All posts by Pamela Simon

Remembering Larry


Remembering Larry

Dear Friend,

Today, October 15, 2020, marks the 10th anniversary of Larry’s death. 10 years. Somehow hitting a marker such as this has left me simultaneously stunned and reflective these past few weeks. Ten years my children didn’t have their dad. Ten years of birthdays, holidays, graduations, and vacations celebrated without Larry. Many milestones in the boy’s lives achieved. This 10-year anniversary, in and of itself, is a milestone.

Every year, come September (the month Larry left home and entered the hospital) the anticipation of having to face the day he died is always looming in the distance and causes me weeks of increased anxiety and irritability. Yes, even 10 years later, this day is dreaded. I don’t think that will ever change. Whether it’s 10 years, 20 years or 50 years, October 15th is a day engraved in my soul.

But what has changed?

The biggest difference I see in who I am today versus the person I was 10 years ago; is how I live with my grief. Ten years ago, I was drowning in my grief. I was in pain physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Thankfully, I and the boys, took steps early and received a tremendous amount of support from family, friends, support groups and individual therapy.

Today, ten years later, I want to THANK EVERY SINGLE PERSON, who was there for me.

My parents, sisters and sisters-in-law, brother and brothers-in-law, relatives, friends, schoolteachers, counselors, therapists, sport coaches, business associates and YOU. I have received a great deal of encouragement from you through writing this blog.

To everyone, I say THANK YOU!

I know I’ve had my moments when I snapped at someone or shut down and didn’t want to talk to anyone. And I thank each person for continuing to reach out, for continuing to let me know you care. I wouldn’t be where I am today without your support.

Where am I today?

Admittedly the intensity of the grief has diminished as the years go on, but my love for Larry hasn’t and never will. I’ve come to accept the grief will always be there. I don’t cry every day like I used to. I don’t sit in limbo for long periods of time while my kids are at school like I used to, and most importantly, I don’t dread my future, a future without Larry, like I used to. 

Like many people who have lost a loved one I’ve struggled with moving forward. I’ve struggled with being happy and feeling at times that my happiness is in some way a betrayal to Larry and what he meant to me. But what I’ve learned most is that my happiness is in no way a betrayal, instead it’s a testament to Larry and to the life he led and what he taught me.

He taught me life is to be lived every single day. He taught me to take risks. He taught me that I deserve to be happy and my children deserve to be happy! These are some of the greatest gifts he gave me.

In turn, my greatest gift to him is to be happy and live the best life that I can.

I miss him every single day. I think about him every single day. I miss seeing him, touching him, and getting a great big hug from him. But I’m grateful God gave me three children who each represent a different part of Larry, so he’s not completely gone.

My oldest Henry is Larry all over with his mannerisms, his temperament, and his double dimples. George has Larry’s ability to talk to anyone he runs into and genuinely appreciate each person for who they are. Larry’s favorite part of his job when he worked as a leasing agent for a billboard company was talking to the landowners. From Florida to Louisiana to Illinois he met quite a few characters.  And he certainly enjoyed sitting down, having a beer, and just chatting. That is my George. And Charlie, he got his no holds bar, don’t mess with me attitude from Larry. When Charlie makes his mind up about something, no one can change it. Trust me, we have tried!

I’m fortunate and blessed that I have these reminders of Larry and I feel as fortunate today as I did many years ago that Larry came into my life. While I’ve been unfortunate losing him too soon, I have a lifetime of memories to carry me forward. Memories and pictures, like the one above. Pictures that once made me cry, now bring a smile to my face.

Celebrating Larry

Each year the anniversary of Larry’s death has been celebrated differently. We have cooked his favorite meal, drawn pictures, written notes, planted a memorial tree in our yard, and even taken a trip to Disneyland!

About a month ago I started thinking about how I would spend the day marking this 10th anniversary. To be honest, all I really wanted to do was crawl under my covers, sulk, watch Netflix, and snack on comfort food! As the day came closer, my calendar started filling up with meetings and social events that were beyond my control. My first instinct was to cancel or say no, I couldn’t attend. Then I realized I wouldn’t be living my life and that is not how I want to honor Larry.

So, I’m following the new flow of my life and while it feels a little uncomfortable, I’m going with it.

After all, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing!”

I pray we all continue to grow and live our lives to the fullest.

Many Blessings,


P.S. Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law! She shares a special day with Larry.

Home Sweet Home




It’s been a few months since my last newsletter. I sincerely hope you and your family are doing well. Many changes have taken place over the past few months, but I feel the biggest change as we continue to cope with COVID-19, is the transformation of our homes. 

Our homes have become more than just a place to hang our hat. Our homes have been transformed into an office, a classroom, a church and even a doctors office via telemed. With many dining and entertainment venues closed or having limited capacity, our time spent at home cooking, playing games, watching movies with family and friends has increased tenfold.  

Most importantly, for me, my home has offered me security and a place of solace. I’ve done quite a bit of soul searching these last few months, preparing for life post this pandemic. While I have much to look forward to, the inevitable is looming in the distance. Unfortunately, I’m looking at being an empty nester in less than one year. Where did the time go?

While there have been some challenging moments, I’ve really enjoyed having all three of my boys home. I thought I would’ve had the opportunity to “get used to” one son being away, then the other two. But this pandemic changed that. With all three currently at home with virtual learning I’m looking at going from a household of three young men with loud voices, laughter, yelling, video games and music echoing from all corners of the house to being alone and surrounded by quiet. 

So, as I mentioned above, this pandemic has had me doing some soul searching, specifically, where do I see myself in a year, 5 years, etc.? It’s also what led me to reevaluate my business and the direction I need to take.  

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I’ve been in real estate for almost 20 years. From buying and selling my own investment properties to remodeling and building brand new development, real estate has been my bread and butter. I started learning about real estate from Larry and he was my greatest teacher. While I’ve tried many times to branch off into other avenues with respect to holistic nutrition, offering support for grief, and educating others about children with special needs, I somehow always come back to real estate. 

I’ve contemplated getting my real estate license for many years, yet each time I reviewed the necessary schooling the schedule always conflicted with my demands of being a mom and being available for my children, which is something I was not willing to budge on. When COVID-19 hit and pretty much every learning platform turned to a virtual program an opportunity opened up for me to now obtain necessary education needed to get my real estate license. 

Through an online virtual program I took the necessary courses, passed the school and state exams and I’m excited to report I am now a fully licensed real estate agent!

After some continuing education and joining the National Association of Realtors, I can also call myself a realtor! 

I am very excited about this new venture and really look forward to working with other families to help them find the home that will offer them security as well as a safe and a happy place to raise their families. 

I’ve also reevaluated my role with the blog and what support I want to offer to others. My vision is to offer support that could best be represented through building blocks, with the first level offering guidance on creating a safe and healthy environment in your home. The next set will focus on offering support to create a healthy and happy body and mind. The end goal is to offer tools for you to create the life you want and be happy!

My weekly newsletter will be sporadic for the short-term as I focus on some necessary continuing education to start offering my services as a Realtor. But I promise, I will do my best to send quality and informative blog posts that can hopefully make a difference.

Now, as I think about where I’ll be next year, I’m not filled with fear or sadness (I’m also admittedly, a little bit in denial!) because I have a new path that fills me with excitement. I’m really looking forward to meeting people face-to-face and helping them find a place they can call HOME.

My biggest take away from this pandemic…

It’s never too late to change your path. It all starts with the first step.

I pray your home brings you peace and happiness.

Many Blessings,


Congratulations Class of 2020!


Dear Graduating Class of 2020,

You’ve been jipped. No way to sugarcoat this one. You have spent years working hard toward graduation, whether it be from 8th grade, high school, college, or another degree. All the course work, final exams, projects and planning to make sure you took just the right classes, was done with an end goal: graduation.

Once January came and the second semester began, I’m sure many of you could see the light at the end of the tunnel and all the celebratory milestones that come with the culmination of finishing this chapter in your life. Senior Day, Prom, special award ceremonies, final sport competitions, are among the list of memories you were looking forward to creating. Memories that would last a lifetime.

Then came March and with it the shutdown of every school in our country and many around the world. Along with school closings came the cancellation of every academic, sport and extra-curricular activity.

Parents, teachers, previous graduates; we felt your sadness and disappointment. Our hearts have mourned what has been taken and like I mention above, I feel you’ve been jipped and it’s not fair.

While you will still graduate and receive your diploma, the ceremonies and celebrations will look different than ever before.

This graduating class will forever be remembered as the class that faced COVID-19 with virtual graduations, parking lot graduations, car line graduations and so on. The schools have been creative, and the families have been incredibly supportive, but it’s not the same.

Yet, while activities and events have been taken there are some things that NO ONE can take from you, life skills. I encourage you to hold your head up high and when you are questioned in future college/job interviews you can be proud that you did it. You faced an unprecedented and unfathomable challenge and you MADE IT!


Over the past few months, you’ve been indoctrinated into the realities of life and all the ups and downs that occur. You have experienced challenges like never before and gained qualities and life skills that will carry you forward to a bright future.

These life skills will give you an advantage as you venture toward the next chapter of your life and with these attributes you will be equipped to face a very bright future of your choosing.

The degrees you receive this graduation TELLS the world you’re prepared conceptually, the skills you’ve gained during this pandemic SHOWS the world you have what it takes to build your future.

You have shown the whole world when faced with a challenge you CAN and WILL meet it and rise above it!

I encourage you to keep these qualities with you as you enter the next chapter of your life:


Knowing the end of your schooling was near, you had to finish projects and complete necessary schoolwork to receive your diploma. The persistence and tenacity you’ve demonstrated will serve you well as you enter the next phase of your life, albeit entering the work force, military, moving away to college or entering a new school. You have shown the world you will fight to get the job done and prevail.


When your world is turned upside down, it’s understandable some may want to give up. However, by accepting your unfortunate circumstances your given freedom to hope and envision a better future.


So many of you, while disappointed, held your head up high and faced this life challenge displaying self-respect that shows the world you’re not afraid to face a difficult situation no matter the outcome.


It’s a big world out there with a lot of sorrow.  For some, missing a prom, last sporting event or graduating ceremony may not seem like a big deal, others know it is heartbreaking. Regardless, many of you have accepted gracefully that the world changed quickly, and you had to change with it. Some of you even stepped out of your comfort zone and chose to give back by working at food banks, holding a food drive, creating fundraisers to benefit a cause near and dear to your heart. This selfless attitude will allow you to create a more cohesive environment as you become employed or start college or high school.


Never in history has a graduating class been so innovative. Thanks to technology this graduating class didn’t skip a beat and used new and creative methods of learning. More than ever we need innovative thinkers to lead us all toward a brighter future.


During this pandemic, the graduating class of 2020 have turned their dreams into reality cutting through barriers and obstacles with faith and determination. Keep being the trailblazers we need to take risks and create a better future for our world.

It’s natural as generations age for the older generation to wonder about the young coming up the pipeline. Will they be able to cope with the difficulties and challenges of life? Will they possess the knowledge, heart, and stamina to create a better world for the generation after them?

After witnessing the ability of our younger generation, especially the graduating class of 2020, to adapt seamlessly and effectively during this pandemic, I will wonder no more. I feel more confident today than ever our world is headed in the right direction led by the Class of 2020!


Many Blessings,


Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day


Every year on the second Sunday in May we celebrate mothers around the world. This Sunday, the celebration will be more special than ever before. For some, it may be the first time you have been able to see your mother in a long while.

Various stay at home orders around our country have prohibited large gatherings and recommended grandparents take extra precautions.

As these orders get lifted, some of us will be able to reunite with our moms sooner rather than later.

For those who can’t be with their mother’s I hope you will be able to connect through Zoom, FaceTime or another format and I know you will be desperately wishing you could share a hug.

Sadly, for some, this may be the first Mother’s Day without your mom, and your heart is grieving. I can only hope and pray that if your mother has already passed on you have many wonderful memories to draw from.

Each year I want to acknowledge the mothers who have lost a child. The bond between a mother and child is one of the strongest I’ve ever experienced. Facing a Mother’s Day without your child is heartbreaking and unfathomable. You are a true warrior. My thoughts and prayers will be with you.

Message is the same, delivery may be different

While our circumstances vary, nothing will stop us from letting our moms know how much we love them. Whether it’s in person, over the phone or internet, or written in a note that we wish we could give to our moms who have passed, we can all proclaim:

I Love You Mom!

I appreciate all you have done for me throughout my life!

I am a better person because of you!

Thank you, Mom, for everything!

I wanted nothing more than to have kids and create a family as I was growing up. My own mother made it look so easy. Without a doubt we knew she loved all her kids and we knew she always would. No one went to bat for us or stood by our sides like our mom!

I’m so grateful I had my mother by my side to teach me and prepare me for my greatest role in life: motherhood.

By showering me with unconditional love, my mother taught me how to love my children unconditionally.

By showing compassion when I was sad or hurt, I learned how to be compassionate to others.

In giving she taught me how to give. And there were many times I know she sacrificed or did without so she could give more to her children.

She has been and always will be the biggest advocate for any of her children. She will sing our praises loudly and try to shield us from pain- no matter how old we are!

Motherhood during COVID-19

Motherhood is trying and exhausting under the best of circumstances. But when COVID-19 hit and closed businesses, schools, health clubs, etc., the tower of hats a mom wears grew larger. School closings turned mothers (and fathers) into teachers and guidance counselors. Having the whole family home all day meant more meals to make, more dishes to clean and lots of laundry.

On top of this, many moms are working remotely from home while trying to juggle the increased demands of the family.

Motherhood has its ups and downs when everything is going well. But what happens when your world is turned upside down? It can turn motherhood into a chore.

I’ve had my world turned upside down once before when my husband, Larry, died.

I had no clue how I was going to move forward. Thankfully, I had the gifts I learned from my mother. These gifts never go away, but sometimes they get tucked away until they are needed once more.

That time is now.

I know the best I can do for my kids right now is to love them, unconditionally, even when I want to pull my hair out because we are starting to get on each other’s nerves! I have reminded myself to be a little more compassionate towards my kids because I know that life changed dramatically for them as well. By giving an ear to listen, a hearty meal (which seem endless) to keep the energy levels up and just simply being available to my kids I hope I’ve provided a sense of security that I always had growing up.

This year moms around the globe have risen to meet the challenges presented during these unusual times. And for that, I say to all the moms out there, YOU ARE INCREDIBLE!

Stand tall, be proud, MOM, you deserve praise!

I won’t do it often, but this year I will pat myself on the back and say, “You did it! You made it through a quarantine and the family is stronger for it.”

And I encourage all you moms to do the same. Pat yourselves on the back, be proud you are MOM, you deserve it!

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my mother and ALL the moms out there a VERY Happy Mother’s Day.

Many Blessings,


Focus where it counts


Focus Where It Counts

Dear Friend,

What to do with all the time at home

For the past few weeks, I’ve woken up each morning with a list of things to do running through my head. Clean out closets, sort through files in my office, trim the bushes, clean out the garage, etc.

Of course, this is on top of my usual day-to-day “normal” duties, which have truly expanded with my whole family home, all day, every day.

My initial thought, like many of you, when we were first ordered to stay at home was, “finally I’ll get to complete some tasks around the house that I’ve been wanting to, especially with the boys home to help!”

So, how many projects have I completed? Truth is, not very many!

I’m having a very difficult time consistently staying focused and on task.

Sound familiar?

Certainly, I’m beyond thankful to have my teens/young adults at home and more importantly, we are all healthy. But I’ll be honest, having my kids home all day, every day is messing with my mojo!

Some of you may have realized (or maybe not 😉), I didn’t send out a newsletter last week. I’ve been having a hard time focusing long enough to write! And, when I do finally sit at my desk and start to work on the newsletter, I find I’m easily distracted, either by my kids, dogs, or my own lack of attention.

I know this will pass. So, I’m not overly concerned. But for those of you who may be thrown for a loop at your own lack of focus, I’m here to tell you, It’s OK!

For many, this is the first time you’re working from home.

Sure, you’ve helped your kids throughout the years with schoolwork, but have you had them schooled at home, all day, every day?

Many changes have occurred to disrupt our “normal” way of life and while I applaud those who have created goals and achieved them, I want others to know, you’re not alone. Inability to focus, especially for long periods of time, is to be expected.

To offer some levity, I’d like to share what a typical day in my house looks like right now and how easily I’ve been distracted.


After making sure everyone is out of bed, fed and on track to start their schoolwork I head to my office at home and sit at my desk to check emails, pay bills, update spreadsheets, or write. Pre- virus, I can get the job done in a few hours, today… as I go through emails…

Wow, Sur La Table has a really good sale. I’ve been wanting to get the oval breadbasket; I wonder if that’s on sale?

I spend about 30 minutes googling proofing baskets just to make sure the one at Sur La Table is the best and at a reasonable price. Conclusion, I don’t remember, I got sidetracked at a picture of a tortilla press and now I really want one of those!

Stay focused, do some paperwork.

“Mom! What’s for dinner?” This could be any one of my kids asking this question. Clearly, having an inability to focus is contagious.

Seriously?! We haven’t even had lunch yet and I’m being asked what’s for dinner. I shout back, “don’t worry about dinner, focus on your schoolwork.”

A few minutes later…

Hmm, what I should make for dinner? Another 30 minutes is spent searching recipes online, which takes me to Instagram and Pinterest. Wow! There are so many recipes! Unfortunately, I’m lacking one or more ingredients for each recipe I like.

C’mon, focus on the bills that need to be paid. As I scroll through my email to see which bills I need to pay, I realize that the deadline to register George for the next school year is that day. Crap! Other bills get pushed aside, for now, while I go through the registration process.

Meanwhile, one of the boys comes in my office and says, “mom, I’m done with this assignment, can you proofread it before I submit it?”

“Sure, leave it on my desk and I’ll proof it in a little bit.” I respond without even looking up from my computer.

“No, I need it now, it’s due this afternoon.”

Ugh… another 30 minutes, spent proofing and reviewing the changes.

Ok, I resign. I’ll go take a bath with some Epsom salt and hopefully that will clear my head and then I’ll tackle my work again.

Just as I sink into the water, I hear one of my sons calling from my bedroom door, “Mom, are you making lunch today or are we on our own?”

“Can you give me a few minutes please, it’s only 11:00,” I shout back.

“Well, I’m just wondering because if we’re making it ourselves, I just want to know what there is to make.”

“Yes! You’re on your own for lunch, please look in the fridge!”

As I’m taking in the aroma of eucalyptus I’m struck with terror. I better get out of the tub because I just remembered there was only a few slices of pastrami left and if one kid eats it all without letting the other two know, all hell will break loose.


Ok, after some negotiating, and me promising the one kid who got shortchanged on the pastrami, to get him something special the net time I go to the store, everyone is happy. Now, back to work.

My dog Star comes in my office looking for some attention. As I pet her, I can’t help but think, she’s looking a little disheveled. She sure could use some grooming.

Since the groomer is closed, I do the next best thing and spend another 30 minutes looking online for a grinder to trim her nails. After reading all the reviews, I choose one, order it online for pick up that day.

Boy, I feel a sense of relief and accomplishment all at once. I saw a problem, Star needs her nails trimmed and I found a solution, I bought a nail grinder online. I’m pretty proud of myself and feel like I can finally finish some paperwork.

After some concentrated time spent (about 30 minutes) on paperwork, I figure I better check my emails, again. Oh look, the nail grinder is ready for pick up! No time like the present to get it, I mean, what else am I doing? (Note: as I write this, the nail grinder is still its box!)

At this point I know I’m done for the day trying to get any work done. I turn my attention to, you guessed it, making dinner!

Oh, what am I going to cook?!

How to stay focused

I’ve worked from home for many years and I know what it takes to be focused and stay on task.

Here is a list of some of the tools I follow while working from home:


  • Follow a routine


  • Create a to-do-list


  • Tackle priority items first


  • Set dedicated times to review emails and phone messages


  • Remove distractions (close office door, turn off TV, etc.)


  • Set and communicate boundaries


  • Close apps when not using, and turn off notifications on phone


  • Allow for breaks and set a time to end working


The tools I’ve relaxed the most is removing distractions and setting boundaries with respect to my kids. Right now, my kids are my biggest distraction with overseeing their schooling, making more meals at home and being available to talk, play a game or watch a reality show with.

Yet, with the current environment we’re living under, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Providing a safe haven for my family is my top priority. Letting my kids know that they are loved and I’m here to help them is not losing focus, it’s shifting the focus.

To all you parents/grandparents out there wondering where the time has gone each day, remind yourselves, its right where it needs to be: on your family.

Many Blessings,


Celebrate Your Faith, Happy Easter/Passover

Happy Easter/Passover


It’s been almost ten years since my husband, Larry, passed away but I still recall during the early stages of my grief it felt as though I was living a parallel life. I had one-foot living in the past, remembering every holiday and celebration with Larry by my side, and the other foot living in the present, facing current and future holidays without Larry.

I would step outside and see everyone going about their normal business of going to school, work or another activity. I wanted to scream, “How can you carry on like nothing has happened!” Yet, I learned one of the most valuable lessons. Life is in constant motion and life moves forward. Thank goodness!

Sometimes it takes the momentum of life to give that little push we need to move forward. If there weren’t moments worth celebrating, I may still have that one foot stuck in the past and be very hesitant to bring it into the present.

It may not be the life I wanted or dreamed of, but it’s the only life I have. I learned almost ten years ago I better make it the best life possible for me and my children. Larry would expect nothing less. I wasn’t given a choice to face a new reality, but I did have a choice how I lived in the new reality. The same holds true today.

Today, as we face the COVID-19 pandemic, no one could’ve imagined that our “new reality” would’ve resulted in separation from family and friends. Yet, I’m encouraged and uplifted with all the positive stories out there. Our nation has pulled together like never before and I’m confident together we will get through this.

It’s this pulling together attitude that will help us all find a way to celebrate Passover and Easter this year. Around the world, words of caution have been voiced to limit gatherings forcing families to find a different way to worship, celebrate and honor the biggest holiday’s in the Christian and Jewish faiths.

It’s not the holiday of year’s past, with crowded synagogues/churches, packed restaurants and large family gatherings. No doubt, it will be difficult celebrating the day, being separated from family, especially grandparents.

Nonetheless, it’s still the week of Passover and Holy week culminating with Easter this Sunday. While we may not be able to come together like years past, with some advance planning we can still find ways to celebrate our faith.

Are there any traditions you would like to follow?

It’s all about the food

In the Jewish faith Passover is observed with a feast called a Seder. A few years ago, my boys and I were invited to partake in the feast hosted by some good friends. The Seder plate displays six foods that are symbolic to the struggles faced by Israelites before leaving Egypt.

Those of Christian faith celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Many celebrate Easter by coming together to share a meal as well. Since I can remember, we always had a ham on Easter, along with deviled eggs and plenty of rolls. I’ve since added lamb to the menu, since that was one of Larry’s favorites. Some families choose to forgo cooking and celebrate with an Easter brunch that usually requires a reservation made months in advance.

This year, with the restaurants closed and grocery stores still facing shortages, how does one plan a meal to recognize the holiday of our faith and carry on some traditions?

Be Flexible

Create the menu of your choice with a list of all your ingredients needed. Then create a plan B. What can you substitute if you can’t find a ham, eggs, or rolls?

What if you can’t find some of the items needed for the Seder plate?

Be creative

Ask the members of your household what food they would like to have. You may be surprised what you hear, especially if you have young kids at home! Personally, as a child, I couldn’t stomach eating ham, and never ate a piece on Easter until I was much older. So not having a ham wouldn’t have been an issue for my younger self, it would’ve been preferred!

Some synagogues are allowing for substitutions with the items for the Seder plate. It’s best to contact your synagogue and take the lead from your Rabbi.

Maybe you’re used to dining out to celebrate the holiday. I’d recommend, if you have the means to do so, order from a favorite restaurant for pick up. This is a great opportunity to support local businesses if you can. Again, call in advance to make sure they are still accepting orders.

Food has been, and I suspect, always will be the center of our celebrations.  As we gather this year, I know I’ll be thankful that I have food to offer my family, not matter what the food is.

Worship from home

Do you usually attend Church on Easter morning or go to the Synagogue during Passover? If so, you can still watch a service. Many churches/synagogues are offering services online or on television. Check the website of your preferred church/parish/synagogue to see how they are handing services this year.

What about the Easter Bunny?

The younger the child, the more difficult it will be to understand the changes that are necessary this year to celebrate Easter. Be as honest as you can and give age appropriate answers to your children. I found some great guidelines for talking to kids about COVID-19. Click on this link for tips on talking to your child about COVID-19,

Is your child expecting the Easter Bunny? Will the Easter Bunny be able to make it to your house? With advance notice, talk with your kids about what they will realistically see from the Easter Bunny if he does come this year. Better to curtail expectations than face disappointment come Easter morning.

Please, be patient with your children, with all the problems going on today you may feel like this is the least of your worries. But to the children, this is HUGE to them.

Will you be able to color eggs? If you can’t find eggs at the grocery store, or can only buy a limited amount, I recommend making some paper eggs. Try looking on Pinterest for some crafty ways to make Easter eggs at home without using real eggs. You can also Google for some ideas too.

Stay connected

I challenge you to find a way to stay connected with family this Easter/Passover even if you can’t physically be together. Again, technology can be a terrific platform in allowing families to break bread together, at least virtually!

This year will be different than any other holiday you’ve experienced. It may be very difficult for some but know our efforts to stay home this Passover/Easter will allow us to celebrate many more in the future with our family and friends.

I pray you have a safe, healthy and Happy Passover/Easter!

Many Blessings,


Finding Strength and Hope in Time of Uncertainty

Finding Strength and Hope in Time of Uncertainty


Dear Friend,

First, I hope this newsletter finds you and your family safe and healthy. In my last newsletter I mentioned that I would be off for two weeks due to spring break. I, like many of you, needed a little more time to adjust to a temporary new way of life.

I admit, I also needed time to let the enormity and reality of what we are facing sink in. Sadly, it’s not the first time I’ve faced dire news. It’s been a little over two weeks since most of the nation has shut down and as I look back I realize my emotions over the past two weeks mimicked what I experienced when I first learned my husband, Larry, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

My first reaction was shock and disbelief. Is this really happening? How did this happen? There are so many unanswered questions. How long will this last? And, what does it mean if you live in a state that has issued a stay at home or shelter in place order?

After shock comes determination. We can do this!

More than ever, we all need perseverance, stamina and hope. This is where I look for guidance. Of course, the first person who comes to mind, the one person who I trusted greatly and never let me down, my late husband, Larry.

Even if he’s no longer here, I continue to draw from his experience and know that, no matter what, we will get through this.

Almost ten years ago, April 9, 2010, Larry learned he had a serious disease and was given instruction from his doctor that he needed to make an appointment with the oncology department at Mayo Clinic to discuss a bone marrow transplant. The first available appointment was in May. Of course, we did what most people did during this time, we googled as much as we could about the disease and what a bone marrow transplant entailed.

Isolation. That was the one word that frightened Larry more than anything. And it kept popping up.

Larry was a very active person. He golfed, rode his bike, fished and took an active role in coaching the boys in sports. The worst part of the isolation for him was not being able to see his kids. No one under the age of 13 would be allowed and at that time, all our boys were under the age of ten.

After hearing confirmation from the doctors at Mayo Clinic and a second opinion from Johns Hopkins, Larry believed having a bone marrow transplant was his only hope.

Preparing for a bone marrow transplant, Larry knew, he wasn’t only fighting his disease physically, but also mentally. Before he entered the hospital he and I discussed and planned for some key coping mechanisms.

The past few weeks I’ve been in awe at the similarity of implementing the same coping techniques while we stay at home for an indefinite period of time.

None of us know how long this will last, but rest assured, we are in this together. No one is alone. And I pray you find the strength and perseverance to get through this difficult time. I have complete faith you will.

I offer the following coping mechanisms that Larry implemented ten years ago and I’m following today. Please, reach out to me if you have further questions or other coping skills you would like to share.

Limit media and negative stories

Once Larry made the decision to proceed with the bone marrow transplant, he stopped his research on internet. Until that moment, for every positive story he read, ten negative stories popped up. To stay positive, he wanted to focus on positive stories.

There are many sad stories today and while I certainly don’t advocate for burying your head in the sand, however, if hearing the stories are having a negative impact on your mental health, it may be time to take a break from listening to them.

Credible sources

Along with keeping a positive attitude Larry made a conscience decision to get his information strictly from his doctors. There is so much great information on the internet but also some misleading information. He felt it would be counterproductive at that time to constantly question the doctor’s recommendations. He was putting his life in their hands and he had to trust the protocol they were recommending.

The same holds true today. I’ve made the decision to listen to the experts and heed their advice: social distancing, wash hands and limit contact, if any, with people who have a compromised immune system and the elderly.

Stay connected

Again, Larry’s biggest heartache was not being able to see his children. Thankfully we have technology. Ten years ago, Apple introduced the iPad. Larry was frustrated at the irony. He hated paying the price for brand new technology, but under the circumstances, it would be his lifeline to communicating with his children. He grudgingly forked over $650 to gain a sense of control over his life!

He was able to access the internet, download movies and best of all Skype with the kids each evening. Facetime, zoom, none of these had come to the market yet.

Today, we are so fortunate to have the technology we have. I’ve been able to Facetime with family and friends. My kids have had lessons via zoom. They are playing video games with family and friends and chatting with them as if they were in the same room. People are hosting gatherings via zoom, it’s fantastic. Social distancing is NOT social isolation.

During this time, I would encourage you to check in on family and friends on a regular basis, especially to those who are living alone.

Laughter is the best medicine

An earlier post, It’s OK to Laugh, I shared the benefits of laughter. Even during a crisis, we need to find something to laugh at, laughter is the best medicine. Larry was a movie buff (wonder where Charlie gets it) and he loved most genres. But after his diagnosis, he focused mostly on comedies. There was nothing better than laughter to reduce the stress and tension we were living with. Family and friends would call and tell him jokes or send him jokes via email.

Currently, to lift my spirits, I’ve been watching funny videos. It you’re not on TikTok, I would highly recommend joining. There are so many hilarious videos, especially the animal videos, that after a few minutes of watching I find myself cracking up with laughter.

There are some great comedies out there as well. With access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and many other streaming channels you would be hard pressed not to find a comedy.

Disconnect from electronics

 While we’re very fortunate to have technology that allows us to work from home and stay connected to the outside world, it’s important to disconnect from technology and work on connecting with the people in your house.

I’ll admit, besides doing their schoolwork online, my boys have been playing A LOT of video games. Under normal circumstances leading experts would recommend limiting electronics with appropriate guidelines for each age group. Yesterday, I heard one expert state during this crisis it’s ok to let up on those guidelines (which we have in our house!), but still find a way to connect as a family.

My kids love to play board games, but even they need some nudging. And that’s what I did this past weekend. So, we brought out the monopoly game and set it up in the dining room. It’s a game that we’ll play on and off for a few nights. We also play card games and currently have an ongoing game of Rummy 500; this was a game I played with my own grandmother! It brings back some great memories of prior family gatherings.

Get physical

When Larry entered the hospital, he was told that getting out of bed and walking around his room or nurse’s station was very important.

The same holds true for all of us. Weather permitting (and following your state guidelines) most of us can still walk outside. Again, technology has created another platform to allow for exercise. Many clubs are hosting workouts that can be joined via zoom or they are posting on their website or you tube channel workout videos.

Since I’ve been working from home for years, I know too well the draw and dangers of sitting at my desk all day. So, even if you don’t have an exercise regime in place, if you’re working from home, set your timer if you have to, but make a point to get up every hour or so and walk around your house for at least ten minutes.

I learn from past experiences to bring hope to the future

While we face the uncertainty in front of us, I know we’ll get through this.

How do I know?

Walking beside Larry as he fought his disease, humbly accept his circumstances and make decisions based on hope for a better life, taught me never to give up! He eventually lost his battle, but he gave it everything he had.


That’s what I intend to do. Be grateful I’m able to remain in the comforts of my home, with my boys, and face each day with determination and perseverance.

No matter how dire the circumstances, each morning brings a new day, a renewal of hope.

Let’s hope the time needed for social distancing is short, if not, keep the faith, and follow the recommendations given above to help your physical and mental well-being.

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

I’ll leave you with one prayer that I’ve recited numerous times, the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Many Blessings,


The Skinny on Fat

The Skinny on Fat


Hi There,

Have you ever wondered why some things that taste so good are so bad for you? It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Well, some good news I’ll reveal today is that some fats you’ve probably given up, you may be able to incorporate back into your diet, in moderation.

In last week’s post, “Fat: Good or Bad for You?” I discussed how fat is essential for our bodies to function properly, how much fat is recommended and some “good” fat foods to eat. Today, I’ll discuss the different types of fat and which one you want to avoid at all costs.

Types of Fat


There are two types of fat that our bodies need, saturated and unsaturated fats. While saturated fats have gotten a bad rap over the years, the truth is we need some saturated fats in our diet. The problem is the Standard American Diet (SAD) is loaded with saturated fats, far exceeding what our bodies need.

Fat by any other name is still fat

In its most simplistic explanation fat is fat. However, fat, and the various types of fat, is one of the most complex nutrients to understand. Too much of the wrong kind, and we increase our risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses. Not enough healthy fats and our cells, organs and tissues may not function properly.

The truth is not all fats are the same. The chemical makeup, specifically the number of hydrogen and carbon atoms, of each fat is not only what differentiates it, but also impacts how our bodies absorb and digest the type of fat we consume.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats are typically in solid form at room temperature. The word “saturated” refers to the number of hydrogen atoms surrounding each carbon atom. Saturated fats are full of hydrogen atoms.

Most saturated fats come from animals and animal byproducts: meats, cheese, milk, etc. There are limited plant foods that contain saturated fat, such as coconuts.

Saturated fats have gained notoriety over the years with all the various studies and claims that saturated fat will increase your bad cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease. While some of these claims may be true, it’s still good to get some saturated fat into your diet. Yet, according to Harvard Health, no more than 10% of your daily calories should contain saturated fat.

If you’re eating 2000 calories a day, it’s recommended no more than 200 calories should come from saturated fats. With respect to food this will translate as follows:

  • 3 ½ oz of boneless, skinless chicken breast is 134 calories


  • 3 ½ oz of grass-fed ground beef is 198 calories


  • 3 ½ oz. of American cheese is 180 calories


One simple cheeseburger can exceed your daily allowance of saturated fats.

Unsaturated Fats

Unsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature. They’re considered beneficial fats because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms, and play a number of other beneficial roles in our bodies.

Healthy unsaturated fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. They differ from saturated fats by having fewer hydrogen atoms bonded to their carbon chains.

There are two broad categories of beneficial unsaturated fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats

According to the article, “The truth about fats: the good, the bad, and the in-between,” published by Harvard Health, a  seven country study performed in the 1960’s discovered that Greece reported a low incidence of heart disease and much of this is attributed to what has become known today as the “Mediterranean Diet.” Many foods they eat, especially olive oil, is high in monounsaturated fats.

Polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats. That means they’re required for normal body function, but your body can’t make them. So, you must get them from food. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the covering of nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.

A polyunsaturated fat has two or more double bonds in its carbon chain. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. The numbers refer to the distance between the beginning of the carbon chain and the first double bond. Both types offer health benefits.

While polyunsaturated fats have health benefits, those benefits occur when the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids adhere to a consumption ratio of 4:1. Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet is high in omega 6-fatty acids and low in omega-3 fatty acids.

An imbalance of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio can lead to many diseases such as heart disease, inflammation, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Omega-3 Fatty acids

These are a healthier type of polyunsaturated fat in that it can be an anti-inflammatory agent, help decrease bad lipids and increase good lipids. It’s also known for supporting mental health. A high content of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in these foods: Salmon, sardines, anchovies, flax seed, chia seed and walnuts.

Omega-6 Fatty acids

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential and primarily needed for energy. Based on the standard American diet, most of the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids is through the consumption of vegetable oils. While you might be thinking you don’t cook or eat a lot of vegetable oils, I challenge you to review the labels on any food item in your pantry. Most likely you’ll find canola oil, sun/safflower oil, soybean oil, or another type of oil listed as an ingredient.

While we do need omega-6 fatty acids, as a nation, we are consuming way too much of this type of fat.

Based on the sales of non-perishable/processed foods in the United States, the average person is consuming a 10:1 or even as high as 50:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

Of course, reducing your consumption of processed foods will improve this ratio and most likely your health.

Trans fats

There are two types of trans fats, natural and artificial. Natural trans fats are formed by bacteria in the stomachs of cattle, sheep and goats. Hence, natural trans fats can be found in these meats or byproducts, such as milk or cheese.

Artificial trans fats are created when vegetables are heated at such a high level to create hydrogenation, a process which prevents oils from becoming rancid in a solid state. Think shortening, margarine, etc.

Artificial trans fats are the absolute worst for your health.

These fats can impact your blood cholesterol, increase risk of heart disease, impact insulin resistance, lead to inflammation, etc. Trans fats are so bad for you they’ve been banned in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration since 2015. But they haven’t completely left the US and I’ll explain more when I discuss the best oils to cook with in the next post.

So, what fat can you put back into your diet?

At the beginning of this post I mentioned there was one fat that many people stopped eating and I’m saying you might want to rethink. With the low-fat craze of the eighties and all the negative press about saturated fats, many people switched to margarine, which is a vegetable-based oil, lower in saturated fat. However, margarine is high in artificial trans fats, at least until it was recently banned. Again, more on that in the next post.

So, if you like a little pat of butter on your baked potato, I say go for it. Use real butter instead of margarine. Unless you’re vegan or have an allergy to dairy, using real butter (Kerrygold is my favorite), is preferred over margarine. Although, in moderation!

Whew! This was a tough post to write and I hope I’ve clarified why fat is such a complicated nutrient.

Basically, eat lean meats, more fish (especially salmon), limit dairy, limit (or eliminate) processed foods and fried foods and definitely stay away from trans fats!

I pray you’ll digest all this and take away something that can improve your health.

Many Blessings,


Fat: Good or Bad For You?

Fat: Is it Good or Bad For You?


Hi There,

I mentioned in my last post, “Sugar: It Is a Big Deal,” that the low-fat craze in the eighties was a big factor in increasing the amount of sugar used in producing many foods.

Without the fat, manufacturers needed an ingredient to enhance the flavor, hence many variations of sugar was added to make the product taste better.

I certainly remember thinking at that time, fat is bad, low-fat is better, without giving any thought to the other ingredients. Some thirty years later, and loads of studies performed, we’ve concluded, fat is not the enemy, but the type of fat is.

Like my posts about sugar, there is SO much information about fats that I’ll need to break it out over a couple of posts. This week I’ll cover why the body needs fat, digestion of fat and the best food sources of fat. Next week I’ll discuss the different types of fat, there are quite a few!

Let’s start with the one question I hear often…

Does the body need fat?

Fats are found in every cell membrane, organ and tissue, which is why an adequate amount of fat is necessary for the body to function properly. Good dietary fat can help our cells communicate, can help our nerves send messages, our glands make hormones and good fats can help our bodies transport vitamins.

Good Dietary fats are:



  • A source of energy


  • A source of essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot make


  • A way to absorb fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K


  • A way to insulate our bodies and protect organs


How much fat is needed?

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, it’s recommended that 20-35% of daily calories come from total fats. That’s about 44 grams to 77 grams of fat per day if you eat 2,000 calories a day.

To give you an idea of what this looks like in food, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter is 17 grams of fat, one slice of cheese (1 oz.) is 9 grams of fat, and one tablespoon of olive oil is 14 grams of fat. Depending on the cut of beef and method of preparation, a 6 oz. portion can range from 16 grams to 48 grams of fat.

So, if you’re having a steak and salad for dinner, make sure it’s a lean cut and limit the salad dressing. Otherwise, you’ll be consuming 30 grams to 62 grams of fat. And that’s just one meal!

Why is there a wide range for consumption of fat?

Each person is unique, and the requirement of fat needed varies widely and needs to take the following into consideration:

  • Age, babies need at least 35% fat in their diet


  • Stage of development, fat is essential for brain development


  • Level of activity


  • Other health factors, blood pressure, diabetes, etc.


  • Medications taken daily, including vitamins


How do you know how much fat is right for you?

Based on the range given above, you might be wondering where you fall?

Are you eating enough fat or too much fat?

Too much fat in your diet can lead to:

  • Weight gain and obesity


  • Heart disease and related issues, like high blood pressure


  • High blood cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels


  • Metabolic syndrome


  • Diabetes and insulin resistance


  • Digestive issues


If you’re not eating enough fat, you may experience any one of the following:

  • Dry and scaly skin


  • Dry eyes


  • Feeling constantly cold


  • Dry hair and/or hair loss


  • Inability to feel full/always feeling hungry


  • Deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins


  • Constant fatigue


How to get the right amount of fat into your diet.

Getting just the right amount of fat into your diet, can take a little trial and error. While I was studying for my Holistic Nutrition Certification, I had one teacher, who was also a doctor, swore by a high-fat diet. Albeit, only “good” fats though.

I took this as a green light to eat whatever “good” fats I wanted without considering portions or calories. I ate lots of avocado, nuts, seeds, etc. I felt great, but I also started to gain weight.

I lost sight of the fact that fat grams are more dense and higher in calories than protein and carbohydrates, hence the weight gain. Since then, I read the labels and nutritional facts more carefully. I still eat some of my favorite fats: nuts and avocado, I simply eat smaller portions.

By now, you’re probably wondering, once more, what the heck can I eat?!

Below is a short list of “good” fat foods to eat, with the recommended serving sizes:

  • Avocados – ½ cup = 11 grams fat


  • Almonds – 1 oz. = 14 grams fat


  • Walnuts – 1 oz. = 18 grams fat


  • Shredded Coconut (unsweetened) – ½ cup = 14 grams of fat


  • Sunflower seeds (shelled) – 1 oz. = 14 grams fat


  • Pumpkin seeds (also called pepitas) – 1 oz. = 5 grams fat


  • Salmon – 3 oz. = 11 grams fat


  • Chicken breast (skinless) – 3 oz. = 2 grams fat


Fat and digestion

If you recall from, “Trust Your Gut,” the digestive process begins in the mouth. However, unlike carbohydrates and proteins, only a small amount of fat digestion occurs in the mouth and stomach.

Most of the fat digestion takes place in the small intestine with the aid of bile. Bile is what emulsifies the fat so it can be broken down into smaller molecules to help with digestion.

Digestive enzymes are necessary for the digestion of fat. Another factor taken into consideration during the digestion of fat is the type of fat being digested.

Who knew the digestion of fat could be so complicated!

If you or anyone you know suffers from digestive issues, the type of fat you’re eating could be the culprit.

Next week I’ll discuss the different types of fat and which ones you really want to avoid. Plus, I’ll give you more “good” fat foods too!

Many Blessings,


P.S. I purposely waited until after Fat Tuesday to send this out!

Sugar: It IS a Big Deal

Sugar: It Is a Big Deal!


Hi there,

Now that Valentine’s Day is over, and all the chocolate goodies have been eaten, I want to get back to talking about sugar. My whole goal is to provide information so you can make the best decision for your health. So, with that in mind, “Please don’t shoot the messenger!”

In my previous post, Sugar: What’s The Big Deal?” I explained just how much we’ve increased our intake of sugar as a nation, the unlikely sources that contain high amounts of sugar, the alternative names of sugar and how to read labels to decipher just how much sugar you’re really eating.

This week I’ll cover the difference between natural and chemical sugars and their impact on your immune system, as well as the difference between glycemic index and glycemic load (very important, especially for individuals with diabetes). Plus, I’ll give my recommendations for what sugars are the best to use on a regular basis.

Let’s start with the question I get asked the most: “Is any sugar good for you?”

This is sort of a trick question! The truth is our body does need glucose for energy. However, glucose in its purest form, is not to be mistaken for the sugar products that we consume. All sugar (or byproduct of sugar) contains glucose, only not in its simple form. Which means our body must break it down to be able to digest it and use it properly. This is why the type of sugar you consume is so important- I’ll go into more detail when I discuss the various forms of sugar.

So, the real question becomes, how much glucose does our body need?

Before I can answer this I need to explain the role of blood sugar and its impact on every cell in our anatomy.

As I mentioned above, glucose is needed to provide energy to our cells. Once glucose is in our blood stream it’s up to insulin- a hormone produced by the pancreas- to carry the glucose to our cells for use.

For people who live with diabetes, their cells become resistant to the action of insulin and the pancreas is unable to make enough, or any, insulin to overcome that resistance.

Since each person’s lifestyle and cells are unique, the amount of glucose and insulin a person needs can vary a great deal. So unfortunately, there isn’t one answer that I can give that would pertain to everyone.

But one thing is true for everyone: too much sugar is not good for anyone.

What happens when the body ingests too much sugar? Well, we know the liver produces glucose and has the ability to store excess glucose for later use. But if you’re consuming large amounts of food that break down into glucose, then the excess will never be used for energy because there is simply too much!

The liver will then convert excess glucose into fat, YIKES!

Now if you remember from the prior post about sugar, we as a nation are consuming about four to five times the recommended daily amount of sugar. So, it’s no wonder obesity has increased greatly over the last few decades! The manufacturers may have taken out the fat in the eighties, but they added in a whole bunch of sugar.

While most of the focus with increased sugar is on weight gain, there have been a few studies performed by the American Heart Association that indicate an increase in sugar can also lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular heart disease (CHD).

One study completed in 2012 concluded the following: “The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with increased risk of CHD and some adverse changes in lipids, inflammatory factors, and leptin.”

In addition to sugar impacting your heart, a diet that consists of too much sugar will have a negative impact on your gut flora. In a previous post, “Trust your gut,” I explain that bad bacteria loves sugar and a diet high in sugar will allow for the bad bacteria in your gut to overtake the good bacteria. This can leave you with a weakened immune system among many other issues stated in that post.

That’s just the physical impact of excess sugar. But what about its impact on our mental health?

In a previous post, “Living with Anxiety,” I mentioned that according to Psychology Today the so-called Standard American Diet, which is full of sugar and fat, does not necessarily cause anxiety but it does appear to worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the body’s ability to cope with stress.

With all these scary statistics you might be wondering: “What in the world can I eat!”

The good news is there are many foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruits, some vegetables and whole grains that are actually beneficial for you. The key is in understanding how the body digests the various forms of sugar and deciphering between the glycemic index and glycemic load.

Glycemic Index (GI) measures the effect of carbohydrates (aka sugars) on blood sugar levels, also known as glucose. The GI is a measurement that can show how rapidly glucose is released by the particular foods you eat.

Glycemic Load (GL) focuses on the quality (simple vs. complex) and quantity of the carbohydrate. Foods that contain other beneficial nutrients, such as fiber, tend to reduce the GL.

Ranges for Glycemic Index are as follows:

  • A GI that is less than or equal to 55 is low.
  • A GI that is between 56 and 69 is medium.
  • A GI that is equal to or great than 70 is high.

Ranges for Glycemic Load are as follows:

  • A GL that is less than or equal to 10 is low.
  • A GL that is between 11 and 19 is medium.
  • A GL that is greater than or equal to 20 is high.


Both measurements need to be taken into consideration, but from a nutritional aspect the glycemic load provides a more accurate depiction of how the body digests and releases the glucose into the system.


If people rely strictly on the glycemic index they will potentially eliminate beneficial foods, such as certain fruits, from their diet. For example, 120 grams of watermelon has a high glycemic index of 72 but its glycemic load is 4, mostly because of its high water content.

So what about using substitute sweeteners?


Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame, neotame and sucralose are currently approved by the FDA and used in many foods and beverages. However, even though they’re approved, I certainly wouldn’t recommend drinking or eating any products that contain these synthetic sweeteners.

There have been multiple studies to support limiting or even eliminating the consumption of products that use artificial sweeteners. In one publication by Harvard Health, Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital, expressed worry about artificial sweeteners and here’s why:

  • Studies performed by the FDA to allow the use of substitute sweeteners used small control groups consuming amounts less than the average person consumes today. In addition, they haven’t performed any studies with respect to long-term consumption.


  • In 2008 a Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, showed a daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.


  • Referencing another article in Harvard Health Publications, Dr. Ludwig claims artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain. Participants in a San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet soda.


So what sugar is acceptable?

  • Fruits are nature’s perfect source of energy. Plus, they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are beneficial for your health.


  • Dates: cooking with dates is a wonderful way to sweeten smoothies, breads, cookies, etc.


  • Real maple syrup. I’m not talking about Aunt Jemima! Real maple syrup contains beneficial vitamins and minerals.


  • Coconut nectar derived from coconuts is one of Mother Nature’s best kept secrets, but it’s gaining notoriety as more people turn to it.


  • Stevia, a natural zero calorie sweetener, is another option, but I use this one sparingly.


When in doubt, choose a product made from a “whole” food source, such as fruits and vegetables.

And for all you chocolate lover’s out there: choose dark chocolate that contains a minimum 70% cacao. Raw cacao beans contain highly beneficial antioxidants that help fight free radicals (but that’s a whole other topic!)

However, since there is some sugar in dark chocolate, only eat a small piece. And be sure to find a good hiding spot: I caught George the other night digging in to my stash!

I pray your days are sweet even without sweet treats to eat!

Many blessings,