Quit Smoking: Nutrition and Sleep

This article is part of a series written for the person who has or has plans to quit smoking.

At this time in the New Year, a few people have set the intention to stop smoking cigarettes. Hurray for those who have made it through the month smoke free! Hurray for those who intend to try again!

If you put out the last butt and have had a relapse, perhaps I can help you plan for the bumps in the road some may encounter. This may be one of the hardest resolutions to honor. But, with a little preparation, this can be done. If your goal is to do this alone, these steps may be of help. If you are a person who needs the support of a community, I highly recommend the American Lung Association Freedom from Smoking Program. As a person who completed the program 20+ years ago and benefited from their support, with sincerity I say give it a go.two ladybugs

The previous article discussed: Preparation, Learning to Let Go, Set Intentions, and Sabotage.

This article will discuss: Nutrition and Sleep

Nutrition

In preparation, the body will benefit from nutritional support as you make this change of habit. As you step away from one habit, be attentive to how you fill this void. The goal is to change to a more positive day to day life in balance and in health. The cigarette smoke (tar) does filter through the entire body. Every organ and tissue is involved in smoking. The blood chemistry has been altered by different substances and a breath analysis conducted during the American Lung Association, Quit Smoking Program revealed the fact that oxygen is now competing with carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and various other gases. The digestive system does not like the smoke and will contract diminishing normal absorption of nutrients. This is one reason people comment on weight gain after smoking cessation. This is actually a positive outcome as the digestive system is now beginning to function normally. Or, the habit of smoking has been replaced with eating. The cravings may be a condition of the body now needing vital nutrients in the process of repair.  The smoke has not only screened others from seeing you clearly, it has diminished your capacity to thrive. So, now is the time to prepare for this restoration.

Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are available in pill form, but may not be absorbed as well as ingestion in the normal way a body processes nutrients. Although a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement will certainly help. I suggest Emergen-C as a place to start. Mix one packet of the dissolving powder in a glass of warm water at the start of each day. Plain warm water will also help flush the gums and entire system of smoke. Remember, the film (tar) that develops on your windows, walls and furniture, is also in the body and certainly coating the teeth. Cleanse with warm water and vital nutrients.

Begin to restore by ingesting more green foods and beverages every day. Consider replacing the cigarette break with a cup of green tea.  Green tea has numerous beneficial health properties: antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anticancer, detoxification, blood sugar balancer, good for the brain, hair, teeth,  nails, skin, eyes, immune system, heart, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive system. As well as a warm beverage, there are better quality green drinks on the market such as Daily Greens Bolthouse Farms and Odwalla Superfood. These are affordable and while they may have a curious appearance, actually taste quite nice. A glass everyday with a banana will do wonders in beginning the restoration of overall health.

In foods, begin to eat one granny smith apple every day if the apples are grown at a local orchard, all the better. Kiwi fruit is also highly beneficial and has excellent health properties: antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anticancer, detoxification, blood sugar balancer, good for the brain, hair, teeth,  nails, skin, eyes, immune system, heart, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive system. Green vegetables with every meal also help stimulate internal restoration. Steamed green beans, and broccoli, along with sautéed green peppers are quick easy additions to every meal. Go slow if these are new foods in your diet.

Other recommendations for this sensitive time of change include a glass of kefir daily. Kefir is called the champagne of milk. Even folks with lactose intolerance can digest this without harm. Kefir is a cultured milk product.  If this is a food you are unfamiliar with, read on…”Did you ever think that more bacteria would lead to being Beautiful Inside and Out? Well, it’s true. With a healthy immune system and gut, you can be on your way to being lighter and healthier than you ever imagined. Your intestinal tract is your largest immune system fighting organ, making it one powerful force for our health and the fight against illness. With over 400 species of bacteria living inside our intestines, it is very important that we keep the levels of good and bad bacteria in balance.” This information comes from Lifeway Foods, Inc. which sells Kefir products. A serving of Kefir blended with a scoop of Vegetarian Banana Orange Crème Fruitein supplement from Nature’s Plus will be a gorgeous nutritional addition to your daily routine.

For a yogurt selection, carefully read the label and avoid excessive sugars or worse, artificial sweeteners, best to select plain and make a parfait of trail mix, granola or fresh fruit. One of my favorite snacks is a serving of whole milk Stoneyfield yogurt with wheat germ, kiwi and walnuts.

Sleep

This will not be pleasant to read, but it is possible to develop sleep problems before, during and after cessation of smoking. Nicotine is an anti-depressant. This may explain why you like to smoke, it is soothing. The smoke is masking more than you thought. When the anti-depressant leaves the blood stream, the system is out of balance and changing without warning.  However, you can start to take control by making yourself more comfortable at home. By nourishing yourself, you are creating a life as a non-smoker and empowering your esteem.

Ease the transition by seeking professional help if necessary. Consultation with your physician and possibly a family counselor can help you privately cope with complex behavioral changes. Humans tend to dislike discomfort and may seek remedies for immediate results. In our culture, it is possible to self-treat many ailments, but this may not be efficient and cost more in the long run. If the symptoms of withdrawal are overwhelming, seek professional support. The pressure and internal push to smoke can be powerful. Do not underestimate the demon of need that nicotine has created in your body.

In the previous article, I discussed the concept of change and practice letting go of things that are damaged, used or dirty. Consider that it may not be necessary to replace things, it’s just these things are comfortably familiar to you but they no longer serve a purpose. Every week, become aware of things and see them through the eyes of a stranger, what do they look, feel or smell like. If it’s causing the nose to wrinkle, it’s time to part with it. Dispose of the item responsibly. If it’s furniture, consider if it truly does need to be replaced. The goal is to learn to let it go without regret.

Replace the bedclothes and/or linens with new cotton, flannel or if the budget allows, silken fabrics. Choose colors, Bed Greenfabrics and textures that are soothing to the senses. After all, you are renewing your senses of smell, taste and touch. Appease the senses with soft fabrics in a light pastel green, violet or blue. Avoid dark or strong colors. The bed should be the most luxurious place in the home. If the mattress is old, replace it with a one that gives the ideal level of support. Use the time and money not being spent on smoking to become a careful shopper. There are bargains to be found and a better place to spend cash.  A cigarette is paid for, smoked and gone. A new pair of slippers or a set of brushed cotton sheets may endure for several years. Where is the money better spent? Start to challenge how you think and lift the veil of smoke from your common sense. The bed is for making love, resting and sleeping in comfort. Nothing else takes place in bed, nothing.

Another way to improve the quality of sleep is to tend to the light level in the bedroom. Street lights and night lights of any kind that enter the room will disturb the level of sleep. Consider using an eye mask during sleep to block out any unwanted light that may stimulate the mind into wakefulness. Noise will also interfere with sleep. If neighbors or partners are noisy, find a way to broach the subject thoughtfully. If the neighbor’s reactions are unpredictable, consider running a fan during the night to mask unwanted sounds. The purr of the blades may be much more soothing than street sounds. Prepare yourself for deep, nourishing sleep by being attentive to the detail of where and how you rest.

I hope that you do not or never did smoke in bed. Smoking is a dirty, dangerous habit. A smoldering cigarette can burn a hole through fiber and start a fire. The scariest outcome is that the fabrics are set alight and a fire destroys the room, spreads to the entire house and causes damage to the point of rendering the occupants homeless. The worst outcome is a person dies as a result of smoke inhalation. Not only can they burn to death but their pets as well. This is not something anyone wants to live with. To quit smoking is one of the best decisions to be made. Above all else in life, do what is best for you.

The information on nutritional value of green tea and kiwi fruit was sourced from the book:

Natural Wonderfoods: 100 Amazing Foods for Healing*Immune-Boosting*Fitness-Enhancing*Anti-Aging Paperbackby Paula Bartimeus (Author) , Charlotte Haigh (Author) , Sarah Merson (Author) ISBN: 9781844839704

 

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$20 until Thursday; How to Enjoy a Good Meal on a Tightrope Budget

And so it goes, here it is the third week of the month and the storm of obligations is rising. The town water and telephone bill are due on the 31s. The mailbox gave a renew auto registration notice and I’m still trying to save money to replace the washing machine which died in November. In balancing this month’s income with expenses, the funds are there to cover the bills, but I didn’t count on the electric and cable bill to rise and forgot the health insurance expense is now $10  extra every week. The saying used to be nickel and dime, now it’s five and twenty dollar fees and fines. The car needs gas and after everything is laid out on the table, there is an almighty $20 for food until next Thursday. Is it possible to eat well on $20 this week? How far can I stretch the dollar? Dang it. This scenario is not unknown to many a working person. Piggy Bank

The Pantry

To clarify for the reader, I am a foodie and keep the pantry stocked with a few essentials. A good pantry might have: bread crumbs, butter, carrots, flour (King Arthur), eggs, garlic, milk (soy or almond), nuts, oatmeal, pasta or egg/noodles, peanut butter, rice and shallots.  Salt and pepper are always at hand. For herbs, an Italian blend is helpful along with chili powder, cinnamon, ginger, thyme and vanilla. For oil, I highly recommend only Olive Oil from Italy or California. Italy regulates the Olive Oil industry and 100% of product is in the bottle. California does not regulate production, however, they do not blend other oils into the bottle. The only other ingredient that might be on hand is soy sauce. A simple marinade in soy sauce, ginger, garlic and pepper is fab for chicken or pork. For all ingredients, I  recommend stocking better quality products as it is important to enjoy the meal and feel nourished even if the budget is tight. Grocery store bands are often the same quality without the advertising budgeted in to the cost. Try to buy products that are made in USA, Canada or Italy. Better still, if you have an ethnic market in the city, stop their first. I am blessed to have a Mediterranean and Italian Market nearby. Overall, I find Italian products to be of higher quality.

Grocery List

Cheddar Cheese Blend 2.59
Chicken Stock 1.99
Frozen Vegetables 1.69
Half ‘n half 1.19
Indian Foods 4.00
Mineral Water 1.39
Pork (2 bone in thick cut) 4.05
Rice Pilaf 1.25
Tea 2.49
Yams 1.07
Total Cost 21.71

As the list reveals, I went over budget. Eliminating the tea and mineral water would bring it to less than $20. Also, I live in Massachusetts and transportation costs may be higher than in other parts of the country.

Meal Plan

This meal plan could last for 4 – 5 servings for one person. While it can be a little dull to eat the same foods for every meal, they are wholesome and tasty. My pantry stocks saved the day. I prefer to drink tea with breakfast and sparkling mineral water with meals. I had a bag of oranges and apples on hand.

Breakfast – Toasted homemade cinnamon bread with peanut butter

To start, I baked a loaf of bread blending in a cup of milk and an egg to give it a higher amount of protein and enhance the flavor. As cinnamon is on-hand, I made a butter rub of cinnamon mixed with raisins and rolled this into the loaf on the last rise. This is done by rolling out the dough and using a spatula spreading the mix on top and rolling together. The loaf is placed in a shaped bread pan for the last rise before baking. Click here for a more detailed recipe.

Breakfast – The other alternative is oatmeal from the pantry. Mix with milk and honey, blend in raisins and cinnamon for delicious flavors.

Lunch – Homemade Vegetable Soup, Macaroni & Cheese

A good base for any soup is diced carrot, garlic and shallot. In a soup pot heated with oil, add the aromatics along with salt, pepper and herbs of choice. Sautee until the shallot is clear, about 3 minutes at medium heat. Add the chicken stock, add the pasta or egg noodles and bring to a boil slowly. Cook pasta to al dente or about 9 minutes. At the end, stir in the thawed frozen vegetable blend and a can of black beans. The liquid in the beans will thicken the broth. If you prefer rice, cook the rice separately and blend into the finished soup.

Macaroni & Cheese is easy to make. First, cook two cups of elbow noodles al dente. Drain in a colander but reserve ¼ cup of pasta water. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the noodles comfortably. In a large pot, melt 2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, stir in 1 ½ tablespoons of flour with black pepper. This is a roux. Add the half and half to this mixture and cook slowly until thickens. About 8 minutes. Blend in the cheese and stir until it is all melted together. Pour the noodles into the baking dish, blend in the pasta water if the noodles are dry, pour the cheese over the noodles and blend together well. Sprinkle with a light coating of bread crumbs. Bake in a 350◦ oven for about 30 minutes or until it just starts to turn light light brown.

Dinner – Cooked yams with pork and rice

Cut two pounds of yams into chunky bites. I do not peel the yam, only wash well. Blend together ½ cup orange juice, ¼ cup honey and ¼ cup brown sugar. Pour over potatoes and stir. Drop about 6 tablespoons of butter on top.  Slow cook in a crock pot for at least 6 hours. If you do not have a slow cooker, these yams can be baked in the oven in a covered pot at a low, slow heat of 300◦. Add extra liquid.

The pork is cooked separately, after marinating in soy sauce, garlic, ginger and pepper for at least 24 hours. Bake the pork on parchment paper turning once until done. Pork can be bone in or not. After the meal, the bone may be saved for part of a soup stock.

Rice, Near East has a nice, inexpensive rice pilaf mix which can be enhanced with celery, slivered almonds, etc…

Dinner – To add variety and finish out the extra days meals, I purchased pre-made Indian foods. I simply had to boil rice or noodles for the base of the meal, boil the pouch in water for five minutes and pour over rice or noodles. This is a vegetarian meal packed with fresh flavors and an unusual blend of spices. One pouch was enough for one meal.  Or, if you are very frugal, it could be stretched to two. The varieties were Kitchens of India and Kohinoor. I enjoyed Red Kidney Bean Curry and Awadhi Aloo Mutter

I am quite sure there are many variations on this idea. The key component to success is a general enjoyment of cooking and food. As much as possible, I prefer to cook from scratch. The foods came from the local Hanaford’s Market and/or Ocean State Job Lot. These are vendors easily located in Massachusetts.