Thursday, April 26, 2012

What An E.I. Girl Needs - 2

Hello friends! I hope you're having a good week and getting lots of hugs. =)

Hugs are great, but sometimes I need other things I don't enjoy as much. 

*Sometimes an E.I. girl just needs to cry.*

As a child I rarely cried. I only remember a few specific times. Living with E.I. however, definitely changed that. One of the main symptoms I've had with allergic reactions is to burst into tears. Sometimes I didn't even know what I was reacting to, but the sobs were definite evidence of a chemical or toxin I had encountered.

It's a strange thing never knowing when you'll suddenly produce a flood of tears. It drove me nuts for a while. Gradually my mom helped me see that the tears could be a good thing. Because sometimes a girl just needs to cry. 

Crying releases emotions, carries out toxins, and often helps the body relax again. (If you search "benefits of crying" you'll be amazed by the information.)

I've come to believe that tears are a gift from God. I don't always welcome them like I should, but I am thankful they are there when I need them.

And I'm very glad to report that I'm finally learning how to cry "happy tears"! As I progress with the DNRS brain retraining program, sometimes I'm so filled with joy and happiness that it overflows through my tears. Thank you Lord!

Question: Do you see tears as a negative thing or a positive thing?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What An E.I. Girl Needs - 1

Living with Environmental Illness presents some unique challenges. Yet many basic needs remain the same, even though they're framed in a different situation than most people experience. 

So I'll be writing a series of posts about what an E.I. girl needs - a different perspective on common needs. =)

*Sometimes an E.I. Girl just needs a HUG!*

In my teens I wasn't a very "huggy" person, but during college I came to appreciate the value of a warm hug. 

After my health collapsed, I became so sensitive to fragrances of any kind that I quit hugging people altogether. If I hugged someone, not only would I smell ALL the fragrances on them (perfume, laundry soap, hand lotion, etc.) but I would then have those fragrances on my clothes, skin and hair. So I held back and quit hugging people. 

But sometimes, when life feels overwhelming, or I'm lonely or weary, I just really need a HUG! 

There's something comforting, reassuring, and calming about a hug. A hug says, 
"It'll be ok." 
"You're going to get through this."
"Even when life hurts, I still care about you." 
"You're not alone." 

What a precious gift God has given us in a simple hug! If you've been taking this gift for granted, I hope you'll go find a loved one right away and give them a big hug!!! =)

I'm thankful for the people in my life who've been willing to forego the scented products so that I can enjoy being around them and giving them a hug. 

Thankfully, as the chemical sensitivity is decreasing for me, I'm able to hug a few more people than before. But I'm still way behind on my "quota," as some experts recommend at least 4 hugs a day to maintain emotional health. 

As my health continues to improve, I'm looking forward to catching up on all those hugs! =)

Question: How many hugs do you need each day? What hinders you from getting enough hugs? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Food Wars - "Snack Attacks"

So how goes the "food war" this week? I hope you're continually motivated to fight for a healthy diet and healthy body! =) 

Today I want to share some ideas to help you when you feel a "snack attack" coming. 

Sadly, almost all "snack food" is very unhealthy - full of sugar, preservatives, pesticides, etc. So what we can do when we have a craving for something sweet or just get the "munchies"?  

1) Keep fruit and veggies on hand.
We try to always have apples and bananas at home. When they're available we also have plums, kiwi, tangerines, berries, etc. Organic fresh fruit can help fill cravings for sweets and is a wonderful, healthy snack.
Also, organic cucumbers, baby carrots, sugar snap peas, and other veggies make great snacks. Sometimes just having something to chew on is enough to stop a craving or the "munchies." =)

2) Stock healthy protein snacks.
If you have issues with your blood sugar, you probably need frequent protein snacks. 
You can boil eggs and keep them in the fridge to grab when needed. 
Or put cooked steak or chicken strips in the freezer for a quick snack. 
If you can handle nuts, organic Almond butter is a tasty protein snack.  
These options take a little more effort than a "protein bar" but generally speaking they are much healthier alternatives.

3) Keep healthy snacks in your freezer.
I mentioned last week that my mom makes a big batch of blueberry pancakes for me (with non-gluten flour and organic eggs) then puts them in the freezer. They make a great snack because they have a little protein and a little sweetness from the blueberries. My mom also makes homemade oat crackers which keep well in the freezer. At different times she's made me kamut crackers, coconut flour crackers, oatmeal scones, rye tortillas, and more. You can find many recipes for these kinds of flours online.

4) Look for snacks at your local health food store.
You can usually find things like rye crackers, oatmeal wafers, organic cereals, etc. Remember to always read labels, and watch out for unhealthy ingredients such as corn, soy, peanuts, sugars, etc. (Just because an item is sold in a health food store, doesn't make it "healthy.") I try to stick with homemade snacks, but these other products can be helpful as well.

5) Try organic dark chocolate.
If you really don't need a snack but still want something to chew on or to perk you up, try eating one SMALL square of healthy chocolate. I usually eat one small square two or three times a day. It gives me a little boost and makes me feel like I had a snack. =) For more info on the benefits of organic, dark chocolate, check out this blogpost.

Well, this wraps up our series on "Food Wars." I hope you found these tips helpful. Please share any thoughts or questions you have in the comments.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Food Wars - "Freeze It Buster!"

So how did you do last week with the "battle of the grocery store"? I hope you enjoyed a great victory! =) 

Today I want to share a few tips for using your freezer effectively in the ongoing fight to eat healthy. 

1) Buy organic frozen vegetables. 
Most grocery stores now carry at least a few kinds of organic frozen veggies. At our store we can get peas, broccoli, and sometimes green beans. It's good to have these in your freezer so that if you run out of fresh produce, you'll still have something healthy and green to add to your meals. =) 

2) Freeze extra meal servings.
When you cook a healthy meal, make some extra and stick it in the freezer for those nights when you just don't feel like cooking (and might be tempted to order pizza or something). =) My mom often makes a big pot of vegetable soup for me. Then we put it into pint jars and freeze them so I have several individual meals of soup all ready. 

3) Cook and freeze healthy meat so you'll have it on hand (unless you're vegetarian of course). =) 
My mom buys several pounds of organic hamburger, then cooks it all up and sticks it in the freezer. Same with organic chicken (she usually stir-fries it). Then I have it ready when we make various meals, or I can warm up an individual serving for a quick protein snack. 

4) Freeze healthy "breads" and snacks.
Most days I eat a sorghum flour/tapioca flour biscuit, a blueberry pancake made with non-gluten flour, Irish Soda Bread (see here for the recipe), or other alternative "breads." On different days, my mom makes a big batch of each of them, and puts them in the freezer. All I have to do is warm one up in the oven for a few minutes. Or if we're out and about for several hours, I can take one with me and eat it when I need a snack (instead of unhealthy crackers, chips, etc.).

5) Freeze broths, sauces, etc.
My mom boils chicken to make chicken broth, then we freeze it in jars to use later. (This is a better alternative than canned chicken broth.)
If you make your own tomato sauce or other sauces, you can freeze them also.  

When trying to eat as much home-cooked food as possible and avoid processed, preservative-laden foods, the freezer is a wonderful ally! Basically anything healthy that you cook and eat (besides fresh produce) can be stored in the freezer. Then you have it on hand and it keeps much longer.

Years ago my allergist told me not to eat anything that had been in the fridge longer than 24 hours (it begins to grow mold). Because of my extreme mold sensitivity, I wasn't supposed to eat any "leftovers." This restriction started me in the habit of using my freezer for everything! And I'm really glad it did! =)

How do you use your freezer to help your family eat healthy?