Coffee: Is it good or bad for us? You might get media whiplash trying to figure that out. The truth is, I find this subject to be as confusing as you probably do.
After all, the media certainly doesn’t help clarify whether America’s favorite morning beverage is going to land you in the doc’s office or set you free with a clean bill of health. It’s no wonder so many of you shrug your shoulders in utter confusion as you refill your morning mug and get on with your day!
I know all about this adoration of coffee. I, too, was smitten and enamored with Coffea Arabica. We had our courtship during the 1990s, when I worked more than 80 hours in the emergency room and saw 30 to 40 patients a day.
I traded sleep for espresso, authentic energy for Haagen Daz coffee ice cream and normal circadian rhythms for high-speed, caffeinated adrenaline rushes.
But then, my body began to communicate to me what I had been attempting to ignore — that I needed to slow down and let the natural systems assume their proper course. You can read more about how I successfully turned my health around here.
As I began to tune into my body and provide it with what it really wanted — fresh, whole, real, unprocessed foods; sleep; relaxation; and the time to enjoy the life I had created for myself and my family — I was able to break up with coffee and make up with my health.
You can too, and I’m going to tell you how. But first, let’s discuss what makes coffee such a hot topic widely disputed in today’s health circles.
Recently I spoke in front of a hall full of pregnant women. What a joy to see all those round bellies, and even more of a pleasure — given that this was a meeting of the Holistic Moms Network — to know how well-intentioned this group is towards their families’ health and the environment.
I gave them all sorts of tips to detox their homes, hoping to ease their minds about how easy it is to accomplish the task. I also gave them my mainstay list for non-toxic cleaning, the five kitchen cupboard ingredients I believe will clean everything in the home, and I’d like to share it with you as well:
A few days after friend’s daughter started doing some office work for me, I became bothered by the smell of dryer sheets from her clothes. I had to ask her to stop using them — at least on the clothes she wore when she came to my house. She said she was glad to comply, but didn’t know you could dry clothes without using dryer sheets. My jaw hung open, and I marveled at the power of advertising.
Medicine doesn’t always come in a pill. In fact, some of the most powerful medicines are delicious and can be found at your local supermarket or “farmacy.” Healing foods have been used for centuries in Asia as part of the cuisine. In fact, in Asia, food and medicine are often the same thing.
Here are five superfoods that you may never have heard of but that can be found at most Asian markets and even places like Whole Foods. Try them. You might be surprised by their unique and extraordinary good taste. And they may help you lose weight, reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol and prevent cancer.
I have thought a lot about the way in which I want to end this year. Especially since the new energy of 2012 is fast approaching. As I contemplated my plan, what came to me was “cleansing and clearing.” Often I take time in the spring to clean and clear out closets to create space, but this felt different. What came to me was that I was to clear and clean myself from the inside out. I decided to do an 11-day cleanse and allow my body to release old toxins. That decision created a powerful domino effect that I want to share with you.
Twenty years ago, as a freshly minted doctor, I swallowed the propaganda that doctors are invincible — that “MD” stood for “medical deity.” During my training, one of my surgical residents told me, “real doctors don’t do lunch.” I thought I didn’t need to follow the same rules of biology like everyone else. I believed sleeping, eating real food and resting were luxuries, not necessities.
In fact, even though I knew all about nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle and had always exercised, I felt I could push the boundaries of my body. When I started my medical career, I worked 80-100 hours a week as a family doctor in a small town in Idaho. I delivered hundreds of babies, ran the emergency room, and saw 30-40 patients a day. Sleep was an afterthought. I ordered Starbucks coffee by the case straight from Seattle, bought an espresso machine and served up 4-5 espressos a day. I lived in a perpetual state of fatigue and pushed my way through on adrenalin.
A while back, a few members of The FIRM Believers Web Club started chatting about how they make “green monsters” in their blenders using spinach, kale, avocado and other green gems. These monsters were essentially the healthiest drinks that I’ve heard of!
The idea was somewhat novel to me. Because I really enjoy eating whole vegetables, I’ve never really considered juicing. And because I am not a fan of juicers that extract the fiber out of the fruits and vegetables, I never really considered making my own juices. But these FIRM Believers changed my mind, and my blender is now getting a workout!
We’re all programmed to like sugar, but new research shows that some people are genetically much more prone to sugar addiction than others.
As I noted in my previous blog on food addiction, science demonstrates that people can be biologically addicted to sugar and other foods in the same way people can be addicted to heroin, cocaine or nicotine. Bingeing and addictive behaviors are eerily similar in alcoholics and sugar addicts. In fact, many recovering alcoholics switch to another easily available drug: sugar.
I love food and I’m pretty sure it’s got a thing for me too.
I grew up in Kansas where cheese came in the form of a thin orange square wrapped in plastic. Dinner often came out of a box and I thought Miracle Whip and mayonnaise were the same thing. I lived blissfully unaware as I continued into my college years thinking the vegetable garden blend of cream cheese was healthy because it contained vegetables. You can’t fault a Kansas girl for trying.
It wasn’t until I started a full-time yoga practice that I started to change my ways. The interesting part was that no one pushed their yogic eating principles on me. It was simple — the more I practiced, the more my desire for good, healthy fuel grew.
Every winter, I yearn for a vacation. Surprisingly, ice and snow, the post-holiday blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder are not the chief motivators. What drives me is the chance to stop routines, habits and patterns — even the healthy ones: the dietary habits I’ll resume, the exercise routines I worked hard to put into place. Ever since I took my first meditation retreat over the week between Christmas and New Year’s, vacation has meant more to me than just fun and sun. It has meant permission: permission to relax, to reconnect inner body and outer body, and, most of all, to stop talking.