Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reading less, sleeping more

I'm not getting my usual amount of reading done lately and I'm thrilled.  I can't even get through a brochure and I'm ecstatic.  I used to read books, magazines, etc, for 1-3 hours every day.  Now I read for about 5 minutes.

I have to change my routine so I can get my reading done.  It is awesome.

Those who know me well know that I had a pretty healthy diet.  I ate based on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, and was much healthier for it.  The food is delicious, and this quest set my husband and I on a path that led us to raising a lot of our own food.

At a WAPF potluck, hosted on our farmlet some time ago, I met a woman who was a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.  When I found out what she did, I peppered her with questions for the rest of the afternoon, and also followed up with several emails and phone calls.  There was also a naturopathic doctor there, and another NTP student.  All agreed that this training was for me.

They were correct.  It was an amazing journey.

Early in the program, we paired up with fellow students to evaluate our current health status as it relates to nutrition.  I was stunned to see that I needed a LOT of help nutritionally.  How could that be?  I was doing SO much to eat only nutrient dense foods, properly raised and properly prepared.

Well, it is not just about what you eat.  It is also about how your digestive tract is working to assimilate those nutrients.  Then there is the component of how stable your blood sugar is....this is critical to health and well-being.  Mine was off the charts.....bad.  With my great diet.  I was stunned.

The digestive issues didn't surprise me, as I'd been struggling with this my entire life.  Increasing food allergies, all to healthy whole foods, was my big concern.  I wondered what I'd eat in my old age, as I was adding to my "do not eat" list every year.

The blood sugar thing....that was the shocker.  I ate a diet pretty devoid of all sugar and white flour.  Sugar was a rare treat, and was usually in the form of honey or maple syrup in very small amounts.  By rare, I mean no more than once every other week or so.  Considering most people today in the US eat close to a half pound of sugar a day, I was pretty stinkin' low on sugar.  And someone else out there was eating a pound a day to make up for what I wasn't eating.

So why am I reading less and sleeping more?  My blood sugar has stabilized.  It no longer spikes up and down throughout the day.  Did you know that the body can only handle one spike a day?  And not every day?  It wears the adrenal glands out.  They freak out with every dip and spike.  Add to that all the stress we are under, and add on top of that a nightly dose of stressful entertainment in the form of stress-inducing tv shows, movies, sports, and video games.

One of the best health changes that I can't ignore is my new-found energy and ability to sleep well.  I used to read every night to fall asleep, often for a couple of hours.  Then when I felt sufficiently sleepy, I'd reach over to turn off the bedside lamp.  Many times, that simple action would wake me up fully and I'd have to turn the light back on and read for another hour.

For years, I got my best sleep in the morning.  Since I couldn't get to sleep before 1 or 2 AM, I'd often sleep until 9 or 10 AM.  If I didn't, I would not have energy to give to my evening clients.  My husband referred to me as a diesel....you know, slow to start on cold mornings....or any morning.

Within a few short weeks of changing my eating habits to rest my adrenal glands and stabilize my blood sugar throughout the day, each and every day, I started to fall asleep rather quickly.  I read for 5 minutes or so and fall asleep while reading.  I can turn off that light and I'm back to sleep as my head hits the pillow....I finally understand that expression!

Best of all, I wake up naturally, well rested and refreshed and without an alarm clock.  This happens between 6:30 and 7:30, but mostly between 6:45 and 7:20.  Unless it is raining, then it will be closer to 7:30.  I have energy to get stuff done, and you should see the projects that are getting completed here!  The hubster has more energy, too, and the weight is melting off him.

The food is SO good, too, and not devoid of treats in any way.  We had our first apple pie in a while this week.  Instead of making a full size pie, I made two tiny ones, so we wouldn't overdo it.  We won't be doing this every day, but it sure was good.  For daily treats, we rely on chevre, black bean cake, and nut bombs.  Soon, homemade ice cream will be added to this list.  All of these treats are really small meals of nutrient dense, healthy foods.  All stabilize, rather than spiking, the blood sugar levels.

I am also enjoying helping others adjust their lifestyles for improved energy and health with nutritional therapy.  My clients have different healthy foods in their fridges and cupboards than I do, not having goats and chickens, but here is a peek into mine:

A peek inside my fridge this week....white, white, and more white!

Spring in my fridge.....lots of milk and cheese!  You will also notice that there are NO processed foods or drinks.  You see veggies, jars of soup, jars of chevre layered with fruit, gallons of milk gathering for cheesemaking, eggs from our hens but in cartons given to me.  You see jars of lard and saved  bacon grease and the supplements for my dogs.  There is a jar of strawberry rhubarb sauce, made without sugar of any kind.

Behind this you might see more veggies, raw almonds, 3 year miso, beets, and whatever pickled (fermented, no vinegar or heat) vegetables are left from last summer's garden...a few garlic dill cukes and some hot peppers.   Oh, and if you know what to look for, you can see 3 types of goat cheese:  chevre, feta, and gouda from our goats.

In the door (not shown) are vinegars, homemade wine, water, chai tea concentrate, kombucha, cheese making cultures and rennet, wine yeasts, butter, injectibles for the goats, a bag of plum pits in soil conditioning for spring planting, a bag of wheat flour that I ground myself from organic wheat, home made mustard, and some olive and sesame oils.

For convenience foods, see the soup and the jars of chevre with fruit, the nuts and the cheese.

The contents of my fridge change with the seasons and what is fresh and available.  For the next few months, lots of space will be devoted to milk and cheese.  There will be many trips to the cellar fridge with gallons of milk and finished wheels of cheese to make room in the kitchen fridge for daily foods. 

Trust me when I say my fridge didn't always look this way.  I'll confess....there was a time when Diet Coke was a main feature, as well as many packaged products, margarine, and lots of sugary snacks.  It was a journey to change my habits and my tastes....and to get the hubby on board.  He was on a different time schedule, but is fully on board now and enjoying the food and the weight is melting off him. 

If this overwhelms you, you are not alone.  Try adding one or two healthy foods to your fridge...and your diet....each week or each month, and eat/drink those first, before allowing yourself to have what you are used to.  I weaned myself off Diet coke that way....I forced myself to drink water before I could have some Coke.  I reduced my intake from 2 liters a day (hangs head in shame) to a can or two a day.  Then someone told me of the connection between aspartame and macular degeneration, which I was diagnosed with at age 40...with no family history.  I did a little research.  The soda in my fridge and cupboards was poured down the drain, and I never had another sip again.  Ever.  It was just not worth going blind.

A great start in adding healthy foods is.....BACON!  Yes, bacon from pastured pigs is a health food.  Run, don't walk, to your local farmer's market or the local chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation and find some in your area.  You can thank me later.


  1. EXCELLENT! thanks for sharing your fridge! and all good info. i just sent a friend, formerly on the SAD, the weston a price link - i hope they use it.

  2. I am very interested in this. I also cleaned my diet up stringently 10 years ago. But over the years, I also added allergic foods to the list. Things got better in 2008 when I added raw milk kefir, bone stocks and started raising a good deal of our own food. But in the last year, it's been going down again.

    I know blood sugar is an issue, always has been, which was why the diet was cleaned up 10 years ago. Sleep was the first thing to improve, back then, but I still must read to fall asleep. I usually wake up able to get going though. I still practice strict sleep hygiene.

    Besides WAPF, are there any local links (Western Mass) you could offer? I'd like to learn more about this.

  3. So, if you were eating so well before (and I know you were), but were still having sugar spikes, what did you change? I also have "strange" sleep patterns - have had all my life - and always thought it was "just me", but perhaps not. Can you recommend an information source?

  4. Pam and Una and those who messaged me on facebook....I am working on something on this very topic, so watch for it in the next few days. My information source is many, many hours of lectures, reading, and classroom time so boiling it down to a post is a daunting task...not sure if it is even possible! But I'll see what I can come up with, as it is a very important topic.

  5. I received an email from WAPF about training in Hartford. Seriously tempting but the timing was not right for me. Now I regret it!
    I thought of you the minute I saw it!

  6. I love that you opened your fridge in this post. Sometimes I take a picture, too. The last commercial food visible in this photo, the soy creamer, is gone from our diet: I might have bought some for company who don't do dairy. The bottle of soda is one of a batch of root beer (or ginger ale; hard to tell from the pic) that I made myself. Everything else is glass containers of prepared food I made from mostly local ingredients. I like to teach people how to keep a kitchen, too, though I am not as deep into making my own as you are. I make yogurt, but not yet cheese. Thanks for giving me so much inspiration. I really enjoy reading your blog.

  7. Great fridge pic, Justin! Love it! You should be proud.

    And thanks for the kind words...

  8. Good stuff Monique. Glad you were able to learn about your blood sugar - it will make a HUGE difference. I love your fridge, it looks a lot like mine!

  9. You completely described my sleep pattern, esp. reaching to turn off the light waking you back up. I have often layed awake reading all night then in a deep, deep sleep in the morning hours and pretty much brain day before noon.
    I also consume little sugar but do know that I have to take Rhodiola herb for my adrenals. I also try to follow the WAP lifestyle but need to improve.

    What did you change to improve your sleep??

  10. Sugar handling diet, strict version. More on this coming very, very soon!

    And I was eating basically NO sugar for a few years. There is more to sugar handling than sugar. Details upcoming.

  11. I'll be teaching a class series via teleconference, and this will be one of the topics. It starts Sept 18, 2012. Register here with the coupon code digestion for $50 off the already discounted price! http://w.mawebcenters.com/healthylifestylecoach/ecommerce/lifestyle-courses/foundations-of-vibrant-health.html