Orthorexia Nervosa

Posted: 1572 days ago in Health Lifestyle Wellness

orthorexia-nervosa

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen…

As long there have been “modern” foods (fast, processed, junk, etc.) available, there have been issues surrounding food.  Overeating, binging, anorexia, purging, guilt, deprivation – it’s an epidemic that effects an estimated 8 million Americans (who are mostly women). Hence the reason why February 22-28 is National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

NEDAAs a health care provider I have pushed, cajoled and encouraged my patients – okay, and my family – to adopt healthier eating habits, and I know many of my colleagues in the health care professions have done the same.

Perhaps we’ve gone too far with some of you? There is an emerging trend of a new breed of eating disorder called “Orthorexia Nervosa”.

What the heck is that???”, you say?

Well, if you are feeling a bit neurotic about eating ONLY healthy foods, or find yourself becoming super-picky about where your food comes from or how it’s prepared, or even find that obsessing about food starts to nudge out other things in your life, you may be exhibiting signs of orthorexia nervosa.

Houston, we have a problem.  

In my not-so-humble opinion, it’s a far lesser problem than the food issues on the opposite end of the spectrum.  Eating McDonald’s every day or being anorexic can kill you; eating only pastured beef and organic veggies will not – but if you are obsessing about what you put in your mouth, you (or your friends and family!) may begin to wish you were dead.

Most of us can benefit from a little more ‘healthy’ in our diet, but if you find yourself having some of these behaviors, it may be time to regroup, and get some help if necessary:

  • Planning your entire day around your food intake
  • Feeling like a failure if you eat something that you deem unhealthy
  • Refusing to eat something if you don’t know where the ingredients come from
  • Judging others for their food choices
  • Eating well for the sense of control it gives you, instead of to nourish your body and satisfy hunger

But, and this is a BIG but – must we make a mountain out of every molehill?  Why must every behavior be diagnosable? Can’t we just be quirky?  Quirky, schmirky.  Of course, any behavior that interferes greatly with living life should be addressed. The rest of you? Just please, take a chill pill.  Life is all about a healthy balance.

And if you find that it’s harder than just a simple decision (I in no way want to discount your struggle) please seek professional help. NEDA, The National Eating Disorders Awareness organization can provide you just that.

Love ya lots,

Empty Calorie Foods

Posted: 1650 days ago in Lifestyle

empty-calorie-foods-3

We all know what empty calories are.

They’re foods that you can eat a lot of, and shortly thereafter, feel hungry again.

What about those times, though, that you just have a light snack, and surprisingly, it gets you through the day? What’s up with THAT?

What’s up is this: if the food you are consuming isn’t actually nourishing your body, you will feel hungry again until you give your body what it needs. And what it needs isn’t necessarily what you’re putting in your mouth.

empty-calorie-foods-smallEmpty calories are foods made up of solid fats and added sugars. According to the USDA, “Solid fats are fats that are solid at room temperature, like butter, beef fat, and shortening. Some solid fats are found naturally in foods. They can also be added when foods are processed by food companies or when they are prepared. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added when foods or beverages are processed or prepared.”

Though your body is getting an extremely high dose of calories with empty calorie foods — they bring with them little-to-no nutritional value. And our society is running rampant with them! The inspiration for this piece was an ad I recently spotted for Taco Bell that was luring customers with their new “waffle breakfast sandwich”; because who wants to eat a waffle OR a breakfast sandwich when you can have them at the same time?!

TacoBell_Breakfast_sign_300If this isn’t shocking to you, my guess is, you’re eating too many empty-calorie foods.

On the flip side, if we choose nutrient-dense foods, our bodies can run on them for a good long while. To explain, let me paint a picture for you. Wouldn’t you be pissed if you went in for an oil change and they put sugar in your tank? Of course! Your car needs oil, not sugar. The same goes for your body; it’s looking for vitamins and minerals, not solid fat and sugar.

Case in point? I recently participated in a cleanse – really an elimination diet in disguise – and was super-surprised at how little hunger I experienced. Even though I was consuming far less food, it was of GREAT caliber. Tons of fresh veggies and fruits, healthy grains and nuts and beans. So what if I pooped like 3 times a day because of all the roughage? I slept better, had more energy, and had nary a hunger pang.

And then it all went to hell in a hand-basket.

The cleanse ended, the temperatures dropped and I fell face-first into some bagels and pasta. My body didn’t know what hit it. However, I was close enough to the cleanse to remember how good I truly felt, so I put on big girl panties and reigned in the feeding frenzy.

donutI’m eating more thoughtfully now, and focusing on quality of food, not quantity. Guess what? My body likes it! So regardless of how poorly you have been eating lately, we’re all capable of better.

Resolve to give your body what it really needs — not what it wants on an impulse. If not at this very moment, consider making it your New Year’s resolution.

How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Posted: 1675 days ago in Lifestyle

sleep

Are you sleeping well every night? Do you wake up refreshed and ready to face the day?

Ha! Yeah, right. Me neither.

One of the most common complaints I hear from patients – and one that I sometimes have myself – is the inability to get to sleep or stay asleep.

Zzzzzzzzz…… WHAT!? HUH!? WHO!?

Since sleep is the only time that your body has to rebuild and rejuvenate, it’s critical that you get adequate, good quality sleep most nights.

How’s that, you say?  

Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Adopt a relaxing ritual before bedtime. For me, that means a warm bath and / or a cup of camomile tea.
  • Don’t have any caffeine or alcohol after dinner.
  • Turn off all screens (phones, iPads, TV’s, etc.) at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Have a small, high-protein snack before bed, like some cheese or a few nuts.
  • Keep a notepad by your bed to jot down things that may keep your brain spinning all night.
  • Keep your bedroom on the cool side (for me, that’s around 68 in the winter and 70 in the summer).
  • Try to wake up at the same time each day. On weekends if you’d like to try to ‘catch up’, take an afternoon nap rather than sleeping a few hours later.

Despite doing most everything right, it’s still not unusual to have an occasional sleepless night because life is a complicated bi-atch, isn’t she?  If that happens to me, I take a natural sleep aid like melatonin or valerian root.

Sleep is sacred. Don’t skimp on this very important factor in your quest for good health!

Proper Backpack Protocol

Posted: 1721 days ago in Health Lifestyle

Off The Grid Mentality

Posted: 1732 days ago in Lifestyle

goneoffgrid-e1411041894501 copyIn this high-tech world we live in, especially in a high-tech business like blogging, it becomes really difficult to disconnect.

It was only just a decade or two ago when you could go on vacation and still be unreachable. No cell phone, laptop, or fax machine. You left a number to the hotel with someone at home in case of an emergency, and that was the last you communicated with home until you arrived back.

These days, isn’t it great that we can work from anywhere? We can telecommute. We are reachable 24/7!

Or is it great??

Most of us are on this hamster wheel of productivity. We hit the ground running, and fall over exhausted at the end of the night — It’s not a sustainable state. Ideally, we’d practice a little of this everyday but that doesn’t discount the need for an extended period of rest and relaxation.

It’s not a badge of honor to say that you haven’t taken a day off in 10 years. Don’t get me wrong, though; it’s great to be a ‘company man’ or ‘woman’ — to an extent. No one ever says on their deathbed that they wish they had put more time in at the office. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They say that they wished they had spent more time with the ones they loved.

During our “prime time,” when we are entrenched in the business of making a living, or organizing the lives of our family members at home, it is absolutely wonderful to be fully reachable. However, it’s during our “playtime” that I think it’s critical to be virtually unreachable.

Rest and rejuvenation are crucial to maintaining high levels of productivity.

So, if we always have our contacts and emails within an arm’s reach, might we not be as well-replenished as we think? Without the distraction that electronic communication, email, texts, and phone calls bring, we create head space to appreciate that which we have come to see and experience for ourselves. It also helps us to communicate with ourselves, and each other without distraction.

In my family, we look at our calendar around the New Year and schedule our “playtime” in the form of family and couple vacations. In ink. So 2-4 times a year, we go off the grid. I leave my emergency contact info with my family and office, but encourage them not to call!

Because truly, if my house burns down, I’m going to need to be rested and rejuvenated to deal with that when I come home.

So if you’re taking the time and money to plan a vacation, then I applaud you. Just make sure you’re getting what you pay for. Don’t take your busy life with you, because it does no good to live your busy life remotely. Frankly, it’s just a change of venue and probably more difficult, a.k.a. all of the stress and none of the conveniences.

Wishing you much rest and relaxation, OFF the grid!

Gluten Free Me (Part II)

Posted: 1734 days ago in Health Lifestyle

gluten-free-me-p2Gluten is not my friend. 

I am grateful that I don’t have Celiac disease, but I do have a wicked intolerance for the stuff. What does that look like? Well to start, if you haven’t already read Part 1 of ‘Gluten Free Me’, please do.

When I eat gluten, I feel like I have a big ball of dough in my belly – which, I guess is true. I feel poofy and gassy, topped off with a dose of sluggishness and dopiness.

Snow White’s dwarves have nothing on me! 

Worse, since gluten is found in so many products, I end up feeling like that most of the time, and not just after eating pizza or Italian bread. A lot of people complain of feeling like I do after eating gluten, so I thought I was, ya know, ‘normal’. Then a nutritionist friend suggested I do a gluten elimination diet, and so I rose to the challenge.

Holy gluten free transformation, Batgirl! I felt like a new woman!

I committed to eliminating all sources of gluten for one full month. In addition to the obvious sources such as breads, crackers, cereals, cookies and pasta made with wheat, barley or rye — I was careful to avoid the hidden sources as well. Can you believe that there can be gluten in:

  • Deli meats
  • Sausage
  • Dressings and sauces
  • Beer. Sigh, beer
  • Flavored coffee and tea

It was tough for the first few days, but I started feeling great fairly quickly, which motivated me to keep it up. I had much more energy, less brain fog, more regular bathroom habits and a tummy that was no longer feeling like the Michelin man’s twin sister.

The kicker at the end of an elimination diet is to do a ‘challenge’ – eat some gluten and see how you feel. Well, it was like someone stuck an air hose in me with sleepy gas. The bloat and fatigue came back with a vengeance.

My take on eating gluten-free is fairly simple. Instead of focusing on what I can’t eat, I make a list of what I can eat, and find, easily.


Here’s what I had to eat for the last 2 days of living gluten free:

Day 1:

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt, blueberries, gluten-free (GF)d granola.
  • Cashews and an apple
  • Kale salad with chicken, oil and vinegar
  • Clementines
  • Peanut butter and a banana
  • Grilled fish and asparagus
  • Ice cream…oh yes you can, but only the good stuff!

Day 2:

  • Omelet with spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Almonds
  • Salad with walnuts and feta
  • GF protein bar
  • Clementines
  • GF sausage with cauliflower and potatoes
  • More ice cream

For a more comprehensive list of foods containing gluten, check out this article by WebMD.

I do try to make the best of available food choices always, but I also try to balance that with living a full life – and for me that sometimes includes an amazing loaf of Italian bread slathered in butter, a big slice of pizza from a New York City street corner, or ice cream two nights in a row (it’s summertime people!).

Life is so damn short, and I want to eat it all up, literally!

To keep that balance in check, I try to go gluten-free for a month a couple of times a year, and that really works for me. But remember, if you have Celiac disease, you MUST avoid gluten at all times.  

Best of luck, let me know how it goes!

Gluten Free Me (Part I)

Posted: 1735 days ago in Health Lifestyle

gluten-free-me-p1What’s all the to-do about gluten free, anyway?

Gluten is a protein that is found primarily in wheat products, though it sneaks in to some other grains like barley and rye, and products like soy-sauce.

Soy sauce? Yup.  

A small segment of the population has an autoimmune disorder called Celiac disease. Celiacs suffer damage to the lining of the small intestine with the ingestion of gluten. Think of gluten as ‘glue’, which is how it acts on the hair-like cilia of the intestine, interfering with the absorption of food.

Though only 1 in 100 people have Celiac disease, it is theorized that many more of us have a gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.

What are some indications of gluten sensitivity, you say?

  • Chronic digestive issues like gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Musculoskeletal pain liken to Rheumatoid Arthritis

Laboratory tests can rule out Celiac disease, but the only way to determine if you have a gluten sensitivity is via an elimination diet. I did one for grins and giggles many years ago, and was happily shocked by how much better I felt without gluten in my life – and I felt pretty damn good with gluten in my life, so that’s saying something!

Since life is short and pizza is so, so good, I don’t practice living gluten free all the time. There is a price to pay for indulging though, so I try to do a gluten-free month once or twice a year. Mainly to give my body a break, but also to hit the ‘reset’ button on my diet so I’m less inclined to eat the stuff.

So, alas it’s time for another little gluten free cleanse in my life.

Interested in doing a gluten elimination diet yourself? I’ll talk more about that later this week, and give you an idea of what I’ve been eating in lieu of bagels, pasta and bread.

Currently eating gluten-free? Let me know what your go-to meals and snacks are!

xo.

Have You Been Bitten by the Travel Bug (Part II)

Posted: 1738 days ago in Lifestyle

haveyoubeenbitten-partIIOkay Goldilocks.

Earlier this week we talked about moving your bowels too little. Now we will talk about moving them too much.

Ideally, I’d like for you all to get it juuuuuust right.

Traveling to a foreign land, or even a different part of your own country can have you spending most of your time in the bathroom if you don’t play your cards right. Or perhaps, you may just be plain unlucky. Whatever the reason, nothing like explosive diarrhea to ruin a long-awaited vacation, huh?

Before you travel, investigate the water quality of where you’ll be going. More and more large hotels, even in exotic locations, have great water filtration systems. If you are going off the beaten path, however, assume that the water is unfiltered and unfit to drink. Which means, you’ll need to provide your own H2O.

Even if the water you are drinking is clean, chances are it has different microorganisms than your body is used to. What’s a girl to do?

  • Use some common sense. Stick to bottled drinks – hold the ice! – in remote locations. I shy away from produce that doesn’t have a peel or rind, even in big hotels, as kitchens may use unfiltered water to wash produce.
  • Overindulgence in rich foods and alcohol are sure to upset your tummy. I’m all about a good time on vacation, but not at the expense of spending most of it in my room. Pace yourselves, grasshoppers.
  • I’m not big on medications, but I have been known to take a preventive Pepto-bismol to coat my stomach on a remote road trip in Mexico. Montezuma did not have his revenge on me, and for this I am very grateful.

If you do end up with the runs on vacay, revert to the old BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. It’s a bland-food diet that helps to settle your stomach and firm stools, while putting lost nutrients back into your body.map-passport

OTC meds can help to stop the cramping and frequency, but remember this: if there is something in you that wants OUT – best to let that happen! You’ll want to make sure you don’t get dehydrated, so keep the fluids coming.

Best of luck, my out-of-commission peeps (…and/or those on vacation with them).

Have You Been Bitten by the Travel Bug?

Posted: 1741 days ago in Health Lifestyle

travel-bug-part1

I’m not talking about having travel-lust, I’m talking about those unpleasant things that you can get when traveling.

You know, like constipation or diarrhea.

How many of you can’t poop if you’re not at home? I don’t get this particular neurosis (though rest assured I have plenty of my own!), but some of my friends will go as long as a week without pooping while on vacation.

Whaaaaat? That’s crazy, isn’t it?

Don’t let the travel bug happen to you! Nothing can ruin a vacation like a belly full of poop. You’ll be bloated, cranky, and I swear, constipation makes you have funky breath. I mean, your mouth and your butt are two ends of the same tube, right???

If that’s not enough to scare you into having a good sit-down, hemorrhoids often come after a good bout of constipation because of all the backed up pressure and straining when you finally do go.

So please, just go.


Here’s how to make it happen.

  • If you have new toilet anxiety, you’re just going to have to get over it, or deal with the lovely scenarios I’ve outlined above.
  • If pooping in front of your roommates is the issue – and I get that – check out the lobby toilets. That’s my modus operandi whilst traveling. If you see someone sauntering into your hotel’s lobby loo in her PJ’s with the latest issue of People magazine, that’s probably me.
  • Vacation food can stop you up, so make sure you watch your diet. Keep up with plenty of fruits and veggies. Drink lots of water. And if you just can’t help eating pasta and French bread three times a day, take a mild fiber supplement to keep the old pipes moving.
  • We tend to get the urge to have bowel movements at the same time each day. Traveling to different time zones can definitely throw you off, so when the urge does strike, do listen!
  • Sitting on airplanes, in cars and tour buses slows down everything. Make sure you work some exercise into your trip.

psIf all else fails, grab a bag of prunes to munch on. They work as well as any OTC laxative without the cramping.

Good luck! I hope this piece ‘moves’ ya!

FALLing Apart

Posted: 1745 days ago in Everything Else Lifestyle

falling-apart

I hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day this past week.

I had a mini-freak out this morning when I realized that since Labor Day has now passed, my favorite summer breakfast – fresh berries, yogurt and granola – wouldn’t be possible for much longer.

Attempting to eat only seasonally fresh produce means you have to change what you eat a few times a year. But I love my summer breakfast! And I love summer! And long days! And since I’m not relocating to Southern California anytime soon, I will attempt to transition into fall gracefully.

Here are some things that I look forward to in the upcoming, chilly season:

  • Sleep: Follow the sun, people, and embrace your circadian rhythms. More dark = more sleep.
  • Comfort food: I will miss my fresh berries, but I also love my cool-weather, go-to breakfast: steel cut oats with apples, walnuts, cinnamon and a bit of agave nectar. So warm and hearty on those cool mornings. If you throw it in the crockpot at night, you will wake up to the most delicious smell.
  • Hot yoga: You know I love me some yoga, but the idea of hot yoga on a hot summer day does not make me happy. But on a bone-chilling, fall or winter day? It’s blissful.
  • Fireplaces: There’s nothing like reading or snuggling in front of a fire.
  • Skiing: I get a little wiggy if I don’t get outside enough, and not much can beat being on top of a mountain on a crisp day.
  • New boots!: Shallow, I know, but come on….

If you can’t beat it, you may as well join it, right? Enjoy your last bits of summer in the upcoming weeks!486975527