Eat Me Like Air


Author: Halley Marie Shaw, Buffalo NY

Sketch: Halley Marie Shaw. Photo Editing/Reimage: Kerry Fey

Author Bio: “I am no one”


I’m just going to spit it out: I don’t want to sit at your fucking table

Yes, I did go away to correct this. Yes, I came back “better.” No, I am not doing well. And, no, I don’t want to eat with ANYONE.

I attend gatherings to rub noses, but avoid dinner parties. If I were to show up at a dinner party, I’d be present. I wouldn’t be there for dinner. It’s for the best. Performance anxiety would kick in once I sit at the table. Then I would suddenly rattle off confessions as if being there was going to kill me.

Don’t fucking give me, “It’s okay. Everyone else is eating too.” You’d have to pull me by both wrists to get me to put my small bowl of veggies between bodies. Behind me would be the all-knowing Evangeline (Her other name is “ana” with a small “a.”) with her plank-toned arm snaked around my waist. The health and wellness guru would remind me that I should feel guilty enough that I can barely squeeze between two other guilty guests. Evs and I both know even if there were smiles and laughter, that there would definitely be an abundance guilt to match.

Everyone else is eating. Great! Everyone is also talking out of both sides of their mouths. Eating, enjoying, judging themselves which then justifies my shame over eating. What’s “good.” What’s “bad.” What’s “fattening.” What’s that “extra” that will mean an “extra day at the gym.” What they can have. What they can’t have. Again, all statements that give the power yogi license to lift my cocktail dress and use her sharpest crystal to carve tallies into my pale thigh.

None of it would serve anyone inside or outside of the walls. Where others would see a couscous salad, I would see pieces another ill-fated serving platter. The idea of getting cut from all angles motivates me to cling to the kitchen counter to pick charred garlic cloves off of roasting pans and wash every dish until it’s time for a cup of coffee and an ogling session of the host’s vinyl collection. The faint sight of a dessert makes me turns my downdog into a rabid German Sheppard. Evs is merely trying to prevent the tug-o-war of, “Just a bite, please,” “No,” “C’mon,” “I said no!” She doesn’t want to see me spill my hot drink and the gory details of two decades that left me with bum ovaries. We don’t benefit. It’s just an opportunity that some stranger gets to have their lava cake and their, “But you don’t look like you have an eating disorder,” too.

That would be when you’d assure me that I still get a Pop Sugar-fitted gold star for choosing low-glycemic eggplant to sub potatoes. Praise mw for drinking water rather than a cocktail. Besides, booze and carbs would only be permitted if this were a Hollywood picture and the actress playing a thinner version of me were sad or horny. Meanwhile, Hollywood-me would be surrounded by male characters who can have scoop after scoop of taters, glass after glass of wine, thrust after thrust, tear after tear because they are only human. No need for a death or bad breakup.

Alas, this would be a peaceful gathering. I couldn’t go on such a diatribe. I’d just bus the table one more time. I’d think about how I would edit my movie. My eating disorder wouldn’t be rehashed with selfies from 2015 on, but with spliced scenes that would depict what it turned me into. It would be 2016’s disjointed time line of me being bossed around by Evangeline followed by protagonist Rowan seated across from a high-strung paramedic to boast about the terms that she wrote for her clients. The medic would push Rowan’s toe away from his groin then we’d cut to narrator Elaine “DJ Laine” Harper who would dryly decline requests from hipsters before slamming the door. That door would open to me on the living room floor, Harper’s mix du jour on full blast, scribbling out another writing exercise that takes place in a music venue called Vessel.

When I attempt to write about what the eating disorder has given me, instead I go to where the dancers channel Salome and most of the bands have at least one John. It’s childish, but take into consideration that the only thing that has gotten this misfit kid through any dinner was the promise of music and melodrama afterward.

Which brings me to relapse.

The only time that I felt that I had a place in this world is when I half-naked in front of the camera, skeletal, veins pulsating, relieved that I didn’t look like me anymore. I was nonexistent. I have always hated existing. My mantra has always been, “Don’t be yourself. Be someone better.”

What stops me from going full-throttle back into extreme starvation? Elaine Harper once cried during a draft, “The afterlife is silent.” She’s not real, but she’s not wrong. When it is all over, there’s nothing for us to sing along with during long walks. Dying made me feel perfect, but being without music makes death unappealing.

For the sake of my safety—mine, just mine—my body need its soundtrack. Sitting and eating just turns the volume up on the bitch monster, her calculations, her comparisons, her choices. No amount of tell-alls, sick pics, or articles can sum it up within a few hours. I have my knowledge, my experience, my foolishness in my arsenal. Still, I never fly solo when I walk into a room. I have whatever character is going to see my through my time in spaces to act as my shield.

Once we’d escape this hypothetical soiree, we’d pick an album that we can all agree upon, we’d get on our yoga mat, we’d get to work.


Should I (You) Go Vegan?


 I live in Buffalo, NY – the home of the Chicken Wing and Beef on Weck.  I have been on this planet for a long time (note: not mentioning age) and have been conditioned to be a carnivore.  It’s currently who I am, and I am ok with that.

I have unbiased compassion for all my brothers and sisters on this planet.   I know that the exploitation of animals is not the only reason to go the vegan route, but for me, it may be one of the main drivers.  I also care about the well-being of the planet.  But where do I start?  Where do most go to conduct research?  Google.

I set out to find a current article, from a reliable source, that is easy to understand and chock full of yummy information.  I think this article by Summer Banks is excellent.  Summer has researched and written over 5000 articles on diet, exercise, weight-loss, nutrition and women’s health.

The title confuses me a little.  If you eat raw fish (sushi) or raw meat (steak tartare or beef carpaccio), you would not be considered a Vegan, and this would fall under the Raw Food Diet.  Right?   I am interested to see what others have to say since I am such a newbie to the idea.

Raw Food Diet | A Beginners Guide to Veganism – 16 Things You Need to Know

Diet Spotlight – 2/5/2018

Many people wonder what the big deal about raw food diets is.

Nutritionists have associated raw food with numerous health benefits.

Not only is raw food good for your digestion, it improves your skin tone, and has a huge impact on many body processes.

Here is a look at the frequently asked question about raw food diets.

What is the Raw Food Diet?

According to Karen Knowler, a raw food coach, raw food is essentially food that has not been subjected to a heat level of more than 48 degrees centigrade.

Since raw food has not been heating treated, nothing has been deprived of it.

This means all the nutrients and elements that facilitated its growth are still intact.

These include enzymes, life force, water, hormones, oxygen, minerals, and vitamins.

A simple raw food diet definition is any food that has not been homogenized, pasteurized, or produced using chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, chemical food additives, or industrial solvents.

These include fruits, vegetables, nutsfish, and fermented foods. [1][2]

Raw Food Diet

How to Start a Raw Food Diet?

Before you start a raw food diet, you should think about your goals and your dietary needs.

When starting a raw food diet, you should align the raw foods with your goals for best results.

Tips on starting a raw diet include:


Fruits and juices are the ideal foods for adopting a raw food plan. Juice is packed with vitamins, organic minerals, alkaline, enzymes, and many nutritional elements.

On the other hand, vegetable juice improves your immune system and energy.

Eat Smarter

Many people wonder how to start a raw food diet by changing their food choices.

The idea is to switch to healthier foods. For example, instead of eating chocolate after dinner, take an apple.

Making these small changes will gradually add large amounts of raw foods in your diet.

Go Organic

The other way on how to start a raw food diet is eating organic foods instead of processed foods.

These are foods with natural ingredients that impact on your weight and general health in a short time-frame. [3]

Raw Food Diet | A Beginners Guide to Veganism Customer Testimonials

Is a Raw Food Diet Healthy?

Researchers have found people who eat raw food to have low triglycerides and cholesterol.

It has also been concluded that raw food causes a vitamin B12 deficiency since this nutrient is found in animal products.

Vitamin B12 deficiencies can cause neurological impairment and anemia.

On a lighter note, another study found raw foodists to have high levels of dietary carotenoids and Vitamin A, nutrients that protect the body from chronic disease.

However, it has also been found that raw foodists have alarming levels of plasma lycopene.

These nutritional components are present in tomatoes and are especially high when the tomatoes are cooked.

Plasma lycopene is essential for disease prevention.

Low bone mass around the hip and lumbar spine is also a common occurrence for raw foodists.

This is probably due to rapid weight loss.

Therefore, the answer to the question is a raw food diet healthy, is neither affirmative nor negative. It may be advisable to eat both raw and cooked foods.

Low bone mass in the lumbar spine and hip may be another risk for raw foodists, who tend to be slim.

Researchers concluded, however, that the raw foodists studied had “good bone quality.”

That’s because rapid weight loss at the beginning of the diet may have caused the decrease in bone mass. [4]

Raw Food Diet Benefits

According to, the practice of eating raw food dates back to the 1800s.

Some of the raw food diet benefits include:

  • Improving digestion
  • Lowering inflammation
  • Providing dietary fiber
  • Preventing cancer
  • Improving heart health
  • Treating constipation
  • Clearing your skin
  • Preventing nutritional deficiencies
  • Lowering the levels of carcinogens and anti-nutrients in your diet

Raw Food Diet For Beginners

The ideal raw food diet is fun, easy, and balance.

You should include raw versions of the foods that you enjoy eating chocolate, raw cheese, and your favorite salad.

A raw food diet for beginners should also be easy to set up. Start out with smoothies made from raw foods you like to eat.

Last but not least, you should ensure your raw food meal is balanced.

This means it should contain carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins.

Raw Food Diet For Cancer

Raw foods have been severally associated with a strong immune system. Raw fruits and vegetables have been particularly linked to killing cancer cells and stopping the spread of cancer.

A raw food diet for cancer consists of the following cell killing nutrients in fruits and vegetables:

Raw Food Diet Grocery List

When buying raw foods, you should remember that all processed foods started as basic raw foods.

Some of the basic foods you should include in your raw food diet grocery list include:


  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Acai berries
  • Bananas


  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Cucumbers

Fermented Foods

Raw sweeteners such as honey and raw grains such as steel cut oats also make a good raw food diet. [6]

Raw Food Diet Meal Plan

The type of raw food diet meal plan adopted will depend on one’s dietary needs and food preferences.

For example, a person who has high cholesterol levels or a Vitamin A deficiency may benefit from a diet consisting of fruits and vegetables that are rich in these nutrients.

Raw Food Diet Menu

If you decide to adapt a raw food eating lifestyle, it is advisable to start with short-term goals and work your way up.

For example, you could begin with a raw food diet menu that spans one week and see how well you can follow that plan.

Afterward, you may choose to expand the time frame of your menu to a month and later to a couple of months.

As you continue to succeed in following your plan, you get used to a raw food diet and begin to achieve your health goals.

Raw Food Diet Example

A typical raw food diet example is as follows:

Breakfast: Oatmeal, green juice, or fresh fruit

Lunch: Super foods smoothie

Dinner: Spaghetti and soup [7]

Raw Food Diet Protein

Proteins are the most important building blocks in your body and made from amino acids.

Proteins provide structure to the cells in your body. Some proteins serve as hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

Proteins are mainly recognized for their role in building, maintaining, and replacing tissues in your body.

The average female vegan adult requires between 46-58 grams of protein per day whereas the average male vegan adult requires between 56-70 grams of protein per day.

Some common sources of raw food diet protein include:

  • Cashews
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds

Raw Food Diet Results

Raw foods are lauded for an improved digestive system, good resistance towards disease, and the right balance of nutrients in the body.

Raw food diet results will vary depending on whether you have engaged in it short term or long term.

Those inclined to Traditional Chinese Medicine that since raw foods are purifying, cleansing, and cooling in nature, they provide amazing results when used by those with a condition associated with inflammation and heat.

Due the varying dietary and physiological needs of people, there is no ideal amount of raw food for everyone.

To avoid deficiencies and for best results, it would be better to consult a nutritionist for the ideal raw food diet meal plan. [8]

Raw Food Diet Side Effects

Eating raw foods for long will deprive your body of vital nutrients such as Vitamin B12 which is necessary for transporting oxygen and neurological health, and the good cholesterol that promotes heart health.

Additionally, those who adopt a vegan raw food diet may be deprived of essential amino acids present in protein foods.

This could lead to complication such as lack of iron. The other common raw food diet side effects is exposure to harmful parasites and organisms that occur in raw foods. [9][10]

Raw Food Diet Supplements

Staying away from cooked foods for an extended time may lead to deficiencies that you may need to address through supplements.

Moreover, there are some raw food diet supplements that cannot sufficiently provide the nutrients you will find in protein foods.

You should find the right balance of raw foods, supplements, and protein foods to remain healthy.

Raw Food Diet Weight Loss

According to the, the four weight loss rules associated with weight loss are:

  • Eating raw foods
  • Eating organic foods
  • Eating alkaline foods

There are several reasons why raw food diet weight loss works. The first is that raw foods are packed with enzymes.

Enzymes are responsible for various body processes.

Enzymes allow you to digest and metabolize food fast and prevent you from over-eating.

The other way raw foods help you to shed weight is because they contain alkaline which is necessary for removing toxins and acid wastes from your body.

These wastes and toxins are hidden in the body’s fat.

As you release these toxins, the excess fat deposits are released as well.

Last but not least,a raw food diet plan for weight loss is not calorie dense.

This means that you get satiated quickly because most of these foods are packed with fiber and prevent you from taking in excess calories. [11]

Raw Food Plant-Based Diet

While a diet based on purely plant foods is highly nutritional because it encourages you to take in vegetables and fruits, it can be harmful in the long run.

While there are plants that contain proteins, some essential proteins can only be found in animal products or supplements.

Combine a raw food plant based diet with the right dose of protein supplements.

Furthermore, consult a nutritionist to determine the right balance of raw plant-based foods.

Raw Food Vegan Diet

Vegans do not take any animal-based products.

A raw food vegan diet is one that is comprised of raw plant foods.

The challenges facing people who take raw vegans is that during some seasons, it is difficult to access some fruits and vegetables.

Additionally, some restaurants do not offer these foods.

A raw vegan’s diet is also expensive due to the high cost of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

The preparation of vegan diets also requires skill and consumes a lot of time.

Raw Whole Food Diet

A raw whole food diet is high in fiber, low in calories, and ideal for weight loss. Some special nuts, cashews, and seeds are the main components of a raw food diet comprised of whole foods.

What Can You Eat on a Raw Food Diet?

As noted earlier, most raw foods are edible.

The main foods that constitute a raw food meal include fruits, vegetables, and fermented products.

For best results, it would be better to start eating a raw version of the foods you enjoy eating.

The answer to what can you eat on a raw food diet is best answered by your doctor or nutritionist.

Raw Food Diet | A Beginners Guide to Veganism Ingredients

Bottom Line on the Raw Food Diet

A raw food diet is full of nutrients that are lost when you cook food.

Raw foods mainly constitute fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods.

The main benefits of raw foods include an improved immune system, healthy skin, and a healthy gut.

Raw foods have also been associated with weight loss and killing of cancerous cells. Like anything else, raw foods are not without their side effects.

Since raw foods are susceptible to parasites and harmful bacteria, they are likely to cause infections.

Furthermore, raw foods deprive the body of Vitamin B12 and other essential nutrients that can only be acquired from cooked foods.

If you are to adopt a diet of raw foods, it would be advisable to consult your nutritionist.

In most cases, those who are on raw food diets combine a raw food regimen with healthy cooked foods, and supplements.

Article Sources

Toxic Toys?

Toxic toys?

Recent reports of high levels of lead in fidget spinners are a good reminder that toxic chemicals remain in kids’ items. Fortunately, in Washington state, companies that make toys and other kids’ products have to tell us what chemicals they use in their products by filing reports with the Washington State Department of Ecology.

These reports cover 66 chemicals of high concern for kids’ health (and soon to be 85 in 2019). Chemicals that must be reported include lead, cadmium, and toxic flame retardants. The latest round of reports filed between March and August of 2017 uncovered some concerning information.

There are still too many harmful chemicals in kids’ products.

Makers of kids’ items filed over 9300 reports of using chemicals of high concern in kids’ products like toys, clothing, and personal care products. The chemicals reported can cause cancer, learning problems, hormone disruption, and many other health effects. Children in the US are at high risk of chronic disease, some of which are attributable to exposure to toxic chemicals.

Toxic flame retardants remain widespread in kids’ products.

In the last six months, manufacturers filed over 400 reports of kids’ products containing flame retardant chemicals, including in toys, games, art supplies, and clothing and other textiles. Flame retardants reported included some that belong to a class of chemicals called organohalogens. Last month, the top consumer watchdog agency (USCPSC) warned companies making and selling to consumers to avoid products, including kids’ products, containing organohalogen flame retardants.

Exxel Outdoors LLC reported an outdoor play structure sold in 2016 that contains the flame retardants TDCPP at over 10,000 ppm and TCEP between 1,000 and 5,000. New state standards that went into effect July 1, 2017, mean products sold after that with those levels will violate state law.

Company reports phthalate levels that appear to violate Washington state law.

Komar Kids reported levels of the hormone-disrupting phthalate DINP in underwear, chemise, and camisoles well above the state limit of 1000 ppm in kids’ products. The company reported over 10,000 ppm.

American Greetings Corp. reported cancer-causing cadmium in its dolls and soft toys.

Though a federal law allows this amount in toys because it passes a certain type of testing, we say cadmium doesn’t belong in kids’ toys at all.

Paint Stripper Chemical in Infant Toy.

Disturbingly, MGA Entertainment and Little Tikes reported using a cancer-causing chemical that the USEPA is proposing to ban in paint stripper in an infant toy. The levels reported were between 5000 ppm and 10000 ppm. While the information available doesn’t indicate the specific Little Tikes toy that contains these levels, Little Tikes should remove the toy from store shelves and alert parents who bought the toy in question.

Dollar Tree Continues to Stock Products with Harmful Chemicals.

Customers shopping for a bargain shouldn’t have to worry about toxic chemicals. Yes, the discount retailer Dollar Tree (parent company is Greenbrier International ) continues to report high levels of toxic chemicals in its products. Even though the retailer promises to reduce chemicals in its products, the company reported 423 products that contained chemicals of high concern for children in the latest round of reporting. Safer products – ones without harmful chemicals – should be available for everyone regardless of where one shops. Dollar Tree stores need to protect its customers and get harmful chemicals out of its products.

A Silver Lining

It’s frustrating that manufacturers are still using harmful chemicals in kids’ products. But there is a silver lining to this bad news! Thanks to these reports we KNOW what companies continue to use harmful chemicals in their products. That gives us the power to do something about it!

Companies care about what their customers want. So YOU need to tell them you want less toxic products.  There is no excuse for companies to be using chemicals that are harmful to kids’ health in their products. You need to show them their customers demand change.


A Green Smoothie That Tastes Good?

green smoothie

Remember your first attempt at making a green smoothie?

If you were like me, it didn’t turn out too well. It had all the “right” ingredients – or so I thought – just not in the right proportions. My family still jokes about how I like to drink “green stuff” that tastes, well… like grass!

So, I decided to go to the authority for some direction – the green goddess Kris Carr.

Kris Carr  is a New York Times and #1 Amazon best-selling author, wellness activist and cancer survivor/thriver. She documented her battle against epithelioid hemangioendothelioma in her documentary film Crazy Sexy Cancer.

You can find this and other crazy sexy juice/smoothie info on her site

My Not-So-Secret Healthy Habit: Green Smoothies!

Kris Carr

Hi Sweet Friends,

Juicing may be my main squeeze, but green smoothies take a close second and sometimes they’re exactly what my body needs to function at it’s best. These blended nutrition blasts certainly save the day when I’m short on time in the kitchen, but don’t want to short change my health. Toss all the plant-based ingredients in a blender and press a button! Within minutes I have a fiber-filled, satisfying meal that balances my blood sugar and fills me with long-lasting energy. Plus, hard-working fiber is our digestive system’s BFF and the arch enemy of toxins. It sweeps the junk out of the body and keeps Grand Pooper Station right on schedule!

All you need to become a smoothie superstar are nourishing, delicious recipes, some blending smarts and a quality machine. When I started whipping up green smoothies, I made some pretty gnarly concoctions, not the kind of drink you’d want to throw back on a regular basis. It took a lot of experimentation before I could create delicious smoothies on the fly. I want to make it easier for you! That’s why I pulled together every drop of my smoothie know-how, plus over 100 phenomenal smoothie (and juice!) recipes in my book, Crazy Sexy Juice.

What’s the difference between smoothies and juices?

Now that I’ve showed you how to make one of my favorite green smoothies in the video above, you may be curious about the difference between blending and juicing. My readers are always asking which is better. The answer depends on your personal taste, your lifestyle and what supports your health best (usually they both do, just in different ways!). I juice more than I blend, but both are cornerstones of my lifelong self-care plan.

It’s much more fun to compare blending and juicing using a super snazzy infographic, which is why I made one for you! I hope you’ll download it below, print it and post it near your blending and/or juicing altar (aka kitchen counter) and share the heck out of it on social media.


Let’s wrap up this smoothie crash course with some of my readers’ most asked questions. Read on to learn about my favorite blenders, tips for raising smoothie-lovin’ kids and some storage smarts.

Frequently Asked Blending Questions

What blender should I buy?

I’m not going to sugar coat this: A high-speed blender can be pricey with some models starting at $300-$500, but it’s a lifelong investment. I use my blender on a daily basis for smoothies, soups, dips and sauces. If you’re a bargain-hunter, search online for a used machine. Who knows? You might be able to barter with a friend for one! Just be sure you’re getting a machine that will make creamy, dreamy smoothies. Cheap, not-so-great blenders leave lots of chunky greens in your drink and in your teeth. No, thanks! Here are some tried and true blender recommendations:

Oster Versa

How can I get my kids to enjoy green smoothies?

Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to add leafy greens and other nourishing plant-based foods into your child’s diet. Since my fur-kid doesn’t drink green smoothies, I turned to some of my pals (who also happen to have green smoothie guzzling rugrats) for this question. After surveying them for some tips, I put together these gems for you:

Pull a chair up to the counter and get the kids involved! Let your child add smoothie ingredients with your supervision. The little ones will love turning on the blender and watching the veggies, fruits and other goodies take a spin.
Avoid smoothie rejection by serving green-tinted recipes in a solid colored cup that has a top.
Use frozen berries and bananas to add sweetness, creaminess and hide the veggie taste. Frozen berries will also give smoothies a nice red, purple or blue color. Just make sure you’re still packing the veggies in there!

Can I make smoothies ahead of time and freeze them for later?

Yes! I like to drink my smoothies right away (fresh is always best), but if you know that freezing your smoothies will insure that you’ll drink them on a more regular basis, go for it. Don’t forget to leave a little room at the top of your storage container, since your smoothie will expand in the freezer (the same goes for green juice).


Do You Recycle? 6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong



6 Things You’re Recycling Wrong

I don’t know about you, but the thought of huge “islands” of trash floating in our oceans makes me feel a bit queasy. The problem seems insurmountable. The one thing I know I can do is recycle. Each week, I put anything and everything I think can be recycled into my bin and gleefully place it at the curb. Little did I know, I was doing it wrong!

In her New York Times article, Livia Albeck-Ripka explains 6 things even the most ardent recycler might be doing wrong:

Can you recycle coffee cups or greasy pizza boxes? If you’re tossing things in the recycling bin out of sheer hope, you might be an “aspirational recycler.”

We have all done it: a greasy pizza box, a disposable coffee cup, the odd plastic bag. Sometimes, we want things to be recyclable, so we put them in the recycling bin.

Waste managers often call this wishful or aspirational recycling. But, unfortunately, putting these objects in with the rest of the recycling can do more harm than good. While rules differ in every municipality (check your local recycling website to find out what’s acceptable), we have picked out some key offenders to keep in mind.

Too many of these items will contaminate a batch of recycling. That means waste managers might not be able to find buyers for the materials — especially now that China, one of the world’s main importers of recyclable waste, has said it will reject shipments that are more than 0.5 percent impure. Contaminated loads could be sent to the landfill instead.

Disposable cups

Your disposable coffee cup might seem like it can be recycled, but most single-use cups are lined with a fine film of polyethylene, which makes the cups liquid-proof but also difficult and expensive to reprocess (because the materials have to be separated). Most waste management facilities will treat the cups as trash.

If you’re putting these cups in with your recycling, they are likely contaminating the rest of the materials, said Jim Ace, a senior campaigner at, an environmental group. In an experiment this year, the group affixed electronic trackers inside Starbucks cups, put the cups in recycling bins in Denver, then traced them to a landfill

“There’s no way a consumer would know if a cup was lined,” Mr. Ace said, so it’s best to throw it away. (You can also check if your local recycler has special equipment to handle coffee cups; some do, a Starbucks spokeswoman said. The New York City Department of Sanitation says it accepts “paper cups with non-paper lining.”)

The plastic lid might be recyclable in your area; check the number inside it against your local recycling guidelines.


Pizza boxes

Greasy pizza boxes

Pizza boxes are among the most common offenders when it comes to contamination, waste managers say. The problem is that oil often seeps into the cardboard. The oil cannot be separated from the fiber, making that material less valuable, and less marketable, to buyers.

But that’s not to say you can never recycle a pizza box, said Marjorie Griek, executive director of the National Recycling Coalition, which promotes recycling in the United States. “If you’ve got a few crumbs in there, that’s not an issue,” she said.

Pizza boxes with “small amounts of grease” are O.K. to recycle in New York City, a sanitation department spokeswoman said. If the grease seeps through the cardboard, the box should be put in a composting bin or thrown out, she said.

Remember, there are also two sides to a pizza box. If there’s a side that’s not oily, tear that off and recycle it.

Yogurt cups (and other non-recyclable plastics)

After China banned used plastics this year, many municipalities in the United States no longer accept plastics numbered 3 to 7, which can include things like yogurt cups, butter tubs and vegetable oil bottles. Look at the bottom of a container for a number inside a triangle to see what type it is.

Without China, there is little market for these types of plastic, said Will Posegate, chief operations officer for Garten Services, which manages waste in parts of Oregon. “It’s expensive to get rid of it right now,” he said.
Should you keep the caps on your bottles? Some waste managers say it’s fine (as long as they are screwed on tight), while others advise throwing them in the trash.

Check your local recycling website to see which plastic types are still acceptable in your area.

Oily takeout containers

Even if a container is labeled correctly for recycling in your area, another contamination culprit is food residue: scraps of pad thai in a plastic tray, or those few drops of bad milk at the bottom of the jug.

Washing out food scraps from recyclables can be just as important as putting the right thing in the recycling bin, said Jackie Lang, a spokeswoman for Waste Management in Oregon. You don’t have to scrub containers until they are sparkling clean — that could waste water. But too many scraps of food and liquid can contaminate a load, which could then be sent to a landfill, Ms. Lang said. As much as possible, “keep food and liquids out,” she said.

Plastic bags

If you have a trash chute in your building, or a long walk down to the recycling bin, you might have gotten into the habit of collecting your paper, plastics and glass in used plastic bags, but it’s important to note that the bags themselves should not be put in the recycling cart.

While we might wish that plastic bags — notorious for dissolving into microplastics and killing wildlife — could be sent to processors with our other recycling, they shouldn’t be. They create a nightmare for waste managers by plugging up machinery. So remember to dump your recyclables out of the plastic bag when putting them in the recycling bin. Some areas do offer plastic bag drop-offs, which send these nonrigid plastics to special facilities for recycling. Other cities and states have moved to tax, limit or ban the use of plastic bags altogether.

Dirty diapers (yes, people do this)

O.K., we’re not accusing you of attempting to recycle used diapers. But people out there are trying. Waste managers around the United States say they turn up at their recycling facilities often.

In some cases, people might think that a diaper should be recyclable because it is mostly made of plastic, said Garry Penning, a spokesman for Rogue Disposal and Recycling, which operates throughout Oregon. But diapers are made of a number of materials, and usually more than one type of plastic. Of course, once they are used, they are also filled with human waste.

In other cases, Mr. Penning said, the recycling bin has simply become “the overflow for the garbage pail.” While there have been some attempts at diaper recycling, for the most part dirty one-use diapers are not considered recyclable and are best put straight in the trash.

“As a result of China’s waste import restrictions, we need to educate the public how to recycle properly,” said David Biderman, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America. “I think the public can make a significant difference,” he said.

How Do I Quiet My Mind?


4-Step Guide To Finding Inner Peace And Quieting Your Mind

Haven’t we all said at one time: “If only I could have a little peace and quiet!” We live in a noisy, chaotic, vibrant world – with many distractions. Sometimes, we just need to “turn off the chatter, and focus on what matters.”

For me, the simpler the better.

 Think Simple Now by Tina Su

Do you regularly feel at ease and at peace? Are you continuously overflowing with Joy and Bliss on a daily basis, such that you seem free of problems and emotional pain? If so, go directly to the comment section and share with us your secrets.

If you’re still reading, you are amongst the vast majority of us striving for a better life, yearning for a more peaceful and joyful existence. Yet, it seems like an impossible challenge, where we end up mentally punishing ourselves for failing, concluding that “I’m just not made to live in peace.”

You see, it’s not us, it’s just that we’ve become so easily distracted by the hurrying demands of modern life, that we’ve temporarily lost touch with our natural state of being. But there is a way, if we seek it.

The purpose of this article is to share a simple technique to bring more peace, joy and clarity into your life. Would you like that?

Why It’s Hard to Find Peace and Joy?

If you observe our problems, you will notice that most problems are rooted in the mind. The basic premise is the same: some external event happens, we choose to see only one side of the story, and then interpret the situation such that it causes some form of mental conflict, resulting in some form of emotional suffering.

While it is easy to simply say, “drop your problems”, you and I both know that it is not that simple. We all have had years and years of conditioning in attracting problems and conflicts. So much so, that the simple concept of ’stop thinking about problems’ will not be so effective on us. We need tools that strike at the problem’s root.

Let’s now try something. Close your eyes for about a minute (or 5 minutes), and during this minute, send out the intention that you want silence and stillness, and you do not want to be pulled away from this silence by thoughts. (Pause your reading and go do this.)

Okay, so what happened? You probably noticed that the moment you become silent, thoughts started popping up – random and unrelated thoughts. These thoughts become a form of distraction, pulling us away from our inner silence.

This was only an experiment where we consciously observed our mind and tried to become still, but could not. Imagine the state of our inner space, while we are going about our day, unaware of the polluting in-coming thoughts.

As a result, our inner space becomes cluttered with useless information, with thoughts that are not conducive to our wellbeing, with garbage. Because our inner space is cluttered, our inner clarity and in-born wisdom becomes distant and foggy. And essentially, we loose touch with that part of our inner selves that is sacred, and wise, and peaceful, and eternal.

The distractions that we’ve declared as urgent and important, such as watching TV, updating our facebook and myspace and twitter pages, checking email, gossiping on the phone, loading mp3s on our music players, etc. all pull at us. They all pull at our attention, distracting us away from the things that are truly important to us – things that will bring lasting happiness and fulfillment to our lives and the lives of others we have yet to come to know.

Whether we recognize it or not, the information that we expose ourselves to, fills our inner space on some level, and affects our emotions and desires.

And if we are not careful, we can easily rush through life, while spending our precious time on this planet focused on that which does not matter – and then wonder where did my life go? Why do I feel unsettled and easily irritated? Why do I feel unfulfilled and incomplete? And then we die wondering.

If you are here, breathing and reading this right now, then you have been blessed with this day, to wake up! Wake up and take control of your destiny, starting with what you focus on and allow into your life (regardless of your age).

Simple Guide to a Deep Inner Cleanse

One way to clean out the clutter in our inner space is by guarding the garden of our mind. Being conscious of what we allow inside, starting with our own words, thoughts and attention.

We may not be aware of this, but we spend so much energy on gossiping, bad mouthing other people, judging other people, finding faults in others, and consumed in negative thoughts like jealousy, guilt or fear, and making excuses to cover up how we actually feel. I know all this sounds really bad and exaggerated when it’s all laid out like this. But if we truly observe ourselves, our thoughts and our words, we will notice that at some point of everyday, however subtly or unconsciously, we are doing several of these things.
I’m not pointing fingers, I can only speak from my own experience and confirm that this is true. Sometimes, the “violation” is subtle, like passing a negative judgment on a waiter at a restaurant, or becoming frustrated with a telephone customer service rep and wanting to call him a bad name, or making a little lie of an excuse instead of saying no.

It’s not that by having these thoughts or saying these words we become bad people. It’s just that these things become useless junk that clutters our inner space and does not contribute to our inner wellbeing.

I had learned the following simple but incredibly effective technique from Swami Nithya Bhaktananda, spiritual counselor and direct disciple of Paramahamsa Nithyananda (Swamiji).

Follow these four rules to inner cleanse:

Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone.
Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside.
Don’t say unless it is true, useful or kind.
The 4 Rules to Quiet the Mind – Explained

1. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

Part A: Say what you mean.

Have you found yourself making up excuses to avoid fully dealing with a potentially uncomfortable situation?

For example, your friend asks you to some social event. You don’t really want to go, but make up an excuse that “I can’t make it” or “I’m busy“, probably so you can quietly avoid something or someone or some activity.

Another example, someone asks you for a favor that you do not wish to comply to, but you feel guilty for rejecting him, so you either avoid that person (ie. Ignoring emails or phone calls), or create an excuse that isn’t really true (ie. I am out of town.)

It is not that you cannot do something, as your excuse suggests. The truth is that you have chosen not to do something, but the act of creating an excuse or avoiding it initiates a stir in your inner space, and it takes energy to maintain. Instead of stillness and peace, you are now holding onto and thinking about this little lingering “lie”.

When you are about to say anything, make a conscious decision to say the absolute truth, or what you actually mean. The absolute truth doesn’t have to be harsh or hurtful, you can do so compassionately and authentically, but firmly. When you own what you say, no one can reject it, even if they don’t like what they hear; because you are telling the truth and you mean it.

Part B: Mean what you say.

Sometimes we say things in passing out of obligation or habit that we don’t mean or intend on following through with. For example, we say, “I love you” to our parents or significant other when we hang up the phone, not because we mean it, but out of habit. The words comes so automatically now, that they start to lose their true meaning.
In another example, we will say, “I’ll call you soon“, “let’s chat soon“, or “I’ll call you tomorrow“. Or we offer to help, as parting words to a friend, and don’t intend on keeping that statement, but say it because it was easy and made the other person feel good.

We may think that these casual comments are harmless, but we know deep down that they are not true. They become little lies that we internalize, and over time they will develop into a guilty conscience that distracts you away from this moment.

Make a conscious commitment to yourself to mean everything that you say, and not to make empty promises that you cannot, will not, do not intend to fulfill.

2. Don’t say to anyone unless you can say to everyone.

Whether we admit to this or not, most of us love some form of gossiping (myself included). We are also quick to notice fault in others, and then talk about them with our trusted allies. Or we find out about someone’s misfortune and immediately we want to tell somebody.

I’m sure you can interject and include many examples from your life. But for sake of conversation, one example is: Jenny, at work, had an emotional fit and yelled at a co-worker today, and when we got home, we immediately told our spouse about the drama.

Another example, Pat was fired from his job, once we heard about it, we called or text-messaged our best friend Jane to tell her about it, or even exchange jokes about Pat, because we don’t like him.

In both examples, we cannot repeat the same things to everyone, especially Jenny or Pat. And if we really observed our inner space during and after we said these things, we wouldn’t feel very good in our stomach.

When we consciously observe such a conversation, we learn that we have accomplished nothing that feeds our soul. All we did was spread drama and created negative energy and inner conflict that polluted our inner space.

Make a commitment to yourself, that you will not say something to one person, unless you can announce it to the world, to everybody. Make a commitment to stop the spreading of drama and bad energy.

3. Don’t say inside, what you cannot say outside.

Most of us are extremely critical of ourselves. Because we would never tell the world what we say to ourselves, in the privacy of our mind, we believe that we are the only ones affected by negative self-talk, low self-esteem, and anxiety.

When something doesn’t go perfectly, we are first to blame ourselves, criticizing what we did wrong, what we didn’t do perfect enough, what we missed.

We all have inner chattering, but problems arise when we start to believe in our inner chattering, such that false beliefs about ourselves are formed. These false beliefs become detrimental to our spirits and future wellbeing, unless we do something to unlearn these beliefs.

Next time, you hear the voice in your head say “I’m stupid” or “I’m not good enough” or “I am a failure” or other related self-defeating thoughts, recognize that it is not you. You could verbally say, “That’s not me! That’s not true!” and even declare the following to this thought,

“From today forward, I choose to let you go, for you are no longer serving me. I am exposing you, for you are not real! From today onward, I am free from you.”

The basic premise of the third rule to inner cleanse is that, whatever thought you are not able to say out aloud to people (anyone), don’t even bother entertaining inside your head. Keep your inner space clean.

4. Don’t say unless it is true, useful or kind.

Some people have so much inner chatter that it spills out of them in the form of useless speech.

Observe the people who talk on buses, or love to chitchat at work by the water fountain. If you observe and count the number of things they say that are actually useful or truly interesting, it would be a low number.

Not only is this distracting for those around this person, it takes an enormous amount of energy for this person to keep talking. Recall the last time you talked for a long time about something random, and how drained you felt afterwards. Plus, the more useless things we say, the more useless things we feed back into our head.

If you feel that I’ve described you, don’t feel discouraged. I’ve been there too, and can contest that it is possible to quiet down.

Some people practice sabbatical days where they don’t speak at all, or read, or use the computer. And at the end of such a day, they feel a tremendous sense of peace, space and energy bubbling inside them.

Be conscious of what you say and only say it if any of the following is true:

Is what I’m saying …
True to me? An authentic statement from my heart?
Useful or helpful to someone or some situation?
Kind or compassionate? Such as a compliment, or an offer of help?
Parting Words: On Quieting The Mind

This post was born out of 4 simple sentences someone gave me a few months ago. After practicing it in my own life, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you give this simple 4-line guidance a try for 21 days, you will notice a beautiful inner transformation – from noise to stillness, from chaos to clarity.

It may seem difficult at first, but do it consistently and consciously for 3 days and it becomes much easier after that. Extend it to 7 days, and then to 21 days. Please do not kick yourself for slipping on the rules, it happens, let it go.

After some time, observe how your outer world changes, as your inner world is transformed. Please come back and share with us.

One more thing: Let your heart guide you. Trust it, and listen to it.


Why Buy Sustainable?


What is Sustainable Agriculture?

In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.

Why buy sustainable food products?

Here are 8 great reasons why.



1. Help protect the environment.

Sustainable agriculture produces food that does not harm the environment.

On factory farms, animals excrete tons of waste every week. Millions of gallons of this untreated waste are often held in open-air lagoons and pollute the surrounding air, land and water. Industrial crop farming, including crops used for animal feed, are dependent on chemical fertilizers known to cause long-term depletion of organic matter, soil compaction and degradation of overall soil quality. Monocropping, using the land for growing only one type of crop, not only reduces the genetic diversity of plants but also makes plants more susceptible to disease, creating the potential for pests to easily destroy an entire crop. Industrial agriculture also consumes large quantities of fossil fuels due to the heavy use of synthetic fertilizer.

2. Promote personal health.

Sustainable farming focuses on raising food that is healthy for consumers.

Industrially raised food is grown with many pesticides and chemicals and is processed with additives and preservatives. These toxins have been linked to a range of diseases and disorders including infertility and birth defects, and can potentially create damage to the nervous system and cause cancer. Other factors that reduce food quality and can threaten our health include the high-stress levels of the animals kept in crowded and confined conditions, the poor quality feed they are given and the potential for cultivating and spreading disease rapidly through the large confinement facilities. Industrial food is also refrigerated and shipped from long distances, decreasing its nutritional value.

3. Promote public health.

By supporting sustainable producers, you are promoting farming practices that do not endanger public health.

Industrial agriculture involves heavy use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers that pollute the water, air and soil near industrial farms and can travel large distances causing problems such as the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Antibiotics are widely used in industrial livestock production, and there is a large body of evidence indicating that this excessive use is leading to antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs that threaten public health.

For more information, read: How Industrial Food Impacts Your Health, Pesticides, Antibiotics, Hormones, GMOs

4. Save family farms.

By eating sustainably, you’re supporting a true American tradition — the small, independent family farmer.

Family farmers are being forced out of business at an alarming rate. The American Farmland Trust estimates that more than an acre of U.S. farmland goes into development every minute. As a result, there are nearly five million fewer farms than there were in the 1930’s. There is also a lack of young farmers: the average age of the American farmer is 55. Many small farms will cease production because farming isn’t economically feasible for the younger generation. If this continues, we will lose our food security and have to rely on industrial agriculture and more food imports from other countries.

For more information, read: Sustainable Agriculture, New Farmers, Local/Regional Food Systems

5. Promote animal welfare.

Sustainably raised animals are treated humanely and are permitted to carry out natural behaviors such as rooting in the dirt and pecking the ground.

Factory farms are large, profit-driven companies that view animals as units of production, rather than living creatures, and exchange the animals’ health and welfare for efficiency and profit. Factory-farmed animals are crammed together in unsanitary conditions where they suffer horribly and are often sick. Most never see sunlight and their feet never touch the ground. These unhealthy animals are then processed for consumption.

6. Support and protect rural communities.

Sustainable farms are an integral part of the local economy, creating new jobs and investing in the community.

Studies have shown that when factory farms enter communities they replace local farmers, causing a downturn in the local economy. They are often too large to be locally supplied and can cause a decrease in property values. In addition, the pollution from these farms endangers the health of the community and negatively impacts the local environment.

7. Empower and protect workers.

Employees on sustainable farms are paid a fair wage, treated with respect and protected from unnecessary dangers.

Workers on factory farms operate in very dangerous conditions. Manure pits on industrial farms create harmful gases such as hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, carbon dioxide, and methane that can contaminate the air that farm laborers breathe. These laborers are often paid minimum wage and have no rights or say in their job. Migrant workers employed by industrial farms are also frequently underpaid and work long hours. Often times these workers are undocumented immigrants, and while there are laws that protect all workers regardless of immigration status equally, industrial farms take advantage of workers’ fear of deportation and forgo many safety and wage requirements.

8. It tastes better.

Sustainable food is delicious!

An added benefit of eating sustainably is that sustainably-raised food simply tastes better. Not so long ago, herbs and spices and sugar were used to enhance the flavor in our food. But in recent decades our taste buds have been corrupted through the use of cheap chemicals and corn syrup to fill that role. We’ve forgotten how wonderfully delicious fresh food tastes as we’ve become acclimated to food that’s polluted with preservatives. The more you try it, the more you’ll learn that sustainable, local food just tastes better.

Create change one forkful at a time.

Why Choose Organic?


What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Organic”? Foodies and nutritionists alike all tout the benefits of eating organic. Why all the hype?

Here’s what CCOF Certification Services has to say about choosing organic:

People are more concerned than ever about what they are eating, and in a world filled with crazy foods, the reasons to buy organic keep piling up! Choosing certified organic foods provides a tangible way for you to benefit the environment, local economies, and public health, both on and off the farm. Organic food supports you, your health, the health of your children, and the planet. Learn more about why buying organic is so important.
Organic for Health

Studies show that organically grown food has higher amounts of Vitamin C, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron – all nutrients vital for healthy functioning of our bodies. Organic fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients and antioxidants, which provide energy and keep you looking young. Data shows that organic milk contains far more omega-3 fatty acids than conventional milk.

Leave Chemicals Off Your Plate

Certified organic agricultural operations (certified organic farmers) avoid the use of most synthetic pesticides found in conventional agriculture. Chemical pesticides and herbicides have been linked to birth defects, obesity, diabetes, ADHD, and other health problems. President Obama’s Cancer Panel reported in 2010 that pesticide exposure is linked to various forms of cancer. The panel strongly recommends that people reduce their exposure to carcinogens by removing toxins from our food, water, and air. Each time you choose organic, you are choosing to leave these chemicals off your plate.
Organic food is safe. Certified organic producers go to great lengths to ensure that their products are safe and risk-free. Get the facts on organic and food safety.
Remember: There are many farmers who advertise their farm and produce as “organic but not certified,” or “pesticide free.” There are no standards in place to validate these claims. Choosing certified organic foods guarantees that what you are eating has met all federal standards and a third-party inspector has visited the facility. Learn more about the steps to organic certification.
Remove Additional Antibiotics and Hormones from the Food Supply Chain
Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that have been given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Synthetic hormones have been linked to premature reproductive development in human females and health problems in livestock.

Say “No” to GMOs!

Organic producers do not use genetic engineering (GE) or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Releasing GMOs into the environment without proper research has unknown consequences on human health, the environment, and biodiversity. Organic farmers must bear the financial and legal burden when their organic crops are contaminated due to drift from conventional fields producing GE crops. Read about CCOF’s work to prevent the spread of genetic engineering.
Not sure if it’s organic? Download our “Understanding Organic Labels” fact sheet for quick access to information on organic labeling.
Organic for the Planet

Organic farmers face the same challenges as non-organic farmers: weeds, pests, diseases, drought, floods, and nutrient requirements. They have made the decision to grow food in a way that protects both people and the planet. Organic farmers are focused on preserving the soil for future generations by farming in a way that sustains nutrients and harbors beneficial organisms (like worms!). Organic farming neither causes nor leads to soil erosion, groundwater contamination, ocean dead zones, or loss of biodiversity.

Preserve the Environment

Organic farmers are required to use Integrated Pest Management practices, protect wildlife, promote biodiversity, and work to improve and maintain native ecosystems. These efforts are documented in the farmer’s Organic System Plan and evaluated by CCOF. Organic production is free of genetic engineering – increasing organic production will help mitigate the unwanted spread of GMO crops and contamination.
Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change
Organic agriculture limits the effects of climate change. Organic farmers are extremely dedicated to the excellent quality of their soil. Research from the Rodale Institute demonstrates that soil under organic production can remove about 7,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the air each year through sequestration. Imagine the impact that more acres of organic production could have on the health of the planet if consumers demanded more organic foods!

The True Value of Organic

Do you think organic is pricey? Organic farming and production practices are costlier and often more time consuming than conventional methods. Plus, government support for organic production is unequal to the support for conventional agriculture. The love and care that goes into growing organic fruits and vegetables is well worth the investment. In fact, many organic foods cost the same or even less than their conventional counterpart! Demanding more organic options and packing your shopping cart with certified organic foods means a lot; it helps grow the marketplace and change our food system.

© 2018 CCOF Certification Services, LLC; CCOF, Inc.; CCOF Foundation

CCOF is a nonprofit organization that advances organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion. We envision a world where organic is the norm.

Do You Really Need To Eat Gluten-Free?


What’s all the fuss about Gluten these days?

That’s what I thought until I did a little investigating. In these days of increased food insentivities, it’s hard to tell if that terrible feeling you get after eating your favorite bread, cookies or pizza is a symptom of chronic celiac disease – or just plain ol’ overindulgence.

If you’re thinking about entering the mystical gluten free zone, here’s some information you might find helpful.
Why Do So Many People Think They Need Gluten-Free Foods?

Some conditions are overdiagnosed, but some are underdiagnosed.
By Darshak Sanghavi

Gluten allows dough to rise and gives bread its texture. People suffering from celiac disease or wheat allergy should not have gluten, but gluten intolerance is less understood.

Gluten is the spongy complex of proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye. As yeast ferments sugar and releases carbon dioxide, gluten inflates like a hot air balloon, giving bread and cakes their delectable texture.
According to USA Today, up to one-quarter of all consumers now want gluten-free food, even though only one person in 100 has celiac disease, the autoimmune disorder worsened by gluten ingestion. Going gluten-free seems somewhat faddish. The roster of celebrities who’ve gone temporarily or permanently off it includes Chelsea Clinton, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Drew Brees, and Oprah Winfrey, among many others.
If only a small fraction of people have celiac disease, why do so many think they need gluten-free foods? It’s tempting to dismiss the phenomenon as the latest hysteria around an over-diagnosed problem. But there is a more nuanced perspective that is more constructive and less judgmental.
To understand the proper role of gluten-free diets requires untangling three separate and unrelated medical problems blamed on gluten: celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten intolerance. Here’s the thing: The first problem is almost certainly underdiagnosed, but the latter two are likely to be overdiagnosed.

Celiac disease occurs in some people when fragments of gluten bond with intestinal proteins and provoke a powerful, misdirected immune overreaction from white blood cells. The friendly fire destroys the microscopic fingers called villi that line the small intestine and normally absorb nutrients. Once bombed out, the intestine can’t function correctly, causing symptoms such as belly pain, diarrhea, iron deficiency, and other severe problems. Celiac disease is properly diagnosed with a blood test followed by an endoscopic biopsy of the small intestine to confirm that villi are damaged.

For hundreds of years, doctors had known that some well-fed children still appeared malnourished, and in the first century the condition was named for the Greek word for the abdomen, or “koelia.” No one knew what caused it until World War II when a Dutch pediatrician realized that a grain shortage dramatically lowered the death rate among children with the disorder from 35 percent to zero.

Today, we know that 1 percent of the world’s population has celiac disease—meaning almost 3 million Americans, of whom only a small fraction have been properly diagnosed. Often sufferers go for 10 years before diagnosis, and many physicians are unfamiliar with the signs. In fact, only one-third of primary-care doctors have correctly suspected or diagnosed it. Instead, some patients are incorrectly labeled as having irritable bowel syndrome, eating disorders, or dietary vitamin deficiency. (In one unusual case, a 5-year-old boy thought to have severe autism actually had celiac disease.) The lack of proper diagnosis is one reason advocacy groups think the condition is still underpublicized.

The second kind of problem that can be caused by gluten is wheat allergy. In this condition, a wheat-specific antibody, called an IgE, causes hives, sudden anaphylaxis, sneezing, and wheezing when someone eats gluten. In contrast to celiac disease, true wheat allergy, also called baker’s asthma, is believed to be pretty rare.
One problem with wheat allergy is that there is no good test for it. In fact, the blood tests for IgE (called RAST tests) are notoriously unreliable; for example, only one in eight children with a positive IgE test for peanuts is truly allergic. (In 2008, medical sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis published a commentary in the British Medical Journal titled, “This allergy hysteria is just nuts.”) Because RAST tests can screen for dozens of possible allergies at once, there is a danger of overdiagnosis, especially when interpreted by nonspecialists.

But the most confusing problems arise with the third problem blamed on gluten: so-called gluten intolerance. This condition is neither an autoimmune disorder, like celiac disease, nor an allergy, like true wheat allergy. There’s not even a mediocre blood test for gluten intolerance. The diagnosis simply relies on someone’s subjective feelings of bloating, bowel changes, or mental fogginess after eating gluten. This is a set-up for all manner of pseudo-scientific self-diagnoses, especially when you consider that 2 percent of people believe they have illnesses caused by magnetic fields.
And yet, a randomized, blinded trial in Italy just showed that one-third of patients with gluten intolerance clearly felt better with gluten-free diets, which confirmed “a distinct clinical condition.” (Since most people can tell wheat-containing baked goods from their gluten-free substitutes, the investigators cleverly had all patients follow gluten-free diets and then take capsules containing either gluten or a placebo.) Another randomized trial published in a reputable journal also showed an improvement in symptoms in some subjects eating a gluten-free diet. Those researchers speculated that sufferers might have a problem not with gluten, but specific sugars called fructans in wheat products.

This is the most frustrating part of gluten intolerance. There are certainly people who have a problem with gluten that’s not autoimmune or allergic. And yet, the data suggest that almost two-thirds of people who think they are gluten intolerant really aren’t. Part of the problem is that there is a lot of really bad science out there on gluten intolerance. As one scientific editorial notes drily, much of the literature “suffers from significant methodological flaws,” such as very small numbers and no control groups. Some websites claim that one’s depression, arthritis, social phobias, or epilepsy, among other problems, might be caused by gluten intolerance.

Until the science gets sorted out, perhaps the best course for physicians is to suspect celiac disease and diagnose or exclude it correctly. They should also help patients sort through the conflicting data on wheat allergy and gluten intolerance. At the same time, patients convinced they have gluten intolerance might do well to also accept that their self-diagnosis may be wrong. In the end, it seems, medical uncertainty can best be approached by a little open-mindedness and humility from us all.


Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist, is a fellow of the Brookings Institution and Slate’s health care columnist.

(Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. All contents © 2018 The Slate Group LLC.)

Can A Smoothie Really Change My Life?

Remember your mother telling you “eat your veggies”?   Well, now you can drink them! For those of us who are always on the go, eating enough fruits and vegetables is easier said than done – all the prepping, slicing, dicing and storing. Who has time for that?  If you’re one celery stick away from insanity, step away from your food chopper and embrace your blender, folks. Smoothies are here – and they just might change your life!

7 Reasons Why Smoothies Can Change Your Life

Smoothies change lives. Really. Now, we’re not referring to those milkshake-like monstrosities that are basically like dessert and contain sweetened fruit juice, sugar and even ice cream (those are nice for a once-in-awhile treat, not breakfast), but rather whole foods smoothies that are full of fruit and vegetable (and nutty) goodness!

A recent documentaryPowered by Green Smoothies, featured five runners and five CrossFitters who were put on a green smoothie drinking regimen and reaped the benefits. Of course, smoothies alone won’t fix a poor diet, but they can make a good addition to a healthy diet, and they found that for people who may not be consuming enough fruits and vegetables (most people) they may be helpful in upping fruit and vegetable intake. So, why not consider adding smoothies to what you eat? Read on for some ways smoothies can change your life:

1. Energy, Especially for Athletes

One finding of the athletes in Powered by Green Smoothies was that adding the smoothies to their diet seemed to increase their energy, decrease recovery time, and also lead to fewer aches and pains. For example, one athlete found that after running a 100-mile race, he was able to recover in just 10 days, rather than his usual month. Theories that RDs (registered dietitians) put out were that the vitamins and minerals in the smoothies helped lower inflammation and therefore decrease soreness, and that the boost in carbohydrates and calories made a big difference to the athletes, who burn through a lot of calories and may not have an adequate calorie or carb intake. Bottom line? If you’re an athlete, it seems you may benefit from incorporating smoothies into your diet, especially if you’re not getting enough calories or fruits and vegetables.

2. More Fruits and Vegetables

Fewer than a quarter of Americans get enough fruits and vegetables, despite the USDA’s recommendations of at least five servings per day. With a smoothie, you can easily incorporate 1-2 cups of greens and 1-1.5 cups of fruit – and it’s a fast and easy way to eat your fruits and vegetables!

3. Fiber

Fiber is an important part of any diet. It prevents constipation, lowers cholesterol and makes you feel full longer. In juice, the fiber has been removed. However, since a smoothie is just blended fruits and vegetables, smoothies still contain valuable fiber!

4. Antioxidants

Antioxidants may prevent or delay cell damage, and fruits and vegetables offer rich sources of them. High-level doses in supplements may cause damage, so it’s best to get your antioxidants from whole foods. You can pack plenty of vegetables and fruits – and therefore antioxidants – into your smoothies. Berries have been shown to be particularly high in antioxidants.

5. Get Lots of Nutrients at Once

Because they’re blended, smoothies provide more nutrients than you could otherwise get in one sitting – a whole lot of fruits and vegetables (without the chewing, too!).

6. More Fun (For You and the Kids)

Smoothies, with their creamy, milkshake-like texture, may satiate us more than other whole foods, and are more fun to make and eat – especially for the kids! You might not be able to get your kids to eat a big bowl of kale, but sneak it into a berry smoothie, and they probably won’t even notice! If you don’t normally drink green smoothies, try starting off with incorporating just a little bit of greens with a lot of fruit, and increasing the amount you add each time you make the smoothie – you won’t even notice the difference.

7. Add-Ins for Extra Nutrients!

Last but not least, the extra additions you include in your smoothie (beyond the basic liquid, fruit and vegetable components) can make all the difference. Optimize the nutrient factor of your smoothie with your add-ins, by including vitamin E-containing nuts and seeds (or all-natural nut butters), which prevents against cell damage that leads to heart disease and cancer. Add pumpkin or sweet potato in place of banana for a similar creamy texture and a good dose of carotenoids, which decrease the risk of eye disease. Finally, adding spices like ginger and cinnamon can provide antioxidants and other health benefits.