In my book, Eat to Beat Alzheimer’s, I write about the final months of my stepfather’s life and our conversation about my passion for healing with foods. He is actually the one that suggested to me to focus on Alzheimer’s disease. At that time in my life I had a strong intention to write my own cookbook, but was still unclear about the focus. For my stepfather to suggest this to me was a blessing in two ways. One, it was a practical step for me to ground my research and intention in an area that was desperately needed in the world. And second, more personally, it was a moment of being seen and heard by a man that had truly been my father, and with his encouragement and acknowledgment I felt something fall into place within me; perhaps the last bit of courage and confidence I needed in order to follow through with my dream of becoming an author.
Ahh, social media. On the one hand, on the other hand…. I admit completely, that social media was something I pretty much ignored before becoming an author. As an introverted person, social media felt overwhelming to me. I value one-on-one, rich, meaningful connections with other people. The amount of dialogue and diversity on the social media scene is both exhilarating and paralyzing for a person of my temperament.
Completion is an ambiguous arena to navigate. Creative projects rarely feel done. Eat to Beat Alzheimer’s, a fairly small book, tapped into a place inside of me that had so much to say! It was while working on Eat to Beat that I realized this book was a beginning for me, not the whole. I couldn’t burden one book with all that I had to share. It was important to stay clear on what this cookbook was meant to be: an educational text for learning about nutrition and brain health with recipes to put that learning into action!
Baby boomers are the generation born between 1946 and 1964. This puts them in an age range of 52 – 70 years old in 2016. While standards of aging are changing for the better and in general, people are able to live longer, healthier lives, baby boomers do have a unique set of health challenges.
We are in the midst of a great paradigm shift. Our understanding of health and the root cause of disease is expanding. While health concerns, issues and illnesses are extremely difficult for the individual and the community, they also offer us a particular leverage point for looking more closely at the human body.
Our diets have a significant effect on the health of our brains, which will potentially affect all areas of functioning. Alzheimer’s and dementia are only two examples of how compromised brain health can manifest. Depression and anxiety are other manifestations that are even more common and can be just as debilitating.
Nurturance has always been something I’ve looked for. I think I have traveled along a path that many would be familiar with. I looked for nurturance in other people to give me the love and kindness I craved. I looked for nurturance in fad diets to get the results physically that I wanted, as an athlete to be fit and strong, and also as a woman, to be healthy and attractive. I spent a long time looking for this outside of myself and thought there were people and times when things appeared to line up, but nothing was ultimately sustainable for me.
My health continued to decline, even though I felt I was doing everything right, based on the information I was getting at the time. This led me to investigate deeper, both nutritional science, and my own psychology. I kept stumbling across an interface between the two, that I wasn’t seeing talked about, but from my perspective was significant. That is when I first started to draw the line between food and mood, which is really another way of describing brain health.
Connection is an intention of mine, from a few different angles. From my perspective, connection with readers is a very dynamic experience. It looks like, as an author, that I am writing my book on my own, as if it is a solo task. And sure, often I am alone. However, the readers are constantly on my mind. While writing, I am always considering who the readers are, what is relevant and interesting to them and how can I meet them where they are? Furthermore, where can we meet each other? Obviously, we meet when my words resound within their minds as they read and what then? A blending of us, into something bigger, that integrates the two. Maybe my words sit on someone’s shelf. Maybe the book is opened often and greased by use during cooking. I hope so.
"There is a myth that eating healthy is too hard. Unfortunately the result of this myth is that many people who want to try, don’t even begin. Myths that perpetuate overwhelm, or lack (“I just can’t do it”) are not serving us.
Consider a simple formula for your meals. That each time you eat you are providing your body with energy to sustain you until the next meal. Each meal, even snacks, should contain high quality protein, fat, and fiber.
I have felt drawn to writing a book, and a cookbook, for as long as nutrition and health has been a passion of mine, which has been a very long time. But the seed for Eat to Beat Alzheimer’s, was planted specifically in a conversation that I had with my step-father a few years ago.
In the book, I write about our relationship and what he meant to me. My step-father was an important figure in my life, and when he was very ill, and dying, I went to spend time with him while he was in the hospital. And although he was very important to me, I was never sure how important I was to him. In other words, he didn’t make much effort, perhaps didn’t know how, to connect with me on a deeper level. That is, until we were alone in the hospital.
As we discuss brain health, mood, and nutrition, we would be remiss to ignore how these issues can play out in childhood. The impacts from the standard American diet and lifestyle are showing up earlier and earlier in life. Children suffer from a number of health related issues, such as Early-Onset Diabetes, Autoimmune Disorders, Autism, ADHD (attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder), depression and anxiety. While these are all multifaceted issues, meaning there are likely to be multiple causes and factors involved, nutrition and diet have been shown to play a significant role in reducing symptoms and in some cases, bringing children into full remission from a diagnosis.
Francie Healey is the author of "Eat To Beat Alzheimer's and has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is both a Certified Health Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor.practitioner.