Summer temperatures, spring blooms, now if only we could go out and enjoy it!

Over the past month, many of the patients who have come to my office have been suffering from seasonal allergies. Symptoms vary from mild congestion and colorful boogers to nearly uncontrollable sneezing that disrupts meetings topped off with eye swelling and irritation. Early wildflower blooms are now being met by different tree pollens and grasses that can be pretty severe allergen culprits.

While we’re struggling with the pollen brought by our beautiful blooming greenery, we’re also starting to encounter the haze in the air from distant (for now) wildfires. Of course we’d all much rather deal with wildflowers than wildfires, but it looks like this spring and summer may bring us a bit of both.

With respiratory irritants such as pollen and particulate matter from fires, it is particularly important to work on reducing other irritants and protect your respiratory system. If you or a family member smoke, now is an excellent time to quit. Evaluate cleaning materials, household and personal fragrances, many of which contain harsh chemicals that are respiratory irritants. Keep your living and work spaces well-ventilated. Consider using an air filter fan (HEPA filter) to reduce the particulate and allergen content of your enclosed spaces.

While you’re working on reducing irritants found in your home and work, it is also important to work on your internal environment. Having a balanced, varied diet with adequate nutrients is an important foundation to help your body better weather external irritants such as pollution, smoke and pollen. It is generally helpful to increase the amount of colorful vegetables in your diet. As it is Pride month, June is an especially perfect time to include a rainbow of vegetables on your plate. These colorful veggies contain antioxidants and other compounds that may promote stabilization of the cells that tend to respond to allergens and result in the unpleasant sniffling symptoms. This is also definitely the time to pay attention to staying adequately hydrated. A key part of maintaining hydration for most people is choosing water or herbal tea rather than processed sugary beverages and alcohol.

If your symptoms are disrupting your daily life or you’d like to talk more about things you can incorporate to improve your health over this season, please call my office. I’d be happy to set up a time for a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your concerns.  The Overland Wellness approach is to use the most effective, least harmful, naturally-rooted treatments that get you feeling better and able to go outside and enjoy your active life! Specifically, my in-office treatments for allergies and respiratory health tend to include acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrients and targeted dietary/ lifestyle changes.

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New Year’s Resolution Tips

  • Specify Goals
  • Plan How
  • Set Reminders
  • Stay Accountable
  • Restart (if necessary)
  • Keep Going
  • Enjoy Being the New You!

New Year a New You


 

How to help those New Year’s resolutions stick.

It is that season again where the gyms get really busy and everyone seems to be on a “cleanse.” Last month I joined a new gym and this month I set aside time in my schedule for barre class, so I am also part of this throng of awkward January gym-goers. Unfortunately, this burgeoning focus on wellness seems to taper off for most people as the year progresses. You can make this year different with strategies to turn a new resolution into lasting change.

Create an actionable plan for your resolution, for example transform a broad resolution of “I want to eat healthier” into one or several attainable goals. One such goal could be “I want to eat a new vegetable every week” another could be “I want to make lunches ahead of time so that I don’t eat junk food at work.” Next, develop your plan for how you will implement this goal, what do you have to do each day and what do you have to do ahead of time to prepare for it (such as grocery shopping or getting a lunch bag).

One key piece to any new resolution is a plan for how you are going to remember to do it. Whether it is an app, a whiteboard calendar or weekly agenda stuck to your fridge, some means of scheduling your resolution and monitoring your progress is going to help you stick to it. Check out your device’s app store or invest in that cute weekly planner and start writing out the things you plan to do and when they’re going to be done.

 

A strategy to turn a resolution into a change that sticks is to use the concept of habit formation. This involves using association, repetition and consistency to develop new automatic behaviors. When we do things over and over, such as buckle our seat belt before starting the car, it becomes an automatic action that you don’t even have to think about or remember to do. This automatic action with association (such as getting in the car) didn’t start right away, but likely took several repetitions and thought out actions before becoming a habit. When starting a new exercise plan such as stretching every morning, you will likely have to use reminders such as phone alarms or sticky notes to tell you it is time to do so. Soon you will associate getting up in the morning with having a second “time to stretch” alarm, eventually you will have the automatic response of stretching in the morning, and then it will start to “feel weird” to not stretch in the morning.

Disruptions to associated activities can definitely strain resolution success or habit automaticity. If you associate stretching with your morning alarm wake-up, you might just not remember ore even think of doing it when you’re on vacation. Eating a pre-planned lunch could become your regular routine but fall to the wayside if you rush out to work in the morning or your colleagues invite you out for lunch. This sort of disruption and return to your pre-resolution behavior are really common. One less-than ideal meal or missed work out doesn’t merit tossing out a new year’s plan entirely. These experiences can help you develop awareness of what things in your life are challenging your ability to successfully make a change. With that awareness you can restart your resolution, allow for a little flexibility and self-acceptance, and move forward.

 

Before starting a new exercise or dietary strategy it is a great idea to consult your doctor about your health and whether the new program would be a good fit for you. If you don’t currently have a doctor or would like the help of a wellness expert, feel free to schedule an appointment with me, Dr. Heather Overland. I can give you personalized dietary and lifestyle recommendations that will get you started on your optimal wellness plan and also provide you with regular reminders, a space for accountability and assistance with plan modifications to help you succeed in meeting your wellness goals.

 

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Now that most of the snow has melted, our skis are put away and springtime is upon us. It is time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. With these warm temperatures, a great way to start your active day is with a smoothie.

Spring Smoothie Recipe

Dr. Heather Overland, ND LAc

Spring into the air with a smoothie.


Ingredients:

1-2 cups fresh raw Chard

1-2 cups fresh raw Spinach

1-2 cups fresh raw Kale (baby kale works best)

(if using a mixed greens blend, aim to add approximately 3 handfuls or enough to loosely fill your blender ¾ of the way full)

2 cups of unsweetened Hemp or flax milk

Blend till bright green and no large leaf or fiber pieces are left.

1 cup frozen Blueberries

Blend until smooth between each type of berries.

⅓ cup frozen Blackberries or Raspberries

⅓ cup frozen Bing/ Dark Red Cherries

⅓ cup frozen Strawberries

Serves 3-4 people

 

 

Optional Modifications: 

  • Vary ingredient amounts to fit your blender and desired number of servings.

 

  • Other non-dairy “milk” could be used, but look at nutrition information and aim for no added sugar, no artificial sweeteners, low in carbohydrates and high nutrient/ vitamin content.

 

  • If small seeds are a problem for your teeth or digestion, substitute another berry for blackberries.

 

  • For more tropical flavor, you can add 2 tablespoons chunked pineapple (not suitable for those limiting sugars).

 

  • For a nuttier flavor with added protein and fats, you can add 2 tablespoons almond butter.

 

  • For the mall smoothie flavor, add 1 small peeled orange and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract (made from real vanilla beans and without sugar).

 

All ingredients should be organic, washed and trimmed as necessary before being added to the smoothie. 

Looking at smoothies from the traditional Chinese medicine perspective, for some people smoothies and cold raw foods could lead to digestive troubles because of their cold and damp properties (like achy joints in cold wet weather).

For people who are active, can digest foods properly, and are located in warmer temperatures, smoothies are generally a fine addition to your healthy diet. For some people, such as those with diabetes or with specific dietary requirements, this may not be the best choice. Consult your physician (or Dr. Overland) if you’d like to determine what the best nutritional options are for you.

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