Tag Archives: nutrition

This year is ‘the year’ that I am going to….

Happy 2014 to all of our wonderful readers and followers. Candace and I have been blogging together for 2 years and this is the year that we are hoping to take a synopsis of our book, with several chapters written  up in the format we think will be the most readable and visually lovely, to a perspective publisher and see what happens. We realize that there are scores of books written on the top of hormone balance but we think we have a unique perspective and style that is not only accessible, but that resonates with our readers. We have punted around many ideas(you have no idea how many!!) from publishing an e-book, to self-publishing, to throwing in the towel(gasp) ….But we keep coming back to the idea of a real, hold in your hand, prop on your shelf, cuddle up in your bed, kind of book as that is what WE like and what most of our friends/family members/patients/colleagues/acquaintance turn to for the kind of content we are offering. So we would like to hear from YOU: what do you like about our blog, what have been some of your favorite topics, what haven’t we covered that you want to know more about?? Of course we value your honesty as that will help us write a better book so please give us your ‘from the heart’ feedback. We will keep you posted as to our progress, but that is MP’s overriding goal for this year.

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one's goals….)

Oh no, we admitted our goal OUT LOUD…now that should motivate us(one technique towards reaching one’s goals….)

What have YOU been saying that you hope to do, to change, to re-invent, to re-consider, to move towards or perhaps away from, in this coming year?  Every newspaper and magazine that I have opened this past week had something about weight loss, exercising more, eating cleaner, etc but one thing I did notice that was different this year was the wording of the articles. Almost every one alluded to the concept that our goals should be towards making sustainable changes, not radical ones. To do that , it helps to make small changes, ones that you can stick to (like our 10 day ‘consciousness cleanses’, something anyone can do and benefit from): not saying , “I will NEVER eat potato chips and sour cream again after work(one of my personal favorite guilty pleasures…)” because that is just never going to happen. It is so much more realistic to write down what you hope to accomplish and then identify the obstacles, your strengths, a timeline and then formulate a plan. We will keep coming back to this topic in the upcoming weeks and months but I just want to leave you with a few simple thoughts as you think about the year ahead.

1. It DOES matter what you eat. This is probably the single most important thing that you do each day in terms of supporting or hurting your body. You can exercise until the cows come home, but if you are eating a diet high in processed foods, sugary beverages, calorie dense/nutrient poor foods(most of these come in a box/can/or a wrapper, by the way), you will gain weight in all the wrong places and you will not achieve optimal fitness….or fit into those favorite pair of jeans.

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

Eat whole pieces of fruit every day, loaded with nutrients and full of fiber

2.Follow the wise words of Michael Pollan: “Eat food(WHOLE food), not too much, mostly plants”. Do this and you will see results, sustainable ones.

3. Spend a few minutes each day being grateful for the wonders of your body. Focus more on how your body feels and how it does whatever you ask it to do day after day, a miracle in and of itself.  Take care of your body: feed it whole foods, clean water, take it out for a walk, a jog, a hike, expose it to natural vitamin D and the elements like the wind, the rain, the snow. Take note of how alive you feel when you have spent some time outside or just being active. Your body will thank you by continuing to do what you ask of it and by sticking around for awhile.

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

Hiking with my wonderful black lab Riley: sitting at the top of the world and feeling like it

4. Take time to sleep, to rest and to restore yourself. You need this more than you know(see Candace’s last post).

5. Make time for play, for love, for friendship, for prayer and meditation, for doing the things you love to do, for visiting someone who needs you to be there. Life often goes by in a blur so paying attention each day to the moments that matter and making time for the things that matter to you is crucial for living a life that has meaning.

Our conversation will continue. We look forward to writing to you and hearing from you in the upcoming year. Thank you for sharing your time and thoughts with us. We so appreciate all of you.

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

Take time to see and smell the flowers and other small wonders

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4 days til our “Fall Consciousness Cleanse” starts : are you ready???

As many of our faithful readers know, I have been trying to set aside two separate times each year during which I turn my attention more fully to the things that I eat and drink for 10 days.  I have called these time periods  ‘ a consciousness cleanse’ as opposed to a true cleanse (or a detox), which is usually quite a bit more entailed and rigorous.  The goal of setting aside 10 days each fall and spring for cleaner eating and drinking is more aimed towards increasing our awareness of what we consume,  in hopes that by doing so, we can slowly change our habits in the long term.

The rules for OUR cleanse are simple: eat whole foods, avoid alcohol, the whites(see end of post for link to specifics), and caffeine for 10 days. Benefits? Decreased belly fat, improved sleep, increased energy,clearer thinking, balanced mood and the satisfaction of doing something absolutely incredible for your body!! One more thing: there is something so satisfying of sticking to a wellness program for the entire duration, just knowing that you CAN.

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

Some healthy and delicious food choices, packed with powerful nutrients

This fall the kick-off begins Sunday , November 17th and runs through Tuesday, November 26th and is designed to increase our consciousness right before the superbowl of holiday feasting(Thanksgiving day) arrives, with all of the subsequent festivities that occur between that day and the coming of the new year. Did you know that the average American gains up to 12 # during said famed holiday season? That is an alarming thought indeed, as anyone watching the news knows how the epidemic of obesity is causing a plethora of chronic health problems in our country(see some of our previous blogposts on this subject).

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener to enjoy during the cleanse

The best part of doing the ‘cleanse’ at this time of year is that you will have some excellent company. This year both Candace and I will be doing it together, along with at least 10 others.  It really is so much easier(and fun) to take on a challenge like this with some support. As an extra added incentive, if you sign up as a follower AND post at least 2 comments during the 10 days about YOUR experience on the cleanse, we will enter your name into a drawing for a copy of the wonderful book, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.  She offers some wonderful ways to take inventory of your life and make changes, all designed to bring more happiness and balance to your life.

Here are some more specifics about the cleanse from a previous post that I wrote:

http://menopausibilities.com/2013/01/05/preparations-for-our-cleanse/

Please refer back to that post and the several that follow it as you get ready to join us. And don’t forget to sign up as a follower(if you haven’t already done so) and comment along the way: you might just win that book for some terrific fall and winter reading. Plus we love to hear from you….

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness, Women's Work/Life Balance

Fall cleansing is in the air

We have been truly blessed with a warm and sunny ‘Indian summer’ here in the Pacific NW this year but 2 days ago, the autumn switch turned on, dropping the temperatures down into the 50’s by day and 40’s by night. Any illusions of an endless summer were quickly abandoned, so back indoors we go for the majority of our waking hours.

I imagine many of you, like me, find yourself purging your house of excess things, rearranging cupboards and closets, raking up the fallen leaves and turning over the soil in the garden. There is something about the transition from living outdoors as much as possible to nestling inside that makes me want to simplify my surroundings before adorning the house with decorations for our fall and winter festivities. One of my fall rituals is moving all of my spring and summer clothes(after taking all of the ones I still didn’t wear to Good Will for a better home) from my bedroom closet to my spare one,  in exchange for my fall and winter wardrobe.  Doing this always makes the seasonal change so definite for me.  I actually enjoy this ritual as it makes me reflect on the activities of the past few months while thinking ahead to the upcoming holidays.

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can't resist!

Fall lights add to a warm and cozy atmosphere: I can’t resist!

For those of you who are faithful MP blog followers, you know that fall also means thinking of ways to be more conscious and mindful about the food and beverage choices we will be making in order to stay balanced despite the holiday festivities. This can be a huge challenge to many of us: avoiding unwanted weight gain, getting inadequate sleep, feeling stressed out about shopping(perhaps on a more limited budget than in years past), getting burned out by the extra demands placed upon us, all of this leading to cortisol overdrive and its many associated symptoms(irritability, insomnia, anxiety, depression, belly fat, salt and sugar cravings, to name a few).

So we will be hosting another “Consciousness Cleanse” starting on Sunday, November 17th and will run for 10 days, ending just in time for Thanksgiving. As in years past, there are 4 major food/beverage groups that we will avoid during the ‘cleanse’ . These are caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘the whites'(white flour, rice, potatoes, pasta and again white sugar).  Some of you who want to do a deeper detox/cleanse of sorts may also want to eliminate gluten and/or dairy and/or soy, particularly if you suspect a sensitivity to a particular food type.

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Some examples of the kinds of food you CAN eat and that will make you feel wonderful

Last year we had approximately 60 people participating in our fall ‘cleanse’ and it was pretty remarkable to listen to the various comments people had about their personal experiences.  To view these, please go to ‘Kyle’s blog’ and scroll back to Oct 2012 and March 2013 blogposts to learn more about the cleanse and the reactions of the participants.  We are excited to be doing this again and we hope that you will join us.

For those of you who are interested in a longer term detox, please click on this link

http://bit.ly/HkqEyt

to work along with Andrea Nayakama and her staff of functional nutritionists for 21 days starting on Monday November 4th. Once you click on the link, you can listen to the  webinar she did yesterday: Tipping the Scales. This which was a really nice overview of the link between what we eat and our hormone balance and I recommend that all of you take the time to listen to it. We have written quite a bit about the importance of hormone balance and health/ optimal weight over the past 2 years so some of the content will be familiar to many of you, but I know that no matter how much I learn about this amazing and complex topic, I inevitably take away another ‘pearl’ with every new talk or article I come across.

Stay tuned. We will be posting more in the upcoming weeks to help you get ready for your 10 day fall cleanse. I promise you that if you partake in either the deeper detox or the 10 day mini-cleanse, you will gain a new awareness that what you put into your mouth  really matters . More about the details and benefits in upcoming posts. For now, remember to drink tea(all types but green is great for weight control and immune system), plenty of water, choose organic foods as much as possible, exercise  a minimum of 4-5 days a week and get at least 7 hours of sleep every night for optimal health and wellness.

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

Fall morning walk at sunrise: a lovely way to get daily exercise

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Just back from 10 days of balance…

Aloha!

2013 has found me traveling hither and yon: first to NYC for an annual functional medicine conference, then to  Sacramento to visit my husband Joe while he tackles a new career assignment, then on to Dallas for a gala and fun family wedding,  and most recently to the big Island of Hawaii( I can still hear the tropical birds’ symphony in my dreams and almost feel the warm breezes and the scent of plumaria in the air…ahhh, heavenly!).  Although I enjoyed ALL of my travels, my time in Hawaii with Joe and 2 of our closest friends truly was 10 days of relaxation, sunshine and attention to balanced living. Joe and I both vowed to leave work behind so that we could truly take in the aura of the island and adapt to the slowed down pace, savoring each moment of island living.

Due to the proximity to the equator, Hawaii has shorter daylight hours in the spring than we do in Oregon: sunrise at 6:15, sunset at 6:30 pm, so the rhythm of the day is quite different. People tend to get up with the sun(which definitely works for me!) and get a lot of living in during the daylight, but are often in bed tucked away snugly earlier than I am used to, often as early as 8:30 but certainly no later than 10:00 PM.  I found myself getting almost 8 hours of sleep almost every night, which is quite different for me, as I am used to getting by with 6-7 hours of sleep most nights at home. It was lovely to adopt this rhythm and my body felt so nourished by all of the rest. As always after some time away from our normal routines, I came home determined to pay more attention to my resting hours.

IMG_1436

We also were surrounded by fresh, flavorful and abundant tropical produce. I have never seen such large avocadoes and papayas: they were HUGE!! and so affordable: at the farmers’ markets ripe and yummy papayas sell for 5 for $2(sometimes even less), so we ate a ‘rainbow’ of fruits and veggies at every meal. I even tried some blue sweet potato chips with guacamole. freshly made at a market: Wow, is all I have to say about that combination!

Avocadoes and mangos aplenty: fresh fruits and veggies in abundance make' eating a rainbow' effortless

Avocadoes and mangos aplenty: fresh fruits and veggies in abundance make’ eating a rainbow’ effortless

My friend Susie and I went to an avocado festival last Saturday and learned that avocadoes  pack some pretty amazing nutritional punch. First of all, I thought there were 2 types of avocados( as that is all I have ever seen sold on the mainland): apparently there are about 40 different types, which was news to both of us. I have always loved to eat these green fruits(technically this is what they are, although often prepared like a vegetable. Due to the festival , we learned just how healthy these “alligator pears” really are. Originally believed to possess aphrodisiac qualities by the Aztec Indians, we now know that they actually provide a broad spectrum of health benefits:

1. Cancer prevention: avocadoes contain certain compounds which help to not only identify but destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy ones and contain high levels of oleic acid, which can help to prevent breast cancer.

2. Support eye health, as they contain extremely high levels of carotenoid lutein, which protects you from macular degeneration and cataracts

3. Help to lower cholesterol , as they are high in ‘beta-sitosterol’. One study demostrated a 17 % reduction in cholesterol levels after eating avocadoes daily for only one week!

4. High in folate, which protects against heart disease and strokes.

In addition, avocado oil is amazing for your skin and hair and in South Africa, avocados are mashed, mixed with honey and lime, to use as a face mask and for after-sn’ treatment. One avocado contains more potassium than a banana as well as  2.5 grams of protein;  all in all, one nutritiously packed ‘veggie fruit.

Enjoying the sunshine and the avocado festival on 'the big island'

Enjoying the sunshine and the avocado festival on ‘the big island’

Of course, now I am back in Oregon, the weather distinctly cooler…farmers markets still waiting to open(I guess that is not a problem in Hawaii, where the season seems to be perennial summer!). I have made a point of buying avocados, incorporating them into salads, shrimp tacos and guacamole.  I would love to hear some of YOUR favorite ways to use avocados, some of YOUR favorite recipes for including these wonderful veggie-fruits into your diet. Please share your recipes with all of us! I know that in South America, avocado ice cream is quite popular: I have yet to try it but it sounds yummy.

Oh, and back to whether avocados contain aphrodisiac qualities: apparently the jury is out on this, but one thing we DO know for sure: eating a whole foods based diet, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and managing your stress clearly all contribute to hormone balance, and in turn , this does support healthy sexual functioning. So don’t forget to eat some guacamole on a regular basis and share some of your favorite recipes with all of us.

Bon appétit and Mahalo……

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Getting ready for Spring cleansing

We will be starting our ‘spring cleanse’ on Monday March 4th and as I mentioned in my last post, everyone has the option to either power through for 10 days straight or divide it up into 2 separate 5 day sections. I am going to do this March 4-8 and then again from March 18-22. So please pick the option that works best for you, as this is supposed to be something that works for YOUR life.

It always helps to have a plan before starting on something, even as seemingly simple as a ‘cleanse’. Otherwise even your best intentions(and strongest ‘wantpower’) can get derailed due to a sudden feeling of hunger and no idea of what you should eat. So let’s get started with a few basic concepts”.

1. As you are planning your dates for the cleanse, check your calendar for any important events/trips that might get in the way during that particular stretch of time. If your life is like mine,  it seems that there is always something that comes along to stretch your ability to stick to the plan. I have found that things like vacations, graduations, holidays and weddings are real deal busters for me which is why this time I have decided to separate mine into 2 parts. And the idea behind a cleanse like this is to help you feel empowered to make small but significant changes in your diet.

2. Jot down some of the reasons WHY you are doing this: for example, you want to cut down on caffeine as you feel too dependent on it to feel awake, or you would like to lose some belly fat and you know that sugar is a big culprit, or you just like the way that you feel when you have specific guidelines for eating, etc.  You can refer back to this list during your cleanse to help remind you why you started in the first place!

3. Make a shopping list and go the store at least 1-2 days before you start. Include things like hummus, whole grain breads/crackers, quinoa, brown rice, cheeses, nut butters, organic chicken, omega-rich fish, fresh fruits and veggies, free range antiobiotic-free eggs, olive oil, avocadoes, nuts, herbal teas(be sure to include some green tea for all of its benefits!), tofu, tempeh, coconut oil, dried fruit(eaten in small amounts), unsweetened carob(great for those times when you want something “sweet” but want to avoid sugar.

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

4. Plan to eat a ‘rainbow’ everyday. I am currently in NYC attending my third Integrative Medical Conference and this is one of the take-home messages from today’s series of lectures. Pick something red(red peppers, strawberries, cherries, red grapes, beets), something blue/purple(purple grapes, figs, purple potatoes, eggplants, blue or black berries), orange(tomatoes, oranges, carrots, squash), green(lettuce, kale, green beans, artichokes, broccoli) and yellow(peppers, lemons, squash) every day. This will insure that you get an adequate amount of phytonutrients everyday. Research has shown over and again that these nutrients are anti-inflammatory and will help to prevent the development of breast cancer, heart disease, colorectal cancer, diabetes, dementia, arthritis and a multitude of other diseases.

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

I will be in touch when I return to Portland this Sunday. I am looking forward to having a bunch of you join in with me on Monday or whatever day works for you. Remember, for every 5 days that you complete the cleanse, your name will be entered into the contest at Pearl Women’s Center. Become a fan at facebook and /or comment on the blog so that we can keep track of your progress.

Off to a great start! See you soon.

Live from New York!! Wishing you health and balance.

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Spring is in the air(get ready for a new challenge)

It is hard to believe but February is almost over, which only means one thing: March is on its way and in the Pacific NW, spring is definitely in the air. Daffodils are poking up their stems, daphne odora blossoms are about to burst open, I waken to birds singing every morning….an incredible transition from the quiet waiting time of winter. Already days are lengthening and the moods of those around me reflect that in their brightness. Soon we will all be spending more time outdoors, perhaps digging in the soil getting the garden ready for a new round of vegetables and flowers(maybe even some fruits if your climate is conducive to them).Image

There was a short but insightful article in today’s NY Sunday Times Magazine extolling the virtues of exercising outdoors. The author compares the amount of energy it takes to walk/run on a treadmill or spin on an indoor bike to doing the same activities outside. Although you do benefit from indoor cardio workouts, doing the same activities outdoors actually burns more calories and require more effort, due to such factors as varying terrain, wind energy, temperature variations and surface changes. Plus being outside is more stimulating to your senses and has a greater effect on your mood! Feeling the sun(or even the wind, for that matter) , hearing the birds chirping, smelling freshly mowed  grass, seeing children playing a game, all contribute to a sense of being a part of something bigger than oneself and is ultimately more satisfying. Obviously. there are days when working out in the gym is more appealing(pouring rain, dark hours, frigid temperatures, icy ground) but whenever you have a choice, do try to get outside and be active as well.

Walking my first leg of Portland to Coast: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

Walking my first leg of Portland to Coast: almost done, hot tired feet but happy!!

I am about to fly to NYC in the morning for my third IFM(Integrative Functional Medicine Conference) . I love attending this particular event as the rooms are full of all types of providers, from cardiologists to naturopaths, anesthesiologists, gastroinestinal specialists and nurse practioners and more. The energy is incredible, the information” cutting edge” and I always walk away with a renewed sense of how to live a more balanced life and how to share that knowledge with my many patients.

For those of you who have spent time in NYC, you know that finding organic, fresh food is a bit more challenging than it is here in Portland. And being a native New Yorker, I have to indulge a bit by having several slices of NY pizza and chowing down on some chewy and flavorful NY bagels.  So when I get back, I will be ready to start our next series of ‘cleanses’: this time I would like to offer you all a few options. ALthough at least 40 people were able to complete the full 10 cleanse last time, many of you stopped at 5 days, so this is what I would like to propose:

The overall cleanse will last for a total of 10 days and must be completed between March 1 and March 23rd. You can choose to do it all at once or break it up into 2 5 day blocks. I am choosing to do 2 separate blocks this time, as I have a family wedding in Dallas in mid-March.  The dates I will be ‘spring cleansing’ are Monday, March 4th- Friday March 8th and then starting up again on Monday, March 18th- Friday March 22nd. Every 5 days that you complete(and let us know this) , your name will be entered into our contest(more info on Pearl Women’s Center Facebook page) .

Here is a quick review:

During the ‘spring cleanse’, you will avoid whites(flour, potatoes, rice, sugar), caffeine, alcohol and sugar. For a more complete list, please go back to my posts from October 2012 and January 2013.

I will be posting some ideas for meals this week and a shopping list to help you get started. I will be very ready to start when I return from NYC and I hope that you will join me. The benefits are amazing and it is much more fun(and easy) to do this with the support of others.

Happy almost spring!

Final rose of 2012

Anticipating the first roses of spring

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On my way in to work this morning, I heard an interesting and provocative piece on NPR re: the link between WHEN you eat and weight loss or gain. Remember the old adage: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper”?

Apparently there is some truth to this!

“A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity builds on previous studies that suggest it’s best not to eat too many calories late in the day.

The Spanish study finds that dieters who ate their main meal before 3 p.m. lost significantly more weight than those who ate later in the day. This held true even though the early eaters were eating roughly the same number of calories during the five-month weight-loss study as their night-owl counterparts. ”

Here is a link to the rest of the study:

http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ijo2012229a.html”>study</a>

It is so interesting to me that over the years, we have seen a rollercoaster of viewpoints on the best ways to eat to maintain a healthy weight. I remember that when I was younger, we were told that the kinds of calories we ate mattered: so we counted how much of our calories came from sugar, fat, proteins and carbs. Then we were told ” a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” and that it really didn’t matter what we ate, just how many calories we consumed. That doesn’t even make sense!!! Imagine eating 300 calories of green leafy veggies throughout the day versus eating 300 calories of M and M’s: how can it NOT matter where the calories come from? One food source is loaded with nutrients and fiber while the other is loaded with sugar and artificial chemicals and clearly has an impact on how much insulin is released to try to negotiate just how that ‘food’ is metabolized???

Also when I was younger, we learned that one shouldn’t eat late in the day, that by doing so, the food could more easily be stored as fat because( as I best remember this!) ‘ our metabolism had slowed down by day’s end resulting in slowed breakdown and resulting in more calories being stored that burned’. I am not convinced that this is truly the reason but it definitely makes sense to me that it does in fact matter when we consume food during the day. But in recent years, we were told(back to the rollercoaster: hang on for dear life!!) that it didn’t matter when we ate. Thankfully this new study does point to evidence that when we eat does have an impact on our ability to maintain our weight.

One thing that has remained constant in ‘diet lore and wisdom’ is that people who eat a nutritious breakfast tend to be leaner than those who skip it or eat poor choices early in the day. So do make sure that you eat a well-balanced breakfast, as it will set the tone for the rest of your day in terms of metabolism, energy and brain functioning.

As always, we would love to hear from you about your own experiences, both good and bad, in terms of achieving and maintaining(or not!) a healthy weight. This is one of the essentials for balanced living and for hormone balance. More to come in the upcoming weeks.

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