Eating Healthy while Traveling: Eating healthy for those of us who travel can become a challenge. Don’t expect to find all the snacks and foods you prefer while you are on your way to your destination. Airports have upped their food stands to a degree. It is now possible to find yogurt, salads and wraps that are a little more healthy than airport food has been in the past. However these foods can still contain a more sugar and bad fat then you may wish to consume. Try to prepare by taking along a healthy sandwich, trail mix or a few of the better nutrition health bars. The same holds true while traveling by car, bus or train. The additional advantage being that you are permitted to carry liquids which means that you can possibly mix yourself up a healthy protein shake.
Za’atar is a versatile mid-eastern blend of spices that can be used on meats, fish, bread and grain. It enhances most foods because it is made up of so many different spices. A combination of sumac, thyme, marjoram, oregano, sesame seeds and salt give it a unique flavor. It gained notoriety in the 12th century for its medicinal properties and even the physician Maimonides is said to have prescribed it to his patients. Since these spices are chock full of flavonoids they can aid in reducing cell damage due to their anti-inflammatory abilities. Spread it over pita with a little olive oil, add it to yogurt as a dip or just sprinkle it as a spice when preparing to bake chicken or fish. It will expose you to an entirely new taste sensation.
I recently had the pleasure of doing a children’s workshop on nutrition. The group ranged from ages 4 to 6. It was amazing how focused and captivated they were. What was also interesting is how nutrition was a topic they found important to discuss and questioned me in detail about specific concerns they had.
For a great many of us we only experience silence during that brief moment when we close our eyes after turning off the lights preparing for sleep. Even then some of us cannot sleep unless we are accompanied by some form of background noise. We have machines that mimic everything from waterfalls to frogs to aid us. We live in a world filled with noise and clamor that we have forced ourselves to adjust to even though it is effecting our physical, mental and spiritual health. Studies have shown that constant noise impacts a child’s speech, language, as well as their social and emotional development. Why is it that we have such difficulty listening to someone speak without our minds wondering off thinking of something totally unrelated? In many eastern traditions silence is considered an integral part of obtaining inner clarity and yet in our present lives we feel the need to be constantly connected. How rare is it to see someone walking in the street or driving in a car without a phone attached to their ear? Taking the time to seek a moment of silence can do so much for improving our skills at work, relationships, focus, listening ability and even general overall happiness. Silence can help us decipher what is really worth saying and what is not. In other words what really matters. Not being able to separate ourselves from all the noise that surrounds us can slow us down since we are not allowing our bodies to heal. Quiet time is the result of allowing ourselves some moments in our day that are free of structure and distraction. How do we free ourselves from thoughts of the past and future and learn to enjoy the here and now? Reviewing unpleasant events from the past and worrying about what may happen in the future can become extremely draining. Taking daily moments of silence even for as little as 5 minutes can boost immunity, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, promote healing, reduce pain, regulate hormones as well as increase cognitive abilities and energy. So how do we accomplish this? Practice eating at least one meal a day in total silence. Be or walk with a close relationship in total silence and reconnect with the joy of just being with someone you are close to. Start by lowering the volume of your TV, radio and cell phones. Cut back on computer time by as little as 20 minutes and take a short walk. The same way you structure the itinerary for the day structure time for silence. Learn how to take time to listen to yourself breathe properly. Simple steps can bring vitality to yourself as well as all those who surround you.
Beets come in several colors all of which are rich in nitrates. Nitrates are important for a healthy body because they open blood vessels increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. They contain a compound called betaine which can help with symptoms of depression. Although they are extremely high in sugar, they provide lasting energy due to the fact that the glucose is released slowly into the body. Another great benefit of beets is that they help in detoxing the body. Careful not to over-steam. Tip–drink a cup of the water that remains after you are finished steaming. Try to purchase fresh beets with the greens attached and saute them separately with olive oil and garlic.
Don’t Deprive Yourself:
Try never to deprive yourself of your favorite food or snack. Not consuming those items you most enjoy will only increase the desire to have them. Instead allow yourself small amounts of these foods, savor and enjoy them. Abstaining from the foods that delight you can result in bingeing when the situation arises.
I have a gut feeling. Does that mean that we feel with our gut as well as with our mind? Why is the gut now being referred to as the second brain? There is now a strong connection between the health of our gut and how it can effect our emotions as well as our ability to make simple decisions. What do we mean by the gut? Technically known as the alimentary canal, everything from the esophagus to the anus is considered the gut or our digestive system. The gut makes it possible to transfer food to our digestive organs. Because it is considered one of the most complicated ecosystems on earth, its influence can be felt in our brain, heart, skin, mood, appetite and weight. It houses trillions of microbes which include many forms of bacteria, fungi and viruses (microflora) all of which aid in maintaining both physical and mental stability. It benefits our mood, weight and mental health because of its ability to counteract inflammation, control the growth of harmful bacteria as well as produce vitamins, absorb minerals and eliminate toxins. The system can be compared to that of a little chemical lab. For this reason symptoms of anxiety, depression, IBS, ulcers will manifest themselves in both areas (brain and gut). Dr. Michael Gershon of Columbia University in 1996 was the first to recognize and write about this brain-gut connection. He coined the term “second brain” now known as neurogastroenterology. We now know that there is a strong connection between emotional stress and physical distress. This connection may be the reason why 70% of adults who are treated for chronic gut disorders have also experienced some form of childhood trauma. There is a strong connection with divorce of parents or chronic illness and loss of a parent or loved one. This affects decision making throughout their lives since a good part of our emotional decisions are made from a feeling in our gut. Butterflies in the stomach are most likely a signal from the gut responding to a physiological stress. Studies have found that half of psychiatric complaints were also accompanied by problems in the gut and that high doses of probiotics and healthy eating were enough to remedy the problem. So many people suffering from anxiety and depression have also had disturbances in their GI function. Studies were done with mice in which their gut bacteria was switched and it changed completely how the animal acted. A reversal of outgoing to introverted and visa versa showing how strongly the bacterial content of our gut has on our behavior. The question still remains as to which brain makes the first move? Which has a stronger influence over the other? So how can we support the health of this important part of our body? Eating a diet free of unprocessed food, along with fermented foods which nurture the probiotics in our system is an excellent way to start.
Similar to water chestnuts in taste but slightly sweeter, they are also known as sunchokes or earth apple. Jerusalem Artichokes sport a beautiful yellow flower when they are ready to be harvested. Native to North America, they are a member of the tuber family but contain more fiber and protein then any of the others in their class. They contain no cholesterol and are great for diabetics because their carbohydrates do no have any effect on sugar levels. Sunchokes are a great source of iron and potassium. In fact they are high in electrolytes in general which is an ideal addition to an active lifestyle. They are great eaten raw or cooked.