0 Cart
Added to Cart
    You have items in your cart
    You have 1 item in your cart


      Halloween Candy Is Near - Do Not Fear!

      Halloween Candy Is Near - Do Not Fear!

      Author: Ashley Wentworth, M.S., RD

      It’s that time of year again—when parents are getting nervous about having all of the Halloween treats and candy around. Let’s explore what makes this scary for us.

      Isn’t Sugar Bad for Our Kids?

      Yes, there are studies that link excessive sugar intake to chronic health conditions and nutrient deficiencies in children. But the link isn’t as clear as we’d like it to be. For example, in a 2017 study in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation, researchers state, Nutrition studies are inherently challenging because humans have complex activities, diets, and metabolism. In attempts to study a single nutrient such as sugar, it is impossible to isolate its effects completely, especially with the known limitations in self-reported diet data from children/parents and the short duration feasible with feeding studies.”

      In other words, it’s hard to tell what exact side-effects are from just the sugar and what is due to other compounds in food or from one’s biology or activity. It’s also difficult to say how much sugar is too much sugar for every person and make a recommendation for that across the board. 

      This is because sugar is part of the carbohydrate food group. Carbohydrates—or “carbs”—are often villainized in the media. But carbs aren’t bad—and in fact, are necessary for good health. 

      When we eat carbohydrates they are broken down into a form of sugar called glucose—and glucose is the body's preferred source of energy or fuel. This means our bodies primarily run on carbohydrates—and use carbs most efficiently as fuel compared to other forms of fuel.

      Eating high sugar foods can affect blood sugar levels and create a cycle of blood sugar spikes and crashes in children and adults. This can look like irritability, moodiness, and extra energy or hyperactivity. Eating an excess of sugar can also lead to eating less nutrient dense foods. 

      It is important for growing bodies to have adequate nutrition from all nutrients: vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It is also important for children and adults to be able to enjoy their food and eat foods that are fun, too. 

      Risks of Restriction

      While our first instinct as parents is to take the Halloween candy and hide it (after we’ve taken our own bounty of favorites from the bag), the results of restriction on our food choices and behaviors can be scarier than the perceived risks of eating too much sugar. 

      When we typically restrict something—whether we’re restricting from ourselves or the restriction is from an outside source—it makes that thing much more fun, appealing, and powerful to us. The rebellious child comes out. We all want to have what we’ve been told we can’t have. And it’s that pull to do something we have been told not to do. 

      This type of behavior is likely based in the reactance theory in psychology. According to a 2015 study in Frontiers in Psychology, psychological reactance is the reaction that occurs when we feel our freedom of choice is threatened. 

      Food restriction in our minds has the same effect and triggers reactance behavior. When you perceive that candy is “bad” and actively try to restrict it, your motivation increases to eat it. For example, we tend to crave the things that are “off limits” when we’re dieting. 

      Our biology also works very hard to keep us from starving from food restriction. When your body senses food restriction of any kind, it tends to ignite a domino effect of reactions inside your brain and body, including  increasing thoughts of food and hunger signals. This is your body’s way of protecting you from starvation. It’s trying to drive you to go find food.  

      Actively restricting foods or food groups, as well as mental restriction, can lead to overeating, binge eating, disordered eating behaviors, and eating disorders. 

      Why Halloween Candy Is Not the Devil

      Sweet treats, including Halloween candy, can fit into nutritious eating. Sweets do not cancel-out fruits and vegetables. Nutrition is about your patterns of eating over time - the big picture. It’s also about eating a variety of foods and paying attention to  your body signals around hunger, fullness, and preferences. 

      Allow children to trust their hunger signals. Remind them of previous experiences with candy - like if they ate too much and had a bellyache. Ultimately, it should be their decision on how much to have. Your job as their parent is to offer a variety of food options that includes nutritious choices from all the foods groups, as well as what I like to call fun or play food. Teach them how food works in their bodies—like when we eat just sugar and simple carbohydrates, we’re going to be moodier and have less energy in the long run. And teach them what hunger and fullness might feel like in their bodies. It might be hard at first but they will be able to learn when they’ve had enough food and will figure out what foods work best for their bodies.. 

      We do not restrict sweet treats at our house. We have something sweet most days. Because we are not restricting these foods, my daughter is able to enjoy them and learn how much is satisfying to her. She is able to stop eating when she has had enough and does not feel like she needs to eat more—because it’s readily available.

      Ideas to Handle Halloween Candy

      • Include meals with a variety of food groups in addition to candy.
      • Include fun foods as part of meals—this makes all of the foods feel the same, not that some are more exciting or valued as others. 
      • Include fun foods regularly—this will make them normal and not as exciting.
      • Keep it hidden or in sight, that part is up to you. We typically leave ours out for a few days and then put it in a cupboard. If my daughter thinks to ask for it she can have some. Leaving it out also signifies that they can have some whenever which can help make it less appealing over time. 
      • The more anxious you are about the candy, the more kids will pick up on that and think you’re going to take it away. This may lead to them eating more.

      Keep the big picture in mind. Enjoying sweet treats and fun foods is not going to make or break their health or nutrition!

      Got Milk? Breaking Down the Differences between Dairy and Plant-Based Milk Products

      Got Milk? Breaking Down the Differences between Dairy and Plant-Based Milk Products

      Author: Ashley Wentworth

      What type of milk do you drink? Do you know why you’re drinking that kind? There are so many options now. Sweetened, unsweetened, flavored, filtered—the list goes on and on!

      Plant-based milk products are not new despite their trending popularity. Soy and rice milk have been around for quite some time as an option for those with vegan and vegetarian meal styles, religious preferences, lactose intolerance, lack of access to mammal milk (like cow and goat milks), and dairy allergies.

      Types of Milks


      • Full fat, reduced fat (2%), low-fat (1%), and non-fat (skim)
      • Ultrafiltered: Milk is filtered, water and some lactose are removed, lactase is added. This leaves milk with a higher protein content and lactose free.
      • Lactose free: Lactase is added to the milk

      Plant-Based Milk Products

      •  Almond
      • Soy
      • Coconut
      • Oat
      • Cashew
      • Rice
      • Hemp 
      • Flax
      • Hazelnut 

      What Is Lactose Intolerance?

      Many people choose plant-based milks due to lactose intolerance and dairy allergies. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), estimates show that about 68% of the population worldwide and 36% of the population of the United States cannot tolerate lactose. Lactose intolerance is least common in those of European descent, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine

      Lactose is the type of sugar found naturally in milk products from mammals. Lactose is made up of two sugar molecules that need to be broken down by digestion in order to be absorbed by the body for nutrition. In people with lactose intolerance, there is not enough of the digestive enzyme, lactase, in their intestines to break down the lactose sugar. Some people have some levels of lactase and can tolerate small amounts of lactose but others cannot tolerate any lactose. 

      Lactose intolerance is often associated with other digestive disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, food allergies, or celiac disease.  

      An intolerance or sensitivity reaction is focused in our gut and causes discomfort and symptoms such as bloating, loose stools, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, per the NIH.

      Lactose intolerance is different than a dairy or milk allergy. An allergic reaction uses the immune system to defend itself against intruders and results in symptoms like hives, rash, itching, swelling, respiratory distress, and sometimes as severe as anaphylaxis. 

      A milk allergy can also have symptoms similar to lactose intolerance that occur in the gastrointestinal tract like nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Usually, allergies are triggered by exposure resulting in an immune response to the protein components of food. The main proteins in milk are whey and casein.  

      Environmental Impact

      Many people choose plant-based milks based on the lower environmental impact compared to dairy milk. The BBC reported on a study that suggests that dairy milk has the most significant impact on the environment in regard to land use, greenhouse gas emissions, and water usage. The same study suggests that almond milk has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions but uses more water than other plant-based milk products.

      The dairy industry has been committed to making sustainability improvements when possible. According to New England Dairy

      • Manure from cows is used as fertilizer for other crops.
      • Restaurants and food companies can partner with farms to recycle food waste into feed for cows or for compost.
      • Anaerobic digester systems are able to transform manure into renewable electricity.
      • Dairy farmers can be great stewards of the land. They use rotation practices to reduce and prevent erosion, as well as injecting manure into the land to keep nutrients in the soil.

      The US Dairy Industry has these goals for environmental stewardship for 2050:

      • Achieve greenhouse gas neutrality
      • Optimize water use while maximizing recycling
      • Improve water quality by optimizing the utilization of manure and nutrient

      How Do the Nutrition Facts Stack Up?

      Despite the use of the word “milk” in plant-based milk products, their nutrition profiles are generally inferior and should not be used as a sole nutrition substitute for dairy milk. Many are fortified with nutrients that are found in dairy milk but always check the label to find out. 

      Milk has thirteen essential nutrients: calcium, iodine, niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and zinc. Let’s see how different plant-based products compare (all are 1 cup servings or  246gm).


      Whole Dairy Milk

      Soy Milk, unsweetened

      Almond Milk, unsweetened

      Coconut Milk

      Rice Milk







      Total Fat







      12 gm




































      205 mg






      322 mg






      105 mg























      Pantothenic acid












      Vitamin A

      395 IU




      Vitamin D

      124 IU






      All nutrition data is from the USDA FoodData Central Database


      Which One Should I Choose?

      Here are some things to consider when deciding what type of milk to include in your meals.

      • Dairy milk is often less expensive, more accessible, and has more nutrition than plant-based milks. This is especially important for people that face food insecurity or have limited access to food.
      • If environmental concerns are a priority for you, a plant-based option may be the best fit. The closest plant-based option to dairy milk as far as nutrition is concerned would be soy milk. Many people have been avoiding soy in recent years due to concerns about soy consumption increasing risks for cancer, thyroid disorders, and hormone disruption. Many studies have shown that there is little to no link between soy and these concerns. In fact, soy has been shown to have a protective effect on many health concerns. 
      • Dietary preferences and allergies may be the deciding factor for you. Choose a product that best fits your needs—there are a lot of options out there! 

      Bottom Line

      There are many types of milk to choose from, including dairy and plant-based. If you’re using plant-based options in place of dairy, there is a risk of nutrition deficiencies—like calcium for example. It’s important to find other sources of calcium and protein if you’re eliminating dairy from your diet.

      International No Diet Day - May 6

      International No Diet Day - May 6

      Author: Ashley Wentworth

      This is one of my favorite holidays! I practice No Diet Day every single day but this holiday gives me an extra chance to shout from the rooftops about how harmful diets actually are and that all bodies deserve respect.

      Diets have been around for a long time. Some of the first diets were recorded as early as the 1700’s. I won’t bore you with all of them but here are a few of note:

      We have not evolved much since then. Despite decades of advances and innovation in  medicine, science, and technology, we are no closer to finding safe, effective, long-term weight loss methods. Most current day diet plans include some sort of restriction, usually peddled by someone who has had initial weight loss with the plan. Restriction and dieting remain harmful to our physical, mental, and emotional health.

      The Truth about Long-Term Weight Loss

      A myriad of research tells us that there is no long-term weight loss solution. Many studies show that there is initial weight loss when embarking on a new diet or nutrition plan, but they often do not follow participants long term (>3-5 years). Following participants for such a short amount of time, usually somewhere between six weeks to one year, does not give us an accurate picture of how these methods play out in real life. 

      Dieting also wreaks damage on our health. Since diets and intentional weight loss do not work long-term, most people turn to diets off and on throughout their lives. One survey found that the average person tries about 126 diets over their lifetime. That’s a lot of diets! For an average person that roughly equates to about two diets per year. 

      The same survey also suggested that participants were confused about food, nutrition, and health. Here are some findings:

      • Over half of the respondents (52%) said they are “really confused” about which fad diets are sustainable over long periods of time and which are intended for more short-term periods.
      • One in five respondents said that they have no idea where to go for reliable dietary information
      • More than half are “baffled” regarding which foods should and shouldn’t be cut out of their eating habits.

      Another interesting note from this survey is that many people stopped dieting due to side effects like fatigue, weakness, and headaches. This should come as no surprise when dieting as these are all common side effects of not eating enough. 

      What Happens When You Diet On and Off

      Dieting on and off, or yo-yo dieting, causes us to start a cycle of losing weight during the diet and then gaining weight back after the diet. This is also known as weight cycling. This happens to 95% of the population according to a hallmark study done in 1959 by Albert Stunkard. There has been research done since this study, of course, but we still do not have any better answers. 

      Here are some of the effects of weight cycling on our physical, mental, and emotional health:

      These are all things we are trying to solve or manage when we embark on improving our health. Why, then, do we keep turning to diets to help us solve these problems when they just make them worse?

      Despite all of this research and evidence, most of us still believe that losing weight will definitively improve our health. But according to a 2014 review in the Journal of Obesity, “body weight is defended by a power biological system that reacts to a negative energy balance by lowering metabolism and increasing hunger, food preoccupation, and hedonic responses to food.” 

      All of that to say, our bodies choose a weight range they like to hang out in, where they feel healthy and comfortable—and it’s not based on weight charts, ideal body weight, or BMI. Once we start doing things that bring our bodies out of this range, our security alert system goes off (Warning! Warning!) and our bodies do everything they can to keep us from starving to death, including:

      • Increasing our hunger cues so we will go find food
      • Lowering our metabolism so we don’t need as much fuel for the same activity levels
      • Increasing our thoughts about food so we will search out food
      • Increasing satisfaction and pleasure of eating food so we will keep eating for adequate nutrition 

      The truth is, our bodies don’t know the difference between starving (not having enough food) and dieting (purposely restricting food) and it has a very powerful system in place to keep us eating enough. 

      How Did No Diet Day Begin?

      In the 1980’s and 90’s diet programs ran rampant—Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Oprah’s journey with Optifast, and more. After hearing about the lengths people were going for the pursuit of weight loss (like stomach stapling) and the detriments of anti-fat bias (suicide), Mary Evans Young decided that enough was enough. 

      Young knew that dieting and pursuing weight loss was unattainable for most people and she understood the pressure of feeling the need to try anyways. Like many others, she had a history of an eating disorder, and experienced bullying, as well as body image issues. 

      Young wanted to spread awareness and education to prevent more people from being harmed by the diet industry. So, in 1992 she created “No Diet Day” to “celebrate the importance of body acceptance, diversity, and respect for all body shapes and sizes.” No Diet Day is now celebrated internationally each year on May 6th.

      A few other organizations and movements with similar missions started to emerge around the same time including

      How Can I Celebrate No Diet Day?

      There are so many ways to celebrate! Choose what seems right for you. Here are a few ideas.

      Enjoy Your Food

      I mean, really savor it. Choose your favorite meals and fun foods today and more often in general. It doesn’t have to be a “cheat” meal. You don’t need to feel shame or guilt for enjoying your food. Eating is supposed to be fun! Try to bring some joy back into your nutrition. You don’t have to stick to having only “healthy” foods at all of your meals and snacks. 

      Share on Social Media to Spread Awareness

      Share how you’re celebrating No Diet Day! The more people that know about the holiday and what it stands for, the better. We all deserve more than a lifetime of dieting—126 diets is too many.

      Not sure what to post? The National Eating Disorder Association has some social media graphics to share. 

      Show Your Body Gratitude and Respect

      Even if you don’t love or even like your body, you can still take care of it in ways that feel good to you. The more you show your body respect the more you may come to appreciate it. You don’t have to intentionally lose weight to do the things you want and enjoy—stop “weighting!” 

      Recognize That All Bodies:

      • are good bodies, no matter what they look like.  
      • deserve kindness and respect. 
      • deserve access to quality healthcare. 
      • can have different health levels—and you cannot tell someone’s health status by looking at them. 

      Reflect and Evaluate Your Relationship with Food

      • Does the thought of food and eating stress you out most of the time? 
      • Do you feel out of control around food?
      • Do you have to track things like calories, macros, etc.?
      • Do you feel like you need to exercise to “burn off” your food?
      • Do you weigh or measure all of your food?

      If any of these statements sound like you, it may be time to check in on your nutrition and health goals. These thoughts and behaviors are examples of disordered eating. They may seem “normal” because many of us do these things, but this is only because disordered eating has become normalized in our culture. 

      Dieting takes up so much of our time, energy, thoughts, and money. As Mary Evans Young said, “What do you think would happen if you spent as much time and energy on your careers as you do on your diets?” This statement can be applied to anything in your life, not just your career.

      Dieting has proven to fail us—but makes us feel like we are the failures. This makes us feel shame, have low confidence, and lose self-trust in our bodies. It’s time to try something different and get our lives back! Happy No Diet Day!

      The Science of Happiness

      The Science of Happiness

      Author: Carrie Myers

      We all want to be happy, but sometimes life seems to get in the way.

      Sick kids, unexpected bills, job loss, strained relationships, overwhelm, exhaustion…you name it. It can all contribute to unhappiness and can even play a role in conditions like depression and anxiety.

      What’s a mom to do?

      First, you have to decide what happiness means to you. While scientists generally describe happiness as positive feelings you have related to engaging in pleasurable activities, even scientists don’t agree on one perfect definition.

      Some researchers define happiness as positive emotions with the absence of negative ones. But do genuinely happy people really have no negative emotions?

      Seriously…it’s time to get real.

      Positive Psychology 101

      According to research on Positive Psychology, there are several things that can increase our happiness score and help us flourish in this unpredictable world.

      While it’s true that money might not buy happiness in particular, it might add to your life satisfaction and emotional well-being. Research shows that the magic money number is about $75,000 per year. Beyond that, research showed no significant change in people’s rating of life satisfaction or emotional well-being.

      And think about it. If you aren’t worried about how your bills are going to get paid each month, wouldn’t that make you a little more satisfied with your life? Or—I’ll say it—happier?

      Greater income means we can also give more to causes that we care about. But no matter how much you make, research shows that giving money or time - to organizations we’re passionate about makes us happier.

      Spending more time with family and friends can bring more happiness into your life, too.

      Now, I know what you’re thinking. There is no way that spending time with certain family members makes you anything but stressed.

      Side note: Did you know that stressed spelled backward is desserts? Just sayin’.

      People of faith who are spiritual and/or religious tend to be happier (think peace, purpose, connection…).

      Another side note: If you’re not the church-going kind, you really should consider it. Just make sure they have a children’s program. It’s like a mommy break. You can even close your eyes during the service and take a little nap and they’ll think you’re praying.

      Sorry. Just a little spiritual mommy humor there…

      Happiness and Health

      You might think that happiness simply has to do with your mental or emotional health. But happiness has perks for your physical health, too.

      For example, researchers have found that happiness is linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate.

      And people with heart disease who rated themselves as happiest also had healthier heart rate variability, a test of heart health.

      One study had people rate certain positive emotions, like joy, happiness, excitement, contentment, and enthusiasm. They then took these same people 10 years later and found that those who rated themselves higher in positive emotions had lower rates of heart disease. In fact, for every one-point increase in positive emotions, their risk for heart disease was 22% lower.

      Happiness has also been shown to strengthen the immune systemprotect against stressreduce the perception of pain, and may even help you live longer.  

      This is all great. But what if you’re not feeling the happiness warm-fuzzies? How can you get more of it—starting today?

      Hunting for Happiness

      Scientists estimate that 30-40% of our happiness quota is genetic. So, for example, if you have a child who just seems more sullen, it doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. They just might be naturally a little less happy.

      Okay, so if 30-40% of your happiness is in your genes, that means that a whopping 60-70% of it is within your control.

      Don’t allow this to overwhelm you. Having control over how happy you are is a good thing!

      And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

      Here are a few science-backed, evidence-based findings based on researchers in the field of positive psychology, including a pioneer in this field, Martin Seligman, Ph.D., to help you up your happiness levels.

      • Are you isolating yourself? You’re likely to be less happy. Build close relationships with people you can be yourself with. Find a mom’s group. Meet up with girlfriends.
      • Volunteer or spend time helping other people. This is a great opportunity to get your kids involved, too. Start with people in your family or neighborhood. Do they need their snow shoveled or leaves raked? Would they like a plate of homemade cookies? Bringing happiness to others makes us happier.
      • Being physically active can help us be happier. In fact, according to research, it’s a pretty powerful antidepressant. Exercise has also been shown to improve sleep and mood, and is associated with better quality of life in general.
      • Meditating, praying, practicing mindfulness, and showing gratitude have all been shown to increase happiness. Ditto for being a part of a church, and spiritual exploration - even for kids.
      • Being fully engaged in a hobby or activity that you really enjoy can make you happier.
      • Discovering your strengths and using them to showcase and enhance your purpose will also bring you more happiness.

      So, some of these might have to wait until kids are a little older (like being fully engaged in…anything!). But use that creative brain of yours and find little ways that you and your family can begin to incorporate some of these things into your lives.

      Of course, you also get to decide what will contribute to your happiness (a warm, sandy beach with a beautiful view and my very own cabana boy come to mind…).

      Maybe at this very moment, being able to take an uninterrupted hot shower would make you happy.

      Or having five minutes to do abso-freaking-lutely nothing would make you happy.

      Keep the big picture in mind. Some things will make us momentarily happy…and other things add to our happiness and satisfaction long term.

      It’s nice to have a little bit of both.

      International Day of Women and Girls in Science

      International Day of Women and Girls in Science

      Today is International Day of Women and Girls in Science. This special day is observed on February 11th each year to raise awareness for gender equality in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM. Despite the needle moving forward in regard to gender equality in the STEM fields, the presence of women is still severely lacking.

      Read more