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    Breastfeeding and Plugged Ducts

    A plugged or blocked duct is a milk duct that has obstructed milk flow.  The obstruction could be at the nipple, or back further in your milk duct. It can be caused by something pressing on your duct (like an underwire bra or your diaper bag or even your arm when you sleep), dried/thicker milk blocking the pore/opening on your nipple (you can see this blockage on the nipple as a white spot), engorgement (from oversupply, incorrect latch, not emptying the breast completely at each feeding), infrequent feedings (from a sleepy baby, or one who is being put on a strict feeding schedule – DON’T DO THIS IT’S NOT GOOD FOR YOU OR BABY), yeast infection, or stress and not enough sleep (hello, new mommyhood!). 


    You can tell you have a plugged duct when you have tenderness (usually) only in one breast – in one area. In my experience, I was able to recognize a plugged duct when I’d feel a generally uncomfortable area of the breast, or an overfull/engorged feeling, that didn’t go completely away after a full nursing.  The tender area becomes more swollen, firmer – like a wedge shape – warm, and painful to the touch as time progresses, and is not fully relieved after nursing.  You may have a low fever and feel generally tired.  If you experience a high fever, or suddenly feel very ill (flu-like symptoms), it is important to call a doctor, as you may have an infection - mastitis, which can be treated with antibiotics.


    The good news is that plugged ducts are normal, they don’t require that you stop or even pause breastfeeding – in fact, you should nurse MORE and more often – and they can be fairly easy to clear up. Over my nearly 6 years of breastfeeding experience (my youngest son is still occasionally nursing), I’ve had several plugged ducts, and one case of mild mastitis.  I believe mine were mostly caused by oversupply (I was tandem nursing), preterm baby who didn’t like to linger at the breast, combined with adjusting to mothering two children, and returning to work. Time, taking better care of myself, and early detection and mitigation helped me through my recurrent plugged ducts.  Over time, I’ve tried pretty much everything.




    If you determine that you have a plugged duct (ouch!), here are my suggestions for what to do:  


    1) Breastfeed.  Breastfeed.  Breastfeed some more.  It is so important not to stop nursing when you have a plugged duct, even though it is uncomfortable.  Baby is the best tool to relieve the plugged duct.  Make sure baby is well-latched, is draining the breast effectively, and nursing frequently.  If baby is falling asleep while nursing, or isn’t interested in nursing as often as you need to in this time, you can pump, or hand express.


    2) Breastfeed in different positions. Try to point baby’s chin towards the swollen area – this may mean some creative positioning, but baby’s suction is extremely effective at loosening/dislodging the clog.  You can also try lying baby on the bed, and dangling your breast down for nursing – use the benefits of gravity to help dislodge the clog.


    3) Use Heat. I had a microwavable rice bag that I’d warm (not super hot – you don’t want to burn yourself, it hurts enough already!), and place directly on the swollen area while nursing. A hot shower with water directed on the area (though this can be painful as well) can help to soothe and loosen up the clog.


    4) Rest.  You must rest, and take care of yourself. Nap with baby while nursing in side-lying position, or, play the “sleeping game” with toddler on the floor. Ask someone to help you with the housework for a few days.  Whatever you can to take it as easy as possible to allow your body to heal, do it.


    5) Pump.  When baby doesn’t want to nurse, you can pump to keep the milk moving.  I found as long as my breast felt as “empty” as possible, the plugged duct was less painful.  Pumping in the shower was helpful to me as the heat was relaxing, and pain relieving. 


    6) Nurse a Toddler. You may not have this option, but I was lucky enough to have my toddler available and willing to nurse when baby was sleeping. A toddler may be willing (& actually think its funny) to nurse in strange positions in order to dislodge the clog.


    7) Pressure massage.  I found this method to be extremely painful, yet super effective. You use the heel of your hand to apply strong pressure to the swollen area to move the plug out and down. Dr. Sears very clearly illustrates just how to do this, and I’ve followed it to the letter with success, so I’m copying directly from his website:

    To do pressure massage, start at the edge of the lumpy area closest to your chest wall. Apply pressure to that area with the heel of your hand to the point just before it becomes too painful. Hold the pressure at that level until the pain eases off. Then increase the pressure again, (without moving your hand) and hold it until the pain eases. Continue to gradually increase pressure at that same site until you are pressing as hard as you can. Then pick your hand up, move it down toward your nipple about a half inch, and repeat the pressure massage in this area. Continue moving your hand a half inch and repeating the massage until you get all the way down to the nipple.

    Source: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/t022100.asp

    8) Use a Needle. If you actually see a white “blister” on the nipple, it can be dried milk plugging the opening on your nipple, which can block milk flow and cause a swollen duct.  Sterilize the needle, then gently insert into the blister to pop it. Follow with a pressure massage and breastfeeding and/or pumping.


    9) Take Soy Lecithin. Once I started taking daily lecithin, my plugged ducts stopped recurring.  The recommended dosage is 3,600 – 4,800mg/day. Soy lecithin is a fatty acid which acts as an emulsifier. There are no known contraindications to use while breastfeeding.


    10) Vitamins.  Up your infection-fighting vitamins & herbs, like: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Echinacea, Garlic, Elderberry, and Probiotics.


    11) Pain Relief. Take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever like ibuprofen which will help with swelling and pain.


    11) Read up on plugged ducts:

    KellyMom.com – Plugged Ducts & Mastitis: http://www.kellymom.com/bf/concerns/mom/mastitis.html

    Dr. Sears - Plugged Milk Ducts: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/2/t022100.asp

    Dr. Jack Newman – Blocked Ducts & Mastitis: http://www.breastfeedingonline.com/22pdf.pdf


    Posted: Aug 24 2010, 10:25 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
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    Going Vegan

    I'm thinking about going vegan. This idea has been on my mind, on and off, for nearly as long as I’ve been a vegetarian. I’d say the first I ever thought about it, was back in the very early 90’s. But all I knew about veganism back then was that it was “cool” (the krishnas did it, you know?), and, that it was “super restrictive” (did you know they don’t even eat honey?).

    The first time I seriously considered eating vegan was when I was on a limited diet while nursing my daughter, in an attempt to help her colic & allergies. At that point, I really became vegan by default. I learned about alternatives to milk (then, soy), and then after learning of the soy concerns (like allergens, aluminum, hormone disrupters), the alternatives to soy (rice, almond, etc.). It seemed, at the time, once I got into the groove of the elimination diet, to be fairly simple. And I admit that I felt pretty healthy (though deprived of my cheese, darn it), in spite of (or because of?) losing a lot of weight.

    At that point in time, Adam wasn’t yet vegetarian, and we hadn’t decided to raise our daughter vegetarian, so it was more difficult for me to be vegan. I found that once I COULD reintroduce cheese, I did… and there went that.

    The next time I ventured into the thought of becoming vegan was when my vegetarian husband was diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol, and he severely restricted his dairy & egg intake in a (successful!) natural attempt at weight loss & cholesterol reduction, without drugs. I saw him eating a wider variety of foods, and enjoying things like rice milk “ice cream”, without feeling deprived. I’d changed all of our eating habits dramatically at that time – learned to substitute things like coconut oil for butter and applesauce for eggs in recipes.

    But old habits die hard, and Rice Dream just didn’t quite taste as good as Ben & Jerry’s.

    I thought about it once again after seeing Food, Inc. In fact, that movie has brought about a lot of changes in our diet & ways of looking at food – at the larger picture; not just how food effects OUR bodies, but how our food really gets to be food. How its production affects the earth, and the animals. We buy organic for nearly everything now – really, if I can’t find it in organic, I just wait ‘til the next shopping trip. Our milk & eggs come from pasture-raised animals. And those are big changes, yes. But, still, I can’t help but gag a little when I drink my milk, knowing where it comes from. Knowing that we’re the only species that drinks another species’ breastmilk. Is that progress? I’m not so sure.

    At this point I know there are far more reasons in my life for me to become vegan than there are reasons not to. I feel in this last year – basically since seeing that movie – I’m the closest to actually taking the vegan plunge than I’ve ever been.

    I’ve followed vegans on Twitter, for inspiration. I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. My husband is now a vegetarian, my daughter is now a vegetarian, and my son has been vegetarian since birth. I’ve been one for 20 years. All that stands between me & veganism is…

    Well, me.

    I’ve got a couple small issues. Both of which, are, honestly, almost laughable, when I really sit down & think about them.

    The first?

    My daily iced latte. I make this thing every day, and I’ve yet to find a substitute. Though, that being said, it didn’t always used to be iced latte, it used to be iced chai. But then, Tazo went & discontinued their vanilla chai, and darn it, that’s just not fair. When that happened, after frantically calling Tazo, and determining that yes, in fact, they did can my favorite thing to drink in the entire world, I switched to Starbucks double shots (one of the only things I don’t buy organic. Sigh.) – which I embellish with a bit of milk & a touch of vanilla syrup. Yes, fat, sugar, caffeine, laced with dairy – and hard to substitute with rice or almond milk, because, it already has cow milk in it.

    Every morning at work I make one, and when I don’t, I seriously feel the effects. Not just the caffeine withdraw, though I’m sure that’s part of it, but a bigger part, I believe, is the lack of having something cold to sip on while I work. It puts me in the mood to work. I don’t know what it is about it, but I’ve found no substitute, yet. I’ve tried phasing it out. Alternating with green tea. Or, just not buying it. But I get itchy for it. Like I start thinking about it in the morning when I don’t have it. And in the afternoon. And planning reasons to go to the store where they sell it, so I can get it while I’m there (thereby justifying the trip, no I didn’t solely go out to get said Double Shot). Ugh, the commercialized addiction part of this is scandalizing. It’s a personal weakness. I don’t want to give up my latte, and the thought of making it with rice milk, or some other substitute… it’s just not the same. I don’t want to change my habits – that’s what reason one really boils down to. Laugh if you must.

    So then there’s the slightly more understandable and less embarrassing reason: my children. They are vegetarian. And, it’s easy to be vegetarian – there are so many options, without too much thought. Their school serves vegetarian food. Vegetarianism in this era is an understood & generally accepted way to eat. I tell the kids about the foods we eat, why they are healthy, what the benefits are of each food (like, tofu has protein, spinach has iron, oranges have vitamin C, oatmeal has fiber), and generally, I allow them free rein in our kitchen. I don’t buy junk food, and always keep a variety of healthy snacks on hand. I don’t keep a hawk’s watch over what they eat because I know, in general, if they’re eating from their own kitchen, they’re eating healthy.

    Out of curiosity, shortly after watching Food, Inc., I bought a book, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Eating for Kids”. It’s a good book, really… in spite of the title (honestly, whoever came up with that series of books, I’ll never understand the philosophy behind making your customers feel stupid). The book has great recipes, thoughtful analysis on the pros & cons of veganism in general, difficulties you might face raising a vegan child, and the good things too.

    In reading this book, I find I’m perhaps more convinced that veganism, while the healthiest option for me – an adult who has already fully developed my sense of self, of controlling my eating – it may not be so for small children, who, some days, may decide that all they want to eat is yogurt, followed by cheese, followed by a hard boiled egg. So, I fear that by putting my children on a vegan diet, I’d be putting myself in the position of micro-managing their mealtimes. I’d want to be certain they were eating “enough”, that they were getting enough fats, B12, omegas, protein, iron, and I don’t want to have that kind of control over my children – I don’t want to pass on to them over-concern about food, I don’t want to police what goes in their mouth, because I believe in the long-run, that can backfire.

    Of course, part of me wonders if that’s not the right mindset. Can’t I just move from where we are as vegetarians, rather effortlessly and seamlessly into a vegan kitchen, and still not worry about what they’re eating, as long as they’re eating? But then, what about school lunches? Parties? Family gatherings? Restaurants? These all sound like excuses my mother might have used 20 years ago when I decided to go vegetarian. Only then, I was already 15, and already knew a good bit about food, and really could make my own decisions. It's a bit of a dilemma.

    Of course, all of the considerations over my childrens' diet, doesn’t mean I can’t be vegan myself. It’s just that in keeping things like yogurt and cheese and eggs in the house, I find myself attracted to those foods as well, particularly when I’m cooking with them. Again, it’s a matter of ease & habit. And self-control.

    So here I am, on the edge, in between. It would take just a little hop to go all the way in. But I don’t like the idea of “giving things up”, which is why I need to work on my frame of mind before I take the plunge. Going into a diet thinking that I'm being deprived isn't going to be successful. It's about making a change, and coming to terms with that change - truly understanding & believing is the best in the long-term. We’re expecting the movie, “Earthlings” to arrive this week (thanks, Netflix), and I’m secretly hopeful it might provide just the right amount of … oomph to get me moving. I’ll report back afterwards.


    In the meantime... why are you vegan? Or vegetarian? Or not? I'd love to hear.

    Posted: Jul 20 2010, 08:40 by kelly | Comments (6) RSS comment feed |
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    The Whys and Hows of A Vegetarian's Journey

    I’ve been a vegetarian for more years of my life now than I haven’t been; I’m going on 20 years without meat now. My husband is entering his 3rd year of vegetarianism, and we are raising our children as vegetarians. In fact, my youngest child has never tasted meat.  So, I think it’s safe to say I’m familiar enough with it; it’s a part of who I am.  Over the last two decades I’ve seen vegetarianism and overall awareness about healthier eating evolve; both in my own understanding, and society’s as well. I find this exhilarating and promising! When I first stopped eating meat, I’d have to trek (and I do mean trek… I didn’t have a driver’s license yet, folks) to an out-of-the-way tiny health food store to get the one brand of soy dogs that were made at the time – that tasted, well, let just say: less than awesome.  Nowadays, meat analogs (that actually taste like meat – if that’s your thing; it’s not really mine) are sold at nearly every grocery store – alternative as well as conventional.  I’ve met many vegetarians in person (not just online), I know another family raising their children without meat, my children’s school excludes meat from the lunch menu, most restaurants have menu options other than salad for vegetarian patrons, and even fast food chains have vegetarian choices (though, personally, since viewing Supersize Me several years ago, we no longer patronize fast food restaurants). The fact that meatless options are so readily available now is a testament to the increasing normalization of vegetarianism in our culture.  It only makes me increasingly hopeful for the future health of our nation!


    Often, when my eating habits come to light, one of the first questions I’m asked is, “why?” It’s a valid question, and one I’ve not really put into words, until now: Why am I a vegetarian?  In all truthfulness, I first embarked on my vegetarian journey trying to be different, rebellious, special – I was a teenager in a meat-loving household; you get the picture.  It just felt good to answer the question, “Would you like some meat loaf?” with a dramatic, “No way!” (and watch my level of coolness exponentially increase).  I even influenced one of my sisters to become vegetarian (and she still is to this day).  Of course, after a while, the act of not eating meat became far less of a conscious effort and was much more habitual, and eventually I entirely lost interest in the taste of meat. But it wasn’t until fairly recently – I’d say around the time I became pregnant with my first child (enter Supersize Me again), that I really started digging a little deeper into the whys and hows of a meatless diet. Full disclosure, I haven’t been a strict vegetarian all 20 years.  There have been points in time where I have eaten fish, even had some chicken during my pregnancy & breastfeeding years. Yet, I always tend to come back to a vegetarian diet; and strive towards a vegan (or nearly so) diet.  So why is that, after all these years?


    Primarily, I believe that vegetarianism is one of the healthiest ways to eat.  It is naturally low in saturated fat and cholesterol, high in fiber, and rich in nutrients gained from the key building blocks of the food pyramid: fruits, veggies, and grains. It tastes good and feels good to eat fresh, real foods.  Being vegetarian often forces one to pay closer attention to what is in the things one is eating, and in doing so, one reads labels and studies menus more carefully and closely, and becomes more choosy overall about what is going into one’s body.  I see all of these things as good: the more aware you are about what you eat, the better choices you tend to make.


    Secondarily, I believe vegetarianism is a more sustainable and earth-friendly way to eat. For example, it takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef (Sources: http://www.vegsource.com/articles/pimentel_water.htm | http://www.earthsave.org/environment/water.htm) compared with 60 gallons of water to produce one pound of potatoes. That’s a lot of H2O saved by not eating meat. Not to mention the land savings: it takes far more land to produce a pound of meat – via mass amounts of grain needed to feed cattle intended for slaughter (which is neither a natural nor healthful diet for cows, though not precisely the point) than it does to produce a pound of vegetables/grains intended for human consumption.  (Source: http://michaelbluejay.com/veg/environment.html) Simply put, cows consume far more food than they produce. More complexly, in order to produce the amount of grain needed to generate meat, the grain needs to be grown in large quantities (through use of pesticides and water) and harvested and transported quickly (through use of fossil fuels). It doesn’t make sense from an environmental standpoint to use so much of our precious land and resources to feed a cow, just to slaughter it for a fraction of the amount of food which could have been gained instead from planting the fields with crops intended for human consumption. Recently, Adam and I watched Food Inc., and I’ll never look at animal-derived food products in the same way.  The ideas about more vegetable consumption and reduced animal consumption being better for the planet really came into better focus for me after seeing this film. 


    Finally, and perhaps most simply, by not eating meat, I’m not directly contributing to the killing nor torturing of animals, through my dietary preference. Frankly, I teach my children to treat other beings that share this planet with us – people AND animals – with kindness and empathy; so to do otherwise when it comes to our dietary choices is a dichotomy which I’ve yet to find a better way to reconcile, than going with a compassionate (vegetarian) diet.


    So there are the whys.  What about the hows? As healthy a way of eating as vegetarianism is (heck, switch around a few letters, and you’ve practically got the word vegetable), as many celebrities who “go vegan”, as many articles that are written on the benefits of a low fat, plant-rich diet, I find that still the mention of a meatless diet causes concern, in varying degrees, from strangers, friends, and family.  I find the concern directed most particularly towards “getting enough”. In other words, by eating vegetarian, are we really eating healthy enough?  Are we eating enough protein, consuming enough calcium, getting enough iron? Honestly, I can’t say even I am immune to this concern.  How can I be sure we’re getting enough? Anecdotally, I’m healthy, my children are healthy, and after just a few months on a nearly-vegan diet, my husband’s high cholesterol came completely under control; he’s healthy & vegetarianism helped him get there.  I was a vegetarian through my pregnancies & got the thumbs up from my midwife and OB, our children’s pediatrician says a vegetarian diet is healthy, yet I still regularly revisit the issue.  I read books, articles, and ask questions.  I’m constantly learning more about eating healthier and feel I’m continually making better choices when it comes to the food we eat. I believe vegetarianism is the diet of a healthier planet, and I really do believe we’re “getting enough”.  I’ll share some of the hows; and maybe you too can join us in going vegetarian!


    I’ll start with perhaps the most common question vegetarians face:


    How will you get enough protein if you don’t eat meat?


    The short answer is: assuming one is consuming enough calories, one will consume more than enough protein – as there is protein in nearly everything you consume. In fact, the American Heart Association indicates that Americans eat too much protein & too much protein can increase health risks. However, the question really begs a longer answer, as certain foods are more calorie-dense, and some foods, while calorie-dense, aren’t necessarily healthful (even while being meat-free). Ideally, I’d suggest when eliminating meat from your diet, and attempting to maintain an adequate supply of protein (especially important for children and pregnant women), one should choose foods rich in nutrient-dense calories like fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and nuts; and limit foods which are rich in saturated fats or cholesterol (like eggs or full-fat dairy) or simply calorie-dense but lacking in nutrients (like sugars and processed foods).  If you’re looking to eliminate only meat from your diet, but not other animal products, eggs and reduced-fat dairy easily make up more than enough protein in the average diet. Eggs and dairy also contain vitamin B12 which is essential to the human diet, and not easily found in non-animal sources (though it can be sourced from seaweed & barley grass).  I find it necessary to mention that if you do choose to keep eggs and dairy in your diet, to be a bit wary. While these items are a good source of protein, they are also a source of saturated fats and cholesterol.  Due to those high levels of fat, dairy and eggs also tend to “hold onto” any pesticides, hormones, additives, or antibiotics that the cow or chicken was given in its feed or healthcare regimen.  To that end, I strongly recommend only eating grass-fed organic dairy and eggs whenever possible, keeping in mind that a hen or cow fed on healthy organic pasture greens produce eggs and milk that are richer in key nutrients. To read more about why grass-fed animals are healthier (and thus produce healthier milk and eggs), go here: http://www.eatwild.com/basics.html



    So realistically speaking, how can one get enough protein without meat? Here’s an example.  An average (non-pregnant) adult needs 0.6-0.8g of protein for every 2.2 lbs of body weight per day.  So divide your current weight by 2.2, then multiply by 0.7.  Or, have this calculator do it for you). According to the calculation above, I need approximately 38g of protein in a day. I’ve broken down my consumption of protein in an average day (you can create your own breakdown with this awesome site http://www.nutritiondata.com/), so you can see that it is possible to acheive adequate, even surplus of protein without meat in your diet:




    Bowl of Oatmeal: 11g

    Add skim milk: 8g

    Add molasses: 0g

    Half cup of raspberries: .5g

    8oz glass of OJ: 2g




    Handful of cashews: 2.5g

    Starbucks iced latte: 12g




    Tofurky (13g), cheddar cheese (7g), spinach (.5g), tomato (0g), sprouts (1g), on whole wheat bread (8g) sandwich, reduced fat potato chips (2g)


    (Note: Only at lunch, and already at 69g total protein for the day – 31g over my recommended daily value; and haven’t consumed any meat.  Now, if I were to eliminate the animal protein sources altogether (the milk in my oatmeal, the cheddar cheese slice, and the Starbucks latte), I’d be at 40.5g – already over my recommended daily value, without animal-sourced protein)




    Carrots & hummus (3g).




    Whole grain pasta (10g), with black beans (5g), sautéed Portobello mushrooms (5g), spinach (.5g), and garlic (0g), with tomato sauce (1g), whole wheat bread (4g) with olive oil (0g), and green salad (0g). 


    If I add a meat analog (say, soy “meatballs”) to dinner, I’d add another 10g or so… but even without it (I try to keep our processed soy intake low. For some links to further info on soy, see the stars, below **), I’m at 97.5g of protein for the day.  59.5g of protein above my recommended daily allowance… and that’s without any animal products.


    ** There are varying reports on the benefits and drawbacks of soy; the drawbacks being numerous, and primarily focused on processed soy, like soy baby formula, soymilk, and TVP/TSP (textured vegetable/soy protein). Here are a few articles:

    The Ploy of Soy | Soy & Hexane | Behind the Bean

    If you do choose to use soy as a meat replacement, I’d recommend only buying organic and GMO-free soy.

    For a less negative read on soy, here's Eden Organic’s take.


    So what about iron?


    Iron is a key element for health; one that happens to be highly present in animal sources of food.  However, it is also found in non-meat sources. The iron sourced from non-meat sources, called “non-heme” iron is more difficult for humans to absorb than iron derived from meat.  However, consuming vitamin C-rich foods at the same time as iron-rich vegetarian foods will increase your iron absorption dramatically (like, for instance, my eating oatmeal with orange juice or spinach with tomato sauce)


    With that in mind, here’s a list of foods that we regularly consume from non-meat sources that are rich in iron:


    Whole wheat bread


    Lima beans

    Enriched whole wheat pasta

    Black beans

    Kidney beans



    Green beans



    Sun butter

    Peanut butter


    And some accompaniments, high in vitamin C:


    Tomatoes & tomato sauce

    Orange Juice



    Brussels Sprouts


    Some other sources that we eat less often, but which are also rich in iron:


    Fortified breakfast cereal

    Black strap molasses

    Pumpkin seeds

    Miso (high in protein, iron, and calcium – this stuff is awesome for vegetarians)

    Quinoa (again, awesome)




    Here is a good article which explains the importance of iron, iron absorption, and why vegetarians aren’t necessarily prone to iron-deficient anemia.


    How about calcium?


    I bring up calcium, not because vegetarians don’t get enough. But, because though I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I still try to limit my intake of dairy products for a couple reasons: the difficulty in being able to find grass-fed organic cheese; the higher concentration of fat and cholesterol in dairy. I think it is wise in general to limit our intake of dairy products, vegetarian or no. However, in limiting dairy in one’s diet, one also limits a very available and plentiful source of calcium. Calcium is particularly important for women and children.  So with that in mind, I make sure to eat items from this list of non-animal sources of calcium:




    Leafy green veggies

    Navy beans



    Sesame seeds


    For more suggestions on non dairy sources of calcium, visit Ellen's Kitchen.


    Vegetarianism and healthy eating continues to be a journey for me and my family.  We’re always changing the things we consume, clarifying the whys and hows of our eating habits, always with an eye towards overall health both now and in the future. I’ve made food mistakes in the past; my vegetarian path hasn’t been straight and narrow. And, while I’ve strived to be closer to vegan, there are some days, particularly on my second latte of the day, when I find that goal very difficult to achieve.  Yet, tomorrow brings with it the promise of continually better choices. My greatest hope is that through demonstrating an awareness about healthy vegetarian eating my children will grow up to have an appreciation of healthy eating, to understand the benefits and drawbacks of certain food choices, and most importantly, to be healthy and strong throughout their lives.  I hope some of what I’ve written helps you make better food choices too!  Please share your thoughts, both positive and negative --- comments are always welcome!



     - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


    I shared this post on Melodie's Vegetarian Foodie Fridays Carrnival (#29).

    Please take a moment to visit her site, Breastfeeding Moms Unite

    for vegetarian recipes, and articles on natural health and parenting!

    Posted: Apr 15 2010, 18:25 by kelly | Comments (12) RSS comment feed |
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    Staying Healthy through the Winter

    With cold weather fast approaching, and the children back in school, the thoughts of staying healthy, avoiding the dreaded flu, and keeping our immune systems at their highest level have been forefront in my mind!
    So I’ve been mulling over all the things we’ve done in the past, the things we are planning to do this year, and have been soliciting ideas from my irl, facebook, & twitter friends. All this adds up to a pretty darned good list, if I do say so myself. Though, I’m sure there are plenty more things I could do better! Here it is (not really in any order other than how they came to my mind):
    (and this photo isn't me - just looked like how I'd like to feel all year 'round!)
    Fresh Air & Sunshine – Getting outside every day, even when it’s really cold, if just for a few minutes, is so important. Not only do our bodies need the sunlight so they can make vitamin D (which is VITAL to staying healthy – please read what Dr. Mercola has to say about vitamin D & sun exposure – it may change your perspective on the sun; it did mine!), but we also need fresh air to clear out our lungs from being cooped up indoors all winter day. Most of our indoor air contains pollutants – carpet fibers, paint offgassing, cleaning products, etc. So, in addition to getting outside, periodically opening the windows throughout the winter to get some “new” air in, I recommend switching all cleaning products used indoors to natural products – castille soap, vinegar, baking soda, and tea tree oil for example, or safer chemical cleaners – like 7th Generation.

    Fruits, veggies, and berries – particularly berries
    - We try to eat organic as much as possible to avoid chemical exposure, and to boost antioxidants (organic produce has been found to have higher levels of antioxidants than conventional food)! We also are fortunate to have a juicer – and try to use it often in the winter to get the most out of our veggies in particular. I believe that food is better for you when it is raw & unpasturized; though the thought of raw veggies isn’t that appealing to most – particularly kids, so juicing makes eating your veggies easy! It also helps cut down on the amt. of food wasted – when your strawberries start to get soft, or your apples bruised, for example, I just throw them in the juicer – and no one’s the wiser – but they sure still taste great! When we can’t get to the juicer, or don’t have fresh fruits/veggies on hand, the next best thing we’ve found is
    Nuriche LiVE. And we like it so much, that we decided to start selling it!
    It’s a super-easy way to make sure we’re still getting the benefits of fresh fruits + probiotics… and it tastes good too.

    - Water, of course, is important to keep everything working in our bodies & I always feel it just flushes out the toxins… the more water you take in, the more bad stuff it takes out. We have a water filter, and I’m trying to wean myself off of bottled spring water. However, while rated highly “clean”, our township water is fluoridated, so its been a mental battle for me to switch completely off of bottled spring. But I am trying! For my birthday, my good friend got for me 5 reusable BPA-free plastic water bottles: one for each day of the work week. And I plan to get the children each a
    Kleen Kanteen
    for Christmas. So this should help!

    Washing Hands
    – We use herbal antibacterial soap by
    at our sinks, and just regular old olive oil soap in the bath. We wash before meals, after going outside, and after getting back from school/work. When we’re in the car, and can’t get to a sink, my favorite antibacterial spray is Burt’s Bees Aloe & Witch Hazel Hand Sanitizer. I don’t consider myself too much of a germaphobe, and don’t chase the kids around with antibacterial spray (oh wait, maybe I do), but these two things are free from toxic chemicals like triclosan & SLS, so I feel comfortable using them.

    – Okay. I’ll admit, I do not exercise enough. Or, well, at all. Sometimes we’ll get on an exercise kick where we’ll get on our running machine & elliptical every evening once the kids are in bed but we’ve never been able to get into a real routine! The kids, on the otherhand, always get plenty of exercise – of course, they always have boundless energy too. :) Its so important to long-term health, and its important for the children to see US placing a priority on exercise. This is something we ALL need to work on.

    – Aside from the healthy foods, getting outside, and drinking lots of fluids, we also supplement our diets with the following things; most vigilantly in the Winter:
    • Probiotic – I use Jarro brand because its what I started with when my youngest was an infant & had thrush. Comes chewable for the kids, capsulated for me, and powdered which I use to mix into smoothies, sprinkle on oatmeal, etc.
    • Elderberry concentrate – we take this daily because it is so tasty, easy to mix into the kid’s water, and packed full of natural nutrients! Additionally, it has been shown to have anti-viral properties.
    • Garlic – Adam & I take garlic in capsule form, and we make homemade garlicky hummus & soups for ourselves & the kids.
    • Echinacea – We all take this two weeks on, two weeks off throughout cold season
    • Astragalus – We all take this daily throughout cold season
    • Vitamin C – We all take this daily in the form of chewable tablets, but also unpasteurized orange juice. We boost our daily intake during cold season.
    • Vitamin D – we get out in the sun every day when its possible, but even when it is, we all also take vitamin D – in the form of cod liver oil for us, and Carlsons Baby D drops for the kids. With all I’ve been reading about vitamin D lately, I’m even considering starting to regularly visit a tanning salon in the winter months. Yes, crazy, right? And I’ve never in my life tanned, and do use California Baby sunscreen in the middle of summer when we're going to be out all day in the sun, yet the more I read, the more I’m convinced vitamin D deficiencies are the link to so many health problems… and that dramatically increasing vitamin D would be the link to much better health!

    – We try to visit the chiropractor once a month. Its been a while because our favorite chiropractor has relocated to a not-so-convenient location, but we really need to go back, particularly through the winter! I believe that having our bodies aligned improves circulation, posture, and communication of the brain with the body. Basically, if our body is comfortable it can heal itself. So I’m working on finding a new chiropractor.

    - With young children I know this can be a tough one. And even WITHOUT young children, with so much to do in the evenings - internet, movies, games, blogging, reading, cleaning, working... well, getting enough sleep is just not easy. But as adults we're supposed to get 8 hours of sleep per night. EIGHT! Even with both of our children now finally "sleeping through the night", I often find myself averaging closer to 5 or 6 hours per night during the week, rather than 8 (when's the last time I got 8?!). But our bodies do much of thier healing while we're sleeping. So its another thing, like exercise, that really needs focus.

    Air Purifier
    – We've always slept with a HEPA air purifier at night. Mostly for that lovely white noise sound which is so helpful in keeping little ones asleep. But also because it removes any allergenic or irritating particles in the air while we're sleeping - and we do spend a large portion of our day in one place - our bedroom - so best to make the air we're breathing (and rebreathing) as clean as possible.

    Flu shots – I think I’m back on the fence with this one. Last year, we all got the flu shot. I had to switch doctors in order to make sure everyone got the mercury-free dose, and no, we didn’t get the flu last year. But we never got the flu any other year either, and had never gotten the flu vaccine. This year, I’ll have to special order the mercury-free one (Sanofi Pasteur makes the pre-filled vials this year) – my doctor is willing to write a script for it – because neither of the practices we visit received the themerisol-free version this year. Which is another topic for another day. So, I’m still not sure about it, or the H1N1 vaccine. I’m considering getting it for myself, but since my understanding is that they haven’t produced a mercury-free version, I just don’t know that I can feel comfortable giving this to the kids. Particularly in light of my understanding of H1N1 as not being that severe in most cases of healthy children who contract it. And because I believe that things like the flu are probably GOOD for your body in the long run, because they make your immune system stronger over time, where as vaccines only boost your immunities for a brief window. But really, I’m still just not sure.
    **Update: We've decided a definitive NO on both the seasonal flu shot & the H1N1 vaccine this year; opting instead for more vigilant adherance to the above vitamin & sleep & exercise regimens to boost our immune systems naturally!**
    In spite of all of this prevention (flu shot or no), we still do get sick. So, we take:

    Umcka – It works so well (and is all natural)… it’s eerie. Of course, it could just be power of suggestion. But even still…. You start taking it 4 – 5 times per day, AS SOON AS you start feeling even a little bit ill. And then for 2 days after you’re well. I am convinced it has reduced the length of my colds, and made them easier to weather. I give it to the kids as well (just at half/quarter dose). It IS expensive, but when you’re in the midst of a cold/flu, you do what you can to feel better. And this really does help me feel better.
    Elderberry Concentrate - Yes, I listed this above. However, when we do get sick, we take this 4x per day (1 tsp at a time for adults, 1/2 tsp at a time for kids) because of its antiviral properties.

    What I don't yet do, but would like to do:

    Find an ayurvedic doctor for all of us. Its difficult finding a regular old doctor here in Southern NJ that is even willing to honor requests like special order vaccines or understands the value of extended breastfeeding, let alone being able to find a more holistic practice. I've been looking, and am still looking. I hate feeling like we're settling for second best (or third, or...) when it comes to health practitioner, but my inquiries IRL & online for a more holistic doc in this area have so far been fruitless. I'm certainly open to referrals! I think a less traditional-medicine doctor who looks at the whole person, not just treats the symptoms, would be really beneficial to us all.
    So that’s it (just a couple things, right?)! I encourage you to add to the list anything you do that isn’t mentioned, or to tell me what I’m doing doesn’t work! I’m open to new ideas, and to improving what we already do. Here’s to a healthy Winter ahead!
    Posted: Oct 11 2009, 15:32 by kelly | Comments (1) RSS comment feed |
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