Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Helpful Hint - The Power of Ginger

Throughout my entire food journey of identifying being gluten intolerant and then lactose intolerant, I also found I am allergic to stone fruits, ie nectarines, plums, peaches, apricots (I know!!! Right!? Totally sucks!) and also fresh apples and pears. This entirely sucks on so many levels because I love fruit, of all kinds, I could subsist on fruit alone if I didn't live in a region that isn't exactly the best for fruit production, especially tropical fruits, which are my favorite.

I discovered my stone fruit allergy actually years ago, but never put two and two together. I remember two very distinct instances of driving the 5 hour trek to Boston in the snow to catch flights to CA. My boyfriend was driving and mid-way through our road trip I would pull out my bag of snacks, which almost always included an apple, because they are great traveling fruits. I would consciously buy the organic, non-sprayed, Maine varieties. But on both trips I would immediately have a reaction. My lips would swell up getting itchy and visibly puffy, my throat would tighten and the entire inside of my mouth and throat would itch for over an hour. I had never in my life had reactions to fruit like this, so I chalked it up to being my boyfriend's truck. He was a boat builder at the time and he would lug his tools around and the cloth seats would collect so much dust and dirt from the yard, I just assumed it was the debris and dust of his work (which in turn made me entirely empathic to his toxic working environment. I figured if had such a quick reaction in his vehicle, I could only imagine what his body would go through, day in and day out).

Years passed, I identified my gluten intolerance, the truck had been sold and again I still had reactions to any stone fruit and apples and pears. I realized that it indeed was an allergic reaction and decided to avoid all my favorite fruits indefinitely. :(

I have found over time that cut, frozen stone fruits don't bother me, in small amounts. So I still buy the fresh fruit, cut it off the pit and freeze it. i then use small amounts in my breakfast smoothies. (Although I do wonder if the upper part of my digestive tract has a reaction, then the likelihood of my lower part reacting during the remainder of digestion is very high that I should probably remove stone fruits entirely from my diet, wah!) Giving up these fruits has been very hard. I love fruit. 

The other day, I decided to test my allergy, it had been over a year since I had eaten a fresh stone fruit. My Mom had bought these luscious, juicy, heavenly-smelling nectarines. So I cut it off the pit, let it sit for 20 minutes then ate a wedge. Within minutes my lips, mouth and throat began to itch, my throat tightened, all from one small wedge. So the allergy still exists, yay for testing inevitably what I already knew (you can tell I am not willing to let this one go so easily).

Getting ready to tough out the next hour of discomfort, my step-dad made a suggestion to halt the allergic reaction, by taking a chunk of fresh organic ginger and chewing on it. Instinctively that made complete sense, ginger is an anti-inflammatory, so I gave it a whirl. I popped about a 1 inch piece of fresh ginger in my mouth and started chewing. It was rugged! Let me tell ya! I love ginger, but never have I put a fresh chunk in my mouth and chomped down. So i chewed it until there was basically pulp, swallowing the juices as I chewed. I spit out the remaining pulp and waited. While I was chewing the ginger I noticed that the itching, swelling and tightness immediately lessened (but that could also have been my focus shifting towards the burning-kick-intensity of the fresh ginger). 

In the end I would conclude it worked wonderfully. My allergic reaction time was cut tremendously, what typically lasts an hour, lasted all of 15 minutes and with significantly less ferocity. It was truly amazing that ginger can alleviate such an aggressive reaction so quickly. 

So while I still will be avoiding all stone fruits indefinitely, it is nice to know I don't have to suffer if I accidentally eat some (I think I shall travel with fresh ginger in tow at all times now, ha!). I must warn you though, I can take intense flavors and I eat ginger on an almost daily basis, and for me, it was gnarly to pop a whole piece of ginger in my mouth and chew, it is not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking to halt an allergic reaction, I would highly recommend it.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Blessed to be a Witness

The past few weeks have been more wine, than yoga and sweat *. My day job is all consuming; working 8 until 8 most days of the week of very intense, stress-filled days, leaving little time for much else. While I know this schedule is only temporary, as we move through this tough transition at work, I feel the balance of my life is so skewed and it is exceedingly frustrating, exhausting and unfulfilled.

I relish in the balance of my life, where my personal time, my time to write, to do daily yoga, get restful sleep, to make my home and garden lovely and thrive, and quality time with my family as a healthy and happy balance. It makes me weepy when this balance is disrupted. While I am willing to work long hours to help in a tough time, my work ethic is unwavering, I struggle, as I think many of us do, to maintain a balance of a demanding work schedule and a healthy, happy, fulfilling life outside work.

I dream of getting off the hamster wheel. I am perpetually amazed by those people I see and hear about that manage to survive in an atypical lifestyle, not working a mainstream job or living the mainstream life, I always romantically question, how? And furthermore, how can I?

People like Timber Hawkeye,, giving up his corporate unfulfilled life of 60-hour work week to a 20-hour work week to accommodate the living the rest of his simple, and very fulfilled-sounding life in Hawaii. And "Slomo," Dr. John Kitchin, in PB, San Diego, my childhood hometown, who gave up a lucrative career as a doctor to live a life of rollerblading up and down the beach boardwalk every day, simply because it makes him happy. And @yoga_girl, Rachel Brathan, who has turned her life and love of yoga into a lifestyle brand. While she is obviously busy and surely gets exhausted from all the travel and PR she needs to do to promote herself. From her Instagram and blog, she has a seemingly beautiful life, teaching yoga around the world, doing her daily practice and living her life with her dogs and fiancee in Aruba. 

Sure, sure I know, we all have our struggles and social media shows the most romantic versions of our lives, so seemingly any one's life is beautiful and balanced in a snapshot. But it makes me wonder, how do people do it? How do you give up the expected job, the expected possessions, the expected grind to live the life you want, follow your passions and live with less, but actually have so much more?

I thought by moving to Maine I had done those things, and in most ways I have, because, my life is beautiful in so many ways. I am by no means complaining. I know my work hours and stress are circumstantial and will pass, but how do you work enough to live, but not so much that it consumes your life?

In my perfect world I would wake up in the morning, drink my green tea in silence looking over our blooming lovely yard, as the dog lays basking in the morning sun, followed by beach yoga and then a smoothie or green juice.

(An aside, any chance you can do yoga on a beach I would highly recommend it! Last weekend, we snuck away for mini-vacay at a neighboring beach community. We stayed in a beach-side cottage and were lucky enough to have the first warm days of spring that made it feel like summer is quickly approaching. I have always admired the Instagram of people doing yoga on a beach, like @yoga_girl. But I have never had the confidence to do yoga in public, aside from in a class, where no one is paying attention to you anyway, nor have I felt that I was at a place in my practice where I could do it in public without looking like a goon. I said f-it last weekend and did my yoga on the beach each morning. The rhythm of the waves guiding my breath and soothing my busy mind and the sand between my toes. The connection to the earth, to my body was intoxicating and I cannot wait to do yoga on a beach again. I have found I need yoga in my everyday life, and if that means doing it in public, so be it. So judge me, point, I no longer care, because I am in my own little blissful yoga bubble of calm. If you only knew and were in your own bliss bubble, you would totally get it.)

So while I envy those who make their lives following their passions and hobbies, turning them into a living. It makes me wonder, if your passions and hobbies become work, are they then less enjoyable?

I think many of you struggle with this balance as I do, and maybe you even fantasize about going against the norm and living a life that fulfills your passions, your soul and your heart. If you are one of these people who have managed to make that shift, any words of wisdom are extremely appreciated!

Until I figure out the magical balance, I plan to calm my mind, remind myself that this is just a phase, insist on implementing daily practice back into my life, and if it is on a beach, then that is even better; and continue to contemplate how I can I turn my passions into that which makes my life, and no longer have them just play ancillary roles.

The words of Ben Harper remind me to be grateful, because at the end of the long, stressful and exhausting day, really, truly I am blessed,

"Blessed to be a witness."