Are You Sensitive to Your Food?

By Cammi Woodall

Most patterns in life are good, right? Knowing the UPS carrier will bring your package around 4:00, the toaster takes exactly 1 minute 14 seconds to achieve perfect toastiness, or you can go 27 more miles once your car dings “I’m empty!” The food you eat can trigger patterns as well. Some good, some bad.

Chocolate can give you a sugar rush and satisfy that creamy, sweet-tooth craving. But for some people, indulging in this delectable treat will guarantee pain, nausea, fatigue, and intestinal problems. Oh, sweet chocolate! How can you deceive us so?

Six years ago, I noticed I had a pattern in my life but it wasn’t a good one. Every month I had to take sick days due to headaches and an upset stomach. It was not uncommon for me to have headaches. No big deal – take a Motrin and go on about my day. But a migraine episode was different. Migraine pain is unique and personal to each person. When I get a migraine headache, I basically fall apart. The top of my head clenches so hard I feel like it is cramping. I can’t open my eyes all the way because the light hurts so badly, plus the muscles in my eyelids hurt. Sounds are magnified. Simple typing on a keyboard sounds like a machine gun, and people talking in normal voices feel like they are shouting through a bullhorn at me. My bones and joints hurt. Any move I make sets off a reaction in my stomach and… it is bad. I won’t go into details about that. Just nausea and sickness. So much sickness. And during all these symptoms, the top of my head is still cramping, my face feels like it is going to implode, and I am dizzy. After the initial pain, my headaches for days and the top of my head feels bruised for a week.

My medical tests were okay – gall bladder and thyroid checked out fine, blood pressure good. Medical professionals had the same basic diagnosis – exercise and lose weight. Who hasn’t heard this before? My sister and my mother urged me to start a diary, keeping track of what I ate, where I ate, stress levels, and how I felt afterward. That is when my pattern emerged.

So what was common about my sick times? Certain foods appeared each time – processed meats like bacon and sausage, highly processed food, and ranch dressing. (I will also admit I had a slight addiction to Doritos. I would keep a bag open on my kitchen cabinet and go by several times a day, grabbing or two to munch on.)

I realized I have a food intolerance or food sensitivity. I am sensitive to two things –

1.      Nitrates/nitrites – a chemical in processed meats that are used to keep meat fresh and gives it that nice pink color. If sensitive, they trigger migraine pain by expanding the blood vessels in your brain.

2.      Monosodium glutamate or MSG – this is the chemical that makes food taste good. Almost all boxed foods on the grocery store shelf have some form of MSG. The chemical makes you crave more of what you just ate. If you suspect MSG sensitivity, check the ingredients lists for monosodium glutamate, the word hydrolyzed, the word autolyzed, yeast extract, or carrageenan. There are others, so do some research into the ways MSG can be hidden in your food.

Both sensitivities come with controversy. With nitrates, many companies are following a new food trend of ‘uncured’ or ‘no nitrates added.’ Some companies have completely stopped using synthetic sodium nitrate and used powders derived from celery root or cherries. Doubters say that these vegetable compounds have the same amounts of nitrates as the manufactured chemicals. They probably do. But I know how my body reacts when I eat a turkey sandwich made from the different ingredients. I do not get headaches if I eat the turkey or chicken or roast beef cured with vegetable powders. I do if eat luncheon meat cured with synthetic nitrates.

MSG is even more hot topic! Glutamates occur naturally in food, so naysayers to MSG sensitivity say any pain is nonexistent. Again, I can only go by what my body has experienced. I can eat a portion of food with MSG and I get migraines. So I study labels. I now avoid Doritos (weeping in the distance), most canned soups, flavored rice, seasoning blends, and most salad dressings. I look at labels whenever I go shopping.

There are no definitive studies that show scientific proof linking MSG and migraine pain. That does not stop my pain.

I would like to say now that I am not a doctor and there is a difference between a food allergy and food intolerance. The two share many of the same symptoms of headaches, such as nausea, lightheadedness, and head pain. But food allergies can be deadly. They are your immune system’s response to a foreign material your body considers harmful. Symptoms occur immediately upon eating the food and include hives and face/tongue swelling. You can go into anaphylactic shock. So please consult a doctor for any possible food allergy.

By contrast, food intolerance occurs anywhere from one hour to 48 hours after you eat your suspected food. It may not even occur every time you eat that particular item, or only if you eat a large amount. Food intolerance may be painful, but it is not life-threatening. 

Like I said earlier, each circumstance is personal to each person. I hope I helped you to know that certain foods can drastically affect how you feel. If you think you might be sensitive to a food, try eliminating it for several days and see how you feel.

And if you find a tasty replacement for MSG-laden Doritos, please let me know!

Prompt: I knew I shouldn’t have eaten the whole thing!

A Healthy New Year – It has NOTHING to do with the scale…

by Cari Schaeffer20140428_144615

I find the cliché of New Years resolutions to ring hollow for most. They are made with the best of intentions and typically focus solely on weight loss as The Path to define oneself as “healthy”. Well, let me tweak your perspective just a little.

What is health? It is defined as “soundness of body or mind; freedom from disease or ailment.” Hmmmm…is that the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word health? Or is your focus narrow and solely limited to one’s pant size? To be healthy should mean that our life is balanced in every aspect. Whether it’s financial, spiritual, physical, mental, social, or relational – strive for balance which will lead to health.

I can assure you – there are plenty of skinny people who are not healthy. The scale does not measure one’s health, only one’s weight. Rather than allow the scale to dictate my self-image, I base that on how I feel in my own skin and how my clothes fit my body. I choose not to obsess over the scale, so I only weigh myself maybe twice a year. Yes, you read that right. I am an American woman and I don’t weigh myself every day. I DO exist and I walk among you…bathroom scales

When determining your level of Whole Health, start with your finances. Debt equals slavery. Don’t fall into the trap. Being financially healthy is very simple – spend less than you make and save some of what you earn for unforeseen emergencies because they WILL happen. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll be fine. How much do you have saved for an emergency? How well do you stick to a budget? If you don’t have a budget, now is the time to make one. There are numerous resources for that – one that I highly recommend is . There are a lot of free resources that are exceptionally user-friendly on her site. Her tools will help you get on the right path to living a financially healthy lifestyle.

How spiritually healthy are you? How often do you spend time in prayer, in God’s Word, or in God’s house? This is an area none of us will ever be perfect in, but striving for excellence is certainly attainable. Determine to go to church each week, have a conversation with God every day, read at least a chapter in the Bible every day and then…do it.

Physical health starts with physical activity. You don’t have to train for a marathon or do intense cardio for an hour six days a week in order to attain health. How about starting with parking as far out as you can rather than waiting for the nearest spot to open up the next time you shop? Even at the gym, have you ever noticed all of the closest parking spots are taken? Personally, it makes me snicker – that is a true contradiction. Besides, parking farther out will lessen the chance of getting dents in your car doors. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, drink two more glasses of water today than you did yesterday, and say no to soda. They’re small steps, but steps in the right direction. It’s something to build on.

Mental, social, and relational health are intertwined, in my opinion. If you are healthy mentally, you are more likely to be healthy socially and have healthy relationships with those around you. I am sure you have an idea of what it means to be healthy mentally. You know when a friendship is not working or a habit/pattern you follow is unhealthy. I find, for women, at least – it’s difficult to say one little word to others, but not to ourselves. That word is “no”. It is all right to say no, even if what you say no to is a GOOD thing. Not every good thing is YOUR good thing. Remember, balance is the key.

Keep your priorities straight and in the proper order. Free time is a GOOD thing. Your schedule does not need to be packed in order to be fruitful. Jesus Himself said no and also took time out to re-charge. Shouldn’t we follow His example? The answer to that question is YES! There are actually squares on my calendar that are blank…and they’ll stay that way.

I sincerely hope that all of you have a Happy New Year filled with health and balance!

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing prompt: Write a paragraph about this photo.summer

A Healthy Month of January-Revisited

By Jennifer Hallmark.

It’s been almost abathroom scales month since I posted about my effort to experience better health in 2015. I’d decided to take a month at a time and make adjustments and see what worked and what didn’t. I looked at each area of health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It’s been an interesting time and now for the results…


Exercise I decided to try working out five days a week, 3 days of low-impact aerobics and two days of riding the exercise bike.

Positive-I stuck to the plan and feel better physically.

Negative-The bike riding bothered my back a little. I’m going to try one more month to see if it continues.

Diet I decided to cut back on sugar and follow a plan of eating healthy.

Positive-I’ve traded sweet tea for hot tea with honey.

Negative-I thought I knew enough about healthy food to just try to eat healthy. I drew up no written plan. The month was extremely stressful and I tend to eat when stressed. So predictably, I failed to eat healthy and lost no weight.


I would try a four-day work week and take more time to rest.

Positive-I made more time for myself and stuck somewhat to a four-day work week. I feel more rested.

Negative-I still have trouble unwinding at times and use work as a stress relief, which leads to me being tired.


I would try four things for emotional health: Read a feel-good book or watch an inspirational movie; work a jigsaw puzzle; be accountable to a friend; and get out of the house more.

Positive-I’ve read a good bit and watched a couple of movies. I set up my jigsaw puzzle. I talked a couple of times to a friend about a couple of stressful situations I’m dealing with.

Negative-It’s cold and I haven’t gotten out of the house more. I need to relax when I am out and enjoy myself.


I would continue my daily devotion time, listen to music and journal, fellowship with other Christians, be a blessing, and enjoy nature.

Postive-I love my devotion time. Music and journaling are good for me. I’ve tried to be a blessing to family and friends.

Negative-I could still use more fellowship with Christians. It’s cold and I haven’t been out much.

question mark

So how does this all add up? How will I approach February?

(1) I’m going to follow a written plan for healthy eating.

(2) I need to turn to God in my stress and fellowship more with my family and friends.

(3) I need to realize it’s going to be cold in winter and just make myself get out more anyway. 🙂

How about you? Do you have any suggestions to help me out as I approach February?

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Writing Prompt: I couldn’t believe my eyes. The scales screamed the same number as when I’d started a month ago. How could it? My clothes fit better. I picked up the scale and…




The Naturo-path to Better Health

by Betty Thomason Owens

Right around this time, every year…

Everyone starts talking about choosing healthier lifestyles by going to the gym, or making better food choices. The gyms do a raging good business in the month of January. And we really do plan to keep our new regimen going throughout the year. We want to lose those extra pounds and firm up those flabby midsections.

file8471259606314I have an exercise plan in place throughout the year. I walk three to four miles per day, outdoors, five or six days a week (weather permitting). I work at home and for me, the freedom of being outside in the open—especially when there’s sunshine—is worth the time and effort.

I wish I could tell you I’m in perfect health with no extra weight. I wish. But I am in moderately good health, seldom sick. I do have some stubborn pounds hanging on. I wish I could charge them rent. I’d be rich by now. Truth is, I’d love to find a way to get rid of the excess.

Extra weight can adversely affect your health. Most of us know that. But if you exercise and eat healthy, you may just be looking at your body type. In that case, be happy with thyself. But if you do have health issues, perhaps you do need to make some changes.

A couple of years ago, I made my first visit to a certified health professional—a naturopath. I had known him for years and saw him make some very positive changes in his own life that convinced me he knew what he was talking about. So I made an appointment. A very simple twofold test (urine and saliva) told him what he needed to know about what’s happening in my life.

Turns out, I was much older than I should have been. What does that mean? Because of some bad choices on my part, my body was suffering. My bad choices consisted of sleep deprivation, dehydration, and … I wasn’t breathing enough. What? How can you not breathe enough?

I remember doing breathing exercises in chorus and choir practice. “Breathe from the di-a-phragm!—All together now—breathe!” Physical exercise helps with the breathing issue. The consistent outdoor walking began, and now, I’m pretty much up to par with the breathing. Sleep better, too, because I get outside and get the blood flowing and the oxygen processing.

But I’d still be coming up short if I didn’t hydrate. I push myself to drink more water. Sometimes it’s herbal tea, or flavored water. I got rid of the sweetened drinks. And yes, I still drink coffee. Hey, I love the stuff, but I try to counter it by matching each ounce of coffee with an ounce of water later in the day. Consistency, this is the key.

But you’ll still need a good, healthful diet. Cut out sugar. I hear your screams. Did I do this? No. I cut back on sugar. And, according to our naturopathic physician, you should populate your diet with living foods. No, he doesn’t advocate eating live animals. Get that picture out of your head.

cuyBvv1uSo what are living foods? Think raw veggies, or gently cooked veggies. Especially garden-fresh, that were in the ground hours ago, sucking up nutrients. If you’re a gardener or farmer, it’s easy. If not, you might want to join a co-op or find a good green grocer, farm, or farmer’s market.

According to my guy, frozen is a good second-best, and canned is okay, when you just can’t get fresh. The less it’s processed, the better.

If you’re on a gluten-free diet, you’re probably already somewhat familiar with these principles. Live vegetables are a good way to eat right, increase fiber in your diet, and multiply the nutrients, without starving yourself.

Here’s an interesting and friendly website for beginners. Her veggie chili looks really good.

You can find plenty of information dealing with eating healthy—my favorite go-to is Pinterest, of course. I just enter whatever I’m craving and voila! I’ve got several recipes to choose from.

So, am I going to finally drop those extra pounds? I’d like that, but even more, I hope to reverse the aging process a little. So far, I have seen real improvement, because I’m getting exercise, drinking more water, resting better, and I’m breathing!

If you’re interested in finding a Naturopathic doctor in your area, do your homework. Check them out thoroughly before you go. We were fortunate to have a long-standing relationship with ours. But a good place to get recommendations is through your local chiropractic office.

Whatever you choose to work on this year, I wish you great success. Now, inhale—push out the diaphragm—hold—exhale—crunch that carrot!

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments–

saturday 184_peWriting Prompt:

“Is this a living carrot?” Carol Anne Pendergast asked Jacob Bauer, owner of her local farmer’s market. “My naturopathic doctor told me to only eat living vegetables.”

Jacob’s bushy brows blended as his forehead creased. “All my vegetables are alive. Those carrots were plucked from the ground this very morning.”

“No need to get huffy about it,” Carol Anne said. “I was just asking.” She picked up a beautiful brown egg, her gaze cutting back to Jacob’s. Her mouth opened, but before she could ask the question poised on the tip of her tongue, he propped his fists on his hips and said, …


(Photos courtesy of MorgueFile)

A Healthy New Year

By Jennifer Hallmark

As we move forward into our third year as a blog, I’d like to introduce the Writing Prompts Crew. Click the link to go to each Crew members bio: Jennifer Hallmark, Betty Thomason OwensTammy Trail, Allie Owens Crockett, Betty Boyd, Anne Garboczi Evans, Holly Michael, and Cari Schaeffer. Enjoy the month of January as we discuss a healthy New Year and as always, happy writing!

new-years-resolutionHealthy in 2015.

An obtainable goal?

I hope so.

The past few years, my main health focus has been on getting asthma and digestive issues under control. Now that these problems are better, January will be the beginning of a “getting healthier all around” emphasis in my life. But I realize I’ve often made half-hearted resolutions only to fail.


So I’d like this year to be different. First, I will look at every aspect of my health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Second, my focus will be for one month at a time. At the end of January, I’ll look at what works and what doesn’t and make adjustments for February. Taking one month at a time, I won’t feel so overwhelmed and give up. Here are my thoughts on the different aspects of my health. Each person will need to adjust according to their specific needs.

Physical (Exercise and eating)

In the past, I’ve noticed if I don’t exercise early in the morning, I don’t exercise at all. I work at home, so this is doable. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll exercise to my low-impact aerobic DVD, a thirty minute workout. On Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll ride twenty minutes on my exercise bike. My weekends tend to be busy, so I’ll take that time off as my reward. 🙂

good food

As far as eating goes, I’ll cut back on sugar. This is always a weakness of mine, especially since I’ve developed a dairy allergy and can’t tolerate fried foods. Sugar is my comfort food. I’ll follow a basic healthy eating plan of healthy meats, fruits, and vegetables.


As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to be too driven and don’t give myself enough leeway. This leads to stress and hurts my mental health. If I don’t watch myself, I’ll work every moment I’m not doing something else. I’ve just completed a forty-day sabbatical from writing that was necessary for me to deal with health issues. I don’t want to overwork again, so I’m going to try and create a schedule for a four-day work week. I’ll design my plan, working around my husband’s schedule and the days I babysit the grandchildren.


This is a tough one. Exercise and healthy eating are a must for good emotional health. So is a less stressful schedule. How else can I promote a more positive lifestyle?

(1) Read one “feel good” book or watch a movie of the same once a week.

(2) Set up the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle my brother gave me and work on it during stressful times.

(3) Find an accountability friend to talk to once a week and bring to light any emotional struggles.

(4) Get out of the house more. As a “homebody” I tend to stay at home. I need to get outside, even if it’s just for a short walk or drive to the local dollar store.


bibleThis area of my life must be maintained or the others won’t work. Here are a few things I can do to stay spiritually healthy.

(1) Daily devotional time in the morning, right before exercises.

(2) Listen to music and reflect. Journal any thoughts and feelings while listening for that still, small voice.

(3) Fellowship with other Christians, online and in person. 🙂

(4) Be a blessing to others.

(5) Enjoy nature.

This is my plan for the month of January. After writing it down, it seems like a lot. We will see. At the end of the month, I’ll be back with a special post to let you know what I’ve learned, what worked, and what didn’t.

See you then!

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments”

Writing Prompt: Maggie pushed open the door of the fitness center and stepped inside. Gee, it was an awful heavy door. Such a long walk from the parking lot also. She stared around the room at the…