Brain Freeze! Help!

brain freeze

That dreaded pain that comes with the first swallow of something frozen – ice cream or a frozen drink of some type – – YIKES.

What causes this fleeting, severe headache, is it harmful and how can you keep it from happening?

“Brain freeze” (it’s technical name is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia), also called ice-cream headache, results when something very cold touches the back of the palate (roof of your mouth).  It typically occurs on a hot day when you consume something very cold, very quickly.

Scientists don’t fully understand why it happens but they believe it is caused by a dramatic and sudden increase in blood flow through the brain’s anterior cerebral artery. This occurs in response to a rapid change of temperature in the back of your throat.  The brain doesn’t like change so to counteract that cold, the body immediately opens wide the artery to warm the blood.  The brain perceives this action as pain; when the artery constricts again, usually after 10 or 15 seconds, the pain ceases.

Is it serious?  Not usually.  If you experience additional symptoms, such as irregular heartbeat, see your doctor just to make sure.

How do you get it to stop?  There are a couple of things to try.  First, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up – do this just as soon as you feel the pain start.  Oh, and immediately stop drinking the cold product!!  You can also consume very cold items more slowly and/or drink sips of a warmer drink between sips of the cold beverage.  Trying not to allow the cold to come in contact with the roof of your mouth for long is helpful.

This is a cool video:

Oh, and cats get it too:



D.I.Y. YUMMY Ramen!!

Calling all Ramen lovers!  Check this out!

Instead of this:


Try this:

ramen in a jar

Not being fond of hyper processed foods, I was thrilled to stumble upon this!  I like to make my own food, but don’t like it to take a lot of time.

This concept fit the bill, perfectly, for lunches.  What it boils down to is basic:

  1. Select a seasoning profile.  Could be any of these or your own favorite:
    • Miso and ginger
    • Garlic and vegetables
    • Ginger and sesame
    • Coconut and ginger
    • Any combination of
      • Sea salt/black pepper
      • Tamari
      • Miso
      • Kimchi
      • Sauerkraut
      • Chili flakes
      • Tomato sauce
      • Garlic
      • Onion
      • Soup base
  1. Decide on a protein source:
    • Slivered chicken breast
    • Diced cooked beef
    • Beef or other jerky, diced
    • Hard-boiled egg
    • Beans, cooked
    • Quinoa, cooked
    • Lentils (so yummy!!)
  1. Pick out your veggies (1/2 of the total finished product!)
    • Raw Veggies:
      • Carrots, shredded
      • Onions, thin sliced or diced
      • Celery, thin sliced
      • Pepper, thin sliced or diced
      • Zucchini, matchsticks
      • Garlic clove, thin sliced
      • Scallions or Shallots, thin sliced
      • Mushrooms, thin sliced
      • Cabbage, shredded
      • Spinach or other green, julienned
    • Cooked veggies;
      • Small broccoli or cauliflower florets
      • Cubes of root veggies
  1. Add Noodles or a grain (par-cooked)
    • Any Asian noodle
    • Spaghetti or fettucine
    • Brown rice
    • Bulgur or barley

Place seasoning in bottom of jar then add protein.  Top with veggies.  Cover. Keep cold.  At lunchtime, fill with boiling water and let sit for a minute or two.  Enjoy!!

Try these fabulous recipes from Goop  or Serious eats.  Build enough of these jars to have several times during the week.  Keep refrigerated 5 – 7 days.

Let me know your favorite combination!

ramen jars

Them bones…

bone healthDid you know that even after you stop growing, your bones continue to develop?  You’ll be well into your twenties before your bones switch into maintenance mode.  A healthy lifestyle is critical to bone health throughout life.

”We often think of a child’s growth largely with respect to height, but overall bone development is also important,” said [lead author] Dr. Shana McCormack, a pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. ”This study shows that roughly 10 percent of bone mass continues to accumulate after a teenager reaches his or her adult height,” she said in a hospital news release.

Make yours strong:

  • Don’t smoke.   One more thing smoking isn’t good for – your bones.  Don’t start, then you won’t have to quit.
  • Drink your milk! Or eat other calcium rich foods regularly.  This includes dark green leafy vegetables, in addition to all dairy products, beans and tofu.
  • Get enough nutrient dense foods, like fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains. Having all the trace nutrients allows your body to mineralize bones.  Vitamin D is particularly important.  You may think of sunshine as a good source of vitamin D.  That is correct!  Spending 20 minutes in the sun, without sunscreen, will allow your body to produce Vitamin D and fish, eggs and mushrooms all contain Vitamin D.
  • Keep being active! Don’t allow the full-time job, mortgage and family that will likely occur as you get older to nudge out your beloved sports.  Continue to participate in community ball clubs and other activities like riding your bike, doing Zumba and practicing yoga.  Weight bearing exercise keeps your bones strong.
  • Don’t drink excessively. Alcohol affects all body systems, including your bones, negatively.  When you drink, stick to the recommended guidelines:  no more than 1 drink / day for women; 2 drinks / men maximum.

Protect your Skin from the Summer Sun


Are you glowing with that summer tan?

Unfortunately there is a pervasive belief in our society that a tan connotes health, affluence and beauty.  You’ll hear that a tan offers protection against sunburn.  The truth is that a tan offers very little protection against sunburn and we’re starting to learn some startling new truths from recent research, namely that UV harms skin cells’ DNA.  This destruction triggers melanogenesis which is a scientific word for production of pigment cells where melanoma (skin cancer) forms.  Some of the time the body’s immune system tracks down these mutations and repairs them; when it doesn’t, skin cancer takes hold.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is never a good thing from a health perspective.  The only safe tan is a non-UV self-tanner, which may carry its own risks.

Protect yourself!

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wear long sleeves/pants when possible.
  • Use a swim shirt to block UV rays in the pool.
  • Take advantage of a wide brimmed hat.
  • Aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure, avoiding the strong midday sun, for production of Vitamin D before heading for shade or covering up!
  • Use broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen. If you’re concerned about chemicals, make your own sunscreen.
  • Apply to face, ears, neck, hands, legs, any exposed skin, 15 minutes before heading into the sun.
  • Reapply after swimming or sweating as even water resistant sunscreens are diluted.
  • Reapply every two hours.


National Institutes of Health / U. S. National Library of Medicine


Your Healthiest Summer yet!



Whether you’re staying home, traveling, or a little of both, check out these tips on how to stay healthy and beat the heat this summer!

Stay Hydrated

  • Purchase a water bottle that keeps drinks cold for longer – some double thickness stainless steel bottles keep ice for 24 hours!
  • Make your own fruit-infused water – lemon rinds add d-limonene, a beneficial plant substance.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic or sugary beverages in the heat – your body likes water.


Avoid Sunburn

  • Use sunscreen!  Set an alarm on your phone reminding you when to reapply.
  • If you like a summer tan, try a spray tan instead of tanning beds; a tan isn’t worth the risk of developing skin cancer!
  • Look up the current UV rays here

Eat Well

  • To avoid heating up your home, do most of your cooking meal-prep style in the mornings or at night and do some outdoor grilling.
  • Take advantage of all the yummy fruits and veggies in season!
  • Veggies: beets, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini
  • Fruits: blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, limes, peaches, strawberries

Follow the balanced plate model for optimal nutrition.  Including a protein rich food and whole grains with your fruits and veggies is the way to go.


Get Fit

  • Exercise early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are cooler
  • Invest in “real” workout clothing that keeps you cool and wicks away sweat – your free basketball t-shirts won’t cut it in this heat!
  • Remember that every body is a summer body; don’t push yourself to injury by trying to obtain a “perfect” beach body… the perfect body doesn’t exist!

Whatever you do, enjoy yourself!





Tips for Eating Healthier at Restaurants



By Anran Shao and Elizabeth von Klan

For college students, eating out with friends constitutes one of the main ways we socialize. However, peering at the high-calorie, high-sodium options on the menu might make you hesitate to dine out frequently. Fear not—it is possible to dine out and socialize while at the same time nourishing your body! Here are a few tips geared towards choosing healthier meals without the worry.
1. Be aware of portion sizes and nutritional requirements

Restaurants of different cultural backgrounds may vary on their portion sizes and ingredients. For example, standard Americanized-Italian restaurants tend to double or even triple protein and carbohydrate portions and can be higher in sodium compared to the recommended meal. You may find other restaurants (like Japanese, Thai, Greek and Indian food, or more) are more likely to serve grilled meat or other non-fried options such a spring rolls and dips with less fat such as Tzatziki. Choosing these options may prevent overconsumption of protein and sodium, and also prevent you from eating excessive unhealthy fats. There are potentially healthy options at any restaurant of any cultural background, so don’t be afraid to ask the waiter/waitress if they have dishes that fit what you’re looking for. Which, speaking of…

2. Ask for it your way

Don’t be afraid to ask for changes in the dish you ordered. Many restaurants design their menus based on preference of their frequent customers, but cooks can still change up minor components in the dish if it appeals to your nutritional needs. For example, you can easily substitute the fries that come with your dish with a side salad instead. If the meat is fried, ask your waiter/waitress if there is a grilled option. To balance out your plate and increase your vegetable intake, ask for a smaller portion of meat and larger portion of vegetables. These details will help you keep healthy and more energized to hang out with your friends on a night out!

3. Drink water throughout the meal

Some people believe that drinking water during meals is harmful, but it actually can help to control overeating. Drinking water through the meal triggers signals transmitted to your brain that allow you to feel full, which can help with portion control. Try to refrain from sodas or other soft drinks as a replacement for water; these contain added sugars.

4. Choose a salad without cheese or meat

Even though a standard salad has a solid foundation with mostly raw vegetables that are high in vitamins and low in calories, many salads are accompanied by meats or cheese. For example, Italian antipasto salads have salami, spicy hams and cheese as well, negating the nutritional benefits of the salad itself. It may be a wiser option to choose a Caesar salad with grilled chicken to have more lean protein, as opposed to a fully-loaded Italian Antipasto salad. As for other salads on the menu, you can also ask to modify the salad to adjust the amount of meat and cheese added or remove it completely, and add more vegetables for fiber that will keep you feeling just as full. It’s also wise to ask for dressing on the side so you can make the decision of how much to add!

With these tips, you will be well on your way to sticking to your health goals without having to give up eating out with friends!

Are there Possible Benefits behind Gluten-Free Diets?



By Isabelle Huang

Grocery store shelves and restaurants are increasing their variety of gluten-free options as more and more people begin adopting gluten-free diets. While a portion of these individuals do so because of celiac disease, a genetic disorder which interferes with nutrient absorption in the intestinal tract, others pursue this eating habit based on consumer fads.

This begs the question: what is gluten, and are there any possible benefits behind a gluten-free diet?

Gluten is a type of protein most commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, and those grain derivatives, foods that are associated with a rich source of fiber and other complex carbs, B vitamins, and minerals. Some of the gluten-free grains listed here provide you with these vitamins and minerals, while non-grain sources of fiber can be found here.

Those who’ve gone gluten-free often say that they feel an improvement in weight, energy, and productivity, three reasons that encourage others to follow the same path. However, studies show that these effects are not necessarily due to the lack of gluten itself, but rather other food components that are found in gluten-containing products. A few of the differences between gluten and gluten-free diets are number of calories, and amounts of sodium and fiber.

Gluten rich grains, such as whole wheat bread, pasta and cereals, have become pantry staples.  When eliminating these, instead choosing a gluten-free substitute, smaller amounts are often consumed because the product has a different taste and texture. This results in a decrease in overall calories that can cause weight loss.

The gluten-free diet does benefit some individuals. According to Beyond Celiac, an organization for celiac awareness, those diagnosed negative for celiac may exhibit similar symptoms of prevalent GI-distress, frequent headaches, and joint pain. These individuals might be gluten-sensitive or gluten-intolerant, and a gluten-free diet may mitigate these responses.

If you choose to go gluten-free, make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for maintaining your health!

Sources of information: