You gotta LUV the Squirrel People


I have really mScreen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.19.37 PMissed you.

There is a new business is town, Corporate Wellness and I’m gettin’ me some of the cash.  However, it comes with traps such as, let’s work a million hours and not keep up on blog.  It also leads to questions such as, are the pearls of wisdom coming out of my mouth making any difference?

For the last few months I have been a Health Educator for one of these companies.  The pay is okay, but the work can be grinding.  Some company pays our company to come in and do “health screenings” for their employees.  Sometimes there is a cash incentive for the employee to have the screening done and sometimes not.  Sometimes the cash is only for the salaried employees.  Sometimes the company just raffles off something to screening participants not cash oriented like a small backpack with a company logo.  This does not appear to generate the enthusiasm conceived by the corporate head honchos.

Screenings consists of height, weight, waist circumference, finger stick for cholesterol, HDL [happy cholesterol], LDL [lousy cholesterol], triglycerides and glucose levels.

Then, I, the illustrious Health Educator, reveal all the meanings of life or at least the meanings of your results in less than 5 minutes.  Move’em in, move’em out.  For some companies, the employees are fairly well educated and understand my Readers’ Digest version of how to turn a lousy result into wellness nirvana.  Then, there are the Squirrel People.

I’ve spent a lot of time in rural areas, and I really respect the people I’ve met, but I realized how sheltered I am not having cable TV, watching ads about food, drink and pharmaceuticals and sitting doctors offices reading back issues of People or Prevention magazines.

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Squirrel unimpeded by flashy food ads. Still fits on tree branch.

In contrast, many of the wage-earning folks of these companies located off Highway to Nowhere, America buy into everything on Dr. Oz and the Cartoon Network.  The amount of medication taken is astounding, especially from folks extremely cautious about owning a cell phone or having an email address.  Astounding because the drugs have so little effect and are peddled out with so little education of how they actually work and how you can take care of yourself.  This is where the squirrels come in.

I cannot remember the percentage of folks in the obese weight range who denied they were anything other than”Big Boned”.  Everyone told me, “I eat bad”, like I had put up a confessional when I set up the table and chairs, but resolved to continue with their current regime  and swallow the pills.  When asked about physical activity the answer was, “hunting”.  There was no understanding that sitting in a tree or blind for hours on end really didn’t consist of much activity and there was no cognitive connection with their “kill” and gout flaring up.  Here’s a sample discussion-

What do you eat or drink after you wake up?


Then what happens?

“I go to work.”

Do you eat anything there?


What kind?


What does that mean?



“You know Honey Nut Cheerios.”

What makes it healthy?

Blank stare.  “I don’t know.”

Anything to drink with that?


What’s the point to the gatorade?

“What do you mean?”

If you are doing heavy work in a hot environment you can lose some minerals and stuff from your body that is really important, but you can replace it fairly easily.  Are you working that hard?

“Gatorade is good for you. . . or that’s what everyone says.”


Then, what happens?


What’s for lunch today?

“Ham and cheese sandwich.”

Anything on it?


Anything else?

“Maybe an apple.”

Anything for a snack?

“Maybe a bag of chips.  Sometimes.”

Then what happens?

“I go home.”

Do you have dinner?

“Yes, pork chops.”

Anything else on the plate?

“Vegetables.  I don’t eat carbs.”

How many vegetables?  Is it like this? Make small bowl with hands. Or this?  Spread arms apart like a casserole dish.

“Like this.”  Hands scooped like 1/4 cup.

Any dessert?

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.20.13 PM

Same size as vegetables eaten for entire day.


Do you know that every vegetable is mainly carbs?


Did anyone explain to you the connect between gout and game meats?


Has anyone explained to you the use of fiber foods and whole grains to help with your high cholesterol?


How long have you been on Lipitor?  Crestor?

“Five years.”

Fiber can help with cholesterol and also constipation, if that is ever a problem.

“Oh, I take Metamucil every day.”

Did anyone tell you that by having more fruits during the day you may not need Metamucil?


Gatorade is high in sodium.  Not having enough water in your system can also make you constipated.  Do you think you could swap out half the gatorade for just water?

This person is WAY into the obese category.  Their cholesterol is fairly high, and according to them, they eat about 800 calories a day.  That’s when I ask if they drink alcohol.  Of course, 90% only have, maybe one or two drinks a week.  I am amazed at the hundreds of people defying biochemistry and gaining weight on 800 calories a day and being at least 5 feet 7 inches.  I’m around 5 feet 5 inches and can’t make it through the day on less than 1200.

Here’s another problem.

When is the first thing you eat or drink?

“That depends.  I do swing shift.”

Swing shift means you work all the shifts for about one week each.  So your schedule is constantly changing.   This week you start work at 7am, in 12 days you will start work at 5pm, then in another two weeks you may be back at 7am or onto nights and start at 11pm.  This wreaks havoc on sleep, gastrointestinal health and the cohesion of a family.  But these are the only jobs in town that have benefits.  No one is going anywhere.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.23.18 PM

At least squirrel can see the trap.

There I am counseling a few hundred people at 5 minutes each on how to turn around these trends that are the heart of our national state of disease.  What am I really doing to help them and their families?

They need an onsite program that changes the entire community’s dynamic. We need to support time parents need with their kids, support long term health and educate on basic nutrition needs even if it includes squirrel stew.  It needs to be around for at least 5 years to make any long term impact.

Of course, there was one gentleman who was explaining how he dealt with his rotundity.  As he was sitting in the chair next to me, he explained.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.21.13 PM

Couldn’t leave you with just the “kneading” image. Here is nice, healthy squirrel.

“I get into my bathtub in some nice hot water.  Then, I massage my fat.”  He began to demonstrate on his stomach.  “I massage the fat so it breaks down.”  He is slowly kneading fat through his fingers.

” That’s how I am getting rid of it.  But, I don’t know if it scientific or anything.”

Just thought you might want to know what I’ve been up to.


Does your food do what you want it to do?

There I am at a party looking at the food.  I’m looking for guests I know and who looks fun and interesting.

Before I can finish scanning the room.  The host says, “Meet my friend, LaDiva, she’s a dietitian.  LaDiva, don’t hate me because of the food.  I know so much of it is bad.  But it’s a party.”

Great way to meet someone new.  Now, the new person will begin to spew all their guilt about their diet to me.  “I don’t eat THAT much meat.  I mean, why does bad food taste so good?”

Really?  Do you think I care?  Did you notice I had a glass of red wine in my hand?

So here are my mental replies:

  1. “Hmm, interesting.  You don’t eat that bad-ly.  You are using the word, bad, as an adverb.  You need to add an -ly.  Strunk and White have an app.”
  2. “Hmm, interesting.  What else do you think about your food?”
    “Well, it is just hard to make healthy stuff.”
    “Hmm, interesting.  Hard to make.”  I nod my head.
    “Do you have a credit card?”
    “Great.  The rest conversation is going to cost you $150 for an hour.  I have my Paypal swiper with me.”
  3. “You eat really bad?  Actually you eat BADLY, and have you ever painted a room or anything?”
    “Well, this conversation is about as interesting to me as watching that paint dry.  I am now going to put that knitting needle through my eye to divert the pain of this verbal interchange.”
  4. “Okay, I’m going to cut to the chase.  You need to ask yourself, what do you want your food to do for you?  Answer that and the rest is easy.  Excuse me.  Those folks look like they are having fun.  I’m going to join them.”

That’s my bottom line.  What is it you want your food to do?  Here’s an example:

  • I’m a person with high cholesterol.  I have a couple of teen age kids, I want to get through college and off into their own lives.  I know what I eat causes my problem.  I pay my own insurance and if I need more medication, my premiums will go up.  I need my food to lower my cholesterol and make sure I go to my kids weddings.

If this person is chowing down on the animal foods, saturated fat and little fiber, their food is NOT doing what they want it to do.  Their diet is actually supporting their next stroke and decreasing the number of meals the caterer plans for the graduation parties.

  • I’m a person wiling to risk the damage to my liver by having a martini.  I drink my martini after 5:30pm.  The point of the martini is to break the work day from the evening.

This person’s food does exactly what they want it to do.  And if they have an olive, they even get fiber.  If they have more than one martini, it may not do what they want it to do because, depending on their alcohol tolerance, they make get to tipsy and not make dinner or go to bed at a reasonable hour.  If they have 3 or 4, they may have a hangover that REALLY ruins their next day and any relationships they have with people who don’t appreciate their 3 am bad joke phone calls and texting about how their bosses really don’t understand them.

The idea is not rocket science.  It does take looking at yourself, your goals and owning what you do versus what you want.  I come in when you want to get these two – goals and daily life – to work together.  That’s where my expertise gives you strategies to make your healthy life a reality.

So looking at your life and health goals, that’s the question to ask.  And when we meet at a party, tell me a great joke and the most fun thing you have ever done.  Leave the food guilt in the car.  It will wait for you.

I got mine and you gotta earn yours


You can't buy it

You can’t buy it

I am going to try the Obamacare website later today.  However, I had an interesting thought this morning concerning an interview I’m having at 11.

A very bright, young lady is going to interview me for some community health magazine.  She wants to know about older adult nutrition and incorporating a no-cholesterol diet.  I asked a few questions about the focus.  She wants info about nutrition needs and strategies to help seniors transition new foods into their daily routine.

Yesterday, while waiting to upload my slides for a nutrition/cooking presentation, I wrote a few notes on where seniors should focus when starting this new regime.  This morning while deciding whether to look at the clock or just pretend it was after 5 am and perfectly natural to be awake obnoxiously early, I began to plan my day, the interview popped into my head.

“I really need a top 10 list of do’s and don’ts”, I said to myself.  What would someone like me, who has lived more than a couple of decades, need to do or don’t do to make a  successful dining transition?

I had an answer quickly – go back to something positive you have changed in your life. Repeat the steps that made this positive change.  By the time you hit the age of the article’s target audience you have had to change a number of things in your life.  You have had decades of making difficult situations work, divorce, job loss, financial free fall, cutting family ties, relocation, addictions in themselves or a loved one, banging a left to get something desperately needed done and accepting ideas that were unfathomable when you were in their 20’s.

Been there, done that

Been there, done that

Here’s another idea may pass her by.  Most people in the United States throw out the cholesterol-filled foods for narcissistic health reasons.  But folks with older kids and grandkids have a additional perspective.  They have seen the deaths and debilitation of heart attack, cancer and other maladies. Their vision encompasses more than themselves. They understand legacy.

The I-wear-wrinkles-daily-and-well want a planet where their children can live out their days.  They want a lifestyle that creates better communities.  They have something you can’t buy, life experience.

Do I list that as #1 or #10?

Let the scamming begin

This is what may end up at your home.

This is what may end up at your home.


Just like the carpetbaggers Scarlett O’Hara had to shoot to keep her plantation, Tara, the scams for healthcare are showing up in your email, FAV websites and snail mailbox.

I just got a new one yesterday – United States Prescription Discounts.

Referring to the photo above, the white page looks like something from the Internal Revenue Service so you will probably read it.  I did.  I just sent in my 2012 taxes.  The verbiage is very interesting.

“These cards entitle you to reduce prices on all of your prescription medications at pharmacies everywhere nationwide.

They claim up to 75% savings on medications.  The yellow pamphlet has a black box with yellow writing.


Everyone living the the U.S. is entitled to this discount regardless of medical history or residency status.

But I have an enquiring mind and had to fire up my laptop and use my FAV

Check out everything you want to try with the BBB.

Check out everything you want to try with the BBB.

search engine.  This company actually exists and does give discounts on prescription drugs – about 5-10% on the retail price.  Much less than any insurance.  According to the Better Business Bureau, if you have zero insurance this may help you.  However, a quick check of medication discount companies will show you many discount cards.

What really may help, other than incorporating lifestyle changes to decrease your medication needs, is checking with you local pharmacies about what a drug costs.

My healthcare practitioner, see You Don’t Know me, but Take My Money Anyway, and a nurse friend told me to steer clear of CVS and try Kmart for cheaper meds.  Pricing can vary quite a bit, so do your homework.

Sun-Tzu said, in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.  Watch out for carpetbaggers and Y’all take care, now.

Provider & Patient: Beside myself in Obamacare

Hmm, why don't patients care?

Hmm, why don’t patients care?


Okay, I provide healthcare and I need healthcare.  So, my question is what do I get and what can I give?

Being a dietitian, I know that my main money maker is in preventative care.  That might sound a bit crass, but can we just get to the point of this program?  I also am looking at my future earnings and what other types of practitioners I can work with.

Here is a list of the adult preventative care every exchange plan must cover: [from]

Free preventive services

All Marketplace plans and many other plans must cover the following list of preventive services without charging you acopayment or coinsurance. This is true even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible. This applies only when these services are delivered by a network provider.

  1. Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm one-time screening for men of specified ages who have ever smoked

  2. Alcohol Misuse screening and counseling

  3. Aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease for men and women of certain ages

  4. Blood Pressure screening for all adults

  5. Cholesterol screening for adults of certain ages or at higher risk

  6. Colorectal Cancer screening for adults over 50

  7. Depression screening for adults

  8. Diabetes (Type 2) screening for adults with high blood pressure

  9. Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease

  10. HIV screening for everyone ages 15 to 65, and other ages at increased risk

  11. Immunization vaccines for adults–doses, recommended ages, and recommended populations vary:

    Obesity screening and counseling for all adults

  12. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention counseling for adults at higher risk

  13. Syphilis screening for all adults at higher risk

  14. Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users

BINGO! I see diet counseling.  Great.  Helping folks lose weight has a profound effect on overall health.  I can help people, make my credit card payments and bring down the cost of healthcare.  Not a bad job.

So, I click on diet counseling.  I’m thinking they will have some Plant with heart color redsparameters about how to go about doing this such as you can have so many visits, you need to see these types of practitioners, etc.  Again, I am brought to a general “Be Healthy” page.  They will help you figure out the amount of calories you should eat, and list some foods they deem to be healthy choices.  But only doctors and nurses are listed as the people to help you with your weight problem.  Are they kidding me?  Have they ever talked to an MD about food?  How about an RN?  Seen hospital food?

I have taught the one hour of nutrition class for a physician assistant program.  My friend teaches the nutrition class for nurses.  As you can see from earlier posts [You don’t know me, but take my money anyway] my confidence in these people.

Now, I LUV nurses and doctors.  But, even though I have watched by-pass surgery and deal with food interactions with medication, I don’t slice and dice anyone and I don’t peddle meds.

Nowhere do they list a registered dietitian.  Those of you who have followed me on Twitter and Facebook know that I do not believe all RDs are the same.  On the other hand, I would trust an RD to know more about how food effects you than an MD.

But I digress . . .

You keep your milk, I'll keep mine.

You keep your milk, I’ll keep mine.

You can find a listing of dietitians by wandering around in the Find Services Near You.  Well, you’ll find ones who are members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Many of them have drunk a lot of Dairy Council and Cattlemen’s Association kool-aid.  At least that is a place to start.

Nowhere do I find if or how I can help potential patients.

Here’s my other issue: What do I do as an enrollee?  Well, if you read yesterday’s post you know that the incredibly forward thinking Governor Corbett of my state, Pennsylvania, see ostrich photo, waited until the last minute to send a plan to the Obamacare people with restrictions that may be illegal.  This will push our healthcare commencement past January.  I hope it won’t, but I’m not holding my breath.  He is up for re-election in 2014.  The way his polls are going he will need the health exchanges January 2015.

How much will it cost?  I clicked on How can I estimate costs for 2

What are you waiting for?

What are you waiting for?

non-smoking adults.  The most it can cost me is around $4,000.00.  The least it can cost around $1,200.00.  My last insurance was around $350/month.  Not much change in the price, but we will see about the services.  I have to wait until Tuesday, October 1 to find out about dental and vision.  Wonder what that cost will be?  Will I be able to afford it?  I have until January to plan.

Hmm . . .

If I gain 25 pounds can I go to Myself for counseling, have Myself be very positive with I although I makes marginal gains that keep I patient with weird mdsneeding Myself for months and exchange payment for premium?

Obamacare, a win-win.

October: Health Exchange bewitching hour


Our congress at work. Daily Mail UK

Our congress at work. Daily Mail UK

Leaves are falling as well as the mystery surrounding Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. Enrollment starts next week and do you know what to do?  I sure don’t.

Now if you live in one of the 20 some states with some forward thinkers, you will have a greater say in how this works in your life and workplace like Vermont and California.  If you are like me and live in a state with many ostrich-head-in-the sand-politicians afraid of embracing what voters clearly have supported, then you are wondering what happens when this 500 pound gorilla is unleashed on the American uninsured public on October 1, 2013.

The Easy Part – The Employer Mandate – If you are an employer with more than 50 employees, you don’t have to do much except clock your employees work hours for the year.  The congress kicked the can down the road for you to start paying anything.

Unbeknownst to most, I am a member of the League of Women Voters. So I like to mess around in political policy.  Also, I am a registered dietitian who gets paid out of pocket and through some insurances, so I am very interested on how the government regulates my income.

This is a primer on what you, average schmo-nose walking down the street, needs to know before this thing takes off, how and what info you need to take advantage.  Watch this short animated video to get the basics on where we are today.

The story thus far- A whole lot of nothing.  When you look up the 2 websites quoted the most, and Enroll America, you will find them asking a few questions about number of family members, whether you can get insurance from a family member and how much money you make.  As of yesterday there is a little more info on the 3 levels of care.  However, there is nothing about what will be offered on the exchanges.

What is a HeathExchange ? Okay, if you do not get insurance at work you can buy heath insurance from the government’s health exchange or plans set up in your state.  This is a place where you can look at various insurance policies, see what they cover and cost.

Where to go for info

Where to go for info

Below is what they need to cover, the bare bones, to be included in the insurance plan: [From]

The essential health benefits include at least the following items and services:

  • Ambulatory patient services (outpatient care you get without being admitted to a hospital)
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization (such as surgery)
  • Maternity and newborn care (care before and after your baby is born)
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment (this includes counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices (services and devices to help people with injuries, disabilities, or chronic conditions gain or recover mental and physical skills)
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services

Sounds great.  I clicked on preventative services thinking I would learn about my role as a nutrition expert in this massive undertaking.  Then, I would explain it to you.  But when you click through for more information all you get is a list of foods the government thinks you should eat.  Oy!

A friend of mine is losing her insurance in November.  She went to find out online what she would be looking at.  She found nothing useful.  When she contacted one of the 2-3 insurance vendors in our part of the world, she thought there would be, as stated in the video, a chart of plans with their coverages and costs.  I don’t know how many pages of policies she showed me, but it was almost a half an inch in depth.  She would have to create her own chart to compare what the plans include.

Today is September 26.  In just over a week millions of Americans will be looking to enroll for health insurance coverage that will begin on January 1, 2014.  So how will they be able to do this?  The government will point you to a navigator.  A navigator is an association or group who applied for grant monies to help people find the best plan.  They usually are a group that has already done work like this in the past assisting the public for medicaid enrollment, so this is not their first rodeo.  On the other hand, they are still being trained.  Ever been trained on a job?  What happened to you first few clients or customers?  Please be patient.  These folks have families and will have to make decisions on stuff they weren’t trained on.  So, please put yourself in their shoes.

Here is a list of navigators throughout the US.  I contacted the ones in my state.  Glad I didn’t hold my breath waiting for the callback.  I wouldn’t be typing.

Since I am self-employed, it is very important to know how this will work.  it

My lack-of-leadership governor, Tom Corbitt. Raging Chicken Press

My lack-of-leadership governor, Tom Corbitt. Raging Chicken Press

appears that since I have no employees I can use the health exchanges.  However, because I am in Pennsylvania, my governor has decided to add some restrictions to our plan.  So, my state is in total flux because it appears what he is asking is illegal.  Gotta luv it!

I want to get this out, so I will have more either tomorrow or Monday.  Please write with any questions and I’ll try and answer them.

You are what your grandmother eats

DNA illustrationDarlings,

Just got back from the 6th International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition held in Loma Linda, CA.  This is a conference where research papers about vegetarianism are presented.  It happens once every 5 years.  So, those famous studies such as the EPIC-Oxford study, Framingham study, Nurses Health study get a chance to state their updated data with regards to veggie life.

The most interesting one I saw was Dr. John Kelly speaking about epigenetics.  Here is part of the definition of epigenetics by John Cloud from a Time Magazine article, “epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code.”  What does that mean?

Ok, as oppose to what most people think, your genes and the work they do is not set in stone.  Your genes have on and off switches.  There are some basic biological actions that can turn the switches in one direction or the other.  One example of a flipping of a switch is  the beginnings of a beard as a young man . . . or an old woman.

In epigenetics, we don’t get rid of the on/off switch or change the wall it is attached to.  Rather, we see that lifestyle factors alone can flick a switch, such as food you eat.  Dr. Kelly demonstrates this in the Agouti mouse.  This was a female mouse programed with a genetic code for obesity and fed a diet during pregnancy to turn off the gene.  The Agouti mom gives birth.  The offspring doesn’t look fat like mom, however, it carries this gene.  And unlike mom, the gene is turned off.

What this says is that what mom ate changed the gene in the offspring.  What is more is that they found the gene switch change held for another few generations.  This type of gene switch expression was also seen in humans, although in a different type of study.

Okay, so you may be understanding how you can get stuff from mom, but here’s a fact I had completely forgotten about with regards to anatomy and physiology of a human.  You, at least in some faction, were created inside your grandmother’s womb.  Yep.  Your mother’s ovaries and eggs were created while she was still a fetus.  So if grandma was chowing down on the beer and potato chips that just may explain you.  Or if grandma was munching the greens on the farm that could have led to a different outcome.

I’m left wondering if the processing of foods in the 50’s and 60’s, then eaten by pregnant women, added to host of allergies that seem to plague every dinner party.  Which switches do the current typhoon of added chemicals to our diets get pushed in the other direction?

Ladies, I don’t mean to lay the ills of the world at your feet.  Rather, I’m excited knowing that you can truly change it.