Category Archives: Inspiration

How to Obtain the Magic Healing Power of Herbs: If Only You Are Willing to Wait

When I was in college, I took a course on child education. We did an experiment with two children to test how patient they can be and what their motivation is when it comes to rewards. Our subjects were twin girls at the age of 5. They didn’t know why they were coming in or what was going to happen. Our experiment began with separating the twins into 2 different rooms. One room had our subject Stacey, and the other had her sister Valerie. They couldn’t see, or hear each other between the room which validated that they won’t copy each other and there are no other influences. This experiment we were testing is called the marshmallow test. By tempting the child with a marshmallow on a plate you explain that if they are willing to wait 10 minutes without eating the marshmallow, you will be rewarded a second marshmallow at the end of the 10 minutes. But if the subject eats the marshmallow before the 10 minutes are up, there will not be a second marshmallow.


The experiment began when the instructors explained the rules to the girls in their separate rooms and the instructors placed the giant, delicious marshmallow in front of them and then left the room. We were able to monitor them through a tinted window but they weren’t able to see us. We watched the instructors leave the room and as they did, the girls’ eyes were locked on the marshmallows. Stacey would try and distract herself, avoiding the temptation by poking the marshmallow, looking at other things, playing with her fingers. 5 minutes have gone by and she is still avoiding the temptation. She would lie on her hands just staring at the marshmallow, until the 10 minute mark hit and the instructor came and congratulated her with praise for being patient and gave her a second marshmallow. Now as for Valerie, the minute the instructor walked out, Valerie was poking and prodding the marshmallow, all her focus was on that marshmallow. She would sit and pick it up lick at it but not eat it, then place it back on the plate. As far as 7 minutes into the experiment the temptation was too much and she was ready to chow down on the delicious treat, which we could see she thoroughly enjoyed. At 10 minutes the instructor came in and asking, “What happened to your marshmallow?” as Valerie shrugged with innocence. And she clearly didn’t get a second marshmallow.


With two opposite results, we found that some kids have the patience to wait to reap the benefits of a greater reward while others want what they want then and now getting the satisfaction when they please. This shows in their personality where Stacey is more introverted, patient, and shy and Valerie more boisterous, extraverted, and is confident in what she wants. Now you may be asking what does this story has to do with herbs?


More and more over the years, patients ask me about our herbal treatments, how it works, what the process is and the most prominent question is, “how long is this going to take?” For years this question asked over and over again and the answer is always, “I don’t know.” So many factors go into the healing process it is impossible to know the exact amount of time it will take for you to get better, and anyone who is in the health care profession that claims to know how long a treatment will take or how long it will take for you to heal then they are obviously lying and fabricating the idea that your problems will go away fast which it doesn’t.


When it comes to health and specifically herbal treatments, time is your enemy or your friend whichever way you want to look at it, but time is a major factor. Everyone expects magic herbs that will all of a sudden heal their ailment in a moment’s notice. But the reality of it is this, whatever time it took you to acquire this ailment or illness is about the same amount of time it will take to cure it or even longer!


Unless you like the concept of western medicine where they will cure your symptoms by giving you magic antibiotic pills that will make things worse in the long run but take care of your current symptoms right away then go for it! There is your “magic” cure. But when it comes to herbal medicine, the herbs work to build your immune system to work with your body, not against it, and after years of mistreating, years of poor eating, and years of bad habits, it will take a long while to build that immunity back.


The herbs start by detoxifying the body. If we have to put a time frame on it, usually 3 months is about when the detoxification process is at its peak, that is if you are eating right, exercising, drinking water, sleeping well, not in stress, and taking the herbs to detox on a regular basis. In 3 months any one of the factors I mentioned can be interfered with so that time gets extended to 5-6 months. Right there you are at 6 months into the healing process.


The second part of the process is building your immune system back up. If you are still continuously making the better, healthy choices then your immunity builds up to heal whatever your health problems are. But if you are still in the detoxification process than it will still take longer for you to build the immunity.

As time drags on you are wondering, will I ever get better? The answer is up to you! It is your choices, your habits, and your willingness to achieve optimal health. You are the one that wants to get better, so work toward it! For examples sake you won’t simply get a marshmallow just because you asked for it! It requires patience.


Patience is a rather difficult virtue to obtain this day and age. Everything is so fast paced, fast food, fast cars, fast commercials, fast schedules who has time to be patient? You’ve got better things to do rather than work with your ailment or illness. But it is that very mindset that gets you in trouble in the first place. Have you ever had a project where you worked through it real fast but the outcome of the project was only half –assed and not as great as it could have been if you were to take time and do it right? The same applies to health. The more you tend to your health and the more time and effort you put into it, the more likely you will get better fully.


It’s easy to fantasize that there is a magic cure that can make things better right away, but with patience, you will find that when you work toward improving yourself, let the herbs take its course, and let time heal your wounds then and only then will you achieve optimal health. The old saying goes, good things will come to those who wait. Just wait…and you will get the marshmallow, maybe even two!
-Shaila

Secrets of The Hoh Rainforest: Manifested by the Barefoot Sensi

To me, being in nature is my all time, drop everything and do this for the rest of my life, favorite activity in the world! Yeah I really love nature…Ever since I was little, you would always catch me outside playing in the yard, at a park, in a tree, by a river, on a hike anywhere that has lush leaves and big trees, soft grass, cool rivers and streams. I’m there. Every weekend, I make it my goal to go on a hike at a different trail each time. It is my way of winding down and the ultimate relaxation tool. Even if it’s raining you can still catch me romping up the trail with a huge smile on my face!

Lately, I have been dappling with the idea of utilizing survival skills in an outdoor setting, including; fire building, shelter making, food foraging, plant identification, and water purification just to name a few! This concept really excites me. So much so that I do daily research on how to enhance my knowledge and skills. One day I came across a video of a man teaching people how to walk barefoot in the Hoh rainforest. It’s a crazy concept and I’ll tell you why.

If you aren’t familiar with Washington State geography, Aside from being the state that is notorious for its constant downpour of rain, the Hoh Rainforest, closely located near Forks, WA (Twilight fans?) is the most lush, most green, and definitely the most rain fall in North America! Now what’s crazy is this: imagine walking barefoot in that condition!

Mick Dodge, a.k.a. Barefoot Sensei, is an interesting character to say the least. Dodge, is known for his outlook on living along with nature and utilizing materials such as stones, sticks, trees, and other natural bits and pieces, as a form of personal strength and exercise. And he does this barefoot, for the most part! He has created this concept of an Earth Gym, a combination of natural materials, and exercising techniques to help increase strength in the body, stimulate the mind, and connecting the feet to the earth’s ground, which is more important than you may think.

National Geographic found him to be a very interesting man as well and did a series of shows called, The Legend of Mick Dodge. This show includes his way of life, his outlook on living in the Hoh rainforest, the positive magnitude of walking barefoot, and many other exciting insights on how he works with earth gym.

Mick Dodge was a former marine in the Marine Corps and served for six years. After living with the stresses of modern day society, he retreated to the calm and serene comfort of the woods. His ancestors also being woodland dwellers and his father a marine veteran as well, have been very inspirational for his love of the forest and his Scandinavian ancestry. A more intriguing question though, would be what motivated Dodge to go back to the wild, barefoot?

When Mick Dodge found that he had a chronic case of plantar fasciitis his doctors explained to him that he would have this problem for possibly the rest of his life and that there is no way to cure it. Being the sturdy, “I’ll take care of this myself” kind of guy he is, he disregarded the doctors’ diagnoses and began a new journey to focusing on his feet in correlation with nature. Years of walking barefoot actually did him some good! His pain from the plantar fasciitis dissipated and he became stronger, durable, adaptable, and now he continues to prove that nature can heal.

Going in depth about foot health and care, it’s astounding to consider how much we really put our feet and legs through every day! Driving with one foot on gas for possibly 2+hours in traffic a day straining your foot and leg, standing at work having your feet holding most of your body weight for long periods of time, or even sitting for hours cutting circulation of your hips to your legs, all of these are possible strains we put our feet and legs daily without taking much consideration of the effects it has.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the practice of reflexology (a form of massage that dates back to the fourth century B.C.) focuses on the hands and feet, in order to stimulate body functions, eliminate toxins, improve circulation and soothe nerves utilizing pressure points to relieve strains, tension, and/or pain in the body. One-quarter of the body’s bones are in the feet, and misalignment of these bones can cause problems for the rest of the body. A foot problem can lead to hip, knee and low-back pain, which can move in to the shoulder and neck and even cause headaches. The foot contains meridians related to the Spleen, Liver, Stomach, Kidney, Bladder and Gallbladder. Because all of the acupressure meridians of the body either begin or end on the feet or hands, foot health is crucially important for balance of the acupressure energy system. There are over 25 foot conditions, including arthritis, bunions, fungus, athlete’s foot, overlapping toes, corns, plantar fasciitis, ingrown toenails, and heel spurs. These symptoms, as well as sensitive areas and blockages are evidence of a disturbance in the body in corresponding areas. And example being if you have hurt your big toe by jamming it in the door edge, you may feel a sharp aggravating pain in your brain because those points are correlated to each other. The removal of a blockage in the foot improves the blood and nerve supplies as well as the energy flow to the body. The feet are one of the hardest working body parts because we are on them all the time, and doesn’t it feel good to get a foot rub? Taking care of the feet and connecting them with the feeling of foot on soil, sand, grass, water or any natural terrain can be very therapeutic and in some cases cure or assist to a cure some health concerns.

I was so enthused by Dodge’s philosophy that I decided to send an email through his website inquiring in detail about his gyms. Now I sent this in thought that someone of his “fame” (not really sure how famous he is after doing his show but still pretty infamous in the hiking/nature community) wouldn’t reply back to me.

A couple days, later a friend of his, who goes by the name of Moonhair (you would see her making guest appearances on his show) contacted me back sending his phone number. I was so excited my heart almost stopped! I took a couple days to think about what I wanted to ask and say to Mick Dodge the barefoot sensei. I finally mustard up the courage to call him and within 1…2…3 rings of the phone I hear his big burly, “Yoish (his way of saying hello) this is Mick”. For real, my heart stopped! I was so shocked that he actually answered. In excitement I talked to him about what earth gym was about, his inspirations, how to get involved and if there is a way I could meet him in person someday to learn the secrets of Mother Nature.

His answers were filled with wisdom, warmth, and education. In answering my questions he told me something that I won’t ever forget. He said,” Follow your feet and the earth will teach, this connection with nature is within all of us, there is no specific way to do things, go on a hike and be with nature, grab a stick and stretch with it, grab a rock and pick it up a couple times, walk barefoot any chance you get to be grounded. The gyms I have created are to help anyone and everyone! And the earth is a big place! Nature can cure most illnesses, it’s up to the individual to have an open mind to that concept.” He shared with me some resources to look into and helped me connect with some people who are part of the earth gym movement and I couldn’t be more ecstatic with the opportunity I had to speak with him and the knowledge he shared, as well as the future chance of meeting him in July!

When he said that nature can cure most illnesses, I thought to myself, I work at a place that utilizes nature’s roots, peels, stems, leaves, bark, seeds, etc., herbs are as natural as you can get! In combination of using herbs as medicine, hiking, being outdoors and exercising, eating organic and healthy food, being in tune and conscious of your body, your health can be in an optimal condition, and the tools are all around you!

At his age (which is unknown to me at the moment but I’m assuming he’s pretty seasoned toward the 50+ age range) Mick Dodge is still going strong, working with people, children, and anyone with an open mind and a love for nature to help improve their skill, mental and physical drive while, happily combining these skills with mother earth. Continuing to be an inspiration to many people!

In the following months, my goal still remains to go hiking every weekend, but with a twist of enhancing my proficiency by trying the earth gym resources he has provided, and utilizing the earth materials around me. Take a walk outside. Take a moment to breathe in the air that the trees clean for you, or take a moment to walk barefoot in your lawn, front porch, and gravel, anything other than padded floor or carpet for an hour a day. Ground with nature, detach from the busy world for a second and appreciate the green and beauty around you. It truly is soothing and blissful!

~Wishing You Wellness,
Shaila

Detoxification Organs

We are on the final month of the five major detoxification organs: Liver, Kidney, Lungs, Skin and Intestines. The intestines are vital organs in the gastrointestinal tract of our digestive system. Their functions are to digest food and enable the nutrient released from that food to enter into the bloodstream. Our intestines consist of two major sections: the small intestine and the large intestine.

My busiest time for treating the intestines is when most people celebrate with all the barbecue meats, beers, pops, tons of fruits and massive weight gain or fatigue. It’s time to clean out yeast and detox the five major organs. You are what you eat, what goes in must come out.
All I care about is your poop and pee. It is a pound of poop a day or base it on your body weight of every 12 pounds is one ounce of poop, if you weigh 160 pounds you need 1 pound. Start by eating fiber such as: green vegetables (4 cups cooked) and low fructose fruits of (2 cups), Haiga Rice or whole grains. Please note to not add too much fiber too quickly, it can promote intestinal gas, abdominal bloating and cramping. Increase fiber in your diet gradually over a period of a few weeks. This allows the natural bacteria in your digestive system to adjust to the change. Also, drink plenty of clean water. Fiber works best when it absorbs water, making your stool soft and bulky. If your tongue is really coated white especially in the mid to back of the tongue, it’s Candida. You must take the Taifu Plus and E15 (extra strength detox) to help clear it out of your system.

Digestive problems are known as a Pixu condition. Food allergies may develop when food is not digested properly and causes fermentation activated by yeast in the bowel. This process further increases the amount yeast in the digestive tract. The increase level of yeast causes the increased permeability of the wall of the intestine (leaky gut syndrome). The yeast then enters the blood stream and settles in the different parts of the body, including the lungs, the vagina, the kidneys, and the brain, and other organs. This can cause problems such as yeast infection of the vagina (candidiasis); allergy, sinus infections, asthma, meningitis, and chronic fatigue are common examples.

Eating food high in sugar or food turning into blood sugar rapidly enhances this problem. Food high in sugar causes fermentation, resulting increase of yeast population in the digestive tract. It causes the blood sugar to rise initially and drop rapidly to under the normal healthy level. The drop of blood sugar causes the production of serotonin to go down and causes depression or mania. The decrease of serotonin causes the production of histamine, asthma and headaches.

Why Diets Won’t Work

For thousands of years, the concept of balance from Chinese philosophy kept Chinese communities from straying from the traditional diet. There were always periods of shortage and periods of wealth. When food was available, it was prepared according to the recommendations of Chinese medicine.
During the Cultural Revolution, from the 1900’s there has been a dramatic shift in the way people grew and imported food, as well as eating habits. Cereal consumption shot up in 1952 and so did “junk” food consumption. The proportion of energy intake from fat tripled, and by 1982 China saw its first significant rise in the number of overweight people and those stricken with diet-related cancers. We must look back to wisdom for guidance.

Many weeks ago I watched a movie called “Mr. Church” which tells the story of a unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook. This movie inspired me to start cooking at home, using fresh herbs and spending more time in the kitchen. Nothing beats a home cooked meal. It really reminds me of how my grandma raised us, dinner was always served on time and every dinner was served with pride. There wasn’t any need of going out to eat. It would be my wish to have a farm and a family chef. In the teaching of I Ching, the element Earth is to seed our lands to grow crops and to create life. It is the cycle of life. In the month of March we celebrate Earth Day. So plant those seeds, celebrate our lives with great crops, and create those great healthy meals with friends and family.

A new car needs an oil change, when was the last time you had an oil change? Schedule your quarterly health check and share your recipes. Find your passion in cooking and start with the book The Joy of Cooking and get inspired by watching Mr. Church.

Love,
Juli

The Importence of Folk Medicine

As a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner I will examine things like the color and shape of the tongue, the relative strength of pulse-points, the smell of the breath, the quality of breathing or the sound of the voice and at times examine and feel the area of pain or discomfort. Each herbal formula is created differently, it depends on the overall health of the patient and how deep set the illness is. There is no one herb, formula or medicine that will work on every patient. It is very individual. Like composing a musical masterpiece, it takes time and patience, it is art from the heart. Making each day a masterpiece, we must realize that spiritual and emotional healing, like physical healing, is gradual and best taken one small step at a time.

Chinese herbs are not only used to relieve physical ailments, but also to restore Shen (Spirit). In the Chinese Medical Tradition, Shen lives in the Heart, where it retires to sleep during the night. Modern life is so busy. We can be consumed with distractions: taking kids to activities, watching TV, browsing on phones or tablets. It’s easy to lose our sense of self. But we know when that happens. That’s our cue to reconnect — body, mind and spirit (soul). Mind is attached to the body, and a pure mind creates a good soul. In making a new start, connect with yourself and your loved ones to renew your spirit. How can you do this? Learn something new and share it with friends and family. Practice Cupping, Gua Sha and the use of Herbs. It is believed that the smallest of details or actions can have a ripple effect that can change the world, and together we can build a strong village.

Are you interested in Folk Medicine? I believe there is great need and urgency to pass on these teachings before it becomes a lost art. How about a common cold that has been lingering and getting worse? You can help yourself or family with a treatment of Gua Sha, Cupping or Ginger Tea. Start taking care of your family or friends, and learn the basic skills. Come take my Gua Sha and Cupping class, so we can take care of each other. Call me or simply sign up with Shaila.

Love, Juli

Kung Hei Fat Choy
May Prosperity Be With You

The Chinese New Year 2017

The Chinese New Year is a celebration of family tradition, cultural foods and happiness. My greatest memories of this holiday are of the shared stories behind the tradition. Family tradition is knowledge that has been and continues to be passed down through the generations by visual and oral means, rather than via book learning or google searches. There is no gender divide in the role of passing on this knowledge, although it would be correct to say that it is mostly done by women and grandparents, who adopt the role of care givers in most traditional households.

Every culture in the world has their own folk medicine tradition and various herbal remedies for treating illnesses and diseases. Folk medicine is a compilation of formulae used by the general public to treat certain conditions without reference to a complete system of medicine. In some publications, folk medicines are called “secret formulae.” As a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, many patient complain about the bitter taste of the herbs, but such taste can be acquired or developed. Here in the United States, we are spoiled by our pallets. If it doesn’t taste good, we won’t want to eat it, and we salt before we taste. We have to train our kids early on that bitter is good and that it can bring healing. In addition, many conventional physicians have no knowledge or understanding of Chinese Herbs, Cupping, or Gua Sha, so these treatments are automatically assumed to be ineffective or outright bad. This is in part because TMC isn’t science proven by lab rats or clinical studies, it is proven and experienced by humans.

According to Chinese tradition, one cannot achieve a state of good health without first creating a harmonious relationship with Nature or Tradition. If you feel you’ve lost control of your health or other important parts of your life, Chinese New Year is a wonderful time to regain your balance. In the West, the New Year often brings a renewed focus on diet and exercise. In the East, however, the Chinese New Year brings a renewed perspective of the whole person: body, mind and spirit. In traditional Chinese medicine, we think of health and wellness in terms of balance. Everything — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual — is connected. Your physical well-being impacts your spirit. When I see patients who have been in chronic pain for many years, their quality of life has been severely impaired. This impacts their spirit. Many lose the sparkle in their eyes, and brightness in their voices. Disease is perceived as a disharmony (or imbalance) in the functions of the interaction between the human body and the environment. Therapy is based on which “pattern of disharmony” can be identified. It is also known to be the most difficult aspect of practicing TCM.

You Need More Than An Oil Change For Good Health

When was the last time you had an oil change? Even a new car needs an oil change when the time comes. And with an old car, not only does it need an oil change, but a full tune up, and at times parts need to be replaced and fixed. Our body is much more complex than a car and the truth is that physical illness comes from neglect and eating the wrong food. More and more people are taught to eat with a mind set of “why can’t I?” and begin following nonsensical trends. Not everyone has the same biology, which means everyone reacts to different allergens and substances differently. If a food that is scientifically suppose to have great benefits but in return has been prepared uncooked or has been eaten too much, it can cause side effects. That effect can sometimes cause a long term health disease. A great example would be Chia Seeds. Due to the high concentration of Omega -3 fatty acids, and gelatinous properties it has can act as a blood thinner. Since it is a high fiber and rich seed, it can cause gastrointestinal problems. Be aware, and don’t have a monkey see monkey do attitude.

I am learning every day. A very wise man has recently explained to me that “you don’t need to fall into every mud puddle to know it is dirty.” That goes for the usage of marijuana, alcohol, and following unbeneficial trends. We are now told that, it is good for us, but history and other informational sources have shown that it can have toxic effects on our body. How can we say things like smoking marijuana frequently and drinking a glass of red wine once a day is ok, when we know that smoking cigarettes can cause Lung Disease or Cancer and alcoholic drinks can cause Alcohol Liver? Please be more knowledgeable and think twice of the consequences. My rule is this, what is not given to a baby or child doesn’t mean that it is good for us. Your biology stays the same throughout your whole life. Learn to say STOP.

What can we do to give ourselves an oil change? Take Taifu Plus and E15. A prominent ingredient in the E15 is Po Xiao which improves disease resistance. Huang Lian, another ingredient in E15 will help relieve heat toxicity. There is no secret to life, what goes in must come out. Time and time, one will get their blood or hair analyzed and when the results return it may show that they are low in iron or Vitamin D. So naturally, you take more supplements. In Chinese Traditional Herbal teaching, internally, if a main organ isn’t working properly, it will lower your body’s processing and functioning abilities. If one neglects eating the right food, it will hinder your body’s ability to receive good, natural nutrients. Instead of supplements, we spend time with patients and help educate the patient on how to prevent illness from the start. Starting with consuming a plant-based diet, eating living cultured food, and eliminating processed food will help alkalize the body naturally and provide the body the nutrients that it needs to heal. What goes in must come out.

With Love,
Juli

The Most Precious Gift You Can Give Yourself

With the holiday season behind us, and a new year of possibilities ahead, you may be enjoying presents from the season and trying to determine how to achieve your goals. Perhaps there are some left over holiday chocolates or cookies tempting you? Or maybe you managed to consume them all up by the 31st so that you can begin that diet without distractions?

The best thing you can do for yourself to start the New Year is to give yourself the gift of presence. I’m not talking about a physical gift you unwrap, but the simple thing of being just where you are right now. With so many distractions from our phones, computers and advertisements on the radio directing our focus on everything else, let’s talk about being present in the moment. Some folks use meditation or exercise like Yoga or Running to help them enjoy moments of being present in their bodies. You can give yourself this time every day no matter what or how you want to be present.

By slowing down and being really focused on yourself for a few minutes every day, you may find that you notice how you are really feeling. How your body is doing in terms of rest, or any small aches and pains. This will let you be proactive about taking care of your health. We have this tendency in America to ignore our small aches or even ignore a stomach ache because we are too busy.

The traditional Chinese practice is one of preventative health. Grandma or an elder in the family knew how to cure or help common illnesses. The whole family knew how to avoid catching colds or even how to recover from child birth in a way that made them less likely to have complications.

As I have been thinking about the new year and the big increase in health problems among those I know in my family, I think about Hen Sen Herbs and all that Juli does to help others with the traditional Chinese remedies. What I have noticed is that this requires every one to pay attention to their health. The sooner you take care of a problem, the better. The only way to do that is to be present every day and notice any changes so that you can be proactive.

May you find a way to give yourself the give of being present every day, and take care of your health so that you may enjoy a New Year of peace and joy!

A Dying Art Form: Cooking From Scratch

I have always hated cooking, there I said it. I hated the process of cooking, I hated cutting my own food up because I am a totally clumsy and would cut myself on accident some way or another, and I extremely despise the clean up process after you are done making a meal. I disliked this task so much I would avoid cooking at all costs, which in turn led me to eat out more… And to be completely honest, I was a horrible cook. I had no idea what to cook or how to cook anything…Instant Mac&Cheese and Top Ramen anyone?

For example, one time my boyfriend Igor and I were making soup. We added in the broth and the vegetables like potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and tomatoes, ect… Igor had already added a little bit of noodles to give it more heartiness to the soup. Not knowing I added A WHOLE BOX of shell noodles which made this soup very thick. As the noodles started to expand, there was almost no broth left. So we just ended up eating a bowl full of brothless noodles, with little vegetables.

There was also another instance when I was making pancakes, the recipe called for vegetable oil and not watching what I was doing, I grabbed an olive oil containing garlic and added it to the pancake mix. When I was in the middle of cooking I was thinking, “Man what smells like garlic?” and as the pancake finished cooking I took one bite and instantly knew I fudged up.

So these are just petite examples of my clumsy cooking experiences, too many to share. But at the beginning of January of 2016 I made it a goal to expand my cooking habits and to explore the art of cooking from scratch.

Although it took me a very long time to get the hang of cooking from scratch, I started with really small and easy recipes to get me started. I’d make omelets, pancakes (without the garlic oil), sandwiches, and stir fry with rice to name a few. As I started to notice that cooking wasn’t really that bad, I started to build the confidence to learn how to make even more complex dishes.

To start, I decided what my staple foods were going to be for the week; Igor and I take turns with making food, so we plan out what meals we like and what each dish requires. We love spaghetti squash (great substitute for noodles) with our own homemade pasta sauce, pesto sauce with chicken (which goes well with almost everything), stir frys including bell peppers, onion, garlic, basil, carrots, broccoli, and boiled & buttered vegetables with rice (which is my favorite). These are the meals we always have ready in our fridge.

We pick one day of the week (sometimes every other day when one of us has the time to cook) and we prepare our dishes ahead of time. This makes it easy for us to grab and go and helps the cooking process go by faster.

With this inspiration to cook from scratch, this year for thanksgiving, we made everything, and I mean EVERYTHING from scratch. We also visited our local farm and bought most of our produce from there. I admit it wasn’t easy but it was sure nice to know that all the food we were making had ingredients that were not a mystery to us.

The food tasted amazing compared to the pre-packaged and instant food we use to get. We also had a well rounded assortment of different dishes from mashed potatoes, to brussels sprouts and cabbage, mixed vegetables, stuffing (made from whole wheat bread that was made from scratch, onions and celery), and of course the turkey.

As I have started to cook from home more and more, I have started to notice that my palate for food has changed as well! If I went out to eat with family or friends, I notice that the food is much more salty and less enjoyable than if I were to make something at home. The food I make tastes way better. As I transition from buying pre packaged foodstuff to making everything myself, It has helped me realize that your taste buds do much more than enhancing the flavor of food, and it plays a real important part of your digestion of food.

Americans have acquired a savory flavored addiction. If it isn’t stewing in sauces and high sodium, it doesn’t taste good. Our palates have conditioned itself to reject “bland” tasting food, or in my view real food, because everything you find in the store is packed with sodium to ensure shelf life. When eating food there are many factors to consider when it comes to taste and proper digestion. The first factor being taste, and how the food feels in your mouth. The second factor is the actual macronutrient content of the food.

Saliva contains calcium, amino acids, nitrogen, natural chlorine, oxygen, ammonia, proteins, carbon dioxide, and sodium. These substances all enhance metabolism, growth and the body’s immunity system, and help with lubricating the mouth and throat aiding the digestion process when chewing food.

Food manufacturers take advantage of this natural occurrence and go to great lengths to find the perfect blend of salt, sugar, fat, and additional flavorings to excite your brain’s reward center and taste buds thereby assuring you’ll eat more. With processed foods these factors are some of the reasons why processed foods can be so addicting such as:

• Rapid food meltdown and vanishing caloric density. Foods that quickly melt in your mouth trick your brain into thinking you’re not eating as much food as you really are, despite the fact you’re stuffing in plenty of calories. A prime example of a snack food
that has perfected this is Cheetos
• Dynamic contrast. This is when a combination of contrasting sensations produces pleasurable sensations, such as biting through a crunchy chocolate shell, followed by a soft, creamy center filling

• Sensory specific response. Repetitive flavors, or flavor overload, tend to lead to decreased sensations of pleasure. In short, you “get tired” of eating the same flavor again and again. Your palate can even tire of a flavor within minutes. Processed food manufacturers circumvent this by creating more complex flavor and sensory profiles.

• Salivation response, which boosts taste and feelings of pleasure. Examples of foods and/or ingredients that promote salivation include butter, chocolate, ice cream, and mayonnaise

• Calorie density. Junk foods are designed to convince your brain that it is getting nutrition, but to not fill you up. This is accomplished by combining the ideal ratio of calories to prevent satiety signals to go off

Eating food has become a lost art form, and what I mean by that is we don’t eat because we have the need to, we eat because we want to. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, although with all the addicting chemicals put into our food, it’s hard to stop eating. A patient of ours once said, “We live to eat, and we forgot how to eat to live.” People are eating too fast, and not thoroughly chewing their food, which results in huge chunks of half digested food going into your stomach and making your body work twice as hard to digest it. Chewing your food 15-20 times and giving yourself time to eat and enjoy food will benefit you in the long run.

As the holiday season continues, it’s key to keep in mind that, winter is a time for rest and relaxation, and what is a better way to do that than to get together, eat good food, and surround yourself with loved ones, who will also get the pleasure of enjoying great food with you!

I challenge you this season, to make a whole holiday meal plan from scratch. Going to a farm and getting to talk with the people who grew the food was very educating and they also had so many tips on recipes, how to potentially grow my own food, and much more. Your kids would love it too! Helping support your local farmers is much more rewarding than buying something from the store. Do your taste buds a favor this year and treat it to some really good wholesome food.

Happy Holidays

~Shaila

Why Can’t I Just Eat What I Want?

Autumn is a time where long summer days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder, and the leaves on the trees are changing to all kinds of beautiful colors. Autumn is the season of transition. For kids, they transition from the freedoms of summer to going back to school; everyone is getting ready for winter while the birds transition from North to South. As this time of transition comes upon us, every year I take this time to reflect on myself and the past year that I have experienced.

The major transitions in my life for this past year have been mainly health oriented. The dictionary term for transition is the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another. This statement can be manifested into multiple meanings and different situations. Most recently the biggest transition for me was, changing my diet.

For patients that have come to our office, when you have your initial consultation, at the end, you are usually given a suggested Bland Diet that explains about the foods that can cause an inflammatory response in the body as well as suggesting to avoid processed foods, and cook from home. It is also separated into different food categories and each category has a list of foods that are okay to eat and not okay. When I explain what the Bland Diet I get a lot of people thinking, “ Oh God, this means I can’t eat anything now doesn’t it?” Although this Diet may seem intimidating, I will show you the reasoning and tools to help you transition from Bland to Blandtastic! (alright, that sounded better in my head).

When I first began the Bland Diet (yes, I gave up and had to retry more than once), I was too gung-hoe about the whole thing. I went straight to eating salads, raw veggies, and a couple times, nearly starved myself because I was so lost on what to eat. I had purged my pantry, and then restocked it with the same crappy junk foods (mostly cookies and other sweets) and then filled it with healthy stuff, (which I am getting better at these days). The best thing about the Bland Diet sheet is that you do have a list of foods that are okay and not okay, which is really helpful. On the other hand, though it tends to be a little bit of a cliff hanger because it is open for interpretation as to how to prepare foods and how to create your own recipes “great so I have this list, now what?”.

For many health conditions, diet is the leading cause of negative symptoms. Therefore it is crucial to take under consideration that a change of diet is needed to make yourself feel better. Some of the content we advise in the Bland Diet is staying away from processed food. Mono Sodium Glutamate or MSG for short is a food additive that is spiked in many processed foods, the best thing is, this toxic salt makes you want to eat more, as if we don’t have that problem already! And while we are at it, what does GMO even mean? Well GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. The American food industry is so lazy that we don’t want to even grow food the way its suppose to be grown anymore, so we clone crops and mix and match other crops’ DNA (like mixing DNA of a banana and putting it in a potato) so that pests like bugs won’t “contaminate” the food, sounds great right? Nope. We don’t have to worry about bugs getting into our food supplies.

Although GMO gene splicing does its job for keeping bugs away it also creates a toxic chemical reaction for our bodies. Even pesticides don’t want any part of this chemical bath. If you could imagine that animals, bugs, and bacteria don’t want to eat it…then why should we?

When it comes to spicy and sweet foods, we would rather have you look at more local food and limiting your sugar. Depending on your climate, there are foods you can eat and foods that just don’t make sense to eat. For example, in Washington state we are notorious for being the most rainy state. Most tropical fruits such as papaya, mangos and pineapple are cooling fruits that come from tropical hot places (like East Asia or South America), will decrease your temperature. In order to maintain a normal temperature to keep you warm during this cold season, it doesn’t make sense to eat these fruits that will decrease your temperature which will result in you getting a cold or flu. Spicy foods, make you sweat and perspire, and in countries like India when its hot most of the year, or Thailand, you need to sweat to keep yourself cool and balance the system, here in Washington, not so much. Eat the foods that are in season to maintain this balance.

On the topic of fruit, although it is so delicious to eat, its a good idea to know how much sugar each fruit contains. You should also know that eating fruit at night before bedtime disrupts the digestive system and causes imbalance in the body. Its as if you had some sort of energy drink and you are attempting to go to sleep, usually doesn’t work out very well, the sugar gets metabolized into energy making you want to burn that energy.

America is well known for its over consumption of meat. Ribs, burgers, nuggets, steaks, wings of all different kinds of animals are all rich in purine, and high in cholesterol. Not only that but red meat specifically is hard for the stomach to digest. It takes around 2 days for meat to fully digest in your stomach and intestines which can cause a back up in your intestinal pluming.

When looking at the bland diet, it can be hard to brain storm recipes or meals that accommodate to the Bland Diet and that fully satisfy your taste buds. But In the information age we live in, there are so many resources to look into that can encourage you to look at recipes that pertain to the bland diet. For example, Zucchini is on the OK list, you can find a recipe to make zucchini soup! Sweet potatoes are OK, make mashed sweet potatoes. Paleo/ Vegan/ Vegetarian dishes are always best to look up and if you like meat, be sure to buy organic farm raised animal meat, like chickens and add to the Paleo/ Vegan/ Vegetarian dish. Allrecipes.com, Pinterest, cook books are great resources for recipes and inspiration. Make a list of all the food that you like from the Bland Diet and mix and match.

As the holiday season gets closer, food can be the bane of your digestive system. Be sure to watch your portion sizes, enjoy good tasting food, and try making food as a gift versus buying from the store, it adds that from the heart quality to this holiday season. Have a Happy Thanksgiving, make this transitional season enlightening.

Love,

Shaila