Monday, July 27, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder

As childhood obesity rates rise and technology creeps into every corner of our homes, it seems evident that today's children are not getting out to play the same way their parents did. Long gone are days of idling in the woods, creating imaginative playgrounds of fantasy from sticks and stones, and exploring our natural world with the curious eyes of a child.

Television, video games, and web surfing create a complex level of play for our children. Author of Everything is Bad for You, Steven Johnson, argues that intricate video games and high tech fun may make for a smarter and more savvy generation. On the other hand, author Richard Louv (Last Child in the Woods) believes our kids are suffering from a Nature Deficit Disorder.

According to Louv, "Children benefit greatly from unstructured play, particularly make-believe play. And kids are far more creative in natural play spaces than on the typical flat playground, whether it’s made of concrete or turf. They are far more likely to invent their own games in natural places." What's more, exposure to nature can improve a child's ability to concentrate and focus. A University of Illnois study demonstrated that a simple 20 minute walk outdoors can improve the attention of a child with ADHD. A 2005 study by Drs. Hillary Burdette and Robert Whitaker reveals that contact with nature offered physical, social and emotional benefits for children: "The authors cite cognitive benefits from play in nature, including creativity, problem-solving, focus and self-discipline. Social benefits include cooperation, flexibility, and self-awareness. Emotional benefits include stress reduction, reduced aggression and increased happiness."

As parents, we know instinctually the powerful impact of nature on our children and are witness to the joy and excitement of discovery and exploration. Simple outdoor games in the yard, helping with the family garden, or strolling through a nearby park can reap substantial benefits. Need even more suggestions? Check out the Children & Nature Network or A Natural Sense of Wonder: Connecting Kids with Nature through the Seasons by Rick Van Noy for creative ways to bring nature back into childhood!

[Photo care of Holistic Moms Network, Queens, NY Chapter]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sun Sense

Summer is here and the sun is shining. We all know we need some sunburn protection but conventional sunburn products are a toxic soup. So what's a holistic mom to do? Let's start by getting informed!

Melanoma is on the rise and excessive skin exposure is a concern on many fronts. According to Dr. Joe Mercola, sunscreen may not be the answer. The ingredient list in your everyday sunscreen can make your head spin: methylparaben, benzophenone-3, phthalates, parabens, oh my! What's more, products make some powerful claims about their SPFs but according to the Environmental Working Group sunscreens with 55-100+ ratings block just 1-2% more sunburn rays than an SPF 30. Even your everyday SPF moisturizer may not be doing its job, warns EWG, as 1 in 5 that they tested offered little protection from UVA rays.

Organic and "natural" products are no easy solution. This month's Organic Spa Magazine features their Skin-Care Guide packed with product reviews to give you the truth behind the labels. Helpful categories for each product include: active ingredients, what they liked, and where there is room to improve. The guide gives you practical insights to avoid dangerous ingredients and also to pick a sunscreen that doesn't feel too greasy or difficult to apply. Before you hit the beach, you'll want to pick up this issue!

Even armed with sunscreen, keep in mind that some of the best defense against skin cancer depends not only on what you put on your skin, but what you put in your body. Vitamin D is essential for health and well-being and ensuring that our diets contain a balanced omega 6:3 ratio can make a big difference. Feed your body, protect your skin, and eliminate the toxins for a happy, healthy summer!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Real Food for Real Kids

With 30 million children nationwide taking part in school lunch programs, it is high time parents stood up for getting real, whole, and healthy food into our schools. It's time to connect the dots and to understand that the ailing health of our children, rising obesity rates, food sensitivities and allergies, and many learning challenges are directly related to the low quality food that is dished up in school systems across the country. With only 2 percent of American children reaching the USDA food pyramid's recommendations, we are sacrificing the health of children and the environment by allowing low food standards to slip under the radar.

Slow Food USA is mobilizing their Time for Lunch campaign to put pressure on Congress this fall when the National School Lunch program is up for reauthorization. The campaign will push for getting real food into school lunch programs, provide funding for farm-to-school programs, and create incentives for schools to buy local for better health, local farm sustainability, and for the environment.

The Holistic Moms Network is proud to support this effort. We encourage our members to learn more about the Time for Lunch campaign and consider gathering with other members to organize an Eat-In and to support local farms. Not sure how to get started? Time for Lunch has a wonderful packet to help you organize and get involved! And check in to our new Take Action! page for other partnerships and efforts to bring personal change to a larger scale!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Meet Mayim Bialik, Holistic Mom

Actress Mayim Bialik is proud to be a holistic mom. Best known for her lead role as Blossom Russo in the early 1990’s NBC sitcom “Blossom” and for capturing hearts playing the young Bette Midler in “Beaches”, Mayim has been named celebrity spokesperson for the non-profit support and resource organization the Holistic Moms Network.

Health-conscious and green mom to two small children, Mayim Bialik has been a member of the Holistic Moms Network for several years. “For those of us who parent against current trends, and for those of us who are parenting after educated, compassionate decisions, to do so without support can be disheartening, discouraging, and often leads to straying from our instinct,” explains Mayim. “HMN provides the support and education that we historically have gotten from close-knit communities.”

As a parent interested in natural childbirth, holistic medicine, non-toxic living, and organic food choices, among others, Mayim “found her tribe” with the Holistic Moms Network. “In HMN, I really found my people and it helped me gain confidence so that I did not feel defensive or ashamed to share my parenting choices when asked.”

“Mayim is a true holistic mom,” says Executive Director Nancy Massotto. “Like so many of our moms, she is striving to find holistic options for her family to live healthier and greener. She is smart, savvy, and looking for both the information and support that the Holistic Moms Network can offer.” The Holistic Moms Network, founded in 2003, welcomes a diverse membership of parents who are interested in holistic health and green living. With more than 120 Chapters across North America, the organization is a voice for natural living and parenting.

As a spokesperson for the organization, Mayim Bialik will be sharing her knowledge and experience about holistic parenting with other parents and will be part of a national advertising campaign on behalf of the Holistic Moms Network.

To learn more about Mayim and about HMN, visit our website at