Fermented Foods Saved My Poop!

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They say that when you become pregnant, the foods that you crave are the foods that you grew up with – Comfort Foods. For me, growing up my dining experience was very much a Korean one, with rice being the staple (of course) and then a myriad of dishes, from spicy fish stews to oxtail soup, various types of kimchi and marinated greens, rice cakes and quail eggs, pickled root vegetables and salted fish eggs. When I was younger, bringing friends around for dinner was a mix between awkward and educational – luckily for me my friends were curious and adventurous enough to want to try these weird and wonderful new dishes and my mother is an excellent cook, so regardless of how exotic the flavour combinations may have been, they were always delicious.

The first trimester was horrible for me, to be completely honest. I could only really stomach pineapples and lemons, but now that I have passed (for the most part) the nausea, the cravings have started to take hold of my daily meal requirements. The biggest challenge for me was to satisfy my Korean Food cravings. Living in central France, where even finding tofu can be a bit of a scavenger hunt, trying to procure the ingredients to recreate any of my mother’s Korean dishes was impossible.  Luckily, my parents sent me a care package with the needed ingredients to make many of my favourite Korean dishes, and my lovely friends in London sent me a care package with some of the essentials. Namely – KIMCHI.

Kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish that is a side to every single Korean meal. It’s as important (maybe more so) than the rice. This spicy, crunchy condiment is traditionally made of napa cabbage, hot Korean chili flakes, garlic (lots and lots of garlic), salt and fermented shrimp. Mix it all together in a glass bowl, preserve in a glass jar and allow it to ferment for a few days (or weeks – whatever your fancy) et voila – a delicious, stinky, spicy side to your meals.

Kimchi is a fermented food which means that it contains the prebiotics and the probiotics that your gut needs in order to function optimally. The raw garlic acts as a antimicrobial systemically and the dish is a great source of fiber as well. All in all, kimchi is a panacea for many digestive problems, and let me tell ya – it solved my pregnancy constipation in a pinch!!

My favourite dish is Kimchi Jjigae, which is a Kimchi Stew. I took a picture of it which is at the top of this post, and a hot bowl of this with a bowl of rice was Just the thing that I needed to satisfy my craving AND solve my constipation issues all in one go! If you are a kimchi lover like I am (and like a growing population of the world is, given the number of Korean Fusion pop up restaurants and the success of the Momofuku restaurant empire in NYC, Toronto and beyond…) then this simple stew is right up your alley. It’s simple, it’s healthy, it’s filling AND it’s great for your gastrointestinal tract.

RECIPE KIMCHI JJIGAE

200g Pork Belly (you can replace this with 1-2 cans of tuna if you wish)

4 – 5 cups of chopped Kimchi (home made or store bought – use the juice as well!)

1 heaping tsp of Korean Red Pepper Paste

1 tsp of sugar (Can use maple syrup as well)

2 -3 cups of water (depends how concentrated you want the stew)

1/2 package of tofu chopped into chunks

Spring onions chopped

In large pot, throw in the kimchi, the water, the pork belly, the sugar, the red pepper paste and the water.

Bring to a boil then lower it down to a simmer.

Let simmer half covered for about 30-45 minutes.

At the last minute, add the tofu and spring onions before serving.

Eat with rice.

Poo like a champ.

mmmmmm……

Things They Do Not Tell You About Being Pregnant

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It has been a Very long time since my last post and I swear to Goddess that there is a very very good reason for this all. In fact, the image itself should probably give you a very good idea as to what has been going on with me (or at least, IN me) for the past 16 weeks and I thought I would dedicate this post to all of the things that I learned about the Miracle of Pregnancy.

First off, let me preface this by saying that I am (We are) thrilled. This was a long journey and as a naturopath who specialises in fertility and female hormonal issues, it was definitely a kick in the box to struggle with my own issues. There were months of temperature taking and cervical mucous monitering and miscarriages – let’s not forget the miscarriages. It is liberating to say it out loud as the shame that I held onto for the past couple of years was unbearable. How can a yoga-ing, organic-food eating, supplement popping, meditating naturopath Not be able to conceive at the drop of a hat (or panties for that matter!) or worse – not be able to hold onto a pregnancy? How was my body failing me even though I was doing everything Right?

I started to lose faith in myself as a naturopath and there was a point where I wondered about Natural Medicine as a whole and if it was failing me and my body, was it something that I wanted to continue to practice? There was just so much entangled in my fertility journey that not only encompassed my skills as a naturopath, but my faith in my own body to be able to heal itself, or at least know what was best, which is one of the main tenets of Naturopathic Medicine. Let Your Body Heal Itself.

I suppose that is why they say it is Darkest before the Dawn (or some shit like that) and I finally stopped trying to control my own treatment plan and I passed the buck onto a couple of my naturopathic colleagues and friends, who supplied me with their own course of action. I separated my Naturopathic Doctor self from my Hannah as a Woman self and gave the reins to someone else. Perhaps it was that switch in my own paradigm, perhaps it was the new regimen I placed myself on, perhaps it was the trip to India – who f*&king knows. But here I am, 16 weeks later in my 2nd trimester and I am still a little in disbelief that there is this little thing (that frankly, looks like an Alien…a very large headed alien…) inside my body. So…I guess my body really did know. I just had to trust that no matter what, baby or no baby, things would just kinda work themselves out. I believe that is the real goal of Naturopathic Medicine.

Now that I’m ”Out of the Woods” and I received a ”Low Risk for Trisomy” (which is a whole other experience that I will write about later and think is a load of crap designed to stress women over the age of 35 out) I thought that I would enlighten all of you about-to-get-knocked-up ladies and fellow pregnant women with the things that I learned about the First Trimester that everyone tries to Sugar Coat.

1) Morning Sickness. Yes. It SUCKS. I had it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. It would wake me up in the middle of the night. My experience was that I never actually vomited, although I sometimes prayed to the heavens that I would. At least it would feel like something would MOVE or that I would feel some temporary relief. It was constant, relentless, and you know that excess salivation that you get right before you upchuck? Yup – it was like that, but with no vomiting, no relief. And no, the candies and mints and Pericardium 6 (Seaband acupressure point) did dick-all. Ginger tea helped slightly, but i think it was more the hot water that would wash the saliva down my throat whilst burning my tongue at the same time that distracted me, momentarily, from the nausea. By the 12th week, it had lessened to 3 intense hours of dry-heaving between 6pm and 9pm, and now I only experience it if I’m hungry. So…I guess it’s better.

2) Headaches. Yes. Combined with the morning sickness and salivation, it’s pretty much like a horrible, Absinthe induced hangover for 3 months straight. Your head pounds, the dry heaves increase the pain, the heightened sense of smell only makes both the nausea AND the headaches worse. And of course they say you can’t take any painkillers for it (other than Acetaminophen, which as a stupid Naturopath I did not have any lying around the house) so the only thing I could do was lie in the dark, completely still. That was awesome.

3) Heightened Sense of Smell. If they could somehow recreate this superpower in sommaliers and coffee connoisseurs, there would be a helluva lot more than ”hints of lavendar” and ”notes of limestone minerality” on descriptive labels. I swear I could smell molecules fusing and breaking apart. Water smelled strange (horrible, nausea-inducing) and if my husband even tried to speak to me in the morning without brushing his teeth, there was usually a pillow smushed into his face. I swear I could smell people’s emotions from a block away. And it all made me want to barf.

4) Fatigue. Have you seen My Own Private Idaho? The narcoleptic? Enough Said.

5) Constipation. I am a regular pooper. I take pride in the fact that my bowels move regularly and healthily. Two to three times a day. I love to poop. I rarely, if ever, experience constipation. I am not poop-shy. I can poop in restaurants, bars, friend’s houses, port-o-potties – I hate to deny my body the pleasure of a poop. Pregnancy has denied me this for about 16 weeks now. And I don’t want to strain because I worry I will squeeze the baby out or get hemerrhoids. It’s a catch-22. It also leads to headaches.

6) Horrendous Farts. This is probably related to number 5 above. Pregnancy makes your digestion slow down so that all the nutrients can go to the baby. This makes you constipated, which then allows the gas to just hang around in your bowels around the already festering, fermenting, rotting, hardening constipation-causing poop. The gas that results? Warfare. Weapon of War. Plain and Simple. And then it makes you want to vomit and worsens the headaches. Combined with the sensitive nose, it’s enough to give you nosebleeds. Seriously.

7) Complete and Utter Paranoia. The pregnancy industry FEEDS on the fear. The medical industry does nothing to assuage it, instead choosing to treat pregnancy as a disease, rather than a completely natural state. Our world is a strange place in which to be a woman. Society pressures you into getting pregnant or making you feel as though there is something wrong or missing if you do not want to have children. Then the minute you get yourself knocked up, thereby fulfilling the ”one true role” of being a female (don’t get me started…) they guilt you and scare you and essentially make you feel as though you have now just made the worst decision of your life. Don’t eat this, do you have enough of that, stay away from bicycles and mountains and animals and public transportation and definitely do not lift a dumb bell but you can lift a toddler (which is heavier than a dumb bell…) and oh my GOD have you not taken your folic acid? Your baby is definitely going to have cleft palate or spina bifida or a chromosomal abnormality or be more prone to behavioural disorders. And being over the age of 35 suddenly puts you into the ”more likely to have a dead baby” and ”probably get diabetes or high blood pressure or placenta previa” category which does nothing to actually allow you to relax and Enjoy the pregnancy, something that is already hard to do when you’re suffering from numbers 1-6 on the list.

….But I hear it’s all going to be worth it in the end.

Am I right?

Guys?

Botanical and Herbal Medicine

Botanical Medicine is the use of plant parts (roots, stems, fruit, seeds and leaves) to help support the body’s physiological functions in the healing process. Plant medicines come in various forms, such as pills, teas, creams and tinctures. They are an effective and gentle way to treat many conditions from pain management to hormonal imbalances to skin conditions. Because many prescription medicines are actually synthetic forms of compounds naturally occurring in nature, there is the risk of botanical medicines reacting quite adversely with prescription drugs. Therefore it is very important to get professional advice from a practitioner who is trained in the science of botanical medicines to ensure safe and effective results from the plants.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the surface of the body, influencing the physiological functioning of the body.  It is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine theories, however from a Western perspective, it is thought to enhance the body’s ability to heal by releasing Enkephalins (pain killing substances) and Endorphins (mood elevating substances) and stimulating the immune system.  Acupuncture is especially effective for pain-related conditions such as headaches, PMS symptoms, joint or musculoskeletal pain, and athletic injuries.  It is most effective in combination with Eastern Herbal Combinations – the right one will be discussed with the Naturopath.

There is an initial appointment of 1.5 hours to take your full medical history, and each subsequent acupuncture treatment is about 30 minutes in length.

Emotional Detox

Posted September 12th, 2011 in Detoxification, Featured, Naturopathy by Hannah Yang

There’s something very melancholic and wistful about the changing of seasons – especially from summer to autumn, when everything just starts to….well….die.  With Spring  there is the earthy, mossy scented scattering of rain-showers, bringing with it the first green buds of life. The breeze comes calling with a little more warmth, promising sunshine and, to many hot-blooded heterosexual males out there, short skirts skimming the tops of lean (albeit pale) thighs.  But with autumn, the mood is more sombre.  The fresh scents of summer flowers, fresh-cut grass and grilling meat on charcoal bbq’s become muted by the northern winds that always seem to give a slightly frosty, metallic tinge to the nose.  The leaves that once created a green ceiling over streets and boulevards have now been converted to a multi-coloured carpet.  Now, I love the fall, in spite of the slightly depressing tone that comes with it.  Fall fashion always brings a smile to my face – the mixture of textures, colours that glow like embers, layering wools with silks, knee socks, open-toed booties, bright scarves….Autumn cooking is also a seasonal delight, with the apple pies and crumbles, pumpkin soups and muffins, butternut squash, root vegetables, slow-simmering meats in pressure cookers – ha!  Even the foodfare is dressed in fall fashion colours!  But I think what is probably most significant in a Naturopath’s world is that transition seasons call for Detoxification!  It is during this time that your body naturally starts to prepare for winter’s long haul of hibernation – it is during this time that it is best (both in eastern and western philosophies) to allow your body this chance to do a little bit of intercellular cleaning and give yourself a break from all of the things that summer patios and all-inclusive vacations do so well.  Fall is Detox Season.

Now it would be irresponsible of me to publish a detoxification programme on my blog for everyone to follow as each individual has unique needs, and detoxifications should not be taken lightly.  It isn’t about starving yourself in order to lose the beer belly – it’s about respecting your body’s organ systems and allowing them a temporary vacation from the excesses of the summer and being mindful of what you put (or not put) into it.  Not only is it about a clean diet in order to help clean out your digestive organs, but it’s about aiding the other organ systems to help flush out the toxins.  From your lungs to your kidneys, to your skin to your soul – these are ALL going to get rid of their shit.  Yes…even your soul, which brings me to the point of this here blog entry.  Beware the emotional detoxification that may occur during the physical detox.

Baggage.  We all have it.  We all deal with some of it, ignore others – some of us successfully shed a few pieces of luggage only to collect a couple of other key pieces.  It’s a constant battle to try to either dump it out so that you never have to carry it around again, or to hide it so that nobody else (including yourself) will see how absolutely f&*ked up you truly are, but no matter what your method of compensation, all your shit eventually comes to the surface.  Especially during a detox.  So be prepared for that really special side of yourself that seems to only make an appearance during Christmas dinners and family vacations, because I can almost guarantee that it will be triggered to come out again.  And when it does, acknowledge it.  Be present with the anger, the hurt, the pain, the fear.  Understand that it comes from a place of wanting to protect yourself.  But then try to let it go.  Much easier said than done.  I know.  TRUST ME, I know.  Six months of meditating in various ashrams in India, a divorce, a start-over in a new country, eloping, another start-over professionally, avoiding, crying, praying, yoga-ing, journaling, blogging, raging against anyone who tries to tell me what to do and I’m STILL dealing with the same.old.shit.  During that time I have found solace in running away, writing, wine, marijuana, music and a few relationships, both toxic and nurturing (friends, family and lovers) some of which i’ve let go of, some of which i’m still clinging to.  But it’s a process – a lifelong one – one that will require more than a few more years of all of the above.  But if you take care of your body, it makes it easier to take care of your mind.  Detoxify.  Breathe. Then rinse.  And repeat.

PMT Werewolf

Posted July 29th, 2011 in Featured, Female Health, Female and Hormone Balancing, Gynecology, Uncategorized by Hannah Yang

One of my favourite terms that I have borrowed from a good girlfriend of mine is ‘’white wine werewolf’’.  You know…when you take advantage of one of the 12 sunny days that we have here on this island by scrambling as quickly as you can, after work, towards the nearest patio that is not absolutely heaving with other like-minded sun-starved vitamin D3 deprived humans, order a bottle of chilled white chardonnay and promptly guzzle the whole thing down with the help of one other girlfriend?  On an empty stomach?  And suddenly you are transformed from this intelligent, witty, normally quite kind and generous human being into a snarling, bitchy, dramatic, sometimes weepy monster who ends up either drunk-dialing an ex-boyfriend or picking a fight with your current partner?  Yup – you’ve got it – you’ve turned into the White Wine Werewolf.

I find that this werewolf rears it’s ugly hide about 3 days before my period.  Which, funnily enough, normally falls on the New Moon.  It’s often after a particularly dramatic row with my husband that I gather enough wherewithal to check on google to see where exactly we are in the lunar cycle.  It is amidst the flying plates and drifting innards of an expensive cushion that I momentarily grasp onto the shreds of my sanity and think to myself ‘’oh shitballs – am I getting my period?’’  And sure enough, it is either a few days before or on the night of the New Moon.

One thing I always say to my nutrition students is to never ignore the intense feeling, no matter how off the wall or out of character they seem, that bubbles up in the days preceding your menstrual flow.  According to many specialists in the field of female health, your menstrual time is your most intuitive – when you are most open to the universe and to your true feelings.  But with great power comes great responsibility: These feelings need to be explored honestly, with the intention of wanting to understand and grow, analyzed with a clear and non-judgmental heart.  Hopefully not through the lens of a bottle of pinot grigio.

Tonight is the New Moon.  And, yup, you guessed it ladies and gents – I have shamefully tucked the hairy wolf tail between my legs and realised that I have eaten the poor innocent heart, pride and soul of someone close to me.  To my latest victim, you know who you are – it isn’t you, it’s me.  Really.  And everything that I said in the heat of my lunar-soaked craze?   There probably is some truth to it.  There always is.  But it should have been delivered with love, not with the blind rage of a hungry caged animal.  Always know that the more painful my bite, the deeper the vulnerability.  And this animal hates being vulnerable.  But I will try to address the obvious hormone-induced anger that I have in my heart and focus that fire into something positive.  Like Biodynamic wine.

The Great Baby Debate

I recently flew home to attend my brother’s wedding and in the 3 weeks that I was visiting, two of my friends told me that they were between 8-10 weeks pregnant, and I had to visit another 2 babies that had been born in my absence.  Being in my early thirties, this should come as no surprise, both to myself and to those around me.  There seems to be this breeding buzz that affects almost everyone at our age, whether you want to or not and before you know it, it’s a feeding frenzy – when the majority around you is behaving in this instinctive way, you tend to follow suit.

But how much of this is instinct and how much of this is peer pressure?  Now don’t get me wrong – I think babies are cute despite their constant pooping and crying and insomnia at the most inopportune times.  The idea of creating something with someone you love, building a family, loving and nurturing this helpless ball of blubber is actually a nice one.  It’s their smell and their chubby bums that do it for me. But what is it about the very personaldecision to procreate (or not) that suddenly becomes everyone else’s business?  I spent a good ten minutes (maybe 15) at my brother’s wedding being chased around the dancefloor (and bar area – the white wine made this conversation bearable) by certain family members asking – no, harrassing me about when I was going to start trying.  This relative of mine actually told me that it was my DUTY to have a baby.  “This isn’t about YOU” she said.  “This is about your Family.  Think of your parents.”

Huh??

I have done a lot of thinking about this.  It’s hard not to since everyone around me seems to be popping them out at a ludicrous rate.  And I can see the appeal.  Really, I can.  But how about the appeal of not having one?  Being the auntie that swoops in when the parents need a vacation and having a laugh with the kids?  The woman who has extra cash in the bank because she hasn’t spent it on nappies, baby furniture, a station wagon, football uniforms, music lessons, and can therefore give amazing presents to the little guy/girl (or herself)?  Um….here’s a good one.  Sleeping In?? Oh, how about this classic one….having more than one vodka martini at a time?  Or the one that is true birth control to me – potentially f**king someone up so permanently and irreversibly because I might be unfit to be a mother?

I am not saying that I’ve made my decision to have or not have children.   But I want to weigh out the pros and cons of both options.  Sounds pretty unromantic, I know, but it IS my life.  And it’s not like I can return this thing once it’s born.  But I also recognize that I am not getting any younger.  And I know that saying ‘’I’m just not ready’’ is a moot point because when is one ever ready for children and the permanent way in which they completely and totally alter your life?  And every full moon, the thought of sacrificing an animal for the fertility Gods and having one too many rum and limes and throwing on sexy underwear and throwing caution to the wind with my husband does cross my mind, but it’s fleeting (well, the animal cruelty part.  Game On for everything else!)

The Baby Debate is not over.  Not by a long shot.  And you would probably laugh if you saw that right beside my liquor cabinet is my Folic Acid.  In the meantime, dear Family, I love that you want me to create a bunch of mini-me’s but please…Give me some Space to get knocked up Accidentally on my Own accord, eh?

Lifestyle Counseling

With every nutritional regime, homeopathic consultation, acupuncture session or botanical prescription, external factors on your health such as your lifestyle, occupation, family, relationships and other stressors play a very large role in your quest for wellness.  Naturopaths take this into account, as it is these external lifestyle factors that make you an individual, unique from every other client.  Wholistic health is not solely about what you eat – it is also about how you live, how you love yourself and others, how you deal with stress… your lifestyle has a direct and paramount impact on your health.  We are here to help you achieve health and wellness through body, mind and soul.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is an energetic form of medicine created by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann in Germany in the late 1700′s.  This form of medicine is based on the theory that “Like Cures Like” which basically means that if a substance in nature can create a set of symptoms (ie. cramping) then making a homeopathic preparation of that particular substance can then cure that set of symptoms (ie. cramps due to menstruation).  Homeopathy uses highly diluted forms of these natural substances (plant, animal or mineral) and stimulates the body in order to heal itself.  It is extremely safe and can be used on babies, animals, the elderly and in conjunction with other treatments.  Can be prescribed on an acute or as-needed basis, or if the client wishes for an in-depth homeopathic assessment for any specific conditions where they opt for homeopathy to be the only form of treatment, a homeopathic intake is 1.5 hours for an initial appointment and 45 minutes for every follow up.

Clinical Nutrition

Naturopathic Doctors are trained to effectively assess, diagnose and treat any conditions that patients may have that require altered or specialized diets (ie Type 1 and 2 Diabetes, Celiacs, Crohns and Colitis, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension) or to individualize a well-balanced diet for health and weight loss. Clinical Nutrition examines the relationship between diet and health and in addition to specialized diets, nutritional supplements may also be recommended.