The #BlogLife: When Your Life Directions Alter Your Blog Themes

I started this health blog more than six years ago. Over the years, it’s transformed from a general health and wellness blog focused on nutrition and fitness tips, to a more personal documentation of health, to a lifestyle blog. I never intended to share anything personal on the blog (and I still remember the first time I ever posted a photo of myself on the blog!). But it grew in this direction, and I went with it. That’s one of the things I love about blogging: it’s such an organic, ever-changing entity.

When I first began blogging, I religiously posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before 9am. As I added a rhetoric blog, a food diary blog, and a fashion blog to the Living in the Real World brand, I posted less frequently here – sometimes only once or twice in a month. I’m now making the effort to publish articles once a week on each of my blogs, but it’s much more about posting articles when I have something to say and when it’s something of real value, rather than just writing an article for the sake of doing so.

living in the real world

The biggest change I’ve found with my blogging experience is how much my Living Rhetorically in the Real World blog has become my “main” blog. For the longest time, all of my other blogs were accessories to this health blog, but now my rhetoric blog is taking the lead. And it has changed drastically over the five years that I’ve been blogging for it, too: what started out as a platform to discuss rhetorical theory, analyze advertisements, and explore language has turned into a practical blog on how to manage a business, reflections on freelancing, best practices for social media, and more.

Living Rhetorically in the Real World started surpassing Living Healthy ever since I became a full-time freelancer, at the time when my life started shifting away from food-focused (although I obviously still love my health & wellness & nutrition & fitness!) to small business-focused.

This is one of the beautiful things about blogging, in that it is a reflection of the direction your life takes. We blog what we know about, what we’re passionate about, and what we want to share with the world. And although I don’t generally blog for *me* and instead like to think that the articles I write have value for at least one reader out there, it’s nice to see how my blogs have evolved over the years, and to explore what that means for me on an individual scale. Sometimes you don’t even realize how much your thought processes and priorities have changed over time until you start looking at how much your writing and blog topics have changed!

How about you? I’d love to hear how your blog topics and style have changed as your life takes new directions! Share in the comments section below.

A Better Way to Decrease Your Carbon Footprint

When we talk about things like carbon footprint and reducing our impact on the environment in terms of changing our food sources, we usually talk about it in terms of BIG changes that we can make. Specifically, going meatless for meals and adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Meat production is a major contributor to climate change. It is estimated that livestock production accounts for 70 per cent of all agricultural land use and occupies 30 per cent of the land surface of the planet. Because of their sheer numbers, livestock produce a considerable volume of greenhouse gases (such as methane and nitrous oxide) that contribute to climate change. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that livestock production is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases.

- davidsuzuki.org

The problem with this is that, as with any lifestyle or behavioral change, or any time we want to break or make habits, going too big can actually be detrimental. Sometimes we need to take small baby steps to make big changes. In fact, if we ask or tell people to “go meatless,” and they are big meat-eaters, it can push them in the complete opposite direction because the task seems too insurmountable or drastic. And how does that help anyone?

If, for example, I start talking to an avowed meat-eater about how everyone should adopt a vegan diet* and other such extreme ideas – even if I don’t think that adopting a vegan diet is too extreme – we’re just going to have major communication problems and not agree with each other, and I’ll have probably lost a great opportunity to share a little bit of knowledge about new ways of eating. This is an issue that I see taking place over. and over. and over again.

Here’s the thing: we tend to be pretty passionate about food and our personal food decisions, and it’s something we want to share with other people. But if we try to push our particular food values and beliefs onto someone else who doesn’t share those beliefs, that person is probably just going to be pushed further in the opposite direction than we want them to go in.

And this brings me back to the carbon footprint and meat issue. It’s all fine and good to note that livestock is a major factor with regards to climate change, but how can we take this information and actually do something about it? How can we take action to decrease our carbon footprint without feeling as though we’re depriving ourselves of something we love?

There are two really excellent options to go with for people who just don’t feel satisfied without some kind of meat in their meal (and I know a whole lot of people who feel this way, which is okay!):

  1. Eat smaller portions.
  2. Choose free-range, organic, and local meat.

For #1, eat smaller portions, you can up the intake of vegetables and decrease your meat portion, or if you are eating your meat in a salad or on a pizza, you can often cut the amount down by a third or a half without even noticing.

For #2, choose free-range, organic, and local meat, the best thing you can do is find a local farmer (or a farmers’ market, or a local grocery store supporting small farmers) who produces meat in an ethical, natural way. It tastes just as delicious as (if not more delicious than) conventional meat, and you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint without even reducing your meat intake! That’s win-win.

How do you feel about conventional vs. naturally-grown meat? What are some of the biggest challenges you face with decreasing your carbon footprint? Share in the comments section below!

*This is just an example – those of you who read my blog regularly know that I’m a) not vegan although I enjoy eating vegan occasionally, and b) a big proponent of adopting whatever diet feels right for you!

Summertime activities

Ah, summer: it’s a wonderful time of year. Particularly in Winnipeg! After months of cold and snow and slush, we finally get a couple of nice months of warmer weather.

Winnipeg summer

Beers and fire.

As Winnipeggers, we flock to the outdoors in the summer. There are so many festivals and outdoor events to choose between! But my favourite takes place this week: the Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

Winnipeg Fringe 2014

This is pretty much the only time of year I actually stay out past midnight. It’s pretty exciting.

Since it’s summer and the Fringe is taking place, I’m spending most of my spare time this week enjoying the theatre and sitting on patios. It is fantastic.

Winnipeg Fringe

The mother dear and Mr Science – aren’t they adorable?! Fringing is still fun even in the rain.

Of course, that means that I have less time for blogging here – but sometimes, living healthy means stepping away from the computer!

dinner party

Dinner parties on porches are also an excellent reason to put aside the laptop.

What activities are you enjoying this summer? Do you love the theatre? Are you taking the time to lounge on patios? How will you spend your time away from the computer this week? Share!

Things to think about when canning and preserving

We already discussed some of the best canning books out there and how to prepare for the canning season. Now that the canning and preserving season is really upon us, it’s time to get started!

Here are a few things to take into consideration when canning and preserving this summer:

  • Do you have the necessary equipment and supplementary ingredients and supplies?

First step: get your equipment and supplies! Stock up on all the necessities right at the beginning of the season. Purchase more jars than you think you’ll need, just in case (they aren’t going to go bad, so if you don’t end up using them all, you’ll have extras for next year!). Also keep in mind you might want a variety of different jars. 500-ml jars are an excellent size for most items, but it’s also a good idea to have some 1-litre jars and some 250-ml jars as well.

I highly recommend getting as much as you can possibly think of at the beginning of the season. It’s extremely frustrating to realize that you’ve run out of jars within three weeks of the canning and preserving season, or to start making pickles and then realize you don’t have enough pickling salt. Don’t forget to get labels, either! Label everything with the title of the jar’s contents and also the approximate date it was canned. You’ll appreciate having taken this step when giving preserved goods away as gifts and when you’re trying to choose a canned item to enjoy in the middle of winter.

Make this step easier for yourself by going through the recipes you think you’ll use and check what’s in season (and what you can expect to get in your CSA box or to pick up at the farmers’ market) so that you know what to prepare for. Don’t forget to get a water bath canner – that’s crucial! I’m also a big fan of my pressure canner, and it is necessary for canning low-acid foods.

home-preserved food

Pickles from last summer’s preserving extravaganza.

  • Have you set aside the requisite time for canning and preserving?

Once you get on a roll, canning and preserving can be a very smooth process. But it still takes time! You need to prepare the ingredients to be canned (which sometimes involves a lot of chopping, slicing, and dicing), prepare the jars, fill the jars, and then boil the filled jars for a specific amount of time. And then you might need to also do several batches, depending on how many jars you are filling. Canning and preserving might take up a full afternoon or longer, so make sure that you have the time set aside to complete all of your canning and preserving.

If you plan to preserve food all summer long, I recommend planning one or two days each week as your “canning and preserving days.” If you know that every Thursday evening and Saturday morning you’ll be preserving food, you’ll be able to plan out when to pick up your ingredients and also ensure that the time is set aside so you can really focus on getting your preserving done.

  • Is your kitchen set up for canning and preserving?

Get as much as you can prepared before you start the canning process. Some recipes will require things to be moved around very quickly and you’ll have to be prepping ingredients as you’re boiling other things – it can get a little hectic until you get used to it! But if you always start the preserving process with a clean kitchen (counters wiped down, appliances moved away and out of sight, and dishes washed, dried, and put away), you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience.

This goes without saying, but as with any recipe, read the entire thing before getting started. You’ll want to place the cooked and filled jars on clean tea towels, so why not lay them out before you even start preserving? It will be one less thing to worry about once you have your jars all set to go.

  • Do you have a plan in place for the end results of your canning experience?

Think ahead about what foods your family will actually use, or what kinds of things you can give away as gifts, and preserve food accordingly. There’s no point in making big batches of dill pickles if no one in your house ever eats or even enjoys dill pickles (although I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying dill pickles!).

I would also recommend that if you’re trying out a new recipe, don’t make a huge batch of it to start with. Try it with just a few jars and then do a taste-test. If it’s a good recipe, that’s great! Go nuts and make a larger batch next time. But if it’s not something you love, you’ll be grateful that you didn’t spend an additional hour or two filling more jars that you won’t know what to do with.

What are you canning and preserving this year? What tips would you add here for things to think about when canning and preserving? Share in the comments section below!

My Favourite Canning & Preserving Books

‘Tis the season for canning and preserving! We received our first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share last week, and that means that now is the time to get moving on preserving seasonal foods so that we can enjoy them year-round.

There are a few fundamental things that you need in order to can and preserve food, beyond just the food itself. You need jars (with lids and rims) and a water bath canner at the very least, but other important items also include a jar lifter, a magnet for lids, and potentially a pressure canner. And, of course, you need to know how to can and  preserve properly. And for that, you need guides and recipes!

favourite canning books

It’s important to follow instructions very carefully when it comes to canning and to use safe canning methods to ensure botulism and other serious issues don’t occur. I’m reluctant to use canning recipes from the Internet, and feel as though books are a better go-to (especially because they’re significantly more likely to use appropriate and safe methods!). This is probably only because I’m still a novice canner – I’m sure that as I can and preserve more often, I’ll get to really know the ins and outs of how to can and preserve safely, but for now I’m following the recipes exactly. And that means I need to have some trusty books to rely on!

Here are my top three favourite canning and preserving books:

  • Canning & Preserving with Ashley English: All You Need to Know to Make Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Chutneys & More.

This is a simple book which outlines the basic of canning and preserving. One of my favourite parts about it is that it provides minute details and a lot of great photographs featuring exactly what to do when you’re using a water bath canner. There are even instructions and photographs for cleaning the rims of your jars after you’ve put the food in there.

Canning & Preserving was the book that really paved the way for me when I started canning, and made me feel super comfortable with the process. It’s a great book for if you’re just starting out and want to know every detail for every step along the way!

This book doesn’t contain a huge amount of recipes, but the dill pickles, canned corn, and crushed tomatoes recipes are all fantastic. Recipes are easy to follow and everything is laid out in a very straightforward manner. This book is also a little less intimidating because there aren’t that many recipes. This is the perfect book for beginner canners.

  • Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 delicious and creative recipes for today.

As the title suggests, there are an insane amount of recipes in this book! It’s pretty awesome. I’ve bookmarked dozens of recipes I want to try, and they have a lot of basic canning recipes (for canning dark leafy greens and a whole bunch of other plain vegetables, rather than pickled, for example).

If you want to can everything you can think of, and really have a proper store of homemade everything to last you until next year’s canning season, then this book is the one for you. However, it can be a little overwhelming when you’re just starting out. There are so many recipes to try! I didn’t make use of it a huge amount last year, but I expect I will be trying out a lot more recipes using the book this year.

canning book

  • Canning for a New Generation: bold, fresh flavors for the modern pantry.

My friend Carly gave me this book as a very early birthday present this year! This book divides the recipes into seasons, and has all kinds of very interesting and unique recipes (cumin and paprika pickled turnip, anyone?). What I also really like about the book is that it includes plenty of non-canning recipes, from cakes to cocktails, which use items that you have preserved as ingredients. It also talks about how to properly freeze foods and that sort of thing, so there is a lot of variety.

Even better, this book appears to only include water bath canning recipes – so if you’re scared of using a pressure canner, this book is perfect for you! There are also cute little gift tags to pull out at the back of the book, reminding readers that canned and preserved goods can be one of the best gifts to give.

What are some of your favourite canning books or ingredients to preserve? What are you most looking forward to this canning season? Is canning something you do every year? Share in the comments section below!

Getting Past the Perils of Cycling in Winnipeg

Walking has always been my transportation mode of choice. But in the summer when you want to get around without taking a huge chunk of time out of your day, cycling is an excellent alternative. You can get everywhere so much faster on a bike! It’s great…

perils of biking

Cycling in the rain can be quite enjoyable! As long as you’re wearing clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and you are on your way home, of course.

The Perils of Cycling in Winnipeg

…Except, of course, for the many perils associated with biking around Winnipeg. From bike lanes that cars don’t pay attention to (or which mysteriously vanish after a few blocks) to the horrendous conditions of our roads to the ridiculous amount of bugs flying in your face to cars almost hitting you to getting sprayed from puddles and mud, biking can be a perilous excursion indeed!

My most recent gripe with cycling was when Mr Science and I biked a few blocks in a worm-infested area of the city last week, after Btk had been applied. This meant that we were cycling over what looked like mud, but which was probably (as Mr Science broke it to me afterward) a combination of mud and dead worms. Ewwwww. It also didn’t help that I evidently need better bike guards, because that mud mixture sprayed up all over my clothes *shudder* (showering and doing laundry has never felt quite so fantastic).

sunshine cycling

Biking is quite enjoyable when the weather is JUST right.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore biking. You can get around so fast, and it’s a really enjoyable activity. But there are certainly some things – such as the weather conditions and possible caterpillar control – to take into consideration prior to going for that bike ride.

About Caterpillar Control (Some Background on Btk)

In light of our most recent experience, Mr Science decided to write about the worms and Btk (being a science-y person, and all). Here is what he has to say on the subject:

Recently the city we live in announced that it was going to spray Btk (Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki) in an attempt to control a span worm (AKA inch worm) infestation that is occurring this year. This led us to question, just what is Btk and what does it do?

First, a little background information on the span worm is in order. The span worm is a very common caterpillar from the Order Lepidoptera that has a characteristic way of walking where the upper body attaches to a substrate, followed by the movement of the lower body in close proximity with the upper body, which forms a characteristic ‘loop’ structure. These worms feed on leaves of host trees and can often be seen hanging from the trees on silk threads. The life cycle of the worm includes six instars (caterpillar life stages) prior to pupation (moth development).

Control of these caterpillar populations is a common practice that is often undertaken through the application of Btk. This is because Btk is an insecticide that affects only caterpillars of Lepidoptera and has no known effect on other insects, mammals, birds, or fish.

The way that Btk works is through application via spraying programs where the leaves that the caterpillars eat are coated with the biological pesticide. The caterpillars eat the leaves, ingesting the Btk where their alkaline (pH 7-14) digestive systems cause a crystalline protein (produced by the bacteria) to attach to the cells of the digestive system, leading to the disruption of normal cell function and eventual cell death. This essentially leads to perforation of the caterpillar’s digestive system, which then leads to digestive juices escaping the digestive tract, mixing with the blood and interfering with other organ systems, ultimately leading to the caterpillar’s death.

Btk seems to be an effective control of caterpillar populations if applied in the right conditions, and a major benefit of this pesticide is that it is easily degraded by rain and sun and so does not accumulate in the environment.

After the Btk situation, I am making a point of being verchoosy regarding when I wear my new sparkly silver ballet flats on a bike ride – but mostly, I’m just embracing the fact that when it comes to cycling, there are some minor frustrations you might have to deal with, but it is totally worth the enjoyment (and the environmental-friendlieness!) of getting out on the road.

Are you a cyclist? What do you like best about cycling? What’s the cycling situation like in your city? Share your thoughts, ideas, and opinions in the comments section below!

Thank you to Mr Science for providing some insight on Btk and worms!

Six healthy and delicious breakfasts to start eating now

Mr Science and I have perfected the art of menu planning. We plan our dinners two weeks in advance and get all the necessary ingredients for our meals. We choose meals in which some ingredients can be used again, and we always mix it up to include some meals with meat and others that are vegan or vegetarian.

What we haven’t been very good at, however, is planning our breakfasts. For the longest time I would have a grapefruit or some toasted homemade whole wheat bread with homemade peanut butter and raw honey, and Mr Science would make himself a breakfast sandwich using our homemade bread plus a free-range egg, nitrate-free bacon, and a processed cheese slice.

Although these aren’t necessarily unhealthy meals, they certainly don’t provide much variety in nutrients. Moreover, grapefruit doesn’t provide a whole lot of energy to start the day, bread isn’t the best thing to have on a super regular basis, and processed cheese slices really shouldn’t be a breakfast staple.

So, keeping all of that in mind, we decided to put a little more effort into planning our breakfasts along with our dinners. We are making much more of an effort to change the types of things we eat for breakfast every day or every few days so as to get a variety of different nutrients. And we have made some great discoveries in the types of breakfasts that we enjoy!

Here are six of our favourite healthy and delicious breakfasts:

1) Oatmeal. We use organic oats from a local company and cook them on the stove with some local raw honey and organic cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (and we like to add some skim milk powder to the water).

2) Smoothies. Okay, this one is mostly me – I’ve always enjoyed my green smoothies! Since getting the U-RAAW! custom-made smoothie mix, I’ve been using that with milk, fruit, and my homemade powdered dark leafy greens. It is so delicious.

blueberry smoothie

Drinking a tasty spirulina / milk / banana / blueberry smoothie for breakfast!

3) Cereal. Mr Science and I had a bit of an obsession with unhealthy cereals for a while (*cough* Cap’n Crunch *cough*), but we have recently discovered a cereal that is even more delicious than Cap’n Crunch! I know; I was surprised too. Our new favourite is Nature’s Path Crunchy Vanilla cereal. It’s delicious and it has some wholesome goodness to it, too.

4) Free-range scrambled eggs, nitrate-free bacon, and homemade hashbrowns. We usually have this meal on Sunday mornings. It takes a long time for the potatoes to boil and then be turned into hashbrowns, but it is worth the wait! This is a great treat, and it is made healthier by using free-range eggs, nitrate-free bacon, and organic potatoes (as well as the fact that we only enjoy it once each week).

5) Fruit salad or blueberry spelt pancakes. Now that fruit is coming into season, we’ve started getting a variety of different fruits to make fruit salad (including apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, and oranges). In the winter time, a nice replacement would be pancakes made with spelt flour instead of white flour, plus plenty of frozen blueberries added to the mix. Yum!

6) Organic fruit or whole wheat bread with homemade peanut butter. Although homemade peanut butter (made just by processing peanuts until they’re smooth) tastes odd the first few times you eat it, over time you will like it so much better than conventional peanut butter (which has all kinds of junk in it). Spread your homemade peanut butter over banana or apple slices, or occasionally over some homemade whole wheat or multigrain bread (or a sprouted grain wrap).

What are some of your favourite healthy and delicious breakfast foods? What do you typically eat for breakfast? Share in the comments section below!

Product Review: U-RAAW!

I was delighted to be contacted recently by U-RAAW! about reviewing their products. U-RAAW! is a Canadian company offering customized organic, vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, raw-food products. The custom products they offer include trail mix, cereal, energy bars, and smoothie mix. They also offer health foods: various dried fruits, nuts, and nutritional powders.

I had the opportunity to create my own customized product for each main category: one bag of cereal, one bag of trail mix, three energy bars, and one bag of smoothie mix.

U-RAAW product

All of my U-RAAW! goodies!

The U-RAAW! website is fairly new, so there were a couple of small kinks to work out when I was creating my custom products, but that is only to be expected with any new website. The website itself is very aesthetically-pleasing and straight-forward to use – aside from the small kinks (which might already be fixed), it’s a very user-friendly site and it’s a lot of fun to mix and match all of the different ingredients! There are a lot of ingredients to choose from so that you can really make the products your own. You also get to name your customized product and the name appears on the package when you receive it, which I think is a really cute and fun touch.

The customized products that I created included:

  • Picnic Trail Treat: organic hazelnuts, organic maple almonds, organic golden berries, organic pistachio nuts, organic apricots, and organic pecans.
  • Super Spirulina Smoothie Mix: organic brown rice protein, organic spirulina, organic vanilla powder, organic acai, organic wheat grass, and organic bee pollen.
  • Cacao Cherry Crunch Cereal: organic buckwheat hearts, organic mesa sunrise flakes, organic sesame seeds, organic tart cherries, organic cacao nibs.
  • Cashew Crisp Bars: cashew butter, whey protein, clover honey, brown rice crisps, vanilla extract, bee pollen, cacao, maca.

So, how was everything?

With all of the products, the ingredients were fresh and full of flavour – big thumbs up! You can really tell that U-RAAW! uses quality ingredients in their products.

The smoothie mix was fantastic. When I opened the package the first time, it just smelled so good! I made a smoothie using 1 cup of 1% milk, 1 banana, 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, and 1 tbsp of the smoothie mix. There were really lovely vanilla undertones in the smoothie mix. The ingredients complemented each other nicely, and the nutrition facts on the mix were awesome. There is so much wholesome and delicious goodness packed into a spoonful of that smoothie mix.

The trail mix could have used a few more apricots, and the maple almonds weren’t super maple-y, but that also could be that I didn’t get a chance to try it until about 10 days after they arrived (I went out of the province within hours of receiving the products). The ingredients in the cereal were really great individually, but it was the combination of them – which was all on me, since I created the combo! – that just didn’t work. Mr Science and I both tried it with milk and there were just too many flavours going on. But as a dried cereal, like a trail mix, it works pretty well. I think I got too excited about all of the different ingredients and forgot to stop and consider what they would be like in a bowl with milk.

raw cereal

I loved the energy bars. They had a lovely cashew butter taste with just the right amount of subtle sweetness and a little crunch from the rice crisps. I think next time I would add some chocolate chips to the bar too. The package was a little tricky to get into and it had to be opened with scissors – but the packaging of all the products uses really good-quality materials, and I would so much rather the packaging be durable than it ripping!

The mother dear tried a cashew crisp bar and she was NOT a fan, but that, I think, is simply indicative of the awesomeness of customized products: I had made it for my personal tastes and it suited my taste just fine! Being able to create custom products means that you can be very cognizant about what flavours and ingredients you enjoy the most.

And the final verdict is…

I would definitely recommend U-RAAW! The products are high-quality and delicious, and you can design all of the products to exactly your liking. I also love the thoughtful touches that are put in, such as the cute graphics on the packaging. The business provides a lot of different ingredient options, and you can even purchase things separately, such as just baking ingredients or just superfoods. It’s perfect for if you want to design your own health foods and incorporate tasty raw ingredients into your meals!

Visit uraaw.ca to check out all of the options available and to design your own raw food products.

Disclaimer: this was a paid product review but all opinions and reviews written here are entirely my own.

How to Prepare for Your First Acupuncture Session

A couple months ago, I wrote about my experiences with acupuncture. I’m still seeing my massage therapist / acupuncturist every 10 days or so, and it is really making a world of difference.

Since I’ve been getting acupuncture, I’ve had a lot of questions from people about what it’s like. If you are thinking about going for acupuncture, here are some things to know which will help to prepare you for your first session:

  • The needles don’t usually hurt.

Really! Most of them slide in and out without you feeling anything. Other times you can feel them but it’s not unpleasant. Acupuncture needles only “hurt” (generally a pinching sort of feeling) for specific points that are sensitive, which might only be one or two out of the couple dozen needles that your acupuncturist might put in you.

acupuncture model

Don’t worry – you probably won’t get too many (if any!) needles in your face. But even they don’t hurt!

  • It’s okay to ask a lot of questions.

Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are very different! It might be confusing to understand how acupuncture works if you don’t have any background in TCM. That’s okay! Your acupuncturist should be able to answer most of your questions in a way that you can understand.

It’s also a good idea to ask plenty of questions outside of the “how does acupuncture work” area. If you’re feeling a little nervous, ask your acupuncturist at the beginning of the appointment to walk you through what the session will look like. Inquire about how long the needles stay in for, how many needles they usually put in, what kind of symptoms you might experience after your session, etc. The more you can educate yourself, the more comfortable you will feel.

  • The more information you can provide your acupuncturist, the better.

Just like your acupuncturist should provide you with plenty of information about acupuncture, you should provide your acupuncturist with plenty of information about your health history and complaints. Even if you don’t think that things are connected, they probably are. For example, having cold feet, anxiety, an eating disorder, and abdominal pain can all be connected! Tell your acupuncturist about every little detail you can think of and they will be able to give you much more precise treatment.

  • Acupuncture sessions might vary in length, but expect to be at the acupuncture office for at least a good hour.

I really recommend that you try not to make any plans within about three hours from the beginning of your session. If you’re getting massage therapy with your acupuncture, like me, you could be at the office for close to two hours in total (taking into account arriving a few minutes early to your appointment and your acupuncturist running a little late).

Sometimes your acupuncturist might put some needles in for just a few minutes. Other times, the needles might be left in for up to 40 minutes. Take all of that into account! The last thing you want is to be lying there on the table with needles in you, staring at the clock and getting stressed out because you’re cutting things close with other plans that you had made.

  • You might have different emotional and physical reactions from your sessions, depending on your health issues and the acupuncture points used.

This is another reason why it’s a good idea not to make plans too close after your acupuncture session finishes. Most of the time, I feel amazing and energized after acupuncture sessions. But there have been a couple times when they have made me very tired, and one time when I felt pretty awful after the treatment. This is your body reacting to the treatment. It’s nothing to be alarmed about, but it’s good to be aware of so you can prepare accordingly. If you provide your acupuncturist with enough information about your healthy history and your current issues, they should be able to give you the heads up if they think the treatment will make you feel sleepy (or any other reaction) afterwards.

Got questions about acupuncture? Have your own experiences or tips to share? Comment below!