Banana Republics – an old novel for a current era

11/2017 – the USDA Food Composition Database is still missing critically important information – and until we can discuss that there is much else that isn’t going to be discussed. Note – this is about my concern that the entire public is being victimized by inadequate health care options as well as the information missing from a public database, and the history likely involves the radioactive incidents and factory work that took place in Hanford, Washington. Adequate iodine supply helps protect the body and thyroid gland from developing cancer and yet instead of educating the public regarding that fact the opposite occurred. Radioactive iodine is treated as a therapy for detecting cancer with the use of X-ray machines and for destroying thyroid cancer. Emergency supplies of higher dose iodine are produced for use in case of a nuclear incident but long term adequacy of iodine would work just as well or better than a short term use of high dose iodine if/when a nuclear incident occurred. The negative health effects of radioactive iodine have also been tested on the U.S. public without permission in covert experiments that took place during the Cold War years. See number six: http://theweek.com/articles/622448/8-government-conspiracy-theories-how-could-right/

Another plant can help reduce radiation in the soil – sunflowers have been used to help clean up radioactive hazardous waste sites. So instead of growing banana plants it might be helpful in some areas to plant sunflowers. https://gardencollage.com/change/sustainability/scientists-using-sunflowers-clean-nuclear-radiation/

Happy Holidays anyway – food sources for iodine and selenium, another trace mineral that is important for thyroid health is collected in an initial draft on my newer website: https://effectivecare.info/g9-iodine-%26-thyroid

Don Quixote, USA is a novel by Richard Powell that I read many times as a youth. Banana growing was a serious love for a nerdy young man who joined the Peace Corps and went to a South American country to help teach others. Somehow in the ensuing comedic adventures and misadventures he managed to grow bananas and takeover a Banana Republic – it is never too late to catch up on the classics.

I read the Reader’s Digest version which is mentioned in this book review. Reader’s Digest publishes slightly condensed versions of full length novels and publishes a book that includes four novels. Having read a few of the novels in their original and the Reader’s Digest condensed version I would say, great job Reader’s Digest at putting books in young adult’s and adult’s hands. I have not read the full length version of Don Quixote, USA but trust that it is even better than the Reader’s Digest version. Part of their success might be in choosing great books in the first place.

Book Review: Don Quixote, USA by Richard Powell

The novel is also available in a Kindle version and has an all star review on Amazon: Don Quixote, USA .

Take home lesson – if you don’t like something don’t just smash walnuts, unless you can also grow bananas. Read Don Quixote, USA to find  out more.

/Or spoiler for those who like to take things the wrong way, when the nerdy looking Peace Corps first arrives he is met by the current dictator who liked to crack nuts – smashing them – with the handle end of his pistol. When the now swash buckling Peace Corps member finds himself in the dictator’s chair as the people’s choice he finds the desktop has rounded indentations that do hold the walnut in place for handing cracking with the pistol handle (or whatever type it was, I don’t quite remember). The point in my sharing this is about negative smear campaigns against information – why is iodine information being withheld from the U.S. public when it was once available. No other nutrients seem to be missing and several non-nutrients are included. In 2012 I had an account on a social media site and multiple fake looking accounts were following it in a way that seemed to be trying to link me to the President in office at the time – I closed the account as the simplest way to end the parody followers attempt at a negative smear campaign. I didn’t know who might have been behind the fake looking followers but there were many of the same type of persona.

More on the less amusing history of the term Banana Republic is available on the Smithsonian website: Where we got the term Banana Republic. 

The take home lesson – don’t let your country be taken over by a business dictatorship where money talks, dictators listen, and everyone else asks how high to jump because they know that more than walnuts will be smashed.

Disclosure: Among my many houseplants I have grown a banana plant. they would need more sun than normal indoor light provides to actually produce fruit but as a large, lovely green tropical plant banana plants grow quickly and easily. https://www.thespruce.com/grow-bananas-indoors-1902483

Growing bananas in the right outdoor climate is relatively easy because new sprouts grow around the base of the older fruit bearing plant which can be the size of a small tree. The individual small plants can be dug up, and replanted with more space around them so that they all will be able to have the nutrients and sunlight that they will need in order to become a fullsize fruit bearing plant. I’ve never grown more than one potted plant banana but the book explains the process and it is an important part of the story – the young man changed himself in the process of helping the struggling people grow a more productive product for export. The dictator was overthrown by the will of the people who had grown to appreciate the young man’s help.

The Peace Corps volunteer knew about the amazing properties of the banana plant and his hard work led to a productive country, while the dictator that had been in charge knew more about cracking walnuts. The book includes details about growing bananas as the problem with the dictatorship at the time was a lack of productivity and lack of income.

The lesson isn’t about one Peace Corps worker or one dictator, it is about the group of people learning productive skills – no one alone can grow an entire field of bananas – it took a while for the young man to get enough interest and help.

A row of immature banana plants that need to be separated and replanted in a field. Or needed to be separated and replanted before they got this big. Ideally the sprouts would be used when they first appear and are only a few inches tall. This row would have roots that are too intertwined to be able to be separated.
A full size banana plant in the autumn, with a row of immature sprouts at the base – used for decorative purposes, I just happened to notice them.

And a daily reminder iodine content in our food supply was removed from a public database. This would not have been an accident – government agencies do what they are told. Why would the Obama Administration want to remove iodine information from public use? and why would the Trump Administration continue the policy? Food sources and other information about iodine and selenium is collected in a draft form on a different website: G9: Iodine & Thyroid

Where’s the iodine? Still missing from the USDA Food Composition Database, November, 2017.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

How we praise children may be instilling a more entity or incremental theory about personality traits

How we praise one another or ourselves may be affected by whether we have an entity theory or incremental theory about personality traits such as intelligence, or other traits such as trustworthiness or fairness. Hearing praise about what a good child we are can leave the underlying impression that if circumstances were different then we would be a bad child. Praise about how good we were for scoring well on the test or for drawing a pretty picture may be leaving the impression that next time if we score poorly on the test or make a less nice drawing that we are a bad child. [1]

Praise that focuses on the effort involved – or lack of effort – instead focuses on the job at hand rather than any innate goodness or badness. Praise about the effort involved, such as, “Great, you finished almost all of the questions and put in a lot of work on solving them, with more time you may have been able to finish all of the problems,” might be more successful in the long run at promoting a sense that working hard on a problem can lead to success without placing an external judgement on the child’s general goodness or badness. Praising the process that a child used rather than praising or criticizing the child may help children feel more confident about their ability to successfully handle challenges. Praise feels good in the short term but can lead the child to  be more self critical and to give up when they run into more difficult work. [1]

Research suggests  that people with a more fixed view of personality, or entity theory, may be judging others and themselves more harshly. While people with the more fluid view of personality, the incremental theory that people can change and improve their skills over time, make fewer snap judgments about themselves or others. [1]

Within the field of nutrition people who are trying to practice healthier eating habits may face setbacks in their food choices. It is important for the overall success of the dietary changes for them to see the unhealthier choices as simply unhealthier choices for that day or meal rather than a more general reflection of their overall chances of sticking with the new eating habits over time. One day’s unhealthy choices are unlikely to lead to long term ill health but if the unhealthy choices are viewed as proof that the person is a bad person who might as well give up trying then the day’s unhealthy choices might add to the long term risk of ill health. Eating disorders can be a person’s way of trying to cope with unrecognized emotional issues. Gentleness with oneself while trying to practice new eating habits may help with getting through minor setbacks without giving up on the overall goal of change.

The book Self-theories; Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, (1999), by Carol S. Dweck, is written for the academic field of social psychology however it is a review of research and doesn’t go into detail about statistical analysis which makes it fairly accessible for the general interest reader. It is part of the series Essays in Social Psychology by Psychology Press. [1]

Anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder characterized by severe control of caloric intake, is mentioned as an example of a condition where individuals can harm themselves in the pursuit of a perfect self ([1], page 138) but the book is not about nutrition specifically. It discusses how cognitive therapy techniques can help children and adults learn more productive views of self and how well meaning praise may actually be promoting increased risk of giving up when setbacks are encountered. How we talk to children and adolescents about their size can have significant impact on the risk of their developing disordered eating patterns:

In addition, history of depression and history of teasing by a teacher or coach have been linked to the onset of an eating disorder 30. [2]

A focus on healthy exercise habits and regular meals of various types of foods may be more helpful than overly focusing on weight or size or a few specific food choices. Health occurs over time not just at each meal. Process oriented help for healthy eating might better focus on helping the person recognize their hunger and fullness signals and recognizing when thirst for water might actually be the primary body sensation they are feeling.

The fixed or entity theory of self might suggest to a child or adult that their ability to change their eating habits or fitness level is not possible while a fluid incremental theory of self might suggest that with effort the child or adult’s ability to change their eating habits or fitness level is possible. It can be helpful to not make weight loss or size changes the primary goal when trying to help someone address eating habits. Changing habits can support a healthy gradual change in weight or size or may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as Type II diabetes or high blood pressure from developing even if there aren’t large changes in weight or size. Cognitive behavior therapy can be helpful for promoting healthy eating and lifestyle changes. [23]

/Disclosure: I am a nutritionist. Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician. Please see a health professional for individualized health care services./

  1. Carol S. Dweck, Self-theories; Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, (Psychology Press, 1999, Ann Arbor) [1]
  2. Denise E. Wilfley, Ph.D., Rachel P. Kolko, B.A., and Andrea E. Kass, B.A., Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Weight Management and Eating Disorders in Children and AdolescentsChild Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2011 Apr; 20(2): 271–285. . Full text available online. [2]
  3. Rebecca Murphy, DClinPsych. et al, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Eating Disorders, Psychiatric Clinics of North America Vol 33, Issue 3, Sept. 2010, Pages 611–627. Full text available online. [3]

 

Spiritual gardening for the dissociated soul

Trigger warning: This post is about recovery from sexual assault.

Sometimes a book can speak to you like a good friend, heart to heart, soul to soul, sharing secrets you never imagined anyone else had thought or experienced. The author wrote words many years ago but may have imagined that there would be a reader in need of the wisdom learned from hard experience.

Dissociation is a way for the mind to cope with pain or fear or with other overwhelming emotions or events. Children who experience trauma may have coped by allowing their minds to dissociate or separate from feeling the physical sensations or from being mentally present during the traumatic event. Dissociation is a natural reaction to intense experiences but it can become a lesson that is too well learned, a strategy for coping that becomes too much of a habit for the rest of life. Recovering a sense of connection to self and with the world can be difficult for the survivor of childhood trauma.

Dissociation became a habit for Karla McLaren, the author of Rebuilding the Garden: Healing the Spiritual Wounds of Childhood Sexual Assault (1997). [1] She experienced ongoing sexual assault beginning at age three. The culprit was caught but the dissociation remained for the author as a feeling of being incomplete and disconnected during her youth and young adult years.  The book grew from her personal discovery and exploration of an inner sanctuary that can exist within our minds whenever we care to imagine it and visit. She describes the inner sanctuary in terms of a garden with herself as the gardener. Sexual assault occurring during childhood violates boundaries and can take away an inner sense of self.

“Since the lasting wound of sexual assault occurs in a quiet spiritual center that no one ever mentions, it is very hard for assault survivors to understand why they don’t get better.” [page 5, 1]

The assault destroys the inner sanctuary but the survivor is not the ruined garden but is instead the gardener who can rebuild boundaries that protect and heal. Assault during childhood teaches the survivor that they have no boundaries and are open to invasion. Later in life the adult survivor may have problems relating well to others. Some survivors may be overly controlling of every aspect in their lives while others may seek stimulation and act out of control. Normal sexual relations may be difficult for some survivors.

“Many assault survivors become excellent puppeteers when sex is “happening” to them; they pull the right strings and make the right noises, but they are not present at all. They are off in a dream world, or up on the ceiling.” [page 57, 1]

Meditative relaxation is somewhat similar to the strategies described but the visualization exercises in the book delve more into the energy of the chakras and auras. The author describes the dissociated self in terms of being split. The visualization exercises are varied but aim to help the reader reconnect with their fragmented self and with the world around them.

“Not going anywhere in life, not living in peace, not truly knowing how to behave around people, relying on relationships for inner peace: these are just some of the characteristics of people who come to me for classes, and when I see them, they are often at the end of their ropes. People usually don’t come to psychic healers first.” [page 36, 1]

Seeking guidance from someone who self designates as a psychic healer may not be a first choice for most people but dissociation is the mind or psyche separating itself from the body’s present. The visualization strategies the author shares are designed to help restore a sense of an inner core that is always safe and to help reconnect to the world.

A lifelong habit of dissociation isn’t treatable with a pill. Anti-anxiety medications may be provided to help cope with anxiety if that is also present. Cognitive therapy, retraining the brain, is the most effective strategy used currently for treating people with dissociative disorders. But for that you would need an appointment with a therapist who believes in dissociative disorders. So in the meantime, there’s always Amazon. Finding an author who believes in the problem and believes that recovery is possible is at least a place to start even if it’s not a first choice. [1]

Gloriosa greets the day in the cheerful way, that daisies all share.
Gloriosa greets
the day in the cheerful way,
that all daisies share.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./