Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up (Your Eating)

When I was a teacher, a parent once professed that she could determine her daughter's mindstate by the cleanliness of her room... when her daughter was stressed, her room was a mess and when she was calm, her room was pretty neat. In response, I noted my own room was also marker of my mindstate and it was an effing mess. And while I chose to keep that last part to myself, the scenario aligns with my favorite quote which states, "as within, so without." What we usually choose to manifest within is often displayed in our outer lives (try as we might to conceal them). And, as I've found recently, cleaner eating pretty much leads to a cleaner lifestyle... not so much in the moral sense but in the "classic" cleanliness of less trash, cleaner dishes and, of course, a cleaner bill of health both mentally and physically. Below are a few specifics which I've been pleasantly surprised to find pop up in my life through the simple act of "eating natty." Enjoy!

Clean eating is a little tough. Convenience is king today and why not? People live busy lives with the majority of couples earning dual incomes, raising kids and generally crushing it... there's little time left over to plan, prep and prepare a meal before even getting around to eating it. But, as I've found, taking such time when available (either prepping on the weekends or cooking at night) has actually allowed me to structure my days more efficiently, utilizing the time I have to either fully focus on work or fully focus on the act of cooking. One may say that the slow cooker has allowed me to slow down my life. But it's a little more complicated than an A + B equation. 

In yoga, we learned there's a "why" behind most things. There's a "why" behind the way postures are sequenced and there's a different "why" which brings people to their mats for class. For me, the "why" behind healthier eating is anxiety reduction. It wasn't my original reason for the practice (I just wanted to rid my chin of acne), but once I found it worked, it ironically became the only addiction stronger than sugar.  

In Candid-dida, I talked about strictly healthy eating... no vinegars, no wines and no real flavor unless you really roast things, sautée them pair them with a unique sauce, etc. To be sure, clean eating really demands you cook at home so that you're able to make what you like instead of ordering a salad with lemon. Gross. So as I've begun to cook at home a few things have happened which have "cleaned up" my life and they (finally) appear below.

Your Kitchen Becomes Cleaner: Just as it's relatively ironic that healthier eating is the only thing more addictive than sugar, cooking at home (I've found) has actually made my kitchen increasingly clean. Running around throughout the day, grabbing food where I could left my kitchen relatively unvisited and thus, uncared for. Through home cooking, I've naturally spent more time at home and thus, care more if my floor needs mopping, dishes need washing etc. And this focus on the home has not only organized my domicile but my schedule as well.

You're Able to Organize Your Time Better: Years ago, my uncle told me that as he one day sat in traffic with his boss, he simply turned to him and asked with child-like enthusiasm what it was like to posses the amount of wealth he did. In response, his boss turned to him and simply claimed... "I'd imagine it's similar to being anyone else. You pretty much worry about your kids and that's about it." As I'm sure there's a few discrepancies between being a billionaire and being one of the 99% or 99.9% of us or whatever, the statement goes to show that no matter who we are, what our income is or how technology has changed over time, a few core things never change... and the foods we need to consume is one of them. 

Just like we have similar needs, we generally need similar foods... a fact which has remained steady since we were early humans. And when we don't get the food we need, trouble can occur both within and without. Back when we were hunter-gatherers, we ate a pretty healthy diet (as evidenced by our ancestors' DNA) with an emphasis on nuts, plants and some meats. As anthropological evidence shows, we lived in a relatively equitable society both and terms of gender and socio-economic status and we maintained about a twenty-hour work week. (Of course, instead of existential crises we had to fear a lion mauling... life was never perfect). But with the introduction of sugar (or things that break down into sugar, like wheat), our lives began to change. 

As shown in the video above, sugar creates highs and lows in our glucose levels, causing everything from anxiety to sudden re-surges in hunger. And while I find that these factors can mess with my own time, causing me to suffer from a lack of focus and/or cause me to make another run to the store, I've found such highs and lows can be reflected in society. 

When people underwent the Agricultural Revolution, a shift in diet went from nuts, plants and some meat to wheat... a substance which can break down to sugar quite easily in the body. And while this brought about a change in the bodies of those who experienced the Revolution (not all did, there are still a few, very healthy, hunter gatherers) it also brought about a change in society. Once we became more settled, we began to experience significant benefits in technology but also began to witness an emergence in social and economic differences with leaders and those led. As within, so without. As sugars began to create highs and lows in our glucose levels, we began to see highs and lows socially. It's an odd thesis but it's also a blog... so eat it, or don't. Anyways, if we're to subscribe to this thesis, then it can be said that this dynamic between sugar and social distinction is currently in hyperdrive. Today, about 74% of foods created or processed possess sugar. Coincidentally, we've seen social stratification on a scale like never before... a world we billionaires exist as well as deep poverty. So what does this mean in terms of our time?

Our work hours have increased with each revolution be it Agricultural or Industrial. No longer is it about securing what we need and stopping a day's work. Some of us like to work and some of us don't but the term "work" implies something that we have to do. And in general, not everyone has to work but we all have to eat. And the focus that eating naturally allows us, I've found, to complete any work in a quicker fashion due to the presence of a steady and healthy mindset over one that's more scattered through sugar. Cooking naturally also allows us to focus time on something essential, not looking to Facebook as a distraction or running to the store when we're hungry again. It connects us with something primal. And if you need evidence... look at how those on the "top" of the food chain eat. Ironically, a world that has produced billionaires sees those who can eat the Paleo and gluten-free diet. Blah, blah, blah.

Your Hair and Skin (and Mouth) Become Cleaner: And, back to my original intent, eating well does clear up your hair and skin. For me, while my adolescent acne has generally disappeared, the little dots that do appear are fewer and further between and I'm a bit more satisfied with my overall complexion and my hair is softer and a little less wire-y (like my brain). According to the Huffington Post, "[d]igested sugar permanently attaches to collagen in your skin through a process known as glycation. Aside from increasing the effects of aging, glycation can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea." And, of course, this doesn't necessarily refer to the sugars in natural fruits which break down at a slower rate but to the sugars of the more REfiiined varrr-i-e-tayyyy like the ones found in chips, soda, etc. And, as stated in the article above, a lack of sugar can also do wonders for our oral health... a topic to be covered in a subsequent post.

Sugar, sugar

So there you have it... a few ways in which cleaning up our diets can clean up our lives. It's a difficulty process but one I've found to be worth it. As JFK once stated, "we choose... to do things not because they are easy but because they are hard."

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Sounds Our Bodies Make

Our bodies make various sounds. We can speak, squeak, cough, sneeze or breathe but, voluntarily or involuntarily... we're usually making some kind of noise. And as I've aged, I've noticed that several sounds have become a bit more prevalent, much to my dismay. And so I set out to find what such sounds meant and if I could do anything to avoid them occurring in the middle of a yoga class or at work. A few findings lie below...

Popping/Cracking Joints: I was never one to crack my joints when I was little. In general, I found the pleasantness of sound to pain ratio completely "unworth" it. But currently, my joints seem to be snap, crackle, popping all over the place... even in my third class of yoga when I should be more limber. So I decided to see what the deal was and, turns out, I'm getting old... and/or it might have something to do with the fact I'm in my third yoga class.

Just like the topic below, the snapping and cracking of joints has much to do with gas. In yoga (and in sport), our synovial fluid or "joint lubrication" is put to use. When the joint is stretched, the gases present in such fluid (mainly nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide) are released and create bubbles that are then popped... leading to the pop of our snap, crackle and popping of joints. In addition to the release of synovial fluid from our cartilage, our tendons also move more when we exercise which can also lead to additional sounds, according to the Library of Congress (of all places). So, essentially, I found that age may not have been the key factor in the snap, crackle and pop of my joints but the simple fact that I was doing so much yoga and movement. And there are a few movements or postures which make your joints pop more than others if you're the type that likes the sound (see below). All this being said... I'm still old.

Downward Facing Dog

Scorpion Plank.

Horse Pose.

According to the article above, as one ages, the cartilage in one's joints can break down, leaving the surfaces increasingly rough and leading to a bump in synovial fluid which means more gas. And speaking of more gas...

Flatulence: Back when I was big on my cleanse (see Candid-dida) I suffered from quite a bit of flatulence. It's not a problem I'm specifically unfamiliar with. Having the ethnicity I do as well as a high level of anxiety (which I think is related to my ethnicity)... I've struggled with this issue for awhile. But when I began to eat more naturally, it was a whole different ballgame. And so I set out to find which foods (besides beans) can cause the condition.

And....... besides beans, pretty much everything I was eating on my cleanse caused flatulence. As stated in Food is Family, those members of the Brassicaceae Family are my favorite and many of them, including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage can all cause some bodily sounds. But... there are a few (natural) foods which can prevent this occurrence as well.

In general, ginger and other spices as well as honey can keep our bodies a bit more quiet. Fennel works as well. And so, I've included a few recipes which should work wonders should you find yourself with this condition. Enjoy!

Detox Tea: When I started reading Into the Gloss, I was really intrigued by their tea recipes. I love tea just as my mother loved teas and, more specifically, love herbal teas as my mother did. In this sense, tisanes, or ingredients steeped in hot water that are not from the camellia sinensis plant particularly, are my favorite. And when it comes to reducing gas, ingredients such as ginger, spices and an abundance other items that help out show up in the recipe above. And if you don't have gas, it will simply give you a morning detox... so, we're pretty much all getting the same benefit. (Recipe in link here and above).

Fennel and Blueberry Salad: In addition to honey and spices, fennel works as well in terms of gas reduction (which can also come in the forms of bloating and burping... to forms decidedly more lady like than my own issue). And in a brief Instagram search this weekend, I came across a seemingly summer recipe for fennel and blueberry salad. While I couldn't remember the account from which it was posted, the one above seems like a good substitute.

So there you have it. A couple'a sounds our bodies make and ways to make more or less of them. The Choice is Yours.