Healthy Ways

When I was a little girl my grandma read me the story of Pinocchio. He was this little guy who told lies. His nose grew with each lie. She taught me that it was wrong to lie. I thought that lying was only telling others untruths.

More than 40 years later, I find myself revisiting this story and the devastation of lies. Much of my daily work as a counselor focuses on uncovering the lies that people tell themselves or have been told. People don’t intentionally lie to themselves; they just don’t know any better

Unfortunately, the lie forms a basis for our other thoughts and actions: If I believe that two plus two equals five, I’ll always use that as a foundational belief. My checkbook will never have the right answer. My recipes will be out of proportion. I’ll get into lots of arguments with others when they tell me that I’m wrong. This would mess up my taxes, maybe get me in trouble at work, or cause my children or grandchildren to get a low grade in mathematics, if they counted on me to help them.

Thought distortions, also known as lies, are passed on to future generations.

It is funny to look at in this context, but the reality of this thought distortion can cause great pain. I cannot tell you how many of my clients have a false idea about themselves.

I’ve counseled men who were raped in childhood by another man who now feel that experience determined their sexual identity. I’ve counseled countless women who have been molested or raped. Many of these women feel that sex is some dirty painful job and something to be avoided even in the context of marriage. Abuse victims often feel that they deserved the abuse since they were not “good enough.” Somehow, this belief system causes them to find themselves either back in the same abusive relationship or in a relationship with another abuser.

Sometimes we can look at someone and wonder how they can think such-and-such about themselves. How come the anorexic or bulimic women still sees themselves as fat even though they are so malnourished that their health is in jeopardy? What about the woman who has had an abortion years ago, but cannot forgive herself? She is active in the church and tells everybody else that Jesus can forgive everything if they will just ask Him, but lies stop her from being able to apply this insight to her situation. What about the young person that commits suicide after the loss of a relationship or some other disappointment in life? Everyone else would think that this honors student had a lot to live for.

The lies and thought distortions seem to erroneously cause people to measure themselves by a different standard than they measure others.

The spectrum of thought distortions is boundless. Sometimes we know that our thoughts are unfounded, but they are real to us. They determine how we live each day. The list of phobias is endless. Some make us unable to drive, go outside, or even to meet new people. Other times our beliefs about ourselves, however unfounded to an outside observer, cost us our dreams. Maybe, for example, fear is the only thing that keeps us from going to college.

Counseling can be helpful to everyone, not just the mentally ill. It provides a safe place to share thoughts, dreams or wounds. Many times it helps to uncover the lies and see the world and oneself in a whole new way.

Therapy can help a person get a new outlook on issues from the perspective of an impartial person. Counselors are trained to help clients face the “elephant in the living room.” Counselors abide by a client confidentiality agreement and will not spread stories around town. Strict federal regulations are in place to insure client privacy.

The counselor’s impartiality can be invaluable — he or she is not family so the person in need will not be written out of the will and these sensitive matters won’t be discussed at the family reunion. The therapist is not a friend, so clients don’t have to worry about being vulnerable and risking a friendship.

Research has found that patients suffering from many psychological disorders are best served by a combination of therapy and medication. If you are currently taking medication for a psychological condition I encourage you to seek counseling as well.

Counseling is not “mind reading or “brain washing.” It is thought cleansing. It helps people put their thoughts through a complex filtering system. Taking one’s thoughts captive helps one to regain control of one’s life.

Scripture tells us that our bodies are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” That means we are very complex. There is a connection between our thought life and our body chemistry . There is a connection between our spiritual perspective and our health. The full connections in our minds, bodies and spirits remain a complex mystery.

The Rev. Virginia Loew-Shelhammer is a graduate of West Liberty State College and West Virginia University. She is a licensed professional counselor and a board-certified professional Christian counselor. She is a participating counselor with the West Virginia 1-800 GAMBLER Network. Loew-Shelhammer is in private practice at Footsteps Christian Counseling in Wheeling.

Healthy Ways

Michael Pollan, the Knight professor of science and environmental lournalism at University of California-Berkeley, has struck a chord in this country. His back-to-back best sellers, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” (Penguin, 2006) and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” (Penguin, 2008), take a good, hard look at the food we eat and how it’s made. What he has to say could change the way you look at food forever — so put down that fork and read on for some spectacular insights from top author and quintessential foodie Michael Pollan.

Platkin: Should we really be that worried about the foods we eat?

Pollan: I think we’re far too worried about food, actually — Americans have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. We need to learn to relax about it, but that doesn’t mean eating anything you want. If you eat real food — unprocessed whole foods — you can eat pretty much any of it you want, in moderation. My aim in “In Defense of Food” was to help people relax about food by simplifying the food landscape for them.

Platkin: I’ve read that you were pretty surprised when you first visited a commercial farm. What stunned you the most?

Pollan: For me the awakening came in a potato field in Idaho. The farmers sprayed fungicides that were so toxic they wouldn’t go into the field for five days afterwards because they were so worried about the effects of the chemicals. These potatoes can’t be eaten until they have six months to off-gas the systemic pesticides in them. Many of these farmers told me they grew a small patch of organic potatoes by the house for their family. Most Americans have no idea how their food is produced, and the clearer an idea they get, the more interested they become in alternatives like organic.

Platkin: We like to think that organic farms are run by caring, environmentally conscientious farmers — is that true?

Pollan: Organic farming has become much more industrialized than people realize. We now have organic feedlots — to my mind, a complete contradiction in terms. Yet even these farms are better than their conventional counterparts. You can be sure if the label says organic that the animals did not receive hormones or routine antibiotics and they ate an organic diet. But you can’t assume the animals grew up on Old McDonald’s Farm. Some still do, but many don’t.

Platkin: What do you think of the fish industry: mercury concerns, getting enough omega-3s, etc.?

Pollan: The fish issue is complicated by concerns about mercury and sustainability. Fish is one area where the best choice for your health is not necessarily the best choice for the environment, because although we all need to be eating more fish (in part to get more omega-3s) there aren’t enough fish in the seas for us to do it, which is tragic. Mercury is an issue in some fish, and these we should eat in moderation; but, from what I’ve read, the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks of mercury. Also, there are lots of fish where mercury is not a problem. You’re better off with the little oily ones rather than the big, top-of-the-food chain predators like tuna and swordfish.

Platkin: Is there something about nutrition that you haven’t discussed in a book or past interview and that would surprise us?

Pollan: Perhaps it is the prevalence of hormones in milk — even in organic milk and from cows not treated with hormones. We’ve been breeding for high yield, and in the process we selected for cows that produce high levels of growth hormones. This is a concern to many nutritionists. Skim milk avoids the problem, since the hormones are in the milk fat, but then, skim milk often has powdered milk in it, which some people worry contains too much oxidized cholesterol. So pick your poison. I didn’t call it “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” for nothing.

Platkin: What’s your favorite breakfast?

Pollan: Fried eggs and bacon. Ideally, from pastured eggs and pigs.

Platkin: What in your life have you changed based on the research for your most recent book?

Pollan: I don’t eat conventional industrial meat any more. I cook more of my own food. And I opt for quality over quantity whenever I can.

Platkin: What do you consider the most perfect food?

Pollan: The egg is right up there, when it comes from a chicken that lived on grass and got to eat bugs.

Platkin: What’s your favorite healthful recipe?

Pollan: Very simply: a sturdy fish — halibut or salmon — marinated (in olive oil and lemon juice, with garlic and fresh herbs; or in soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil) and grilled outside.

Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate, founder and editor of DietDetective.com, the health and fitness network and author of “The Diet Detective’s Calorie Bargain Bible.”

Healthy Ways

Did you know the first cells to differentiate at about seven hours after conception become the brain and spinal cord?

A young spine, with few exceptions, usually develops perfectly by the end of pregnancy. It’s what happens around the time of birth and in the months after that can sometimes upset the normal functioning of the spine. The trauma of the trip through the birth canal can cause pressure on a child’s spine.

Because spinal trauma can occur at birth, parents might want to consider having their newborns checked by a chiropractor right away. Without the language to explain, many newborns experience colic, unexplained crying and lack of appetite. Then as your child grows they begin learning to hold their head up, sit, crawl and walk. These daily life activities can affect a child’s spinal alignment.

Unless a child has an obvious problem, it can be difficult for parents to recognize when a child has spinal subluxations. It is not always easy for someone other than a chiropractor, highly trained in evaluating the spine, to determine if the child has a problem. Common childhood disorders can also sometimes indicate a spinal problem. Persistent earaches, sore throats, headaches, bed-wetting, asthma, allergies and ear infections can often be traced to nerve system stress.

It is important to understand that the doctor of chiropractic does not treat conditions or diseases. The expertise of the chiropractor is in checking the child’s spine for misalignments that impair nervous system function which therefore affect overall body function. The spinal cord is an extension of the brain and carries information from the brain to the body parts and back to the brain again. Ubluxations interfere with the nerves’ ability to transmit this vital information.

The nervous system controls and coordinates the function of all the systems in the body, such as circulatory, respiratory, digestive and immune system. Any aspect of health may be impaired by nerve interference. The chiropractic adjustment restores nerve system function allowing the body the ability to express a greater state of health and well-being.

The first thing your child’s chiropractor will do is to conduct a careful and thorough evaluation of your child’s spine. Your chiropractor will use gentle, specific skills to identify, evaluate and treat any involved spinal areas. Chiropractic adjustments are modified to fit a child’s size, weight and unique spinal condition They are gentle and specific to the child’s developing spinal structures.

As you make decisions about your baby’s health care and are confronted with the issues of antibiotics, vaccinations and the growing use of behavior-altering drugs, consult your chiropractor. Seek accurate information and make an informed choice to enhance your child’s ability to function in a greater state of health. Make sure your child has the best chance of all by having a nervous system free of subluxations. Chiropractic is a team approach to better health.

Emil Nardone operates Nardone Chiropractic in Wheeling. He received a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Southern California University of Health Sciences in 2000. He is a graduate of John Marshall High School and Fairmont State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology with a minor in chemistry. He is board certified in acupuncture and corrective exercises.