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The other day, on Facebook, as I was beginning to wind down from the weekend, I noticed the most disturbing post by a friend. It read, “My son pricked his finger, drew his own blood, and ran his own diabetes test without me even asking. So proud!” My friend’s son is 4. Why do 4 year-olds have diabetes? Why do 4 year-olds have to prick their finger and draw blood every day to check their insulin levels? This just seems very wrong, yet society doesn’t prose these questions. What really pisses me off is that a 4 year-old does not have the education on what diabetes is or even the luxury of choosing the foods or medications that are put into his body. One would think a diabetic mother would do everything in her power to make sure her kids are healthy, but, unfortunately, Americans are totally undereducated about disease in general.

My obvious disgust at this Facebook post got me thinking…

America, its time to CLEAN IT UP! Our diets, that is. No more excuses of “I don’t have the time or money”. That is totally not valid, because it is a simple process. You don’t have to eat vegan, or raw, or paleo, or be on any other crazy diet. You just have to eat clean!

Start with processed and fake sugars. Get them out of the house and out of your life! Processed sugar is just as addictive as drugs and your body craves it not because you ‘have a sweet tooth’ but because you are literally addicted. Additionally, processed sugar creates inflammation in the body, which can lead to clogged arteries and heart disease (fat is NOT the culprit here. Good fats really are good). There are so many great, natural ways to sweeten something and get a boost of energy: fruit, agave, honey, stevia–the list goes on and on! Artificial sweetners is just as bad as processed. It gets stored away in your organs and, eventually, starts rotting them away–gross!

And while you are purging your pantry, get rid of processed grains. Processed grains spike insulin levels just as much as eating sugar and take a terrible toll on the body. Whole grains, as they are when they come out of the Earth, are preferable; there is a reason they came out that way! Plus, whole grains have more fiber, nutrients, taste, and texture than processed grains, which keep energy up and your waist line trim.

Finally, eat more fruits and veggies! Find a farmer’s market near you and go crazy. They are power houses for nutrients, vitamins, and fiber; good for the whole body and all its systems. The more variety of color the better!

I realize not everyone in America has access to the education about food and disease they deserve, but I believe those of us who have the knowledge have a responsibility to use it, set an example, and keep passing it on. So, clean it up and lets defeat disease one 4-year old at a time.

Written by Keenan Mclaren

Keenan McLaren is from Boston, MA where she began her ballet training at the age of 8. She trained at the Boston Ballet School for 10 years, and upon graduating from high school, secured a job as an apprentice with Ballet Austin II. After one season in Austin, Keenan then joined Dayton Ballet, where she danced for 5 seasons, performing many principal and soloist roles, as well as had many roles created on her by such choreographers as Christopher Fleming, Gregory Robinson, Steven Mills, Jeffrey Hughes, and Alan Hineline. In the fall of 2010, Keenan moved to Philadelphia to join the newly established BalletFleming, where she had the opportunity to dance many principal roles as well and set and ballet mistress many of Mr. Fleming’s works. For the upcoming season, Keenan is thrilled to be joining Nashville Ballet.
In her free time, Keenan is an avid yogi and yoga teacher, having just completed her training with Baron Baptiste. She is also a huge foodie and loves cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, especially with raw and vegan foods. Keenan also loves photography, particularly black and white film. In 2008, she won a Dance Magazine Photo contest and hopes to one day become a dance photographer.