Weather & Joint Pain

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

The belief that changes in the weather can affect joint pain has been around for centuries.

Perhaps you had a grandmother who would assure you rain was coming because her arthritic knee was acting up. 

 

Or maybe you have earned a reputation as the family weatherperson because your joints become stiff and achy right before a snowstorm blows in.

 

It’s common to blame joint pain flare-ups on changes in the weather, but does science really back up this belief?

 

It’s difficult to study the effect of weather on pain because you cannot control for weather in the same way you can control other variables in a study. Additionally, there is never just a single weather condition present at a time, so it can be challenging when trying to determine exactly what weather condition may be inducing pain. While there isn’t much in the way of controlled scientific studies, there are some theories that shed light on what might be happening to our bodies when there is a change in the weather.

Some people experience headaches when the weather is about to change. Scientists say this may have to do with barometric pressure changes, which create a sensitivity in joint fluids. When the pressure changes in our environment, our muscles, tendons, ligaments and tissues can expand or contract, causing pain. When the barometric pressure is low, joint fluids can receive less pressure, causing an increase in swelling and inflammation. Barometric pressure often drops before a storm, which may be why so many people think their joint pain or headaches can predict the weather.

For some people, colder temperatures are synonymous with joint pain. Researchers hypothesize that as temperatures drop, joint fluids have more viscosity. As a result, tissues become thicker and less moveable, making joints feel less flexible and stiffer than usual. Sudden dropping temperatures could have your joints feel more slow-moving or take longer to “warm up” for activity.

Researchers have also theorized that in colder weather the body tries to conserve heat by protecting the most critical organs, supplying them with the most blood flow. The body then limits blood flow to areas of the body that do not need as much protection – your extremities, hands, feet and knees – causing stiffness and pain.

While there may not be a hard and fast scientific correlation between weather and joint pain, the fact remains that people experience flare-ups in all kinds of weather. Here are a few simple ways you can find relief whether it is hot and dry or cold and wet.

Stay active
Motion is lotion for your joints, so keep moving — even when it might be raining or too hot outside. Activity prevents joint and muscle stiffness, promotes blood flow and ensures proper lymph drainage. Search up some quick at home yoga or stretching videos online or take advantage of an indoor pool for some low-impact aerobic exercise. On a recent rainy day trip to the Home Depot, I ran into a man walking his dog around the outer aisles of the store.  He had calculated how many laps he had to do to get a mile in. That man knew how important it was to go on a walk and was committed to getting the necessary steps for him (and his fur baby) to stay active and feel optimal!

Keep warm
Keeping your body warm promotes blood flow, which creates more viscosity in your joints and tissues. When heading out into cooler weather, make sure to use a vest to keep your core warm, and also socks and gloves for the extremities. Consider taking a warm bath using Epsom salts, drinking warm tea or simply putting a heating pad on problematic arthritic joints during cold weather.

Follow anti-inflammatory diet
What you put into your body has a huge impact on how your body feels. To minimize or avoid weather-induced joint pain, monitor what you eat. Try eliminating processed foods and lean more towards fresh whole foods like fruits, vegetables and healthy fats like fish and olive oil. For a full list of foods to fight inflammation, feel free to email me at pathwaysth@gmail.com and I will share the information with you.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Sweet Dreams

SWEET DREAMS

By Dr. Jay Rosen

 

Sleep is crucial for our overall health. Research show adults need anywhere between 6 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night, however over 35% of adults report logging less than 7 hours of sleep in a typical 24-hour period.

 

Experts also estimate between 50 to 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder, with insomnia being the most common issue. Thirty percent of adults report short-term insomnia issues, while 10% struggle with chronic insomnia.

 

So, what is preventing us from getting the rejuvenating, quality sleep our bodies need?

 

There are a variety of substances that can negatively affect our sleep, including alcohol, nicotine, other drugs and caffeine. A person can also have an underlying allergy or food sensitivity that may be causing disruption. And, it’s not just what you eat that can cause sleep disturbances. When you eat or drink can play a factor, as well. Drinking too much water late in the evening, or not enough water during the day, may interrupt your sleep at night. Eating right before bedtime may not be the best practice unless suggested by your health care practitioner.

Certain physical conditions like sleep apnea, which affects 25 million U.S. adults, can impact sleep quality. Other sleep disruptors include frequent urination (as may happen in pregnancy), pain and physical discomfort. Behavioral and mental disorders, such as depression, stress, and anxiety, may cause the brain to “wind up” so that even if a person is tired in bed, his brain will not allow him to relax into sleep.

Past and present injuries can also cause sleep issues. When we are injured, oftentimes the eyes are driven to look in the direction of the injury. We even turn our heads in that direction and rub the area if appropriate. Sometimes an injury continues to reside in the brain and the corresponding nerves of the injured area. That means that even if one does not feel pain, the brain can still be interpreting pain patterns.

 

When a person sleeps through the night, he experiences rapid eye movement sleep (REM) and non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM). During REM, the brain is highly active and the eyes rapidly twitch. This is the dreaming stage and each time the eyes are driven in the direction of an injury, new or old, the brain can move a person from the REM stage into the awakening stage. Even if the person goes back to sleep and does not notice this awakening, the brain and body know. These awakenings can contribute to lower sleep quality. To prevent this, it is always better to correct injuries as soon as possible in order to decrease the interference that results from waiting for the pain to just go away.

 

So, what can we do to improve our sleep? These simple steps can help:

 

  •         Go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day
  •         Keep your bedroom pitch black by eliminating noises, electronics, and lights
  •         Have a firm, comfortable mattress and pillow
  •         Keep the room cool with adequate humidity (69 degrees)
  •         Take a warm bath, hot tub, or sauna before bed, preferably with bath salts such as Epsom, Magnesium, or Dead Sea salts.
  •         Avoid watching TV and/or using your smartphone or computer at least two hours before bedtime
  •         Avoid drinking alcohol at least three hours before bedtime
  •         Avoid caffeinated beverages after 12 p.m.
  •         Use your bed only for sleep. If you read before bed, read on a couch or chair in another room. When you get tired, go to your bed for sleep.

 

Broader lifestyle modifications can also make a significant difference in your overall sleep quality:

 

  •         Obesity plays a strong role in sleep disorders, so consider adopting a diet low in carbohydrates and processed oils
  •         Eliminate toxic substances like nicotine and foods you might be sensitive to
  •         Decrease caffeine consumption
  •         Manage stress better with visual imagery techniques, a written weekly plan, and exercise
  •         Visit your chiropractor or naturopath regularly to help promote overall physical health.

 

Keep in mind, sedative sleeping supplements, such as melatonin, will only help to a certain degree and are better for short-term use. If used long term, these supplements may make things worse. The body can become dependent on those aids and decrease natural production of melatonin and other critical hormones and neurotransmitters.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Doctors draw on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

 

Roasted Asparagus

Ingredients: 

1 pound fresh asparagus 

Good quality olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

 

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Break off the tough ends of the asparagus. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 25 minutes, until tender but still crisp.
  • (Note – can broil for a quicker option to get crispy but MUST WATCH CLOSER)

Blueberry Yogurt Smoothie

Ingredients

1 c. Plain, Unflavored Yogurt

1 c. Fruit (your Choice – Blueberries, Peaches, Pineapple, Etc)

1/4 c. coconut milk or any nut milk of your choice

1 dash Honey

Ice

 

Directions

Place yogurt, fruit, coconut/nut milk, a handful of ice and honey to taste all into a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste it for sweetness and add more honey if needed.

Pour, drink and enjoy!

 

Back Pain

Got back pain? Pay attention to this muscle

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

 

If you, or someone you know, is always searching for back pain relief, it may be time to examine the psoas muscle. I work on the psoas (pronounced SO-as) muscle every day with my patients. Many people have not heard of this muscle, yet it is a major player when it comes to back pain, especially when there is difficulty straightening up from a seated position.

 

The psoas is a rope-like muscle that attaches to all the low back bones (lumbar vertebra), runs down across the groin and attaches to the inside of the hip. The psoas is joined at the hip, literally, by the iliacus, which travels from hip to thigh. Together, the psoas and iliacus make up the iliopsoas – the body’s most powerful hip flexor. The psoas helps promote good posture and stabilizes your abdomen and pelvis as it works together with your abs, obliques and lower back muscles. Every time you stand, walk, or run, or play golf, you’re engaging the psoas.

 

When the psoas is weak or tight, it can cause symptoms such as pain across the lower back, groin pain, hip pain, pain in the buttocks, difficulty walking up stairs or hills, tight hamstrings, knee pain and even foot pain.

 

John Stiner, a massage therapist based in Durham, N.C., whose credentials include a 2008 stint with the Nike Oregon Project, has noticed an epidemic of psoas tightness among his running clients. The number one culprit, he says, is your chair. Sitting for long periods puts the psoas in a perpetually shortened state. The muscle has memory and will maintain this shortened state, even when you get up from your chair. “Our bodies simply aren’t designed to sit all day,” says Stiner.

 

Another cause of imbalanced psoas muscles are abdominal crunches. Performing too many sit-ups causes the psoas muscle to shorten, which can lead to an increased arch in the lower back and a head-forward posture. While this posture is normally seen in the elderly population, nowadays, we are seeing this type of posture in younger people.  Rather than just focusing on abdominal exercises, it is better to have a more balanced program that works the core muscles in the back, as well as the front of the body. Sleeping in the fetal position also causes prolonged periods of stress on your psoas muscle.

 

You can perform a simple test to determine if you have a tight psoas. Lie on your back with both legs straight. Pull one knee towards your chest. If the other leg lifts off the floor, then your psoas is too tight. Now try the other side.

 

Regular gentle stretching is the best antidote for a tight psoas. Keep in mind that it will take time to release the psoas. The muscle has to be retrained, and you have to be consistent with the stretching. Be careful not to overstretch, which can cause the muscle to contract and shorten. Start your stretch slowly and ease into it without straining. You want to feel a lengthening sensation of the muscle.

 

Here are two simple psoas stretches you can try at home:

 

KNEELING LUNGE

Kneel on one knee, with the front leg forward at a 90-degree angle. With your pelvis tucked, lunge forward, easing into the stretch without straining. If your psoas is tight, your natural tendency may be to arch your lower back; make it a point to keep the back straight. Raise your arms overhead for an added abdomen stretch. To dynamically stretch the psoas, complete 20 reps on each side, holding the lunge for 2 to 3 seconds.

 

WARRIOR YOGA POSE

Step one foot 3 to 4 feet in front of you. Lunge forward until your front knee is at a right angle. (Readjust your foot position if necessary.) Turn your back foot out about 45 degrees. Keeping your back foot firmly planted, and your head, shoulders, hips and knees facing forward, raise your arms overhead. Relax your shoulders; don’t let them inch up. Lift your rib cage away from your pelvis to really stretch the psoas. As in all yoga poses, breathe deeply and easily. Don’t strain. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

 

Other tips to keep your psoas in top shape include:

 

1.    Sitting less — Try to get up every 45 minutes, at least. If you are traveling long distances, stop every 3 hours and stretch or walk for 5-10 minutes.

2.    Reach for support — Add support to your car seat by using a rolled up towel or small pillow behind your lower lumbar spine.

3.    Professional massage — Massage can help relieve a tight psoas, although this type of massage is not always comfortable.

 

By consistently working to relax the psoas and gradually restore its length, you will help reduce lower back pain, hip pain, groin pain, buttock pain and tight hamstrings, as well as prevent future injury.

 

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Colorful Salad Ideas for Spring

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove, Pathways to Healing

Our bodies require a rainbow of nutrients for optimal health, and eating a variety of colors is one way to achieve this fundamental health goal. It can be easy to fall into the same eating routine once you find foods the entire family likes, but the truth is our bodies benefit from food variation. Children, especially, need a diversity of foods in their diets and adults benefit, as well.

Eating an assortment of colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to receive a complete range of the vitamins and minerals your body needs in order to function. Each fruit and vegetable has a distinctive color that indicates an abundance of unique nutrients. The range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables have enormous healing powers that can help our bodies thrive.

This week, try buying a new fruit or vegetable that is not usually on your shopping list and find a way to incorporate it into a meal. Below are a few of my favorite nutrient-dense salad recipes to help you get started.

Rainbow Chopped Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette
Salad:
8-10 red radishes, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ pint yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 small zucchini, chopped
¼ small red cabbage, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

Avocado vinaigrette:
1 soft avocado, peeled and pitted
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup avocado oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
¼ cup water, add more as needed

Place all vinaigrette ingredients in blender until smooth, taste and salt as needed. Chop all vegetables and toss together with dressing in a large bowl.

Colorful Kale salad
1 bag of organic kale or baby kale
1 tub of pomegranate seeds
Slivered almonds, pecans or walnuts
Crumbled feta or goat cheese
Healthy vinaigrette to taste

Toss all ingredients and enjoy.

Dr. Axe Raw Superfood Carrot Salad
Salad:
10 large shredded organic carrots
1 cup dried goji berries
4 organic green apples, chopped (you can use any color or what is on sale)
1 cup pecans

Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt

Combine all salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette in a large bowl. Serve chilled.

Asian Chicken Salad
Salad:
Handful of shredded kale, white cabbage or both!
2 slices purple cabbage
4 slivers of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
½ carrot, slivered
4 mini red bell peppers, cut into slivers
2 mini yellow bell peppers, cut into slivers
½ pulled rotisserie chicken, no skin
Handful of spring green peas, slivered
Handful of diced green onion
Handful of chopped cilantro
Handful of black sesame seeds
(Optional additions: red chili flakes, diced water chestnuts)

Dressing:
1/3 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
¼ cup water
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

Heat oil, then add other ingredients and whisk together for 3-4 minutes. Let cool before dressing the salad.

Balsamic Beet Salad
Salad:
3 large beets
5 ounces mixed salad greens
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

Vinaigrette:
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Cube the beets and place in a steamer basket over boiling water with lid on. Steam the beets until tender, 10-15 minutes. Combine the salad greens in a bowl and top with cooled beets and crumbled goat cheese. Make the dressing by combining the orange juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt in a small bowl and whisk. Drizzle over the salad just before serving.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Tips For Golfers

By: Alyssa Musgrove – Pathways To Healing

Photo credit: Visit Lake Oconee

Golf is a challenging and often frustrating sport. Many golfers feel the mental component of the game is their greatest challenge, and undervalue the biomechanics and conditioning required to play the game well and play the game longer. This is a mistake that can lead to poor play and injury.

An extreme amount of compressive force – up to 10 times a person’s body weight – is exerted on the spine during the golf swing. Every joint involved in the swing is taken through its maximum range of motion. Many golfers contort their bodies into oddly twisted postures, generating a great deal of torque. Couple this motion with a bent-over stance, repeat 120 times over three or four hours, add the fatigue that comes with several miles of walking or hot summer weather, and you’ve got a recipe for lower back trouble.

“Most golfers go until they get hurt, then look for help,” says Dr. David Stude, member of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Sports Council and founding fellow of the National Golf Fitness Society. “Back pain is a warning sign there is an underlying problem responsible for a symptom that will likely get worse. Doctors of chiropractic look for the cause of the symptom and help reduce the likelihood of future injury.”

There’s a reason Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer have all relied on chiropractic care throughout their careers. Tiger Woods has said, “…lifting weights and seeing a chiropractor on a regular basis has made me a better golfer. I’ve been going to chiropractors for as long as I can remember. It is as important to my training as practicing my swing is.”

Aside from regular chiropractic adjustments, Dr. Stude and the ACA suggest these simple measures to help you avoid back pain or injury, and improve your overall game:

  • Purchase equipment that fits. Don’t adapt your swing to the wrong clubs. Someone six feet tall playing with irons designed for someone five inches shorter is begging for back trouble.
  • For women: If you have “inherited” your significant other’s golf clubs, beware. Not only are the clubs likely too long, the shaft is often not flexible enough for a woman’s grip. Women play better with clubs composed of lighter, more flexible material, such as graphite.
  • For men: While men are traditionally stronger than women, they usually aren’t as flexible. Men should spend extra time stretching before and after play to increase trunk flexibility. Improved flexibility helps men maintain a more even and consistent swing plane, which leads to more consistent performance.
  • For senior golfers: If you show signs of arthritis in the hands, consider a larger, more specialized grip for added safety and performance.
  • Take lessons. Learning proper swing technique is critical. At the end of the swing, you want to be standing up straight; the back should not be twisted.
  • Wear orthotics. These shoe inserts support the arch, absorb shock, and increase coordination. Studies show custom-made, flexible orthotics can improve the entire body’s balance, stability and coordination. This translates into a smoother swing and reduced fatigue.
  • Photo Credit: Foot Levelers

    Warm up before each round. Stretching before and after 18 holes is the best way to reduce post-game stiffness and soreness. Take a brisk walk to get blood flowing to the muscles; then do a set of stretches. To set up a quality stretching and/or exercise routine, see a chiropractor or golf pro who can evaluate your areas of tension and flexibility.

  • Pull, don’t carry, your golf bag. Carrying a heavy bag for 18 holes can cause the spine to be compressed, leading to disc problems and nerve irritation. If you prefer to ride in a cart, alternate riding and walking every other hole. Bouncing in a cart can be hard on the spine.
  • Keep your entire body involved. Every third hole, take a few practice swings backwards and with the opposite hand to balance out the stress put on the back and rest of the body. Imagine going to the gym and working only one side of your body everyday for years, neglecting the opposite side. Golf tends to create this same type of imbalance in your spinal column, setting the stage for injury.
  • Drink lots of water, especially in the heat. Dehydration causes early fatigue. When fatigued, we compensate by adjusting our swing, which increases the risk of injury. Smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages while golfing also causes dehydration.

If you golf consistently, you will no doubt feel the stress of the game. But by following a few simple prevention tips, it is possible to play pain-free. Chiropractic care is an effective solution for golfers who seek to rid themselves of pain and have a successful and enjoyable golf game!

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Some of the most common obstacles for fitting regular exercise into our daily lives are time, money, and energy. But what if I told you it was possible to invest in your health without having to go to a gym, buy fancy equipment or spend a lot of money?  Bodyweight exercises are a convenient and free way to improve your health and energy level.

Bodyweight exercises are strength training exercises that do not require free weights. Rather, an individual’s own body weight provides the resistance for the movement.

Multiple health goals can be achieved using bodyweight exercises, including weight loss, muscle gain, and increased range of motion.

Our skeleton’s job is to hold and support the entire weight of the body, but if you don’t move, the bone is sent the message that it doesn’t have to maintain as much density. Bodyweight exercises can help prevent osteoporosis by boosting the bone-building forces and improving bone density. Simply stressing your bones by the force of your own body weight stimulates more bone growth to protect your skeletal frame. Bodyweight exercises also increase muscle mass, meaning you rely less on your joints to move because your muscles are stronger. Additional benefits include improved heart health and circulation, reduced risk for diabetes, reduced stress and increased energy levels.

Bodyweight exercises work numerous muscle groups simultaneously and can be modified, which allows you to customize the exercises to your level of ability. They are simple enough to perform without supervision and have a low risk for injury. All you need is your own body and enough space to jump around a bit – and, of course, water is highly encouraged.

Push-ups are a great bodyweight exercise that strengthens the chest, shoulders and arms. (Be sure to stabilize your core by pulling your belly button in toward your spine.) They can be performed with various hand placements to isolate different muscle groups. Also, push-ups can be done at different levels of incline or decline. For example, beginners can start by pushing off of a wall or kitchen counter, progress to the floor on their knees, and eventually to their toes using full bodyweight.

Squats help build leg muscles and also help make daily living activities easier. You can begin squats against a wall and progress to air squats, but make sure your knees never bend past your toes. Other bodyweight exercises include bicycle crunches, reverse flies, tricep dips, planks, leg-raises, flutter kicks, bridges, donkey kicks, burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, sit-ups, reverse crunches, and step-ups.

You can customize your own workout by combining five to 10 different bodyweight exercises that target opposing muscle groups to create a circuit. Aim for 10 to 20 reps of each exercise. For best results do not rest much in between exercises in order to get – and keep — your heart rate up.

If you are not accustomed to physical activity, start with a few exercises and, after you become stronger and more adapted, add more exercises to your routine. Increase the number of circuits and repetitions of each exercise as you become more physically fit.

After completing bodyweight workouts, it is important to stretch to increase range of motion, flexibility, prevent injury, and decrease recovery time.  Aim to perform your bodyweight circuit two to three times per week.

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, a mom who chases after a toddler, or a mature adult trying to reduce your risk of falls, strength training helps build strong muscles and bones to make the activities of daily living easier! While high intensity workouts, cardio, and strength training have their benefits, bodyweight exercises are the most convenient and least expensive workouts for those lacking time and money.

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro, Ga. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Reduce food waste and reuse thanksgiving dinner

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Food_WasteDid you know the average food shopper wastes 61 percent of the food he or she purchases? The hallmark of Thanksgiving is a dinner table covered with more food than you can possibly eat in one sitting. But the downside is that this holiday can also be top of the list when it comes to food waste. When it comes to meals, if you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail. To avoid facing a mountain of leftovers on November 24th, try some of these tips and tricks to help reduce waste and use your leftovers wisely.

Go to the store prepared with a list of the food items you need. Try to make an accurate prediction of how much food you will need so you are not left with unnecessary amounts of leftovers that you cannot use.

Use the whole vegetable.

If you will be eating carrots, beets or turnips, for example, you can eat both the root and the green. Rather than peeling veggies, leave the skin on. You will get more nutrients and reduce waste.

Compost your food scraps.

Many Thanksgiving leftovers can be turned into compost (with the exception of nuts, grains or meat). Composting benefits your own plants, the soil, and the environment. It improves the health of your plants, while also reducing pollution.

Freeze your leftovers.

If you cannot finish all of your food in a timely manner, freeze it for later use. A FoodSaver can package items so they Pumpkin_Pie_and_Hot_Rollscan be kept frozen for longer periods, without the risk of freezer burn. Roasted turkey can be frozen for up to three months, but be sure to remove the meat from the bones first. Unlike other forms of cooked potatoes, mashed potatoes can be frozen for many months. However, the mashed potatoes should be well coated with a fat like butter (mashed potatoes made with just broth will not hold up well in the freezer).

Keep in mind that gravy is quite perishable and will only last about two days in the refrigerator. Flour-based turkey gravy can be frozen in ice cube trays for up to four months (milk-based gravies should not be frozen, as they will separate when thawed). Stuffing can be frozen for up to one month. In general, dishes made with pumpkin, sweet potato or squash should hold up in the freezer — especially if they have been pureed first. Rolls and bread will last for months in the freezer. Make sure to separate the rolls and freeze them individually.

Send your leftovers to someone in need.

If you have prepared foods that were not or packaged foods you did not eat, there are certain organizations that will distribute them to people in need. If your kids or grandkids are within driving distance, they can always take a goody bag home and take some leftovers off your hands.

Create new meals.

Get creative with your leftovers, repurposing them as soup, salad or healthy casseroles. Turkey is a lean meat that is low in fat and an excellent source of protein, so do not let it go to waste! Turkey provides tryptophan that helps the body make niacin and serotonin, which helps your mood.

Some recipes to consider are sweet potato hash browns, turkey pot pie with stuffing crust, turkey shepherd’s pie, leftover turkey quiche, turkey tortilla soup, southwest turkey lettuce wraps, curry turkey salad, sweet potato pancakes and next day turkey primavera. 

Here are two simple leftover recipes you can add to this year’s post-Thanksgiving Day menu:

Muffin Cup Stuffing “Scotch Eggs”

Simply press leftover stuffing into muffin cups and make a nest for a cracked egg. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix stuffing with some stock until well saturated. Spray muffin cups with oil, press 1/3 cup stuffing mixture into each cup. Use a shot glass to pack stuffing into the cup along the sides. Crack 1 egg into each hole. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until yolk is set. Sprinkle with pepper and hot sauce.

recipe active photo Day-After-Thanksgiving Turkey Carcass Soup

1 picked over turkey carcass

1 ½ half cups left over stuffing

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 teaspoon ground sage

2 ½ quarts chicken broth

garlic salt and pepper to taste

2 cups uncooked rice

1 (16 ounce) package frozen green peas

  1. Place the turkey carcass in a large, deep pot, and add the stuffing, celery, carrots, onion, bay leaves, poultry seasoning, sage, and chicken broth. Pour in additional water if needed to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 1 hour, skimming off any foam. Remove the carcass and any bones. Pick any meat off and return to the pot, discarding bones and skin.
  2. Season to taste with garlic salt and pepper. Stir in the rice and return to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium, and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in the peas, and continue to simmer until rice is tender, about 10 minutes more. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Recipe is taken from https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/130979/day-after-thanksgiving-turkey-carcass-soup/

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care.  Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting.  In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness.  Pathways to Healing leftover at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro.  The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.

Giving thanks and expressing gratitude promotes health and happiness

By: Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Thanksgiving Table SettingEach year, on the fourth Thursday of November, Americans gather together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. While the ritual of giving thanks once a year is certainly beneficial, research suggests expressing gratitude more often could actually be life-changing.

According to studies, the benefits of gratitude rituals, be it giving thanks at mealtime, keeping a gratitude journal or sending thank-you notes, include:

  • Improved sleep, especially if your mind has a tendency to go into overdrive with negative thoughts and worries at bedtime
  • Higher levels of happiness and a more optimistic outlook on life
  • Greater likelihood to engage in healthy activities such as exercise
  • Higher relationship satisfaction
  • Higher work performance (in one study, managers who expressed gratitude saw a 50 percent increase in the employees’ performance)

EEGStudies have also shown that gratitude can produce a number of measurable effects on systems in your body, all of which can translate into improved health. Biological systems positively affected by gratitude include stress hormones, inflammatory and immune systems, blood sugar, blood pressure, cardiac and EEG rhythms, and cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters.

Depending on the kind of year you’ve had, you may or may not feel like you have a whole lot to feel thankful for. If that is the case, you may be wondering if it’s still worth trying to express thanks. In a New York Times article addressing the subject, Arthur C. Brooks, Ph.D., writes:

“In a nutshell, acting grateful can actually make you grateful. For many people, gratitude is difficult, because life is difficult … Beyond rotten circumstances, some people are just naturally more grateful than others … But we are more than slaves to our feelings, circumstances, and genes. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude — and that doing so raises our happiness … If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the ‘thanks’ in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.”

The proven benefits of gratitude are such that your expression of it to a single day each year is definitely to your own detriment. If you’re unsure of where, or how, to start, consider starting by giving thanks privately in a journal or in prayer. Once this has become a comfortable habit, move on to expressing your gratitude publicly. Writing thank-you notes, saying thank you in person, or otherwise publicly proclaiming your gratitude all fall into this category.  

Starting each day thinking of all the things you have to be thankful for is another way to put your mind on the right track. Before getting out of bed in the morning, think of five things for which you are thankful. It can be as simple as the comfortable bed you slept in, the roof over your head, having central heat and air conditioning, the sun shining, or the birds singing. If you forget to start the day with thankful thoughts, try writing down a few things you are grateful for before turning in for the night. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found people slept better and longer when they spent about 15 minutes reflecting on things they were grateful for prior to going to sleep.

Gratitude JournalPractice being thankful for what you have. Create a list of 100 things you are grateful for in your life. You can list them in categories such as people, experiences you have had, qualities and abilities you have, etc. When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, your list can help you remember the many reasons you have to smile. Also, remember your future depends largely on the thoughts you think today. Each moment is an opportunity to turn your thinking around, thereby helping or hindering your ability to think and feel more positively in the very next moment.

Thankfulness is the one way we can improve our health without dieting, rigorous exercise, or taking a supplement. Practicing thankfulness every day can reward you with better health and a richer quality of life all year long.

Thank you for taking your time to read this column. I appreciate you, and wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and a life filled with gratitude.

Dr. Alyssa Musgrove

Pathways to Healing specializes in holistic chiropractic care. Dr. Alyssa Musgrove draws on a variety of techniques, including chiropractic, kinesiology, nutrition, food allergy testing and lifestyle counseling to assist clients in achieving optimal health and wellness in one setting. In addition, the practice is committed to being a valuable source of information so that people can learn how to live a healthy lifestyle and prevent future illness. Pathways to Healing is located at 1022 Founders Row, Lake Oconee Village, Greensboro. The office can be reached at 706-454-2040.