What does forced retirement mean? The words invoke anxiety and uncertainty because of the confusion and so many unanswered questions. It also goes by the names of involuntary job termination, involuntary job separation or downsizing to name a few. Unfortunately, it is growing and not showing any signs of slowing down in the near future. Here are the top 7 most asked questions with answers to address this alarming trend.
One of the most devastating things that can happen is losing your job after the age of 50. Hardly anyone talks about, yet it has been going on for years. Over half (56%) of all older Americans have or will be shoved out the back door at least once according to ProPublica and the Urban Institute. Finding new employment can drag out for months and months draining both morale and your savings. On top of that, only 10% will find a comparable position offering the same pay they were receiving.
Those final years are crucial for saving and preparing for the future. Almost half of all Americans (45%) have no savings at all according to the Insured Retirement Institute. They also found that a third of all baby boomers plan to retire at age 70 or not at all. When driven out of work at this critical stage of life, financial recovery becomes problematic.
On one hand, it makes no sense that organizations would downsize their most experienced and valuable team members. After all, the company’s success was built on their dedication and hard work. Most of us are at the top of our game in our mid-50's and have much more to contribute. Yet, management focuses on cost cutting measures instead of recognizing their most valuable assets. Thus, the reward after all those years of service is to be “thrown out with the trash”!
The main problem is too many companies buy into the concept that older workers cost more. There's no question they, typically, command higher salaries. What does forced retirement mean? Rather than engaging their most loyal employees, they actually demotivate them by the manner in which they treat them. Opportunities for advancement become non-existent with raises and bonuses reserved for the “young rising stars”. Feeling under valued and disillusioned, before long these folks are counting down the days until they retire. This reaction further reinforces the reasons to get rid of all older staff.
What a screwed-up system! I’m actually at a loss for words at how messed up the corporate world has become. There appears to be little or no loyalty for all your hard work and experience. Ultimately, you alone are responsible for your financial independence. Bulletproof your future and avoid forced retirement discusses personal branding and strategies for achieving career success.
No one can force you to retire! There are certain specific occupations with a mandatory age restriction such as airline pilots, air traffic controllers, firefighters, law enforcement and military personnel. The age regulation is based primarily on safety considerations. When individuals in these occupations reach the cut-off age, they may choose to retire or continue working in another field.
In 1986, Congress amended the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) abolishing a mandatory age. Prior to this time, 65 years is what most organizations held as the age to retire. No longer can anyone force you to retire.
Age discrimination is illegal. According to CNBC Markets, the House of Representatives recently passed the Protecting Older Workers against Discrimination Act. “The bill would restore protections eroded by a 2009 Supreme Court ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services, Inc., which made it more difficult for workers age 40 and older to sue businesses for age discrimination such as being forced out of a job or denied a work opportunity, according to experts.”
It’s wise to seek legal counsel before signing any waivers or other documents. Generally speaking, the employer must allow you 21 days to review any paperwork. If you were presented a severance package, the terms and conditions might be negotiable. The rule of thumb varies from one week to fours weeks of pay per every year of service. Also, benefits may be extended.
If you feel you were wrongfully dismissed, a charge can be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In addition, some states and local jurisdictions also have anti-discrimination laws which would, then, turn your suit into a dual claim.
Your ex-employer will certainly not admit they let you go because of your age! The courts indicate that it must be proven that age was a decisive factor in an organization’s decision. Of course, lawyers for the company will argue what does forced retirement mean. Their assertion will be that it was necessary to downsize to remain competitive and age wasn’t the deciding factor.
The initial shock is bad enough, especially if you didn’t see it coming. It’s easy for it to become personal when it is invoking lots of emotions. Your pride is likely bruised and you feel you have been wronged. Some things to consider include:
If you're one of the lucky few that has achieved financial independence, retiring may be your preferred choice. For the rest of us, paying the bills and finding new employment will be the primary objective. Even with the strong US economy and low unemployment, it might take awhile to find a decent job. Can you afford to live without a paycheck for six months to a year?
Starting over is never easy, particularly when you have been with the same company for many years. A good employment agency can help you put together a first-rate resume and assist you with your job hunt. How to Deal with Forced Retirement goes into greater detail on strategies how to recover.
In most cases, you are eligible for unemployment insurance benefits (UI) if you are downsized or otherwise laid off. You may lose eligibility if you quit, resign, or were fired with due cause. Each state has their own rules and regulations that determine eligibility, amount paid, and duration.
Although a claim should be submitted immediately after being laid off, any final remuneration can delay UI benefits. This can include severance (plus vacation) pay and/or a buyout package. The timing and how these are paid to you can also impact the benefits you will receive. For instance, your ex-employer might choose to pay you through a series of payments rather than a lump-sum amount.
In general, most states (there are exceptions) provide benefit periods of up to 26 weeks. The amount you receive depends upon several factors; however, it typically is no more than about half of your previous salary. If you worked at a part-time or temporary job, your UI checks will be pro-rated. Usually, half the amount you earn is deducted from your check. If you earn 90% or more of your UI, your benefit becomes zero however your eligibility period may be extended. How much you will get on unemployment will provide more information. The following chart illustrates the maximum benefit and length of coverage by state:
The last thing you want to do is ignore the reality that your income will be dramatically less. The fast track to accumulating massive debt is to continue spending as if you were still working. Where can you trim expenses? This might be one of those difficult conversations to have with your partner. Things like going out for dinner, the theater, or a movie are fun, but are they necessary? Most folks put it on their credit card and are shocked when they get their statement.
Even with a strong economy, realistically, how long will it take to get your next job? Lots of 50+ year old job hunters report searches of a year or longer. With UI benefits running out after 26 weeks, any savings you have will dissipate at an alarming rate. Not having a plan and sticking to a budget becomes a recipe for disaster.
It might be necessary to get a part-time job to help make ends meet. If possible, something that could get your foot in the door toward a full-time position that you would enjoy. Even with cutting back and part-time income, it may not be enough. Other options to help tide you over until finding new employment can include:
The critical aspect to keep in mind is how to manage your finances.
Leaving the work force, by itself, is a huge life changing event. What does forced retirement mean? Bottom line, it's when an older employee loses their job and it was not their decision or choice to leave. The reality is it’s becoming more and more prevalent with the increasing aging population. Understanding the idea, the difficulties you will face and your available options are very crucial. Especially when a monkey wrench could be thrown into the mix! This knowledge should make your journey and future a little less bumpy.
How much will you get on unemployment and is it going to be enough? This question stares every person in the face who has ever been laid off. On top of everything else, deciphering all the rules and regulations can be overwhelming. Not only is it scary, it becomes downright confusing with each state having their own set of rules.
Making matters even worse, most of the information is contradictory and depends upon what state you worked in. Let’s be blunt, it’s difficult to receive a straight answer to even a simple question. We’ve done our best to unravel this maze and start you moving forward.
First and foremost, you must meet your state's eligibility requirements to receive UI benefits. Even though it varies from state to state, generally, benefits are only available to those who are out of a job through no fault of their own. How to deal with forced retirement provides more information. You can learn about your state's rules at CareerOneStop.
Some of the states do have a waiting period before you can start collecting UI benefits. The usual length of time is one week. Nevertheless, you should still apply as soon as you can to start the process. It’s the government and we all know it takes time for anything to be done! Also, remember you can live and work in different states. Your claim should be placed in the state where you were employed.
You should receive your first payment within two to three weeks of filing your initial claim. Make it easy on yourself and provide the government with an accurate and complete claim. You should expect a phone call so being available, also, helps speed up the process.
If you are offered a severance package, it could affect your UI benefits. For example, if it pays you for eight weeks after your last day, the norm is that you won't be able to collect until that period has passed.
Vacation pay received can, also, affect your UI benefits. Some states deduct the whole amount while others use a percentage. Also, some allow a certain dollar amount of holiday pay before deductions to your payments are affected.
Again, how much will you get on unemployment varies depending on your state laws.
In many states, you can collect UI benefits while working part-time or a casual job. Half the amount you earn is deducted from your benefit up to a maximum of 90%. Thus, your payments are pro-rated to incorporate this income. If you exceed 90%, your weekly benefit is zero and an additional week may be added to your claim.
Some states do allow a certain amount or percentage to be earned over and above UI insurance. Additionally, doing this helps supplement your income and could help you network to find a full-time job.
There are certain things you must do to continue to receive your benefits payments. They are:
Double check everything you are submitting to make sure it is as accurate and truthful as possible. Even if you make an honest mistake (which we all do), this could raise a lot of red flags causing thoughts of fraud to surface. If you do not follow these steps, you could be at risk of losing your benefits. Though the issues should eventually be resolved, you'll have to start your claim all over again.
Most states offer 26 weeks maximum of benefits with some being as low as 12 weeks maximum (Florida, North Carolina).
The maximum weekly dollar amount ranges from $235 (Mississippi) to $742 (Massachusetts).
How much you will get on unemployment is broken down by state in the chart below :
Even when people are out of work, many of those who qualify for unemployment benefits don’t cash in. Unemployment insurance can help get you through that rough financial patch. How much will you get on unemployment is easier to determine when you know exactly what rules and details are needed to maximize your benefits.
A typical retirement calculator spits out the number of $1.2 Million for what you need to have saved. For your average American, that is not only unrealistic, but also impossible for most of us. It is estimated as many as 80% of people have absolutely no idea how much to save for retirement.
Understand, the financial institutions are motivated to sell you their products and services. It becomes a scare tactic to consistently overstate what your retirement savings should be. After the appalling experience of trying several of these calculators, my husband and I decided to, literally, take the bull by the horns. Taking a no-frills approach, we did the math to determine how much you really need for a decent retirement.
The average American couple would require $430,000 in savings to comfortably retire at 62. If they choose to defer retirement until 65, their savings could be reduced to $364,000. At 67 it drops, again, to $311,000. These numbers are based on replacing 80% of their annual household income. This translates into a yearly retirement income of $48,000 until they reach the age of 85.
The following assumptions were used in our calculations:
Disclaimer: Retires Great provides this information purely for informational and demonstration purposes. It is not to be used or construed, in any way, as financial or professional advice. It is recommended you consult with a qualified professional adviser and review your unique situation before making any financial or other decisions.
Unlike the retirement calculators, we focused on displaying a modest retirement plan that the average couple could achieve. Yet, each of us is unique and your lifestyle in retirement is largely based upon how much you saved (or didn’t). You may have additional sources of income such as a pension, rental income, or a part-time job that will further improve your financial situation.
Our calculations are based upon the average household income of $60,000 yielding an annual retirement income of $48,000.00 (80% of pre-retirement income). This combines both you and your significant other’s savings and social security lasting until the age of 85.
For our own sanity and to keep this straightforward, we have not included expenses. The two greatest costs most retirees don’t plan for are medical issues and travel. Health insurance and/or a health savings account is something each of us should consider. If travel is on your horizon, keep in mind that any withdrawals from your savings will affect income down the road. Taxes are another piece of the puzzle to factor into your net income.
Let’s go into more detail on the numbers we used to base our calculations.
Social security is based upon your contributions over the past thirty plus years. Your exact benefits can be accessed through the Social Security Administration website. For illustrative purposes, we used their Quick Calculator submitting an income of $30,000.00 for each person. This yielded a monthly benefit of $780.00 per person per month at age 62. When deferred to age 65, this increased to $994.00 and $1,171.00 at age 67.
Social security is indexed for inflation which means you get more money as the cost of living increases. For simplicity, an increase of 2% per year was factored into our model (see Inflation below). Inflation will fluctuate from year to year and no one can predict exactly what it will be in the future. Even if inflation exceeds 2%, your social security income should increase proportionally to match the current inflation rate.
Of greater concern is the viability of social security and possible reduction in benefits. Trust fund reserves are projected to be exhausted by 2037 unless changes are made. This is largely due to our aging population with more retirees drawing upon it and a reduction in the number of people going into the workforce and contributing. See Baby Boomer Facts for more information on this.
One of the greatest fears is outliving our retirement savings. No one knows how long they will live which further confuses the issue of how much to save for retirement. According to the Social Security Administration, based on data compiled, the average life expectancy for a person turning 65 is:
An average reflects that the majority of us will achieve these ages. Some will pass away prior and about one in three will live past 90. Further, about one in seven will live past 95.
In a perfect world, each of us would have a nest egg that would last until the age of 100. Realistically, 85 is a reasonable age to plan how much to save for retirement.
Back when we were kids, a candy bar cost about ten cents. Today, that same bar typically costs a dollar or more. Inflation will continue to raise our expenses and cost of living. What is certain is that it will continue to rise throughout our lifetime. Depending upon the source, we can expect an average 2% inflation rate increase in the foreseeable future.
For almost the past decade, we have experienced abnormally low interest rates. This means that, while money is inexpensive to borrow, it also impacts the more traditional lower risk investments. These include bonds, treasury bills, and saving accounts that might only yield a return of one or two percent above inflation.
What is your rate of return on your retirement investments? Based on Googling the question “What is the average return for a 401K”, you should receive between 5% to 8%. To be conservative, a 6% rate of return was used in our calculations. If you get a better return, obviously, your portfolio will improve.
If your return is less than 5%, you should seriously reconsider your investments. While there is always a trade-off between risk versus return, there are many options to minimize risk even with a diversified portfolio. Gaining expert advice and guidance might generate thousands of dollars more additional income into your retirement.
If you ever read the book “The Wealthy Barber”, the advice was to pay yourself first and invest 10% of everything you earned. While this is a great concept, few of us have done it. Almost everyone has had financial setbacks whether it be a bad investment, job loss, or medical costs. In addition, everyday expenses such as a home purchase, raising kids, or education costs have further strained our budgets.
Based on our calculations, even if you had been able to save 10% of your income from the age of 30, you would still be short to retire at 62. Your savings would be $414,865.00 instead of $430,000.00. Your options would be to work longer or live with a lower yearly retirement income.
If you did not start saving until the age of 40, the numbers at 10% become even bleaker. Effectively, 67 becomes your retirement date after you achieve $313,982.00 in savings ($311,000.00 required).
Incredibly, 45% of Americans have no retirement savings at all! In 2019, the poverty level for a household of two was $16,910.00. On social security alone, a couple retiring at age 62 would have an income of $18,720.00 at best. Thus, they would survive marginally above the poverty line.
For the remaining 55% of people, about half of them have insufficient savings. For instance, a couple retiring at 62 with $100,000.00 saved, could expect a retirement income of $25,540.00 per year. Even if they deferred retiring until 67 ($36,110.00 per year), they would still fall short of replacing 80% of their pre-retirement income.
The following table displays what your yearly household income could be subject to your savings:
Just for argument sake, let’s say you were able to save that magical $1.2 Million as some of the calculators reflect. Retiring at age 62 would yield a yearly income of $100,479!
Finally, financial institutions are big business and will continue to heavily market their products to us. The fact that the majority of people do not, truly, know how much to save for retirement suggests their calculators provide little or no value. Hopefully, the numbers discussed above, for an average household, can provide you with some ideas or guidelines as well as a better understanding of retirement savings.
Whether you consider it a conspiracy or not, the issue is that you need to understand your retirement savings.
Disclaimer: Retires Great provides this information purely for informational and demonstration purposes. It is not to be used or construed, in any way, as financial or professional advice. It is recommended you consult with qualified professional adviser and review your unique situation before making any financial or other decisions.
A living will (also referred to as an advance directive) helps you gain inner peace by coming to terms with your own mortality. For most of us, it’s unpleasant to think about how life events might unfold. So, at a subconscious level, this creates anxiety and fear of the unknown and the future. By discussing and documenting your medical wishes, you gain peace of mind knowing that you have prepared, as best as you can, for the future.
This document expresses your wishes for medical care in the event you are no longer able to make these decisions. As a legal document, it empowers someone you trust to ensure your wishes and desires are honored. Even when circumstances arise that have not been considered, they will make decisions in your best interest. Without one, these matters are left open to interpretation by family members and health care professionals. As a result, there is no assurance that your wishes will be met or followed.
This is not legal advice and is intended for informational purposes only.
Her entire world collapsed with that call from the hospital. Overwhelmed by the news, Barb fought back the tears as she frantically prepared to leave. First, she let her husband know that her mother had a stroke and the prognosis could go either way. Barb had no idea how long she would be away.
It was a four-hour drive. She would call her work and brother once she was on the road. After dad passed away almost three years ago, mom had become frustratingly stubborn and refused to discuss anything about her affairs. Even worse, she was becoming more forgetful and Barb was concerned it may be the onset of dementia. It seemed all mom wanted to do was live out her years surrounded by her memories.
After several exasperating go-rounds with mom, Barb had finally given up. Now, she wishes she had pressed her harder for her to get her affairs in order. She didn’t even know if mom had a will, let alone a living will! Even if mom pulled through, she surely would need to go into extended care. The house would have to be sold and she knew that her brother’s wife would be all over anything of value. This was going to be a mess and might even wind up in court. She prayed that, somehow, mom would make a miraculous recovery.
The situation described above illustrates the need for you to have your affairs in order. Without a living will, decisions will be made that you may not otherwise make for yourself. For instance, depending upon the severity of Barb’s mother’s stroke, the hospital may have her on a breathing ventilator and feeding tube (intubated). If she shows no signs of recovery she would, effectively, languish on life support. Such an event can become emotionally charged between family members with conflict erupting as to the best course of action (or no action). Your directive provides clarity and direction for family members and healthcare professionals as to your wishes.
Most of us assume that our loved ones will ensure the decisions they make will be in our best interests. In a perfect world, there would be no need for a advance directive. The reality is, when medical situations arise, they are often emotionally laden with differing opinions among family members. Without family consensus, the medical community will continue to preserve life using all reasonable treatment. As much as no one likes to contemplate what might happen to them, legally documenting your wishes can greatly minimize family strife and indecision.
In the absence of a medical directive, will and other legal documents, it is possible for your family to apply for guardianship through the courts. Unfortunately, the process is complex, can take months, and cost thousands in legal fees. Even worse, the person appointed, may not be who you would have chosen. When things wind up in court, it can create further conflict and delay especially if contested by other family members.
So, what exactly is a living will? It is a legal document(s) empowering someone with the authority to make decisions on your behalf. This includes only non-financial personal matters such as health care, medical treatment, and housing. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 18 create an advance directive. Depending upon your jurisdiction, it can also be referred to as an advance healthcare directive, personal directive, durable power of attorney for health care, or medical directive. The person(s) you entrust to make these decisions may be referred to as an agent, healthcare agent, healthcare proxy, healthcare surrogate, or healthcare representative.
Your agent(s) can be almost anyone you want, as long as they agree to accept the responsibility and are over the age of 18. Family members, close friends, or lawyers could all be potential candidates. In some situations, it is appropriate to have it be a paid position (as opposed to volunteer). Regardless of whom you designate as your health care agent(s), it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Possibly, at some point they may need to make a life ending / altering decision on your behalf. There should be in-depth discussions and documentation of your wishes with your agent(s). Your personal directive only takes effect in the event you are no longer deemed to have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.
Due to the nature of advance directives, decades may pass before it is invoked or, hopefully, never at all. If you are married, it would seem logical for your spouse to be named as your agent. Unfortunately, as the years pass, your partner may become infirm, you might outlive them or you could divorce / remarry. For this reason, it is recommended to select more than one agent. If you have children, are you comfortable they would make the best decisions for you? Consideration needs to be given to outside influences such as a daughter-in-law or son-in-law.
When multiple agents are selected, there is a high probability they will disagree at some point. If viable, it might be desirable to consider having three agents as a means to resolving disagreements (majority rules). Another option is to designate only one person as the primary agent and the other(s) as alternates.
Such a discussion is not going to be easy nor pleasant. There are numerous aspects that should be reviewed. Certainly, you will want to discuss them with your agent(s) and your doctor. Keep in mind that medical technology is rapidly advancing and new treatment options will become available that are not even fathomed today. Also, if your wishes run counter to medical ethical practices, a doctor has the authority to override your wishes. Some factors to consider include:
You basically have two options.
The first is to retain a lawyer, likely costing anywhere from $200.00 to $500.00, to prepare your living will. This ensures State laws are complied with and they can offer thoughts and opinions to ensure your wishes are followed. In addition, you may choose to have them complete all your additional legal documents such as your will, durable power of attorney for health care, and a durable power of attorney for finances. This ensures all your affairs are properly managed and in order. In more complex situations such as the onslaught of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, a lawyer is highly recommended.
As a second option, it may be feasible to do it yourself. Online forms are available however you will need to ensure they are properly witnessed and notarized once completed. Expect to pay $45.00 to $75.00 for this type of advance directive. The DIY approach is appropriate for straight forward situations when you have taken the time to ensure everything is properly recorded and documented.
Believe it or not, some people put their living will into a safety deposit box that no one else has access to! While a safety deposit box may be appropriate for a last will and testament (someone should still have access), your advance directive needs to be filed with your health care provider and, preferably, discussed with your doctor. There may even be an online repository where it can be stored electronically. Each agent and yourself should have an original that is stored in a secure place. This might be in a home safe, safety deposit box, or any other secure location such as with a lawyer.
If anything changes, you will want to update it and have any and all old versions destroyed. It is best to communicate that, to anyone concerned, the document has been updated / changed. Examples could include if you divorce, remarry, or desire to change agent(s).
Your medical directive only encompasses health matters. It does not authorize any financial decisions. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to create a durable power of attorney for finance so that person can act on your behalf addressing any financial implications or decisions. For example, if Barb’s mother does not regain mental capacity, it will become complicated. Barb and her brother cannot sell the house (even if they were named in the will) and will have to go through court applications to apply for guardianship first.
A living will documents your wishes for medical treatment to be enacted at such time you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. Depending upon state laws, this can be called a durable power of attorney for healthcare which, also, designates a healthcare agent(s) to oversee your welfare. Again, this only applies after you have been deemed incapable to make decisions for yourself.
A durable power of attorney for finances complements the durable power of attorney for healthcare by empowering the agent(s) to conduct financial decisions on your behalf. And, this only applies after you have been deemed incapable of making decisions for yourself.
A Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) may be documented within a advance directive and requested when a certain condition or situation occurs. For example, you are near end-of-life with a terminal disease and do not want to be revived. Your agent would notify the medical team not to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart or breathing stops. This would need to be signed off by a doctor and put on your medical chart.
If you still have mental capacity, you could request the medical team not to resuscitate you. The doctor would still need to sign off on it and add it to your chart.
A living will is in effect while you are alive and able to provide guidance on your healthcare wishes.
Your last will and testament takes effect only after your death, identifying how you want your estate and assets distributed. Also, it may identify funeral / burial arrangements, gifts to be given, etc.
Especially with a family history or signs of Alzheimer’s / dementia, it becomes critical to have your affairs in order. To date, there are many treatment options, but as of yet no cures. An estimated 5.8 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. And these numbers are rapidly growing! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, it has become the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, one in three seniors will die from it. Alarming statistics reflect that those with Alzheimer’s are almost two-thirds female. In addition, older African-Americans are about twice as likely to have it compared with older whites.
Alzheimer's and Dementia
One in three seniors will die from Alzheimer's and/or other forms of dementia.
In 2019, the estimated cost to the healthcare system will be $290 billion. Without a cure, this could rise as high as $1.1 trillion by 2050. The human cost is equally enormous with around 16 million Americans currently providing unpaid care for loved ones. According to Bankrate, there are numerous care considerations that need to be planned, and options on how to manage these costs.
These diseases are progressive leading to cognitive decline. Without getting your affairs in order, it becomes an even further struggle for you and your family.
In short, while few people look forward to preparing a living will / medical directive (and other legal documents), they are truly important. Getting your affairs in order will provide greater inner peace for you through acceptance of your own mortality and knowing you have some say in your life decisions.
Additionally, this reduces the potentially emotional heavy burden on family members. Truth be told, none of us will ever cheat death. What we can do is prepare and better manage our last days on our own terms.
Are there any real benefits of a gluten free diet or is this just another fad? I never gave it much thought until several of my friends, over the past few months, announced they were avoiding wheat based products. Their comments included that they felt better or they were trying to lose weight. I began to think about it.
Some of the beliefs instilled in me growing up included:
It is good to re-examine our beliefs from time-to-time and ensure they best serve us. Of course, everything we hear in the media implies that our wheat and similar grains are genetically modified and are now, somehow, bad for us.
My diet is important to me and I was shocked with my initial research. US News reports an estimated 41% of Americans believe gluten free foods are beneficial for everyone and 30% of shoppers search for this option.
Gluten is the protein in flour used to make our breads, pastas, and baked goods. Also, it is found in many of our processed foods such as salad dressings, soups, deli meats and sauces. This diet eliminates all types of wheat, rye, and barley.
Under the Food and Drug Administration regulations, foods labeled as gluten free must contain no more than 20 ppm of gluten. This is important because a small percent of people require completely eliminating gluten from their diet. Approximately, 1% of the population are celiac, a hereditary autoimmune condition. The ingestion of gluten triggers an adverse reaction damaging intestinal cells which leads to serious health issues. An additional 6% of people have non-celiac gluten sensitivity and suffer similar symptoms. Finally, there are those with an extremely rare wheat allergy that must, also, avoid products with gluten.
According to Healthline, some symptoms of intolerance to wheat based products can include:
Note: If you suffer from any of these symptoms and suspect you may have a gluten intolerance, see your doctor and get tested. It becomes very difficult to diagnose after you change your diet.
Unlike many other proteins, gluten does not provide much nutritional value and is more difficult to digest. However, gluten protein is what adds the elasticity to dough to make it rise and keep its shape.
Without a doubt, if you are celiac or gluten sensitive, you will feel healthier after eliminating gluten from your diet. Interestingly, many people claim they feel better after changing their diet. In fact, a study by NCBI identified that 86% of individuals who believed themselves gluten intolerant were not. In other words, they convinced themselves that they feel better avoiding all wheat products.
The diet of people in Asian countries is predominately rice, vegetables, and fish - all gluten free choices. Many consider it to be a healthier diet than that of western countries. That being said, soy sauce does contain gluten and is the most common ingredient used in Asian cooking. And it is a big part of other sauces - hoisin, teriyaki, black bean and wasabi – to name only a few.
When celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Miley Cyrus claim weight loss, you can bet people listen. Dr. William Davis, author of “Wheat Belly” further identifies overweight people will, routinely, lose 15 to 20 pounds during the first month of eliminating wheat (as well as other gluten containing grains such as rye and barley).
His explanation is that wheat-based products cause your blood sugar levels to rise. You feel hungry and eat a quick carbohydrate snack such as a muffin or cookie. Thus, stimulating your body to produce and release insulin. Over time, this results in the accumulation of fat around the abdomen or the “muffin top”. Dr. Davis believes that the removal of wheat products reduces these hunger pangs and spikes. Without these spikes, you eat less often and consume less calories.
Whether or not you lose weight on a gluten free diet depends upon all the changes you make to your diet. For instance, if all you do is switch to gluten free products, it is probable you will experience a reduction in nutritional value and, possibly, gain weight.
The process to remove gluten lowers the fiber, vitamins, and minerals in foods. To improve the taste and texture of these products fat, sugar, and sodium are often added increasing calories. Particularly, this is apparent in processed foods such as cookies, crackers, and snack bars.
On the other hand, making changes to your diet to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, and other naturally gluten free foods can help you lose weight. Also, substituting rice or rice noodles for pasta is a good way to reduce calories as well as gluten. Other excellent alternatives include grains and seeds such as quinoa and buckwheat.
Growing up, we ate cereal and toast for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch at school, and, often, pasta for supper. Were our parents misinformed? Was this a bad thing? Actually, there is a lot of evidence to show that whole grains are good for us.
Going gluten free is not, necessarily, harmful as long as you replace all the essential nutritional requirements. Specifically, fiber which is necessary for the digestive process.
Whole wheat products are high in fiber which is necessary for the bowels to work properly. In addition, many vegetables are good sources of fiber. According to Nutritional Facts, our entire gut flora system goes out of whack without enough fiber. Throughout evolution, our bodies received high fiber intakes and it is important to how we process food. Good bacteria is made from the fiber we eat. This produces signals to the body that they are there to support and protect the body. Therefore, this reduces the immune response. A low fiber level is interpreted by our body as bad bacteria taking over and becomes a signal to go on the inflammatory offense and attack.
The average American needs to eat 30 grams of fiber per day for good health. However, they are eating only 15 grams – half the amount needed. According to NCBI, ensuring you have a high enough intake of fiber in your diet has been shown to lower the risk of heart disease in numerous studies. Research was conducted over many years. A Harvard study concluded that a "high total fiber consumption equated to a 40 percent lower risk of coronary disease in men”. In another study, NCBI received similar findings for women. In addition, metabolic syndrome risk - multiple factors that increase your risk for heart disease and diabetes - is decreased with an increase in dietary fiber. Fiber offers protection against the onset of this syndrome.
The BMJ study published in 2017 concludes that gluten is not, directly, a risk of heart disease. However, they also found that avoiding gluten by incorporating the gluten free diet, when you are without celiac disease, could increase your cardiovascular risks.
With this progression to eliminating wheat based products, cost was bound to come into it at one point. On average, gluten free products are anywhere from 159% to 242% more expensive than normal brands. There is a process to refining something until it is totally gluten free. When they strip it out, something needs to replace it. Usually, it is replaced with sodium, sugar, or carbohydrates. So, you are paying more for the refining process, more calories and less nutrition. In some cases, like celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there are no options. However, going gluten free "just because" could not only impact your health, it could adversely affect your wallet.
To summarize, a gluten free diet is critical for those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies (approximately 8% of the population). Additionally, it can provide relief for those with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and colitis. For others, it becomes more of a lifestyle choice. It may help you lose weight and feel better with more energy.
On the other hand, you could be increasing your risk of heart disease through lack of enough fiber and nutrients from the foods you eat. It is recommended that if you suspect you have a gluten sensitivity, check with your doctor. This lifestyle choice should not be made lightly.
Hopefully, this article has provided some facts that will assist you in making an informed decision.
Ever had such a bad boss that you felt physically ill? This is a personal story of an event that forever changed my life. It started that horrific Friday. My husband sensed something terrible had happened to me after I arrived home that day. Sitting across the table, my eyes welled with tears as I thrust the document across to him. In disbelief, he held my hand repeating “I love you sweetie and we’ll get through this”.
When I first started, I loved my office manager job and took great pride in making sure everything ran smoothly. My life became hell shortly after they hired my new supervisor three and a half years' ago. He was lazy, an arrogant bully, and even worse completely incompetent. Not only was I doing his job making him look good, he resented me and searched for ways to belittle me. For example, once he stated to my face “We have no female managers”. His secrecy became worse with each passing month. To illustrate, people changed their office locations which involves moving computers, phone lines, etc. Unbelievably, he didn’t think it was important to let me, the office manager, know.
After seven and a half years of dedicated and exemplary service he had, finally, found a way to "put me in my place" with his exaggerated over the top disciplinary action; a first and final warning threatening immediate termination. That weekend was hell with a seesaw of so many emotions – fear, anger, shock, disbelief to name only a few. It was horrible and draining on both me and my husband. It consumed our thoughts! I dreaded going into work Monday and the smug expression I was sure to see on his face.
When I started thinking about the situation that had been thrust on me, the anger and indignation kicked in. Thoughts whirled like a tornado in my head making it hard to think straight. It was so unfair. I didn’t deserve what had been done to me as I had always been an exceptional employee. How dare they treat me that way? I felt betrayed, abandoned and extremely pissed off! Hurt, shock, disbelief and anger cannot even describe how I was feeling. A pay check was not worth going back knowing he would hold this over my head for the rest of my days to “keep me in line”. Starting over again at 55 years of age isn't easy in this day and age. And knowing it might be a while before I saw a pay check again, if ever.
Surely, I could put up with my "bosshole" for a few more months until I found another job. Otherwise, how would I cover the car payment, household expenses, and health benefits? My pay check was deposited into my bank every two weeks. Now, I would have NO money coming in. You can imagine my dilemma and concern. The more I stressed about money, the more terrified I became. Like most of us, I wished I had more retirement savings (for more details, see Baby Boomer Facts). I felt sick to my stomach, wondering if I was over reacting. I am independent and didn’t want to put my husband in the position of supporting me. That would be completely foreign to my nature and not how I lived my life. However, now that I was out of my prison, I didn’t want to go back EVER and, in retrospect, definitely not worth even considering.
Struggling all my life with self-esteem / self-doubt issues, I had come to accept the treatment I received at work without question. However, my self value should not need to be "validated” by someone else’s opinion. I knew I was highly competent and did my job (and his) exceptionally well. Yet, most days, I returned home feeling beaten up and completely emotionally drained.
My appetite diminished and sleep was elusive. I started to suffer from migraines and my blood pressure became alarmingly high (almost stroke level). My health was deteriorating.I panicked I would sink into that “dark place”. Once before, I was there and I never wanted to return. In short, this job was killing me day by day.
You know how hard it is to focus on yourself (and not someone else) without thinking about being self-centered. I didn't want to be thought of as one of those people. Putting myself first does not come naturally. However, it became clear that I needed to leave this job as soon as possible.
My favorite saying all my life was my saving grace. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up”. Recognizing I have so many opportunities open to me was important. Because of all my experience, willingness to learn and openness, I can be or do anything I want. I am the only one slowing me down. Remembering this calmed some of the emotions. It redirected my thoughts. I decide what is important to me. My options are endless. The question is to decide what is a good fit for me, my convictions and my lifestyle.
The rug had been pulled out from under me. And I felt taken advantage of and undervalued. Yet, it was the colleagues I worked with that I cared most about and I worried how it would be for them after I left. If you have been in a similar situation, you can relate to the emotions that flooded through me. However, I reminded myself that it was time to move onward.
Loneliness and being alone (or solitude) are two different things. I enjoy being alone and not being dependent upon others to entertain me. Whereas it is good for my peace-of-mind, I was scared to death that that I might slip into total social isolation. That has happened to me in the past and the work environment makes it easier to stay connected with people. Unfortunately, my bad boss from hell had created a high stress environment and I definitely needed less stress in my life! I had enough of that over the last seven and a half years. The truth, I realized, was that I was burnt out and needed to change to better look after myself emotionally and physically.
“Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.”
My decision was not made lightly yet anything else was infinitely better than continuing in that toxic environment with a "bosshole". The total surprise and panicked look on his face after submitting my two weeks' notice was bittersweet. It was only at that moment did it dawn on him that he had pushed me too far. Completely oblivious to my daily misery, his disciplinary action was the final straw that broke the camel’s back following months and years of suffering in silence.
Feeling calm, I knew it was best decision I could make and that helped me survive those two weeks. After learning I was leaving, my assistant broke into tears stating that "I was the best boss she ever had". Others were in disbelief and highly skeptical that the office would ever function smoothly again. Each of them had dealt with him in the past, seldom gaining any timely resolution when issues arose.
True to form, he strutted about like a “chicken hawk” (remember the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons?) acting as if he could easily handle everything alone. Full of self importance, he announced my position would be filled as an administrative role saying an office manager was no longer required. Interestingly, the job description included all my previous responsibilities with less pay and no title. The question was posed if I would consider working a few more weeks to train my replacement. As you can imagine, at that point, I was counting the hours to finally be rid of him.
Understanding and embracing all your special talents gives you the foundation to realize work is an extremely small portion of your worth. My leaving was the best decision I ever made and really was my only option. Today, my health, peace of mind and positivity are recovering quickly. You are only as old as you feel. And you can only learn what you think you learn. Work to live not live to work. Most of the time, you are your own biggest barrier. I know you are worried that when it comes time to retire, you won’t be ready financially or emotionally. In fact, everyone has the same thoughts!
Being able to work full time on our own business is much more rewarding and fun. Now, I have time to explore options to help others realize there is so much more to life than work. And learning new skills such as building this website literally had me pulling my hair out at times.
Also, it is immensely satisfying to create something new. Challenging yourself, even when something is scary, can open you up to a wonderful world you didn’t know existed. So even if it freaks the crap out of you, do what you know deep down is right for you, your sanity, your happiness and your life.
In conclusion, a bad boss can change your life forever. And, sometimes, it is the best thing that can happen to you. Although I had been in management positions my entire working career, it was no longer enough to exchange my time for a paycheck. I wanted and needed new challenges that actually do make a difference in peoples’ lives.
Baring my soul to share my journey to “hell and back” pushed me way out of my comfort zone. My desire and hope is that my experiences will provide insights and inspiration that may help others. And my husband was right, we did get through this, the bad boss is gone, my health improved 100% and I transformed with a completely new direction, excitement and happiness.