FUN FACT: Get Rid of Post-Holiday Constipation
RECIPE OF THE MONTH: Spicy Sausage/Shiitake Stir Fry
Introducing... Christi's Brand New
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You've probably heard the news by now...
I'm having my first baby in February!
I will take a few months off from health counseling, speaking, and writing to enjoy being a new mom.
I will check emails periodically, but please be patient as I adjust to my new "career!"
Your 5-Second Health Test
As you say good-bye to the holidays for another year, does your body feel extra healthy... or extra heavy?
Chances are, those cookies, glasses of wine, and holiday roasts are sitting heavy in your belly... making you feel lethargic, bloated, and less healthy than normal.
Did you know that there's a quick, easy way to evaluate your own health this week?
You don't need to go to the doctor to do this.
You don't need to buy any supplies.
The only materials you need are yourself, 5-seconds of your time, and your toilet.
How do you know if your bowels are functioning properly?
Step #1: How many?
First, you want to ask yourself: "How many bowel movements do I have every day?" Everyone's digestive rate differs. Some people go to the bathroom after every meal (this is ideal). Some go once a day (not bad). Others wait days to see a bowel movement (this is NOT good).
You should have a bowel movement at least once every day... if not, then it's time to make some changes, and you should definitely keep reading.
Some clients come to me complaining of constipation that lasts for days, even weeks at a time. Other clients come to me because they have diarrhea on a daily basis. If you experience either of these two situations, then I highly recommend that you seek medical support as soon as possible (from a doctor, naturopath, or a health counselor). Regular digestive elimination is crucial to your health.
Step #2: How does it feel?
Just having frequent and regular bowel movements aren't enough, though. The quality of your bowel movements is also extremely important.
You should not have to strain when you go to the bathroom. Having a bowel movement should not hurt... and it should not be frustrating in any way. It should come out easily... pretty much on its own, without lots of work on your part.
However, if you've got diarrhea or really loose bowels, then that's a sign that waste is moving much too quickly through your intestines... and your body is probably not absorbing as many nutrients as it needs from your food.
Step #3: What does it look like?
The ideal bowel movement looks like a long golden banana. My teacher at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition used to call this "The Golden Guru!"
Your bowel movements should be rather light in color (which means the waste hasn't been accumulating in your colon for a long time). The consistency shouldn't be too hard or too soft.
Seven Ways to Improve Your Digestion
It's difficult to address digestion in a general way, because constipation and diarrhea usually need opposite approaches. However, there are a few solutions that can help you improve your digestion, no matter what the problem is.
Here are seven things you can do on your own this month to improve your digestion:
1. Practice a.m. abdominal massage. Before you get out of bed in the morning, take some time to massage your belly in a clockwise direction. Start below your belly button and move your hand up and around to the right, going around your belly button. This is the direction that digestion flows.
This kind of daily massage reduces constipation by stimulating the intestines into motion. It can also reduce diarrhea because it forces you to slow down for a while in the morning and not race out of bed.
2. Chew your food really well. Start chewing your foods 20-30 times before you swallow. This helps any kind of digestive problem, because digestion starts in the mouth. By chewing, you're alerting your stomach to the fact that food is on its way. Chewing breaks down the food and releases digestive enzymes that makes food easier to absorb.
Chewing also helps to ease gas, bloating, and heartburn... in a way that Bean-o and Gas-x just can't match! Plus, it doesn't cost anything.
3. Don't eat on the run, under stress, or with distractions. Many of my clients come to me after they've spent months paying close attention to the foods they eat. They've eliminated a lot of the 'problem foods' but they're still suffering from digestive troubles.
I remind them that they can't forget to pay attention to HOW they eat. If you suffer from constipation or diarrhea, the environment in which you consume your food is just as important as the food you eat. If you eat in a stressful or rushed environment, your body won't digest efficiently.
Instead of buying expensive supplements or digestive aids, try the following steps:
- Turn off the computer and TV when you eat.
- NEVER eat standing up. You should always sit down.
- Don't read or talk on the phone while you eat.
- If you feel stressed, take some deep breaths before you eat (or wait until the stressed feeling goes away).
- Don't eat in your car or at your desk at work.
4. Drink lots of water, and avoid coffee, soda and alcohol. Coffee and alcohol can cause your intestines to spasm, which can result in either constaipation or diarrhea. Soda often contains artificial sweeteners, which can cause indigestion.
Water - on the other hand - helps to lubricate your intestines and keep things moving through your digestive tract. It also rehydrates you, and this is very important if you experience diarrhea.
5. Eat foods with soluble fiber in them (not all fiber is created equal - soluble fiber dissolves in water, which provides a gentle digestive aid). Some foods with soluble fiber include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Rice cereals
6. You can also take probiotics (I use a brand called PB8 from Whole Foods) or digestive enzymes on a daily basis to support the functioning of your intestines.
7. Get moving! Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your digestion and relieve your stress. Find yourself sitting at your desk all day? You can still move your body. Check out the free "Sit 'N' Get Fit" program developed by one of my favorite colleagues, Cheryl Miller.
I encourage you to pick one change to make this week to help your intestines function more efficiently. If you're looking for more inspiration, check out the Food Fun Fact section above for foods that help reduce post-holiday constipation.
More helpful health tips at www.bostonhealthcoach.com!
Online Nutrition Program for Marathon Runners
Are you a marathon runner who is confused about what to eat during your training season? The "Peak Performance Nutrition Program" (PPNP) is an online program that teaches you the dietary changes you need to make during your 18-week training season.
The winter programs started last week, so sign up now to make sure you receive all 19 issues.
To learn more and read a sample PPNP issue, click here.
The Big Lake program started 1/9 - sign up
The Rock 'N' Roll program starts 1/30 - sign up
The Anchorage program starts 2/13 - sign up
Corporate Wellness Education
To see where I'm speaking this month, please visit my events page.
Certain foods help your bowels function more efficiently.
Incorporate of these foods into your diet on a daily basis if you need to increase the quality or quantity of your bowel movements:
1. Water - this is number one! If you're constipated you need to get at least 8 glasses of water in your body every day (some of you may even need more).
2. Dark leafy greens like kale, collard greens, spinach, arugula, broccoli rabe, and swiss chard
3. Whole fruit particularly apples, papaya, and pears
4. Dried fruit like apricots, prunes, and figs (soak figs in water first)
5. Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and millet
6. Sweet veggies like beets and sweet potatoes
If you're constipated, you should minimiz certain foods (as these can exacerbate the problem):
1. Milk and other dairy products
3. Processed foods with sugar and white flour in them
RECIPE OF THE MONTH:
Spicy Sausage/Shiitake Stir Fry
Ben and I came up with this recipe a few days ago, and it was so delicious that I wanted to share it with you.
*Makes enough for 2
- Olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
- 1 bunch dinosaur kale
- handful of shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- salt & pepper to taste
2. Mince garlic and chop ginger. Put in skillet with olive oil on low heat.
3. Wash mushrooms and kale.
4. Cut mushrooms into long strips. Cut kale into bite-size pieces.
5. Add mushrooms and kale to skillet and stir fry until kale turns bright green (about 3 minutes).
6. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, salt and pepper.
7. Cut up sausage and serve on top of kale mixture.
** Pair this dish with a bowl of gorgeously orange carrot soup or a bowl of grains!
Check out other delicious winter recipes on my site!
Some Tools To Help You Live Healthy in 2006:
ABOUT CHRISTI LEHNER
Christi Lehner-Collins, H.H.C., AADP, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. A Holistic Health Counselor is a nutritionist and life coach all rolled up into one.
Christi studied Eastern/Western nutrition and modern health counseling at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City and earned a B.A. in Honors in Communication Arts from Villanova Universty.
Christi's goal is to help people fall in love with healthy eating, juicy living, and guilt-free self-care. Christi is a three-time marathoner and triathlete, an avid pianist, and a newly converted Red Sox and Patriots fan.
She is the author of the forthcoming book You Don't Have to be Superwoman to be Healthy: 50 Ways to Reclaim Your Health.
To read more fun facts and stories about Christi, click here.
To visit Christi's official website, click here.
Christi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.492.6450.
About "Christi's Nourishing Nuggets"
Note: the information in this newsletter is presented for educational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a licensed professional. To suggest topics for future "Christi's Nourishing Nuggets " issues, please contact me.
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