Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why "Going Green" May Make You See Red

We all know that our planet isn't in the best of shape and each and everyone of us is trying to help save our environment in any way that we can. Some of us are making our homes more energy efficient, some of us are bringing our own bags at shopping centers, some of us are choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, and some of us are looking to make animal's lives a little better.

For some, going green also means making better choices in our food consumption too. Foods that are filled with hormones, fillers, additives, chemicals, and pesticides are not only bad for the environment, they're bad for our bodies in some cases. Some of us may have food allergies or sensitivities to certain chemicals and we may have even built up an intolerance to an additive. I know this to be true since I have fibromyalgia and I have sensitivities.

Whatever the reasons may be for going green, it's still a good idea to do as much as you can because some research is showing that certain things really are making a difference. Even something as small as allowing chickens to roam free on the farm can produce better quality eggs and this is something that has gotten attention. But exactly what kind of attention may be left up to the eye of the beholder.

An interesting article entitled, Reality Check, has come out in this month's issue of The Oprah Magazine that states that free range or free roaming chicken product labels may only mean that a chicken has access to the outside for a certain amount of time each day. In other words, a chicken coop door could be open for five minutes every day, and that would constitute a manufacturer being allowed to slap a free range label on their product. The article also mentions that you can look up any green label at Consumer Reports' Greener Choices Eco-labels (greenerchoices.org/eco-labels), but being the savvy kind of gal I am, I decided to take a look at it for myself and give you an opinion about the whole thing...

Words on products like, No steroids, antibiotics, hormones, or additives, are only claims that the manufacturer has put on a product. These claims have not been certified by an outside third party. Okay, you might say, I know that people selling products can claim anything and the buyer should be ware, but did you know that eggs contain more labels on them than any other product out there? And did you know that the USDA has not made any kind of standards for organic fish products?

Gluten-free products may not be truly free of gluten. In fact, any product that has less than 200 parts per million (ppm) of gluten after finalization, can be considered gluten-free. Why is this you may ask? Well, according to the UK's Food Standards Agency, it would be impossible to remove every spec of gluten from a product, hence, there are standards. The nice part about this, though, is that the FDA (as of August 2008) wants to make an international standard of 20 ppm for all products. The sweeter deal? If you happen to find a label on food from The Gluten-Free Certification Organization, a group that is part of the Gluten Intolerance Group, you can be rest assured that the product contains no more than 10 ppm of gluten.

Kosher products have become famous for high quality and clean products because standards are set higher than the USDA's, but does that also mean that they are vegan friendly? Again, sadly, this may not be the case due to limitations.

According to the Spring 1996 issue of the Jewish Newsletter, Kosher Parve products can contain eggs, honey, and fish due to Jewish law. And products that contain no dairy, may have been produced on machinery that was used for other dairy products. If a machine was not properly boiled, dairy can remain on the metal, causing cross-contamination in a sense. So it is best to read the whole label in this case too.

With all of these limitations and regulations, it makes one wonder what you can truly believe. The good news is that some labels from outside sources will certify a product. That's great, and yet, it's a bit scary. What I mean by that is, you've heard the old saying, did you check for the doctor's credentials on the wall (i.e. diploma)? Well, did you ever think you'd see the day where you'd have to check for your food's credentials? I know we get label conscience and all, but don't you think that's a little crazy?

Due to these labels, limiting what we can't eat has gotten real popular today. There are elimination diets and we tend to steer clear of carbs and fried foods if we have high cholesterol. But we all have to eat in order to survive, so what does one really do in this case?

There may not be a real clear-cut answer, but there are some solutions that might fit your lifestyle. Going to a natural food store might free up some of your label-reading time to do other things, like planting a vegetable garden, for instance.

Gardening is fun and it can be as inexpensive and organic as you want it to be. The kids and I have a lot of fun with it and it truly teaches them how to work with what you've got. In fact, you don't even need a back yard if you don't have one. We don't, but we do have pots and soil that are growing some tomatoes, basil, rosemary, lemons, lettuce, and peppers as we speak! We can't wait for the lettuce to fully bloom, but I will tell you that we snuck a few bites and it's goooood!

So when you try to go green for the environment, try not to get red at those manufactures, curse them, become a hermit, and go on a hunger strike. It's not worth it. Have fun with the whole thing, be creative, and that's being green which is to me just fabulous!

I'll post more about my garden in later blogs. I will try and post a few pictures for you too. Take care for now.

Stay fabulous!
Love and friendship,

Kimberley




Thursday, February 5, 2009

Space Invaders in the Bedroom

I'm going to go into a topic that's a bit near and dear to me since I have little ones. And the topic today is co-sleeping, or what I like to term as space invaders in the bedroom. Babies can take up a lot of room in your house and sometimes they can take over your room-- your bedroom that is-- too. It can put a damper on what little sex life you may have left with your partner and it can even try your patients.

Co-sleeping is a controversial topic with mothers, fathers, doctors, and the like, but it is something that parents will inevitably deal with from to time whether they believe in it or not. Let's face it-- kids get sick and want their parents, the air conditioner may only reach so far, there's a bad thunderstorm and your bedroom is a safer place, your child has a nightmare, and the list can go on and on as to why your child may need to spend the night in mommy and daddy's room.

For a mother who suffers from Fibromyalgia, getting up to answer a newborn's baby's cries can be difficult, and at times, can seem down right impossible. Having fibro means not sleeping well to begin with, and when you add a newborn into the mix, you probably will be lucky to get a solid two hours a night. Getting out of bed can be a feat at times too due to stiffness when you deal with this condition, as well, so what does a mom do when faced with this night after night?

The answer I came up with is simple... anything that works!

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, Brittanny, I wound up doing everything opposite of what the experts tell you to do. I ate McDonald's when I felt like it, I cleaned out the cat box, I also got my nails done once, and yes, I even decided to bottle feed my first daughter because I was going to have to go right back to work after 6 weeks. I was young, very naive, and had no time to read up on what the experts were saying because I was working my tail off to pay up on my college debt. But, those were the days, I tell you, because I could be up all day and all night, and I was pain free during those first few years that my daughter was a newborn and toddler.

It wasn't until my daughter turned three, that I started to show serious signs of fibromyalgia pain. Before diagnoses, having a second child was not even a thought, let alone a possibility. But after I knew what I had, I thought things might be a little easier once I knew my limitations.

One of those limitations was getting up in the middle of the night, and since my husband worked many different hours, both day and night, being a truck driver, I knew this limitation had to be solved on my own. I started to try and find an answer by researching everything I could on mothers of newborns who have fibromyalgia.

I obviously couldn't find much since fibromyalgia is still considered a new disorder, so I started with the next best thing, I researched mothers with a chronic condition. I found mothers who were diabetic, mothers with cancer, and mothers with rheumotoid arthritis, just to name a few.

These mothers' stories were inspiring and informative and even though each one of them had different diseases they were dealing with, they all had one thing in common-- each one of them decided to breast feed their baby. I was astonished at that discovery because frankly, I didn't think it would have been possible for them to even think about breast feeding their baby because of their illness, and yet, they were.

This got me intrigued to learn more, to say the least, so I started to research mothers with illness and breast feeding. The first site that popped up on the net was La Leche Leauge and I found that they not only had information for mothers who suffer from fibromyalgia, but a forum that had mothers helping mothers too! This was an awe inspiring moment for me because I then realized that a second baby could actually be possible.

I knew that pregnancy and after birth may be difficult with fibromyalgia, since my medication was out of the question, but I wanted to have another child, and I figured that if a gal with cancer or arthritis could do it, so could I.

Before I was four months along in my pregnancy with Olivia, I decided that breast feeding might be the best option for me because I wouldn't have to get up and make a bottle-- that step would be eliminated. Researching a little further, I also found out that breast feeding might even be benificial because serotonin is released in the body-- something that can help a fibro suffer who has trouble sleeping.

Now, of course breast feeding is good for the baby, but I'm not going to go into any of that here for two reasons, one, this is a blog about Fibromyalgia, and two, I'm not one of those mothers that insists you need to breast feed your child for x amount of reasons because it's the only way to feed your baby. I'm sure any mother reading this knows one of those kinds of mothers and that's not my intention-- or even the point of this blog entry.

Now that that's out of the way, let's continue with the co-sleeping idea. I was hemming and hawing on this idea because I really didn't want a child to be sleeping next to me. Don't get me wrong-- I love my kids and I'd do anything for them-- unless it interfers with my ability to take care of them.

Co-sleeping can have that affect if you or your child are light sleepers, can't stay on one side of the bed, or even snore. It can also be a negative if your child would rather sleep with you instead of their own bed too.

But one of the positives is that when your little one is crying to be nursed, you just have to turn to her to do so. That's a plus because you can get the sleep you need while satisfying your baby's needs in the process.

This is something my husband and I decided to try so it would be easier on me when I had to get up. We moved our furniture in our bedroom around a bit and rolled in a portable bassinet into the room, and when ever Olivia needed to feed, all I had to do was reach into her bassinet.

Once Olivia got a bit older (and a bit heavier), we decided to have her in the bed with us so I didn't have to lift her at night. This worked out fabulously and little Olivia was very content. So, if you plan on having another child, give co-sleeping a try for a night or two-- it can't hurt and the benefits might just be fabulous for you too!

Love and friendship,

Kimberley

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