Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Calm and happy...

Thank you for joining me on a month of mindful eating topics! Mindful eating is a continual practice. I have found myself fully engaged with mindful eating, falling off track, and then revisiting it again. That is normal.

Have you noticed any changes with this practice? I find it easier to stop eating when I'm full. I've actually lost weight with this practice. I have fewer food cravings for unhealthy food choices. I enjoy and appreciate my food more fully. I digest my food better. Finally, I just feel calm and happy after eating a meal. My practice hasn't been 100% this month, but there has been a noticeable change. It is a welcome change, particularly as the holiday season begins.

Bon appetit, my friends!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Mindful Approach to Thanksgiving

Today, many people (mostly women) will be shopping, cooking, baking, and preparing for a holiday largely centered around eating. This food will have been grown, in some cases slaughtered, prepared, packaged, and shipped to markets. Hours of life and work are being poured into this dinner. This month, I pause to give thanks for all the life and working hands that feed me on a regular basis.

There will be all kinds of Thanksgiving dinners this week--traditional dinners, ethnic variations, vegan versions, raw versions, gluten-free versions, locally produced and raised versions, food bank versions, homeless shelter versions and restaurant versions. People will gather in families, among friends, among strangers and sometimes be simply alone. Alone can freeing, but very lonely too. This month, I pause to make sure people know I love and appreciate them. Even when we don't have a lot, we make sure we share what we do have...even if it is simply a bag of healthy food so others can eat good things, too.

This month, I have been practicing mindful eating and I intend to carry these practices to the table tomorrow. No plans to gorge myself. I'll eat breakfast so I won't be extra hungry when I eat. I'll take small portions and chew small bites, while appreciating all the flavors and textures. I want to savor the love and hard work that goes into my food. No feeling sick after dinner, just happy. I'll be thinking of how my friend Nanc raised the lamb we will eat. I'll be thinking of my friends at Three Springs Farm who raised the most of the produce we will be eating, and I'll be thinking how this summer goodness was put up in jars. Finally, it will be sweet to gather with dear friends and new acquaintances, knowing a few less people will be alone this holiday. It's a dinner that took months to come together and prepare. I hope to enjoy it slowly.

Many blessings to you and happy Thanksgiving! May you be blessed with food to eat, many helping hands, and time to relax. May you be surrounded by love and caring.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Pendulum Effect

On Sunday, Jason Stevens and I spoke at the 306 Phoenix House on the topic of eating mindfully over the holidays. Jason described hunger as a scale...

Imagine a scale of 0-10 of hunger. A '0' would be the hunger you would feel after missing several meals. A '10' would be the stuffed and painful feeling after eating an exceptionally large meal, such as a large Thanksgiving dinner. 

Interestingly, there is a pendulum-like effect to this scale. If you are very hungry, then you are more likely to overeat at your next meal.  For example, if your hunger level is a 2, then you will likely eat until you are at an 8. Your hunger/eating pendulum swings high. If you are only slightly hungry (say a 4 on the scale), then you are likely only to eat until you are at a 6 on the scale. Your hunger/eating pendulum swings lower.

So, why does this matter? If you have a habit of over-eating, then try not to let yourself get so hungry. It is especially important not to skip meals. Try eating 3 smaller meals instead of 1 huge meal that causes indigestion. Also, it is easier to make healthy food choices when you don't feel extremely hungry.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Flower Essences for Emotional Eating

Don't forget...this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. I'll be speaking at the 306 Phoenix House (306 S. Phoenix Ave; Tulsa) with special guest and dietitian Jason Stevens about eating mindfully for health over the holidays.

Two days ago, I posted about emotional eating. Today, I would like to address three flower essences that can help with emotional eating.  Flower essences can be used as a supportive therapy once you have set your resolve to change this habit.

Cherry Plum essence supports people who fear they are going to lose control. For example, if you fear you are going to lose control an eat an entire box of cookies to cope with your feelings, Cherry Plum can support you in regaining control.

Sweet Chestnut essence supports people who keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. For example, you know that eating doughnuts make you feel sick to your stomach, but you just can't keep yourself from pulling into the doughnut shop every few days.

Crab Apple essence helps people to feel better about themselves as they are. Staving oneself and many more poor dieting habits are borne of a poor self image. Crab Apple supports self acceptance.

Other flower essences may be supportive, too. These three essences are sold as an Emotional Eating Support kit and can often be found in the flower essence section of your natural food store.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Emotional Eating

"If you are not hungry, then what you are looking for is not in here."  --Your Refrigerator
There are several reasons people turn to food to cope with their emotions. This is often termed "emotional eating" or "comfort eating." Emotional eating commonly occurs when we are not even physically hungry.
If you suspect you are eating to soothe your emotions, consider keeping a diet diary for three to five days. Record the following in your diary...
(a) What & how much you eat
(b) Where you ate it
(c) How you were feeling at the time
(d) On a scale of 0-10, record how physically hungry you were at that time, where 0 is not hungry at all and 10 is ready to devour an entire table of food.
This exercise helps to create awareness, if you are eating emotionally. Look at the diary to discover if there is a particular emotion that may be causing you to eat when you are not hungry.  For some people, it can be triggered by a certain location and situation (i.e. the candy bowl during a terrible day at work).
On Friday, I'll discuss the use of flower essences for emotional eating.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Chewing Contemplation

Prominent naturopathic physician and professor Dr. Dick Thom teaches his patients and students to chew each bite of food 31 times. Why 31 times and not 30? Dr. Thom was convinced with the extra one, we would actually count how much we chewed.
My clients and I typically agree this is the hardest part of eating mindfully.  I can prepare my meals, set a table, sit down, relax before I eat, say grace, smell, taste and appreciate my food, but chewing (really chewing) is a challenge. I sat down to brunch recently to determine why this was such an obstacle.

I started chewing and counting to 31. Inevitably, I would begin swallowing early. Hmmm…why is that? I noticed that I actually felt anxious, like I needed to hurry and swallow so I could take a breath.  I shared my observation with my brunch companion.  She had an astounding idea—put less on your fork and take smaller bites.  Eureka! It worked.

Another common issue with chewing comes up with people who grew up in large families. Historically if they wanted to get seconds, they needed to eat fast. As adults, this pattern no longer serves us. It is okay to recognize and release this old belief.

Why is chewing so important?  In order to absorb nutrients from food, it needs to be broken down into small enough particles that it can cross the barrier of our intestines and move into our blood stream. That’s really small! The process of breaking down our food optimally begins in the mouth.  Food gets chewed apart and mixed with an enzyme called salivary amylase. When your salivary amylase is not adequately produced, then your stomach function is impaired and blood flow to your small intestine is inadequate.  The faster you eat, the longer it takes your body to assimilate and utilize the nutrients in your food.  Help your body out—take small bites and give yourself time to chew. Chances are you’ll need less digestive medications and have fewer nutrient deficiencies later in life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Super Sourdough Saturday!

As I stepped outside this morning to feed the critters on my urban farm, a little of the autumn melancholy blew past me. Blackened plants with their blackened recent blooms scattered my garden; a result from the hard frost from earlier this week. 

This week flew by as fast and hard as the wind today. A student from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) came to do a preceptorship with me on Thursday and Friday. It was a delight to meet her and exchange ideas! It also gave me insight on my life from an outsider's eyes. Closing the clinic on Friday afternoon, I was especially reminded all the amazing clients with whom I am privileged to work on a daily basis.

All this week, I have also been preparing for my Saturday sourdough class. Today, we had a blast making sourdough pizza, sourdough pancakes and many variations of the sourdough bread loaf! Everyone got to take home their own starter and a collection of recipes and ideas. It was a Super Sourdough Saturday with five super women!

The class came to a close this afternoon. This is my last hands-on, experiential workshop of the year. Like my autumn melancholy, I had a little melancholy about this, too. It's been a wonderful year of teaching. I can't wait to do it again next year!  For those who might be wondering, a list of 2014 workshops will be offered soon.

I still have two natural health gatherings at 306 Phoenix House this year and I will be giving a talk at Green Acres Market in December about sleep. Stay tuned for more details...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Rest and Digest

You have probably heard of "Fight or Flight." We go into 'fight or flight' mode when we are stressed. Blood flow decreases in the digestive system and travels out to the muscles in the extremities so we can run from that bear. After running, the body is able to return to balance. Most of us are not running from bears these days when we are stressed; without the running phase, we can easily stay in "fight or flight" mode for long periods of time.  Ideally, it is best not to be digesting food when we are in "fight or flight." Have you ever lost your appetite or got indigestion after eating because you were stressed out?

The cousin of "fight or flight" is "rest and digest."  As it suggests, we digest our food better when we are relaxed. If you are stressed at meal time, try this simple exercise to relax before eating...

(1) Breathe in for 3 seconds.
(2) Breathe out slowly for 6 seconds. It helps if you purse your lips.
(3) Do steps 1-2 five times.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Preparing to eat...

Digestion begins with smelling and thinking about food. Sensors in our brain become excited and let our digestive organs know that we are about to eat. Receiving messages from the brain, our body begins to produce natural enzymes and acids to help us break down our food. Our mouth begins to salivate and produce salivary amylase.

Today, think about the process you use to prepare your food. How long does it take you to prepare your meal? Do you take time to smell your food before eating? Do you notice your mouth salivating and your stomach beginning to rumble?

This is where fast food and convenience food can pose a challenge to our digestive systems. It cuts down the amount of time we may spend smelling and thinking about food as it is prepared. In turn, our digestive system may not be activated and ready to eat. Without the proper acid and enzymes, it is difficult for our body to break down and utilize the food we ingest.

P.S. On a personal note, the breakfast and lunch alarms are working great so far! :)

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Making Time to Eat...

These beautiful vegetables recently came from our garden. They spent weeks growing. Like most vegetables, they will take relatively little time to prepare for dinner one night. Simple cutting, some marinade and perhaps baking will be required. The outcome will be nourishing and truly delicious. With the pace of life these days, finding even this little bit of time for vegetable preparation (let alone eating!) can be challenging.

Even with the flexible schedule of being self employed, I still find myself getting caught up in my work and forgetting to eat breakfast or lunch.  I do a good job of preparing and packing food for work, but remembering to eat food is another issue. It's easy to schedule too much over the lunch hour. It is just as easy to forget about breakfast on the days my workday starts at 6:30 a.m. When I was employed, lunches were rarely any easier, even though we technically had a lunch hour. By the time my body reminds me that I'm really hungry, it can be a challenge to eat slowly and mindfully.

This month, I'm resolved to reshape this habit of mine. First, I will start scheduling time for myself to eat...at a table. Secondly, I'll be setting the alarm on my phone to remind myself to stop and honor my meal times.  

After all, these beautiful vegetables took weeks to grow, and I want to set aside the time to appreciate them fully. Please wish me luck :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Where We Eat...

Where do you eat your meals?

Eating mindfully begins with consciously choosing the setting in which we eat. A staggering number of Americans eat in front of a television or computer. Fast food has made our cars a common place of dining. How many meals are eaten at the desk at work?

As we focus on eating mindfully this month, I invite you to the table or any place where you can enjoy your meals in peace.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Theme for the Month: Eating Mindfully

Last weekend, I attended and spoke at the Integrative Medicine Conference in Tulsa, OK.  Friend and colleague Jason Stevens, LD, RD, spoke on the topic "Mindful Eating." Mindful eating is paying attention to the way you eat without judgment.

I am convinced nutrition is not just about what we eat, but how we eat. It was thrilling to see a dietitian presenting on this topic at our conference!

In honor of Thanksgiving, I will be focusing on the topic of eating mindfully this month. It will also be the focus of the 306 Phoenix House Monthly Natural Health Gathering this month.

"Savor Your Food: Eat Slowly for Your Health"
2 p.m.
Sunday, November 24th

I look forward to sharing this topic with you. I hope you will join us!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Starting a batch of kefir...

I was recently given a generous gift of milk kefir grains. Milk kefir is a thick, yogurt-like drink. This morning, I sterilized my equipment. Then, I heated my milk up to 78 degrees. I added the kefir grains. My mixture was then put to bed in my Yogotherm. (Kefir likes temperatures from 70-78 degrees for incubation, and our house stays fairly cool. I am using the thermos method to keep it warmer.)  In 24-48 hours, I should have a new batch of kefir hopefully.