Hello Patients and Friends,
A bundle of Love came into this world on March. 31st and her name is Suzanne Grace Gantous. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been hibernating and bonding with the little one as we’ve been enjoying the wee hours of the morning together. Her two older sisters are doting on her: lucky girl! Thank you all for the beautiful well wishes of love and support. They’ve truly meant so much.
I look forward to hearing from many of you soon.
With love, Vivianne & Suzanne
It’s Spring! Since the calendar turned 2016, it’s been an evolving metamorphosis of a year! I have been on temporary leave since March. 10th and have been preparing for a hopeful new chapter. More on this very soon!
From now until the end of the year, we want to focus on the theme of “Living Out of the Box”: What Can You Do Differently This Year?” It’s about jumping in and trying or doing something you’ve always wanted to do or never saw yourself doing, or seeing that same thing/place/person differently.
To start off, this post is a light and impromptu one as it developed out of necessity. Rather than let it slip by the wayside, I’m posting it as it’s something we’ve never done before. In the end, it was a fun activity our family will always remember.
This weekend we went looking for natural food dye but unfortunately the places we went to had run out. Knowing we wanted to eat what we were dying, my husband suggested we make the dye. If you want to leave the artificial food coloring out of your future egg salad and hard boiled breakfast eggs, here’s what you can do.
In addition, I’ve included photos of Andrea Kulish, an artist who specializes in Pysanky egg art famous in the Ukraine as hopeful gifts given during Easter time. This post is so fitting given all of the miracles of this year. We had the pleasure of visiting her studio in Asheville, NC this summer.
Have a Beautiful Easter!
CREATING WHOLESOME EGG DYE
Pictured here: Turmeric for Orange, Red Beets for Pink, Red Onions for Purple, Yellow Onions for Yellow, and Frozen Blueberries (We ended up throwing them into a smoothie instead!)
Add some white vinegar and dip your eggs!
As the kids were so excited and couldn’t wait for the egg hunt, they didn’t want to leave them in the dye for too long. Suggestion: Let them soak for a few minutes to allow the full color to absorb. Trust me, they will…I’ve seen others in more vibrant hues.
How the Professionals Do It: Artist Andrea Kulish
We had the pleasure of meeting Andrea in Asheville, NC this summer.
Pysanky eggs are given for good luck and symbolize new Spring, prosperity and hope. I was taken aback by the 2,000 year old history of designing eggs using beeswax in the batik method: dipping them in layers of dye and ink. The time it takes to design each layer reminds me of the layers we collect in our own lives and the layers we strip as we heal.
Each egg is uniquely designed to depict specific colors and symbols which hold special meaning. For example: Stars/sun are growth and good fortune. Flowers are love, charity and good will.
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
Happy Halloween Everyone!
This week we explore the taste behind the word “SWEET,” share recommendations for the DAY AFTER, and give alternatives to table sugar.
Patients always ask what I do with my children on Halloween. First, I want to say that I wholeheartedly believe in celebrating life’s triumphs, being silly, and enjoying the feeling of freedom. This is life. For kids, Halloween is just that…utter and absolute freedom: running around being someone else and laughing with your friends.
So, people are surprised to hear that on the night of, I let them eat as much Halloween candy as they want! The week of, I make sure they take their probiotics every day and the day of I increase their vitamins and minerals to keep their immune systems strong given the onslaught of Halloween sweets.
Although it is always hard (I am literally wincing inside) to watch them devour so much sugar in one night, they learn the consequences of their actions with upset stomachs and stuffy noses the next day. In turn, they also feel some sense of autonomy with boundaries in place and memories they can share with their own children one day.
Of course, every child reacts to sugar differently. Your knowledge of what and how sugar affects the body and particularly your child, will determine how you plan out your personal Halloween plans.
The next day we collect the leftover candy and give it away (after they keep their favorite 5 pieces). We have given candy to homeless shelters, to my husband’s workplace, and to others who recycle them for pinatas.
Enjoy your weekend. Have Fun!
BEHIND THE SWEET TASTE
-Vivianne Gantous, LAc, RN
Lying on the surface of our tongues, taste buds are our gateways to the glorious taste of “sweet.” This sensation is associated by many with the happiest times of our lives, saturated with receiving sweet things to celebrate, reward, and cheer us up. As a society, we all agree it feels good.
As we know, the taste of sweet also has a dark side. From conquered territories to being carried on the backs of sugar cane workers to the birth of highly processed foods, it is a powerful flavor that is as much political, addictive and toxic to the body as it is enjoyable to experience.
Enjoying the flavor of sweet is just like anything in life. Just like riding a bicycle on the side of the street rather than in direct oncoming traffic, or being shown how to appreciate wine with food instead of pounding a few glasses without acknowledging its taste; it’s about being aware of the flavor and impact it has on our bodies, wholly.
The key is understanding the difference between how different types of sugars are broken down and learning about better sugar options. Yes, all fruits and vegetables have some forms of glucose, sucrose, and fructose, yet once we produce these sugars into highly processed forms, we produce “too much too soon.”
According to the American Heart Association, 2 tablespoons of added sugar for women and 3 tablespoons for men is recommended, or no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar. If each tablespoon is equivalent to 12 grams of table sugar, we are looking at 24 grams and 36 grams of sugar respectively. This is equivalent to between 1 and 1½ servings of fruit juice, or 1 and 1½ sodas per day.
For children, the American Heart Association recommends:
- Children 4-8 years of age: 4 teaspoons of sugar, which is the equivalent to a little over 1 tablespoon of sugar per day.
- Pre-teen to teenage years: 5-8 teaspoons, which is the equivalent to 1-3 tablespoons per day. (http://life.familyeducation.com/nutritional-information/obesity/64270.html)
A study conducted by the AHA found children as young as 1-3 years consume around 4 tablespoons a day, 4-8 year olds consume an average of 7 tablespoons a day, and by the time they reach 14-18 years old they average about 11 tablespoons per day. This is 3x-4x the recommended allowance of sugar per day.
Glucose is metabolized by just about every cell in the body and insulin is secreted by the pancreas to break it down.
Sucrose is quickly metabolized in your intestines and absorbed into your blood, where it stimulates the release of insulin.
Fructose is metabolized by the liver and causes more work for the body than consuming glucose. The biggest culprit for childhood obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and chronic inflammation, is highly processed fructose. Fructose is metabolized twice as fast as glucose, thus it is absorbed faster by the bloodstream. The key here is that unlike glucose, fructose does NOT cause the release of insulin from the pancreas; there is no manager. For example, after eating 120 calories of glucose, one calorie is stored as fat. After 120 calories of fructose, 40 calories are stored as FAT. Yes, fruits and vegetables have fructose, but it’s the processed fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup and table sugar (50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose), that we need to be aware of.
My favorite alternatives to table sugar and high fructose corn syrup are:
- Pure raw honey: local pollen help us adapt to our environment, promote immunity, and are antimicrobial.
- Stevia: made from herbs, no calories, and ideal for maintaining blood sugar balance and weight loss (but do not confuse with Truvia, which is highly processed and uses GMO plants).
- Date Sugar: high in fiber (which slows metabolism and flushes toxins), good source of potassium, vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
- Coconut Sugar: measures equally to sugar (i.e., 1 cup sugar to 1 cup coconut sugar/palm sugar), and a good source of potassium.
- Blackstrap molasses: most nutritious grade of molasses, moderate glycemic index, rich in iron, and high in calcium and magnesium.
In the end, SUGAR is SUGAR; from the sprouted Ezekiel ancient grain slice of bread to the candy bar, sugar ends up in our bloodstream. The difference is how it is metabolized and how quickly our body needs to assimilate these added calories.
Lastly, if we remember that for children 4-8 years of age, the recommended serving per day of sugar is 1-3 tablespoons, then according to this graph made by Jenny Sugar’s blog:
a pre-schooler/kindergartener/first grader/second grader would ideally eat 3-4 fun sized candy bars.
As most of us can attest to, Halloween night is the antithesis of moderation: a tradition of surprise, comedy, and lots of sugar.
After the night is over, enclosed are some helpful suggestions by Crystal Holmes, Boundless Well-Being’s patient advocate.
THE DAY AFTER
– Crystal Holmes: Boundless Well-Being Patient Ally
So, after the fun is over, the costumes off, and the kids have finally settled into bed after the sugar rush, what do you do with all that candy? That enormous pumpkin, bag, or pillow case full of sugar?
Here are some ideas you might want to try.
- The Switch Witch. A friendly witch who comes to your house once the children are asleep and exchanges leftover mounds of candy for a new toy.
- Participate in a candy exchange. Some dentists and orthodontists (dentists who specialize in braces) offer candy exchanges. You turn in some candy and get healthy treats in exchange. Or you turn in some candy, and they pay you $1 per pound. They donate the candy to soup kitchens or to troops overseas.
- Wouldn’t it be cool if some of your candy went halfway around the world? Your Halloween candy could be included in care packages that are sent to soldiers serving their country far from home. Here are two organizations that ship packages to the troops. (Heat-resistant candy only. Chocolate melts, you know! And don’t forget to include a handwritten letter of support to really put a smile on a soldier’s face!)
- Try reverse trick-or-treating! With a parent, make a trip to one or more local charities that accept candy donations. You’ll feel great, and you’ll sweeten someone else’s day too. Some ideas include your local Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes, food pantries, children’s hospitals, veterans’ homes, or women’s shelters.
- Ask your parents if you can exchange your candy for something else — like a book or a toy. Make it fun by using a scale to weigh your stash — for example, maybe you could earn a book for every pound of candy you trade in.
- Reduce by recycling. If you have a birthday or other party coming up, offer to use your candy to fill up goody bags.
- Buy fun chocolate molds at a craft store, melt down your extra chocolate bars, pour into the molds, let cool, and voilà — decorative, delicious gifts!
- Glue candy pieces to an unfinished wooden picture frame (you can buy them at the craft store). Add a photo, and you’ve got a really sweet present for someone special.
- Use the candy to fill a piñata for someone who has a fall or winter birthday.
- Donate your candy to…science? Yep, you can do lots of great candy experiments at home using Skittles, Lifesavers, Starbursts, M&Ms, and more. Plus, you just might want to see what happens when you leave a gummy bear in water…
- Create a board game using candy as pieces. Or you can use candy in a sweet game of checkers or — dare we say it? — Candyland.
- Build a candy city. With some glue (ask a parent for help if using a hot glue gun), some toothpicks, and a whole lot of imagination, you can design and construct a scene that even your Legos will envy. And it’s never too early to start planning this year’s holiday gingerbread house.
- Send it to work with your mom or dad. That’ll really make it disappear fast!
To All Parents,
Welcome to the new school year! One of the most popular questions I get from parents is what to pack their kids for lunch when they test for food sensitivities and/or allergies. As I do my best to combine what my kids love to eat with what nourishes them, the fact is that food sensitivities are not a consistent issue in my family. To add to current advice given to patients, I asked Boundless Well-Being’s Patient Ally, Crystal Holmes, to share her tried and true experiences for kids with alternate needs. I have seen firsthand her commitment and creativity to food choices that have created a world of difference for herself and her family.
The one thing I’d add is to buy your kids thermoses for hot food. Once Fall hits, eating stews, soups, and bone broth will greatly aid in your child’s immature digestive system and foster healing of the gut on a daily basis.
- Leftovers – This is by far my favorite way to prepare lunches. Make a little extra food at dinner time and you have lunch for the next day (or two!) Check out this great resource for make-ahead meals and diet-specific menus: onceamonthmeals.com.
- Soup – Another great make-ahead option that will provide several main dish lunch servings. Nothing beats a simple chicken soup that can be customized to use vegetables that you have on hand. Here’s one of my favorite recipes: http://lindawagner.net/blog/2014/01/easy-chicken-kale-vegetable-soup-paleo-gluten-free-dairy-free-low-carb-the-magic-of-bone-broth
- Smoothies – packed with fruits and vegetables, and easy to transport in a thermos, these are another great nutrient-dense choice.
- Fresh fruits & veggies – these are a common choice, but try to mix it up and use seasonal options. Serving with a healthy homemade dip makes them more fun to eat! Try mashed avocado with lemon juice and sea salt or check out this Tahini Dressing – use less water to make a thicker consistency. http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/2009/06/18/open-sesame/
- Salad – for my family, this is much easier with one child than the other. Some crisp romaine or “cute” (as my daughter would say) micro-greens with a few cut up veggies and a side of homemade dressing is a great side dish. If you don’t have the time for homemade, check your local grocer for Tessemae’s dressings (or tessemaes.com) that are truly natural and use only healthy oils. Our favorite is the French Vinaigrette.
- Tuna/Chicken/Salmon salad – These are a favorite in my home and can be customized in so many ways! Skip the mayo and use olive oil, celery seed, salt, and pepper for an egg-free version. Instead of using bread try: romaine lettuce boats, wraps with Bibb lettuce or collard greens, serve with celery sticks or apple slices as a “dip”, rice crackers, make cucumber sandwiches, rice flour tortillas…or just eat it right out of the dish!
- Veggie chips – kale chips are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Kale is a super-food and baking it into chips makes it more palatable and fun to eat! Brussel sprout leaves, carrots, or zucchini slices also work well! Here is a great recipe for kale chips: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/2648091289/baked-kale-chips
- Dehydrated fruits & veggies – Let your imagination go wild with this one! You can dehydrate any fruit or vegetable (even meats, fish, and herbs) and make a healthy snack that is easy to pack. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven, set on the lowest temperature setting, or simply leave the light on and the door ajar. http://www.weedemandreap.com/dehydrator-recipes/
- Gummies/Fruit Snacks – these are a super easy on-the-go snack that provide gut-healing yumminess! http://paleoparents.com/2014/gelatin-why-we-love-it-and-60-delicious-family-friendly-recipes-using-it/
- Assorted finger foods and treats –
- Hard boiled eggs, olives, pickles
- Almond/cashew/sunflower seed butter (Try Justin’s brand individual serving packs)
- Mini muffins http://www.paleocupboard.com/blueberry-muffins.html
- These are great for peanut-free schools and there is even an egg-free option! http://predominantlypaleo.com/peanot-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies/
- There is also a lot of great lunch box inspiration here as well: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/59118514268/paleo-lunchbox-roundup
-Crystal Holmes, Boundless Well-Being Patient Ally
Source: Summer’s Last Bow
“Yang within Yang”, the Taoist term for ultimate energy and productivity, is the description of summer; it’s the time for outward expression. Before we say hello to the Fall, I wanted to send a special nod to the summer and share a few experiences and tools that have guided and inspired growth during these last few months. Maybe some will resonate with you.
If you haven’t been to the beach near sunset yet this season…you a few more weeks! When the heat is finally tired and the humidity rests, it’s time for an evening swim at the beach. As the crowds die down looking forward to aloe and dinner, my family and I arrive. We let the salt wash away all traces of the day and hold each other’s hands in appreciation of being alive.
Kneeling into the sand, we watch the kids build sandcastles and smile as their minds create worlds unique to their personality. We let the wind sing an evening song and feel a hint of melancholy as the sun moves closer towards autumn’s position in the sky.
This summer my family and I started a journey of purging; assessing what is currently owned and delineating whether it currently has purpose today. It’s been an exhilarating process even though we are nowhere near “finished”. Embracing that the major hurdles are over, keeps this ongoing process hopeful.
During this time, my husband and I cleared out the garage and disposed of much of our twenties and early thirties hidden in brown UHAUL boxes.
We found letters from college, text books from school, knick knacks from travels, and countless items that we saved… “just in case”. Images of memories became life lived through material things. After a successful garage sale, a non-profit organization came with manpower and a truck to whisk it all away. We are currently working on the interior of the house and with each item disposed of, recycled, or shared, new thoughts and ideas enter.
One book inspired this summer journey: The Japanese Art of Tidying, by Marie Kondo, a book referred to me a year ago by a dear patient. It’s been a bestseller for awhile, and although I acknowledged it, I thought, “I don’t have time for this now.” Since reading it slowly, picking up a chapter here or there and then putting it away for another time, I’ve digested a few golden nuggets that have helped reiterate what I truly treasure and what is fodder for the “what ifs”. Suddenly, “having enough time” was no longer an issue; purging became a necessity. If you’re looking for insight to help balance your surroundings with the work you are currently investing into your body’s environment, it’s worth the read.
The summer was also about new ideas and new perspectives. New Earth Farm, owned by Farmer John, http://newearthfarm.org and located in Virginia Beach, not only sells the best compost, but grows mindful and sustainable organic produce. This spring, we bought our compost and vegetable plants from them and the quality of this harvest has been incomparable. What differentiates them from other farms is the genuine interest Farmer John has for each and every one that visits. You feel his absolute passion for sustainable food and see the honest means in which he accomplishes this end.
It is highly likely that you’ll walk away with both a bag of produce and valuable farming advice from the man himself.
Lastly, we purposefully carved out some travel and relaxation time and visited Asheville, NC. Crisp mountain air, artist communities, and farm to table cuisine abound.
Check out the River Arts District http://www.riverartsdistrict.com/ for new artist finds.
For fine dining farm-to-table style, http://posanarestaurant.com/, a restaurant that combines passion for sustainable eating with culinary artistry.
And of course, for a new perspective…tackling a mountain! https://rootsrated.com/stories/5-asheville-hikes-with-amazing-views
I hope you’ve had a dynamic summer. Please feel free to share your summer highlights and post your pictures online on Boundless Well-Being’s FB page, or as a comment to this blog. Till soon!
On March. 7, 2015, our front desk and great friend, Techie Pelayo Brown, went Home. After a long month of pain, she passed peacefully with her husband, Ronnie Brown, by her side.
It has been exactly a month since the funeral, and today, I am able to express words that have been stuck deeply in my chest to commemorate Techie’s life as it meant not only to me but for the patients at Boundless Well-Being.
We saw Techie as steadfast, compassionate, loving and wise. She was a private person who beamed love and goodwill to all who walked through the door. Techie lived her life the way she wanted to live it. No one and nothing could stop what she chose and how she chose to express it. To witness a person who listened and then acted upon her absolute faith at every turn was a gift to behold.
Very early on, I recognized she was not a typical administrative assistant. I later learned she was a missionary. As Boundless Well-Being’s front desk for the last three years, she brought amazing possibilities to the clinic, the patients, and myself. She had an unyielding faith in God and love for humanity which became a lighthouse for many who were sick, imbalanced, and felt “lost at sea”. Upon her passing, many patients shared their stories with me of their time with her. They told me that after their treatments, sometimes they lingered as they thought about their condition. Techie recognized this right away, offered an ear, and if she sensed they were open and willing, would offer to pray with them. These gestures opened a door that allowed patients to speak about their illnesses and loved ones. The common thread I heard from every story, was that she brought a great sense of peace and gave people strength to walk onward. She told me this was the most fulfilling part of her job.
I called her “Tita”, which means aunt in Tagalog. I did this out of respect in that we not only worked together, but we were friends. She selflessly gave shade when there was too much to bear, a wise ear when there were forks in the road, and unconditional love when love was scarce.
She is one of my greatest teachers.
Tita Techie, we miss you. Thank you for sharing your life and wisdom with all of us.
Our ride together has truly been a gift. I am forever grateful.