Tag Archives: awareness

Hope for Healthy Body Wellness

March 4, 2014

What do you hope for your body? Perhaps, you crave fitness, weight loss, better immunity or overall wellness. Nurturing hope in your life means nourishing hope through your body.

Much like a complex food strainer, our body filters and accepts what we consume based on its needs and its experiences. Yes, your body has food memory, which you may recognize as sensory reactions on your palate (mmmm or yuck), learned cravings (even addictions) and possibly resistance.

About a year ago, I wrote a post on “The Sensitivity Spiral,” if you want to know more about what chemicals, stress and allergies can do to disrupt the body’s relationship with food, as well as tips for lessening the impact, give it a read.

Today, though, I want to shine a light of hope on the complex workings of food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. My humble disclaimer is that I am not an allergist or nutritionist, both of which I recommend speaking with. However, I was tasked by an allergist to take a deep dive into food mapping, reaction logging and personal testing. I have been poked, scanned, examined, interviewed and tested more than I prefer to recall. So, I have seen firsthand what food choices (even well-intentioned ones) can do to interfere with having a hopeful outlook and healthy body.

For instance, consider if your body does not respond well to a food, it may result in behavioral problems, increased anxiety, panic attacks, digestive sluggishness or rapidity, depression, bloating, diminished energy, an inability to sleep soundly, joint aches and muscle pains, migraines, notable weight gain or loss, irrational outbursts, breathing issues, impaired immunity, food dependence, itching, tingling extremities, swelling and a general feeling that something is not right. Listen to it.

Ok, so you may know some or all of the above from increased media awareness. But did you know that seasonal allergies can cross react with foods, triggering a response 1-3 days after ingesting them?

Example: If you are allergic to grass, you may have a seasonal sensitivity to tomato, melons, orange, peanut, peas and potatoes. Don’t believe it? Access The Cross-Reactors chart to educate yourself. Oral intake of related allergens can exacerbate the sniffly, funky feeling you get when things are in bloom. The challenge is that your reaction may be delayed or recurring, so you don’t think of the food you had for lunch two days ago.

For perspective not drama, I am chart-toppingly allergic to all of these items (and most everything else). So, for my well-being, I recently took them all off my safe foods list. I don’t advise this for you nor to intend for it to be a permanent choice. But I do see noticeable improvements in my body when I am discerning about such foods. The result: I am more hopeful, upbeat and energetic.

Ok, now let’s face the dreaded topic of gluten. It has become the bad guy on the culinary scene in the last few years, much like cholesterol and carbs before it. But do you know the real enemy? It’s inflammation. Regardless of origin or trigger, digestive inflammation is especially impairing to wellness and a hopeful mindset. If your body is feeling constantly attacked, swollen, bloated and achy, it’s difficult for it to accept nutrients, to heal itself and to deliver its best for you.

Here is a summary of the three ways to identify food allergies (source: DrHyman.com):

  1. Get a blood test. Blood testing for IgG food allergens . . . can help you to identify hidden food allergies . . . work with a doctor or nutritionist trained in dealing with food allergies.
  2. Go dairy- and gluten-free for six weeks . . . allows the inflamed gut to heal. This one move may be the single most important thing most you can do to lose weight.
  3. Avoid the top food allergens . . . gluten, dairy, corn, eggs, soy, nuts, nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes and eggplant), citrus and yeast (baker’s, brewer’s yeast and fermented products like vinegar). Try this for a full six weeks . . . When you reintroduce a top food allergen, eat it at least 2-3 times a day for 3 days to see if you notice a reaction.

Don’t even get me started on preservatives, dyes, fake sugars, binding agents and biosynthetics like GMOs. I would never drink from a beaker in chemistry class, so I’m absolutely not going to put these digestive grenades in my body.

In my case (again, I’m not saying this is for you), I am now grain-free, dairy-free, corn-free, bean-free, soy-free, mammalian meat-free, whole nut-free (too dense for my system to process right now) and a variety of other restrictions. My focus is organic green vegetables, a few select fruits, wild caught low-mercury fish, coconut oil and certain seeds. Why meat restrictions? Well, that adage, “You are what you eat,” applies to animals too. I find, funny enough, that what they eat can lead to reactions in me. Interesting how life is so connected, if we think about it.

If you are a brainiac who loves knowing all the scientific details like I do, here is something to make your head spin: “Food Allergies and Other Food Sensitivities.” It is remarkable reading and breaks down the many levels to reactions.

I am hopeful and know, with awareness, I will achieve the balance my body deserves. It may not look like anything anyone else eats and yours may not either. The key is to pay attention to your body, know what feels good, log what you eat for a while and honor its best interest above your urges. Be hopeful and be proactive, friends.

Sight Unseen

July 28, 2013

Having spent a couple of weeks scouring vehicle ads for a diamond in the rough, I can now report that the expression “sight unseen” takes on a whole new meaning. But, really, we all operate on a sight unseen mentality sometimes. How do you look at the world—its blessings and its bumps?

Embracing the intangible, noticing the little things and being aware of the emotions emanating from others . . . all of these are about choiceful presence. For instance, I recall vividly when a bus driver in New Zealand announced that we were passing over the southern 45th parallel. For most of the passengers, it was a blip at best. For me, it was the first time anyone had ever mentioned such a marker—proof that my travels had taken me to the other side of the globe that I liked to spin as a child. I let myself slip into a state of awe and watched the countryside a little closer as we whirred by.

This past weekend, a handful of people crossed my path. They could have gone sight unseen but something tugged at me to be present. Each had a unique story of loss, triumph and grace. I saw myself reflected in aspects of their journeys. I found my heart drawn to offering empathetic support. And, most notably, I discovered that what I noticed with my eyes was only a meager percentage of what I was hearing with my spirit.

Oh the true, deep, meaningful things you can experience when you pause to see people. Have you ever seen how transfixed some toddlers can be on a particular person? I can only imagine what their innocent little eyes are taking in. What about the gaze of an elderly woman? The ebb and flow of life she must have seen, and the experienced way she perceives the world now.

Take this week to consider: what are you surprised you didn’t notice sooner? And, as you turn in for bed each evening, look inward to your needs and your hopes. See where it takes you.

The Wheels on the Bus

May 24, 2013

Go round and round. Round and round, round and round.
The wheels on the bus go round and round. All through the town.

Don’t you love the songs of childhood, when honesty, innocence and discovery were the classes of life, and the smallest encounters meant the grandest of stories?

Presently, as I type this, I am spinning along the eastern coast of New Zealand on a bus driven by a wonderful driver named Steve. Steve is talented. How do I know? I’m on the side closest to the ocean and he hasn’t nudged a guardrail yet. (wink) Plus, he’s teaching us about the local language and scenic spots along the way. So many stories woven into the land.

That takes me to mine. You see, the bus has taught me a few things as I travel all over this epic countryside. Like those spinning wheels carrying passengers to new ports of call, our lives and our exchanges with one another spin into new conversations and new connections. When “trapped” on a bus together over a long distance, you see the sleep patterns, restlessness, scenic interests and snacking habits of others. It’s a fun exploration, if you welcome it.

Spinning deeper, you also find out a lot about your comfort zone, your humming voice of judgment and your ability to (pardon me) “roll with it.” Now, this can either take you into a tail spin of increasing frustration, which I witnessed. Or, it can spin you toward personal growth. Let me share an example:

The only seat on a city bus was next to a man who looked quite haggard, with unwashed hair, the permeating smell of old cigarettes and an overstuffed grocery bag. If I chose to remain standing that would have been, in my mind at least, shunning this man unnecessarily. I’m glad I sat down. Turns out that he was very nice, and I learned about cycling and his family. And that was just our brief exchange before he hopped off the bus. I had to ask myself, “What in me made me hesitate?” Petty self-righteousness, fear of cooties or, perhaps, a lack of willingness to shut my eyes and open my heart. Good lesson.

From that moment on, I made it a point to do an empathy scan on the people around me. When a woman recoiled at a man who smelled like wet cats on a very rainy day, I wondered if he was caring for orphan kittens, visiting his mom’s place to help out or heading into the city for promise of a new job. (Sidebar: I ran into him later. Turns out he was going from place to place and hard-pressed to buy a cup of coffee.)

It’s not always the people who seem to be having a rough financial go of it. I saw a well-put-together young woman who held up the bus (as I myself had done on several occasions figuring out where I needed to go) and got a few glares from passengers. I imagined she may be excited about her first job out of college, feeling a bit frazzled after a troubling conversation with her partner or simply overslept after cleaning the house to prepare for a surprise visit from brother on leave from the military. (Sidebar: Turns out she left her wallet at home, her bus pass expired and she just needed a few of these coins they call dollars.)

Empathy is the great equalizer. It calms our judgmental side, exercises our compassion and lets us use this funny thing called an imagination. It also pushes us to grow.

Realigning Priorities

May 10, 2013

I have a challenge for you: Limit your total personal Internet use (cell, computer and tablet) to one hour tomorrow. Think it’s easy? I’ve got one more caveat for you: You only get that hour in one location (home, cafe, whatever). That’s every text, every call and every poke on Facebook. Let me know the result by commenting here. And . . . go.

Why? Well, I am seeing an amazing thing in New Zealand . . . people talking, people playing with their kids, people looking up at the sky, people eating without a device sitting on the table, people not plugged in at every moment. I’ll prove it. Here is a photo of the mirrored cafe ceiling:

Like Where's Waldo? Bonus points if you can find me.

Like Where’s Waldo? Bonus points if you can find me.

In addition, I counted a few minutes worth of drivers and not one was texting while barely looking up. Yes, I have observed people walking around talking on their phones but it’s the minority. I even made eye contact (remember that) with over a dozen people in the last five minutes. I’m baffled. It’s like life exists for these Kiwis. Huh.

I’ll call myself out first. I’m a text, talk, walk and “multitask” offender. My dear brother can testify. In fact, momentary panic set in last night when I saw, “59 minutes and 50 seconds of your daily wifi allowance remains” as I logged in at my accommodation. “What?! Daily?” I thought. No ding, brrrring, vvvvrrrrr, notification-a-palooza? I felt alone, I felt jolted and I even felt a hint of judgment.

Why? I have become oddly accustomed to seeing my world through a four-inch screen. I was constantly looking down not ahead. I was looking to a device to gauge things not my inner processor (a.k.a. intuition). And here’s the thing, I’m still adjusting. I posted, pinged and messaged like a mad woman for the hour I was allotted.

Now, I’m typing and watching the rain fall. Instead of headphones, I hear birds and laughter. Gotta say, as a writer, umbrellas are fun little microcosms to watch and, attention Phoenix friends, people don’t actually melt in the rain. Funnier still, the cafe is filled with books, conversation and sipping. I’m the only soul on a laptop. Again, huh.

I suspect our “civilized” priorities are askew. Remember the principle of want vs. need? It’s a childhood tool we learn to help us retain awareness. In order to help the world hope, it seems I need to refresh us all, myself included, on how and where to focus. You have to have a shred of attention in order to exercise empathy, be present with those who are hurting and seek your bliss. I can tell you that technology is amazing, useful and a blessing. I can also tell you that digitized reality can distract us from the heart of humanity.

Here are a few photos of life unplugged:

Park on Devonport coastline

Park on Devonport coastline

My furry companion at the cafe

My furry companion at the cafe

Reflecting on the beauty of life

Reflecting on the beauty of life

I know dialing down instead of up is tough. I’m here for you. Perhaps wifi can begin to stand for “we invest fully in” living with presence. Here’s hoping.

The Light of Hope

February 3, 2013

Have you ever been in a dim room, reaching . . . trying to find your way?

A dear friend, David, once told me the story of how he used the light from his cell phone screen to maneuver a dark room, so as not to wake his infant daughter. He said, in that moment, he was immediately wrapped up in the power of a tiny light—virtually imperceptible in the daylight—to cut through the darkness and guide his path.

This conversation came swimming back to me today as I listened to a discourse on “illumination.” Light is, in a word, hope. Yes, many of us enjoy turning down the lights to watch a movie, rest peacefully or let the lilt of music cascade into our senses. Still, consider the night lights coveted by children, candles at a wake or the first ray of sunshine after a storm. Light is the visible herald for hope.

Since light is responsible for our sense of sight, then light also contributes to our sense of hope. Moments of trial and uncertainty are often referred to as “dark times,” as we may strain to see the glow of hope in our lives. It’s there, like a lamp behind a curtain. We must choose to pull back the barrier and let the light of hope stream forth.

Like the visible, and seemingly invisible, spectrum of light in our world, hope has an array of intensities, tints and patterns. When we focus on the light, it shows us the path to hope. Such light radiates from us and between us; it warms our spirit and helps us better perceive the majesty all around us. You possess the light of hope. I hope you share it.

DAButler

In closing, I invite you to be enlightened by David Butler’s understanding of light: dabutler.com. (Oh, and his work is showcased on the cover of “The World Needs Hope.”)