Sometimes life calls for salami

**Warning** This post contains discussion about a delicious sweet food that contains high amounts of white flour, and white sugar. But I promise you, once you hear the story, you will totally understand why I’m giving credence to this sugary delight.¬† We’ll call this an example of how this blog is evolving from it’s original “off-white ” focus. ūüôā

Picture this: you are traveling through a beautiful foreign country in Europe with your husband, your toddler, your mother, and two friends. You are having a nice time seeing the sights, meeting the people, taking in the surrounds. Then, suddenly, it all changes. Your mom’s purse is stolen and it contains not only all of her money, her credit card, and her ID, but also her passport.¬† Her PASSPORT! It is Saturday evening and you are supposed to leave the county early Tuesday AM. Oh, and you are in a tiny secluded beach town hours from a big city.¬† Thankfully you have a phone, internet, and enough savvy to call the US Embassy emergency line. You get an appointment on Monday morning but in the meantime you spend hours on the phone with family back in the USA trying to retrieve documents that will prove your mother’s identity, making new hotel, car, and activity arrangements, and you don’t sleep a wink that night (oh, and you have a massive cold!).

This was my experience last week on our family trip to Greece. Ironically, I’d been planning this trip in my mind for about 15 years so I could take my mom to see her¬† heritage.¬† In my mind the trip was going to be epic and perfect. So, when the trip went south quickly, I thought, hmm….nope…did NOT expect for this to happen. Well, that is what I get for holding on too tightly to expectations, but that is a whole other blog posts.

Needless to say, that by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, and we were headed back to Athens and away from the peace and beauty of the Peleponnesse a day early, I was weary. We were all weary, and disappointed. We were disappointed that we had to cut an already brief stay short, and that we’d gotten violated by a thief who had clearly been watching and tracking us on the beach until we briefly let our guard down.

Nonetheless, our car full of motley travelers was determined to make the most of the experience, and this included finding a place to stop for a good meal as we headed back to the city.

Well, if I didn’t believe in a universe who answers prayers before this (which I did), I was certainly convinced by the time we rolled into Kalaliki Greece for lunch. Kalaliki is a spec of a beach side town on the East coast of the Northern Peleponnesse, very near Corinth.¬† I wish I could tell you the name of the restaurant, but I can’t. The sign was all in Greek so the best I can do is present you with a photo:

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As soon as we stepped over the threshold, we kenw that the universe had answered our prayers.  It was Sunday and the room was filled with happy Greek families, infants to elders, talking, laughing, eating and being loud, boisterous Greeks.  Two musicians were set up in the corner playing traditional music and their rhythms seemed to match the ebb and flow of the waves that could be seen from the dining room window outside.

The chef greeted us with a warm smile and delighted eyes. Maybe he was excited to see some American travelers so could chat about his love of Texas BBQ and his quest to take his wife to NY City, but I have a feeling he was the kind of guy who greeted all of his patrons as though they had entered his home.

Oh, and the food. Wow!¬† Tzaziki like I’d never tasted, phyllo encrusted feta drizzled with honey and sesame seeds, Greek salad with crisp, fresh vegetables, and platters of lamb.

Midway through the meal I noticed an odd sensation within myself.¬† A feeling that had felt foreign over the last couple of days, but to some degree since we’d live the US and were traveling (which had been as much hectic as it was fun).¬† I felt comfort. I felt peace. I felt at home.¬† We all did. The furrow over our brows had been replaced with smiles and soft eyes.¬† We laughed.¬† We took in the love and happiness around us with every mouthful as much as we took in the food itself.

Now to the point of my story (finally!).¬† At the end of the meal, as we sat there with full bellies watching, the chef came out with a surprise.¬† It’s not uncommon in Greece for the chef to surprise his guest with something during the meal, in our experience.¬† Sometimes we got coffee, once it was an appetizer, once it was a leek soup that would blow your mind.

On this day, however, the universe knew just what we needed. We needed “salami”. Salami was the name of the dessert this chef presented us after our meal.¬† He said it was a dessert his mom used to make for him as a kid and she called it salami. It was very simple: Bisquick, cocoa, sugar, butter, vanilla, milk, and caramel.¬† He started making it at the restaurant to share with his guests the same way his mom would make it to share with family and friends during his childhood.

Let me tell you this, I’m not sure any dessert had ever tasted so good as this salami.¬† It was so simple – a simplicity that can only come from a mother’s creative forces trying to put together a crowd pleasing treat to be shared by all.¬† It wasn’t pretentious. It will never win any awards.¬† It tasted like a giant hug.

And after that I knew that everything would be okay (and it was).

 

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A healthy girl’s guide to over-eating this Thanksgiving holiday…….

Pop quiz: What causes people to eat more than they anticipated on Thanksgiving:
a. Boredom “hmm…..I’ve been sitting were watching football with the fam all day…so I might as well dip into these chips and salsa sitting in front of me..”
b. Stress “OMG, two full days with the in-laws AND their yappy little poodle and I have no exit strategy…..where is the Pumpkin pie???”
c. Sheer volume of food in front of you “….hmm, of the 50 platters of food on the table, which 10 am I going to eat? Is that too much??”
d. Mouth-gasms from tasty eats “…I know my stomach is about to pop but mom’s stuffing is SOOOOO good……who can stop eating when it’s this good?
e. Mindless eating “…hey, did we really eat a whole wheel of brie and a box of crackers while catching up and chatting…oops!”

Answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE!!!
But, fear not. It doesn’t have to be that way! If you really want to, you can escape this Thanksgiving day without the extra helping of guilt, regret, heartburn and having to undo the belt a knotch.

First of all: Don’t panic. I’ve noticed after coaching a lot of intelligent, motivated, confident women that there is a lot of anxiety about expecting the holiday to be a day of total gluttony. It’s as if we feel totally powerless to the onslaught of food that is about to befall us. You DO have power, you just need to realize this. Nobody is forcing you to eat and if you simply employ a few mindful strategies, you can wake up on November 25th feeling pretty good (which, by the way, sets you up for more mindful, balanced eating for the rest of the weekend!).

Here’s what I learned over the years from books, from myself, and from amazing people like YOU who have contributed to this over-eating guide for the holidays (or rather how to NOT over-eat if you don’t want to) this holiday season.

Okay, strategy #1: Don’t panic. Now I’ve said it twice. Thanksgiving is ONE Day. It’s what we do habitually that contributes to our outcome (weight, mindset, health) rather than the occasional holiday meal. So keep it in perspective. It is not a free pass to excess eating between tomorrow and Christmas unless you allow it to be. It’s one day. You can do this and it’s okay to enjoy it, by the way!

Strategy #2: Go in with a plan. I love coaching women on devising their holiday meal plan. What do you really love to eat at the holiday that is special, delicious, and you wouldn’t want to pass up? Is it stuffing? Great? Put some on your plate and don’t feel guilty. Is it pie? Fine! Save room in your belly for dessert. Look at the whole day – there is likely some foods that are no big deal to you (like, say, the chips and salsa appetizer). Skip on those foods and plan to enjoy the foods you want.

Strategy #3: use a plate. What? No, I’m not trying to insult you by implying that you eat like barbarians, but when it comes to mindless, grazing food behaviors usually plates and utensils are cast to the wayside. If you are going to ‘graze’, treat it like a meal. Small bite calories add up just as much as big bite/portion calories do too. Stop fooling yourself! Be willing to commit to the eating experience but engaging in use of flatware. You’ll potentially put less on your plate and you’ll have a visible sign (empty plate) that tells you it’s time to stop.

Strategy #4: Position yourself strategically away from the tempting foods. This may not apply so much when you sit down to eat dinner, but a lot of people eat much more before and after the formal ‘meal’ when they are just hanging out, watching football, visiting with friends, etc. Literally don’t sit next to the food you can’t stop eating. Get yourself out of arm’s reach so you don’t hear the whisper of those Swedish meatballs or cheese cubes or whatever food calls you. If you aren’t hungry, don’t even get out a plate. Sit and talk and watch and take in the day for what it is! Also, maybe even consider sitting with your back to the food or putting the food away when the meal is over so that temptations are minimized.

Strategy #5: Move yo’ body! Play Wii with your pre-teen nieces and nephews (or kids…or heck, your adult friends too). Offer to take fluffy for a walk, do a Pilates video in your room (you brought your Smartphone, right? Load one up!). There are so many ways to move without going to the gym, you don’t need to find one that works for you. As they say….Just do it! It’s not so much for the calorie burning (which is good) as it is for the mental sanity and confidence it will bring you that you uphold standards of health and wellness, even on holidays.

Strategy #6; Eat a protein-rich breakfast. Nothing too heavy here, but don’t start the day with cinnamon rolls. You’ll get plenty of sugar later, right? Eat some eggs, some turkey sausage, some yogurt, or some high protein cereal. Maybe even squeeze in a vegetable (veggie omelet?). Even cereal with fat-free milk might be too much carb, but at least there is some protein in the milk. This may help you feel fuller faster later in the day and it will help kick start your metabolism.

Strategy #7: umm…ever heard of WATER? People forget to drink water at holidays. What with all the soda, sparkling juices, beer, wine, liquor, Egg nog, hot totties….you get the idea. You need water. If you are inside a hot, stuffy kitchen wrangling a 25-lb turkey, you better darn well drink some water to avoid getting even minorly dehydrated. Water is the elixer of life!! It is also the currency of your metabolic processes, so drink up to your digestive health!

Strategy #8: For goodness sake, be GRATEFUL! Is it a cliche to be reminded of this over and over again? Maybe, but it’s true. Be grateful for your body and how it can tell you when you are doing things it likes, and doing things it doesn’t like. PS: it doesn’t like being over stuffed to the point of oblivion. It’s trying to tell you that, so maybe you can make an attempt at listening today. Partner with your body on Thanksgiving morning and make an agreement that it will give you some liberties to enjoy an indulgent meal, but you’ll do your part not to expect digestive or caloric miracles by keeping a balance to things. YOu’ll know that the agreement worked when you go to bed feeling good, nourished, content, and you didn’t even need to open the medicine cabinet for some help.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody. ūüôā

Energy is Everything – a post from a guest Blogger

Hi all,

this next post is a bit of a deviation from the norm here at Offwhiteliving.¬† Recently a writer, Melanie Bowen, contacted me about writing a blog post.¬† Her focus is on energy healing and cancer, but I think the concepts she discusses could really apply to healing any part of your life or any disease.¬† Something I don’t discuss much here is that I used to work quite a bit in the realm of energy work including mindfulness techniques, yoga, Reiki, EFT, etc.¬† I have found them profoundly useful in dealing with food issues, I just haven’t focused on that yet here at Off White Living…perhaps this is time to turn a new leaf and incorporate more of that!

Anyway, enjoy the post below from Melanie and you can email her at: melanielbowen@gmail.com

Energy Healing: Integrative Cancer Care For The Whole Person

 

Integrative cancer care is care for the whole person — body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Blending holistic medicine with standard medicine, integrative care is sometimes known as alternative medicine, complementary medicine, holistic healing, or adjunctive care.

Realizing the importance of treating the whole person, many modern cancer treatment centers provide integrative care programs for cancer patients and their families and caregivers. Integrative care teams consist of oncologists, other health professionals, and licensed holistic practitioners. Not only are they trained in safe, effective complementary care practices, but they are also experienced and knowledgeable about conventional medical treatments.

Integrative care centers, therapists, and practitioners provide a number of healing therapies during and after cancer treatment. In addition to promoting biologic therapies and natural medicine, they offer patients a range of other therapy choices, including the energy therapies.

Energy therapies focus on internal and external energy fields ‚Äď bio-fields originating within the body, and outside sources like electromagnetic fields. Modern energy therapies often blend Eastern and Western concepts of energy to promote balance and healing but are used all over the world. EFT can become widely recognized as one of the leading alternative in the UK and Europe as well as having the ability to be substantially recognition in the USA. Helping patients activate the body‚Äôs own natural healing powers is the ultimate goal of energy therapy.

Yoga and acupuncture are probably the most popular energy therapies. But more and more cancer patients are turning to healing touch, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), and intuitive bodywork for their cancer care plans. While these therapies are not meant to replace conventional medicine, they are good complements to standard medical practices.

Clinical research has shown EFT, intuitive bodywork, healing touch, and other energy therapies to be beneficial for cancer patients. They improve post-surgery healing and recovery, while reducing the need for pain medication. Symptoms resulting from aggressive cancer therapy, like chemotherapy and radiation treatments, generally reduce with energy therapies.

Energy healing is known to decrease stress and promote relaxation, which boosts the body’s own healing power. Therapeutic touch and EFT tapping may even improve clinical outcomes and cancer survival rates. One study, for example, showed that energy therapies like yoga improved the quality of life for breast cancer patients and increased their survival rates. But even patients whose prognoses are slim (such as those with rare aggressive disease mesothelioma) can reap the quality-of-life benefits of energy therapy.

Contemporary energy healing stems from ancient energy and spiritual concepts — concepts that go beyond the scope of clinical research and modern healing practices. Holistic treatment centers directories like the Federation of Holistic Therapies understand that cancer treatment involves more than just physical healing. As a result, they provide a useful tool to search practitioners that use integrative programs to represent a wide spectrum of contemporary traditions and well-rounded beliefs. They recognize that, for some people touched by cancer, energy healing can enhance patient health and quality of life through therapies that heal the body, mind, and spirit.

Energy therapy, and other integrative care, is primarily an outpatient program. However, it is sometimes used in inpatient cancer care. A physician or nurse referral is preferred, but typically not required, by holistic practitioners. Many practitioners provide home-based palliative care for patients struggling with end-of-life challenges, such as those facing a bleak prognosis for pancreatic cancer or a short mesothelioma life expectancy. Complementary care therapies are also helpful for family members and caregivers — people who experience cancer treatment in a unique way alongside their loved-ones. Check out the Institute for Complimentary and Natural Medicine for more information on the regulations and recognitions of holistic therapies.

 

Lifesaver

Argh….a headache.¬† Again.¬† It happens.¬† To me it seems to happen a lot.¬† I get really dehydrated when it’s warm out, and especially when it’s warm out and I have to teach for 2.5 hrs straight, which basically means talk-nagging-talk-begging, talk-listening (yes, I do that too) without stopping in a class of 28 eager undergrads.¬† And yes, they really are eager.¬† Hence all the questions.¬† Plus it’s a lab so they have to pay attention because they actually have to DO something in order to get out that day.¬† No skating by with your head in your hand, cocked to the side like you are looking intently when really you are asleep.

I also get headaches when I eat garlic.¬† I don’t mean to eat garlic, but let’s face it, garlic is pretty hard to avoid.¬† I went to Delta of Venus in Davis last night for dinner. Fabulous food, and I would go back.¬† The food was so good I wish that I had a camera handy to take a pic.¬† It was Caribbean food and even came with a sautee banana atop the rice.¬† Double YUM!¬† But I am pretty sure it had garlic.

Of all my food issues garlic is what gives me immediate trouble.¬† Within 2-3 hrs I feel literally like I’m on fire on the insides.¬† I also feel like I’m trying to pass 1,000 tiny razor blades through my GI tract but they won’t budge.¬† Good times.¬† The worst effect of all, however, is the bizarre and very unique headache I get.¬† It makes me feel like my eyes are on fire and that little laser beams are having a shooting match in my brain.¬† No wonder yogis and monks don’t include garlic in a meditative diet.¬† The way I feel right now is far from at peace.

But, before you go and feel too sorry for me, there is a remedy and that remedy is cool, crisp peppermint tea. Oh yeah.¬† I can’t live without it.¬† Hot or chilled, it’s the cooling effect of peppermint that I need¬† to quench the fire and blunt the GI razor blades and call a cease-fire in my brain.¬† It works, along with some Naproxyn (hey, I wish I could go all natural here too but a girl has got to live!).¬† The Naproxyn alone is pretty good, but the soothing nature of the peppermint tea actually does the most good in the GI.

Yogi teas, Stash, and Trader Joe’s are my favs, probably because they are the least expensive and just make a solid product.¬† Peppermint works best for me but I prefer spearmint or a mint mix if I can find it.

To me, this little garlic quandry-solved-by-peppermint-tea is just yet another example of mother nature’s balance.¬† Garlic is know for it’s heating, dispursing nature (like dispursing heat to my body and brain) and peppermint has a downward and cooling nature.¬† Yin and Yang going on right inside me at the moment.

I am in balance ūüôā

Purge your words and avoid emotional eating

Well all know journaling is good for us, right?¬† Well if you don’t – hear this:¬† Journaling can help you to release stressors and emotions and be a safe place to vent.¬† IT can also be a place to work out ideas or dilemmas you’re experience.¬† As an emotional carb eater, journaling has helped me tremendously in the past ‘purge my words’ so I don’t try and stuff them down with sweets.

However, lately I don’t journal much.¬† Not sure why, I just don’t feel like it- that is, until I found this site: 750 words.¬† The premise is simple.¬† It’s based on a technique from the “Artist’s Way” which includes writing 3-pages daily called morning pages.¬† It just so happens that 750 words is about 3 pages.¬† This website is a virtual journal that challenges you in a fun way to write 750 words/day in an uncensored, private, daily fashion and it will help you keep track of how often you do it.¬† There is something charming about the approach to the site and I like the design.¬† It’s very simple.

All I’m sayin’ is that in the past few days I’ve journaled every day and feel a lot better.¬† I have been stressing about some upcoming decisions and been home alone a lot.¬† This is a recipe for eating in the absence of hunger, particularly for wanting refined carb goodies for me.¬† Writing it out and not worrying about perfection has helped me tremendously.¬† Maybe it will help you too.¬† Check it out!

self-check

Every now and again¬† it’s a good idea to take inventory.¬† You know, like how any good business pauses for a moment to take stock of what they have, but on a more personal level.¬† It never fails to baffle me how disconnected I (and others I know) can be from what we are really doing from what we think we are doing.¬† And no place is more susceptible¬† to this than the diet.
Let’s take me, for instance.¬† Before I went to Iceland I noticed Matt and I spending more and more money on groceries every week.¬† Why?¬† We did have a few special occasions, but even beyond that I was constantly running to the store.¬† It was little things, such as needing an extra 1/2 gallon of Almond milk mid-week or running out of bananas or needing to buy more Wasa bread by Thursday.¬† Mostly it was healthy food but still, it was MORE.

So I took a little inventory of what I was eating by way of a website called Spark People. It’s pretty cool and even better – it’s free.¬† You can record your food intake, your fitness but also set goals and even talk about what inspires you.¬† Being a busy person who is already on the internet far too often, I stuck with the basic tool of recording my exercise and food intake.

Good thing I did.¬† Here I thought my diet would be classifed as “high protein” and most days I wasn’t even getting the minimum 20% protein recommended.¬† So, that means the rest of the calories were divided up between fat and carbs, right?¬† Well, yes, but many days I was eating 35-40% fat!¬† Holy Smokes!¬† That is quite a bit, and what blew me away was how little I had to eat in order to tip that scale.¬† A spoonful of peanut butter in my oatmeal + 1/3 an avocado at lunch and a stir-fry made with Olive oil really adds up.¬† I’d say it was mostly healthy fat, but I would have guessed my diet to be 40% protein, 20% fat, and 40% carbs.¬† The recommendation for fat is about 30% of total calories.¬† Thus, if I took the other 5-10% and invested them in protein, I would have been more in balance.¬† Also, sometimes for me when I eat a food with fat, I’m also getting carbs (like oatmeal and peanut butter).¬† Protein is often last on my list of preferences, yet having lean protein makes my body food good.¬† Why did¬† I need a website to remind me of that??

I wish there was some little indicator I could buy that let’s me know when my proportions of food are out of whack…..oh wait, I do have those little indicators.¬† I had my excess grocery bill (which basically told me that we were just eating too much – and we were!).¬† I also had my energy levels and my digestion.¬† I was overeating too often and therefore feeling sluggish and I wasn’t so….err…..regular.

I suppose I’m sharing all of this with you because I thought I would be immune to the pitfalls of an imbalanced diet.¬† I mean, I am a “health professional” after all, spending my days studying the very topic that was slipping right under my nose. Ha!

Every lifestyle change program I’ve ever seen talks about the importance of documenting what you eat, drink and exercise.¬† It makes sense.¬† Even the keenest, best-intended person can be very off track and habitually being off track has consequences like weight gain, food cravings, and a thin wallet!

Now that we are back from Iceland we are back to our modest calorie intake ways.  Last week I only spent $65 on groceries and $6 of that was on toilet paper.  Granted, we did eat out a couple of times but we also had a house guest, so  I think it evened out.

 

Coming to a Phone near you…Group Wellness Coaching

Good news Bloggies,

If you are wanting to make some healthy lifestyle changes and want support, you are in luck.  Support is on the way!

I am hosting an 8-week Group Wellness Coaching session starting FRIDAY, SEPT 17th.¬† We will convene via phone (you’ll get the # when you sign up) and create achievable, motivating goals around issues of weight, healthy eating, increased exercise, and stress management.

The session will last 8 WEEKS and will occur every Friday 1:30-2:30pm.  You will complete a thorough intake form upon sign-up so we can both know where you are coming from.

Group coaching takes all the benefits of personalized coaching and amplifies them, as you’ll learn from others and build positive relationships.

If you want to know more see the  flyer below and visit www.wellspringmedicalcenter.com/coaching Рthere is even a fun Video to watch!

Cost: $199 for all 8 weeks

WellcoachGroup

5 things that help me stop sugar binges

getting out of the house helps stop sugar binges

Today I was in a counseling session and it dawned on me (thanks to my kind counselor) that I have come a long way in harmonizing my relationship with sugar and carbs.¬† Looking back on the past few years, I feel like I’m in a pretty grounded place to offer some advice on what helped me personally win the fight against the urge to O.D. on sugar and carbs. Keep in mind this is not professional advise, per se, but rather the kind of insight that comes from the familiarity of going through something and knowing it intimately.

#1. Get support.  I always do best when I have a good friend to share my feelings with or am seeking professional support (counseling for me).  Groups like Over-eaters anonymous can be a great support network and there is no charge for joining.  Support that is non-familial has been key for me.  As much as  I love my family and husband, sometimes the issues that drive me to  crave sugar involve them and I have found that having a safe, non-biased place to express myself helps me trust my feelings and explore the core issues behind my sugar addiction.

2. Eat a balanced diet.¬† Okay, maybe this is the nutritionist in me, but it’s also just the experience talking.¬† When I eat protein at every meal, have veggies at least 2 meals/day, eat 2-3 fruits/day, and up to 3 servings of grains, I am good to go and don’t physically crave sugar.¬† I have to eat pretty substantial meals because I don’t like to snack (Snacking = trouble for me).¬† Also, include plenty of healthy fats like olive oil, some nuts/seeds, avocados, goat cheese or other cheeses that are strong enough in flavor that you don’t want over eat them.¬† Even butter has its place in my diet.¬† Milk is out for me, so I use almond milk and drink about a cup/day.¬†¬†¬† Protein really is my anti-sugar antidote, so I try to reach for protein instead of carbs first when I’m hungry.

3. Don’t eat trigger foods alone.¬† I have no business eating cake and frosting, ice cream, frozen yogurt, or cookies by myself.¬† It’s not that having these alone is inherently bad, it’s just bad for me.¬† When I eat binge food alone, even if it’s gluten-free or wheat-free, I’m way more likely to over eat.¬† Also, I have to ask myself why I’m eating alone in the first place?¬† Am I sneak eating or hiding something?¬† Big red flag for me!¬† If I’m not willing to eat treats out in the open, I’m not eating them for the right reasons.¬† On the flip side, when I do want to enjoy a treat and I’m with others I rarely want to eat in excess because my motivation is simply to enjoy a delicious something, not curb an emotion or numb out.

4. Get out of the house.¬† I spend a lot of time at home during all hours of the day now that I’m¬† back in school.¬† That kitchen calls pretty loudly sometimes, If I’m not careful.¬† I find that getting away to study helps me feel less isolated and more confident.¬† I’m not sure why, but it does.¬† If you find that you binge or eat mindlessly when you have too much unstructured time at home, it’s time to get out!¬† Structured time has also helped me stay away from derailing my flow with food.¬† If I have time goals or placed to be I’m much less likely to waste time eating mindlessly.

5.¬† The pleasure principle.¬† “All work and no play” makes me cranky and hankering for something to ‘sweeten’ my life…such as a donut or cookie.¬† When I make the pleasures of life a priority, I’m usually good.¬† I’ve learned that the emotional craving for sugar is often a calling for a break from the work or from the expectations I place on myself to always be doing something productive.¬† I like to hang with friends, cook with other people, go for a walk with my husband at night, chat on the phone, watch movies or do whatever to give myself a break.

I’d love to hear from you about what helps you avoid the pitfalls of sugar binges.

Emptiness

Empty yourself of everything.
Let the mind become still.
The ten thousand things rise and fall while the Self watches their return.
They grow and flourish and then return to the source.

– Lao Tzu

This week I experienced emptiness. ¬†True, physical emptiness. ¬†It was grand (well, it was grand after it was miserable). ¬†My emptiness occurred out of pure accident. ¬†Food poisoning (PC term: Food born pathogen), left my husband and I in, eerr… a rather precarious state for about 36 hours. ¬†I’ll spare you the details, except for the ¬†glorious feeling that I had once the trauma was over.

Physical emptiness feels enlightening to me. ¬†In part, this is because I really rarely allow myself to feel it. ¬†Hunger is uncomfortable for me, so I’m always rushing to fill its need. ¬†Yet here I was, able to survive on little but tropical fruit (the only thing I wanted) and bubbly orange water and ice for nearly 2 days. ¬†Once I felt better, I felt truly refreshed – like I’d been ‘reset’ by some divine force of nature. ¬†It was refershing to allow my body to NOT have food it it and to allow my mind to NOT think about food.

Physical emptiness is also enlightening because it creates internal space. ¬†Not just physical space, but emotional space. ¬†Lying on my back, with little energy to do more than watch HBO movies and sleep, I could think in a way I’ve not given myself permission to do in a long time. ¬†I could think without boundaries, expectations, deadlines or pressure. I allowed my mind to be idle. ¬†I wish that I could tell you I devoted some of my illness time to deep meditation or even journaling, but I didn’t. ¬†In a way, this is my journal entry of all those feeling that fed my spiring during my hiaitus from life.

You all have heard me say, in one form or another, that my relationship with food often mirrors my relationship with life. ¬†Of late, I’ve been cramming it in – food and life. ¬†Going too fast, expecting too much. ¬†Not allowing space for emptiness or freedom from the ties that bind. ¬†So nature found its own way to set me right again. ¬†It dawned on me that it had been a long time since I simply thought about doing creative things just for the sake of them, or since I just took a walk for a reason other than to boost my cardiovascular health or that I allowed myself to rest, to just be. ¬†Why do I forget how essential these elements to life really are?

So, I’m going to thank my period of emptiness for helping me resent my mind and body, and for reminding me of how far off the mark ¬†I tend to get. ¬†Happily, I found myself eating much less today and appreciating what I did eat for what it was -a nourishment to my body and spirit instead of something to soothe my worrisome soul that has been overworked and under played for the last 8 weeks (School!).

We live in a time where emptiness only comes when we get ill or we deliberately seek it out through fasts or cleanses.  How lucky are we?  Fortunate yes, but also I think we miss out on something really powerful that only happens when we do go without, even for a short while.

Hello world…

This is what gets me going everyday. ¬†It’s my magic bullet (ironically, you use a magic bullet to make this too!).

Yes, my friends, the rice protein smoothie has made its debut back into my life during the cleanse. ¬†Not that I don’t eat a smoothie for breakfast quite a bit, but this one has some secret ingredients that will hopefully get my GI humming and my cells smiling.

Those secret ingredients would be mustard green, kale or spinach leaves and ground flaxmeal. ¬†You really can’t taste the greens, I promise! ¬†Add enough berries, cinnamon, and vanilla rice powder and your palate will overlook the bitter greens. ¬†Try it, really.

I love this because I can make it the evening beforehand, store it in the fridge, and then sip it through my biochem class EVERY DAY at 8am.  I swear I can feel my brain cells perking up with every sip as more anti-oxidants enter my body.

Fun fact for ya: The more unsaturated fats (plant fats) you eat, the higher your requirement for anti-oxidants.  That is because unsaturated fats are prone to oxidation, which produces free fradicals (BAD).  Anti-oxidants are like cellular vigilantes that come in to wrangle up those free radicals and keep our cells happy and well.  So, eat those colorful veggies, especially if you eat a lot of unsaturated fats.

Consequently, this is also why its not advised to do high heat cooking with many unsaturated fats – the heat oxidizes them and makes them rancid….so I guess its back to butter and eggs after this 21 day cleanse for me.

Okay, back to work.  Smoothie recipe below

Toodles….

3/4 cup frozen berries
1/2 cup green leafy veggie leaves (kale, spinach, mustard – NO COLLARDS!)
1 tbsp flaxmeal
1 tsp cinnamon
8 oz or so of either water or unsweetened almond milk
1 serving Vanilla rice protein powder

Put ingredients in a blender and blend. ¬†Add more liquid as needed. ¬†I don’t recommend you put the protein powder in first, as it sticks to the bottom of the blender at my house….