Tag Archives: Mental health

Do You Suffer from Beige Food Syndrome?

Are the foods on your plate all beige?  Are you, your spouse or children choosing colourful foods limited to rainbow-coloured skittles, fruit loops and ketchup?  If so, then you probably suffer from beige food syndrome.

Your naturopathic health tip: don’t save the best for last!  Fill your plate with salad before proceeding to other menu options.

Does your salad have at least 5 different colours?  If it doesn’t, dress it up!  Add liberal amounts of the following eight super food ingredients, which also happen to be terrific belly-busters!

1. Purple kale.

Kale

2. Baby bok choy.

Bok choy

3. Pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate

4. Snow peas.

Snow Peas

5. Hemp hearts.

Hemp Hearts

6. Golden beets.

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA

7. Edamame.

Edamame

8. Multi-coloured quinoa.

Quinoa Multicoloured

Need “cheat” tips keeping meal preparation easy?  Purchase prewashed mixed leafy field greens with herbs for your salad base.

How fresh produce savvy were you?  Could you identify all the produce listed, without looking at the names?  Don’t suffer another day from beige food syndrome and speak with your Naturopathic Doctor about how to incorporate healthier meals into your hectic schedule.

Advertisements

Super Bowl Salads, Not Just for Super Bowl!

Today, I received a couple of grins in our local grocery store, while excitedly rummaging through the fresh produce section.  It made me think long and hard about how I could bring such an enthusiasm for healthy food cravings to my own patients.  I thought I would spare you having to wait another full year before sharing with you my love affair with salads, ahem, super bowl salads.  I encourage you to explore how the combination of different vegetables and fruits can add an exciting twist and an array of plant-based, nutrient-dense goodness to your diet.

Not sure where to start?  Your naturopathic health tip: make it a point to try a new vegetable or fruit each week!

Every week I make it a point to purchase something I have never eaten before.  This week it was kumquats.  In a nutshell, kumquats are about the size of a cherry tomato, and they have the refreshing taste of a mini-orange and contain high amounts of vitamin C.

Glorious Kumquats

This past week, I enjoyed them whole, munching on them between patients for my afternoon pick-me-up snack.  In the evening, I enjoyed both the colour and taste they imparted to my super bowl salad.

Try tossing together this refreshing red and green kale salad with a splash of sliced kumquats, which only takes a few minutes to prepare.

Ingredients
• 8 handfuls of organic red and green kale
• 1/2 cup hemp hearts
• 24 kumquats sliced lengthwise

Dressing
• fresh juice from 1 orange
• 2 tbsp orange rind
• 1/3 cup sesame or extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
• 4 tbsp of hemp oil
• 1/2 cup fresh mint

Easy Peasy Preparation Instructions
Place all the dressing ingredients into a food processor and coarsely blend about 30 seconds.  Combine your salad ingredients of red and green kale into a large bowl, layer the hemp hearts and sliced kumquats, and toss with the dressing.  This makes 4 generous servings.  To your health!

Are you…?

sick n tiredIf you answered “yes!” to this question without missing a heartbeat, know that you aren’t alone.  This was a question I posed while visiting the lovely employees of the Manulife Financial Office with my amazing healthcare team.

You will benefit from making your Naturopathic Doctor part of your healthcare team.  As your Naturopathic Doctor, I can help.  How?  By investigating all your symptoms and getting to the root of your problem(s).

Not sure where to start?  Some important questions I posed to individuals who said they were healthy, but then struggled answering the following questions are:

1. How are your energy levels?
Energy Levels

2. How is your sleep?
sleep-well

3. Do you have regular bowel movements?
Bowel Movements

4. Have you noticed an increase in pesky weight that you just can’t shake?
Scale-Close-Up

5. How are your cholesterol levels? Blood sugar levels? Blood pressure?
Heart Health - Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar, Cholesterol

6. How are your moods?
Happy guys and girls expressing happiness

If your answers were tepid at best, come in for a thorough assessment to figure out what areas we can help you with.  Let me HELP YOU infuse your life with a renewed energy for healthier eating, a sense of peace, and help facilitate your health journey for sustainable life changes, one step at a time.

Book your complimentary 15 minute chat in-person to find out how I can help you get back on your path to health and wellness.  I look forward to speaking with you soon!

Laughter to Longevity

This past week, I attended a Laughter Yoga session with the Richmond Hill Walk-In Laughter Yoga Club at the McConaghy Community Centre.

For those of you who haven’t experienced laughtercise, essentially as a group, you go through various ice breaker activities essentially practicing simulated laughter.  For me, the best part was that a lot of the activities led to infectious, genuine laughter, especially watching and hearing those around me.

Did you know? When you laugh you use approximately 50 facial muscles and more than 300 distinct groups of muscles of the body! Amazing, isn’t it? What’s especially neat is the fact that the brain is not able to distinguish between simulated laughter versus self-induced, red-faced, belly-aching laughter (and for me, the occasional laugh interspersed with some snorting – I know it happens to you too!)

The scientist in me could not resist looking up some of the comprehensive laughter literature studies confirming quantifiable physiological, psychological, social and spiritual benefits to improve quality of life and enhance wellbeing.  Essentially, laughter is great for combating burnout (by decreasing cortisol, our stress hormone), helps persons who are grieving, it induces natural pain-killing effects, enhances muscle relaxation, improves oxygenation of your tissues, is heart protective, contributes to longevity and directly improves immune function (by increasing natural killer cells, or NK cells) to name but a few of its benefits.  Laughter is simply one of my favourite past times; I left the session feeling energized, centered and more calm.  The days that followed were probably some of my more efficient days.

As it turns out, we can’t practice laughter with others, if we can’t laugh at ourselves.  Half the benefit of laughter is sharing it — so do that!

A Movie Worth Watching: What the Bleep

“What the Bleep” (2004) is a psychological account of how our thoughts elicit a physiological response and how our emotions determine our biochemistry.  In this movie, the protagonist is able to utilize the mind-body connection to change her distorted perceptions and physiology.  With successive steps, she is able to progress toward a serene, optimistic physical state that was largely reflected at a cellular level.  By the end of the movie, she is able to traverse her addictions and overcome past injuries.

While there are many compelling ideas raised in “What the Bleep” in particular this movie discusses the integral role emotions play in our well being and its activation of our limbic system (which is responsible for our emotions, memory formation and autonomic nervous system).  This movie highlights the science of our neural networks, which assembles peptides that match daily experiences with emotional state.  The reference that “nerve cells that fire together, wire together” speaks to this idea that specific neural networks are created from the entry of information through our eyes.  Though the information seen by the eyes is usually more than what is processed by the brain, the material we are conscious of is coloured by our emotional experiences, whereby it is processed and then internalized.

Food for thought – if our thoughts alone are able to transform water in a way that reflects our thoughts as seen in Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work Hidden Messages from the Water, then one should wonder how our thoughts are able to dictate the physiology of our bodies, which is primarily composed of water.

Our modern world is teeming with individuals who have been conditioned to emotional suppression since early childhood. Yet, while emotional suppression may sometimes serve a useful purpose, over the course of a lifetime this can cause serious damage to our bodies and minds. In light of the holistic philosophy practiced by Naturopathic Doctors, it is imperative that our health care paradigms aim to increase awareness of how our emotions impact our physiology and in turn our biopsychosocial health and wellness. As informed healthcare consumers, emotional suppression undermines the healthy function of the body and mind; it is necessary that we understand the role our thoughts, attitudes and emotions play in reclaiming health.

Creating Silence: A Lesson From Ice Fishing

This past weekend my best friends, both adventurers, graciously invited me alongside my better-half to go to Lake Simcoe for our very first ice fishing excursion.

It was glorious.

The image of the snow as it danced in the wind overtop the smooth sheet of black ice is an image I will never forget in my mind’s eye.  The elation feeling your line nibbled on by the first catch of cold-water perch is a feeling I wish I could capture in a box, and take take out for later use.  It was exhilarating being able to enjoy the steaming hot kamut-spelt pancakes cooked over an open flame and garnished with a dash of cinammon, fresh maple syrup and sliced bananas while ice fishing on the lake.  I felt like a child, looking up at the expansive dark sky and admiring the majestic stars, all of which cannot be seen in the city for all the lights.  I had not seen the stars since our last group excursion to Bobcaygeon with close friends in the September that just passed, and I enjoyed nostalgic-goodness from having enjoyed such a lovely, nature-grounding weekend trip.

One of my siblings recently moved up north, past Peterborough.  When I had initially heard of the move, for the life of me I could not fathom why on earth they would want to move from the hustle and bustle of the city, to a rural neighbourhood where water is drawn from a local well, homes are surrounded by dense forests and where there were only two lanes of roads: one for incoming traffic, and the other for outgoing traffic.  At the time, I was told it was peaceful. Quiet.  That the stillness of the surroundings become addictive.  I experienced a fleeting moment of what this actually meant this past weekend while ice fishing – looking out over the water, watching a lone goose cross the lake in the distance and listening to the quiet rumble of the ground as the ice shifted below our feet.  It was an opportunity for me to reflect on the creation of silence from all the noise, distraction, clutter and chaos of city living.  Though I am a blatant fan of the lights, large crowds and busyness of the city, it was in this silence that I found refuge.

Coming home, I am reminded it is necessary to make time for quiet moments such as these. It is a reminder that silence can be powerful and therapeutic.  If you are a person that is afraid of creating silence, perhaps it is time to take a hard look at yourself and understand why we are afraid of the silence.  Is it because silence forces you to perhaps notice the empty feeling you have been ignoring, perhaps it makes you feel unproductive, or perhaps it is a reprieve from much-needed contemplation?

It is no secret we live in what has been termed, “the age of distraction”. Everyday we are exposed to an onslaught of purveyors of distractions – iphones, ipods, social networks, dismal world news, alluring advertisements telling us we require products, tummy tucks, botox, clothes to attain inner beauty and happiness.  Today, I extend an invitation to you to tune out these distractors, quiet your mind, breathe and to try to create the much-needed silence for your health.

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha is a book I keep in my office and enjoy flipping through to remind me to slow the whirlwind of thoughts that can enter my mind throughout the day.  I find it is one tool that can help rein in wayward thoughts, particularly on days it feels difficult, or more challenging, to choose to be happy (even as a Naturopathic Doctor, there are those days).

Being healthy and well takes work, even for the most grounded, optimistic and authentic persons.  The first step is increasing your awareness of your own set of internal rules, your own tendencies, the negative and positive scripts you tell yourself repeatedly each day.  Sometimes it helps to have someone guide you in the proverbial “right” direction, so you can facilitate the necessary changes for improved or sustained health and wellbeing.  For more ideas about how to achieve this balance, please feel free to contact us.  As your Naturopathic Doctor, I am here to help you.

Healthy Work-Life Balance


As a Naturopathic Doctor, patients often come into my office looking for tips to enhance their work-life balance.  According to the Government of Canada, work-life balance is a self-defined, self-determined state of well-being which allows people the ability to effectively manage multiple responsibilities at home, at work and in the community.  To get a head start on the New Year, I have listed some helpful tips for you to try out to attain that much-needed balance:

1) Prioritize.  Simplify your schedule and prioritize important tasks.  By focusing on completing the most important tasks, this will increase the impact of the time you spend working and decrease the time you need to work to get those big ticket items on your agenda out of the way.  Understand that everything worth having requires a time commitment, so focus on tasks/relationships/work/community issues that matter the most to you.  By doing so, you begin to create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to you.  If you find yourself getting side-tracked, write down or print off your prioritized list and keep it in a visible area as a constant reminder.

2) Plan.  Plan what you are going to do each day, pick the top three things you need or want to accomplish and get those done first.  Plan to take a day off and stick with it.  Plan to make time to sit down with your family during meal times.  Plan your weekly menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks so you only need to make one trip to the grocery store during a hectic week.  It is amazing how preparing your lunch and snacks for yourself and the kids the night before can contribute to decreasing the stress of the usual early morning scramble.  Feel extra ambitious some nights of the week?  Prep hearty vegetables for meals during the week, julienning your carrots, celery, the cutting the ends off your green beans, pulling apart the romaine leaves in advance for your salad the next day so they are ready to be washed, cooked and consumed.  Plan to schedule time for leisure and exercise, like you do work.

3) Declutter.  Declutter your home, car, bedroom, family room, computer and workspace.  Cleaning up your environmental disarray will also help you “clean up” mental clutter.  You also get to enjoy the added benefits of having an anesthetically-pleasing space, a space that is easier to navigate and easier to clean.  It reduces unproductive time reshuffling, sorting and clearing away papers that can easily accumulate into towers, and minimizes you scrambling around, having all your family members look for misplaced keys, phones, meeting notes, bills etc.

4) Set realistic goals and limits.  If you know that a given task/commitment takes 8 hours, don’t schedule it into a 3 hour window.  Give yourself the 8 hours plus some additional time to account for the unexpected.  Also learn to say ‘no’ to a request that is not an identified priority.  This can be uncomfortable for people-pleasers, but remember that it is necessary.

5) Accept that the work day ends when you leave the office.  Work while you are at work, and don’t work when you are not.  After you leave the office, turn off your work mobile.  Check emails regarding work while at work.  At the end of the work day, you have devoted your fair share of time to your job and in order to maintain balance, you owe it to yourself and your family to devote time to them.  Don’t fall prey to the blur between work and life!