Homeopathic headache remedies

I will admit to researching this selfishly, as I’m fighting off a headache at this very moment.  (The causes of my headaches are named Jack and Samuel and are 2 1/2 and 9 months respectively.  Neither was content to sleep in his own bed last night, which means that what sleep I did get was on the 4″ at the very edge of the mattress and was rather tense since I was trying not to fall off the bed onto the hardwood floor.  But I digress.)

 

So, if you, too, suffer from headaches and would prefer to try something other than over-the-counter meds for them, here are some ideas:

Water: Headaches can be caused by dehydration, so drinking a tall glass of water or two is a great place to start.

Scalp massage and accupressure: With your fingers, rub your scalp, particularly at the base of your skull over the greater occipital nerve.  Here’s more information on massaging away a headache.  Accupressure on your hands or feet may also help relieve the pain of a headache by stimulating the pressure points associated with your head and neck.  Here is a great site describing the various pressure points that can help with a migraine, and below is a chart showing the areas of the hands that are associated with the various body parts.  Massage the tips of your fingers and the pads of your thumbs to relieve a headache.

Aromatherapy:  Peppermint, lavender and basil essential oils can all help with a headache, as can cilantro, rosemary, cardamom and patchouli.  Apply a drop to your temples or the back of your neck, mist them from a spray bottle of water or diffuse the oils in the room to help with your headache.  This website describes aromatherapy techniques and specific blends that are helpful for headaches.

Diet: If you suffer from frequent headaches, try keeping a food log.  Research has suggested that certain foods (dairy, peanut butter, processed meats and certain fruits like bananas and avocados among others) may trigger headaches in some people.  Keep track of what you are eating for a few days, note any foods that you eat prior to a headache and consider avoiding them.  Read on for more information.  Headaches can also be caused by inflamation, which can be alleviated by eating plenty of omega-3 fatty acids (found in flax seed and fish, among other things.)  Fish oil has been studied as a treatment for recurrent migraines.

Obviously this is only scratching the surface of homeopathic headache remedies, but it’s a good start.  I’m sure you’re dying to know what I did about my headache just now, so I’ll tell you.  I use a combination of accupressure on my hands and around my eyes and essential oils (I have a headache blend that I keep in my purse).  I smell like wintergreen, peppermint and cilantro right now, but my headache is much better.

What is your go-to headache cure?

 

 

 

Benefits of sunshine

It’s spring!

(Pay no attention to yesterday’s random snowstorm.  It’s still spring!)

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In case you need a reason to get out in the sunshine, here are some interesting facts about the benefits of soaking up some sun.

Sunlight fights stress by boosting seratonin levels.

It prompts your body to produce vitamin D, which helps prevents bone density loss, can help prevent some types of cancers, and may curb the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Sounds good, right?  But what about skin cancer?

Robyn Lucas, a researcher with Australian National University, suggests that we may do more harm than good by recommending that people avoid the sun.  That being said, for fair-skinned people less than 15 minutes of unprotected summertime sun exposure per day is plenty to produce a healthy amount of vitamin D, with 15-20 minutes sufficing for dark-skinned people.  Be sure to get your daily 15 minutes in the sun and then lather up with some sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) if you will be out for longer.

Need some ideas for things to do outside?

Take a walk (bring the dog, the kids, the significant other, the neighbors…)

Plant and tend a garden (we have a seed library, after all!)

Cookout

Ride a bike

Take a picnic to Dawes Arboretum

Workout at the outdoor gym at Rotary Park

Powerwash your house

Read a book

Mow the grass

Lawn games (croquet, frisbee, badminton)

Swing on the swings on the playground

Or, you know, just read that book 🙂

 

Substitutes for unhealthy ingredients in recipes

It’s finally almost spring!  Which means that I am finally emerging from my armor of heavy wool sweaters and starting to think about trying to look decent in shorts again.  One fairly painless way to make better choices is to substitute healthy ingredients for the not-so-healthy ones in recipes you make at home.

Healthy Substitutes- No Diets Allowed
Click on this picture to visit an A-Z guide on healthy subsitutions

offthegridnews.com has a list of substitutions, most of which I have tried and can vouch for.  (It’s also a great website to keep in your back pocket if you are a survivalist or prepper for the zombie apocalypse, although I suppose you’d better memorize the information since the power grid will probably be the first thing to go.  Also, I don’t know how they think we’re going to get avocados in Ohio post-apocalypse, but whatever.)

Some of their suggestions:

Sugar => unsweetened applesauce (1:1 ratio)

Sour cream => Greek yogurt

Mayonnaise => mashed or pureed avocado

More ideas if you click through to this website

 

The Mayo Clinic has a list of suggestions that seemed pretty reasonable to me, including:

Canned fruit in syrup => frozen fruit or canned fruit in water or its own juice

1/2 the all-purpose flour in a recipe => whole wheat flour

Iceberg lettuce => darker greens such as kale or spinach

2/3 meat in a soup or cassarole recipe => extra veggies

Soy sauce => hot mustard or sweet and sour sauce

Syrup => pureed fruit

They lost me with the substitutes for bacon, though.  There is no substitute for bacon.

 

The Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is probably the most common health recommendation and the most commonly ignored.  Who has time to sleep for eight hours?

This is kind of a wishful thinking post for me, since I have a six-month old who still isn’t sleeping through the night (*sigh*), but in case you just need some encouragement to turn off the tv, jump in some comfy jammies and snuggle in for a warm winter’s nap, here are some facts about sleep.

Not to be a downer, but according to HealthyPeople.gov, lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  It is also a factor in car accidents, with drowsy drivers responsible for at least 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths each year in the U.S.

The benefits of sleep are great.  Some, as described by WebMD, are:

1. Better health

2. Better sex (woohoo!)

3. Less pain

4. Lower risk of injury

5. Better mood

6. Better weight control

7. Clearer thinking

8. Better memory

9. Stronger immunity

Sounds good, right?  So how to get those elusive eight hours?

The Mayo Clinic offers these suggestions for getting more and better sleep:

1. Stick to a sleep schedule

2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink  (Not too much, not too little.  Limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol.)

3. Create a bedtime ritual to prep your brain for what’s coming (turn off your phone, laptop, tablet, take a hot shower, read a book…)

4. Get comfortable.  (Not too hot, not too cold, not too many visitors in bed (I’m looking at you, kids and dog…))

5. Limit daytime naps

6. Include physical activity in your daily routine

7. Manage stress

Interested in sleep? Or are you like me and just want to daydream about getting it?  Here’s a great article about it from National Geographic for extra credit.  Or check out the magazine and just read it until you fall asleep.

Healthier fast food

After that eye-opening article about what a day’s worth of calories looks like (and its conclusion that it’s healthier to eat at home), what’s a person to do if she is on the road (or shuttling kids, or just doesn’t feel like cooking) and finds herself at a fast food restaurant?

WebMD has some general suggestions for navigating a fast food menu as well as an extensive list of meal recommendations at common fast food chains.  I especially like the reminder about avoiding liquid calories like soda that offer few, if any, nutritional benefits while adding up to quite a bit of sugar (and fat, if we’re talking about my beloved milkshakes…).

Fitness Magazine has a list of suggested meals at a bunch of common fast food chains, including McDonalds, Taco Bell, Chipotle, Wendy’s and Panera Bread.

Health.com rated fast food restaurants and came up with their top 10 healthiest fast food chains.  Shockingly, McDonalds is on the list, along with Chipotle (YAY!) and Panera Bread.  Most of the chains they list do not have locations in Newark, but this is worth a read for suggestions for those three and the recommendation to look for alternatives to butter and cream cheese (think: hummus or peanut butter) as a topper for bagels.

Now that you have those links, the truth is that I don’t even attempt to eat healthy when we go to fast food restaurants.  I get the big burrito at Chipotle, I order a milkshake at Steak and Shake, I’ll slather my Arby’s roast beef in Arby’s sauce (what is even in that, anyway??)  The reason I ignore the calories when we go out to eat is because we don’t do it often – maybe twice a month, tops.  When fast food is a treat rather than a routine, hey, why not go crazy?  But if you’re eating it once a week or more then some of these suggestions might be worth a look.

What do you eat when you go out?

Snack ideas

I will be the first to admit that I am a grazer.  If there are snacks in the house I will eat them, and you can bet that I’m not parcelling them out so that they last all week.  I’ve learned to control this tendency by just not buying snacks, but that is maddening when it’s three o’clock on a Saturday, I would give my left arm for something delicious to eat and there is absulutely nothing in the house that sounds appealing.  I’m trying to get in the habit (and mindset) of having some healthy alternatives on hand so that I don’t eat an entire box of Cheez-Its in one sitting.

Here are some of my favorites:

Fresh fruit – the more colorful the fruit, the more vitamins and antioxidents in it

A handful of prezels (which are usually fat free since they’re baked) dipped in hummus

A green smoothie (a handful of spinach,some frozen fruit, half a banana or a spoonful of yogurt, a dash of  flax seed or a spoonful of peanut butter, honey to sweeten if you want and enough water or sugar-free vanilla almond milk to thin it out)

Carrots, celery and radishes with garlic-herb dip (plain yogurt, Italian seasoning and a little garlic salt and pepper, or, for a more intense version, crush a small clove of garlic into the yogurt and season to taste.  Bonus points: garlic has been shown to help treat heart disease, the common cold and cancer, although you may also want to invest in some breath mints)

Frozen edamame microwaved and topped with a pinch of sea salt.  You eat it by popping the beans out of the shell – it’s weirdly addictive.

Pineapple and cottage cheese

Apple chips or sweet potato chips

For more ideas:

39 Favorite Snacks under 100 Calories

10 Portable and Healthy Snacks

17 Power Snacks for Studying (or working at the library…)

What are your favorite healthy snacks?

“I workout”*

I like the idea of working out but I often need a kick in the rear to actually get up and do it.  I have been attending a biweekly pilates class for two years now with a friend (it’s free to community members at Denison University – email me for details if you’re interested).  I like that it gets me out of the house and that people expect to see me there so I feel guilty when I skip, but when class isn’t in session I am highly likely to have great intentions and not actually do anything at all.

So when I came across this idea on Pinterest (the home of all good ideas, obviously), I really liked it.  Buzzfeed ran a post a while back on One-Song Workouts – i.e. workout routines that you can do in the three or four minutes it takes to play one song.  Here’s one example they gave:

I like that it’s quick (you can’t tell me that you don’t have a spare 3 minutes in the day) and it doesn’t require any special equipment.  According to the One Song Workouts tumbler you burn about 100 calories per song, not to mention the toning and strength training benefits.  Here’s the link to the Buzzfeed article.

I can only imagine how awesomely ridiculous my two year old and I are going to look doing this at home, but I double dog dare you to pull up a song on YouTube and get someone to try it with you on your lunch break.  Bonus points if you video it and share.  🙂

*Thanks to LMFAO, “Sexy and I Know It” for the title inspiration.

Benefits of deep breathing

It’s the new year.  For some that means a sigh of relief after the busy holiday season, for others clenched muscles and stress at the thought of taxes coming due or the pressure of New Year’s resolutions to make and another year that has flown by.

Take a deep breath.

No, really.  Take a deep breath.

The benefits of deep breathing are familiar to yoga practitioners, but in case you’re new to the technique, here are some of the benefits of deep breathing (sources below).

1. Slows heart rate and encourages muscle relaxation

2. Lowers blood pressure

3. Aids digestion

4. Massages your organs

5. Increases blood flow (which can even help prevent wrinkles)

6.  Improves the quality of blood by removing carbon dioxide and increasing oxygen levels

7. Improves concentration

8. Releases endorphins, the “feel good chemicals”)

9. Encourages good lymphatic function which helps detoxify your body

10. Elevates mood

Sources: American Medical Student Association, NPRLiving the Nourished Life, One Powerful Word, Care2

If you are looking for some tips on getting started, here are some techniques and tutorials:

Breathing techniques from the American Institute of Stress

Video tutorial on practicing deep breathing

Guided breathing exercise from RELAX

Take a deep breath.  Happy New Year!

Do you know what 2,000 calories looks like?

Most adults who exercise 30 minutes or less per day and who have average activity levels should take in about 2,000 calories per day.  But who really counts calories these days?  And what does 2,000 calories look like?  The New York Times published an article on that very topic, photographing restaurant meals (or in some cases one or two menu items) that include a full day’s worth of calories.  Take heart, though.  Scroll to the bottom of the article and check out the prepped at home meals.  Those look more like a day’s worth of food.

Check out ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information on healthy eating and try a fitness app (MyFitnessPal is one I’ve heard recommended) to get started tracking your meals and exercise to start the new year off right.  (No one will judge if you don’t start tracking until January 2nd.)

Blood Pressure Monitors Are In!

If you wish to get your blood pressure taken, please come to the HR office or request it from the branches. We have two of them. Two points may be earned if you get your blood pressure checked at least once every 2 weeks and monitor it. Ask your physician where your normal blood pressure should be before starting this so you know. If it appears too high or too low, consult with your physician.