3 Ways to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage When Allergies Are Leaving You Feeling Burnt Out

 

Keeping the spark alive in a marriage is a challenge in itself; doing so with children is an even bigger challenge. When you add in special needs or a chronic illness like food allergies, it may seem nearly impossible to pull yourself out of the realm of overwhelm into the romantic world.

If you are like most moms I know who have children with food allergies, you are an extremely busy woman. Not only are you busy with everyday life, but you are probably a bit preoccupied with managing your child’s life-threatening condition. With cooking everything from scratch, making sure your child has her meds, becoming a private investigator just to track down foods your child can safely consume, managing co-occurring conditions, etc, it doesn’t always give you a lot of free time or mental space to relax, unwind, and snuggle up with your significant other.

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The 5 Biggest Modern Environmental Health Challenges Facing Women and Children (and 5 Tips to Overcome Them)

Many modern conveniences, luxuries, and lifestyle habits seem great. And many of them are great when it comes to saving 5 Big Environmental Challenges1time and convenience. But they are not necessarily healthy for us.

In fact, most of the common chronic illnesses and conditions that we see skyrocketing today are directly related to our modern lifestyle, or what experts call, “environmental factors.”

Chronic illnesses like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, allergies, asthma, reproductive issues, Alzheimer’s, cancer, mood disorders, etc., are all triggered by lifestyle and environmental factors.

Right now we are living in what I call, “The Age of Modern Chronic Illness” which is characterized by a general state of “un-wellness” and soaring rates of diseases that were fairly rare in the western world just 50 to 100 years ago but are frighteningly common today. Unfortunately, women and children are disproportionately paying the price and bearing the brunt of our modern lifestyle challenges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases and conditions are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems.

Here are just a few statistics you should know:

• As of 2012, about 50% of all adults had at least one chronic health condition (CDC).
• 65.8% of US women are overweight or obese (source: NHANES, 2011-2012).
• 78% of people affected by autoimmune disorders are women (source: AARDA). As a group autoimmune disorders make up the 4th largest cause of disability in the US and they are increasing.
• The #1 cause of death for women (and men) is heart disease (source: CDC, 2013).
• The #2 cause of death for women (and men) in the US is cancer (source: CDC, 2013).

The good news is …

As I mentioned above, chronic illness is preventable. Research shows that only 5-10% of all cancer cases can be attributed to genetic defects, whereas the remaining 90-95% have their roots in environment and lifestyle. In fact, lifestyle and environment account for 90-95% of MOST chronic illnesses, not our genes.¹ This is good news because we can’t change our genes but we can change our lifestyle and environment.

Here are the 5 Biggest Modern Environmental Health Challenges:

#1 Threat:  Exposure to Toxic Substances

This is one of the biggest health challenges we face in the modern world. There are thousands of chemicals in use today and only a small portion of them have undergone toxicologic evaluation to determine whether or not they are safe.
In fact, research shows that many of them are not safe and have a significant impact on our health and the environment.
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, environmental toxins may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, reproductive issues, cognitive impairment and many other chronic health conditions. Children are particularly susceptible to chemical exposures and exposures during child development may contribute to health problems that arise later in life.

In a recent report issued by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, it states that the widespread exposure we experience in daily life to toxic environmental chemicals, such as pesticides, plastics, and metals (like lead), can lead to fertility problems, stillbirths, miscarriages, cancer, and neurological problems.²

What can you do today? Begin reducing your exposure to toxic substances in your home. Choose paper, cloth, glass, wood, or stainless steel containers over plastic whenever you can. If you live in a home that was built before 1970, consider lead testing. One way to reduce your exposure to pesticides is to buy organic foods as much as possible.

For more ways to reduce your family’s exposure to harmful pesticides download my FREE guide, “Pitch the Pesticides: 5 Strategies to Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Pesticides.”

Click Here to Get the FREE Guide: Pitch the Pesticides

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June 2014 is Scleroderma Awareness Month

Did you know that June 2014 is Scleroderma Awarness Month? If not, I’m not surprised most people haven’t even heard of Scleroderma, not to2014_scleroderma_awareness_icon_1 mention Scleroderma Awareness Month.

According to the Scleroderma Foundation, Scleroderma is a chronic, often progressive, autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks its own body.

Scleroderma means “hard skin.” It can cause  thickening and tightening of the skin. In some cases, it causes serious damage to internal organs including the lungs, heart, kidneys, esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. As scarring, or sclerosis, of these organs and organ systems progress, they work less effectively, and can lead to organ failure and death.

Here are some quick facts about Scleroderma:

  • Approximately 300,000 Americans have scleroderma
  • An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 people have systemic scleroderma
  • Approximately three to four times more women develop scleroderma
  • Scleroderma can affect any age group, but onset is most frequent between 25 and 55
  • 90 percent of people living with systemic scleroderma also have Raynaud’s Phenomenon, an autoimmune disorder in which there is constriction of blood vessels in the ears, nose, fingers or toes
  • Lung disease is a major cause of scleroderma-related deaths.

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5 Steps to Make Time to Cook Healthful Meals

I often hear many women say that one of their biggest challenges to eating healthy is not having enough time to cook. In fact, I used to be one preparing foodof those women before I had children.  When I was in my early twenties, I didn’t realize how important cooking real food was to my overall health and well-being.

According to one study, “time scarcity, the feeling of not having enough time, has been implicated in changes in food consumption patterns such as a decrease in food preparation at home, an increase in the consumption of fast foods, a decrease in family meals, and an increase in the consumption of convenience or ready-prepared foods. These food choices are associated with less healthful diets and may contribute to obesity and chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.”¹

Another study published in Public Health Nutrition, maintains that frequently cooking your meals is associated with living a longer life and enjoying a more nutritious diet.² This does not surprise me considering that most of today’s modern illnesses are associated with the highly processed foods we eat today. The more you cook your own meals from scratch, the better off you are.

As a mom of three young girls and a business owner, it can be quite challenging to make homemade meals everyday but I have found a way to make it happen. The truth of the matter is that we make time for the things that are really important to us. Once you make cooking a true priority, you make time to do it.

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Wellness Begins with Your Mindset

Wellness begins in your mind. In fact, wellness begins with your mindset. Your mindset is the ideas and attitudes with which you view and feel good conceptapproach the world. In order to truly be healthy, you must begin with a healthy mindset.

Here at BrightFire Living, the focus is on living well despite the challenges we face living in our modern world. Day in and day out, we are constantly bombarded with all sorts of unhealthy situations that have practically become the fabric of our society; whether it be stressful jobs, lack of physical activity, the Standard American Diet, toxic chemicals, etc .

Living well in this day in age requires you to have what I call a “BrightFire Mindset.” You must be bold and fiery. In other words, you have to be willing to do something different than the masses. It takes courage and passion to go against the grain, take responsibility for your health, and reclaim your wellness.

Here are 10 BrightFire mindset principles for igniting your wellness:

1) You are in control of your health and wellness.

Generally speaking, most people have given up control of their health and wellness. Our society tends to rely on pills to make problems better when they occur rather than look for and address the underlying cause. Most people also take a passive role in their wellness only thinking about their health when something goes wrong. Many folks feel helpless, like their fate is beyond their control.

In contrast, the BrightFire approach is a proactive approach. Even if you are struggling with a chronic illness, your fate is not predetermined by your genetics. Chronic illnesses result from a misalignment between our genes, our environment, and our lifestyle. While you may not be able to cure your chronic illness or get new genes, you can alter your environment and your lifestyle so that you can better manage your condition, and in some cases, even turn off those genes that are expressing themselves in a negative way.

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5 Tips for Communicating with Family and Friends Who Just Don’t Understand

One of the most common statements I hear from people with chronic illnesses regarding their friends and family members is, “They just don’tDictionary Series - Marketing: communication understand.” This is particularly true for people with autoimmune disorders (such as, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lupus, Celiac, etc) and other modern invisible illnesses (like food allergies and ADHD). I am amazed at how many times I have heard someone cluelessly minimize the impact of one of these conditions.

If you are dealing with a chronic condition, I am sure that you have uttered the words, “They just don’t get it” at some point in your life. I know I have on several occasions.

This lack of understanding can be very frustrating for you because whenever anyone speaks to another person they want to feel like they have been heard and understood.

Unfortunately, it is particularly hard for people to wrap their minds around chronic conditions unless they experience them first-hand. Unlike visible disabilities, such as breaking your leg,  people around you have little or no reference point in regards to what might be going on inside of your body. This lack of awareness often leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings.

Communication breakdowns can lead to feelings of anger, anxiety, resentment, animosity, hopelessness, isolation, despair, and depression. All of these emotions negatively impact your relationships and overall quality of life. The stress brought on by conflict can also weaken your ability to manage your symptoms effectively.

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Blessing Your Food Is Good for Your Health and Well-Being

If you are like most Americans, you probably sit down at the dinner table and quickly scarf down your food. And this is assuming that you actually sit down at the dinner table to eat dinner.  Many people are eating on the couch, at their desks, or wherever, while multitasking.

When I worked in hospitals, inhaling your food was actually a necessary job skill. If you didn’t eat fast, it was quite possibOur Meal Prayerle you wouldn’t eat at all.  Reversing this tendency to eat my food in about 30 seconds flat has been quite the challenge. I still have to work on it some days.

One thing I have found that really has helped is saying a blessing before meals. I wanted to teach my daughters gratitude and instill a sense of connection with God, so I created a little prayer that they could model until they felt comfortable coming up with their own words. You can read it on the right.

It’s a very simple prayer but it has worked wonders. When we say this prayer each night before dinner it gives us a sense of peace and calm. When you have life-threatening food allergies and autoimmune disorders, every meal that you eat can be a source of stress and anxiety, so this really is a special gift.

We also feel a sense of gratitude and connection with God when we say this prayer. Research has shown that people who measured high in terms of spirituality also measure high in their ability to cope with chronic illness [1].

Saying a prayer before your meal or just expressing your gratitude for your food allows you to slow down and actually leads you to experience the full benefits of your meal in more ways than one.

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