An Autoimmune Perspective on the Coronavirus: choosing peace and preparation over panic

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The current climate in our world right now is making everyone stop, think, and consider their next steps. For the United States this is especially true as schools have started to close and large gatherings prohibited. Just two weeks ago I had planned to write this weeks post about my favorite natural sunscreen products in preparation for spring break plans! My goodness a lot has changed in those two weeks.

As I considered the best ways to approach this weeks blog post I wrestled with the message I would be sending. If it was time to panic I would not even be writing. Truly my Green Gurneys tribe, I believe we will all be well if we can make good decisions to prepare for the weeks ahead. If you live with an autoimmune condition like me, you should take precautions to make sure you are protected. You won’t find me out and about in a hazmat suit or at a coffee shop wearing a mask. I am being careful about social distancing and washing my hands each time I make a transition from one space to the next. I am also making sure I’m prepared so I can stay home and make sure I’m well.

There are two purposes in my writing today. First, to teach you about the way I prepare for a season of staying in my home. As an autoimmune person, this is not as simple as canned food. I approach stocking my pantry differently than the average person. My second purpose is to speak about mental health and the ways I find peace amidst the uncertainty. Even if you do not have to consider autoimmunity in your decisions, this information can still guide you and your family to make healthy choices.

Food and Pantry Items

Obviously buy enough soap, laundry detergent, dish detergent, and toilet paper to keep your family well for a few weeks. Please for the love of God do not be a shelf clearer. When you make decisions in the stores, picture your loved ones and your neighbors going without. Think of the person living pay check to pay check who were not able to stock up! They need TP too!

Good choices matter big time to me. Stocking up on nonperishables is tricky! We live on fresh food. However, for times like these, we need items that last long in the fridge, freezer, or pantry. I specifically like to choose items that will boost my immune system if don’t have access to fresh veggies and fruits.

Amys Organic Soups – While not all of Amy’s canned recipes work with my allergies, the lentil soup and the vegan black bean chili are great in a pinch. Amy’s ingredients can be trusted, plus they are delicious and filling. You can find these at any health food store. Kroger and Target also carries this brand.

Bubbies Pickles and Sauerkraut – I have said it before, not all pickles are created equal. Most have additives like sugar and dies that are unnecessary. Bubbies brand pickles their veggies with a brine water. I like that these stay fresh in the fridge for a long time. It’s a veggie back up when fresh food isn’t readily available, plus it’s delicious. Bubbies aren’t as easy to find, but health food stores usually has this brand in stock.

Natures Path Organic Grain Free Granola – When I found this it was a game changer! Granola is super convenient, but rarely can I find options that are grain free and low on sugar. The ingredients are mostly nuts and seeds with a touch of maple syrup or honey to sweeten. I found this treat at Target but I would imagine it’s at health food stores as well.

Epic Bars The little chunks of meat found in Epic bars are like beef jerky but better! Made with cleaner ingredients (no soy) the flavor is far better and it keeps the bars from drying out. My 2 year old nephew affectionately calls these meat sticks! I keep them on hand because I love my nephew, but also because they are filling and have a great shelf life.

Wilde Chicken Chips – Trust me on this! It sounds strange to imagine a chip made from chicken, but these chips are bangin! I discovered Wilde chips while searching for an easy Keto snack option. They are so popular it’s hard to find them in stores. Lately I’ve been ordering them from Amazon. Pink Salt and Jalapeño are my favorites.

Good and Gather Fruit Pouches – Target has been carrying this brand of fruit pouches lately. While there are many fruit pouch brands, I try to choose pouches with low sugar content, few ingredients, and added veggies. I grabbed the Apple and Spinach mix for the moments when fresh and frozen produce isn’t available.

Root Veggies – potatoes, cabbage, celery, carrots, squash, and onions stay good for weeks! While I hope to still find fresh greens, that might not be an option.

Frozen Fruit – perfect for smoothies or just to eat on their own, frozen fruit is a good healthy staple. I like to buy mostly berries, but also include bananas for a touch of sweet.

Nut Milk– almond milk is my favorite milk substitute, but really it doesn’t matter. These milks have a good shelf life and can be used with the grain free granola or in smoothies!

Freezer Meals

If you have an extra freezer, utilize it! Below you will find my favorite nutritious meals that freeze well. I like to freeze my food in Pyrex containers or mason jars so they are protected in the freezer but also thaw easily later.

Immune Boosters

All of our immune systems could use a boost. We are at the tale end of flu season and want to be sure we can fight off this virus if it comes our way. This is especially true in the autoimmune world.

I want to be careful in communicating to people who have treatment plans with their doctors. Please follow their advice. I am writing about my experience with the support of a functional medicine doctor. Medical care is not a one size fits all situation.

Some autoimmune fighters take immunosuppressant drugs to fight their symptoms. While this is useful for many people, it was not my path. Years ago I changed my diet and lifestyle to boost my immune system, heal my gut, and reduce my symptoms. When I am worried about sickness, I rely on the natural list below to protect my body from sickness and get me back to good health. Most can be found at health food stores, but I will also provide links when possible. Please understand I am NOT saying these cure the Coronavirus. I am not a medical expert, I simply use these items to support good health in general.

Mental Health

I wish I could say mental health has been easy for me the last few weeks. While I am normally strong, an eternal optimist, the news updates and constant shift in future plans has taken me to moments of worry and even fear. I am working hard to capture those thoughts before they spiral out of control. Fear tells me we should all take on a doomsday mentality and live off the land. Truth tells me that shut downs and restrictions are a very good and necessary precaution. This will protect medical staff from being overloaded and people who are at risk of getting sick. I am learning to talk back to my anxiety and make restorative choices for my mind and spirit.

While my normal routine consist of audio books, and true crime podcasts, I am very aware of my need to rest my mind and spirit right now. Instead I’m choosing funny books like Born a Crime by Trevor Noah or uplifting books like Jesus Calling. When life gets messy, these peaceful choices are all too important.

Spring is starting to show in Ohio and that news can lift us out of any funky. While still bundled in warm clothes, we are outside taking walks and lounging in lawn chairs – soaking in the sun. This surge of Vitamin D and clean air feels like a peaceful refuge in our country home. If you live in a city or suburban area, find some green space! Commit large amounts of time there and allow it to heal you, body and soul.

The right playlist is important when you are worried or anxious. My diverse taste ranges from classic Tim McGraw to Lady Gaga to The Hamilton Soundtrack. During normal life this would feel great, but for a short time I need to put those artists aside. Extra stress is added amidst this virus and our minds need more than a distraction or an escape, they need restoration and truth. I’ve been leaning on my Amazon Prime Jesus playlist lately. It holds my favorite tracks by Bethel Music and Lauren Daigle. When these songs play, my mind and spirit are both renewed, ready to handle the next tricky moment that comes my way.

Ain’t No Grave by Bethel Music

“Fear is a liar with a smooth and velvet tongue

Fear is a tyrant

He’s always telling me to run

Oh, love is a resurrection and love is a trumpet sound

Love is my weapon

I’m gonna take my giants down

Their ain’t not grave, gonna hold my body down”

I leave you with this friends. Fear is a liar, don’t let it spiral into panic. Instead prepare your home with the essentials and know that we will be back to normal soon. Trust that you are cared for and choose love.

Love is an incredible weapon to fight this fear. Love your neighbors and make sure they are cared for. Love your local business by purchasing gift cards so they have some income in case of closures. Respect the current situation and stay home if you can. Even if YOU are not at risk, protect those who could be at risk. Embrace a love of nature and all it’s healing powers. Take this as an opportunity to read good books, hear good music, and send encouraging messages to friends and family. Love on your family, snuggle them up and make this time count for good.

Jonathan and I have both been raised by incredible women. This mantra was built from a fusion of their wise Mamma words.

“Prayer leads to peace

Worry leads to panic

Worry requires far more energy

So why not choose peace?

If you know someone who needs this encouragement please share it. Follow us on Instagram @GreenGurneys or like our Green Gurneys Facebook page.

Peace be with you.

Love from The Gurneys

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