Tag Archives: food

Leading The Food Revolution

9 May

I am participating in the 2012 Wordcount Blogathon, which means one post every day for the month of May.

Today’s story starts with Megan, the 15-year-old daughter of my friend Michelle.

In many respects, Megan is a typical teenage girl. There are celebrities she loves and those she cannot bear the thought of. She enjoys going to the movies, has dreams about the future, and when the time comes, she would like to wear a pretty dress to her senior prom.

Except that if things don’t change for Megan soon, there may not be a senior prom. Because in order to go to senior prom, you have to go to high school. And Megan is too sick to go to school.

When Megan started experiencing severe dizziness a couple of years ago, her mom took her to a string of doctors who were not able to identify the cause. Even a week of tests in hospital did not reveal why this young girl was so off-kilter that she had to rely on a wheelchair.

The dizziness was not Megan’s only problem. She had a prolonged bout of respiratory illness, her periods were problematic from the very first day, and she became unable to sleep for more than two or three hours a night, in spite of being constantly exhausted.

Eventually, doctors were able to determine that Megan had Fatty Liver Disease. It became clear to her mom, Michelle, that poor nutritional choices had led to this outcome.

But Michelle, who has endured a lot of hardship in her life, is not one to be beaten down. Instead of simply accepting Megan’s condition, she decided to do something about it, not only for her own family, but for her entire community. She started by setting up a Facebook group for people suffering from Fatty Liver Disease.

Then she started making radical changes to her own and her daughter’s lifestyles.

While Michelle acknowledges her role in making less-than-ideal food choices for Megan, she points out that many parents simply do not understand the implications of the foods that they and their families consume. As a society, we are so caught-up in healthy-sounding labels like sugar-free this-thing or low-fat that-thing.

There is no denying the fact that food manufacturers hire very smart marketing companies who can successfully deceive entire segments of the population into believing that something is good for you when it’s actually leading you to an earlier grave.

Michelle decided that it was time for this to change, and so she has spearheaded the organization of an event in her community that will teach children and adults about healthy eating habits in a fun and engaging way. The Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day is a global event being held in communities everywhere on Saturday, May 19th.

Michelle is organizing the event in London, Ontario. This day promises to provide entertainment and enlightenment for the whole family. Kids will enjoy such activities as making fruit or vegetable characters , while adults will learn how to make sense of those confusing nutrition labels and how to easily incorporate healthy eating into our busy lifestyles.

If you live anywhere near London, Ontario,  it is well worth attending this event. For details give Michelle a call at +1 226 234 4006.

And if you don’t live in London? Check out the Food Revolution website to see if there’s an event near you. It is going to be a global phenomenon on May 19th, with hundreds of public events and dinner parties in more than 300 cities worldwide.

Today’s children are the first generation who, on average, will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Michelle is determined to do what she can to turn the tide not only for Megan, but for other kids in the community.

Let’s all support the Food Revolution on May 19th. Together, we can truly change the world for our children.

(Photo credit: Denise Testa, JD Communication and Design)

Better Running Starts With A Kitchen Makeover

28 Jan

My 2010 Run For Autism

Two days from now, my 2012 training season officially begins. Over the last couple of weeks, I have gone running a few times and learned how to do the strength training exercises that have been prescribed for me. I have been reading through the plethora of material provided in my Precision Nutrition kit. I have been trying to prepare myself for this season, mentally and physically.

This weekend sees the final push, the last preparations before I start my training program. It’s kind of like preparing for a trip. You spend weeks or months figuring out where you want to go and how you plan to get there. You sort out details like visas and passports, you make lists of what you want to take, you sort out someone to take care of the dog. And then, for two or three days prior to your departure, you rush around in a frenzy of activity, packing your bags and confirming all of the details.

To follow the analogy, I am now in the process of packing for the trip and doing all of that stuff that brings all of the prior planning together and ties it up in a neat bundle.

Here’s what my weekend has in store for me:

  • Today, my kitchen is getting a makeover. I am emptying out the cupboards and repacking them. I will finally throw away the baby bottles that have been lurking unused at the back of the top shelf for the last five years. Now that I have decent pots and pans, I can get rid of the old dented ones with chipped handles and thereby add valuable space to my tiny kitchen. The fridge will be organized in preparation for tomorrow’s grocery shopping trip.
  • Meals for the next two weeks will be planned.
  • I will make a list for said grocery shopping trip. I will buy what’s on the list, and only what’s on the list. The husband will not be permitted to add unauthorized items to the cart.
  • I will go through the training program that my friend and coach Phaedra has given me, and I will add all of my runs to my wall calendar. I will also schedule them on my Outlook calendar. Once they’re scheduled, they have to happen, right?
  • I will get my home workspace organized in a way that it will stay organized. This will make it easier for me to get things done in less time. When my space is cluttered, my mind is cluttered and that doesn’t help anyone.
  • I will finally put away the mountains of clean and folded laundry that I have everywhere. I spend ridiculous amounts of time digging around for clothing that I could find in five seconds if I was organized.

This is a lot to get through in one weekend, but I am excited about doing it. I even have an incentive: if I do all of these things, on Monday I will reward myself with a new pair of sports headphones I’ve had my eye on, and this will give me a wonderful musical experience when I’m running.

I am looking forward to making new starts in my life. I am looking to creating some desperately needed balance, and doing things for myself that will make me happier and healthier. I have been languishing for too long in this feeling of being overwhelmed by my life. It feels good to be taking action and making plans.

I intend to post weekly updates on my progress, every Saturday. Come with me as I embark on this journey. It may not always be easy, and I’ll need cheerleaders along the way!


I never could get the hang of Thursdays

21 Oct

I’m having one of those days. You know, the kind where you realize, by ten in the morning, that if you make it to dinnertime without breaking a leg and accidentally causing a twelve-car pileup on the highway, it will be nothing short of a miracle. Just one of those days where a lot of irritating little things pile up to create one big jumble of irritation.

I overslept this morning.  By more than an hour. I woke up about ten minutes after I should have been walking out of the house. I should have seen it coming, really. I haven’t slept well for about two weeks, and last night my head was literally buzzing with exhaustion. My body was bound to crash and burn sooner or later.

It was the sound of James crying that woke me up. He had woken up thirsty and no-one had given him his morning milk. Of course they hadn’t.  The customary milk-getter was slumbering away, oblivious to everything, while the customary milk-gettee waited patiently – and in vain. When the sound of the crying pierced my somewhat sluggish consciousness, I glanced at the clock, had about thirty-seven panicky thoughts in three milliseconds (all variations of the same theme, which was: “Oh, crap!”), and flew out of bed.

I got James his milk and warned him that things were about to get really chaotic. Into the bathroom, hair brushed into a big-haired, frizzy mess (no time for the hair-straightener), makeup perfunctorily applied, back into the bedroom, clothes thrown on, brief pause in frenzied activity for the purpose of breathing. Somewhere during all of this I tossed James’ clothes at him and hurriedly pleaded with him to put them on. James, who is used to me being a bit slow and dim-witted first thing in the morning, was stunned into compliance.

As I walked by my desk, I saw a note from James’ teacher with a list of what was needed for today’s field trip to a farm. Quickly, I scanned the list to make sure I had taken care of everything. Yes, I had dug out a pair of rubber boots for James to wear while trudging through the pumpkin patch.  Yes, I had put mitts and a scarf in his bag in case it got cold. Yes, I had supplied a plastic bag for the pumpkin that James would pick out. No, I had not made him a packed lunch.

I never make packed lunches for James. There is a snack program at his school, and he gets lunch and afternoon snack at the daycare. The one day that I actually have to make him a packed lunch (and of course, forget), just has to be the one day on which I oversleep.  Go figure. So I grabbed bread, margarine, and slices of cheese, and somehow managed to arrange all of this into a sandwich without lopping off a finger. Goldfish crackers. A couple of juice boxes.

OK. Packed lunch was made. I was dressed. James was dressed. My travel mug was filled with fresh, hot coffee and ready to go.

Somehow I made it out of the front door with James in tow, fifteen minutes after waking up. If I forgot anything, I don’t know about it yet. I got James to the daycare in time for his breakfast. The transit gods were with me: an express bus pulled up to the bus stop about thirty seconds after I got there. I got to work just twenty minutes or so later than usual.  So, not bad, considering how my morning started.

I returned a couple of phone calls and answered some emails. I reviewed my list of things to do today, and checked my calendar. Only one meeting today. Good. Then I went downstairs to get a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich. The same guy who’s always there took my order.  A breakfast sandwich with bacon and a splash of ketchup, on an English muffin. I get breakfast sandwiches once or twice a week, always ordering the same thing from the same person. He could probably recite my order in his sleep. It’s nice. There’s comfort in predictability.

With coffee and sandwich in my hand, I returned to my desk and called Gerard, my husband-to-be. I wanted to know if the lady from our wedding venue had called him back. She had promised to call us this morning to tell us which of two dates we could have the hall for. I have been waiting for this day, waiting for the answer. It all hinges on one guy who had made a tentative booking on our preferred date, to use the hall for a darts tournament. As it turned out, the lady from the hall did call Gerard, but she didn’t have an answer for us. The darts tournament man is not reachable because he’s gone hunting.

Hunting? What is this, The Clan Of the Cave Bear?

Apparently, we’ll get an answer by the weekend. I don’t want to wait until the weekend.  I want to know now. But there’s nothing I can do about it, so I’ll have to wallow in my frustration for two or three more days.

With the phonecall to Gerard done, I unwrapped my breakfast sandwich, looking forward to the comfort and risk-averse nature of eating something that I’ve eaten dozens of times before. And I was bitterly disappointed.

Sandwich Guy messed up. First, there was the state of the muffin, which can only be described one way: burned. The outer edges of the muffin had actually burned to a crisp. The rest of it was just one step away from being charred. I could also tell right away that the ketchup had been left off. There was no tell-tale smudge of ketchup peeking out from the edge. Worst of all, though, is that instead of bacon, my breakfast sandwich had been made with ham. So much for the comfort of familiarity.

I was faced with a dilemma. Do I eat a sandwich I don’t want and am pretty sure I won’t like? Or do I schlepp downstairs to complain and get a new sandwich made?  After thinking about it for a minute, I reasoned that maybe Sandwich Guy was having a bad day too. Maybe he too had overslept, forgotten until the last second that his kid needed a packed lunch, been late for work, and discovered that the provider of much-anticipated information was off hunting like Indiana-Freaking-Jones.  I also recognized that if I actually did go back downstairs, I’d probably be meaner to Sandwich Guy than the situation called for, and I might make him cry. Not to be judgmental, but he does look like a bit of a cry-baby – um, sensitive person.

So I sat at my desk and half-heartedly ate my burned, ketchup-free, wrong-meat sandwich. I did not enjoy it. The coffee, however, was outstanding.

As I reached under my desk to throw the sandwich wrapper and empty coffee cup into my waste basket, I pulled a back muscle.

I’m starting to think that me and this day just aren’t going to get along.