Confessions of a Wheat Belly

It has been 2 months, 1 day, 4 hours, 10 minutes and 15 seconds since my last cupcake. I am now officially grain free.  I honestly never knew I had a problem until I changed my diet.

 

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My dog, Kookaburra, has been grain free since she was a puppy. Looking back– I can now understand (and relate to) the crazy behavioral issues she had during her transition from kibble to grain free.

 

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Initially, I found myself secretly, quietly perusing images of cupcakes and (yes) sandwiches on the internet.  Then my wheat addiction symptoms got more serious.  I bought food magazines and cut out pictures of bread and other grain filled gems and pasted them on my bathroom wall!  I was also light headed and a tiny bit cranky.

 

 

But, to support our mother’s path to wellness and her newly prescribed grain free diet, my sisters and I have decided to remain grain free too. As Dr. William Davis, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author states, “Once wheat-free, always wheat-free is the best policy.”

 

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Question:  

  • Is there a difference between Gluten-Free and Grain Free? 

Answer:  Yes

  • A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains such as wheat, barley, rye, and a cross between wheat and rye called triticale.  
  • Rice, corn, barley and oats are allowed.

 

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  • A Grain-Free diet is a diet that excludes all grains including wheat, rice, corn, barley and oats.  
  • According to Dr. William Davis, a Grain-Free Diet is the healthiest.

 

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In a recent interview from https://www.wellnessmama.com, Dr. William Davis  states:

  • Wheat, harboring its hidden gliadin protein, increases appetite.
  • Wheat is a weak opiate. Eat wheat, you want more wheat, you want more carbohydrates. 
  • When we eat more grains, we gain weight and acquire all the health consequences such as hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, acid reflux, and diabetes. 

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To celebrate our new grain free life–I have decided to reincarnate my favorite popcorn snack into a non-popcorn (grain-free) snack.  It really is just as delicious.  Enjoy!

 

 

Non-Popcorn Snack

1 cup marcona almonds, salted
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries, sweetened
3-4 ozs. dark chocolate bar, chopped
1/2 cup manchego cheese, cubed
3 cups popcorn (eliminate)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.

 

 

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

I used to trust reviews on the internet–100%.  I was easily swayed by comments and  perfectly photoshopped photos of pretty people in white coats with stethoscopes.

 

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After reading reviews for this one neurologist, I convinced my sister to schedule an appointment for our mother, Alberta.

 

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“This doctor must be really good,” I said. “Five stars and she’s interested in natural medicine,” I said.   I was wrong.  Those reviews were wrong.  It was a bad experience. But at least we got forms filled out to get a temporary handicap placard for the car. And at least I learned a lesson.

 

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My twin sister later told our mom’s acupuncturist all about  the horrible experience at the neurologist’s office. He then said, “My dad’s a doctor.  You should call him.  He’s not traditional at all.  You’ll like him.”

 

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Dr. Robert Bookman, a.k.a. Dr. Bob (https://www.a2hi.com)  is not your typical doctor.  We did not even have to leave the house for the appointment with him.  He called us on the phone. He then ordered extensive lab tests to figure out how to best proceed with our mother.

  • “I want to understand everything that is out of balance with my patients in order to return them to optimum health. I provide the support and guidance for you to achieve and maintain a healthy existence.”

Robert H. Brookman, D.O.
FCCP, FACOI, ABAARM

 

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When the testing was completed– Dr. Brookman  analyzed the results and called us again–this time  with a plan of action.

 

 

Dr. Bob’s 10 steps to achieve optimum health are:

  • Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition
  • Exercise is Medicine
  • Stress Reduction
  • Gastrointestinal Health
  • Detoxification
  • Balance Vitamins, Minerals, Fatty Acids and Amino Acids
  • Hormone Balance
  • Immune Modulation
  • Enhance Mitochondrial Health
  • Longevity Enhancement

The Company of Dogs

According to https://www.medicalnewstoday.com  — looking at “puppy dog eyes” triggers a 300% increase in a person’s oxytocin levels – the “love hormone” involved in maternal bonding.

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According to https://www.Helpguide.org :

  • Dogs in particular can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. 

 

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  • One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.

 

  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. 

 

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  • More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions.

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  • While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures.

 

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  • And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling.

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  • Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed or anxious.

 

 

  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.

 

 

  • One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs (and cats) fulfill the basic human need to touch.

 

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  • Taking a dog for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule.

 

 

  • Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements

 

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  • And exercising every day is great for the animal as well. It will deepen the connection between you, eradicate most behavior problems in dogs, and keep your pet fit and healthy.

 

 

 

Feldenkrais for Fitness

 

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Last January (just before my mom’s stroke) I bought Bruce Holmes’ cd called The Feldenkrais Lessons: Awareness Through Movement.  I was looking for something different from my regular exercise routine. Back then, I had no idea how crucial Feldenkrais would become– not only for me and my own well being–but also for my mother, Alberta, and her stroke recovery.

 

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The Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education (from https://www.feldenkrais.com):

  • The Feldenkrais Method® is a form of somatic education that uses gentle movement and directed attention to improve movement and enhance human functioning. Through this Method, you can increase your ease and range of motion, improve your flexibility and coordination, and rediscover your innate capacity for graceful, efficient movement. These improvements will often generalize to enhance functioning in other aspects of your life.
  • The Feldenkrais Method is based on principles of physics, biomechanics and an empirical understanding of learning and human development. By expanding the self-image through movement sequences that bring attention to the parts of the self that are out of awareness, the Method enables you to include more of yourself in your functioning movements. 

 

 

Take a moment to participate in this short lesson to try Feldenkrais for yourself.

 

 

After I read Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’ book, Body Awareness as Healing Therapy: The Case of Nora, I knew for sure that my mom could also benefit from Feldenkrais.  In the book, Dr. Feldenkrais describes his work with Nora– a woman who suffered a massive stroke and lost her neuromuscular coordination, including the ability to read and write.

 

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Thanks to the internet, I found a Feldenkrais practitioner, Chrish Kresge (https://www.chrishkresge.com) to help my mom.

 

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Chrish teaches my mother crucial strategies for improved awareness.

 

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With Feldenkrais my mother is also learning how to overcome obstacles more effectively  with less strain on her body.

 

 

Chrish has been fundamental in helping my mother regain her balance and independence.

 

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Working Again (Repurposed)

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According to http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/enhance-your-wellbeing/purpose/life-purpose/why-life-purpose-important:

  • One of the common features among people who live with a purpose is that they are able to find meaning in the things that happen to them. Andrew Zolli, author of Resilience, describes these people as being able to “cog­ni­tively reap­praise sit­u­a­tions and reg­u­late emo­tions, turn­ing life’s prover­bial lemons into lemon­ade.”

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Back when my mother, Alberta, was in rehab, I arranged for her to have a phone consultation with Dr. Steven D. Farmer (http://www.earthmagic.net).  Dr. Farmer is a spiritual healer, psychotherapist (retired) and shaman.  My mother has no interest in anything esoteric, woo-woo or  otherworldly.  But as a former psychotherapist, I knew Dr. Farmer would know how to speak to my mother in a way that would be both  encouraging and therapeutic. I also knew that his shamanic abilities could reach those esoteric parts of my mother that needed healing and support.

Dr. Farmer talked to my mother about  her purpose– her role with her patients and her family.  It was a very helpful and much needed conversation.

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  Dr. Victor J. Stretcher, author of the book “On Purpose” states

  • When you see the data about the elderly who have little or no purpose in life, and how quickly they get sick and die, you realize how important it is for an elderly person to repurpose their life toward something bigger than themselves.

Although, I had referred most of my mom’s patients to other child psychiatrists or pediatricians–a handful of parents kept calling, sending cards –asking when they could  make an appointment.

I don’t think my mother anticipated how  going back to work would affect her.  Her patients have given her a huge gift.  Because of them–she has not only repurposed herself but she has also reclaimed her self esteem.

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Marching Orders

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My mother, Alberta,  likes having a schedule. Before her stroke, her life was highly routinized. She was always up by 5:30 a.m.–at the office by 7:30–home by 3:30–dinner was by  4:00– and at 4:30 she was always watching  Judge Judy.  Her nightly  bath was at 6:00  and she was in bed by 7:00 p.m.

 

 

Once our mom left the inpatient rehab facility, she soon started outpatient rehab 3-4 times a week.  This routine of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy was grueling– but our mother needed something to do.

 

 

 

 

I appreciated speech therapy the most. The speech pathologist  was the first (and only) person who explained the nature of our mom’s stroke to us.

 

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Frontal Lobe – Front part of the brain; involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality and a variety of “higher cognitive functions” including behavior and emotions. 

The speech pathologist informed us that the area of the brain where our mom had her stroke (frontal lobe) governs sequence, organization and memory. She explained that speech is more than just verbal ability. It is all about how we see ourselves in space. It was the first time anyone mentioned how the brain damage from the stroke affected how our mom perceives and misperceives herself and others in the world around her. As a result of the stroke, our mom is much more impulsive and restless.  And she has no filter for her thoughts. If she thinks the food you made is bad, she will not sugar coat it. She tells it like (she thinks) it is.

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The speech pathologist, however, gave us tools and cognitive exercises to kick-start our mom’s brain back into appropriate action. We were also encouraged  to get a (paper) calendar so that our mother could anticipate her daily schedule and routine.

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The speech pathologist explained that we all need awareness (a sense of ourselves in time and space) to effectively function in the world.

 

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When our mom first started outpatient rehab she was in a wheelchair and was using a right sided hemi-walker to stand up, sit down and shuffle from place to place.  Midway through rehab, our mom started using a 4 pronged cane to walk.  We were also told to “ditch the wheelchair.”

 

When outpatient rehab (4 months) was over, the discharge advice was:  Keep walking. Walking boosts brain function.

 

At the E.R.

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On the walk to the Emergency Room,  our mother kept insisting that she was ok. My twin sister pointed out a penny on the sidewalk. “See there.  Pick it up. That’s a good sign,” said our mother.  She then said she was going to tell the E.R. doc that she injured herself falling the night before.  But when we got to the E.R. my twin sister, Akwelle, immediately told the E.R. receptionist that she thought our mom was having a stroke.  Our mom was rushed to an examining room.  “Code Red:  Stroke,” was announced over the loud speaker.  My mom was allowed only one visitor in the examining room. My twin sister stayed with her while I sat in the E.R. lounge.

 

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I started  thinking about how earlier in the week, at home, I had seen a little white cloud in the house. It was slowly floating, rotating like a wheel through the breakfast room.  “Was that a sign of something bad or something good?” I thought.   I had also seen this weird lady at the grocery store. She  had this thin cob-web like string  coming from the top of her head.  It moved with her wherever she went.  I could not figure out where it originated.  I blinked my eyes several times but I still saw it.  I must admit it–every once in awhile I do see unusual things.

 

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Back in the E.R. waiting area, I finally decided I should just go back to sit with my mom and twin sister. I figured the E.R. check in people were not keeping track of which one of us (twins) was where anyhow. This worked out perfectly. The E.R. doc was talking to my sister outside the examining room.  She said the Cat Scan showed no bleeding on the brain but she said she was concerned because clearly our mom was either having  a TIA or a real stroke.  She talked  about a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) that she could give our mom.  “But, I won’t– because there’s only a short window to give this drug and if your mom had a TIA last night and then another one today, then that window has closed.  It is too dangerous. It could even  kill her.  There is no way I am risking that.  She will have to stay here overnight for observation,” she said.

  • tPA or tissue plasminogen activator (from http://www.strokeassociation.org):
    The only FDA approved treatment for ischemic strokes is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA, also known as IV rtPA, given through an IV in the arm). tPA works by dissolving the clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain being deprived of blood flow. If administered within 3 hours(and up to 4.5 hours in certain eligible patients), tPA may improve the chances of recovering from a stroke. A significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment; this is why it’s so important to identify a stroke immediately.

My twin sister and I went into the examining room to sit with our mother.   She was eating a turkey sandwich.  “You should go home.  I am fine.  Pick me up tomorrow. Go home and walk Kookaburra,” she said.