Sara’s Blog

A Beautiful Day as Our Nation Honors Dr. Martin Luther King

It’s amazing today that the memory of the battle that was once fought for civil rights in our nation has now so fallen apart. There are so many people who are treated with ill will in the 21st century, even though it may not always be something about racial difference.

There is even more happening today in our nation with the challenges and battles that are not necessarily physical, but many of them are emotional. Some of them are in need of the evening of what has been done for the past couple of years under the belt of a president who has not been making any real move for the improvement for the people within our nation. Fires have launched so brazenly during this period, especially because of the minimal attention that has been placed upon the actual reality of safety and regulatory needs of our nation.

A part of me thinks today as to what someone with such strength as Martin Luther King would say if he were here facing all of the issues on the news today. There is so much more that we could do to treat each other with honor and respect than is being done. There is even much more that our own president and government could do to treat the people of our nation with respect than they are doing. We have a president who stated that he would take responsibility for shutting down the government, but now he blames all others for the status of the situation.

Next, what do we think the Senate and Congress will be able to do in order to make things move forward? It is as though the tensions in our nation have been building from one coast to the other, based upon any number of issues from school shootings to the abuse of children in church schools. With people taking it upon themselves to lash out about these topics, there is a complete fall of organization in those who want to walk and speak out, as anger and rage become the sort of taunting presented on the news between these different groups.

Despite civil rights, something that Dr. King fought so greatly to gain, there is nothing of freedom or equality that feels friendly in our nation right now. So much time has passed, but there is definitely something of a feeling of reversal in what we have going on in our nation and world today.

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Pre-packaged meals – Healthy or not so much?

Today we see so many commercials regarding frozen meals that are low in calories and are friendly to different diets like Atkins and Keto. There is much to consider, however, in those meals, especially the fact that they tend to contain a great number of preservatives.

One of the most important factors of many of those diets, especially Keto, includes the removal of chemicals, GMOs, and other items from your diet. The inclusion of organic produce within the Ketogenic diet is very much of the detail provided with its instructions.

No matter what you do, if the number of carbohydrates is very low, and the ratio of fats and proteins are appropriate in those frozen meals that you purchase and microwave, it is very likely that the packaging and freezing process includes a great deal of chemicals that are not supposed to be included at all. Those items still have the potential to make digestion a challenging process, which is in opposition of the actual nature of the Ketogenic diet itself. With the purity of the diet as a whole, the body is supposed to both run on its fat, while the increase of fresh produce helps to improve the digestive process.

Many people may take some time to get over the initial symptoms that show the process of ketosis has started, but the body eventually adjusts. At that point, the body’s existing fat is used for energy and is then digested and removed from the system, rather than simply the sugars that are included in so many of the common processed and pasteurized foods that have become so famous in our country.

Potential to Eat Healthier at Fast Food Restaurants

So, I asked previously if we would be able to divert ourselves from fast food completely. And, the answer to that question for many people is a clear “No.” While many people worry more about the keyword in that being “fast” while the quality and health factor of the food itself becomes of much less importance.

Therefore, we have a great deal of questions to ask of ourselves about what we can choose at fast food restaurants, or which fast food options we would be able to choose in order maintain a much healthier diet. Many times the fast food lunch or dinner is a last minute decision when the schedule of a single day runs out of whack and there is still much to be taken care of. Fast food options, especially those cheap $1 choices that provide at least a quick snack for the kids while you are in the car running from one place to the next are definitely easy and cheap, but they are also not choices that help influence kids’ long-term habits.

A very common option has come to the forefront over the past couple of years, especially with the ability to order online and pick up without waiting in line. This works at places like Chipotle and others where there are definitely healthier options than greasy hamburgers and french fries, but the lines can be long and treacherous if you are in a hurry to get a quick carryout option.

Therefore, think of some of the restaurants you like to take an option that may have healthier sandwiches, salads, soups, and other meals that are much healthier selections. Additional locations that have provided this popular option include Panera, many Chinese restaurants, and others that provide healthy selections. You often have the ability to order from your phone when you are running from one event to the next in the evening, especially when you have kids who love to enroll in every activity across town. So, take a minute and look at the websites of some of the restaurants you visit most often to see if they offer this feature directly.

Removing Troops from Syria (?)

It’s so sad that our leader lashed out without any support of his advisors to say that we would be removing troops from Syria, followed by the lies of which his administration was accused on the fact. Therefore, I have to wonder if we are still honestly still planning on a complete removal of our troops from Syria. So much has been stated back and forth from the president and others while there is much to be considered regarding all of the news surrounding this issue.

Especially with the bombing that occurred only a short time later, killing a number of Americans, there is much to consider as to whether or not the journey out of Syria would even be a safe one. While so much addition of equipment and more would be needed simply in order to make the trip out, there is a question of whether it is quite worth the expense at this point when it is pretty clear that the statement that we have officially defeated ISIS in that area is not a true one.

We are losing trust from the international allies who rely upon us for support, whether it is political, economic, or military. Or position as a world leader is falling apart when these things are stated without any real evaluation. With presentations from Turkey and other lands that we are not providing any sort of honest consistency in our statements or what we agree to provide to other lands, there is much to wonder about what will happen as our economy and democracy continue to fall in status with the many things that are happening internally at this time.

After making an open statement, without the approval of the government or administration, there ended up being more chaos than calm about the idea of bringing our soldiers home. Even though the initial statement may have had a number of families thinking that a loved one was on the way home, there was almost nothing worth feeling positive about with a single statement from someone who at this point lacks support from a great deal of the nation.

 

Are We Getting Closer to Seeing Trump’s Ties to Russia?

We continue to hear about the Mueller investigation and everything during the past few years that may provide potential connections between Trump and Russia. There are so many of us sitting on the edge of our seats with the ticking of the clock loud as a bomb while we wait in the silent room for the final word.

Even though the apparent report that was presented on BuzzFeed was discredited, there is still so much to be questioned or determined on the long list of points that are coming to the front of the line. With so many different issues still kept secret, there are voices that need to be heard in order to verify so much information that has been collected by the agency for such a long time now. All we continue to ask ourselves is, “What could we possibly prepare for?”

There seem to be so many potentials. Whatever reason that the Russians had to play games within American social media in regards to the 2016 election could have had any number of potential reasons. No matter the connection of certain businesses, or the Russian leader himself, there is a great number of questions that we must continue waiting to know the answer.

It’s easy for so many of us to have our own perspectives on the type of person, professionally and politically, that Trump may be, but there is only one true person who will eventually have the full compilation of an investigative report on what happened during the election.

With the FBI having even started this investigation in the first place, there is much to wonder about the potential issues that are already realized. While there have been over a million news cycles since the origin of this investigation, there has been so much information publicized along with so much info that is still private from the public. Considering the firing of so many different political leaders by Trump there has been a grave need for Mueller to get involved in this investigation, and even more deeply as time pressed on.

So, with everything that we see in the news today how much farther do we have to hang on until the release of the full report? Though all of this “fake” (ha-ha) media has blown much of the case wide open to the public, there appears to be a great deal of legal information that will still be coming back, especially upon the further presenting that will be done in front of Congress. No matter whether there will be information told by Comey, anything that may have been a part of his firing, or from Attorney Cohen apparently coming quite soon.

All we can do is hold on tight and wait for whatever may come next!

Is Debt Breaking our Lives?

Debt issues of all sorts… credit card, mortgage, student loans, personal loans, and many more. We all face them of many different types and there is almost no way to get out of this once you get into it. 

So many different temptations are presented from the commercials of banks, credit companies and more, that help us believe we are able to live at a higher economic level than our actual income. Reports often show that the average household is buried under at least $10,000 in credit card debt, among other issues.

One of the things to consider is that when many of us start along the path of using credit cards, the use becomes less balanced than it is an act of excess. Sometimes it is a means of struggling to get certain things that are needed, and then once the habit is built there is much more need placed on the cards than there actually is.

The next question exists quite deeply as well… What is the best way to get out of credit card debt? With this being the ones that most often cause damage to someone’s credit report, there is much to be done regarding the need of paying down or even paying off those cards. Certain steps can always be taken to help make sure that those cards stay out of the way, that spending is reduced to the actual needs, and that you don’t live outside your means.

First, there is always the value of making sure that you don’t take on more credit cards than you believe you can pay off every month, and that you never max them out in the first place.

Second, there is also the importance of choosing a living situation that is affordable in line with your income, along with managing the utilities and other expenses that will be required with it. Some of these include condos that require HOA fees or older homes that may require more updates and maintenance than some newer models.

Then, there is always the ability to keep your daily lifestyle habits in line with what you can truly afford. There are many of us that find it easy to pull through the Starbucks every morning for coffee instead of making it at home. We may tend to by those cases of bottled water when a single filter could provide purified water from the tap. So many other cost-saving options are available on a daily basis in order to help make sure that you are able to start putting savings away or even make sure that you are also prepared for any emergency that may occur.

Good luck! I know personally that this has been a challenge, and I’m not perfect… but we are all capable of taking some of these steps to handling our money better.

Modified Atkins: The Ketogenic Diet for Adults with Epilepsy

What is the modified Atkins diet?

The modified Atkins diet (often abbreviated in the literature as “MAD”) is a change to the traditional “classic” ketogenic diet to make it less restrictive. Along with the MCT (medium chain triglyceride) diet and LGIT (low glycemic index treatment), it is one of three “alternative diets” used to treat patients with epilepsy.

Its history goes back to the early 2000s.  Some families who had used the ketogenic diet for many years eventually stopped weighing and measuring foods. They had noticed that ketones still remained high and seizures stayed under control. It was first formally studied in children and adults who had never tried the ketogenic diet at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2002. This diet is now over 14 years old with greater than 500 patients published to date.  Studies show it is very similar to the classic ketogenic diet in efficacy.

Breakfast

The modified Atkins diet allows for the unlimited intake of fats and proteins. Allowed breakfast foods include high-fat meats such as bacon, sausage, and ham, along with eggs and cheese. You can add small amounts of low-carb vegetables to eggs for omelets. Low-carb breads may be allowed in small amounts, keeping total carbohydrate intake within prescribed levels. You can use butter liberally. Pancakes can be made from soy or almond flour, which are not made from grains. But stay away from fruit juice as it has large amounts of carbohydrates.

Lunch and Dinner

Eat as much as you’d like of meats, regardless of fat, for lunch and dinner. Mix tuna or chicken salad with mayonnaise, a high-fat, low-carb food. Add low-carb vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions, spinach, cabbage, string beans, spaghetti squash, and Brussels sprouts. Limit fruits to the allowed carbohydrate count, meaning very little fruit. An average apple, for example, contains 21 g of carbohydrate.

Snack Foods and Desserts

Snack foods often contain a lot of carbohydrates, making this a challenge. An option is low-carb flavored gelatin,  real whipped cream made with artificial sugar, or a handful of nuts. It is key to stay within the carb limits. You can also make muffins and other snacks by using almond flour, made from ground almonds and artificial sweeteners. An interesting change includes pork rinds also supply fat without carbs and make a crunchy substitute for chips.

How is it different from the Ketogenic Diet?

Although the foods are very similar, there are key differences between the modified Atkins diet and the ketogenic diet.

  • There is no fluid or calorie restriction or limitation.
  • Fats are strongly encouraged, though not weighed and measured. Most patients will consume plenty of dairy and oils.
  • One of the biggest differences is that there are no restrictions on proteins. Typically 35% of calories on this diet come from protein.
  • Foods are not weighed and measured, but carbohydrate counts are monitored.
  • It is started outside of the hospital without a fast before starting the diet.
  • Lastly, foods can be eaten more freely in restaurants and outside the home, and families (and neurologists!) can do it as well.

Who will it help?

It seems to help similar numbers of patients as the ketogenic diet. It works for men and women equally and is being used actively in adolescents and adults. Like the ketogenic diet, it is mostly used for patients with daily seizures who have not fully responded to medications.

What Does it Include?

  • Lots of high-fat foods such as bacon, eggs, mayonnaise, butter, meats, heavy whipping cream, and oils.
  • Certain fruits, vegetables, nuts, avocados, olives, and cheeses.
  • Fluids help avoid side effects, such as Fruit2O, diet soda, and other flavored waters are favorites of many patients.
  • Carbohydrates are limited and directly controlled but the patient (or parents).
  • Compared to a patient on the classic ketogenic diet, the biggest differences include more food and more proteins.
  • The diet can be supplemented with ketogenic products (e.g. formulas, shakes, baking mixes, and pre-made breads).

Where to Start

  • Talk first with your neurologist and dietitian about the benefits of this decision.
  • Once you decide, lab work is usually obtained, and ketone strips are prescribed.
  • Carbohydrates are limited (15-20 grams per day) and the foods change overnight (making it hard to transition).
  • Medications are usually left unchanged (and most patients on the modified Atkins diet are also on some medications). If medications are in liquid forms, they are usually changed to tablets to decrease carbohydrates.

Does It Work?

In studies so far, yes. About half had a 50% reduction in seizures after 6 months. Many were able to reduce medications. About a third of the patients halved the frequency of seizures by three months. Side effects linked with the diet, such as a rise in cholesterol or triglycerides, were mild. A third of the patients dropped out by the third month, unable to comply with the restrictions.

Can Adults Do It?

  • Absolutely, adults with epilepsy are one of the fastest growing groups of patients starting diets today.  Ask your neurologist to help (or refer you to an adult epilepsy diet center).
  • Outcomes are largely similar to children, with similar side effects.
  • Most adults remain on medications, probably a higher percentage than children on dietary therapy.
  • Speak to your neurologist first if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver or kidney disease, a history of kidney stones, nutritional deficiencies, or are considering getting pregnant.

Are There Any Side Effects?

  • Potential weight loss.
  • Increased cholesterol levels are possible.
  • There is a possible feeling of nausea or illness at the start.
  • For all these reasons, the modified Atkins diet should only be done with physician supervision because of all potential issues.

How Is The Patient Monitored Over Time?

  • A dietitian should track weight and height periodically, as well as calorie intake. Dietitian involvement seems to help keep the patient on it.
  • Blood and urine monitoring every 3 months is also recommended, and checking urine ketones once or twice a week while on the diet.

Can the diet ever be stopped?

The diet can be stopped if a patient is seizure-free for a long period of time, and with the approval of a doctor. However, with adults, there are issues like driving and other dangers that make it best to keep the possibility of seizures controlled.