We’re Toast

…well not quite in trouble, but recently the feeling of burnout has been trailing behind us, like a blazing fire following a gasoline leak. The steady, hazardous drip came from an embedded, almost subconscious thought: “I love my work, I don’t need a vacation.” While the former is true, the latter part of that statement is definitely false. It wasn’t until recently that we realized our last vacation was 13 months ago. With little more than an occasional half-day off in over a year, the reason behind our exhaustion came into focus. Without sustained and intentional time off, we were burning the candle at both ends; everything was becoming too much effort and yet we pushed forward anyway.

Perhaps you’ve felt it too, the sneaky symptoms of burnout include:

— Falling asleep quickly only to wake up in the middle of the night

— Less healthy, natural color in face

— Relying on quick-energy food options to get through the day

— A tired-but-wired feeling, never being able to fully relax

— Lack of a desire to connect with friends

— Feeling like you’ve been “run over by a truck”

— No energy, tired all the time, fatigued

— Waking up exhausted, not well-rested

The common responses of “busy,” “tired”, and “stressed” when asked how you’re doing is the zeitgeist of our current time. It’s the consequence of our sleep-deprived, 5-hour energy lives. For productivity, it’s pump-or-pill-yourself-up, and at the end of the day we ‘wine’ down and scroll through or watch screens.

You may feel like you can handle the frantic pace and multitasking of life for awhile – maybe you claim to thrive when life is too busy. However, eventually, everyone pays the piper. The stress we don’t even know we’re under starts to accumulate and we, our minds and our bodies, are unable to cope with it.

Why am I Exhausted?

First things first. Get evaluated by a healthcare professional and lab work to rule out underlying conditions such as anemia, thyroid disease, depression, allergies, side effects of certain medications, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia.

Second, as with most things in life, this problem is a matter of balance between supply and demand. There are times when work gets hectic or short-term caregiving can cause exhaustion and there are other times when, despite our busy lives, we feel energized and ready to take on life. At a basic level, when our lives have more demands, we tend to feel tired. If this is short-term, we typically have energy in the bank to help us through. Common examples include pulling an all-nighter to tend to a sick child or a work project, or even running a half-marathon. The problem is when the demands don’t let up and others pile on. The scale then tips very unfavorably and we deplete our reserves, our emergency energy, and we become exhausted. It’s critical here to point out that there is a difference between being ‘tired’ (which can typically be remedied by a good night’s sleep) and ‘fatigue’ (which tends to be a longer-standing state not easily remedied by a massage or a day off).

Tools

Fatigue is a wonderful teacher. While she might initially make you slow down, it’s only to give you the opportunity to examine your life, learn more about yourself and what’s truly important to you. She certainly taught us a thing or two these past few weeks – namely getting back to the basics, examining our thoughts, and using the tools we have in our toolbox.

As one example, we will often use a life inventory tool as we work with clients to help bring awareness to certain areas of life in need of support. We explore your relationship with food and physical movement as well as your mind functioning and stress, self-care, and spirit.

We help you plug your energy drains and naturally increase your personal energy level so that you can meet the demands of the day.

Along with this is personalized support, mindset adjustments, setting boundaries, learning to delegate and stop people-pleasing, and building up natural energy stores with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes. Our goal is that your sense of wellbeing is good most of the time so that you have a higher quality of life. If this sounds like natural energy restoration you are looking for, schedule a complimentary call and we’ll get started.

Water Wars: Bugs & Politics

In 2017, 5.3 billion people drank water from safe sources – meaning local water sources that were readily available and free from contaminants, while 2.2 billion people were drinking from water sources that weren’t managed safely.

The following numbers are provided by the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding water sources and accessibility:

1.4 billion people have basic services, meaning an improved water source located within a round trip of 30 minutes & 206 million people with limited services, or an improved water source requiring more than 30 minutes to collect water

435 million people taking water from unprotected wells and springs & 144 million people collecting untreated surface water from lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Drinking water that is not treated properly and poor sanitation practices is associated with several diseases including cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Let’s take a look at this more specifically. What’s in the water that can lead to disease?

Cholera– caused by ingesting Vibrio cholerae found in water or food items that have been contaminated by feces from a person infected with Cholera. Cholera can also result from eating raw or undercooked shellfish.

Rotavirus is the leading cause of diarrhea. Most of the germs that cause diarrhea are spread through drinking water or eating food contaminated with feces.

Dysentery – often caused by Shigella species (bacillary dysentery) or Entamoeba histolytica (amoebic dysentery), dysentery can be diagnosed when an individual is exposed to water and food that has been contaminated by with feces. Additionally, a person can be diagnosed with dysentery when touching human or animal feces without washing their hands in an appropriate manner.

Hepatitis A – a disease characterized by inflammation of the liver, it is caused by eating food or water contaminated with feces. Moreover, Hepatitis A can be caused by inadequate sanitation and poor personal hygiene.

Typhoid Fever – caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, this is a significant health threat for children in developing nations. Although it is rare in countries with modern water quality improvement infrastructures in place, typhoid can also spread through contaminated food and water or through close contact with an infected individual.

Polio – yet another illness that can result from water and food contaminated with feces. It can also be passed through direct contact with someone who has the virus already. Untreated polio can lead to nerve injury and ultimately paralysis. Polio has largely been eradicated in the world due to modern medicine.

Global & Local

Surely safe drinking water is largely an issue in for other countries; the U.S. doesn’t have these problems, right? Wrong! 4.32 million cases of acute gastrointestinal illness occur each year due to drinking water from public drinking water systems. This number does not include the number of illnesses that arise out of private wells, recreational water, etc.

There is still a lot of research being done to understand the full extent of waterborne illness in our country. Waterborne illness symptoms look different depending on the virus or bacteria involved, including gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, stomachache), respiratory illness (coughing, shortness of breath, pneumonia), wound infections, and infections involving the ears, eyes, and skin. With that said, research about water quality are of the utmost importance. Our adult bodies consist of 60% water, and we need water to survive.

Water Politics

At a certain point, there may not be enough water to sustain life on this planet. Governments and corporations have been working together and suggesting that water privatization is the best solution for this problem. Is it? Maybe. Maybe not. As more public sources of water are sold or ‘rented out’ to corporations, some are sounding alarms. Water is a precious commodity and, as a commodity, its price can fluctuate. Corporations may be able to raise prices on this essential nutrient and control who is able to obtain it. In other words, water may end up going to the highest bidder. On the this side of the debate are also those who say that water is a human right and should be universally available, not just for those at a higher income level.

Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’ this Quarter!

The kids are in school and fall is right around the corner. You know what this means- temperature drops, staying indoors & more baking. Or does it?

Instead of doing what we’ve always done, and getting the results we’ve always gotten, it’s time to make a different choice this fall and winter. To decide in favor of our health instead of against it. To surprise ourselves with how healthy we can look and feel, and how good our lives can be. 

Maybe this is the perfect time to move yourself from the back burner to the front. You’ve pushed your needs and your niggling health issues aside to focus on taking care of the people important to you.  Now it’s time to cease being in denial and face what is going on in your body and your mind. If weight gain has been a feature of the coronavirus quarantine, now is the time to take control and reclaim your body’s composition, immunity, and vitality.

The doors to Lose the ‘Quarantine 15’ are currently closed – we will open them periodically throughout the year. Join the waitlist and be the first to grab your seat!

In the Client Spotlight

client spotlight of recognition

“I was a little nervous that maybe you wouldn’t be very patient or understanding if I struggled with making some of the changes to my diet and lifestyle. Luckily, that hasn’t been the case at all!

  • I have lost weight
  • I have improved my body composition
  • I have not had any more kidney stones *knock on wood*

I don’t dread seeing you like I would dread going to the doctor. You’re very friendly and easy to talk to! You’re extremely knowledgeable and I like that you give me background information about the foods. The recipes you give me are always quick, easy, and yummy! You’re also very understanding if I struggle with a certain area and try to come up with new ways to approach it that might work better for me. You’re also interested in aspects of my life outside of food.”

Results:

  • I’m trying all kinds of new foods and recipes!
  • I’m doing a better job at seeing connections between the foods I eat and how I feel after eating them
  • I’m more conscious of food labels. Even though something might look healthy or be vegan it might actually be loaded with sugar, etc.
  • I’m better about getting in bed early.
  • I’m doing a better job at handling skepticism about my vegan diet from others.
  • I’m more informed about a variety of issues such as GMOs and political intervention in the food industry
  • I have developed new methods of handling my stress.

“I think many people are uninformed or misinformed about nutrition. Obviously, many people struggle with weight. I’ve been spending more time at the hospital recently because of my kidney stones and I’m always surprised by how many people are there. It definitely makes me wonder if some of their issues could have been prevented/improved by making different dietary choices. I think many lives could be improved by seeing a dietitian rather than just automatically turning to medication or just accepting their situation and not doing anything at all.

I would recommend YOU in particular because I think you’re really fun, knowledgeable, down-to-earth, and you really care about your clients!

If they [people] allow themselves to be open to new experiences and are receptive to your advice then this can really be life-changing! This is a great way to invest in yourself – this experience has really added a lot of value to my life!

You’re just all-around awesome and I’ve really enjoyed working with you!”

H.R., Foundations of Health Graduate


Update:

We followed up with this amazing client and our work together from two years ago. Here’s what she wrote:

“I’m happy to report that I still haven’t had any more kidney stone incidents and rarely get sick anymore! I think both are mainly attributable to my healthier eating habits so I’m very thankful for you helping me find my way with that :)”

She has really made our work together the foundation of her life and is reaping the benefits, years later. This is a beautiful part of our mission of empowering others to live at a higher level. We are grateful for the trust you put in us and the process.

Red, White, and Blueberry Tart

fruitnuttart

You may remember this beauty being featured on WBNS 10TV in honor of National Pecan Month. This healthy dessert is easy to make and fun to decorate. Made from fruit and nuts, the tart is raw, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. Did we mention delicious? Because it’s definitely that too! Enjoy it this holiday weekend.

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup chopped nut blend (we used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup pecans)
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup flaked or shredded coconut
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of nutmeg, optional

Toppings

1-2 mashed bananas
Blueberries, strawberries, and kiwis to decorate (about 1 cup of each)

Instructions

Soak dates in warm water for about 10 minutes to soften them. Chop nuts with a knife or use a food processor. Drain dates and mix with nut blend, coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Once well mixed, roll into balls and press into pie plate. Mash bananas and add a layer or ‘frosting’ to the crust. Top with berries and kiwi or your desired fruits. For extra pizazz, drizzle honey or melted chocolate over the tart.

Recipe: Savory Tahini Sauce

savorytahinisauceoobw

Savory Tahini Sauce

Tahini, made from sesame seed paste, is a surprisingly versatile condiment to have in the kitchen. You can often eat and use it the way you would peanut butter – right out of the jar or with celery sticks. This five-ingredient savory sauce an be drizzled on top of salad, falafel, soup, roasted veggies or any number or dishes.

Prep time: 5 minutes

Yield: ~1 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Combine tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic and salt in blender or food processor. Pulse or blend until smooth. Enjoy it fresh though it does keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

Reward ≠ Food

rewardnotfood

Patient and client conversations can be a rich source of writing inspiration to address common concerns. As we discuss new changes, cravings, accomplishments and challenges, ideas start to percolate as we work together to find the best solution for the individual. If the same issue is mentioned by different individuals more than three times in relatively short succession, we can almost *feel* the universe tapping on our shoulder.

The latest recurrent theme among us all seems to be regarding emotional eating, over-eating, and reward-eating.

Let’s break this last one down. Why would we associate certain foods with a reward?

    • With thousands of years of evolution working for (or against) us, humans naturally crave sweet flavor. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would get a little *ping* of dopamine by eating berries and other naturally sweet substances. The brain would reward eating this food, which some argue helped our ancestors survive by promoting fat storage to see them through the leaner times. This survival mechanism is all but unnecessary during the times in which we live, with plentiful food stores and sedentary lifestyles (when was the last time we burnt 2000+ calories a day hunting down buffalo?).
    • An ostensible lack of other options or ideas for rewarding ourselves. We’ve leaned on food to give ourselves a pat on the back after a hard day in the office, for finishing a big project, or to relax after a full day with the kids finally in bed. After many years of this, we may have forgotten how to celebrate our accomplishments without cake, doughnuts, french fries, or chips.

After the sleeve of cookies is finished, there can be a poignant anxiety that settles in. Guilt and shame follow soon after and we feel terrible about ourselves. Then we say “what the Hades, I’m probably never going to lose the weight anyway” and keep going or we decide with firmness and determination, “starting tomorrow, no cookies ever again!” However, we all know how this plays out; the deprivation leads to cravings and the whole cycle begins anew.

When you eat, try eating to nourish your body and experience pleasure. Tying food to your reward-system will unravel advances in your health goals and, here’s the kicker, it doesn’t even work. By the time we are done with the chocolate chip cookie party, we only temporarily feel sated before we either look for more sugar (during the ‘down’ of our blood sugar rollercoaster) or we feel guilty…..which drowns out what ephemeral feeling of pleasure we got from the food in the first place.

By having some non-food rewards instead, or at least sprinkling them into your current routine, you can start to challenge the ‘need’ for something sweet and, instead, ‘treat’ yourself ‘sweetly’ (double puns, couldn’t resist :D). Here are a few ideas to get your started on non-food rewards:

Continue reading

Homebound Banana Nut Bread

homeboundbanananutbread

We’ve been in a cooking and baking mode the past few weeks – from cherry almond pancakes and black bean brownies to a recent favorite, comforting banana bread.

How is it comforting? For those with gluten-sensitivity, this gluten-free version is gentle on our digestive system, the cinnamon brings back happy memories from childhood, and warm bread as a snack just has a way of making you feel cozy and safe (even if all the news points you in the opposite direction). Plus, we like making things and baking is an easy at-home activity along with knitting, organizing, creating new programs, reading and puzzles.

This bread is gluten-free and dairy-free; it can be made vegan as well. We find that two loaves is the best amount for us, given how much we love it…and one can go in the freezer, if it makes if that far.

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
5-6 medium bananas (if you wait until they have brown spots on them, they are even sweeter)
2/3 cup melted coconut or avocado oil
3/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs or the equivalent in chia/flax vegan ‘eggs’
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (optional)
3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

Grease two 9×5″ loaf pans with oil (see above ingredients list) and preheat oven to 325° F. If using coconut oil, get it to melt if not liquid already. For this next part, we used a blender but you could also just use a bowl: beat/blend oil, maple syrup, eggs along with mashed banana and water. If you used a blender, pour mixture into a bowl; whisk together added gluten-free flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Then add walnuts and pecan pieces.

Transfer batter into loaf pans and bake for about 65 minutes or until knife inserted into center of bread comes out clean. Allow bread to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing and enjoying.

Lasts for about 3-5 days in the refrigerator; freeze bread for up to 3 months, if desired.

5 Immunity Boosters: Foods & Herbs

5immunityboostersfoodsandherbsechinacea

Herbs and spices have been used since antiquity and are time-tested natural remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases, including viral infections. There are therapeutically active constituents of these plants which exhibit anti-viral action and protection.

Sometimes science takes awhile to catch up with proving the healing benefits of plants. A simple example here is that cranberry juice helping urinary tract infections was considered an “old wives tale” until scientific research a couple decades ago found it to be true – cranberries have a property that prevents the adhesion of pathogens (e.g. E. coli) to the bladder wall.

Because of lack of interest in funding research on non-patentable compounds, be aware that the research on benefits of some herbs may be scant and have limited human research.  On the other side, many of these herbs and spices have been studied for a few millenia (far longer that most pharmaceuticals) so…

Do your due diligence. Research and consult with your healthcare provider as certain health conditions and potential drug-interactions need to be evaluated. And now, without further ado…

Garlic

Garlic has a special place in our hearts. Ever since we were broke college students, we have relished the power, ubiquity and inexpensive nature of this plant. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties (to say nothing of its ability to ward off vampires). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic a common ingredient and easy addition to a variety of dishes. For about a cost of only fifty cents per bulb, it’s a worthy purchase.

Elderberries

The plant family ‘elder’ is also known as sambucus. Native American tribes and even ancient Egyptians used this plant to treat infections and heal the skin. Today these elderberries are most often found available in the form of syrups and lozenges and are used to ameliorate cold and flu symptoms. A mouse study published on PubMed found that concentrated elderberry juice exhibited a “beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection” while in a review of human studies, “supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms [emphasis added].” Is anyone else Team Elderberry right now?

Ginger

Zingiber officinale, also known as ginger, is found in its whole form and in products such as teas, lozenges, and tinctures. Being helpful to pregnant women experiencing nausea is just one of ginger’s impressive resume qualifications. Its potent plant compounds, including gingerols and zingerone, contribute to ginger’s impressive antiviral activity. If ginger were a person, we wouldn’t let this coronavirus-related recession stop us from hiring him/her as an essential employee of our anti-viral unit.

Licorice

Whether you love or hate the taste, licorice has some tools to help keep you safe from viral infection. Used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and elsewhere for hundreds of years, licorice root contains active antiviral compounds called glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin (say those three times fast, geez). In vitro (test-tube) studies show licorice root’s effectiveness against herpes virus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and, wait for it……..SARS-associated coronavirus infection.

Echinacea

Very popular in herbal medicine, Echinacea is one of the best all-around plants because of its extensive healing properties. The entirety of the plant is used – roots, leaves, flowers- in a variety of natural remedy preparations. It’s also a beautiful, purple plant that you may see roadside or in a metro park. Another trusted and time-tested plant used by Native Americans, it has been used to allay a number of conditions, including viral infections, and is immune-modulating. Several in-vitro studies found that a variety of types of echinacea plants (including E. pallida, E. angustifolia, and E. purpurea) effectively knock-out herpes and influenza viral infections.

Remember, these foods and herbs can only really work their ‘magic’ within the context of a body otherwise supported by good nutrition. A diet high in added sugars, mucous-producing foods, and low in vitamins and minerals won’t help your immune system power-up and effectively take on coronavirus or any other infections.

Ready to talk more to a nutrition expert and lay firm foundations for your health for the short- and long-term? Schedule for your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call and take control of your health and wellness.