Monday: Brentwood, clinical practice
Tuesday & Thursday: Studio City, classes and sessions at private company
Wednesday: Yoga at Seminole Springs, 5:00 – 6:30 PM
Friday: Brentwood, clinical practice
Saturday: Agoura Hills, clinical practice
Home for the Holidays
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Many ask what kind of an existence would it be without that glass (or three) of wine at the end of the day (depressants that are hard on the liver), or that bagel (the equivalent of four slices of bread) for breakfast, or the burger at Burger King for lunch. What about the cupcakes someone brought into the office (I'll only have one), or the Girl Scout cookies to help the troop, or the pizza because you worked late, or the potato chip snack at 4:00 PM? I could go on . . . To me, it is a pretty good existence without these things, and a healthy one!
The truth is, I love food, and there are plenty of real foods that I eat on a daily basis. I am never hungry and never feel deprived. This is because my daily food rituals include:
- colorful salads
- brightly colored greens
- nuts, nut butters and seeds
- olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil
- (homemade) coconut and almond milk yogurt
- (homemade) fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi
- wild fish
- colorful berries
- Yerba Mate tea
According to biologist Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, the most colorful foods are the healthiest; things like purple cabbage and dark, leafy greens are filled with phytonutrients that have the most nutrient value. Eat the outer leaves of a head of lettuce, rather than the white leaves on the inside, and for heaven's sake, why bother with Iceberg? I make my own dressings from mustard, garlic, olive oil, grated turmeric, and apple cider vinegar; and guacamole using avocados, chopped herbs, and garlic. I eat every known vegetable (have you tried purple sweet potatoes?) roasted, raw, baked, or sautéed, and some colorful berries with my coconut yogurt in the morning.
Using herbs and spices not only gives our food interesting flavors and dimensions, they are useful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents. Did you know that, until very recently, there was no diabetes in India? When studying why, researchers found that it was the Fenugreek in the curry spices they used on a daily basis that had such a good effect on the pancreas. Not only does Fenugreek give the curry that amazing smell, it also prevents diabetes! The Turmeric in curry, which gives it the rich, orange color, is a powerful anti-inflammatory; you can find it occasionally in its root form (it looks like orange ginger root). And spicy Ginger Root is an effective digestive aide, effective for nausea and stomachaches. Remember, nature came before prescription medications.
Cleaning up my diet corresponded to my first mindful experiences. While staying present when I ate, as the venerable monk Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, I began to stop myself from eating things that I remembered made me sick or uncomfortable, realizing that I didn't want to feel like that any more. It was a decision to be good to myself and reward myself with health, instead of illness, stomachaches, headaches and inflamed joints. To read more about this, read How to Eat, by Thich Nhat Hanh; it's a simple book that opens our eyes to the simplest behavior—how we eat.
Initially, if you're not used to healthy eating, it won't be easy, and if you don't have the support, it will be especially hard. The latest research tells us that who we hang out with will guide our choices in life. For instance, if your best friend drinks wine and smokes cigarettes, it will be nearly impossible for you to quit smoking and drinking. If your friends don't exercise and are overweight, you most likely won't exercise and you will also be overweight. Choose healthy friends, and you will also start to mimic those habits. Choose the life you want by choosing your friends (and lovers) carefully. This is important.
The truth is that I have always loved food. I love to eat, and I especially love to cook. I eat a fair amount of food, without being overweight, having diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or insulin resistance. The food I prepare and eat is delicious and satisfying and doesn't create inflammation in my joints. With a genetic history of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and depression, the joints in my thin fingers are starting to show the wear and tear of these conditions. They have become enlarged and (to me) unsightly, but they are not swollen and they don't hurt. I am very grateful for this, because it allows me to work at my career and other things I enjoy, such as gardening. I know that if I ate from the list above of industrialized products, I would be in pain and most likely taking large amounts of Prednisone instead of large amounts of fish oil.
I have avoided surgery, so far, partly because I also avoid what we call the nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, eggplant, green peppers, and white potatoes. These contain a substance that is irritating to the joints, and are not a wise consumption for people with arthritis. Focus on the things you can eat, and that will nourish you in a positive way, instead of the foods you can't or shouldn't eat. Ask yourself: Is a tomato that important, when eating it could cause pain in my joints?
With epidemics of type II diabetes and autoimmune conditions, and the stressors of a world that never unplugs, the foods we eat can either keep us healthy or make us sick. What would you prefer? Is a glass of wine or piece of French bread so important, when you know that what follows is is a migraine headache and swollen joints?
It's all chemistry, as is the idea that our gut is our "second brain," filled with the same neurotransmitters that are in our brain. This is incredible information, telling us that if our gut flora are healthy and balanced, this will affect how our brain works, improving memory, our ability to learn new things, and have quick responses. According to David Perlmutter, a neurologist and author of Grain Brain, keeping the gut flora balanced and healthy is crucial to having a healthy brain. His research tells us that without refined grains, there would be no dementia or Alzheimer's Disease—brain conditions created by the foods that create inflammation. Again, ask yourself if that piece of cheesecake or white bread is more important than your own brain function.
There is no "take-out" food in my world. To me, preparing food is a creative act, and no matter what time I return home, I prepare myself a meal from scratch—no take-out—all by myself. According to the great Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and other great books on food, many of us have not learned to cook, and don't make the time for it. When you prepare your own food, you can control what's in it. As I start preparing, I can feel myself start to unwind, releasing the stresses of the day. Creativity is very relaxing. As I pull out the vegetables for a fresh, colorful salad and cut squash and purple sweet potatoes to roast on a baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and herbs, I feel the pleasure of the nourishment that is coming. It's all a choice . . .
Change Begins with Each of Us
I know this could be hard if you're not used to shopping and cooking this way. I'm here to help. I am very good at this, and can give you objective support in getting rid of processed, unhealthy products. Here's what I can help you with:
- Pantry and fridge clearing
- Weekly menus
Give yourself the gift of good health—to end this year and begin the next!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Yield: 30 chips
- 1 zucchini sliced thin
- 2 T coconut oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Preheat oven to 215°.
- Remove the ends of the zucchini and slice thin. Mine were about 1/4 inch thick.
- Lay the slices on a greased or lined baking sheet.
- Brush the slices with oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 2 hours, stopping to flip them halfway through.
- If you are using a dehydrator, set the temp at 135° and bake for 4 hours.
These shrink down quite a bit, so don't be afraid to load up the trays. If you have any left over, store them in an airtight container. To keep them from getting moist, scatter some rice at the bottom of the container. The rice will help absorb excess moisture.
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