State of Being Goals
Mindful and Intuitive Eating: is there a difference? What do these practices even mean? Is it something I should concern myself with ?The short answer is yes, there is a difference, and practicing both forms could substantially improve your health and well-being. Especially if you feel like food controls your life.
In short, mindful eating is simply becoming aware and present to your intake and use of food without judgement. It can help you understand the reasons for your “hunger”. This can include reasons such as lack of food, emotions, culture, traditions, boredom, schedules, habits, etc. A mindful eating practice can help you to develop a much-needed awareness regarding your intake that becomes the cornerstone to an intuitive eating practice.
An intuitive eating practice includes mindful eating. It’s about understanding the unique needs and goals of your mind and body and how that is connected to food. It allows you to eat without judgement and respects your body regardless of how you feel about its shape.
Intuitive eating embraces 3 core concepts:
• Eating for physical reasons, rather than emotional reasons
• Relying on internal hunger and satiety cues to guide when, what, and how much to eat
• Giving oneself unconditional permission to eat
When these mindsets are practiced regularly, you will begin to recover your innate instincts for hearing your body when it tells you truthfully, “I’m hungry” or “I’m full”. Which in turn allows you to respond accordingly. Over time, this process of building a stronger mind-body connection and its relationship with food translates into improved health and sense of wellbeing. It is the art of listening to your body judgment free and giving it what it needs. When was the last time you really paid attention to how your body felt and used that info to make a food choice?
Many people find that working with a functional medicine certified health coach on mindful and intuitive eating provides an invaluable source of support, education, and accountability towards building this much needed mind-body-food connection as it relates to their health and wellbeing goals. If you’re interested in building a stronger relationship with your body and food, and you have health goals you are ready to work on but feel you need support, contact me for a consult. “There is no time like the present to begin, for the present is all we have.” ~ Carly
What is this pre/pro-biotic nonsense I keep hearing about?
What is this pre/pro-biotic nonsense I keep hearing about?
The human digestive track is home to more than 500 species of bacteria that equal out to 100 trillion or so bugs busy working. To remain healthy, we need probiotic bacteria or the “good” bugs to perform their daily tasks. We trade housing (our digestive track) and food (prebiotics and other food sources) in return for services on their part.
Probiotics play a role in our immune defense system, they synthesize certain vitamins (B and K for examples), secrete little bits of anti-biotics and anti-cancer substances, and produce important short-chain fatty acids to keep the gut lining healthy. They help to break down and digest food so that we can absorb the nutrients they contain. These are just a few examples of the role probiotics (and pre) play in our health.
So, what are these bugs and what do they need to eat to do their job well?
The good bugs need specific types of food or substances to flourish and maintain a healthy gut environment. This is where “Pre-biotics” come in: they are the food for the good bugs (probiotics). Notice that prefix is “pre” for the food, and not “pro”. This is an important distinction that is often confused. Prebiotics are the soluble fiber food sources we provide through our diet or supplements for the Probiotics to feed on to help them survive and flourish.
A prebiotic is a soluble starch or fiber that the human digestive system cannot digest on its own, but instead is fermented by gut bacteria. All prebiotics are classified as fiber, but not all fiber is a prebiotic. Insoluble fiber does not get broken down at all, by either our digestive system or gut bacteria. Insoluble fiber acts as roughage and to help bulk up our stool.
Prebiotics, however, are digested via fermentation by the microbes or “bugs” in both our large and small intestine as they pass through. Much in the same way we convert macronutrients like fat, protein, and carbs into energy for our muscles, brains, etc., the good bugs use prebiotics for the energy needed to function well at their job and fulfill the role they play in maintaining a healthy “microbiome” in our gut. Because of the role probiotics or the “good bugs” play in our health, if we don’t have enough probiotics, or they don’t have enough prebiotic food to eat, it is impossible for “us” to be healthy without “them”.
Wait, back up. Did you say something about a microbiome? Yep, sure did. It’s a term that most people have heard of at least once by now but stop short at understanding. Trust me when I say it’s important, so allow me to give you a quick snippet.
From the lining of the inside of your nose, mouth, lungs, genitourinary tract (the private lands south of the border) your entire digestive system, essentially on every epithelial surface of our body (type of body tissue that forms the covering on all internal and external surfaces of your body, lines body cavities and hollow organs, and is the major tissue in glands…whoa, that’s a lot of stuff!) a microbiotic world exists.
It is an “unseen by the naked eye” densely populated miniature world of an interactive network of microbes, viruses, and in some cases parasites that functions much like our world does currently: good guys vs. the bad guys where everyone plays a role in who ends up as the winner monopolizing all the resources. Peace, freedom, and overall wellbeing with happiness; or dictatorship with death, starvation, and destruction.
Our microbiomes have a direct impact on our hormones, brain and mental health, digestive health, endocrine health, skin health, metabolic health… the list is vast. Healthy microbiomes are a big deal, and it starts in the gut.
We have 5-6 basic types of microbes that can exist in this microbiotic world that we currently know of: Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, Protozoa, Helminths, and Prions.
Probiotics are specific strains of bacteria or a yeast (one that we know of) that have KNOWN HEALTH BENEFITS FOR HUMANS. Therefore, they are considered the good guys. There are also bad bacteria, or pathogens, that can make you sick and disrupt the microbiome if they are allowed to flourish. The Putin and his henchmen of the microbiome if you will.
We also have commensals. Research is still ongoing to try and understand the role they play in our microbiome, but one role they have found is to potentially help regulate our metabolism. Our goal for our microbiomes should be to have optimal numbers of probiotics and commensals and minimize the number of pathogens as much as possible.
So how do we do that?
Welp, firstly, it’s important to understand that probiotic supplements that we take are transient employees in our digestive system. They have contracts for up to 2 weeks. If well fed and housed, they bust their butts doing odd jobs in our intestinal infrastructure to build new roads and housing, repair old roads, borders, bridges, plumbing, etc. They replenish, restore, and create vital nutrients desperately needed by all our other systems. They supply weapons to our immune system. Then, after about 2 weeks, we literally poop them out. This is an ongoing process, which is why it is important to not only continually take in probiotics through our food sources, but also through supplements. We need to keep the good guys out numbering the bad guys.
Ideally, we should try to get in pre & probiotics from food as much as possible. However, for some folks (such as myself) with certain food allergies, that might not be possible. We also must consider the current state of agricultural practices (toxic) and soil composition(depleted), that are growing the foods available to us. Honestly, its not pretty. This is where supplementation comes in.
It’s not just the allergy prone that need help with daily supplementation. Folks with leaky gut or autoimmune conditions (except for people with severely depressed immune systems), or that are sick from random funk floating around. Remember, probiotics help to bolster your immune system.
If you are taking antibiotics, and after finishing a course of antibiotics, consider probiotic supplementation. The type of probiotic you use depends on whether you are currently on antibiotics or if you are finished with treatment. The whole point of antibiotics is to eliminate the bad bacteria or pathogens that are causing infections and making you sick. However, antibiotics do not discriminate between good and bad bacterial microbes. They wipe out both throughout the course of treatment. Supplementation with probiotics can help to replenish the supply of the good bacteria. This can then help increase your immune systems’ ability to heal.
This is extremely important because it can take anywhere from 6 weeks to a year for your body to build back up a balanced microbiome after just one course of antibiotic treatment. Yikes! Furthermore, replenishment only happens if you are doing all the necessary steps to have that occur, including a diet that provides the appropriate nutrition targeted to your needs. How many people do you think are out there doing that? Yea, not many. What does your nutrition look like, hmmm?
If you are currently on antibiotics, then you would want to take a probiotic that is not bacteria based. Instead, look for one that contains the yeast probiotic Saccharomyces Boulardii commonly listed as S. boulardii. Because it is based on yeast rather than bacteria, it can be used while on antibiotics and it won’t be wiped out.
This keeps some of the good guys in play doing good work while you are being treated. It can also help with the diarrhea that commonly arises from antibiotic use. Post antibiotics you would resume a mixture of yeast and bacteria-based probiotics. Yeast based probiotics S. boulardii favor prebiotics with Mannan-Oligosaccharides (MOS) and beta glucans. If you have a yeast allergy or are currently on an antifungal medication, then S. boulardii is not for you.
Other things to think and speak to your medical provider about are the various types of bacteria probiotics available and which ones would be best for you to take. The two main probiotic bacteria that reside in the digestive track are Lacto bacilli and Bifido bacteria, but there are others that we need. If you are going to take supplements, don’t be brand loyal. Mix it up from month to month to be certain that you are replenishing with various strains.
Each product has different microbes even if it contains the L. bacilli you usually take. However, there are various types of probiotics available, and you may or may not need the types they contain. Perhaps you already have an abundance of L. bacilli but are depleted in another type. Like in all things, variety is the spice of life!
Bacteria based probiotics could cause significant issues if you are someone that is sensitive to histamine. Histamine is a fermentation byproduct of many types of probiotics as they feed on prebiotics. An option could be yeast-based S. boulardii or a single strain bacteria-based probiotic such as lactobacillus plantarum in very low doses. Always speak with your provider to get an informed recommendation based on your medical history.
Which brings me to another important point to consider: Be MINDFUL of how quickly you increase your intake of pre and probiotics. As a reminder, prebiotics are the food that probiotics feed on, which in turn allows the probiotics to flourish and do their jobs. As a result, how much and how many microbes we have in our gut is based on what we eat all the time.
Different foods contain different microbes (probiotics). Different soluble fiber foods (prebiotics) feed the microbes (probiotics). So, if you haven’t been taking in a lot of prebiotics for the probiotics to feed on, then the likelihood of you having a robust army of probiotics in your gut is slim to none. Essentially, you gave them shelter but no food.
Slow and Steady wins the race.
You might think the answer is to just eat a crap ton of prebiotic type foods to correct this. DON’T DO THAT. Your stomach and gut will hate you, and then you’ll probably hate me. Nobody wants that, right? It’s a terrible plan because there needs to already be probiotics in the gut to eat and ferment the prebiotic. In decent numbers. Prebiotics without probiotics = painful, bloaty, gassy belly. Not cool.
Remember that prebiotics are soluble fibers that cannot be broken down by OUR innate digestive system. However, this fiber source is a fine cuisine that the probiotic microbes love to feast on. It is the probiotic microbes that break it down and use it. First, build up your good guy transient work force by offering shelter (eating probiotic food sources or supplements), and then slowly offer enough food for them to eat without leaving leftovers to stink up the place. GO SLOW, feed according to need.
Now you might be thinking, heck Carly, I’ll just take in a high dose of daily probiotic supplements. Bring in a whole country all at once to go to work and war. Again, DON’T DO THAT. When replenishing the stores of the good guys, most folks will find that they feel worse before they feel better. Sometimes horrible and flu like. Also not cool, and makes it unlikely for you to continue to use probiotics. We don't want that to happen, we want happy gut to happen.
Lots of things can get broken down and displaced when the good guys start to overpower the bad guys. Bad bacteria are not gracious losers and might kick and scream on their way out the back door. Sometimes this is referred to as the “die-off”. Ever hear of "too much of a good thing"? Yea, that. Everything in moderation.
If you find probiotics are causing you discomfort, pain, or ill feelings, back off of the dose. Instead, increase it in slow increments, along with the slow increase in the prebiotic soluble fiber to match the need of the feed. This might look like taking ½ of the capsule or serving size of the probiotic for several days or a week, mixed in with your food. If you are feeling okay, then start slowly increasing your soluble fiber or prebiotic supplement in the same way. As always, talk to your medical provider about what would be best for YOU.
None of the above information is to be taken or understood as medical advice. Instead, it is simply educational information in one area about an important topic that many are interested in. I hope that you found it helpful and that it sparked some thoughts about conversations you can have with your medical provider or dietitian about your current gut health and wellbeing status. My next blog entry will be discussing the different types of fiber and food sources of pre and pro biotics. Thanks for stopping by and reading my rambles!
Quality Sleep is a Skill.
Quality Sleep is a Skill.
The following is a series on suggestions for improved sleep. Some of the info comes from many years of coaching health behaviors with clients, and my own journey with sleep struggles. The vast majority of the info comes directly from the healthcare professionals at The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), that is provided to the Health Coaches in the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy Program. This is not medical advice. This is readily available information from professionals that is being compiled in one place. It is merely a means for starting a discussion with yourself and your healthcare provider, if needed. As always, discuss any changes you wish to make or issues that you are having with your healthcare provider.
Light, Noise, Temperature, and Environmental Issues
There is more needed than “the appropriate time and reduction in stressors” that a Sleep Prep Plan should have for ultimate success. Some other areas to take into consideration are ways in which the brain is stimulated to help induce sleep/or awaken it.
The first and most important area is “Light”. Different colors on the light spectrum have different effects on the brain. Light creates more than just a “vision” or “image” in the brain. For example, retinal ganglion cells respond to blue/green wavelengths (lights) by sending signals to the central part of the brain called the hypothalamus, an area separate from the visual cortex (where we make/process images). The hypothalamus sends out several different hormones that are secreted out to specific areas in the body to regulate functions like temperature, sleep, hunger, and circadian rhythms to name a few.
In this case, blue light wavelengths stimulate the hypothalamus to secrete CRH which in turn stimulates an increase in the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that will stimulate and awaken us amongst several other functions. Blue light also inhibits the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and our 24hr clock circadian rhythms. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland when our brains are exposed to the dark.
Blue light serves its purpose in the morning to help us wake up and increase alertness and arousal during the day. However, decreasing our exposure to blue light in the late afternoon onward will help to set the brain on the path towards a gradual shut down at bedtime. Blue lights are found in electronic devices from smart watches, tv’s, laptops, cellphones and even in energy efficient lightbulbs, LED’s, etc. Consider investing in a quality pair of blue light blocking glasses to wear when working on your electronic devices or watching television. Limit how much time you spend a day using these devices..
All light stimulates the brain to a certain degree. So beyond limiting the blue light exposure, here are some other tips for a better night sleep: Noise, Temperature, Environment.
- Turn down your lights in the entire house at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
- Consider dimmer switches in your bedroom and bathrooms. Keep them on the low settings when using those rooms to prepare for bed.
- Investing in a pair of amber glasses and using them at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime to further reduce your light exposure, or if you live with family members that are less agreeable to keeping the lights low.
- Black out window shades and curtains to block out outside light from getting into your bedroom.
- Try using sleep fabric coverings for your eyes when you’re trying to fall asleep, or if you struggle to stay asleep.
- Eliminate accessory noise as much as possible. Close the windows and door in your bedroom. Use earplugs. Consider a white noise generator, HEPA air filter machine, or fan that can block out noise.
- Make sure your temperature is in the correct range. These temps vary based on age. Doctors recommend temps between 60-67 degrees for adults. Read this article for more important information: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/bedroom-environment/best-temperature-for-sleep
- Keep anything electromagnetic away from your sleeping area by at least 8 feet. This includes electrical outlets, clock/radios, computers, smartwatches, cellphones, etc.
- Avoid sleeping with electric blankets turned on. If using to heat up your bed, turn it off when you retire for the night.
- Use hypoallergenic pillows, mattress cover, and bedding.
- Invest in a side sleeper pillow to help align your hips and shoulders, which in turn stabilizes position of your spine, shoulder, and hip joints
- Sleeping on your side, and backwards at a slight angle (supported by body pillow) can help to reduce the pressure pain associated with hip or shoulder bursitis.
- Consider replacing your mattress if needed.
It’s a lot, I know. Start small with the area that you find the easiest, then continue to build from there. In the last part of this Sleep is a Skill series, we will discuss tips for when we struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep. Until then, turn down those lights in the evening!
Prepping For Sleep
Prepping For Sleep
Sleep Prep Plan
Success is typically credited to having a solid plan and following through with it on a continuous basis. This concept is no different when it comes to practicing good sleep hygiene and benefiting from a good night’s sleep… every night. Good sleep and its benefits do not magically happen. It occurs because a person has developed solid sleep skills that come from a consistent routine that works best for THEM.
Let’s create a plan by following the same guidelines that we used for other plans that we successfully executed.
- Schedule it in as a priority appointment, much like any other important event that occurs in your day. Most of us have a dedicated time during the week that we must wake up to start our day off for work, etc. Working backwards from that scheduled wake-up time, allow for at least 8.5 to 9 hours in bed. Now you have a baseline place to start. For example: if 6am is your wakeup up time, schedule your bedtime appointment for at least 9:30. I know, I know, that is an early time for bed for most of us. More on that later.
- Famous line my clients hear me say frequently: “Saturday is no different from Tuesday when it comes to your sleep schedule.” Continuous means just that, continuous. Having a completely different sleep and wake time Friday night through Sunday night will do you no favors on Monday morning. Or any other day for that matter. Our bodies and brains crave consistency and efficiency. “Every day is the same” will help to regulate your biological clock, which in turn can have profound effects on other systems in your body. Also, we all function from the perspective of survival. That means using the least amount of energy to get through each day. Consistent positive sleep schedules help to give us that daily fill up on recovery fuel and reduces cellular inflammation in the process. Our brains and bodies will happily get behind that.
- Start prepping approximately 30 minutes prior to your bedtime. If you are a nighttime shower person, perhaps an hour is a better amount of time to give yourself. BTW, if you have children, this also works (MUCH earlier start time for them, of course) . So, if 9:30 pm is the time you should BE in bed for that 6 am wake up time, then 9 pm is the time to START prepping.
- A bedtime after 11pm is not as helpful as getting to bed at an earlier time. Studies have shown that late sleep schedules are misaligned with the needs of our biological clocks, and health problems can occur as a result.
- Naps are not completely on the “no” list but avoid them in the late afternoon or early evening. 10-20 minutes work best, no longer than 30 minutes if you need to be alert following the nap. Longer naps run the risk of interfering with your nighttime sleep schedule. If you are sick or significantly sleep deprived, nap and sleep as much as you need to or can, to recover.
- Try to finish all eating 3 hours prior to falling asleep. Avoid large meals or spicy foods before bed.
- My personal favorite: soaking in a hot tub filled with Epsom salts and aromatherapy oils specific for helping to induce sleep. Why? Raising your body temperature prior to sleep helps to induce sleep. Ever notice how being outside in hot weather leaves you feeling lethargic? The heat and salts also help to relax and reduce tension in your muscles. If pain is an issue that affects your sleep, then this step can really help to improve your chances of getting comfortable and falling asleep. A recipe that some find helpful is 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts (magnesium sulfate is relaxing once it is absorbed through the skin) ½ to 1 cup baking sodium (sodium bicarbonate helps a stressed-out acidic body environment by making it more alkaline) and several drops of a calming essential oils such as Lavender, Bergamot, Chamomile, Cedarwood, Clove, Ylang Ylang, and Clary Sage for example. Bringing our body and mind to a calmer state allows for our cortisol (a stress hormone) level to drop down. Cortisol levels can have profound effects on our sleep.
- Thanks for continuing this journey for improving your sleep hygiene! So far, we have discussed how stimulants, nighttime tension and anxiety, and a sleep time prep plan are all important areas for established quality sleep. Next up in the series: LNTE issues. See ya soon😊
Nighttime Tensions and Anxiety
Nighttime Tensions and Anxiety
Don’t Provoke your Mind at Night!
•Anxiety provoking activities should be left to the morning hours, or better yet, avoided all together through reduction and elimination techniques.
•DO NOT watch the NEWS. Seriously, is there ever anything uplifting or relaxing reported in the news? This includes talk shows (particularly of the political nature…).
•I love a good book as much as the next worm, but it is wise to avoid reading interesting, exciting, or stimulating materials in bed or before bed. Anyone else out there hide a flashlight, and use it under the blanket to keep reading that book after bedtime as a kid? Yep. Me too. The next school day was always rough.
•Video Games…. Just, no. The very nature of video games is to stimulate, hello?
•Pay your bills or work on finances during the day. Particularly in this economic time of uncertainty, nothing good will come of stressing over bills at night. That bill or those stocks/crypto will still be there in the morning. Greet them with a refreshed brain that is more capable of strategizing and problem solving.
•Avoid arguments at bedtime. With your spouse, family, kids, the dog. Again, we don’t reason well when we are tired. Bedtime is not the moment to hash out a compromise or treaty. That issue, just like those bills and the stock market, will still be there in the morning. Great Resolutions come from Great Minds. A tired mind is a tired mind. Period.
•Set a time during the “day” that is the least stressful for all parties involved in the discussion. Sketch out an action plan that all feel comfortable agreeing to as a next step. Go about the rest of your day.
•You are what you think. This holds true for the type of judgement and self-talk you use when you do struggle with falling or staying asleep. Be as kind to yourself as you would to a child that is upset because they awoke from a scary dream. Soothe yourself back to sleep with confident thoughts such as “I can fall asleep” “I can relax” “I am safe” “I am comfortable”.
•If repetitive negative thoughts ARE running on loop in your mind, try getting them “out”. Physically write in a journal whatever disturbing thoughts are protesting loudly at the gates of your mind. Read it aloud. Be the Devils Advocate to the thoughts. Advocate for Yourself. Pick one positive thing or trait that you align with. Calmly repeat that to yourself. Counter protest for your right to sleep.
•Schedule a time during the daylight hours within the next few days to approach and possibly create an action plan for whatever is troubling you. If this has been an ongoing mental issue, consider seeking out help by setting up a time to see your healthcare provider for a referral to counseling or therapy. The strongest and most resilient folks are those that know when to ask for help.
•There are a number of activities and even apps that are specific for relaxation and stress reduction. I have several clients that use the “Calm” app and swear by it. Guided meditation, breath work, evening CARs routines, stretching, yoga, soaking in hot tub or shower, are all stress reduction techniques. The key is to find what works for you. Don’t give up if the first few things aren’t your jam. Some of these techniques require practice and skill. It’s also part of the reason why they work. If you are focused on learning a calming activity, then you are not focused on all the life stressors that might be keeping you awake. Which is, ya know, the point 😉
Are You Stimulating your Brain
with Chemical or Physical Stimulants?
•Avoid all forms of Alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime
•Avoid caffeine-containing beverages or foods after 2pm. If you are sensitive to caffeine avoid it after noon or eliminate all together. Caffeine is found in both food and beverages so be sure to READ LABELS!!!
•Avoid Sudafed or other decongestant cold medicines at night. Talk to your pharmacist about the best option to take for when decongestants are needed.
•Some medications may have stimulating effects. Particularly “psychiatric meds”. Consult your pharmacist or doctor to determine whether any of them might be contributing to sleep problems. NEVER discontinue any medication without permission from your doctor!
•Complete any aerobic exercise before 6pm or at least 3 hours prior to bedtime. Physical activity is stimulating to the nervous system. (pg. 9-11) If your schedule allows for no other time of day to be moderately to intensely physically active other than the evening, be sure to follow it up with an activity that cools you down and calms your nervous system to a restful state.
Cleoisms and ramblings...
Cleoisms and ramblings...
For those that like to know.....?
For those that like to know.....?
December 20, 2019
Now I'm fairly certain I will catch some flack from professional mental health workers that will say, " but that one study showed that people had more positive outcomes with journaling 3 times a week instead of every day...." Yea, I hear ya. However, I would counter that with questioning the brain functioning and plasticity level of the population in the study.
I recommend daily gratitude journaling in the beginning for my wellness clients that struggle significantly with depression and anxiety. I recommend they do it at night, right before they go to sleep. Why? Because want to begin training the brain to be in a positive place before drifting off to sleep. It increases the likelihood of establishing improved sleep hygiene. Bedtime, in most cases, is the time period that my clients are stuck laying in bed, trying to go to sleep, but their ruminative thoughts are extra loud, so they can't fall asleep. They are listing and going over all of the "negative" things about their day. Their worries, the things they didn't get done, things they think others are thinking about them, etc. Its also the last thing they are thinking before they do fall asleep. Ya think maybe the subconscious is on repeat and storing away and focusing on the last few things it was working on before sleepy sleepy time? Yea. Not the kind of repetition exposure we should want for our brain.