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Archive for the ‘article’ Category

Need Help Eating More Veggies? Spiralize!

Posted on: June 19th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

Have you been in a slump with finding new and exciting ways of eating more veggies?  I can fall into a pattern of eating the same vegetables, prepared in the same way and it can get boring.  I was recently given a spiralizer and have had a lot of fun discovering new ways to enjoy more vegetables.  For some reason creating noodle like cuts of vegetables makes them more exciting and fun to eat.  And not just for my kids…it seems to work that way for everyone.  We all love playing with the long noodle-like carrot/beet/cucumber/zucchini cuts of vegetables.

If you want to learn more about spiralizing, check out this website, Inspiralized with information about what vegetables to spiralize and cooking techniques.

And I’d like to share a great recipe that tastes fantastic and will help increase your vegetable intake while decreasing your grain consumption.  It’s fantastic and comes from Eat Yourself Skinny.   See what you think and let me know if it was a hit in your home too.

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By: Amanda Cressman, ND. Naturopathic Doctor.

 

A Delicious Green Smoothie

Posted on: April 29th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

I have been on the hunt for a delicious green smoothie.  And, they are actually a bit hard to find.  I have made some weird concoctions with all types of vegetables (cabbage included) that have promised to be delicious but weren’t.  But I finally found one.

A patient introduced me to The Minimalist Baker.   She has delicious recipes with 10 or less ingredients and this Creamy Pineapple Cucumber Smoothie was a great find.

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So, why are green smoothies great?

  • They are nutritious with offering vegetables alongside their fruit counterparts.  Most green smoothies have about a 60/40 ratio of fruit/vegetables but if you’re comfortable you can aim for 50/50.  Some smoothies can rack up calories and sugar with only having fruit in them.
  • You have a more nutritionally dense smoothie that offers more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
  • The alkalinizing benefit of the greens.  The body is always striving for balance, including its pH.  The Standard American/Canadian Diet is very acidic in nature (meat, animal products, processed foods, sugar).  A green smoothie is very alkaline, offering a better balance to your pH.
  • They are easier to digest due to being pulverized and blended.  Some people can’t digest raw greens well but in a smoothie, you can consume your raw greens, enjoying the benefit of their nutrition without compromising a bloated tummy with gas.
  • Great for your bowels.  Liquid food is notorious for helping with constipation and adding greens accentuates this.  The added fiber and water content of the greens helps keep you hydrated and ensures your bowel movements are easier to pass.
  • Who should avoid green smoothies?  If you have a history of kidney stones, particularly oxalate stones, talk to your healthcare provider before consuming too many of these.

It’s not too difficult to add spinach or kale to a smoothie without altering the flavour.  Try this recipe and see if green smoothies are something you’d want to incorporate into your diet.  This one is so delicious, you’ll forget how healthy it is.

*This website is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Expectations

Posted on: January 9th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

The holiday season is a time of year where expectations run high. We’re told where to go, how long to stay, what to do, what to eat, what to buy and sometimes even, how much to spend. Now, of course they can also be filled with wonderful moments and experiences but that’s not what this blog post is about. This post is about dealing with the expectations from others and from ourselves. We are past the holiday season, but the expectations don’t go away…especially those from ourselves and they are the cause of great frustration and stress for some. So, how do we work with them?

I had a very different holiday season this year, as I kept a mantra in mind. It came from Brene Brown and it really helped.   A few weeks ago on her facebook page she wrote, “Choose discomfort over resentment.”

I’ll write it again, “Choose discomfort over resentment”

I liked it immediately but knew it would be hard. I have been very good at ensuring others are not uncomfortable while at times I can be overstressed, overtaxed and inevitably become resentful for overextending myself. This past season, I kept Brene’s mantra in mind and created a holiday season that worked for me.

So, I said no…a few times to a few different people. I said no to others and yes to myself. It was hard but I feel so much better with no uncomfortable resentment lurking inside.

Boundaries are one of the biggest things I talk to about with my patients. Whether we’re dialoging about boundaries with family, coworkers, children, etc. When people breach our boundaries we feel the effects and what can start, as annoyance and frustration can then become bigger issues that can affect our health. This is where I see people with anxiousness, panic attacks, long standing resentments, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, etc.

This year consider using Brene’s mantra. If you haven’t put your needs first in awhile, it may be difficult, even incredibly uncomfortable, but consider it. Choosing discomfort over resentment doesn’t mean others will necessarily be uncomfortable, it just means you’re choosing to do what genuinely feels right. And when we do things authentically, I believe we all win. See what you think.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, Naturopathic Doctor

Getting to Joy Through Sadness  

Posted on: August 24th, 2015 by TouchStone Health

This may seem like a funny title or topic to write about it, but it is one very dear to me. I had written an article awhile back about my Journey with Colic…about my experience with my newborn babe who wouldn’t respond to treatment for her “colic”. She cried the majority of the time (12-18 hours/day) for the first 3-4 months of her life. It was humbling to say the least, as I couldn’t make her better. And what followed these 4 months was not what I anticipated. Once the crying stopped and we discovered we had a wonderful, happy little girl…I got sad…real sad and soon realized that I had post partum depression. I have been reluctant to write about this, as I wouldn’t consider myself completely over it, but I watched a movie that convinced me that it was time to share about my experience.

I used to love movies…I adored them. I enjoyed sitting down and watching the beautiful scenery of somewhere far away, listening to a fantastic music score created specifically for it and appreciating the wonderful acting the supported a story line worth telling. This was when I was younger and since then, I have rarely enjoyed a movie. I guess I’m searching for something that inspires me, encourages me to think about things differently or to be better. But…I got this all back last week when I watched, Inside Out. I was told to watch this film by someone I respect and I was so grateful she did so, as I would not have normally decided to watch a cartoon. Watching Inside Out reminded me of something I forgot in these past few months…sometimes you can’t jump over or crawl under an uncomfortable emotion you are experiencing. Sometimes the only way to get to the other side is to go through it and that has been the best advice with my postpartum depression.

For those of you who haven’t watched, Inside Out, I won’t give it away but simply put, it’s about a young girl growing up and follows her emotions that are trying to guide her through a difficult time. What is most surprising is the focus on all emotions – whether that be joy, sadness, fear, anger, etc…the film helps us understand that all have a place…including sadness.

We often hear we should fake it until we make it. To not focus on anything negative, so as to not attract it…but sometimes that does the opposite of what we hope. By avoiding the uncomfortable or bad thoughts, we aren’t being real with what is and we can’t find the proper support/help.

So – how does this Pixar film relate to my Postpartum Depression? Well, after I found myself crying watching this film until there were literally no tears left to cry, I realized that I had been fighting something that just was. I desperately wanted to be happy, to be joyful, to savour up each and every moment I had with my girls, but sometimes, the Joy was lacking…sometimes it felt like Joy had left all together. The more I pretended or hoped it wasn’t there, the more I felt it. I was Sad. My short maternity leave was everything I didn’t expect it or want it to be – with a crying babe, surprising life stressors and a horribly cold winter that kept me inside. My time with my baby was hard and the truth was, most people didn’t want to hear about that when I tried to share. We live in a culture where the expected answer to “How are you doing?” is, fine, good, great or wonderful. But how often do we feel that? Sometimes we feel rotten, upset, hurt, sad, used up or even angry.

As a Naturopathic Doctor, there is pressure to have it all figured out, to be healthy, fit, optimistic and on it. I was none of those things and the harder I tried to get there the less I experienced them. Inside Out reminded me in a gentle but beautiful way, that sometimes the only way to get to Joy is to allow Sadness in. In doing so, you acknowledge whatever you’re going through instead of pushing it away. Once I did this, I could better support my post partum depression. I could be real with it and find the proper support that I needed to get myself back.

Since then, I’ve had more glimpses of Joy and anticipate that it will continue to grow, as I get myself back.

Sometimes the only way to get to the other side of a difficult situation is to go through it and we are fortunate to live in a time where there are so many options of support to help us get there.

If you are needing support, finding your way to Joy, I’d love to help.

Dr. Amanda Cressman, ND

A Journey with Colic

Posted on: May 22nd, 2015 by TouchStone Health

This is a very difficult article for me to write as my baby has just turned 4 months and is coming out a period where she experienced “colic”. I put the word colic in quotation marks as it’s a very misleading and confusing word. In general terms it is defined as a baby crying for 3 hours a day for more than 3 days a week, for 3 consecutive weeks in a child that is otherwise healthy. The usual onset is 2 weeks of age and it usually lasts until about 3-4 months. But the reasons for colic can be very different and it’s not always due to gas, as the word colic implies.

Some babies have reflux – where it’s noticeable with obvious signs of spit up and pain after eating or silent with no symptoms present at all. For other babies it’s digestive and gas is usually the culprit. For others, they are incredibly sensitive, reacting to any stimulus that is strong, loud or bright. And for others, it is developmental, meaning it is a normal phase, which is now being coined as The Period of PURPLE Crying®. For anyone who has had or known a baby to go through colic…the last word that you imagine being associated with it, is normal.

But this article will not focus on the causes and treatments of colic…that will be for another article, which I will soon publish. This article is about the stress and impact it has on those caring for the crying child and talking about options of support. This article is hard to write, as this experience of having a colicky baby has been one of the hardest I have been through and I feel very passionate about helping anyone who is or will be going through it. It’s a vulnerable place to write about one’s own experience, but I feel there will be value in sharing, as this topic is a difficult one to speak about with others. Let me tell you a bit about my past 4 months.

When my baby was born, she screamed for her first 90 minutes of life. The midwives and myself found it a bit odd, but she was deemed healthy and normal and went home soon after her birth. I had hoped her screams were just signs of her strong vitality but as the days came and went her crying increased. At 2 weeks it was bad – lasting close to 12 hours/day…at 4 weeks it was worse, lasting 12-16 hours/day and at 6-8 weeks it was horrible, lasting upwards of 18+ hours/day. She was gaining weight, peeing and pooing as expected and considered healthy with no other underlying causes for the crying.

With each week, I hoped the next would be better but my heart sunk further and further as it kept worsening. I would rock her most nights from 11 pm-4 or 5 am while she screamed in my arms. Sometimes I may have cried just as much as she did, as the screaming was what I call, ‘crazy making’ for me. Sometimes she slept in the day due to exhaustion, but there was always more crying than not and the kind of crying that breaks your heart as it seemed it did not matter what we did, it remained.

Leaving the house was awful, as the crying was worse in the car, in the stroller or in anyone else’s arms. Everytime we went grocery shopping I’d literally have 5 or 6 people come up and ask me if she was ok or worse yet, they’d tell me what I should do to make it better. I realize everyone was trying to be helpful, but it generally did the opposite.  Having people over was stressful, as no one likes listening to a baby crying and I would feel the need to try to entertain or try to hold a conversation, even though it felt more like a burden than a gift of having a visitor. As the days came and went, my babe and I found no routine that we could latch onto…we just got by and I hoped the next day would be better…but it usually wasn’t.

I would feel embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn’t make my baby stop crying, especially being a Naturopath.  My babies colic wasn’t due to gas or reflux which there are natural supports that can sometimes help dramatically.  For her the best medicine was time which was the hardest medicine for me to swallow.

I had hoped to exercise, to eat clean, to get my former body back in shape and strength, just like I had after my first daughter was born. But with time, the weight kept staying on, eating clean foods no longer was a priority or possible and I had no desire to exercise, take supplements or do anything good for myself. I tried…I really, really tried, but I was burnt out in every aspect of my being and I had nothing left for myself.  What was worse, was that I knew how to do all the “right” things but I had nothing left in my tank.  My body and emotions reflected how burnt out I was.

So many women that I see in my practice who have had colicky babe, difficult babes or post partum depression often suffer in silence. Speaking for myself, I’ve felt it inappropriate to complain or share about this struggle, as I know many others struggle with their own journey’s…whether that be infertility, miscarriage or the loss of a child.

Now, I need to preface this article, with saying I am and always was grateful for my daughter and don’t take it lightly, how fortunate I am to have a babe. I know many women would love to have babes who can’t…that some women would gladly have a colicky baby. The reason I share this, is I feel it is important to keep perspective. But it’s also important to be honest about where you’re at and this article is written with the hope that if you’re suffering from exhaustion, anxiety, depression, loneliness or lack of will to look after yourself…that you’re not alone.

Whatever your journey has been, please know that if you’re wanting or needing support, you have options. Your emotions need a place where they can express what you have gone through, your mind needs a place to make sense of your experience and encouragement to shift perspectives if you’re ready for that and your body needs a place to rebuild its depleted stores and get strong again.

I lost myself in the care of my colicky daughter. I lost the drive to prepare healthy foods, I lost the drive to run and be outside which helps my body and mind, I lost the drive to connect with life and ultimately myself. I’m in the process of rebuilding myself and it’s taking work and love and care on many fronts…but I’m getting myself back and grateful that there are natural supports to do so.

The process of rebuilding takes time and needs nurturing care but is the most important thing you can do.  I’m in this process myself and if you’re needing a place to help rebuild yourself, I’d be honoured to a be a part of that. Know you have options and that you’re not alone.

Amanda Cressman, ND.

The Compound Effect

Posted on: February 24th, 2015 by TouchStone Health

When it comes to health, many of us would like to have instantaneous change when things are not well or balanced. Whether it’s for weight loss, hormonal balancing, digestive improvement, skin health, pain or mental well being…we would all like to see these things improve easily and readily. But unfortunately, that is generally not the case. As illness or poor health take time to develop, it also takes time to improve. But how do we have patience and time for creating positive change?

I recently came across a book, The Compound Effect, that speaks about a principle that we often disregard or under value. The principle is the same as the title, The Compound Effect. The author, Darren Hardy, explains it as:

“The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. What’s most interesting about this process to me is that, even though the results are massive, the steps, in the moment, don’t feel significant. Whether you’re using this strategy for improving your health, relationships, finances, or anything else for that matter, the changes are so subtle, they’re almost imperceptible. These small changes offer little or no immediate result…

Success is earned in the moment to moment decisions that in themselves make no visible difference whatsoever, but the accumulated compounding effect is profound.”

This is a great reminder that positive change often happens with small, incremental steps.  Whether it’s taking the stairs at work, refraining from eating after 8 pm, going to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual, going for a run twice a week, shutting down all screen time an hour before bed, daily writing down something you’ve appreciated from the day…the list could go on, but I think you get the point.  Small changes are needed to achieve great change…profound change, as Hardy explains.  Doing small things is something we are all capable of, no matter how busy or full life is.  Choose one small thing you could do to enhance your life today and stick to it, commit to it and if that’s hard to do, find someone to help you with this process.  The gain and improvement in your life will be well worth it.

Your job is to be you!

Posted on: June 12th, 2014 by TouchStone Health

We so often talk about stress and the effect it has on our lives.  As a Naturopathic Doctor, stress is an important piece to identify in addressing the obstacles to wellness.  Whether it is a physical, mental or emotional stressor…the same cascades of reaction go off in the body and we are affected.

On my intake forms, I have a question that often highlights where one source of stress comes.  The question is: What is the most misunderstood aspect of you?

It’s an interesting question and is often left blank.  The rare individual feels understood, but the majority feel very misunderstood and this causes great stress.  Some of the most common answers revolve around comparing ourselves to others and hoping to be perceived as though we have it all together like, whomever it is we think does.

The comparison game is as old as time, I imagine.  We are humans who judge, compare and aspire to be like others.  This can be positive, helpful and motivating…but often it tips the scales in the opposite direction where self talk is brutal, unkind and disapproving of self.  Most of us have played this game or are active players.  Feeling like our bodies are not as fit or healthy as that person in spin class that we ride beside, our skills at work are not as strong as our coworkers, our relationships are not as fun as that friend who is always out socializing and so on.  I find the comparison game annoying and depleting but yet it’s hard to not take part at times.  But then I read something that helped shift it.

Joseph Campbell once said, “the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

Wow.

We each have a job and that is to be who we are.  We teach children this, we actively remind them to be who they are, embrace it, love it and know it’s enough.  Where and when did we forget this?  That throughout our lives, this is one of the most important jobs we have…to be us and stop playing the comparison game where we can come up short.  In the poem Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann in 1927, he reminds us of this concept, “If you compare yourself to others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

So what is it that you could do to compare less and accept yourself more?  For me, something that really helped was closing down a social media account.  As wonderful as these sites are for staying connected, for me, it tipped the scales in the direction of comparison and I never felt good after browsing.  Find out what it is for you and do it.  Your job is to be you, no one else and the sooner we own that, the happier and less stressed out we will all be.

 

A Naturopath Not Being Able to Breastfeed

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014 by TouchStone Health

I thought this title may bring about intrigue, as many wouldn’t envision these words going together….and if they did indeed go together, publicly speaking about it, is even more peculiar.  But this was my experience and I believe, an important one to share, as things don’t always go according to ‘plan’ and there is value in being vulnerable.

I was fortunate enough to become pregnant and had a pregnancy consistent with what many others experience.  There were certainly unique twists and turns for babe and I, but each pregnancy goes through these and on the whole, it was a good experience.  My delivery was wonderful and I was able to go through labour without an epidural due to the sheer speed of moving through contractions.  I healed easily and readily with the use of Arnica and was up and functioning really well the same day.  All was going according to ‘plan’.

Breastfeeding took a bit of getting used to, but I was prepared that it could take 4-6 weeks to get this thing figured out and was committed to that.  I loved it and felt my babe and I had figured out a latch that worked.  Again, all was going according to ‘plan’ and then she was weighed on Day 2 and had lost 10 ounces.  I kept things up, but as she was continually losing.  Sometimes it was an ounce a day, so intervention was necessary.

Every resource you can imagine was brought in to increase my milk supply that has helped so many of the people I work with: herbs, drugs, meditation, relaxation, lactation consultants, blood work and analysis, every breastfeeding pillow imaginable…but I didn’t have enough milk…I didn’t have much at all to give my babe.  The amounts of formula continually needed to be increased to get her filling enough diapers and by week 8, and 2 rounds of plugged ducts and a case of mastitis, I was done.  It was like my body was yelling at me to stop what wasn’t working and I finally listened.

So, why share this story?  For some, there was an easy solution here, as we live in a place where formula and breastmilk banks are readily available to ensure babes are nourished when breast milk isn’t an option.  And, I was fortunate to have a babe, which some are not, so why speak about this?

Why I am writing this is to remind us all that sharing our imperfections doesn’t make us weaker…but empowers those around us to be real and feel comfortable.

We live in a world where we want others to believe we have it all together, that things are going perfectly and according to our ‘plan’.

But this is rarely or ever the case.

I am a Naturopath who couldn’t get my breasts to make enough milk to nourish my baby.  That was my experience.  Do I wish I tried harder and longer to make it work?  Absolutely.  Sometimes, daily.   And when comments are shared or looks are given when I pull out a bottle, they reinforce the judgment that already exists inside of me.  The interesting thing is most people have no idea how powerful these statements or expressions can be.  I’ve heard too many stories where people are asked why they don’t have children, or why they only have one, or why they don’t breastfeed, or why they don’t use this particular formula, or sleep train, or use cloth diapers, or, or, or.  And this is just scraping the surface of fertility/childrearing…it exists in every domain.  There is enough pressure out there to look like we have it all perfectly together, so why not ease up on each other and ourselves?

Being vulnerable and honest has always been helpful for me and my hope is, helpful for others too.  If a naturopath can share that she couldn’t breastfeed, hopefully that empowers someone else to share something they are going through.

When life doesn’t go according to ‘plan’…try sharing your experience and if you are connected with good people that you trust, you may find them beginning to become more vulnerable with you…reminding us all to be kinder and more compassionate.  It’s much more enjoyable living that way.

Amanda Cressman, ND

The Fight Against Aging

Posted on: January 27th, 2012 by TouchStone Health

I recently started getting some white hairs coming in.  Now, for most individuals, this is an interesting and challenging experience.  And for me, I did what most do when it first happens…I remove them.  But it dawned on me the other day, that these white hairs our powerful little teachers and I now view them differently.

A wise individual once said, “We all want to feel physically like we did in our twenties with the wisdom we have acquired in our fifties.”  At first I agreed with this statement as most will when hearing it, but I now find this statement fairly odd and wish to challenge it.  Why do we reject so much of our present experience?  Why are we always seeking to have it be different from what it really is?

Eckhart Tolle is universally known for his work with such books as, The Power of Now and A New Earth.  Eckhart believes that we would all have a more enjoyable experience if we could really be in the moment.  He writes something to the effect, that stress cannot be felt in the present.  If we are really in the present, peace is experienced.  When you feel stressed, anxious, worried or unsure…check in with your thoughts.  There is a good chance those thoughts are more in the future wondering what comes next.  If you feel sad, depressed, heavy, regretful or even remorseful…again, check in with your thoughts.  There is a good chance your thoughts are in the past, weighing down your present experience from things that once were.  When we live in the moment, we see things for what they really are.  And using our example, if white hair is on your head, it’s simply on your head…worrying about aging too quickly or thinking about past associations you have with that will only make it feel more stressful.

Going back to the statement…we all want to feel physically like we did in our twenties with the wisdom we have acquired in our fifties.  Aging holds stress for many.  Why is it that we try to suspend it?  When we were younger, we were so excited to grow up, to learn, to become, to achieve.  Sometimes we couldn’t wait to grow up, we wanted it to get here as soon as possible.  But when we get to a certain point, we want this whole process to stop, the very process that brought us to here.  How ridiculous.  And like one of my favourite authors says, “When you fight with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time.” Byron Katie.

The new approach I am going to take is that I have earned every white hair that is on my head and let it stay there.  Every time I see them, I am reminded that life is a process and this is where I am at.  I challenge you to do the same, maybe not with white hairs, but something else in your life that is difficult to accept.  It certainly makes for a more gentle and enjoyable life experience.

Toppling Tree…Toppling Me

Posted on: November 11th, 2011 by TouchStone Health

I was at a Yoga Class the other day and was struck by something we all know, but I think is helpful to be reminded of.  I love hot yoga…the heat, the relaxation, the physical challenge; it is an excellent activity for anyone who wants an incredible work out with some serious stress erasing benefits.

We were asked to go into Toppling Tree position.  I like this pose and generally find it manageable.  Although, last week I was placed behind someone that was struggling with maintaining this.  When she fell out of the pose, I seemed to fall out.  When she regained position, I regained.  After a few stumbles, I realized I cannot look at this person as I was highly influenced by her behaviour.  When we switched sides, I forced my eyes to fall directly in front of my toes, looking at the floor and then position was maintained without any desire to fall out.

This yoga class reminded me of the power of influence.  When we surround ourselves by thoughts/people that support us, nurture our goals, our aspirations, that build us up…we can’t help but feel this way.  When we surround ourselves with thoughts/people that are negative, enjoying the misery of a situation, breaking us down with unkind words or deeds, we can’t help but feel this way.

It’s up to us…choose to be around those that make you want to be better, that inspire you with goodness.  Think thoughts that increase your worth and add value.  This makes for a much more enjoyable experience and a much more successful yoga session.

 

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