Monthly Archives: July 2013

Questions to Ask a Pediatrician

A dear friend recently asked me what questions she should ask when looking for a pediatrician. I expected my list of questions to ask a pediatrician to be fairly short, and was surprised when it grew to include enough to become a blog post. I’ve broken the questions into three different categories. Many of these questions would be good to ask any practitioner, regardless of whom the patient is.

The Basics

I cannot stress enough that the most important factor in choosing a pediatrician is how comfortable you are with the person. Even if you disagree on some topics (which should be expected), it is important to find a pediatrician who respects your opinions and whose way of working with patients is comfortable for you. There is nothing worse than having your parenting choices criticized, ignored or condemned. Find a doc who will support you even when your choices are different from his or hers. 

Here are a few other important points to ask about:

  • Does the doctor accept your insurance and is he or she accepting new patients?
  • Does the doctor have evening and weekend office hours? If not, who takes and responds to calls during non-office hours?
  • At which hospital(s) does the doctor have privileges?
  • Does the office offer same-day appointments for sick children? (It is important to know this because no one wants to have to wait two or three days to see a doctor when your child is ill and obviously needs to be seen.)
  • How much time does the pediatrician spend with each patient? (Asking how appointments are scheduled and how much time is allotted per appointment can also help identify this.)
  • Does the office have separate waiting rooms for sick children and children who are not currently ill?
  • What lab does the doctor use? Can blood draws and other testing be done in-office?
  • How can the doctor be contacted for general questions? Is there a charge for phone calls?

More Specific Questions to Ask a Pediatrician

After learning the basics about a prospective pediatrician and his or her practice, you can then dig a bit deeper and ask more specific questions. I recommend asking:

Pediatrician and Baby

  • What is the pediatrician’s stance on breastfeeding and when does s/he recommend starting a baby on solid food?
  • Does the pediatrician support baby-led weaning, or prefer the parents force weaning at a specific age?
  • What is the doctor’s position on vaccinations? Specifically, does s/he support delayed schedules and/or not vaccinating?
  • What parenting books does the doctor recommend? Are there books s/he specifically disagrees with? (This question can provide insight into the doctor’s philosophy. It may help to ask about specific books you like or dislike.)
  • What is the pediatrician’s philosophy on antibiotics? When does s/he feel it is appropriate to prescribe antibiotics?
  • How does the doctor feel diet impacts health?
  • What is the doctor’s position on co-sleeping?
  • What experience does the doctor have with food allergies? What testing does s/he use to identify food allergies? (I recommend avoiding any doctor who recommends skin testing for allergies, as that method is not as reliable as a simple blood test.)
  • Does the doctor support natural and holistic healing methods? What is his or her position on nutritional therapies? Does s/he support the use of herbs and supplements? (You may want to ask this first if you wish to find an integrative doctor who understands and supports therapies outside of allopathic medicine.)
  • What is the doctor’s position on circumcision?
  • What is the doctor’s opinion of growth charts. Will s/he compare your baby’s growth to that of other children, or simply check to ensure your child is growing and gaining weight at a sufficient pace?
  • What training in alternative healing methods does the doctor have?
  • What experience does the doctor have with delays in speech, hearing, fine motor skills, etc. What are his or her philosophies on supporting children with developmental delays? (We all hope to never need to know this information, but it may be helpful to find out in advance.)

Very Specific Questions to Ask a Pediatrician

The following questions are very specific. Some pertain to specific lifestyles, but most do not. Asking these questions may help you gain additional insight into the doctor’s philosophies and personal beliefs.

  • Ask if the doctor has children. If s/he does, ask how having children changed his or her medical practice.
  • Ask how long the doctor has been in practice.
  • Ask if the doctor specializes in any specific health or development issues.
  • Ask how the doctor feels about veganism, vegetarianism, paleolithic eating, or other eating styles.
  • Ask how the doctor feels about raw milk, organic foods, GMOs, etc.
  • Ask what the doctor’s views are on childhood obesity and how s/he feels it can best be avoided.
  • Ask whether the doctor encourages parents to have young girls vaccinated with the HPV vaccine.
  • Ask what the doctor’s largest concerns are for children’s health.
  • For the very brave: Ask what the doctor’s views are on healthcare reform and how s/he anticipates reform will impact his or her practice.

I highly recommend scheduling a “get to know me” visit with a potential pediatrician. During that visit, pay special attention to the office setup, office cleanliness, friendliness of the staff, condition of toys in the waiting room, etc.

That’s my list of questions to ask a pediatrician. What questions would you add to it?

Photograph Courtesy of:  Lou Bueno Photography

Natural Sunscreen Recipe

I have received many requests to share a natural sunscreen recipe. I developed this recipe several years ago because I wanted to be able to protect myself from sunburn without exposing myself to the harmful chemicals found in most OTC sunscreens. I have found it to be very effective. Please note you may need to apply it more frequently than other sunscreens.

This time of year, it’s not uncommon to hear many frightening warnings about the “dangers of sun exposure.” These warnings make me cringe. The truth is that sun exposure is very beneficial to our health. Severe sunburn is not. Recent research found skin cancer is not caused by simple sun Sunshineexposure but is caused by severe sunburn. In addition, several studies found the most common ingredients in OTC sunscreens actually CAUSE skin cancer. Even newer research discovered sun exposure (without sunscreen) increases the levels of nitric oxide in our system. Nitric oxide is known to lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Please read Shining Light on the Truth About Sun Exposure for more information about the necessity of sun exposure.

What’s the solution? Here are my tips for allowing sun exposure to improve health:

  1. Get 10-20 minutes of unprotected sun exposure every day. After you have a good base tan, it’s fine to spend longer periods of time in the sun as long as you do not burn.
  2. Use a natural sunscreen. See links at the end of this article to a few pre-made versions I really like.
  3. Keep a close eye on how much sun you’ve gotten. If you think you’re in danger of burning, take time to put on more clothing or to apply a natural sunscreen.

My sunscreen recipe follows. This is easy to make and has ingredients which are easy to find. I included links to make it easier to find the ingredients. Each of the oils used has a natural SPF ranging from 6-30. I added zinc oxide powder to the recipe to provide added protection. This sunscreen is very effective, but may need to be applied more frequently. You can feel free to add a few drops of essential oil to add fragrance if you like.

Good Works Wellness Natural Sunscreen Recipe

Ingredients:

o 1/2 cup beeswax pastilles
o 1/2 cup unrefined shea butter
o 1/2 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil
o 3/4 cup combination of organic hempseed, macadamia nut or wheat germ oil(s)*
o 5 tablespoons zinc oxide powder
o Optional: 1/2 tablespoon essential oil

*You may use a single oil or a combination of oils to total 3/4 cup. Note you can make the natural sunscreen thinner by adding more liquid oil or thicker by adding less.

Instructions:

Gently melt the beeswax over a double boiler, then whisk in the other oils until all oils and butters are melted. Gradually stir in the zinc oxide powder and blend until well blended. Add essential oils after that if desired. This is best stored in a glass container.

Pre-Made Natural Sunscreens

If you don’t have time to make your own sunscreen, I recommend the following, some of which are water-resistant:

Photo Courtesy of Rhys Asplundh

References:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/29/sun-exposure-vitamin-d-production-benefits.aspx

Benefits of Moderate Sun Exposure, Harvard University

Scientists Say Benefits of Sun Exposure Far Outweigh Risks

Win a Gallon of Organic Virgin Coconut Oil!

This contest is now over. Please do not add additional comments, as they will not count. Thanks much! Have a glorious day!

I am a huge fan of Tropical Traditions’ Organic Virgin Coconut Oil and their many other organic products. Having been a customer for many years, I have consistently found their products and their customer service to be superior to that of other companies’. I am excited to partner with them to offer my readers a chance to win a GALLON of organic virgin coconut oil. I listed the ways to enter later in this post.

Tropical Traditions‘ Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is the best I’ve found. I have yet to find another brand whose quality, sustainability and free trade philosophies even come close to theirs. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil is a staple in our house. We buy it by the gallon and use it for far more than cooking. Please visit the Tropical Traditions website if you would like to learn more about their organic coconut oils and other organic products.

I have many reasons to love Tropical Traditions’ products. They use the finest processing available and are very committed to providing healthy, natural foods ethically and at an affordable cost. The company not only sells Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, but also sells:

You can enter this contest in six different ways. Note that the only way your entries will be counted is if you post a separate comment for each entry. You may also share one additional tweet and/or one additional Facebook share of this page each day during the contest. (I have a variety of reasons for not using Rafflecopter and apologize to those of you who find this method of gaining entries more cumbersome.)

Please note you MUST enter a new comment for every entry – including a new comment
for every retweet or Facebook share. 

Selection of winner is completely automated. You must add a separate comment for each entry activity. (I’ve said that three times in a row … is it sinking in? The only entries that count are those for which you leave a comment.) Contest ends Friday, August 2 at midnight EST.

To select the winner, I am using a WordPress plugin called And the Winner Is written by @spencersokol who resides in the great state of Indiana. The plugin only pays attention to comments made on this blog post, so be sure to add a separate comment for each entry. Please also note I will verify all entries.

You can earn an entry into the contest by doing any of the following. Please feel free to use the share buttons at the top of the post to simplify entries:

  1. Subscribe to the Tropical Traditions Newsletter
  2. Join my newsletter
  3. Like my Facebook Page: Good Works Wellness
  4. Follow me on Twitter: @IndyHealer
  5. Share the link to this post on Facebook using the hashtag #gwwr. (You may share one entry daily. Be sure to post a comment after posting it.)
  6. Tweet about this contest using the following text: I just entered @IndyHealer’s contest to win a jar of @TropTraditions coconut oil! http://ow.ly/n3Z55 RT to enter! #gwwr (And then enter a comment below. You may retweet this once per day.)

More information about Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil and their philosophies 

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - gallon.Win 1 gallon of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil and other oils. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Disclaimer: I was under no obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway of this product. Please also note that if you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

Simple Marinara Recipe

I wanted to share a quick, easy marinara recipe that is delicious and loaded with nutrition. Every ingredient in this marinara is raw, including the noodles, so the prep time is quick and the dish makes a very refreshing meal on a hot summer night. The recipe provides many beneficial enzymes and nutrients yet tastes delicious and can be made in less than 10 minutes. It is also high in magnesium, potassium, lycopene, zinc, antioxidants and more. It’s a win-win! Please try it and let me know what you think!

For those who are concerned, this marinara recipe is very low carbohydrate and uses low-glycemic ingredients. (I can eat a very large serving without needing to take insulin and without seeing a rise in blood glucose.) For more information on easy ways to reduce carbohydrate consumption, read: Simple Ways to Cut Carbs from Your Eating Habits.

This marinara is also Paleo and is a great option for Simple Summer Marinaraanyone on a Candida cleanse. It makes a fantastic after-workout meal because it provides a wide range of trace minerals, healing enzymes and vitamins. Serve it as a main dish or serve as a side with meat of choice. I’ve been known to skip the zucchini noodles and make a smoothie out of this recipe. It’s delicious!

Simple Summer Marinara Ingredients:

  • 2 organic tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • 1 organic garlic clove
  • 1 organic red pepper, cored and seeded, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small organic red onion, cut into large chunks
  • ¼ cup organic sundried tomatoes, soaked in purified water for 2-3 hours
  • 2 tablespoons organic Italian seasoning blend (or 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, thyme and marjoram)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh organic basil + several whole leaves for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh organic oregano
  • ¼ cup organic, cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil – Tropical Traditions’ is my favorite)
  • ½ teaspoon Himalayan Sea Salt, to taste
  • Optional: Add 2-3 servings of a tasteless organic protein powder. I like organic Hemp Protein in this recipe.

Directions: Please note I refer to a food processor in the directions, but a blender works just as well. If you don’t have either, chop everything finely and stir together. No need for appliances with this marinara!

  1. Place chopped tomatoes in a colander set over a large bowl to drain while preparing other ingredients.
    .
  2. While tomatoes are draining, chop other ingredients and place in food processor.
    .
  3. Drain sundried tomatoes and place in food processor. (Save juice from chopped tomatoes and soak water from sundried tomatoes to use in other recipes such as smoothies, soups, etc.)
    .
  4. Add chopped tomatoes and remaining ingredients to food processor.
    .
  5. Pulse repeatedly until ingredients are fully blended. Mixture may be blended more for a smoother sauce, or less for a chunkier sauce.
    .
  6. Use a spiral slicer to slide zucchini or summer squash into “noodles.” If a spiral slicer is not available, slice zucchini or summer squash into very thin slices using a food processor or mandolin slicer. Zucchini and summer squash may also be shredded for a texture similar to rice.
    .
    My favorite spiral slicers include:
    .
    Joyce Chen Spiral Slicer – I own this one and love it! It can be used for many different things.
    GEFU Spiralizer – This is a new one on the market which I’m considering getting. It appears to be simpler to use and have less clean-up

To serve, ladle the marinara sauce over the zucchini noodles and top with basil leaves for garnish. Serve as is!

List of other blog posts

My Review of Earth Fare Healthy Supermarket

I had the privilege today of visiting the new Earth Fare Healthy Supermarket located in Carmel, Indiana. After hearing many rave reviews about the store and its philosophies, I was very excited to visit and explore. I was not disappointed.

Before I went to the store, I explored the store’s website. I was very pleased to find Earth Fare has a Food Philosophy page that clearly identifies numerous ingredients the company refuses to carry. If you visit Earth Fare and can’t find a big-nameFive Star Rating product you use frequently, chances are it contains one of the forbidden ingredients. (Which means it’s a good idea to switch to something new.) You can view the complete nine-page list of banned ingredients here: Boot List. High on their list of banned ingredients are high fructose corn syrup, bleached and bromated flours (associated with thyroid disease and other health issues), antibiotics and growth hormones in their meat and dairy, and artificial colorants/flavorings/preservatives/sweeteners. The company’s commitment to selling whole, healthy foods without harmful ingredients excited me. I couldn’t wait to visit!

I share my perspective below on five different topics common to most grocery stores. Please feel free to share your input on these topics.

Store Layout

The entrance to the store leads you into the produce department. From there, you will pass a nice bulk and coffee section and can wander into the natural health department where supplements and natural body care products are sold, or can visit the grocery sections of the store. The store is laid out well and in a way that makes it very easy to find products. I constantly caught myself wishing the store were larger, as it seemed a smidge cramped. The store wasn’t very busy the day I was there, but navigating through the aisles was a bit challenging even with the low traffic flow. On the positive side, the store’s size makes it easy to breeze in, pick up what you need, and get out quickly and very efficiently.

Product Selection

I was impressed by the selection of goods at Earth Fare. I couldn’t do my normal shopping due to not having access to a refrigerator for several hours, but looked for products I typically buy. I also purchased my lunch (which was delicious) and a few non-perishable items. There was only one item I could not find, but there were ample alternatives available. Although I read the label before buying the alternative product, I felt comfortable knowing I could trust Earth Fare’s food policy to protect me from ingredients I know are harmful. I was also very happy to see a few brands I had only been able to buy online before now. Great bonus!

Product Pricing

I was very impressed with Earth Fare’s prices. Every product I looked at was significantly less expensive than what I’ve found at other big box health food stores in my area. Unfortunately, the prices were also lower than what I find in locally-owned health food stores. I try to do as much of my shopping locally as I can, but there are a few products I can only get in a “big box” store. Earth Fare’s lower prices will definitely keep me coming back.

Staff

Every single employee I passed or engaged with at Earth Fare greeted me with a smile and seemed genuinely happy to see me. Earth Fare has obviously taken great care to hire staff members who put a priority on customer service, courtesy and friendliness. I asked staff members in the natural health, meat and deli departments some very probing questions. Each person was excellently educated and provided answers that gained my confidence. I was impressed not just with how friendly everyone was, but also with how knowledgeable they were. If I asked a question for which someone did not know the answer, that person quickly asked for my contact info and said he or she would find the answer and contact me. Very refreshing!

Parking

I’m pleased to say I easily found a parking space in this store’s parking lot. I had been told parking was a nightmare, but I had no issues. When I visited the bank across the street, however, the staff told me they had to hire policemen and security guards to stop people from parking in the bank lot. The staff said the problem seemed to have stopped, but they were concerned it would return when a new Walgreen’s soon opens in the same lot as Earth Fare. Only time will tell if those concerns were valid. My experience was very positive. The lack of parking probably explains why there are no “cart corrals” in the parking lot. Taking the cart back to the store was an opportunity for a bit of added exercise and was not a problem.

The Only Negative

GMO’s are suspiciously absent from Earth Fare’s list of banned ingredients. The company stance is that they “need the help of the government and producers to pull the trigger” on eliminating GMO’s. (Quoted from their FAQ Page.)  This was the only disappointing aspect of my visit. With over 20 years of data and research proving GMO’s are harmful to human and animal health and the environment, and the fact GMO’s are banned in over 60 other countries, waiting on the government seems unwise at this point. My hope is the fact Whole Foods committed to label all GMO products in their store by 2018 and the fact other stores such as Target have committed to carry non-GMO products or are strongly protesting GMO’s will provide ample incentive to Earth Fare to take a much stronger position on this issue. Remaining neutral will prove to be harmful to their business if they do not act soon. In Earth Fare’s defense, 75% of their products are organic, which by definition should be GMO-free.

Have you visited Earth Fare? What was your favorite surprise about shopping there?