If you are a mom, hope to be a mom, or love a mom, the information in “The Scary Truth about Childbirth” in the January/February 2017 issue of Mother Jones magazine is important. Those who know problems can happen can take steps to avoid the worst.
Childbirth can be fatal. At 37, my healthy mother died in labor – in a hospital – in the United States. I was 9, my sister 7; we had our new brother – but no mom. My mom’s doctor told my dad that she had hemorrhaged to death – “a very rare occurrence.”
Even today, maternal mortality in the U.S. is disgustingly high. A 2016 article in Time notes, “A 2015 report from the World Health Organization (WHO) pointed out that the U.S. has a higher maternal mortality rate than Iran, Libya and Turkey. The WHO determined that half of the U.S. deaths were preventable [my emphasis. No one in that hospital, for instance, was paying attention to my mom as she bled to death] . . .
The United Nations set a goal to reduce the global maternal mortality rate by 75% between 1990 and 2015, and while most nations succeeded in lowering that number, the U.S. has experienced an uptick in recent years. A report published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology found that from 2000 to 2014, the maternal mortality rate for 48 states and Washington, D.C. increased 27% from close to 19 deaths per 100,000 live births to close to 24 deaths per 100,000 live births. In Texas, the rate doubled between 2010 to 2012.” [A likely reason for that upswing in deaths is that Texas has closed almost all its Planned Parenthood clinics – which give birth control, family planning information, treat medical issues, and do legal abortions; leaving few or no low-cost medical alternatives for the poor in Texas].
Even if the mom and child make it through the birth, “The Scary Truth About Childbirth” highlights problems and injuries that happen during labor but are often not recognized.
Almost no one talks about the possibilities of incontinence or prolapse or severe pain or . . . (and this includes most doctors – who don’t check for possible injuries). A woman may not know until 20, 30, 40, 50 years later that she has a problem.
For one woman I know who had two children, her pelvis bones were broken each time because of the intense pressure during childbirth. What was wrong with her doctor to let her go through two labors like that? Obviously the doctor didn’t know what to do, and my friend has had many issues as a result. Perhaps if she had known (or her doctor was more aware and competent), my friend could have long ago taken steps to improve her situation – or at least not had to repeat the ordeal during the birth of her second child.
I also know three women who have had the surgery for incontinence. This is a condition that most women won’t talk about, and maybe the fact that I know of these three (none in my opinion “successful” operations) reflects that people are more likely to complain when something goes wrong than to tell that they have had a successful procedure for an embarrassing condition. It must work for some, but of those examples I know, one woman has had the operation three times (at a current cost of $28,000 each time, so you better be rich enough to have good medical insurance)! The second says she will never be able to have intercourse again because of the misplacement of the mesh insert, and the third, a Maui woman who was touted as having a “successful” operation and had been an avid hiker says that she will never again be able to hike Haleakala, our Maui volcano, a long and a bit challenging adventure.
Please read and share “The Scary Truth About Childbirth” by Kiera Butler, a well-researched and disturbing Mother Jones article – with your friends, your doctor, with every woman you know. If you are mom, find a doctor who takes these problems seriously. If your gynecologist doesn’t check for these rather common issues, your future quality of life may very well be impacted. Also do Pilates and yoga that will strengthen your pelvic floor.
Be aware. What you don’t know can hurt you.
Please read: “The Scary Truth About Childbirth”
In a related posting several years ago, I shared the Atlantic Monthly article, “How Long Can You Wait to Have a Baby?”
That article focuses on the faulty information that fertility rates drop dramatically after a woman is 35. That idea, says the author, is based partially on a study of French women from the years 1670 through 1830 — before electric lights, antibiotics, or fertility treatments.
Both articles have information we should know. Be healthy; be informed; take good care of yourself.
And my friend Chris sent me the link to “After Texas Stopped Funding . . .” – an LA Times article: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-planned-parenthood-texas-births-20160203-story.html
If you can’t afford birth control, you probably can’t afford a child. If you don’t want to use birth control, don’t use it. If you are against abortion, don’t have one. Let others decide what’s best for themselves. Pregnancy has serious consequences.
Wishing you and all you love health and happiness. Aloha, Renée
How have you been doing with your 2017 New Year’s resolutions? Like me, your intentions may have been easy to make — but not that easy to fulfill. One of my resolutions was to take swimming lessons. Although I can swim, I’m not really competent nor confident in the water. It’s taken me until this month to enroll in a class. I’ve gone to the three lessons. There are five more classes, and I should be practicing during the week, which I’ve done once. Why is something that I know would be good — and many people especially here in Hawaii love to do – so hard for me to accomplish?
In his book The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor says that “whether it’s a strict diet, a New Year’s resolution, or an attempt at daily guitar practice, the reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower. We think we can go from 0 to 60 in an instant, changing or overturning ingrained life habits through the sheer force of will. Tal [the author’s mentor] thought telling himself he was on a diet would be enough to keep him away from his mother’s chocolate cake. [But after struggling and resisting for hours, he got up in the middle of the night and ate the entire remaining cake!]. I thought telling myself to follow some spreadsheet would discipline me enough to practice the guitar. Well, that worked . . . for four days. Then I went back to regularly scheduled programing.
WILLPOWER GETS A WORKOUT
The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that the more we use it, the more worn-out it gets” (152). . . .
“Unfortunately, we face a steady stream of tasks that deplete our willpower every single day. Whether it’s avoiding the desert table at the company lunch, staying focused on a computer spreadsheet for hours on end, or sitting still through a three-hour meeting, our willpower is consistently being put to the test. So it’s no wonder, really, that we so easily give in to our old habits, to the easiest and most comfortable path, as we progress through the day. This invisible pull toward the path of least resistance can dictate more of our lives than we realize, creating an impassible barrier to change and positive growth.
THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
As Cathy sits tethered to her desk on Tuesday, she daydreams about the upcoming Saturday and all its possibilities. She wants to go biking on the trail by her house, join in a pickup soccer game at the local park, and see that Matisse exhibit at the museum.. She might even dive into that pile of books she has been wanting to read. Like all of us, Cathy has a number of hobbies and activities that engage her interests and strengths, energize her days, and make her happy. And yet, when her free Saturday actually does roll around, where does she end up? Conspicuously not on her bike or at the soccer field, and certainly not at that art exhibit everybody was raving about–it’s 20 minutes away! Her remote control, on the other hand, is within very easy reach, and Bravo happens to be airing a Top Chef marathon. Four hours later, Cathy has sunk deeper and deeper into the couch, unable to shake a listless sense of disappointment. She had better plans for the afternoon, and she wonders what happened to them.
What happened to Cathy was something that happens to all of us at one time or another. Inactivity is simply the easiest option. Unfortunately, we don’t enjoy it nearly as much as we think we do. In general, Americans actually find free time more difficult to enjoy than work. If that sounds ridiculous, consider this: For the most part, our jobs require us to use our skills, engage our minds, and pursue our goals–all things that have been shown to contribute to happiness. Of course, leisure activities can do this too, but because they’re not required of us–because there is no “leisure boss” leaning over our shoulder on Sunday mornings telling us we’d better be at the art museum by 9 A.M. sharp–we often find it difficult to muster the energy necessary to kick-start them. So we follow the path of least resistance, and that path inevitably leads us to the couch and the television. And because we are ‘mere bundles of habit,’ the more often we succumb to this path, the more difficult it becomes to change directions.
Unfortunately, though these times of ‘passive leisure,’ like watching TV and trolling around on Facebook, might be easier and more convenient than biking or looking at art or playing soccer, they don’t offer the same rewards. Studies show that these activities are enjoyable and engaging for only about 30 minutes, [my emphasis] then they start sapping our energy, creating what psychologists call ‘psychic entropy’– that listless, apathetic feeling Cathy experience.
On the other hand, ‘active leisure’ like hobbies, games, and sports enhance our concentration, engagement, motivation, and sense of enjoyment. Studies have found that American teenagers are two and half times more likely to experience elevated enjoyment when engaged in a hobby than when watching TV, and three times more likely when playing a sport. And yet here’s the paradox: These same teenagers spend four times as many hours watching TV as they do engaging in sports or hobbies. So what gives? Or, as psychologist [and writer of Flow, The Dynamics of Flow, & Creativity] Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi put it more eloquently, “Why would we spend four times more time doing something that has less than half the chance of making us feel good?”
The answer is that we are drawn–powerfully, magnetically–to those things that are easy, convenient, and habitual, and it is incredibly difficult to overcome this inertia [my emphasis]. Active leisure is more enjoyable, but it almost always requires more initial effort–getting the bike out of the garage, driving to the museum, tuning the guitar, and so on. Csikszentmihalyi calls this ‘activation energy.’ In physics, activation energy is the initial spark needed to catalyze a reaction. The same energy, both physical and mental, is needed of people to overcome inertia and kick-start a positive habit. Otherwise, human nature takes us down the path of least resistance time and time again” (152-156). . . .
“In the workplace, the path of least resistance is especially maladaptive, luring us into a whole host of bad habits that breed procrastination and undercut productivity. , , , Regardless of our job description, we never seem to have enough time to get everything done. Eight-hour workdays turn into 12- and 14-hur ones, and still we feel behind. How can this be? Why do we have so much trouble being productive? . . .The American Management Association reports that employees spend an average of 107 minutes on e-mail a day. , , . And I suspect that if most office workers tallied up all the minutes they spent each day on blogs, social networking sites, Amazon.com, and so forth, it would paint a very alarming picture indeed. . . .
And that’s not even the worst of it. The actual time we give to these distractions is part of the problem, but the larger issue is that our attention hits a wall each time we stray. Research shows that the average employee gets interrupted from their work every 11 minutes, and on each occasion experiences a loss of concentration and flow that takes almost as many minutes to recover from. Yet in today’s world, it’s just too easy for us to be tempted. As a New York Times article put it, “distracting oneself used to consist of sharpening a half-dozen pencils or lighting a cigarette. Today, there is a universe of diversions to buy, hear, watch and forward, which makes focusing on a task all the more challenging. . . . It’s not the sheer number and volume of distractions that gets us into trouble; it’s the ease of access to them. . . . In short, distraction, always just one click away, has become the path of least resistance. . . .
[However, you can] lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt [put the guitar on the chair where you usually sit], and raise it for habits you want to avoid [freeze your credit cards in a block of ice if you are trying to stop impulse buying]. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change” (157-161). . . .
For instance, “in our quest for healthier eating habits, researchers have found that they can cut cafeteria ice cream consumption in half by simply closing the lid of an ice cream cooler. And that when people are required to wait in another, separate line to purchase chips and candy, far fewer will do so. In essence, the more effort it takes us to obtain unhealthy food, the less we’ll eat of it, and vice versa. This is why nutritionists recommend that we prepare healthy snacks in advance so that we can simply pull them out of the refrigerator, and why they recommend that when we do eat junk foods, we take out a small portion, then put the rest of the bag away, well out of our reach (163). . . .
For the author Shawn Achor’s example of Ted, the guy who is working almost all the time, and yet is not getting much done, there are specific actions that will help him establish better work habits.
SAVE TIME BY ADDING TIME
“The first step is a seemingly counterintuitive one–disable many of the shortcuts that were originally designed to ‘save time’ at the office. For example, I encouraged Ted to keep his e-mail program closed while he worked, so it would no longer send jarring alerts whenever he received new mail. Any time he wanted to check e-mail, he’d have to actively open the program and wait for it to load. While this reduced involuntary interruptions, it was still too easy for him to click on the little Outlook icon whenever his mind wandered, so to protect against habitual checking, we made it even more difficult. We disabled the automatic login and password for the account, took the shortcut off the computer desktop, then hid the application icon in an empty folder, buried in another empty folder, buried in another empty folder. Essentially, we created the electronic version of Russian stacking dolls. As he told me one day at the office, only half jokingly, it was now “a total pain in the ass’ to check e-mail.
‘Now we’re getting somewhere,’ I replied.
We did the same for his other distractions, disabling his stock widget, changing his home page from CNN to a blank search page, and even turning off his computer’s ability to process cookies so it couldn’t ‘remember’ the stocks and websites he usually checked. Every additional button he was required to click, even every additional address he was required to type into a web browser, raised the barrier to procrastination and improved his chances of remaining on task. I pointed out that he still had complete freedom to do what he wanted; just like in an opt-out program, his choice had not been taken away at all. The only thing that had changed was the default, which was not set to productivity, instead of to distraction. . . .
Ted was not only skeptical, but a little annoyed with me. It seemed to him (and to the other executives on whom I had inflicted similar miseries) that I was only making their busy lives more difficult. . . . But a few days later, once they realized how much more work they were getting done (and in less time), they had come around.
SLEEP IN YOUR GYM CLOTHES
. . . Limiting the choices we have to make can also help lower the barrier to positive change. . . studies showed that with every additional choice people are asked to make, their physical stamina, ability to perform numerical calculations, persistence in the face of failure, and overall focus drop dramatically. And these don’t have to be difficult decisions either–the questions are more ‘chocolate or vanilla?’ than they are Sophie’s Choice. . . .
If you’ve ever tried to start up the habit of early-morning exercise, you have probably encountered how easy it is to get derailed by too much choice. Each morning after the alarm clock sounds, the inner monologue goes something like this: Should I hit the snooze button or get up immediately? What should I wear to work out this morning? Should I go for a run or go to the gym? Should I go to the nearby gym that/s more crowded or the quieter gym that is slightly farther away? What kind of cardio should I do when I get there? Should I lift weights? Should I go to kickboxing class or maybe yoga? And by that point you’re so exhausted by all the options, you’ve fallen back asleep. At least that’s what would happen to me. So I decided to decrease the number of choices I would have to make in order to get myself to the gym.
Each night before I went to sleep, I wrote out a plan for where I would exercise in the morning and what parts of my body I would focus on. Then, I put my sneakers right by my bed. Finally–and most important–I just went to sleep in my gym clothes. (And my mom wonders why I’m not married yet.)
But the clothes were clean, and I had essentially decreased the activation energy enough so that when I woke up the next morning, all I had to do was roll off my bed, put my feet (which already had socks on them) into my shoes, and I was out the door. The decisions that seemed too daunting in my groggy morning state had been decided for me, ahead of time. And it worked. Eliminating the choices and reducing the activation energy made getting up and going to the gym the default mode. As a result, once I ingrained a lifetime positive habit of morning exercise, I now don’t have to sleep in my gym clothes anymore. . . .
This isn’t just about getting yourself to exercise. Think of the positive changes you want to make at your job [or at home or with personal growth], and figure out what it would mean to ‘just get your shoes on’ at work. The less energy it takes to kick-start a positive habit, the more likely that habit will stick.
SET RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
Whether you’re trying to change your habits at work or at home, the key to reducing choice is setting and following a few simple rules . . . like deciding ahead of time when, where, and how I was going to work out in the morning. . . . [S]etting rules in advance can free us frm the constant barrage of willpower-depleting choices that make a real difference in our lives. If we make a rule to never drive a car when we’ve had more than one drink, for example, we eliminate the stress and uncertainty of trying to make a judgment call every time we aren’t sure if we’re too drunk to drive (which probably means we are). At work, setting rules to reduce the volume of choice can be incredibly effective. For example, if we set rules to only check our e-mail once per hour, or to only have one coffee break per morning, we are less likely to succumb in the moment, which helps these rules to become habits we stick to by default. . . .
The key to . . . permanent, positive change — is to create habits that automatically pay dividends, without continued concerted effort or extensive reserves of willpower. The key to creating these habits is ritual, repeated practice, until the actions become ingrained in your brain’s neural chemistry. And the key to daily practice is to put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible. Identify the activation energy–the time, the choices, the mental and physical effort they require–and then reduce it. If you can cut the activation energy for those habits that lead to success, even by as little as 20 seconds at a time, it won’t be long before you start reaping their benefits. The first step metaphorically–and sometimes literally–is just to get your shoes on” (163-170).
Or for me, just jump in the water – and swim. I will go to my five remaining swimming classes. In October and much of November, I will have easy access to a pool, so I’ll continue practicing there. My goal is to swim for an hour without stopping. Surely, I can do that (and not hate it) before the end of December — when I’ll write another New Year’s resolution list.
Image from – http://www.freeimages.com/search/woman-swimming
The book has other good advice including a section on the importance of relationships. I encourage you to read The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. If you can’t get that done by the end of the year, you could add it to your 2018 New Year’s resolutions.
What about you? It’s not too late to revisit your 2017 New Year’s resolution list. Perhaps you’ve been relying on your willpower to accomplish your goals. It’s probably not enough. As Shawn Achor suggests – Figure out how can you put your desired actions as close to the path of least resistance as humanly possible.
Besides working on my swimming, I’m putting my vitamins on the counter each morning right by the sink; the bottles must be back in the cabinet before the end of the day. Learning to play a ukulele is also a goal, so like Shawn Achor, I’ve been leaving the instrument on my chair.
The year isn’t over. You can still accomplish what you resolved to do. Good luck.
The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor <https://www.amazon.com/Happiness-Advantage-Principles-Success-Performance/dp/0753539470/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503851065&sr=8-1&keywords=the+happiness+advantage+by+shawn+anchor
P.S. I recommend this book for other good insights. Although the focus is for success and performance at work, you can apply the principles in all aspects of your life. “Principle #7 SOCIAL INVESTMENT – Why Social Support is Your Single Greatest Asset” is particularly useful.
Life is sweet; life is hard. How we handle the hard times is essential to our growth.
Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher, cultural critic, and poet, whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history, realized that difficulties of every sort were to be welcomed by those seeking fulfillment.
“Like his pastor father, Nietzsche had been committed to the task of consolation. Like his father, he had wished to offer us paths to fulfillment. But, he said, ‘The worst sickness of men has originated in the way they have combated their sicknesses. What seemed a cure has in the long run produced something worse than what it was supposed to overcome. the means which worked immediately, anaesthetizing, and intoxicating, the so-called consolations,were ignorantly supposed to be actual cures. . . . these instantaneous alleviations often had to be paid for with a general and profound worsening of the complaint'” (de Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, p. 244).
Instead of facing their difficulties, many turn to drugs and alcohol to anaesthetize themselves.
According to a recent New York Times article:
AKRON, Ohio — Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.
The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.
Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017.
Because drug deaths take a long time to certify, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will not be able to calculate final numbers until December. The Times compiled estimates for 2016 from hundreds of state health departments and county coroners and medical examiners. Together they represent data from states and counties that accounted for 76 percent of overdose deaths in 2015. They are a first look at the extent of the drug overdose epidemic last year, a detailed accounting of a modern plague.
The initial data points to large increases in drug overdose deaths in states along the East Coast, particularly Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In Ohio, which filed a lawsuit last week accusing five drug companies of abetting the opioid epidemic, we estimate overdose deaths increased by more than 25 percent in 2016.
“Heroin is the devil’s drug, man. It is,” Cliff Parker said, sitting on a bench in Grace Park in Akron. Mr. Parker, 24, graduated from high school not too far from here, in nearby Copley, where he was a multisport athlete. In his senior year, he was a varsity wrestler and earned a scholarship to the University of Akron. Like his friends and teammates, he started using prescription painkillers at parties. It was fun, he said. By the time it stopped being fun, it was too late. Pills soon turned to heroin, and his life began slipping away from him.
Mr. Parker’s story is familiar in the Akron area. From a distance, it would be easy to paint Akron — “Rubber Capital of the World” — as a stereotypical example of Rust Belt decay. But that’s far from a complete picture. While manufacturing jobs have declined and the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, unemployment in Summit County, where Akron sits, is roughly in line with the United States as a whole. The Goodyear factories have been retooled into technology centers for research and polymer science. The city has begun to rebuild. But deaths from drug overdose here have skyrocketed. . .
There are many ways to anaesthetize yourself: alcohol, smoking, over-eating. . . . Heck, you can be addicted to running or paddling (but then at least you will have a clear head).
Many years ago after being introduced in a terrific literature class to Leo Tolstoy’s novels War and Peace and Anna Karenina, my friend Melinda introduced me to some of Tolstoy’s non-fiction. One convincing piece was Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?
Recently, I came across Maria Popova’s blog on Tolstoy’s “Stupefy” essay. Tolstoy’s ideas still ring true today.
“The seeing, spiritual being, whose manifestation we commonly call conscience, always points with one end towards right and with the other towards wrong, and we do not notice it while we follow the course it shows.”
By Maria Popova (From: https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/30/why-do-men-stupefy-themselves-leo-tolstoy/)
“The people of the United States spend exactly as much money on booze alone as on the space program,” Isaac Asimov quipped in a witty and wise 1969 response to a reader who had berated him on the expense of space exploration. At no other time of the year are our cultural priorities more glaring than during our holiday merriment, which entails very little cosmos and very many Cosmos. Long before Asimov, another sage of the human spirit set out to unravel the mystery of why such substances appeal to us so: In 1890, a decade after his timelessly enlightening spiritual memoir and midway through his Calendar of Wisdom magnum opus, Leo Tolstoy penned an insightful essay titled “Why Do Men Stupefy Themselves?” as a preface to a book on “drunkenness” by a Russian physician named P. S. Alexeyev. Eventually included in the altogether excellent posthumous volume Recollections and Essays (public library; free ebook), Tolstoy’s inquiry peers into the deeper psychological layers and philosophical aspects of substance abuse and addiction.
Decades before the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous and nearly a century before alcohol abuse was recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, Tolstoy writes:
What is the explanation of the fact that people use things that stupefy them: vodka, wine, beer, hashish, opium, tobacco, and other things less common: ether, morphia, fly-agaric [hallucinogenic mushrooms] etc.? Why did the practice begin? Why has it spread so rapidly, and why is it still spreading among all sorts of people, savage and civilized? How is it that where there is no vodka, wine or beer, we find opium, hashish, fly-agaric, and the like, and that tobacco is used everywhere?
Why do people wish to stupefy themselves?
Ask anyone why he began drinking wine and why he now drinks it. He will reply, “Oh, I like it, and everybody drinks,” and he may add, “it cheers me up.” Some those who have never once taken the trouble to consider whether they do well or ill to drink wine may add that wine is good for the health and adds to one’s strength; that is to say, will make a statement long since proved baseless.
Ask a smoker why he began to use tobacco and why he now smokes, and he also will reply: “To while away the time; everybody smokes.”
Coconuts are an almost perfect food: highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free so can be used as a milk substitute by those with lactose intolerance as well as vegans says, https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-coconut-milk
Given proper care and growing conditions coconuts palms grow rapidly, can produce up to 100 coconuts a year, and live to be 100 years old! So if you are lucky enough to have access to coconuts – and they are grown in more than 90 countries around the world, one delicious way to use them is to make your own coconut milk.
In the May/June 2017 issue of Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi magazine, “Cuckoo for Coconuts,” Ryan Burden shares his knowledge and passion for coconuts, including this recipe for coconut milk:
How to make homemade Coconut Milk:
- One older, shaker coconut [almost fully mature, these coconuts have thick meat and are rich in coconut oil].
- 1 or 2 rubber or spoonmeat coconuts [younger coconuts with jelly consistency meat]
Split the coconut in half by tapping firmly around the circumference. Tip: You can use any hard surface, like the back of a machete, a cleaver, even a stone.
Scrape out the meat using a coconut tool or butter knife; cut into 2-inch pieces.
Fill a high-powered blender halfway with coconut pieces and top with water. Water from a sweet coconut is best, but you can use plain H20. If you do, add a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt.
Tip: Make sure the water is at least 73 degrees; otherwise, the oils won’t emerge.
Blend on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Tip: Coconut meat is tough. Gradually increasing the speed avoids overheating the blender.
Strain through a nutmilk bag or fine cheesecloth. Squeeze out every bit, and put into a jar.
Fill to the very top, leaving no air in the jar to spoil the water. Chill immediately.
After the jar is opened, milk will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, but is best enjoyed within two days.
For the complete article including how to open a coconut, go to <https://mauimagazine.net/coconuts/
Have fun making – and drinking your homemade coconut milk.
“Compassion isn’t weakness. Compassion is strength,” says John Lewis, M.B.A. CEO and founder of Bad Ass Vegan
From: Thrive Vegan Magazine: Plant-Based Culture, Food, Lifestyle, Athletes, Health, Issue 7, p. 46-47.
During a podcast with Rich Roll, John Lewis also said,
“No one is responsible for your well being . . . take control of your own health,” says John Lewis.
Rich Roll notes,
“John Lewis wasn’t always the exemplary model of health and advocacy he is today. Tipping the scales at 315 pounds by his freshman year in high school, things could have easily gone sideways for this young man growing up in Ferguson, Missouri.
But instead of drugs and gangs, he turned to sports, finding solace and refuge in basketball and football. Honing his skills in both high school and college helped him ditch his fat kid image and triggered his life-long love for healthy living.
Nonetheless, John began experiencing some serious, negative health issues despite maintaining an athletic nature post-college. He sought medical advice and was informed that excessive animal protein consumption just might be the culprit. That advice, combined with his mother’s colon cancer diagnosis, catalyzed an experiment with vegetarianism. Little did he know, that experiment would change his life.
In short shrift, ditching meat resolved his health issues. More importantly, the lifestyle aligned with his values. So it wasn’t long before John jettisoned all animal products from his plate and went entirely vegan.
Needless to say, this was an unlikely move for a football loving gym rat. His friends were not amused.
But John never felt better. The lights went on, opening him to an entirely new way of living and being that brought his life path into focus.”
Be compassionate. Be healthy. Aloha, Renée
We’ve just celebrated our annual Thanksgiving feast in the U.S.; the Christmas and New Year season with many gatherings and parties is ahead. So we don’t balloon up in size, it’s a time to be particularly conscious of our eating choices. But making conscious choices can be more than just looking at the calories we consume.
At the Bali Vegan Festival in October, in the presentation, “Why Veganism is the Best Choice,” Judit Németh-Pach, the Hungarian Ambassador to Indonesia, provided many compelling facts and reasons to become vegan.
One source she sited was EatingOurFuture.com with its compilation of many convincing articles and scientific studies.
Given our anatomy, what foods are best for humans?
“As a group, vegetarians/vegans live longer than meat-eaters. Furthermore, vegetarians/vegans generally enjoy better health:
- having less of the serious chronic diseases than the meat-eaters suffer;
- with less of the associated disability and pain than the meat-eaters suffer; and
- being less of a financial & social burden on their family and friends than are the meat-eaters with their higher rates of chronic degenerative disease.
Being healthier overall, vegetarians have more potential for the freedom & ability to live life to the full and independently for a longer time.”
What food choices are sustainable?Go to: https://eatingourfuture.wordpress.com/
How do food choices affect greenhouse gas emissions?
Yikes! Nooooooo. Low fat, organic cheese is worse than pork in creating greenhouse gases!! (I love good cheeses)!
What about eating fish and seafood? Aren’t they good protein options?
“1/. The United Nations reports: “According to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate, over 70% of the world’s fish species are either fully exploited or depleted. The dramatic increase of destructive fishing techniques worldwide destroys marine mammals and entire ecosystems… oceans are cleared at twice the rate of forests…”
2/. “Global marine populations slashed by half since 1970: WWF… Populations of marine mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have dropped by about half in the past four decades, with fish critical to human food suffering some of the greatest declines… “Overfishing, destruction of marine habitats and climate change have dire consequences for the entire human population… The pace of change in the ocean tells us there’s no time to waste,” Lambertini [head of WWF International] said. “These changes are happening in our lifetime. We can and we must correct course now.”…”
3/. “Seafood hit by climate change, Australian study finds… “There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.”… Around 61 per cent of wild fish stocks are “fully fished” and 29 per cent “over-fished”, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Just 10 per cent are under-fished, the organization’s 2014 World Fisheries report said…”
4/. “Rich countries pay zombie fishing boats $5 billion a year to plunder the seas…” – http://qz.com/225432/rich-countries-pay-zombie-fishing-boats-5-billion-a-year-to-plunder-the-seas/
And there is more –
The United Nations “urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet.”
So, what can we eat to be healthy — and have sustainable food sources?
If you give up meat, seafood, and dairy to eat french fries, you will not be healthy. Vegans need to be conscious of their choices too.
So what about me? Have I become a vegan? I’ve been vegetarian since 2003 and that isn’t hard. In fact, it is getting easier all the time with almost all restaurants and even gatherings in homes offering tasty vegetarian options. However, giving up eggs and really good cheeses is a challenge for me. Right now, I’m an aspiring vegan – for my own health and for that of our planet.
What about you? What conscious choices about your food are you or could you be making?
Banner image is of a healthy vegan choice at Paradiso – The World’s First Organic Vegan Cinema – and major sponsor of the Bali Vegan Festival. When you go to Ubud, Bali, be sure to go to Paradiso for daily movie screenings, family afternoons, workshops, thematic festivals, live music shows, art exhibitions, private events, and excellent food. http://www.paradisoubud.com/
Now more aware of the health benefits of coconuts, I’ve been seeing how I can get more of the wonderful power food. Here’s a simple recipe for homemade coconut butter that you might want to try too.
Meagen, the Vegan Food Addict, says, “Coconut butter, sometimes referred to as creamed coconut, is becoming increasingly popular. With its popularity, however, it can be expensive and often difficult to find. The good news though is that you can still enjoy it…just make your own! If you have access to shredded coconut or coconut flakes, you are in luck.
Check out this recipe:
Homemade Coconut Butter
Yields approximately 1 cup
4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
Place coconut in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5-10 minutes*, or until smooth; stopping occasionally to scrape sides of bowl.
Store coconut butter in an airtight container at room temperature, in the fridge, or freezer. Coconut butter will begin to solidify after resting.
*Processing time may take more or less time depending on food processor”
Meagen has many more tasty recipes including Tikil Gomen, (Ethiopian Cabbage and Potatoes). Check out her blog.
Coconut Butter and more from Meagen: ttps://veganfoodaddict.wordpress.com
Endless Benefits, Endless Uses – Coconut trees have been used for thousands of years for building materials, food, oil, milk, water, medicine, a high energy fuel source, and more. (In the 2010 movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks survived on coconuts – so we know how important they can be).
Virgin or cold pressed (non-refined, non-bleached and non-deodorized) coconut oil is often described as a super oil, the “healthiest oil on earth,” and thanks to its important health benefits, it has been declared the new power food. Extensive research confirms that those who use coconut oil are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, and colon problems than unsaturated fat eaters.
In a Bali Advertiser feature article, Ines Wynn, notes,
“The Health Benefits of cold pressed Virgin Coconut Oil are numerous; its major properties include:
- Nutrient rich: It is nature’s richest source of lauric acid, which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. It has a small amount of vitamins and minerals like choline, iron, and, important for cardiovascular health, vitamin E and vitamin K.
- Thyroid-stimulating: Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (triglycerides) that stimulate metabolism and give you more energy.
- Diabetes inhibitor: Helps keep diabetes in check. It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin.
- Immune system supporter: The rich lauric acid supports the body’s immune system.
- Candida inhibitor: Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.
- Weight loss aid: Even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss. The medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the brain
- Brain nourishment: Studies show that it improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
- Skin protection: When applied externally, it forms a protective antibacterial layer shielding the infected body part. Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue.
Although refined vegetable oils are now known to have low heat tolerances and release toxins called aldehydes when heated to high temperature, Virgin Coconut Oil is heat resistant and due to its high levels of anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties does not go rancid even after one year at room temperature. Virgin Coconut Oil has no detrimental side effects and unlike other vegetable oils, it does not form harmful by-products.
Worldwide, eleven million farmers in 90 countries grow coconut. Over 80% are situated in Asia-Pacific, with Indonesia and the Philippines being the largest producers. Virtually all these farmers are poor and receive little benefit for their toil. Consequently they are not investing in replanting, and coconut plantations have declined as a result. Possibly as much as 30% of the Indonesian coconut plantation area is considered as senile, meaning very low productivity.
Generally, consumers are unaware that Virgin Coconut Oil may be produced in various ways. Most virgin coconut oil in Indonesia is derived from coconut milk, generally as a by-product of the large desiccated coconut industry [copra]. In the same way, many consumers are unaware that most coconut water packed in Tetra Pak is made from mature coconut water derived from other bulk processing coconut industries.
Image from: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetra_Pak>.
However, virgin coconut oil is suitable for human consumption in its natural state immediately after extraction and filtration requiring no return to the original copra trade model of production” (27).
A good link for information about the difference between copra production of coconut oil (the most common and cheapest available coconut oil) and that of virgin coconut oil, go to http://www.naturepacific.com/page/36/learn-about-coconuts-%7C-virgin-coconut-oil-versus-coconut-(copra)-oil
In part, that article says, a villager “first gathers coconuts that have fallen on the ground, cuts the nut in half and removes the white coconut meat. The coconut meat is then usually dried on a rack over a fire (they call them copra smokers) which helps to dry out the coconut meat and it turns a grey colour and has a rancid smell. The biggest and most abundant amount of wild coconuts are found in remote villages scattered across the Pacific and Asia. Sometime it can take up to 3-4 months before the villagers can get their bags of smoked copra to the big copra mills in town. The mills are usually situated 100’s of miles away from these villagers. The copra mills resemble a smaller version of a sugar crushing mill and processing of the copra is similar to that found in the sugar mills. The copra is pressed and because the coconut is very smoky or rancid they use chemicals to bleach and clean the oil. This happens in all the basic edible food oils today in the market place. This is also the reason why this style of COCONUT OIL (Copra) processing became known in the old days as poor man’s oil or dirty oil.”
The writer also warns, “Today because of the high demand for Virgin Coconut Oil many unscrupulous manufacturers [or companies that are more focused on making their shareholders happy] are getting cheap copra oils and running them through centrifuge spinning machines to clean up the oils and also state they are ORGANIC. While the centrifuges remove the smell and all flavour from the oils the Copra COCONUT OIL is a much thicker oil that will NOT quickly absorb into the skin and does contain TRANS FAT. Except for a higher level of lauric acid it is very similar to all other trans fat food oils on the market due to the processing. If you put this type of oil on your skin it is just that OIL and will clog the pores of your skin.”
This is again another example that we should know our farmers and how our food is produced and processed.
However, today “in Bali and other parts of Indonesia, Kokonut Pacific, an internationally focused organization, is actively involved in establishing virgin coconut oil and down-stream value added opportunities [coconut water, coconut skim milk, and coconut flour. . .] for small scale coconut farmers, using an entirely different approach to making Virgin Coconut Oil. By taking the processing right back to the farm level, it enables rural families to produce pure virgin oil within one hour of opening their coconuts. These coconuts are grown and processed locally and organically, without the use of fertilizers or other chemical inputs. . . .
Dr. Dan Etherington – a pioneer of VCO – from Kokonut Pacific Australia, invented DMR (Direct Micro Expelling) technology, a process that produces pure, natural, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil from fresh coconuts. Currently, this technology is being used in Bali, Java, and Sulawesi where Kokonut Pacific works collaboratively with over 600 certified organic farms in projects designed to be models of sustainable healthy living for the individual and for the planet.
VCO is available in many retail outlets. But be a discerning customer. Not all oils labeled Virgin Coconut Oil are that. Many are mixed with other vegetable oils and the labels do not always indicate that. buy from a reputable palace and avoid the cheap varieties.
If you want to combine being good to your body with being good to your soul, look for SoleOil, an organic VCO marketed by Yayasan Solemen, one of the most visible NGS in Bali.
SoleOil’s story is rather special. Together with the Tree of Life Project Bali it aims to support the small-scale farmer project in Tabanan while receiving Rp 10k per bottle for Solemen’s many projects. The SoleOil project is not only a way to support small-scale farmers, it also is a means to empower rural women whose access to a sustainable business is restricted by their location.
From a food crop to a health crop, coconut is now becoming a sunrise industry. It is best positioned to become the world’s healthiest sustainable plant-based edible oil. At a time when concerns of agricultural productivity and global nutrition form a central part of policy development for all countries, the coconut palm offers an opportunity for a viable alternative to unsustainable, harmful mono-culture agricultural systems. . .
When properly handled, coconut culture means zero disruption to biomass or peat soils. No clearing of rain forest. No displacement of local populations. Coconut palms are a valuable, existing, in ground plant-based resource of healthy nutrition and numerous downstream products.
To read more about Virgin Coconut Oil and the DME production process, go to www.kokonutpacific.com.au
Text from: Wynn, Ines. “The Tree of Life Project in Bali.” Bali Advertiser, 12 – 26 October, 2016, p. 27.
Be healthy. Have coconuts in your life.
Photos from: SoleOil, NaturePacific, & Kokonut Pacific.
On Maui, we enjoy many blessings: the Hawaiian culture of aloha and chant, beautiful beaches, volcanoes, rain forests, temperate weather, splendid sunrises and sunsets, outrigger canoe paddling, . . . a vacation paradise. However, we import about 90% of our food and fuel. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean – 2,336 miles from San Francisco and about 4,034 miles from Tokyo – we are very food and energy insecure.
This is a fact of concern.
However, most of us in Hawaii have been over-looking a terrific food source – a much-maligned tree that will give you a painful puncture wound if you step on its thorn. Its beans have been used as cattle and pig fodder or for firewood (mesquite). Tough and hearty – often looking like dead, brown trees during dry conditions, but quickly becoming green with new growth after a rain, kiawe trees are on all the leeward coasts of the Hawaiian islands.
A recent workshop shared that the kiawe beans – from that non-native, drought and salt resistant invasive tree – is actually a local super food. Wild-food guru Sunny Savage says, “Millions of pounds of kiawe beans are just falling to the ground every year, completely and utterly unloved. This tree of life can produce up to 6 harvests per year” (Wild Food Plants of Hawaii, 111).
We don’t need to be food insecure in Hawaii if we learn how to hunt (not hard in Kihei and other dry areas in Hawaii), gather, sort, clean, dry, make flour, and create from recipes using kiawe bean pods.
Sunny Savage and Vince Dodge presented our Kiawe 101 hands-on Workshop in Kihei, Maui. Vince, of Wai’anae Gold, mills kiawe beans into flour and makes delicious products such as ‘aina bars, a raw power bar from kiawe flour.
Vince and Sunny told us that kiawe (aka mesquite /algarrobo), was introduced in 1826, by a French Jesuit priest who had stopped in Peru for a while on his way to Hawaii. Father Alexis Bachelot was impressed by the uses the Peruvians made of the tree and brought it here. A memorial plaque at the old Catholic Mission on Fort Street in Honolulu commemorates that very first tree; its stump is still there today.
In Hawaii, the seedpods became animal fodder and firewood but was not eaten by the people. In contrast, in the Americas, the Middle East, India and many other places where the tree is native, the dried pulverized bean pods were a revered staple food. Naturally sweet, nutrient dense and diabetic friendly, kiawe bean pod flour is a Hawaiian Super Food. All our islands are blessed with abundant kiawe forests.
Wai’anae Gold is working with families to produce food and create livelihoods for the future. For ten years Wai’anae Gold under the leadership of Vince Dodge has been on this path educating and encouraging communities to return to the bounty that the `aina has provided for us all.
To see recipes, buy milled kiawe flour and other kiawe products direct, go to the Wai’anae Gold site:< http://waianaegold.com/ >
Vince says, “We are `Ai Pohaku – The Stone Eaters. Come and join us. He ali`i ka `aina. He kauwa ke kanaka. The land is chief, people its servants (`Olelo No`eau 531 Pukui 1983).”
For the workshop, Vince and Sunny shared how to hunt, gather, select, dry, and use kiawe. We got to taste the super sweet (but diabetic friendly) tea, and eat a meal of kiawe and coconut soup, with kiawe cornbread, kiawe tortillas, and to top it off for dessert, kiawe ‘aina bars: delicious, filling and nutritious!!
Vince is “The founder of ‘Ai Pohaku, Vince Kana‘i Dodge, is a papa (grandfather), educator, cultural practitioner and longtime resident of Wai‘anae where kiawe trees are plentiful.
He shares the story that one day in early 2006 on MA‘O Organic Farms a couple from Arizona shared that “mesquite” – the cousin of kiawe – was a staple of all the Southwest native peoples. All those years ago, Gary told Vince that kiawe was a sweet, nutritious and diabetic-friendly food.
At that time the Wai‘anae community was in the throes of a diabetic epidemic (about one-third of the people in Wai’anae had diabetics, including some as young as 7th grade). Imagine: a sweet, nutritious diabetic-friendly food growing in our backyards… Vince was called. We believe it is no accident that the concentration of kiawe and diabetes are in the same place.”
Last week, Vince was able to meet Gary Paul Nabhan that important visitor from 2006, who was speaking here on Maui for the organic agricultural festival. 🙂
Sunny Savage is host of the wild food cooking show Hot on the Trail, presenter at the 2014 TedxMaui, a foraging workshop guide, and author of the beautiful and inspiring Wild Food Plants of Hawaii. To be connected to the land, to absorb important trace minerals and nutrition we aren’t getting from our processed food, Sunny encourages all of us to forage for at least one wild food each day.
Yesterday, my son Johnny and I ran into each other. We had an hour to spare. We each took a bag and in no time walking along the beach under the shade of kiawe trees, we had them filled with bright, plump kiawe pods. Right now they are drying (inside my car with the windows rolled up)! We look forward to making our kiawe flour into pancakes, bread, soup, sparkling drinks . . .
Again this weekend, we have warnings of two hurricanes headed this way. But now besides our cans of beans and bottles of water for emergency use, we have the knowledge of how to sustain ourselves on the humble kiawe bean pods that are all around us.
What overlooked food source do you have nearby?
Nature is bountiful; we just need eyes to see – and people like Sunny and Vince to teach us.
Some people complain that in-person relationships are being strained because many people spend much time on their cell phones, iPads, computers, and other such screens.
Here is another reason to limit screen time (or at least do it consciously).
In her August 2016 column, “For Your Health: Text neck troubles,” Jane Langille, reports:
“Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, a Costco member and chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, in Poughkeepsie, New York, wondered why a 30-year-old male patient still suffered from neck pain long after Hansraj had surgically repaired a herniated disk in his back. The man was unable to return to work in spite of months of physical therapy. As a follow-up exam, the source of his pain was crystal clear: He admitted to spending four hours a day playing Angry Birds on his iPad and showed his doctor how he looked down at the screen. . . ”
Click on the link below to see the rest of this article and tips to help prevent “text neck.”
From page 68 of The Costco Connection, printed page 65: http://www.costcoconnection.com/connection/201608?pg=NaN#pgNaN
Please, sit up, sit up – bring your devices to eye level – every time.
Aloha, Barry & Renee
Skeleton image from: <http://svmassagetherapy.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/slumpshoulder.jpg>.