Quality Eats Lead to Quality Zzzs

By Bethany Soderlund, dietetic intern, Festival Foods

Sleep is a key lifestyle factor that can positively or negatively affect our health. When it comes to sleep, the quantity and quality of those resting hours make all the difference. Whether you struggle to fall asleep every once in a while or it seems to be a chronic issue, finding a solution will greatly benefit your mood and ability to function throughout the day. Did you know food and nutrition can play a key role in the quality of your sleep?

The quantity, quality, and timing of meals can positively or negatively impact your sleep. First let’s look at how food can disrupt our sleep. Large meals, high fat or high protein meals, and spicy foods during the day, and especially before bed, may cause gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, which is a potential sleep disrupter. Many foods also contain substances that act as stimulants to the brain including alcohol, caffeine, and tyramine.

Alcohol before bed can cause frequent sleep disruptions, headaches, and less restful sleep, so it is best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. For many Americans, caffeine is the life-sustaining liquid that flows through their veins. Whether a cup of coffee, energy drink, or soda, the high levels of caffeine consumed during the day can lead to a night of tossing and turning. For optimal sleep, avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. Another potentially problematic component is tyramine. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from the amino acid tyrosine that causes a brain-stimulating effect. Some of the tyramine-containing foods to minimize or avoid before bed include bacon, ham, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, and red wine.

Fortunately, not all foods are sleep disrupters. In fact, some foods can actually be sleep promoters. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts to increase the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of deep sleep. Meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, bananas, and honey are some of the sources of tryptophan. Carbohydrate foods help increase tryptophan’s access to the brain. What does this mean for your meal plan? In general, eating a balanced diet containing protein at each meal during the day and a small snack one to four hours before bed will promote this normal body physiology to increase the stages of deep sleep. Example bedtime snacks include yogurt and crackers, wheat toast and cheese, and cereal and milk. Just remember to keep your portion sizes small to help avoid sleep disturbances.

Sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle that can affect mood and productivity during the day. Our food choices and the timing of those food choices can be the difference between counting sheep and a deep restful night’s sleep. Whether you opt for two cups of coffee instead of three or switch your bedtime snack from hot wings to a glass of milk, small changes each day can get you on the right track to waking up energized and rejuvenated.

Bethany Soderlund is a dietetic intern with the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and is currently working with the Mealtime Mentors at Festival Foods. Learn more about Festival’s registered dietitian team and their many resources and recipes at FestFoods.com/Mealtime.

Applying Emotional Freedom Technique

By Lynn Buske

The applications for Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which was introduced in the previous issue, are extremely vast, but the “basic recipe” is very simple. This article will help you learn to do EFT and understand how to apply it to the various issues in your own life.

To get a general feel for it, spend a little time tapping on your body. Drum on your lap, tap on your head or face, tap your fingers together—and notice how it feels. Tapping typically feels good, satisfying, and calming. Tapping brings mental awareness to your body, sends sensory awareness to localized nerves, and sends blood/oxygen to that area of the body.

The specific acupressure points that are tapped on in EFT (and their corresponding meridian), in order you’ll be tapping, and where they are (see graphic: you’ll know you are in the right spot when you find it by how it feels), are:

  1. “Sore spot”: Neuro-lymphatic point (soft indent down from clavicle next to sternum) OR Side of hand: Small Intestine (fleshy part, pinkie-side of hand–not shown)
  2. Inside eyebrow: Bladder
  3. Outside eye: Gall Bladder
  4. Under eye: Stomach
  5. Under nose: Governing Meridian
  6. Chin: Central Meridian and Large Intestine
  7. Collarbone: Kidney
  8. Under arm: Spleen (tender spot below armpit)
  9. Rib: Liver (tender space between ribs under breast–not shown)

Before you begin tapping on a specific issue, there are a couple of things you need to do:

  1. Drink some water, especially if you have eaten sugar. This helps energy flow easier and thus increases the success of the process.
  2. Center yourself. Sit comfortably, become aware of the present moment, take a couple of cleansing breaths, and choose to have an open mind. Do not become attached to “getting rid” of your symptom or controlling where the exercise leads you. This is extremely important.
  3. Choose what you will be tapping on. Whatever symptom is most prominent in the present moment—pain or discomfort, worries, or current frustration/emotion—is the best place to start. You can also simply tap while you meditate or tap in a positive mantra (e.g., “I allow healing into my body,” “I will have an awesome day,” “I receive abundance willingly”). Wait to do more specific painful issues or memories with a practitioner (more on that below).
  4. Rate the current intensity of that symptom on a scale of 1 to 10 so that you can keep track of its progress. You will rate your symptom after every round.

(Note that it does not matter which hand or which side of the body you use, or if you switch sides in the middle of a round.)

The set-up statement: The set-up phrase focuses the mind, validates the negative issue, and connects a sense of self-acceptance to that issue. You will feel how potent this is immediately. If you are using a positive mantra, you do not need the set-up statement.

  1. Tap the karate chop point or rub your sore spot and say “Even though I have this feeling (insert issue here), I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
  2. Then tap, about seven times, on each acupressure point while saying “this feeling.
  3. Take a deep breath and check your intensity on your symptom.
  4. Repeat with “Even though I have this remaining feeling, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
  5. Repeat this cycle until the intensity is a 1 or 0 or you are ready to stop. When the brain wanders away from the set-up phrase (after a round or two), follow it. At this point forget about what to say and just say whatever comes out—even if it seems illogical.

You can do EFT anywhere: waiting in line, at the airport, on a crowded elevator. You can think the words instead of saying them. You can rub the points or you can think of tapping the points instead of actually tapping them, and people won’t know you are doing it, but you will still get the benefits. I find these incognito versions most helpful when I am feeling anxious.

Again, EFT is safe and gentle, but, as sometimes just thinking about a particular issue can dredge up difficult feelings that no one should have to deal with alone, a practitioner can help you navigate through them, neutralize strong feelings (there are more EFT tactics not covered here), and offer support.

How to Find a Practitioner

As you are looking for support for more complicated issues, you will want someone who can best support that particular issue. Look for licensed counselors or family doctors who use EFT in their practice (you can ask reception or look at the doctor’s bio page). For general help with all sorts of issues, check an accredited EFT directory site for certified EFT practitioners. If you find someone you connect to, and they are not local to you, EFT is easy to do over the phone! You can also do a web search for “emotional freedom technique Eau Claire,” ask around, or even post an ad. You want someone you are comfy with who respects what you are looking for and won’t push you but is supportive.

Trust and honor yourself. I hope that you find freedom, healing, peace, and positivity by utilizing EFT.

Emotional Freedom Technique

By Lynn Buske: dedicated mother, sustainability enthusiast, avid writer, and body/mind/spirit wellness educator through BaredFeet – a longterm project, now turning non-profit, through which she offers yoga classes, dance and movement education, arts as wellness, and information on pure eating, mental health, and spiritual wholeness.

You slip and fall on the ice . . . and break your arm. Walking on the ice is never the same again. Each winter you approach the outdoors with apprehension and a sincere dislike for icy weather.  You previously never noticed how much there was and how slippery it was. Perhaps even seasonal depression touches you each winter. And your arm? Well you are cautious with it, it never seemed to return to the way it was, even though x-rays showed that it healed, and that leaves you frustrated and in pain. This is an example of how one traumatic negative experience impacts your emotions and belief system, which impacts your future everyday life in unpleasant ways.

Enter Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  Combining tapping on acupressure points, meditation, and cognitive awareness, EFT is an approach to healing that gently considers the physical, emotional, mental,  and spiritual impacts of negative experiences. The basis of it:

  • Positive healthy energy in the body flows freely. Every cell of our body functions optimally when blood, oxygen, and neurons move fluidly.
  • Negative emotions are emotions we try to protect ourselves from: pain, anger, grief, resentment, etc. “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system,” explains founder Gary Craig. When traumatic things happen, from an argument to a loss of a child, the flow of our body’s energy is disrupted. Those disruptions remain—the imbalance and lack of flow causing the symptoms we have.  At this point new, negative beliefs have been formed that impact our view of the world.
  • EFT gently brings your conscious awareness to the blockage—tapping proper flow into the negative memories and symptoms. When all positivity has been restored, the issue dissolves.

This is similar to meditation. The practice of meditation tells us that being present, aware, and unreactive to a negative experience or memory can release it. However, EFT has been found to be more potent and successful than meditation, and the reason for this lies in how it connects the energy pathways of our body to our brain’s conscious thought.  All energy flow is information: “I lift my arm,” “I see ice,” “I am falling,” and “Ouch.” In a traumatic event our information system is overloaded with all of our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual responses—past and present. We cannot process the entire event, nor do we want to. EFT brings awareness to those channels where we have the time, security, and distance to process them. That distance and gentleness makes it more accessible and easier for the non-Buddhist monk to open up to.

EFT was developed by Gary Craig in response to more complicated meridian tapping research.  He first started working with clients on it in 1995. The majority of his first successes came from working with war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2000, he released a manual for anyone to access, learn, and use. This release has generated endless success in many different applications.

People have used it on: broken limbs, cancer, Alzheimer’s, depression, autoimmune disease, anxiety, headaches, anger, grief, belief patterns, as well as “surrogate” tapping on children, animals, loved ones, and even cars that won’t start.

It is 100 percent safe. Applying EFT to extremely painful, complicated diseases and memories should be done with an experienced practitioner (to prevent “re-living” the experience, to provide support, and to assist in unraveling all the layers), but when done on simple daily negative experiences, it can be preventative and bring about a general state of positivity and flow.

Stay tuned for an upcoming article teaching you how to use EFT for yourself and your family, and where you can find local practitioners.

For more information, email baredfeet@gmail.com, call 715-514-4648, or visit www.baredfeet.wordpress.com.

The Art and Necessity of Doing Nothing

By Anna Martinson 

The busy-ness of the holidays is over. It’s time to settle into a winter routine and plan for what you’d like to accomplish this season. Whatever your to-do list is for the coming year, here is another task to add to your list: do nothing.

Doing nothing will promote a quieting of the body and mind, stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, promote better digestion, and improve over-all mood. Doing nothing gives the body a chance to replenish glucose and oxygen levels. Doing nothing can help you to feel more rested, clear-headed, and calm. All of this is key to healing the body, mind, and spirit. Doing nothing calms the soul and helps to create peace, balancing us in an otherwise, overly busy, over-stimulated world.

Think of a time when you have hit a dead-end while working on a project or felt stumped while seeking a solution to a problem. Do you remember how leaving the task and coming back to it after a mental break produced new and fresh ideas, or even a solution to your problem? Like-wise, intentional quiet time improves concentration, boosts problem-solving capability, and enhances creativity.

Humans are the only creatures in nature that resist the pattern of ebb and flow. What if instead of Facebook, texting, emailing, TV viewing, and gaming you did nothing? What if, instead of saving up vacation time to finally rest and enjoy life, you spread those moments throughout each day of the year? What if you penciled yourself into your busy calendar by putting yourself first with a plan to do nothing? What if…

Doing nothing can be challenging at first! It can be difficult to get out of your head and into your body. Our minds will conjure up numerous reasons why doing nothing:

• I don’t have enough time!
• I have too much to do!
• Sitting still is just being lazy.

Trust your body. The messages of your body will guide you if you listen. Instead of pushing through exhaustion, for example, check in with your body to know what it needs. Also, self pressure to DO and take care of others before yourself can lead to chronic pain. Eventually your body says STOP! There is a difference between truly quieting the mind by doing nothing and being involved in a leisure-time activity (watching TV, taking a trip, dinner out with friends). Leisure activities engage your brain; that is, your brain is still busy. Sitting in front of the TV or computer for an hour feels very different than an hour sitting in the park.

The following are some simple strategies to help you learn how to do nothing:

• Turn off or separate yourself form all electronic devices. Yes, ALL of them! Disconnect to replenish your soul.
• Ground. Bring your attention inside your body. Notice any body sensations. Feel the chair supporting you with your feet flat on the floor.
• Breathe. Gently pay attention to your breathing, just noticing. There is nothing you have to do. Your body breathes itself. Paying attention to your breathing naturally slows your heart rate and brings you into the present moment.
• Be Still. Stare out the window or sit in nature. You might want to pay attention to something beautiful in your space or meditate, or listen to the sounds around you, or shut your eyes and just BE.
• Let your body relax and your feelings unfold. Just a few minutes of doing nothing is enough. What matters is that you’re still.

Give yourself permission to care for yourself. Take in the sweetness of doing nothing. You’ll be glad you did!

Happy New Year! Anna Martinson, B.S., LMT, is a Certified Life Coach, Mind-Body Coach, (715-834-3959) and Licensed Massage Therapist (715-456-2544).

A Post-Christmas Plan to Get Organized

By Ellen Anderson
Another holiday season is wrapping up, and this is the time our thoughts turn to the New Year. While probably the most popular New Year’s resolution is to exercise more and lose weight, another popular resolution is to get organized. As someone who is in the business of helping people get organized, that of course is my favorite New Year’s resolution, and I encourage everyone to get on board.

It’s very easy to decide to have the resolution of getting organized, but what does that really mean, and how on earth does one go about it? Weight loss experts say you shouldn’t have your stated goal to be to “lose weight.” It’s not specific enough, thus making it easy to not get engaged in the specifics of the process. The same applies to “getting organized.” One needs to zero in and make some specific goals and plans. One area of focus that fits well at this time of the year is purging and organizing your holiday decorations.

Following is my handy “Get Your Holiday Decorations under Control Guide.”

1. Designate some time slots when you are going to take down your holiday decorations: give yourself at least two 2 to 3 hour time slots. Depending on how many decorations you have, you may end up needing more time or you might get done sooner. But start by putting two 2 to 3 hour time slots on your calendar. If you typically have other family members help you take things down, let them know your plans.

2. Be well rested and fed, and put yourself on “Do Not Disturb” with regard to your devices. This is important because once you start, you will get done so much faster if you are not starting and stopping to take care of texts, phone calls, and other interruptions.

3. Establish a staging area where you place all your decor that you put out this year AND any decor you didn’t put out and is still in storage. Save taking down the Christmas tree for a later step. Don’t forget to include holiday table linens, candles, and dishes.

4. Once you’ve got everything out in front of you, now comes the hard part, but the most important part of this process: pick up each object and assess if you still want to keep it in your holiday collection. Do you still love the piece? Did you ever love the piece?Was it a gift or a hand-me-down that just doesn’t spark a thrill or joy when you hold it and look at it? Is it getting worn out?Do you put out things that were hand-made by a loved one and you feel obligated to put them on display every year? Do you love the object, but it’s a part of a village theme or collection that you’re burned out on putting together every year? I hope you see my point with all these sometimes uncomfortable questions.

There is NOTHING WRONG with parting with decorations that for whatever reason just don’t do it for you anymore. Remember, surround yourself with things you love and that bring you joy. If those two things aren’t met, get rid of it. Even the gifts, even the family heirlooms, even the stuff your twenty-six-year-old son made when he was in preschool, even the stuff that is “worth money” or deemed valuable.

5. Set aside the items you are getting rid of for further sorting later. Now you are ready to assess the storage containers you already have and determine if you need to replace old boxes, etc. Wrap everything up and pack in boxes or bins and label them. A masking tape label done with a Sharpie is just fine.

6. Now repeat the above steps with your Christmas tree (if artificial), ornaments, garlands, and lights.

7. Now repeat the above steps with your outdoor decorations and lights. Get rid of the stuff you never put up anymore or that just doesn’t look that great to you anymore.

8. Time to address your pile of stuff you are parting with. Round up some boxes and trash bags. If you want to make this as simple and painless as possible, I recommend sorting the items into only two categories: 1, Stuff to be donated to a thrift store like Goodwill, and 2, Trash. Other possibilities are designating a box of things you would like to try to sell or for a future garage sale, or in the case of family heirlooms, put those items in a box to see if other relatives would like any of the items.

The cool thing about this guide is that you can apply this same process for other household items, such as your clothing, kids’ toys, books, etc. Trust me, you will love the results of your efforts. Next year when you get out your holiday decorations, you will put out the stuff you truly love, and/or perhaps enjoy shopping for some new holiday decorations.

Happy New Year!

Ellen Anderson helps people declutter and get organized through her business Moving Forward Organizing, serving the Chippewa Valley and Wausau areas. Visit MFOrganizing.com