Lifestyle Solutions for a Happy Healthy You!

Archive for November 13, 2010

How to Avoid Holiday Food Poisoning

How to Avoid Holiday Food Poisoning

The season of holiday dinners and brunches, company parties, and dining at restaurants draped in festive white lights is upon us.  Turkey, egg nog, pumpkin pie, the seven fishes …really, even though it can be a bustling time, unless you’re the Grinch, there’s much to enjoy.

Food poisoning, however, could put an unfortunate cramp (pardon the pun) on the festivities.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 76 million incidents of food poisoning occurs in the United States annually, resulting in 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year.  And while many people start experiencing symptoms 2 to 6 hours after eating the tainted food, it’s possible for weeks to pass before food poison related illness occurs.

So, what causes food poisoning?  Infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites and toxic agents, like pesticides or poisonous mushrooms.  Salmonella is one of the more widely known bacteria involved in food poisoning and is often found in eggs (hence, the warning not to eat raw cookie dough or cake batter) or undercooked meat.  A lack of proper sanitation or poor preparation, including food workers not washing their hands thoroughly, can introduce pathogens to foods.  Also food contaminated through poor storage, such as inadequate refrigeration, can be the culprit.

Typically, food poisoning is experienced as what we call the “stomach flu”; symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and usually pass within a day or two.  More severe symptoms of food poisoning include fever and chills, dehydration, and bloody stools; these symptoms can require hospitalization in order to rehydrate the body with intravenous fluids. If you suspect you are suffering from food poisoning and aren’t feeling better within several days, contact your doctor to avoid complications.

If you are the holiday cook this year, here are a few reminders for protecting yourself and your loved ones from food poisoning:

1. Purchase fresh, quality products.

2. Store foods properly.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), meats and poultry should never be unrefrigerated more than 2 hours.

3. Prepare food with clean hands and surfaces.

4. Cook meat and poultry to safe minimum internal temperatures:

  • 145°F degrees F for beef, veal and lamb steaks, roasts and chops.
  • 160°F for pork, ground beef, veal and lamb to 160 °F.
  • 165 °F for poultry.

5. Avoid consuming uncooked eggs in batters (boo, hiss…I know).

by Terri Hall

5 Ways to End Emotional Eating

5 Ways to End Emotional Eating

Every year, around the end of October, I write lots of articles about healthy holiday cookies, nutritious renditions of Thanksgiving favorites, simple ways to stay slim during the holiday season, and so forth. You know — all the things that are supposed to help a health-conscious person navigate through a season of holiday dinners, cocktail parties and school festivals.

Don’t get me wrong: eating the right foods is important. But even the most creative dieting tricks and healthy stuffing recipes won’t help if you don’t follow them. Really, you already know what and how to eat. So why do you find yourself bent over a plate of brownies, or halfway through a second heaping helping of stuffing that you swore you wouldn’t take?

Tricks don’t work because they don’t explore the underlying issues, the mental and emotional side of eating. And the holidays, more than any other time, are fraught with emotions. We’re short on time, low on cash, and either overburdened with family responsibilities or feeling the pang of loneliness. Certain key dishes may also bring back happy memories of past holidays. And all those high-carb, sugar-rich holiday treats temporarily boost levels of serotonin, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter–which makes us crave more.

Most of the time, you’re not really hungry for pecan pie or holiday ham. You’re craving a quick boost of feel-good brain chemicals to counter the effects of holiday emotions, or you’re starving for connection, peace, happiness, a fond memory of past experiences.

This season, if you’re hoping to maintain some control over holiday binging, look to the underlying cause–the emotions themselves. Approach this exploration with a gentle, inquisitive air, rather than another must-complete item to cross off your to-do list. Here’s how you might start:

1. Stay in touch with your feelings. Most of the time, we don’t have a clue what we’re feeling in any given moment. Make it a habit to check in two or three times a day; just before meals is the perfect chance to stay on top of your feelings, before they run your food choices.

2. Be in your body. Most of us walk around all day in a state of half-awareness, not really present in the room, on the earth, in our bodies. But if you’re not in your body, you have no way of knowing when it’s hungry or full. Get in the habit of checking in with your body, especially your belly, during the day. Where are your feet? How do your legs feel? Is your stomach tense, cold, empty, satisfied? Once you’ve practiced this for a while, it becomes automatic–and makes it easier to choose foods based on what your body needs.

3. Examine your cravings. Binges and cravings are fraught with symbolism. The next time you find yourself in the throes of a craving, examine it. What is it about that food that you’re really longing for? If you like crunchy cookies when you’re stressed, is it the sweetness you’re craving, or the texture? Biting down on something hard and crunchy relieves tension in the jaw, and that loud, crunching sound as you chew may literally drown out the noise in your head. If you’re aching for warm eggnog, maybe the temperature and creamy texture is symbolic of what you need in your life: something warm, rich and soothing to fill up empty spaces.

4. Shift your focus. Imagine you’re alone in the house with a refrigerator full of holiday leftovers. Just before you plunge your hand into a box of chocolates, or your fork into an apple pie, quickly shift your attention. Take your focus to something outside of yourself. It may be visual: look out the window at the snow, the clouds moving across the sky, the blush of sunset. Or it may be auditory–the sound of your children playing in the living room, a favorite song. Focusing on sensory input calms the mind, gets you back in your body and helps you stay present. It’s also a fast, simple way to break the chain.

5. Be happy now. We think once we get thin, or lower our blood pressure, or give up sugar once and for all, we’ll be happy. Most of the time, though, it’s the opposite: once you get happy, you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goals. A few years ago, a study found that happiness may breed success, rather than the other way around. The researchers suggested that happy people were more likely to seek out opportunities that would ensure their success. I believe happy people are more likely to stick to a way of eating that works for them, and less likely to eat from stress, depression or anxiety.

At any rate, there’s no point in delaying happiness, or loving your body and yourself, while you wait to achieve some possibly far-off goal. It’s all a process, and it may be a life-long one. Enjoy your holidays–and your life–in the meantime.

By Lisa Turner

Lisa Turner is a widely published food writer with five books on health and nutrition, and hundreds of magazine articles. In addition to writing books and magazine articles, Lisa combines 20 years of yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices to help her clients explore emotional issues behind their eating habits. Currently, she’s a faculty instructor at Bauman College of Culinary Arts and Nutrition in Boulder, Colorado, and hard at work on her next book. Visit her websites at www.TheHealthyGourmet.net and InspiredEating.com.

Foods That Benefit Your Thyroid

Foods That Benefit Your Thyroid

Located above your windpipe is a small gland that affects virtually every organ system in your body. This includes your brain, heart, intestines, and the quality of your skin. Your thyroid gland and the hormone it produces, is the energy source that runs your body. When your thyroid gland is compromised your metabolism slows, you feel fatigued and cold, your concentration is off, your hair thins, you gain weight, and your skin becomes dry. It may be a small gland, but when it does not get the nutrients it needs there can be powerful repercussions.

Medical research has confirmed that iodine is responsible for the formation of the thyroid hormones T1, T2, T3, and T4. Without sufficient iodine, the thyroid can produce only limited amounts of these hormones. The best way to support your thyroid is to eat a balanced whole foods diet, one that includes iodine, which can be found in foods harvested from the sea: fish, shell fish and sea salt; but the best source of iodine are the sea vegetables, kelp, dulse, arame, and hijiki to name a few. Earl Mindell recommends using kelp in his book, Vitamin Bible for the Twenty-First Century. He writes that, “Kelp has a normalizing effect on the thyroid gland. In other words, thin people with thyroid trouble can gain weight by using kelp, and obese people can lose weight with it.”

An excess of iodine in ones diet can be as detrimental as not getting enough iodine, cautions Anne Marie Colbin, author of  Food and Healing. “Considering that we are already ingesting large qualities of this mineral because of its presence in fertilizers and table salt, the situation (your iodine level) definitely bears watching.”

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Your thyroid gland also requires the amino acid, tyrosine, which is found in:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Eggs
  • Bananas

Other nutrients needed by the thyroid include:
Selenium: whole grains, tuna, herring, wheat germ, sesame seeds, Brazil nuts.
Zinc: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, seafood, organ meats, eggs, beans, whole grains, mushrooms, soybeans, wheat germ.
Copper: beets, molasses, beans, whole grains, nuts, seafood, raisins.
Manganese: nuts, seeds, whole grains, seaweed, leafy greens, legumes, egg yolk, pineapples.
B vitamins: shellfish, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, cheese.
Vitamins A: carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, dark leafy greens, eggs, yogurt, kefir, fish oils.
Vitamin C: berries, fruit, green vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes.
Vitamin D: salmon, fatty fish, eggs, sunshine, fish oils.
Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, eggs, organ meats, whole grains, wheat germ, molasses, sweet potatoes, leafy greens.

(Leesa recommends supplementing your diet with Chews4Health.  Chews4Health contains 4 varieties of sea vegetables – Dulse, Kelp, Bladderwack, and Nori along with Goji, Acai, Mangosteen, Noni, B-12, Resveratrol, Folic Acid, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Pomegranate, Blueberry, Cranberry, Raspberry to create an all powerful antioxidant blend that tastes delicious!  www.chews4heath.com/Leesa

Be sure to include the Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids in your diet in the form of flax and/or fish oils. Eating sufficient protein with each meal will help improve and normalize your metabolism, and this can aid in normalizing your thyroid function. It is important to note that protein is needed to transport thyroid hormone through the bloodstream to all your tissues.

Thyroid Blockers

  • The over abundance of polyunsaturated oils in the standard American diet can interfere with thyroid function.
  • Unsaturated oils block thyroid secretion and can inhibit thyroid hormones’ movement through the circulatory system.
  • Fluoride found in toothpaste and city water can leech iodine from the body.
  • The heavy metal mercury can displace selenium, a nutrient necessary for the critical conversion of thyroid hormone T4 to T3.

by Delia Quigley

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia’s credentials include author, holistic health counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia’s blogs: brcleanse.blogspot.com and brokenbodiesyoga.wordpress.com. To view her website go to www.deliaquigley.com

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