Dear ‘Vid, (a personal letter from me to you…)

A business letter usually begins with an introduction or reference to the business at hand.  This is not business; its personal.

While I’ve, thankfully, not met you personally, you have been having a profound impact on my life over the past few months. Indeed, not just my life but the lives of my loved ones, my friends, my community, and the world at large. You have made your presence known in a way I’ve never witnessed before.

I’ll admit, I’ve had my fair share of “wake-up, shake-up calls” in my lifetime so far… and in hindsight there has always been something very valuable for me to have learned from each experience, BUT your world-wide-wake-up-call is on a scale I can barely wrap my head around.  It’s as though you arrived to shine a spotlight on everything we’ve let slide, everything we hoped someone else would deal with, or anything we simply couldn’t face for whatever reason we came up with.  All the cracks in our systems are now being illuminated so that we can no longer ignore what needs repairing, rebuilding, or re-imagined anew. I can appreciate this aspect of your arrival, however, I am personally struggling to try to deal with everything all at once.

In my heart, I believe that your appearance ought to be the beginning of a grand unification of humanity. “We are all connected.”  There is nowhere on this beautiful planet of ours that one can hide from you; you’ve encased us in a net of mind-boggling proportions.

This sense of global community is perhaps something you intended.  Maybe you’ve been sitting in a quiet corner of the world, hoping humanity would sort itself out and come to the realization that we really are all in this together, although our experiences may be (and in fact ARE, there’s no denying that) VERY different.  Yet we did not have this epiphany in time and now we strive to band together in the face of a common enemy.  Did you intend to be “the enemy?” Perhaps. It’s possible you actually meant to present yourself as “the teacher,” but we didn’t view you as such, we found it difficult to unite like that.  I don’t know.  As I said, I hope that we will come together as one during this global crisis, and yet I witness daily a spreading  divisiveness… the perpetuation of an Us & Them mentality. It’s hard to watch.  I don’t think it pleases you and yet your survival may depend on it. It’s a messed up situation and my mind goes round in circles trying to make some sense of the never-ending, always-changing information about your travels, visits, and evolution.

It’s Mother’s Day today.  I’ve much to be grateful for and I actually do count my blessings every day.  Your insinuation into my world has made that practice even more poignant. I am safe at home, with my children. We are healthy. We have food, comfy beds, and hot running water.  I will never take those things for granted.  My little backyard is truly an oasis, now more than ever before.  I’ve been laid off from both jobs, but I qualified for some emergency assistance so I do not have to worry about how I will pay my bills this month.  Forced isolation has afforded me some time to study, to write, and to work in my garden at the perfect time as it is springtime, the weather is good and there is much to be done.  I am fortunate to live in a part of the world where we have easy access to the internet so I can stay in contact with those I care about while staying home.  However, I miss a lot of things from the “Before Times.” I can barely believe that refer to our lives before your arrival as The Before Times. It’s surreal and unsettling. That’s quite an achievement on your part.

I miss a lot of little things, like going to the grocery store several times a week for fresh produce and to visit my favourite cashiers.  I miss the sassy repartee with the tellers when I go to my bank.  I miss chatting & collaborating with my coworkers and the volunteers who I work with.  I miss going “treasure hunting”  with my daughter at our local thrift stores.  I miss going dancing at the clubs that host live music in town.  I miss stopping in at a local pub or restaurant on a whim. I miss spontaneous road trips, camping, and family get-togethers.  I miss having my friends over for a girls-night.  I miss, more than anything, spending time with my most-favourite person… we’ve had a few, properly distanced visits over the past few months which I love, but the physical distance we respectfully maintain feels like its miles wide compared to what I’m used to.  Yet, because of you, we do this as we have many in our lives we want to keep safe – many seniors as well as people with compromised immune systems.  We feel perfectly fine, but you’ve made it known that you can hide within the healthy just as easily as in the obviously infected, so we respect the requests from our medical experts (whom you keep on their toes daily if not hourly with your chameleon-like changeability) to keep our physical distance.  It is hard to do.  It sucks. Right now, I really really hate it… but we are doing it to keep others safe.

I understand that it is most likely that at some point, each of us on this beautiful planet we call home will get to know you personally.  For some, the encounter will barely go noticed.  For others, it will be devastating; life altering.  I am not in denial that physical distancing now will prevent you from reaching almost every one of us.  But I am keeping my distance so that the impact will be less overwhelming to those of us in our healthcare system.  With that said, I am desperately tired of all this separation.  I am sorry to have ever heard your name. I am doing my best to learn what I can from your arrival in our collective lives so that I can take something from this experience.  I will not be sorry to see you go.

Don’t let the door hit you on your way out…

How About a Lovely Cuppa…?

Tea has some great health benefits. Its antioxidant abilities make it heart-healthy and reduce the risk of developing cancer and diabetes.

 

But, does the type of tea matter? Is green tea that much better than black tea? And what difference does adding milk and/or sweeteners do to it?

 

I give you the goods on the green tea vs. black tea. And the healthiest way to drink your tea.

 

Yup, we’re talking tea today. But I’m not going to give you a recipe to drink tea. Nope, not this week. This week I have a special (and awesome) way to eat your tea.

 

Green Tea vs. Black Tea

 

Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.

 

Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits. And some of these benefits are thought to be related to tea’s antioxidant properties. These properties are from its flavonoids known as “catechins.” Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits that I talk about in this post.

 

Green tea vs. black tea – What’s the difference?

 

What do green and black teas have in common?

 

First of all, they both come from the camellia sinensis shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea. How is this?

The difference lies in how they’re processed.

 

If the leaves are steamed or heated, this keeps them green. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the colour and flavonoids which are the antioxidants.

 

Hence you have green tea.

 

If the leaves are not heated, and are crushed and rolled, then they continue to oxidize until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black teas have slightly less ability to combat free radicals than green tea does.

 

PRO TIP: Adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability.

 

Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg per 8 oz cup.

 

Green tea vs. black tea – Health Benefits

 

Tea drinking, in general, seems to be associated with good health.

 

Heart health – For one thing, both green and black tea drinkers seem to have high levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers. Green and black tea drinkers also have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.

 

Overall, drinkers of green and black tea seem to have a lower risk of heart problems. Green tea has also been shown to reduce risk factors (i.e., blood lipid levels) a bit more than black tea has.

 

Cancers – Antioxidants also reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men). Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers. Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

 

Overall, antioxidant flavonoids in tea seem to help reduce the risk of some different cancers. Green tea may have a slight edge over black tea, but both seem to be associated with lower cancer risk.

 

Diabetes – Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. For example, some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity.

 

Once again, green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea, but both are blood sugar friendly (just don’t overdo the sweetener).

 

Conclusion

 

Both green and black teas are from the same plant, but are processed differently. Green tea retains more of the beneficial antioxidants than black tea does; but both are associated with better health than non-tea drinkers.

 

Overall, both green and black teas are healthy drinks, and tea drinkers, in general, seem to have fewer health conditions than non-tea drinkers. Green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea when it comes to measurable risk factors of some common diseases.

 

When you enjoy your tea, try to minimize or even eliminate adding milk and/or sweeteners; these reduce some of the health-promoting properties of tea.

 

I’d love to know: Are you a tea drinker? Which tea is your favourite? How do you like to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Recipe (Green tea): Matcha Energy Bites

Serves 6 (makes 12-18 bites)

 

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
4 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp matcha green tea

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil

 

Instructions

Add all ingredients into food processor and pulse until blended.

Shape into 1-1.5″ balls.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: If you use sweetened coconut, then you can eliminate the honey/maple syrup.

 

[activecampaign form=2]

 

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/brewing-evidence-for-teas-heart-benefits

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-you-should-know-about-tea

 

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea

 

http://www.healthline.com/health/know-your-teas-black-tea#benefits3

 

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/matcha-green-tea

 

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-in-green-tea

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health

 

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tea

Finding Stability… with my blood sugar!

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

 

Oh, the words “blood sugar.”

 

Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections?

 

Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles.

 

The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.

 

This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy Continue reading “Finding Stability… with my blood sugar!”

Untangled – How Knitting Helped Me Heal

About a decade ago, I had a serious health crisis.  My kids were still in elementary school, I was a stressed-out super-busy Solo Mom who was trying to keep things together for my family.  I became suddenly ill with weird, seemingly random symptoms – I felt like I’d been “unplugged” from my body’s power source; lack of appetite, foggy brain, light-headed, skin sensitivities, extremely low blood pressure, and (what finally sent me quickly to the doctor) joint pain throughout my entire body that had me having to hold onto the walls or crawl to get up and down the stairs in my home.  The first doctor I saw tried to tell me I’d overdone it gardening and that at the age of 40 it was just how things were. (Seriously?!?!?!?!)  A week later I was able to get an appointment with the new doctor in my village and, with him being new to Canada, he ordered every test available to find out what was going on.
Exhausted and scared, I had to step down from my volunteer positions in the community to lighten my load but I still struggled to get anything but taking the kids to school and feeding them done in a day.  My blood-work came back showing that I had tested positive for Pernicious Anemia (my body does not absorb B12 through digestion), Celiac Disease, and Lupus.  Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that I knew I did not want! As it turned out, I was among the 5% of the population that gives a false positive for Lupus (I was so grateful) BUT I did not find that out until I was able to see a specialist who determined that I’d likely suffered an adult case of a childhood disease (Fifths Disease).  It was a very long 10 months that I tried to figure out how to heal my body as best I could while I was waiting to see the specialist.  Enter KNITTING.
“Wait, what… knitting?” you might be asking.  I am a proactive, wholistic kind of person so I knew that as grateful as I am for western medicine, if there was anything “natural” I could do to heal my body, then it was going to happen.  The pernicious anemia is dealt with B12 injections, that’s easy.  The celiac disease?  I told the doctors I didn’t need to be sent for a biopsy to confirm, I was perfectly fine cutting gluten out of my life.  But the lupus… that’s where I had to do some research.
Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks itself causing pain and inflammation amongst other things. Much of what I read addressed the stress concerns of people who have autoimmune disease and that trying to find things to lessen stress levels can help (in some cases) the severity of the symptoms of the disease itself.  I kept reading about how knitting & crocheting was very calming for many people living with Lupus and other autoimmune diseases.  My aunt had tried to teach me to knit when I was very young but my mom wasn’t very good at it and I quickly forgot everything that my aunt had showed me. Suddenly I really wanted to learn again.
I went to my local library and got out books on beginner’s knitting.  I stopped by my local thrift store at the church and picked up some yarn and knitting needles.  I also found some videos online that I could watch to try to make sense of it all.  I started by knitting very plain, very simple scarves.  My kids and friends received them as gifts.  I was by no means a great knitter but I found myself looking forward to making time to work on new scarves.  The action of knitting was great for my hands, but what I noticed most was how it affected my mind.
My life then was very high stress.  There was so much chatter in my mind that it took me forever to fall asleep at night and it was difficult for me to stick with one task as other things I needed to be doing kept popping up in my mind and I would dash off to do the next “most important” thing.  With knitting, I would sit in a comfy chair with a cup of tea and some nice music on or a show that the kids wanted to watch and I would decide I could knit say 6-8 rows. After the first couple of rows were done my mind started to clear, it was as though knitting (essentially tangling yarn in a specific pattern) was UNTANGLING my stressed out momma-mind!  My breathing was easier and my body began to relax.  It was like magic to me.
I continue to knit to this day.  In fact, with the approach of autumn, I got out my newest project to work on in the early evening to help me unwind from my day.  I’m still a very beginner knitter, sticking with regular scarves, infinity scarves, and toques but I love the process and I love being able to gift people I care about with something I’ve made just for them.
That’s my experience with knitting… it helped both my physical and mental health in a huge way.
Some of the things I learned when I was researching knitting to help with health are:
  • It lower heart rate and blood pressure.  The relaxing effect lowers the levels of cortisol in the body.
  • It keeps your hands and fingers in good shape.  The motions of knitting keeps joints flexible and muscles toned.
  • It improves your Math Skills.  What???? True.  There’s a lot of counting, multiplying, measuring involved and that helps your brain function.  Cool.
  • It helps calm anxiety.  As I’ve already mentioned, it is very soothing and for me “untangling” my brain was a huge help to dealing with my anxiety.
  • It sharpens your memory.  You have to remember a lot of what you’ve done & what you are doing in knitting.  Memory skills improve.
  • It helps manage pain. Studies have shown that when people who are in pain are concentrating on something  then it allows them to be less aware of their pain.  Knitting definitely requires concentration.
  • It gives a sense of purpose.  A knitting project is like any project – it gives you a goal to meet.  That goal of a finished project can also mean you have created something to share with someone else if desired.  I’ve given away many knitting projects as gifts as I mentioned but I’ve also donated many to the homeless.
  • It boosts confidence and self-esteem.  Knitting is a skill.  You learn it, You continue to improve and master it.  When you’ve finished something you have a tangible item that you can look at and say “I did that!”
Oxford Dictionary
un·tan·gle
/ˌənˈtaNGɡəl/

Is Your Mindset Messing You Up?

The Momma Stress Mess: How It Messes With Your Health

 

We all have some level of stress, right? (Every mom everywhere puts her hand up… lol!)

 

It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).

 

Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.

 

Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.

 

It’s the chronic stress that’s a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. Continue reading “Is Your Mindset Messing You Up?”

Momma, Feed Your Brain!

The Gut-Brain Connection: How To Feed Your Brain

 

If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

 

gut brain.pngYes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.”

 

There is no denying it anymore.

 

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain. Continue reading “Momma, Feed Your Brain!”

Take A Moment…

Let yourself feel how you feel. Don’t let it consume you, but allow yourself to process what’s going on. After awhile, hopefully, you can gain some insight into the experience.

Yesterday was a very difficult day for me. Something unexpected happened with a work project that is near & dear to my heart & in the moment I was completely blindsided by the development (although in retrospect I should’ve seen the signs).

The person who is my my sounding board, my creativity cohort, & my biggest supporter is out of town, so I felt very alone & lost. My kids did their best to help me, but what had to happen was feeling all the feelings. It was exhausting & there were about a dozen things I really wanted to get accomplished, but instead I spent the day working through my thoughts & emotions as best I could. I ate comfort food (yes… it was potatoes! Lol!), I cried, I slept, I organized stuff-whatever I needed to do in that moment.

Today, I’m still fragile, but I’m up & about and working on one of my other favourite work projects.

Life is not always smooth sailing, we do the best we can. And if that means having a day where we hide at home so we can process our challenges then so be it. No judgement. Be gentle with yourselves.

We’re in this together. ✨💛✨

Feeling Snacky? Me too!

Five Weight-Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love

 

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” can appear in the same sentence…

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

 

Right?

 

Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

 

What’s my criteria you ask? Continue reading “Feeling Snacky? Me too!”

Do You Need a Dairy Do-over???

Dairy Intolerance (Lactose, Casein, and Whey)

 

Having a food intolerance is not fun. It can cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and nausea. It also causes embarrassing symptoms like flatulence and diarrhea. Other symptoms linked to food intolerances include muscle or joint pain, headaches, exhaustion, and even skin symptoms like rashes and eczema.

 

Dairy is just one of those foods that many people seem to be intolerant of. Continue reading “Do You Need a Dairy Do-over???”

Hard-wired for Health

Why am I so WIRED today?  Well, it wasn’t from too much coffee. It definitely wasn’t from energy drinks (NEVER!!!!). It wasn’t even from a rush of adrenaline…  It was in fact, literally being wired-up to check my heart health!

This wasn’t the topic I was going to write about this week, but after I left my doctor’s office today I was thinking about how often I’ve seen posts & articles about how women often miss the signs of serious health issues.  I’m not gonna lie… I’ve pulled the old “oh, I’m sure it’s nothing,” or “it will pass,” routine more than once in my lifetime. Continue reading “Hard-wired for Health”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑