Thursday, August 21, 2008

The AD/HD Breakfast Plan: Feeding the Brain

This post has been a Tip Sheet in my brain for a long time now.

While I am not a nutritionist, I certainly have done my reading and study about AD/HD and diet. And I think most doctors who are up on this will back me up. I'm open to your opinions and suggestions.

After suggesting to a client that getting protein with breakfast is really important for the AD/HD brain (and for that matter, all brains), and helping with focus, she commented "But I don't really know what other protein other than egg I could eat?"

The tips I'm about to give are geared toward people who don't have much time or have a hard time organizing their time, and therefore, often skip breakfast altogether or usually eat whatever sugary carbohydratey (is that really a word? I think not) item they can lay their hands on.

Since I'm a vegan, my first tips will all be vegan in nature. This is what I know best because I live it and try it out all the time. I will offer some non-vegan (I know I will rot in vegan hell for this) suggestions at the end. Keep in mind that not all veg'n (I"ll use veg'n to mean both vegetarian and vegan) items, like veg'n sausage are equivalent to the meat version since the meat version will have other health consequences like cholesterol and more fat.

OK, here are some protein sources. I'll give some ideas on how to use them after the list. Don't forget to think outside the "BOX" of American-type breakfast items. There's no law that says you can't eat a peanut butter sandwich at 6 am.

And don't forget to drink lots of water! The brain needs to be kept moist. A dry brain is not a happy brain. And a dry AD/HD brain is just trouble waiting to happen!

The Vegan List
  • Tofu (You knew that was coming, right?) See my recipe on my Vegan blog for tofu omelettes--not exactly a quick meal, but scrambling it would be easier.
  • Tempeh (I linked it so you could figure out what it was)
  • Nuts or nut butter (Please don't eat anything you are allergic to!)
    • walnuts
    • peanuts
    • cashews
    • almonds

The Non-Vegan List
  • Meat
    • Chicken
    • Turkey
    • Sausage
    • Red meat
    • Etc.
  • Eggs (scrambled, fried or hard-boiled)
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

So here are some ideas on how to put these items together:

Breakfast Burrito-Throw some beans, scrambled tofu (or egg) and some taco sauce and you have a meal to run out the door with. If you can't sit and eat like a human, that is. Thought: make a big batch of scrambled tofu (tofu, onion, herbs, curry or turmeric) mix with a can of flavored beans and/or some taco sauce and freeze small bags of it. Get this out and microwave inside a tortilla, (or spread on toast). Or just buy healthy frozen ones and keep them in the fridge.

Smoothie: Any combination you like of milk or milk alternative, fresh or frozen fruits, nuts or nut butter, yogurt or protein powder. A little vanilla maybe, a little agave nectar and whir that all up in a blender. Leave the raw egg to Rocky, though, OK?

The mega bowl of cereal: Involves no cooking whatsoever. Buy some nice healthy tasty cereal (low or no sugar of course), throw in a couple tablespoons of nuts, cut up a piece of fruit add your milk or milk alternative or yogurt/alternative and you have quite a hearty meal. I know–I do it every morning. My favorite right now is Kashi's Autumn Wheats with some almond milk or 1/2 container plain or vanilla coconut yogurt mixed with a little water, 2 tablespoons walnuts and whatever fruit is ripe in my yard or I have gotten from the store. This month it's peaches and blackberries.

Peanut butter on toast: a classic. If you are too rushed, just grab a spoonful of peanut butter. For fruit add some sliced bananas.

Waffle treats: Frozen waffles are not half bad! Try a topping to bump up the protein: cream cheese, peanut butter or some fruit or yogurt.

Outside the "breakfast box" ideas: a hot dog, whole wheat pasta with a little olive oil/butter/butter alternative and cheese/alternative. It's so easy to cook up a whole bag or box of pasta and then keep in the fridge all week to heat up for quick snacks. If you can't do wheat, then Trader Joe's carries a nice brown rice pasta that's pretty good. Whole grain pastas will have some protein in them.

OK, enough for now....

If you'd like a tip sheet of this information (which will probably be in a more legible format) just e-mail me and ask for it.

Liability notice: Readers should see their doctors before making any major dietary changes in their lives. I am not a nutritionist.

All posts on this blog are Copyright of Margaret Pearson Pinkham and Organize in Harmony. Text may be used without permission only with attribution to Margaret Pearson Pinkham and Organize in Harmony and for informational purposes only, not monetary gain. Of course I'd like to know how and when you are using my work. If there is going to be monetary gain, I'd like to be in on it. I believe in Karma. If you misuse my stuff, it will come back to haunt you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chronic Disorganization, Weight Loss and Fitness Gaining

I've started a new exercise habit lately (playing tennis against a backboard--I always win), and it's been giving me time to think about new blog topics. They just seem to come to me while I'm chasing balls and fetching them out of the weeds on the other side of the fence! Must be the extra blood flow to the brain, I guess.

Anyway, today's special thought that arrived was about how trying to lose weight and trying to get organized are very similar endeavors.

I know I'm not the first person to think of this. (Peter Walsh, from TLC's "Clean Sweep" wrote a book called Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat), but I think I have a different angle.

Living with clutter (or being a messie) and living with extra weight...

I should know, I have both these issues. I consider myself a "recovering messie." That's how I got into this business in the first place. I organized myself first, then realized I could help others. But I say "recovering" because it's a daily struggle still. Yes, I've made leaps and bounds in the past several years, but things start to creep up here and there....the laundry piles up, my child's artwork doesn't get dealt with, the cat thinks the dust bunnies are wonderful to play with--you know the stuff.

And while I haven't dealt with a weight issue my whole life, I do come from a family of hearty northern European stock who can get through harsh winters on bread and gruel. (This has not actually been tested in many a decade, but we all have a nice layer of fat that would most likely help us survive a plane crash in the Andes without resorting to consuming fellow passengers.) As a woman in her late forties, I am experiencing weight gain simply by existing, apparently. Either some really harsh winters are on the horizon or....

The connection between the two issues (and I know you've been patiently waiting) is make a difference or any kind of change, I have had to change my way of thinking, stop habits that did not serve me well, and add in new habits that do.

When I realized I no longer wanted to be a "messie," I had to re-examine my relationship to my stuff and how I thought about it. I started in my clothes closet. One tape that kept playing (probably even from Peter Walsh) was "Why are you holding on to things that no longer fit, will not be in style even if they do fit in the future and are taking up valuable space now? If it's wonderful memories you have--those are in your heart, they don't need to be hanging in your closet." My thinking changed, and I suddenly saw my stuff in a new light. (I say suddenly, but really it was a process over a year that I sorted and purged. I worked my way up to letting go of things I wasn't ready to let go of the first time I purged.)

Then came letting go of old habits that didn't serve me well: buying things without trying them on; tossing clothes onto a chair; keeping things without thinking about why.

And new habits that did serve me well: trying on clothes to make sure they fit well; hanging up all my clothes if still clean (which could only be accomplished after I had purged my closet and made room); presorting my laundry in the bedroom as they came off; reducing my overall "shopping" for stuff.

With the weight--well, I'm still a work in progress on that issue. This past month though, a few things have shifted mentally. Facing the fact that I am no longer 19, and that I seem to gain weight if I don't exercise each and every day, I have got to be more vigilant about the subject of my health as a matter of course, not just to diet to "lose 1o pounds."

I've also come to realize, that while my eating could always be "better" that it's not food that is my issue, it's exercise. (Or lack thereof.) I'm a vegan (am I the only overweight vegan on the planet?) for goodness sake and my diet is pretty darn good compared to the rest of the country. However, I do have a special fondness for Ruffles potato chips dipped in my Tofutti sour cream and onion dip.

So, my thinking had to change first. I have kept to a "clean eating" diet, not something that is a fad, but just a way of eating for life. For me, this is eating vegan (which means no meat or dairy), reducing the oils I cook with, drinking lots of water, and really really minimizing the sweets and fats I consume each day. I still have them, but keep them to once or twice in small amounts. (We're talking chocolate here.)

Then stop the habits that don't serve me: eating too much chocolate, snacking a bit much between meals...

Adding habits that do serve me: getting up early to go play tennis; having the right food in the house so each meal is easy and healthy; eating less at restaurants--planning to take half home or just order soup. I'm usually out with family or friends, so it's the company, the not the food that is primary.

So, actually, being organized has helped me with this latest endeavor. The more organized I am about shopping and meal planning, the better and easier it is for me to "eat clean." And I even plan for being a little unorganized by having easy but healthy frozen meals (thank you Amy's) ready for me and my family when creating a meal just seems too daunting.)

So it's a constant for me--both the staying free of chronic disorganization and keeping the extra weight at bay. I know I'm genetically predisposed to being both overweight and messy, but it's up to me now, not my genes, to keep my head above water. A change in habits, and a change it maintenance routines for both are keeping my house livable and helping me get my body fit to enter my fifties (still a couple years away.)

Now, excuse me I have some balls to chase....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

How a massage can help you get organized

Yes, I really do intend to prove to you that getting a massage can help you get and stay organized!

It's a simple premise, really. One that I often suggest to my clients: Schedule something in your home on a regular basis--like a party or tea with a friend--and you will find yourself "cleaning up" more on a regular basis, too! The threat, uh, I mean pleasure, of having someone over and in the house, is always wonderful motivation to clean.

This was proven to me once again, and with my own home. I've sort of relaxed my "maintenance," this summer shall I say, and had let my bedroom go a bit. Last year, after a minor neck injury, I had semi-regular massages by a wonderful massage therapist who came to my home. Now, professional organizers have a reputation to uphold, and I certainly wanted to continue the illusion that I keep my home perfectly neat at all times. She would set up her table in our bedroom, and yes, I found myself tidying up that room and our master bath before her visits. I really enjoyed having these rooms so nice and neat during this period.

However, since my neck has been feeling better, I hadn't had Kelly in for months! And it showed! Tasks in the bedroom were a tad behind--laundry, vacuuming, dusting, etc. All the things that my mind's eye had been blocking, came into focus as I looked at it with a fresh "eye" knowing someone was coming over and would be seeing it.

I tidied up and enjoyed the fruits of my labor--and a wonderful 1.5 hour massage.

That's how a massage can help you get organized!

I'm also sure there are other factors working here--namely, that when you indulge in self-care, you are a happier and healthier person who is better able to focus. And when better able to focus, organizing and tidying up are also much easier.

So, yes, while massage can be seen as an "expensive treat" (although well worth it), the idea that scheduling something once a month or maybe once a week that might motivate you to tidy up is a solid one and can be less expensive or even free.

Here are some other ideas and their approximate costs. They are sort of in descending order. You may want to try the last ones first and work your way up.

1. Hire a housekeeper once or twice a month to do just the floors and counters in the kitchen and bathrooms. Cost: $25-$100. (More if you have a really big kitchen or lots of bathrooms. Most housekeepers in this area charge about $25/hour.) The idea here is that you will motivate yourself to get all your stuff up off the floors and counters so the housekeeper doesn't waste her precious time (and your money) moving things off them or putting things away. You want her to do the stuff you don't want to. (Ok, this is the stuff I don't like to do--sweeping and mopping.) You get a nice clean "base" and if she's coming on a regular basis, you are motivated to do your part before she comes.

2. Plan a party once a month. Cost: $0-$??? Obviously, if you make this a potluck, you reduce your own costs, and if you serve Russian caviar and imported champagne, it will be pricier. But you'll get two things out of it: motivation to clean your house before guests arrive and a nice time with friends or family. (Even nicer if you have friends and family who will help you clean up after the party before they go home!)

3. Have just one or two friends over for something very simple like coffee or tea, a game night, or watching a movie. Cost: $0-$10. Simple things like this keep the kitchen from exploding into a mess. Serve a simple cake or cookies or make microwave popcorn. DVR a movie, watch a DVD you own or rent one. Close the doors on the rooms you haven't quite gotten to. If you have nosy friends, maybe post a sign on the door that says something like "Sammy the Snake's Room. Just ignore him, he likes to crawl on people but he doesn't usually bite.")

4. Invite one friend over to go for a walk. $0 (Unless you need to buy new walking shoes.) This one sounds like it wouldn't help, but really, it's a nice way to break yourself in if you haven't had friends over in the house in a while. You may only have to meet them at the front door (you only need to clean up what they can see from the front steps), or depending on your level of progress in the house, let them in a little farther each time. So, maybe just the front room has to be tidy, or if they might need to "use the facilities," tidy up only the rooms enroute to the facilities!

And if all of these seem out of your reach right now, then please, at least go out and get a massage at a spa. The whole part about being good to yourself, self-care and massage helping with focus still stands.

And in case you are ready right now for an in-home massage, and you live in the Sonoma County area, my massage therapist has recently "left her day job" as they say and is taking on new clients. Give her a call and you will thank yourself. (And maybe me!) I've always felt so wonderful after her work on me and she helped me keep working after a neck injury.

Kelly Nelson (based in Petaluma, CA)
Holistic Massage Therapist