03 May 2009

Getting Back in Balance

It seems that Spring has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I have been planting flowers and vegetables...and having fewer headaches. The tomatoes in the photo were from last year's crop. I am hoping to have more this year. 

While weather changes do seem to bring on headaches for me, the change to Spring has been surprisingly mild headache-wise. Each month since January I have had one less headache that I had to take a triptan drug to abort. April was the best month in a long while. Only 5 triptan-worthy headaches. As usual, I think the reason for the improvement is due to a mix of things. My doctor has me taking a preventative blood pressure med that I am now taking half a dose in the morning and half at night. I continue to watch my diet and blood sugar to avoid triggers and sugar crashes. And I exercise almost daily and get enough sleep. One other thing that has helped is to take Aleve with the triptan drug and then to continue taking Aleve on the third day after the headache to prevent any lingering inflammation from triggering it again. That seems to work pretty well, but is tricky. If I take too much Aleve it bothers my stomach. A lot. 

So balance seems to be the word of the day. If I keep myself in balance, mentally and physically, and if the weather isn't too changeable, I can keep the headaches at bay. I still struggle to remember to drink enough water for me. And I have been struggling to get my diet on track. My latest tactic is to really push the fruits and vegetables and try to keep things interesting.  Most days I make a big salad for lunch and I find that if I add some chopped apple or leftover roasted potato to it I don't have the cravings for sweets afterwards. Which is good. I make my own salad dressings to avoid gluten and preservatives that my head doesn't like. Recently a reader asked how I make dressings so I thought I would share my recipe, such as it is.

I keep track of how much oil I use pretty carefully so whether I make a small or large amount of dressing, I always measure the oil in teaspoons. This is because I am a lifetime member of Weight Watchers and I know that 1 tsp. of oil equals 1 WW point on their program. So if I know how many teaspoons of oil are in a serving of my dressing, I can figure out how to count my portion. So here it is. I just use 1 tsp. of good olive or walnut oil and add either 1 tsp. or 1 T of vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste, maybe a bit of mustard or water. I use the 1/1 ratio if I want a less tart dressing, or I add some water. Sometimes I add some stevia (a natural zero calorie sweetener). Sometimes I add a little soft fresh goat's cheese (Chavrie) if I want creaminess.

The trick is to use high quality ingredients. I love the oils from O & Co. My favorite dressing is to use a 1/1 ratio of their citron olive oil and their balsamic vinegar. It is so sweet and delicious. I also like to mix their olive oils with champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar. When I use the latter, I use a larger amount of vinegar: 1 Tablespoon per 1 tsp. oil. 

Latest great gluten-free find: Glutino Fiber Bread. I got it at Whole Foods Market. It tastes like real bread and if you put a little butter on it toasted, you can forget it's gluten-free. It is made from corn and tapioca starch and has flax seed meal, sugar beet fiber, some sugar and egg white and is fortified. At 90 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 2 grams of fiber, it is 2 WW points per slice.