Acupuncture Treatment: Stress and Hormones

This is an overview of the treatment for hormonal imbalance and treatment for stress. Acupuncture treatment can be very helpful for both. It’s an effective natural treatment for stress.

I’ve had a few people emailing me asking for recommendations that my acupuncturist told me. So I will just put them out here for you all to see. A lot of the mindfulness exercises can be good for anyone.

Acupuncture is great for: stress, digestion, hormonal problems, and more. I mainly went because of my digestion and a hormone thing!

Eating recommendations:

07-veggie-coconut-oil-lamb 08-eggs-and-bacon1 feb152010006_thumb feb152010007_thumb

  • Eat: lamb and bison, lightly spiced. (Cinnamon and chili are good.) (This is for the hormone thing.) (I made lamb here and here. Used spices here.)
  • Eat: Eggs and bacon. Alternate between turkey and regular bacon so I don’t get bored. (Reasoning: animal fats are good for hormone regulation as long as they are from free-range/organic animals.) (Also for hormones.) (I made bacon here. Eggs and bacon breakfast here.)
  • Eat: black beans with some coconut oil. (For hormones.) (Ate them here.) (Coconut oil here.)
  • Eat: lemon rind/zest in cooking; oranges. Something about the rid of these citrus fruits is good for digestion.
  • Eat: ginger and garlic. Good for digestion. Also very warming.
  • Snack idea: rice cakes with coconut oil.

It is good to keep a balance – meat and carbs are acidic in nature, so to balance them out, we need alkaline green leafy veggies. Lots of them!

Other recommendations:

  • Soak feet in hot water with lavender and epsom salts. Don’t let the water get cold! Do this for 20-30 minutes.
  • Take a hot bath after dinner with lavender and epsom salts.

Meditations to try:

  • Lie on your back (savasana). Breath in and out with your chest. Imagine your heart is expanding and making your chest rise. Keep focusing on the strength and power of your heart. (5-15 minutes.)
  • Sitting or savasana. Focus on an area of your body that may feel neglected or needing love. Imagine a tiny light the size of a dime radiating from the center of that place. Now imagine it growing and radiating out from that body part until it is big enough to envelop your whole body. Now take all that energy and begin to compress it back into a smaller and smaller light. Eventually the light goes back to the size of a dime (still in the same location). Repeat if necessary. (5-10 minutes.) I got this one from an intenSati class with Lindsay.

Books:

  • Feeling Good by David D. Burns. Cognitive therapy isn’t just for depression!

Have you tried acupuncture? What about other Traditional Chinese Medicine? (Coco has a good series on this stuff too.)

Long Busy Day + Cake

Today was the longest day. The internet was down at work all day (and I was the one on the phone trying to get it back on again) and now I think my blackberry is dead! At least I have cake.

i love you cake whole foods

I bought this chocolate piece of heaven on Saturday during my Whole Foods trip with Marina; Bobby and I broke into it last night (it was one of my Valentine’s day presents to him). Then we had it again tonight – it is a chocolate cake with rich fudgey topping.

I wanted to share one of my presents from Bobby:

feb 15 2010 003 feb 15 2010 004

Sabon soap! This one is a coconut and olive oil base, and it’s vanilla and coconut scented. It’s great for the skin. I adore Sabon and it’s closeby.

After dessert (pictured above) I had dinner:

bacon veggies cream cheese

  • goodies: bacon and coconut oil and whipped cream cheese
  • healthies: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, peas, and corn
  • spicies: cinnamon, chili powder, garlic powder, and Kikkoman ponzu sauce from Foodbuzz (love this stuff!)

I also had some black beans. My acupuncturist told me to eat black beans so I obliged. I topped them with some maple syrup, salt, and more whipped cream cheese (Heather, I blame you for this addiction!). I think I will have to try without the syrup next time – too sugary.

black beans maple

Moving on… I wanted to do an exercise update. I am back to my gentle routine of walking, and I couldn’t be happier. I walk to work in the morning (2 miles) and I try to get in another half mile or so throughout the rest of the day (running an errand for example). I haven’t been doing as much yoga. I did do my DVF exercises (Diane von Furstenburg exercises) 3 times this past week though. They are relaxing stretching moves.

Just goes to show, you don’t have to exercise a lot to stay thin! Moderation is the KEY. (I can say this but moderation is still the thing I struggle with.)

Another cool thing I’m doing right now is soaking my feet in hot water with epsom salts and lavender (it’s a lavender oil that the sweet Clare sent me for Christmas). Both Coco and my acupuncturist recommended this, so I figured I’d give it a shot. It’s relaxing but the water cools quickly and I have to keep reheating it.

I am off to do some work that I did not get done today (no productivity since there was no internet). I’m glad I have blogging to de-stress 🙂

What’s your de-stressor?

Bring It ON! (Fat, that is!)

Look what I had for breakfast yesterday:

This was:

  • 2 pieces of organic, free-range (pork) bacon (from Whole Paycheck)
  • 2 organic, cage-free eggs (also from Whole Paycheck) cooked in bacon fat

This meal was inspired by both Heather’s manly breakfast and my acupuncturist. It seems that my new motto is “eat more animal fat“, and it is working for me. Some people seem to do fine without – my sister is a vegetarian/vegan and my brother is vegetarian and experimenting with adding in more raw foods. My mom was a vegetarian for most of her 20’s (including when she was pregnant with me!) and my dad follows the accidental vegetarian diet because he lives with so many vegetarians.

My dad actually ends up eating more meat than the rest of them (in the form of lunch-meat on sandwiches, the occasional meat chili, and sometimes some bacon on the weekends), and… well – I take after my dad. We look alike, we talk alike, we think alike, and when we hang out together we usually end up working on some project (reorganizing something, or nitpicking about the way something has been put together, or making a mess unintentionally as we try to fix something) and not talking that much – but that’s how we like it.

Anyway, this is not about what we do, but rather how our food needs might be similar as well. That side of my family has digestion troubles (to put it mildly!) and I seem to have inherited them. They flare up when I am not eating meat. (Last time my stomach felt good was when I was driving across the country – and eating meat at almost every meal.)

Anyway, onto another meal (dinner).

This was…

  • organic ground lamb from Whole Foods (you actually can’t see it much, but I probably had 4-5 ounces)
  • garlic + frozen veggies (broccoli and an Asian stir fry mix) cooked in coconut oil
  • topped with cream cheese (this is full fat by the way)
  • spices: pepper, ginger powder, cinnamon

This is an acupuncture-inspired meal. He said to try eating lamb, lightly spiced. Also garlic (good for digestion), ginger (warming and good for digestion), and cinnamon (just good – I don’t remember why). He also recommended coconut oil, so I threw that in there as well.

I made this beauty for lunch yesterday:

It was…

  • veggies cooked in remaining bacon fat and coconut oil (frozen broccoli, fresh okra, green peas)
  • cream cheese topping

Coconut oil is a great source of saturated fat (NOT always bad for you), great for the skin, doesn’t create harmful byproducts when heated, reduces stress, and aids in weight loss (these are just google results).

Speaking of weight loss… Did I mention I lost 2-3 of those pesky intenSati pounds? This happened in one week, and I didn’t eat fewer calories (if anything I ate more). What I did was eat more fat (and meat) and fewer carbs (but not no carbs! I still had lots of oatmeal and rice, and of course many many veggie carbs). Fat can be really good for you.

I am actually off to a blogger brunch that has been postponed for far too long… So I’ll update on that later.

What are you plans for Valentine’s day? We actually don’t know yet!!

The Great Fat Animal Experiment

Nope, I’m not talking about these lazy boys (cats… or as we call them: fats).

I’m talking about some new dietary things I’ve been trying. The changes involve fat and animals. Like steel-cut oats cooked in water and almond milk, then topped with organic butter and maple syrup:

I take food to work in these containers. Here is another, better picture of steel cut oats from the other day (this is after the butter had been stirred in).

I cooked (makes ~3 servings):

  • 4.5 cups of water and almond milk (I did half and half)
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats (the “serving size” is 1/4 cup)
  • few dashes of salt
  • cinnamon optional
  • …in my rice cooker.

Just be careful as it cooks – unless you have a very large rice cooker it will overflow. What I like to do is let it start to boil (on the “cook” button), and then turn it to “warm” and let it sit overnight. In the morning you have creamy, chewy, luscious steel-cut oats. They’re just as good as Jamba Juice‘s.

Or how about this guy…

Veggies cooked in 1-2 tablespoons of organic butter, topped with whipped full-fat cream cheese. I actually didn’t have this yet because my boss bought us lunch today (snow day!) – so I saved it in the fridge for tomorrow.

What are your thoughts on diet and healing? Do you think that food can really have that much of an impact on your well-being?

Does cooking make us human?

A few weeks ago, raw food was abuzz in blogland. I gave it a try to help my digestion, but that way of eating didn’t work for me. Now that it’s fall I’ve noticed less and less talk about raw food, and more and more posts about oatmeal, baked squash, and delicious apples. It’s propitious that Bobby alerted me to this article yesterday… Did Cooking Give Humans An Evolutionary Edge? – a transcript of an NPR talk from Science Friday. It has to do with the differences between humans and other primates (like this gorilla that lives in the San Francisco zoo)…

537px-Male_gorilla_in_SF_zoo

I thought the transcript was incredibly interesting. You can also listen to the program (it’s just under 30 minutes). If you don’t have time to read or listen though, I’ll summarize here…

  • It’s an interview with Dr. Richard Wrangham, a primatologist (someone who studies primates = humans, apes, monkeys, and prosimians) who wrote Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.
  • Dr. Wrangham proposes that cooking has actually been a key aspect of evolution and our bodies have changed over the years due to the fact that we can cook our food. It’s given us a huge evolutionary advantage because we have more time to use our brains instead of foraging and chewing all day long. (This is called biocultural evolution, when you evolve along with the tools/methods of your culture.)
  • Apes show either a preference for cooked food over raw food, or they are neutral… they never prefer raw to cooked food.
  • A human’s digestive system is 2/3rds the size of an ape’s (if you adjust for the size of the ape versus the size of the human) and we have small teeth and small mouths – not ideal for lots of chewing.
  • We’ve adapted to a “high quality” diet. (High quality meaning mostly cooked and easy to digest… not talking about the processed, industrial “food” crap that most people live on.) Cooking is what increased the “quality” of our diet.
  • We don’t have to eat large amounts of food and we don’t have to retain and ferment food for many many hours to digest it.
  • The changes to our digestive system happened about 1.8 million years ago.
  • Cooking our food increases the proportion of nutrients and energy that we’re able to digest. While a cooked carrot may technically have the same number of calories as a raw one, we are able to access more of the calories from the cooked one. Another example – when you cook an egg and eat it, you can digest about 94% of the protein. A raw egg? You digest about 60%. That’s a big discrepancy.
  • Why does cooking make things easier to digest? For protein, the process is called denaturation. The protein cells are kind of like a big ball of yarn; cooking unwinds the yarn so it’s easier to digest. One way to denature something is to put it in acid. So our stomach acid can do some of this, but cooking makes it that much easier for our bodies to digest protein. A similar process happens with starch – chains of sugars open up during cooking so that they are more readily available to absorb.
  • Humans are one of the only species that typically does not thrive on a raw diet… about half of women following a raw diet stop menstruating and most people lose weight (due to an energy shortage = significant calorie/nutrient deficiency).
  • Now this doesn’t mean that a raw diet can’t be beneficial – a lot of people are eating too much currently, so a raw diet may help them reduce the amount of food they eat (because it’s so limiting) so they can maintain their weight and feel better. A lot of the benefits that come from a raw diet are due to cutting out processed foods and chemicals. Many people have undiagnosed food allergies (gluten, wheat, dairy, etc…) and since those foods aren’t common in a high raw diet, people will feel better since they’re not eating them anymore.
  • Again, eating more raw food is not necessarily bad or unhealthy, but you should not follow a high raw diet. If you live in a place where food is scarce, you should especially *not* follow a raw diet… if you live in the US or another developed country, incorporating more raw foods into your diet is a fabulous idea if it will help you eat less and eat fewer processed, industrial foods.
  • Many people think that following a raw food diet is the most “natural” way to live… not true. We have evolved away from eating raw food. And one of the major reasons that we’ve been able to advance so far in terms of knowledge and technology is due to the fact that we are NOT like other primates – we don’t have to eat all day to get enough food, giving us time to use our gargantuan brains.

I’m learning about some similar concepts in my anthropology class. There is the idea of biocultural evolution, which basically says that our culture (using tools, cooking food, etc…) has a large influence on our evolution. The invention of tools allowed us to evolve away from huge teeth. The cultural idea of wearing clothes might be the reason that we aren’t covered in hair. And maybe cooking is responsible for changing our digestive system, our mouths, and our teeth.

What works best for me is a fairly natural diet (no processed foods) with a little bit of raw food. I am influenced by macrobiotics (completely cooked, nearly vegan but with fish, and very Japanese). I’m also influenced by the paleo diet (limited grains and carbs, lots of animal fat and protein, lots of veggies – mostly all cooked). When I eat fruit it’s usually raw I do snack on raw veggies sometimes. I love salad (obviously, again) but I don’t eat salad every day unless it’s the summer. I love my oatmeal, oat bran, baked and steamed squash, and many other cooked foods, especially in the cooler months.

What works for you? What do you think of the ideas that this guy is proposing?