Rio Chama Publications

The Rio Chama Blog

The blog page offers holistic information regarding all facets of healing—be it emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical. We welcome your participation: email us your questions and comments regarding posted information or add a comment to the blog.

Meatless Mondays

Early in November 2012, the Los Angeles city council unanimously approved a resolution recommending city residents not eat meat on Mondays. This Meatless Monday campaign started internationally in 2003. The Los Angeles effort is associated with Johns Hopkins University’s public health school.

Not only is the environment diminished by the amount of meat consumed in this country, a high-meat diet is linked to health problems such as colon, prostate, kidney and breast cancers, as well as heart disease. Furthermore, the problem of obesity can significantly be moderated by reduced meat consumption.

So what’s a meat eater to do?

b2ap3_thumbnail_meatless-img.jpgHundreds of studies suggest that diets high in fruits and vegetables may reduce cancer risk. Results from a Harvard University study showed that replacing saturated fat-rich foods (such as meat and full fat dairy products) with foods rich in polyunsaturated fat (such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds) reduces the risk of heart disease by 19 percent. Research results also suggest that higher consumption of red and processed meat increases the risk of Type II diabetes. In addition, the consumption of red and processed meat is associated with higher mortality rates.

Interestingly enough, replacing a meat-based meal with fish such as tuna and salmon isn’t that difficult to do; nor is substituting an inexpensive bean and rice dish for meat, since the two combined form a complete protein. Fortunately, information regarding meatless meals is readily available on the Internet—not only are there countless recipes, updated research results inform readers of the many health benefits of eating meatless meals.

Years ago when I became interested in healthier diet options, I began by choosing white turkey and chicken instead of red meat. Gradually I began to incorporate fish into my diet. Now I am comfortable with fish two or three days of the week and lean fowl on the other days.  When I have a yearly physical exam and the doctor remarks about the status of my good health, I attribute this to regular exercise and a healthy diet. You’d be surprised how rewarding it is to transform anxiety-ridden doctor’s visits to a life-affirming event!

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Exercise to Improve your Body and Mind

As mentioned elsewhere on this website, my writings feature a holistic perspective. I’ve included many mental and emotional exercises in Grow Up Your Ego, but today I’m thinking about the numerous ways we can exercise our bodies. While we all know that walking is a low impact and simple exercise, we tend to forget the profound health benefits it provides. According to the Mayo Clinic, walking lowers blood pressure, helps manage weight, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk or manages Type II diabetes, and improves one’s mood. To obtain maximum health benefits, one should walk 30 to 60 minutes a day most days of the week. It’s best to warm up by walking slowly the first five minutes. Walking slowly the last five minutes of the walk is recommended as well. If you aren’t a regular walker, at first only walk as far as is comfortable, for example 5 to 10 minutes. Then gradually build up to 15 minutes, and so on. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of walking is that it can be done with others, which includes walking with one’s children. When I’m walking the trails close to where I live, I frequently observe parents who either have infants cradled in back packs or who are pushing them in strollers.

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Water workouts also are relatively simple and can be very enjoyable. According to a study published in the April 2012 American Journal of Cardiology, three or four days a week of swimming laps for 15 to 45 minutes leads to significant improvement of vascular function. Did you know that, in addition to reducing stress and the risk of cardiovascular disease, swimming burns about the same number of calories as jogging, with less stress on your joints?

Overall, research concludes that regular exercise routines contribute to healthier lives, reduced stress, and improved interactions with others—which by extension includes a more positively energized approach in relating to infants and children.

Your submitted comments posted here would be of help to everyone. Share your experiences with consistent daily/weekly exercise and the affirmative effects on yours relationships. Tell us what helps you stick with the commitment to regular routines, or what obstacles stand in your way.

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Your Ego and Your Emotions

From the get-go infants can show interest, surprise, happiness, and even distress. This was made very evident to me when I was a nurse assisting at the birth process. What a delight to watch when a newborn nestled into Mother’s arms in total comfort or looked into Dad’s face with wide-eyed interest! We now know that infants’ facial expressions are the first signs of their emerging egos.

Because the ego is the system of our personalities that both helps us survive and give us a sense of self, it fulfills its needs through connecting with people. The connections between an infant and her caretakers are emotion laden–an infant cries when hungry, smiles and coos when talked to in a pleasing manner, and can actually mimic emotions displayed by others.

Each interaction with each caretaker carries an emotional flavor. . . the stronger the flavor, the more likely there will be an imprint on the infant’s malleable sense of self.  If caretakers habitually ignore the infant’s cries of distress, she learns she cannot expect to have her needs met. Unable to develop trust, development of her emotional life is greatly impaired. What do you know about your arrival into this world? Do you have the sense you were lovingly welcomed? Are the stories told about your infancy and early childhood filled with pleasurable words? Or, do they reflect annoyance and impatience with your behaviors?

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Parent-Infant Attachment Styles

In studying infant-caretaker interactions, behavioral researchers have classified attachment styles into three main categories:

(1) 65%  of infants fall into the secure category. These infants had caretakers who were sensitive and responsive to their needs.

(2) 21% of infants fall into the avoidant category. These infants had caretakers who were rejecting and did not respond quickly to infant distress, seemed uncomfortable with close body contact, and were somewhat rigid and minimally expressive.

(3) 14% of infants fall into the ambivalent or resistant category. These infants had caretakers who sometimes engaged with their babies and other times were ignoring and insensitive.

Fortunate are those who begin life in a secure environment. That doesn’t mean the ego is home free in its growth. Even in the best of settings, periods of parental fatigue and stress interfere with parent responsiveness. Nonetheless, it’s important to know how research shows that infants of the secure category have a much better chance of growing up into emotionally secure adults. And it’s also important to understand that infants who fall into the avoidant and ambivalent categories will be more challenged in achieving an emotionally secure adulthood.

Do you feel confident and secure in your interpersonal relationships? Or do rigid and minimally expressive behaviors characterize how you relate to people? Or do you sometimes engage with others while at other times you ignore and dismiss what others are trying to share with you?

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The How To: Continued

What about discipline? How can parents effectively handle unacceptable and even perilous behaviors that children sometimes demonstrate? For example, when parents forbid a toddler to run out in the street, play with knives, or turn the knob on the stove, Mom and Dad shout or they physically remove the child from imminent disaster. The child feels shame. But wait. Aren’t we supposed to keep children from feeling shame?

Surprisingly enough, research suggests that the disciplining experience when properly handled helps the frontal lobe of the brain develop an internal adaptation to negativity. Just as the child can call on a positive memory to self-soothe, he can bring to mind the memory of Mom’s reaction to forbidden behaviors. He can then curb his impulsive behaviors by anticipating his caregivers’ reactions to them. This is a necessary move toward social adaptation–it’s time for the toddler to learn the world is not always his oyster. Not only are there dangers out there, other people have needs and feelings as well.

But this is only half of the story. When researchers speak about the proper handling of shaming experiences, they have something very specific in mind. Stretching of the brain into an adaptive pattern means that soon after feeling shame the child has a reconnecting experience with his caretaker. Here’s how it works: the caretaker reinitiates eye contact and engaging behaviors after a misattunement, temper tantrum, or other disrupting event. These repeated “reunion experiences” of talking, hugging, and soothing ease the overwhelming isolation surrounding shame and allow reconnection. In other words, the child learns that while risky activities and emotional fracases, may result in disconnection, the disconnection is not permanent. The links he had with others are supple, allowing for the humanness of emotion and frailties of behavior.

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