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.
As 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.
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:
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,
Wouldn’t it be handy to easily access this key right when you need it? Instead of searching for it at the bottom of the “purse” that is life – kids, family, home maintenance, work, school?
In another fun analogy, primary care providers are like the general auto repair guys of the human body. They can take a look at whatever creak, pop, gurgle, or leak you’ve got, and get a good idea of where it’s coming from, and what may be causing it.
Using this analogy, if your car broke down, you’d try to get your trusted mechanic to take a look at it. But if you didn’t have a mechanic, you’d likely try to find the quickest place to have your car fixed. This scenario plays out frequently when it comes to health care, with a patient needing to be seen quickly for an acute issue and not being able to get an appointment with their primary care doctor. Due to crammed schedules, it’s increasingly more difficult to be seen same day, so more and more patients are turning to urgent care and emergency rooms for issues that could be easily managed by a primary care provider. This contributes to higher health care costs, and ties up emergency room providers who have true emergencies to take care of.
The best case scenario is one in which you, the busy wife/mom/small business owner, can get in to see your provider at the exact moment you need them.
In what world is that a possibility, you ask?
Well that dream is quickly becoming a reality for more and more patients who are finding affordable direct pay primary and urgent care offices popping up around the country. The concept of direct pay health care is exactly as it sounds – you pay your provider up front for services rendered, eliminating the “middle man” of insurance companies.
What’s great about this is that while the term “concierge medicine” brings to mind images of doctors flying private jets to mansions in Nantucket or the Hamptons, direct pay models come with concierge-level quality and access at prices any working mom/wife/small business owner can afford.
As mandated by the Affordable Care Act, Americans are required to carry insurance or pay a fine. These insurance plans do help provide coverage for millions of people and guard against catastrophic medical debt, but often times the deductibles are prohibitively high, keeping even the most simple and basic preventative care out of reach.
With many direct pay providers, patients pay a low monthly membership rate, around the cost of your daily latte, to get a low or no-cost visit anytime they need to be seen. For those seeking an extreme level of convenience and access, these newer practices may even offer virtual visits 24/7 so you never have to leave work, or the circus that you call home, in order to meet with your doctor.
The importance of establishing a relationship with your primary care provider can’t be overstated. In addition to better preventative care and continuity of your overall personal care, primary care doctors are a key resource to avoiding a potential trip to the ER for that raging UTI or sinus infection. They may recommend a treatment plan that you can carry out at home using over-the-counter medications, or a prescription to treat your condition. A lot of primary care providers can also suture cuts, remove suspicious moles, perform well-woman examinations, and screen you for chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.
So when a terrible bronchitis strikes you in the middle of the night and you know you can’t leave the kids to get to the doctors’ office, a concierge or direct pay model may be the best fit for your lifestyle, your wallet, and your health.
For those of you unfamiliar with those little darlings, hemorrhoids are bulging veins in and around your anus and rectum. They can itch, bleed and hurt, and make it virtually impossible to wear thong underwear.
Hellllllllo, visible panty lines. What is the deal??!
Since none of the causes of hemorrhoids currently apply to me, the deal just might be that getting old, frankly, can suck.
Hemorrhoids can be caused by:
They are also more likely to happen as we age, as the tissues that support the veins, as well as the veins themselves, can weaken and stretch with age.
There is no cure, per se, for hemorrhoids, but there are some things you can do to minimize your discomfort and make the swelling go down – for now:
If those suckers just won’t go away, and/or won’t stop bleeding, though, you may need to visit your doctor….and you won’t be happy with what s/he has to offer you, so get those suckers under control now!
I’ve been around many different gyms for many years. I have observed so many different people doing so many different things to try to get in shape, and I’ve also observed quite a few things that I think ladies can learn from men. I’ve done it all and seen it all, from Les Mills classes, to running a marathon, to week-long yoga retreats, to every fad along the way, and today I’m going to share with you my easy tips for truly getting in shape, in a way that’s sustainable. I hope you enjoy!
This is so simple, but it’s amazing how little I see it practiced. Personally I do 7 simple weight exercises, then I’ll do maybe 15 minutes of cardio to get my heart rate up, 3 times a week. So I’m in the gym for 30 minutes, 3 times a week, and that’s it. If you like the sound of this and you’re having trouble coming up with specific exercises, try this seven minute workout. That’s 14 standard exercises done without equipment hitting major muscle groups. Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do other things which are good for you. For example, I love long bike rides and rock climbing, and I’m a yoga teacher (more about yoga later), and I play community sports. I also love taking long walks and hikes, especially when the weather is nice. Think of these things as extra credit for fun, not what you actually do to keep in shape. When I’m taking a nice long walk on a nice fall day, that’s where I want to be more than anywhere else at that time. Healthy habits like this are great! They just don’t replace a standard routine like in the link above if you’re trying to get fit.
Sorry to single you out ladies, but this is the biggest difference I have observed between women and men. A lot of women (and some men) seem to turn their workout into social hour, with hours of discussions and gossip and catching up. There is nothing wrong with catching up with friends, but don’t do it on your fitness time. Similarly, don’t rely on some TV show to get you through. TVs in gyms are one of the worst inventions ever, not only do they distract you from feeling what’s happening in your body, but you shouldn’t be there long enough to watch anyway. Remember you’re there for 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Do it with no distractions, and no reliance on others. The only thing worse than not working out is turning a workout into a waste of time.
This is another one aimed mainly at the ladies (sorry!) but I’ve found you’re usually the most guilty. I’ve seen classes based hanging from ceilings, hitting fitness balls with drumsticks (seriously), jumping on trampolines, yoga poses on surfboards, and seemingly thousands of others. To make matters worse this stuff is usually expensive! If you have so much fun doing a yoga pose on a surfboard that you’d rather pay to be there than be with your friends and family, then go ahead and do it. But, remember this is NOT your fitness time, this is your chosen fun time. Your fitness time is 30 minutes, 3 times a week, and these fad classes do not replace that. These fads are done in addition to fitness time if you find it to be that much fun. Further they may be nowhere near as good for you as advertised. Subway restaurant is a great example of claiming to be healthy through advertising, while the truth is far from it. Remember, seeing marketing for something doesn’t mean it’s good or bad for you. Marketing only means someone, somewhere is trying to make money.
I promise this is the last one aimed primarily at the ladies! Perhaps this is a shock to some of you, but you do not need exercise classes. Zumba may be really popular right now, but believe it or not the human race survived just fine without it for many years. If you need an exercise class to be motivated, then my recommendation would be to work with a life coach to become motivated again, not to go to more classes. If you are reading all this and still insist that your life would not be complete without exercise classes, then go for it but remember they are your fun time, not your fitness time. You still need 30 minutes, 3 times per week on your own IN ADDITION to these classes, if you choose to do them. And remember there are always choices you can make, for example a bike ride outside in the fresh air instead of a stationary bicycle in a hot, sweaty room sounds like a wonderful choice to me.
Today’s yoga classes often are missing the entire point. This is the result of our culture rubbing off on yoga, instead of the other way around. Yoga practiced correctly is great for you, but you aren’t there for a workout, you are there for your mind. Physical benefits will come as a side effect, but not as the primary reason you’re there. Maybe this is tough to grasp by just reading, which is why I always recommend you at least give it a try. Any class which stresses only the physical part is not yoga, it’s an exercise class, and remember we don’t need exercise classes. If you are going to attend a yoga class then you should leave feeling both relaxed and energized, not dehydrated or zapped. (If you’re reading this wondering how you can feel both relaxed and energized at the same time, then you need to try yoga!) Yoga, practiced properly, will teach you how to listen to your body, how to not push yourself too hard, and how to relax. Long-term, yoga will teach you how to avoid judgement of others and how to make your self-talk better, so I really do recommend you take 1 or 2 classes per week, but stay away from any fad class trying to mix yoga with something else to make it more interesting. Yoga practiced properly creates awareness and change in you, and nothing in your world is more interesting than that.
Bonus! What you didn’t know about yoga
Yoga was “invented” thousands of years ago in India because men would sit and meditate for 8 hours per day and get uncomfortable after awhile, so they created poses to help them sit for longer. Naturally, the Western world ignored the 99% which included sitting and meditating, took the 1% that didn’t, and turned it into a multi-billion dollar industry with rock star teachers, saunas as yoga rooms, sex scandals, $200 yoga outfits, and millions of facebook profile pictures. Be aware of this the next time you see a teacher turning yoga into acrobatics, encouraging you to push yourself the whole time, trying to sell you very expensive clothing, etc.. If you really love your specialized class so much that it beats time with friends and family, and you believe you can avoid injury, then I guess go ahead and do it. Just remember this doesn’t replace your fitness time, it doesn’t even count as yoga time as the mental benefits are lost when you’re pushing so hard physically and/or straying from a traditional practice.
Nothing will ever derail you faster than an injury. If you workout nonstop for 2 weeks and then you’re injured for one week, you’ll be in worse shape than a person who worked out much easier for 3 weeks straight. So, don’t ever push too hard. I see this happen a lot in exercise and physical-based yoga classes, so be always aware. Similarly, if you take a boot camp class that leaves you sore for 3 days, then what is the benefit? You’re better off doing 3 easier workouts than one hard one, no matter how hard you worked on the one. I discovered this myself when I ran a marathon, sure it’s cool to say I did a marathon but the 3 weeks of recovery left me in worse shape afterward than if I hadn’t run it. Anything which is so strenuous that the soreness keeps you from doing things later in the week is often not worth doing, and it likely leads to injuries down the road. Injuries often occur in these super “hard’ classes, and these fad classes, so be aware of that too.
Do not be one of those people who rewards a great workout with some enormous meal. Unless you’re an Olympic swimmer, you are likely burning 300 calories or less in a workout. Make it super-strenuous and you might get up to 400. That is contained in one helping of barbecue SAUCE at some restaurants, not even counting the meal. You will never out-exercise a bad diet, so never go down this path. Create a healthy diet and things will change for you way more quickly than anything you do in the gym, healthy living always starts in the kitchen. Maybe I’ll do another column in the future based on simple healthy dieting, but for purposes here just remember you cannot out-exercise a bad diet.
Whether you’re slightly sick, slightly hungover, stressed at work, stressed at home, there are no excuses good enough to avoid a workout. The link above is a workout that can be done anywhere, including a hotel room, or next to your oven while it’s preheating. As long as you’re not injured, you’re good to go. If President and Michelle Obama can stay in shape with all they do, then so can you. You have time, and you are going to be motivated as soon as you start to see results. Make your schedule and stick to it, no excuses.
As a summary: create a good routine, do it for 30 minutes 3 times a week with no excuses, keep a good diet, don’t overdo it so you get injured, and don’t pay attention to advertising and/or fads. Add in yoga for your mind if you’d like. Anything else you include is only because you find it fun, not because it replaces this 30 minute routine.
Don’t be a douche bag, and don’t use one, either. Not to clean shop after your period, or after sex, and never, ever to try to prevent pregnancy. That doesn’t work AT ALL.
I’m not sure how many of you use douching as part of your feminine hygiene, but based on the shelf space that is dedicated to it in my local grocery store and pharmacy — plenty of you are.
Yup, she’s a self-sufficient kinda gal, and her discharge is nature’s way of keeping bad stuff out… like how your nose will run or eyes will tear when something irritates them.
Normal discharge should be clear-to-milky white-ish, and have no odor other than what is normal for you. If you’re ovulating, your discharge will change slightly and become a white stretchy consistency. But – a clumpy yellow-green or white odoriferous discharge, accompanied by itching or burning indicates a problem that should be checked by your doctor or midwife ASAP, okay?
Douching washes away the protective and cleansing fluids that are supposed to be in your vagina. Regular use of douches can irritate the lining of the vagina and lead to yeast infections and pelvic inflammatory disease. Even worse, douching can cause serious complications in pregnancy, and an increased risk of cervical cancer.
Uh – no thank you!
I think many women get hung up on the smell thing, am I right? You never want your man to know you smell like anything other than lavender, orange zest, and daisies.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but the truth is, healthy vaginas have a distinct scent to them, and that’s just the way it is. Power-washing with vinegar, antiseptics and fragrances will not make it go away for more than a few moments, and does far more harm than good.
Here are some take-aways to live by when caring for your lady parts:
That’s it. That’s all your girl needs to stay happy and healthy.
If you’ve successfully made it through the 3-4 weeks to the final re-introduction phase, congratulations! The hard part is over.
Yayyyyyy! You get to eat some forbidden foods again!
The only catch is that you must exercise patience, Grasshopper. You’ve come so far, please don’t blow it now!
Pick foods from ONE and ONLY ONE of the eliminated categories (I can tell you that I fell face first into bagels and pasta!).
After consuming the food, note any change in your health, sleep and energy for the next TWO DAYS. If you feel no negative change, that food group is likely fine for you. If you do notice a negative response, do not incorporate that food group back into your diet for the remainder of this program.
Let me give you an example of what your calendar may end up looking like:
And so forth.
You can see by the example timeline above that when gluten was re-introduced it didn’t go well, while the dairy wasn’t so bad. As a girl who is gluten-sensitive, I can tell you that I feel MUCH healthier and more energetic when I avoid gluten. However, I do occasionally choose to indulge — and suffer the consequences later.
Knowing that you have a food sensitivity or intolerance is truly half the battle.
Hopefully, you’ll uncover just one or two groups that makes your body react, and you can quite easily plan your diet around it. It doesn’t mean that you can never have it — it just means that you should be aware of how it impacts your body. Symptoms outside means there is damage being done on the inside as well.
Some tips for the biggies:
Gluten: There is a plethora of gluten-free alternatives for you bread and pasta lovers. I save those for the times when I am really craving something carb-y. My favorites? Pamela’s Baking products (best pancakes, bar none!), and brown rice pasta. You truly won’t miss a thing if you substitute these out.
Dairy: Goat dairy is much more digestible than cow’s dairy, so look for that when you are craving some cheese. For some reason, cow’s milk yogurt doesn’t bother me as much as cow’s milk, so experiment a little to find what works for you.
But seriously, give yourself a pat on the back if you’ve completed this process. Isn’t it crazy to see what certain foods are really doing to your health when they simply don’t mesh with your physiology? I don’t love that gluten makes me tired, puffy and constipated, but it does, so I (mostly) choose my foods accordingly now.
Ok, so if you haven’t already read part 1 on elimination diets, then I suggest you begin there. For those of you already up to speed — in part 2, we’re going to discuss how to go about doing an elimination diet.
To start, I suggest setting yourself up for success. Rather than focus on what I can’t eat during an elimination diet, I’ll focus on what I can eat. For example:
A big “don’t” that is not on the elimination list: Sugar. It’s not on the list because people typically don’t have intolerances or allergies toward it, but it will kill you. Don’t hate me. But it really doesn’t make sense, does it, to be eating so cleanly, and then wash it down with a Pepsi?? Or to eat a ton of candy?? So lay off the sugar as well. Sorry.
Your first assignment? Implement the above guidelines for no less than three, and optimally, 4 weeks.
Keep a daily diary of how you feel on a scale of 1-10, specifically addressing any complaints you have on a regular basis. Note also quality of sleep and energy levels. Please know it is not unusual to feel a little crappy during your first week or so.You may be dealing with hunger issues, or just plain crankiness from missing your favorite foods. Hang in there.
Dr. Oz has a great little elimination diet cheat-sheet which I highly recommend.
This is a lot to digest (pun intended). Wrap your head around it. Make a shopping list. Try some new recipes. And mostly try to embrace it — you’re making strides for your own personal well-being.
Stay tuned for Part 3, when we’ll talk about when and how to reintroduce forbidden foods.
Do you even know what I am talking about?! Elimination diets are a way of testing to see if a symptom or condition might be caused by a particular food, or food group. By taking most of the common culprits out of your diet for a short period, and then reintroducing them, you can get a really good idea of whether or not certain foods disagree with you.
Here’s my take on where to start, how to navigate one and what to do once you know what you are sensitive or allergic to.
First of all – why should you consider an elimination diet?
If you are experiencing a chronic health issue, gastrointestinal upsets or just don’t feel like your best self, then you MUST try this! So many of my patients will initially report that they have great health, but upon prodding, will admit to things like allergies, headaches, digestive issues and the like. Be honest with yourself; are you really healthy, or just healthy “enough”?
The goal of a true elimination diet is to challenge how your body responds to most of the major food groups that cause sensitivities in individuals.
The most common foods of those above that cause intolerance are dairy and gluten. If you just can’t imagine a few weeks without all of the above foods, you may want to start with eliminating those two groups. If you’re mostly committed, I recommend eliminating foods 1-6. However, if you truly are not well (or just love a big challenge), I would recommend going for the whole shebang.
I just got done with a gluten elimination diet, and let me tell you, my energy is through the roof! Or… at least it was until I caved yesterday and ate a slice of pizza. It was so delicious in the moment, but I slept poorly last night and have been sluggish all day. Shame on me, I know better, and soon you will, too.
Stay tuned for how to get started!