Cravings

Q & A Thursday: What to Do When You're Sick This Season

I'm sick? Why GOD?! WHY?!

sick.jpg

Ugh, I’m sick. That’s pretty much all I can think about right now. I keep asking myself, “How did his happen? Will I ever feel good again? I don’t even remember what it felt like to be healthy!” So as these thoughts spiraled, I had an epiphany: Since we’re in the belly of the beast (holiday season/cold season/super-stress season), I would answer my own question: Why am I sick? <cough, cough>

 

Answer:

Even if we ate the healthiest foods, and exercised appropriately, we may still get sick. Why? Because nutrition and physical activity are only 2 of the 5 Pillars that keep us healthy, happy, and productive. We often forget that relationships, career, and personal philosophy are important areas for us to focus on for our health. Unfortunately, our immune function is smarter than we are. Our bodies know what they need, even though we often forget or ignore it.

Speaking of immune function, there are many things that actually suppress or prevent it from operating at optimal levels.

 

Things That Suppress Immune Function:

  • Alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Refined sugar and flour products
  • Hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Artificial sweeteners, food dyes and preservatives
  • Stress
  • Excess exercise
  • Not enough exercise
  • Unhappy feelings and thoughts
  • A negative attitude towards life
  • Feeling trapped in a situation
  • Unexpressed emotions or emotions being expressed in an unhealthy way

That sounds like a lot, especially during this time of year, but don’t fret! All is not lost! 

 

Things That Boost Our Immune Function:

  • 8-10 hours of sleep per day
  • A moderate amount of exercise
  • Yoga
  • Walking
  • Appropriate levels of activity
  • A Positive attitude about life
  • Job satisfaction
  • Loving relationships
  • Doing something that personally satisfies you every day
  • Expressing emotions in a healthy way
  • Pets

 

When I’m sick, I notice my sugar cravings skyrocket as my body is searching for extra energy.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t indulge a bit more when I’m sick. The truth is that I’m less likely to do the work to prep and cook my food and I am more likely to order delivery or dig into my chocolate stash.

Knowing this about myself, I decided to prepare by ordering Fresh Direct (grocery delivery for those of you who don’t live in the Northeast!) and stock up on ingredients for easy stir-frys and soups.

There are so many foods that help to strengthen our immune system. Here are a few I had on hand or purchased to prepare myself for hibernation.

 

 Foods That Help to Strengthen Our Immune Function:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries (also to curb my sugar cravings)
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Flax, coconut, and olive oil
  • Brown rice & quinoa
  • Root vegetables (also to give me healthy carbs without the sugar spike!)
  • Spices such as: thyme, oregano, garlic, ginger, clove, basil, rosemary, onion, and turmeric
  • And without fail, I’m drinking 8 glasses of water or herbal tea!

 

My last tip for conquering sickness this season is “chicken soup for the soul.” No, not those books my mom always gives me (though I do like some of them).

Read books, watch movies, meditate, and do other things that you actually enjoy doing, but never let yourself indulge in. This is your time to nourish your soul by grounding your energy and focusing on self-love. Chances are, that’s why you got sick in the first place!

Personally, I’m rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban :)

And, on a more literal note, have some soup! Here is one of my favorite recipes and one that I’ll be making tonight! Thanks Whole Foods for this one!

 

Better than Chicken Soup

From WholeFoodsMarket.com

soup.png

Serves 4 to 6
This immune-boosting soup is made with a virtual garden of powerful ingredients that contain beneficial nutrients for your immune system.

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 cups low-sodium mushroom, vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups julienned fresh kale
1 cup cubed butternut squash
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
6 thin slices astragalus root (optional)
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 teaspoon miso

Preparation

In a sauce pot over medium-high heat, saute onion and garlic in oil 3 minutes. Add turmeric and mushrooms. Saute 2 minutes. Add broth, kale, squash, ginger, cayenne and astragalus. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly, add lemon juice and miso (adding miso when still very hot will diminish its probiotic benefits). Cover and let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Nutrition (in case you care-which you shouldn’t)

Per serving: 90 calories (5 from fat), 0.5 g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 19g total carbohydrate (6g dietary fiber, 5g sugar), 2g protein

 

What are your remedies for seasonal sickness? Share in the Comments Section Below!

Thanksgiving Week Survival: Game Day Training Plan

thanksgiving-pals.jpg

Huzzah! It's part 2 of your Thanksgiving training plan!

Since self-care is the route of sanity, here are 8 tips to prepare yourself for Thanksgiving with your loved ones. If you missed yesterday’s post on shifting your attitude to gratitude, it isn’t too late! Check it out so you can walk into family time without a loaded gun.

 

1. Start off on the right foot.

Meditate in the morning and go through yesterday’s gratitude list.

 

2. Get at least 20 min of cardio in.

I’m not telling you to do this to create a calorie deficiency so you can justify more pie (though it will do that too!), but it’e essential for elevating your mood.

 

3. Don’t show up on an empty stomach.

Have something beforehand that you can feel good about like green juice or a smoothie. Once your nutrients are in, it’ll be easier to avoid the carb & sugar guilt you may feel at the end of the day. Plus, one good thing leads to another. Starting off healthy sets you up for success.

 

4. Go Green.

Load up on all the green things you want, even if it’s loaded in butter and flavored with bacon. Yummers!

 

5. Drink more water.

This isn’t just a diet tip to get full so you eat less (though it will do that), but your brain needs to be hydrated or you will be anxious, depressed, and moody. Does that sound like a recipe for success? Not so much. As you may know you need half your weight in ounces of water per day.  So if you weigh 140 pounds, you need 70 ounces (or roughly 8 3/4) glasses) Sure, that sounds like a lot, but it’s better than feeling moody all day. Don’t just wait for tomorrow to start doing this, start now!

 

6. Own your shit.

When you feel yourself going from 0-60, remember what’s your shit and what’s their shit. Read here to learn more.

 

7. Stay present.

This applies to everything. We tend to look for patterns to make sense of the world. It’s how we keep ourselves safe. For one day, I invite you to let go of that. Sure, your sister never helps with the cooking, but don’t bring up the past to her or to yourself.  Look at things as an isolated incident. Staying present also means not rehashing old arguments. Let it go for today, even if you haven't truly let it go.

And, when it comes to food, staying present means thinking about your current bite and not the next stuffing-turkey-cranberry pile up bite you are excited to create. Asian cultures say you should chew your food 20 times, that’s nice, but unlikely.  I’m shooting for 10 chews per bite. Not only will you get full faster, but it will aid digestion and ease the inevitable food coma to come.

 

8. Time Out.

On the big day, don’t be afraid to take a time out. Go for a walk, hold a cute baby, play with a puppy, or go to the kids table and make one of those awesome hand-traced turkeys like you did as a kid.

 

Happy Thanksgiving! Let me know how it goes in the Comments section!

 

Thanksgiving Week Survival: How to Enjoy Time with Family

thanksgiving.jpg

 

Let me start by saying I love my family. They are wonderful people. But that love has two sides to it. As I’ve said in a previous blog, parents are spiritual assignments. We chose them, our family, and friends to learn soul-deep lessons that sometimes aren’t as sweet as pie.  So while I love them, an entire day with them makes me anxious and, to be honest, a bit pissy.

 

 

For me, Thanksgiving is not a Disney story. I don’t wake up to the smell of pie (I drive in traffic), little birds don’t dress me (I’ll probably stay in my sweats until dinner), and adorable mice won’t stop me from emotional eating (I’d probably eat them too.) But this isn’t about the lack of cute creatures who do my bidding, it’s about you!

So, in true Amita fashion, I’ve come up with a training plan for your mind and body to get through the week. You don’t just wake up the morning of a marathon and run it without training, so why would you expect anything else for Thanksgiving?

 

The best thing you can do is start with you.

Specifically, start with your attitude. Chances are, your outlook is half the problem. We’re all responsible for making sure our side of the street is clear.  When your attitude sucks, it’s like showing up to Thanksgiving half-drunk with a metaphorically loaded gun. Remember, your thoughts guide your decisions and negative thoughts lead to negative decisions. So when it comes to your thoughts about Thursday, remember:

 

Nothing is solved by visualizing the worst outcome, but a lot can be accomplished when you desire and intend to achieve the best possible result.  A negative or pessimistic attitude impacts you, not anyone else, by first ruining your moment-to-moment happiness (and then ruining everyone else’s meal.)

 

Optimism isn’t a frilly catchall that denies the truth. And while optimists might not be more accurate about life, they do live longer and are happier and healthier than pessimists. So which type of outlook will you choose?

That’s right, it’s a choice.

The way to begin shifting that glass from half-empty to half-full is simple: Gratitude.

You’ve probably heard people tell you to make a list of things you are grateful for, and while that’s powerful, we’re on a deadline! We’ll need to kick things up a notch! And, to keep it fair, I’ll give you a few off of my list :)

Grab a pen and paper and sit down in a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.

Follow this exercise and you won't have to wear this on Thanksgiving!

Follow this exercise and you won't have to wear this on Thanksgiving!

 

Step 1: Keep it Simple.

Start by listing 10 basic things you are grateful for. Basic things include food, a roof over your head, etc. These are the things we always take for granted when we’re lusting over things that are “first-world problems.”

Examples:

  1. I am grateful I am healthy.
  2. I am grateful I have a warm bed to sleep in at night.
  3. I am grateful that I have food and water.

 

Step 2: Invite in others.

Then, list 10 things you are grateful for when it comes to the other people in your life. This is about friends & family. This may require you to reach down a bit deeper, but it’s worth it!

Examples:

  1. I am grateful for parents who genuinely want me to be happy.
  2. I am grateful for friends who I can lean on.
  3. I am grateful for a loving, courageous, and honest boyfriend who inspires me to conquer my fears.

 

Step 3: Shift the crap.

List 10 things you are grateful for that may have sucked in the moment. As the year comes to a close, there are probably some things you wish you had done differently, conversations you wish you had (or had not had), and people you may have wronged. However, good things came of them. Maybe you learned a lesson, got through something you didn’t know you could, or showed up as your authentic self in a whole new way.

Examples:

  1. I am grateful that I left my last job and risked financial insecurity. It created the space for me to build something I love.
  2. I am grateful that someone close to me hurt me as it allowed me to see the pain they were in.  It allowed me to confront my underlying anger that had existed for a while and cultivate more compassion for them and for myself. (Sorry to be vague on that one!)
  3. I am grateful that I had the courage to end a codependent relationship because showing up as my true self cleared the way for me to meet someone who aligns with my truth.

 

Step 4: Expand the good.

List 3 experiences you are grateful for and the people and situations that brought them to fruition.

Example:

Getting my adorably insane dog. Things that helped to make this happen:

  1. My previous job was so bad that I quit. This gave me extra time to raise him.
  2. My friend who talked me into going and “just looking” at the puppies.
  3. My parents for looking after him when I needed more sleep.
  4. A conveniently located dog run and daycare option to tire him out.
  5. The recognition that my self-care comes before anything else in my life (sleepless nights and coffee brought on by a dog will teach you a lot!)
  6. And, sadly, Safari K. Patel, my previous dog who passed away.

 

Step 5: Go deep & personal.

List 10 things you are grateful for about yourself. This one is my favorite. Sure, you might not love everything about yourself at this moment, but I bet there are reasons you are glad that you are you.

Examples:

  1. I am compassionate.
  2. I am smart.
  3. I am resilient.

 

Step 6: Get a tattoo.

When you are done with this list, don’t let it sit in a notebook gathering dust. This is your survival guide for the next few days! Laminate it.! Tattoo it! I don’t care, but put it somewhere you can see it. Read it before bed each night. We’re retraining your brain to see the good even when things are shitty. This emotional resilience will come in handy when you see your loved ones. Trust me. 

 

Let's continue the conversation! What are you grateful for? What are you excited for? What are you dreading? Share it in the Comments section below!