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Yummy Mummy’s Tamari Seeds

January 17, 2011

Parenthood is an ongoing surprise education. No matter how much I think I’m prepared, it’s never enough. And they don’t tell you enough (whoever “they” are, they sure seem to know a lot). They don’t tell you how many diapers you’ll go through in a night (up to 31), or how little food your child will eat after you spent all day cooking especially for them, how much they will want to eat the day before you’re scheduled to go to the supermarket and the fridge is completely empty, or how many times in a night they will wake up to either go the bathroom, get a snuggle, or try to plan an outfit for next Halloween. And they sure as heck don’t tell you that this lack of sleep will last for the next seven years. But I don’t appear to be the only one not sleeping.

One of the biggest complaints I get in my office is lack of sleep. Unfortunately for these individuals it is typically not young children keeping them awake, but rather other issues such as depression, stress, or anxiety. The individuals I see often complain that they either can’t sleep through the night, can’t go to sleep in the first place, or that they haven’t slept for 21 years. But whatever the issue is, they’re tired. So tired in fact that on rare occasions they will fall asleep on the couch in my office (I don’t judge as I’ve done that too).

But here’s the thing, not sleeping can lead to many issues including depression, irritability, emotion disregulation, and lack of concentration. In these cases a lack of sleep can create a vicious mental health cycle with depression and anxiety creating sleep loss and that sleep loss exacerbating the depression and anxiety. While it is true that a few nights of not sleeping probably won’t do huge amounts of damage, if left unchecked you might be in for a roller-coaster ride of feelings, emotions, and thoughts in the weeks to come.

What I have noticed is that many people, many more than in just my practice, struggle with lack of sleep. So many, in fact, that entire bookshelves at Barnes & Noble have been dedicated to the subject. Just look at some of the books: The Harvard Medical Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep, I Can Make You Sleep, Restful Insomnia, Lights Out, and Dr. Suess’ Sleep Book. While I’ve not read all the books available, mostly because I was fearful that they would just make me fall asleep, I have done enough research on the topic to know that there are certain things that do work and things that do not.

Let me start with the things that don’t work. Many of my clients suffering from insomnia have tried substances such as alcohol, drugs, and medication to help them with their sleep issues. The problem is that none of things really get to the heart of the issue and can create health issues of their own. Sure they might have an immediate effect, and in the case of prescription medication it may be temporarily necessary. However, in the long-term, they only put a bandage on a much deeper issue.

Here are a few more natural techniques that have been proven to work. The first is to cut caffeine consumption. This may seem like an obvious answer, but if my professional experience stands for anything, it is not as obvious as it may seem. There have been a fair number of people who have come to my office with their 42 ounce Mocha Cappuccino in hand and talk about their inability to sleep. When asked how much coffee or soda they drink, they generally answer 3-5 cups a day. Some have even gone as far as a 12-pack of Mountain Dew. But coffee and soda are only but two obvious places that caffeine is found. Some hidden sources include candies like jelly beans, chocolate, tea (even green), and Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Fudge Frozen Yogurt. Of course there’s nothing wrong with these things in moderation, but if you’re having sleep issues perhaps cutting your consumption or limiting how much and when you consume them would be helpful.

Exercise is another proven way to combat insomnia. It has been shown that those who engage in a regular workout routine are far more likely to not only go to sleep, but also sleep through the night. But there’s more. Exercise is not just for sleep, it also helps you feel better overall. Exercise is a great way to combat depression, anxiety, stress, and overeating . . . you name it. How much you do depends on you. The secret is to just move your body and do it regularly.

And then there’s pumpkin. I know that you’re probably saying not pumpkin again, but in fact I am saying pumpkin again. But before I get to that, let me first mention tryptophan. You know what tryptophan is, right? . . . that stuff in Turkey that gets blamed for making us tired at Thanksgiving. Well tryptophan is much more than that.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s responsible for synthesizing protein. This is great. I mean, we all need protein. But more importantly, at least for the sake of this topic, is that it is a precursor for serotonin, which helps regulate sleep and mood. And here’s the thing about tryptophan – you don’t need to take a pill to get the necessary amount to help you sleep. A study, published in the April 2005 edition of Nutritional Neuroscience concluded that tryptophan found naturally in food can help people fall asleep relatively quickly.

And that is what brings me to pumpkin. Pumpkin, or actually pumpkin seeds, are a rich source of many nutrients, including tryptophan. In fact, pumpkin seeds have one of the highest sources of tryptophan of any non-animal product. The recommended dose of tryptophan to help improve sleep is 100-300 mg, and for 1 ounce of pumpkin seeds you get 122 mg of this amazing nutrient. Not bad for 142 seeds!

So, here are my recommendations for getting and staying asleep:

  1. Cut caffeine intake to as close to zero as you can. And if you’re going to consume caffeine, do so prior to 3 p.m.
  2. Start to exercise. Not only will this help you feel better overall, it will help with your sleep. Choose an exercise that you enjoy and that you will look forward to doing.
  3. Make your bed only for sleep (or at least for as few activities as possible). Try to limit your eating, reading, or watching television in bed.
  4. And lastly, try eating Yummy Mummy’s Tamari Seeds (recipe below). Not only are these a tasty before bed snack, but they are loaded with tryptophan, omega-3s, and trace minerals.

Well, I think I hear one of my little ones crying our for daddy. Perhaps she needs to discuss her invitation list for her next birthday . . . in 325 more days.

Yummy Mummy’s Tamari Seeds

We first started making these seeds when we lived in England. They were a great healthy snack that was easy to take with us on the road. Not only do they have pumpkin seeds but they also have sunflower seeds, flax seeds (a great source of omega-3s), and sesame seeds (a fantastic source of calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese).

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup pumpkin seeds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

1/3 cup flaxseeds

3 tbsp tamari

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp cumin seed (optional)

4 whole cloves garlic, peeled, do not mince or chop (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Mix seeds together. Add tamari and sesame oil and optional ingredients, if using. Bake until brown, about 10-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

A note of caution: ovens vary in temperature. How long you need to cook these seeds will depend on your specific oven. The key is to check on them and notice how they’re doing. The goal is a light, golden brown. Any darker may result in loss of nutrients.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley Burt permalink
    January 17, 2011 12:53 pm

    What a neat concept for a blog. This is a great tip. I look forward to reading more of your ideas.

    • The Therapist in the Kitchen permalink*
      January 17, 2011 3:13 pm

      Thank you for the comment. Your support means a lot.

  2. Julie S. permalink
    January 17, 2011 9:36 pm

    Thanks for your wonderful ideas and recipes. I am a horrible sleeper and I know I am making it worse with my diet and lifestyle. I’m going to try making some of these changes immediately!

    • The Therapist in the Kitchen permalink*
      January 17, 2011 9:40 pm

      Thank you for the comment. You are not alone. Sleep is one of those things that is so difficult to change. I would love to hear how it goes for you.

  3. February 14, 2011 10:59 am

    I’ve been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.

    • The Therapist in the Kitchen permalink*
      February 27, 2011 2:25 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad you like the blog! I hope you will keep reading.

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