Dates.

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When we lived in England, I loved popping into the local health store. It was (and likely still is) called Oregano,  pronounced with the emphasis on the -gan- syllable. And the -gan- sounded a little more like ‘gone’ over there. Just so you know. Anyway, the main reason I went in (apart from the smell of spices in the air) was to buy pitted dates from a bulk bin. Maybe it was because I bought these extremely sweet and chewy treats at a health store that I felt quite virtuous about eating so many of them.

At home I liked to put them on an open dish on the dining room side board, conveniently on my way to and from the kitchen, downstairs loo, back doorway leading out to the garden and garage, laundry line, etc… in a nutshell, right where I’d pass them at least a dozen times a day. Living on the coast, it was of course nice and humid, and they remained sticky and chewy in the open air for the little time they survived that environment. I was the only one who ate them, so I had only myself to blame for the frequency with which the vanished away, necessitating very regular stops at Oregano.

Let me tell you how happy I am to be back to eating these rich treats.

Very, very happy.

For example, I have a sore throat, which I am treating with Oil of Oregano (dropped under my tongue). I recover my feeling that life is actually good (after each nasty dose) with a few dates. All I can say is that it’s like taking mouthful of fruity, slightly textured brown sugar which holds together well enough to require sufficient chewing to produce a sensation of bliss. Pure bliss.

#dates #treats

Food as medicine.

Hippocrates was on to something big when he said about 2400 years ago, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” I’m sure there are many good reasons why he is called the father of medicine, and this must be one of the best.

I heard this wise quotation so long ago that I don’t remember not being vaguely familiar with it. Thus, my children were lucky enough to occasionally hear it from the lips of their well-meaning but sometimes rather wordy mother. Little did I suspect how they would eventually find it a fitting means of (good-naturedly) mocking me at family meals… About a decade ago, when I was first experiencing some health conditions (such as  glossopharyngeal neuralgia and chronic migraine) I was in the habit of swallowing a great number of pills, several times a day in an effort to keep pain at bay. Sitting down to eat dinner together one day, my astute young son tossed out those often-heard words of  Hippocrates, remarking that he was pretty sure this sage advice wasn’t meant to be taken in the way I was ‘following’ it (referring to the little heap of meds next to my yet empty plate). Thank you, Jack.

This evening I actually felt like I was getting it right. I woke up early this morning with a sore throat, and throughout the day had little appetite, but drank several cups of soothing herbal tea which goes down a treat with some lovely local raw honey. By about 7pm I was hungry for more than a little fresh fruit. So I warmed up some sliced poultry patties I’d prepared the other day from free range organic ground turkey and the same quality of chicken livers. It was actually yummy tonight; sliced and heated up until a little crispy in coconut oil and bone broth powder. I dined on these delectable morsels, with a large bowl of spinach salad dressed in homemade ACV, olive oil, and honey dressing. But the piece de resistance of my simple meal was yet to come; fresh beets, carrots, onion, garlic, and ginger all chopped up and cooked in olive oil and ACV with fresh squeezed lemon juice and sea salt.

I may never be the same.

In the last year I’ve thought and read more about the gut, and gut health, than in all the rest of my life combined. Easily. One clever book which I actually found interesting enough (almost) to call ‘entertaining’ was GUT, written by Giulia Enders. Really, I’d say this is about as fascinating as such a subject can be made to the average person.

Gut book cover

So, after reading much and listening to several podcasts on this easily overlooked subject, I’ve come to understand just a little, why and how food is/ can be/ should be our first and best medicine.  This is clearly not a scientific blog; I’ll just say that the wee bit I’ve gleaned has certainly persuaded me to take this all much more seriously, and literally than I ever thought I would.

#Hippocrates #GiuliaEnders #GUT #guthealth #food #medicine

Vera Brittain

This fall I read an autobiographical book called Testament of Youth, written by Vera Brittain. I first learned of her, and this book, by watching the film of the same title on Netflix. Only 100 years have passed since WW1 ended, and our world has changed; in some ways, almost beyond recognition.

For example,in 1914  Vera was a young woman just beginning to see her long-cherished dream of studying at Oxford coming true. While a small number of women were students there (at women’s colleges), no woman could actually obtain a degree! (Eventually that changed, and she did obtain the degree she had earned.) It’s a little hard to wrap my head around, but that’s how progress goes, isn’t it? Some struggle and sacrifice to bring about change which is thereafter taken for granted by so many who would have otherwise been without it.

I also really appreciated reading the story of those years of her life because of how she threw herself into whatever purpose each season demanded of her. I am at a seasonal change in my own life in a few ways, and I am not referring to the fact that autumn has suddenly changed to cold snowy winter already! No. I don’t want to talk about this abysmal weather. I mean that, like Vera, I started my university degree as a young woman. Also like her, I stopped it to do other work (nursing soldiers in her case, mothering children in my case) that seemed more urgent and pressing at the time. And, like Miss Brittain, I am on the cusp of falling back into the delightful world of college and university, to eventually finish earning my degree.

For anyone who appreciates period dramas (especially those based on true events), I highly recommend Testament of Youth. And for those who are a bit ‘hard-core’ about books, read this one.

#VeraBrittain #TestamentofYouth #autobiography #book #movie #inspiring #appreciation #history

Testament of Youth book cover

Lights out!

Yesterday I hit a big bump in my new and -until then- exciting path of reintroducing foods. In the words of William Shakespeare, “Ah, me.”

By this afternoon I had dissolved into a puddle of frustrated tears; thankfully my sweet sister was ready to listen and offer support. Also thankfully, my sweet husband was here to comfort me with hugs and a cup of rooibos.

A few minutes ago I was downstairs enjoying a British gardening show on Netflix with Kirby, when all the power in town suddenly cut out completely! Naturally, Kirby has gone out to investigate with a flashlight. Me, I am taking it as a perfect opportunity for a candlelit bath.

Perhaps I should take a similar view of my stumbling block with the gut-healing diets; see it as a stepping stone to pause and slow down the way I’m approaching it all. I’ve nearly driven myself mad trying to take on too much all at once.

Odd, how such apparently unrelated incidents suddenly clicked together in my mind just now.

#blessed #serendipity #liveandlearn

Worth it.

I’ve been trying for the past year to heal some gut health issues which surfaced with the results of  several lab tests beginning last September. I’d always been a staunch supporter of the simple dietary maxim, ‘all good things in moderation’… More or less. Generally ‘more’ with mouthwatering things like chocolate, and ‘less’ with gut-nourishing things like liver. But I was fairly set against whitewashing out whole food groups.

Alas, my test results were to knock my simple rules down flat.

It turned out I had fairly advanced adrenal fatigue (which causes plenty of hormonal imbalances) several food allergies (not life-threatening; the kind which causes inflammation) and intestinal permeability (more commonly known by its graphically descriptive nickname, leaky gut)… and a pretty un-pretty case of methane SIBO. Ew.

When I closed my dayhome at the end of the summer (which seems long ago and far away thanks to our wintry September weather) I threw myself, much more fully than had yet been feasible for me while so busy, into my gut healing project. I’d like to say I’ve done so with gusto, but in truth, it’s almost making me lose the will to live. Not actually, but it is literally making me lose the will to eat. Combining the Autoimmune Protocol (for leaky gut) and the SIBO diets leave me with a small and rather unsightly list of allowable foods.

Happily, it does work. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Also happily, it isn’t forever. Now that I’m seeing good results it’s time to start the best part of all- food reintroductions! Hopefully by Christmas eating will be less of a chore done when hunger drives me miserably to the kitchen, and a little more of the pleasure it has always been up until this low-grade health crisis.

#gut-healing #SIBO #AIP #food #health #un-cheerful #honest

Hiatus.

Holding my breath. Up in the air. In limbo. Sometimes, even though I know better, and intend better, I seem to ‘press pause’ in some areas of my life. I carry on in the ways I simply must, but my curiosity and creativity functions go into ‘energy-saving mode’. It’s a shame, really.

In the last month I transitioned out of my dayhome (childcare) work, which had filled most of my days for six years… Suddenly, to-do lists were mushrooming menacingly out of otherwise innocent papers and pens on my neglected desk. I am faced with several time-consuming projects such as sorting and clearing and organizing my home in preparation for our long-anticipated downsizing move, and figuring out how to proceed with my gut-healing protocols. Then there’s the fun one; getting in touch with people I’ve missed while I’ve been so busy.

Well, here I am. Back from my hiatus, and hopefully here to stay!

Dream come true.

The years when I enjoyed my children the most were easily the years when I was the most involved with them; their earliest childhood (including when they were babies). I was blessed with almost endless energy for them, and immensely enjoyed being with and taking care of my dear little ones.

Because my good husband was always so involved and helpful with them in every way, it didn’t occur to me that it didn’t come as easily or naturally to him- looking after our babies and toddlers and preschoolers. Poor man; years later he made a casual comment which stopped me in my tracks. It was something to the effect of him being somewhat relieved that that labour-intensive part of parenting was now over.

What!? Really? He hadn’t adored every minute of it as I had? Who knew?

It turned out that he enjoyed fatherhood more and more, the older our offspring grew. Not only that, but he told me on more than one occasion that he was actually looking forward to them all becoming adults! He had this dream in his mind, of us sitting around a table with our grown children, talking and laughing together…

This weekend we are celebrating Emma’s 18th birthday as a family, so Jack and his wife Bethany, and Mary and her boyfriend Ethan drove down last night from Calgary. Emma was here in town as well for a while during the evening… Everyone sat around the candlelit table late last night, obligingly eating cherries and coconut macaroons and sipping rooibos; we talked and laughed and basked in the light of each other’s love.

Kirby’s dream is coming true. And, as it turns out, he was right. It’s wonderful.

#family #happiness #joy #together #feedingmypeople #home