REMEMBERING THE DO-DANG HOURS

When I was young, I had at least one meltdown per week. I’m not talking about my two year old self, who most likely had a temper tantrum daily, but about my teenage self, for I was highly emotional. My mother even made me a needlepoint tiger with the motto, “Leave me alone, I’m having a crisis.” I was a drama queen back in my day. My parents’ eyes rolled so often it’s a wonder they didn’t get dizzy. Their heads’ shaking in wonder most likely brought their brains back on an even keel.

My Spirit Animal

We expect small children to have mood swings, since they don’t have the life experiences to know their hunger pangs aren’t the end of the world as they know it. They also don’t have the self discipline yet to keep calm when they’re tired and fussy. This state of being comes around with regularity every afternoon at about the same time for many children. My family called it the Do-Dang Hour. My daddy would say, “The Do-Dang monster has come to visit,” whenever my daughter changed from her cheerful self into a grumpy, moody, and intractable child. As a young mother, I soon grew attuned to her personality changes and could whip her off to nap time, from which she’d return as her renewed self.

Do-Dang Monster Sighting

I have no idea why the near nap time grumpy behaviors of small children in my family all participated in this genetic trait, but we did, and dang it, we wouldn’t be denied. We also all had mandatory nap periods, which probably saved our lives. As we got older, we had rest periods or quiet times on our beds, and this may have saved our mother’s life.

I didn’t sit still long enough to get my jacket straight.

“When can we get up?” This was a burning question on our eager minds and active bodies.

“When the clock hands match the colors on the face,” mother said, for she’d colored a blue mark on face at 3:00 for my youngest brother, who hadn’t yet learned how to tell time.

If we read our books, chatted quietly, or closed our eyes, we fulfilled our afternoon rest period. Bouncing from bed to bed or racing from room to room wasn’t allowed. This was a quiet time. My parents were disciplined about these things, but this is how they grew up also. My dad also believed children needed sleep to thrive. As a physician, he believed adequate sleep duration on a regular basis for every age led to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health. Today we know a lack of sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression, especially for teens who may experience increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

This is the optimal amount of sleep, including naps, we should get on a regular basis to promote optimal health:

  1. Infants 4 months to 12 months should sleep 12 to 16 hours per 24 hours
  2. Children 1 to 2 years of age should sleep 11 to 14 hours per 24 hours
  3. Children 3 to 5 years of age should sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours
  4. Children 6 to 12 years of age should sleep 9 to 12 hours per 24 hours
  5. Teenagers 13 to 17 years of age should sleep 8 to 10 hours per 24 hours
  6. Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  7. Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  8. Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

As a side note, I was still going to bed at 7 pm in the 7th grade and getting 12 hours of sleep, but all of my classmates went to bed much later. I took a survey of all the people in my classes and discovered about 75% went to bed after 8 pm and the rest later still. My physician father was moved by facts, but not by sentiment. I wanted to have a more adult bedtime than my brothers, who were still in elementary school. Eleven hours of sleep still fell into the optimal window.

Even before this pandemic struck the world, one third of Americans weren’t getting sufficient sleep. We put other things on out priority list as more important, but sleep is foundational. Giving ourselves permission to sleep at night lets our bodies refresh and restore, plus makes us stronger to fight off any illness that comes our way. We can’t “make up for lost sleep” by sleeping more on our days off, since this behavior only throws off our body’s schedule.

Caffeine won’t replace sleep.

In this age of coronavirus, having a structure at home helps to keep our bodies on a schedule. We make a plan for our week, building in free time, rest time, and learning time. We can make our family cooking into math and science projects. We can bake and decorate cookies as art projects. We can read our history stories and make a themed cake or meal for supper. If we’re creative, we can make our learning interdisciplinary and home centered. If we want “extra credit,” we may offer dinner and a show, with a dramatic reading on our day’s studies with the decaf coffee and dessert.

I personally find I’m most creative when I’m at rest and somewhat tired. Then when I’m reading, I lose interest in the black marks of the words on the page and I look at the white spaces in between. In this void, my imagination can travel to far flung places and plumb great depths, none of which I’ve ever before seen. This is how artists dream visions, musicians hear new music, and scientists make intuitive breakthroughs. If our lives are too busy and full, we need a quiet place to bring what’s important into focus.

Mid March Burst of Greens

For me, I’m letting Kroger do my shopping and I’m only going out to pick it up. I forgot to order the decaf coffee, so I guess I’ll have to drink the “hard stuff” this week! I’ll have to be careful how much I swill! And I have green tea, so I won’t lack for a wake up cup. When I went out today, I was so surprised by the beauty of the clear blue sky, the various greens, the purple wisteria, and the bright yellow and red wildflowers along the highway. I would have driven around just to sight see, except I had items needing refrigeration as soon as possible. Also, I overslept and needed some coffee, so home I went.

To keep you from melting down into your very own Do-Dang Hour—we adults call it Hangry now—I’m appending some Self-care Strategies for the Age of COVID-19:

  • Relinquish control
  • Revisit your personal history to find memories of joy and success
  • Establish realistic expectations for this experience
  • Give yourself a brain break
  • Unplug from the noise
  • Find a state of flow
  • Your body matters, so care for it tenderly
  • Pay it forward, by doing for others also
  • Find your tribe

We can make it through this time of Social Distancing. The Great Depression lasted 43 months. Surely we can last for a few months. We can rise to this moment in time, but we first have to realize we’re in a new reality. If life isn’t the way it used to be, we’ll need to live the best life we can in the world the way it is, as we try to bring about a better world for all people. We can do this together, for together we are stronger than we are alone. Find your tribe, find your purpose, do good for others, and share the love.

Remember this word from the Letter to the Hebrews (13:6):
So we can say with confidence,
“The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?”

Sending you Joy and Peace,

Cornelia

The American Academy of Pediatrics Supports Childhood Sleep Guidelines—

https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Supports-Childhood-Sleep-Guidelines.aspx

National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times—

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

Help Guides for a Better Night’s Sleep—

Sleep Needs

Exercise and Depression

Exercise is good for the body for many reasons:

1. Better moods make us easier to live with (even if we live alone)

2. Our blood sugar is more stable (insulin levels)

3. Less inflammation (reducing the fat cells responsible for producing it)

4. Lungs carry more oxygen to the brain for clarity of thought

5. Great stress reliever

6. Weight loss

7. Boosts immunity

8. Better sleep

9. Better heart health and blood pressure

10. Positive body image

With all these bonuses from exercise, unfortunately depression often keeps people from exercising. Having symptoms of depression is associated with reduced physical activity in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study carried out by the University of Leicester.

Speaking from personal experience, as one who’s dealt with depression for half a century, when I was foolhardy and thought I was “healed,” I went off my medication. When the depressive symptoms came back, just getting out of bed was a chore, much less going for a walk. Sweeping my galley kitchen floor, all 3 X 8 feet of it was a Herculean feat.

I was glad I had an understanding boss who said, “Get Help,” for I wasn’t much good at work either. As I recall, I even told my little girl the Easter Bunny wasn’t real, because I had no energy to dye or hide the eggs. If you’re anywhere near experiencing these symptoms, this is depression. Call your doctor. Get help. There’s a life of joy beyond this! It takes time, but the cloud can lift.

Stanczyk the Jester by Jan Matejko

Physical activity is a key lifestyle change recommended for persons with metabolic syndrome and those with type 2 diabetes. Depression is relatively common in people with type 2 diabetes and people with depression often have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

1. Managing diabetes can be stressful and lead to symptoms of depression.

2. Diabetes can cause complications and health problems that may worsen symptoms of depression.

3. Depression can lead to poor lifestyle decisions, such as unhealthy eating, less exercise, smoking and weight gain — all of which are risk factors for diabetes.

4. Depression affects your ability to perform tasks, communicate and think clearly. This can interfere with your ability to successfully manage diabetes.

The researchers reviewed data from two studies; the Walking Away from Type 2 Diabetes study and the Let’s Prevent Type 2 Diabetes study. The analysis included a total of over 1,100 participants. They looked at the effects of depression symptoms on the amount of physical act people with type 2 diabetes take, using steps as the basis. Over a three year study, the trials compared people who underwent specific interventions, to increase the number of steps per day they take, with people who did not undertake this intervention.

The results showed that participants showing no symptoms of depression at the start of the study increased the number of steps per day they took by 592 steps when following the physical activity intervention.

The researchers grouped the participants into whether they had symptoms of depression or not. 11% of the participants showed mild to severe depression at the start of the study period. The researchers used a score system to grade the level of symptoms of depression and found that, for each one-point increase in level of depression at the start of the study, 88 fewer steps per day were taken as part of the intervention.

The research team also looked at how an increase in the depressive score over time affected the number of steps taken per day. The findings showed that each one-point increase in depression score, through the study period, was linked with 99 fewer steps taken per day.

The study findings suggest that interventions to reduce the burden of depression might help to increase the success of physical activity interventions. This would need to be confirmed with studies to specifically test such an intervention.

In summary, exercise alone cannot lift depression. A better diet alone won’t lift depression. Getting rid of a spouse, a job, or anything else also won’t make you happy either. Why? Depression is an illness and it needs to be treated. While lifestyle changes make the treatment more likely to be effective without adjustment for a longer period of time, some people have familial tendencies to chronic depression, rather than brief spells due to a grief event.

We can all benefit from increased exercise. If you’re having difficulty thinking about adding 1,000 extra steps to your day, you could set an alarm on your stove or your phone for every hour. If you walk around for 5 minutes to get a coffee, check the mail, or go look out the window, you’ll add a few steps to your day without bother. Plus, you won’t sit for eight hours straight, which is hardly good for your health.

We can all do better. I’m working my way back from only 3,000 daily steps of general slothfulness, due to chronic sinusitis brought on by a black mold infestation from a leak in my home. It’s cured now, I’m cured also, and I’m in training once again for the 5K walk in my home town. I’ll probably finish last, but at least I’m walking. I hope to best last year’s time, but if I don’t, I still get a medal! How great is that? Plus I get health benefits out the wazoo!

I know you can make some small daily improvement also. It doesn’t need to be much. Start low and go slow, if you haven’t been on the exercise train for a while. If 5 minutes extra is too much, cut that in half for the morning, but do the other half in the afternoon. Build your strength over time, rather than pouring it all out at once. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and we won’t become lean, mean, fighting machines overnight. As I tell folks, “I built my full, mature, womanly figure over a lifetime.” I have no delusions or illusions about recovering my slim, girlish self. Keep your goals real, and make your changes over time. We all are in this together.

Joy, Peace, and Love,

Cornie

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2019/oct/depression-could-affect-activity-levels-in-type-2-diabetes,-study-suggests-95926664.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes-and-depression/faq-20057904

Killing Me Softly with Fast Food

Picasso: The Blue Guitarist

Strumming my pain with his fingers

Singing my life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

Killing me softly with his song

Telling my whole life with his words

Killing me softly with his song

These are the opening lines of “Killing Me Softly,” a song by Roberta Flack, written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, from back in the 1970’s. Other artists have covered it since, but this is the one I remember best. The ancient British poet William Congreve wrote in a play, The Mourning Bride, in 1697, a saying oft misquoted:

Musick has Charms to sooth a savage Breast,

To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak.

I’ve read, that things inanimate have mov’d,

And, as with living Souls, have been inform’d,

By Magick Numbers and persuasive Sound.

Today we say “Music has charms to soothe a savage beast,” but we no longer think of ourselves as people needing soothing, yet we’re also a society who have high levels of use of alcohol, drug use, and other substance abuse. Much of this activity is a means to dull our pain or calm our inner emotional states so we can interact with others and not cause “a scene.” Unfortunately, when we may use a small amount of any substance at first to make this change, we then discover we need more of the same stuff to cause the same outcome. Then the real drama begins.

After a hard day at work, we face a difficult commute home, a big pile or four of laundry, and a whole family screaming the moment we hit the door, “I’m hungry! What’s for dinner? I could eat a horse! I can’t wait!” And we remember Mr. Crockpot was too sleepy to roll out of bed and get the veggies chopped and get himself plugged in. We might have to fire him or get him an alarm that he can hear in the morning. As we secure our seatbelt for the crawl home, we notice how many fast food joints line our route: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, not to mention Taco Bell.

Don’t Judge Me!

As an Arkansan, I can relate to this recent study: If you pass by many fast-food outlets on your daily commute, weight gain might be the result, new research shows. People tempted by more fast-food restaurants going to and from work tended to have a higher BMI (body mass index) than people who didn’t. The study involved more than 700 female elementary school employees living in and around New Orleans.

The investigators also found an association between higher BMI and a larger number of supermarkets, grocery stores and fast-food restaurants clustered near people’s homes. Conversely, having a greater number of full-service, sit-down restaurants near your home was associated with a lower BMI, according to the team led by Arizona State University researcher Adriana Dornelles.

The study couldn’t prove cause and effect, but it found “a significant relationship between BMI and multiple food environments,” Dornelles said in a university news release. “In our daily lives, we are exposed to several healthy and unhealthy food choices, which has an impact on BMI. The availability and variety of fast-food restaurants along our commute create endless opportunities for a quick, cheap and unhealthy meal, which results, on average, in higher body mass index,” she said.

In the study, Dornelles’ team tracked the number of supermarkets, grocery stores, full-service restaurants and fast-food restaurants within about a half a mile of the employees’ homes and workplaces.

So much for my summer—Starbucks, since I’m doing home repairs

The researchers also pinpointed the number and type of food stores within a half a mile of the shortest-distance commute path between each employee’s home and workplace. BMI tended to rise along with the number of fast-food outlets and other food sources around a person’s home or on their commute, according to the study published online Aug. 7 in the journal PLOS One.

Two experts in nutrition and weight management weren’t surprised by the findings. The “takeaway” from the study is that, “the larger the number of these [food] establishments, the greater the BMI of the population of the people who live or commute in this area,” said Katrina Hartog, clinical nutrition manager at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Michelle Milgrim is manager of employee wellness at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y. She said the new findings should remind people of the pull fast-food has on nutrition choices made every day.

Odysseus and the Sirens

Several ways we can avoid the “siren call of fast food satisfaction” are

1. Change your route home so you don’t see these tempting food cues.

2. Bring a healthy snack from home to eat before you leave for home or go to the grocery store.

3. Practice meal preparation so you have vegetables to microwave, and small portions of precooked meats to reheat.

4. If the kids are hungry, serve dinner in four courses: vegetables, starches, protein, and desserts. Let them share stories from their day as you bring the rest of the meal, but no media at the table.

5. If you eat and cook for one, have some carrots and hummus with a large glass of iced tea. Rest on the couch with your feet up. Then get your meal together, using #3 or #4.

6. Remember, there’s no commandment against eating dessert first, just not the whole pie.

When we’re stressed for time, trying to please others, and attempting to do 37 hours of work in a 24 hour day, we sometimes feel like we’re burning the candle at both ends and the middle both. If we listen to the horrifying events of the news of the world, we wonder how some people can do such terrible acts that cause such harm and come from a deep well of hate. This causes us to feel distressed and anxious, which isn’t pleasant. We don’t sleep well, we’re irritable, and we aren’t the happy campers we think we should be. This causes an existential pain, so we seek relief. Some of us choose talk therapy, exercise, and medications if we have a diagnosed need. Too many of us, however, choose mood altering substances instead. Some of these, such as alcohol and food, are legal, but can be used to excess inappropriately. Others are illegal and problematic from the outset.

No matter what substance we choose to relieve our inner pain, most of us suffer and use substances to relieve one or more of the following issues:

1.Relieve stress—Relying on a substance, which first produces feelings of pleasure, to reduce daily life stressors can impact the likelihood of developing an addiction,. However, frequent use builds tolerance, requiring you to consume more in order to achieve the same effects.

2.Feel good—Consuming a mind altering substance can provide some people a break from reality. It offers a sense of relief from underlying issues your mind may be trying to escape from. However, continual use to get through the day or week can turn into a serious problem.

3.Cope with loss—Losing a family member or friend can take a toll on you emotionally, physically and mentally. A substance, even food, can ease the grief you are feeling and is used to get through difficult times. Depending on it, even temporarily, can spiral into a serious problem.

4.Overcome anxiety—Some people are naturally anxious, causing them to perpetually worry. Using substances that raise endorphins or lower an individual’s inhibitions can make them more comfortable in social situations. Over time though, this can lead to addictive behaviors.

5.Lack of Connection—Many people use because they don’t feel adequately connected to others. They believe that the substance will either fill the void or possibly make it easier for them to forge new bonds. However, the opposite typically ends up being true.

6.Shame—Shame is one of the most difficult emotions for many to cope with, and it is also one of the most traumatic. While alcohol or drugs can temporarily mask shame with false feelings, it also causes many individuals to engage in reckless or foolish behaviors that can later cause them to feel even greater shame, which can cause a downward spiral.

7.Trauma—Treatment experts are seeing some type of trauma in virtually every patient that they treat. There are many forms of trauma, but they are all painful events, in which the victim didn’t have an empathetic witness. For many, treating unresolved trauma is the key to their recovery.

Summary of Hope

If we can recognize a problem, we can take steps to solve it. Sometimes we try to bury our feelings instead of dealing with them. After all, if we can drive through a fast food provider, we can get a tasty treat. We’d like for our problems to be solved just as quickly. Our problems are more complicated than a Big Mac or a Cinnabon—they’re often passed down from generation to generation. We need time, prayer, reflection, and self compassion to rebuild a new, more positive self image.

We are always a people of hope! We have help from a positive community who’ll help our goals come to pass. Ask for help from a caregiver, rather than a second helping of dessert or another round of drinks. Our new life can begin as soon as we want it to.

Joy and Peace, Cornie

More information:

Risk Factors for Health Associated With Obesity

Along with being overweight or obese, the following conditions will put you at greater risk for heart disease and other conditions. Also, a person can have weight appropriate for their height and build, but still have these risk factors due to a poor diet or family history/genetics.

• High blood pressure (hypertension)

• High LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)

• Low HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)

• High triglycerides

• High blood glucose (sugar)

• Family history of premature heart disease

• Physical inactivity

• Cigarette smoking

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on weight and health. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/risk.htm

Moderate alcohol use for healthy adults:

Women of all ages and men older than age 65—one drink a day

Men age 65 and younger—up to two drinks a day

Examples of one drink include: Beer: 12 fluid ounces (355 milliliters)

Wine: 5 fluid ounces (148 milliliters)

Ten percent of Americans consume an average of 10 drinks daily

Ten percent of Americans consume an average of 2.2 drinks daily

Thirty percent of Americans consume no alcohol at all.

Weekly Alcohol Use in America

SOURCES:

Michelle Milgrim, R.D., manager, employee wellness, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, N.Y.; Katrina Hartog, M.P.H., R.D., clinical nutrition manager, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Arizona State University, news release, Aug. 7, 2019

https://consumer.healthday.com/vitamins-and-nutrition-information-27/obesity-health-news-505/fast-food-joints-on-your-way-to-work-your-waistline-may-widen-748957.html

OH REALLY? But is this a HEALTHY idea?

The angel debates the devil

Scientists say “Eating dark chocolate may reduce depression risk.”

I’m all over this idea! My first question is, “How much chocolate and how often?” Then I listen to the better angel on my other shoulder, who whispers, “You know the cinnamon and blood sugar connection? A sprinkle of cinnamon doesn’t move your sugar in the right direction. It takes large amounts—like a horse pill’s worth!”

That horse pill is 1 gram of cinnamon, which if taken for 30 or 60 days in a controlled double blind trial, still had no effect on blood sugar for persons with type II diabetes. Other studies using 2 grams of cinnamon per day did lower blood sugar. Cinnamon used as a food ingredient, sprinkle, or taste enhancer is generally regarded as safe to use, but it doesn’t lower blood sugar. I still sprinkle my Greek yogurt and fruit with cinnamon every morning, but that’s because I like the taste.

Greek yogurt with cocoa and cinnamon

If you want to begin taking cassia cinnamon supplements, talk to your physician if you have liver disease, diabetes, or you’re pregnant. Cassia cinnamon has the potential to interact with a variety of different medications, including those used to control diabetes.

I can hold out for a magic potion and keep the fanciful notion of one simple pill to cure my ills, or I can accept diabetes and metabolic syndrome as complex conditions that are affected by my genetics, the food I eat, the quality of my sleep, my life stressors, and even the exercise I get daily. In truth, I do want a magic potion, but I’d really like magic Twinkie dust: why can’t my condition just be wiped away? I need a fairy godmother, one who’ll bring the dark chocolate in buckets when she comes to visit.

Magic Chocolate Cupcakes

As a personal experiment, I’ve tried Twinkie Dust in the form of chocolate cupcakes. When I was in grad school, I can attest if an afternoon Hostess Chocolate Cupcake made me happy, having one for breakfast and dinner made me really happy, or at least it did for several days. After five days, the thought of another chocolate iced cupcake with cream filling inside began to make my stomach churn and my lip curl. After choking down one small cake for breakfast, and looking inside the box to count the number still left, I wondered if I’d gotten my money’s worth. That is, could I toss these ever expanding treats in the trash and not feel bad? My frugal angel was debating with my don’t waste food angel. My frugal angel won—I kept hearing my parents saying, “people are starving in China.”

I’m happy, how ‘bout you?

A recent study at the Nutrition Resource Center claims individuals who ate dark chocolate appeared less likely to exhibit clinically relevant depressive symptoms, according to findings recently published in Depression & Anxiety.

“Previous studies have not adequately controlled for variables that may potentially confound the association between chocolate and depression, such as socioeconomic status. Moreover, previous studies have not examined the association with depression according to the type of chocolate consumed,” Sarah E. Jackson, PhD, CPsychol, of the department of behavioral science and health at University College London, and colleagues wrote.

They reviewed National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2007 to 2008 and 2013 to 2014 and Public Health Questionnaire-9 scores from 13,626 adults 20 years of age and older to fill in this research gap.

Chocolate helps elevate the mood

Jackson and colleagues found that 11.1% of those that were studied reported eating any type of chocolate and that 1.4% reported consuming dark chocolate.

“Individuals who reported any dark chocolate consumption had 70% lower odds of reporting clinically relevant depressive symptoms than those who did not report any chocolate consumption.”

In addition, analysis showed that after adjusting for dark chocolate consumption, those who reported eating the most chocolate — between 104 g (3.67 ounces) and 454 g (16 ounces) a day — had 57% lower odds of depressive symptoms than those who reported no chocolate consumption.

When I read this statement of how much dark chocolate the 1.4% (191) of the 13,626 adults studied were consuming, my first thought was, “How much chocolate does the average American eat per year?” After all, 4 ounces seems high, but a pound of chocolate is humongous.

Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, or over 11 pounds per person, or 14.67 ounces per month. The Swiss, the world’s top consumers, eat 8.8 kilograms of chocolate each year (19.4 pounds).

Death by Chocolate

This amount of chocolate the small group of super consumers in the aforementioned study eats is (slightly less than) 4 ounces to 16 ounces daily. A normal serving of chocolate is 28 grams or 1 oz.

Fortunately, the median lethal dose for humans is 1000 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. That means that an 80 kg (176 pounds) human would have to eat 5.7 kg (12.6 pounds) of unsweetened dark chocolate at one sitting for it to kill them (going by a theobromine content of 14 milligrams per gram of dark chocolate, although it varies).

Two day Survey

Another fact was the researchers only recorded for this study the participants’ food intake for two 24-hour periods. It’s easy to argue that this might not reflect someone’s standard food intake over a week, let alone across months or years.

I wonder if some yahoos in the group were goofing with the information: “You want to know what I eat?! Ha! How bout a pound of chocolate!” Of course, not one of Cornie’s Kitchen peeps would ever do any such silly or sophomoric thing in a scientific study. Of course you wouldn’t!

Chocolate as a Mood Booster

Chocolate is a Mood Booster

“The present results are in line with the majority of experimental studies, which have shown benefits of chocolate consumption for mood, at least in the short-term,” said the researchers.

Individuals who ate dark chocolate appeared less likely to exhibit clinically relevant depressive symptoms, according to findings recently published in Depression & Anxiety.

Of course, it’s also not realistic to make a 1% sample represent the masses. After all, if this were true in real life, we common folks would all vacation at Martha’s Vineyard and the Hampton’s, rather than camping on Lake Hamilton or in our backyards.

Benefits of cocoa

Antioxidant effects of cocoa may directly influence insulin resistance and, in turn, reduce risk for diabetes. Cocoa can protect nerves from injury and inflammation, protect the skin from oxidative damage from UV radiation in topical preparations, and have beneficial effects on satiety, cognitive function, and mood.

As cocoa is predominantly consumed as energy-dense chocolate, potential detrimental effects of overconsumption exist, including increased risk of weight gain. Overall, research to date suggests that the benefits of moderate cocoa or dark chocolate consumption likely outweigh the risks.

Where else can you find flavanols?

Dark chocolate and cocoa are not the only foods that contain flavanols. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in flavanols, including apples, red grapes, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, beans, kale, and onions.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a healthy diet is typically one that is high in fruits and vegetables and, as a result, high in flavanol content as well. However, studies examining the relationship between specific fruits and vegetables, dietary flavanol consumption, and brain function have not yet been performed.

Overall Wellness Recommendations

Remember, not all chocolate is the same. Dark chocolate and cocoa have high flavanol levels, while milk chocolate and white chocolate have much lower levels. In addition, many types of chocolate are high in sugar, fats, and calories. So, even if dark chocolate turns out to be good for the brain, it’s unlikely that doctors will recommend a Godiva bar a day.

As for preventive measures, the best recommendations are those your doctor would make anyway, such as regular exercise, choosing a healthy diet, maintaining a normal blood pressure, not smoking, and drinking only in moderation.

Tim Allen School of Personal Experience

Also, from the Tim Allen school of personal experience, I can guarantee an occasional cupcake is preferred to a dozen per week, or even a daily cupcake. The same goes for chocolate! I get my fix from 5 grams of cocoa stirred into my yogurt in the morning. Moreover, when we read these scientific studies, we can dig a little deeper to see if we should get excited about their conclusions or if they seem a tad exuberant for the results.

If you have feelings of hopelessness, a sadness that doesn’t go away, or difficulties with daily life or relationships, ask for a referral to a counselor from your family doctor. Talking about your feelings is better than keeping them bottled up inside.

NOTES:

Dark Chocolate and Depression

https://www.healio.com/family-medicine/nutrition-and-fitness/news/online/%7Bbe1d2457-ae6f-41a1-9d8d-c5636a7a0016%7D/eating-dark-chocolate-may-reduce-depression-risk

Chocolate

Hasanzade, Farzaneh et al. “The Effect of Cinnamon on Glucose of Type II Diabetes Patients.” Journal of traditional and complementary medicine vol. 3,3 (2013): 171-4. doi:10.4103/2225-4110.11490

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924990/

Death by Chocolate

https://lostinscience.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/death-by-chocolate/

Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/

Is there a link between dark chocolate and depression?

Tim Newman

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325944.php

Your brain on chocolate

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/your-brain-on-chocolate-2017081612179

Mother’s Day Leftovers

For Mother’s Day I had leftover cauliflower egg casserole. Leftovers are a mother thing, I suppose. When I was young, my brothers and I would cook our Mother a breakfast of sorts on Sunday morning. Daddy would have brought her coffee in bed, while we three messed up the kitchen making pancakes or scrambled eggs. Of course, she accepted our tribute with a gracious smile and ate it all, no matter what it actually tasted like.

Cauliflower Egg and Cheese Casserole

I’m not sure our measurements were as exact as hers. If my own young daughter’s use of salt for baking powder in a recipe is an example of thinking “they’re both white so they should act the same,” we might have mixed up our chemistry in the old kitchen back in the day also. At least we didn’t set the stove on fire, but our parents trusted us to cook unattended at an open flame even when I was ten, and my brothers were 8 and 5 years old. We’d been supervised much earlier, and “watched like a hawk” in that apprenticeship time, so if Dad strolled into the kitchen for refills, he could tell at a glance if we were on task or about to burn the house down.

I remember my Mother always ate the heel of the bread and took the last serving of any dish at the table. She let us have the choice of the best parts and took what was leftover. I once asked her about her willingness to be last, when the rest of us were falling all over each other to be first. She said, “This is my calling. This is what I do.” I think she sometimes felt unappreciated for this gift of humbleness, for when she was frayed down to her last strand, she’d swear “I’ll get more than one star in my crown when I get to heaven! I’ll shine so bright, I’ll be a whole constellation!”

We’d laugh and hug her, and Daddy would tell her she was still the best little mama ever, and she’d calm down again. Sometimes we don’t appreciate those who do the most for us, until they can’t do any more. We load up on a few good workers at the job site, but don’t train the rest to grow into those positions of responsibility. When these retire or move on, we are left bereft. Some bosses take on all their workers’ duties and then wonder why their help doesn’t do much. If we want to raise up responsible adults, we have to raise responsible young people. We get responsible young people by letting children learn to take small challenges according to their age and capabilities.

I know THEY say never make an untested dish for a party. That just takes the adventure and excitement out of the equation. This recipe was a little more complicated than my usual because I made it for a potluck at my condo this weekend. I used my imagination and prior experience to visualize the outcome. If you can’t taste and smell the recipe before you cook it, you need to keep looking for a recipe that excites and activates your senses.

Cauliflower Cake—cheese, egg, veggies casserole
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
• 1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1 1/4-inch florets (about 4 cups)
• 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
• 1 medium red onion
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
• Melted unsalted butter, for brushing
• 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
• 1 teaspoon nigella (also known as black caraway), cumin, or black sesame seeds
• 7 large eggs
• 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (1/4 C dried basil)
• 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan or aged cheese
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
• Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Meanwhile, prepare the cake.
2. PAN BOILED CAULIFLOWER—Place the cauliflower florets and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and simmer over medium-high heat until the florets are quite soft, about 15 minutes. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
3. ALTERNATIVE COOKING PROCESS—cut cauliflower into 1 inch pieces. Put into baking dish sprayed with Pam. Microwave on high for 3 minutes or until tender.
4. Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch, off one end of the onion and set aside. Dice the rest of the onion and place in a small frying pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
5. Meanwhile, line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and other seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. (If you don’t have this pan, use regular pan lined with parchment paper, pan well sprayed with Pam, or make in muffin pan.)
6. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add the eggs and basil and whisk well to combine. Add the cheese, flour, baking powder, turmeric, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth. Add the cauliflower and stir gently, trying not to break up the florets.
7. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Bake until golden brown and set, about 45 minutes. A knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Let cool at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes
Turmeric: substitute curry if you don’t have turmeric.

Baking pan options: If you don’t have a springform pan, you can just use a regular 9-inch cake pan or even an 8-inch square pan, but still line with parchment paper first. Or, just spray well with Pam. There’s enough oil in the recipe and cheese to keep the whole from sticking.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

RABBIT! RABBIT! WELCOME TO MAY!

“April showers bring May flowers,” the old weather wisdom says. In these modern days, more rain might water our May flowers. Here in Hot Springs, thoroughbred horses ran the $1 million Arkansas Derby before a rain-drenched crowd of 45,000 at Oaklawn. Folks did not wear their fancy hats, as in the past. The infield crowd was finely turned out in rain ponchos, rain coats, and golf umbrellas instead. The winning horse, Omaha Beach, returned to Hot Springs from his California base, to handle a muddy track and to post an impressive victory nonetheless.

FANCY HAT FOR A LADY BUNNY

The Kentucky Derby kicks off the month of May on Saturday, the 4th. You don’t have to attend the festivities, but if you’d like to wear a fancy hat and drink a mint julep, the traditional recipe is to make a simple syrup by boiling 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Remove from heat. Add 1 1/2 cups whole, clean, fresh mint leaves to hot liquid and let cool to room temperature. Pour liquid into covered container. It will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.

When you get in the party mood, take a mint julep glass, add 1 scant ounce minted simple syrup, 2 cups crushed ice, and 2 ounces good bourbon. Then stir well. Add crushed ice to fill glass. Use a fresh mint sprig, for garnish. Some rub mint leaves over the rim of the glass to express the taste of mint oils for an extra zing. This drink is 218 calories and 27 grams of carbohydrates as made. Two of these would be a good limit for women, and 3 for men, since they are highly alcoholic in content. For people limiting carbohydrates, these would represent a large snack or a whole meal.

An alternative recipe for Mint Juleps uses Splenda or stevia. For each glass use 1/2 teaspoon Sucralose Based Sweetener or Sugar Substitute. Add 1 tsp Tap Water and dissolve. Add 6 leaves Peppermint (Mint). Crush the mint lightly with the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill glass with crushed ice. When frost forms on the glass, slowly pour in 2 fl oz (no ice) Bourbon. Stir. Garnish with a mint sprig. This has no carbohydrates and 141 calories, from the bourbon only.

On the same day, you may be more inclined to other cult traditions of the more modern cinema sort. If so, haul out your Star Wars light sabres and dust off your best lines from the eight installments of this long running saga. You might want to drink Luke Skywalker’s Blue Milk on this day and greet all you meet with a cheery, “May the Force be with you!” Bonus points if you grocery shop in costume.

May the Fourth be with you!

Blue Milk Ingredients:
• 1 cup low-fat milk
• ½ cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
• Natural plant-based blue food coloring (optional)
• 2 teaspoons unrefined sugar or non nutritive sweetener
• 3-4 ice cubes (optional) for thickness
Directions:
Step 1: Place all ingredients in a blender; process until smooth
Step 2: Pour into two glasses and drink immediately while cold

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862. The 5th of May is a good day to add black beans and brown rice with avocados to your dinner menu. Mexican food is more than tacos on Tuesday, since it’s a seasoning or taste experience. Salsa comes in varieties as well as heat.

This holiday has its roots in America dating from our great Civil War, when France entered the conflict to create a Mexican state friendly to the confederacy, as well as to recoup Mexico’s debt to France. It’s a reminder for us today that even a century and a half ago, countries exercised global influence to gain world power and obligations.

“By the time [Latinos in California] heard about the news of the battle, they began to raise money for the Mexican troops and they formed a really important network of patriotic organizations,” says Jose Alamillo, a professor of Chicano studies at California State University Channel Islands. “They had to kind of make the case for fighting for freedom and democracy and they were able to link the struggle of Mexico to the struggle of the Civil War, so there were simultaneous fights for democracy.”

As the Confederacy collapsed, U.S. leaders were able to shift resources to resisting French intervention in Mexico and to deploy troops along the Texas-Mexico border. U.S. pressure, combined with Mexican resentment and military success against Emperor Maximilian ultimately compelled French Emperor Napoleon III to end his imperial venture in Mexico.

On the 5th at sundown, Ramadan begins. It’s the holiest month of the year for Muslims, who’ll fast from food and drink during the sunlit hours as a means of learning self-control, gratitude, and compassion for those less fortunate. If health or age make this discipline unwise, a person can limit the hours of the fast or can feed a poor person each day instead. Work days are shortened during this time and traffic is monitored more carefully, since hunger and dehydration reduce performance.

The ultimate goal of fasting is gaining greater God-consciousness, in Arabic, taqwa, signifying a state of constant awareness of God. From this awareness a person should gain discipline, self-restraint and a greater incentive to do good and avoid wrong.  In commemoration of the revelation of the Qur’an, Muslim’s holy book, which began during the month of Ramadan, Muslims attempt to read the entire book during Ramadan and gather nightly at mosques to hold special prayers during which the entire Qur’an is recited by the end of the month.

Most religions have a tradition of fasting to come closer to god and to depend less on material substances. In the dieting and health world, intermittent fasting is one of the latest fads to take hold. This ranges from a 12 hour window (7-7), which sounds like normal eating, to a 6 hour window (12 noon-6 pm), which would leave me hangry as all get out, due to hypoglycemia issues. I eat every 2 or 3 hours, but divide up my calories so I don’t overeat during the day. This is a discipline all unto itself, since I have to plan, shop, and cook. The days I have to take snacks out for away trips also involve planning.

Some people treat these diet plans like a religion. They are zealous for their weight loss journey and share it with everyone. Every body is different, so what works for one may not work for another.

What happens if you fast all day and then eat a meal? Muslims have learned to have a small, sweet snack of dates first, and then a light meal, but nothing heavy or fried. After dinner and fellowship, sleep, and early rising before sunrise to eat another meal. This is the month of Ramadan for the faithful.

On the May 11, we can Eat What We Want, and I’ll have chocolate, thank you. Remember to treat your Mother right on Mothers’ Day, or remember her blessed name.

By the end of the month, we’ll be ready to Carry a Towel on May 25, in honor of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This book/movie is a lighthearted romp through the space time continuum, complete with initial disasters and intermediary mayhem before finally providing the answer to all of life’s questions, which is 42.

If we survive this, we’ll drag out the grill and cook us some good old burgers to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend, or as our modern world calls it, the first weekend of summer vacation. This holiday began as an effort to bind up the wounds of a battered nation. First called Decoration Day, then Memorial Day, loved ones honored the graves of America’s bloodiest war ever. Today we honor all warriors who died in the service of their country as we shoot off a bunch of fireworks and burn some burgers on the grill for the start of the summer holidays. A century and a half has dulled some memories, but not all. We still have reconciliation work to be done and wounds to heal, not to mention a lost cause to put to rest.

Speaking of conflicts, many hold claim to the hamburger. One of the most colorful is Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin. At the age of 15, he sold meatballs from his ox-drawn food stand at the Outagamie County Fair. Business wasn’t good and he quickly realized it was because meatballs were too difficult to eat while strolling around the fair.  In a flash of innovation, he flattened the meatballs, placed them between two slices of bread and called his new creation a hamburger.  He was known to many as “Hamburger Charlie.”  He returned to sell hamburgers at the fair every year until his death in 1951, and he would entertain people with guitar and mouth organ and his jingle:

Hamburgers, hamburgers, hamburgers hot;
onions in the middle, pickle on top.
Makes your lips go flippity flop.

I would most likely buy a burger from Hamburger Charlie, just for the entertainment value. I hope you enjoy the Month of May—we get 31 days of fun, food, and foolishness, so how can that be bad?

Joy and Peace, Cornie

SPECIAL DAYS IN MAY 2019
4—Kentucky Derby Day—Hats and Mint Juleps
4—Star Wars Day—May the fourth be with you!
5—Cinco de Mayo—An American holiday to celebrate Mexican culture
5—Ramadan begins at sunset
11—Eat What You Want Day
12—Mothers’ Day
25—Carry a Towel Day/read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for bonus points
27—Memorial Day Observance celebrations
28—National Hamburger Day
31—Memorial Day celebration

$1,000 Mint Juleps for Charity at the Kentucky Derby
https://www.courier-journal.com/story/entertainment/events/kentucky-derby/festival/2019/04/10/1-000-woodford-reserve-mint-julep-ingredients-age-churchill-downs-for-kentucky-derby/3244985002/

Ramadan in the UAE
https://www.thenational.ae/uae/ramadan-2019-faqs-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-holy-month-in-the-uae-1.853719

Ramadan in the USA

Ramadan Information Sheet

IS COGNITIVE DECLINE INEVITABLE?

My mind goes often to this non planet

If I knew where my mind was, I’d be able to find it. 
My mind goes to Pluto at the drop of a hat. 
What did I come into this room to get?
And where did I park my car?

As we age, we lose brain cells. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. My mother claimed we kids were responsible for the early grey in her hair and its white was the result of the loss of brain cells, which she attributed to our wild ways driving her crazy. Neurons in the brain do die every day, but the brain grows new ones into a person’s seventies. 

Previous research suggests cognitive decline doesn’t begin before the age of 60, but this view isn’t universally accepted by scientists, much less the common public. We all have met people who’ve quit growing intellectually in their 30’s, while some have flexible minds and continue to learn new ideas and adjust their previously held thoughts when new information is presented. Some people’s capacity for memory, reasoning and comprehension skills (cognitive function) can start to deteriorate from age 45. 

Happy Birthday—Don’t return the favor.

This is why 40 was once considered “over the hill,” but folks today think of 50 as that apex. When my brother decorated my desk with dead plants and black balloons for my 40th birthday, I’m sure he meant it with tongue in cheek. However he might have been also alluding to my well known “space ranger” wandering mind. I don’t think I had cognitive decline; rather mine was more imaginative daydreaming, also known as “not paying attention.”

When I was 60, I watched a program on dementia and cognitive decline. The difference between forgetfulness and cognitive decline is the first happens occasionally and the latter affects your daily living negatively. On my recent vacation I forgot to bring toothpaste. I bought a tube at the grocery store. Cognitive decline is when you forget how to brush your teeth, you get cavities, and don’t make dentist appointments anymore. Then you lose the teeth and get dentures. Most likely someone also has to remind you to use the bubble cleaner on them and rinse them before they go in your mouth again. 
Since understanding cognitive aging will be one of the challenges of this century, especially as life expectancy continues to rise, we have to ask, what can we do to for our whole health? 

As easy as popping a pill sounds, a large recent review of studies found no solid evidence that vitamin and mineral supplements have any effect in preventing cognitive decline or dementia. The whole internet is full of health claims for this and that supplement, drink, bar, or detox tonic. While B vitamins; beta carotene; vitamins C, D or E; zinc, copper or selenium may be needed in your diet for other reasons, none of these have proved effective in preventing cognitive decline. 

How can you prevent cognitive decline? Try this combination strategy:
Four steps can improve your mental skills, even as you age—
1. following a healthy diet, 
2. getting regular exercise, 
3. socializing, and 
4. challenging your brain.

The results of the Finnish Geriatric Intervention Study to Prevent Cognitive Impairment and Disability (FINGER), which is the latest and most impressive study, goes a step further by suggesting that if you follow all four practices, you may even reverse lost mental capacity. The FINGER study indicated those who did so not only kept cognitive skills from declining, it also improved their reasoning skills and speed in performing mental tasks.

The volunteers were randomly assigned to two groups. One set of participants—the study group—received personal nutritional counseling, exercise instruction from physical therapists, and cognitive training. They also underwent seven medical exams during the study period. They frequently met in groups for cooking classes, cognitive training, or exercise instruction. The other participants—the control group—had three medical exams, during which they received general health advice. Both groups were given mental function tests again at the end of the study.

Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and author of The Harvard Guide to Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease, says “Healthy lifestyle behaviors can benefit people of all ages. But to have the greatest impact on late-life mental function, get started early.” 

The FINGER study’s results should offer additional encouragement to pursue a healthy, active, engaged lifestyle with regular exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and challenging mental activities because these can help preserve your mental acuity. Moreover, the FINGER study reminds us it not only helps to combine these practices, but it also helps to enjoy them as we do them. 

This wasn’t a quick fix, either. The FINGER program lasted for two years and the participants stuck with it because they were enjoying themselves. They also had become friends with others in their training groups. Although the experiment was demanding, only 12% of participants dropped out. Plus, these folks worked at their exercise—attendance was over 85% at training sessions, which included three to five exercise sessions a week, as well as 10 to 12 sessions of nutrition counseling and 144 cognitive training sessions over two years.

If you’re having trouble making healthy changes, a cooking or exercise class may help you get started and open a new circle of friends. Volunteering as a tutor, joining a community choir, or working on a political campaign can offer new intellectual challenges and social engagement. The key to making lifestyle changes is in finding a way to enjoy making them—and that is often among a group of companions who are striving for the same goal. 

Fresh vegetables and Chicken breast in Olive oil

We all make a choice in our lives. If we want good health, but don’t want to give up our television programs, we either need to pick an exercise time outside of our favorite TV shows, or hit a gym with screens. For instance, I still eat fried chicken, but only on my vacation. I eat uncured bacon on Saturdays rather than every day, and pancakes once a month. I haven’t given up my favorite foods, but I’ve put a limit on the most unhealthy ones out of respect for my body. This gives me some room for when I feel the need to self medicate with two scoops of ice cream, as when my computer died last month and I had to replace it. Making a big decision is definitely an ice cream moment for me, but I don’t need it every day anymore. 

One of my goals at Cornie’s Kitchen is to learn new skills and information to benefit the majority of persons in our world today: half of Americans and 30% of the world’s population are obese or overweight, and the cardiovascular diseases associated with obesity are increasing worldwide also. Since our children are also impacted by this health risk, we have to change our way of looking at food, exercise, time, stress, life, work, and our means of balancing the competing and complex needs in our world. 

If I can’t wave a magic wand over you, say a magic spell, or cast a potion of power over you, then at least I can help you burn through a few brain cells. They’ll grow back. Grey hair is a sign of power and wisdom.  

Joy and Peace, 

Cornie