Oprah and Weight Watchers: What’s Wrong with it All?

Young woman dissapointed on a medical weight scale.

I recently read and shared this amazing open letter to Oprah, written by Dr William Davis, Author of Wheatbelly. This was a well written letter that explains why her endorsements of weight watchers and eating bread is contributing to the demise of our health as a culture. I won’t get into details as you can read this amazing letter in the link provided.

When I shared this letter on my facebook page, the Oprah worshipping haters chimed in:

“I follow the WW plan and find it encourages great nutrition, take your holier than thou attitude somewhere else. You are able to criticize without knowledge. How amazing!!!”

There were several other’s, one telling me that in fact I was just a fad. Sigh. As a blogger I learned to deal with and let go of hateful and fear based reactions from people. It’s never easy to hear, but I understand where it comes from and have learned to let it go.

The truth is these people are believing a celebrity. A multi-billion dollar industry that does not care about you or your health. Holier than thou? Who is the person that our culture is worshipping and following verbatim? I hate to break it to you pretty lady, but it isn’t me. I wish I could say I am making a bigger difference. I wish I could say I was reaching as many people as she is. However, I am swimming up a strong waterfall all the while grasping at slippery rocks. I haven’t drowned. I’ve touched a few lives. I don’t make much money. I just make it by. I actually care about your health, and trying to reach people to make a difference. I’m not going anywhere. I’m still swimming. I care about sustainable farming practices. I care about the health of organisms, soil, where our food comes from. I care about nutrient density, and digestive healing-the root of health. I believe that by removing processed foods and eating real food, including delicious healthy fatty foods like pasture raised bacon, you will feel amazing. By addressing core issues in your body, you can heal and lose weight.

What scares me the most about Oprah promoting WW, is the fact that our culture is so brainwashed to believe everything we see on popular tv or read in a magazine. We still believe “whole grains” are healthy because what, Oprah says so? The government food guide based on shady research funded by big agriculture and big pharmaceutical? Oprah is a HUGE influencer, and she has essentially sold her soul to the devil, for the almighty dollar. The mentality in our culture is that “Oprah can do no harm.”  You are sadly mistaken. She can, and is doing a lot of harm.

What we fail to recognize is the actual harm to our health that she is promoting. Health is not only about weight loss. Anyone can diet and lose weight. Cut calories and lose weight. Count “points” and lose weight. Diet’s fail. Someone very near and dear to me successfully lost a ton of weight following weight watchers. Then subsequently has a triple v-fib arrest. Health is about nutrient density, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Promoting the consumption of bread for money, does not automatically make bread healthy. We focus on all the wrong things. We focus on the scale. We focus on measuring ourselves and aesthetics.

 

 

Young woman dissapointed on a medical weight scale.

 

 

It isn’t just obesity that the person is struggling with. There are so many factors at play here. Hormones, sleep, microbiome, thyroid, and adrenals, to name a few. It isn’t all diet and exercise. It just isn’t. Losing weight through cutting calories and running on a treadmill is the primary focus in our culture, but that does not improve the core health of the individual. In many cases, the person is obese, yet nutrient deprived. or even skinny, yet nutrient deprived. Their cells are starving for nutrients like healthy fatty acids, magnesium, selenium, Vitamin A, and iodine. These people are hungry, irritable, and obsessed over counting and measuring their food, measuring their wasteline. Stepping on a scale. Walking on a treadmill. Wishing and hoping. Emotions running high, ups and downs. In my professional opinion, this is not health, and not healthy.

 

 

Portrait of young woman measuring her waistline

We see pictures like these depicting measuring and skinniness, and inches ^^^ This is what we idealize. Skinny does not equal healthy.

Skinny does.not.equal.healthy.

 

The truth is, it doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t.

Processed foods, sugar, corn syrup, grains, pastas, etc… these typical addictive American food items are making us sick. Yes, even “in moderation” (the most frustrating cop out of a term). Our mindset is that anything less than this is depriving. People (like myself) who actually go against this core belief system are being told WE have an eating disorder. The cultural belief is that grains have to be a staple in our diet and without them, we are depriving our body of nutrients. Little do we know that we CAN in fact get nutrients from real unprocessed foods. Vegetables contain minerals and fiber that we can actually absorb without grains. Little do we know that the phytates and lectins in grains bind to nutrients, and render them unavailable for our body. There is no money to be made in knowing this.

We fail to recognize the connection grain consumption has on our health…all aspects of our health!

“Another very important issue that you should be aware of with your reliance on wheat- and grain-based products: Be prepared to have a future of health problems. Populations who do not consume grains enjoy freedom from autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis; type 2 diabetes; hypertension; acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, and constipation; coronary heart disease; depression and suicide; and bear a far lesser burden of cancer and dementia. These are the “diseases of civilization” that plague modern humans eating modern diets, but not societies that do not consume such Western foods. With your dietary approach, you have in effect endorsed a style of eating that can, with difficulty, achieve weight loss, but propagates risk for all of these modern diseases.” -read more.

You can try to beat me down. You can keep following the big money influencers, because it’s within your comfort zone. You can keep attacking me with your fear based remarks and beliefs. You can lose weight on these diets-but it’s temporary, and you will continue to struggle with your health. I’m going to continue to teach and touch people who want to help themselves. I’m not going to let the haters beat me down. I have been in all of these places, and experienced loved ones go through it as well. If I hadn’t gone down the path I am on, I would be overweight right now, no gallbladder, on antidepressants, antacids, rushing to the bathroom after meals, and the list goes on and on. I was heading down that road. I will never look back, and I will continue to help people to move forward in the right direction.

 

About Kathryn:

 

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science, Health and Fitness from Westfield University. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling and Disability Studies, from Springfield College. Kathryn specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions.

Kathryn offers worldwide skype consultations! 

My Services

Contact Me: primalblissnutrition@gmail.com

 

 

The Real Heart Healthy Diet

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This topic is particularly important to me, as I think there is so much misinformation out there regarding heart health, and an optimal diet for heart health. Heart disease is one of the most wrongly treated diseases. Outdated recommendations are still being made by “authority” organizations and medical Doctors are still advising for eating nutrient void foods, avoiding healthy fats, as well as increasing grain consumption (which actually increases inflammation and decreases mineral absorption). In the past, I worked as an exercise physiologist in a cardiac rehabilitation clinic. I talked to patients all about the importance of avoiding saturated fats and cooking with polyunsaturated fats (PUFA oils) like canola oil, as well as eating a low-fat or fat-free diet. I use to make a canola oil pie crust and bring the patients homemade apple pie with this crust. This was the nutrition paradigm I was taught in school. Sadly, even though proven to be wrong in study after study, this information is still out there, and is still being presented as a “heart healthy” diet.

So what is the real way to help your heart function optimally through diet? Heart disease is known to be caused by inflammation. To protect your heart, you want to try to keep your body in an uninflamed state.

Let’s Learn a Little About Inflammation…

The body needs to be able to be both inflamed and uniflamed and this is done through the formation of prostoglandins. Prostoglandins are hormone-like substances that are made from essential fatty acids (EFA’s). Prostoglandin formation from omega 3 fatty acids, saturated fats, and omega 6 fatty acids help to keep the inflammation in the body balanced.

The difference between good and bad fats is not what you have been taught it to be.

Saturated fats are not “bad fats” and they are not the cause of heart disease. I think I may need to repeat this…Saturated.fats.are.not.bad.fats.

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This study done in 2009 pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease (CVD), tracked for an average of 14 years, and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke.

According to Dr James J DiNicolantonio (2014),  “Not only has the condemnation of saturated fats led to an increased consumption of carbohydrates, it has also led to several dietary guidelines recommending replacement of saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats, without specifying which polyunsaturated fatty acid (ie, Ω-3 vs Ω-6). The recommendation for increasing polyunsaturated fat stems from pooled analyses of data looking at increasing Ω-3 and Ω-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. However, a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials showed that replacing a combination of trans-fats and saturated fats with Ω-6 polyunsaturated fats (without simultaneously increasing Ω-3 fatty acids) leads to an increased risk of death.These results were corroborated when data were recovered from the Sydney Diet Heart Study and included in an updated meta-analysis.” Read the full piece here.

PROCESSED fats however, are bad fats.

Plastic bottle of cooking oilProcessed fats such as canola oil, shortenings, and vegetable oils are not in their inherent or natural form. They are heat and chemically treated thus destroying any “omega 3” properties that might have been in the original plant. They are unstable, and pro-inflammatory. They disrupt the prostoglandin balance in the body, and create…get ready for it… INFLAMMATION!

What is the root cause of heart disease again?

INFLAMMATION

So Why again is canola oil or vegetable oil bad for my heart?

Canola oil is a highly processed rancid oil. It is a chemically extracted oil, through the use of harsh solvents. Canola oil is genetically modified, and pesticide laden. Consuming these oils will actually contribute to inflammation, not reduce it.

According to Mark Sisson,

Once harvested and graded, seeds are heated to facilitate oil extraction. Most canola oil is chemically extracted using the harsh petroleum-derived solvent hexane. Even when expeller pressing is used, a process common to organic brands, the massive force of industrial presses still produces heat. True “cold-pressed” canola oil (extracted with millstones) does exist but can be hard to find and is more expensive.

Following extraction, canola oil must be de-gummed to remove unappealing solids that settle during storage. The process involves heat and sometimes the addition of acids. Next stop, the oil is then bleached and separated. Finally, the oil (known for its stench) must be deodorized through heating methods that use temperatures as high as 500 FahrenheitRead more here

 

What fats should I eat to keep my fatty acids balanced?

  • You want a nice mix of Omega 3’s, Omega 6’s, and saturated fats
  • Omega 6’s to omega 3’s should be 1:1.

Food Sources of Omega 3:

  • wild caught fish
  • grass-fed or pasture raised meats and eggs including beef
  • small amounts of nuts and seeds (most nuts are very high in omega 6 as well, so you do not want a staple diet of nuts, but rather in small amounts).

What about Omega 6?

Our typical diet is very high in Omega 6 fatty acids. We want to try to reduce the amount of Omega 6 fatty acids in our diet. Avoid all processed oils and try to keep nuts to small amounts.

 

Saturated Fat Sources to INCLUDE in a healthy diet:

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  • Coconut oil
  • Grass-fed butter or ghee
  • Palm oil
  • Animal Fats from pasture raised animals such as: tallow and lard

What’s the deal with cholesterol?

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  • All of the cells in your body need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol metabolizes all hormones and fat soluable vitamins.
  • Your body manufactures most of it’s own cholesterol and a little bit comes from food.
  • Cholesterol forms and maintains cell wall structures.
  • Cholesterol is used by the nerve cells for insulation.
  • The liver uses cholesterol to produce bile.
  • Cholesterol is also needed for your body to make Vitamin D.
  • Much of what you may think about cholesterol is wrong.
  • Cholesterol is found in the arteries, but it is mistaken as the culprit in heart disease. Cholesterol travels to arteries in order to heal the body–as a  “patch” or “bandage” to the lesions caused by underlying inflammation. This underlying inflammation is from a diet high in inflammatory foods likes sugars, processed grains, and oxidized oils.

 

What are the real underlying causes of Heart Disease?

  • inflammation
  • adrenal issues from stress
  • sugar imbalance from high carbohydrate and low fat diet
  • poor mineral intake or absorption
  • fatty acid imbalance
  • leaky gut
  • thyroid issues
  • depression/anxiety
  • obesity
  • lack of movement

 

What should my “heart healthy diet” look like?

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It shouldn’t look like a “diet”, but rather nourishing your body with nutrient-dense real foods most of the time!

  • Try to get a good mix of healthy saturated animal fats, as well as monounsaturated fats (like olive oil, and avocado oil). Use saturated fats for high heat cooking, and pressed olive oil for light sauteeing or cold use.
  • Eat wild caught fish, like salmon and sardines, as well as oysters (oysters are an excellent source of minerals).
  • Eat pasture raised animals (animals out eating their natural diet) such as beef and pasture raised chicken, including pasture raised eggs. Animals out eating their natural diet of grass are much higher in Omega 3 fatty acids, and contain CLA, a potent cancer fighter.
  • Avoid processed foods…foods that come in a box or package and are made with canola oil, shortening, or other highly processed oils.
  • Don’t fear eggs. Don’t fear animal fats from pasture raised animals. These myths have been proven wrong.
  • Manage your stress levels through yoga, mindfulness, and meditation.
  • Try to get adequate sleep.
  • Work to heal your gut through avoiding processed foods, and consuming fermented foods such as raw sauerkraut, fermented beets, fermented carrots, kefir, or kombucha tea.
  • Use your body! Get up and Move.
  • Get outdoors, and connect with nature.

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About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions.

Kathryn offers worldwide skype consultations! 

My Services

Contact Me: primalblissnutrition@gmail.com

 

5 Foods To Avoid Introducing to Children

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There are many foods out there that are marketed to parents and children. Companies produce fancy packaging, loud commercials with happy kids, and buzz words for parents like:

“part of this nutritious breakfast”

“part of a balanced meal”

“18 vitamins and minerals included”

“healthy whole grains”

We are HUGE consumers here in the U.S. and we fall for much of this marketing. Foods are even packaged to appear healthier, by using colors that consumers view as a healthy color…like earthy greens and browns.

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It’s all marketing.

Here is a piece I wrote all about the marketing of food in our culture.

Many of these processed convenience foods have added vitamins and minerals. However, these vitamins are synthetic forms and therefore are not assimilated and utilized well in the body. Real vitamins and minerals come in real food (meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats) and do not need to be synthesized or added to food.

Synthetic Vitamins:

  • Vitamin A: Acetate and Palmitate
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Thiamine Mononitrate, Thiamine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Riboflavin
  • Pantothenic Acid: Calcium D-Pantothenate
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Pyridoxine Hydrochloride
  • Vitamin B12: Cobalamin
  • PABA (Para-aminobenzoic Acid): Aminobenzoic Acid
  • Folic Acid: Pteroylglutamic Acid
  • Choline: Choline Chloride, Choline Bitartrate
  • Biotin: d-Biotin
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid): Ascorbic Acid
  • Vitamin D: Irradiated Ergosteral, Calciferol
  • Vitamin E: dl-alpha tocopherol, dl-alpha tocopherol acetate or succinate

List taken from: The Global Healing Center

 

Most processed foods in general will keep your child’s blood sugar spiking and plummeting. Your child craves more sweets and sugary foods, and never feels satiated. In the primal community this is known as being “sugar adapted”. Yes, children do need carbohydrates for energy. I’m not suggesting a low-carbohydrate diet for children. There is a huge misconception that people who follow the primal lifestyle eat low-carb. That just isn’t the case. Most children consume massive amounts of processed carbohydrates on a daily basis, and this is considered the cultural norm. Therefore anything less than that is automatically viewed as low carb. It starts with parents being told by medical authorities that they should start their baby on nutrient void rice cereal to fill them up. Next it leads to drinkable sugar laden yogurts marketed to babies, then cute little plastic toddler cups filled with finger sized crackers and cookies, then it leads to big bowls of sugary cereals. Removing these processed foods from a child’s diet and offering real food to children does not make you a bad, rigid, or depriving parent. You may feel like a fish out of water at times, but you are making the right decision for the health of your children, both now and in the future. Children can get adequate nutrients from a real food diet of meats, vegetables, fruits, and small amounts of refined sugar-free treats made with natural sweeteners. Yes it might not be as convenient as we are use to in a rush rush culture, however, the future health of our children depends upon us making changes in the right direction.

 Pictured:  Burgers On A Stick with dipping sauce!

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What are MY top 5 suggestions of foods to avoid giving to children?


1. Cereal

Any and all cereal. Rice cereal for babies, cold cereals, quick oats, etc… Here is a blog post I wrote about cereal. In a nutshell: Cereal is made with grains (usually with added sugar and food dyes), and grains are broken down into the body as sugar. Yes, you do need carbohydrates in your diet, but there are more nutrient rich sources that will not leave your child’s blood sugar to spike and plummet. Eating a bowl of cereal makes the child’s pancreas work extra hard in order to process it all. It also fills them up with little nutrients or healthy fats. I also wrote a Primal Feeding Guide for Babies and Toddlers which explains why rice cereal is not a good first choice of foods for infants.

*low nutrients

*synthetic vitamins added

*anti-nutrients that can affect digestion

*high sugar

*low in quality fat and protein

 

 2. Kid marketed crackers and cookies like those little golden fish crackers, and little bear cracker cookies, etc.

Just like the cereal above, these small toddler marketed crackers and cookies might look exciting and fun, as well as easy and quick. Kids may love the taste of them. However… for all the same reasons mentioned above regarding cereal, these crackers are full of artificial ingredients, synthetic vitamins, food dyes, high amounts of sugar, and are very low in quality nutrient-dense fats and proteins that children need to feel satiated, happy, and stable. Again, this gets children sugar adapted and reaching for processed carbs vs real food. Did I say avoid all carbohydrates for children? Absolutely not. Here is a post I wrote all about healthy snack ideas for children.

*low nutrients

*synthetic vitamins added

*low in quality fat and protein

*high sugar

 

3. Most commercial yogurts:

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Commercial yogurts contain as much sugar as a bowl of ice cream or other sugary desserts. One 8-ounce serving of low-fat or fat free sweetened yogurt can contain as much as 47 grams of sugars. This amount of sugar is equivalent to almost 12 teaspoons of sugar. People think because it’s yogurt, it must be healthy. Most yogurts should really be treated as a dessert rather than a nourishing snack or meal. It is difficult to find yogurt that does not have some or all of the fat removed from it. Fats are nutrient dense sources of energy for growing brains. However, yogurt manufacturers are still removing fat from yogurt, and adding sugar and food dye. If you are going to give your child yogurt, the best option is raw (unpasteurized), unsweetened, full fat yogurt. Plain yogurt does not contain any added sugar, but still contains naturally occurring milk sugars called lactose. An 8-ounce serving of plain yogurt still contains approximately 12 grams of sugar. This amount of sugar is equivalent to 3 teaspoons of sugar. Homemade plain yogurt that has fermented for 24 hours, does not contain sugar. The lactose is digested by beneficial bacteria, bringing the amount of sugar down to nothing. Raw yogurt has beneficial enzymes and probiotics to help with digestion, and can help colonize the gut with good bacteria. It can be sweetened with a little fruit or drizzle of raw honey.

*very high sugar

*food dye

*low in quality fat unless full fat

 

4. Kid Marketed “Energy” bars:

 

These “power” or “energy” bars marketed at kids contain a long list of ingredients that can be harmful on the gut, and contain a high amount of refined sugar. many contain as much sugar as candy bars, even organic ones. Please note… not everything that is labeled “organic” is necessarily good for your body. An organic pop tart is still a pop tart. It still contains high carb, low healthy fat, low protein. We want our kids to power up with nutrient rich healthy fats and proteins!

Here is an example of ingredients from a popular brand of energy bars targeted at kids:

INGREDIENTS: Organic Oat Blend (Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Oat Flour, Organic Oat Fiber), Organic Tapioca Syrup, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Chocolate Chips (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Organic Fruit Paste Blend (Organic Date Paste, Organic Fig Paste, Organic Raisin Paste), Organic Cocoa, Organic Soy Butter (Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Soybean Oil, Salt), Organic Chocolate (Organic Dried Cane Syrup, Organic Unsweetened Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Soy Lecithin, Organic Vanilla Extract), Natural Flavors, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt, Baking Soda. VITAMINS & MINERALS: Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid (Vit. C), Ferric Orthophosphate (Iron), Zinc Oxide, Niacinamide (Vit. B3), Beta Carotene (Vit. A), Thiamine Mononitrate (Vit. B1), Riboflavin (Vit. B2), Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vit. B6), Folic Acid (Vit. B9), Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12). ALLERGEN STATEMENT: CONTAINS SOY AND TRACES OF DAIRY. MAY CONTAIN PEANUTS, WHEAT, AND TREE NUTS.

As you can see the bar contains mainly grains and sugar (both cane syrup and fruit sugar), soy, processed oils and synthetic vitamins and minerals.

If your child is participating in sports and needs extra boosts of carbohydrates, try making homemade energy bites or balls. You simply process nuts with dates, shredded coconut, and coconut oil. Here is my recipe for Blood Orange Coconut Balls.

 5. “Whole Grain” breads:

 

The breads today are not the breads of our ancestors. Our earliest ancestors did not eat bread. Approximately 10-12 thousand years ago (note that we’ve been around for over 200,000 years in our human form) grains were introduced into our diet. Many traditional cultures did not have bread as such a huge portion of every meal. They did not eat sandwiches daily. They also knew how to properly prepare breads (soak, sprout, and ferment) so that the body can digest and assimilate nutrients from it. The issue related to bread consumption is not only just the buzz word “gluten” that we hear. Yes, gluten is a huge offender to many people. Probably more than we can begin to realize. However, there are many other components to bread that can also have an affect on our health. Breads that are not properly prepared contain phytates and lectins, also known as anti-nutrients that can bind to minerals and render them unavailable to our bodies. These anti-nutrients also contribute to inflammation and leaky gut. Leaky gut can lead to allergies and autoimmune conditions. There are proteins found in bread other than gluten that may also have a profound affect on many people. Just like cereal, cookies, and crackers, eating bread as a staple keeps children sugar adapted, and not feeling satiated.

So what can I give my child in place of bread?

Some suggestions: Applegate Farms (GF, dairy free, soy free, and humanely raised) deli meat roll-ups, bun-less Applegate Farms grassfed hotdogs usually cut up with toothpicks and dipping sauces, bunless burgers or lettuce for the bun. Almond or sun butter used as a dip for apples or carrots rather than on bread. On the occasions my children do have bread, I make sure it is the Sprouted grain kind. However, sprouted or not it is still digested in the body and broken down to sugar. Therefore, eating several slices a day would still have a profound affect on the sugar handling of a child.

*anti-nutrients

*low in quality fats and proteins

*high in sugar

*pro-inflammatory

In a nutshell… carbohydrate rich processed foods tend to be high in sugar and low in nutrients. It might not be easy to cut these foods out and replace them with real nourishing foods, but try in steps.

What are some tips to getting your children to enjoy real food?

 

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*Involve them in the process of cooking. If your child helped prepare the meal, they are more likely to enjoy eating it.

*Children love to eat things on platters with toothpicks.

*Children love to forage for food! Take them apple picking and berry picking. We also love to collect fiddlehead ferns in the Spring.

*Explain to them the reasons behind your decisions.

*Lead by example. If those processed foods are not an option, they will start to enjoy real food more.

 

About Kathryn:

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Kathryn Kos is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP)  through The Nutritional Therapy Association, and a Certified Lactation Educator/Counselor through The University of San Diego. Her undergraduate degree is in Movement Science from Westfield State College. Her Master’s degree is in Rehabilitation Counseling from Springfield College. She specialize in healing digestion, balancing blood sugar, balancing hormones, and autoimmune conditions. 

 

 

I am speaking at Paleo FX! Get your tickets here to see my talk!

 

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* Please note: This is a personal blog.  All data and information provided on this site is for informational/educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitution for professional medical advice.