Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Anxiety Talk

I just recently finished my second semester in grad school. Yay! Getting one step closer to finishing is awesome but still daunting. This semester I was in an Integrative Nutrition course. Loved the concept, not so much the format of the course, but in the end I did learn a lot. (Besides the text book costing like 600 bucks, come on academic world not all of us a rich, so I rented it for like $260.) Rant aside, I wrote a paper on anxiety and alternative ways to treat it. That is what I really want to talk about.

My paper, Herbal Supplementation for Anxiety: Passionflower, Valerian Root, and Kava, was actually really fun to research and write. It also brought up some other questions that I would love to get to research in the future, such as is there a link between eating disorders and anxiety and would that be an avenue for treatment? Hum, I know. But herbal supplementation for anxiety treatment, the ultimate outcome was…. you guessed it more research is necessary to get a definitive answer. Oh the scientific world and your never definitive answers. 

In my research I focused on just three herbs: passionflower, valerian root, and kava, while there are others out there that have been used for anxiety say St. John's Wort which in particular is more commonly used for mood disorders, and yes anxiety falls into this category but mood really encompasses so much more like depression, and that was not really my purpose for this research. So that was the reason for the three herbs I chose, they are more commonly used for anxiety treatment and the most commonly researched herbs. The big two are actually passionflower and kava, with a lot more research having been conducted for kava, and valerian root is kinda of side note because it really effects the calming aspects for sleep, but none the less has calming effects, something a person with anxiety needs. 

Lets start with valerian root. The results of my research showed links towards reduction of anxiety but the sample sizes were small, it is really only meant for short period usage, and has only just started to be researched. The other reason valerian root is grouped into anxiety treatment is because it was found to effect the same pathways that the other herbs did, as well as typical medications prescribed for anxiety treatment. Passionflower, something that is often recommended for anxiety if you go into a health food store and ask what you should take, has been used for centuries to help with stress and anxiety. It is one of the few herbs that the pharmaceutical industry recognizes to be used for treatment as if it were an actual "drug" (meaning prescription worthy). There are many studies that show the positive results associated with passionflower treatment for anxiety with some side effects after using it but minimal like tiredness. Kava, another herb used for centuries in treating restlessness, insomnia, and stress, has a higher sedative effect then the other herbs, but in a good way. It doesn't give users many of the typical side effects like grogginess after use. One pretty bad thing is that it could highly damage your liver and has been banned by some countries (Canada and the United Kingdom) because of this, but you would need to take toxic amounts to get to that point (if you do not have any liver damage already). Studies show great reductions in anxiety scale measures after suing kava, but only in higher dosage amounts.

Now, with all that being said, please don't go off and take all of these things if you struggle with anxiety just because I said "Hey they are great to treat anxiety," no, please don't do that, I do not like to be sued. Thanks. What I am saying is have a conversation with your doctor, see if using an alternative treatment is right for you. There are risks still, but much less than using typical prescription medications, dependency and withdrawals being the big 2 from typical treatment and not with herbal supplementation. The area of research that still needs to be conducted is in dosage amounts and how long these supplements can be used for. 

So if you are struggling with anxiety, don't worry you are not alone, and sometimes it is just a time and moment kind of struggle but sometimes it is a life long thing. Find the right options for you, listen to your body, and you will get better. Even if it is just better in handling it, you can do it! 

I've noticed that only within the past 8 or so years is when anxiety really came into my life, but it also came with a few other issues or causes (thats for another post). I wasn't an anxious child, at least I don't remembering being that way, so anxiety can come at stressful times, but could also go, which gives us hope to fight the good fight and find a way to live a fulfilling life once again!! 

If you are interested in talking more on what I found I would love to do so, if you want to read my paper, I could make that happen too (but no judging or proofreading it, it wouldn't do me any good cause I already handed it in!), but for real I would love to talk about this. And as I mentioned before, I really want to dive into the question of eating disorders and anxiety have something in common because I know depression ties into it as well. 

Thanks for reading even though it wasn't about food but it was about health!! 


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Where Faith Meets Reality

I have been struggling to come up with another post.


Because I don't know how much I really want to share or how much people would really want to read. Speaking up about my strange lip situation, that was easy because as embarrassing as it was, I knew it would be ok. I keep thinking maybe I should have just stuck with recipes and not tried to expand on this whole life thing. But, over the years I was slowly expanding the concept.

So what has the struggle been? Well, it's shame. Shame for the situation I find myself in. Shame that I feel I have let my loved ones down. Shame that I have let God down. Shame that I will be starting a marriage with what feels like nothing. Shame that I failed.

Don't get me wrong, I know none of that is true. My loved ones aren't disappointed in me. That I have a lot to offer the world and my future marriage. That I haven't let God down. I haven't actually failed at anything. But my daily struggle with not finding another job, not getting into internships to be a dietitian, feeling I have fallen short on this whole journey of becoming a dietitian is a struggle. Asking God what is my next step? Where do I go from here? Why hasn't another door opened up yet? Did I make the wrong choice? How will this all work out for me, my future, my fiances, my education, my marriage, my career? Now what?

I am not trying to get anything from anyone, do not mistake that. I am telling you where I am at the moment. Lost. Lost and praying, a lot. A lot, a lot. I trust God. 100% There is no doubt in that. What I don't know, draws me closer in my faith that I love a God who is looking out for me (Ezekiel 34:12). Who has the best in mind for me. Who has great plans for me (Jeremiah 29:11). My patience is being tested right now. My worry and anxiety, both of which do not come from the Lord, are rising in me. I am trying very hard to not let them take over. It works most days but then a bill comes, I need to register for the upcoming semester, I need food, gas in my car, a thing for the wedding, and the list piles up and the fear of unknowing sets in. It just takes one moment and then the whole day of relying on God seems shattered. It's not true, I know, but its hard this whole waiting time period.

Applying to jobs and never getting word from any, going on an interview months ago and not hearing anything since, writing emails as followups that go un-responded. What has happened to the job world? Why are people so forgetting of what it is like to be in this position. I know I am not the only one here in this spot. So I give us all hope. Things will get better. God is on our side. He loves us. He has perfect timing. I know this to be true. The wait, the faith, the trust continues. Days will be hard, but I will not falter.

Thank you for letting me be honest with where I am. With what has been burdening me to not write because I feared people do see me as a failure. That I lost sight of being an adult and was selfish for quitting a job that made me miserable. I thought long and hard about that point. I could be still in the position, hating every moment of it, asking God why he placed me there, making money, but suffering in all other aspects of my life. Then I remember that is no way to live and definitely not the way God would have wanted me to. I did make the mistake of not having a full back up plan, I will admit that, but I am happy in a sense that I have my sanity. Where God needs me to be is here for this moment, I will work on that for now.


Monday, February 1, 2016

FFF A Little Bit of Everything

As I sit in bed sipping on my morning coffee I am also giving thanks to God for all he has done and will do for me, my family, and friends.

I few of my beloved friends are going through some very rough patches in their lives, and as I was doing my morning devotionals I made sure to bring up their hearts and pain in my prayers, because their pain is my pain as well. Just remember that everyone you pass today is going through some sort of circumstance, so show love at all times and compassion, as our Father has shown onto us.

Sitting in bed, sipping on coffee, writing a blog post sounds like a fun thing to do for most people, well that is if you like coffee, being at home in bed, and writing your thoughts down for the world to see. I do enjoy this moment I get to have right now. To be creative, expressing myself, but there are times where I don't want to share what is going on in my life because I feel disappointed in myself. This is not where I "should" be at this moment in my life. I need to be working, being productive, or something. But, no, I need to stop and really give thanks for my current situation. I am blessed to focus on my school work and wedding plans at this moment. Finish my internship applications without fear of the approaching deadline. It is a bit freeing when I take a step back and see the peace God has provided me with at this moment. Yes, I have the back of my mind thoughts of fear of money, I am not providing for myself at the moment, but I trust in my God and know it will all add up soon. I just needed to get those thoughts out of my mind, so thank you for that.

Speaking of wedding planning, I went to get my first dress fitting last week and boy was that nerve racking. I know all of us females get that I hope I didn't gain weight since I last tried on ______. But this is a big one, a dress i have to wear four months from now needs to fit me four months from now. I have been stable with my weight lately, but the fear still is creeping in. So lets talk a little fitness now. I signed up for a few 14 day programs through the Love Sweat Fitness site, the current one is an abs challenge. Katie's workouts are fun and pretty tough at times, if you do the recommended 3 times through. You will feel it the next day. I got bored with a few of the other fitness women I followed because their calendars were getting repetitive and I didn't understand how they looked as awesome as they did if they were only really doing what they gave us to do. It wasn't believable so I will incorporate some of the moves I learned but they are doing more then what they are saying and I don't appreciate that. I have however been enjoying some of the workouts Men's Health has been posting on FaceBook lately and I have shocked myself with some of the moves I can do. BooYah!! My hard work is paying off. Now if only I can get a true pull-up bar in my house, then we will be talking. I also have been biking inside due to my Christmas present of a set-up to make my bike into a stationary bike. Its awesome!! I add some light weights every now and then and make it a full body workout.

Food!! I made some sunflower "cheese" the other week because I went to eat with a friend at Good Karma Cafe in Redbank and got a raw sandwich that had a sunflower cheese spread on it. Delish!! So I had to recreate it, plus I had a bag of frozen sunflower seeds in my freezer that needed to be used. The recipe was basic:

Soak the seeds overnight
Drain in the morning
Add to a food processor with nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and pepper (I added some parsley in the end cause I love it so much)
Blend until smooth, adding water in small amounts as necessary to make smooth.

Here is a recipe to give you amounts, but I eyeballed mine cause I'm bad like that. Or am I good like that?? But you will see I didn't use everything it called for and made it my own. Next time I will be exact so I can make it my own.

Trader Joe's Multi Tortilla, spread cheese, topped with zatar spice,
sweet tatos, spinach, dollops of cheese, bake, fold over, eat
I used my "cheese" to make tortilla pizzas because that seemed like the best way to enjoy my new "cheese." I found some roasted sweet potato and kabocha squash in my freezer (I have a lot of nifty food things in my freezer), spread a tortilla with the sunflower spread, added the squash mix, and spinach, baked them so the tortillas would get crispy, and YUM!!! I made it like 3 days in a row because it was that good. Then I gave myself a break because its not good to eat the same thing for a week. =/

Oh and cause you are all dying to hear about how my lips turned out!! They are pretty again!! I no longer need chapstick as much as I did before, I got use to not being able to put it on all the time, and I started to take a B Complex to make sure it wasn't due to lack of that. I am super happy its taken care of now.

Thanks all for a long post!! <3

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Food!!

Hello all!! So I know I let the rest of December run away without a posting, and I could blame it on all the business of the holidays, trying to apply for jobs, and all that includes, but I really should have gotten around to posting something. With that I am sorry.

I have been really digging avocado toast as of late, mainly on beer bread. Yes, yes, beer bread. I have been going through a faze of buying new beers from Trader Joe's and making them into pumpkin beer bread. I have then topped my avocado toasts with either sumac or pomegranate seeds, or nixed the avocado and topped the toast with almond cheese. I usually eat roasted green beans or a salad along side the toast.

Of course I do not have any good pictures of my latest obsession, I have been slacking hard core with picture taking lately. Mainly because I think I need to step up my picture taking game (something I am looking into and trying to advance in for better quality pictures to be taken for here).
Here is an avocado hummus sandwich with a side salad
and roasted red pepper dressing, so good!! Bread was Ezickel

I have made a few other beer breads in the past, but the difference with these recently made ones is the addition of pumpkin, a squash I am oh so greatly obsessed with.

 Pumpkin Beer Bread

(This one actually does have a pumpkin beer in it too, but any beer you like can work. I have also used gingerbread beer, a dark beer, and I think a few others- told you like going and buying new ones for my butt (fiance) to try haha. Also, I make my own self-rising flour when I make beer bread.)

Self-rising flour basic formula:
1 cup flour (I use white whole wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 cups whole wheat bread flour (or regular bread flour or just more flour, the bread flour has a higher gluten content so it gives the bread more chew)
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt (even if that, you can add to your desire, I never found it to really mess with the recipe)
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 bottle of beer
coconut oil spray

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, spray a loaf pan with coconut oil spray.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together.

Add in the canned pumpkin and beer.

Mix well, until all dry ingredients are incorporated.

Pour into loaf pan.

Bake for an hour, turning half way through baking time. Test with a toothpick for doneness after the hour, if it comes out clean you are good. Let it cool in the pan for about 30 minutes, then remove to let it cool completely.
Slice and top with what ever your heart desires.

Another one of my latest obsessions is making my own nut butters. I found this delicious one made by Kalots that cost $10 a jar (like 10oz jar). too steep for my budget, but I wanted to try it so I bought it once. It was a Superfood Nut Butter. Superfood because it has dried blueberries and walnuts in it along with almonds as the base and some coconut oil. I started to look up nut butter recipes and decided to just use the ingredient list as a recipe for me to create my own imitation version. Since then I have been trying out a few other recipes too but think I need a better food processor because it usually turns out more like meal and never fully into a nut butter- still working on this part.

Cinnamon Almond Walnut Cranberry Butter

1 1/2 cups raw almonds
1/2 cup raw walnuts
5 dates, soaked in water for 10 minutes
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder or extract
1/4 cup dried cranberries (mine were fruit juice sweetened)

Dry roast the nuts at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, watching closely so they do not burn.
Add all ingredients into food processor, except the cranberries. Let it whirl, scraping down the sides, until it starts to become a paste. This takes awhile, so be patient. Add in cranberries and pulse a few times so they slightly breakdown (I let mine go for too long and they just incorporated in).

Spread on everything!!

I like mine on top of apples with some chocolate chips!!

I have also tried making the recipe again but used soaked dried figs instead of dates- didn't turn out the greatest. Dabbled in making my own hazelnut butter- it just wouldn't smooth out and gingerbread almond butter- again didn't smooth out. So I am still playing around in the nut butter world but I have saved a lot by making it my self.

attempt at hazelnut chocolate butter

True life moment right now, so you are more than welcomed to stop reading and just go make a homemade nut butter on beer bread sandwich, or read on if you wish. I just want to be open and share my struggles to see if anyone has advice for me that I haven't thought of yet, so be kind and not grossed out =]

Over the past year + I have been struggling with chapped lips, or thats what I was guessing it was. When I was a kid I had licking lips syndrome (or what ever you want to call it), where I would get a red, chapped ring around my lips because I would lick them to make them feel better. My mom made me stop and I started to apply blistex to them and it worked, they healed. Up until maybe 3 years ago, I went for a run on a somewhat chilly, sunny day. I noticed while running my lips were getting dry, but didn't worry. I got home and the top of my lips (you know where the nose has the dip to the lips part) got chapped. I started to up more chap-stick on it, but that didn't seem to work. So me being the weird hippy loving tea tree oil, put some of that on it. The area dried up, peeled and was as good as new. For maybe a few months. I went to Florida in January about a year ago, the temperature change freaked it out again, and it got bad. I came back, started my last semester of undergrad and the stress would make it worse because I would play with it. So I started to put Vitamin E chap-stick on it, which would work for a time, then it would flare up again, peel, be red and raw. It was a never ending cycle. I've tried just about every over the counter chap-stick out there, homeopathic lip remedies, you name it. So last summer the side of my mouth cracked too, I would put Vit E on it also and it would get better, crack again, cycle. And then the bottom of my lip started to get dry too. It was going downhill, so I tried something new, not putting anything on it, any of my lips or around. They got crazy dry and looked horrible. I finally decided to look into seeing a doctor or to go to the dermatologist (something that I have wanted to do but the insurance aspect would stop me). So its bad, I decided to stop into a urgent care facility, $160 dollars later have a steroid cream with anti fungal (yes I'm embarrassed to share all of this but its what I am currently dealing with) to help heal it.
you can see the slight redness above my lip

the top portion of my lip looks better but the sides are rough

Being a nutrition major I did think maybe the cracked lips are a sign of a vitamin deficiency, but even the doctor said it doesn't seem like it but I need blood work to really find out. So I have to put this cream on once a day for 10 days. If it doesn't work I then have to get blood work and see a dermatologist. With a wedding coming up, wanting to feel and look beautiful for it, I am stressed that this isn't going to go away. I bit the bullet and went to the doctor because I want to be proactive about taking care of this, and I pray that it isn't something worse.

My lips are dry and sore, I can't fully open my mouth without fear of splitting my lips, and it sucks. I just want to healthy, feel healthy, and look healthy. Right now I do not want to leave the house because I feel like everyone would stare and be grossed out by me. So if you have any thoughts that would be awesome. Or have a great dermatologist thats also great. Advice welcomed!

Thanks for the real life talk and I hope you all appreciate your soft, smooth, lips- or better yet make sure you take care of your lips!!