Monday, September 27, 2010

Health Digest: Sept. 27, 2010

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What do you think about the extremely high price of cancer drugs?  Did you read Our Daily Meds, the book I reviewed about the pharmaceutical industry?  I have to admit that I am appalled by the cost.  What do you think about alternative treatment for cancer?  After my grandfather's terminal cancer, I have become skeptical of traditional methods.  Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Monday, September 20, 2010

TIP: Apple Fries

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What kid doesn't like french fries?  My son used to scream "FRIES! FRIES! FRIES!" whenever we would hit a drive thru.  We called it the "F" word since he would start yelling it if he heard either of us say "fries."  He even would shout "FRIES!" when we went to the bank drive up window!
My apple "fries"

Very rarely does our three year-old eat fries anymore.  In fact, as I'm typing this, I can't remember the last time I fed him any!

Our son's diet consists of home-canned applesauce, bananas, raisins, steamed broccoli (loves this stuff!), home grown green beans, occasionally peas, homemade bread, and potatoes.  He won't really eat anything else.

Last week after posting a link to tips about how to encourage kids to try new foods, I was inspired.  I let Matthew help me make "apple fries." He helped by throwing the cores away while I cut the apple into fry-size sticks.  I grabbed a "special" bowl for him and he devoured them!

He usually tells me he doesn't like apples, only applesauce.

Matthew enjoying apple "fries"!
I did the same thing with zucchini a month ago.  I cut the zucchini into sticks, put a little oil on them, and lightly baked them in the oven.  I let him eat them with regular ketchup, however, I was so proud of myself for getting him to eat zucchini!

When I was little, I remember my mom making me "octopuses" by microwaving hot dogs after cutting one half into what looked like tentacles.  I'd never feed my son processed meat, but she had a great concept: making food fun.

What ways do you make food fun for your children?  Pin It Best Blogger Tips

Health Digest: Sept. 20, 2010

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1.  It amazes me that in the midst of all the health care debate in the past few years, so little emphasis has been spent on changing the eating habits of Americans and holding the food industry responsible for part of the problem.  Why do you think no one wants to talk about preventative medicine?

2.  Today, I bought almond milk for the first time.  I'm so excited that even our small grocery stores here in the Midwest are now carrying organics and formerly "specialty" items like agave nectar and almond milk!  The nearest Whole Foods is three hours away and we have to settle for a tiny health foods store 45 minutes away.  Have you noticed a change in your store?

3.  Sugar over-consumption should be getting headlines.  Changing the name of "high fructose corn syrup" really doesn't change anything.  What ways are you cutting back on sugar consumption in your house?
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Health Digest: Sept. 19, 2010

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  • Taking a look at processed foods []


    The crab meat recall doesn't affect us since my family doesn't eat shellfish.  There is something about eating foraging animals that has always grossed me out.

Did you grow up with eating differently than the people around you?  

My husband and I have a running joke where we see if we can eat at a wedding or other social event.  I have only had pork once or twice and he stopped eating it when we married.  One wedding we went to served pork sandwiches, pork and beans, green beans with bacon, and potato chips!  We quietly ate our sandwich buns and potato chips and hoped no one noticed!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Health Digest: Sept. 16, 2010

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Fun stuff in the news today!  I am excited to know what to do if my eyeball pops out.

I'm also glad to know I'm not the only one who has seizures when listening to Miley Cyrus. ; )

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Health Digest: Sept. 12, 2010

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Did you have a cesarean birth?  What do you think about natural birthing?  Do you feel like you were given birthing choices or did your doctor tell you what you had to do?


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Friday, September 10, 2010


Best Blogger Tips You may have noticed that I post nearly every day except for Saturdays.  Saturday is my day of rest.

Many religions of the world have a day of rest.  Jews and some Christians rest on Saturdays or Sabbath. Other Christians rest on Sunday.  Friday is the day of special worship for Muslims.  Buddhists have an intense day of meditation and cleansing called Uposatha.  

Rest and renewal of the body and spirit are essential aspects of health.

Let's take a moment to look at the impact of rest on the body:
"One of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of any exercise or training program is the recovery phase, or time spent resting. It is all too common a thought that rest time is a period of doing no work, and while you are not actually doing any physical work, physiologically your body is seizing the opportunity to repair itself to become stronger in preparation for the next exercise stress placed upon it. It is during rest that the body becomes stronger." []
My spirit needs rest for the same reasons.  I need to commune with friends and family who love me and support me.  Through acts of generosity and service I become less focused on myself.  By thanking my Creator, I realize how blessed I am.  When I ask Him for help, I let go of the stress associated with feeling like I must do it all on my own.* 

I rest my body.  I never work out on Saturdays.  I do minimal cleaning and extra napping.  I try to have food ready the day ahead of time.  I don't run errands or go to the store.

After this period of rest, I am renewed.  I become stronger for the challenges the next week will bring.

I'm not saying it is always easy.  My family has a hard time resting.  I feel like I need to sweep the kitchen floor or wash the dishes. Though my body often needs the most rest, I can't sleep away the whole day and let my three year-old terrorize the neighborhood!   Even going to a place of worship can be stressful when three of us are taking turns in the bathroom, trying to get ready.

Here are some things I think are essential for a day of rest.

1.  Prayer and Meditation.  When I contemplate the wonders of the universe, stories of faith, and miracles, I find hope and my problems seem smaller.  I pray and I feel connected again.  I don't worry anymore, or at least, not as much.  My body feels lighter.  I feel rested.  If I don't take time to regularly pray and meditate on my day of rest, I don't really rest.  I end up working and worrying like any other day. 

2.  Unplugging.  By disconnecting from the internet, turning off the television, etc., I am able to listen.  I am able to focus.  Because technology links our personal lives and our work lives, we end up blurring the two and never really resting from work.   

3.  Service.  A day of rest can be the best day to work for others.  Volunteering with an organization or helping a neighbor rake her lawn can be very rewarding and restful for the spirit

4.  Family and Friends.  Reconnecting in a meaningful way with our family and friends is a necessary part of rest and renewal.  Instead of just facebooking, actually going to see people we care about fills us with energy for week ahead.  We also meet with our church family and share a vegetarian meal with them after worship services.  I try to spend the afternoon playing with our three year-old and reading to him, instead of fixing supper, blogging, or cleaning my house. 

5.  Returning to Nature.   Probably the ultimate place to refocus and realign myself with the Creator is by spending time in Creation.  Even the quiet of my backyard can be a sanctuary where I see how everything created is connected and in tune with everything else.  Picnics, hikes, or even just scenic drives can be very soothing to the senses.  

6.  Preparation.  In order to really rest, I have to prepare first.  I make food ahead of time so I don't have to cook.  We buy whatever we need in advance to ensure we don't have to worry about shopping.  We also have little rituals for our family, like putting out a special tablecloth, lighting a candle which is only used on Saturday, and using the family silver and china.  All of these things take a little extra work, but they really enhance our day of rest.

I don't believe any of these things save me, but they do help me reconnect with the One who does.  I want us to rest like this every week, though often I get distracted or we get too busy to spend a day for renewal.  I hope that each week we get a little closer to resting like we should.  When my family has a day of rest, the entire week is better.  We accomplish more.  The stress level doesn't get quite as high.  We are kinder, more generous, and care for our bodies a little better.

Speaking of preparation, I have lots to do before sundown! 

Do you have any time that you set away as sacred for worship, time with family, or time in nature?  What do you do to help make sure that happens?  Do you have rituals for that day?

(*I really don't think God has a gender, but "Him" is what most are familiar with.)Pin It Best Blogger Tips

JOURNAL: Steps to Change

Best Blogger Tips Like I keep writing, this blog is about my journey.  No, I'm not there yet, and neither is my family.  My three year-old and I are mostly vegan, my husband is about 50% vegetarian, and we have a 19 year-old omnivore roommate.  If I decided to go 100% raw with my family, I would get locked in the closet while they went out for cheeseburgers and fries!

However, I still take steps toward health and wellness.  Little transitions can make a difference in our health.  Here are some examples of steps we have taken.   

  1. From POP to TEA. My husband almost refuses to drink water.  For a while I was buying him canned pop or 2 liters of pop, then I switched to Kool-Aid (no high fructose corn syrup, no carbonation or caffeine), and recently I switched to fresh brewed ice tea.  Yes, he and our roommate still put sugar in it, but now they don't get the dyes or chemicals from the Kool-Aid packets and the tea has antioxidants, especially when I use a mixture of black and green teas. 
  2. From COW'S MILK to WATER.  Speaking of drinks, my son has only had pop 2-3 times in his life, however, we used to give him a lot of cow's milk.  A year ago I switched him to soy milk at bedtime and 100% juice during the day.  Running out of frozen juice a few weeks ago prompted us to start giving him only water during the day. 
  3. From "FRUIT" SNACKS to REAL FRUIT SNACKS.  I used to buy my son "fruit" snacks (those jelly candy-like things).  After I stopped buying them, he started asking for bananas and raisins! 
  4. From PROCESSED BREAD to FRESH GROUND WHEAT BREAD.  My in-laws gave me a bread machine six years ago.  Since then I think I've only bought store bread (funny we call it that!) less than ten times.  First, I learned the traditional white bread recipe.  Since buying my Vita Mix this spring, I started grinding wheat berries to make my own 100% wheat bread.  I haven't ventured into raw breads yet, but I'm sure it is better for my family to have whole grain bread without the preservatives or sugars.
  5. From OPENING A BOX to PEELING, CRACKING EGGS, and MIXING.  I grew up in a home where Hamburger Helper was considered "poison," so I may have been given a head start.  However, after I married and especially after I had our son, I started getting boxed food on sale and throwing it together in a hurry.  Over the past year, I've eliminated most of the processed foods from my family's diet.  Yes, it takes much more time and I still keep Tombstone pizzas in the freezer, but most of the time I make everything from scratch.  My family loves the change.  I save time by using tools like a food processor, my Vita Mix, a crock pot, and my Kitchen Aid.  I also try to make as much as I can ahead of time.
  6. From BROWNIES to "WINI" WHEATS CEREAL.  We crave sweets in our family.  For my husband, chocolate is his vice.  I started buying Frosted Mini Wheats (or as my three year-old calls them, "Wini" Wheats) instead of making brownies.  At least they get fiber and less sugar with the cereal!
The rewards from these small changes really add up.  My son rarely gets ill and neither do the rest of us.  I have lost 20 lbs.   I aspire to be 95-100% raw and I hope that my whole family can be vegan someday.  I know that we have a long way to go, but it is great to see the progress that we have made.

What stage are you in with your family?  How have you improved your diet and that of your family?  Do you have any tips to share?
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    Health Digest: Sept. 10, 2010

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    What do you think of the tips to help with picky eating?  Do you have a picky eater?  

    I think I am going to let my son help in food preparation (I really wish I could find my camera!).  

    Are you going to try any of these or do you already?

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    Best Blogger Tips I still can't find my camera.  Any ideas where it could be??  LOL! 

    I have recipes to post, but I don't want to post them without pictures!

    EllePin It Best Blogger Tips

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Health Digest: Sept. 9, 2010

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    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    BOOK REVIEW: Our Daily Meds by Melody Petersen

    Best Blogger Tips Last Friday, after yet another news item about the pharmaceutical industry, I decided to dedicate all the daily news digest to the failures and the aggressive marketing of drugs to the American public.

    Today another news article popped up about how drug maker Wyeth used ghostwriters to downplay concerns about hormone therapy in medical journals.
    Our Daily Meds reveals this process in-depth.

    Our Daily Meds: 
    How the Pharmaceutical Companies Transformed Themselves into Slick Marketing Machines and Hooked the Nation on Prescription Drugs 

    By Melody Petersen

    Melody Petersen is a former reporter for the New York Times, for which she covered the pharmaceutical industry. 

    Paperback: 448 pages 
    Publisher: Picador; 1 Reprint edition (March 3, 2009)
    Genre:  Non-Fiction
    Topics covered:  Big Pharma, prescription drugs, health, medicine

    "'We sometimes joke that when you're doing a clinical trial, there are two possible disasters...The first disaster is if you kill people.  The second disaster is if you cure them.'" (Page 143)
    Our Daily Meds lifts the veil on the pharmaceutical industry.  Melody Petersen shows that this seemingly benevolent trade group preys upon Americans by turning medicine into record breaking profits.  The side effects of such a shift push patients into greater dependency upon prescription drugs and often causes more painful symptoms than they treat.

    Petersen begins the book by discussing how drug companies actually create disease.  Surprisingly, she begins with the 1920s campaign by Listerine who used the term "Halitosis" to transform annoying "bad breath" into a serious social impediment.  Premenstral Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), erectile dysfunction, and overactive bladder are just a few conditions that Petersen describes were created by pharmaceutical companies as they are "concocting disorders and broadening the definition of disease to include more and more people."

    Some of the aggressive campaigning to consumers is easy to recognize.  Since the legalization of direct marketing to consumers (only in the U.S. and New Zealand), prescription drug ads can be seen everywhere.  The secret within the medical industry is that pharmaceutical companies persuade doctors to prescribe their medications to consumers.  Far beyond free pens and notepads, drug manufacturers pay for lavish conferences (vacations) for physicians.  Some physicians are also paid to speak and promote drugs to other doctors.  Further, as a way to sidestep disclosure of risks, drug companies create foundations to promote their products and hire celebrities to endorse drugs by referring to them in interviews. 

    Petersen goes into detail describing how the pharmaceutical industry transformed from seeking to cure disease to creating blockbuster drugs that only treat symptoms.  Releasing of patents on drugs also greatly reduce the amount of money a company can make on that drug.  By rearranging the chemical make-up of a drug and marketing it as "improved" or with "fewer side effects," manufacturers can continue reap profits when the brand name is chemically the same as the generic.  Pharmaceutical companies also ghostwrite articles to medical journals (see link above).

    The chapter "Altered State" exposes prescription drug addiction and "superbugs" as a result of overmedication.  Petersen concludes this expose' with the problems of directly attributing deaths from prescriptions.   

    In addition to outlining the problems within the pharmaceutical industry, Petersen also gives solutions as to how to fix the problems, such as stopping physicians from taking drug manufacturer's money, stopping covert advertising, and strengthening the FDA.

    Reading this book changed how I look at prescriptions.  I used to accept them without question from the doctor.  This book seems like a perfect pairing with my new awareness of nutrition and diet.  So many of the drugs that we take as a society are unnecessary if care was given to what we consume.  It also enrages me that resources which could be used to cure disease is instead used to keep us hooked on pills.

    Although well-researched (68 pages of citations), Petersen focuses too much on the state of Iowa.  The book would have been even more effective if these sections had a larger frame of scope. 

    I highly recommend this book for anyone who is concerned about reforming health in this country, the healthcare industry, or his or her personal well-being.  Since almost half of Americans use prescription drugs each month, it is necessary that we are well-informed as to the risks.Pin It Best Blogger Tips

    Health Digest: Sept. 8, 2010

    Best Blogger Tips Sorry!  I was super busy yesterday.  I had lots of work to do (newspaper billing and catering).



    I have to say that reading this about babies and toddlers concerns me.  My son didn't sleep through the night until he was almost two years old!   

    Also, does anyone have any ideas about how to get my son to experiment more with fruits and veggies?   

    Right now his diet consists of home-canned unsweetened applesauce, freshly ground wheat bread, bananas, broccoli, and green beans.  He really won't eat any other healthy foods.



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    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Best of Blogs: Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2010

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    Here are some of my favorite blog posts I read from other bloggers this week:

    from Food Politics

    from Living Food Junkie

    from Rawmazing Raw Food

    from The Kind Life  (Alicia's recipes look so delicious!  It is also a great post of how to make vegan foods that are just as beautiful as they are yummy.)

    from Love Veggies and Yoga

    from EZ Raw Living

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    Week in Review: Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2010

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    Here is a quick review of all the posts from the past week.

    BOOK REVIEW: The End of Overeating by David A. Kessler, MD

    JOURNAL: Lots of work and liquid feasting day! 

    RECIPE: Green Lemonade Smoothie

    JOURNAL: Vegetarian dinner from the garden 

    RECIPE: Vitamin E Lemon Sugar Scrub

    Special Report: Prescription Drug Culture 

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    Health Digest: Sept. 5, 2010

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    What do you think about the FDA ruling?  It sounds to me like this is the beginning of more biotech meat sources.  I'm horrified, but I don't eat much fish, so I doubt it will affect me.  


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    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Special Report: Prescription Drug Culture

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    I was going to wait until next week to review the book, Our Daily Meds, by Melody Petersen, but after looking at a few news stories from today and adding them to the ones from the past few weeks, I'm going to do my best to get the review done today. 

    Here are some recent news stories about the drug industry:

    Hopefully today, I will get a review written for the book, Our Daily Meds, which reveals what is really going on with the pharmaceutical industry.  I do believe in life-saving medication (being the granddaughter of a polio survivor), but I don't think most Americans understand the drug culture we live in.



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    SPIRIT: Looking at God--Mother's hug revives dead newborn

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    When I read stories like this, I feel like I'm looking at God.  I teared up as I listened to my three year-old son behind me coloring a picture.  I don't know how else to describe it.

     Mother's hug revives dead newborn 

     I hope this gives you a lift too.

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    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    RECIPE: Vitamin E Lemon Sugar Scrub

    Best Blogger Tips RECIPE: Vitamin E Lemon Sugar Scrub

    I like to have soft skin. I want it smooth and radiant. The year I turned 25, I noticed that my skin changed.

    I went from having oily/combination skin to having dry, itchy skin. I don't like to pay department store prices for beauty products and I like knowing what the ingredients are instead of using unpronouncable

    chemicals on my skin.

    Since the skin is an organ where toxins are either released or absorbed, you can use this recipe knowing that you are nourishing your body.

    Vitamin E is an antioxidant that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, prevents and treats sunburns, treats scars and some skin conditions, and may help prevent skin cancer. []

    The sugar acts as a good exfoliant without drying the skin like salt-based scrubs. It also dissolves as you wash it off which means it doesn't leave the crystals at the bottom of your tub, shower, or sink.



    1/2 cup white sugar
    2 Tb. vitamin E oil (depending on the dryness of your skin)
    Lemon oil (optional if not using Puritan's Pride vitamin E)


    1. Mix ingredients together.
    2. Use in the shower to exfoliate your whole body or use in the sink to scrub your hands and face.


    1. Store the scrub in an airtight container to keep it from absorbing moisture and clumping.

    2. Depending on the dryness of your skin, you may not need to apply a moisturizer.

    3. Since the scrub is very rich in vitamin E oil, I only use the scrub on my face right before bedtime when it is absorbed best and doesn't leave my face oily all day.

    4. The Puritan's Pride vitamin E oil contains a small amount of lemon oil, giving it a refreshing scent.

    (Sorry I don't have a picture; I'm still looking for my camera!)

    Did your skin feel silky and soft after using this scrub? 

    Special savings for my blog readers!  Get your vitamin E oil here!

    10% OFF any order at Puritan's Pride Vitamins and Buy 1 get 2 Free! 
    Enter code: LABOR10 at checkout. Hurry!  Offer valid for only 6 more days.  
    Offer ends Tuesday, Sept. 7.

    I have been a Puritan's Pride customer for over four years. In that time, I usually take advantage of the Buy 1 Get 2 Free sales. This is the first time I remember seeing a B1G2 sale with a coupon!Pin It Best Blogger Tips

    Health Digest: Sept. 2, 2010

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    1.  Do you buy locally?  We have a farmers' market where I live, but it is only one night a week.  I try to organically grow as much as I can in my garden.

    2.  How/where do you get your daily exercise?  We have a YMCA membership and my son goes to child watch while I work out.  I used to go every day, but now it seems like I'm too busy to go more than 1-2 times a week. 

    3.  FINALLY!  Someone addresses the Angelina Vegan-gate!  I have so much respect for her, but I've been very irked that she is misrepresenting veganism I'm afraid that she is giving carnivores another reason to eat other creatures.  I'm really surprised that she is so misinformed when she seems so concerned about world health.  


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    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    JOURNAL: Vegetarian dinner from the garden

    Best Blogger Tips It seems like today has been so busy.  I guess the past few months have been really busy, but nonetheless, I feel like I must apologize for the short posts!

    Tonight I finally made supper.  I know this may not seem like a lot, but since I have been off solid food for the past few days, I have been relying on leftovers for dinner for the family.  Today, I figured that I should finally make something!  I didn't want to go to the store and I have lots of produce from the garden to use, so I got creative.  Sometimes this is good and other times it can be a little scary!


    Mexican Eggplant Bake
    Ingredients: Eggplant, onion, crackers, mozzarella cheese, pureed canned corn, serrano pepper, green pepper, garlic.  I wanted to make it vegan, but this was as close as I could come with what I had in the house!  I'm working toward a vegan diet for my carnivorous husband and vegetarian son, so this was at least progress.  (The corn casserole recipe that inspired me called for corn, crackers, eggs, butter, onion, and evaporated milk.) 

    "Green" Beans
    I snapped, then boiled purple pole beans. 

    Fingerling Potatoes
    I scrubbed these and lightly coated them with oil, celery salt, and white pepper.  I roasted them on a cookie sheet in the oven.

    Though not quite vegan, it still made a very veggie dinner!  It was about 80% organic.
    The eggplant, garlic, onion, peppers, and purple pole beans were all from my organic garden and the fingerling potatoes were given to us by a friend.  I canned the corn last fall.

    Cost:  $1.50 to feed 4  ($0.25 for the crackers and $1.25 for the cheese)! 

    I will try to post pictures and the recipe for the eggplant bake after I make it again this weekend.  I wanted to take photos while I was making it, but I can't find my camera!  I would like to blame it on our three year-old, but I can't guarantee he is the one who hid the camera.  I probably put it somewhere hoping he wouldn't lose it or break it!  Ha!Pin It Best Blogger Tips

    Health Digest: Sept. 1, 2010

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    • Most C-sections done before labor, study shows [nytimes]


      Thoughts about the news:

      1. Do you eat unhealthy foods when you are sleep-deprived?  I do!  What do you do to prevent unhealthy eating when you are tired and can't nap?  


      2.  The Omega-3 story really upsets me.  The story is about MARGARINE!  PROCESSED MARGARINE, not natural supplementation of Omegas like in flax seed oil!


      3.  What do you think about the C-Section rate in this country?  Did you have one or did your spouse?  Again, I believe in the least amount of intervention necessary, but I understand this is a very personal choice.  It is inspiring me to post my son's birth story about how I birthed my son with minimal interventions and minimal pain.

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