Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good eats

This winter I have really struggled with illness. My sinuses and allergies have been giving me chronic headaches and I've lost my voice for many days. I think this is primarily due to the last of a hard freeze here this winter, but it's prompted me to do a lot of research into homeopathic remedies.

I have a great primary care physician. I appreciate doctors who don't want to just throw antibiotics at everything. I realize they're necessary sometimes, but he has coached me to be faithful to neti-potting and menthol cough drops. They do help.

One of the worst parts of all this was the chronic headaches I mentioned earlier. They've been really miserable. So I started looking into more natural remedies that may help.

I admit that I am a pretty typical American eater. I don't eat fast food daily, but a couple of times a week. I drank soda not daily, but sporadically. I generally have coffee or tea in the mornings. I like chocolate. You know I love to bake, so I eat plenty of refined white flour.

Over Christmas I fell into the trap of SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR. You saw that I baked a ton, I ate super-well, I put yummy creamers in my coffee... it was everywhere. So about a month ago I decided I needed to break my "new normal" level of sugar intake, and get it back down to a place where it was in much greater moderation. I did a 3 day "detox" of no natural or artificial sweeteners. I definitely felt the withdrawals, but I wasn't deprived in any way. I felt better and immediately lost a pound or two of bloat.

Also, I didn't get any headaches....!!!!!!!!

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
So I happened to watch the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (also on Netflix). The premise is a middle aged man who has a typical body type and suffers from many typical ailments that go along with it decides to do a 60 day fresh juice fast. I highly recommend it. I have no interest in doing a complete juice fast (my sensitive gastrointestinal system can't handle any shocks), but I took away two major points.

1- You are not destined to have bad health. There are some disease that happen by chance, but with our knowledge, you don't have to have type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a slew of other problems. Chance is tricky enough, so you should take care of the aspects of health you can control.

2- Your body craves nutrients. Put good food in it. I went and got a juicer because I was convinced that I needed more nutrients, and that would be a good way to do it. I hate eating salad. Drinking it is much better to me. And there is something so refreshing after you drink a glass of fresh juice.

Since I got the juicer, I've had at least one glass of juice a day. In the mornings I typically drink carrot-apple-ginger-orange juice. It is delish. At some point during the day I try to drink a glass of "green" juice, usually kale-cucumber-celery-tomato-carrot. Not as "delicious", but it tastes green and fresh. I can tell my skin is brighter and I feel better. My iron level is great (I am pretty severely anemic), my skin is brighter, and I don't crave sugar the way I used to.

Forks Over Knives
After this, I decided to watch the other nutritional documentary I'd heard good things about, Forks Over Knives. The premise of this documentary is two physicians and researchers who dedicated their lives to research in preventing heart disease and cancer through a vegan diet. Based on world-wide research in where cancer/heart disease is most prevalent, they have seen clinical results in reversing these conditions through nutritional treatment.

I'm a stone cold Texan and not planning to be a bonafide vegan, but it highlights the importance of moderation. One of the focuses of this documentary is the effect that inflammation has on your body. Even if you have a mild irritation to foods (like I do to dairy), it can wear on your health if you are constantly bombarding your body with it.

The thing about living in a land of abundance like we have is that we don't have to practice moderation. It must be done through discipline. To me, it seems like the act of simply paying attention to what your body is telling you is so important. For me, that means that I know that sugar gives me headaches. Lactose slugs down my digestive system. Fruit sugars make my stomach hurt if I eat too much. And I'm sure I'll learn more as I pay more attention.

All of this to say that for maybe the first time in my life, I feel like I'm caring about my body not in just an attempt to be the "right size", but to feel good and have a full life. 

I'm kind of a hippie. But if you'd been through the medical experiences I have, you probably would be, too. :)


Anonymous said...

After consuming a lifetime's worth of sugar in 50 years, I wish I had spread it out a little longer. I have always liked V8, should have been a regular part of my intake. I still do look forward to egg nog season ;-). Pie Pie

Amy said...

I really enjoyed reading this post. That is amazing that sugar was causing your headaches! I'm glad you found that out. I also totally agree that we don't have to be destined for bad health. Saying something "runs in your family" is an excuse that I'm sure I've used before. We can control our health! This has encouraged me to do better!

OK Chick said...

Amy and I went to see Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead a few summers ago. I found it fascinating. I had no clue that juicing can change someone's life so much!!!

I couldn't agree with you more...You are not destined to have bad health. Here, here to eating healthy!!!!