Friday, March 9, 2012

The first 5 steps you can take towards health without pills

Guest post by Heather Jones DeGeorge

Editor’s note: I’m often disheartened to find that in many cases educators and parents are quick to unquestioningly trust pharma industry influenced doctors about best treatments for children’s mental and health issues without considering or researching other options. Before going toward medicine first, it is helpful to get insights from health and wellness experts like Heather Jones DeGeorge who have had great success with helping families find health and wellness naturally.  I asked DeGeorge to share the top five things families can do to get started on a road to better mental and physical health without medicating. Here they are. 

In today’s fast-paced, quick-fix life, sometimes it can be hard step back, slow down, and take a moment to best assess what we can do for ourselves and our loved ones to live a healthy life. While it may be easier in the short term to live this way, the long-term results can be detrimental.  Instead of eating, and treating our bodies, right, we often look for the quick fix for medical conditions that could be alleviated by incorporating healthy practices into our lives.  And even for people who are not the “quick fix” type, they generally are unaware of options that are outside of their doctors limited expertise.  We have been trained to believe that our doctors would know about any reliably good alternative, but in fact, doctors have a pretty limited knowledge-base and they have a hard enough time keeping up with the research on that!  

I see this all too often with the growing number of school-age children who are being diagnosed with conditions like ADHD / ADD, diabetes, child obesity, bi-polar disorder, depression, asthma, and more.  Unfortunately, American medicine is all too happy to suggest the right synthetic pill to address the condition. The short term gains in addressing the symptoms, not only can have negative, long-term ramifications, but they also are not nearly as effective as getting to the underlying issues and treating our bodies to a healthy lifestyle.  

Specific conditions react to different types of changes.  Depending on the issue at hand there are a number of simple health and lifestyle changes that can be undertaken to address the condition without medication.  But in terms of overall health and just trying to initially get on track, here are the five that I have come across most often in supporting my health coaching clients in their drive towards better health.

  1. Only consume ingredients your great-grandmother would recognize -
    If you’re eating foods with a label, strive to eat only those with ingredients your great-grandmother would recognize.  It’s no small task, but it’s worthwhile.  If your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, your body isn’t likely to, either.  That means it’s going to treat that ingredient like an intruder—overstimulating your immune system.  This can lead to allergies, intolerances, autoimmune disorders (like rheumatoid arthritis—there are dozens of these types of disorders) and other problems.  Once you get down to foods with ingredients that your great-grandmother would recognize, strive towards foods that don’t have a label (fresh produce and meats).
  2. Drink more water (don’t skip reading this summary!)  - I know, “Duh!”, right?  Well, no--not really.  I mean real water.  Not coffee, tea, VitaminWater, or other things that you consider water-based.  It really ISN’T the same.  Can’t stand the taste? Then try adding just a TINY bit of honey or lemon to it to help you adjust, but the end goal is water.  Think your kids won’t drink it?  Try.  Start watering stuff down.  You may need to go slow if you have a supersensitive kid, but you are absolutely NOT giving them anything that is more important than water--not milk, not juice, not anything.  The number of issues related to being underhydrated boggles the mind.  And forget the old standards.  Take your weight in pounds, divide by 2 and drink that many ounces.  Yeah, really.
  3. Remove white foods from your diet -
    All of them.  White rice, white potatoes, white bread, white sugar… if it’s white, get rid of it.  How our body reacts to these foods is a spike in insulin.  That roller coaster has set our country on a fast road to diabetes and heart disease--which is more significantly affected by sugars and insulin activity through ingesting insulin-spiking foods than by ingesting the fat that you’ve been told to avoid.  In fact, removing that fat has made the problem worse.  Doctors are not trained in nutrition and are spewing out sound bites similar to the snippets that the media takes and runs with.  But new data is uncovered all the time and it’s wise to do RESEARCH.  Remove white foods.
  4. Take a multivitamin.  It’s a start.  We are so nutrient deficient that many of our common issues--even severe ones like excruciating migraines--are often resolved with corrective megadosing of the deficient nutrient and then maintaining that nutrient in our body.  Magnesium is a big one, but there are many.  Even people that eat fresh foods need to be wary (see this article from my newsletter that explains the problem).
  5. Take an Omega-3 supplement - It pains me to be at number 5 and picking one last thing when my mind is saying “What about this?  You can’t leave out that!” but alas, here I am and I cannot end without recommending an Omega-3 supplement.  The American diet is overloaded with Omega-6s and people think that’s wonderful.  But when they are out of balance with Omega-3s, it is actually harmful.  The research on supplementing with Omega-3s is astounding.  It is also used intensively to help with cardiovascular disease, ADD/ADHD, and in children with apraxia with excellent results. In fact, one study showed that giving two sets of pigs a diet of Krispy Kreme donuts but one set additionally supplemented with an Omega-3 supplement showed that both yielded the same cholesterol levels; but when they autopsied the pigs, those on the Omega-3 supplement had nice, open, unclogged arteries where the alternate group were nearly completely blocked.  Flax seeds and walnuts are high in Omega-3 for their size; but shrimp, sardines, halibut and salmon are a great source of Omega-3s if you can get over your doctor’s insistence that we need to be fat-free (which has resulted in an epidemic of diabetes and--yes, it’s true--heart disease).  Depending on your personal health and eating plan, you may need to take a supplement (either correctively or routinely) before trying to rely soley on incorporating these foods into your diet.
It is never too late to start with these five.  Once you have these down, there are many more small things you could be doing to better your health.  Actually, if you’re not addressing common behavior and medical issues, the bullet list would differ slightly.  Most of my health coaching clients are surprised how attainable good health can be when they step outside of what “everyone says” and get real guidance—including guiding themselves by re-learning to listen to their own body and value their mind and feelings.  With it comes the discovery that the people we relied on didn’t always have the best answers for us.

Most importantly, be sure to know how to evaluate your information.  Where is it coming from? Who is sponsoring that source?  Check any research they cite to be sure it is not backed by those who will profit on their recommendations, and check that they didn’t just “skim and spew” without getting the full context of the information (which has led to ENDLESS misinforming of the masses).  When you start by following these five ways to address behavioral and medical issues, you’ll be well on your way to acquiring the help and support you need for success on the road to a healthy lifestyle.

Heather DeGeorge is a holistic health & wellness coach.  In addition to general health and weight loss, she specializes in dietary intervention for behavior and development problems of children; and helping people adjust to specialized or restricted diets based on medical diagnoses like diabetes or gluten intolerance with the end-goal of being able to heal the body and eat a healthy, less restrictive diet.  For more information, see her website at and follow her on Twitter at

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