Archive | February, 2011

Play with your food!

28 Feb

The other day my friend and I were out to lunch.  We were enjoying Asian fare and decided to order a couple of things to share.  The dishes came out with pleasant aromas and very hot.  We asked her to place them in the middle of  the table.  We needed extra plates to serve ourselves, and the waitress graciously agreed to bring them to our table.  And the feast began.

A few moments later the waitress retuned to our table for the obligatory “how is everything” follow up.  My friend and I asked her about the food and for our favorite addition, a bowl of red chili garlic sauce.  The waitress launched into a small monologue about that sauce and some others.  The more she talked about the food and sauces, the more excited she got.  So did my friend and I because clearly she was a foodie like us!

After a minute she told us that she was going to bring us several sauces to enhance our lunch choices.  She returned to the table while the food was still piping hot with a plate full of little bowls.  Each bowl had a different sauce.  The waitress impressed us with her knowledge of each sauce, which sauce would accent each dish, the ended with “So have fun and play with your food”.

We did just that!  We had a ball talking about the food, as foodies do, and tried each sauce with each protein, vegetable and rice that comprised our selections.  We expertly discussed each sauce and how it enhanced what we were mixing it with.  We played with our food.  And had an amazing lunch.

A great waitstaff is essential, in my opinion, to a good dining experience, and the staff member at our recent lunch was outstanding.  My foodie friend and I usually eat together once a week or so, and “play with food” is our new motto when we are out dining.  When in restaurants, it is so important to ask the staff about dishes, specials, and even what they like on the menu.  The job of the waitstaff does not end when the food comes to the table.   That is when is begins!

So the next time you are dining out, take a moment to peruse the menu.  Then take another minute to talk to the staff about the food.  Also, ask if the chef prepares anything that is not on the menu.  Some chefs prepare specialties that are personal and may feature something beautiful that they found at the farmers market that morning.  You might be surprised and delighted to discover a new favorite that is an off menu selection.  And when the food comes to the table, continue to ask the staff about it (respectfully, of course).  You must take some responsibility for enjoying you’re dining experience, and that starts with the staff.  But most of all, play with your food!



22 Feb

Water.  H2O. Hydration.  We have all heard that we need water.  8 glasses a day in fact.  But where is “glass” defined?  And what else counts as water?  Does the water in our morning coffee factor into our “8 a day”?  Or the water in the bunch of grapes that we ate for an afternoon snack?  There are many answers here, but lets ponder water for a moment.

The body uses water for cell function and is essential for every thing that the body does. That is common knowledge.  It is also well known that for optimal benefits, we should drink water throughout the day.  We have all heard how important it is to stay hydrated.  But why?  Why can’t the body just pull water from storage?  When the body needs energy, it pulls and metabolizes from the food we’ve eaten and stored.  It is a very efficient system.  But guess what?  Our body needs water, uses water, has water in its systems and cells for function.  But it does not have any way to store water.  That is why we must pace our intake, and make sure that our intake is continuous.  But that can be complicated for some folks.

Some folks can be deficient with water intake.  There are many reasons for this such as decreased sense of thirst and the delicate issue of incontinence.  And some folks simply do not like the “taste” of water.  It is important to stay hydrated, so lets get creative with it.  A little lemon in water can make it very refreshing.  Cucumber water is also delicious!  Especially when it is hot outside.  It is important, however, to stay away from highly sugared or caffeinated drinks such as soda.  Bodies are amazing, and we can train them to do almost anything.  So if you do not like water, try to train your body to like it.  Another way to get more water is to try eating foods that have a higher percentage of water

Food that has a high percentage of water, such as watermelon and grapes, does indeed contribute to our water intake.  Drinking the “8 a day” is a good starting point for awareness of water intake, but it’s a bit more complex than that.  It is good to make sure that water intake occurs with regularity throughout the day.  And we can count on the food with high water content to help stay hydrated.

Listening to your body is crucial when focusing on good health.  And so is common sense.  Drink water throughout the day.  Eat some foods that are high in water content.  Watch the junky drinks.  It is helpful to keep track of water intake, and something as simple as a little checklist on the fridge or in our office can help keep track of our water.   Remember that the body does not store water, so drink it at a good pace.  Make it a new habit.  the “8 a day” is a good place to start, but you know your body better than anyone.  If you are thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated.  So keep sipping!


17 Feb

Wellness is very important to me and has become a large part of what I do.  There are so many facets to wellness, so many contributing factors.  The mind and body are both simple and complex, and studying them gives a person a new appreciation for how important it is to take care of both mind and body.   Anatomy tells us that the mind and body are different systems but dependent on one another.  Keeping both the mind and the body well are also intertwined.

Going for a run, if thats your thing, can be great for the body.  It gets the heart pumping, contributing positively to the cardiovascular system. It also strengthens the muscles, is good for bone health, and gets the sweat going!  Heading out to the local gym or YMCA for a good workout or pilates class is also great for the body.  Getting out for a good solid power walk gets the blood pumping.  Going to a yoga class for a great stretching workout can really challenge the body.  It can also stretch the cardiovascular system, but how do you stretch your heart?

Just like a great class at the Y can strengthen the heart muscle, the spiritual  heart can also benefit.  Going to a class with friends, spending time  working on friendships can do the heart a world of good!  Spending time with girlfriends stretches our heart in a spiritual way.  Friends expand our capacity to love.  The spiritual heart grows bigger and stronger.  Moms can sometimes get sick with worry about our children and our lives.  That certainly does not contribute to a solid wellness philosophy.  Reaching out to friends can ease that.   The support of friends is important, necessary, and great for the heart.  And being there when a friend reaches out does the same thing.  Relationships warm the heart much in the same way that a good run gets the heart heated up!

Recently a friend talked to me about scaffolding.  No, not the kind that is used to paint high ceilings and walls, but being scaffolding.  Lifting others up.  Being solid.  Being part of a network.  Letting others be scaffolding for us.  This can really open up the mind and heart!  There are so many ways to both be scaffolding and to allow others to be ours.  When we do that, we stretch our heart.  We open ourselves to relationships.  And love.  And help.  And growth!  The possibility for wellness here is endless.  Stretch the heart in a different direction, and be healthy!  Marinate on all the ways to be scaffolding and allowing others to be scaffolding.  STRETCH the heart!

Ebb and Flow

13 Feb

There is an ebb and flow to family life.   Family life is a living breathing ever changing situation, but I did not realize that there were both small waves and big waves in the ebb and flow.  Until now.

When I was pregnant with my third child and with 2 toddlers in tow, my family built a house.  The style of the house and the floor plan were chosen with many of the features having to do with having 2, and soon to be 3, small children.  I had to be able to keep my eye on lots of things at once while doing lots of things at once.  I needed accessibility to diaper changing area, play area, meal preparation area…so many things to consider.  The floor plan was perfect for the expanding family and its needs.  The ebb and flow moved gently though the house and family.

The children grew and the tide gently changed.  Small ebbs and flows shift quietly though the household.  The children begin school.  Nap time becomes obsolete.  Strollers go into storage and bikes are scattered throughout the yard.  The children that never left my sight are allowed to turn the corner to play without my constant and vigilant protection.  I feel the wave of relief tinged with a wave of panic at not being able to see the children playing at all times.  But we must let our children learn who they are and make decisions because soon little decisions turn into big ones.

My children have always been like a little litter of kittens.  They are so close in age that they really don’t remember being without one another.  If one child was in the sandbox, everyone was.  When we sat to watch a movie, we got snacks and blankets to cuddle up together.  Bed time was the same for everyone.  Sometimes the older children got more “reading time” before lights out, but everyone pretty much put jammies on and went through the evening routine together.  The ebb and flow through the house was present, but seemingly slow moving.

Without warning, or at least it seems that way, a big wave has crashed into the only home my children have known.  The first college acceptance letter arrived.  My oldest child prepares to leave our cozy little nest.  We raise our children in baby steps, with all steps leading in the direction of getting our children out the door and stepping into their own lives.  Well, that is what my head tells me.  My heart tells me something entirely different.

The ebb and flow of the house will dramatically change with one child leaving.  Along with that child leaving, all the friends that have been hanging out contributing to the moving tide of our home will also be gone.  My litter of kittens is losing one of their own.  That means major reconfiguration of the building blocks of family life.  Did the small waves come in preparation of the big ones that are soon to be rolling through?  Time will tell.

Along with all of the pride I feel when I look at my children is that tiny fear as well.  Knowing that my child is once again going to turn that corner and leave my watch is scary.   I could not be more proud of my son preparing for college, and have every confidence that he will experience great success with this new change.  All of my decisions for the past 18 years have been based on having my children in my home, with family life in mind, and the tide I had become so accustomed to feeling.   The gentle roll.  The occasional white cap.  Now there is a tidal wave coming, or at least that is how it seems to me, and the flow will change.

My son is really excited at all of the changes this year will bring, as well he should be.  It is thrilling.  My head is ready for this change, my heart…not so much.  I feel the change coming, and my other children do as well.  Everyone feels this big wave coming.  We all need to prepare. With this big new wave crashing over our household, what will be left behind?   A whole new ebb and flow to family life.  I better get ready, grab my surf board and ride this wave!


Gas Happens, Part 2… “Feortan”

8 Feb

Well you asked for it!  In addition to tons of comments on the burping blog, there were many plea’s for a follow up for flatulence!  So here goes..

Flatulence, farts, passing gas,breaking wind, frittering…no matter what your word is for it, we all know what we are talking about!  We have all experienced an excessive expulsion of wind from the derriere region.  And we all have our delicate and special words for it.  At work where there are cubicles, it is known as “crop dusting”.  In a crowd, it is a “backblast”.  It can be descriptive, such as “burner” or “SBD” (silent but deadly).  No need for any term other than “courtesy window please” is needed in a closed car.  The list is endless.  But what is flatulence anyway?  Let’s clear the air!

Flatulence, not fart, is the accepted medical term for excessive wind from the anus.  Where did the word “fart” come from then?  By some accounts it is derived from the word feortan, an Old English term meaning “to break wind”.   How often do we really pass gas?  You might be surprised that the average for gas passing in a 24 hour period is 12-14 times.  Men expel more gas at about a half a cup than women, who come in at a dainty third of a cup.  Remember that this is an average, meaning that some of us do it more, and some of us do it less.  I have a brother that is certainly not average, he is an over acheiver!

Those of us that grew up with big brothers became accustomed at an early age to a great assortment of smells and odors.  Being a baby sister to three brothers, I was usually the perfect target for big brother tricks.  There are only so many times that I fell prey to a certain tactic, so they really had to make every effort count.  As an unsuspecting victim, my brother would back up and ask me to see if there was a “hole in my pants” while gently pointing his buttocks close to my face.  “I can’t see it, so can you please look?”  Well a little sister wants to help out, so I would get up close and personal to his behind.  That is when I got blasted right in the face…or should I say nose!  This was one of many tactics to make sure I had a front row seat to my brothers gas hang time.  All tactics were certain to produce a healthy dose of laughter from them, as well as a story to be retold to their friends countless times!

What causes these sudden expulsions of gas?   There are many reasons.  Gas can come up our esophagus as a burp.  When we have gas lower down in our GI tract, it comes out through the path of least resistance, which is the back end.  Bacteria in the intestines can produce a variety of gas.  Sulfur mixed in with the other gases is what causes the odor, and hydrogen causes the expulsion to waft upward.  The noise of the gas comes from the volume of gas squeezing through a tight opening.  It is similar to pinching and stretching the opening of a balloon to make a squeaking sound.

Any way you cut the cheese, it is a normal bodily function.  As a culture, like burps, we do not accept flatulence as decent, but other cultures are more accepting of this natural bodily function.  But it is ot good to let that gas build up in the intestines.  So I say, let it rip!


Gas happens! Oops!

3 Feb

Eructation.  It is a sophisticated medical term.  And very complicated to explain.  But here goes.  Eructation is technically described as escaping gas.  Thats right…you guessed it!  It is a burp, or a belch.  Both terms are correct slang for eructation.  It happens when we take air into our stomach with our food.  It also occurs when we eat or drink something with gas, such as a carbonated beverage.

Gas comes up from our stomach quickly.  It is not delicate or dainty.  It comes barreling up, and when the “valve” at the top of our stomach allows this escapement of gas, it makes a noise.  That is why our burps make noise.  Anatomically, some people are just more gifted at eructation than others.  And as kids, we envy those fabulous noise making burpers!

Growing up, we all knew talented belchers.  Kids that could burp the ABC’s on command, for example, were favorite kids to hang around with during the lunch hour.  Burping at will is an amazing skill and really made a kid popular in elementary school.  For whatever reason, gas is funny.  Not only to kids, but even when we grow up.

My father, a man in his 70’s, is a world renowned burper for sure.   His burps have it all-outstanding volume and longevity.  They are loud and roll out with perfect pitch, like a singer skillfully  hitting a high note.  After 50 plus years of marriage, my mom still rolls her eyes and huffs her disapproval when my dad belts out a good burp.  My dad’s favorite line is one I adore, and my brothers, sister and I often repeat it.  My father, following a solid roof raising belch, demurely states “That isn’t bad manners, that’s good beer”.  My fathers burps (and my mothers annoyed response) still sends us, his children, all now adults, into fits of giggles.

We begin burping at birth.  Babies drink very quickly and need to burp a lot.  Caregivers help the baby along by patting him on the back, trying to coax out that elusive belch.  The baby gets praised after a good solid burp, and the caregiver takes joyful pride in helping the baby get that burp out.  Somewhere along the way, though, the tides turn.  As we get older, suddenly burps are not praised at all. In fact, as we get older, we get reprimanded for a solid belch.   It just isn’t “mature” to belt one out in the company of others.  But that is in the United States.

Other cultures take burping as a compliment.  In Hong Kong, for example, burping is a compliment to the chef.  India too.  My father would be a national hero in those countries for his superhuman burping ability.  But in the U.S., it is considered poor manners to burp in public.  So unless you are in a country that celebrates eructation, or on a playground in elementary school, we are encouraged to watch that burp.  Stifle it.  Squash it.  That hardly seems fair, natural, or like something that would contribute to wellness though.  I am not sure that I agree with squelching the belch.  Let the gas out I say!  Celebrate eructation!