What do athletes, writers, chefs, speakers and even surgeons have in common? Highly Effective Rituals.
The word ritual may summon visions of mysterious practices, but in reality, rituals are simply habitual activities that hold meaning and invoke intention.
Rituals prepare us mentally, physically and emotionally for what is ahead and allow us to experience the benefits of an activity before we even begin . So, how does ritual impact nutrition? And, how can we create rituals that support our nutritional goals?
#1 Proper digestion starts with food preparation. Prepare your own food whenever possible. This is a sound recommendation for a number of reasons, most commonly for the benefit of knowing the type and quality of ingredients being used. Here’s another good reason. By selecting and preparing your food, you set an intention very early in the process for these items to nourish your body.
Create a simple ritual around preparing meals. Grab a favorite apron, turn on the music, pour a glass of wine. Preheat the oven or set the water to boil. Anything that broadcasts the message “I am in the kitchen—wonderful things are about to happen.” Once you’ve established a ritual, you will be surprised how quickly it becomes a focal point of the day and how inviting this time and space will become for you. By preparing the food at home, the sights and smells of food preparation engage the body and prepare it for digestion even before the food enters your mouth. When was the last time your mouth literally watered? That was the start of good digestion.
#2 State of mind, while eating, can literally affect the nutritional impact of that meal. Eating under physical or emotional stress raises cortisol levels, which may prevent the body from producing the necessary enzymes to digest food and extract nutrients properly.
Create a simple ritual around dining at home or away. Turn off the TV, sit down at the table—yes, we’ve all heard that one before. Put your napkin on your lap, pause for a moment to feel gratitude for the food before you and set the intention for it to nourish your body. If the food was prepared by someone else, take a moment to appreciate that gift as well. These brief, intentional moments can provide health benefits even if the meal itself is simply carryout.
#3 Take special care when preparing meals eaten away from home. Do you typically scoop some leftovers in a plastic dish and toss it, along with an “energy bar” and a piece of fruit, in a paper bag on your way out the door? Is it any wonder that most of us would rather go out and grab something else, anything else, than eat that lunch?
A little preparation can change the whole experience. Create a simple ritual around packing your lunch. Start the evening before, after dinner, while you are still in the kitchen mindset. Leftovers are very popular (and easy) in our house. When practical, precut food for easier reheating and eating. Be sure to include condiments, sauces or dressings if they were part of the original dish. Use a reusable lunch bag that is big enough to hold your dishes, flatware and condiments. Avoid plastic. Reusable glass dishes, in a variety of sizes are more pleasant to eat from and safer to reheat than plastic. Use real flatware. Plastic utensils are expensive and rarely hold up to a salad that’s worth eating. Grab a napkin and you’ll be ready to eat where ever your day takes you.
These simple rituals not only contribute to the pleasure of eating, they can enhance the nutritional value of the meals you eat.
Optimal Health is a lifestyle choice and rituals are a great tool. What rituals do you use to enhance your health journey?
According to the Center for Disease Control (DCD), more than a third of American adults—around 86 million—have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know it. They predict that unless major change occurs, 1 in 3 adults with have diabetes by 2050.
You don’t have to be one of them!
Pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes are lifestyle diseases. Any true solutions need to be lifestyle based. And the best news: your lifestyle is completely within your control.
I know that those of you reading this, those of you who have commented and sent questions are invested in actively managing your health. I congratulate you and I’m excited to be moving forward with you to not only to prevent diabetes, but to optimize your health.
We all know that diet plays a major part in the development of as well as the prevention or treatment of diabetes. But have you heard that sleep is almost as important? Did you know that too much or the wrong type of exercise can adversely affect blood sugars? Sometimes the solutions seem simple:
Diabetes is a disease of hyper (above) normal glucose (sugar) in the body. The solution would seem pretty straight forward: stop eating “too much” sugar. But when the questions of what is “too much” and what should we should actually be eating come up, it can get pretty confusing.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all the rage, for a very good reason, it’s a great way to exercise. BUT, only if you can tolerate it, otherwise it will cause more harm than good. Proper types and levels of activity are about balancing the benefit with the risk of injury.
Even getting the proper amount of high quality sleep isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. Finally getting your solid eight hours may be counterproductive if it’s accomplished by sleeping until 10 am on Saturdays and Sundays.
The optimal formula for each of us is not only different because we are individuals, but also changes as our bodies change. Age, chronic illness, childbearing, nutritional status are just a few of the factors that impact what our bodies need right now to be truly healthy. And, yes, I believe you can optimize your health even with a chronic illness.
Look, I know you read the books, you listen to the podcasts, you are so ready to make a change in your life, but you still have questions and there are still some things that you’re unsure of. Let’s clear up the confusion.
You don’t have to figure this out on your own. And most importantly, you don’t have to end up with a diagnosis.
This is an opportunity to take charge and turn your health around. I’d love to share the journey with you.
BUT…the comments from the first two segments have convinced me that I need to pause here and do a Q & A. So here are the top 5 comments and my thoughts.
“My sugar [level] was 110, but my doctor didn’t say anything about it.” Doctors have become quite accustomed to seeing abnormalities in lab values and many do not address levels that don’t dictate medical (prescription) intervention. This is very similar to the standard medical approach to overweight and obesity. Many physicians won’t bring up excess weight of “only” 20-30 lbs unless the patient specifically asks about weight loss. Even physicians are sensitive to the issue offending patients and in many cases they can’t offer a real solution, so they don’t bring it up. Additionally, in the presence of multiple abnormal lab values, other areas of concern can be perceived as more critical and/or easier to address. For example, elevated cholesterol levels can easily be address with “dietary advise” and a prescription. If you’ve been following my work, you know that cholesterol is not the enemy and addressing blood glucose levels will have the most significant impact on overall health.
“I don’t really want to go in and get tested because I don’t want to take drugs.” This statement reflects the way that many people feel– completely at the mercy of someones else’s decisions. In spite of popular talk tracks and even the stated mission of healthcare facilities, very few people truly feel that they they are in a partnership with healthcare professionals. And many argue, why bother going to a doctor if you aren’t going to do as he/she says? It’s important to remember that medicine is driven by Standards of Care (and reimbursement codes). Standards of care may dictate that a physician prescribe a medication. For example, certain drugs in certain doses are prescribed for specific cholesterol levels. Even more important to remember is that your decision to take medication is entirely your own. Knowing your body and how it works empowers you and gives you confidence in working with your physician as an active participant in your health. I strongly advocate taking responsibility for your own health. Does it take more effort, yes. Does it put you in control, yes. Is it completely worth it, YES!
“I’m not overweight, so I can’t have type 2 diabetes.” Approximately 15% of individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are not overweight. Inactivity, poor nutrition and genetic predisposition can lead to metabolic disorders in individuals that may otherwise appear healthy. Although optimizing blood glucose levels frequently leads to optimizing body composition, even greater benefits occur internally through optimizing metabolic health. Developing your optimal health formula means understanding not only your body’s response to glucose, but also to sleep, exercise, stress and many other factors.
“I don’t want a diagnosis of pre-diabetes in my permanent medical records.” This is a very real concern for people. When someone receives a diagnosis (Ha! it sounds like a gift!) they will forever have that diagnosis in their medical records. In the traditional medical paradigm, there is no cure for diabetes, it can only be managed and controlled. So regardless of subsequent normal blood glucose readings, “once a diabetic, always a diabetic.” There is also the affect that being diagnosed with a “chronic” illness has on an individual. Living daily with the thought “I am diabetic” does not contribute to overall health, in fact it does just the opposite. It can be extremely challenging to feel healthy when you are constantly being reminded that you are sick. Many of my clients have had elevated blood glucose, they make changes in their lifestyle and optimize their health. There is no value in spending emotional energy on a diagnosis for a situation that no longer even exists. There is tremendous power in taking charge of your own health. You can have that power and you don’t need to figure it out all by yourself.
“My doctor said if I just lose some weight, even 10 lbs my blood sugar will improve. But I just can’t lose the weight.” This is the comment that most frustrates people, especially people that have tried very hard to lose weight, only, in many cases to gain more with each attempt. This statement is frustrating to me because it is completely backwards! It is almost impossible for the body to burn fat in the presence of elevated levels of glucose and insulin. The body is burning the sugar that is needed immediately and then storing the excess–that’s what insulin does, signals the body to store excess energy. By optimizing glucose levels, the body is able to access fat stores for energy resulting not only in weight loss, but more specifically in fat loss.
Thanks to the folks who are brave enough to share! I will continue to respond individually as always and when the comments start becoming common, I will share them with all of you.
Together on this journey,
Welcome back! I hope my last post inspired you to take a look at your numbers and see where you fall on the blood glucose continuum. If you haven’t seen Pre-Pre-Diabetes Part 1 you can read it here.
So perhaps you have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. In accordance with the standards of practice, you most likely would have been referred to a dietitian or the American Diabetes Association for dietary guidelines. And faithfully following these guidelines, including eating whole grains, lean meats, starchy vegetables and non-fat milk and yogurt will almost guarantee that you will develop diabetes.
Or perhaps you were curious, like I was, picked up a glucose monitor and tested your blood only to find that you weren’t spending as much of the day under that 85mg/dl as you would like. Remember, 126mg/dl is the diagnostic value for type 2 diabetes, 100-125mg/dl is considered pre-diabetes, but research has shown that levels below 85mg/dl correlated to the best long term health. Now what do? Research!
I started reading everything I could find on the causes and management of elevated blood glucose levels. Ironically, the massive amounts of information available in print and on line make sorting through all of it the real challenge. What I found, boiled down to two schools of thought: The entrenched, ever repeated American Diabetic Association dogma and “alternative” health sites. This dichotomy left me feeling stuck. I could play it safe and follow a standard of care, blindly, which meant ignoring so much of what I had already learned– so much of what was starting to make practical sense to me.
Or I could “go it on my own”, and take full responsibility for my health. I didn’t want to manage a disease, I wanted to be really healthy for a long time. And although this take-charge option appealed to me, I couldn’t help but feel a bit hesitant. What if I made a mistake? How would I be judged if I needed medical care at some point? The real irony being that, in my experience, people are judged less for their poor health decisions like smoking than they are for choosing a nontraditional healing path. I also wondered if I would have the energy to take control of my health and deal with family and friends who choose differently? A support system can be really critical. And on top of it all, I’d spent years as a nurse in the traditional medical system, those entrenched ideas don’t die easily! I had encouraged low-fat, low sodium diets and tried and struggled with them myself. I realized I couldn’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. I had to take the leap.
I took control of my health and haven’t looked back. I learned exactly what causes my blood sugar to rise and how to maintain consistant levels. I learned exactly what causes my body to store fat and to burn it. And most importantly, I learned that there wasn’t some secret formula out there that I could read or buy. The secret formula was unique to my body. Optimal health is not one-size-fits-all.
Discovering your own optimal health formula is the critical piece missing from so many programs. We may all start out with similar body function and chemistry, but through years of living, each of us develops our own imbalances and subsequent health issues. That’s why the Doctor-approved, best selling diet and exercise plan that works so well for your sister or your friend may not do a thing for you and may even be harmful.
Choosing differently is the only way to get a different result.
I work with three types of people: Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, who don’t want to spend the rest of their lives on medication. Those, like myself who had a suspicion that they may have something going on metabolically and people who have tried diligently to lose weight, aren’t able and somewhat fearfully wonder if something more is going on in their bodies.
If you are reading this and thinking, this all sounds so familiar! Let’s talk. You don’t have to figure this out on your own. You don’t have to end up with a diagnosis. You don’t have to spend years doing research to learn that there are other options when it comes to reclaiming your health. This is an opportunity to take charge and turn your health around. I’d love to share the journey with you.
Have you ever wondered how medical diagnoses are developed?
A diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes is widely accepted and understood. Individuals with Fasting Blood Glucose (FBG) levels >126mg/dl or 7 mmol/L receive a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
FBG levels are considered normal when they are < 100mg/dl.
So essentially that leaves a group of individuals whose FBG was between 100 and 125mg/dl who were not within “normal” range and yet do not qualify for a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. So, a diagnosis of Pre-diabetes is created. The reason a formal diagnosis is so important in the medical community is that a diagnosis is tied to a billing code for reimbursement as well as standards of practice that drive treatments and medications which, in turn, are also tied to reimbursement codes. You can probably see where this is going.
So here is the real health question: What is so special about the “normal” level of 100mg/dl? Really, nothing. It is a somewhat random value, set, then revised years ago. It is used as a basis to determine whether treatment is warranted or not. And although it may be considered “normal” from a diagnostic or statistical standpoint, it is not necessarily an positive indicator of current health or a predictor of future health.
In fact, fasting levels of < 85mg/dl seem to predict much better longterm positive health outcomes.
showed that those with fasting plasma glucose levels of 95 to 99 mg/dL, (within normal range) were more than twice as likely to develop diabetes
as subjects with glucose levels < 85 mg/dL .
showed that there is a progressively increasing risk of heart disease in men with FBG levels > 85 mg/dL, as compared to those with FBG levels of 81 mg/dL or lower.
So although the title of this article is a bit tongue-in-cheek, it’s not entirely so. Remember doctors are looking for a dis-ease that they can diagnose and treat, and in order to be treatable (and reimbursable) a dis-ease needs a name. So, if the trend continues and doctors begin to realize that even a FBG of 100mg/dl is not ideal, Pre-Pre-Diabetes may just be the next big thing.
The good news: there is no need to wait for the medical model to catch up with optimal health practices!
What is your fasting glucose level? Are you in that 85-99mg/dl range? Have you been diagnosed with Pre-diabetes? Are you trying to sort out what this means for your health and what actions you need to take?
If you’re resigned to having diabetes or are looking for the magic pill, you won’t find what you’re looking for here.
But, if you want optimal health and you want to take action before you end up with a diagnosis, I can get you on the right track. And, if you’ve already been diagnosed, know that pre-diabetes is completely reversible with the right plan. Message me
here or set up a call
and start to take control of your blood glucose and move towards optimal health.
Watch for the next segment on how current treatments and dietary recommendations can actually accelerate the progression of the dis-ease.
How do you want to feel? “Good”, I hope, “great”, maybe “healthy”. These are typical responses I get when I ask my clients that one little question. But when they are pressed to go deeper, the responses shift to what they need to do, or what they don’t want, and the feeling is often left out. “I want to lose 30lbs”, “I worry about becoming diabetic”, “I just want the pain in my hips to stop.” “I want to try yoga, but I don’t know how to start.”
When we lose track of what we want to feel and experience, we are often left with a list of shoulds. And we start shoulding all over ourselves. I should lose weight, I should exercise, I should start running again, I should meditate, I should eat kale, I should, I should, I should…and then we don’t. Because should rarely comes from a powerful or constructive place in our psyche. Should automatically creates a conflict between what we want and what we perceive is the appropriate course of action. And conflict is exhausting.
This shoulding is supported by the messages in health an fitness magazines and popular media. Do any of these recommendations sound familiar to you:
- Pick a physical activity that you think you should do, start doing it, (Don’t worry if it’s suitable for your current state of health and fitness). “Anyone can start running, all you need is a pair of shoes.”
- Set a goal to do a certain number of minutes, reps or miles per the published schedule. (Don’t deviate or you won’t meet your goal.)
- Push through the pain. Pain is just the body ridding itself of fear…wrap it, tape it, wear a brace, just keep working toward your goal.
- Get up earlier, stay up later…whatever it takes to make this goal.
- Ignore your hunger, eat six small meals a day (everyone?).Don’t let yourself get hungry…
*Become frustrated, or worse yet, injured (because that goal is in no way tied to how you want to feel, in your body or in your life). Give up.
Okay, that last one is my addition, because this is what I see and hear when clients come into my office. Beside the injury that brings them in, they are tired from over exercise or incorrect exercise, hungry from restricting calories and fat and frustrated because they have tried so hard. Often they simply want to give up on trying to get healthy.
So we start with the question: how do you want to feel? Yes, we lead with the heart. Our bodies are amazingly tuned to want to feel good. For example, our bodies want to move and if they are well rested and properly nourished, they will move naturally. And the more we move, the more we seek out ways to enjoy new types of movement, movement that our body will crave and we will actually look forward to doing. What does your body really want to eat? Does your mind want that for your body or are there food addictions causing your mind and body to be misaligned? Food is nourishment, medicine and part of our social structure.How does your food make you feel?
You deserve to feel good. You deserve to have all of the time and effort you expend lead to what you truly want to feel and experience. You don’t have to be injured to make this shift!
In a short call we can determine how you really want to feel and what the first steps are to get you there!
If you recognize this cycle and are ready to choose something different, let’s chat.