Without pain, says the Dalai Lama, you wouldn’t know something was wrong with your body. But for more than 100 million North Americans who deal with lower-back problems, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions, message received — loud and clear!
Fortunately, there are powerful self-care techniques that may reduce your discomfort by 20 percent to 60 percent and allow two-thirds of you to slash your use of addictive pain meds. That’ll ease your blues and let you sleep better too!
1. Drink caffeine — up to four 8-ounce cups a day. It blocks the action of a neurotransmitter that’s involved in the onset of muscle pain.
2. Look at your aching body part. Really. The body senses you’re in control of your pain when you look at where it’s located (even if you have to use a mirror). And then apply a topical pain reliever made from capsaicin (the sizzle in hot peppers).
3. Laugh. A really good belly laugh increases pain tolerance. So treat yourself to a funny movie!
4. Use hot and cold packs, plus step up physical activity, if possible. For soft-tissue problems, walking at least 30 minutes a day (headed for 10,000 steps daily), stretching and (eventually) strength-building exercises help. Combine with use of hot and cold packs on tender areas twice daily.
5. Meditate for 10 minutes morning and night using deep breathing (count to four as you breathe in, eight as you breathe out) and progressive muscle relaxation. You’ll harness the power of your brain’s alpha waves and tune out distractions like pain.
The 2013 pizza-eating champion, Molly Schuyler, downed 12.9 cheesy slices in 10 minutes. But that’s definitely not what we’re suggesting when we encourage you to learn how to feel full faster!
Feeling satiated after eating involves your guts, brain and attitude. And when you eat too fast, too much or too-processed foods (anything with the Five Food Felons — trans and saturated fats, added sugars and sugar syrups, and any grain that isn’t 100 percent whole), your body can’t tell when you’ve had enough. You need to give your appetite-regulating systems (and emotions) a chance to react to what you eat.
Savor the flavor. Put your fork down between bites; chew your food slowly. That releases more nutrition from the food and lets leptin, your appetite-controlling hormone, respond so you eat less. Almost a century ago, “the Great Masticator” Horace Fletcher advocated 100 chews per bite. We say, depending on the food, chew around 10 to 20 times.
Just say “NUTS.” Twenty minutes before a meal, eat six walnuts or 12 almonds. They contain 70 calories of fat, and that’ll slow your stomach emptying, so you’ll feel full sooner.
Practice mindful eating. Notice the texture and flavor of each bite and how your body responds to food; place yourself in a calm (no TV) environment. That helps control cravings and impulse eating. It also improves the digestive process that goes on in your mouth!
Experiment with this for one week; we’re sure you’ll eat less, feel fuller faster and enjoy mealtime a lot more!
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.