Let’s face it. No one enjoys feeling bloated, but it seems to be even more uncomfortable when parading around in a swim suit. Do you sometimes feel like your stomach is a beach ball, ready to pop? Perhaps you happen to check out your profile in the mirror and wonder if others think you’re pregnant. You are not alone, Dahling! Often what we eat, how we eat and how we cope with stress has a lot to do with the size of our mid-sections.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help trim the belly bulge for the beach this summer.
Believe it or not, many people are sensitive to dairy and don’t even know it. Commercial, ultra-pasteurized dairy is not a real food, Folks. In fact, it can be too congesting for most bodies, wreak digestive distress, cause or exacerbate allergies and make people plain sick. Also, as we age, we don’t produce as much of the enzyme lactase which is responsible for digesting the milk sugar, lactose. Try eliminating dairy from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it and see what happens. Bloating is a very common symptom. If you must have dairy, look for raw dairy products.
Sadly, gluten in wheat and other grains can also cause the belly to bulge. Because our wheat has been hybridized to contain more gluten (the protein in wheat that gives bread it’s elasticity) it can be difficult for most of us to digest. Gluten can create inflammation in the gut which can damage your villi and microvilli which compromises their ability to digest food. Food in the gut that isn’t digested ferments, creating gas and bloating. In the end, this inflammation makes your intestinal lining more porous and allows undigested food particles to slip into the blood stream, creating an immune response that’s often unpleasant. This is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. See how you feel and look. You might be surprised.
Increase Fiber and Fluid
Sometimes bloating is simply due to constipation. Food fermenting longer than normal in the colon can cause gas and bloating. The solution is to drink your darn water and plenty of it. Why? Water lubricates the intestinal lining and moves nutrients into the cells and waste out, an essential part of the digestion proces. It also dilutes extra acid around the cells that can create inflammation. So how much water should you drink? Most holistic practitioners agree that you should drink half your weight in ounces. Fiber, of course, also helps scrub the colon and keep it moving. So eat your veggies and fruits with abandon! If you can tolerate grains, toss in some gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat for an extra scrub.
Sadly our society is all about multi-tasking and getting things done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t not work well for the digestive system. When you’re eating, focus on nothing but eating. Eat at a dining table – your coffee table or desk doesn’t cut the mustard! Take one bite and savor it for as long as possible. This may sound a little weird, but let you tongue play with it! Chew that bite until it’s liquid. This allows the enzymes in your food (if it’s raw or slightly steamed) and in your salivary glands to begin the digestion process. This means less burden to your pancreas (which secretes digestive enzymes) later! Eating should be playful and sensual. Enjoy.
Stress contributes to poor digestion and constipation. When you’re stressed, your whole body tightens up. Your colon gets tense just like your neck and shoulders and that just isn’t working well for digestive system health. When elimination slows, stagnation grows and so does your belly. So what’s a powerful antidote to stress and bloating? Play of course! Play is a way to connect to ourselves, be present and experience joy. So what sounds more fun – joy or bloating? I thought so… 😉
So try one or all of these tips and see how they work for you. Feel free to comment here and let us know which tip works best for your body. And maybe you have some additional tips or experiences to share with our Eat. Play. Love. readers!
I love gardening, but sometimes your best intentions can go awry. Last fall, I planted greens in my cold frame, but then I kind of…sort of…very much…completely forgot about them over the Holidays. Needless to say, the only drought survivors were a row of mache and a mess of chickweed. Knowing that chickweed (Stellaria media) is chock full of nutrients such as B6, B12, C, D, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica, I knew that I had to do something with it. So I made a few nutrient recipes that I will share with you today!
Sauteed Chickweed & Cabbage
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 garlic cloves
- several handfuls of chickweed, chopped
- 2 cups cabbage, chopped
- dash of sea salt and pepper
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
I sautéed the cabbage and chickweed in a little water for about 10 minutes or until tender and then added the rest of the ingredients and mixed. Joe prepared a side of venison to go along with our “wild” evening, and it was pretty darn tasty except that the chickweed was a little chewy. I should have removed the stems or used “younger” chickweed. Live and learn! The beauty of this dish is that you can use a variety of seasoning combinations. Think about how you like to prepare spinach and substitute chickweed. “Wildman” Steve Brill uses cumin, chiles, Brewer’s yeast and ground cloves in his “Chickweed Delight” recipe. I’ll have to try that next!
My next chickweed experiment this week was delicious! It was inspired by “Wildman” Steve Brill’s Chickweed Bean Spread.
- 2 cups soaked and cooked aduki beans
- 2 TBSP coconut vinegar
- 4 TBSP olive oil
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
- 2 tsp Lydia’s Organic Seasoning (a must have for your pantry!)
- 2 shallots
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup chickweed leaves
- small handful of chives
- ¼ cup of red miso
- juice of 1 lime
- sea salt and pepper to taste
I added the lime juice, miso, olive oil, shallot, garlic and seasonings to the food processor and pulsed for a bit. Then I added the aduki beans and processed for a minute or two. After the mixture became smooth, I added the chickweed and chives. Voila!
Unfortunately, according to my Facebook Friends, the picture of the pâté looks more like poop; however, I thought that was appropriate since chickweed is full of fiber which is helpful to elimination. 🙂
This morning, while writing this post, I sipped on fresh chickweed tea. While it tasted refreshing on its own, I added a lavender-lemon-mint tea for some extra kick. Just pour boiling water over a ¼ to ½ cup chickweed, cover and let steep for about 15 minutes. Because it’s so nutrient rich, this would be a wonderful concoction to accompany and detoxification program. In particular, it supports the kidneys. You could add other herbs and drink hot or pour over some ice for a truly refreshing beverage.
If there is one thing all of us could use a little more of, it’s time for play. Sometimes incorporating more fun and play into our lives seems like a daunting (perhaps even stressful) task. Who has the time between work, family, friends and keeping up with housework and cooking meals? Although it might seem like another thing on our “to do” lists, play is very important to our happiness, health and spiritual growth. On a physical level, it calms the nervous system and keeps our cortisol levels in check. When our cortisol levels are elevated, the immune system is suppressed. In addition, there is a correlation between high cortisol levels, increased blood sugar levels and extra abdominal body fat. On a spiritual level, play is a way of connecting to our inner child and our real selves that we often forget as we go about our busy adult lives. Play helps us find our center. It brings a smile to our faces and what’s the point of living if we don’t enjoy it?
So you’re convinced you need to play more, but aren’t sure how to make it happen. Well, Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness and I have partnered together to bring you PLAY – Play. Love. Achieve Youthfulness. PLAY is an innovative program designed to help you transition into a healthier lifestyle that is carefree and effortless. Our interactive approach and informal group setting provides an opportunity for maximum support and growth. You’ll find enjoyment in discovering new foods, experiencing alternative forms of traditional physical activity and practicing self-nourishment.
We’ll show you how to PLAY spontaneously, how to schedule in PLAYtime and how to incorporate PLAY into life’s seemingly mundane tasks. If you’re interested in learning a few powerful tools to bring more PLAY and joy into your daily routine, please join us for a FREE orientation on February 6th at 7pm at Signature Blue Events. Chelsea and I will give you a taste of how PLAY can help you create a vibrant, joyful life. This winter’s program at Signature Blue Events will focus on mindful eating, cravings, hydration and how to make movement an integral part of your day.
Looking ahead, we’ll be offering PLAY Detox in March. This program will give you the tools needed to incorporate a gentle, yet effective cleansing program into your spring cleaning routine. By detoxing your body with the help of an experienced Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant and Fitness Professional, you will have more energy, clearer thinking and better digestion. You will spend one week easing into and planning for the detox, two weeks detoxing and one week re-introducing foods and preparing the body for a healthy new routine. For more information, visit PLAY Detox. There is a special discount for participants who sign up for both PLAY and PLAY detox.
In the meantime, stay tuned here for PLAYtips…
Eat & Drink Mindfully.
I’m not saying to skip the cookies and the wine, (and not just because those happen to be my favorite things) but enjoy them mindfully. Believe it or not, our bodies do know when to stop if we are paying attention. Alas, we often get caught up in the excitement of social gatherings and ignore the signals (flares in some cases) our bodies are giving us. Enjoy your food, slowly. Savor each bite and sip. Now, if you overdo it, don’t beat yourself up as this is not helpful and creates even more guilt and anxiety during the Holidays. When we have negative feelings or anxiety around particular foods, it creates a stress response in the body. Cortisol levels raise, blood sugar levels rise and a host of other physiological responses that create weight gain. Enjoy it, call it an experiment and let it go. Stay mindful and just notice how the food or beverage affects you right after you eat or drink it, a few hours after you consume it and even a day or so after the event. How’s your mood? Energy levels? Digestion? Are you having any cravings?Also, if you reduce sugar and highly processed foods where you can and cook whole, nutrient-dense foods at home, you’ll still manage to keep your energy levels up, maintain good digestion and keep your mood stable. Finally, remember to drink your water! Although the weather might be frightful and it feels as though your water needs are less when it’s cold, many of the foods and beverages we consume (i.e. refined carbs, alcohol, animal protein, sugar and caffeine) during the Holidays actually increases our need for hydration.
Deconstruct Your Cravings.
What are you craving? Why do you think you’re craving chocolate? Sometimes cravings are due to either a lack of nutrients or an over-abundance of certain foods. For example, to little or two much protein or fat can cause cravings. In addition, an overabundance of sugar and refined carbs in the diet can create sweet cravings. Cravings can also be due to dehydration, hormones, stress or a desire to embrace the seasons by incorporating particular foods. Perhaps your life is missing some sort of sweetness this time of year or reminds you of a happy time in your life that you are looking to re-create. Cravings aren’t a bad thing. They are your body’s way of telling you something important so embrace them? Understanding them will help you to make lifestyle changes that will result in increased energy and happiness.
This is the time of year when folks pick up pounds of candy from Costco, Safeway, Target and other stores in anticipation of eager trick-or-treaters. Unfortunately, many of these yummy candy bars are full of partially hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial colors and flavoring. So, what do you do if you want to give the kids a sweet treat, but aren’t comfortable with handing out artificial junk? If you have the time, making little snack packs with home-made trail mix or individually wrapped home-made cookies would be ideal, but many of us are busy can barely make it to the store to pick up something pre-made. So what is a parent to give to his/her costumed visitors that keeps the Halloween spirit alive without the scary ingredients? Well, fortunately there are some healthier alternatives out there that can be purchased at Whole Foods, a local natural foods store or ordered on-line. In the DC metro area, I have found some great treats at My Organic Market. So here are a few recommendations for you to check out:
Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks
Bare Fruit Snacks
Endangered Species Organic Bites
Envirokidz Mini Treats Koala Chocolate Rice Crispy Bars
Ms. May’s Naturals Freeze Dried Fruit Chips
Stretch Island Fruit Leathers
You can also give out packets of raisins, trail mix, and none food items such as pencils, stickers, fake bugs and other fun trinkets. I have to admit that I have had mixed reviews with the “healthy” candy that I have given out in the past. I generally do a combination of the fruit leathers, mini-chocolates, mini-rice crispy bars and dried fruit snacks. Kids either love them or are not impressed in the least and feel they have made a wasted trip to the door. I have had kids tell me that I give out the “best treats ever” while others have peered into my candy basket, turned around and muttered, “that wasn’t even worth the walk down the driveway.” I’m hoping that they remember me after they have tasted my healthier treat alternatives and visit again. In fact, I have had several repeat trick-or-treaters over the years who remember me as the “lady with the fruit leather.” We’ll see what happens this coming Monday. I encourage you to experiment with a variety of these products because you may just have given a kid one less fake sugar-laden, rancid fat-filled, artificially colored and flavored “candy bar.”
So, Parents, I’m sure you’re wondering what the heck you do with all that loot that comes home? The most important thing is too not make a big deal about the candy. Allow your child to indulge on candy for a day or two and then you can set some guidelines together. For example, you can tell you child they can only have one piece per day, but they can choose which piece of candy and when they will eat it. You can suggest to them that you donate the leftovers. At some point they will get sick of it – literally and figuratively. Also, if you’re rationing the candy, you might consider following the same guidelines so as not to create confusion or contradictions. Most importantly, be sure to share mindful eating techniques with your kids. Sit down with your child and show them how to savor that sweet treat and enjoy every moment of it. Explore and discuss the taste, shape, texture and smells of the candy. You don’t want your kids to feel any guilt around any type of food, no matter how “junky” it might be. This will go along way in developing healthy relationships around food for your child and even for you!