5 Reasons Why you couldn’t pay me to drink a Diet Coke.

By Debbie Sipowicz | October 21, 2013 | No Comments

I’ve been giving a lot of talks lately on food and health and one talk I love to give is focused on sugar.  I always include plenty of examples in my presentations and more often than not, the group happily starts to experience a major perspective shift around it (…and starts to think to themselves, “omg, how much sugar am I actually eating?”)

One question that invariably comes up is “Well then, what about diet soda as an alternative?”

I have a very strong, definitive, and emphatic position on that– PLEASE NO!

In fact, given the choice, I’d WAY prefer sugar to fake sugar.

While there are several different types of fake sugars, the primary culprit (though they are all suspect) is ASPARTAME which is in most diet sodas and literally thousands of packaged products.

Personally, I won’t touch the stuff.  Here are my top 5 Reasons Why: 

1)  Aspartame is not a food, it’s a chemistry experiment.  I understand that knowing what to eat and what not to eat can sometimes be confusing.  But this is not food, at all.  Nothing about it is food.  Your body runs on the food you give it.  It’s like putting shampoo in the gas tank of a car.  The car can’t run without gas.  You can’t run without food.

2)  Even if Aspartame is not doing damage (and I don’t personally believe that for a single second), there is NOTHING GOOD about ASPARTAME.  Sure, you could argue that if you’re trying to lose weight and looking at calories, that 0 calories for something sweet and tasty is a ‘good thing’.  But I would argue that those 0 calories come with a mighty hefty price tag.  Maybe you’ll lose the weight, but would you trade it for potential neurological damage or other reported effects*?  Not even close to being worth it in my book.

3)  Most of us are not scientists.  We count on and often trust that ‘someone’ out there has got our best interest at heart when it comes to food and health news.  There is ‘news’ out there saying ASPARTAME is safe. Take the website Familydoctor.org for example.  Their mission is to provide ‘health information for the whole family’ – and it is ‘operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians’.  It seems like you could trust that information.  About aspartame they say:  “Aspartame is one of the most researched sugar substitutes available in the United States, with more than 200 studies examining its safety.” 

I have a problem with the information from familydoctor.org however, because among other things, their list of ‘corporate partners’, (companies who provide financial support to the group), is none other than Coca-Cola themselves.  Just makes me wonder…whose ‘best interest’ is actually at heart here?

4)  Whole food always trumps fake food.  Besides the straight up nutrients that our bodies receive from eating real food (foods that come from the garden, the earth, i.e. not the factories), we also receive the energy of the food we eat.  If you are making an attempt to ‘get healthier’ with food (first of all, kudos to you!) – by substituting energetically void chemically processed calories for real food, you’ll actually be increasing the toxins that you are trying to get rid of.  Not to mention, you’d also be missing out on the opportunity to retrain your tastebuds (away from craving ‘sugar’).  That’s not helping you ‘get healthier’, that’s making things worse.

5)  Choices are always better made from a powerful place.  I don’t’ like being a sucker.  Never have never will.  If you’re eating something, drinking something, or doing something because you’re addicted, because someone is telling you it’s ok, or because it’s simply become a habit – just stop! Question the assumptions.  Take back your power.  Then, once you have all the facts in front of you, you can make a powerful choice. And, if at that point, you decide that that glass of energy-void, potential damaging, artificial chemical slurp, is worth it, go for it – just please don’t do it in the name of getting healthier.

*Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World  (DVD) http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/sweet-misery-a-poisoned-world/


Are you eating right…and still not feeling right?

By Debbie Sipowicz | May 29, 2013 | No Comments

How frustrating is it when you feel like you’re doing everything right; food wise and exercise wise, and you’re still not seeing results? Or worse, you feel like you’re going backwards. Like you’re actually gaining weight or you feel like you have more health issues than you did before you started the green drinks?

So why is it that some people can be doing everything for their health and feel great and others can be doing all the same things and feel lousy? That’s what Lissa Rankin, M.D. wanted to know and why she wrote her book, Mind over Medicine (Hay House, Inc. 2013). It’s a fascinating read. In it, she discusses what she learned (from her extensive research and practical application as an M.D.) about the role the mind plays in issues of health.

As a medical doctor, everything turned around for her (and for her patients), when she started asking a new set of questions on her intake form. As she describes it, the connections she started to see between a person’s health and their self-reported lifestyle choices was nothing short of amazing.

I admit, answering the questions was an eye-opening exercise for me too (and I’m well aware of the affect lifestyle has on health). I invite you to take a moment and answer the questions for yourself. Who knows? Maybe your mind is the key to some of those unsolved mysteries in your own health story.

Lifestyle Health Questionnaire:

  1. Is anything keeping you from being the most authentic vital you – if so what is holding you back?
  2. What do you love and celebrate about yourself?
  3. What’s missing from your life?
  4. What do you appreciate about your life?
  5. Are you in a romantic relationship?
    If so, are you happy?
    If not, do you wish you were?
  6. Are you fulfilled with your work?
  7. Do you feel like you’re in touch with your life purpose?
  8. Do you feel sexually satisfied?
  9. Do you express yourself creatively?
    If so how?
    If not, do you feel creatively thwarted, like there is something within you dying to come out?
  10. Do you feel financially healthy, or is money a stressor in your life?
  11. If your fairy godmother could change one thing about your life, what would you wish for?
  12. What rules do you follow that you wish you could break?
  13. What do you think might lie at the root of your illness?
  14. What does your body need in order to heal?

From Mind over Medicine, by Lissa Rankin, M.D., Hay House, Inc. May 2013

When the potluck is gluten-free & dairy-free?

By Debbie Sipowicz | May 21, 2013 | No Comments

School is almost out and summer is right around the corner….I see a few potlucks in your future!   I took this very simple gluten-free & dairy-free dessert to my last one and there was not a single crumb left.  Enjoy.


Is Soy Still a Health Food?

By Debbie Sipowicz | April 9, 2013 | No Comments

Sometime during my first in college, I decided to become a vegetarian.  I can’t remember all the reasons why I made that move, but I do remember it was a bit challenging.  At the time, one of my favorite go-to dinners was a shaved ham and cheese sandwich broiled on an brioche bun that I used to get from a local bakery … and, I remember having to work really hard to give that one up.

When I was making the transition to a non-meat eating diet, one food that I frequently used as a meat substitute was tofu; tofu burgers, tofu dogs, TVP, tofu with salads, etc.  Then when I started to cut back on dairy, I started substituting soy milk, soy ice cream, soy butter, soy yogurt etc.

I was eating a lot of soy…for a lot of years.

I was feeling like I was doing everything ‘right’ to stay healthy.

Then one day I went to the doctor.

Routine physical.  No symptoms, no problems, no issues.  Just routine.

Then next day I was told I had thyroid cancer.

Then I started to learn about the downside of soy.

Then I started to question the health benefits of soy.

Now, I have a different opinion.

Here are my top 5 reasons why I no longer include soy in my diet.

1)   Soy has changed, dramatically, in the past 20 years.  And, in my opinion, not for the better.  Over half the world’s soybean crop is now genetically modified (meaning altered from the way mother nature intended, and sprayed heavily with pesticides).  The first GM soybeans were planted in the U.S. in 1996 (that’s when I was 36 years old).  Now, the U.S. produces almost exclusively GM soybeans (over 90%).  The U.S. is also the leading soybean producer in the world.  Why does that matter?  Because I no longer know what exactly I’m eating when I eat a soybean in any form (edamame, soybean oil, tofu, tempeh, soy milk) – and that in and of itself, is enough for me to say, no thank you.

2)   Soy is a precursor for thyroid issues.  Didn’t know this until I started looking into the food/health connection more deeply.  And just to know, not everyone agrees with me on this one.  But here’s what I know for sure.  Personally, I was eating a lot of soy, for a lot of years and one day I discovered I thyroid cancer.  Today, lots of people have been eating a lot of soy for a lot of years (unbeknownst to them) and thyroid issues are at an epidemic level in this country, especially for those of us in midlife +.

3)   Soy is an ingredient that is practically every processed food on the grocery store shelves today.  Soy is a highly profitable agribusiness.  And most of us are eating a lot more soy than we may recognize.  For anyone claiming, they don’t eat processed foods, I always say “if you have ketchup in your refrigerator, you’re eating processed foods”.  And for anyone who thinks giving up soy is all the more reason to justify meat (and I’m not opposed to meat), I say “tell me what those animals are eating (the animals that you’re eating) and I guarantee you, somewhere you’ll find soy”.

4)   Soy was never meant to be an entrée.   Lots of times when I talk about soy the first question that I get is, ‘what about the Japanese, they have been eating soy forever’?  This is my take on that.  If you go to Japan, true you may see a fair amount of tofu, miso soup, or tempeh options on the menu, but what you don’t see are soy dogs, soy burgers, soy ice cream, soy yogurt, soy crackers, soy cereals etc.  I’m the first to acknowledge that while small amounts may be fine, I’m also quite sure eating it (or anything for that matter) 24/7 is not a good thing.

5)   Soy is highly processed.  If you ever have looked at a soybean (edamame) and wondered how that small tasty bean gets turned into a block of tasteless blob, you’re not alone!  I’ve often wondered that myself, even when I was eating it.  I’ve still never seen a video on the topic, but my general philosophy around eating a healthy diet now is this, eat as close to the original source as possible, as fresh and in season as possible, as local as possible, as much of the time as possible.  And then let go of worrying about everything else.

If the flu shot were funny…

By Debbie Sipowicz | April 9, 2013 | No Comments

Someone sent this to me after my last post about the flu shot.  It was a laugh-out-loud kind of video for me. So, I couldn’t help myself, felt a need to repost. ;-)

Courage to be me

By Debbie Sipowicz | February 19, 2013 | No Comments

Last weekend I went to a women’s skate skiing retreat at this beautiful rustic resort in Colorado. Blue skies, warm weather, fresh snow, it couldn’t have been more beautiful.
The group didn’t know each other to start with, so Friday night was all about that, getting to know everyone over wine and appetizers.

During that conversation, one of the women in the group started talking about how she was going to take her 14-year old daughter this week to get the new STD vaccine. All said in a humorous way, she then went on to say how ecstatic she was that the vaccines existed. I’m cringing inside at the statements, as the laughs and agreements continued.

My dilemma: Should I speak up here or not?” I didn’t want to start an argument or put a damper on the evening, but I also didn’t want to hide from myself. Once the other women started to solicit this particular woman’s advice on other things, however, like flu shots (to which she responded, “an absolute must-do”), I found it impossible not to say something.

Why was that so difficult? A big part of it was because the woman speaking up also happened to be an M.D., and we tend to put a lot of weight on that in this country.

I did it though. I gathered up all my courage and said out loud, “I don’t believe in the flu shot”.
I then went on to make my case against it. Did I do a great job? Not really. Could I back up everything I said when she challenged me? I couldn’t. Did I “win” the argument? I really don’t think so.

Am I glad I said something?


It feels like another baby-step toward becoming authentically me and taking my message out to the world…no matter who agrees….or disagrees with me.

To read my anti-flu-shot arguments check out this month’s blog post, 5 Reasons I Won’t Be Getting the Flu Shot This Year (….or anytime in the foreseeable future).

5 Reasons Why I won’t be getting the Flu Shot This Year (…or anytime in the foreseeable future)

By Debbie Sipowicz | February 11, 2013 | 2 Comments

It seems like signs for the flu shot are popping up everywhere these days.  And every time I see one of those signs, I can’t help but read it to myself, with a little bit of sarcasm attached, “extra, extra – come get your flu shot”.

I read those signs like I do the human billboards you sometimes spot at a busy intersection where someone is dressed up like the statue of liberty with a sign bobbing up and down that reads, “Business closing everything Must Go”, or a group of teenagers, hoses, buckets, and cardboard sign in hand shouting “Car Wash TODAY only!!”

Well, I won’t be getting the flu shot and here’s why.

1) Conscious Choice.  I believe that whether someone decides to get the flu shot or not should be a bigger decision than up-sell at the pharmacy check out line.  Shouldn’t deciding to put potent drugs in your body be more of a conscious choice than an impulse buy, or something you do simply because you happen to see the sign?

2) What’s in It?  Would you knowingly inject yourself with Mercury? Formaldehyde?  You will be if you get a FluLaval flu shot.  How about Gelatin?  Latex? You will be if you get the Fluzone flu shot.  The new drugs may or may not contain those same ingredients – but do you have a solid understanding of what they do contain?  It seems like common sense to know that before you inject yourself.

3) Who says it Works?  CDC conducts studies each year to determine how well the vaccine protects against illness, providing information about how well this season’s vaccine is working.   According to the CDC website on the 2012-2013 season,“…findings from early data suggest that this season’s vaccine so far is reducing the risk of having to go to the doctor for influenza by about 60% for vaccinated people.”

Call me skeptical, but those aren’t great odds to me (60%).  I’m assuming that means that for close to half of all those vaccinated, the vaccination doesn’t actually work at all.

4) I don’t trust the mainstream experts.  If you haven’t seen this ‘before and after – on the air’ show with Piers Morgan and Dr. Oz, you really should take the 3 minutes to watch, especially if you’re considering getting the flu shot.  It’s such a classic example of an expert (Dr.Oz) telling a layman (Piers Morgan — and the entire viewing population) about all the virtues of the flu-shot and discrediting the idea that there is some downside to it.  As Dr. Oz explains that you cannot get the flu from the flu shot, but watch to the end and you’ll see that less than 10 days later Piers gets the flu. Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

5) A Bigger Gate.  The flu shot is touted as preventative medicine.  When I think about preventative medicine, however that’s not what comes to mind. I think of it more holistically, getting the mind, body, and spirit involved. I’m all for doing everything possible to protect my family and me from illness, but I don’t think that comes in the form of a pill.  To me it’s a lifestyle choice; lots of whole foods, exercise, sleep, low-stress, a spiritual practice, friends, family, laughter and a certain amount of letting go.  A pill feels like a bigger gate with a bigger lock, when I think the key to health lies more in changing our environment as well as ourselves so that we don’t need the gate in the first place.




Food and Drugs

By Debbie Sipowicz | February 5, 2013 | No Comments

A few weeks ago I was staying at a ski condo for the weekend and stopped in the local pharmacy with my 12-year old son Leo. As I was standing in line with my roll of paper towels and bottles of water in tote, I noticed a big basket with a variety of candy bars sitting on the counter next to the cashier (or, to be more accurate, Leo noticed). Well, I’m not in the least-bit tempted by candy bars so when the cashier asked if I wanted one, it was an easy ‘No’ for me. Then I looked at Leo, his whole body politely and silently screaming, “Really mom, you just turned down an offer for a free candy bar’?

Then the cashier asked him, “Would you like one?”

He looked at me, got the nod of approval, and said back to the cashier “yeah sure”.

Happy as a clam, he picked a big chocolate covered Kit-Kat.

And, then the cashier proceeded to charge me $1.55!

“Wait a minute”, I said “are you charging me for that – you mean they’re not free?”

“No, they’re not”.

We put the candy bar back, paid for our paper towels and water and left.

What was I thinking?

My mistake. It turns out I had no idea pharmacies were now pushing candy bars on customers. After all, isn’t a “drug store” in theory a place that sells products with the idea of helping one get rid of illness? And while I know that is a long way from how you actually get healthy I still wasn’t expecting a candy bar upsell. Don’t know why it surprises me, but still it did. Reeses with that asprin? 3-Muskateers with that Ex-lax? Twix with that cough syrup? M&M’s with that….


Grain-Free Chocolate Torte

By Debbie Sipowicz | November 30, 2012 | 2 Comments

If you’re looking for a tasty chocolate recipe (and who isn’t?) this holiday season, and you have guests that are grain-free and/or dairy-free — look no further.  This yummy recipe came right from Elana’s pantry (www.elanaspantry.com).  It’s a real treat for anyone, but most especially for anyone whos diet is limited.

Are You Scared to Eat?

By Debbie Sipowicz | October 12, 2012 | No Comments

Maybe it’s because I spent the better of 2 hours yesterday brainstorming with my boys about scariest Halloween costumes, but when I think about a theme for October, ‘fear’ keeps popping into my brain. Mostly of course it’s lighthearted fear, but I’ve also noticed lately there seems to be a growing trend around fear of eating.

How often do you find yourself looking at a table of beautifully prepared foods and scanning it quickly to see which dishes you can actually eat? Or scanning a menu at a restaurant hoping there’s something on it without the dreaded foods you’re trying desperately to avoid?

I’m a firm believer food is meant to be enjoyed. There’s enough stress in life without adding food to the list of things to worry about. Having said that, I know it’s a growing problem and one that is very real for a lot of folks. I don’t have a magic pill, but I do have some tips that might help you the next time you find yourself panicked around the dinner table.

My 5 Tips for When You’re Scared to Eat.

1) Stick with whole real foods. This seems almost a given, but I know the power of a food craving, the power of the food industry and the power of the media when it comes to making good food choices. Sometimes we avoid one food thinking it’s better because we’ve been told this is so and have come to believe it.

2) Have friends over to your house.
Again this may seem obvious, but sometimes when I’ve been frustrated or feeling anti-social because I don’t want to address the whole ‘food restriction’ thing, I’ve found the best solution is to host the party. I’m of the strong belief that no matter how restricted your diet is at the moment, there is always something delicious that can be made and enjoyed by everyone.

3) Speak up. I know it can sometimes be embarrassing or intimidating (especially if you’re new to food limitations) to have a list of foods that you can’t/won’t eat. No one wants to be a ‘burden’ to his or her host or a pain-in-the-neck at a restaurant. I have found however (and it’s definitely true for me) that most cooks would much rather know what you’re avoiding and make something around that, than spend time, effort and love making something that you won’t be able to enjoy.

4) Question the assumptions.
This is a big one to me because I hear people all the time who have accepted ‘as fact’ that they can no longer eat this that or the other thing, because someone (a doc, a test, etc.) told them so. And it very well may be true, but there’s also a reasonable chance it’s not. Take raw foods for example, many women with digestive issues assume that raw foods are out of the question. And I get that. On the other hand, I also know that a lot of the reasons raw foods are often ruled out (with digestive issues) are because of difficulty breaking down food. So consider something like juicing? It breaks down the food for you – maybe even making the ‘avoid all raw food’ advice questionable (or at least not definitive advice).

5) Get support. Life is easier with a support structure around you. If you often find yourself the odd ball out in your circle of friends, go out of your way to find some new friends where you feel ‘normal’. Or if it find yourself feeling like you have to ‘learn to eat all over again’, find a good coach (I know one;-)) to help you through it.

This much I know for sure. Eating and socializing can (and should be!) fun again. And no matter how big the ‘food-fear hurdle’ you’re facing seems at the moment, you can get past it and it’s definitely worth the effort.