The No Diet Challenge Final Review: Food Is Cool, Diets Are Dangerous and Common Sense Is Key



cute kid enjoying pasta and juice via portfolio @

Food is a very sensitive topic. It can emit bad or good memories depending upon how you associate with it, and this is especially so for kids.

My daughter, in her middle school health class, began learning about the Super Size guy. At one point in his video, he said that there are adults who now associate eating at McDonalds with a ‘love connection’. Why? Because that’s what their parents did with them when they were kids; it’s where they spent time together.

Therefore, it’s where they feel loved.

Ask any Italian and they will tell you that food is at the heart of their family gatherings. This is not a bad thing. In many nations food is instrumental in the family bonding process. In many cultures it is used for gifts, shared for celebrations, funerals and holidays. When was the last time you went to a gathering with more than 5 people and didn’t find something to eat there?

Let’s face it- food is cool!

Food should be a source of joy, not anxiety- especially for children. So when you decide that it’s time to change your eating habits, understand that it could be risky (for everyone). The moment you begin putting focus on it in a negative way, it becomes dangerous; constantly worrying about what you eat could do the exact opposite of what you’re goal is.

You and your family should relax, have fun and enjoy your favorites!

Yes, it’s okay to go out and have ice-cream on a hot summer night, it’s okay to have a piece of Key Lime Pie at the picnic, and a slice of Apple Pie Christmas…Heck Yes!

Just don’t have the triple banana split every time, or have seconds and thirds of pie. Let your body and common sense prevail.

When it comes to food, sometimes our brains check out.
There are many well known addictions out there – food can certainly be one of them, just ask, well…

Anyone (we all have a weakness).

Follow the No Diet Challenge and I bet you’ll experience a change in your mood, sleep, weight and overall health:

1. Step 1: Log it
2. Diets and Scales *&$#
3. Balance (not deprivation)
4. How and why to read labels
5. SUGAR!!! (Addiction)
6. I wasn’t always skinny (and what I did about it)
– Don’t go anywhere-but do get motivated–
7. Are you sick? (How food affects us)
8. 2 BZ 2 get fit?
9. Organic Vs. Non
10. What’s in your grocery cart (and mine)
11. Cravings, Sleep & More
12. Where to get the good stuff (guess I hear my next stop should be Trader Joes)

Always remember, the main goal IS NOT TO LOSE WEIGHT. Unless your doctor says you should. This should be about becoming healthier and encouraging our families to eat better.

Who you are in the mirror is the only person you need to please. Be healthy for you-and for your family- to extend your life so that you can be with your family for as long as possible.

Fun Friday: Grandparents, Computers and Scams (A True Story)


“Grandpa And Grand Kids” by deb spoons via

The other day I called home to chat with my family. I know that my grandfather is a busy man and even at his age he gets around and keeps himself occupied. (Maybe that’s where I get my energy from.)

My ‘Poppy’ also loves his electronics. (I probably did not get this from him.)

When I was growing up, I can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a new T.V. in the house. Later on as a young adult, I don’t ever remember Poppy going without cars that had the latest gadgets, a VCR, a DVD player, or telephones. To my surprise, he even got a cell phone! Some grandparents do actually like to keep up with the times and technology.

Now we have computers, Internet, email and more. With all these comes dangers like: Phishing, Hackers, Spam and Scams. They arrive in the form of text messages, fancy emails, fake websites and even phone calls. On any given day, you and I might recognize them immediately, but our elders may not.

So back to my phone call. As I was talking to my aunt, she began telling me about a call Poppy received the other day. I think that my aunt and uncle might have been somewhere within earshot so were able to hear at least some of this conversation.

Initially, they heard my grandfather talking to the caller, saying, ‘yes’, ‘yes’, ‘okay’.
Then, a few minutes later they heard my grandfather repeat himself, saying, ‘No. I don’t see anything…Then, ‘No, I still don’t see anything’.
Then my grandfather said something like, ‘Okay’ and ‘Yes, I tried that’.

Then ‘No, I still don’t see anything’.

After a few more brief silences, and my Poppy replying similarly, he asked the person on the other end of the phone what their name was. After the man answered, my grandfather asked him, ‘So, Jimmy… how is your day going young man?’.

Suddenly…the caller hung up.

It seems ‘Jimmy’ was pretending my grandfather’s computer had a virus and that he wanted to help fix it. He asked to remote in, gave my grandfather bogus numbers to type in and then when ‘nothing worked’ (OBVIOUSLY) he apologized ‘for not being able to rid my grandfather of his computer virus’ and asked for his Social Security Number….

Funny part?

Poppy doesn’t have a computer…

While this situation may have turned out well, it doesn’t always.

So our Fun Friday reminder is: Educate elders on computer, phone and technology safety…

  1. Don’t click on links from people you don’t know
  2. Know how to read an email to make sure it’s genuinely from the sender (someone you know) and that it’s not been hacked by someone (Yahoo is notorious for hacks). Teach them to read subject lines and preview first line WITHOUT opening the email). If in doubt, tell them to open up a fresh compose-email window and email their friend to ask if they just sent you a link to Viagra- chances are they will will say no.
  3. Don’t download stuff from sites on the internet you don’t trust (teach them how to verify sites)
  4. Tell them to be careful when pulling up memorized/favorite sites because some hackers pose as the real site and gather passwords this way.
  5. Tell them, that UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should they ever give out their SSN to anyone.
  6. Don’t text and drive.
  7. Don’t reply to text spam.
  8. If they still don’t understand (or believe you), give them some homework.

Doesn’t this sort of remind you of the ‘Don’t talk to strangers’ spiel we got as children?



The No Diet Challenge: 12 Where to Shop Healthy


The biggest problem with shopping healthy seems to be knowing what to buy.
Once we know what to shop for, then we have to find a place to get it.

Large grocery stores (including Target and Walmart) are not just there to serve you, they are there to make money. They focus the majority of their resources (time and money) on marketing, floor layout and product placement. Their strategy can sabotage our efforts to eat healthy and stay out of the poor house while doing so.

If you’re in NE Ohio, you’re in luck, because I’m going to share some of my favorites:

#1 Sweet Berry Fresh (by far the best customer service of any grocery experience I’ve ever had)
#2 West Side Market (truly my favorite overall experience when shopping for foods)
#3 Constantino’s Market (you can even link to what’s going on in Cleveland now via this site)
#4 Sun Plum Market (about Sun Plum)

While I cannot exclusively shop at any one of these stores for all of my needs, for obvious reasons ( toilet paper can’t be purchased in most of these locations), I do visit Sweet Berry Fresh weekly for fruits, veggies and more, because I find their prices and freshness to be out of this world.


Where else can you get a gallon of Dean’s milk for $2.50? Their top notch customer service and multiple open registers appeals to me because they know I want to get home (and get on with my life). It’s a pleasant experience to say the least.

Note: I never tell my children which fruit on the table is from which store… they can always guess Sweet Berry Fresh by juiciness and flavor.

Another market I know in the area, but have not tried: Willoughby Outdoor Farmers’ Market.

Here’s an ‘Organic Markets’ List by State

Your challenge this week is to find a healthy market in your area -then go there to buy:

1. At least 10 healthy food items
2. At least one new type of healthy food that you’ve never tried




Summer Down-Time Can Mean Trouble for Kids (Column Related)

quote teaching kids

Summer can bring a ton of down time for kids, and not all parents can stay home to supervise.
Because of this, many children are left to their own devices and are roaming free for the season.

I remember being about 11 or 12 years old. Back then I thought I had quite a bit of freedom to do as I pleased. My dad was a single parent, and he owned some rental property in addition to working 5 days a week second shift. He was a busy guy. When I wasn’t helping him, I had a pretty big window of time and I spent most of it roaming around the neighborhoods with friends and hanging out at their houses. There were some good points and some not so good points to that freedom.

Life is all about balance. Kids need guidance, but they also need a healthy amount of freedom. If you’re wondering how to help your tweens and teens make good decisions this summer when you are not around to influence them-read my July News-Herald County Kids Column. It will help you take action right away if you need to (or assist in laying some ground work for your up and coming independents).

Obviously, spending time with your children is the absolute best thing for your kids,
but no matter what, there will be those instances when they will be away from you-
It’s then that they need solid decision making ability- and the reasons to make the right ones.

The No Diet Challenge Step 9: What’s the Deal Between Organic and Regular Food?

applesI love to eat healthy foods. Sometimes when I’m at the store I buy stuff that I think is pretty good for me- then I realize that the person next to me is eating clean. No worries, my food will be clean later too, after I wash it.

Sometimes, I accidentally pick up something that’s organic and don’t realize it…and don’t care.
But later on, I read an article on organic and wonder if I should…

This week’s No Diet Challenge is to learn more about eating healthy and that includes organic and eating clean. Since I’m not the expert on this, I want to refer you to these links I found helpful:

What does organic mean?
Should we all be buying organic?
Are we healthy if we aren’t eating organic?
What is clean eating?
Can I afford to eat clean?
Is it worth it?

Stay tuned for the No Diet Challenge Step 10: What’s in your grocery cart & mine.