General Meeting -Wednesday, October 8, 2014

General Meeting – Wednesday 8,  October
Babysitting will be available No pre-registration this month

Monthly Speaker is Tara McCartney TaraMcCartney

Tara McCartney was born in Northern Ireland leaving at the age of 22 to do extensive travel and later to live in various countries including Canada and New Zealand where she worked for a travelling circus. She has lived in Munich for the past 9 years.
At the age of 30 Continue reading

MIWC Christmas Bazaar, Save the Date!

MIWC Christmas Bazaar!


Wednesday, 12th November, 2014
10:00 – 13:00 at the Peace Church
More information and sign-up coming in August
Want to volunteer? Contact Michele Papke via email:

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New Animal Welfare Label

Leaders in the field of animal husbandry, Germany rolls out a new Animal Welfare Label

My daughter has these fun German books, called Wimmel Bücher, which we love looking at together. There is no text; rather each page is a scene in daily life full of minute details.  One of my favorites illustrates life on a farm.  Here, clean, white chickens peck around the dirt as the farmer scatters bird seed; there a couple of cows roam the bucolic countryside. Happy pigs frolic in the mud.  It is all so idyllic, and not at all the picture of a modern day farm.

The Real Story
Are you ready for a surprising statistic? The average German eats
around 60 kilos of meat per year, about double what we ate just 50 years ago.   Due to our ever-increasing appetite for meat, many farms have turned toward factory farming practices. It is hard to put an exact percentage on the meat produced by factory farms in Germany, as there is not one clear definition. However, the number is somewhere between 90 and 97% of meat produced. And sadly, Germany is increasingly becoming the mass meat producer for the world.  We process around 1.2 million hogs each year, much of it for export.

Because of this, animals are forced to adapt to factory farming standards, rather than living a life in accordance with their species. This leads to unnecessary suffering and pain for the animals, as well as unexpected health consequences for us.  Factory farms become breeding grounds for diseases. When thousands of cattle are packed into feedlots full of manure, bacteria can get onto their hides and end up in the slaughterhouses. This can result in thousands of kilos of meat contaminated with E-coli or other bacteria.  Egg-laying hens, due to their crowded living conditions, can quickly spread Salmonella to other hens, which can result in untold numbers of contaminated eggs.

Cramped living quarters on farms has necessitated the widespread use of antibiotics. It is estimated that 96% of chickens are routinely given antibiotics.  The misuse of antibiotics in animal husbandry has contributed to a veritable crisis in germ-resistant bacteria worldwide.

But Germany has set the wheels in motion for change.  Starting January, 2013, a two-tiered animal welfare label will take effect.  This voluntary certification is the first of its kind worldwide. Germany has positioned itself as a leader in animal welfare practices, with the hope that other EU countries will eventually follow.

What Does the New Label Mean for the Consumer?
The label promises standards far higher than current EU guidelines. It indicates to the consumer significant improvements for the treatment of animals, not only during their lives, but also in slaughter and transport practices. A two-tiered approach means that the first level would represent improvements in terms of space, access to natural habitat, and living conditions. The second tier would demand more extensive improvements.

For example the average farm raises 24 chickens in a square meter of space, or about the size of a small shower tub. The first level would require that farmers raise around half that number in the same amount of space. The second level would require even more space per chicken. By giving each animal more space, the common practice of beak searing would decrease, as chickens would be less aggressive.

Isn’t this the same thing as Organic (Bio) animal products?
Organic animal products adhere to EU regulations. The EU organic label signifies a wide range of farming practices, but does not concentrate specifically on animal welfare. If fact, many animal rights advocates complain that animal welfare standards on organic farms are frequently not very different from conventional farming practices. You can read more about Organic animal husbandry practice at

Farms applying for the Animal welfare label would not necessarily be organic. In many ways, the Animal welfare label demands more stringent and humane animal husbandry practices.

The Bottom Line
Of course, raising animals humanely translates to far fewer animals per farm, and consequently, higher prices for meat, eggs, and milk.

The question is whether or not consumers would be willing to spend more for these products. Presently, only about 1% of meat sold in Germany is organic. Many people like the idea of humane animal welfare laws but are unwilling to pay for it. This label appeals to the consumer who feels convicted about current animal welfare laws.

If we were to adopt more humane practices on a large scale we, as a population, would have to seriously look at our current meat consumption and make some drastic changes to our diet. To begin with, we could work on reducing our meat consumption to the recommended 300-600g per week.
But at least this is a start.  And when it comes to what we eat, our most powerful vote is the one we make with our fork.

To read more about the new label, click on

Thanks for reading!
Dora Meyer, RN, BSN, MSPH
Health Educator

Exciting news from Healthy Start! My website has been converted into a food blog! Please click on and be sure to subscribe to receive the latest posts on recipes and health tips. 


Strategies to Boost your Metabolism

Maintaining your weight can seem like an uphill battle.  I’m sure we all know people who seem to be able to eat anything they want and still stay slim.  This must have something to do with their metabolism, right?  What is your metabolism and what does it have to do with your weight?

Your metabolism is the rate at which your body burns
calories to maintain its normal functions, such as your heart beating and your lungs breathing. It is affected by many factors including gender, age, diet, activity level, sleep, amount of body fat, weight, and genetics.

It is true that some people seem to have a faster metabolism than others. In other words, they seem to eat more and stay trim. But, truth be told, genetics only count for around 5% of the rate of your metabolism.  In fact, what you eat and how much you move has much more to do with how well you burn calories than your genetic makeup.

What Influences your Metabolism?
Below are just a few factors that influence how fast your metabolism runs and what you can do to speed things up.

It is a sad but true fact:  your metabolism slows by 5% each decade. Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories per day at 35 and 200 fewer per day at 45. If you don’t make any changes to your exercise and diet, you could end up an extra 4 to 6 kilos heavier per year!  Your strategy to combat the metabolism slow down is to get moving through daily exercise!

One of the best ways to rev up your metabolism is to exercise.  After aerobic exercise such as walking, swimming or cycling, your body continues to burn calories for up to 8 hours!  Exercise will help you build muscle, which burns up to 3 times more calories than fat.  Work up to between 30-45 minutes of exercise each day. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, meet a friend for a walk instead of a coffee.  To help build muscle, join a yoga course. You get the idea. Little changes each day can really add up.

Restricting your calories sends a signal to your body to slow down your metabolism in order to conserve energy. Once you have finished the diet and resume your normal eating routine, you body is confused. Because your metabolism has significantly slowed down, it cannot burn off the extra calories you are now consuming. Therefore, those calories will be converted to fat and stored (often on your tummy or hips).

A smarter strategy to keep the weight off for good is to decrease calories sensibly by increasing fiber foods and decreasing dairy and meat products. All fruits and vegetables contain fiber, which helps you feel full longer as well as aids in fat metabolism in the intestines.  Some of the best foods to incorporate in your diet are berries, tomatoes, green leafy veggies, beans, lentils, and whole grains.

Eat breakfast!

Your metabolism naturally slows in the late afternoon and evening. After a night of fasting, eating breakfast helps to jump start your metabolism. Those who eat breakfast tend to eat between 100-200 fewer calories throughout the day. Your best choices? High fiber and protein foods such as nut butters with whole grain toast, or a bowl of oatmeal with fruit and nuts to keep your energy up throughout the morning.

Getting less than eight hours sleep per night is associated with a higher body fat percentage, which translates to a sluggish metabolism. In fact the amount zzz’s you get each night directly affects the hormones that influence your appetite and fat storage (like cortisol, leptin and insulin). Aim between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night.

You have the power to boost your metabolism through diet and exercise Not only will you keep that extra weight off and build muscle,  you will also have more energy  to enjoy the things you love doing!
Have a healthy and happy holiday!

To learn more about me, visit  Please email me with your ideas, questions, and suggestions!  Dora Meyer, Health Educator,

The Healing Power of Chicken Soup

A nasty cold has been making its way through my house, starting with my daughter last week and ending with my parents who are visiting from the U.S.  My mom asked me to make a batch of chicken soup. This got me thinking about why it is that we think of chicken soup as the perfect cold remedy. As it turns out, scientists have studied the benefits of chicken soup and have found that it actually helps to relieve cold and flu symptoms!

When we are sick, our immune system is working overtime producing neutrophils,
a type of white blood cell which increases the inflammatory process and makes us feel congested.  A study from the University of Nebraska, USA, showed that chicken soup helped to reduce this inflammatory response and decreased the production of mucus. Reducing congestion helps to relieve stuffy noses, coughs, and sore throats that often plague us when we are ill.

One reason why colds are more common in the winter is because viruses thrive in dry conditions. Just inhaling the steam from a hot bowl of chicken soup can help to soothe dry scratchy throats and irritated nasal passages. And drinking the soup broth helps keep you hydrated which thins out mucus and helps soothe your cough and irritated nasal passages.

Chicken, especially dark meat, contains zinc, which has been found to shorten the duration of the common cold.  The addition of vegetables such as carrots, onions, celery, and parsley, provides your body with vitamins A and C, powerful antioxidants which help your immune system battle illness.

Below is my grandma’s recipe for chicken soup. Enjoy and stay healthy this winter!
One soup chicken, Suppenhuhn
1 onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 fennel bulb, diced (stalks removed and discarded),
½ lemon, left whole
½ cup barley (Gerste) or brown rice
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 medium potatoes, skins on, diced
150 grams frozen peas
Chopped parsley or chives to serve

Choose a large soup pot and add the whole chicken to the pot. Add all other ingredients except the peas, potatoes, and herbs. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken.  Allow soup to boil. Cover pot, and turn down to a simmer for about 2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender. Remove chicken and allow to cool until able to handle. Remove and discard lemon half.  Add potatoes and peas to the soup.  (continue to simmer until potatoes are cooked).  Remove the chicken skin and pull chicken meat off the bone. Add the chicken meat back to the soup pot. Just before serving, sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Dora offers nutrition and cooking classes to the English speaking community in Munich. To learn more about her, visit  Please email Dora with your ideas, questions, and suggestions!
Dora Meyer, Health Educator,


September Health Column by Dora Meyer, Health Educator

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

Eating a healthy diet can prove to be a difficult challenge. Many of us know what we should be eating in order to be healthy. But puttng that knowledge into daily practice can be a daunting task! The key is to let go of our old habits and adopt new and healthy ones.
Developing new habits takes work. We have to break out of our old routine and keep repeating the new behavior until it becomes familiar.

You may wonder exactly what healthy eating habits look like. Read through the list below to see how many of these sound similar to your daily routine:

• You drink water as your main beverage rather than soda or juice
• Your daily snacks are fruits and vegetables, not chips or crackers
• You eat as a family for most of your meals (or at least once a day)
• Your meals contain a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and small amounts of dairy, fish, and 
lean meats
• Desserts are fresh fruit. Sugary desserts are an occasional treat 

Reflecting on Your Eating Habits 
Take a few days examine your own habits. Write down where you eat, how you eat, when, and with whom. For example, do you tend to eat standing up? Do you skip lunch and end up reaching for snacks by mid‐day? Do you eat too fast? Reflect on your habits and pick a few that you would like to work on.

Tips for Healthy Habits 
Below are 6 tips that can get you started on your path to healthy eating. 

Tip 1: Plan Ahead 

Write down 3 healthy meals per week before grocery shopping. Write the ingredients needed for those meals and bring the list with you the next time you go shopping. Gradually work up to planning for 4 or 5 meals per week. By planning meals, you have less of a tendency to grab takeout food because you find that you have nothing in the fridge. Stock your freezer with frozen vegetables and fruits. Frozen foods are just as healthy as fresh as they are usually picked at the peak of ripeness and have high vitamin content. You can use frozen vegetables to prepare fast weekday dinners.
And speaking of planning ahead, the next time you make a batch of soup or tomato sauce, double the recipe and freeze the extra portion for a quick and easy meal later on.

Tip 2: Prepare

Take one day a week to wash and cut vegetables for the next few days. Cut up carrots, peppers, and cucumbers into matchsticks, break apart broccoli and cauliflower into florets, and wash and spin dry lettuce. After preparing the vegetables, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic airtight bag in the fridge. They will remain fresh for four or five days. (Most fresh veggies can be prepared in this way with minimal nutrient loss if protected from light and air).

Tips 3: Think in Color

Try to add lots of fresh fruit and vegetables to every meal. As a rule, include at least 3 kinds of fruits/ veggies, or a combination of both with each meal.
Incorporate both raw and cooked vegetables. Imagine your dinner plate divided into 3 segments. Vegetables should cover about half of the plate; one fourth should be protein foods, and one third starchy foods such as pasta, potatoes, and rice.

Tip 4: Sleep

Wait, what does sleep have to do with eating habits? Think about the last time
What did you use as a pick me up in the afternoon? Perhaps a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, to give your body a sugar and caffeine jolt. On average, you require around 7.5 hours of sleep per night for your metabolism to function properly. What’s worse, sleep deprivation causes your body to release too much of one hormone, Ghrelin, that causes you to eat more, and too little of another hormone, Leptin, that signals your body to stop eating. This hormone imbalance coupled with a sluggish metabolism can mean extra kilos on your waistline.

Tip 5: Eat your Meals as a Family

A study conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine showed that families who at together ate least 3 days per week were more likely to have healthier diets and consume less fat overall. This was especially true for children, who consumed higher amounts of key nutrients such as calcium, fiber, and iron. Eating together provides an opportunity to be a role model of healthy eating for your children.

Tip 6: Start Small

Do not try to make any huge changes to your diet or routine all at once. Commit to one small change and stick to it until it becomes a regular habit. For example, start by eating a piece of fruit every night for dessert instead of cookies, or nibbling on carrot and celery sticks for an afternoon snack rather than crackers. As new habits become part of your routine you can continue to add more healthy changes.

To learn more about me, visit http://www.healthy‐ Please email me with your ideas, questions, and suggestions! Dora Meyer, Health Educator,