Return of the TMJ

Oh noooo! It’s back! 

For those if you who aren’t familiar with Tmj, let me direct you to my old posts about my first diagnoses back in Florida almost 3 years ago (check out the tmj tag). 

But for those who are, I had surgery for it while I was in Florida (athrocentesis) which didn’t perfectly fix the issue, but I was eating and speaking just fine. 

Until recently. 

Because of the stress of teaching (I’m sure many of you are familiar with that tightness in your forehead and jaw when you’re pissed) and overusing my jaw because of constantly yelling to be heard over the noise, my tmj is making a comeback. 

So much so, I was in tears from pain and anxiety. 

I don’t want to go through this again. I don’t want another surgery, I don’t want to go 2 months on a nearly liquid diet, and frankly, I can’t.  Not in a job where my sole purpose is talking. 

So as my jaw clicks and pops at almost every movement, I wait anxiously for the day it totally locks again. 


Why I Left Nutrition

For those of you who know me personally, this is old news.  But for those of you who don’t, this will be new.  As you can see on my about me page, I obtained my undergraduate degree in Food Science (with a specialization in human nutrition).

But before that, when I first started at Clemson- I was on the Dietetics track.  What’s the difference, you ask?  Well, nutrition and dietetics have the same fundamentals, but dietetics tends to be more clinical- and therefore requires more accreditation.  In the US, a nutritionist does not require extra accreditation, and there is a very loose definition for this label.  However, dietitian is a very strictly regulated field, and one can only be labeled as such after taking special courses and internships at accredited Universities/medical schools/hospitals.

So, back to freshman me. I was (and still am) a huge proponent of using natural remedies/ food as preventative measures and sometimes treatment for acute illnesses and overall wellness.  This can be considered a holistic approach.  I wanted to be a holistic practitioner, and a great place to start was in dietetics.

 However, late in my sophomore year, I changed my mind.

 The main reason is simple, and quite unfortunate.  When it comes to health, everyone is an “expert”

I had determined at the relatively young age of 20, that I could not work with the general public in matters of health and wellness…because, well…they won’t listen to someone with a degree.  They are happier reading from a magazine with bright colors and fun pictures.

I’m going to start ranting now, so you may want to step out…or put on your understanding hat, and try your best not to get offended if you are a self-made nutrition/health “expert”.  Because I have a few things I would like to say to the majority of people out there who googled saturated fat and now know everything.

 Who do you think you are?

In this day and age, where everyone wants to be involved in managing and understanding their health (a very admirable trait), something has gone terribly awry.  A fog has settled in, mixing up the very important distinction between fact, theory, and opinion.  People read an article on and think they suddenly understand everything there is to know about triglycerides, what they are, where they come from, and how they are good/bad for your health.  There is no need for accredited dietitians anymore, not now that there are experts studying under Drs Google and Wikipedia.

I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a reason people go to University for this topic.  It’s because it isn’t simple- there is a lot more to nutrition than the latest fad.

For a less ranty/more informative post, check out my public service announcement about research articles and food science in general.  I’ll go ahead and leave my conclusion here, since it’s the same as this one…


and leave it to the professionals (the real ones)

Geçmiş olsun!

My hubby has recently fallen ill as the winter winds have begun to tease their way into the Mediterranean summer heat.  Fall,  and may I add that it is my first fall in Turkey,  is just around the corner. Thankfully I have not yet fallen prey to the seasonal cold that has touched our home.  In the spirit of staying well as we all brave the seasons change,  here is a recipe for the tea my Anne has been giving us.  She told me it’s best for bronchitis and phlegmy lungs,  but it can be used all the time.  I included the Turkish words for some of the ingredients that I didn’t recognize by sight.

1 cinnamon stick
1 chunk ginger root
5-6 rose hips (kuş burnu)
1 lemon butt (mostly rind end)
1 pinch chamomile
1 pinch mallow blossom (hatmi çiçeği/fatma gülü)
1 pinch linden
1 twig sage
1 pinch clove
Honey or molasses to taste
4c water

1. Bring the first 4 ingredients to a boil.
2. Add the remaining ingredients,  cut the heat,  and let rest around 5 minutes.
3. Cut tea with hot water to stretch it

Fills around 6 Turkish tea cups

Geçmiş olsun!

PSA: The truth about the food you eat

I was discussing a bit of food related news that a friend of mine was concerned about… and as far as I could tell, her worries were unfounded based on the information given.  This led to a bit of a rant about consumers and food information.  I think it is a good public service announcement, so I am posting it here:

Brought to you by your local(ish?) Master of Food Science 😉 (with a minor in Soil and Water Science):

I think a huge issue with consumers’ knowledge about food is that different industries try to twist the story- making you go one way or the other. Non-scientific magazines publish stories that are being summarized by someone not in that field of study- so they are going to assume the conclusions given by the authors of the science journal are right. But you have to be able to look at the studies conducted critically-

How did they do this study?

What are the controls?

Did they consider all the variables?

Are they influencing results by the choice of material?

Are they reporting in a biased manner?

Do I agree with their conclusions?

Were these meat patties cooked appropriately, or am I gonna die? :/
Were these meat patties cooked appropriately, or am I gonna die? :/

You will often find that scientists want to inflate their research- “I found that ___ causes cancer!!” when that isn’t the case, they found something that maybe might encourage cancer a little bit when the moon is full and you just hiked a mile in the snow on a Tuesday… We need to spread knowledge, not fear, and the food industry and government regulators need to find a better way to disseminate the truth, not misinformation.

Furthermore, the average lay-person doesn’t know this.  They often can’t critique a study the way that scientists can.  Even then, different areas of research can look at the same results in a different way.  For example, if a pure microbiologist looks at my masters thesis work, their conclusions will be different from mine.

Lastly, you need to have a strong handle on the perspectives of public health scientists vs. industry scientists.  A PH specialist may tell you that a 0.001% of illness is too much of a risk- that can translate to…I’m making up a number here, 1,000 people in the US getting a mild illness, maybe.  The chance of those people getting dangerously ill is 10% if they have a liver disease, and the chance of death is 1% under the same conditions.  An industry professional may say that this risk is ok, because you can’t completely annihilate risk, but a public health professional may say NO! Too much risk!

But will the people with liver disease even eat your product, when it is told that they should be mindful?  Who knows! WHO KNOWS! That’s why it is so complicated, and some articles may scream from the rooftops that something is dangerous/ bad for you… but they may not include all of the parameters.

So, in the end…

knowledge over fear.

Turkey 102: How to Stay Well in Turkey

Welcome back to my “Turkey lessons”, and I hope they are helping you!  I may even make them a series ;).  Today’s lesson is how to stay well in Turkey.  Traveling always comes with some health risks, and it is important to keep yourself well when traveling abroad.  Here are a few tips for keeping yourself healthy.

This painting is two years old, ok? No judgement!

1. Keep your immune system up: This one is obvious and applies to any travel you do.  When going abroad, you will be exposed to microbes such as viruses that you have not been exposed to before.  It is important to keep your immune system up the best you can with proper hydration, healthy eating, and adequate sleep.  Personal hygiene should also be kept well, such as washing your hands frequently, but in Turkey people do tend to be very clean ;).

2.  Watch what you eat:  Some delicacies in Turkey are more…delicate…than others.  For example, çiğ köfte and kokoreç.  The prior is a raw ground beef patty, and the latter is roasted intestine.  Both are likely breeding grounds for food-borne pathogens such as E. coli.  Don’t get me wrong- I eat them both and LOVE them both!  The Turks have a long history of brilliant food culture, and they know how to prepare these foods right- but sometimes our american guts can’t handle it.  So, I would advise starting our these harrowing food adventures in small bites- testing the waters before jumping in.

3. Don’t drink tap water:  While Turkey has a water system that is drinkable, such as in the US, some areas may be…questionable.  Within my husband’s life, he can recall a time when the water in Izmir, one of the most developed cities in Turkey, had water sanitation issues.  My in-laws still drink from a water cooler in the kitchen…and I think I will follow their suit.  But don’t be afraid to try the spring water, when it is available!

4. Embrace natural remedies:  Homeopathy is fairly common in Turkey, and its popularity is growing in the US.  When I had a stomach ache my mother in law gave me fennel tea- and that helped a lot.  Much like the food culture, the Turks have a long history of homeopathy and they have honed their skills.  While there is a place for homeopathy, it is still important to know when enough is enough- and to consult a physician if your ailments become too serious.

I hope these tips help you when spending time in Turkey, and if you have any other advice, please drop a comment below!