you get a warning, and the second you get fired. We fired two high-profile physicians who refused to quit. Then they knew we were serious.”

Food came next. The clinic took out almost every deep-fryer in the building. They removed sugared soda from every beverage case. They eliminated trans fats. On a tour of the campus, I noticed a long line outside a McDonald’s. My guide sighed. McDonald’s, he explained, had a long-term contract that predated Cosgrove’s wellness initiative. The clinic couldn’t throw them out — yet.

“We want to make it easy for you to do healthy things and hard for you to do unhealthy things,” Roizen said. “If you want a sugared drink, you have to go out of your way to bring it from home. We’re not going to provide it.”

That left fitness and stress relief. The first step was easy: Offer free fitness and stress-management classes. But the clinic still had to get its employees to attend. So they reversed the normal calculus. Usually, you have to pay to hit the gym or attend a yoga class. If you work for the Cleveland Clinic, you have to pay if you don’t.

“We raised the premiums for all employees,” Roizen said. But employees didn’t necessarily have to pay the increase. “If you’re doing a healthy program — attending Weight Watchers or Shape Up and Go — you get a rebate.”

That left enforcement. The clinic tracks its employees’ blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, weight and smoking habits. If any of these are what the clinic calls “abnormal,” a doctor must certify that the employee is taking steps to get them under control. Otherwise, no insurance rebate. The idea is to force employees to have regular conversations with their doctors about wellness. If they participate, they can lock in the rates they were paying two years ago. The savings amount to many thousands of dollars.

It appears to be working. Not only has the clinic cut its health-care costs, but its employees are also getting healthier in measurable ways. Workers have lost a collective 250,000 pounds since 2005. Their blood pressure is lower than it was three years ago. Smoking has declined from 15.4 percent of employees to 6.8 percent.

In one sense, the clinic has achieved the health policy ideal: cutting health-care costs by making people healthier. But consider how the clinic has done it — tying premiums to personal decisions, firing smokers, tracking employee metrics, eliminating popular sodas and foods from campus. By making it harder and more expensive for employees to be unhealthy, the clinic has radically overstepped the traditional, laissez-faire approach of employers to their workers’ personal habits.

The experiment might work at a famed medical center where the CEO plausibly argues that aggressive leadership in health care is central to the institution’s mission. But would it work at General Motors? Caterpillar? Wal-Mart? Medicaid and Medicare?

Roizen thinks it can — and should. He estimates that an aggressive program could cut federal health spending by $300 billion to $600 billion a year. If he’s right, then simply instituting such wellness reforms could cut the federal deficit by far more than the Simpson-Bowles commission or the congressional supercommittee would.

Roizen has even proposed legislation to create a Medicare pilot that sidesteps at least some of the concerns about government intrusion. Participation by Medicare recipients would be voluntary, with improved health leading to an increase in a participant’s Social Security check.

As Roizen notes, tough choices are inevitable over the next decade. The question is which ones we prefer to make. If we opt for Cleveland Clinic-style wellness programs, we won’t have to gut education, raise taxes or slash Medicare. And we’ll end up healthier.

The alternative? A society that will continue down a slippery slope into healthcare bankruptcy and personal sickness,; one where, as Dr. David Katz has predicted, “this generation of children will be first to live shorter lives than their parents”, as a result of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes now affecting our children and young adults.

Stress or Success?

In my last post we looked at the wellness benefits of taking all your Paid Time Off:  vacations and other opportunities to recharge  your batteries and generally lower your stress levels.

Now for some more help with Stress that can lead to Success – in all areas of life.

Stressed? Author and speaker Denis Waitley shares three guidelines to transform negative anxiety into positive success. Follow these rules and take action now to let go of your stress.

1. Accept the unchangeable

Everything that has happened in your life to this minute is unchangeable. It’s history. The greatest waste of energy is looking back at missed opportunities and lamenting past events.

Grudge collecting, getting even, harboring ill will and vengeful thinking do no good. Success is the only acceptable form of revenge.

By forgiving your trespassers—whoever or whatever they are—you become free to concentrate on going forward with your life and succeeding in spite of those detractors. You will live a rewarding and fulfilling life. Your enemies, on the other hand, will forever wonder how you went on to become so successful without them and in the shadow of their doubts.

Action idea: Write down on a sheet of paper things that happened in the past that bother you. Now crumple the paper into a ball and throw it. Really. This symbolizes letting go of past misfortunes.

2. Change the changeable

Change your reaction to what others say and do, and you can control your own thoughts and actions by dwelling on desired results instead of the penalties of failure.

The only real control you have in life is your immediate thought and action, and because most of what we do is a reflex—a subconscious habit—it’s wise not to act on emotional impulse. In personal relations, it is better to wait a moment until reason has the opportunity to compete with your emotions.

Action idea: Write down one thing you will do tomorrow to help you relax more during and after a stressful day.

3. Avoid the unacceptable

Go out of your way to get out of the way of intolerable or perilous behaviors and environments.

Take these examples: When people tailgate you on the freeway, change lanes. When there are loud, obnoxious people next to you at a restaurant, change tables or move locations. When someone is being a Debbie Downer, complaining about this and that, excuse yourself and walk away.

Always be on the alert for negative situations that can be dangerous to your health, personal safety, financial speculation and emotional relationships.

Action idea: What is one unacceptable habit you or others have that you will avoid starting tomorrow?

A little stress is good, too much stress is bad, and understanding it can be everything. Learn about the upside to stress and how you can harness everyday anxiety.

How Are Time Off and Wellness Connected?

Since being self-employed (well, in truth, since our business became highly successful!) Jenny and I have taken all the vacations (long and short) that we wanted. Even during my 23 years with IBM I always took ALL my vacation time – and in Europe we had plenty of that!

So this headline made me sit up and take notice:

40 Percent of American Workers Will Leave Paid Vacation Days Unused

The summer is over and I hope you, my readers, took ALL the vacation you were entitled to and used it well.

Unfortunately, all too many of us could be on vacation but choose not to be. That’s the striking finding of an important new study released by Travel Effect, an initiative of the U.S. Travel Association. Entitled “Overwhelmed America: Why Don’t We Use Our Paid Time Off?,” the study found that 40 percent of American workers will leave paid vacation days unused.

Even more revealing are the reasons respondents gave for leaving paid time off on the table. The four reasons cited the most are the dread of returning from a vacation to piles of work (40 percent), the belief that no one will be able to step in and do their job for them while they’re gone (35 percent), not being able to afford it (33 percent) and the fear of being seen as replaceable (22 percent).

“Americans suffer from a work martyr complex,” said Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. “In part, it’s because ‘busyness’ is something we wear as a badge of honor. But it’s also because we’re emerging from a tough economy and many feel less secure in their jobs. Unfortunately, workers do not seem to realize that forfeiting their vacation time comes at the expense of their overall health, well-being and relationships.”

In fact, not taking time off from work also comes at the expense of our performance at work. This study shouldn’t be an alarm bell just for workers but for employers too. Recent years have brought us a mountain of science about both the costs of burnout and overwork and the benefits of unplugging and recharging. In short, the long-term health and well-being of a company’s employees is going to impact the long-term health and well-being of the company’s bottom line.

We know, for instance, that, according to the World Health Organization, stress costs American businesses around $300 billion per year. Sleep deprivation tacks on another $63 billion.

Living a life in which we work all the time and never prioritize recharging simply isn’t sustainable — not for individuals, and not for companies either. As Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Projectputs it, “the best way to get more done may be to spend more time doing less.” He cites a 2006 internal study of Ernst and Young employees that found that for every additional 10 hours of vacation an employee took, his or her performance ratings went up by 8 percent — nearly 1 percent per day of vacation. That means companies where employees are leaving two and three and four weeks of vacation on the table are foregoing an enormous productivity boost. The study also found that employees who took regular vacations were less likely to leave the company.

This shouldn’t be that surprising. Humans are wired to perform and then to recharge. “The importance of restoration is rooted in our physiology,” Schwarz writes. “Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously. Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” And that means on both the smaller, hour-to-hour scale and the larger time frame of week to week and month to month.

Of course, many of the changes that we so badly need in our workplace culture will have to come from the top. As we can see from the reasons employees give for not taking their paid vacation, employees do not seem to be getting a strong message from management of the importance of vacation and renewal time. This was also borne out by the Travel Effect study, which found that even though a whopping 95 percent of senior business leaders say they know the value of taking time off, 67 percent of employees say their company is either silent about taking vacation, sends mixed signals about it or even actively discourages it. And a third of senior leaders say they either never or rarely discuss taking vacation with their employees.

That’s DUMB business leaders!

Paid time off for employees – and encouraging them to use it – is a business strategy and investment with proven returns and has a direct connection to employee health and wellness, and productivity.

Coconut Oil – Yes or No?

During the last year or so we have started to use Coconut oil – not to be confused with coconut water or milk, which we also use sometimes. We also love fresh coconuts down in our beloved Belize! So when I saw this article by fooducate … well, I just had to share it!


Coconut oil is hot, and it’s not just because of its tropical origins. Vilified for decades for its extremely high saturated fat content, coconut oil has found many new fans in recent years.

The web is bursting with health claims touting coconut oil’s nutritional benefits, including aiding in weight loss, reducing cholesterol, and improving brain function. Unfortunately, the majority of these claims have not been sufficiently supported by scientific evidence.

The good news is that recent research has shown that the type of saturated fat in coconut oil may not be as bad for our health as some other types, and may even have some health benefits. We’ll get to this in a bit.

But first, a little background.

Coconut oil is derived from the meaty white insides of coconuts. It takes about one pound of coconut to produce 1 tablespoon of coconut oil.

The main exporting countries are the Philippines, Indonesia, and India. Coconut oil makes up less than 3% of annual global vegetable oil production.

Coconut oil can be either Virgin or refined. Virgin coconut oil is usually expeller-pressed, meaning the oil is mechanically squeezed out of the coconut meat at room temperature. Refined oil is usually extracted using heat, chemicals and solvents that both increase the yield, and remove any coloration or odors.

Coconut oil is semi-solid at room temperature, which makes it a popular alternative to butter or shortening. In some cases it is partially hydrogenated to make it solid at even higher temperatures, but the side effect is the creation of dangerous trans-fats.

But back to either virgin or refined coconut oil. It is comprised of 85-90% saturated fats. This is higher than butter (60%) or lard (40%). Reminder: saturated fat raises the levels of bad (LDL) blood cholesterol.  A single tablespoon of coconut oil has 12 grams of saturated fat, which is 60% of the daily maximum allowance.

This may seem scary at first, because the age-old advice we have received is to limit our saturated fat intake.

This is where things get interesting. “Saturated Fats” is a term describing a group of different types of fatty acids. For example, coconut oil is comprised of 52% lauric acid, 19% myristic acid, 11% palmitic acid, 10% decanoic acid, and 9% caprylic acid – all saturated fatty acids.

There is emerging evidence that some fatty acids might be more harmful than others. Conversely, some may even have positive health benefits. For example, lauric acid has been shown in some studies to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels, and even to actually increase good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Unlike many other vegetable oils, virgin coconut oil contains phenols, a type of antioxidant. Scientists are trying to figure out if these compounds are somehow related to the benign effects of coconut oil on blood cholesterol.

Another advantage of coconut oil compared to canola, soybean or corn oil is that it’s not genetically modified. Of course, olive oil is also GMO-free.

So, should you toss away all your other oils and switch exclusively to coconut oil? Probably not. But having a jar of virgin coconut oil handy at home for occasional use is probably not a bad idea.

We love a shake made from coconut milk and a scoop of Juice Plus+ Complete shake mix, shaken (not stirred!)

Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables?


Are you eating enough fruits and vegetables? It’s hard to know, isn’t it?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (and seven is only enough for a 4 year old girl!). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a minimum of 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily for someone who is moderately active and consumes a 2,000-calorie diet. However you slice it, most people don’t meet those benchmarks.

But if you’re like the majority of folks, you don’t know what constitutes a serving (and you probably don’t carry a measuring cup with you to every meal either). How can you eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables if you can’t visualize what a serving looks like?

That’s why I was really excited to stumble across these handy photos of the daily recommended servings of various combinations of fruits and vegetables.

The picture above makes it clear that eating enough produce can be pretty simple. Like the author, I was surprised to see that eating 4.5 cups of fruits and veggies is easier than it sounds, once it’s all laid out. You can see more pictures and read more here.

Need some more motivation to fill up your plate with produce? Numerous studies have outlined the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables—everything from better cardiovascular health to lower rates of stroke, cancer, and diabetes. Research also demonstrates that a lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet is correlated with an increased risk of obesity, and even “death from any cause”.

Unfortunately, few people eat at least seven servings of produce a day. In fact, even when the goal is reduced to just five servings per day (three vegetable servings and two servings of fruit) — as it was by the U.S.-government sponsored Healthy People 2010 initiative — a 2007 study found only 11 percent of Americans manage to comply. Children fare no better. A report issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2009 found that less than 10 percent of high school students manage to eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables a day.

One way to increase your family’s consumption of fruits and veggies is to grow them yourself. Nothing is more convenient than having fresh, healthy food growing steps from your back door. I personally love growing my own herbs and greens because you can pick what you need at any given time and not worry about a big bunch of parsley or kale going limp in the crisper. Plus I hate grocery shopping.

418170_10150662195742976_621352975_9016215_825980200_nSpeaking of home gardens, have you tried our Tower Garden? It’s a state-of-the-art, vertical, aeroponic growing system that’s perfect for rooftops, patios or balconies — just about any sunny spot outdoors. It’s easier than traditional gardening because there’s no soil, no weeds, and no ground pests to threaten your crops. You can grow almost anything you like in a Tower Garden, including tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, beans, cucumbers, melons, herbs, and more. It’s a convenient, fun way to ensure you always have affordable fresh produce on hand to nourish your family and to safeguard your health and that of your loved ones. We have two at home, growing outside during summer and fall, and inside during winter and spring (we live at 7000 ft. in the Rockies!)

How do you get your 10 – 13 servings a day? Are you, like us, using Juice Plus+ to bridge the gap?

Urban Farming in the Classroom grows a Brighter Future

When you combine education, job training and entrepreneurial skills, food production, and community enhancement, and throw in a little food activism and awareness of the health/diet connection, great things can happen, as educator and inspirational community activist Stephen Ritz has shown.

It’s one thing to take kids from average middle class backgrounds, living in suburbia, and introduce them to gardening and food production as an adjunct to their classroom experience, but it’s another thing entirely to do so in the south Bronx, where kids live in one of the poorest, most disadvantaged, communities in the US. But thanks to the hard work and dedication of people such as Ritz, and his Green Bronx Machine, at-risk youth are learning to not only grow vegetables and herbs right in their neighborhoods and classrooms, but are also gaining valuable experience, training, and job skills by working in an up-and-coming industry, urban farming.

When we learned about the work being done by Ritz and his programs, and how learning about caring for plants and growing food for their classmates and neighbors has led to a much brighter future for everyone involved, what struck us was that, if he can do it in the south Bronx, then those of us living and working in other, more affluent or progressive, areas, can do it as well, helping to grow better outcomes and build stronger and more resilient communities.

“Green Bronx Machine was born of the belief that we are all AMER-I-CANS! Together, we can grow, re-use resources and recycle our way into new and healthy ways of living; complete with self sustaining local economic engines. Inclusively and collectively, each and every member of our society offers a unique perspective with unlimited potential. Together, we can move those who are “apart from” society to become “part of” the driving force behind new solutions benefiting all of us.”

The idea for the Green Bronx Machine came, as many ventures do, from an unexpected angle, when someone sent Ritz a box of daffodil bulbs, which neither he (not being a gardener), nor his kids, knew what to do with. After being stuck behind a radiator in his classroom, for lack of a better place to put them, the daffodils began growing and blooming, at which point the kids in his class got some wild ideas about what to do with them (the boys wanted to give them to the girls for favors, and the girls wanted to give them to other girls, and all of the kids wanted to sell them for money).

Ritz and his class ended up cleaning up a struggling community garden, and planting some 15,000 daffodil bulbs there, which made him realize that he was onto something good, and was the start to his Green Teen Project. An effort by Ritz’ classroom to grow more plants and food in a vacant lot, while a worthwhile endeavor, was fraught with difficulties, as the produce tended to disappear when it was ripe, but a connection he made with people at Green Living Technologies, which used ‘living walls’ grown with LED lights, gave him the ability to move these gardens inside the classrooms and schools, where they could grow food, as well as hope, for these kids.

His group of students, most of whom were marginal or homeless students with criminal backgrounds or learning disabilities, or both, ended up becoming more engaged in school, and wanting to come to class, and the most promising of them were able to get training and be certified in urban farming technology and green building, which led them to taking on private commissions for green walls and roofs.

By collaborating with other local organizations, the Green Bronx Machine has now built over 100 school gardens around New York, which produce food for not only school cafeterias, but also for food pantries and shelters, while also teaching the students about science and math and business, and giving them a leg up for their own future.

Part of what we find inspiring about the story of the Green Bronx Machine, other than the obvious benefits of engaging kids in growing their own food, is that it’s not a top-down solution that imposes a solution from the outside, but rather an inclusive and bottom-up initiative that can bring people together for the common good. As Ritz says, it’s an “us” moment.

“We can come together around this. This is an “us” moment. As a parent, local resident, educator, and citizen, the intention behind all I do is simple: It is easier to raise healthy children than to fix broken men.”

Here’s Ritz’ inspiring talk at our recent Juice Plus+ Conference, which I dare you to watch without getting goosebumps and running right out and starting your own version of this transformational program in your own neighborhood!

As you saw in that video, Ritz has embrace our Tower Garden technology. Why don’t you?!

Mystery Illness Hits More than 1,000 Children

Doctors are concerned a mystery virus that’s sickened more than 1,000 children could become a nationwide outbreak.

Symptoms start out like the common cold but then quickly get worse, sending kids to the hospital because they can’t breathe.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention suspects it’s a rare virus called Human Enterovirus 68, but it hasn’t been officially identified yet. “This could just be the tip of the iceberg” says the CDC. There is no vaccine for it.*

“We’re in the middle of looking into this. We don’t have all the answers yet,” Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, told CNN.

At least 10 states have contacted the CDC about similar cases. A hospital in Colorado has seen more than 900 patients so far and one in Kansas City has reported more than 300 cases.

Doctors say children under 5 years old and those with asthma are the most vulnerable.

* Better than a vaccine: let’s build our kids’ immune systems starting today!

New Program Prescribes Veggies Over Medicine to Combat Childhood Obesity

A new program underway in Louisville is working to combat childhood obesity and related diseases by providing prescriptions for fresh produce, rather than medicine.

The first “Veggie Rx” class started last month, and nine families are taking part. The six-week program includes hands-on cooking classes, discussions on nutrition and food justice and physical fitness. And every participant gets six weeks of free produce.

The program is run by New Roots, a local non-profit that also runs Fresh Stops around Louisville. The Fresh Stops provide local produce on a sliding scale to communities that might otherwise have limited access.

New Roots Executive Director Karyn Moskowitz says Veggie Rx has the potential to change a family’s eating habits, and address health problems at the core. “We see this as a huge leap forward, especially for practitioners who have been prescribing medication very often for the symptoms of diet-related illnesses,” she said.

“What we’re saying is let’s swim upstream together and be able to prescribe food as medicine and prescribe five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, in order to prevent having diet-related illnesses in the first place.”

The program is open to all families, but a main caregiver must commit to attending six consecutive weeks of two-hour classes. Each family also must have one child between the ages of 6 and 13, though older and younger children are also welcome to attend.

After the six-week program is over, Moskowitz says the hope is that families keep participating in Fresh Stops and buying local produce. “So not only are we introducing them to our hands-on cooking class and physical fitness, but we’re introducing them to the whole Fresh Stop concept and the Fresh Stop community,” she said.

When it comes to children’s health, parents want a healthy child and a smart child. Dr.  Bill Sears spoke to this topic recently in Memphis, TN; this was his advice:gofishgoblue

Tips For Pleasing the Picky Eater (no, not your husband!)

This article is by our favorite pediatrician, Dr. Bill Sears.

When our first few children were toddlers, we dreaded dinnertime. We would prepare all kinds of sensible meals composed of what we thought were healthy, appealing foods. Most of these offerings would end up splattering the high-chair tray and carpeting the floor. To make matters worse, we took our kids’ rejection of our cuisine personally, sure that this was a sign of parental lapse on our part. What was wrong? Why were these kids such picky eaters?

Why toddlers are picky. Being a picky eater is part of what it means to be a toddler. We have since learned that there are developmental reasons why kids between one and three years of age peck and poke at their food. After a year of rapid growth (the average one-year-old has tripled her birth weight), toddlers gain weight more slowly. So, of course, they need less food. The fact that these little ones are always on the go also affects their eating patterns. They don’t sit still for anything, even food. Snacking their way through the day is more compatible with these busy explorers’ lifestyle than sitting down to a full-fledged feast.

Learning this helped us relax. We now realize that our job is simply to buy the right food, prepare it nutritiously (steamed rather than boiled, baked rather than fried), and serve it creatively. We leave the rest up to the kids. How much they eat, when they eat, and if they eat is mostly their responsibility; we’ve learned to take neither the credit nor the blame.

Toddlers like to binge on one food at a time. They may eat only fruits one day, and vegetables the next. Since erratic eating habits are as normal as toddler mood swings, expect your child to eat well one day and eat practically nothing the next. Toddlers from one to three years need between 1,000 and 1,300 calories a day, yet they may not eat this amount every day. Aim for a nutritionally-balanced week, not a balanced day.

All this is not to say that parents shouldn’t encourage their toddlers to eat well and develop healthy food habits. Based on our hands-on experience with eight children, we’ve developed 17 tactics to tempt little taste buds and minimize mealtime hassles.

1. Offer a nibble tray. Toddlers like to graze their way through a variety of foods, so why not offer them a customized smorgasbord? The first tip from the Sears’ kitchen is to offer toddlers a nibble tray. Place the food on an easy-to-reach table. As your toddler makes his rounds through the house, he can stop, sit down, nibble a bit, and, when he’s done, continue on his way. These foods have a table-life of an hour or two.

2. Dip it. Young children think that immersing foods in a tasty dip is pure fun (and delightfully messy). Dips serve equally well as spreads on apple or pear slices, bell-pepper strips, rice cakes, bagels, toast, or other nutritious platforms.

3. Spread it. Toddlers like spreading, or more accurately, smearing. Show them how to use a table knife to spread cheese, peanut butter, and fruit concentrate onto crackers, toast, or rice cakes.

4. Top it. Toddlers are into toppings. Putting nutritious, familiar favorites on top of new and less-desirable foods is a way to broaden the finicky toddler’s menu. Favorite toppings are yogurt, cream cheese, melted cheese, guacamole, tomato sauce, applesauce, and peanut butter.

5. Drink it. If your youngster would rather drink than eat, don’t despair. Make a smoothie together. Milk and fruit – along with supplements such as juice, egg powder, wheat germ, yogurt, honey, and peanut butter – can be the basis of very healthy meals.

6. Cut it up. How much a child will eat often depends on how you cut it. Cut sandwiches, pancakes, waffles, and pizza into various shapes using cookie cutters.

7. Package it. Appearance is important. For something new and different, why not use your child’s own toy plates for dishing out a snack? Our kids enjoy the unexpected and fanciful when it comes to serving dishes – anything from plastic measuring cups to ice-cream cones.

8. Become a veggie vendor. I must have heard, “Doctor, he won’t eat his vegetables” a thousand times. Yet, the child keeps right on growing. Vegetables require some creative marketing, as they seem to be the most contested food in households with young children. How much vegetables do toddlers need? Although kids should be offered three to five servings of veggies a day, for children under five, each serving need be only a tablespoon for each year of age.

9. Share it. If your child is going through a picky-eater stage, invite over a friend who is the same age or slightly older whom you know “likes to eat.” Your child will catch on. Group feeding lets the other kids set the example.

10. Respect tiny tummies. Keep food servings small. Wondering how much to offer? Here’s a rule of thumb – or, rather, of hand. A young child’s stomach is approximately the size of his fist. So dole out small portions at first and refill the plate when your child asks for more. Use what we call “the bite rule” to encourage the reluctant eater: “Take one bite, two bites…”

11. Make it accessible. Give your toddler shelf space. Reserve a low shelf in the refrigerator for a variety of your toddler’s favorite (nutritious) foods and drinks. Whenever she wants a snack, open the door for her and let her choose one.

12. Use sit-still strategies. One reason why toddlers don’t like to sit still at the family table is that their feet dangle. Children are likely to sit and eat longer at a child-size table and chair where their feet touch the ground.

13. Turn meals upside down. The distinctions between breakfast, lunch, and dinner have little meaning to a child. If your youngster insists on eating pizza in the morning or fruit and cereal in the evening, go with it – better than her not eating at all.

14. Let them cook. Children are more likely to eat their own creations, so, when appropriate, let your child help prepare the food. Use cookie cutters to create edible designs out of foods like cheese, bread, thin meat slices, or cooked lasagna noodles. Give your assistant such jobs as tearing and washing lettuce, scrubbing potatoes, or stirring batter.

15. Make every calorie count. Offer your child foods that pack lots of nutrition into small doses. This is particularly important for toddlers who are often as active as rabbits, but who seem to eat like mice.

16. Count on inconsistency. For young children, what and how much they are willing to eat may vary daily. As a parent in our practice said, “The only thing consistent about toddler feeding is inconsistency.” Try to simply roll with these mood swings, and don’t take them personally.

17. Relax. Sometime between her second and third birthday, you can expect your child to become set in her ideas on just about everything – including the way food is prepared. Toddlers have a mindset about the order of things in their world. Any alternative is unacceptable. This is a passing stage.

Read the full article here.

Dr. Bill Sears and his son Jim are great proponents of Juice Plus+.

Researchers Unveil Six Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention

Six dietary guidelines – more aggressive than previous cancer prevention advice – was unveiled in the June 30 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The cancer prevention guidelines, emphasizing a diet rich in plant-based foods, such as soy beans and cruciferous, allium, and carotenoid vegetables, are based on the principle that diet changes are justified, even when evidence on certain issues are up for debate. The recommendations urge the same kind of precautionary approach health experts took against tobacco decades earlier, before smoking bans were enforced, and warn about the association between cancer and alcohol, red and processed meats, dairy products, and carcinogens in well-cooked meats, including beef, poultry, and fish.

“The key recommendation is to build meals around fruits, vegetables, and legumes,” says study author Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Plant-based foods provide an antioxidant boost and help promote a healthy weight, reducing the risk for all types of cancer in the long run.”

The six dietary recommendations to reduce risk of several types of cancer are:

1. Limit or avoid dairy products to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Findings: Consuming thirty-five grams of dairy protein each day, the equivalent of one large cup of cottage cheese, increases risk of prostate cancer by 32 percent. Drinking two glasses of milk each day increases risk of prostate cancer by 60 percent.

Note: Calcium supplements appear to have the same effect as milk intake. Men who supplement with more than 400 milligrams of calcium per day increase risk for fatal prostate cancer by 51 percent.

2. Limit or avoid alcohol to reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, rectum, and breast.

Findings: One drink per week increases risk of mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancers by 24 percent. Two to three drinks per day increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.

Note: The alcohol itself (rather than additives) appears to be the cause of cancer, and all types of alcoholic beverages (wine, beer, and spirits) are problematic.

3. Avoid red and processed meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.

Findings: Each 50-gram daily serving of processed meat, equivalent to two slices of bacon or one sausage link, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Each 120-gram daily serving of red meat, equivalent to a small steak, increases risk of colorectal cancer by 28 percent.

Note: The heme iron, nitrites, heterocyclic amines, and overabundance of essential amino acids in red and processed meats are all believed to contribute to cancerous cell growth in the body.

4. Avoid grilled, fried, and broiled meats to reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

Findings: Four types of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are associated with cancer of the colon and rectum. HCAs form from creatine and amino acids in cooked skeletal muscle, increasing with higher cooking times and higher temperatures. When ingested, HCAs can disrupt DNA synthesis.

Note: In addition to the cancers listed above, HCAs are also associated, to a weaker extent, with cancers of the breast, prostate, kidney, and pancreas.

5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer

Findings: Evidence from Asian and Western countries shows that soy products are associated with reduced cancer risk. Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein, equivalent to half a cup of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence have a 43 percent reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared with women who consume 1.7 grams.

Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about 30 percent.  U.S. populations show similar findings: the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products, the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.

Note: When choosing soy products, opt for natural forms, such as edamame, tempeh, or organic tofu, as opposed to soy protein concentrates and isolates, common in powders and pills.

6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several common forms of cancer.

Findings: Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers.

Women who consume the most carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, lower their risk of breast cancer by 19 percent. Overall, women who consume the highest quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce breast cancer risk by 11 percent.  A high intake of tomato products has been shown to reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27 percent. Garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric cancer, while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.

Note: Some components in soybeans, green tea, turmeric, grapes, tomatoes, and other plant foods have the ability to regulate apoptosis (a natural process for destroying unhealthy cells), an important pathway for cancer prevention.

six dietary guidelines for cancer prevention
Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention (PDF)

“There’s considerable benefit–and no harm—in loading up with plant-based foods,” notes study author Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Large bodies of research show fruits, vegetables, and legumes offer a variety of protective properties, so why not move these foods to the center of our plates?”

The World Health Organization states that a significant percentage of cancers can be prevented by following a healthful diet, avoiding tobacco, leading an active lifestyle, and limiting alcohol intake.

It’s heartwarming to know that the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX has demonstrated that adding Juice Plus+ and the Juice Plus+ Complete whole-food based shake mix helped ovarian cancer patients achieve a 10-a-day regimen of fruit and vegetable consumption, with significant health benefits resulting.