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.

 

img_1362

 

 

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.

 

img_0790

 

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.”

 

wheat-belly-total-health-book

 

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.

 

img_0679

 

  • 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.

 

selfie

 

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. 

img_1057

 

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.

 

img_1332-1

 

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

 

img_1334

 

“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.

 

img_1315

 

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.”

 

img_1184

 

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

 

akashic-library

 

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.

img_0675

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. 

 

img_2657

 

  • 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. 

 

img_1302

 

 

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

img_3791

 

 

  • 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.

 

img_1299

 

 

  • 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.

img_1290

 

  • 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.

 

img_1304

 

 

  • 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

 

img_1306

 

  • 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

 

feldenkrais

 

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.

 

koko

 

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.

 

img_0808

 

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

 

img_1162

 

Chrish teaches my mother crucial strategies for improved awareness.

 

img_0990

 

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.

 

my-pink-robe-19x24

 

 

Working Again (Repurposed)

img_2484

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.”

img_0936

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.

en-ab067_purpos_gv_20140326135434

  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.

img_1061

Getting to Know You

img_1192

 

My dad was mischievous.  Even when he was seriously ill and in treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma–he was mischievous.  My twin sister and I used to take him to chemo and radiation therapy–daily.  It was a difficult time, but in hindsight it was also a great time because we got a chance to get to know each other–differently.

 

 

I remember once driving my dad home from the grocery store– I had the radio on and was listening to Bon Jovi.  My dad turned to me and said, “I didn’t know you liked this kind of music.  There’s so much I don’t know about you.”

img_1150-1

 

Later, when we got back the house, my dad started to make an elaborate  lunch.  My dad loved to cook.  He then set the table for 4 instead of 3.  “Someone  else joining us?” I asked. “Oh.  Just a friend I met… who speaks Italian.”  At that time, I was obsessed with everything Italian. I had even learned to speak Italian  in college.  So, of course, I was excited.  I started thinking about the fabulous possibilities of this mystery guest.  “I’m gonna be the next Mrs. Ferragamo or  Mrs. Gucci,” I thought to myself as I planned an elegant, yet simple wedding.

 

 

img_1215

 

Then the doorbell rang.  It was my dad’s new friend–an elderly,  Ethiopian man.  My dad introduced him as Mr. Wollo.  “This is odd,” I mumbled.  My twin sister, Akwelle, giggled. We all sat down for lunch.  My dad then told this old, odd man, Mr. Wollo, all about me and my interests.  “She looooves speaking Italian.  She loves to cook.  She loves to paint. She loves photography. Why don’t you say something in Italian, Koko?” my dad said to me  as he opened his eyes up super  wide.  I growled something incomprehensible, even to me.  Then I stormed from the table and ran up to my room and devoured a party size bag of plain M&M’s.

 

 

By the time I went back downstairs, lunch was over.  Mr. Wollo was long gone. Then I yelled at my father, “What was your plan here with this crazy lunch!? Have you lost your mind?  Mr. Wollo is even older than you … and… he’s… hideous!”

 

img_1392

 

My dad was laughing loudly by this point.  Coughing even. “You take things too seriously. Your temper tantrum was priceless, though. It was all a joke. No big deal. But if you change your mind, I am sure Mr. Wollo is free tomorrow,” my dad said as he continued laughing his biggest laugh.  I was too upset to appreciate the humor.

 

 

img_1374

 

 

Late last night, when I was helping my mother get to the bathroom (for the 4th time), she suddenly started laughing.  She was walking very, very slowly and said, “I’m a comin’.  I’m a comin’.  I might be a little slow and the coffee might be cold when I get there, but I’m a comin’.”  Then she really started laughing, coughing even–with tears in her eyes.   By this point, she was pretending to hold up a cup of coffee as she moseyed along in her fuzzy, pink, skid-proof socks.  We were both laughing!

 

 

img_1136

 

I mention all of this really as a reminder to myself that even in difficult times–there’s still always something to laugh about.  I am able to appreciate that now.  Ultimately, this whole experience– with my mom’s stroke and recovery– is a chance for us to get to know each other–differently, and to keep laughing.

 

 

Marching Orders

img_0501

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.

 

cerebrum_lobes

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.

img_1163

 

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.

img_2433

 

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

 

img_0215

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.