General Health Matters

Why?

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I have been trying to think of a title for this blog entry and “Why?” seems to fit best.  Regarding the subject I wish to discuss, all my thoughts and questions contain “why” somewhere.

 

For example, why don’t more people read?  Why don’t more people do research?  Why do people have amazing faith in the untrustworthy yet question validity?  Why don’t more people ask MORE questions?  I think there is a lot of effort and work behind wonderment and why questions many rather avoid.

 

You are probably wondering what this blog is all about.  Why?  😉  Gotcha!

 

Hello to you, it has been awhile since I have written, all the same reasons, of course: work, school, life.  I have just been a busy girl!  Oh!  And we have a new dog!  Remember my last post, “Indecisiveness“…well, Mandy Pandy (her nickname) has been in our home since February 19th.  We formally adopted her on February 27th, but that will be another blog!  Here is a sneak peek of our new girl:

 

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Ya…made her wear a sign of shame last week.

 

Anyway, back to it.  My husband and I have been doing vast research on GMOs (genetically modified organisms), GE and GM foods (genetically engineered/modified), organics, Monsanto, politics, pharmaceuticals, etc., for many, many months now.  My husband really preaches it.  Sometimes I just want to hide my head in the sand around our family and friends because he can be quite overbearing with this subject.  However when you get an amazing testimony from someone who happened to listen…that is what this blog is about.  Why don’t more people ask questions?  Why don’t more people listen?

 

We began asking many questions after seeing Food, Inc.  The questions multiplied once we saw Genetic Roulette.  Actually, our questions tripled and our whole lifestyle and eating habits changed.  For the better.  We also learned much from the documentary King Corn.  Of the three, Genetic Roulette answers so many “why” questions and introduces the viewer to critical thinking.

 

So, my husband shared some information with an elevator vendor at a commercial building he oversees.  The guy actually listened.  He watched all three of these movies and told my husband he now “sings the no-GMO song.”  Wow!  This gentleman has started reading labels, he gave up soft drinks, he eats organic food and avoids GMO products.  In just a couple of months he has lost over 16 pounds, has been taken off of his blood pressure and cholesterol medications, and he has been spreading his testimony to his friends and family.  As well, his wife and two children have completely changed their diets.  He is now a believer!  This made my husband’s day and triggered my curiosity as to why more people won’t consider the dangers of GMO’s.

 

Have YOU seen any of these movies?  Do YOU read food labels?  How do YOU feel about GMOs? Do YOU care?  We have so many friends who could care less about this topic or their own eating habits.  Are YOU opposed to eating organic?  Why or why not?  Many dislike the fact that organic food products are higher priced than non-organic foods.  While this may be true, in the long run imagine what you will save monetarily and gain for your health by eating organics.  Don’t get me wrong, I used to LOVE consuming Cheetos and whole cans of Pringles.  I am also not okay with ingesting pesticides, are you?

 

So, I challenge you to do some homework.  I am providing a simple list below.  I guarantee you will be singing the no-GMO song too!  If you are not willing to do this homework, please allow me to ask why?  Again, I am challenging you and would love, love, love to hear back from you and for you to share your testimony.  Because you WILL have one.  Don’t just take my word on it.  Do your homework and ask “why” questions.

One month from now I want to hear from you,

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Homework

1.  Watch the movie Genetic Roulette.  If you wish to also watch Food, Inc., and King Corn, feel free to do so.

2. Start reading all of your food labels.  Avoid products that contain corn, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and soy.  Corn and soy are the top GMO crops.  Any and all corn or soy products you consume, make sure they are organic.

3.  Stop drinking soft drinks.  Period.  Not even diet.  Just give them up.  Substitute lemon water, plain water or organic teas.

4.  Shop, buy and eat ONLY organic produce and food products.  Look for that USDA stamp and organic certification.  Frequent your local farmers markets.

5.  Keep a journal on how you feel, changes you notice.  How is your energy?  Any changes in weight?  Sleeping better?  Consider getting a blood panel done, talk to your doctor about your diet change, and have that blood panel tested again after one month.  Numbers do not lie.  You will be amazed!

 

 

 

 

 

Swallowing Glass

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Have you ever swallowed glass?  On purpose or accidentally?  I can’t image.  But, then again I can.

How about being stabbed repeatedly by a knife, in the abdomen?  I can’t image.  But, then again I can.

This is how I must describe my bout with recently diagnosed diverticulitis.  There is just no closer resemblance to the pain when diverticulosis becomes an infection.

I never knew I had either of these conditions until last month.  I am pretty darn healthy and eat a vegetarian/pescatarian diet 99% of the time.  I occasionally will have chicken and turkey, but definitely get plenty of fiber, which is of high importance each day (and seems to be lacking in diets of those with this diagnosis) for someone with diverticulosis.  I still don’t know how I got this.  More tests are forthcoming.  (Including the dreaded colonoscopy, I have coined as the “butt scope”).

My doctor initially thought I had appendicitis and sent me to the emergency room, where I had a CT scan which discovered this lovely infection and condition.  I had a fever, as well.  I am so thankful I followed up, usually I grin and bear it, but I knew something serious was wrong, as this was not your normal tummy ache.

What is diverticulitis and diverticulosis?

I think I will refrain from going into all the disgusting, gross details here and point you here where you can read up about it if you wish: Diverticular disease.

Something I have discovered that has tremendously changed my symptoms and digestion is the Food Combining Diet.  I bought a little book and did plenty of research after hearing from a friend that it totally cured her symptoms and flare-ups from diverticular disease.

I added a simple little reminder chart here that I keep on my refrigerator as a reminder:

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Basically, eat fruit alone.  I have my fruit in the morning, before breakfast and after my morning cup of coffee.  Also, do not mix lean proteins with carbs.  Period.  I have lean protein (such as fish, chicken) with veggies and a salad for dinner.  You can mix carbs with veggies- those are the fun meals!  (Think pasta, bread and salad).

I have omitted tomatoes (high acid & seeds), hot things like peppers and jalapeños (which I love) and small seeds like sesame.

I am feeling good and losing some weight as well.  When we let our bodies digest foods in the best and easiest way possible, our bodies will thank us.

Getting older comes with many surprises concerning our health.

I am certainly missing my hot foods, but definitely never want to feel the pain of a diverticulitis recurrence.  I hope this was helpful to you.  I’ll let you all know how I survived my upcoming “butt scope.”  I’m more concerned with what I might blab during sedation (my doctor is a handsome devil!). Wish me luck!

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Medical Mystery Solved: GMO’s and Cat Barf

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My husband and I have been on a recent researching frenzy.  The topic?  GMO’s -AKA genetically modified organisms.  Of course we began this journey after watching, “Food, Inc.”  We are very healthy eaters as it is, but since watching that movie a few years ago we strive all the more for organics and grain-fed lean proteins (chicken, turkey, no beef or pork).  We are probably 98.5% Pescatarian (wild not farm-raised fish, vegetables).

So, what does this have to do with cat barf?  A lot, actually.  I am not talking about the occasional hair ball either, rather vomit.  Large amounts of vomit full of food, disgustingly yellowish in color and sometimes projectile in nature.

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I now will refer you to the movie, “Genetic Roulette.”  Trust me, you want to watch this.  I am going to present some evidence here with regards to my cats and allow you to do your own homework.  I really hope this inspires you to make changes in your life and in the life of your pets.  You will be amazed, trust me.

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Back to the cats.  We have five.  Yes, five- and they are all indoor.  For a long while I had them on a seemingly healthy diet based on advertisements and hype.  Gosh, we had them on a variety of foods.  We kept trying to find a food that would eliminate the piles of puke around our house and reduce weight gain.  (I won’t name all the brands here…)  Purina One Smart Blend sounds like a healthy and wholesome food, right?  The chicken and rice formula is what our cats ate.  Here is some of the promises they state:

  • Real chicken is the #1 ingredient, blended with other high-quality protein sources, to help support strong muscles, including a healthy heart.
  • Omega-6 helps give your cat a radiant coat and healthy skin.
  • Enriched with vitamins and minerals for strong bones and joints.
  • Highly digestible so more nutrition goes to work inside your cat.
  • Crunchy kibble helps reduce plaque build-up and whiten teeth.

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But…all these promises do not contain a “non-GMO” disclosure on their bag.  So, anyway…they ate a lot of Purina One Smart Blend.  Our oldest cat, Bageera, was becoming more and more obese, so I switched them all to the “lighter” version.  He became even more obese and all five of them vomited daily, multiple times a day.  (All the same texture and yellowish-bile color.)  They all also began to develop skin issues, dander knots and my oldest cat developed a large fatty mass under his left front leg/chest area.  I finally had enough of cleaning up cat vomit and running our carpet cleaner to remove the ugly yellow stains from our carpet.

Now, let me say that although Purina One Smart Blend (as well as other countless brands of pet foods) use chicken as their “main” ingredient, is this chicken grain-fed or corn-fed?  Is the chicken (or beef or fish) byproducts?  This literally means pieces, leftovers of the worst parts of the animal or fish.  As well, is the rice or corn or soy ingredients organic or are they actually from GMO products?  There IS a huge difference here.  Let me show you.

Once I switched my pets to organic and non-GMO pet food, guess what happened?  (It is truly quite amazing and a miracle!) They ALL stopped barfing.  It has been one year now, and all five of them completely, totally, utterly stopped hurling.  Once in a great while they will cough up a hair ball.  Cats do that, it’s normal.  Vomiting up yellowish-bile piles containing food repeatedly throughout the day is not.  Additionally, their coats shine.  No more mats in their fur.  They have all lost the weight they had gained on the GMO food.  The best part of all is that our oldest cat is now totally buff!  He runs around the house like a kitten and plays with twist ties from bread loaves.  Did I mention that he is almost 13 years old?  His fatty growth has now also almost completely resolved.

In saying all this, please read labels.  Look for the non-GMO label, organic ingredients and know your vendors.  Most corn and soy, as well as other fillers, are GMO grown.  Educate yourselves and be interested in your pet’s health in addition to your own.  There are organic foods available for your pets.  The extra cost is worth avoiding the vet costs, and your pets will forever thank you.  I know mine do.  Daily.  As well, I really love having carpets that are free of yellow barf stains and saving trees from all the paper towels I used for cleaning up the vomit mess.

With love on a Saturday,

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Thanking your Jedi Master, From Apprentice

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Over the past couple weeks I have had “writers block.”  Part of the reason for this is because I do so much writing and editing for work and also school.  Currently my class is British literature, the era long before our 21st century hype regarding nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles, and lately my writing has been geared towards middle English rather than modern English.

Anyway, recently I have been thinking about my coach.

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This is not her, but truly she is my Jedi Master, I am her apprentice.

I want to dedicate this blog especially to her this morning.  Laura, thank you!  You have inspired me to do what I never could have done alone, and was literally failing to accomplish traveling solo.

I do not believe my path crossed accidentally with Laura’s.  I was at a place in my life where I felt one last glimmer of hope and one last strength to reach out.  I honestly cannot even remember how I found Laura, but I am thankful every day for that moment.  I knew I needed some type of additional support and accountability to change my lifestyle, and she was that link.

Do you have a fitness/nutrition/life coach?  Just that extra hand to hold or shadow to follow can make all the difference, trust me.

The most important thing I believe I have learned from Laura is that I am not alone in my struggles or my desires to leave an unhealthy lifestyle.  I have also had to let go of some of my stubbornness  and independence.  She has shown me the importance of “rinse and repeat.”  Consistency is the pot of gold.

Have you been involved in an accountability/challenge group?  The strength of others, similar mindsets and inspiration found in such a group has changed my life.  We are all so very human and there truly is strength in numbers.  Out of these groups I have learned correct ways to eat and count calories (not approximate!), how to make exercise and fitness part of my everyday life (not a chore!), the importance of water, I have been introduced to Shakeology (the healthiest meal of my day and responsible for the disappearance of most ALL of my RA/fibromyalgia pain), and I have lost almost 20 pounds the healthy way!

So, I want to say thank you again, Laura.  You have been such a blessing in my life.  You are the product of the product, and because of your realness, gentleness and also firm reminders, you have so inspired me and been one of the most important reasons for my success today.  I love you, dear Jedi Master!

Will you consider being an apprentice?  Think about “rinse and repeat.”  Also, choose to make a healthy step today if you have been full of doubt or hopelessness.  Join a Challenge Group.  Give Shakeology a try.  I stand behind the Beach Body fitness programs because my life has been changed as a result of being the product of the product.  Now I am here in hopes of inspiring and serving you, just like Laura has done for me.

May the Force be with you.

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With love,

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Open Your Hand

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This morning I have been thinking about how it is impossible to receive something with a clenched fist. The image that keeps coming to mind is that from “The Monkey and The Juggler.” The monkey was unable to receive one or retrieve all the peanuts he held after reaching his hand into a jar because he refused to unclench his fist. He wouldn’t open his hand to let go of one peanut, therefore his hand remained stuck. Ever feel like that? May be you aren’t even aware this is where you are at. I’m reminded this morning to share with you: open your hand. Whatever has been holding you back from the healthy lifestyle and goals you are not meeting, unclench your fist. In order to receive something new we must open our hands and let something go.

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For example, a few years ago I decided I wanted to complete my schooling to obtain my degree. In order to do this, I had to give some things up to allow for more time for homework and studying. Yes, it was a stretch. Sometimes a painful one. However, I had to choose to unclench my fist, open my hand to let some things go in order to receive more time.

Do you struggle with eating the right foods? Is temptation too great? Unclench your fist and pick differently. There is such a variety to choose from, beautiful and delicious healthy, clean foods. Does eating clean get boring? Try some new recipes. There are hundreds of creative recipes free for the choosing on the Internet, free cookbooks can be downloaded for your Kindle or Nook, and recipe books are a dime to a dozen at thrift stores or garage sales. Load up half your dinner plate with vegetables and fruits. The more healthy foods you give your body, the more your body will crave those foods. Consider trying Shakeology®, which eliminates unhealthy cravings and increases your cravings for healthy foods.

Is exercise nearly impossible because you smoke? Do you want to quit smoking, and continually fail? Don’t stop trying, try again! Unclench your fist and replace your cigarettes with patches, the electronic cigarette or even medication. Talk to your doctor. Join a support group. Start walking. Drink a lot of water. Rebuild your lungs one day at a time. You can do this! How do I know? Because I HAVE DONE IT! I smoked for years and never thought I could live my life without cigarettes being part of it. I unclenched my fist and let cigarettes go and replaced them with health. I am free, and free to exercise with the full capacity of my lungs. Nothing is impossible with faith and persistent efforts.

Don’t have time for exercise? This can be coined with our kids saying they don’t have time to get their homework done. No more excuses! Set your alarm 30 minutes early, break up your exercise in increments, do whatever it takes and manipulate your schedule to allow for this “me” time for your overall health and well-being. As much as exercise may feel or seem like a chore, IT IS NOT! Exercise and movement are as important as eating, sleeping and praying.

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Most of us know exactly what we are holding in our clenched fist, and it is usually more than one thing. Take some time to quietly reflect on what you are holding on to that is preventing you from opening your hand to receive something else, something better, which is blessed good health.

I thought I would share the story with you also. Think about these things, will you?

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The Monkey and The Juggler

In a mango orchard outside a village there lived a mischievous monkey. The whole day, he would jump from one tree to another. Thus the monkey kept on eating the ripe mangoes. The orchard-keeper tried to trap the monkey. But every time the monkey escaped the trap.

One day, the monkey wandered out to the nearby town. “The town people are so busy. There is so much crowd here,” the monkey thought. Soon the monkey was sneaking into houses and running away with eatables. By evening, he had made life difficult for the town people. “The town is more fun than the orchard. I will live here,” he thought.

Days went by and the monkey was looked upon by the town people with terror. “Here he comes again,” they screamed when they saw the monkey.

One day, a juggler came to the town. The people of the town approached him. “We want you to help us get rid of that mischievous monkey,” they said to the juggler. The juggler said in return, “Do not worry. Get me some jars with narrow necks,”

When the jars of the size were brought to him, he put peanuts into the jars and placed them out on a field.

The monkey became curious when he saw the jars. When he went and peeped inside the jars, he saw peanuts. “Yummy! Let me quickly grab the peanuts and run,” he thought. He put his hand inside the jar and grabbed a big handful.

But he could not pull out his clenched fist, as the neck of the jar was so narrow. If the monkey dropped some peanuts back into the jar, he could have pulled his hand out. But he was greedy. So he did not drop some peanuts into the jar.

The town people trapped the monkey with his hand inside the jar. They got hold of the rope and tied him in a post. Then the monkey was sold to a zoo. That was the end of the greedy monkey.

Painful Truth?

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Today I am sharing a fantastic blog by Denise Shroka Sanger from “How to Stay Fit Over 50” that discusses times from yesterday (gotta love those years!) and excuses of today.

I really encourage you to be inspired, even though the truth may sting a bit.  Oh, and you should go check out this blog site.  Really you should.  I have listed the link below.

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If You Are Going To Make Excuses, Don’t Start An Exercise Program

by on APRIL 11, 2013

Okay – I will admit it.  I have a pet peeve about people who make excuses for ANYTHING but more so when it effects your health as in diet and an exercise program.  Being born at a time when mom still stayed at home and dad worked, we didn’t just get anything we wanted.  If we wanted something, we worked for it because bottom line, there wasn’t any extra money.  You figured it out and you made it happen.   We had a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and dad saved enough money to go on vacation one time a year and vacation for many families at the time was just not possible.  It is the same thing with exercise.  I myself can come up with A LIST OF EXCUSES but I don’t.  I make the time and just do it and when I’ve finished I feel wonderful.

Granted growing up when we did (those of us in our 50′s, near our 50′s or over our 50′s), we tend to view the world just a little bit different.  We walked to and from school, came home changed out of our “school” clothes into our “play clothes” and after homework was done, outside we went.  In for dinner then back outside but had to have our butts in the door or at least the yard by the time the street lights came on.   TV had 3 stations originally and we watched what our parents watched.  Personally, I remember playing outside until the last possible minute before coming in the house.  We didn’t have 500+ stations, computers, IPads, XBoxes, streaming video, video games, and everything else that keeps us sitting in the house on the couch these days.

I think because we do tend to view the world through the eyes we grew up with, we don’t take things for granted.  If you want something, you work your butt off to get it.  I started working when I was 12 cutting grass in the neighborhood.  Why? I wanted a new bike and yes I got that bike by saving my money.  Was it easy?  No it was not but boy was it worth it when I got to ride my new yellow 10 speed bike :)

It’s the same way with fitness. You must make the choice to select healthy foods when you are in the grocery store or at the restaurant.  You must make the time to workout. Yes, we are all busy with different aspects of our lives but if you truly want to be fit, get up and do something.  Tied up after work?  How about getting up just 30 minutes earlier in the morning?  Watching the kids or grandkids?  Take them to the park and play WITH them – don’t sit on the bench and watch them and worse yet? Don’t sit on the couch and watch TV for 3 hours with them – get up, get out and move.

Work is too busy?  Seriously?  Making money for someone else is more important than your health?  TAKE your lunch and go out for a walk.  Working through lunch is not a good thing for so many reasons with your health being at the top of the list. I know how that goes because I used to do it.  I used to put the company I worked for ahead of my family and my health and where did it get me? Working 60+ hours a week, working Saturday’s, eating lunch at my desk and overweight, grumpy and not spending enough time with my kids.   That 4% raise I got? So not worth the time I traded away from MY life, MY family and MY kids and now I’m self employed and will NEVER go back to the way it was and that was just a short 5 years ago. (Ask me how I did it – that’s a whole other topic but when you want it, you work for it until you get it.)

Bottom line is if YOU don’t make the time to put your health and fitness at the top of the list as a priority, no one will do it for you. How many more excuses do you have?

Stop Making Excuses Stop Making Excuses

Whining for wine

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I love wine.  I love to go wine tasting.  I love wine with any meal.  I love wine in between meals.  I love both red and white wine, and I cannot really say which I prefer most.  I do not like real sweet wine, but I love champagne and sparkling wines too.  I love just everything to do with wine, except for the extra weight I have put on as a result of this “love” and the lack of self-control to stop at only one glass.

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My husband and I have been members of many wine clubs over the years including Laetitia, Summerland and Firestone, as well as a few smaller, organic wineries.

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There is such an absolute carefree pleasure you receive in visiting a winery-we usually make it a picnic day-and then delight in receiving a subsequent wine shipment in the mail.  Our favorite wines on our porch step kindle the great memories of each winery we have visited.  We actually canceled all of our wine memberships some time back because of the growing cost.  We also finished our bottles too quickly.  More like me.  I take the blame.  My love for wine, specialty wine shipments and the fact that I work from home made it far too easy to “sip” throughout my day.  This was the beginning of my weight problem.  (Honestly, my mouth is watering as I write this, thinking back!)   Wikipedia describes a “wino” perfectly: Wino is a slang term for a person who drinks excessive amounts of wine.  I am ashamed to say this describes me.

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We also have thousands of wine corks we have collected over the years for various crafts (wine cork boards are so awesome!).  It amazes me that we literally drank every bottle matching the endless supply of corks we have!  Actually, it’s kind of scary.

Over the years I have fallen hard in love with everything to do with wine (in addition to drinking) from wine movies, history about wine, books about wine, wine Christmas decorations, wine place mats for our dining room table, a variety of wine glasses, wine towels, wine picnic sets, electric wine openers and even a wine aerator, which perfectly aerates red wine and brings out the very best taste.

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I also love to cook and can easily pair the perfect foods with the perfect wine.  Of course, cheese, crackers and chocolate go very well, another source of additional weight gain.

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I can find a million excuses not to give up wine.  I especially love to blame my French heritage.  But the fact is, I know this has become a problem for me and an obstacle preventing me from reaching my healthy goals.  In all honesty, I have grieved letting wine go.  It feels like I have let a part of me go, it has felt a bit like mourning a best friend.  But, this best friend has really been a foe.  An occasional glass is just fine, but a few glasses to a bottle?  Every day?  Sometimes more?  Not a healthy habit.  And a habit it became.

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The greatest benefit I have gained in curbing my intake of wine is my sleep quality.  One would think wine would be the perfect sleeping aid.  Not so for me.  I find I sleep deeper and wake refreshed without wine.  I am losing weight and keeping it off.  I am exercising daily and eating a balanced diet.  I hydrate more with water and green tea, not wine.  I used to reduce what I ate during the day to allow for wine calories.  This type of diet DOES NOT WORK!  I obviously do not do this anymore.

Some of my most important reasons I have reduced wine from my life, besides my desire to get my body and my life back, are:

People drinking wine or any type of alcoholic beverage in moderation tend not to be aware that alcohol creates a chemical dependency.  Our body’s chemistry gets accustomed to the effects of the drug.  Naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain are released in response to the ingestion of alcohol.

A common effect of regular alcohol use is a buildup of fat and scar tissue in the liver that ends up seriously compromising its function.

Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. In small concentrations, alcohol reduces inhibition, prompting a mild euphoria, sociability or self-confidence but at the same time, it rapidly impairs attention, judgment and control.

Over time a person who consumes alcohol regularly develops metabolic tolerance: alcohol will be metabolized faster and a higher amount is needed in order to experience the same effects. This leads to alcohol dependence.

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I have chosen to go weeks without wine.  I started with the goal of no wine Monday-Thursday, allowing for the weekends.  Presently, I am just not having any.   I feel better, although I still love wine and have such fond memories associated with it.  I am choosing to govern my life, not allow a glass of wine to dictate.  When and if I do have a glass, it will be just that: one glass, preferably with a meal.  Having a glass of wine each day is actually good for our health, but no more than that.

I am wondering if anyone else struggles or loves wine as much as me?  It is all about choices isn’t it, and staying consistent.

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Eating for our brains

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Food doesn’t just feed our bodies, it also nourishes our minds. If you are living with mental illness, eating well is especially important for you, because what you eat can affect your daily life, mood and energy level.

A healthy diet emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products and should include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.

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Healthy eating helps me to have more energy throughout the day and makes me feel better about myself in general. When I overindulge or eat junk food, it literally weighs me down and makes me want to go to sleep.  I love food, so I adapt healthier versions of my favorite meals and, of course, I treat myself once in a while.  I also eat smaller meals throughout the day to keep from overeating.  At first, it’s difficult to go from 3 huge meals to 6 tiny ones, but now I love it.  I can sample a variety of different foods and I’m never hungry because I know my next meal is right around the corner.

~Kerry M.
Living with Mental Illness

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Warnings about sugar

According to research, diets containing high amounts of refined sugar are associated with worsening symptoms of schizophrenia and a higher rate of depression. Current research recommends that you limit your sugar consumption to around 10 percent of total energy (or calorie) intake. Other dietary options such as fish, seafood and starchy roots provide a healthier energy-gaining alternative and are associated with reducing the prevalence of depression.

Keep a food journal

Are you even eating?  The answer 95 percent of the time is no, some people suffering with mental illness were actually fooling themselves.  It’s only when individuals are asked to write down everything they eat and drink that the true story is told.  Make sure to record the time of day and emotions surrounding your food choices.  Anorexia is also a form of mental illness and some patients claim that they have “hardly eaten anything at all” (Kirkpatrick, 2010).

Healthy brain foods

Diet is inextricably linked to conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, what we consume also seems to have significant implications for the brain: Unhealthy diets may increase risk for psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and dementia, whereas healthy diets may be protective.

Make for Malta in Depression, Stroke, and Dementia

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A 2009 study published in Archives of General Psychiatry found that people who follow Mediterranean dietary patterns -that is, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and unsaturated fat (common in olive and other plant oils) – are up to 30% less likely to develop depression than those who typically consume meatier, dairy-heavy fare.  The olive oil-inclined also show a lower risk for ischemic stroke and are less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease, particularly when they engage in higher levels of physical activity.

Fat: The Good and the Bad

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A study conducted in Spain reported that consumption of both polyunsaturated fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy green vegetables) and monounsaturated fatty acids (found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts) decreases the risk for depression over time. However, there were clear dose-response relationships between dietary intake of trans fats and depression risk, whereas other data support an association between trans fats and ischemic stroke risk. Trans fats are found extensively in processed foods, including many commercial chocolates. A deficiency in polyunsaturated fatty acids has been linked to attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children.

Fish Oil to Fend Off Psychosis?

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Thanks to their high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help fend off numerous diseases of the brain. A 2010 study correlated fish consumption with a lower risk for psychotic symptoms, and concurrent work suggested that fish oil may help prevent psychosis in high-risk individuals. Although data are conflicting, new research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are beneficial in depression and postpartum depression, respectively, and other research suggests that omega-3 deficiency may be a risk factor for suicide. Oily, cold-water fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, have the highest omega-3 levels.

Berries for Oxidative Stress

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Polyphenols, namely anthocyanins, found in berries and other darkly pigmented fruits and vegetables may slow cognitive decline through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A study in rats from 2010 showed that a diet high in strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry extract leads to a “reversal of age-related deficits in nerve function and behavior involving learning and memory.” In vitro work by the same group found that strawberry, blueberry, and acai berry extracts – albeit in very high concentrations -can induce autophagy, a means by which cells clear debris, such as proteins linked to mental decline and memory loss. Berry anthocyanins may also reduce cardiovascular disease risk by reducing oxidative stress and attenuating inflammatory gene expression.

Alcohol: Always in Moderation

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The Greeks touted “nothing in excess,” a refrain that still rings true: Low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with numerous potential physiologic benefits, including improved cholesterol profiles, beneficial effects on platelet and clotting function, and improved insulin sensitivity.  According to a recent meta-analysis, limited alcohol use is associated with a lower risk for overall and Alzheimer dementia, a finding supported by a 2011 study of German primary care patients.  Moderate alcohol intake may also protect against cerebrovascular disease, with wine potentially having added benefit because of its polyphenolic antioxidant components (ie, resveratrol). However, the health costs of alcohol consumption beyond low to moderate intake can quickly outweigh benefits to the brain, as heavy and long-term alcohol use can lead to alcohol abuse and dependence, impair memory function, contribute to neurodegenerative disease, and hinder psychosocial functioning.

*The US Food and Drug Administration defines “moderate alcohol consumption” as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. One drink is equivalent to 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of 12% alcohol wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits.

Rewed Awakening: Coffee for Depression and Stroke

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The world’s most widely used stimulant might do more than just wake us up: A 2011 meta-analysis found that consumption of 1-6 cups of coffee a day cut stroke risk by 17%.  Although it may increase blood pressure, coffee beans contain antioxidant compounds that may reduce oxidation of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and coffee consumption has also been associated with increased insulin sensitivity and reduced concentrations of inflammatory markers.  Another 2011 study reported that women who drink 2-3 cups of coffee per day have a 15% decreased risk for depression, compared with those who drink less than 1 cup per week. A 20% decreased risk was seen in those who drank 4 cups or more. The short-term effect of coffee on mood may be due to altered serotonin and dopamine activity, whereas the mechanisms behind its potential long-term effects on mood may relate to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both factors that are thought to play a role in depressive illnesses.

Chocolate — and Still More Antioxidants

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Chocolate — the darker the better — seems to help scavenge free radicals and improve endothelial and platelet function, likely via flavanols (such as catechin), a group of plant-derived polyphenols. A 2010 cohort study published in European Heart Journal found that consumption of 6 g of chocolate daily – a standard Hershey bar weighs 43 g – was associated with a 39% lower combined risk for myocardial infarction and stroke in adults, whereas data collected from the Swedish Mammography Cohort demonstrated a 20% decreased risk for stroke in women who regularly consume chocolate. Although chocolate has been associated with a positive influence on mood, possibly mediated by the dopamine and opioid systems, an extensive review by Parker and colleagues suggests that the benefits are not sustained, with emotional “comfort” eating actually contributing to depressed mood.

What Not to Eat?

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Saturated fats and refined carbohydrates have highly detrimental effects on the immune system, oxidative stress, and neurotrophins, all factors that are known to play a role in depression. The study by Akbaraly and colleagues cited previously showed that a diet rich in high-fat dairy foods and fried, refined, and sugary foods significantly increases risk for depression. Similar findings were seen in another study from Spain, showing that intake of such foods as pizza and hamburgers increased the risk for depression over time, and in another study, women with a diet higher in processed foods were more likely to have clinical major depression or dysthymia.  Research published last year also showed for the first time that quality of adolescents’ diets was linked to mental health: healthier diets were associated with reduced mental health symptoms and unhealthy diets with increased mental health symptoms over time. Excess salt intake has been long known to increase blood pressure and stroke risk; however, recent data also correlate high salt intake, as well as diets high in trans or saturated fats, with impaired cognition.

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Much time and research went into presenting this blog concerning eating for our mental health and wellness.  The references found were numerous; please feel free to share this information and check the validity of diet truths I have chosen to share with you.

Lastly, I wish to share a very special blog written by my brother, who has drastically changed his life and mental wellness by changing his diet.  He’s a great guy who I love with all my heart.  There is truth to this “eating for our brains” and such hope.   Please go check out his article here: http://journeytohealth.posterous.com/physical-health-nutrition-and-mental-health-a.  You can also find him on Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/letsjourneytohealth?fref=pb.

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Wishing you a blessed day,

Wendy

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References

 

Kirkpatrick, K. (2010)  Food Diary.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-kirkpatrick-ms-rd-ld/how-writing-everything-do_b_780535.html

Shall we eat our Chia pets?

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Guess what folks?  Edible chia seeds ARE exactly the seeds chia pets are made from and I have been curious lately WHY we are being so encouraged to EAT THEM.  I hear “chia seeds” and I see this cute little animal below:

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Chia pets were extremely popular during the ’80s and ’90s. The terra-cotta animals are spread with chia seeds that over time sprout and create a green, grass-like carpet of fur. (And yes, you can eat that fur!)   The company that began making the pets in just animal shapes continues to release new shapes and products to this day. You can find chia pets shaped like many things including even our President Barack Obama!

But, did you know that the seeds themselves used for chia pets are actually edible? Chia seeds have been cultivated since Aztec times. They are still grown and eaten in South America, from Mexico all the way down to Argentina. Now chia seeds are even grown in Australia, which has become the foremost producer.

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How To Eat Chia Seeds
Chia (Salvia hispanica) can be eaten raw as whole seeds. It can also be ground for use as a flour in baking, similar to ground flax. The seeds can be added to porridges, puddings, juice drinks, teas, and smoothies — the seeds turn gelatinous when they come in contact with water. Sprouted, chia can be added to salads and sandwiches, similar to alfalfa. Yum!

Nutritional Benefits
Many people eat chia for its nutritional benefits. Athletes like them because they’re packed with fiber, which means it keeps them fuller longer and provides more energy. Chia seeds also have a small percentage of protein, many essential vitamins and minerals, like potassium and calcium, and a very high amount of omega-3. The seeds actually do contain extractable oil, a reason why the Aztecs called the seeds chian or oily.

Some additional benefits of eating chia seeds include:

  • Feeling full and losing weight without starving
  • Balancing blood sugar levels
  • Help prevent diverticulosis and diverticulitis
  • Add healthy omega-3 oil to your diet
  • Feel more energized all day long
  • Bake with less fat
  • Age defying antioxidants
  • Reduces cravings for particular unhealthy foods
  • Adds a flavorful punch
  • Saves you money

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Lastly, I have discovered that my most favorite healthy meal of the day, Shakeology, contains the superfood chia seeds, in addition to so many other amazing nutrients.

So, with all this being said, you can eat your chia seeds, have a chia seed plant (and eat that too) or drink Shakeology once a day…you decide!

🙂 Wendy

Cravings

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Recently, I have been craving fish.  My cravings have been daily and even in the mornings I think of fish tacos!  (No, I am not pregnant!)  I decided to do some research this morning to see if there are any reasons behind this that I need to be concerned about, and lo and behold, I certainly did see that may be I need to add some more calcium to my diet.  I love fish, but these cravings have been a little more than normal for me.  (For example I had salmon for dinner last night and this morning I am once again craving a nice tilapia filet for breakfast!)

Do you have certain cravings for particular foods or other strange things like dirt?  Here are the reasons behind 10 foods you may be craving:

1. When you crave dirt you need to detox

Either that or you’re pregnant. Pregnant women have been known to crave dirt. Some say that it’s because they need calcium. As late as the nineties, some markets actually sold dirt for this kind of human consumption. And gaining calcium might still be the case for those currently knocked-up, but dirt also seems to be a good way to detox internally. It was once thought that only humans and macaws ate clay, but recently researchers have observed more and more species doing it. They notice, especially, that animals do it in seasons when fruits aren’t yet ripe. Unripe fruits and berries contain alkaloids. They have been found to be toxic to humans and animals alike. Certain people today smear clay on unripe potatoes, which contain solanine, a bitter and toxic alkaloid. Clay contains kaolin, which neutralizes the bitter taste, and takes out the alkaloids, making the food safe and tasty. When people get a craving to eat clay, they’re acting on ancient, and correct, instincts that tell them they’ve been poisoned.

2. When you crave rice and beans you need protein

Lysine is an amino acid that everyone’s body needs, but can’t manufacture. Methionine is another. Beans have lysine. Corn, wheat, and rice, have methionine. If you’ve thought of, and are now craving, a meal that contains all of these things, it shows that you live somewhere on Earth within walking distance of a burrito. To be fair, there are plenty of less popular cuisines that blend those same foods together. They do this because the taste combination is incredible. They also do this because the combo of foods substitute for meat pretty much perfectly. The flavor and nutrition complement each other so well that, for a long time, it was thought that unless some combination of rice and beans were eaten at the same meal, the body couldn’t absorb the amino acids properly. Since then it’s been shown that it’s not necessary to combine the two in the same meal, but both are needed and the body craves them both the same way it might crave, say, a nice juicy steak. This means that our body makes us crave not only certain food, but suggests certain food combinations that give us complete nutrition. Our cooking isn’t as inventive as we think.

3. When you crave spice you need to cool down

There are quite a few reasons why spicy foods and hot climates go together. Spicy food, especially of red peppers, triggers immediate sweating. Generally, when you sweat, you don’t feel cool. The body sweats only enough so that it doesn’t overheat. A sweating person is still warm and uncomfortable. They’re just not dying. Eating food with capsaicin, though, triggers sweating above and beyond what is needed to keep the body from overheating. Capsaicin stimulates receptors that sense heat in the mouth and along the mucus membranes of the nose. The body sweats everywhere, trying to respond to the heat and flush away the irritant, and the person eating the food finally feels cool when they sweat, instead of just sticky.

4. When you crave licorice you need hormones

Addison’s disease is a disease of the adrenal system, often brought on by an attack from a person’s own immune system, that causes the adrenal glands to produce too few steroid hormones. This can cause weakness, abdominal pain, and can even cause blood-pressure crashes that end in coma. One of the hormones regulates salt excretion, which causes people with the disease to get rid of too much salt, and have extreme cravings for it. That’s pretty straightforward. Stranger, though, is their craving for licorice. Doctors couldn’t account for it, until they saw that licorice contained glasorisic acid, which causes salt retention. Without having any idea as to why they might want licorice, patients gravitated toward a food that had substance that relieved their symptoms.

5. When you crave milk in your tea you need protection with your morning beverage

Tea is not the bland, inoffensive leaf stew that day-time TV commercials make it out to be. It is out to get you — with tannins. These are a kind of astringent that scours everything from one opening in your body to the other. They’re also found in coffee, just waiting to scrub you out until you get sick with a digestive disorder. They have a dry, bitter quality that the body is supposed to interpret as, “Don’t drink this, dummy!” Sadly, people overcome that. Happily, they instinctively know how to cope with it. Milk protects the throat from tannin, and consequently cuts the bitter taste. The fact that we can tolerate milk at all, as adults, is its own kind of nutritional adaptation. Feeding milk to adult animals often makes them sick. Lactose intolerance is still a problem in a lot of humans. Milk drinking in adult humans has happened relatively recently, so it’s doubly impressive that, as soon as we developed the ability to tolerate milk, our taste buds lead us to ways that it can protect us from other dumb stuff we swallow.

10 Foods You Crave — And Why You Crave Them

6. When you crave ice you need iron

When I was pregnant with my second child, I craved ice daily!  For some reason, people who are anemic tend to have a voracious craving for ice. Whenever the iron levels in their body increase, the craving goes away. This is one of the cravings that isn’t quite explainable, since chewing ice doesn’t increase a person’s iron level. It could be, though, that patients are seeking to relieve their symptoms and not their core deficiency. With iron deficiency comes inflammation, and with inflammation comes soreness. Anemic patients especially tend to get inflammation in their tongue and mouth area. Chewing ice can relieve the pain before they even know that they have it.

7. When you crave fish cooked in greens you need calcium

My cravings particularly have been for fish covered in cilantro, cabbage, lettuce, in a corn tortilla, or with spinach.  Two different culinary traditions cook fish wrapped in certain green leaves. West Africans often wrap fish in banana leaves before cooking. French cooks wrap fish in sorrel leaves. Both have a practical convenience – the bones of the fish dissolve, making for less picking and choking. More importantly, though, it gives the fish a richer flavor that people come to crave. This is because the bones don’t disappear, or drip away. The calcium from the bones dissolves into the flesh of the fish, causing a huge boost in calcium received by the body. (A vegetarian alternative to this was found in Mexico, where people soaked corn for tortillas in water in which they had dissolved limestone. Limestone is calcium carbonate, and the tortillas delivered a huge amount of calcium to the diners.)

8. When you crave ginger you need to heal your heart (literally)

Ginger is one of those herbal medicines that make the rest of herbal medicine look good. It suppresses nausea, reduces pain, quiets the need to cough, clears head aches, and flavors food enough to make it tolerable to the queasy. Doctors found, though, that even when they weren’t sick in any measurable way, some people craved ginger. Studies revealed, though, that ginger reduced clotting that might lead to heart attacks, that it lowered cholesterol, and that it strengthened heart muscles. Considering how much damage it might have done to people who see results from ginger and then put their faith in unregulated herbal supplements, though, and it would have to do heart surgery itself to break even, socially.

9. When you crave caffeine you need a painkiller

Let’s say you’ve exhausted the painkilling power of ginger and moved on to manufactured painkillers. If one of them doesn’t get the job done, reach for a cup of coffee. Caffeine doesn’t just cause headaches via withdrawal. It’s been shown to boost the power of painkillers, and stop migraines from setting in. In fact, while some health professionals warn people away from coffee, others say about two cups a day are good. The stuff can decrease both physical and emotional pain, since it’s a mild stimulant that can decrease mild depression. Some studies show that it can actually help people sleep better, and get them on a better sleep cycle, since it’s generally a regulated habit that can get someone up at a certain time every day. Basically, this isn’t the devil-brew that many doctors make it out to be, which is why so many people crave the kick.

10. When you crave chocolate you need to get high

Chocolate took most Western nations by storm, and looking at it today, it’s easy to think you know why. It has all the necessary components. It’s sweet and fatty and the perfect dessert. Of course, the cocoa beans that first became popular weren’t any of those things. Although they were dressed up different ways, for a long time chocolate was relatively coarse and bitter. Originally it was mostly served with spices as a drink, or over snow. While early Americans did occasionally sweeten it, it took a while before Europeans thought to add sugar to chocolate, and even longer before they added milk. It was often served over meat as a savory substance. So why was this flavor so very, very popular?

Some people point to phenylethylamine (PEA), the so-called “love chemical” that people produce when they’re in love or feeling especially happy and excited. Researchers point out that PEA breaks down to quickly in the body to actually affect the way that people act, and that other food, like cheese, contains more PEA anyway. A more likely story is the cannabinoids that chocolate contains. These chemicals, related to the THC found in marijuana, trigger anandamide, known as the “bliss molecule.” This triggers a high of happiness and well-being that a lot of people feel after eating chocolate. Researchers point out that most people would have to eat pounds of chocolate to get the same high as they would from pot. Chocolate also contains theobromine, a compound similar to the caffeine that gets people addicted to coffee. Chocolate, as it turns out, is a bubbling brew of 380 chemicals, a bunch of which are known to have an effect on mood. It’s a darling little meth lab of feel-good chemicals in a heart-shaped box. Forget alcohol or tobacco, this is the drug of choice for pretty much everyone.

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So, with that I am going to take some extra calcium each day and enjoy my fish as well! I hope this information was beneficial to you!

Have a wonderful Monday,

Wendy