Losing Weight is Never Easy But Doesn’t Have to Be a Chore

Food & Drink – Jan 3, 2007
By Jeannette Ross

After six weeks of saying “What the heck, it’s the holidays!” January often brings with it a day of nutritional reckoning, and resolutions for more healthful eating.

Unfortunately, many people find their efforts at healthful living to be no fun at all, and soon enough these plans fall by the wayside like so much roadside litter.

Maybe what you need is a little help, a little direction, a little support. Renee Simon of South Salem, a certified nutritionist and author of Take Back Your Health, is a familiar figure around Fairfield and Westchester counties. She is offering a program called Six Weeks to Weight Loss & Better Health Using The Slow Down Diet. It begins Tuesday, Jan. 9, from 7 to 8 p.m., and continues though Feb. 13, at the Katonah Healing Alliance, 15 Parkway, Katonah, N.Y. The program combines nutrition education, accountability, and support while it looks at the emotional aspects of overeating and helps you boost your metabolism and eliminate cravings for sugar and other carbohydrates. It also uses the book, The Slow Down Diet by Marc David. The cost is $150. To see if there is still room, call 914-763-9107.

With this program, Renee will outline five basic points of consideration: quality of food, quantity of food, when you should eat, how you think about food, and exercise and movement. “We talk a lot about stress,” Renee said, and the benefits of meditation. Renee is also certified to teach tai chi and qi gong, and she will show you how to do some movements at home. “I’m not going to tell you to do an hour of aerobics a day,” she said. Instead she focuses on what is best for each individual.

I asked Renee what are the biggest impediments to losing weight. “Not being prepared,” she said. “People have junk in the house and not enough healthy choices. Time is another one. You don’t have time to cook a healthy meal or you eat on the road. Men complain about traveling and business meals.”

Even bigger issues are emotional. That’s where comfort foods and stress eating come into play.

“It’s my job to find better ways to deal with them,” Renee said. “All problems have solutions.”

What I like about Renee’s philosophy is that it’s not an all-or-nothing attitude. She has what she calls “the 80/20 rule. If you eat healthy 80% of the time, you should eat without guilt 20% of the time,” she said.

“A lot of people know what to do, but they might not have all the information. It’s not all just eat more fruits and vegetables, but how to balance them out.”

To that end, Renee has created her own food pyramid, with activity at the base. Then, she said, come “whole grain foods two to three times a day; healthy fats; vegetables in abundance; fruit two to three times a day; nuts and legumes one to three times; fish, poultry, eggs two times; dairy one to two times a day. On top is red meat, butter, and white (flour) foods.”

I also asked Renee if she had any overall tips for weight loss and she offered three. “First, think about the quality of what you’re eating,” she said. “If it has no nutritional value, think about giving it up.”

The second has to do with portion control. She suggested using a 12-inch plate and dividing it into quarters. Each quarter holds a protein, starch, vegetable, and salad. “That way,” she said, “you can’t overeat the starch or protein.”

Finally, drink at least eight glasses of water a day. “If you’re dehydrated, you might think you’re hungry,” she said.

If you want to take a different approach, later this month or next, Renee will offer an Integrated 21-Day Detoxification Program that is not a fast, but an “experience in eating well and cleansing toxins simultaneously. Common toxic foods – meaning they are often difficult for people to digest – include gluten, found in wheat, barley, oats, and rye; milk products other than plain yogurt; red meat; alcohol; coffee; and sugar. “The program opens your eyes to all the foods that are good for you,” she said. “After you take the toxic foods out, you add them back one at a time so you can measure your sensitivity to them. Most people lose five to 10 pounds during the program, but everyone says they feel better.”

In addition to her programs, which she also offers through local adult education programs, Renee counsels private clients and is available as a guest speaker. She has offices in South Salem, Katonah, and Ridgefield. For details, call Renee at 914-763-9107 or visit her Web site www.totalwellnessnutrition.com.

Pineapple Fried Rice with Maple Glazed Cashews

    • 1/2 cup cashews
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 2 Tbsp. sesame oil, divided
    • 1 lb. tofu, cubed
    • 2 tsp. chopped garlic
    • 2 tsp. ginger root, minced
    • 1 cup onions, medium dice
    • 2 cups carrots, medium dice, blanched
    • 2 cups celery, medium dice
    • 1 cup red peppers, medium dice
    • 1 cup bean sprouts
    • 3 cups pineapple, medium dice
    • 7 cups brown rice, cooked
    • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 cup cilantro, leaves only

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cashews on a sheet pan and toast them four to five minutes. Coat nuts with maple syrup and return to oven for two more minutes.

Add 1/2 Tbsp. sesame oil to a hot saute pan. Sear tofu over high heat until golden brown.

Heat the remaining oil in a wok or saute pan. Saute garlic, ginger, and onions until translucent, add remaining vegetables, and cook for five minutes.

Add the bean sprouts, pineapple, seared tofu, and rice; stir well and season with soy sauce.

Garnish with cilantro and glazed cashews.

Quinoa Salad

    • 1/3 cup quinoa, cooked
    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 4 tsp. lime juice
    • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
    • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 2 Tbsp. scallions, finely chopped
    • 1-1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 2 cups diced tomatoes
    • 1 cup sweet red pepper, diced
    • salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, cilantro and scallions.

Stir in beans, tomatoes, and peppers.

Add the quinoa, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly.

Adjust seasonings and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Almond-Crusted Trout

    • 1 Tbsp. parsley, minced
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
    • 1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
    • 2 tsp. canola oil
    • 4 4-oz. trout fillets

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine parsley, salt, black pepper, and almonds.

Coat the top of each piece of trout with the mixture.

Add oil to a hot pan and sear the bottom side of the fish, about four minutes.

Place the trout on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes, or until fully cooked. The fish should flake apart easily with a fork and should be a creamy white color.

© Copyright 2006 by Hersam Acorn Newspapers

Renee Simon is a Nutrition Consultant and teacher who lectures on a variety of health related topics and the mind and body connection. She specializes in helping clients make dietary and lifestyle changes to achieve optimal wellness. She has a private practice in South Salem, N.Y. and can be reached at (914)-763-9107. Her training is in Holistic Nutrition from the American Academy of Nutrition, and she is in the final stages of completing a Masters in Science in Clinical Nutrition from Bridgeport University.

Patent Trader Interview

by DANA NAIM March 10, 2005

Losing weight doesn’t have to be a never-ending battle
Healthy choices and smaller portions will keep off pounds

For Dorie Everin, being married to a chef for 26 years had proved difficult when it came to maintaining her figure. And at the age of 50, losing weight and keeping it off seemed impossible.

But after learning how to make better decisions and changing her lifestyle, Everin has lost 12 pounds in the past two months.

“I learned what to eat and what was good for me, such as what foods to snack on,” Everin said. “It’s a lifestyle change I’ve made, and by making these food choices and eating smaller portions, I have more energy and less fluctuation in my blood sugar.”

Like Everin, millions of Americans struggle with losing weight and maintaining their goal weights, especially at a time when restaurants have dramatically increased their portion sizes and fad diets become a temporary weight-loss solution, nutritionists explain.

More than 65 percent of adults are overweight, and 30 percent are obese, according to the U.S. government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans released in January. About 16 percent of children and adolescents are overweight, a number that has increased significantly in the past 20 years.

Learning to eat

“In our society, there’s a super-size mentality,” said Renee Simon, a clinical nutritionist at Renee Simon in South Salem. “People tend to eat fast and don’t allow the food to digest properly.”

Simon, who leads a six-week program called “Eating to Lose,” said eating one meal a day slows down the metabolic process. She stressed the importance of eating three meals a day and two snacks in order to keep the blood sugar constant and the metabolism running all day.

Once people reach the age of 25, their metabolism slows at a rate of 10 percent per decade, said Karen Hansen, a registered dietician at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco. In order to prevent weight gain, people should increase their physical activity and reduce their calorie intake.

Fad diets cause people to lose weight quickly, but they aren’t long-term solutions. In fact, people gain the weight back because they aren’t being taught how to make decisions regarding food.

“People are starved for being able to control what they’re doing,” Hansen said. “Fad diets are so limiting, people aren’t able to make choices. They follow crazy meal plans that don’t meet their nutrient needs. People think they’ve lost 12 pounds in two weeks, but it’s mostly water weight loss, not fat.”

She said healthy eating requires a variety of food groups, including fruits and vegetables, whole grains and starches, dairy, meat and fat. But the key is watching portion sizes and limiting the intake of fatty foods, sugar and alcohol.

Susan Pulling, a registered dietician at Nutrition Consulting Inc., in Mount Kisco, said it’s important to inform Americans about eating right and exercising often — especially now during
National Nutrition Month.

“The problem is that people have an all or nothing thinking,” Pulling said.

“They’re either on a diet or off a diet, and when they’re on, they’re very rigid. South Beach and Atkins (diets) eliminate whole food groups, and that makes it not nutritious.”
Rather than depriving the body of carbohydrates and other necessary nutrients, people should commit to a lifestyle that allows for occasional treats and incorporates the proper amount of servings from each food group.

A typical day should include four to five fruits, three to five vegetables, between six and 11 servings of carbohydrates, which include peas, corn and potatoes, and about two to three servings each of meat and dairy products. People should also make sure they consume 30 grams of fiber, which helps prevent many diseases, and limit their intake of fat and trans fatty acids.

Although olive oil is preferred over other types of oil because it’s considered a “good fat,” it still raises cholesterol and contributes to weight gain, Pulling said. Limit the consumption of any oil to three teaspoons per day, she said.
Depending on whether people want to prevent weight gain or shed some pounds, it’s important to start eating smaller portions, choosing healthier foods and participating in physical activity every day.

“Park in the farthest space at the grocery store, take the stairs instead of the elevator, do something you enjoy,” Hansen suggested. “Every little bit you can add to your day that you weren’t doing yesterday is an improvement.”

Tips for a healthier Lifestyle

    • Don’t skip breakfast. Eating small portions throughout the day keeps metabolism running.
    • Eat on smaller plates and skip seconds. Allow your body to digest the food so you feel satisfied.
    • Don’t keep trigger foods, such as ice cream, chocolate and chips, in the house. Snack on fruits and vegetables.
    • Don’t eat while watching television.
    • Don’t deprive yourself of foods you love. Treat yourself occasionally.
    • Substitute whole grains and multigrain products such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta for refined grains like white bread.
    • Eat whole fruits instead of fruit juices.
    • Carbohydrates come from fruits, vegetables, dairy products, grains and starches. Spread out your intake of carbohydrates throughout the day.
    • Drink at least eight glasses of water each day.
    • Choose low-fat or fat-free alternatives for dairy products, and lean meats.
    • Keep a log so you can review the food you’ve consumed throughout the day.
    • Limit intake of fats, sodium, sugar and alcohol.
    • Participate in physical activity you enjoy. If you think you don’t have the time, start by parking your car far away and walking to the store, getting off a stop early on the subway and climbing stairs instead of using the elevator. Then work your way up to an exercise routine.
    • Don’t consider yourself on a diet. Call it a permanent lifestyle change.

Portion sizes
With restaurants and fast-food businesses super-sizing their portions, many people misunderstand the idea of serving size, experts say.

The Food Guide Pyramid recommends a certain number of servings from each food group, but many Americans don’t know that a serving is a half a cup of pasta rather than a plateful, or a piece of meat the size of a deck of cards rather than a 12-ounce steak.

“A New York-style bagel counts as four servings of starch,” explained Susan Pulling, a registered dietician from Mount Kisco. “You’re only supposed to have between six and 11 servings of starch (and grains) for the day, so if you start your day with four, you’ve already used up most of your servings.”

Here’s a guide to recommended food portions according to nutritionists, dieticians and the Food Guide Pyramid.

    • Bread, rice and pasta group:
      six to 11 servings, 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup starch, such as rice, pasta or potatoes, 3/4 cup of cereal, 10 French fries, 1/2 English muffin.
    • Vegetables:
      three to five servings, 1 cup green leafy vegetables, 1/2 cup chopped vegetables.
    • Fruits:
      two to four servings, 1 medium fruit, 1/2 cup canned fruit or applesauce, 1/2 cup fruit juice, Milk, yogurt and cheese, two to three servings, 1 cup (8 ounces) of milk , 6 ounces of yogurt, 1 ounce of cheese.
    • Meat, fish and poultry: two to three servings, 2 to 3 ounces of lean meats and fish (size of a deck of cards) 1 egg, 2 egg whites, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.
    • Fats, oils and sweets: Use sparingly.

New York Times Interview

SCHOOL LUNCH; What If Carrots Came in Chocolate? 

“HOW about some veggies, sweetie?” Fran Cortina asked a little girl wearing a purple flowered bandana, who was carrying a single slice of cheese pizza on her Styrofoam tray. “Come on, try some!”

The purple bandana ducked and giggled, and whisked by a tempting array of fresh broccoli, carrots and cucumbers, cut up into child-sized pieces, to join her fellow second graders in the school dining hall.

Ms. Cortina sighed. A no-nonsense-looking woman with an angel pin on the lapel of her dark suit, she represents Fine Host, the corporation that provides cafeteria catering for Lewisboro Elementary School here. Ms. Cortina attends school lunch time at Lewisboro several days each month, and she has seen plenty of finicky eaters.

“You try to encourage them to eat healthy, but in the end it’s just up to the individual,” she said. What the purple bandana and her classmates eat for their school lunches — whether they choose a balanced meal, or whether they bypass the fruit basket and make a beeline for the ice cream freezer — has become a hot issue in the affluent Katonah-Lewisboro school district this winter.

The Lewisboro P.T.A. offered its second annual No Junk January program this year, a monthlong effort to teach Lewisboro’s 517 students about the importance of a healthy diet.
Lewisboro parents attended a panel on child nutrition with a dentist, a pediatrician, a nutritionist and a holistic health counselor, and teachers ran classroom discussions on diet and health.

A series of games — “Be a Bad Fat Detective!” “Be a Hidden Sugar Detective!” — were intended to teach students to read labels more attentively, looking for processed sugars and hydrogenated oils. For the first time this year, No Junk January also included a junk food blackout week, during which no junk foods of any sort were sold at school.

The No Junk January program and the junk food blackout week were organized by Renée Simon, a nutritionist in private practice who is chairwoman of the Lewisboro P.T.A. committee on health and safety.

“We based No Junk January on a similar program they ran in Chappaqua last year,” said Ms. Simon. “The cafeteria agreed to stop selling junk food items for a week, and we set up sample tables in the cafeteria so the kids could try the healthier choices. The point is not to take away all their treats, but we found that when we offered healthier choices, the children were happy to take them. And then they feel better, and maybe they perform a little better.”

Penny Constantine, the assistant principal at Lewisboro Elementary, said both the children and their teachers noticed an improvement in concentration and classroom performance during the junk food blackout week.

“I even had a kid come up to me and say, you know, ‘I’m not as jumpy as I usually am,’ ” reported Ms. Constantine. “That was his way of putting it, but by the end of the week, our teachers had really noticed a change.”

The elimination of junk food from the cafeteria was such a success that it had many parents asking why the junk food couldn’t be taken out of the cafeteria altogether. And that’s when the trouble started.

“Fine Host told us they wouldn’t — couldn’t — take the junk food out of the cafeteria for good,” said Martha Handler, who has four children who attend Lewisboro Elementary. “It never occurred to me that the cafeteria had to make a profit. They say they sell more when it’s chicken fingers day than when it’s baked potato day, for example.”

School districts in New York sign one- to five-year contracts with food service providers, who are selected through a competitive bidding process. Once such a contract is signed, the food service provider has a free hand in deciding what is served in school cafeterias within the district.

The state requires that balanced meal options be available in each cafeteria, but whatever chips, cookies and ice cream bars are sold besides that is decided by the contractor.

This situation makes many parents uncomfortable, Ms. Simon said. “Fine Host supplies all food to Lewisboro Elementary, and they ultimately decide what they can and can’t bring in,” she said. “It’s unfortunate — they need to make a profit, and the big-ticket items, as they call them, are junk food. We actually need to get approval from the State of New York to change this.”

At Lewisboro Elementary, a hot lunch is $1.75; sweets and snacks are extra. About a third of the children bring their lunches from home, some buying a cookie or a snack at the school.
Ellen Keats, a spokeswoman for Fine Host, said that the company was committed to promoting good nutrition, but that what is ultimately served in school cafeterias is determined by many factors, including the preferences of the district, and the federal commodities available at a given time.

“Fine Host is very health-conscious, and we run a number of programs oriented to educating children on nutrition,” she said. “Often what is served depends on what federal commodities are available. If there’s a surplus of chicken, say, that will be made available, and that helps keep costs down for the district.”
Lewisboro parents cite concerns about juvenile diabetes, childhood obesity and body image.

They express frustration that the eating habits they are teaching at home are being undermined during the school day. They point out that when junk food was taken out of the cafeteria, the children didn’t seem to miss it, and ate turkey burgers and granola bars just as happily.

“I spent some time with the second graders — my son’s class — recently, and the children were talking about their New Year’s resolutions,” said Ms. Handler. “And already in second grade, a lot of the kids were saying they wanted to lose weight. It seems so obvious that the junk food should go.”

In the battle for a better school-day diet, however, elementary school cafeterias are just the beginning. In middle schools and high schools, vending machines are the subject of much consternation, as nationwide, Coca-Cola and Pepsi sign deals with school districts for exclusive rights to sell their products in school hallways, and put their logos on school score boards.

In a report to Congress in January 2001, the United States Department of Agriculture said that sales of candy, salty snacks and sweetened drinks sold in competition with healthier options were jeopardizing the nutritional effectiveness of school meals. And there are signs that lawmakers are starting to take notice.

For the time being, however, the chips and ice cream will stay in the Lewisboro Elementary l cafeteria, and the parents and teachers will have to encourage children to make healthier choices among them. Some of the children, evidently, are taking the message to heart. A pair of Lewisboro second graders hammed it up for a visitor, stomping melodramatically up to a trash can with a bag of corn chips: “Bad fats! Throwing away the bad fats — eewwwwww!”

This Nutritionist Knows Whereof She Speaks

Thursday, May 25, 2000, The Ridgefield Press By Hilary S Wolfson

Several years ago IBM corporate executive Renee Simon had a sore throat that wouldn’t go away. From there, debilitating symptoms ensued- everything from severe fatigue muscle aches and pains to depression and general malaise.

Eventually diagnosed with the Epstein-Barr Virus (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), doctors told this South Salem resident, a vegetarian and marathoner-in-training, that antidepressants and a leave of absence from her high-pressure management job at IBM would be the best course of action.

But Ms. Simon felt empowered and motivated to take a different path. That path was a series of alternative therapy and approaches to natural healing and wellness that included everything from acupuncture, vitamin C. drips, and meditation and visualization to fasting, vitamin and mineral therapy and massage.

Now Ms. Simon is helping others follow that path, with a new practice as a nutritionist in Ridgefield.

Major changes
“The most important success factors were changes in my diet and lifestyle that were livable for the long pull,” said this a former self admitted high- stressed executive whose days on the fast-track of 70 hour work weeks have been happily replaced with “Renee redux” new – lease- on -life career as a clinical nutritionist and mom to a seven-year-old “light of her life”, daughter Rebecca.

Along with changes in diet and lifestyle, Ms. Simon participated in intensive vitamin and mineral therapy and with an amazing “mind over matter” determination, also achieved a positive mental attitude. She was able to do what most including herself thought would be impossible. She got well.

“And in four months” said Ms. Simon proudly “I had a complete recovery from this devastating, debilitating virus within four months’ time. Most people didn’t think it would EVER happen” she said smiling.

Looking back
When Ms. Simon looks back at the “big picture,” the snapshots that, come clearly into focus are the ones of her taking allergy shots from the age of 5 through 20, inhaling nasal sprays, and taking oral steroid medications and antihistamines.

“This is what many of us do or did and like many of those people, I never thought twice about not doing them,” said Ms. Simon, whose private practice in South Salem and Ridgefield has many people who “have been there and gone that route,” walking through her door asking Ms. Simon for help.

When she realized she had been compromising her immune system from years of allergy treatments, high levels of stress and eating foods she didn’t know she was allergic to, she was inspired to help others avoid the pitfalls she had fallen into and help them take health steps towards “optimal wellness”.

“I decided to go back to school for nutrition,” said Mrs. Simon, “because I realized that preventive medicine is the key to optimal wellness. There’s so much we can do to keep ourselves healthy. Feeding the immune system optimal nutrition, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lots of pure water, and eliminating all processed foods, foods with high levels of saturated fats, fried foods, smoked meats, red meat and refined sugar, caffeine and alcohol, can put people back on the right path to health.”

“This was something I knew about from the inside so it made sense for me to help others recover from challenging health problems like the one I had,” said Ms. Simon who along with her master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition has done some postgraduate training in nutritional pharmacology.

Looking at the whole person
Using nutrition therapeutically to help prevent disease as well as treat disease, Ms. Simon looks at the “whole person” (rather than a set of symptoms or individual problems, hence the term “holistic”) from the inside out, and tries to understand what underlying causes may be affecting people when they come in with a particular problem.

“It’s about looking at the person and what they need to get back in balance,” said Ms. Simon who specializes in natural approaches to infertility, hormonal imbalances, weight loss issues as well as children with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism, immune system problems, allergies, asthma, migraines, digestive problems and chronic infections.

“To understand the root of the problem,” wrote Ms. Simon recently, it’s important to look at the interrelationship between the brain, and the digestive and immune systems.”

She talks about the importance of looking at psychoneuroimmunology, which refers to interactions between the emotional state, nervous system and the immune system, and how there is a growing body of knowledge that documents just how much the mind influences health and disease.

Children in particular, who are more susceptible to all sorts of stress are being diagnosed more and more with chronic digestive problems and allergies

“A lot of children that I see with learning problems have underlying digestive problems,” said Ms. Simon, who along with her extensive past history questionnaires, will often order stool tests, hair analysis and a complete blood work up to assess a patients biochemistry and mineral and metal levels.

Many of these children were treated with a lot of antibiotics over the years for chronic ear infections and bronchitis and their gut is totally destroyed by the chronic antibiotic use,” said Ms. Simon. “We have discovered that children who have depressed levels of iodine, iron, magnesium and lead, which is diagnosed through hair analysis, are prone to ADHD and other illnesses.”

“People would be amazed to learn that through appropriate diagnostic tools, such as food sensitivity tests and analysis of biochemistry, children’s immune systems could get dramatically stronger and they can become much healthier because now we have the information to help them get there,” said Ms. Simon.

Ms. Simon also does workshops throughout the year on healthy eating and mastering difficult weight loss issues and will be offering a support group for parents of children on gluten-free/diary-free diet or other limiting foods.

“We will be talking about how to successfully implement an elimination diet”, said Ms. Simon, “and what symptoms and changes should be expected the first 30 days. We will offer alternative food strategies, recipe ideas and do some food tasting too. Most of all it’s about group ideas and strategies that work. That’s the beauty of support network, said Ms. Simon.”

“What I try to do is not give people a laundry list of what to do,” said Ms. Simon. Rather it’s more about taking small steps — dietary changes, supplements, stress reduction techniques–and after they see how much better they feel, they feel empowered to stay healthy,” said this “new lease on life” professional who doesn’t just talk about the mind — body connection. She embraces it with her “heart and soul”.

Renee Simon, M. S., clinical nutritionist, has private practices in both South Salem and Mount Kisco, NY and Ridgefield, Connecticut. She can be reached by calling (914) 763-9107.

Nutritionist’s View: What’s Ailing Kids today?

March 9, 2000

The Lewisboro Ledger
Lewisboro, N.Y. 5A
Clinical Nutritionist

I used to see mostly adults in my practice. Now I see children with learning disabilities, autistic children, children with immune system problems, like ear infections, allergies or bouts of colds and flu. Digestive problems, migraines and other illnesses are also common. Why are so many kids sick today?

To understand the root of the problem, it’s important to look at the interrelationships between the brain, and the digestive and immune systems. Psychoneuroimmunology refers to interactions between the emotional state, nervous system, and the immune system. There is a growing body of knowledge documenting the minds profound influence on health and disease. We know our mood affects the way we feel on a daily basis and that posi­tive imagery can reverse disease.

We also know that stress has a big role on the causation of diseases. We have a lot of stressed‑out children. Divorce is on the rise, and many households have both parents working. School is more challenging and children are bombarded with a myr­iad of after‑school programs to choose from. Where is down time?

In terms of an immune system tie-in, stress increases adrenal gland hormones that inhibits white blood cell formation and causes the thy­mus gland to shrink (a key gland for fighting off viral infections).

Another tie‑in is possible nutri­tional deficiency that can affect the emotional state and immunity. Some studies now show depression to be associated with functional immune decrements and immune over activation. Many kids with learning problems and associated self‑esteem issues are now being labeled with depression.

In terms of digestive system tie-­ins, after seeing clients with poor immune function, there is usually a relationship. It could be a chronic yeast overgrowth problem from years of antibiotic treatments caus­ing leaky gut syndrome and problems with nutrient absorption. It could be a constipation problem causing the body to store excess toxins, which may lead to immune deficiencies, or it could be irritable bowel, colitis or crohn’s.

According to Jeffrey Moss, D.D.S., C.N.S., C.C.N., in his newsletter The Moss Nutrition Report, “Treatment of all illnesses of immune dysfunction must include efforts to optimize gut function. In addition, unless gut function is opti­mized, any improvements of immune‑related illnesses must be considered symptomatic in nature. Finally, any symptom that was alle­viated via modalities that do not address gut function in some way will tend to return and or manifest in some other way once the modality is discontinued.”

Bearing this in mind, and under­standing that there are also environ­mental factors like outdoor/indoor pollutants, pesticides, food and water chemicals that can wreak havoc on the immune system, what is a concerned parent to do? The key is to try to prevent it. Would a child without underlying immune problems develop allergies, asthma, or learning disabilities if he were not genetically predisposed? I would suspect the answer to be no. Even if your child is prone to getting infec­tions, following these suggestions will help build a strong immune Sys­tem. The following is a Iist of basic tips that I have found helpful in getting started in a healthier direction:

  1. Begin to decrease or eliminate processed foods (candy, soda, foods with preservatives and col­orings, etc.) Use instead whole­some, organic foods like fresh fruit, raw vegetables, and quality protein and complex carbohy­drates (high fiber cereal, sprouted wheat bread and spelt pasta).Between fiber and the water your child should be having at least one good bowel movement per day. The human body was designed to eliminate toxins on a daily basis. If the colon gets backed up, toxins that need to be eliminated are reabsorbed.
  2. Make sure your child consumes enough water. I recommend 48 ounces for a younger child, and 64 ounces for a teen. Get a water purifier or order bottled water from a reputable company. Dilute juices with water. Some juices contain almost as much sugar per serving as soda.
  3. Find a professional to work with who can help identify foods that your child may be allergic to. This method is accurate and will let you know if food allergies are a contributor to your child’s problem. We find that many kids with learning problems and chronic ear infections have a milk and wheat allergy. Other culprits are peanuts, eggs, yeast and soy. Sensitivities worsen over time by kids often eating the same foods daily.
  4. Investigate the possibility of yeast overgrowth. Yeast problems can have an impact on behavior and can weaken the immune system. A stool test by Great Smokies Lab (you can get the kit at our office) can identify if this is a problem.
  5. Another test that can be a great diagnostic tool is hair analysis. We often find children with depressed levels of iodine, iron, magnesium and zinc and elevated levels of aluminum, copper, cad­mium, and lead are prone to ADD/ADHD and other illness. When exposed to lead it will show up in the blood for around 30 days and then migrate to cells and tissues. The analysis will reflect the biochemistry of the patient over time, including the mineral and metal levels.
  6. After decreasing your child’s intake of allergenic and processed foods, give him or her a multi­vitamin and mineral supplement. Give these vitamins with meals and divide into at least two doses. At the first sign of infection use the herbs echinacea, garlic and astragalus as well as vitamin C and carrot juice.

If the child has an ear infection, use warm garlic and mullein oil in the ear canal for a week. If you’ve missed those indicators and your child ends up with a full‑blown infection, follow this procedure as soon as possible to provide the immune system with the extra fight­ing it needs. If an antibiotic is necessary, always take acidophillus/bifidus to make sure that the drug does not kill off the good bacteria along with bad. I recommend that your child continue to take acidophillus for a week after the antibiotic is finished to continue to build good intestinal flora and reduce the chance of a yeast infection.

My final point is simple: take charge of your child’s health! By identifying and treating underlying conditions, giving your child optimal nutrition, providing a non‑toxic, structured environment that includes time to de‑stress and enjoy everyday, you and your child will be well on your way.
Renee A. Simon MS. is a Clinical Nutritionist with private practices in South Salem and Mt Kisco, New York and Ridgefield Connecticut. She frequently lectures on children’s health. For more information call Ms.Simon, at (914) 763‑9107.

Spring Cleaning For Body, Mind & Spirit

Light Voices, May 1999
By Renee Simon, Nutrition Consultant

You hear the birds chirping and see the flowers budding and right about now you start think lug about doing a spring cleaning. Perhaps you’ll plan to get your windows or house power-washed. Maybe you’ll arrange a liaison with a cleaning company to get the cob webs out of the corners of rooms you don’t use much. Or, if you are a gardener, you’ll start cleaning the last of winter’s debris from your property and begin planning which annuals will be just right this year. A little cutting here, a little pruning there, to make everything just so.

If only we took care of our bodies and souls with the same passion. As a nutritionist, I see a lot of clients after the winter months that are fighting the battle of the bulge and want to look good for bikini time. I also see a lot of clients in the winter months that are used of getting one virus and sinus infection after another, and are ready to do something about it. I’ve yet to see a client who is looking for a spring health makeover.

This article is dedicated to those of us who want to do just that—get revitalized so that we can enjoy what is one of the most pleasant times of the year. The following is what I believe to be essential for a spring health makeover.

Cleanse your body from the normal everyday toxins that we all experience from chemicals we breathe or ingest. External sources range from solar and ionizing radiation to cigarette smoke, air pollutants, heavy metals, ozone, organic solvents, pesticides, and food addictives. I recommend juicing and using herbal colon, liver, and kidney detoxifiers. These organs are essential for energy, vitality and immunity. If they are congested, you will feel sluggish and be prone to getting infections.

Build your immune system with antioxidant vitamins, teas, and other remedies. This is important for everyone, but essential fur those of us who suffer from allergies. Most allergies will go away with a properly functioning immune system.

Work through any emotional conflict that is getting in your way of living in the moment with joy and excitement. It is hard to function at maximum capacity when there is major conflict or stress us your life. Not only will it sap your happiness, but it will cause health-related problems that can manifest as headaches, stomach problems or whatever your particular physical weakness is.

Begin an exercise routine of at least 30 minutes a day of stretching, aerobic exercise, yoga, lightweight lifting or nautilus. This will help you achieve physical and mental health. Exercise is one of the best de-stressors that anyone can do on a daily basis.

Allow time to reduce stress through meditation and daily dreaming. Daily affirmations and visualization will help turn your dreams into reality. They are the key to moving you from where you are to where you want to go. These statements and pictures can be about your health, relationships, reaching a financial or career goal or anything else that is important to you.

Eat cool foods such as salads with a variety of healthy greens, and cold lightly steamed vegetables with low-fat dips and sauces. This is a time move away from heavy meat and pasta dishes. Focus instead on the variety of nutritious and delicious fruits and vegetables that are available this time of the year.
Go to your bliss station every day and enjoy with all of your heart at least one activity!!

We all need something to look forward to and something we find extremely pleasurable.
Please remember that there is more to life than working and carpooling.
I hope this list motivates you to make positive changes in your life to enjoy the upcoming spring season of growth and renewal.

Renee Simon is a Nutrition Consultant and teacher who lectures on a variety of health related topics and the mind and body connection. She specializes in helping clients make dietary and lifestyle changes to achieve optimal wellness. She has a private practice in South Salem, N.Y. and can be reached at (914)-763-9107. Her training is in Holistic Nutrition from the American Academy of Nutrition, and she is in the final stages of completing a Masters in Science in Clinical Nutrition from Bridgeport University.