Category Archives: Opinion

Antibacterial Nonsense!

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 12.55.13 PM This article reviews how the FDA is now questioning the safety of antibacterial soaps. What do I have to say? Finally!  I have been avoiding antibacterial anything for years.  I have studied bacteria for years.  From my university days when I minored in biology to my nutrition studies where I learned about beneficial bacteria and its impact on our health.  Bacteria has never scared me because I understood its role in our everyday life.  Our bodies are covered with naturally occurring (good) bacteria that actually help guard against invaders such as fungus, viruses and harmful bacteria.  Think of them as the army that stands guard ready to rise up and defend us at a moment’s notice. 

What would happen if we wiped out that army?  We would be invaded by the bad guys and perhaps those bad guys would take over and destroy us.  At the very least something would get damaged.

This is precisely what we do when we use antibacterial products.  Regular soap and water will wash away the ‘bad’ stuff but pretty much leaves the good bacteria relatively unharmed.  Antibacterial soap or products are much less discriminating. They will wipe out the good and bad bacteria (they have also been discovered to disrupt hormones, thyroid function and brain development in children).

Ever hear of ‘super bugs’?  These were thought to develop because of the misuse of antibiotics.  Certain strains of bacteria have built up a resistance to antibiotics forcing researchers to come up with stronger and different antibiotics, same thing is happening in regards to antibacterial soaps.

We are a society obsessed with germs and manufacturers have jumped on board driving more fear into us that we somehow will die of the plague if we don’t dunk our kids in a vat of antibacterial gel several times a day.

Some say our obsession to keep our kids sterile has lead to the increase in food allergies.  Jury is still out on that one but I think there is validity in that statement when you look at the development of the immune system in children.  The first year of life is when the immune system catalogues the good from the bad; creating a kind of library.  Simply put; dirt bad, banana good.  When the immune system is not exposed to the bad, the bad is not filed away for future reference and can create confusion as to what is good and what is bad.  This is a very simplified explanation, I could write many more pages as to the theory of how this works but this gives you an idea of where the thought process came from in regards to antibacterial use and food allergies.

My generation and generations before me didn’t grow up with antibacterial anything.  We washed with soap and water and I can’t remember my mother running after me with a bottle of hand sanitizer making sure my hands were always clean.  I used to pull carrots out of the garden, wipe them on my pants and chow down.  How many parents would go into cardiac arrest if their children did that today?

I agree we need to be aware and not let our kids lick the floor in the grocery store, make sure they are washing their hands on a regular basis (with soap and water) and have them cough into their shirt sleeve, but are we doing them more harm than good by being germ-a-phobic and surrounding them with everything antibacterial?  I think so, but that is just one woman’s opinion.  My house is an antibacterial free zone, always has been, always will be and my kids get sick very infrequently.  Compared to other kids when they were growing up the number of school days they missed because of colds or flu was basically zero.  Broken bones and concussions well that is a whole other blog!

I rarely applaud the FDA about anything but this decision to require companies to prove, antibacterial products are beneficial, for that I am giving them a standing ovation!

I Am Back: On Cruises and Customer Service.

So I am back from my 2 week honeymoon in Europe.  It is weird saying I was on my honeymoon at my age but that is what it was and I had a fabulous time. Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.14.53 AM

My amazing husband (I am still getting used to calling him my husband) took care of booking our honeymoon and planning every detail of it.  I took care of the wedding and somehow I think he had the much ‘funner’ task but I am grateful.

When he first suggested a cruise I was “Ugh! Seriously??”  You see we did a cruise a couple of years ago with my oldest son and his friend during March Break.  Picture a very large cruise ship, packed with the spring break crowd whose only goal was to see how drunk they could get every night!  It was a nightmare to say the least.  I was grateful it was only a 5 day cruise because after the 3rd day I committed to jumping over the side if it didn’t end soon.  The food was crap, the ship was packed, we spent the days just wondering the ship because these lovely spring breakers would throw their towels over the deck chairs the night before then sleep until noon, wander up to the pool deck and lay in the sun getting drunk the rest of the day, only to leave after the sun went down.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.13.22 AM  I was less than enthused to go on another cruise.  Well I have to say I had the time of my life.  We cruised for 10 days with Regent Seven Seas Cruise line and stopped in 10 ports around the Mediterranean.  The weather was warm and sunny every day, not a drop of rain fell the whole time we were gone.  The best thing about this cruise line was it was an all-inclusive.  They flew us to Rome and put us up in a hotel a couple of days before the actual cruise started.  They had a representative at the hotel that organised a tour of Rome at night and a dinner and they even provided a shuttle to and from the city centre several times a day.  We were then transported to the port where we checked in and got on the ship.  When we got to our suite we were surprised to find a bottle of champagne, flowers and a cake that said Happy Honeymoon.  I was so impressed!  Our suite was incredible, king size bed, a sitting area with a TV, desk, bar and fridge that was stocked with drinks and alcohol, all included in the price. We had a huge walk in closet and a bathroom with a tub and separate shower and more storage than I have at home!  Our room was cleaned twice a day; bed was turned down at night and chocolates left on our pillow.  We had the option of leaving a breakfast card on the door every night requesting what time we wanted our breakfast the next morning.  We fully took advantage of this; every morning!  Did I mention the balcony where you found us most mornings eating our room service meal?

The food was amazing (you can tell by tightness of my jeans on my return).  My husband was convinced the closet was shrinking his clothes!  Every morning I was sent an advanced copy of the menu for the main restaurant.  I got to pick what I wanted and then they made sure it was prepared according to my food allergies.  I really appreciated their attention to my special needs when it came to my diet.  They also provided a ‘Spa’ menu for those who were concerned with fat, salt and sugar intake.  The coffee bar had no sugar added cookies and I could have requested gluten free cookies had I thought I needed yet another treat to fill out my waist line!

As a business owner and someone who used to teach a customer service class, I was so impressed with the staff, they were so friendly, efficient and you felt like they truly appreciated choosing their cruise line.

Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

If you are thinking of taking a cruise, check out this company.  The price was higher than I thought we should pay but when you look at the fact we never had to open our wallets after we got on the ship it was really a fantastic deal.

Ok so now that the honeymoon is over it is back to reality, worst part of the vacation is I missed all my amazing customers!  So glad to be back and connecting with all of you again.

 

Vito and I

Vito and I

Vacation, Stress Relief and Happy Times

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By the time you read this I will be somewhere in the Mediterranean enjoying my honeymoon with my new hubby. 

Now I have done this before and got two wonderful sons out of the deal but I never had a wedding nor did I get a honeymoon.  So I am about as giddy as one can get.

Wedding planning is OK in the beginning when you are looking at venues and picking out coordinating linens. Visions of Cinderella in your head and imagining your best girlfriends giggling and pitching in to help.

Insert screeching tires here!  Yeah it is nothing like that when you get down to the wire.  The last month has been a scheduling nightmare with the wedding party, getting my boys school schedule co-ordinated with the wedding schedule and all the little details that I hate organizing.  On top of that add running a household with two teenage boys a dog and a fiancé that just can’t understand why you are in melt down mode because after 13 specialty stores you still can’t find a square silver cake stand that fits the vision in your head!  Oh did I mention running a business and trying to provide the same level of service to your customers.

I soooo need this vacation.  My anxiety level was through the roof with the thought of leaving my business for two weeks.  I convinced myself I was going to Europe to check out all the gluten free options available so I felt better about taking a vacation.  Anyone that owns their business knows that leaving it for an extended period of time knows it is like leaving your baby.

Wish me luck and I guess wish my new hubby the patience to put up with my anxiety and my neurotic thought of “OMG how will things survive without me?” I hope to bring back many memories and be slightly more relaxed than I am right now.  Everyone has asked me to post some pictures so stay tuned.

Stop the Gluten-free jokes! Please.

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I am thankful for so many things and I try to practice thankfulness everyday. But I have to be honest I can be genuinely thankful for many things and sometimes I get annoyed too. I’m human.  So here it goes…

Why is GF the butt of many jokes?

Caution, angry rant to follow!

Canadian Thanksgiving just finished so I spent the weekend with family and friends surrounded by gluten filled stuffing, cakes and cookies.  Of course I had to hear once again all the jokes about eating gluten free.  “What makes food taste so good?………GLUTEN!”  Ha ha ha ha ha, yeah that was so funny, why don’t you change the record?

20 years ago one of my good friends was lactose intolerant.  We would order pizza but without cheese.  No one ever made him feel bad about it.  No one ever said “what makes cheese taste so good?…..LACTOSE!”  No, that is really not funny, is it?  We have had lactose free milk for as long as I can remember and Lactaid tablets you can pop in your glass of milk to help you digest it. It is a non issue. No one makes fun or jests about it, we just go on about out lives.

What are the symptoms of lactose intolerance?  Well if you ingest lactose you get a lot of GI distress, gas bloating stomach pain, you feel like your intestines are in knots…..hmmmm does this sound familiar?  Pretty much the same symptoms I experience if I eat gluten but yet some people feel they need to make fun at every meal.  Do they lack that much self confidence that they feel the need to make fun of someone’s diet? Perhaps they are just stupid and lack social graces to just live and let live.  Are they so devoid of humour that is all they can find to joke about is a gluten-free diet?

I mean seriously if someone is diabetic would they be saying “you know what makes food so good?….sugar!” What a loser you can’t eat sugar!  Ha ha ha ha sugar can cause you pain and it might kill you but man that is funny and I think I will make joke after joke after joke about it because I am that simple and ignorant.

I am so tired of someone’s diet being the butt of jokes.  I don’t care if it is a choice or a medical need NOT to eat gluten, it is no one’s business but your own.

I didn’t sit there watching people eating stuffing, cookies and cake and comment on how big their gut was getting.  Wow!  Have another cookie and perhaps you can have a triple chin instead of a double chin!  Ha ha you are getting so fat because you shovel gluten filled, sugar filled food into your mouth like someone who hasn’t seen food in years!

No because that is rude and it would hurt someone’s feelings and quite frankly it is none of my damn business what someone eats!

Because Monday was a holiday I had the TV on during the day.  Flipping through the channels I stopped on the Kathy Lee and Hoda show (or whatever it is called).  They had a burger laden with cheese, Kathy Lee took a bite but Hoda declined saying she could not eat it because she was lactose intolerant.  This is the same woman who made fun of people who ate gluten free.  Really Hoda?  It is ok for you to be lactose intolerant but there is something wrong with me because I eat gluten free?  Does that make you a picky eater like apparently people who abstain from gluten are?

Can we please move on from making GF just a great big joke?  You know what is funny?  That camel on the Geico commercial “Hey Mike, Mike, Mike, guess what day it is? Guess what day it is?”  That cracks me up! If you haven’t seen it you should. Funny stuff!

A Little Off Topic

4056_wpm_lowresThis came across my email this week and it really touched me:

A well-known speaker started off his seminar by: holding up a $20.00 bill. In the room of 200, he asked, ‘Who would like this  $20 bill?’  Hands started going up. He said, ‘I am going to give this $20 to one of you but first, let me do this. He proceeded to crumple up the $20 dollar bill. 

He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’ Still the hands were up in the air. Well, he replied, ‘What if I do this?’ And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty. ‘Now, who still wants it?’ Still the hands went into the air.

My friends, we have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20. Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way.

We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value. Dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to those who DO LOVE you.  The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or who we know, but by WHO WE ARE and WHOSE WE ARE.

YOU ARE SPECIAL -DON’T EVER FORGET IT.

This spoke to me because it is so easy for us to beat ourselves up when we mess up and think the worse of ourselves when we make a mistake.  This is something I have to constantly tell myself. As an entrepreneur every decision that affects the business is usually mine and mine alone.  When things go wrong there is no one but me to point to.

As long as we can learn from our mistakes, get up dust ourselves off and keep going well how can that not be something positive.  Mistakes are just that…..a mistake.  They don’t make us bad, or stupid, or worthless.  They just make us human. 

 

More Mis-Information and Bullying over Food Allergies & Sensitivities.

So May was Celiac and Allergy awareness month.  This month there were a couple of high profile stories about basically people making fun of celiacs and their diets. Toast being thrown, the disease being called trendy etc.  I learned of an incident recently where a child was bullied at a party because he has Celiac Disease.  Another kid tried cramming cheezies in his mouth saying “can you eat this can you eat this?”

This is completely inexcusable and just mean but where does it come from?  Food Allergies/sensitivities are a fairly new phenomenon.  When I was a kid you never heard of food allergies/sensitivities even though they existed.  When I was 4 I was diagnosed with hyper activity.  The doctor put me on Phenobarbital which did nothing but make me sleepy.  Then an old Indian nurse my mother worked with told her to take me off all food dyes as I may not tolerate them.  At the time I lived on Tang, this fake orange juice full of red and yellow food dyes.  Within a few days of being off Tang I calmed down to normal 4 year old business.  No mention was ever made to the fact I may be allergic to food dyes.  I had a friend that couldn’t drink milk because he got a rash around his mouth, was he allergic, no he just couldn’t drink milk, that was the thought back them.

Fast forward to today and we hear of food allergies/sensitivities almost every day.  Unfortunately attitudes and knowledge has not kept pace.  15 years ago when I went gluten free because of an intolerance, my friends thought I was just being difficult.  “just eat it, why do you have to be so difficult?” was a phrase I heard all the time.  Many times I did “just eat it” and dealt with the consequences after.  I am very conscience of today of ‘putting’ people out because of my food allergies/sensitivities.  Should it be that way, NO! Do I shout it from the roof tops, no, I try and educate where I can.  For the most part when I let people know how bad I feel when I eat certain foods and that I could die from eating certain foods then they have a better understanding.  I don’t scold, I don’t make them feel bad because they don’t understand and I don’t lash out, I try and always come from a place of love when there is an issue around understanding.  I am sure if I was still feeling like crap and just starting to deal with my food allergies/sensitivities my coming from a place of love would not be so much of a place of love but from a place of being p’ed off for having to defend my food choices.

Nothing good ever comes from anger, all around we need more understanding, more compassion from both sides.  Was Disney trying to get a laugh?  Yes of course, what they didn’t understand that for someone with Celiac disease getting toast thrown at you can not only be embarrassing but scary as well. Would they do a show with someone with a peanut allergy?  Probably not but then again there is way more understanding around peanut allergies. Many people have jumped on the no-gluten bandwagon not because there has been a diagnosis but because they feel bit better not eating it or they think they will lose weight.  I think that is great but for those of us diagnosed with either celiac disease or gluten intolerance we get lumped into the ‘trendy’ category.

It makes us easy targets to make fun of unfortunately.  I have gotten miffed when a waiter says in a condescending tone “oh you are gluten free”.  Yes, yes I am and I was before it became ‘trendy’.  If you don’t believe this is real I dare you to feed me gluten then stand down wind of me 2 hours later, it really is not very pretty and certainly not fragrant!

So whether I eat gluten free or because it is trendy or because I have a medical need what business is it of anyone else’s.  When my kids were little I chose to feed them very wholesomely, I didn’t allow them to have sugary cereal or treats, they ate gluten free and didn’t drink juices or soda pop.  Did everyone agree with my decision?  Of course not, my own mother told me I was being abusive to my kids for not letting them eat Fruit Loops.  Here is the thing though, I have never judged those moms I see going through the McDonald’s drive through handing their kids a Happy Meal and a soda pop, why?  Because; it is their choice; for their child.  I have no right to question the way another child is fed or another person chooses to feed themselves.  I have no idea if the mom is just being lazy or if she has had a really crap day and all she can muster is a trip to McDonald’s, I have no idea if 364 other days in the year she feeds her kid organic home cooked meals.  It is none of my business as it is none of anyone else’s business as to what I choose to feed myself or my children.  If you are not living in my shoes you have no idea why I have made the choices I have.

Bullying is all over the media, schools have anti-bullying policies, we run seminars on bullying but somehow it is ok to bully someone about their food choices which for many of us is not a choice it is a necessity.  It shouldn’t matter if you have a medical condition or not what you choose to feed yourself or your family should never ever be the fodder for a tv show or news feed or as a way to sell media.

Watch 10 minutes of any Real Housewives show and you can see how bullying is completely ok to sell a show and ok for us to sit and watch and be entertained by; but if a troubled kid bullies his classmate well that is taboo they are painted as being evil.   If the media is going to get behind this anti-bullying campaign then they need to take a very long look in the mirror and realise how they are contributing to the problem.  Hello Disney!  How is a child is suppose to watch a show where someone is throwing toast at a person that is Celiac/gluten intolerance etc and separate that from bullying their classmate with words or worse their fists?  How do they separate a bunch of ‘housewives’ calling each other names and shouting at each other; from calling their classmates names and shouting at them? Let’s be examples for our kids in every aspect, let’s not support media that promotes bullying as entertainment.

So from a place of love and tolerance I am asking the media to think before they act or speak and have some compassion for their fellow man.  Whether you think someone is being trendy or difficult you don’t always have the whole story so just keep your opinions to yourself and let them eat <gluten free> cake!