A look at life at the intersections of wellness, culture, and current events

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What I Read This Year: A Roundup of My Favorite Books in 2018

What I Read This Year: A Roundup of My Favorite Books in 2018

I don’t read as much as I did as a child, simply because I don’t have the time to anymore. It’s difficult to get through 8-10 books in two weeks when most of my time is occupied with working, and the news, and everything else […]

What We Eat in The Shadows

What We Eat in The Shadows

Happy Halloween, y’all! I wanted to write something about the conversations that I have with people all of the time when it is discovered that I am a dietitian. Sometimes it’s okay, but often the comments I receive are quite ridiculous and often make me […]

Exploring Intuitive Eating

Exploring Intuitive Eating

It’s hard to believe that it’s already February 2018! The last few months have gone by quickly, with some dramatic twists and turns along the way. Now that things have settle down a bit, I want to focus on both personal and professional development.

To help with that, I picked up a book that I saw another dietitian talk about to learn more about the application of intuitive eating in practice. The book is called “The Intuitive Eating Workbook” by Evelyn Trible, MS, RDN and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN. These two dietitians came up with this approach for nutrition counseling back in the 90s, and it’s still going on strong today!

Photo from Amazon.com

What is Intuitive Eating?

For those of you who may not know, intuitive eating is a practice in which you eat the way your body was meant to. Let me explain. When you’re an infant, you have natural hunger cues that you follow. When you’re hungry, you want to eat, and when you’re not, you don’t. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, when we get a little bit older (either due to our parents or to the cultural influences of our society), we find ways to override those hunger cues. We eat because we’re bored or feeling emotional. We deny ourselves food when we’re hungry because we just ate something an hour ago and it seems too early to eat again. Over time we develop hundreds of ways to say when we can and cannot eat, and none of those reasons have anything to do with our biological needs. Thus, intuitive eating is a practice (related to mindfulness) to help people break away from those socially-imposed (or personally imposed) restrictions. It’s a return to listening to what our bodies need.

The Intuitive Eating Workbook is a self-study workbook that goes through the ten principles of intuitive eating in a brief, yet comprehensive manner. If you want the supporting research, refer to the book from which this is derived. From what I’ve read so far, it’s geared towards those who have tried diets in the past and heavily subscribe to “diet culture,” and gives the reader the tools they need to break away from that culture.

Full disclosure: I’ve never been on a diet. My experiences with food come from a place where I’ve had thin privilege, a family that appreciates food from a culinary and medicinal perspective, and through choosing a career as a dietitian. The only dietary restrictions I’ve ever had were because of my braces. While I have not been immune to dealing with the body image ideals promoted our major society as a black woman, my experience with my body has been generally good.

With this in consideration, I do hope to learn a lot. I feel that going through this book will help me reflect on more of the ways our society promotes restrictive eating in a way that causes negative psychological impacts on people. As a professional, I want to get a better perspective of not only how to help others, but to have empathy for struggles that others may have that I can’t relate to. And personally, I want to see if I have any lingering hang-ups from our diet heavy culture.

Overall, it should be a fun experience reading this book! I may do a follow-up to this post to give a review and a summary of what I’ve learned – we’ll see!

Thankfulness on an Anniversary

Thankfulness on an Anniversary

A year ago I made one of the most dramatic decisions in my life. I packed up all of my things, said goodbye to my friends and family, and moved to Los Angeles with only a vague idea of what life could be. Shortly after […]

My Personal Nosedive

My Personal Nosedive

Warning: Mild spoilers for S3Ep1 of Black Mirror titled “Nosedive.” I watched my first episode of Black Mirror by accident. The show has been on my “To Watch” list for several months, especially following the buzz for the “San Junipero” episode. I heard that Black […]

Synaesthesia: What is the taste of the color blue?

Synaesthesia: What is the taste of the color blue?

This fall, the International Association of Synaesthetes, Artists, and Scientists (IASAS) is collaborating with the Art|Sci Center of UCLA to bring a series of events to Los Angeles to teach the general public about synaesthesia and bring together the international community of synesthetes. Through art exhibitions, the first IASAS Synaesthesia Symposium, and multiple live performances, the worlds of science, art, and synaesthesia are beautifully brought together.

But first: What is synaesthesia?

When I told my coworkers about these events, this was the first question they had for me. In short, synaesthesia means “a union of the senses.” It is a neurological condition in which a person experiences crossed responses to a stimulus. Someone may hear a certain word or name and experience a taste sensation. Sounds can produce certain colors, or even be coupled with a certain scent.

To date, there are at least 80 different types of synaesthesia that have been identified among synesthetes (individuals who have synaesthesia). And according to existing data, about 3.7% of the population who has some form of synaesthesia (though the absolute accuracy of this number is uncertain).

Building Bridges Art Exchange Gallery Exhibit

The series of events began with the opening reception for Synaesthesia: What is the taste of the color blue? at the Building Bridges Art Exchange. The gallery space was crowded as we experienced the interactive works of art. Along the way, I got to have some interesting conversations with other gallery visitors about how we process the world, the possibility of having a type of synaesthesia without having the language to identify it, and how Chris (and Daniel, and Lisa, and myself) tasted to a synesthete who processed words and flavors together. I taste like a pizza-flavored Combo, by the way.

My favorite non-interactive piece was looking at the Taste Map of the London Underground, where an artist assigned a certain taste to every stop on the tube. Some of the flavors included rubber, licorice, and baked beans. I’d love to say more the individual works, but I don’t want to spoil everything for you!

Synaesthesia Dance Experience!

At the opening reception, there was an advertisement for a Synaesthesia Dance Experience happening at the beginning of October. Work interfered with my other plans that weekend, so I decided to check it out.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at the theater, but I was extremely pleased by the time I left. The evening started  with a music performance in which we drank cherry Kool Aid, YooHoo, and grapefruit LaCroix to experience the sounds that one synesthete experienced/felt when she sipped these beverages.

The acts following that showcased a variety of talents – burlesque, ballet, aerial arts, group performance, and more! My favorite was done by a tap dancer. She rigged her outfit so that when she moved different parts of her body, not only did it produce a sound of some sort (words, dog bark, ocean sounds), it changed the color of her outfit. At times it was fun and easy to follow, but when layers upon layers of sound and color and movement merged with each other it created a chaos that was overwhelming on the senses.

Watching this performance made me realize something. While seeing the world in this different way can create beauty and a new way of interpreting the world, synaesthesia can make the world chaotic to process. After attending this event, I felt like I understood my friend with synaesthesia a little bit better. I felt more in touch with my own sensory perceptions and reflected on how I perceived the world. These events made me want to learn more about synaesthesia and other ways we differ in neurological processing.

The exhibit at the Building Bridges Art Exchange in Santa Monica is open to the public until November 15, 2017. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the area!

#MeToo: Sexism and Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

#MeToo: Sexism and Sexual Harassment in the Restaurant Industry

If you’re one of my readers from Louisiana, you may already be aware of the John Besh scandal that came to light this past week. NOLA.com, the online version of The Times-Picayune, released details of an 8-month investigation on the disgusting sexism and sexual harassment […]

Nutrition Basics for Beginning Roller Derby Players

Nutrition Basics for Beginning Roller Derby Players

Hello everyone, I am Octavia Hustler, skater for Angel City Derby! When I’m not on skates, I work as a registered dietitian in Los Angeles. So why am I writing about this? Batty Davis from ACD reached out to me a few weeks ago to […]

From Brunch to Obsession: Bergamot Oranges

From Brunch to Obsession: Bergamot Oranges

Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to have brunch with friends who you haven’t seen in a long time. On a recent Sunday, I did exactly that. Along the way I also found a new flavor that I absolutely love: bergamot oranges.

That morning I drove over to the Beverly Hills farmer’s market behind City Hall to find some vegetables to go along with an egg scramble and a nice bread to balance the mostly savory spread we’d begun to plan. The vegetables were easy enough to find, though the search for bread came with a few more decisions. I finally decided on a loaf of raisin challah to accompany our brunch. Right before I left the farmer’s market, I stopped by a tent from Aris Natural Food and sampled several varieties of their sheep’s milk yogurts.

I would like to start by saying that my experience at the tent was absolutely lovely. The vendors who spoke with me were quite friendly and had great personalities. It also helped that I was showered with compliments with every sample that I tried from their booth. Several of their flavors were quite standard – strawberry, blueberry, and cherry- but still delicious. I was impressed by their apple caramel yogurt which was very rich and tasted like dessert. Then, the vendor let me sample the pergamot (also known as bergamot) yogurt. Seconds after tasting the yogurt, my face lit up at its sweet, citrus flavor. The bergamot was refreshing and felt very light compared to the other yogurts. Out of all of the yogurts available, I knew this was the one I had to purchase.

Fast forward to brunch.

After we ate our main brunch of egg scramble with veggies, freshly cooked bacon, and cantaloupe (for them), Kyla warmed the challah. Ultimately, we used the yogurt as a spread. The combination of the light, airy challah with the flavors of the yogurt was a winner – we absolutely loved it! I’m sure that if I didn’t have self control, I would have eaten the entire loaf in one sitting just like that.

Challah is truly amazing if you have not already tried some, by the way. Photo from Pixabay

Now I want to buy some bergamot preserves or something of the sort to get that same flavor!

Out of curiosity, I did a little bit of research on the bergamot. It is a citrus fruit with a green color similar to lime, bearing a pear-like shape (check it out in the featured photo). Production of this fruit is primarily limited to the Ionian Sea coastal areas of the province of Reggio di Calabria in Italy, though it is also grown in southern France, Cote d’Ivoire, and southern Turkey.  For you people interested in essential oils, it may be beneficial for digestion, relaxation, as a mosquito repellant, antispasmodic, and antiseptic (I strongly recommend doing research before deciding to use any essential oil).

As far as food goes, it is well known as a flavoring in Earl Grey tea, and recipes I’ve seen on the internet have used bergamot primarily in baked goods. Extracts from bergamot may lower cholesterol and fatty deposits in the liver, as well as lower blood sugar (according to this study). It’s surprisingly difficult to find any nutritional information on bergamot oranges in particular, but I assume it may be similar to other orange varieties in providing excellent amounts of vitamin C and varying quantities of calcium, potassium, thiamine, niacin and magnesium.

If you are into foods that are somewhat sweet, somewhat sour/tangy, then this fruit is something that you should try. It is quite refreshing and would satisfy the palate of anyone who loves citrus fruits!

Docs to Watch: Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth

Docs to Watch: Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth

When I talk about looking at the intersections of culture and wellness, this documentary is a prime example of what I mean. Feel Rich – Health is the New Wealth is a new documentary produced by Quincy Jones III that looks at health behaviors within […]