- Turkish Eggplant Casserole with Tomatoes (Imam Bayildi)
- Gluten-Free Is Me: Healthy Sesame Chicken with Broccoli
- Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Bread Recipes For Every Day of the Week (+ A Giveaway!)
- Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein with Shitakes and Bok Choy (Gluten-Free)
- Feeding Friends: Oven Baked Ribs with Tex-Mex BBQ Sauce
Health, Hedonism & All the Delicious Things In Between
Category Archives: The Wellness Project
Two years ago today, I decided to give resolutions the boot and take on a different type of health odyssey. The failure rate for the annual promises we make ourselves is high (92 percent!), with the biggest drop-off date hitting just around the one month mark. The reason why is simple: we make too many resolutions, we make them too vague or ambitious, and we try to do all of the above all at once. For me, these lofty goals made me feel like a failure year-round—not just on February 1st when things started to slip, but every time I went to the doctor. Like my own personal resolution school marm, she would look at my bloodwork and rattle off another laundry list of lifestyle labor that made me feel like I was destined to spend my days dry brushing, trampoline hopping, and … Continue reading
Last year, I decided to make some radical changes to the way I approached my health. After years of living with autoimmune disease and feeling like I was flailing, oscillating from the extremes of wellness fads, to the confusion that made me want to do nothing at all, I decided to put my New Year’s resolutions on hold. Instead, I came up with a series of monthly challenges that would help me understand what wellness practices really moved the needle, and which despite the best scientific intentions, just weren’t worth my time, money or energy. For 12 months I anchored my life to these short-term goals. And when my project was finally over in January, it took me a beat to process the impact. Those of you following along, of course, wanted to know the nitty gritty details: Did I lose weight? … Continue reading
There were some benefits to writing a book about my wellness challenges in tandem with actually doing them. One of them being: I couldn’t procrastinate. I feverishly recorded my experiences in real time, and wrote shorter recaps of them right here. But it also meant that I had to constantly push forward towards my deadline, when at times what I really craved was more time to pause and reflect.
As an only child with no coworkers, I’m no stranger to “me time.” Even with long days alone at the office, it’s still something I need to reset. After the holiday party haul or a wedding weekend away, I’ll find myself craving several nights of kale salad, cashmere pajama pants, and Adam Levine to recover. But when I started considering the concept of a morning routine, I realized that most of my “me time” was reactionary. It came off the back of a social overdose. Too much raw bar action, white wine, and small talk. Not enough veggies and vegging out in front of mindless vocal talent shows.
There are lots of times as a busy New Yorker, when the subway inexplicably just skips my stop or the line for Trader Joe’s wraps around the block, that I have to take a breath and ask myself: “what would my calm twin do right now?” Stress is one of the most corrosive things on the body. And being complicated emotional beings, alleviating it is a deeply individual and complex process. It’s become apparent from the hours I spend zoning out on the couch in front of The Voice, or with my face planted in the cradle of a Korean nail salon’s massage chair, that my current system of unwinding does very little to help me relax on a deeper level.
One thing I’ve learned about autoimmune disease is that there’s usually a trigger that causes it to take hold in the body. As my acupuncturist Heidi Lovie put it, you probably spent years accumulating imbalances—putting tinder in the box—but it takes an emotional or physical event to light the match and set the whole fucker on fire. For me, that fatal flame was sparked by a trip to Morocco in 2007. Whatever virus or parasite left me curled in a ball on the floor in Fez forever changed my stomach. What was once an iron cauldron for Third World street meats and strip mall all-you-can-eat sushi buffets, is now as sensitive as a saucepan of untempered eggs over a high flame.
It took two years of intense stomachaches before I finally, reluctantly dragged my butt to a doctor to figure out what was going. But really, all I had to do was look in the toilet to know that there was a serious problem with my digestion. People get so squeamish about the scoop on their poop, but it’s the easiest way to gauge how your gut is performing on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. You’ve got to take stock before you literally flush those valuable clues down the toilet! And let’s just say that if you can identify 4 out of 5 of your Just Salad toppings from that day’s lunch, it’s probably time to make some changes.
Having been a low-grade insomniac for most of my life, my new unquenchable need for sleep and my inability to function without it has been one of the autoimmune symptoms I’ve had the hardest time coming to terms with. But thanks to project wellness, I’ve learned how much my immune system depends on it, which was enough to turn being unconscious for 8 hours from a necessary evil, into a luxurious, sacred treat. So for this month’s sleep experiments, I wanted to find ways to navigate my waking life that would set me up for bedtime success, instead of dooming those late night hours into becoming the waste of time I’d always feared.
When I was little, I was hyperactive. I had so much trouble falling asleep my parents would give me a cocktail of melatonin, valerian root drops, and, catnip (which apparently has a very different effect on humans than it does on felines). When that failed, they’d sit with me doing breathing exercises until I finally conked out (or pretended to). I’ve resorted to those same breathing exercises many times in my adult life, especially in college, when my mind would race so much thinking about exams and jobs and boys that I would often stay up until morning in a state of mental mania.