“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki
In our culture we spend a lot of time talking about WHAT to eat, and not as much focus on the HOW of eating. Watch a baby try new foods for the first time and you can learn so much about eating with a beginner's mind. A beginner's mind is something we are born with and later on rediscover on a more conscious level. It is the mind that lets the knowing self fall back and a more curious and willing self emerge. Here are some insights of the last three weeks introducing new foods to Olive.
Variety is instinctual
Olive is like any other baby in that she fixes her attention on color, which is why I try to prepare foods different in color from one another. One day her spoon has red from beets and the next day there's green from spinach. I've noticed she tires of something after I've given it to her three to four times in a row. Instinctually, we like variety on our plate. Most of us don't live in the wild Amazon with exotic plants all around us to forage. In our industrialized world we tend to eat the same thing day after day, missing out on a variety of fruits and vegetables that provides vital nutrition. Variety in the diet has beneficial upstream effects. For example, the Harvard-based Nurses Health Study, one of the largest and longest studies to date, showed eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke (1). To improve the variety in your diet, try this exercise (I just took part in this with a nutrition practice group): see if you can eat 50 different foods in one week. If you have a smoothie every morning, that's fine, but you can only count the ingredients in it once.
For my birthday this year I was treated to breakfast at one of my favorite seaside restaurants.I find that when I’m in a birthday frame of mind, I feel that I should eat and do what I want. Even if it is outside of the list of things that keep my well being intact. So I ordered the French toast! It was freshly made using large slices of artesian bread and house made whipped cream. It was outstanding. The chemical rush of sugar overload was surging through my body and mind.
At about the half way point, I started to feel nauseous. So nauseous that I was afraid that one more bite would result in literally needing to vomit. I stopped eating, and the sugary euphoria started to be replaced with sluggishness and a feeling of regret that I had ordered it. The small child inside me still believes that sugar it the ultimate treat. “She” had ordered breakfast. Not the health-conscious woman seeking vitality and a clear mind. Herein lies the conflict.
At this stage in our lives, seeking pleasure in the very temporary euphoria of a sugar rush will derail us from all the things that are important to us. People often get depressed or sad over the idea of giving up dietary guilty pleasures for health or weight loss reasons. They feel that one of the greatest joys in life is being taken away. The second their willpower is compromised, they go in the polar opposite direction and binge on the foods that they know will hurt them. We need to redirect our focus on the pleasures that are healthy and life sustaining.
Pretending that food doesn't matter to health is at best denial, at worst a serious delusion. But we have all been there when we have reached for a sugary snack when stressed out or feeling grouchy. We had that fleeting moment of satisfaction followed by the inevitable blood-sugar crash, with added irritability to boot. Not nice! Well, I am here to help and I am going to help you improve your mood with these 7 tips.
1. REPLACE PROCESSED FOODS WITH FRESH ORGANIC WHOLE FOODS
Our bodies are extremely clever: when we try to feed them something that is processed, they recognise that they're eating something but cant quite figure out what it is, because its missing so many nutrients and its molecular structure has been altered. So, to make up for the missing nutrients, our bodies have to tap into our own reserves and they end up taking minerals from our blood and bones. This is obviously not a sustainable way to eat because our nutrient reserves need to be replenished and if all we do is eat processed foods then pretty soon we mill find ourselves malnourished and on a slippery slope to irritability and illness.
2. EAT MORE SOLUBLE FIBRE
Fibre helps to slow down the absorption of sugar in your blood stream into your body and therefore lessens those dreaded mood swings. Oats, brown rice, barley, apples, pears, carrots, beans and sweet potatoes are good sources. Avoid processed grains like white rice, white pasta or white bread, which have been stripped of their fibre.
3. REPLACE COFFEE, SOFT DRINKS & BOTTLED JUICES
... with water, herbal tea & fresh juices
This week was a good time to think about what you value in your life.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron delivered an impassioned speech to Congress this week about what he values and what he believes in. Hearing him speak got me thinking about my own beliefs and values.
“Our strongest beliefs are challenged by the rise of a yet unknown new world order,” Macron said. So true. There are so many forces these days that are testing our values and our beliefs — those we hold as individuals, and as nations.
That’s why I think it’s a good exercise for all of us to stop and think, “What do I believe?” “What do I value?”
Do you know what you believe in? Do you live your life according to those beliefs and values? None of us are perfect at walking our walk, but what I’ve found helpful is to stop and check in with one’s self and assess how one’s values and beliefs are lining up with one’s actual life.
Do you talk about saving the planet and then not recycle?
Do you talk about the importance of parenting and then look at your schedule and see that you are a workaholic?
Do you talk about women’s empowerment, but as a business leader, you refuse to provide paid family leave?
Are you a registered Democrat, but in your mind and heart you are more purple than blue and yet you’re afraid to register as an Independent? Or vice versa?
Do you talk about brain health and then not follow what doctors tell you? (My daughter told me to add this because I need to do a better job at what I’m telling others to do, like managing stress and eating less sugar.)
Our brain is the source of all thoughts, emotions and feelings. It is the center for creativity, imagination and exploration. The brain is an information processing organ and keeps records of our past. The emotional residues, preconceptions and the negative thought patterns that are recorded in our brain keep us from reaching our full potential. We then develop addictions to numb these negative feelings hoping that the pain of our past will go away.
Yoga means “union” but it is mainly known to us as series of physical exercises (asanas). In my personal experience, during workout routines my brain is running in the opposite direction to my body. It is busy trying to problem solve, create to do lists and think about non-essential things. But during my yoga practice my body and brain are more connected. In actuality, every part of our physical body is connected with the brain. Information is constantly being exchanged between brain and body through the nervous system. By awakening the body’s senses through practices of yoga and by moving the body in new and different ways, we can awaken different part of our brain. In addition, a flexible body creates a more flexible and adaptive brain.
Meditation is the practice of focusing our mind. I realized that during the meditation portion of my class, my body, brain and soul were in alignment as my mind was focused inside by body on my True Self.
I AM HEALED I AM LOVED I AM HAPPY
I personally have experienced life changes so sudden, I had no time to think. It is in those sudden changes that God speaks loudly. The first time this happened was when I came across a violent crime scene. I feared for my life, as well as others’ lives. It was the first time I channeled a message of love and healing. I didn’t recognize what was occurring. I have had life changes that are essentially a slow unraveling of life as I knew it. God still spoke to me, but I needed to stop and listen. This was when I experienced my health scare. I was offered the opportunity to recognize my connection to source. I was given the opportunity to create a life that allowed me to share peace with my family and others. This required letting go of some habits and even people that didn’t fit into the life I was building. I am still learning how I best receive the messages of God, and how I best share them. I feel blessed to have these experiences that helped me discover peace, awareness, love and happiness. When the Universe slows me down I answer with an open, happy heart.
In this channel there is reference to two worlds. I have written about this before. What it means is we have a world that has limitations and we have a world free of limitations; the choice is ours to make. I also want to clarify my statement on happiness not being dependent on money. The variable that connects happiness to money, is our relationship to money. I have been happy poor and I have been happy financially stable. I have also been unhappy and struggling financially and even unhappy financially stable. Living a happy abundant life is not always reflected by dollar amounts.
God Bless You and may you experience peace and happiness, Polly
Special traitsHighly sensitive people emote on a very different level. They have some special traits which are very different from the average person. It could also be considered as a positive thing but it has its drawbacks.
Highly sensitiveThis is actually a trait which brings both strengths and challenges. Sometimes one is just easily offended by people who mean no harm or they could even be trying to be nice to you. Sometimes the reaction to everyday stressors is also extreme. You may be more affected by negative stressors than most people are.
Wild imaginationYou like to believe that you are being bullied by people who mean no harm and then tend to become over emotionally aggressive. You are more deeply affected by others. Try to manage your reactions, make it your strength rather than a challenge.
Tapping Therapy intensely powerful tool that can help you quickly get over your biggest fears and help achieve all of your goals.
Thirty-four years ago, clinical psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan—the originator of tapping therapy—discovered that you could stimulate the instant release of stored emotions.
The instant release occurs by ty tapping along these meridians in acupressure-like fashion while focusing your mind on the past hurt or current stress (phobia, fear, or anxiety).
He called his method Thought Field Therapy or TFT, and today Dr. Callahan’s institute trains practicing therapists, healthcare professionals, and everyday people in how to use tapping therapy both in clinical settings and at home. Others have brought TFT to the masses as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping) and Meridian Tapping Therapy.
Life has its ups and downs, and stress is a natural part of human existence. These days, though, American stress levels are at a record high, according to the American Psychological Association. We discussed the stress-microbiome connection with Robert Keith Wallace, Ph.D., who—along with his wife and co-author Samantha Wallace—wrote Gut Crisis: How Diet, Probiotics, and Friendly Bacteria Help You Lose Weight and Heal Your Body and Mind.
Dr. Wallace is a pioneering researcher on the physiology of consciousness and the mind/body connection as applied to behavioral medicine. His seminal research on higher states of consciousness has been published in Science, The American Journal of Physiology, and Scientific American. He’s currently Chair of the Department of Physiology and Health at Maharishi University of Management, of which he was a founding President.
Anyone who has taken a cooking class with me, knows I'm in love with green foods. They are my warrior ingredients whether I'm teaching about detoxification, weight loss, cancer, brain health, or gut health. Recently, I discovered a whole new reason I steer toward eating so many greens. The color green reflects the qualities of LOVE: openness, expansiveness, nurturing, compassion, abundance. The impact of color in our diet and the way it influences our health comes from the work of one of my nutritional sheroes, Dr. Deanna Minich. I'm knee, or I should say heart, deep into her new course Rainbow Food and Supplements. After 15 years studying nutrition she is rocking the way I look at color in our diet. In light of spring, let's look at the color green or what she refers to as our "LOVE system".
Take a minute to reflect on how GREEN foods make you feel.
Think about how you feel when you work in your garden or take a walk in nature. Taking in the color green through your senses fills your heart with peace, and gives you a sense of being alive and in harmony with life. Similarly, eating green foods can have a strong sensation in the heart center. Some people claim that green foods makes them feel more vital. Others, have a hard time consuming green vegetables. There is no right or wrong feeling here. It is simply good information for your relationship with the LOVE system.
(SPECIAL FOR EMPATHS AND HIGHLY SENSITIVE PEOPLE)
This week we are in the first week of the first Mercury retrograde cycle of 2018 which is a perfect time to retrace your steps and have a look at some of the ways in which you need to reaffirm your self-care. It’s also a great time to focus on ways to manage your experience especially if you identify as a highly sensitive person or empath. This particular retrograde in Aries is highly charged and can be quite combustible and combative. That said it’s also perfect for rigorous self-honesty, and really determining what you are enthusiastic about!
So, if you’re sensing the edge in the air and it starts to feel overwhelming you need to find a way to manage your experience. You don’t want to end up feeling like the energy of the world is assaulting you (and it really can feel like that sometimes.)
I’m going to include a video from Nick Ortner at the end of the blog to support you too since he has a great way to dial down anxiety. Bottom line is that intuitive people can suffer if they don’t have tools to manage their boundaries and feelings. (and they can also find it hard to release excess body weight, manage fatigue too etc. but that’s a whole other story)
Pets bring unconditional love and immense joy to many families. They also consume nearly 1/3 of the animal products in the United States — creating what is, for many people, an ethical and environmental dilemma. What’s the answer? Can dogs be vegan or vegetarian? Can cats be plant-based? Or must they eat meat to survive?
I grew up with cats. The sound and warm vibration of my beloved Popo purring in my lap is one of the happiest memories of my childhood.
Companion animals teach us about unconditional love and devotion, and they often bring out the very best in us humans.
Now, studies are showing that having a companion animal can be good for us, too.
How Dogs and Cats Can Improve Our Health
It’s no secret that children often love pets. But recent research has taken it a step further.
Children raised with pets are less likely to become asthmatic, more likely to be kind to other children, and more likely to have healthy self-esteem once they reach their teens.
Researchers are also finding that having pets positively influences children’s physical and emotional development and even their scholastic achievement.
But it’s not only children who can benefit from a loving relationship with a furry friend. One of the most celebrated “pet studies” was undertaken by Erika Friedmann and her co-workers at the University of Pennsylvania.
They found an unmistakable association between pet ownership and extended survival in patients hospitalized with coronary heart disease.
Those patients who had pets at home were far more likely to survive — even after accounting for differences in the extent of heart damage and other medical problems.
In 1991, the medical value of pets became unexpectedly apparent to researchers who were conducting the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial. They were studying the effects of two pharmaceutical drugs (encainide and flecainide) on men who had had heart attacks and were now experiencing irregular heartbeats.
Paradoxically, the drugs were found to cause an increase in cardiac deaths. At the same time, however, it was noted that those patients who had dogs were only one-sixth as likely to die during the year of the study as those who did not have dogs.
Can you imagine what would have happened if the drugs rather than the dogs had been shown to cause a six-fold decrease in deaths?
The drugs might be prescribed for every heart attack patient in the world with an irregular heartbeat. And drug companies would be spending hundreds of millions of dollars telling physicians and the public how great the drugs were.
But because the loyalty and loving friendship of a dog cannot be bottled and sold, there has been no such publicity campaign. And most people to this day do not realize how much healing can be found in loving relationships — including ones with companion animals.
But There’s A Shadow Side, Too
No offense to Fido or Buddy, nor to Leo or Cleopatra, but there are also shadows to pet ownership. It’s worth taking a fair look at them to round out the picture.
I get this question a lot! Mostly, when discussing cooking oils. So here are my thoughts on coconut oil. Yes, it is a saturated fat, it is actually one of the few found in the plant-kingdom, and a significant percentage of that saturated fat is composed of Lauric acid, which is (comparatively speaking) quickly and easily metabolised as a very good energy source.
This means you are likely to burn the kind of saturated fat found in coconut oil for fuel rather than pack it away as fat, provided you are sufficiently active and it isn’t digested along with something high in sugar to supersede & hijack your metabolism first. An example of this would be vegan treats such as cheesecake where coconut oil is mixed with lots of maple or date syrup and nuts to create the dairy-free cheesecake filling.
Coconut oil is the optimal oil to cook with — if you are going to cook with oil — due to the fact that it holds up (meaning it does not oxidize) better than other oils at high temperatures (translation – less free radicals). It is immune boosting, has anti-infection properties and some studies suggest it aids with the absorption of certain vitamins and other nutrients like beta-carotene and some amino acids.
That said I use coconut oil very rarely in my cooking. In fact, I rub more on my skin than I consume in my diet!
You may have noticed since your yoga practice has become more regular that you naturally find yourself gravitating toward a type of diet that gives you nourishment, energy, lightness, and flexibility. A yogi diet is a balanced way of eating that ancient yogis believed had a huge influence not only over your physical wellbeing, but also over your thoughts, and ultimately your emotional and spiritual wellbeing. With continued awareness about the body through yoga you may find that vegetarian foods become a natural choice. This way of eating helps you maintain that same energized, light feeling you achieve through yoga.
Eat ‘life-force’ in abundance
Like all living organisms in the universe the foods we eat possess qualities and energies that affect our mind, body and soul. Yogic food is known as ‘sattvic’, which simply means ‘pure essence’. These foods are considered abundant in ‘prana’, the universal life force that gives energy to all beings in both the plant and animal kingdoms. When you eat a pure diet the food and life-force found in these foods bring you physical strength, a good mind, health, and longevity. They calm, purify and lead to a peaceful mind in control of a fit body, with a balanced flow of energy between them leading to a peaceful state where higher consciousness becomes accessible. Enabling you to keep an open mind to possibilities, think more positively and be far more kind to others and ourselves.
Eating a sattvic diet means you get to enjoy the plant kingdom in its total abundance. Whole, real foods, found in their natural state dance together on your plate, offering their vibrancy to you. Foods, which are pure, light, soothing and easily digested, become your staples. There are whole grains beautifully arranged around lots of olive oil and vegetables. There are fresh fruits and natural sugars scattered through meals offering us the taste of sweet in perfect proportions, handfuls of nuts and seeds to bring texture and healthful benefits, nothing is too stimulating nor is it boring, this way of eating is vegetarian food alchemy in its most beautiful form.
Maintain a consist energy flow
We all feel bad, or off, or out of alignment at times. Most times we ignore it and keep doing what we have to. But there is a process you can go through that is immensely helpful in resolving the energy – not just ignoring it.
Stop: Give yourself a minute to become aware, to live consciously in that moment – Stop and create the time and space to experience. If you ignore the feeling or distract yourself from it, that energy will remain stuck within you.
Look: Have the courage to look at what you are feeling. It’s telling you something. Bring real insight to the situation: What’s the real cause? Non-alignment with your Divinity, resistance to what is, egoic personalization in a circumstance? What’s the false and true story?
The once-humble avocado has infiltrated almost every meal of the day: we’re spreading it on toast, using it to make chocolate mousse, and chucking it into our smoothies to make it extra thick and creamy. If you’re like most people, you’re probably eating more avocado than ever before. But as your scooping out (or ordering) that buttery, green goodness you may have stopped to ask yourself, how much avocado is too much?
You might think all that healthy fat means it’s always a healthy choice. But is it? Therein lies the conundrum. We're told that avocados are super good for us, with a balanced amount of monounsaturated, saturated, and polyunsaturated fats that help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins (like vitamin K, A, D, and E) from your food and leave you feeling full and satiated. They contain B vitamins (super important for methylation) and vitamin E, which helps with collagen production and retaining moisture in your skin. They help keep your brain healthy and your immune system strong. Gosh, hand me guac!
Because I have been in such an intense phase of creative energy flow, (thank you, vata dosha!), and it was recently National Women's Day, I thought I'd share some information about the two chakras responsible for our creativity.
The second (Svadisthana/Sacral/Sexual) chakra is considered the seat of divine feminine energy and creativity, called shakti in the Hindu tradition. It is the womb, where all things are birthed.
Men and women alike need this feminine creative energy to lead inspiring and fulfilling lives. Creativity does not belong exclusively to artists, musicians, and writers.
The creative force born in the second chakra is available for everyone. It gives meaning to our lives and can be the difference between a life lived in a state of stagnation vs. one filled with joyful inspiration and action.
Located below the navel in the area of the sexual organs, the color associated with the second chakra is orange.
Swadhisthana means "one's own abode" or "dwelling place of the self". It is the pleasure chakra - the chakra of sensuality, sexuality, desire, and our emotions.
Here lie our emotional connections with others.
It is the seat of our creativity.
"All disease begins in the gut" ~ Hippocrates
The discovery of the microbiome and the functions of all the microbes within our body has been equally as important as the discovery of the human genome. The microbiome protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins. When it comes to supporting gut health, much of the emphasis has been placed on probiotics, the good bacteria known to have specific benefits on the digestive tract.
An imbalance in the good and bad bacteria in the digestive system can show up in a wide array of systemic conditions, including hormonal issues, metabolic dysfunction, depression, cognition, even some cancers. It is recommended we take probiotic supplements, eat yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and sourdough bread to flood the GI tract with good microbes. However, for these bugs to function optimally in our favor, they need to feed on substrates called prebiotics.
Think of prebiotics as fertilizer for our microbiome. They are what probiotics feed on; in fact, we cannot fully digest these dietary fibers without good bacteria. Prebiotics and probiotics live in symbiosis. We need good bacteria to utilize the fiber we get from food and we equally need prebiotics to maintain the balance of good and bad bacteria in the GI tract. Research has shown that in healthy individuals, the more prebiotic foods we eat, the more good bacteria can proliferate, including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, L. reuteri, bifidobacteria, and certain strains of L. casei or the L. acidophilus-group.1
Most commonly we think of prebiotic foods to include onions, garlic, jerusalem artichokes, asparagus and plantains. But there are many more prebiotic foods to include and enjoy on a daily basis. Think polyphenols, the magical bioactive compounds found in a colorful, plant-rich diet. Polyphenols are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, and olive oil. Prebiotics also include herbs, cacao, sea vegetables, green tea, raw honey, and colostrum.
The greatest health benefit from including more prebiotic foods is better digestion*. As the gut bacteria metabolizes these undigested fibers, they produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA), which play a critical role in colon health. One of the SCFA's, butyric acid, protects the health of the intestinal lining. Others regulate electrolytes which are important for proper digestions, produce bowel movement, and prevent diarrhea.
Physical relaxationMusic actually promotes relaxation of tense muscles enabling you to release tension from a stressful day or week. Relaxing your body while listening to music helps release tension in a fun way and puts one in a stress-free zone.
Music & meditationFor those who feel meditation is tough to get into, listening to music is an excellent way to relax and slowly get lured into the meditative state.
Music promotes positivityUpbeat lives are happy lives. Even if you are not in a good mood you feel obliged to switch mental channels and feel better.
A crucial fact about American medicine goes largely ignored, even by doctors. Dollar for dollar, more people will gain years of healthy lifespan from prevention than from drugs or surgery. We don’t tend to think that prevention costs money. Once you learn that cigarettes cause lung cancer, you can decide not to smoke. The choice is free if you were a non-smoker to begin with. If you get up off the couch and start a brisk walking program to help prevent heart disease, that choice also doesn’t cost a penny.
What isn’t free, however, is getting information out there. Poor and less educated Americans are known to have a higher prevalence of major lifestyle disorders like heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. The reverse is also true: better lifestyle choices are made by the affluent and well educated.
You can’t prevent what you don’t know about. That makes it essential that we keep funding the most dollar-wise education for physicians so that young residents can go on to spearhead prevention programs. America cannot continue to rely on a reactionary stance of simply treating health issues. It must refocus its efforts and investments in prevention. The surgery to treat a lung cancer patient is highly unlikely to succeed and will be very expensive. Informing a middle-school classroom about the risks of smoking potentially saves lives at a fraction of the cost.