Posts Tagged ‘diet’

Feeling frustrated? Foggy-headed? Try drinking some water.

June 3, 2010

Most of us have been told that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water per day to keep ourselves hydrated.  There are lots of reasons touted as to why this would be important–to keep our kidneys functioning correctly, to keep our skin looking vibrant and healthy, to prevent constipation, to give us more energy, to lose weight. Now we can add two new reasons for drinking water–to decrease crankiness and frustration and lift our mood and to improve our cognitive abilities.

In a study done by Kristen D’Anci of Tufts University and recently published in Perceptual and Motor Skills, young, healthy athletes participated in a study  of the cognitive and mood effects of mild dehydration (the equivalent to a busy office worker not drinking enough during the day).  The results showed that those allowed to achieve mild dehydration exhibited more anger and frustration as well as a “down” mood after the session than those that maintained their hydration.  Additionally, those who were slightly dehydrated performed much less well on the cognitive tests administered after the session than those that were well hydrated.

So, the next time you find yourself feeling a little foggy-headed or getting easily frustrated with a task, ask yourself when you last had a drink of water.  Getting a glass of water just might make you able to finish that task or project much easier.

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Good-bye Lynn Redgrave–Rest in Peace

May 5, 2010

Lynn Redgrave (for more about her, see blog in Ms. Magazine)  is gone after a 7 year journey with breast cancer.  How powerful and how sad, and how close to home that hits for so many of us.  Breast cancer is so sneaky and tenacious.  How brave are those who journey with this companion–who know so many who have travelled long with breast cancer as a companion, but also know many who have travelled but a short time.  It always brings our mortality home when someone who is journeying with cancer dies, but it is especially poignant for those who have experienced the journey themselves.

It is critical that we stay aware and focused on the steps necessary to prevent the journey with this disease–for all.  Ladies, get your mammograms, remember monthly self exams, get your pap smears, do whatever it takes to catch it early on the journey. And men, you are not exempt from self exams and tests.  Better yet, take action to prevent it in the first place–eat healthy foods, stop smoking or don’t start, check your vitamin D levels and supplement if necessary, know your family history and risk factors.

The journey with cancer is becoming way too common.  Please don’t join us on the journey.  As my friend Barbara, one of the founders of Capital of Texas Team Survivor said yesterday to a new member “We are glad you are here but sorry you qualify.”  Our wish would be that no one else need join this group and that we can get to know you without having to travel this journey with cancer together.

So, Lynn, may your journey shed light and hope and save lives.  Rest in peace.

NOTE: The photo is by her daughter Annabel Clark, August 2003, after surgery, chemo and radiation.

The switch from “want to want to” to “want to”.

April 21, 2010

I don’t know what switch was turned on for me.  For years I have been overweight and frustrated by it, and complained about it, and threatened to so something about it, but it was more of a want to want to than an actual want to.  I knew it was unhealthy and I knew I “should” do something about it (I am really good at “shoulding” on myself).  Many of my friends were, and are,  very encouraging, but still I did nothing.

Then the cancer was diagnosed (a cancer that is fed and supported in its development by the excess estrogen produced in fat cells) and still I wanted to want to but did nothing.  I talked about doing something, I laid elaborate plans for things I would do that I didn’t do.  I even joined a gym and kind of went, but didn’t really push it much while I was there.

I got the operation report for my cancer surgery and read all about the problems encountered and actions taken as a result of my obesity, but still could only find the “want to want to” in myself.  I attended support groups, nutritional counseling and in-depth workshops.  They all supported my fantasy that I was doing something, but I was still not moving my body nor changing my eating.

Then, one day, I was.  I signed up to participate in training for a triathlon (the Danskin) and I knew I would probably be the heaviest and most out of shape person there (I still am) and it was scary and uncomfortable and yet, suddenly, I was willing to go.  I was suddenly willing to do what it takes to take control back over my life, my body, my health–everything.  I wish I could pinpoint what made the switch turn on.  If I could do that, I could make a fortune turning everyone elses “want to want to” to a “want to”.  But I can’t.  All I know is that finding a set goal and a set group of people who could provide the tools without judgment to get me there, who could see for me what I couldn’t see for and in myself, has been a huge part of it.  It would seem that in my endless planning and attempting that I actually put myself in the way of the answer for me.

So, I am training (not as hard as some of the others, but training none the less) 5 days a week.  And, while not a flattering picture of me in any way, here is proof that it doesn’t matter how big I am or how out of shape I am, I CAN DO IT if I just decide to. And so can you, when you decide.

I would love to hear about your journey from “want to want to” to “want to.”

Follow up to yesterday–eating out doesn’t mean eating unhealthy–but it can mean eating boring.

April 20, 2010

Don’t get me wrong. I love salads.  Salads can be full of wonderful textures and a variety of tastes and colors–and they can be incredibly healthy.  But, that is not the only option when you are not eating meat.  Except, when it is.  And that is just annoying and frustrating to me.

In a town that is health conscious, it seems to me people who are setting up luncheons in a restaurant, you could find some vegetarian option.  Not today.  The only option was to choose the salad and have them hold the meat.  But, good news for everyone else.  Meat is free!.  It must be, because I paid the same for my salad without meat as everyone else did for salmon or chicken.  And here I always thought the veggies were the least expensive part.  Apparently I was wrong. Or maybe the meat was already on the salad and they had to charge me the same to cover the cost of removing it?  I am not sure, but all in all a very frustrating lunch.

How hard can it be to think outside the narrow little box of lettuce?  And then, lettuce covered in some type of creamy, sweet dressing.  Healthy?  Doesn’t seem so to me.  I have been posting healthy, fun, easy and inexpensive vegetarian recipes for several weeks now without resorting to plain lettuce salad (my bad–it also had avocado and a few tortilla strips) and a creamy dressing to give it flavor.  I would think restaurants would be better able to come up with creative ideas than demonstrated today.

So, okay, I think I am done with the rant.

But I also know I won’t order food at that restaurant again.

Eating out doesn’t mean eating unhealthy.

April 19, 2010

Eating out doesn’t mean eating unhealthy foods, or giving up on the cleanse.  Eating on the cleanse has been fun and pretty simple and easy the past several weeks.  And with minimal appearances by lettuce during that time.  But, there comes a times when eating out is on the agenda and it can seem daunting to eat out, enjoy the meal with others and still eat healthily.  That was my challenge this past weekend.

With family visiting from out of town (and one of them is a chef, so knows good food) and a schedule that was a little on the time constraint side, it might have seemed a challenge to eat foods on the cleanse without eating lettuce salads. But, most restaurants offer something that fits the bill.  Now, I will admit that in some smaller towns, finding vegetarian fare that isn’t based around salads might be more challenging than in a big city, but you can always ask for what works for you.

Friday evening was a stay-home-finish-laundry-get-the-house-ready evening.  And after a full week of work, the food needed to be easy and comforting.  So, what is easier than vegetarian fried rice and my favorite fast food, spring rolls.  Warm and flavorful rice and cool and easy spring rolls with a rich peanut sauce.  My idea of a healthy take out meal.  Yum.  But easy to make at home also.

Then, lunch out at a wonderful, local, Interior Mexican cuisine restaurant here in Austin–Sázon. Lots of healthy choices on the menu, but how could I pass up Calabazitas Rellenas–steamed tender squash stuffed with roasted corn and serve with fresh roasted tomato salsa. Light and healthy and delicious.   Then dinner that evening at Kerbey Lane with potato flautas, guacamole and pico de gallo.  While the flautas are deep fried, they are far from greasy and it was wonderful warm food during a cool thunderstorm.

Finally, Sunday morning brunch at 24 Diner for divine slow cooked steel cut oatmeal with apples and brown sugar and vegetarian sausage (made from beets and lentils and rice and flaxseed).  I am going to search for this recipe.  It was delicious.

Then back to cooking at home again last night.  A rainy, cool day just begged for a warming hearty stew, so it was time for Green Chile Stew and garlic toast (wheat free bread of course).  How warming and comforting and just plain good.

Now, on the third week of the cleanse, it might be time to add in some lettuce.  But, then again, maybe not.

Kale Salad–how to play with your food without getting into trouble!

April 16, 2010

I love salads and have no problems with lettuce, but there are so many other wonderful leafy vegetables to enjoy.  One of my favorites is Kale.  There are several varieties available, each with a slightly different taste.  My favorite is curly leave Kale.  However, it can sometimes have a bitterness to it’s taste if not cooked or treated correctly.  My favorite recipe for kale in a salad type dish comes from my friend Sylvia, who is an awesome raw-foods chef.

When my energy is low, or I am just feeling tired and fatigued, this recipe always perks me up.  It is easy to make and I love it because you really get to feel and play with your food while making this dish.  Don’t let the instructions scare you–you get to become a kid again, play with your food and not get in trouble:)

Click here for the recipe for Mediterranean Kale Salad.

Meltdowns and other manifestations of fatigue and stress

April 16, 2010

I was recently reading the blog from Cancer Bitch about meltdowns and thought it was incredibly timely.  I, too, have been in meltdown.  And, for no good reason.  Except fatigue and stress.  It doesn’t feel acceptable to blame the cancer or the treatment, even though i want to, kind of.  My treatment was over almost 15 months ago.  Supposedly, the cancer is gone. But, nonetheless, I just wanted to cry. And cry. And pull the covers up and cry.

True, I am training to participate in my first Danskin triathlon. And the training is hard and my body is fighting back and I am exhausted and I hurt and I am totally graceless and awkward and frustrated and resigned and you name it. And then, yesterday I just wanted to cry. For no particular reason. I just wanted to cry. And I can’t blame it on treatment or chemo or anything. And, it has been 15 months and I should be ok and, and, and…… But I just wanted to cry. But, of course,  I didn’t cry because I didn’t have a reason.

Interesting how I had to have a reason–a socially acceptable reason- to allow myself to feel and express that feeling.  I wonder if some of the fatigue I am feeling comes from my unwillingness to just feel what I feel. Why, I wonder, do I need to have permission and validation to have and express feelings?  How interesting it is that I assume that because I am not currently in treatment or actively manifesting the disease that I should believe that would be the only reason I can use to justify a meltdown.  I can’t just feel stressed and fatigued because I am working hard to catch up on debt from medical treatments or a down economy, or stressed because I am eating differently and moving my body more, or stressed because I am taking on several new projects, including writing a book and presenting a number of workshops.  For some reason, I believe I should be able to handle all of these without being stressed. What???!!!  What is that all about?

What I am realizing is that life is stressful without journeying with cancer.  We all feel stress and everyone has a right to feel that and express it.  If it means crying, then by crying.  If it means cuddling and sleeping, then by cuddling and sleeping.  Meltdowns are the body’s way of saying “you aren’t dealing with this.  You have forgotten to take care of me.”

Once I realized that expressing what I am feeling is the first step in taking care of me, last night I chose to just cry.

And then, today, in the mail, I got the results from my most recent cancer screen and it was negative.  And, for a moment, I thought “See, I have a reason to be stressed.  I was waiting for these results.” Perhaps.  But, do I really need a justified reason—still?

Maybe.

Jump-starting my health: a 28 day food cleanse

March 29, 2010

In a meeting today I mentioned I was doing a food cleanse and many people wanted to know about cleanses–why do they, what type work best.  I needed to assure them that I am not an expert on cleanses, but that I had done some research and would be happy to talk about my experiences.

It is interesting to me how popular cleanses and fasting and special diets are to so many people.  And, like many people, I have tried lots of them over the years.  Several years ago, several of my friends began studying the teachings of Scott Ohlgren and began a 28 day food cleanse.  I didn’t pay much attention.  As a nurse, I am very skeptical of most fasts and cleanses.  I usually find that they are not based on true physiology and can often do more harm than good, as I discovered years ago when I tried the ‘Lemonade’ Cleanse and became very ill.  But, as I was reading and researching on my own, I came to the conclusion, that for me, the best cleanse included foods that supported healing while removing foods that taxed my body.  And, I again discovered Scott Ohlgren.

His philosophy is to give the body’s detoxification systems a periodic rest while eating food that supports rebuilding and regeneration.  So, I have committed to his 28 day cleanse–No dairy, No meat, No refined wheat, No refined sugar, No caffeine. As I was sharing this at the meeting this morning, one of my friends,  “What do you eat? Lettuce?  I would be a raving lunatic if I ate like that.”

What do you eat? Lettuce?

Interesting.  If you eat healthy, you will be crazy.  So, I guess I am crazy.  And, I invite you to be crazy too, or just  share in my eating journey over the next three weeks as I share recipes and menus.  Come find out what you can eat if you cut out the big 4–dairy, wheat, sugar and meat–and still feel satisfied and healthy and energetic and taste good. I promise.  I didn’t get this way by eating yukkie, boring and unflavorful foods, and I won’t eat that type of food to get healthy.

I know many of you have great healthy recipes that you would be willing to share as well, so I invite you to feel free to share any recipes you absolutely love that fits the above criteria.

Here’s my dinner for Sunday, March 28, 2010:  Baked Acorn squash with pecans and ginger, Indian Stewed Black-Eyed Peas with potatoes and tomatoes, and steamed broccoli with Lime Oil.  For dessert:  Coconut rice with cashews and peaches.

Lunch today: Left over Black-Eyed Peas and Squash with grapes for desert.

Feeling great!