Sunday, January 14, 2007

Disorders & Solutions

My good friend Michelle told me a story about an older couple perusing the aisles at Whole Foods, looking to buy some tasty vegan food. The amount of confusion bouncing back and forth between the two was enough to power the store for a couple of days. Michelle stepped in and offered her assistance in the ice cream department, as some frozen soy desserts are sub-par while others will blow you away. The amount of frustration this couple seemed to have generated could have easily been tamed by setting up a shopping trip with the store. Whole Foods offers tours that cover your entire list. Whether you are allergic to gluten, dairy, nuts, or you have specific dietary needs like vegans and maybe pregnant moms or diabetics, they will take you through the store and show you what items you can choose from. I highly doubt Costco or Albertson's will hook you up with service like THAT! Check out your local store at: and search for store tours.

Health & Fitness Journal reports via Science Daily that Supermarket tours are growing in popularity as people diagnosed with Coronary Heart Disease and other fairly common diseases need to make changes in their nutritional choices. They decided to examine the effectiveness of educating patients with heart disease in the store, so they can see exactly what things they should be buying to stay healthy.

"The study -- Prevent it: using grocery store tours as an educational tool to promote heart health -- looked at whether grocery store tours are a popular and successful method of informing people about healthy-eating.
A “grocery store tour” is a group educational session held at the participant’s normal supermarket rather than in a clinical or work site setting. A nutritionist or dietician guides the session, providing information on healthy food choices and demonstrating how to read a food label. Members of the group share with each other healthy shopping tips and recipes for nutritious and enjoyable meals.
The researchers ran and evaluated eight of their own “heart-healthy” tours. The tours were free and covered all the practical evidence-based dietary advice believed to influence risk for CHD.
The study found the tours are an effective way in increasing nutritional knowledge with 75 per cent of the group saying they felt they had learned a lot of new information. Longer-term effectiveness of the tour was assessed using a postal questionnaire in which group members reported a range of healthy dietary changes."

Knowing first hand how helpful meditation and mindfulness is when suffering from anxiety, I believe this method applied to treating young women with eating disorders is a swell idea. Most therapies for ED's are so focused on food and controlling eating, that less time is spent on defining triggers of binges or emotions that might create these behaviors. "Mindfulness" involves meditation like exercises that help people live in the moment, developing a healthy acceptance of self and becoming aware of potentially destructive habitual responses. This program taught in Queensland resulted in the following:
"Women who have been through the program report less dissatisfaction with their bodies, increased self-esteem and improved personal relationships," Ms Morgan said.
"They learn that thoughts and emotions don't have any power over us as they are just passing phenomena and aren't permanent."

That last lesson is so powerful when you are suffering with all-consuming anxiety or illness like bulimia/anorexia. Humans LOVE to be distracted by television, radio, computer (yeah you reading this!!!), shopping, drinking, drugs, exercise, whatever....but when we have to wait patiently for something in silence with no book or newspaper to read, something comes over us. Its a bit scary, those moments of nothing. Anyone who has learned to meditate will probably tell you that the first couple of times are really uncomfortable mentally and physically. 10 minutes can seem like an eternity! Its an adventure, learning about yourself. Honestly its crazy to see the same themes pass through your head over and over. Of the thousands of thoughts that we have in a day, we probably are aware of about 10% of those!

That is one reason why I think pregnant women feel so blissful most of of their pregnancy. Its the time when you are present, feeling this life growing in your belly, getting kicked here and there, experiencing your physical changes really keeps you in the moment. Not a coincidence! When you pay attention, you better watch out, you might learn something about yourself and others! It can be a pretty amazing experience.

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