I was vegetarian for nearly 25 years – I avoided meat for humanitarian and health reasons and I felt very comfortable with my choices. I don’t think that I was strident – I didn’t impose my diet on others and I was fine with meat being served in my home. Yet, I got a lot of flack from omnivores over the years. I always thought it was strange, as I didn’t criticize their eating choices, but somehow it seemed ok for meat eaters to ask a vegetarian to justify protein sources and explain why I made this choice. I always wondered why meat eaters didn’t have to justify eating factory farmed meat, but I didn’t say anything. Really, the dude eating kraft dinner for lunch and a hot dog for supper doesn’t have to explain his choice, but if I have falafels for dinner, I have to give a treatise on it? Come on.
I know that it wasn’t their aim, but comments from omnivores and vegetarians also made me feel hemmed in, as if I couldn’t eat one little piece of meat even if I wanted to, ever. Then I began struggling with low iron, and started thinking about changing my diet, but part of me felt that I couldn’t start adding meat protein – that I would get no end of hassle for it, from both sides of the debate. Seven years ago, I began running half marathons and I found that I really needed some animal protein in my diet to sustain my energy (I know this isn’t everyone’s situation, that there are some very successful vegan ultra marathoners etc.) but for me, it definitely was the case. So I added grass-fed organic chicken to my diet, and I felt immediately better, had more energy, and wasn’t hungry all the time. Hurrah! Over time, I started including more organic local meat in my diet, and now I eat a balance of whatever foods are good for my specific needs. I still consume a primarily vegetarian diet, with lots of organic plants, seeds, nuts, some local grass fed meat, and I feel great.
There is a lot out there about healthy eating these days: Veganism, vegetarianism, paleo, gluten free, mediterranean… It can all get a bit confusing and overwhelming. It’s fine to experiment with various ways of eating and seeing what works best for your particular needs, but it’s just as important to make sure that these choices don’t become a rigid box you can’t work your way out of. Some high profile raw vegan bloggers recently received death threats (I kid you not) for blogging about their decision to start eating local humanely raised meat. Imagine the courage it took for them to “come out” as no longer vegan! And on the other side, large food corporations are trying to brainwash us into thinking that their new super-refined “gluten free” breads are healthy. What a zoo! How confusing!
Nutritionist Meghan Telpner recently posted a great video discussion about this called “How do I ditch the guilt over changing my diet?”
The challenge, Meghan says, is figuring out what is right for you at this particular time in your life, getting rid of labels altogether and being willing to adjust and revise your choices along the way. Check out her great videoblog about this by clicking here.
Come and hear Meghan Speak! Meghan Telpner will be one of our fabulous keynote presenters at the CARE4YOU conference June 3-4, 2014. Please join us!
I just found out that my book “The Compassion Fatigue Workbook” has made it on the “Ultimate Reading List for Nurses.” Very Cool! I’m not very comfortable with self-promotion but I sort of think of my book as its own entity, rather than an extension of my ego, so congratulations, book!
Public Service Announcements: From time to time, we post events that are occurring in the community that we think may be of interest to our readers. We are not affiliated with these events, but post them as a public service.
Dr Allan Wade: Drops of Longing – An introduction to response-based practice in context
Dr Wade has a fascinating perspective on our use of language as it relates to resistance, violence and trauma and ways to integrate this into our work with clients. Two great days of learning.
February 26-27, 2014
Hincks-Dellcrest Institute, Toronto, On.
For information click here
Natalie Zlodre, MSW, RSW: Level 1 Certificate in Trauma Counselling for Front-Line Workers
Toronto: March-April 2014
Montreal: May 2014
Toronto: June 2014
Click here for more information
Leading Edge Seminars Spring 2014 Series: Toronto – Click here for more information
Dr John Briere: New Developments in the Treatment of Complex Trauma
Many of you know that I am a huge fan of Dr John Briere’s work on Trauma Treatment. His workshops are extremely informative and he’s a riveting presenter.
Monday, June 23rd, 2014
Highland Country Club, London, On.
More information visit www.SOSWorkshops.ca or call 226-268-230
I am currently reading the newly released book “Five days at Memorial” by Pulitzer prize journalist (and a physician herself) Sheri Fink. It is a gripping, chilling and disturbing read. “Five days at Memorial” describes the few days after hurricane Katrina at Memorial hospital in New Orleans, and how staff tried to care for very sick patients with no power or clean water, with only intermittent access to proper elevators to evacuate staff, very little sleep, sporadic and disorganised evacuation plans and only vague support from the outside world. After the flooding receded, rumors began to circulate that several patients had been euthanized, which lead to homicide charges and a grand jury investigation. This book isn’t a condemnation of those health care workers, it’s an account of how a perfect storm happened within the hospital too: The system completely collapsed. The book makes us ask each one of us: What would we have done in their shoes? Are we ready to cope with a natural disaster in our own institutions? If, for one, cannot be 100% sure that I know what my answer would be. Click here for a NY Times review and here for a CBC feature on The Current.
As you may know, CF Solutions is composed of a team of highly skilled, extremely dedicated professional women, all of whom work full time in the helping field in addition to providing training and education sessions for our little company.
At the start of this new year, I asked the CF Solutions associates to share their reflections on the work. Here are some of their words:
From Diana Tikasz, MSW, RSW: “I love a good snowstorm. It invites us to slow down. If we accept the invitation, we are rewarded with inherent stillness, beauty and wonder. It creates an opportunity to pause, reflect, and reconnect. It can be an occasion to reset ourselves and gain perspective as we gaze at each delicate snowflake falling. As we take a second to pause, we create awareness, and with awareness comes choice; the choice of how we wish to experience this moment and how we will step forward through the “storm”. I wish you all the best the season has to offer and the possibility to explore the power of a pause.”
From Rebecca Brown, MSW, RSW: “As I reflect back over this past year, I am once again humbled and in awe of the amazing people I have had the privilege to meet through our connection with Vicarious Trauma and Compassion Fatigue. I have been honoured to be in the presence of helpers and healers from such fields as Victims’ Services, Alzheimer’s Society, Special Education Teachers, Medical Staff, Educational Assistants, Probation Officers, and Camp Counsellors for Children with Cancer. I am left with such a feeling of hope and a better appreciation for the capacity for resilience in people. I am inspired to continue to make our workshops relevant and impactful, and it is with a renewed focus on resilience that I am looking forward to the New Year.”
and from Lori Tomalty-Nusca, RECE, RT.
“I love to do CF training sessions. I always walk away feeling that I have learned something from the audience, as I hear about different workplaces, different ideas and different aspirations to change a small part of life to make balance and self care important (as I feel it should always be). Everyone works so hard to make the lives of our clients/families better, and often we forget to celebrate the small successes that our clients have already made, because we, the helpers helped them along their journey. I especially love it when complete strangers come up to me at the end of a presentation, often with tears in their eyes, saying that they are inspired and are committed to change aspects their lives to make work/life balance better…it really is the best gift!
Happy New Year, and to all a good balance!!!”
For more information about CF Associates, please click here.
Happy New Year dear readers!
To say that I have been incredibly busy during the past six months is pretty much the understatement of 2013. Since July, I have worked with folks from L.A. County Courts, cancer care workers in Bermuda, amazing trauma therapists in New Haven, visited Vancouver three times to present to ObGyns and refugee protection staff (not at the same time…)
I also met staff from the UNHCR, presented at a children’s hospital in San Diego and had incredible learning experiences with fantastic helping professionals at Mount Sinai hospital in Toronto. My wonderful team of associates have also been busy, travelling to Indiana, Newfoundland and also offering a lot of training right here at home in Ontario. We presented on compassion fatigue, secondary and vicarious trauma, self care, conflict, change leadership, and developed a brand new training on rendering bench decisions to refugee claimants.
I also had the chance to co-develop a new workshop with my friend and colleague Leslie Anne Ross, from the Children’s Institute in Los Angeles, called “a Roadmap for Change Agents.” We are firm believers that the best way to promote healthy workplaces is to encourage the emergence of champions in each agency. This was an opportunity to share best practice ideas with folks from various child welfare departments in L.A. County, and encourage them to spread the learning about healthy workplaces.
Yes, it’s been nuts. But it has also been the most professionally rewarding year of my career. I would like to highlight some personal and professional learnings from the past year and see if some of them resonate for you:
There are over 2.2 million Syrian refugees living in camps today, many of them children. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is calling it “probably the most dangerous crisis for global peace and security since World War II.”
This christmas, consider making a donation to the United Nations refugee agency and help the children of Syria.
No need to wait until January to make healthy changes to our eating. Why not start today? Here is the third of a series of four posts on healthy eating/healthy living by Kingston-based nutritionist Jess Sherman. Click here to read the first post in the series and here for post #2.
As we age, we sometimes feel like we are losing our memory. Or that we can’t focus. That we have more difficulty concentrating. We get forgetful, have a general lack of clarity of thought. Sometimes we feel like we are just not as quick or “sharp” as we used to be. We feel fuzzy.
This sort of “brain fog” is often just chalked up to be an inevitable process of aging, but guess what? There are a few things you can do to keep your brain function humming along like it did in the old days.
If you’ve been reading my blog posts you’ll know that I’m trying to convince you that food contributes in a major way to our ability to live full, optimal lives. I explained in an earlier post how food choices that make your blood sugar balance go haywire can darken your mood and turn your brain function to mush. But there are other measures to take for the sake of your brain.
Why does food matter to brain function? For two reasons:
No need to wait until January to make healthy changes to our eating. Why not start today? Here is the second of a series of four posts on healthy eating/healthy living by Kingston-based nutritionist Jess Sherman. Click here to read the first post in the series.
Time saving tips for the real food kitchen… and a recipe
When I started my family six years ago I made a commitment to real food. I had already learned the deep extent to which food affects our mind and our bodies and I committed to teaching my children that real food matters.
But now that I have three kids and am back at work I realize all too clearly that getting food on the table at all, let alone real and home cooked food, can be a challenge. But I’m here to tell you it’s possible, it’s well worth the effort and that are a few tricks I’ve learned along the way to make it easier.
So I have another recipe for you. This one involves a slow cooker. If you have not yet explored the world of slow cooking I highly recommend you give it a go. The slow cooker has changed my life.
This recipe is a meaty one… slow cookers are particularly great for cooking meat. But you can do vegetables, grains and beans in a slow cooker too. Plant-based meals will generally take less time to cook than meat-y ones.
Slow cooked Curry Chicken recipe
5-6 Chicken thighs – boneless and skinless work best, but you can use bone and skin on too, you will just have to fish out the bones and skin after cooking.
2-3 large carrots, chopped
2-3 potatoes (white or sweet), chopped
1/2 a head of cauliflower, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup coconut milk (here’s how I make my own)
1 cup chicken broth (here’s how I make my own)
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp good quality sea or rock salt
1/2 cup chopped apricots, dates, figs or combination
Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 5 hours.
Just before serving mix in 1 cup chopped swiss chard or spinach.
Let me know how it goes!
If you’re making a decision to commit to real food but need a bit of advice, head over to my website and download my book – The SuperNourished Family. It details 5 simple ingredient changes you can make to improve the nutrition of your favorite meals. I wrote it with families in mind, but the tips are useful for anyone wanting to improve their health.
Jess Sherman is a registered nutritionist in the Kingston area. A former teacher and a mother of three, she helps busy parents integrate nourishing food into their lives so that they and their children can live vibrant, energized, productive lives. She has a particular interest in the connection between food, digestion and brain function. You can get more tips, downloads and info about nourishing families at her website: jessherman.com
No need to wait until January to make healthy changes to our eating. Why not start today? We know that December can be very hectic for most of us, trying to juggle all of our family and work demands along with holiday planning and festivities. Here is a recipe from Jess Sherman to help you get started in the mornings.
Jess Sherman is a Kingston-based nutritionist who is sharing four of her top healthy living strategies with us this month. To read last week’s post, click here. Stay tuned for a new post on Monday!
In my last contribution I talked about a simple strategy to keep your brain sharp, your energy up and your sugar cravings down.
The strategy was this: Have a breakfast that combines carbohydrates, healthy fats and a significant amount of protein. Sounds simple, but I know it’s not for many people. Mornings are busy and somehow most of us have fallen into the habit of grabbing for carbohydrate-dense breakfasts like bagels, cereal, muffins and fruit juice. That last post explained why this is not such a good idea. So I wanted to share with you one of my favorite smoothie recipes. It makes for a great get-up-and-go breakfast or a mid day snack.
Get-up-and-go smoothie recipe
- 1 cup coconut milk (here’s how I make my own)
- 3 Tbs hemp seeds
- 3 Tbs chia seeds (if your blender isn’t super powerful, you might want to soak these overnight to soften them)
- 1 small frozen banana
- 1 Tbs pure cocoa powder
- ½ cup greens (chopped romaine, chard, or kale – organic is best if you can afford/find it)
- 1 medjool date
- 1 tsp cinnamon
(for coffee drinkers…a bit of brewed coffee is delish in this one)
Let me know what you think!
For more recipes and information on how to concoct your own breakfast smoothie head over to my website (www.jesssherman.com) and grab the Smoothie Blueprint. It’s a 100% free download.
Jess Sherman is a registered nutritionist in the Kingston area. A former teacher and a mother of three, she helps busy parents integrate nourishing food into their lives so that they and their children can live vibrant, energized, productive lives. She has a particular interest in the connection between food, digestion and brain function. You can get more tips, downloads and info about nourishing families at her website: jesssherman.com