What you don’t know…will harm you.

I have been so excited to blog since I started back to school at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition three weeks ago.  I am absolutely loving school and making major changes in our life (for the better).   My instructor is the owner of Organic Lives in Vancouver and is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met.   He truly lives up to the saying “Be the Change.”  I think most of my excitement comes from knowing that what I am learning will benefit my family (especially Nolan) and anyone around me that wants to listen.

It all starts back in the early 1930’s when the amazing Dr. Otto Warburg found the cure for cancer.  Yep…you heard me right, he even received a Nobel Prize for it.  His knowledge about sugar and how it ferments in our bodies and creates cancer was a much too easy fix, so they shut him up.  Dr Warburg believed that food was not meant to be altered and whole food was the ONLY way to get the essential nutrients we need.   Years later, many doctors were discredited because of their passion for their work around “Whole food”.  Things took a big turn for the worse in 1955 when a report came out that said “sugar was not fattening and did not cause any danger to our health.”   This is when sugar started to be processed in many ways and chronic disease started to increase.

Time line of Sugar:  How many pounds of sugar, per person, per year!

1700            4 lbs per year

1800            18 lbs per year

1900            90 lbs

2009           145 lbs

2010            165 lbs

2012            165 – 180 lbs per person / per year

That is 54 tsp per day of sugar.

One of the very interesting things I learned in class was that cancerous cells have 8 times the amount of sugar receptors than a regular healthy cell.  When we have a diet that is high in sugar, we feed our cancerous cells (which we all have because of cellular regeneration).  The more sugar in the cell, the less oxygen there is which turns the cancer cell black.   If you take a cancer cell and expose it to pure oxygen, you can revert that cancer cell back to a healthy cell.  This is why oxygen therapy has become so popular for cancer patients.   Flood the body with oxygen and then cut out all processed sugar and you will reverse the cancer that much faster.  Exercise is also important as it brings in more oxygen to your cells.   (Class notes from Nutrition and the Environment).

Sugar is also linked to neurotoxicity and affects the behaviors of children with ADD, ADHD and Autism.  According to Medications.com, neurotoxicity describes a condition that occurs when the human body comes into contact with certain substances that damage neurons, or nerve cells, throughout the central nervous system. Common neurotoxins include pesticides, industrial chemicals, cleaning supplies and some foods.

Note: eating fruit (which has natural sugar) is not the same thing as eating sugar on it’s own (cane sugar, stevia, agave, rice syrup, corn syrup, white sugar, honey, maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar).   Fruit does not have a high glycemic index as it comes with pectin, which naturally controls the blood sugar and manages it’s flow into the blood stream. 

Read more: Neurotoxic Side Effects | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/about_6371147_neurotoxic-side-effects.html#ixzz2MQONzmHY

It seems that we have become a society of convenience and have completely become disconnected with our food.  We are always looking for the cheaper price but will it cost us later?

For class we were given a project to go through our entire house and find the most toxic products, write down all their ingredients and research what those ingredients do to us (especially our children).  This has got to be one of the biggest eye openers for me…ever!  It is one thing to see these words you do not recognize but another to know what they are and how they will harm your family.   I have literally gone through every cupboard (kitchen, medicine, bathroom, laundry room, fridge, etc).   What I have found in the food (I thought we ate pretty healthy) was not only scary but horrifying!  What have I been feeding my family and not knowing?

Things I would never have imagined to have toxins in them did.  There were two things that really stood out for me. The kids Tylenol had three food colors in it.  Food color is all carcinogenic, have lead as a binder and causes ADD, ADHD and increase hyperactivity.   Sadly “Color” is in almost all kids foods.  OMG!

The other one was my dill pickles which had polysorbate 80 in them.  It acts like an emulsifier in foods, medicines, skincare products, vaccines… and, of course, mouthwash.  It causes many harmful effects including increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, heart failure and tumor growth or recurrence in patients with certain types of cancer.  Crazy!  See the two articles at the end for more information.

I have only scratched the surface as to what I want to share from my first class.  The big picture is that here in North America we have chemicals in almost all of our food, personal care products and cleaning products.  The crazy thing is that ALL other countries (in the world) have banned these chemicals in their food and products, but because the big corporations here in North America have so much control and power over our government…we ingest, inhale and come in contact with many chemicals every day.  What is even more maddening to me is that many of us don’t even know it.  Our children are especially vulnerable to all these toxins as they have a different metabolism, their immune systems are not fully developed and they are much smaller.    My instructor is going to be working with Nolan and feels that we can significantly help Nolan progress forward by moving to a whole food diet.  I know this is going to require some extra time and love but if I can help my family be well, I am ready for the change.

The good news is that throughout history, the people have prevailed.  We have the ability to “be the change” one person at a time.  The way we consume food is directly related to how it is produced and I encourage you all to read your labels and check the Skin Deep Data base for more information.

I also wanted to mention that my sister in law (Sabrina) is starting to making some beautiful (non toxic) personal care products.  The name of the company is Bodhi Bar.  Everything from: deodorant, air freshener, soap, hairspray, yoga mat spray cleaner, and more products being created every day.

Website: is being created…

Email: bodhi8@gmail.com



Articles of interest:




Natural News: some great information!


Skin Deep Database: type in the chemical and you will find all you need.


Great recipes.


Organic Lives: my instructor owns and runs this amazing place.  Where you will find some of the best foods on earth!


March 4, 2013 at 6:50 am 1 comment

Blog #6 – What you need to know about Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs)

Blog #6 – Genetically Modified Foods

Today I write about something that brings up a lot of emotion for me – anger, sadness, and frustration about the power of corporate lobbying and corporate greed.   GMO’s!!

Several months ago I took my son Nolan to see a Holistic Allergist which really opened my eyes and once again brought more awareness to the many questions I have about autism and even cancer.   For years we have been eating very clean and very healthy knowing that we are helping our kids and guiding them towards a healthy lifestyle for their future.   In Dec of 2012, I took Nolan to see a medical intuitive which was again very enlightening but hard all at the same time.   He too told me that Nolan was still full of toxins.   I have known for some time that some children with Autism have difficulties ridding their bodies of toxins which can cause many of the behaviors and of course what goes on inside their little bodies too.  I do believe that there are a lot of questions about what causes Autism but my belief is the environment (toxic environment) plays a huge role.  There was a study released just last year that tested mothers umbilical cords and there were anywhere from 130 – 200 different chemicals in them.  That is crazy!!

In my pursuit of asking questions I have come across the GMO!   GMOs are made by forcing genes from one species, such as bacteria, viruses, animals, or humans, into the DNA of a food crop or animal in order to introduce a new trait.   The American Academy of Environmental Medicine reported, “Several animal studies indicated serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.   They urge physicians to prescribe non-GMO foods to everyone.

The eight GM food crops are:  corn, soybeans, canola, cottonseed, sugar beets, papaya from China, or Hawaii (most) and a small amount of zucchini and yellow squash.   GM alfalfa is also fed to livestock.   Think of all the round up ready corn and soy etc that is fed to the animals that many people eat.

Nolan has a condition called leaky gut which is very common in children with Autism but seems to be affecting more and more people around me all the time.  Leaky gut is linked to GMOs as well.   The GMO crops are designed to fight off the bugs and when the bug eats the plant their stomach basically explodes.   Do they not think that the same thing would happen to our stomachs too!!!!   GMOs require massive amounts of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. These things are poisons, and should not be eaten or allowed to run off into our water supply. But they are, every day, by companies who care far more about the bottom line than they do about your health, your environment or your children’s future.

Who is the cause of all this?  MONSANTO – a very large company that would like to genetically alter all of our seeds so they can patent them and control the world’s food source.   Dioxin (Agent Orange) which was created by Monsanto, destroyed the lives and happiness of so many Vietnamese children and so many American veterans has turned up in the North American food supply.  See video below for more information.

The last line in the video “Genetic Roulette” really says it all!

“What have I done to my children and what has been done without my consent.” 

For 50 years we have been eating these genetically modified crops…and we wonder why so many of us are sick.  

Chances are very good you’ve eaten GM foods: At least seven out of 10 items at your neighborhood grocery store contain them. That said, there’s some steps you can take that will help you steer clear of them:

  • Reduce or Eliminate Processed Foods. Some 75 percent of processed foods contain GM ingredients. There are many reasons why processed foods are not optimal for your health — for instance they often contain trans fatacrylamide and little nutritional value — so avoiding them will not only help you to cut back on the amount of GM foods you are consuming, but will also boost your health.
  • Read produce and food labels. GM soybeans and corn make up the largest portion of genetically modified crops. When looking at a product label, if any ingredients such as corn flour and meal, dextrin, starch, soy sauce, margarine, and tofu (to name a few) are listed, there’s a good chance it has come from GM corn or soy, unless it’s listed as organic.
  • Buy organic produce. Buying organic is currently the best way to ensure that your food has not been genetically modified. By definition, food that is certified organic must be free from all GM organisms, produced without artificial pesticides and fertilizers and from an animal reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs.
  • Look at Produce Stickers. Those little stickers on fruit and vegetables contain different PLU codes depending on whether the fruit was conventionally grown, organically grown or genetically modified. The PLU code for conventionally grown fruit consists of four numbers, organically grown fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number nine, and GM fruit has five numbers prefaced by the number eight.

Finally, if you feel you can’t afford to buy organic foods, please read Colleen Huber’s excellent piece on how you can do so on your current budget.

GENETIC ROULETTE – Amazing documentary on GMOs.


GMO’s affect all of us. Please do yourself a favor and watch this film and then tell everyone about it.

What You Will Learn

  • The serious far reaching threats posed by genetically engineered foods
  • Compelling evidence that suggests a link between the consumption of GE Foods and rising disease, illness and allergy rates
  • Why GM foods are bad news for you and your family’s health
  • The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) policy on genetically engineered foods
  • The power and influence of Agribusiness and Chemical companies in deciding what we eat and how they hide the evidence
  • Ways that you can help in the fight for healthy food and transparency with food labeling.


Non-GMO Shopping Guidehttp://www.nongmoshoppingguide.com/

They even have an app for your phone!   It is called shop no GMO – available at the iPhone App Store.

The Non – GMO Project is a non – profit organization committed to preserving and building sources of non – GMO products, educating consumers, and providing verified non – GMO choices: http://www.nongmoproject.org/

GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies

Food Matters – GMO corn linked to cancer tumors:


genetically modified (GM) crops

Movie trailer on Monsanto (you will be appalled) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8hFuuDAZjk





January 23, 2013 at 6:22 am Leave a comment

Blog #5 A Story of “Hope” – Just in time for the Season

Blog #5     A Story of “Hope” – Just in time for the Season

When I think of the word “Hope” many things come to mind for me.  I remember the first day that my friend Alison and I went to Inspire Health in Vancouver and I had just recently been diagnosed with triple negative BC and was feeling pretty raw.   We ended up running into my friend (Life Coach) Lee Chamberland and I specifically remember saying to her “I know I am not going to die” and I believed it!  Hope is that force inside you that gives you that inner strength and resilience to overcome things like critical illness and tragedy.  It is here you truly learn the power of the mind and how everything is truly connected.   Like Lisa Hayes said “Be careful how you are talking to yourself because you are listening.”

My good friend Alison Granger-Brown who is completing her PHD Co blogged with me today:

Hope is defined as the ability to find pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself to use those pathways. Hope is a way of thinking or believing, with emotions playing an important contributory role. According to research people who experience high-hope levels are cognitively flexible and will actually change the rules in order to stretch their skills, they will push themselves to achieve new and more demanding goals.  If they meet a barrier they may well “regoal”. Belief and expectation are fundamental components of hope and can even block pain by releasing the brain’s endorphins and enkephalins, resulting in the same effects as morphine. The power of hope is not simply a placebo it is real, biologically based and vital to the healing process. Nurturing hope in ourselves and others is work more worthwhile than almost anything else I can think of.

My story today comes from a fellow named Cameron who lives in Roseville, Minnesota.  He contacted me one day to let me know he had come across my blog and really enjoyed it.  He too, has been on an amazing journey with his wife and “like me” thinks it is so crucial to share our story and message to help others.  Cameron’s wife was diagnosed with an extremely rare and deadly cancer called mesothelioma.  Normally when diagnosed with mesothelioma, a person has a life expectancy of about 3-12 months, but after intense treatment and recovery she is still here 6 ½ years later.

How My Family Made it Through a Cancer Diagnosis

My wife has said to me on several occasions that she is in the dark about what I went through as her caregiver when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. We weren’t expecting to hear news like this only three months after the arrival of our only child, and it was difficult. We’ve talked about it one time, but that’s not enough to cover everything that I felt and dealt with in the face of this difficult time.

I remember it clearly. Lily, our only child, was only three months old. We were so happy and so full of joy. I remember Heather’s doctor looking at her and uttering the dreaded words; she had cancer. My wife cried, and I wondered how we could get through something like this.
I was so angry, and I took it out on a lot of people. I used some less than flattering language to communicate, and I’m not proud of it. I knew I was wrong, and I knew I needed to be strong for my wife so that she had someone to look to for optimism and hope. I finally controlled my emotions and began being that rock she so desperately needed. It wasn’t easy, however. My list of things to do was so long and so overwhelming that many days I wondered how I could possibly get through it all. Fortunately, I quickly learned to start accepting help as it was offered from our friends and family members. I was still overwhelmed by the entire situation, but they made it so much easier for me.

When Heather had to go to Boston for her mesothelioma surgery, we decided to send Lily to Heather’s parent’s house in South Dakota. Since I had to work and couldn’t give Heather the time and care she needed to recover from her surgery and prepare to begin chemotherapy and radiation, we decided to send her to South Dakota after her surgery to stay with her parents as well. She and Lily spent two months there, while I remained behind to work and take care of our home. I missed them so much, and I was able to see them only once.

I left work on a Friday night and drove the 11 hours to my in-law’s home. I drove through a snowstorm on the way, and I had to stop for a few hours and wait for the plows to clear the roads. When I finally arrived, I was exhausted, but I got to spend all of Saturday with them before I had to get up Sunday and make the 11-hour drive back home to be at work on Monday morning.

It wasn’t easy being separated from my family for so long, but I don’t regret making this decision. We were so fortunate to even be in a situation where we could make decisions, so it’s hard to look back on it with anger, sadness, or regret. I learned so many things during this time in our lives, though the thing that sticks out the most is to never regret the tough decisions that cancer forces us to make. Rather, take comfort in the control we gain from being able to make decisions at all, over a situation that is all too often completely out of our control.

Heather has been well for over six years now, and each day we are so thankful that she beat the odds. I hope that our story can be a source of comfort and inspiration to all those currently battling through cancer today.

A special thank you to Cameron and his wife Heather for sharing their amazing story and reminding us that life is truly a gift, not to be taken for granted.

Hold Hope for yourself and for others.

Merry Christmas to all and may the season be filled with love, laughter, health and happiness.


The Anatomy Of Hope: How people prevail in the face of illness by Jerome Groopman(2004) is a fascinating read.



December 21, 2012 at 6:33 am Leave a comment

Part #2 – Food is Medicine

Part #2 – Food is Medicine

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”


It is my pleasure to bring some light to the many questions that surround dairy and wheat today.  I am also pleased to have Lisa Marie – Holistic Nutritionist from Inspire Health co blogging with me.  As some of you may or may not know, it seems that gluten, dairy and eggs are some of the most common foods that people can be sensitive to (see blog #2).  When I was first diagnosed with cancer I remember everyone being so shocked (including myself).   One because I was so young but two because I ate so well (so I thought).  One of the first things I did after my first surgery was go to Inspire Health – (Integrated Cancer Care) in Vancouver.  Inspire Health focuses on patient’s health using an integrative approach that combines nutrition, exercise, emotional and spiritual support with standard cancer treatments.  This is where I first heard the term “Food is medicine.”  At this time in my life I ate a lot of breads, meat, dairy and sugar.    It really did seem like a good diet and I felt good but I was definitely lacking veggies.

When you are first diagnosed with cancer it seems like the only person in control is your doctor and it is really hard to be positive.   Going to Inspire Health gave me my control back!   I learned that what I put in my mouth had the ability to save my life and that changed EVERYTHING!

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, spelt, kamut, barley, rye and sometimes oats (oats are most often contaminated with gluten).  The immune system in people who are either celiac positive or gluten sensitive perceives gluten as a foreign invader.  This leads to an activation of the immune cells in the intestines when exposed to gluten.   These immune cells release chemicals that can lead to the destruction of the surface, or villi, of the intestines.   When the intestinal villi are damaged, there is an inability to absorbed nutrients from food.  This often leads to malnutrition conditions including anemia and osteoporosis.   This is what I was talking about in blog #2 when I was explaining that Nolan was only absorbing 10% of his nutrients.   Imagine the effect on your body if this was to happen to someone for years without knowing.

Lisa Marie will go into more detail below:

Wheat has been chemically hybridized to create high yields, and alongside that; high carbohydrate and higher gluten content. It is termed a ‘dwarf wheat’, or a mutant form of what wheat once was.

And therein lies the issue with wheat. Our bodies are programmed to recognize whole natural foods. It knows the ‘blueprint’ for traditional wheat grains. When we eat the new kind of wheat (including organic varieties), and especially the processed forms, our bodies are a little dumbfounded and are not able to fully metabolize it in this inherently different state.  This (potentially) stresses our body – some of us more than others – and in response has to use more resources to bring things back into balance (ie: insulin, intestinal function, immunity, etc.)

So, if we want to keep wheat in our diets we ought to at the very least improve upon the quality of the wheat we eat (whole, organic, unprocessed, and in moderation) and if we still suspect it to be a hindrance to our health we ought to try eliminating it for at least 4-6 weeks to see what kind of an effect it has on our body and mind.  This is the true test.  Then you can decide for yourself whether it nourishes or weakens you.

Rest assured there are many whole, truly natural wheat-free alternatives out there to support you in your wheat-free journey, whether temporary or permanent.  Just be sure not to switch to highly processed, refined starch-laden breads, cakes, cookies just because they are wheat or gluten free.  Always stay as whole and minimally processed as possible and you will run into less and less issues with your health.

*Be sure to familiarize yourself with the list below so you can eliminate wheat entirely and not be exposed unknowingly.

Gluten is found in almost everything:  baking powder, pasta, soy sauce, beer, marshmallows, vinegar, breads, flour, cottage cheese, almost all sauces and gravyies, marinades, chips, candy, caramel color, cereal, citric acid, coffee, dairy products, dextrin, egg substitutes, flavorings, meat, packaged dessert mixes, seasonings, soups and yeast, modified food starch, malt, miso, maltodextrin.

The conditions listed below can be associated with a sensitivity to gluten, dairy or eggs:

Acid Reflux, irritable Bowel Disease, constipation, cronic Fatigue, diarrhea, hypothyroidism, chronic Headaches, ADD / ADHD, migraines, type I diabetes, sinus Problems, gallbladder problems, arthritis and joint pain, osteoporosis, eczema, dementia, asthma, Multiple Sclerosis.

Growing up I believed that milk was so good for you giving you healthy bones and big muscles.  In formula, and in bottles, some of us started drinking it at birth.  Because cow’s milk was designed for an entirely different species of animal, a large portion of the population has an adverse reaction to it.  Humans (principally Caucasians) continue to drink milk beyond infancy and no other species does this.

When Abigail and Nolan were born they only weighted 4.1 lbs and 4.5lbs.   They were healthy but days after they were born things got very stressful.  They were not able to digest any formula’s that the nurses would feed them.  They brought in the most specialized formula while I was still trying my best to get my milk to come in.  This was increasing my stress and therefore decreasing my milk.   Now hooked up to feeding tubes the nurses were able to syringe out any remaining non digested milk out of their stomachs.  No milk was being digested and they were both below 4lbs now.   My milk came in and in 8 days they were above their birth weight and home with us.

Feeding cow’s milk formula has been well documented to contribute to cases of eczema, colic, diarrhea, and sinus conditions in infants.  We were taught that calcium from milk will help us build sting bones.  However, authors of at 2005 review article in Pediatrics state “we found no evidence to support that notion that milk is a preferred source of calcium.”  If decreasing or eliminating dairy foods from your diet leaved you concerned about not getting enough calcium, consider eating dark green leafy vegetables.  After all, this is where cows get their calcium.   In addition, when you decrease your animal protein consumption, you decrease your need for calcium.  If you look on the back of your milk bottle the % of calcium will say 20%.   Nolan and Abigail drink rice, hemp, quinoa and coconut milk which all have 30% calcium. There is also oat, almond milk which you can purchase as well, all @ 30% calcium.  Yep…more calcium in some milk alternatives.

Traditionally dairy and milk products were used raw, cultured and consumed in much smaller quantities than westernized countries.  Modern processing of milk makes it difficult to digest and utilize.   Commercial dairy products also contain high levels of residual pesticides and herbicides from the food that animals consume.  These chemicals, which are stored in their fatty tissues, are mobilized through the blood stream and into the mammary glands when milk is produced.  Non- organic, commercial milk also contains detectable levels of antibiotics used on the animal as well and many other environmental contaminants.  In addition, fat from conventionally produced milk harbors as much as 400 times as many pesticides found in non-organic fruits and veggies.   Butter, being entirely milk fat, is one of the most concentrated sources of toxins DDT and PCB’s.  (Alissa Segersten and Tim Malterre – Whole life Nutrition Cookbook).

If you do choose to eat dairy, choose (cows, goats, sheep) raised on organic pastures and treated in an ethical fashion.

Did you know:

There is evidence to suggest that the beef, pork, egg and dairy industries have influence the food guide content (Canada Food Guide), consequently including more of these products against the recommendations of scientists for optimum public health.

American’s take 3 million pounds of antibiotics every year and livestock is given 28 million pounds!!!

There is just as much sugar in one glass of milk as there is in a soda.

Although “real” food is often more expensive, you either pay for real food now—or pay the doctor later.  In 1960, 18 percent of our national income was spent on food, and only 5 percent on healthcare. Today, 9 percent of our income is spent on food and a whopping 17 percent on healthcare. Do the math!  The less we spend on food, the more we spend on healthcare.

With my world being involved in both cancer and autism, I am learning more and more every day how important food is linked to EVERYTHING!


The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will instruct his patient in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.

Thomas Edison

Food Matters Movie –FREE to watch online Nov 24th – 30th 2012


Books / Cookbooks:

The Whole Life Nutrition cookbook – (gluten, dairy and egg free recipes)

Wheat Belly – William Davis

Staying Alive! Cookbook for Cancer Free Living – Salley Errey

The Cancer Fighting Kitchen – Rebecca Katz

One Bite at a time – Rebecca Katz

Grains of Wisdom – The Callanish Society Cookbook


Stay tuned: Party #3 – Meat, poultry, fish and eggs.  

November 22, 2012 at 4:49 am 1 comment

Part #1 – Food is Medicine

Part #1 – Food is Medicine

Just over one year ago I had my final surgery for Breast Cancer and part of me feels like it was so long ago, but another part of me feels like it was just yesterday.   When I ask the question “Where did my cancer come from?”  many things come to mind.  Years of being exposed to cigarette smoke (in restaurants, at home, and many other public places).   Growing up behind a nursery that sprayed pesticides and herbicides and our well water was on their fence line.   We had no filter on our water system that could remove the chemicals that leached into our water.   The crazy amount of hair spray and perfume I used for years. The cause of my cancer could be a combination of all of these things and more, but what about when things really started to change in the food industry?  We started eating frozen dinners, pot pies, pizza pops, Kraft dinner and pre made lasagna.  Nobody asked what was in those products because it was so cool that they were pre made and easy to make.  I remember growing up in Port Kells and having a huge garden and chickens.  My dad would grow beans, squash, cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and more.  We had fresh raspberries, blueberries, apples, plums, that we would just go out and pick off the branch.   I would go down to get my eggs for breakfast and say good morning to the chickens and grab a cucumber on the way back for our salad at dinner.  Things have changed!  I believe I was very fortunate to know where my food came from and I am not sure that many of the kids today have the same opportunities.  We live in a fast paced world where both parents are working, the kids are in many activities, traffic is crazy and stress is high.  Fast food and processed food seems like the best thing to do because it saves time…but is it the best choice and do we know what we are really eating?  If you watch the opening to the movie Forks Over Knives…the movie starts out by saying that this generation could be the first where the parents will outlive their children if we don’t start making changes.  I don’t know about you but that was an eye opener for me.  I might have never considered these things if I wasn’t diagnosed with cancer.

One of the many things I learned from being sick with Cancer is our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal themselves but we have to fuel them with healthy whole foods.    Many people don’t know that THE NUMBER ONE THING that feeds cancer is SUGAR and sugar seems to be in everything these days.   Most of the food that is produced now is not even food…it is a food like substance.   Even your “low fat” options at the grocery store are substituted with sugar.

All cells use sugar – aka glucose – for their primary fuel source, so sugar does indeed feed all cells. But if you’ve ever had a PET scan, you know that before you get your scan, you get to drink a lovely shake of radioactive glucose or get an injection of a similar concoction. Cancer cells are very greedy; they like to gobble up glucose much more quickly than non-cancerous cells, which is why the cancer cells light up on the screen during your scan.   A plant-based diet lowers your daily glycemic load so less insulin is produced in response to your blood sugar level. A diet chock full of veggies, whole grains, nuts, beans, legumes, and fruits will not raise your blood sugar as much as a diet full of white stuff like white sugar, white rice, white bread, etc. Foods that grow out of the ground are naturally low in sugar and high in fiber. Fiber helps to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, resulting in the production of less insulin.  “Kris Carr – Crazy Sexy Cancer.”   Go to her site for more detailed information.  She was my inspiration when I was sick.

It is also a good idea to be mindful of the type of sugar you are using when you do use it. Agave is metabolized in your body like high fructose corn syrup and most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener.  Yet because of good marketing we are made to believe it is better for us.  Organic cane sugar is a better alternative, used in moderation.

I know some people say “healthy” food is expensive, but you can either pay the farmer now or pay the Doctor later.  Here are some tips from Inspire Health – Integrated Cancer Care.

Food on a budget:

  1. Make it yourself!  The more      someone else does the prep work for you, the more you pay.
  2. Eat seasonally. Right now, organic apples are plentiful and  regularly on sale. When there is a bountiful supply, prices fall. So for      the cooler months, seek out tree fruits such as pears and apples, citrus,      greens and root veggies. Save the strawberries and melons for next summer.
  3. Grow a garden (even a small one) and get your kids involved.   The more they participate in making the food the more they will eat it.   There are several things you can grow in the fall and winter months.
  4. Eat plant proteins.  A bean is marvelous thing: high fiber, protein, slowly digested carbohydrates, mineral-rich and inexpensive. Beans and rice are a staple worldwide for a reason.
  5. Keep it unprocessed. Purchasing staples and cooking from scratch will save you money. Cold breakfast cereals are far more expensive than oatmeal.   The same goes for canned tomatoes instead of pasta sauces. Consider making your own trail mixes instead of buying granola bars.
  6. Feed your Imagination. When cooking from basic food staples, it is easy to get stuck in a rut.   Dust off your library card and explore the amazing amount of cookbooks that our local libraries have to offer. Get inspired!
  7. Socialize the old-fashioned way. Dining can put a big dent in our pocketbooks and often leave us wondering about how healthful our choices are. Instead, invite friends for a potluck. Share your healthy intentions for the meal. Potlucks are entertaining without the fuss and you might even discover new recipes to add to your repertoire!
  8. Beware the “health premium”. When a food or nutrient is trendy, it shows up everywhere. Beware functional foods like omega 3 yogurts or acai berry granolas. You will often pay a “health premium” for such items.
  9. Buy in bulk when you can.   When your favorite, trusted brands are available in large format sizes, stock up. This approach also reduces packaging waste.   The key to savings is to only buy foods you can finish in  a reasonable amount of time.
  10. Don’t waste good food.   Who said we have to throw out broccoli stalks or fennel fronds?  Dice tough veggie parts and give an extra sauté to soften.   Keep veggie trimmings in a freezer bag for use in soup stocks.  Plan meals around what is in the fridge; freeze remnants that would otherwise get wasted, such as herbs and tomato paste, in ice cube trays

Being healthy is hard work but don’t leave your health up to your doctor.  You have the power (control) to be well and take care of yourself and your family.  YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT! 

Look for Part two of “Food is Medicine” in December on the meat and Dairy industry.  Lisa Marie Bhattacharya – Holistic Nutritionist at Inspire Health – Integrated Cancer Care will be co blogging with me next month. 

Great Documentaries to watch

Food Matters –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4DOQ6Xhqss

Hungry for Change –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MvAM97VDE8

Forks over Knives – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ijukNzlUg

Food Inc –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eKYyD14d_0

Crazy Sexy Cancer (Kris Carr) – http://kriscarr.com/products/crazy-sexy-cancer/

10 facts you should know about Monsanto – http://bestmeal.info/monsanto/facts.shtml

Click on the below link to go to several amazing documentaries –


Inspire Health – Integrated Cancer care – http://www.inspirehealth.ca/

Organic Lives – http://organiclives.org/education_about

The Institute of Holistic Nutrition – http://www.instituteofholisticnutrition.com/current-events/open-house/vancouver/  Open house on Sat Nov 3rd – check it out!  Free classes!

October 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm 1 comment

Post #2 The difference between an allergy and a food sensitivity

Blog #2    The difference between a food sensitivity and an allergy.

Well it is official…I am a blogger.   I have to say that this still absolutely blows my mind and puts a huge smile on my face all at the same time.   Today I am going to blog about the difference between a food sensitivity and an allergy.  I have my Naturopath / good friend Dr Alison Vanderkerkhove co blogging with me today.

First of all I need to thank a few people for making this blog happen.  My life coach Lee Chamberland has encouraged me and always believed in me…even when I did not believe in myself.   In 1997 I met Lee through the Therapeutic Recreation program and I always remember feeling inspired and capable of doing anything I put my mind to every time I was in her space.  Our paths crossed once again in a very difficult time in my life and I know it was not by chance.  Lee is a beautiful person inside and out and I feel so grateful to have her by my side on this journey we call life.   Secondly, Jacqueline Death who is a good friend of mine that brought Shannon’s Tool Box to life.   She has her own company and loves design and graciously offered to help create my blog.  She spent endless hours creating, designing and tweaking.  I am forever grateful.   Finally my wonderful husband that is always there to support me in everything I do.   He is the rock that got me through all the tough days and gave me the strength to be where I am today.  To all my wonderful family and friends…there are no words for my gratitude!  I hope you enjoy my blog…it feels like a good way to give back all I have received.

The topic of sensitivity versus allergy is something very significant in our household.   Before Nolan was even diagnosed with Autism we took him to two different allergists with conflicting results.   I knew Nolan could not tolerate dairy and yet the allergist (leading pediatrician allergist) told me not to worry.   I took Nolan to see my naturopath (Dr Alison) as I was unhappy with what the allergist had told me.

Dr Alison Vandekerkhove (New Leaf Naturopathic Clinic) can better explain…

 “There are basically 2 types of food allergies. The first type is called an IgE reaction. Trust me you will know of you have this allergy. Immediately after eating the allergic food you will have an anaphylactic reaction. These symptoms include, tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and the throat, difficulty breathing, hives, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, drop in blood pressure and loss of consciousness. If not treated this type of allergy can lead to death. Strict avoidance of the allergy-causing food is the only way to avoid a reaction. One of the most common food IgE allergies is peanuts. The other type of food allergy is called the IgG reaction or more commonly,“food sensitivity”. This is a delayed reaction in the body that can have a variety of symptoms.   As improbable as it sounds, some people get a stomach ache, headache, or other uncomfortable symptoms from eating “healthy” foods such as wheat, milk, or even apples. For some individuals, eating a specific food causes the immune system to stand up and fight; yet the immune system loses. Consequently, they become ill. The illness you have is the immune system’s response to a certain food. Many people suffer from food allergies and don’t realize it. Rarely can we figure out on our own that something we ate yesterday might be causing today’s aches and pains. Many people needlessly endure years of illness with numerous symptoms (arthritis, asthma, migraines, cluster headaches, bowel problems, eczema, fatigue, heartburn, hyperactivity, and many others) without even knowing that delayed food sensitivities are causing these conditions.

This is why it is nice to work with children. I will use Autism as a great example. When children can go on their diets while the brain and body are still developing, change is easier to occur. This is why early detection of both the diagnosis of the condition and the food sensitivity is so crucial.  A simple blood test can let you know what your food sensitivity is. The sooner you can avoid the foods, the better it is for the body as you can work towards prevention, instead of treatment of a disease.”

I had Nolan’s blood tested and the results were very alarming.   Turns out that Nolan was sensitive to so many foods and some of his numbers were through the roof.   Now I was confused.  How could the allergist say that Nolan was fine and the naturopath blood work say different?   So I went for a third opinion.   I went to see another leading pediatrician allergist.  He told me that Nolan was not allergic to dairy and that the blood work form the Naturopath was inaccurate.   Okay…now I was even more confused.   I wanted to cry I just wanted to help my son.  It was so obvious that he was sensitive to foods as his face was often bright red and he was scratching.  The allergist said that he was not allergic to cheese (dairy) and he could eat it no problem.   He also continued to tell me that if I did not give my son dairy that I would be malnurishing my son.  So I went home, gave him cheese…watched him break out and said…enough is enough!   So as my husband and I struggled through trying to remove all the foods out of his diet (dairy, gluten, eggs, garlic, bananas, almonds, peanuts and so many more) we still did not understand what was the big deal about a sensitivity.   I got a good grip on Dairy and then just did the 80 / 20 rule the rest of the foods…until I finally started to understand how significant a food sensitivity was.   As I started understanding more and more I was shocked, and saddened that I took the word “sensitivity” so lightly.  It turns out that many children with Autism have food sensitivities that affect their ability to focus, make eye contact and decrease their attention span.  What I also learned is that when someone eats food that he/she is sensitive to, it affects their immune system.   A dysbiosis (more bad bacteria that good) is caused in the gut and affects the absorption of essential nutrients.   So we put Nolan on a probiotic right away and cut out ALL foods he was sensitive to.   Wow!  Not only can this be stressful…it is darn expensive.   So we decided to do the Organic Acid Test which will look for a lack of B vitamins, Magnesium, and indicates the dysbiosis in the gut.   Getting the results back was again very upsetting as it showed that Nolan had a massive build up of bad bacteria and he was absorbing only 10-15% of his nutrients.   Now that made me feel like a great mom!!!   How was I to know??   Thank God I have this ability to ALWAYS ask questions.   Now Nolan is completely gluten, egg, dairy, garlic, peanut and almond free.  How does a sensitivity scale work?  Anyone going in for blood work at the naturopath and getting a rating of 100 or over is considered “sensitive to that food.”   Meaning they should remove that food from their diet completely.   Nolan’s dairy is over 2000, garlic 1700, eggs 1900 and so on.   Needless to say…we do our very best to avoid these foods.   So now you ask…is this just for kids with Autism?  No!   Food sensitivities affect many, many people (as Dr Alison mentioned above).   Especially now with all the genetically modified food we consume.  This is another conversation!

I hope you have found this helpful and I will look forward to my next post in October.

Please feel free to post my blog on your facebook page and like my facebook page.  Also a reminder to sign up on my blog site to follow my blog via email (As I did not have this set up on my last post).




Food matters

Forks over Knives

Great Link with more information:  KIRKMAN ROADMAP:  What supplements help what?


You can see on the road map that there is a link between increased heavy metals in the body and behavioral problems as well….just a great resource!

Lee Chamberland http://www.powerofwellness.com/

Jacqueline Death http://www.homeworksetcdesigns.com/

September 18, 2012 at 5:10 am 2 comments

Get to know New Leaf Naturopathic Clinic

August 28, 2012 at 3:25 am Leave a comment

Welcome – My very first post!

It is hard to believe that I am sitting here writing my first blog post.   If you know me at all, I have the most horrible spelling and grammar in the world.   The good thing is…your not here to correct my spelling!  My toolbox is a resource guide full of great education, books, videos, web sites and much more.  The reason I decided to put this site together was because I found myself helping many people who were first diagnosed with cancer or had a child recently diagnosed with autism.  I spent many hours on the phone and emailing information that was just dragged into files in my outlook box.  I would spend a lot of time forwarding one email at a time and  one day I started to think…I should take all the information and compile it all into one…Shannon’s Toolbox!  When Nolan and I were first diagnosed I found myself having to be “My own Doctor.”  Most of the resources on my blog I found on my own and it used to frustrate me so much that the doctors did not tell me about these things.   Sooo…I am sharing them with you now!   I hope to blog about once or twice a month to share my stories and thoughts.   Thank you so much to all the people who have shown me love and support along my journey and made this blog possible.

August 23, 2012 at 7:00 am 4 comments

Cancer Survivor Dream Day

August 17, 2012 at 7:08 am Leave a comment

Autism Teachers – Shannon and Nolan on Global TV

August 17, 2012 at 7:02 am 1 comment

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