Sunday, August 24, 2014

Breaking Bread




Bread is a villain in the modern diet world, avoided like the plague by many who claim to be eating healthy and/or trying to lose weight.  Limit the pasta, potatoes, sandwich bread, and hoagies and fill up on protein, perhaps accompanied with a salad.  Some followers of the low carbohydrate diet plan even limit fruit, due to their natural sugar content.

For those of you who have read some of my previous blogs, you know I am not in favor of eliminating food groups from one's daily food consumption.  Each group has a purpose, and each food group is needed in order to maintain the body's many functions.

I believe there is some confusion over the carb fad, and somehow people believe that ALL carbohydrates are the enemy.  There are three types of carbohydrates: starch, sugar, and fiber; the types of carbs that you consume are more important than how much.  In order to understand carbs as a broad term, it is necessary to know what the three types of carbohydrates are:

Starch-The Encyclopedia Britannica defines starch as a white, granular, organic chemical that is produced by all green plants. Starch is considered a complex carbohydrate since it goes through a few steps before converting to glucose used for energy in the body. Some foods high in starch are potatoes, corn, butternut squash, and peas. 

Sugar-There are basically two types of sugar; naturally occurring sugars and sugar additives.  Fruits, vegetables, and milk are foods that contain naturally occurring sugars, while cookies, cereals, cakes, and soft drinks are some foods that have added sugars.

Fiber-The body cannot digest fiber, and unlike the other two carbohydrates, fiber is not broken down in sugar molecules.  Fiber aids in digestion, helps to keep blood sugar at good levels, and regulates the body's use of sugar. We find this valuable part of the human diet in foods like whole grains, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. 

Diets limiting carbohydrates as a whole group are neglecting to provide the body with many important foods. Whole grains found in pastas, bread, and cereals are essential in providing energy and nutrients to our body and the CDC still recommends that most of our caloric intake is from carbohydrate sources.  Starches are important due to their conversion into energy, and to help keep you feeling full because they are digested slowly.  Fruits and vegetables are irreplaceable in the human diet since they contain everything from healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

There are carbs that do not provide much nutritional benefit to the human body, these are the carbohydrates that should be avoided.  White flours found in breads and desserts are stripped of the important layers that the whole grain originates with.  Likewise, added sugars are used for flavoring foods, and do not play a role in providing nutrients to the human body.

Yes, this blog was informative, maybe even borderline boring to some extent.  But in order to get my point across I feel that the reader should know the facts and not solely my opinion when it comes to certain topics.  Point is, carbs are not "bad," they are an important part of our diets.

Our bodies are amazing in many ways, from their ability to move, to repair itself, to fight off harmful bacterias and diseases, and to metabolize the foods we provide it with.  When I think about all of the jobs our body has, I cannot help but wonder why people would not want to treat it with respect and give it the best treatment with have available.  In order to do that, we need to make sure we are eating ALL of the important foods that maintain our bodily functions, and sustain our daily and lifelong needs.  And, to be honest, life without pasta is just dull :)


Friday, August 8, 2014

Survivors

I called them Bubby and Zeidi; the English translation of these Yiddish words are grandmother and grandfather, respectively.  To me, Bubby was loving, family oriented and skillful, while Zeidi was funny, sarcastic, and patriarchal.  When I think of them as I knew them it is nauseating to imagine their lives before living in Brooklyn, New York.

Bubby and Zeidi met and fell in love in the woods of Poland, hiding from Hitler.  They were both Holocaust survivors, and to comprehend what they went through is exhausting to my thinking.  They hid together in fox holes like animals, trying to escape being treated as such.  My caring grandmother and humorous grandfather stole food for survival, ignoring any personal beliefs they felt about keeping kosher in their Jewish religion.

I think one of the worst events that my Bubby went through was watching her own mother and sister get shot by a Polish officer, the same officer that let her go.  The shear terror of seeing your family members killed in front of you is unimaginable in my safe life.  I think about how she later played Rummy Q with me and cannot help but wonder how she could.  Bubby lovingly and gently cared for my bee sting, after spending years literally running for her life.

Zeidi was never good about sharing his own stories from the Holocaust, he was the head of the house.  I know he would leave personal belongings in the homes of strangers, hoping that he could later return and ask for a bite of food.  Yet, all I see is my grandfather leading us for a Passover Seder, and laughing at his grandchildren's jokes.

I am a 34 year old woman and I still mourn the loss of my grandparents.  My Zeidi died when I was 17 years old, and I felt like I lost my best friend.  He taught me things that I can never forget, like how to stand strong and spend your life laughing.  My Bubby passed away just last year, and though she was not well when she went, there was something extra sad when she finally left us.  Bubby was an exceptional woman who always showed me love and sincerity.  Her famous phrase was, "I live for my grandchildren."  Bubby loved to cook enourmous meals for the family, played games with me, and listened intently to my words.

Even as I write this, my eyes fill with tears, such incredible and important people to our history no longer exist.  I need to write this as much as it needs to be read and shared.  To let their memory die is dangerous, and to not repeatedly tell their story is threatening.  They were part of the last generation of Holocaust survivors, and they are my family.

Over the past year, I wondered how to feel closure on the sadness I felt when my Bubby died.  This morning, as I showered and readied for the day I realized that there cannot ever be closure on the lives of my grandparents.  They need to be honored every day for their struggle and the tremendous impact their history has on this world. Their story will always need to be shared and made public, so that no one ever faces their horrors again.  As their grandaughter it is one of my duties to never let them fade from my memories and to pass on their strengths to others.

So while we gripe with our everyday dilemmas over which cell phone to buy next, let us never forget the pasts of others that let us have these free and enjoyable days.  Lets all remember loved ones the way I think of Bubby and Zeidi, and tell their stories.  I encourage you to share this with everyone, and take a moment to be thankful for our lives.  To always find humor as my Zeidi did, and to love our family with your whole heart the way my Bubby did.

So maybe my closure is to speak, to write, and to share.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

How to Be Happier

So, it has been a very long time since I last posted on "This Is Me."  About a year ago was the last time I wrote an article for my blog, and I cannot believe how much that amount of time can literally change one's life.  I have a four month old baby for one and have now transitioned into the multiple children family status.  I also learned a lot about myself, my life, and my views of the world.  There were so many topics I could have written about upon my return to the blogging world, but this is what I chose:  How to Be Happy!

My degree is in Psychology, and I love the study of human behavior; however, I always had one complaint about this particular area of social sciences:  Most of the focus is on what is wrong with individuals and all the disorders that affect people.  There is so much more to our lives than what we need to fix about ourselves, and we should think about being happy as we are and with what we have.

This past year I took a hiatus from my blog and went through some life changing events.  Emotionally, all of these experiences were different, some good and some bad.  There are some very tragic parts of my life that never seem to completely resolve, and I am constantly needing to figure out ways to deal based on my current situation.  However, I am a very happy and positive person.  My life is well balanced, and I enjoy myself every day.  I often wonder, what is it about me that allows for happiness as a general and abundant feeling throughout my adult life?  If I were a drug addict or an alcoholic, I could very well use my circumstances as an excuse, and I am certain everyone would forgive my actions based on causation.

My own personal experiences led me to believe that happiness is mostly choice.  I do understand and know that tragic circumstances cause stress and unhappy feelings, we are human beings with an array of emotions.  I am describing a general feeling of happiness as an overall affect.

So, this blog is to everyone reading who wonders how to be happier.

1.  Have an emotional outlet ready and available somewhere in your home.
I have a jigsaw puzzle set out on a card table in the corner of my dining room.  Whenever the stresses are high, rather than immediately react, I zone out for one minute and concentrate on my puzzle.  When that minute is over, I return to the situation.  By then I am calmer, the situation is calmer, and everything seems less intense.  Whatever you choose as the outlet, whether it be a magazine, puzzle, or calming music; leave it somewhere in sight and easily accessible.
2.  Do some sort of physical activity every day.  
I know that you have read this a million times in every article, but I live by it.  Whatever it is that you enjoy physically, set aside time each day to do it.  Walking, dancing, gardening, kickboxing, yoga, tennis, and so on are vital to mood stability, overall health, and for personal pleasure and feelings of accomplishment.
3.  Eat a balanced diet.
Yes, again, I know you know.  But I cannot stress how much different it feels to eat a well balanced diet full of nutritious foods over a meal plan consisting of fast foods, processed foods, or omitting food groups.
4.  Make time to do what you love.
Our day to day lives get super busy, and it is difficult to find time to do what you need to do let alone partake in pleasurable activities.  Yet, you only live once.  When else do you plan on reading a good book, playing a game with your friend, or enjoying a good bottle of wine?  Make time at least once a week to do something just for fun.
5.  Focus on the positive.
The other day I told my husband that that particular day home with the two kids was exactly like a comedic movie on parenting, except that in real life it was not that funny.  Although my day was filled with ridiculous episodes, I had pleasurable moments.  Those are the moments I CHOSE to take with me at the end of that day.
6.  Surround yourself with people who make you feel good.
This one is a bit complex, being that you do not always have complete control over the people you need to interact with on a day to day basis.  Yet, I make a very big effort to spend my time with people who have a positive impact on me.  I focus my close relationships on those who do not add stress to my life, and when I converse with these people, I leave the conversation feeling good.

So, yes, to some degree, being a happy person takes some effort.  You need to figure out things in each of the above categories that apply to you personally, then attempt to add/remove things from your life.  I suggest these ideas because I live by them, and they help me create happy and enjoyable days for myself.  I hope you can take something out of this entry and use it to make your own life happier!