Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Hot" Topics: 2012 Natural Living Conference!

We are always being asked what are the "hot" topics among Holistic Moms? Given the diversity of our community, that's a very difficult question to answer. Our members have a wide range of passions within the realm of natural living and we are all at different parenting stages. For new moms, natural childbirth, breastfeeding, babywearing, and cloth diapering may be at the top of their list. For those with school-aged children, alternative education, vaccination choice, bullying, and natural foods might be at the forefront. And for moms with grown up kids, "hot" issues might be sustainability, green investing, creating more life balance, or holistic medicine.

Each year when we plan our next Natural Living Conference, we try to take some of these issues into account, as well as the diversity of our community. We are excited to announce our 2012 Natural Living Conference is now open for registration and we think there is something for everyone at this year's event! This year's Keynote Speakers are former Top Chef contestant, author, and natural foods expert Andrea Beaman speaking on “Natural Healing Through Food” and author and president of the National Vaccine Information Center Barbara Loe Fisher speaking on vaccination issues. Workshop Speakers include natural beauty expert and Kiwi Magazine columnist Todra Payne; integrative pediatrician Dr. David W. Miller and author Jeffrey Cohen; and gluten-free expert and chef Denise SanFilippo.

In addition to the speakers, the event will feature natural products industry leaders and Sponsors such as Organic Valley, Applegate Farms, Boiron, and Floradix. The Natural Living Conference also includes a Holistic Exhibit Hall with a wide range of vendors offering products and services for families looking for organic and green lifestyle options. Plus, we'll be serving a healthy luncheon for all attendees, complete with both vegan and gluten-free options!

We hope that you will join us and reserve your spot. Unfortunately, we have a small space this year and attendance will be limited, so be sure not to wait! While we can't cover everything in a one-day event, we think some of the "hot" issues will be on the table and we hope to bring parents the information they need to make informed choices for themselves and their families!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Self Care for Busy Mamas

One of the most basic and important things all moms need is self-care. We need to fill our own cups and revitalize ourselves, especially when our children are very young and very needy. Ironically, it is also one of the hardest things to achieve. Moms are often plagued by the opposing desire to take personal time and a sense of obligation and guilt whenever the opportunity arises. Deep down, though, we all know that we need the time to refresh and that it makes us better parents and contributes to our happiness. The biggest obstacle? Usually time. So here are a few quick ways to regroup and renew in a pinch:

Got 30 minutes? A short naptime or a little help from a friend or partner and you can get a 30 minute refresher. What you can do:
  • Take a walk. Head to park, trail, or beach and just connect with the quiet and stillness of nature. Grab some fresh air, get your exercise, and just let your mind wander.
  • Indulge yourself. Take a warm bath, do a yoga routine, get a quick pedicure, or sit and meditate.
  • Have a treat. Grab a hot cup of tea or coffee and a special snack, find a quiet place and read, write, draw, or just enjoy your favorite music.
Got 15 minutes? Even when you're on the go, doing drop-offs or pick-ups, you can fit in a moment of peace.
  • Head outside and soak up 15 minutes of warm sun on your face or stretch and breathe.
  • Call a friend and have an adult conversation about anything other than kids.
  • Brew a hot cup of tea and sit and sip it.
Need a 5 minute fix? Refresh in a flash:
  • Enjoy a bite of the most delicious, organic, fair trade chocolate you can find and savor it.
  • Pull out some essential oils and smell the aroma - try lemon for a quick pick up or lavender for calming.
  • Put on your favorite song and turn the volume up. Sing as loud as you can.
  • Daydream. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in your favorite or fantasy location, feeling the sensations and bliss.
  • Write a gratitude list - jot down 10 things you are grateful for today.
Even simple actions can help us to renew and come back to parenting with a fresher, calmer perspective!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Leaving No Stones Unturned

Two recent reports on the health of children in this country point out some alarming statistics about the rising rates of autism and learning disabilities, as well as the growing prevalence of food allergies. In the former case, 1 in 6 children today are diagnosed with a developmental disability. In the latter, the rate of food allergies has increased 33% among American children in recent years.

While the statistics themselves are both disturbing and alarming, what jumps out in each case is how "better reporting" and "improved diagnoses" seem to be the scapegoats for these remarkable increases. Although it is indeed possible that awareness raising and diagnostic skills may contribute to higher numbers on both counts, it dumbfounds me to think that we are dismissive of the other possibilities. There are far too many factors to take into account here, especially with such significant increases.

Robyn O'Brien, author of The Unhealthy Truth and Keynote Speaker at the 2011 Natural Living Conference agrees. In her recent blog, she asks "Is Autism Environmentally Triggered?" "The fact is that we have over 80,000 chemicals and toxicants now found in our food an environment. The EPA has evaluated only 200 of these 80,000 and banned only five," she argues. An increase of 265% in hospitalizations related to food allergic reactions is hard to explain through awareness and improved diagnostics. In fact, it begs for more research and explanation.

What's more, not all scientists are on board with this assumption. A 2003 study by Sicherer et al., found that peanut allergies among children doubled between 1997 and 2002 "but there is no indication that the consumption of peanuts—or the awareness of food allergies—increased as significantly during the same period." The time of introduction of solids to infants, the genetic modification of our food supply, and food manufacturing have all been questioned but remain under-reported. As Ms. O'Brien points out, years of research have led us to understand that 9 out of 10 cancers are environmentally triggered. If we continue to disregard environmental factors and to take the easy road of "increased awareness/better diagnosis", we are failing our children. We are leaving far too many stones unturned.