As I sit and listen to the spring rain I rearrange my afternoon plans to include a movie or book and cuddle with the kids. The weather also works well for the elaborate dinner my youngest wants to cook tonight. These are pleasant thoughts, very different from the ones that shadowed me at one time. Once called melancholia, we now use the term depression to describe the dark, hopeless, defeated feelings that can swirl us. Different from the sadness we all feel at one time or another, depression is defined as, “a mood disorder marked by a loss of interest or pleasure in living.” I felt as if I was being slowly sucked down into a deep, dark hole. It took every ounce of my strength simply to get out of bed in the morning.

Years later I learned that 1 was not alone. It is estimated that 1 in 5 women will suffer from major depression in her lifetime. If you are one of these women (or men), please know that you are not alone and that help is available, though it may take time.

Depression has many sources. Physical causes include hormone imbalance, vitamin deficiency, food intolerances, drug side-effects and pain. Depression can also be caused by physical or emotional trauma, and prolonged fatigue and stress. Environmental toxins can also contribute to depression by attacking the brain. Function or integrative medicine doctors will look at all of these things. The peace of mind to be found by determining the cause of depression is impossible to describe. Well worth the time and effort involved.

While you and your doctor are looking for answers, I would like to share some suggestions that helped me. I know from experience that every step into energy and joy leads to the next. May these help you on your journey

Know that you are not alone

Find support – This may be a friend, sibling or spouse who you can confide in and who will support you. Your doctor should also be a source of help and support. Support groups as Postpartum Progress have helped millions of women find the help they need.

Have a routine – Have something on your calendar every day that will force you to get up and out of the house. Ask a friend or coach to hold you accountable.

Move your body – Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good chemical. Exercising outdoors will further boost your mood.

Eat well – A nutrient-rich diet full of colorful fruits and vegetables will support your efforts to heal, mind and body. One study shows that such a diet may reduce the risk and incidence of depression. On the reverse side, a diet high in sugar and caffeine suppresses the immune system and taxes adrenal glands (a symptom of which is depression).

Find joy – Do what has always made you happy, even if you don’t feel like it right now. There is a part of you that remembers why this activity brings you joy.

These strategies alone will not cure your depression and are not a replacement for the plan you create with your physician. They are meant to enhance that plan and support you on your journey to rediscover yourself.

The Food Babe Way – Book Review

I have to admit that I was super excited to get an advance copy of a book (any book) for review. I love to read and learn. That it was a book about health and nutrition was an added bonus. When I began reading The Food Babe Way, my feelings became somewhat put off by the sensationalist style of narration. However, if you can get past this, there is a great deal to be learned from this 21-day program. In this book, Vani Hari gives us a step-by-step guide that allows the reader to create their own best life. For each of the 21 days Ms. Hari describes one new habit to start, including plenty of resources to make this doable. Within these chapters are information on what to drink (and what not to), detoxing from added sugar and cooking at home. There is also flexibility and tips for traveling and dining out. I am particularly pleased to see the emphasis on the quality of food consumed rather than simply the list of what to eat and what to avoid found in many “diet” books. The Food Babe Way is definitely more about creating a healthy, sustainable lifestyle rather than just losing a few extra pounds.

All of this can be found in Part II and Part III of the book. The first 78 pages are dedicated to Food Babe history and an explanation of what chemicals are being added to our food supply. As you may know, Vani Hari is a food activist. Like many activists, she is openly critical of her opposition, in this case the industrialized food industry. I share her frustration with these companies and the government that allows them to add known toxins to our food. However, I am concerned that her “Fox News” style of writing will have many people putting this book down before they get to the good part.

Here is an example:

    As you scroll down the aisles of the grocery store, start thinking about the shelves of boxed, canned, jarred, and packaged foods as caskets holding dead food. It’s all embalmed with preservatives that will make you feel dead, too.

I think there could be better ways of getting her point across than with comments such as these. Then again, I may be wrong as her inflammatory style has led to changes such as the removal of artificial dyes in SOME Kraft Mac n’ Cheese products and other positive changes. Perhaps the only way to get national change is by being loud and in the face of these companies. Vani Hari makes no pretense about being any other way and that comes through in her writing. I have to admire the honesty in this.

In the end, I would recommend this book for those just beginning their health food journey. Whether or not you follow all of 21 recommendations (I don’t), you will undoubtedly learn how to read a label and where to look for good, healthy food. There are also 40 pages for recipes to try. If they are all as good as her Melt In Your Mouth Kale Salad, you will enjoy learning to eat healthy. If you are not knew to avoiding processed foods you will find some great reminders, travel tips and fantastic recommended reading and resource list at the end of the book.

You can buy the book, starting today at or on Amazon.

DIY Deodorant

I realized I was overdue for a personal care product recipe. The Environmental Working Group estimates that women put more than 500 chemicals on their body every day in the form of hair care, make up and other personal care products.

The good news is that many of these products are easy (and cheap!) to make at home. Continue reading