Saturday, April 14, 2012

Not a pretty sight


This is what my work space has looked like for the past week.  Actually, that's not true.  It was much messier, with the piles scattered all over my sewing table (on the other wall across from the dusty spinning wheel shown here).  Those piles contain paperwork for 8 tax returns (don't ask unless you want a rant on DOMA), and books and files which I neurotically feel I must have within sight at all times as I'm working on my dissertation and related research, which is pretty much all the time, especially with my sabbatical leave ending this weekend.

Which leads to the reason for this post.  Stress is a bad thing.  And for me, that can lead to an outbreak of cold sores.  Like the title says, not a pretty sight.  I've read various sources that say that 60-90% of people carry the virus, but only 20-40% have outbreaks.  If that's not bad enough, the virus is linked to Alzheimer's disease.

Let's stick with what we can reasonably control, shall we?  Although there's an antiviral drug, I've never found it particularly helpful.  But Dr. Andrew Weil (along with my wonderful acupuncturist/Chinese medicine expert and friend) says that eating foods high in arginine can trigger the virus and make it worse.

So, with my most recent outbreak, I decided to try this approach.  In addition to those listed by Dr. Weil, my friend recommended I avoid oats, wheat, chocolate (ouch), grapes, nuts, seeds, brown rice, and coffee (double ouch).  Let's be clear that those foods constitute about half my diet.  Oatmeal, hazelnut milk with my coffee, nuts and raisins in my trail mix, whole grain bread, granola, and dark chocolate.

My friend also recommended that I enjoy lots of green vegetables, sour foods, yogurt.  I can do that.  There's been a lot of sauerkraut and salads around here lately.  And life is really not the same without coffee, but I'm just having one cup instead of two.

Meanwhile, I took on the challenge of adapting my favorite protein bars, which have lots of the offending foods.  So, if you want to give this a try, here are the changes I made for low-arginine protein bars:

*barley flakes instead of oats
*dried apples instead of raisins
*white chocolate chips instead of regular (white chocolate has a different chemical composition from regular chocolate, but they are not vegan; I was feeling desperate.  Next time I'll probably just use more dried fruit.  Apricots or blueberries would be good.)
*instead of peanut butter, I pureed tofu with butterscotch pudding.  I have no idea where that inspiration came from, but it worked!

Whenever I'm feeling stressed or rundown in the future, I plan to give this diet a try and see if I can prevent an outbreak entirely.

As for the piles of work and taxes, those 2 things in life are certain.

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