Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Apparently if you don’t live in Southern California, eating like you do isn’t the answer

I have grown quite attached to my morning smoothie – my fairly large, green, raw, cold smoothie. I have one every morning. Sometimes I have one in the afternoon as well.

Yesterday, however, my acupuncturist (who also specializes in Chinese medicine and nutrition) starting talking about “dampness.” Though I had never heard of such a thing, he assures me I have it. And upon a little (several hours actually) of reading, I found reference to every single symptom that I have been struggling with for the last year or so. And on the foods to avoid list: cold food and/or raw food. And on the list of things to add in: brown rice (the very thing that my southern California based naturopath recently advised me to avoid).

All of these conflicting reports make my head hurt. Though, as Michael so lovingly pointed out, finding the nutrition system that’s right for you is a journey and since you’re not dead yet, you’re still on it.

You know what the funny thing is? Everything that I love and think that I can’t live without if it were to be taken away ends on the avoid list. Three weeks ago it was rice (which I am going to add back in, because when I took it out it did funny things to my body), then it was herbal teas (at least the ones with hibiscus), and now it’s my raw smoothie.

I don’t think raw is completely out, but maybe just out during the winter months, which, admittedly, in New Hampshire lasts about 6 months…this year, closer to seven.

Apparently cleaning up “dampness” is a slow process, so I won’t be expecting miracles anytime soon. However, if any come my way, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, less raw food (sob!), fewer smoothies (double sob!), and more brown rice cereal with loads and loads of cinnamon (which, somehow, seems like poor consolation).

P.S. Notably, this is not the first practitioner who has talked to me about the heat/cold properties of food and why I may or may not be a good candidate for raw. However, given that he’s been able to rid me of things that Western medicine had completely failed to solve, I’m willing to take the risk and, once again, turn yet another corner on diet and nutrition.

The Hidden Hazards of…Herbal Tea?

Over the last two years, I have had problems with water. Not the water I drink, but rather the water in my body. I suffer inexplicable bloating, I retain it, I have ridiculous thirsts, and I find myself running – sometimes tripping over the cat in my haste – to the bathroom. Sometimes I get there without mishap; sometimes I don’t.

As a result of all of these seemingly shifting tides, I’ve been known to head to the Wal-Mart in the second nearest town in the middle of the night to purchase Poise, as I certainly don’t want to be seen in my local CVS with the telltale pink and turquoise package.

So, if I’m so embarrassed by my recent predicament that I’m willing to go 20 miles out of my way to avoid the stigmatizing exposure associated with mild urinary incontinence then why the heck am I writing a blog about it, you ask. Good question. The answer: because I’m willing to face the mild embarrassment to get this information known. Besides, when you admit something publicly, it loses its sting. Or maybe I am tired of being what Erving Goffman refers to as discreditable and have decided to discredit myself openly and on my terms.

Notably this biggest, most stigmatizing water problem varies by the season. It tends to get worse in the winter and all but disappear in the summer. Weird, huh?

And as we are heading into what seems like the sixth month of winter, I have been at my wit’s end, seriously. I have tried meditating. I have a regular appointment with an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist, who assures me that healthy kidneys – at least from the Chinese perspective – are the seat of good health. In fact, at our last appointment, he asked me if I still drank coffee.

Nope. But, I told him proudly, I drink a ton of herbal tea.

What kind?

What kind? What do you mean, ‘What kind?’! It’s herbal tea, for God’s sake.

I mean what kind. Not all herbal tea is the same. They all have different energies and, therefore, different effects on the body.

Well, Tazo’s Sweet Wild Orange, Cinnamon Apple, and Orange Spice.

Do they have hibiscus in them?

Uhm, I think so.

Hibiscus is a diuretic.


So, essentially, when I had replaced my daily water intake with herbal tea (which “everyone” – everyone other than my Chinese herbalist acupuncturist, that is, tells you is cool), I was essentially downing 8 – 10 cups of a pretty powerful diuretic. One that also has, in clinical trials, been shown to lower blood pressure. (Last time I was at the doctor, my blood pressure was 86/45.)

Do you know what happens when you get dehydrated (which diuretics will do)? You retain water.

Do you know what happens when you drink 64 to 80 ounces of diuretics? You spend a lot of time running to the bathroom, not to mention quite a bit of time skulking around the pharmacy section of a big box store in a town where no one knows your name.

My prescription: start drinking tea (even green tea) that does not contain hibiscus.

Do you know how hard it is to find an herbal tea (other than chamomile, which is undoubtedly the Coors Light of herbal tea) without hibiscus? Pretty darned hard, as it turns out. Apparently all fruit flavored teas – including Blueberry – have hibiscus as their number one ingredient. Who knew?

I ended up with three boxes – all from Celestial Seasonings: Bengal Spice, Honey Vanilla Chamomile, and Green Tea Honey Lemon Ginseng. So far, the Bengal Spice is pretty tasty – beneath a veritable explosion of cinnamon, it has a nice under flavor of almonds.

So, I’m drinking more water, I’m drinking less hibiscus tea – actually, no hibiscus tea. And, big surprise, I am holding on to less water, and more often than not, I have time to stop and pet the cat on the way to the ladies room. All in all, it’s a win-win.

The more I learn about my body, the more I realize that there’s always more to learn. In my next life, I want to be a holistic health care practitioner and I hope I live in a world where all forms of knowledge – Eastern or Western – are easily accessible, available, and appreciated.

Has it really been two months?

I logged on to my blog this morning and realize that it’s been two months! Really? It doesn’t seem like it, but the date post doesn’t lie.

It’s not that that I stopped thinking about my body or my weight, but something definitely shifted after that last nostalgic lament for what once was. I continued to take my thyroid medication, but I also added in meditation to sooth the over active immune system. I have weekly meetings with an acupuncturist and biweekly appointments with a chiropractor. I’ve been walking outdoors (yea sunshine!), consuming more essential fats and avoiding not just wheat, but all grains.

I tasted peanut butter the other day and it was disgusting. And now that I am tossing chia seeds and a quarter of avocado into my entirely hemp based green smoothie (no more chocolate rice powder, given rice’s status as a grain), I know longer crave tahini or almond butter (though I still enjoy them).

I exercise every day. I’ve pulled out my iPod with my favorite spinning mixes and I hop on the nordic track in the living room for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Three days a week I do kettle bell swings and other Tim Ferris endorsed exercises. Usually around noon I go for a walk around the pond behind my office. And I park my car about 15 minutes away from main campus to enforce another 30 minute hike.

I eat lots of homemade black beans, lentils, and other sources of lean protein. I’ve started eating eggs again much to Michael’s chagrin. I am mostly dairy free, with the exception of a bit of goat feta here and there. I rarely eat sugar (usually no more than 32 grams per day), I never eat fruit (unless it’s the occasional dried mulberry or I sneak a sip – which is actually quite common – of Michael’s smoothie which also contains gojis and blueberries). Wine is back in, however, and I find myself enjoying a glass or two of red wine every week. And tea. Lots of tea, sometimes enhanced with an essential oil that can literally take you out of your body and cause all of your troubles to disappear. It’s amazing.

I’m teaching and coaching, but not researching. And, interestingly and somewhat surprisingly, I am absolutely loving it. My only sorrow is that I worry that I should be researching and I, not surprisingly, have things to do. Things that are due. But I’d rather take my weekends off, make love with my fiance (yes, we’re engaged), and go for long walks. I’d rather clean the house and cook for the week, and write in my blog, and plan my wedding. And try on clothes – clothes that fit again, by the way, even though I’ve stopped bitching about my weight, stopped beating myself up, and obsessing. Or maybe it was because of those things.

Maybe I’m just finally living a balanced life. Whatever it is that I’m doing, I’m just going to keep doing it. I’ll keep you posted.