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    Please note that the information provided in these FAQ’s is from nutritionists with general guidelines and recommendations. The comments may not reflect all health conditions and dietary requirements. For more specific guidance for your medical or dietary needs, we recommend that you consult your family physician.

    Our Nutritionists Respond to Your Questions

    How do I know if my child has allergies?

    Joy McCarthy: There are various allergic responses from immediate to delayed onset (meaning, allergies that manifest 2-4 days after exposure). In fact over 90% of allergies do not pose an immediate threat making them more difficult to identify. Assess your child of these symptoms:

    – Red nose and cheeks, puffy eyes

    – Nasal congestion, asthma, cough

    – Mood swings, depression, lethargy

    – Short attention span, lack of concentration, behavioural problems in school

    – Digestive complaints (burping, pain, gas, constipation)

    These are all common symptoms of food allergies. Start first by eliminating suspect foods for two weeks and then evaluate your child’s symptoms. The most common allergens and food sensitivities (aside from food additives) are soy, corn, wheat and dairy. By removing these four foods from your child’s diet you may have an immediate improvement.

    My doctor said my child’s blood test showed no allergies, but I feel like something he eats causes a problem.

    Joy McCarthy: It all depends on the type of testing your doctor performed on your child. Most doctors will test for the immediate and life-threatening type of allergies, not the allergies that can cause the most common complaints (as noted above). If you notice your child’s behaviour or health changes after drinking coloured juice or yogurt, simply remove it from his diet for two weeks. If there is an improvement in his/her symptoms, then you’ve identified a food allergy or sensitivity.

    If I had to make one dietary change, what would you suggest?

    Cynthia Pasquella: Eat only whole foods. In America over 68% of the population is either overweight or obese yet most of these people are starving themselves to death. The foods we’re eating these days can’t even technically be classified as “food”. I refer to them as “faux food”. They contain virtually no nutrients and are loaded with fat and calories. Not exactly something you would want to sit down to dinner to, huh?

    Eating only whole, unprocessed foods just as Mother Nature intended can drastically change your overall health, aid in weight loss, and boost your energy. You’ll be amazed at what this simple change to your diet will do for your lifestyle.

    I distinctly remember one mother who come back to my office after eating only whole food for two weeks. She was in tears of joy and shared with me how before she started this program, she was so tired after work she would just sit on the couch and watch TV. Dinner was something processed or already prepared that she could just heat up quickly. She felt like a failure to her family and was suffering from depression. Now, only two short weeks later, her life had radically changed! She had the energy to play outside with her children after work, she enlisted the help of the entire family to prepare healthy, nutritious meals, and the “bedroom activity” was at an all-time high!

    She couldn’t have been happier and all this resulted from removing the processed foods containing chemicals and toxic by-products from her diet and simply eating whole foods instead. Try it for yourself! You’ll see and feel the difference.

    I feel like I am allergic to everything. What can I eat?

    Molly Chester: I am so sorry. I have been there. Before I uncovered my soy allergy, my diet seemed to get increasingly narrower. Life felt as though it was shrinking, and I was only 28 years old. So first off, give yourself a good hug from me. And know that my life got infinitely better, and I absolutely believe that yours can, too. Now is the time that we need to focus on foods that are going to really, really nourish your body. Nutrient dense foods like homemade chicken broth, quality meats raised on pasture, cod liver oil, kefir and fermented vegetables provide the tools that your body needs to rebuild. If your allergies prevent you from eating any of these foods, focus on the ones that you can eat and build out from there. Your body is so incredibly smart, and when you give it proper fuel, it can rebuild in miraculous ways. Allergies can even disappear. Some of this may sound foreign to you, so I would like to recommend three different diets from three different books that I have seen really and truly work – Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates and Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell McBride. Don’t give up. You CAN feel better.

    What product(s) should I try to reduce my family’s exposure to?

    Cynthia Pasquella: Any product that contains herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, or other chemical ingredients. Now, before you start thinking that doesn’t leave you with a lot of options, think again!

    There are numerous foods that don’t contain any of these things and are extremely nutrient dense. This means that they are low in calories but very rich in nutrients. It’s like getting the most bang for your nutritional buck!

    Consumption of the above mentioned ingredients have been linked to numerous illnesses, weight gain, skin problems, and have been shown to have effects on the nervous system, hormones, eyes, and lungs. Still want to eat that processed food that has a list of ingredients you can’t pronounce? Me either!

    By taking simple precautions like eating whole foods, choosing organic, and eating fresh instead of processed foods, you can easily avoid your family’s exposure to these dangerous substances.

    How can I stop my sugar cravings?

    Molly Chester: If you crave sugar, the number one adjustment that I have seen work is limiting carbohydrate and sugar intake while dramatically increasing HEALTHY fat intake. Not all fats are created equal. I am certainly not telling you to start eating fast food fried in refined oils. Quality fats from healthy animals and unrefined oils are prized possessions of the kitchen, more valued and therefore more expensive. If you can eat dairy, start by shifting your weekly budget to include a quality grass-fed butter. Grass-fed is the key word. And if you can’t or don’t eat dairy, try unrefined coconut oil. Here, unrefined is the key word. If you’ve never used coconut oil, try sautéing vegetables in it or simply add a scoop (coconut oil is solid under 72˚) into a morning breakfast smoothie. Though presently taboo, I also believe in lard (pig fat) and tallow (beef fat) from healthy animals raised on pasture. They were among the “superfoods” of our past, and I believe they will regain their status in our future. Once I understood the difference between good fats vs. bad fats and I increased those good fats in my diet, my sugar cravings ceased to exist. Seriously…. Gone. And not only that, but my hair got thicker. Nice bonus. One additional tip is cutting out alcohol and caffeine until your body has a chance to rebalance. It’s tough, but it works.

    Help, I can’t cook!

    Cynthia Pasquella: You can’t cook? You should have seen me when I first started learning to cook! Ladies and gentlemen, it was not pretty. We’ve all heard people say, “I’m such a bad cook, I would burn water”, well that has actually happened to me – numerous times!

    The trick is starting simple. There are numerous websites and cookbooks focused on making healthy dishes that are quick and simple. Pick out some of your favorite recipes and, as I tell my husband, “just follow the directions.” I should mention that he lovingly refers to them as “destructions” but that’s another story for another day.
    Once you get your confidence up with the simple recipes, move on to more challenging ones. I’ll be completely honest, they won’t all turn out successful. You’ll have your fair share of burning, undercooking, overcooking, and some that just don’t turn out the way you wanted them to. Don’t lose hope. Every new experience will teach you techniques, tips, and tricks for making the next meal you whip up a success!

    Healthy food is so expensive! How can I afford to eat this way?

    Molly Chester: First of all, our great country has a glaring problem right now. We spend 2x as much money on our medical bills as we do on our groceries. To the core of my being, I believe that our health care costs will not significantly reduce until each of us makes the connection between what we eat and how we feel. So part of this answer rests on your shoulders. I am asking you to please revisit your priorities and increase your food budget. If you absolutely cannot make the adjustment, I truly understand. And for you, I am so sorry that it is so expensive. There are a lot of people working very hard to try to bring attention to this issue. But until we make enough noise that our elected officials have the opportunity to act, we are stuck paying more for a fist full of spinach than a Big Mac. However, there are things that can be done right now to lower your costs. Learning how to cook saves money. Because when we cook with whole ingredients, our costs go down. Shopping from a local farmers’ market saves money. Some disagree with this, but in my experience, organic produce from a farmers’ market is less expensive than organic produce from a grocery store and conventional produce at the farmers’ market is cheaper than conventional produce from the grocery store. Yes, there are upscale farmers’ markets and upscale individual farms, but it’s just like a mall. Find the vendor that fits your budget. And there is a bonus to shopping at a farmers’ market besides fresh ingredients and lower prices. Getting to know a farmer is good for your health. It is! I don’t have a study to reference here, but if you doubt me, meet a good organic farmer and ask him or her if you can hang on their farm for a day. Get your hands in the dirt, eat a carrot pulled straight from the ground and soak up the sunshine. Then ask yourself on the ride home if you feel better than you did yesterday, and the answer, my dear friend, will be yes.

    What foods to you recommend when you work on restoring someone’s diet?

    Cynthia Pasquella: It really depends on the person. There are some overall foods that are super beneficial in restoring someone’s diet and health such as fresh, organic vegetables, organic whole grains, and healthy fats. My goal is always to get people eating more real food, less faux food. Mother Nature has provided us with everything we need to maintain optimal health, we just need to eat it. Sometimes I have clients say to me, “Is it really that simple?”. My answer is emphatically, “Yes.”.

    I’m afraid to change my diet because I don’t think I could go the rest of my life without eating dessert or my favorite foods.

    Cynthia Pasquella: Who says you can’t ever have those foods again? I firmly believe that eating is one of life’s simple pleasures and should be savored. The idea here is to take you favorite foods and make them taste just as good (or better!) in a healthier way. And never having dessert? Are you kidding? I wouldn’t make it a week! Luckily for me – and you – there are numerous mouthwatering desserts that are very healthy and satisfying. Just remember, you don’t have to sacrifice taste or pleasure for your health.

    I feel overwhelmed with all the nutrition information, where do I start?

    Joy McCarthy: It’s all about baby steps. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with the wealth of information available to you on television, the internet and in magazines. Start simple with these five tips for eating REAL FOOD:

    1. Read your food packaging labels. Avoid buying food with more than 3-4 ingredients. The simpler the better and more nutrient-dense.
    2. Buy food that doesn’t have a health claim. Real food doesn’t need a health claim. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables. Have you ever seen a sign on a bushel of apples that read: Buy me, I will reduce your child’s asthma, help detox your liver or improve your colon health? Simply stated, real food doesn’t need a health claim.
    3. Avoid foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize. This is the safest way to avoid chemical additives and preservatives that may cause an allergic reaction.
    4. Buy foods that are brightly coloured by nature means because it indicates a high level of antioxidants (apples, kale, carrots, spinach) as opposed to foods that are brightly coloured from a high level of chemicals (ie. Processed foods: artificially colored cereals, fruit juices).
    5. Ask yourself how long did it take to get from the earth to your dinner plate. The less processed foods you eat, the more nutrients you get into your body and the less likely it will contain additives that could cause health problems.

    What should we be eating?

    Brooke Alpert: In a world where so many foods are off limits to so many people either due to food allergies, intolerances or concern about the ingredients, it’s easy to get caught up in everything you should NOT eat. Instead, lets focus on everything you should be eating. It’s hard to go wrong with food that’s as close to nature as possible, if it grew from the ground, it’s likely good for you. Whole foods such as lean meats, low-fat dairy and whole grains are also part of a healthy diet.

    Should I buy organic?

    Brooke Alpert: Organic food can be costly if you don’t have a farmers market nearby. So what is worth spending the extra money on? Here’s a list for you!

    1. Organic meat, dairy and eggs. The animals that are used for these organic products are free of antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides and are fed an organic diet.
    2. Fruits and Vegetables. Certain fruits and vegetables have higher levels of pesticides than others, even after being washed. A lot of these are thin-skinned which make them more likely to be contaminated. If choosing non-organic, opt for produce with thicker skins that retain less pesticide residues.
      Fruit to buy organic: peaches, nectarines, apples, strawberries, cherries, imported grapes and pears.
      Vegetables to buy organic: bell peppers, celery, lettuce and spinach and potatoes.

    Do I have to give up my favorite foods to be healthy?

    Brooke Alpert: Absolutely not. The best thing to do first is to try to make a healthier version of your favorite food. If you love cheese nachos, try melting some organic cheese over some multigrain pita chips, have a small dollop of organic sour cream on top or add some other favorite toppings too, jalapenos and more! That said, if you really want to indulge, just do it in moderation and get right back to healthy eating for your next meal or snack!

    What are your top tips to being healthy?

    Brooke Alpert: Eat food that’s as close to nature as possible, indulge sparingly but enjoy every minute of it, try new foods often, move as much as you can and get in some quality sleep at night!

    Healthy eating is expensive, any tips?

    Joy McCarthy: Absolutely! Here are a few of my favorites:

    • Eating more local and seasonal (foods grown within 100 miles of home) is an excellent way to not only get more nutrient-dense foods but also much less expensive. There isn’t the added cost of fuel to get oranges from the other side of the country or mangoes from the Caribbean.
    • Buy in bulk. Rather than buying a small package bag of brown rice, go to the bulk section of the grocery store where it is much cheaper.
    • Watch out for sales and coupons in your weekly newspaper.
    • Focus on choosing organic for the dirty dozen foods.
    • Eat at home. You can easily make a whole wheat dinner with homemade tomato sauce, ground turkey and vegetables for cheaper than a meal for 4 or 5 of fast food. Plus, you’ll have leftovers!