So tonight I went out to dinner at a restaurant for the first time in months. I know I need to start practicing eating out and being in social settings now that May is coming to an end. June will be here before I know it and then I leave for Italy on July 1st. I need to work on being comfortable with my decision making when it comes to ordering meals. Like I have said before, it's difficult because I have little to absolutely no control over what happens in the kitchen at a restaurant. I don't know who is preparing my meal, how seriously this person is going to consider my sensitivities, and I don't know what other food MY food may come into contact with. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about going tonight. But if I can't do this now, how the hell will I be able to do it in a foreign country?!
I remained collected until the garlic bread came out. It looked so damn good and it smelled unbelievable. I'm salivating even thinking about it now. I anxiously bounced my leg under the table as I got angry with my circumstance. I just wanted to scream and accidentally happen to dump the whole basket of bread in my mouth. I was sensitive to everything in that bread basket with the exception of the olive oil. Looking over the menu, there wasn't a single food selection listed that I could have. NOT ONE. I knew this would be the case, of course. I had to look the waitress in the eye and tell her, "soooo I have a lot of food sensitivities and I was wondering if you could just give me a completely plain piece of grilled chicken- without any seasoning, and a side of steamed brocoli with nothing on it." She looked at me wide-eyed. I went on to explain that I can't have any butter, black pepper, garlic, or any kind of seasoning that would go on these two soon-to-be very naked foods. In an Italian food establishment, what I had just ordered was complete sacrilege. I knew it, she knew it, everyone at the table knew it.
I tried to focus on anything but the fact that I was in a restaurant. For whatever reason, it made me pretty emotional. The ravioli appetizers that got passed around the dinner table only added to my frustration. I was literally on the verge of tears- completely ready to start bawling, followed by me dramatically running away. I guess all I was able to keep saying to myself in my head was, "how the hell am I going to be okay in Italy?" I know I'm going to eat in Italy. I will enjoy those special Italian staples that everyone has to try on their visit to Italy. I will enjoy some in moderation and others may not be such a problem. Right now, my goal is to keep putting myself in these "practice" situations where I'm forced out of isolation. Who would have thought that this would be so challenging? I never would have thought that I'd be in this position in the first place. I keep telling myself, "health is worth all of this."
There is good news, though. Italy is like a gluten free Heaven! I couldn't believe it when I read it, but I did a lot of research about eating gluten free in Italy and found that it's a law that every food establishment must serve gluten free foods. Italians are tested for Celiac at a very young age. Celiac disease is taken extremely seriously in Italy. In fact, those with Celiac get a stipend from the government every month and free time off from work to do their special grocery shopping and receive health services! People can even study Celiac studies in college to go into medicine or a specialization in Celiac disease management. Perhaps I was born in the wrong country? While my gluten sensitivity is only one of many, it is comforting to know that gluten free options won't be an issue on my trip. Regardless, everything is made so differently in Italy. Foods aren't so over-processed and genetically modified in the ways that they are here, in the United States. Hopefully this will work in my favor!
As I was browsing on Pinterest, I came across a new LEAP MRT pin. A fellow LEAP do-er shares a bit about her experience on the LEAP diet. It's great to see other people sharing stories about their sensitivities. So many people can relate!
Feel Better the Answer is in your Food
Life isn't easy. My theory is that it shouldn't be. If life is easy for someone, chances are they aren't really living. By this I mean that they're not learning from mistakes, hardship, and challenge that life often brings with it. Those who have seen a lot of life are among the strongest.
Too often we let the everyday stresses of life get under our skin- literally. The mind body connection is powerful. I'll bet if you took the time to really think about it, you could recall a time when stress or unfortunate circumstance made its presence known in a number of ways- breakouts, upset stomach, headaches, sleepless nights, you name it. It's so tremendously important for all of us to take that much needed "me time" everyday. Yes, I said everyday. Pay no mind to anyone who tells you that you don't need that time- they just don't know how to use it themselves.
For today's post, I thought I would share some of my own "me time" de-stressors. It really depends on the day, how I'm feeling, and how much energy I have. If I'm feeling creative, I turn to my art and create. As an abstract artist, I find it s0o unbelievably calming to go wild with a box of pastels and charcoal. If I'm bouncing off the walls, you'll find me on the elliptical trying to find a balance between dancing to my music and not falling off the machine/breaking my ass. Or, you might find me doing a more fast-paced resistance band workout to some profane rap music in my bedroom. Either way, it's a spectacle.
When I need to retreat to a place of calmness and peace, yoga is my go-to activity. I never really cared too much for yoga, as I always preferred Pilates. To be honest, I became fond of yoga by taking it slow- really embracing those "beginner" DVDs, and building my strength, flexibility, and overall understanding of this exercise before I started challenging myself. There are so many health benefits that yoga has to offer. Yoga can decrease depression, anxiety, stress, and mood swings if done regularly (Benefits of Yoga- Why Yoga is Good Exercise for You). Check out the links below for a peek at all the amazing benefits yoga has to offer!
Physiological, psychological, and biochemical benefits of yoga
Fight stress and find serenity
Like yoga, meditation has several health benefits. Yoga is actually a form of meditation- where the focus is on your breathing, posture, and balance. Meditation may seem intimidating to newcomers, but have no fear. There are all kinds of guided meditation CDs that you can purchase or even check out at your public library. Yes, you can find a bunch of guided meditation clips on YouTube, as well. There is no reason to be intimidated with all the wonderful physiological, psychological, and spiritual benefits meditation has to offer!
Meditation is literally a mind-body medicine. As such, regular practice of meditation promotes physical and emotional well-being. While meditation can be used as as stress reducer, research has also shown that it can help with a number of health conditions including allergies, asthma, anxiety disorder, cancer, heart disease, binge eating, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, fatigue, substance abuse, and sleep-related issues (INeedMotivation, 100 Benefits of Meditation). Check out the links below for more information on the benefits of meditation and meditation techniques.
Mayo Clinic on Meditation
7 Health benefits
Physiological, psychological, and spiritual benefits of meditation
Meditation for beginners
Relaxation and meditation techniques
Always feel free to share your thoughts and ideas by commenting on blog posts. What techniques and activities do you turn to during "me time?" :)
"100 Benefits of Meditation." INeedMotivation Excellence in Life Enrichment. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/>.
"Benefits of Yoga - Why Yoga Exercise is Good for You." abc-of-yoga.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2013. <http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/beginnersguide/yogabenefits.asp>.
Okay, so, another brief post for today. As I was looking through some websites on the toxic chemicals found in household products, I came across a link to, "What's in Your Lipstick?" Did I want to know? Absolutely not...I just recently decided that I love sporting color on my lips and it's not just a "thing moms wear" like it was in the 90s. But like anything else that I don't want to look at but secretly want to look at, I looked at it. The website shared that the FDA found lead in 400 shades. While this has been a controversial topic for some time, what baffled me more than anything were the brand names that were included on the list of offenders! Some of the brands included Burt's Bees, NARS, MAC, BeneFIt, Bobbi Brown, Chanel, Estee Lauder, Colorganics (I'm sorry- what??), Lancome, and a handful of others.
While most of these brands are high-end expensive names, I was stumped to find that a Burt's Bees shade was number 17 on the list of 400. Burt's Bees appeared on the list a few more times- the second time a shade came in at number 38. I know I'm not the only one to think, "I always trusted that Burt's Bees was safe!" While some of their products may be "safe" or "natural" it is clear that we need to be taking a second look to be certain. I'm not too familiar with the brand, Colorganics, but it goes to show that even a brand name with the word ORGANIC in it can be an offender.
Check out the links below to see what you're putting on your pout and how the different shades are ranked!
What's in Your Lipstick?
FDA analysis of lead in lipsticks
Similar link- FDA analysis of lead in lipsticks
Effects of lead in cosmetics
A Poison Kiss <-- a must-click
For today's blog post, I thought I'd talk a little bit about everyday cleaning supplies. For anyone living the sensitive life or anyone looking to embrace a more natural lifestyle, it's not only important to look at the ingredients in our personal care items, but the ingredients in our cleaning supplies as well. Yes, we know that these products have a very important job- to disinfect, to make our living spaces smell heavenly, our clothes and bedsheets super soft, and to make our glass doors appear transparent enough to walk through. But really, many of the cleaning products we use around the house can cause all kinds of annoying and sometimes serious reactions affecting the skin, eyes, respiratory, and nervous system. The link below (Organic Consumers Association) is a must-click. It contains all kinds of information on the effects that toxic chemicals (from our household products) can have on our health and the environment, as well. Also take a peek at the suggested links provided on the OCA page for more human and eco-friendly household cleaners and air fresheners. Other links I'll be sharing with you today include links for do-it-yourself/homemade cleaners and household products, as well as buyer-beware links: what NOT to have in your home.
Organic Consumers Association
Dirt on Conventional Toxic Cleaning Supplies
The Intentional Minimalist- Homemade cleaning supplies
Frugal homemade natural cleaning supplies
Homemade natural cleaning supplies
Guide to less toxic products
EWG's list of worst household cleaning products
Most toxic home cleaning products
GAIAM- 8 household cleaning agents to avoid
Is your cleaner toxic?
I wanted to post a little bit more information on the L-Glutamine supplement I started taking. While it has helped me tremendously and has so many outrageously great benefits, always be sure to consult your PCP about whether this supplement is right for you. [How commercially sounding of me...]
Some of the many benefits this amino acid has to offer include:
* Major energy source
* Improves brain functioning
* Stabilizes blood sugar (huge help for me)
* Reduces alcohol cravings
* Maintains the health and functioning of lining of the gut
* Supports muscle function
* Boosts metabolism
* Enhances exercise performance
* Helps with wound healing
* Helps maintain acid alkaline balance
* Protects normal cells from chemotherapy in cancer patients
* Some studies have even shown that it helps to prevent kidney stones! (A plus for me)
Additionally, L-Glutamine helps with the following health conditions:
* Crohn's Disease
* Ulcerative Colitis
(Slagle, The Way Up Newsletter)
Check out the links below for more information on this dietary supplement.
Uses and benefits
The other dietary supplement I'm currently taking is Vessel Care made by Metagenics.
I began taking this supplement after receiving my nutrient level lab results. Not to my surprise, I was on the verge of being iron, B12, and vitamin D deficient. My folic acid number was through the ground and all my other levels were extremely low, too. This explains why I felt like an emotional zombie all day long.
This supplement helps with the absorption of B12 and folate. It also helps with cardiovascular function and supports healthy Methylation and Homocysteine levels.
I'm also taking Arctic Cod Liver Oil soft gels. I'm using the Nordic Naturals brand, which is a well-known, reliable brand. Brand, or quality, is extremely important when looking at dietary supplements. I chose the soft gels because apparently some say the oil tastes foul. I'd rather not find out for myself. =P
Some of the benefits of taking Arctic Cod Liver Oil include:
* It contains anti-inflammatory properties
* Soothes aches and pains caused by arthritis
* Reduces stress
* Reduce allergic reactions
* Helps with PMS and mood swings
* Improves brain function
* Improves eyesight, skin, and nervous system (Vitamin A)
* Helps maintain skeletal health (Vitamin D) and ensures proper calcium levels in the blood (super important for those like me who get kidney stones)
* Assists those at risk for Alzheimer's disease
* Helps those with ADHD, Psoriasis, high cholesterol, and heart disease
* Greatly reduces the risk of children getting Type 1 diabetes
* Reduces the levels of "bad" cholesterol while increasing the levels of "good" cholesterol in your body
* Supports blood sugar stability
(MD-health.com, Cod Liver Oil Benefits)
...Again, always check with your PCP before looking into taking any dietary supplements. What's right for one person is not necessarily right for another. If you think you may be able to benefit from any of these supplements, consult a professional first.
"Cod Liver Oil Benefits." MD-Health.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.md-health.com/Cod-Liver-Oil-Benefits.html>.
Slagle, Priscilla. "Benefits of the Amino Acid L-Glutamine." The Way Up Newsletter. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2013. <http://www.thewayup.com/newsletters/041501.htm>.
I want to share some links with all of you about the most harmful chemicals found in most beauty products. Why would anyone assume that their face wash could be the source of breakouts and other reactions when it's supposed to do the exact opposite- TREAT the problem? We put too much faith in the advertisements that tell us, "your skin will never look cleaner, clearer, or softer than it does now..." or, "your hair will be moisturized from root to tip giving you that salon finish, bringing all the boys to the yard." It sounds wonderful, but it's fake life talk. Also keep in mind that if you are sensitive to a certain ingredient internally, don't use it externally. For example, It wasn't until I took a look at the ingredients in my Aveno hydrocortisone that I realized I was applying a bunch of oat ingredients to my eczema. I may have thought I deserved a pat on the back for being "natural," when naturally, I should have realized something wasn't right when my eczema didn't go away. What DID make it go away was that miracle ingredient I simply can't live without- coconut oil.
Check out some of these links to see what dirty chemicals you're applying to your bod everyday.
10 Most unwanted ingredients
17 Chemicals to avoid in personal care items
Ingredients to avoid in "NATURAL" makeup
Natural Healthy Concepts
8 Beauty brands you would think are natural but aren't
Vegan/organic personal care products info:
Basic Soap Making Book
Ever think about why you break out in those specific "problem areas?" Check out these links on why you break out where you do.
Problem area breakouts
Speaking of label reading, I learned that because I am sensitive internally, I have to assume I am also sensitive externally. This of course means that I had to start checking all the ingredients in my cosmetics, shampoos, lotions, soaps, etc. I thought I was doing myself a favor by using Organix brand shampoo and conditioner. As it turns out, some of the ingredients in my shampoo included sugar cane, cocoa and avocado oil. That explains why my head was itchy. As for my face wash, it contained salicylic acid among other chemicals I wouldn't even dream of trying to pronounce. My body wash was an offender too. Since I stopped using these products I no longer get hives after I shower, which is a plus.
So what AM I using? I'm using Nature's Gate brand of shampoo and I use organic, extra virgin coconut oil (yes, like you would use in cooking) for my conditioner. For my face wash, I mix coconut oil with baking soda to create a face scrub. No, it does NOT clog your pores. In fact, my skin has never looked better and my hair has never been so silky soft. I also use coconut oil as a moisturizer. I basically use it for everything because it can be USED for almost anything! For soap in the shower I use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap, which can be found at Trader Joe's. It's vegan and completely natural. I also use Trader Joe's French liquid hand & body soap- orange blossom & honey, for hand washing at home. Gotta love Joe.
Check out these links on different uses for coconut oil. I swear by it. I don't know what I'd do without it.
52 Uses for coconut oil
70 More uses for coconut oil
What is oil pulling? <-- Haven't tried this one yet but I'll post when I do.