Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health?

Today I’m talking with friend and fellow writer, Dr. Ruth Leyse-Wallace, author of Nutrition and Mental Health.    

Welcome, Ruth.  Please tell us where you live?
Since 2002 I have lived in Alpine, California which is on the east edge of San Diego County.

How long have you been writing?
My first publications were in the early 1980s and continued rather sporadically until around 2004. At that time I buckled down and started writing my first book. I had just retired, had a supportive husband, and a file full of material about the links between mental health and nutrition that I had been telling myself “someone” ought to write about. In 2004 I decided that “someone” was me and the time was right for such a book to be published. I joined The San Diego Writers/Editors Guild, heard about self-publishing, and sat down at the computer.

What type of writing do you normally do?
I really enjoy working on non-fiction -- either in my professional area of expertise or memoir/life story/family tree writing for my children and grandchildren. I’ve also written a few articles about the time I owned and piloted my own hot air balloon.

Give a brief synopsis of Nutrition and Mental Health?
Nutrition and Mental Health is an introduction to the research and ideas behind the concept that nutrients and nutritional status affect mental health/status/well-being.  I have reviewed scientific research from hundreds of journals and scientists to summarize the topics, the findings, the continuing questions, and the incorporation of nutritional assessment into current psychological and psychiatric health care. The research includes specific nutrients (vitamins minerals, fatty acids, supplements, etc) and the effect of dieting, and mental health issues of ADHD, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s, Disease, bipolar disorder, caffeinism, depression, eating disorders, schizophrenia, stress, violence, etc. 

It is phenomenal how much is known and how much research is done on these topics. Genetics and environmental issues are additional factors that are being related to the fields of nutrition and mental health. I coined the term The PsychoNutriologic Person, which is defined as any individual who has concerns related to nutrition and to mental well-being that interact and influence the quality of life.

What are your qualifications to write this book?
I practiced clinical dietetics in psychiatric hospitals, substance abuse programs, and eating disorder treatment programs for thirty years. I have always read professional journals and books that report on new research, copied or clipped out articles, attended workshops and conferences, and kept the notes. When I decided to go back to graduate school at age fifty-one to see if I still had it in me to achieve a life-time goal of earning a doctorate degree that included learning the process of researching and writing scholarly papers. I received my doctorate degree in 1998.

What prompted you to write it?
My files were full and I was passionate about getting that knowledge out to professionals and patients who would benefit by knowing this information. The public and professionals alike had become educated in the effect of nutrition on physical health: it was time to feed and integrate the separate interests in nutrition and mental health!  Things were coming together in my personal life, in the public interest, and in health care. It was time to write this book! I felt a sense of destiny and life purpose about it. A publisher was interested, felt it was timely, and was convinced by my earlier self-published book, Linking Nutrition to Mental Health, that I could do it.

How long did it take to write it?
I told the publisher, it would take about 2 ½ years, but it was ready to submit several months early.  

Do you have a favorite chapter from the book?
A most amazing chapter for me was to learn about the work with incarcerated juveniles and the seeming relationship of poor nutrition on hostility, aggressiveness and violence. I read about the eating habits of today’s youth and then about the level of violence in today’s world and the lack of available food in many places. I wondered that if everyone around the world had adequate, nutritious food, might such hostility actually go down?

Is it published and, if so, when and by whom?
It was published by CRC Press, a division of Taylor and Francis, Inc. The publication date was late January, 2013. 

How can my readers get a copy?
It can be ordered from the publisher or from . Any book store could order a copy if it isn’t on the shelf.  

What do you do besides write?
I spend quality time with my four-year-old-granddaughter, son and daughter-in-law, who live not far away.  I enjoy growing a variety of flowers in my yard, from amaryllis, bird of paradise, to shamrocks, etc.  I have always been an avid reader, and am currently a member of a discussion group reading our third series from the Great Books Foundation. I spent a fair amount of time and energy acting as the President of The San Diego Writers/Editors Guild during 2012 and am continuing in that position in 2013. Some day I may follow-up on my wish to join a drumming circle.

What is your advice to would-be writers?
Write about what you are passionate about, where your intense interest lies. When you have something you want to say, it is easy to sit down every day and work on getting it said.  Actually it is easier to sit down and write than doing other things when ideas are coming and you want to get them down before you forget them.

What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?
If I had known how good it would feel to have in your hand a book you wrote, and have people want to buy it and read it, I may have started earlier! 

What’s next for you?
I want to learn how to self-publish on the web, resume blogging on my nutrition and mental health blog, learn how to self-manage my website, and perhaps write more focused articles for journals and magazines.  I enjoy speaking, teaching, and spreading the word on nutrition and mental health, so I hope I have an opportunity to continue.  And, of course, I’ll keep on filing!

Thank you, Ruth.  It's been a pleasure.

Today's Quote: Life is the sum of all your choices. Albert Camus

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Visit to Easters Past

Easter is in two weeks.  In seventy-two years, I’ve celebrated a lot of Easters.

This is a picture of my sister and me when we were teenagers and all dressed up with hat and gloves for Easter.  I’m on the right.  It was the mid-fifties and we thought we were stylin'.

I remember one Easter when my kids were little.  As we left the house to visit family, there was about ten inches of new snow on the ground.  It made a good background for the colored eggs I’d hung from the branches of a bare tree.  This was April in Connecticut.

Every Easter afternoon, my then husband and I and our two young girls would go visit Jack and Irene.  They were like parents to my husband and grandparents to our girls.  They were Hungarian and we could always count on having boiled eggs and kielbasa for dinner.  One Easter, Irene met us at the door with a big grin and said, “Look at my  new Easter outfit!”  I looked at the old shirt and sweat pants she was wearing and wondered what she considered a new outfit.  She saw my puzzled look and said, “I’ve got new sneakers!”

Now here’s my favorite Easter story.  One Easter we were all in their living room after dinner, the TV was on and the girls were keeping themselves occupied.  Jack and my husband were celebrating by downing a couple of shots, maybe more.  I sat in an easy chair and Irene sat on the footstool  in front of me.  The girls and I were dressed in our Easter finery as we had been at our Baptist church services that morning.  Irene, being Catholic, wanted to impart her theological wisdom to me so she leaned in close, looked around, and in a low voice whispered, “Jesus was a Jew you know.”  Then she sat back up and declared, “But it’s okay because he turned Catholic before he died!”  I almost fell out of the chair I was sitting in.  

Have a good Easter everyone!

Today's Quote: Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.
Ashley Smith