Thursday, October 27, 2011

Food Heals

You are what you eat! Our food is literally what makes up our entire selves. Food, through the digestion process, is broken down and reorganized to make up the building material for our bodies. If you put garbage in, what can you expect besides parts that deteriorate and malfunction sooner than intended. This includes the oh-so-important brain, the control center for thinking and communication. The decisions we make everyday regarding what to put in out bodies is crucial. Food can be your poison, it can be your fuel, it can even be your medicine.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

For a body or brain that is healing (for example post stroke, brain injury, vocal fold damage, or just daily wear and tear) high quality building blocks are essential. According to the Cleveland Clinic website "During the healing process, the body needs increased amounts of calories, protein, vitamins A and C, and sometimes, the mineral, zinc." Because our bodies are designed to digest and assimilate food and not chemicals, it's ideal to get these nutrients from a varied diet made up of fresh whole foods

It's easy to be overwhelmed by the diet tips that are out there. For example eat garlic to lower blood pressure (, or eat blueberries, green tea, and other antioxidant rich foods to prevent cancer ( Randomized controlled trials testing these claims are sometimes inconclusive, but many people find that following guidelines like these make a big difference for their healing and wellness. Still, you can eat garlic for every meal, but you may still suffer from high blood pressure if your overall diet is out of balance and lacking high quality macro and micronutrients (found abundantly in fresh whole foods).

What do you already know that you could change about your food that would promote more health and healing for yourself?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paying Attention

Last week I earned my LSVT certification, yay me! If you are a Speechie, you probably know what that means. If not I will explain. In a nutshell, LSVT (also known as Lee Silverman Voice Treatment) is a 4 week treatment protocol designed for people with Parkinson Disease (PD). It is evidence based and has greatly improved the communication lives of many people with PD and other disorders.
It's official! I am LSVT certified.
The course was fantastic. The presenters were knowledgeable, professional, passionate and articulate. The other participants asked thoughtful questions. The information was truly applicable to my practice.

The hardest part was spending two 8-hour days sitting in a chair and paying attention. Even though the material was fascinating to me, it was hard! A usual day for me involves very little time sitting still. I am running here and there, multi-tasking, and doing a lot of vocal output.

Two take home messages for me (besides a great treatment tool, obviously):

1) Even though it was hard, I was so grateful for the stillness. It was a rare luxury to commit my undivided attention to a single topic for so many hours. And it made me think that more things in my life deserve this kind of undivided attention. This week, I am going to be more mindful of my attention. When working with a patient, I will try to avoid thinking of 10 other tasks. When eating, I will just eat, focusing on chewing and gratitude for nutritious food (which, as it turns out, is also good for our digestion). When cuddling, I will just cuddle! I invite you to do the same.

2) There must be room for self care, especially when learning is the goal. There was a time when I would suffer through whatever feeling (thirst, restlessness, even needing to use the bathroom) to be polite. But during this two day course I made sure to take the liberty of leaving the room, either physically or mentally, when I needed something.

Next time you are having trouble paying attention take a break! Try taking three cleansing belly breaths and see if you can reengage.

Speech Pathology: "But I can talk just fine!"

Who gave us the name Speech Language Pathologist anyway? I have heard it many times: after introducing myself to a new patient, maybe someone with difficulty swallowing, "But I can talk just fine!" The Pathologist part makes it sound like we are working in a lab with germs and cells. And the 'speech language' part just does not say it all.

Many people, at least folks who don't have a "Speechie" as a friend or family member, think of us as the pull-out therapist working with kids in elementary school to fix their 's' sound or cure their stutter. While those things are certainly part of our scope of practice (though probably not in the school so much, because school Speechies are too busy with our little friends with language and learning or autism needs) we do so much more! We really should be called Speech-Language-Voice-Feeding-Swallowing-Social-Cognitive Therapists.

So it's fitting that I have had so much trouble coming up with a way to label my new business, blog, website, etc... As I learn more about holistic health, and move toward health myself, I discover more and more ways to apply the concepts to my personal life, friendships, yoga practice, and my speech pathology practice. How could I find one label for something that is so diffuse. This concept is born from the idea that all of the lessons I am gathering, all of the spheres of my life and inherently connected. For now, I will stick with the lengthy but practical "Holistic Speech Pathology and Health Coaching" with the expectation that it will continue to evolve. Just as I have.