Friday, November 5, 2010

Wake Up Call For Parents!

It's 8:00 am, do you know what's happening in your child's body? OK, disregard the time, I was just trying to get your attention. Actually, look at the time...and realize that it is never too late to start your child on the road to good health! People ask me all the time: "Iva, why do you do this? Why do you send all these messages about nutrition out? Why did you write a book about being healthy? Why?" I have a very simple answer for you. I love my kids. I love my kids and I know you love yours. We want the best for our children and shouldn't that include the best nutrition? Would you buy your teenager a car that you knew was unsafe? Then why feed him or her food that is unsafe?? I'm not even talking about GMOs or pesticides or any of that...yet. I'm talking about sugar, fat, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils...there is so much scary, scary stuff out there that is in our food and going into our children's bodies! If you think it has no effect on their health, you're wrong. Sorry to tell you, but you are just plain wrong. Just take a look at type 2 diabetes, alone.

Type 2 diabetes used to be called "Adult onset" diabetes because it usually hit in the mid 30's to 40's. There has been an incredible jump in the number of type 2 diabetes cases...and it's been in children. Yes, that's right, it is no longer adult onset - it's happening in our kids. Why is that important? What's the difference between type 2 and type 1?

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Type 1 diabetes (formerly called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes) results when the pancreas loses its ability to make the hormone insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the person's own immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Once those cells are destroyed, they won't ever make insulin again.

There is no way to prevent a child from getting type 1 diabetes, there is no known cause, it just happens.

Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes) is different from type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes results from the body's inability to respond to insulin normally. Unlike people with type 1 diabetes, most people with type 2 diabetes can still produce insulin, but not enough to meet their body's needs.

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented! There are ways to safeguard your child from this dangerous disease! The Mayo Clinic suggests:

* Make sure kids eat a healthy diet. Encouraging your kids to eat low-fat, nutrient rich foods -- like whole-grain cereals and breads, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean proteins -- can help prevent excessive weight gain, a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

* Limit sugary foods and beverages. Consuming lots of sugar-filled foods and beverages -- like sodas, juices, and iced teas -- also can lead to excessive weight gain.

* Encourage increased physical activity. Staying active and decreasing the amount of time spent in sedentary activities -- like watching TV or playing video or computer games -- can also reduce the risk of weight gain and help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Being active can be as simple as walking the dog or mowing the lawn. Try to do something that gets you and your kids moving every day.

So ask me again, why I write about health, why I tweet about nutrition, why I wrote a book about being healthy...I wrote it out of love for our kids.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Food and Your Mood

I was talking recently to a friend who has three children. She was telling me about how she had terrible post-partum depression with each of her births. It got to be so bad that her obstetrician suggested that she go on an anti-depressant. Well, as a breast-feeding mommy, she was wary of medications and how they would affect her baby, so she did some research and she talked to some mommy friends and one friend suggested a book to her that changed everything.

Before I tell you the name of this book, let me ask - how many of you have experienced that midday slump? You know, the one around 2pm where you just want to fall asleep? How many of you have unexplained surges in your temper, when you know that you shouldn't be mad about something, but for some reason you just can't control the anger? What about self-esteem issues, anybody suffer from those? Do you think you are lazy? Are you exhausted, but don't know why? What about the blues, do any of you just get sad for seemingly no reason? Well, there IS a reason and it's on your plate! What we eat affects more than just our waistlines, ladies - it affects our moods as well! You don't have to feel this way. So many people come up to me and ask how I can be so positive all the time. I will tell you it's not that I just have a "sunny disposition"; it's in the way I choose to eat.

White flour, white rice, white pasta, white sugar...they need to be eliminated from your diet! The book I was talking about is called "Potatoes, Not Prozac" by Kathleen DesMaisons, PhD, in addictive nutrition. Now, I am not saying go run out and buy this book, or that it will change your life. I have not read it, I just heard about it from a friend whose life it did change. However, from what she was telling me, the premise of the book is about how what you put into your body affects your brain chemistry and your blood chemistry and can wreak havoc with your mood and your metabolism and cause you to crave even more of these unhealthy white foods. It becomes an endless cycle. You eat the white foods, you feel tired and what do you do? You go to the fridge and you look for something to boost your energy and your mood. What is it that we crave when we are depressed? Ice cream? Cookies? Cake? Comfort foods! We get a quick burst of energy and feel better for a little while, maybe we even get something done, but then what? We CRASH! The big sugar let down! We are exhausted again, we are depressed again, maybe we are even beating ourselves up for eating what we ate. So what happens? We go to the fridge again! And what do we eat this time? Carrots? Celery? Some yummy berries? Nope! We go for the soda, the pretzels, the chips...the comfort foods again! Are you seeing a pattern here, ladies? White sugar, white flour, white, white, white! Get rid of it!

OK, now there are some of you who are saying "But Iva, I don't eat that stuff and I still feel moody, depressed or exhausted!" Well, then it's time to look further into your diet. If you have gotten rid of the overt sugar and white flour and such in your diet, it's time to look for the covert suckers! They hide from you in seemingly innocuous places. Ketchup - loaded with sugar; wheat breads - most on the market are made with wheat flour...that's white people! You have to look for "whole grain" if you want to get away from the white. The so-called power bars - they are filled with several types of sugar. You can be eating "healthy" and sabotaging yourself without even knowing it! These foods trigger cravings for more of the same unhealthy white foods and it becomes an endless cycle!
It does the same to our kids. We let them snack on this junk and then we wonder why they can't stop running around, hitting each other and swinging from the chandelier! Or we wonder why they need to sit around watching TV all day or playing their video games. It's hidden in the food we feed them. Do you want to be healthy? Do you want your kids to be healthy? Then your job is simple...get the white out! Now, nobody is saying it's going to be easy (simple, yes...easy, no)! Going back to my friend for a minute, she told me that the end result was that she was no longer depressed, that her weight came off and stabilized, that she was able to boost her energy and take care of her family and herself. BUT - it was hard work. There were withdrawal symptoms that sometimes were worse than what she was going through while she was eating badly. But she knew that the end result would be a happier, healthier mommy...and one that would understand how to feed her family to keep them healthy and energized. She was lucky enough to have a buddy to talk to and to cry to when she was feeling her worst. So nobody is telling you that turning Mrs. Hyde back into Dr. Jekyll is going to be easy. There are steps that you need to take to ensure that you can do this, but it all starts with taking a good look at what you put in your mouth! Now, any of you who are snacking right now...did you just put the cupcake down?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Trick or TREAT Becomes Trick or CHEAT

When trick or TREAT becomes trick or CHEAT
by Iva Young on 10/14/10

When does having a treat become cheating?

Does it have to do with what the food is?

The calorie count?

The amount of carbs?

The amount of sugar?

Does it have to do with your age?

Your health?

Your weight?

How about the frequency with which you "treat" yourself?

Or the amount of food you consider a treat?

Or is it all about perception? What one may perceive as a treat can be seen as a cheat by another. One candy bar, once a week can be a treat, when you are on your fifth candy bar of the day...definitely a cheat. A small bowl of ice cream for dessert at night...a treat; a whole carton of ice cream...a cheat! If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is portion size! The amount of treat you allow yourself and the frequency with which you treat yourself can change your "treat" into a full blown "cheat". The key here is moderation. A little bit of something "naughty" every once in a while is a fine treat, but when you go overboard often, that's just flat out cheating on your health plan. If you feed yourself filling, healthy foods, then having a treat once in a while it is just that - a treat. If you eat empty calories and junk all the time, then you are just cheating yourself out of years of your life, as far as I am concerned.

So, how do we control this urge to CHEAT? One thought is to give yourself permission to cheat once a week. I have a friend who follows a healthy eating plan all week, but allows herself one cheat day to eat whatever it is she is craving. Now that is not to say she goes overboard and eats a whole cake! But she gives herself permission to have that piece of cake that she wants, not just a sliver, but a whole piece - once a week. She finds it is much easier to stay on her eating plan when she knows that in x amount of days; she can have what she is craving.

There is also the school of thought that there is no such thing as "cheating". If you view your way of eating as a healthy lifestyle, and not as a diet, then there is no "cheating". The "cheating" part only matters if you don't go right back to eating healthy. If it kicks you off track and you don't resume your healthy way of eating then you are cheating yourself out of good health. In this case then, I don't think I would call it cheating so much as "falling off the wagon". In this scenario, if you have something you are "not supposed to" then it is just a case of moderation. A little bit of everything, once in a while. A good example of this would be that once a year state fair, you know the one...the one with the deep fried Twinkies. If you indulge in something that is not "of the best nutritional value" at the fair once a year, would you call that a treat or a cheat? Here we go back to the concept of perception. If you are living a healthy lifestyle and you allow yourself a little something yummy once in a while, regardless of its nutrient value, then I would say that you are treating yourself. However, if you are on a "diet" (which is an event, by the way, not a lifetime commitment to health) and you let yourself have that yummy treat at the fair, then you might perceive that as a cheat.

Maybe it's not a matter of perception after all, but a matter of commitment to your health...think about it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What A Rush!

Runner's high, chocolate coma,'s called so many different things. But what is it? What causes that delicious sensation after sex or eating chocolate? What makes you run that extra mile just when you thought you couldn't take another step? Is it something that comes from deep, down inside you? In a way, yes!

What it is is an endorphin rush and there is a physiological cause for it. Endorphins are small chains of amino acids that are produced in the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. They resemble opiates when they attach to the sedative receptors in our brains. Endorphins can do many things. They can help block out severe pain when there is too much stressing the system, they can help control cravings for addictive substances, and they can help control stress and frustration. Endorphins are the "rush" you feel when you skydive or race cars, they are with you on every roller coaster ride and in that scary movie that you love so much. They are the driving force behind bungee jumping.

So why am I telling you this? Because...certain foods can induce endorphins! So can exercise! See where I am going with this?? Being healthy isn't just good for you, it can be a RUSH! Do you know of someone who just can't go a day without running or going to the gym? How about a friend who is "addicted" to chocolate or spicy foods? There is a good reason behind this. You guessed it! Endorphins! There are at least 20 different endorphins made in the human body. The one that seems to be brought on by exercise is called Beta-Endorphin; that's the one we're going for here!

So, how do you get your body to increase the production of this wonderful polypeptide? Endorphins can be produced by:



*Deep breathing

*Spicy food (hot peppers - the hotter they are, the more endorphins are produced)


*Chiropractic adjustment

*Chocolate (Dark of the many wonderful health benefits!)



I could go on, but I think I would rather go for a run and then get some spicy food and dark chocolate!

Seriously, though...this is why when we are down in the dumps we tend to look for something chocolate, ladies! And yes, I have an ulterior motive here, too. If we want chocolate because of the endorphin rush...what else can we do to get that rush without going and eating a pound of chocolate? C'mon now, you know this...look at the list! We can meditate...we can laugh...we can get a massage...we can have sex! (yes, I left that one for last for the effect) So, when you are in need of an endorphin rush, you can exercise those blues away. You may not feel like doing it when you start out, but when you are done...what a RUSH! You will feel so much better about yourself than you will if you eat a whole chocolate bunny. many of us binge then beat ourselves up for it? There is a reason you are's a need for endorphins. The cure for that is to find those peppy polypeptides somewhere else. Now, I'm not saying you need to go out and bungee jump, but try taking a walk, going for a run, joining a yoga class...and if you still find after that that you need a little more of that euphoric feeling --THEN go have that piece of dark chocolate you wanted. All you will need by then is ONE!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Someone has to say STOP!

Growing up, many of my friends thought that vegetables came in a can.... no, seriously, THEY DID! Vegetables were supposed to be mushy, and mostly gray. They were tasteless globs that sat on their plate, untouched and unloved...poor veggies! They came from a can, got warmed in a microwave and sat untouched and uneaten on their plates, their final destination: the garbage disposal. Their parents tried to get them to eat them; they threatened, they pleaded, they covered them with Velveeta, but to no avail!

So what was wrong with the veggies we grew up on? They weren't FRESH. They were processed and salted and shoveled into cans that sat on shelves for months, sometimes years! Who wants to eat that???? Seriously folks, do you want to eat salty, overly processed, months old food? EWWWWWW!!!!!! So why in the world are you serving it to your kids?? An alternative to canned veggies is frozen. It's almost as good as fresh, as the veggies are usually flash frozen right after being harvested. If you are a busy mom, as most of us are, then frozen veggies can help you keep your family in the healthy veggie business.

We do what we learn, what we grow up with, what we are used to as the norm. If you grew up on veggies from a can, then you are probably pleading with your kids to eat the mushy peas on their plates. Peas come in PODS, people! Buy them fresh, let the kids help take them out of the pods (yes, they will actually think this is fun), let them taste them raw...then steam them, lightly, just a bit to warm them, but not enough to take the crunch out of them. Yes! Peas have a crunch! Most vegetables can be eaten raw and are very tasty that way. If not raw, then steam them or stir fry them lightly in olive oil. You will be amazed at the colors; veggies are not meant to be gray, or washed out, their colors are vibrant and attractive! The Skittles commercial is right in one thing: Eat the Rainbow! Vegetables come in a rainbow of colors, greens and yellows and oranges and reds and even purples and we are meant to eat them all!

It's time to put a stop to the mushy vegetable brigade. Just say NO! No, I won't feed my kids canned veggies! No, I won't microwave the veggies to death! No, I won't deny my kids the delicious crunch of a fresh vegetable prepared with love and care! No, I won't over-salt the veggies! As a matter of fact, I won't salt the veggies at all! Stop the vegetable insanity and start serving fresh, crunchy, colorful veggies...your kids will love them!

Now...don't get me started on canned fruit.......

Monday, September 27, 2010

You Don't Have To Go Bananas Over Potassium

Seriously, you don't! There are plenty of other ways to get the Potassium your body needs. You could take a supplement....nah, who wants to pop a horse pill when all you have to do is eat a balanced diet? Orange juice, avocados, tomatoes, beet greens, brazil nuts, beans....all are good sources of potassium. So why take a pill?

Potassium is considered a critical electrolyte and something our bodies need to function properly. Our bodies can't store potassium, so it is something we must get through our diet. Potassium strengthens the arteries and is essential for the healthy functioning of the brain. It helps balance out the fluids in our bodies and may reduce blood pressure as well. Potassium is important for the proper contraction of our muscles as well. There is a vitally important muscle I need to mention that if it stops contracting, we have a life-threatening problem....and that would be? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Bueller? That's right! THE HEART!!! What more important muscle do we have? Potassium is a key ingredient to the proper contracting of your heart and the pumping of blood throughout your body. Anyone feel like that banana now? How about some tomatoes? Brazil nuts? Brussels sprouts! No? Ok, I can see I have more convincing to do....

Potassium is necessary for the proper functioning of our cells and a deficiency in our bodies can lead to a decrease in the levels of oxygen in the cells. It also regulates the transfer of nutrients to our cells and helps regulate kidney function as well. A lack of potassium can wreak havoc with our bodies. Potassium deficiencies (hypokalemia) are rare, but not unheard of. The human body requires approximately 2-4 grams per day, which is easily achieved through a balanced diet. Signs of a potassium deficiency are diarrhea, sweating, muscle weakness, increased heart rate and nausea. A severe deficiency can lead to heart failure or even stroke.

Too much potassium (hyperkalemia) can also be dangerous. It is essential to get the right amount of this electrolyte and get it in its most natural form. If you are eating a balanced diet, then there is no need to rush out and get a potassium supplement. The 2-4 grams we need are easily obtained through a healthy, balanced meal plan. Potassium toxicity is rare; the signs can include muscle weakness, heart complaints, fatigue and a tingling sensation. Mild hyperkalemia will not change the rhythm of your heart in a measurable way, but moderate hyperkalemia can cause changes on an EKG and sever hyperkalemia can cause the heart to stop beating. Another symptom worth mentioning, which is rare, but can be frightening is periodic paralysis. If the onset of hyperkalemia is rapid, then, in rare cases, a sudden paralysis can occur. The cause of this phenomenon is not clear, but experts in the field believe it could have something to do with the suppression of electrical activity in the muscles.

So, are you convinced yet of the importance of this critical electrolyte? The key here is moderation. We don't want to have too much potassium but we don't want too little, either.

The best way to balance your intake is to eat....tah dah! You got it! A well-balanced diet with whole foods, not processed junk and fast fixes! Here are a few examples of potassium rich whole foods:

Baked Potato, flesh and skin
Tomato products
Beet Greens
Brazil Nuts
Whole Tomatoes
Lima Beans Cantaloupe
Soy Milk/Beans Spinach
cooked Refried Beans

Trail Mix

Dairy products
Red Grapes
Corn, sweet

Getting the correct amount of Potassium doesn't have to mean eating a banana every day (though that's not that bad of an idea); there are many other foods you can eat to acquire an adequate amount. A diet rich in whole foods will almost guarantee you the best balance of potassium without you ever even having to worry about it....the only thing you have to worry about now is not slipping on all the banana peels. Ha, Ha!!

* The recommended daily allowance for a woman 24 years and older is 1875 - 5625 mg per day.

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18 - Nutrient Lists

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stressed? STOP...BREATHE

Close your eyes, relax all your muscles, consciously empty your mind....

This is the beginning of your road to meditation. At first, meditation takes a concentrated effort. You have to remember to do so many things, how can you possibly empty your mind? The idea is to just do it. Train your body to relax, your mind to empty and your breathing to deepen. Why? Read on and find out more....

Historically, meditation dates back to the earliest known religions, although you don't have to be religious in order to benefit from the practice. Some form of meditation shows up in just about every religion's history, it may have been called by different names, but it is the same thing. Meditation has many benefits to our health. It increases the blood flow to your organs, decreases headaches and muscle tension, decreases your respiratory rate and increases the amount of serotonin in your brain. Meditation also enhances the immune system and helps curb chronic diseases along with a host of other advantages.

Meditation is a stress reliever and mood enhancer and increases the ability to concentrate and think clearly. Just a few minutes at the beginning of your day can change your outlook and your productivity. We all have our own way of relieving stress, this is only one way that you can change your health, your brain chemistry and your life in general. There are many different ways to meditate, one is not any better than the other, the key is to just do it. Make sure you will not be interrupted, turn off the tv, the cell phone, anything that could cause a distraction (yes, that means the kids too!). Get comfortable; some people lie down to meditate, some sit on the floor with their backs supported and some sit with their backs straight and in lotus position. Do what makes you most comfortable, after all this is supposed to be for your benefit, not something to do so that you can say you do it "right"! Clear your mind of any negativity and self talk; this is the time for positive energy. Some people say they imagine their thoughts encased in a bubble and floating away into the sky. Some people focus on an object. I once knew someone who had a picture of a tiger that he meditated in front of, he said he filled his mind with images of this strong, beautiful beast and felt a strength and peace surround him.

As you focus on an object become aware of your breath, of your body relaxing with each inhale and exhale. Purposely relax each part of your body until you are not aware of any tension in any muscles. Inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale through your mouth. Or you can try a rapid breathing method where you stick your tongue out like a dog and pant for 2-4 minutes, either one will increase the flow of oxygen to your brain. In fact, it might increase it so much you may feel yourself getting dizzy the first few times you try it! Some people like to chant when they breathe, choosing a specific word or phrase that has special meaning to them.

You can meditate any time, anywhere, the idea is to bring peace, relaxation and focus into an otherwise hectic and stressful day. Take some time today and try it, you might be surprised at the focus and clarity it will bring to the rest of your day.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Don't Judge a Book By its Cover, the Myth of the Super Mom

We have all heard it, most of us have even said it... "I wish I had more energy," or "I wish I could just lose this last ten pounds," or "If I could just get my kids to eat one vegetable!". We all wish we could be super mom, but super mom doesn't exist. We can look at someone and say "She does it all" but no one can "do it all". Every one of us has limits.

Super mom syndrome is all around us, we all envy someone else's energy or enthusiasm or knowledge of a subject we know little about but wish we knew more of. There's the mom down the block who has 3 kids, a clean house and works as a doctor full time. You know what? She doesn't do it all either. There's Suzy Homemaker around the corner who always has fresh cut flowers from her perfect garden on her table with her made from scratch cookies. She doesn't do it all either. There is something in each of these women's lives that they have had to let go of, something they cannot get done and have chosen not to do.

There is some good news, though. While we can't do it all, we can chose to do certain things. The key is to prioritize. A little planning goes a long way, as does a little understanding. A little knowledge can go a long way in helping you to raise a happy, healthy family. Don't worry about looking perfect, even the so-called perfect housewives can't do everything they want to do or think they should do. I have heard it many times, being accused of being perfect of being super mom or a "high-energy" mom that no one can keep up with. Trust me, it's not true. Yes, I have a lot of energy, but it comes from the way I eat and the planning that I do. My house doesn't run itself, it takes a lot of hard work and forethought to do it...and there are times I fail miserably! I have my days where I don't want to get out of bed, I want to throw frozen waffles in the microwave and I want to sit in my bunny slippers and watch tv! We all have those days, and you know what? So do it! Moderation is the key, you don't have to do everything every time! Maybe you get out of bed, put on your bunny slippers, turn on the tv, but you make homemade whole grain waffles instead. Or better yet, when you do have energy, make those waffles and stick them in your freezer for just this occasion!

There are little ways to find the time to do the things that are most important to you. The first thing you have to do is decide on what these important things are and then list them in order of importance. Now, you see those things at the bottom of the list? Throw those out, they are low priority, you can do them on occasion, when you have extra energy (ha, ha). For me, the most important thing is teaching my kids healthy eating habits that they will have for the rest of their lives. That may not be your number one priority, and that's ok! We all have different things that are important to us. The idea is to make sure you streamline and don't try to do too much, because that is when you get overwhelmed and feel like you have failed. When we feel like we have failed, we tend to give up or to beat ourselves up and that is not helpful to anyone, least of all you.

If you find that you have a lot of changes that you want to make, try making them one at a time. Make one change and keep it up until it becomes a habit, then make another change. Nobody can overhaul her life all at one time, this is when we tend to just say forget it! We look at all the things we want to do (not necessarily NEED to do) and we think we just can't do it all, so we don't do any of it. If we really want to change our health and the health of our kids, we need to do it one step at a time. The first step is to decide just how healthy you want to be, you don't have to do it all! Change white flour to whole grain, make brown rice for dinner instead of white rice, choose whole grain pastas instead of white pasta and let your family get used to all the new tastes! You will find when you start eating healthier that you feel better and your energy will skyrocket! Take your kids shopping with you and have them choose a new fruit and a new vegetable to try each week. Cultivate their tastes and they will thank you for it later.

The key to the whole thing is moderation. Don't try to be super mom, she is a myth. Be the best you that you can be and do the best you can for your family. Decide what is top priority and make those changes first, don't try to make them all at once or you will quit before you have even started!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Introducing...Iva Young

Hi Everyone! Are you ready to get healthy? I'm guessing you are because you are here, at Before I start giving you all the "secrets" to good health, I thought you might like to know a little about me and my journey.

I grew up eating traditional Croation foods, which are delicious, but high in fat and calories. All my life I had problems with my digestive health and I did not know why! Now I am not blaming my family, we do what we know, right? My mom is a great cook and we ate very well, but we did not eat very healthfully. Once I discovered that this was my problem, I went right to work to find out everything I could to correct the problem. I have done so much research on nutrition and exercise and I want to share it with you! There is so much information out there; it can be so confusing to put it together. I have met many moms who want to get healthy and who want to keep their families healthy, but they feel pulled in different directions by all the information that is out there. So I decided that it was time for someone to step up and make sense of it all. This is what my book Healthy Mom does. It makes sense of all the information about nutrition that is out there. It's a one stop source of information and education.

I will be writing about all kinds of different ideas and sharing so much information here on my blog. I hope you will come back again and see for yourself. You don't have to promise me that you will follow my advice, just that you will come back and see for yourself what it is all about! I guarantee that if you read the information you will want to try it for yourself!

If you want to know more about me or about my life, please watch the video below. I changed my life...let me help you change yours!


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