“Never underestimate the power of stress. The stresses in our lives can alter the biochemical machinations of our bodies. This isn’t woo-woo; it’s medical fact. Stress is the top reason behind most visits to the doctor, and it contributes to all the big causes of death, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer.”
Sara Gottfried, MD, Author of The Hormone Cure
Slowing down can save your life…
Who doesn’t feel as if there aren’t enough hours in the day? We rush through the day, running here and there, and end up exhausted. Somehow these days full of duties, obligations and busyness have begun to build up and become our lives. We spend our time doing things we don’t really want to do, yet feel we should. We’ve come to believe that being productive and crossing things off our to-do list is the ultimate goal.
The truth is, life is short, and our time is too precious to be used like this. If we want our lives to be balanced and healthy, we need to lessen our load and increase our down time. This means planning less in a day, prioritizing those things that make us happy and de-prioritizing those things that drag us down.
If we must accomplish many things each day, we can still change the quality with which we do things. How can we transmute that sprint to the train into something delicious instead of the usual gripping and tightening experience? Where can we find ease in the midst of stress? How can we cultivate the art of going slowly?
Take a few moments before you climb out of bed in the morning to remember your dreams and to think about what you want from the day. Write in your journal before you start the day. Leave your watch on the bedside table. Take the scenic route. Sit for a moment with your eyes closed when you start your computer.
Check email only twice a day. Don’t pack your schedule so tightly that there’s no time for a short walk or 15 minutes to yourself. Light candles before you start to cook dinner. Add one moment here and there for slowness; it can be done simply and will have a profound effect on your well-being.
Adapted from an article by Marco Visscher & Jay Walljasper, Ode Magazine, Issue #15, www.odemagazine.com.
Food Focus: Oils and Fats
Not all oils and fats are created equal. Heavily processed, hydrogenated, “trans” fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair and nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. Our bodies also need fat for insulation and to protect and hold our organs in place.
A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfillment and warmth. When there are excess fats and oils in the diet, especially heavily processed fats, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness. Signs of insufficient high-quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold.
There are many sources of healthy fats and oils:
For sautéing and baking, try butter, ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil because they do not break down when used at high temperatures.
When sautéing foods at moderate temperatures, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings on top of salads, veggies or grains.
Other healthy fats are found in whole nuts and seeds and in their butters like almond butter or tahini.
Whole foods such as avocados, olives and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 and omega-6 organic eggs.
Experiment with these healthy fat sources and see which work best for you and leave you satisfied.
When selecting oils, buy the highest-quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes. Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined. Words to avoid are expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Yield: 1 cup
1 large peeled and pitted avocado
2/3 cup plain yogurt, goat yogurt or soy yogurt
1 diced tomato
dash or two of cayenne pepper
sea salt and black pepper
1. Mash avocado with a fork until very smooth.
2. Add yogurt, tomato, cayenne. Blend until smooth. This may be done in a food processor, in a blender or with a fork.
3. Add sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste.
4. Serve chilled with mixed raw vegetables.
Note: Best made a maximum of 1 hour before serving.