Take A Bite Out Of Life…

Parenthood is a blessing (I can picture most parents making a squinty face as if to ask, “Is it though?”). It definitely is. On the one hand, you get to experience watching this tiny version of yourself grow and develop to become their own little person. They develop their own tastes and personalities and they also ensure our perpetual immortality through the continuation of our DNA. As I look down at my oldest son, who kindly spilled some mio-infused water on my carpet just now, I realize that they’re also little demons that are sent to punish me for all wrongs I’ve committed, known or otherwise. But once again, I digress…

But the purpose of today’s post is actual children’ inability to eat what’s in front of them. As I’m sure any parent knows, most kids have a hard time blindly accepting the food in front of them. A lot of different factors will play into why they won’t eat what’s provided, but it causes strife and difficulty for the parents who are trying to keep their kids nourished. Allow me to provide an example.

Yesterday was my oldest son Nathan’s fifth birthday. We had planned a fun supper idea involving stuffed crust pizza (his favourite) and we had purchased a rather large, colourful slab of white cake in which to enjoy afterwards. He had a number of gifts coming his way from my wife and I as well as a number of relatives.

Loads of fun, right? Not so much. It seems that while I was out at work, my son was offered a small portion of slow-cooker chicken and mashed potatoes for lunch. He took one look and refused to eat it. Although this isn’t totally unusual for Nathan, it’s still a source of great frustration for my wife and I, especially since he hadn’t even tried it before dismissing it.

My wife and I have a simple rule: you WILL try your food. I totally get that he may have tastes of his own, but we refuse to unnecessarily waste food in this house, so while we can promise that we won’t necessarily make that meal again if he doesn’t like it, we still insist that he eat some on the first occasion that it’s made. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Not to Nathan.

Once he refused to eat his lunch, the usual penance was invoked: no other food would be provided until he ate what was in front of him. Although that might seem cruel a punishment for a five-year old, it ensures that our son will grow up learning the value of what’s provided, rather than the “flavour of the day” attitude that seems to exist in today’s society.

Here’s the hiccup in our plan: that penance means he wouldn’t get his stuffed-crust pizza OR any of his birthday cake… ON HIS BIRTHDAY! The threat of that didn’t seem to sway him at all, despite being repeated. The stubborn little mini-me was sticking to his guns and wouldn’t fold. I should point out that this was definitely a punishment to me as well. So, why the hell are kids like this?

The reality is that your child isn’t refusing or being picky because he’s trying to be an asshole. At least not in most cases. But there are a number of reasons why your child may be as picky as he/she is in relation to their food. For the most part, the texture and/or colour of certain foods may throw them off. We need to remember that young children view the world in a significantly different way than Mommy and Daddy do, and some things may look “yucky” despite being absolutely delicious (my slow-cooker chicken was delightful, by the way).

Jill Castle, a registered dietitian and childhood nutritionist, explains that between the ages of two to about six, children become picky eaters because their growth begins to slow for a period of time and so will their appetite. Castle goes on to explain that “food neophobia”, or fear of new food, can cause young children to be wary of trying new foods and vegetables, often based on texture, colour or appearance. In fact, forcing or demanding that your child eat may only reinforce this behaviour as young kids are usually not game to being coerced into ANYTHING (and my son is no exception).

Some children are also “Jag” eaters, where they eat a handful of typical and repetitive favourites without leaving room for anything new. Tuna and peanut butter (not together) are Nathan’s go to foods. Although they may not be eating a variety of foods we’d like to see them eating, they’re eating enough based on their hunger and requirements. They may also be distracted (I’m VERY guilty of this) where you allow your child the use of an electronic device or toys at the dinner table. This takes away from their focus on the food in front of them and may have a negative impact.

Jill Castle wrote and excellent article on this with WAY more information than I shared here. You can read it at https://jillcastle.com/preschooler-nutrition/12-reasons-child-wont-eat/

Realistically, there’s no easy answer as every child is different. All one can do is show the proper example and offer lots of food varieties and eventually your kid SHOULD get on board.

So, what happened with Nathan’s birthday, you ask? Of course the little booger got his damn pizza and cake! What am I, heartless???

Nathan with his birthday cake. Look at those icing balloons!!!

My wife and I agreed that Nathan’s birthday only comes once a year, and it was more important that he celebrate that, and the rest could come tomorrow. And I think this was a good call, as everyone had a great time with Nathan and shared his joy as he enjoyed his cake and played with the toys he got for his birthday.

Stick to a schedule, keep offering lots of options and eventually, your kid will outgrow the pickiness that drives all parents nuts! ☯

Why “No Nut November” Is Not A Novel Notion…

The past decade or two have unsurprisingly (given the state of the world) yielded some really strange social trends. Anyone with a modicum of common sense usually looks at these so-called “challenges” and wonders if it’s truly time to lie back and give up on the society.

If we look back as far as 2001, they came out with something called “The Cinnamon Challenge”. This ludicrous trend, which began pre-YouTube, involved the swallowing of a tablespoon of dry cinnamon powder, without the help of liquid. The big problem with this challenge isn’t just the difficulty, but the damage it could cause to your lungs through gagging, asthma attacks and choking. Not to mention that cinnamon contains an chemical similar to formaldehyde and is basically composed of ground up tree bark. So THAT’S what your possibly inhaling. It gained further steam for a while in 2006 when it finally hit YouTube and people started posting it.

Fast forward to more than a decade later, and they came out with something called “The Tide Pod Challenge”. Just to clarify, when I say “they”, I mean a generation of people who don’t seem to have anything better to do and don’t seem to understand the value in picking up a good book or getting a workout in. But I digress…

The Tide Pod Challenge simply involved putting one of the laundry detergent pods in your mouth and chewing on it. Yes, you read that right: LAUNDRY DETERGENT PODS!!! Friends would film you doing it, and possibly get some laughs as spit out soap bubbles and such. The problem, besides being stupid enough to put one in your mouth, is that some people would end up swallowing them, intentionally or accidentally. Considering these bad boys are made of laundry detergent, they’re caustic, toxic and can wreak havoc on your lungs and digestive system. And that’s just a start.

Sometime after Tide Pods were no longer the flavour of the week (see what I did there?), they came out with “The Condom Snorting Challenge”, which involved sticking a condom in your nostril while plugging the other one, inhaling it into your nasal cavities and reaching into your mouth to pull it out of your throat. Considering most people have difficulties using condoms the way they were intended, I can’t imagine why they think THIS is a good idea… The problem is that the condom can become trapped, block off breathing passages, be inhaled into the lungs and cause infections, sepsis and a score of other medical complications.

Really, internet? Most sources agree that the big problem behind all these “trends” is that they’re dare-based and today’s society thrives on how many likes, views and clicks one can get. Some people even make an income through their use of social media, so it’s not surprising that some of this happens. Although I can’t help but feel that this is Darwinism hard at work…

Now, on to my colourful title. Given that the month of November is almost done, I’l cover this one off. Many people have chosen to participate in a challenge called “No Nut November.” It’s pretty straight-forward: it’s simply going without ejaculating for the entire month of November. Although this seems like a pretty benign challenge and we can all agree that having some restraint is good, there are some dark aspects to this one as well.

First of all, there has been no scientific or medical evidence that shows that “going without” for a month has any measurable benefits for the body whatsoever. The opposite however, is that it can improve sleep quality, lower risk of prostate cancer and heart disease in men and can also boost the immune system. Fatherly.com has a good article that outlines all of this: https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/no-nut-november-is-bad-for-men/

But No Nut November can cause certain anxiety and stress issues, cause strife and difficulty in relationships and remember that preventing prostate cancer thing? You lose that benefit if you lose your happy ending…

I focused on this last social trend because it provided me with an entertaining title for today’s post, but the truth of the matter is that due to the popularity of online dares and challenges, we’ve likely not seen the last of this sort of thing.

Folks, pick up a book, go for a walk, spend time with friends or family… Any of those things will provide a much more fulfilling life and provide you with more benefit than getting a heavy number of views for possibly harming yourself online for the sake of some likes! I can’t change the world, but I can guarantee there may be a special school of the military sort waiting for either of my sons, should I ever hear they snorted a condom or ate a Tide Pod. ☯

Natural Or Chemical… Both Are Good And Bad…

I hear a lot of talk about the benefits of “natural” products over artificially made products. This is usually followed by some rant about how chemicals are bad for the body and such, and it often leads me to wonder: what exactly do people think a chemical is?

By simple definition, a chemical is simply the combining of two or more elements, either naturally or by artificial means. In fact, just about everything in existence is composed of chemicals. One of the best explanations I’ve found is in an article written by the Science Learning Hub, where they explain: “Matter is everything around you – whether it’s liquid, solid or gas. Atoms are like individual LEGO blocks. […] Matter can also be called a chemical. So if atoms are LEGO blocks, chemicals are the structures you can build with them.”

In fact, some of the most simple things we use in our daily lives are chemicals. One good is example is water. Believe it or not, water is a chemical. It’s called a “pure” chemical because it’s the same throughout its entire structure.

The above-mentioned article goes on to explain that the only difference between synthetic and natural chemicals is that the synthetic ones have been made by people through artificial means. But if we were to artificially create a chemical found in nature, there would be absolutely no difference between them. I’ve kept it pretty simple, but the article touches on a lot of other aspects and can be read here: https://www.sciencelearn.org.nz/resources/363-chemicals-everywhere

The bottom line is that we need chemicals in order to live. Especially since EVERYTHING IS MADE WITH THEM. Whether they choose to acknowledge it or not, even the people who claim that they’re “living naturally without the use of chemicals” are using chemicals. I don’t assume that they’re washing themselves and keeping themselves hydrated with rainbows and dreams!

Being natural or synthetic doesn’t make a chemical bad. In fact, there are some very dangerous and deadly chemicals that can be found in nature. Things like arsenic, urushiol (poison ivy) and snake venom are all chemicals found in nature that can harm or kill you.

In closing, this would be a good time to remind everyone that insulin is a chemical and that 415 million people world-wide would be dead without it. As with most things in life, there’s good and bad to everything. Chemicals are just one example. ☯

Symptoms Often Aren’t The Only Issue

It never fails. You get up from a less-than-satisfying night’s sleep. Perhaps your blood sugar levels are low, or you have some unknown secondary illness, like a cold or a persistent cough. You stagger into the kitchen and you prepare yourself some food in order to bring back some vestiges of normalcy, when an interfering lump of 4-year old waddles in and sticks his nose into the food your making. The conversation usually goes like this:

KID: What are you doing, daddy?

PARENT: I’m making food, pal. Do you want some?

KID: (sniffs your food experimentally) No, I don’t like that stuff!

PARENT: Do you want anything else?

KID: No…

PARENT: You’re sure…?

KID: Yeah! (kid runs off)

You walk away with your plate, satisfied in the fact that you covered the bases and that you’re in the clear. You test your blood glucose and bolus with a dose of insulin specifically measured for the food on your plate. Your pump responds and starts pumping the life-sustaining medication into your subcutaneous tissue and you start enjoying your meal. Then, the 4-year old lump returns and eyeballs your plate. The second conversation usually goes like this:

KID: Mmmm, that looks good… (reaches for my plate)

PARENT: Hold it, buddy! That’s daddy’s food!

KID: But I want some…

PARENT: I asked you if you wanted some earlier, and you said no!

KID: But I want some now… (lip starts quivering and a meltdown is imminent)

What do you do? Considering children of this age are often picky eaters to start with, it’s a little difficult to refuse them when they actually WANT to eat! You can either buckle down and refuse, potentially forced to deal with the meltdown that will ensue. Or you can surrender your food and deal with the aftermath on your health, blood sugar levels and let’s be honest… your sanity.

It’s difficult to weigh the best option; especially when it affects your personal health. I’ll admit to surrendering my food since, in my state of perpetual exhaustion I prefer to scavenge for something else to replace the carbs I’ve given up than deal with prospect of trying to eat my food WHILE having a persistent child drooling over my shoulder. Maybe not the BEST way to approach it, but I’m a martial artist, not a child psychologist.

The challenge is when he takes only a portion of what I have, making it all the more difficult to balance and measure how much food of another type I require to replace the lost carbs. Or what I hate the most is to have him take some of my food and leave me to scramble for something else to eat before my blood sugars start lowering to that point of no return, only to discover the plate with almost the entire uneaten portion sitting on the table because he once again decided he didn’t like it. But I digress…

The food analogy (although the most frequent) is only one example. Children provide an issue for Diabetic parents on many fronts. I remember that when I started on my insulin pump, my son was barely more than a year old. As time went by, issues needed to be addressed in relation to recognizing daddy’s “ouchie” and staying away from my tubes and buttons. Not an easy task for a small child as the temptation is great when they see a small device to play with. What’s been even harder is trying to convince your child that, daddy isn’t eating candy because he WANTS to, he’s eating it because he HAS to and it isn’t sharing time.

I was rather lucky in the sense that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at roughly the same age as my son is now. As strange as that may sound, it was lucky because I’ve never known any different and I was able to grow with my condition and learn to respect it without allowing it to control me.

Conversation and education is important for children. Although they may not be able to understand absolutely everything happening to you, explanations and reinforcement of the rules can mean the difference between maintaining yourself or having your infusion set accidentally ripped out. ☯

How Sweet It Is…

Having Type 1 Diabetes makes life difficult. No kidding, right? But seriously, most aspects of life are rendered all the more difficult by the onset of type 1 Diabetes, but the aspect that has always affected me the most is my diet.

Like most men in my family, I love my food. I love baked goods and homemade recipes and having them restricted in any way is torture. That’s why, in the early 1980’s my childhood got a significant moral boost with the advent of aspartame and artificial sweeteners.

My mother had purchased a bottle of liquid NutraSweet and found a recipe for chocolate syrup. It was exciting, because there was no sugar content, besides the bare minimum natural occurring sugars in the recipe, and I could use it to make chocolate milk, add to plain sugar-free vanilla ice cream or make hot chocolate. I drove my mother nuts, because she could barely keep up with my demand.

There’s been a significant number of studies and controversy over the past couple of decades about how safe the use of aspartame may be as a substitute for sugar. Although the jury is still out and nothing has been conclusively proven, some studies have claimed that aspartame causes many side effects ranging from headaches to cancer.

As is my usual habit, let’s start by defining aspartame, shall we? Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that is chemically designated as E951. It’s so effective because it stimulates the same parts of the tongue as sugar does, causing us to perceive a sweetness. Aspartame is actually WAY sweeter than sugar (taste-wise), which is why a very small amount is required in order to make something taste sweet.

There are a number of sites that speak out against aspartame use and the supposed side effects it may have on the system, but nothing conclusive has ever been proven. One could venture to say that it falls under the same propaganda as anti-vaxxer disinformation. Granted, it is a chemical. So most people are thrown off and assume it ISN’T a good alternative to sugar.

The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) as well as the WHO (World Health Organization) have deemed aspartame to be safe in certain measured amounts. these amounts have been measured at a significantly higher level than the average person could possibly hope to consume in a day. An article posted by MedicalNewsToday.com indicates that the FDA has deemed aspartame’s acceptable daily intake at 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. this means that you’d have to consume over 19 cans of diet soda in order to exceed that amount (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322266.php#body-weight).

If you’re die-hard against the use of aspartame, healthline.com offers a number of alternatives to the use of aspartame, which include but are not limited to:

  1. honey
  2. maple syrup
  3. agave nectar
  4. fruit juice (not sure how you’d use this one as a sweetner)
  5. black strap molasses
  6. stevia leaves.

I’ve tried some of these alternatives, but they should be consumed in limited amounts as they can still contain a lot of calories with no nutritional values. (https://www.healthline.com/health/aspartame-side-effects#natural-alternatives)

The jury’s still out as to whether aspartame is safe or not, so many people choose to eliminate it from their diet. But like most things that are considered a chemical, it’s all about moderate consumption. Hell, beer is a chemical (it’s C2H5OH, by the way) and we consume that! So don’t take everything you read at face value (he says as he types on his written blog). ☯

Bring The Noise

Sleep is something that I’ve had an issue with for as long as I can remember. An elusive thing at best, the quality of my sleep often depends on blood sugar levels, stress, PTSD symptoms, other medical issues (ex: colds, flus and the like) as well as the fact I have two small children in the house.

I’ve written a number of posts that outline the benefits of a good night’s sleep. There’s no getting away from it; sleep is a necessary and integral part of a person’s health, well-being and interestingly enough, their sanity (that last aspect is information for another post).

For Type 1 Diabetics, sleep is a mixed bag, because our sleep is affected BY our blood sugar levels, but sleeping through lows or highs can also be extremely dangerous.

After reading a bit on sleep habits and therapies, and having heard about it from different sources, I started trying something new about a week ago that has improved my sleep: white noise.

Before I start describing some of my experiences over the last week, I should start by explaining what the hell white noise actually is. Not everyone is familiar with White Noise, or its lesser-know cousins, Pink Noise and Red (Brownian) Noise. Let’s do some learnin’…

White Noise is described in layman’s terms as a sound that contains all the audible frequencies that can be heard by the human ear. These frequencies are all at the same intensity, giving the sound an almost “static” quality, which is how many people describe it;

Pink Noise is a sound that contains MOST audible frequencies, except the higher ones, and whose intensity decreases as the frequency increases. This can potentially make it more pleasant than white noise, and a good alternative if white noise doesn’t work for you. The sound of a steady rainfall is a good comparison.

Red Noise, or Brownian is similar to White and Pink but with even fewer high frequencies, described as having more bass notes than white noise, which makes it more tolerable and pleasant to listen to than White Noise. An undisturbed ocean wave lapping on the shore is a good comparison.

All three of these are mathematical constructs that do NOT occur naturally in nature, despite what many people think. Although white noise is often generically described as “background noise”, all three of these sounds need to be carefully constructed in order to qualify for the definition. Some people have tried white noise and noticed no benefit. In cases such as those, it would be to their benefit to try pink or red noise, as these could be alternatives that would work well for them.

There are a lot of benefits to using white noise. First and foremost, white noise will buffer out background sounds that have the potential to wake you during the night. A slamming door, a revving engine outside or a family member going to the washroom all have the potential to at least partially wake you, disturbing your sleep cycle. White noise prevents this. It’ll also help you stay asleep as it will mask noise that may wake you and even if you do wake, it’s usually easier to fall back asleep.

White noise also helps to shut off your brain. Have you ever tried going to sleep, only to have life’s problems replaying in your head? Or upcoming tasks lingering in your mind? White noise will help to prevent this, as well. It can also be a helpful tool while learning how to meditate, as it helps the practitioner focus and shut out the distractions that may prevent them from effectively reaching a level of meditation.

There are plenty of other benefits that I’m only just learning about, and the National Sleep Foundation has a great article that defines white noise and offers different aspects, such as falling asleep with your tv on and managing noise in your household in general. Here’s the article: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/hear/what-white-noise

I have all of the issues I’ve described above, so this has been a life-saver in recent nights and even during nap times. You can experience the benefits of white noise in a number of different ways, from downloading free apps on your phone that will produce it, all the way to paying moderate money for an actual “white noise machine”.

I use a free app on my iPhone called Noisli. What’s nice about it (besides being free) is that it allows you to experience a variety of sounds such as rainfall, thunder, leaves blowing, rustling trees and has all three “Noise” options including White, Pink and Brownian. It allows you to blend and mix all these sounds to your liking, which means you can have a rainstorm with thunder and heavy blowing winds, if that’s your go-to relaxing sound.

At the end of the day, sleep is one of those things that will affect every other aspect of your life. If your sleep routine sucks, it WILL affect your health, appetite, work and fitness life… all of it! That’s why it’s so important to have a regular and consistent sleep routine (going to bed around the same time every night) and ensuring your sleep is profound and deep. You can take advantages of the methods I’ve described above without breaking the bank, or don’t be afraid to take advantage of sleep therapy if you find that it still isn’t happening for you.

This is one of those things that you have to try for yourself in order to be the judge. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a nap! ☯

A Shovel Full Of Common Sense

I don’t know about the rest of you, but winter is in full swing in Saskatchewan, and the snow is falling heavily today. As I look out my window, there’s a flurry of heavy flakes falling, with a decent wind pushing it all about. Some Provincial highways have been closed due to snow and ice. Winter wonderland, indeed…

One of the activities associated with winter (besides pelting my son with snowballs) is shovelling. Let’s be honest: shovelling snow is a major pain in the a$$! I don’t recall ever hearing someone say, “Oh, I LOVE shovelling snow! It’s so much fun…” Yeah, no, it sucks.

But it’s a necessity of winter. Whether you rent, own or otherwise, you’ll likely be required to clear away snow in some capacity, at some point. I currently own my home, and one of my biggest pet peeves is the fact that I even have to clear the sidewalk in front of my home, despite it belonging to the city.

Most people forget that this necessity is also a major workout! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a workout I willingly include but shovelling out one’s driveway or front sidewalks gets the heart rate up, increases blood flow and works several muscle groups.

Unfortunately, it’s also incredibly taxing on your heart, increases blood pressure and leaves you at risk for blood clots. A decent article article posted by Harvard Health Blog outlines some of the factors to be mindful of (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/protect-your-heart-when-shoveling-snow-201101151153)

Some little tips I can provide in order to prevent issues include keeping yourself in good physical condition, maintaining your hydration and taking frequent breaks. Consider stretching before you begin shovelling, same as you would with any other workout, and remember to lift with your legs.

Jumping out in the freezing cold and moving hundreds of pounds of snow after being sedentary for months is dangerous and ill advised. We already know that people with Diabetes are at a higher risk for heart disease and heart failure. So it becomes all the more important to remember to test your blood before heading outdoors and keep some fast-acting ready, just in case. ☯