my brown rice lunch
Brown rice has tryptophan in it. You know that stuff in turkey that makes you drowsy after Thanksgiving Dinner? I thought I’d cut to the chase. Save you some anxiety.
The image is of my lunch - brown rice sautéed with broccoli, lemon, olive oil and a bit of tuna. Served with a nice red wine. Half a glass.
Like many people, I’ve been feeling some anxiety lately: Is the WORLD ENDING? Is Trump insane? Are we ever going to have a President again who can speak in complete sentences? Are we ever going to have a President again who actually CARES about us and cares for us?
Okay, it wasn’t just mild anxiety. I had out and out panic attacks. Maybe you’ve experienced that icy hole in your stomach that doesn’t go away but eats its way to up your throat to your brain, palps your heart, races your heart, paralyzes your stomach so you can’t breathe, is irrational, you know it, but you’re powerless to stop it and it just snowballs till even going into the next room is difficult.
Recently, a series of real life challenges brought me to this point. And I told myself - stop it, you’re not caught in the wildfires; you didn’t lose your home to a hurricane; you don’t have COVID (yet!); no one you know has died from COVID (I won’t say it) - but even that conversation didn’t make a dent in the terror I felt.
I admit I’d stepped up my martini drinking recently. I’d gone from two a year (at the most elegant restaurant in town, now a place of the past) to two a night, in a much smaller glass, made at home but apparently too much for me. I had inverted my triangle, as I like to say. I’d gone from balancing on a firm base to trying to maneuver on point. From good solid yang to the yinnest of yin! From strong to weak.
I remember a documentary on drinking produced by Morgan Spurlock. One of the cartoon images he used to illustrate the effects of alcohol was a teeth-chattering fellow, struggling with anxiety. Something to do with dehydration (more on that subject later).
So, I stopped the martinis. Changed back to a little red wine.
But, it’s not just alcohol. Anything that inverts our triangle - too much sugar; too much stress; fake food, processed food, dead food; not enough sleep! Ah! Sleep! That healthy magic! Try sleeping during a panic attack!
Now, what I did to help myself -
1. BROWN RICE
Brown rice is an easily digestible, balanced food for human kind, rich in fiber, and a very good source of selenium, a trace mineral that has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of colon cancer. Selenium has also been found to reduce the risks of breast and skin cancers. Other studies have linked selenium intake with lower incidences of depression, anxiety and fatigue.
Magnesium, another nutrient for which brown rice is a good source, has been shown in studies to be helpful for reducing the severity of asthma, lowering high blood pressure, reducing the frequency of migraine headaches, and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Dr. Carolyn Dean, author of The Miracle of Magnesium, has found a direct link between anxiety in menopausal women and insufficient levels of magnesium. Insufficient magnesium can also contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue.
Just one cup of brown rice will provide you with 88.0% of the daily value for manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, which are important for a healthy nervous system, and in the production of cholesterol, which is used by the body to produce sex hormones. Brown rice also contains valuable Vitamins B3, B1, B6, phosphorus, and iron!
2. FAT JUICY VEGETABLES like broccoli, squash, carrots, onions can play an important role in your hydration. Leafy greens - think veggies that grow UP! Positive energy!
3. STAY HYDRATED! (more on this below) Stimulants like alcohol and coffee are diuretics, which cause us to lose precious liquids and minerals that go out with our urine and sweat. Be careful not to drink cold water as the cold feeling in your throat and stomach mimics panic.
4. HOT FRESH COOKING! Cold sandwiches, salads, snacks are okay, but not to alleviate panic. In fact, eating helped a great deal. But, hot food helped the most!
The first two nights of stopping cold food - sushi in my case - and martinis, I still had trouble sleeping, but by the second night, I’d stopped panicking. The third night, I slept soundly in two shifts. I got up once and ate peanut butter on a rice cake. The second time I woke, I had the same, but only half a rice cake. I panicked a little as the morning was getting closer and I still needed at least an hour more of sleep. But, I was able to breathe slowly and it worked!
5. SLOW BREATHING is a helpful anti-anxiety technique. Breathe in as slowly as you can, breathe out as slowly as you can. Count each breath backwards from 100. I usually don’t get past the 90s. But, that’s because I had already made those dietary changes. Power to the people, right on!
Here’s another story.
How My Neighbor’s Music Landed Me in the ER.
It started on a Saturday morning. She’s a decent person, but she feels she has a political right to play her music loudly. The volume is so high, it shakes the house. I have vertigo. You can imagine the effect on that condition. We’ve asked her to turn her music down so many times, it’s just mean now. That adds to the stress. The music played all day that day, the bass vibrating the floors and walls. I didn’t realize the effect it was having on me. That night my heart was racing and nothing I did could slow it down. I didn’t have the tools at that point and I still did not connect my heart rate to the music. You probably know that music regulates your heart rate. Think about the movies you have seen: soft, romantic music slows your heart rate, you anticipate romance; severe, repeated beats cause a rise in your anticipation of danger, think of the music in Jaws - ba-rump, ba-rump, ba-rump, slow beats rising in treble until the violins are screaming during the attack!
Very early the next day, Sunday morning, I told my husband I think I needed to go to the ER. I couldn’t slow my heart rate. I’d already taken aspirin but it didn’t work. We decided to go. I remember saying good-bye to my kitchen as I turned to walk down the stairs. I wasn’t sure if I was coming back. We arrived at the hospital and I walked up to the desk (How was I even walking? I didn’t know, but I was.) and told the nurse, “I think I’m having a heart attack or a stroke.” She leaped up, ran around the desk, and in one motion, slipped me into a wheelchair and catapulting me forward. They tested me, X-rayed me and in no time, put me back in the wheelchair and dumped me off in the waiting room. My husband said, “You probably have no blockage or you wouldn’t be back here.” Soon, however, the nurse came back for me; she put me on a gurney. A doctor came in to examine me. He was young and healthy and that gave me courage. Doctors used to be some of the unhealthiest people on earth; one actually told me, “Diet has nothing to do with health, dear” back in the ‘70s when we started our diet and health regime. The ER doctor quickly realized I was dehydrated and he put me on an IV. He later came in and gave me advice about slow breathing which I practice now, as you know.
Like I said, I didn’t realize it had been the music until the following Tuesday evening when she did it again and I had to call her, it was so bad, my heart was pounding out of my chest. All I could think of was, “I can’t go back to the ER again!” That’s when I realized what was happening. She came downstairs and there was an altercation. We agreed to compromise. Compromise for me meant borrowing my daughter’s expensive noise-blocking ear buds, only they don’t stop the house from vibrating.
I suppose my neighbor might find this situation funny. If she knew about the ER, she might find it even funnier.
It’s a long story whose conclusion is STAY HYDRATED! Of course, I was drinking water, but not enough. I suppose the stress must have contributed to my dehydration, but I was so stressed I didn’t know it!
I hope this advice helps you on your journey to health. We have the tools to fight our anxiety. Stress will never go away. But, we can deal with it. We have the power!
Good luck and fingers crossed for November 3 when Mercury comes out of retrograde! Praise the Lord!
©Patricia Goodwin, 2020
Brown rice recipe -
2 cups short grain brown rice (This is simply the best, highest quality brown rice. Short grain is the strongest brown rice, good for strengthening our conditions.)
1 1/2 cups spring water to each cup of brown rice
pinch sea salt
Wash brown rice in a strainer. Put into a pan with a good strong base, like a Revereware pan because it will need to simmer for 45 minutes and you don't want the bottom to burn.
Measure 3 cups spring water, pour into pan with washed rice.
Place pan on stove, turn flame up high until water boils, then turn down flame immediately until rice is gently simmering. Then, cover tightly and let simmer for 45 minutes.
When you remove the cover, your rice should be fluffy and separated, perhaps slightly stuck to the bottom. This is okay. If "bottom rice" is golden in color, toasty looking, it is very delicious.
Don't worry if your brown rice isn't perfect on your first try! Many people have to make several pots before they get it right! Even if it's wrong, too mushy (Next time add a little less water!) too dry (Next time add a little more water!) you can eat the rice and it tastes great!
© Patricia Goodwin, 2020
Patricia Goodwin is the author of When Two Women Die, about Marblehead legends and true crime and its sequel, Dreamwater, about the Salem witch trials and the vicious 11-year-old pirate Ned Low. Holy Days is her third novel, about the sexual, psychological seduction of Gloria Wisher and her subsequent transformation. Her latest novel is Low Flying, about two women suffering psychologically abusive marriages who find and nurture each other. Her newest poetry books are Telling Time By Apples, And Other Poems About Life On The Remnants of Olde Humphrey Farme, illustrated by the author, and Java Love: Poems of a Coffeehouse.
Within this blog, Patricia writes often about non-fiction subjects that inspire or disturb her, hopefully informing and inspiring people to be happy, healthy and free.
***Disclaimer: The information on this blog is not meant to substitute for medical care. Please consult your physician before beginning any new dietary guidelines.