Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I have a gut feeling...(mexi-potato skins)

This picture has little to do with the post, except that it makes me smile. Chopper embraced the spring morning by having his tea outside by the forsythia bush which flowered overnight.

I read a great little tidbit this morning connecting our gut health to our gut feelings:

"We get “butterflies in our stomach” when we’re nervous, “choked up” when we are about to cry, and have a “gut feeling” when something just doesn’t seem right. We turn to “comfort food” when we’re depressed and forget to eat when we are stressed."

All of these phrases signify our intuitive understanding between the link of our emotions and our digestive system. Even scientists refer to our gut as our second brain. Within the wall of our intestinal tract we have more than 100 million nerve cells, this is more than any other organ including the spinal cord. 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut! You know what serotonin is right? It’s the chemical that the body produces, which makes us feel joy or happiness. Now imagine you have an unhealthy gut….it is no wonder we feel so depressed!

A study was done where people were fed and encouraged to smile throughout the meal, while other people sat and smiled at them as they ate. Another group ate the exact same thing but instead of smiling they frowned and were surrounded by people frowning at them. The smiling people absorbed more nutrients and released more toxins through their waste. The frowning group's stomachs practically shut down, they felt bloated and had a hard time digesting the food. Think of these examples when you decide to eat in the car while driving or beat yourself up over eating a cookie. If you are going to have a cookie, enjoy every last bite and smile right through it.

And speaking of comfort food... I usually tell my clients that despite all the changes they are making in their diets to still eat the foods that they love even if they consider them to be "bad". Instead of restricting these foods until they crack and eat an entire pizza, or chicken wings, fries, and dessert all in one sitting, making themselves sick, to consciously weave these foods into their regular meals. This allows you to stay in control. You can choose to eat an amount you know you'll enjoy before getting a stomach ache, you can accompany a food with a salad so that you get some greens, or make a healthier version of a food at home, that at a restaurant would be loaded with fat, sodium, and sugar.

This is just what I did last night when we had mexi-potatoes! These are delicious, a little naughty, and satisfy that comfort food craving.

What you'll need:
  • Potatoes
  • Refried beans (Organic, fat free-means no lard)
  • avocado
  • cheddar cheese
  • tomato
Wash and dry potato, rub with olive oil and sea salt. Bake on baking sheet for 45 minutes on 400*
While the potato is baking, dice the tomato, avocado, and grate the cheese
When the potatoes are done, cut in half the long way.
Scoop out some of the potato insides.
Fill with refried beans, sprinkle with cheese and place back in oven for 10 minutes.
Take out and top with avocado, tomato. (We also topped them with a little plain yogurt)Really good, And I'm not about to apologize for these white potato morsels. Serve with a side salad of arugula and all is redeemed.

Monday, April 20, 2009

NY, NY

I was a lucky Health Counselor this past weekend. I was invited by the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in NYC to come and enjoy a lecture given by two renowned doctors. Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. David Katz are both medical doctors with an integrative mindset. They understand and promote the importance of nutrition as preventative medicine. Did you know that in medical school, students get less than 1 full semester of nutrition classes? Out of 9 years of schooling!? So they are given practically zero information to link illness to what you put in your body. It is no wonder that people in our country are sick and getting sicker. They can identify a problem and prescribe a medication to treat the problem (very important) but are not given the tools or time (so busy!) to determine and heal the cause of the illness.

Anyway, this is a good reminder of how important it is for us to be proactive in our own health and to fill our lives with self care. Who wants medical bills? More importantly who wants to feel sick?

I am happy to be home, NY is flippin great but so very different than BI. On the ride home yesterday, my friend Ali and I stopped for Thai food after getting off the train. The restaurant was empty and they had soft thai music playing. There was so much room physically and mentally, we both felt ourselves decompress (literally, my head and whole body just relaxed) as we sat down and had a glass of water. It was amazing to feel the difference, and again nice to remember how we all need a little space.I wanted to put contrasting pictures here. One of the busy New York streets, maybe 5th Avenue or Times Square, and then a picture of the daffodils on BI. Looking at the pictures I actually took, turns out I had flowers and sunsets, none of the NY street vendors, billboards, colorful people, or bustling streets . Though in my opinion, it is the flowers and sunsets that bring the magic. With the backdrop of a place like Times Square, there is so much stillness in a budding tree, it makes it real special.

Wide open space. No buildings in this backdrop.