Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipes

Hello there wellness lovers!

I hope this post finds you well! (And for many of you, getting excited about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday!)

Today I wanted to share some new delicious-looking side dish recipes, created by fellow bloggers that I am excited to try! Pinterest-inspired, of course. ;) I think that these side dishes would compliment any Thanksgiving dinner nicely.

And... I also wanted to let you know about the latest scholarship opportunity for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition! (where I received my nutrition training)

Here are the recipes...

Glazed Carrots with Pecans by My Recipes

Crispy Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Jessica Sanders

Sweet Potato Salad by Kalyn's Kitchen

I can't wait to give these dishes a try! Just picked up a brussels sprouts stalk from Trader Joe's today, which I am very excited about... :)

Have a lovely week! And... Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 2, 2012

And here we have... GMO food!

Well, hello there wellness lovers!

And happy Friday!

Today I wanted to share an ecard I came across via Pinterest:

It kind of made me laugh at first... but then I started thinking how most people would actually believe a company that would say this type of thing.

Some days I really wonder about the future of humanity... I really hope Prop 37 passes in California: at least people will become more aware of the food they are consuming and feeding their families.

Have a lovely day!


P.S. Have you heard of the "Epicyte gene"? If you haven't, I highly recommend googling it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Yoga's many benefits... and a personal journey

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I have guest blogger, Carolyn, from Full-On-Fit, here to talk about some of the benefits of yoga, as well as share insight from her personal journey to discovering the practice of yoga!

 Photo by RelaxingMusic
My Journey to Yoga
by Carolyn Fallon

An individual’s yoga experience is something so unique. It’s a little hard to describe because it is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I am not all well versed on the technical jargon used to describe the poses or whatever, but I can give you a glimpse of what I experienced in my first yoga class.  

First, let me start off by giving you a little background. My fitness background consists of spinning and boot camp classes. I was a long-time member of a local gym nearby that offered challenging classes that really helped me take my fitness to another level. The classes are intense and challenging on so many levels. The energy levels of the classes are foreign to me and I appreciate the motivating instructors. I highly recommend any of the two classes. I have nothing but rave reviews for both.

So, why a yoga class?

Well, I feel like it’s necessary to step outside of your comfort zone occasionally from time to time. What better way to do that than experiment a little? I decided to try out a yoga class.

I had done a great deal of research on the subject of yoga. I knew it would be something totally different from anything I’ve experienced. The weight loss, inner peace and flexibility benefits were all benefits of interest to me, but the flexibility benefit appealed to me the most.

Many yoga classes are structured in a way that helps you adjust to stretching your body safely. The poses are designed minimize the risk of injury. The conditioning aspect from yoga classes can help improve your range of motion, promoting flexibility over time. Even sports teams are trying yoga. Dr. Glen Axelrod of the Center for Orthopedic & Spine Care claims, “Many professional athletic teams use yoga as an integral part of their training.”

And now the adventure: my first yoga class

It was exciting! Even though I had research it a great deal, I was still very surprised at how the experience affected me. I was fortunate enough to have a friend accompany me to this new experience. She had been practicing it for some time, so it wasn’t anything new for her. Thankfully, she was gracious enough to help me through the basics like the best attire to wear.  

Coming from a world of high impact, loud instructional group exercise format to a quiet setting was an adjustment. The people in the class were so quiet. I remember looking around and marveling at how all of the people appeared to be in their own world. The peaceful environment was perfect.

We started off with this mountain pose and transitioned into a warrior pose. I learned a new word, “asanas”, and how the term applies to all of the poses in yoga. I learned the importance of breathing and how it affects the experience. There were some hiccups along the way, but I had a supportive friend who quietly reassured me and kept me going.

I felt so accomplished finishing that class. I now practice it regularly on my own alone. There something about the yoga experience that transforms you. I love taking that time out on a daily basis to nurture myself.  

Carolyn Fallon is a 20-something year old with a passion for life, fitness and overall well being.  She is an avid spinner, healthy cooking enthusiast and lover of life. Check out Carolyn’s blog Full-On Fit!

Have an excellent day!!


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The saturated fat myth debunked in 2 minutes and 35 seconds

Hello there wellness lovers!

Today I wanted to share a gem of a video, sent to me by my lovely sister Alyssa.

It's called, 'Big Fat Lies'... the saturated fat myth debunked in two minutes and thirty five seconds, and it a clip from the documentary "Fat Head."

Guess what? Fat and cholesterol don't cause heart disease. The theory was based on bogus science from the very beginning.

Thoughts? :)

If you would like to read for yourself more information about fats, I highly recommend the following books.

"Nourishing Traditions"by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
"Eat Fat, Lose Fat" by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
"Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food" by Catherine Shanahan MD

Also, you might be interested in checking out the Weston A. Price Foundation, which is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets. Dr. Price's research demonstrated that humans achieve perfect physical form and perfect health generation after generation only when they consume nutrient-dense whole foods and the vital fat-soluble activators found exclusively in animal fats.

If you have been reading my blog since 2010, you may remember that I was a vegan. Based on some popular books I had read, as well as a few trendy blogs... I was convinced that a vegan diet was the way to optimal health.

However, at the beginning of 2011... I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which teaches 100+ dietary theories and the idea of 'bioindividuality'. At the beginning of the program... founder/director of the school, Joshua Rosenthal, assured us that whatever dietary philosophy we were currently following, we would be experimenting with others by the end of the year. He said that vegan IIN students would be eating meat by the end of the year... and that meat-eaters might become vegan.

I remember thinking... "Yeah right, nothing will convince me to reconsider animal products." But Joshua was right...  :)

Have a great day!!


Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Cultivate Mental Clarity with Yoga!

Greetings wellness lovers! I hope you are having an excellent week!

Today I have a special article for you by guest blogger Valerie Johnston... all about the mental benefits of yoga! 

In college, I discovered the effectiveness of yoga when it came to managing stress... and ever since my first yoga class, it's been an essential element of my multi-weekly well-being routine. :)

Cultivate Mental Clarity with Yoga

By Valerie Johnston, Healthline
Photo credit: RelaxingMusic

Yoga is an ancientdiscipline that originated in India thousands of years ago. Since the practiceof yoga was introduced to the West in the late 19th century, agrowing number of people became familiar with the discipline until it explodedin popularity in the 1980s. Over the last few decades, yoga has become ahousehold name and is practiced by people from all walks of life.  

A growing number of peoplepractice yogaas a part of their fitness program. Yoga can be used to increase flexibility,reduce the risk of injury, boost stamina, develop strength, and many otheraspects of fitness. 

There is also a strongpsychological component to yoga. Individuals who suffer from anxiety ordepression, for example, may find that they also have difficulty concentrating.Chronic anxiety and depression have a way of causing a mental fog that does notallow a person to think clearly. Other mental health disorders can also reducebrain function and cause cloudy thinking. Even if you don’t suffer from amental health issue such as generalized anxiety disorder or depression, you maystill struggle to maintain mental clarity. In the modern world, many of us areconstantly bombarded by information and live busy lifestyles. Yoga gives us away to slow down and clear our minds.

Adopting the Yogic Lifestyle

Developing positive mentalhealth takes a well-rounded approach. Self-acceptance, positive relationshipswith other people, personal growth, a healthy diet, and regular exercise,including yoga, are all important factors that contribute to improved mentalhealth. Without a healthy balance of these benefits in your life, it can bedifficult to maintain mental clarity.
Adopting a yogic lifestyleis easier than ever. There are a number of resources people can use to beginthe practice of yoga, no matter where you live. If you have access to a yogaclass, this is the best way to gain hands-on experience in the practice. An experiencedteacher can show you how to perform poses (asanas) that result in a healthiermind and body. Many people leave yoga classes feeling a dramatically improvedsense of well-being and mental clarity. These benefits typically extend intoone’s work life, social life, and family life.

If you don’t have access toa yoga class near you, there are plenty of helpful DVDs, books, and onlineresources that will help you get started. If improved emotional well-being andmental clarity are your goals, then look for resources that demonstrate how toperform poses that assist in achieving these objectives.

Focused Breathing and Yoga

While breathing is a naturalinstinct for humans, you may be surprised to discover that you do not breathein a way that optimizes your emotional and physical health. Deep breathing andfocused breathing are a common part of yoga practice. Developing properbreathing techniques can have a dramatic affect on your ability to concentratein any given situation. Proper breathing will also ensure that an ideal amountof oxygen reaches your internal organs and muscles, which will promote youroverall fitness.

Focusing the Mind

How often do you reach fordistractions in your everyday life? While there’s nothing wrong with listeningto an iPod, watching television, text messaging, or using other modern devices,there is a growing addiction to these distractions. Overuse of devices fordistraction can cause our mental well-being to become unbalanced, which canlead to memory problems, anxiety, lack of clarity, and other issues. Throughthe regular practice of yoga and other body-mind techniques, you will be ableto achieve higher levels of mental clarity, awareness, lucidity, and emotionalwellness. As an added advantage, you will also be able to improve your physicalfitness so that you both look and feel increasingly rejuvenated.

Valerie Johnston is a health andfitness writer located in East Texas. With ambitions of one day running amarathon and writing for Healthline.comensures she keeps up-to-date on all of the latest health and fitness news.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did! What's your favorite mental benefit of yoga?

Have a lovely week!!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Pumpkin season is in full swing!

Well, hello there!

Happy October 1st! Now that pumpkin season is in full swing... I wanted to talk about the benefits of the cheery autumn squash, as well as share some of my favorite pumpkin recipes!

What are the nutritional benefits of pumpkin?

Pumpkin is loaded in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium,  fiber, and manganese. It's also an excellent source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, copper, tryptophan, and B vitamins. (B1, B6, B3, B5)

Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, bones, teeth, skin, and the reproductive system. It's also an antioxidant, protecting against free radicals that can cause ailments such as heart disease and cancer.

Vitamin C is excellent for your body's immune system, helps your body manage stress, can lower high blood pressure, and is also a powerful antioxidant.

Potassium is an electrolyte that assists with maintaining the correct balance of water in your body. It regulates blood pressure and heart function.

Fiber assists with bowel function, helps maintain colon health, lowers blood cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar, and is great for weight loss.

Manganese assists your body in metabolizing key nutrients, is excellent for bone health, helps your body synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, supports the thyroid gland, and is beneficial for the nervous system.

Folate is beneficial to the heart, can alleviate depression, is necessary for proper brain function, and assists with the production of red blood cells.

Omega 3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation, increase immune function, and alleviate anxiety and depression.

Copper is essential for hair and nail growth, hair and eye pigmentation, brain and thyroid health, immunity, and energy production.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used as a building block in protein synthesis. It is necessary to regulate sleep cycles, pain, and moods. It's also a precursor to serotonin, a hormone that contributes to feelings of well-being.

B vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism by creating energy from the foods you eat. They are also critical nutrients to a positive mood and good memory.

Given the many nutritional benefits (and deliciousness!) of pumpkin... I hope you will immediately embark on an adventure to find some pumpkin and start enjoying this seasonal delight a.s.a.p!

To get you started, I've come up with a list of some excellent pumpkin recipes by fellow bloggers:

Paleo Pumpkin Bread by Elana's Pantry
Pumpkin Bars by Elana's Pantry
Pumpkin Gingerbread Smoothie by Oh She Glows
Homemade Pumpkin Butter by Oh She Glows
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways by 101 Cookbooks
Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte by Averie Cooks
Clean Eating Pumpkin Fries by The Gracious Pantry
Harvest Pumpkin Soup by Martha Stewart
Roasted Pumpkin with Shallots and Sage by Martha Stewart

Have a lovely fall day!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Integrative Nutrition and Goddard College Partnership

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I wanted to share something that will be of interest to my fellow Integrative Nutrition peers, or anyone who is interested in becoming a student in the future.

My beloved nutrition school... The Institute for Integrative Nutrition has partnered up with Goddard College, an institution that’s been ahead of its time for over 50 years.

Graduates of the Health Coach Training Program can now apply up to 29 credits in transfer towards a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at Goddard. And, there are three majors they can choose from.

Additionally, graduates of the Immersion Program (IIN's second-year, complimentary program) may transfer an additional 11 credits, for a total of up to 40 credits! 

Goddard College is an internationally recognized liberal arts college that operates on an intensive low-residency model. This new partnership gives IIN alumni the opportunity to explore an enriching higher education. For more information about pursuing a higher degree at Goddard College,

This is excellent news to anyone who is considering enrolling at Integrative Nutrition in the future and who also would like to earn a Bachelor's degree at the same time! (If I didn't already have my BS degree... I would definitely be taking advantage of this offer!)

Have a great day!!



Friday, August 24, 2012

Let us Decide! Honest Labeling of GE Foods

Greetings wellness lovers!

And happy Friday! :)

As you probably know... the debate re: Prop 37 (GMO labeling in California) is heating up. Approximately 92% of Americans are demanding honest labeling of genitically engineered foods, but many food companies (even those that sell 'natural' food) are spending $$$$$$ to fight it. 

Did you know that companies such as Kellogg's actually ship GMO-free products to Europe? However, in the US... they use GM ingredients in the same products and don't even want the consumer to know? (Kellogg's Facebook page is getting quite a lot of attention regarding this issue.)

In animal studies, genetically engineered foods have been shown to cause infertility, weight gain, severe allergies, and organ damage. And, there have not been any long-term studies analyzing the long-term effects of GE foods in humans.

Something else that is worth pondering... these are real quotes from the FDA and biotech company Monsanto pertaining to acceptance of responsibility concerning food safety.

The FDA says...

"Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety" - FDA, "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties" (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 229

And Monsanto has stated...

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.'s job" - Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Playing God in the Garden" New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

Wait... what? Who is actually supposed to be advocating on behalf of the consumer when it comes to food safety?

Something else worth looking into is the FDA's "revolving door policy." 

If honest labeling of food is important to you, and you haven't done so already... you can take action here.
I hope you are inspired to get involved! :)

Have an excellent day!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Let's boycott "natural" food companies who fight GMO labeling

... And support those who believe in the right to know if it's GMO!

by The Canary Party, August 20, 2012

This is the ultimate betrayal. A number of companies that we’ve all come to rely on for their organic and “natural” foods are in fact owned by “Big Food” companies that are spending millions of dollars on a disinformation campaign to defeat a bill that simply says we have a right to know which foods contain GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). The California bill is known as proposition 37, and its victory (or defeat) is sure to influence GMO food labeling in the other 49 states. This is an important and historic bill for everyone who believes they have a right to know if the DNA in the food they eat contains genes from foreign species (including viruses and bacteria).

Whether you rely on Muir Glen organic tomatoes for your spaghetti sauce, Cascadian Farms’ organic frozen fruit for your smoothies or Knudsen for your organic juice, you may want to rewrite your shopping list. The Canary Party joins Natural News in supporting a global boycott of the following brands (scroll down for e-mail forms):

• Kashi (owned by Kellogg, which has contributed $612,000 to defeat Proposition 37) - Kashi cereals contain GMOs!

• Silk soymilk (owned by the nation's largest dairy, Dean Foods, which has contributed $253,000 to the effort to kill Proposition 37)

• Larabar (owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• R.W. Knudsen juices (owned by Smucker, which has contributed $387,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• Santa Cruz Organic apple sauce, juices (also owned by Smucker, which has contributed $387,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• Cascadian Farm frozen produce (owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37)

• Muir Glen (also owned by General Mills, which has contributed $520,000 to defeat proposition 37)

Please let the companies whose products you’ve bought know why you’re boycotting them now. These feedback forms make it easy:

RW Knudsen:
Santa Cruz Organic:
Cascadian Farm:
Muir Glen:

Learn more about why the GMO industry doesn’t want you to know what you’re eating here:

And who are the good guys who are putting their businesses and money on the line to bring GMO labeling to California? Who are the ag and chemical giants funding the fight against having to tell people what they are eating? Check out the KCET report on who is funding each side of the Prop 37 war.

Victory is within our reach. Corporations know that if California Labels their products, Californians will stop buying them, and that will begin the rapid removal of GMOs from the market across the country, and then the world. Because it won't be a profitable business model any more. Let's help hurry that process along by buying from those who make and sell clean food.

Please share this on Facebook and other social networks, and spread the word to friends and family in e-mails.

Follow The Canary Party:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Exciting World of Tea!

Greetings wellness lovers!

Today I wanted to give the spotlight to my sister, Alyssa! She has been excitedly upgrading her website Alyssa's Cooking Adventures, for weeks! It looks great... she's definitely a graphic/web designer who knows what she is doing!

Alyssa is also passionate about all things nutrition + wellness. And today, she has put together a piece for you... all about tea! More specifically, she will highlight some of the benefits of tea, how various types of tea differ, and how to steep tea correctly. Additionally, she has linked to some of her favorite tea-related links + resources.
The Primula Teapot
The Exciting World of Tea!

By Alyssa Craft, August 14, 2012, Alyssa's Cooking Adventures 

"My tea obsession started in December of 2010 when my significant other gave me blooming tea, a glass teapot, and cute little tea cups for Christmas. (Everything is better when it's cute, right?) This blooming tea intrigued me because you put an ugly ball into hot water and it turns into a beautiful flower that flavors the water. It was like magic to me, and it tasted heavenly! Immediately I asked him where he found these treasures and I went to the website to check out what other goodies they had, and my tea obsession was born!

Blooming tea in glass teacups
What's the deal with tea anyways? 

In a nutshell, tea contains many beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which provide a number of benefits to the body. For example, a common antioxidant in green, oolong and black tea is called epigallocatechin gallate compound (ECCG) which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, inhibit abnormal formations of blood clots and can lower LDL cholesterol. This is just the tip of the tea iceberg.
Now, there is an actual art to getting the most out of your tea. For starters, it is nice to steep and drink tea in a clear teapot or tea cups. In addition to smelling the aroma, you can see the color of the tea. I also encourage you to try loose leaf tea if you normally use tea bags. Previously, I was not a fan of tea, as it all tasted sour to me. I was known to chug a mug of green tea or two because I heard it was 'good for you' but I never enjoyed it. It turns out that tea bags typically contain smaller tea leaves which gives them a quicker brew, but it lacks the flavor and fullness of larger tea leaves in loose leaf tea. Tea bags can also release more tannins, giving a harsher flavor to the tea.

Tea also is picky with its temperature and steeping time. If the water is too hot or it is steeped for too long, it has the potential to be very sour. There are tables online (or even tea apps for smart phones!) with the different steeping times and temperature for your perfect cup of tea.

Now onto the fun part: an overview of tea types (with benefits) and my personal favorites/recommendations if you're looking for something new to try! 

*Please note: I do not receive any type of compensation from recommending these teas. :)

 Green tea:
  •  is rich in antioxidants that inhibit the growth of cancer cells
  • can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
  • inhibits abnormal formations of blood clots (which is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes)
  • has 5-10% of the caffeine content as a cup of coffee
  • is often mixed with flowers or fruits to create different flavors
Personal favorites:
 Black Tea
  • is made from fermented leaves and forms the basis for many other teas (and lots of instant teas)
  • has a relatively high caffeine content
Personal favorites:
Earl Grey Creme Black from Teavana
Cacao Mint Black from Teavana (This was my 'starter' tea... it's great to make a tea latte with!)
Cha Yen Thai Tea from Teavana (Thai iced tea anyone?)
White Tea
  • is uncured and unfermented (It's the least processed.)
  • is light in color, and very delicate in flavor
  • has a relatively low caffeine content
Personal favorite:
Oolong Tea
  • has 15% caffeine of a cup of coffee
  • is fermented
  • is generally considered the "weight loss tea"
  • may aid with metabolism and digestion
  • is best when it's "monkey picked" (Buddhist monks trained monkeys to harvest the youngest leaves from the tops of the trees.)
Personal favorite:
 Herbal Infusions
  • are typically caffeine free
  • are an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamins
  • consist of herbs, flowers, and fruit
  • is made from a South African red brush
  • is caffeine free
  • supports digestion
  • may support immune system
Personal favorite:
Blueberry Bliss by Teavana (It's even better when mixed with Strawberry Lemonade Herbal.)
  • is considered the 'coffee lover's' favorite tea
  • is made from the leaves of a yerba mate plant
  • contains many vitamins and antioxidants
  • has the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee
Personal favorites:
 Blooming Teas
  • bloom as they steep
  • are hand-tied by tea artists and include favor and scent
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of different types of teas, and maybe are even excited to try something new! If you are not fortunate to have access to brick-and-mortar stores selling quality teas, these companies/websites are excellent resources:

Personally, I did not know all of this about tea! I hope you learned as much as I did. :) Have an excellent day!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

McDonald's: The Breakfast of Champions?

Well, hello there! 

Today I wanted to share with you a very well-written article by a dear friend and peer, Sue Kemple the The Wellness Wordsmith. It investigates a topic that has been very controversial in the world of nutrition + wellness lately. I haven't personally been keeping up on the Olympics... however, I did happen to observe that McDonald's is one of the biggest sponsors, and this definitely piqued my curiosity
"McDonald's: The Breakfast of Champions"
by Sue Kemple, The Wellness Wordsmith

My first truly memorable Olympic moment is an epic one. Just a few years before the Cold War began to thaw, the Americans were skating their hearts out against the Soviets in arguably the most famous hockey match of all time. I was as tense as if I were watching a Giants game (and anyone who truly knows me knows I have only missed one Giants game since those Olympics, so you can imagine just how tense I was), crouching behind my mother’s rocking chair and peeking over the arm to see if we really could beat those big, bad Russians. When we did, and Al Michaels asked if I believed in miracles, I said it out loud. “Yes, I believe in miracles!”  And my brothers and sister and I jumped up and down as if the Giants had won the Super Bowl. (In our house, the Super Bowl is a much bigger deal than the Olympics. But I digress.)

The next time the Olympics rolled around, I was old enough to compete in them. Not that I was equipped in any other possible way to compete in them, but seeing the likes of Scott Johnson, Mary Lou Retton and Peter Vidmar flying high in the gymnastics competitions inspired me to imagine that if they could do amazing things like flip four times in midair and land on their feet, well then, metaphorically at least, I could too.

The Olympics are intended to bring out the best in us, and especially in our young people. They cause us to take pride in our own nation while celebrating cultures from around the world. They inspire awe and an appreciation for discipline, beauty, and grace. They promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and give kids (and adults) fodder for dreams to achieve excellence. And they have always been a celebration of health and fitness, a model for our youth to appreciate and emulate. So how is it that the games’ major sponsors are some of the worst offenders when it comes to contributing to a decidedly unfit Western world? Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are two of the games’ biggest sponsors – McDonald’s is so big, in fact, that the only French fries you can purchase in the Olympic compound in London are the ones produced by the Golden Arches. (Fries which, as my Chick-Fil-A piece last week pointed out, are just stick-figure shadows of their former potato selves.) It’s not hard to figure out why these companies would choose to sponsor such a huge event. We all know that advertising, bottom line, is designed to get us to open our wallets and spend our money. And to be able to reach a captive audience of billions of people worldwide for the better part of a month is probably worth spending a mere $100 million.

Even better, though, is a platform that gets people to open their wallets again and again over the course of many decades.  You do this best by imprinting your message on impressionable young minds.
Get ‘em while they’re young. Watching the Olympics with our kids is a time honored tradition, because of all the noble and positive things about them. McDonald’s knows the kids will be watching, and it's the company that paved the way for the idea of marketing to children back in the 1960’s. Founder Ray Kroc said, “A child who loves our TV commercials and brings her grandparents to a McDonald’s gives us two more customers.”  Of course, the intent was not just to get the parents on board, but to develop brand loyalty in that child for life. This works best when you start with the children, because they are so easy to persuade. And because even when they are older and able to clearly separate fact from fiction, they are still prone to be driven by deep seated impulses planted many years before. (The Dollar Menu concept, you see, only works when you fork over many dollars, over many years.)

It’s very clear that hooking kids early and often is exactly what McDonald’s does. Ronald McDonald the clown is obviously not designed to bring adults in the door (although clearly, he does – because the adults who eat there were once children). The playgrounds are extremely inviting. The Happy Meal concept, pioneered by McDonald’s, offers toys connected with popular pop figures that appeal to children, often in sets that encourage them to return to collect all the pieces. Birthday parties are made easy at McDonald's, where you can even use their paper products and party goods. McDonald’s pays to have their products featured in children’s films, and on products used in schools, such as notebooks and crayons. This is all well documented, and discussed at great length elsewhere. And all this is bad enough. But when a corporate logo and presence become even more deeply embedded in our subconscious, and in a more subtle way, it can be worse than these sorts of in your face appeals.  I believe that the Olympic sponsorship (which has been going on for many Olympic games now) is really a way to create a very particular impression about the “real” cause of obesity in the minds of all of us, but especially in the minds of our children. And the impression is, "It's not McDonald's fault." Ever since Morgan Spurlock’s “SuperSize Me” debuted nearly ten years ago, McDonald’s has had to deal with the bad publicity surrounding the obvious negative effects that its food has on the human body. Marketing executives work overtime to create the spin that there is a place for this food in a healthy diet, that there are healthier options on the menu, and that McDonald’s really isn’t one of the primary causes of our society’s obesity crisis.

Even better than fighting back about the lack of quality in a product, though, is diverting our attention from it. Put McDonald’s products up there alongside Olympic athletes long and often enough, and okay… maybe as a thinking adult you are too smart to draw the ridiculous conclusion that eating a Big Mac will make you fit. But it just might be possible to have you believe that the solution to dropping those excess pounds doesn’t have anything to do with what you eat, but with the fact that you’re not exercising enough. Just exercise more, and you can eat whatever you want. I find it curious that many adults believe this is true. In fact, I used to be one of them. For most of my adult life, I was significantly overweight, if not obese. I bought into the lie that as long as one is active, it doesn’t matter what food we eat. And there was a long stretch of time when I ate a lot of McDonald’s products, telling myself I’d walk off the calories once I got home.

But that's not how it works at all. Fitness begins with what we eat. I’ve read quite a few articles profiling the breakfasts and other meals of our Olympic champions, and here’s a quick sample of some of the foods that go into the bodies of these remarkable athletes: coconut milk, goji berries, cacao powder, flax seed, acai berries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, spinach, kale, Greek yogurt, bee pollen, honey, grilled chicken, almond butter, raisins, ground flaxmeal, walnuts, kiwi, fish, eggs, steak, carrots, almond milk, edamame, quinoa, green beans, oatmeal, turkey sandwiches on whole grain bread, bagels, salsa, protein shakes, salads, and green smoothies.

The athletes don’t eat these kind of foods by accident. Food - real food - is fuel for our bodies. When we feed ourselves fake food, we don't have the proper fuel to make us want to exercise, or for any attempts at exercise to be particularly effective. It’s a vicious cycle. Exercise isn't supposed to be something we do to undo the bad we've done, like eating foods on the athletes’ “avoid” lists: refined sugars, mayonnaise, processed foods, packaged foods, and fast food. You know, basically everything you’d find at McDonald’s.  

Exercise is meant to be what our bodies want to do, when we feed them the right foods. While most of us adults consciously get the message that there is no clear connection between fast food and athletic success, subliminal messages are harder to quantify. It’s easy for otherwise very intelligent adults to make the inference that, well, THAT guy looks great, and he’s eating a Big Mac. If it doesn’t hurt him, maybe if I just go play some basketball, it won’t hurt me… much.And if adult brains can rationalize these things, imagine what havoc these images wreak on the brains of our children – especially a child under the age of 8, who isn’t able to make clear delineations between fact and fiction. He just may come away thinking that a French fry is a nutrient rich potato, a healthy carb that will help bring his dreams of Olympic glory to life. As long as he gets off the couch and works out, too.

Consciously, I can’t remember as a child viewing a McDonald’s ad with a positive image of Olympic greatness. But I’m certain that somewhere, mixed in with Mary Lou Retton’s gold medals and our Cold War victory, I was led to believe that it’s not what we eat, but rather how we move, that matters.
I can only hope our young people today somehow filter that part out, and focus instead on striving for excellence – in physical pursuits, mental pursuits, and what they choose to put in their bodies.

About Sue
Sue obtained her certification as a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She has also studied at Rutgers University and the University of Massachusetts and is the founder of the North Carolina Center for Arts in Education, an online think tank for educational revolution. The author of The Simple Path to a Vibrant Life, Five Principles That Make for Healthy Principals, and And We Danced; Lament for a Brother, Sue is currently working on several forthcoming books as co-author or ghostwriter. She and her family live a rich, happy, and healthy life in Raleigh, North Carolina.


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