Be Mindful of Your Medications

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Late last year, I was at work and started feeling really foggy. My hands were trembling, my anxiety was rising, and I started to feel confused. I would look at my computer screen and within seconds forget what I was looking at. It was terrifying.

I told my supervisor that I needed to leave. I called my boyfriend to have him pick me up, and while I waited I called my psychiatrist. I described my symptoms to her, and she told me to start reducing the amount of quetiapine (a schizophrenia medication that is also used to treat bipolar disorder) I was taking by half every three days until I wasn’t taking it anymore. Eventually, I started feeling normal again, but it was a scary experience to feel myself growing more and more confused and frazzled by the moment.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about that experience on here before, but I was thinking about it recently after speaking to a friend about medication interactions. I had mentioned to her that I was taking Lexapro and Trazadone (among others), and she told me that her doctor had advised her not to combine the two because it can lead to serious side effects, including serotonin syndrome. I looked it up online and sure enough, she was right:

Using escitalopram [Lexapro] together with trazodone can increase the risk of a rare but serious condition called the serotonin syndrome, which may include symptoms such as confusion, hallucination, seizure, extreme changes in blood pressure, increased heart rate, fever, excessive sweating, shivering or shaking, blurred vision, muscle spasm or stiffness, tremor, incoordination, stomach cramp, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Severe cases may result in coma and even death.

Obviously, I stopped taking the trazodone. It’s a sleeping aid, so thankfully it’s not something that I’m required to take daily and there are no issues with stopping it suddenly.

After feeling relieved that I had avoided any of the above horrifying side-effects, I was disappointed and frustrated that two separate doctors had approved the combination for me, even doubling the amount of both recently. Then when I picked them up at the pharmacy, the pharmacist didn’t advise me to be careful with them.

While I feel like it is the responsibility of doctors and pharmacists to alert patients when they may be taking a potentially deadly cocktail of drugs, it made me realize that I also need to take some responsibility for my own health.

If you start taking a new medication, pay attention to your body. If something feels off, don’t be afraid to call your doctor or pharmacist to find out if it’s normal. Use the power of the internet to research drug interactions. Read the pamphlets that come with your medications.

It’s so important to maintain both your physical and mental health and being attuned to your body and realizing if something is wrong is a huge part of that. Take control of your health as much as you can and learn to be an activist for yourself. No one knows yourself better than you do!


Have you ever experienced a scary side-effect from a medication or combination of medications? Let’s talk about it in the comments!




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Sugar-Free January – Week Two

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At the beginning of the month, I announced that I would be going sugar-free for the month of January in an attempt to detox a bit from all the sugar I’d starting eating. Last week, I shared my thoughts at the end of the first week, which can basically be summed up with: I noticed nothing different about myself, and I spent my nights dreaming about sweets.

Week two has been much easier. I haven’t been craving sweets as much, although walking into a grocery store is still a challenge. An interesting thing that’s happening is that I haven’t been nearly as hungry as I usually am. I’ve always been a snacker or grazer, eating small bits between meals. I also tend to eat when I’m bored, which I know isn’t healthy. This week, however, I’ve noticed that I’m no longer craving snacks between meals, and when I do eat I get full much faster.

Another change I’ve noticed is that my skin has started to clear up and is less oily. I had a feeling this would be one of the results of cutting out sugar, but I’m still very pleasantly pleased by it. When I was vegan and watching what I ate, I rarely ate sugar and white flour, and other mass-produced foods and my skin absolutely glowed during that period of my life. There was even one time that I was at a bar with one of my friends and a strange woman walked up to me to ask me what kind of skin care products I used to get my complexion. I’m not sure she believed me when I replied with “just some drugstore cleanser.”

Overall, at the end of the second week, I’m beginning to notice some positive changes, albeit slowly. I’m looking forward to seeing what week three brings.

Sugar-Free January – Week One

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Last week, I shared that I was participating in Sugar-Free January and that I would be posting weekly updates about my progress.

To sum the first week up, I’m craving all the sugar.

I had expected to have sugar cravings the first few days, but I wasn’t expecting to literally be dreaming about sugar. The third night of this challenge, I had a dream that I was sitting on my couch with a huge popcorn bowl, except it was filled with an assortment of candy. The entire dream was just me eating candy because my brain clearly hates me.

It’s also been challenging because, despite the holidays being over, I still find myself surrounded by decadent treats everywhere I am. While it’s been challenging to say no to everything, I’ve stuck with it.

The worst temptation I’ve had occurred during a trip to the grocery store. The particular store I was at had their sparkling waters directly across from their cookie selection, and while I was picking up some La Croix (which, by the way, is great for satisfying a sweet tooth without eating sugar!), I noticed that there was now a carrot cake Oreo flavor. Carrot cake is one of my favorite things in the world, and I bought it. While I’m not planning on trying them until next month, walking by them day after day has been challenging.

One of the positive things about this challenge is that I’m rediscovering my love of fruit. I’ve never been a fruit lover, but without being able to grab ice cream or a cookie when I’m craving something sweet, I’ve been gravitating towards fruit, especially bananas.

I haven’t noticed any changes in my skin, weight, or general feelings of wellness. Aside from the intense cravings I’ve had every day, I don’t feel different at all. However, even though I don’t feel different, I know that it’s having a positive effect on my overall health.

10 Books About Nutrition & Healthy Living

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Since many people have a New Year’s resolution or goal of eating better or getting healthy, I thought now would be a good time to compile a list of nutrition and food books to help guide you on your journey.


Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating by Walter C. Willett, M.D., and Patrick J. Skerrett

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This is my favorite book about nutrition, and I’ve read it twice. I keep it heavily bookmarked because I find myself referencing it all the time. If you’re looking for a completely comprehensive guide to your health and nutrition, this is the book for you.


Nutrition for Dummies by Carol Ann Rinzler

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I’m generally not a fan of the For Dummies series, but I have read this one and it was incredibly informative and a great option for people that want something a little bit easier to read than the above-mentioned Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy. 


The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

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This is one of the books I’m currently reading. I’m participating in Sugar-Free January, and in order to help keep myself motivated I wanted to read something about sugar and the sugar industry. This is a fascinating book about whether or not sugar is addictive, how our diets have come to include sugar in so many different formats, and the effect it has on our overall health.


Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Guilia Enders

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Despite the huge impact that our digestive system has on our overall health, it’s not talked about as often as it should be because let’s face it, it’s not always a pleasant thing to discuss. This book will answer your questions on everything from acid reflux to lactose intolerance and so much more.


Skin Cleanse: The Simple, All-Natural Program for Clear, Calm, Happy Skin by Adina Grigore

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Your skin is an organ, and too many people neglect its care when implementing a new health routine. This book will help you learn what foods will clear up your skin and keep it looking healthy. Over the years, I’ve periodically given up both sugar and dairy, and each time I eliminated triggering foods I noticed a very stark change in the luminosity and clearness of my skin.


The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II

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This nutrition and health book has been wildly popular since it’s publication in 2001. Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell undertook The China Study, a comprehensive review of the relationship between diet and disease. What they found was that a diet high in animal protein was more likely to lead to disease, while a plant-based diet would do the opposite.


The Wellness Project: A Hedonist’s Guide to Making Healthier Choices by Phoebe Lapine

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The author of this book, Phoebe Lapine, suffers from an autoimmune disease and wrote this book to help people like her, as well as people who just want to live healthier, find changes that will have the largest influence on their health. To write this book, Lapine undertook 12 wellness challenges and writes about her experiences with them.


How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger, M.D. and Gene Stone

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The author of this book, Dr. Michael Greger, is the creator of the popular website NutritionFacts.org. In this book, he talks about the fifteen top causes of death in America and how our diets can influence and prevent those diseases. I’m recommending this book because I am a huge believer in preventing illness before it arises, and this book will help guide you through that. There’s also a corresponding cookbook.


Ayurveda Beginner’s Guide: Essential Ayurvedic Principles & Practices to Balance & Heal Naturally by Susan Weis-Bohlen

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I read this book in 2018 because I’m always interested in living a more natural life. Ayurveda is the practice of eating and living based on your body type. While I definitely won’t be implementing everything in this book (like putting ghee on your eyes), I did learn a lot from it and put certain things into practice such as dry brushing. This book contains tons of tips, recipes, yoga and meditation information, and more.


Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

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I never thought much about herbs as a medicine until I had an herbalist roommate years ago. She showed me that, while herbs weren’t always a perfect medicine, they were definitely beneficial to ease symptoms and prevent issues from arising. After we parted ways, I purchased this book to continue looking into the practice. I now regularly use herbs for things such as menstrual cramps, headaches, stomach aches, and more.


Did I leave any nutrition or healthy living books out that you love? Share them in the comments below!




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Sugar-Free January

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I have never been a sweet-tooth sort of person – I’ve always much preferred salty treats such as chips and pretzels. I could easily go weeks without consuming a piece of candy or a cookie. That has changed in the last couple of years, as I have found myself rediscovering my sweet tooth to the point where I have been consuming an unhealthy amount of added sugars.

Sugar is addictive and added sugar is dangerous to your health.

Over the past year, I’ve gained more weight than I’m comfortable with, and although sugar consumption is not the main reason for it, it’s definitely a contributing factor. I cannot currently change the fact that I have a desk job and sit or stand in one spot for ten hours per day, nor can I do much to alter the effects that the antidepressants I’m on can increase a person’s weight. However, I can control the amount of added sugar I consume on a daily basis.

Sugar has a lot of detrimental effects on your health, such as:

In modern American grocery stores, sugar can be very difficult to avoid. It’s in practically everything in one form or another, even foods you might not initially expect, such as salad dressing, marinara sauce, yogurt, granola, and cereal.

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Due to all of the negative effects that sugar is having on my body, and in order to get back to my previous state of being where I do not crave sweet foods every day, I will be giving up added sugars for the entire month of January.

What does that mean? For starters, no baked goods or candies. I’m not expecting to miss candy that much – I don’t consume a ton of it at this moment. Usually, when I am craving sweets, it’s in the form of ice cream, muffins, or pound cake.

I will also be cutting out things like sugary sauces and any yogurt or breakfast foods that have high sugar content.

What foods am I not giving up? Fruit! Even though some fruit does have high sugar content, it also contains fiber and water and tons of nutrients. I will be allowing myself to consume all the fruit I want. Granted, since it’s winter, that fruit will probably be frozen, but it’s still going to be delicious!

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If you want to join in this challenge with me, feel free to! I’ll be sharing weekly updates on how the challenge is going and if I notice any changes in my weight or skin. Let me know if you’re joining this challenge in the comments, or join the wider community with #sugarfreejanuary!