This post is a continuation of the previous post, which I felt was getting too long.
Finally, the reset diet…
I recently posted this to Instagram:
At last, the series of posts that I tried to post previously: 📷📷📷 Sunday's poached eggs on kale with grain-free almond bread. I didn't set out to make a dish for Instagram, but it was beautiful. 🍳🍳🍳🍳 I seasoned the kale with garlic, turmeric, salt and pepper. I use a lot turmeric in winter. ❄❄❄❄ I've been choosing what I eat by intuition recently. I'm currently eating for body reset (some would call it a detox), so I've been eating lots of vegetables, light protein, anti-inflammatory spices and minimal allergens. I've eliminated all nightshades except for a small bit of black pepper. I've removed grains and legumes. 🍴🍴🍴🍴🍴 It's not forever, but when my reactions to certain foods become uncomfortable, I listen to my body and let it rest and heal. Otherwise, I mostly eat what I want, first asking myself if it's worth the potential consequences. I don't mind a bit of gas or a bit of itching. . . . . #instalove #glutenfree #yeastfree #instayum #healthyeating #wheatfree #poachedeggs #instalove #healthyliving #nutritious #foodporn #whatsforlunch #certifiednutritionist #instagood #candidadiet #tastytuesday
“I've been choosing what I eat by intuition recently. I'm currently eating for body reset (some would call it a detox), so I've been eating lots of vegetables, light protein, anti-inflammatory spices and minimal allergens. I've eliminated all nightshades except for a small bit of black pepper. I've removed grains and legumes.
It's not forever, but when my reactions to certain foods become uncomfortable, I listen to my body and let it rest and heal. Otherwise, I mostly eat what I want, first asking myself if it's worth the potential consequences. I don't mind a bit of gas or a bit of itching.”
I was having candida issues and while I've done full on multi-week candida cleanses in the past, I decided to do something different this time. For the first two days I consumed nothing but smoothies and vegetable broth, followed by a couple of days of nothing but liquids and vegetables with a few herbs. I cut out coffee. During this time I noticed an improvement in cognitive function and decision making, and I wasn't hungry at all.
Check out this broth in the making, which I cooked and strained:
And the next batch…
Details on Instagram
I've continued to eat in the way I laid out above. Intuitively. Lots of vegetables, light protein including a lot of eggs, anti-inflammatory spices and minimal allergens. Minimal nightshades. I've removed grains and legumes. I'm back on coffee, dairy-free. I've been consuming a lot of coconut milk and made cashew milk yesterday. I've read about the 80/20 rule of dieting, which is where you eat healthy (or on diet) 80% of the time. I seem to be doing a 90/10 or a 95/5. The bigger number is when I eat at home. When I'm out I still adhere to some guidelines and strive to avoid what my immune system would perceive as the worst invaders.
The two times I've had tomato, I've reacted to it, so it's out. I haven't touched beer in a few weeks.
I've been getting meal ideas from The 21 Day Sugar Detox, the 21 Day Sugar Detox cookbook and Practical Paleo, all books by Dianne Sanfilippo.
I've been eating a lot of greens and eggs, like this:
The grain-free almond bread kicks-ass. There's a photo series on Instagram.
Eating intuitively is really good for health. I know what’s “good” for me and what’s “bad.” I pick my poison, so to speak. I ask myself if it’s worth it. As I said in my last post, I ate a couple of slices of birthday cake in the middle of this. I didn’t get sick. I didn’t die. The sugar bomb did not upset me emotionally or physically. I did notice a slight immune effect.
And that cold that I discussed two posts ago? It did get worse after I stayed up late for two consecutive nights, one of which was spent working on that blog post, and ate one more piece of cake. I had ONE day on which I was blowing my nose a lot. One day of chest congestion. Then it was gone.
Questions? Comments? I might have one more blog post in me on the topic.
In my last post, I discussed the neurotransmitters in your gut, making the connection between what you eat and your brain health. I addressed the gut's role in the immune system and allergic reactions in the brain. I shared that I've been on what I call a “reset diet.” I want to expand on all this, mostly from the perspective of the food we eat. I ended up with a post that was almost 2,300 words, so I moved the final part to a new post. Still, this is a long one because there are a lot of related concepts.
“Let food be thy medicine.”
Food can help us, or food can harm us. No two people are affected the same way. We have different food sensitivities and allergies. Some we're born with, some develop later in life.
What is an allergy?
Simply put, an allergy is a damaging immune response by the body to a substance.
According to The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, “An allergy is a chronic condition involving an abnormal reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance called an allergen.”
If you have an allergy, your immune system views the allergen as an invader, and a chain reaction initiates. White blood cells of the immune system produce IgE antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to a specific kind of cell, causing a release of potent chemicals such as histamine.
Although allergies can develop at any age, the risk of developing allergies is genetic.
Understanding the immune system
The immune system is a host defense system. It’s made up of a complex network of cells, tissues, organs, and the substances they make that helps the body fight infections and other diseases. The immune system includes white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow.
To function correctly, the immune system must detect a wide variety of microorganisms called pathogens that can cause disease and distinguish them from healthy tissue.
Immune system disorders can result in autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, and cancer. Immunodeficiency occurs when the immune system is less active than normal, resulting in recurring and life-threatening infections.
As indicated above, the immune system is involved in allergy responses.
There are two system analogies that I tend to use:
- The immune system is like a computer firewall, keeping viruses out.
- The immune system can be seen as an army with a limited number of soldiers and ammunition.
I think that the immune system can only focus its energy on so many things at a time so if there’s a cold or flu going around and you're not taking care of your immune system, there’s a higher likelihood that it will slip in. Everyone has different conditions under which they tend to get sick. For some, it's stress. For others, childhood trauma could keep their immune system chronically weak. For me, sleep is critical. I know that if everyone around me is sick, I need to get enough sleep to keep my defenses up. Some people seem to get sick every time there's “something going around.”
It's not just about getting sick, or allergies. Every time we bang our knee or stub our toe, our immune system goes to work. We bruise, we swell. When we get food poisoning, we vomit and/or have diarrhea. Our body reacts to keep foreign invaders out.
Skin reactions such as cold sores, pustules, and acne are all immune related. Acne has many causes – most notably hormonal – but the immune system also plays a part.
Studies have found a correlation between the bacteria Propionibacterium, acne and the immune system. (Source: Gabby Bernstein's interview with dermatologist Bobby Buka, MD.) Propionibacterium lives in and around the sweat glands, sebaceous glands, and other areas of the skin. One study found that Propionibacterium was the most prevalent human skin-associated genus of microorganisms.
The immune system and what we eat
In addition to allergies, there are other reasons foods might not be suitable for us and yet tolerated by others. Sometimes foods will always harm us, sometimes it's only at certain times.
We all have different needs to thrive. Some people thrive eating high-fat diets (everyone needs fat, but some need more than others). Some do well on a high carb diet. Some stay healthy eating vegan, some can’t eat vegan at all. Some people can’t eat raw vegetables without digestive distress. Some people get kidney stones if they eat too many vegetables. The list of examples goes on.
The point: There is no one-size-fits-all eating lifestyle. However, there are foods that in general, we should all eat more of, and some we should eat less of.
The Candida Connection
You might have a yeast overgrowth and not know it because you don’t know the symptoms or what it looks like, or you hear “yeast infection,” and your only association is TV commercials for vaginal yeast infection treatments.
Candida Albicans is the most common type of yeast infection found in the mouth, intestinal tract and vagina, and it may affect the skin and other mucous membranes. If the immune system is functioning optimally (your soldiers are fully armed), this type of yeast infection is rarely serious. It's usually harmless. However, if the immune system is not functioning correctly, the candida infection can migrate to other areas of the body, including the blood and membranes around the heart or brain. (Source: WebMD)
Candida is a fungus. At proper levels in the body it helps with nutrient absorption and digestion. When there's too much of it, symptoms may appear. That’s when you get Candida Overgrowth Syndrome, a chronic condition that flares up in connection with food sensitivities and a disruption in the gut and skin microbiomes.
Candida can grow out of control when your body's natural pH balance is disturbed.
Back in February I had this idea: Start a new ayurveda morning routine (or, at least, ayurvedic-based). Blog about it.
The routine included activities I was already doing, such as yoga and meditation, so I was building on it. It also incorporated habits that I used to have but had stopped.
I started strong. Then a few weeks in I started a new corporate day job and my schedule changed both in terms of how long I had for said routine, and my blogging schedule. Honestly, for the first month of my employment I had little energy to do anything outside of work. (Working to make money vs. working on my passion is a topic I'm putting some notes together on, potentially to create an article on LinkedIn.)
What's in an ayurveda morning routine?
When I started my routine, based on some googling and what I'd seen in an Instagram account I follow, it looked like this – though the order would sometimes change:
- Meditate (20 minutes) – I still use the Insight Timer app.
- Journal (15 minutes)
- Scrape tongue with a plastic tongue scraper (30 seconds or so)
- Ayurveda recommends scraping away white coating that accumulates on the tongue overnight. This coating is perceived as accumulated undigested toxins sitting in the digestive tract. Those toxins can cause illness.
- Splashing cool water on my face/in my eyes, 7 times.
- Ayurveda recommends splashing your face and eyes with water as soon as you wake up, seven times. Seven represents the body’s chakras, or energy centers.
- Drink a half liter or full liter of warm water.
- Some practitioners recommend lemon, some recommend lime. Morning lemon water has long been part of my routine. Sometimes I juice of lemons or limes. Other times I use lemon or lime essential oil from Young Living, or their Citrus Fresh essential oil blend, which contains orange, grapefruit, mandarin, tangerine, lemon, and spearmint. Some days I get my magnesium in, with Natural Calm lemon flavoured powder.
- Give myself a body massage with coconut oil or sesame oil (washed off in the shower).
- Oil pulling with coconut oil and a couple of drops of Living Libations Healthy Gum Drops, done for 10-20 minutes.
- Oil pulling is where you swish oil around on your mouth. I scoop up some oil with a spoon, add the gum drops, and pop it in my mouth. It's part of the oral hygiene routine, though NOT a replacement for brushing teeth. When you spit, always do it into a garbage can, as it can clog pipes.
- Skin brushing with a dry skin brush before showering.
- Skin brushing, allegedly, helps encourages lymphatic drainage, improves blood flow, and rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. It improves circulation and helps rid toxins from the body.
So many steps!
That's a LOT of steps. I also walk my dog in the morning, and like to do morning yoga. It's time consuming, and I was keeping it up at least 6 days a week. I tried including pranayama (breathing) exercises but I kept forgetting to do them.
Sometimes I multi-tasked with other activities on the list, or with other activities. For example, I'd oil up and then sit at my computer, or oil up and then empty the dishwasher. Or sit with oil on my body and in my mouth at the same time.
Oil pulling is one of the activities that I've been doing on and off for years, and I usually do it in the shower (again, spitting into a garbage can). Once, I sat down on the couch with my body oiled and coconut oil in my mouth while my man told me stories. For 10 minutes, I nodded and “mmmhmmm”ed , amused by it.
(My sister commented that she has a similar routine. Of course she does!)
My Ayurveda morning routine now…
When I stared my new job I couldn't sustain that time-consuming ayurveda morning routine. Some experts say that you should wake up at 6 am, or before the sun. By the end of March, the sun is rising around 7 a.m. My optimal sleep cycle is 11 p.m. -7 a.m., though 10:30-6:30 is do-able and 6:30 wake up is necessary now. I still need 2 hours before I leave for work in the morning!
I need 8 hours of sleep, though can get by on 7.5 without feeling too bad. When my dog was a puppy I DID get up before 6 a.m. to walk her before work but she's older now and her morning needs have changed.
So here's what I say to 6 a.m. wake up – and especially any time earlier: Screw it. If you can do it, that's great! We all have different needs and rhythms. I'm a little envious, but I'm satisfied where I'm at, I'd just like to get up a little earlier. Last week I made myself 3 versions of a morning schedule. One does have a 6 a.m. wake up. I eye it in the way that one looks at something unappealing. Then I sleep later. Maybe if I start with 15-minute increments…
Do what's right for you (find YOUR health and wellness)
In an article on Chopra.com, provides the following note before its ayurvedic-inspired morning routine:
These suggestions for morning habits are inspired by traditions in Ayurveda; however, the invitation is to try them out, do what feels right, skip the ones that don’t, add ones that balance you best. They can be done in any order. Whether you’re already an early riser or more of a drag-myself-out-of-bed, stumble-to-the-coffeemaker, why-is-it-so-bright, kind of person—these tips will help you get a jump on your day.
Indeed. And I did.
The activities I kept were those that were already part of my life:
- Meditation (20 minutes tops these days, though I'm striving for earlier wake up and longer sessions)
- Tongue scrape
- Skin brush
- Oil pull in the shower. Above, I said that I take a spoonful of the oil. In past warmer months when the oil was melted, I swigged straight from the container. My Happy Gum Drops are a new addition – maybe I'll drop them straight into my mouth.
- Drink warm water. I've been saying for years that even if I neglect to drink water throughout the day, at least I know I've had my morning water.
After 100 days of meditation I missed a day. And then went back to it. I'm doing yoga most days but I occasionally do skip. I loved challenging myself and feeling really good about streaks but I eventually decided to go easy on my self if I miss a day.
Sometimes I forget to skin brush as part of this ayurveda morning routine. I often forget to splash water on my face. Most mornings I go from bedroom to living room for yoga/meditate/journal. The massage would be nice, but it's more of a treat now. I remember one evening after I'd done it in the morning, when suddenly felt my neck release nicely and knew it was a result. The timing just doesn't work right now.
How do I feel from all this ayurveda morning routine stuff?
I honestly don't know if the skin brushing is benefiting me, but often times we don't see or feel health benefits. Not seeing or feeling doesn't mean it's not working, nor does it mean that it is.
My tongue always feels cleaner with a good tongue scrape. I use the small plastic scraper that came with the Living Libations Successful Self-Dentistry Kit that I won last year. Some people swear by stainless steel or copper. You could use the back of a spoon. I used to sometimes do that.
My teeth always feel cleaner with I oil pull before brushing. It amazes me that oil pulling will loosen debris from the day before that evening flossing did not.
I was sick with colds in both March and April, even though I usually only get sick twice a year, in fall and spring. However, both times the cold lasted less than a week. The first one stayed mostly in my chest. I didn't even go through an entire box of Kleenex. The second one was more intense and in my nose, but brief. It could be the ayurveda morning routine, the turmeric consumption, or the Genuine Health probiotics I've been taking.
All I know is that I'm trying, and being as consistent as possible without being extreme about it.
We try our best and be gentle on ourselves. That's the way to live.
I'm glad it took me a couple of months to get around to blogging this because it provided the opportunity for a “then and now” post, which I think is more interesting and relatable.
According to a study conducted by Melitta in 2015, coffee is the most commonly consumed beverage in Canada, with 84% of Canadians saying that they drink it.
Normally I'd note the potential bias there but a) potential bias is pretty obvious and b) 84% doesn't seem far-fetched.
According to CBC.ca, 67% of Canadians aged 18-67 drink coffee daily. According to that same article, coffee drinkers consume, on average, 16.6 cups of coffee per week, or 2.4 cups per day.
German housewife Melitta Bentz invented the Pour-Over™ over 100 years ago. Before that, coffee was brewed similar to the way tea is steeped now – coffee grounds were boiled in a cloth bag tied with string. This resulted in a cloudy, bitter coffee with an oily residue. The pour-over technique changed the way people made and consumed coffee.
Everyone's got their favourite – and their opinion is “THE RIGHT” one.
Coffee is a personal, very subjective subject. Everyone's got their favourite coffee spot and a preferred at-home method. They like it just so.
Some people prefer a stronger cup, others prefer a weaker cup. Some people want it black, others load it with condiments. Some like it flavoured, others insist on – to quote Denis Leary in this swear-laden rant – coffee flavored coffee. I think that if you need to load it up with condiments or flavour, you don't really like coffee and should choose another beverage. Embrace the bean.
My last five years of coffee makers
When I first moved in with my man almost five years ago he had an espresso machine that he'd modified to his liking. It eventually broke.
We tried French press for awhile, and it was good. I'd used one when I lived alone. We used one as our camping coffee method.
Then we went Keurig but the environmental guilt was too much for us. So much waste! For awhile, after each time I used the Keuring to make a cup of coffee, I would open the k-cups and dump the grounds into the compost bin. After awhile I stopped doing it each time, instead tossing them aside to do a bunch of them “later”. A time came when I stopped altogether. Eventually we started using reusable cups with our own freshly ground coffee but we still had that guilt. Two people have told me recently – and this might just be rumour – that the inventor of Keurig machines feels guilty about his invention and its environmental impact. In my home, we refer to all coffee machines that use cups and pods as “waste packaging dispensers”. I know that biodegradable cups exist now, but the non-recyclable and non-compostable still dominate.
Then came our beloved Aeropress, of which we own at least 3. (One at home, one at work, one at our trailer…) It became my favourite method by far. Using the “inverted” method, I get a strong cup with a thin layer of crema on top. Crema is one of my criteria for enjoyable coffee.
Having experienced many home coffee brewing methods and having a current favourite, I wasn't looking to make a change. I was slightly skeptical when Melitta's PR company offered me Melitta's 1-cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer to try, but I accepted it with an open mind. I do not accept every product offer. In fact, I decline most. However, Melitta is an established name. They've been around a long time. And I like coffee.
Having a current favourite, I didn't expect much from Melitta's 1-cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer. I was pleasantly surprised.
Melitta's representative sent me a can of ground coffee but I haven't opened it, choosing instead to grind my own as usual. Nothing is the same as freshly ground. My current beans aren't fancy. They're not fair trade or locally roasted, although I have some favourite local roasts. The beans I currently use are “Colombian Supremo” from a local grocery chain.
Just one disadvantage to start
The first thing I noticed with Melitta's 1-cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer was a disadvantage: I didn't know how much water to use. One of the brewer's features is a “window” that allows you to see how much coffee you're brewing. However, while it allows you to see into your cup, it doesn't help determine how much water to put into the cone. As I do with the Aeropress, I began the brewing process by slowly pouring a little bit of boiling water into the coffee grounds to saturate them and let them “bloom” before slowly pouring the rest of the water. With the Melitta brewer, I paused after pouring in a little more water, let the cup fill, poured some more water, pausing and pouring until the cup was filled with the desired amount of coffee.
You can see the “window” at the bottom.
The solution to the water volume issue that I came up with is to fill your mug with water, pour that water into a measuring cup, and then note to use that much water next time. (So if your favourite mug holds 1 U.S. cup of liquid, pour 1 cup of boiling water into the cup.) You'd have to do this with every different sized vessel that holds your coffee.
If you've got a better idea, feel free to share it.
Oh, but the smell…
After that, all good. My man walked into the kitchen as I was making the first cup and observed that it smelled good. It really did. The smell of fresh-brewed coffee is one of the best smells in the world, isn't it? Unless you don't like coffee or the smell of it.
I tried it black first, and it tasted really good. Much better than I expected.
I proceeded to make one of my Bulletproof-like lattes and it was delicious with its added cinnamon, vanilla and grass-fed dairy, blended to a lovely froth.
Clean up is a snap!
[*finger snap*, like in a cheesy commercial]
Clean up was easy. Melitta's 1-cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer takes a #2 cone filter. When the coffee has finished brewing, dump that in the compost bin and rinse the plastic brewer- and the rinsing part is optional. It's slightly easier to clean than the Aeropress, which requires a good rinse.
I still love my Aeropress, but will use the Melitta 1-cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer at work. It saves money on buying coffee, and saves the guilt of using one of the Keurig machines at the office. Curious? Go for it! Melitta's 1-cup Pour-Over Coffee Brewer is a great choice. It also costs under $5 in both Canadian and U.S. currencies. You can find it at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other retailers.
My “almost Bulletproof” coffee.
At the end of my Project Claudia post, I promised I'd address this one.
What do you think are the most popular drugs in the world?
By some definitions, it is marijuana but there are two others that are legal and so commonly used that people don't think of them as drugs at all.
Before I tell you what they are, I want to define two terms. Emphasis mine:
“a medicine or other substance which has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body.” (Source: Google “drug definition”)
“any article, other than food, intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of humans or other animals.” (Source: dictionary.com)
“something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness” (Source: Merriam-Webster)
“compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal” (Source: Merriam-Webster)
“the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.” (Source: dictionary.com)
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including:
- to feel good
- to feel better
- to do better – improve performance
- curiosity and peer pressure
According to The American Psychiatric Association (APA), symptoms of addiction – or “substance use disorder” are grouped into four categories:
– Impaired control: a craving or strong urge to use the substance; desire or failed attempts to cut down or control substance use
– Social problems: significant problems at home, school, or work, including relationship problems; you stop doing activities you usually enjoy in order to use the substance (or perform the activity, as would be the case with addictions to gambling or internet or porn – to name a few).
– Risky use: you place yourself in settings or situations that could be or are dangerous just so you can continue to use.
– Drug effects: tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. (See M-W definition above.)
Can you think of any everyday, common substances that fit these definitions and characteristics of drugs and addiction?
The two I'm thinking of are both white powders: One bitter, one sweet.
Remember, I'm talking legal drugs here, so no, it's not cocaine.
Common additive substance #1
This is one of them:
Its molecules are made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen atoms.
You likely have the means of making it at home. You likely consume it daily, or often.
It's available in grocery stores and specialty shops.
Two writers in The Atlantic referred to it as, “The World’s Most Popular Drug”.
I love this program, and I adore its facilitator, Meghan Telpner. I own several of her ebooks, both of her published books (physical copies!) and have done several of her programs. I went to some of her live workshops when she still held them. I always feel better after I do her programs and I constantly learn from her. She's an inspiration.
After more than a year, the Awesome Life Detox program is returning as a group challenge.
This isn't your regular green juice chugging detox. The focus of the detox is your health, your happiness and ultimately, how to live the most fulfilling, best (awesome) life possible! It's an overhaul of your life with a holistic approach rather than a simplified program that only deals with diet.
Here is a breakdown of the Awesome Life Detox: