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Eating as a Part of Your Life—Not Letting it Consume Your Life

When you want to get into a routine and build something into your life, one way to do it is to schedule and plan.  For some, this is also true when it comes to dieting.  You schedule the number of meals you will eat that day based on when the plan tells you to and you restructure your life around that plan.  You are always thinking about what you are supposed to be eating next, will you be eating it “on time” and if you didn’t pack it with you, will you be able to find something comparable.  You find the only thing you are thinking about is food.
I want you to remember a time, if such a period existed, where you weren’t worrying about your weight or your food.  You lived your life and when you were hungry you ate, you stopped when you were full and you weren’t frantically wondering if a food fell into your plan if you wanted to have it.  For many of you trying to get back to this memory, it might take you all the way back to your childhood days—and that’s OK.

 

When you are younger and there is less to worry about, that carefree attitude translates easier to food.  Eating is just something you have to do in between all the other fun things you look forward to doing every day.  Now that you are older, sometimes food is the fun part of your day, and sometimes it is something to worry about.  Whatever end of the spectrum you fall on you still shouldn’t be living for or living in fear of it.  Accepting food as part of your day rather than something your entire world has to stop for makes it easier to accept a healthier non-diet lifestyle rather than a diet mentality.

 

If you weren’t so hungry and you didn’t eat as much lunch as you normally do, or if you waited an hour later than usual to eat it, that’s OK!  You are listening to your body.  Maybe one day you had a very intense work-out and your body told you to eat a little more at lunch time than you’re used to—listen to it!  Pardon the pun but go with your gut and listen to what it says rather than restricting it to a pre-determined schedule that might not fit into your day.  Eating is a necessary part of life, but it doesn’t have to be your life.

 

Your Turn to Take Action: Try and focus on the things in life you enjoy that are not related to food this week.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Evaluate and Feel Great!

Woman with thumbs upWhen you have a diet mentality, there are a lot of things that can take away from you feeling positive about yourself.  Remember those days you didn’t follow “the plan” and you felt that you had failed?  Feeling like you needed to hide to eat something you wanted to eat because that would make it less of a disgrace to your “diet,” or feeling pressure to order food you don’t even want because the people around you know you’re dieting and you can’t let them see you “cheat.”  Not to mention the only way of evaluating yourself on a diet is by weighing yourself, which as you know, is not a true testament to success in a healthy lifestyle.

The beauty of intuitive eating is it opens up a world that wants you to feel good about yourself.  If you have been progressing on a mindful eating journey, now is a great time to step back and look at all the positive progress you have made.  I want you to evaluate where you are at in the following:

  • Have you been able to look in the mirror and start finding more things that you like about yourself?
  • Do you find yourself eating foods you previously deemed “evil” and being able to enjoy them?
  • Have you tuned out negative self-talk and started to focus on positive aspects of the lifestyle you are living?
  • Have you asked your loved ones around you for their support in this healthy journey?
  • Is your scale collecting dust in your home somewhere because it is no longer a symbol of success in your mind?
  • Are you exercising because of how it makes you feel rather than to negate calories?
  • Are you stopping when you’re full and eating when you’re hungry?

If you said yes to any of these questions then you should feel proud.  These are huge hurdles to jump over when overcoming the diet mentality and to clear any of them is a great accomplishment.  The more of these questions you can answer as “yes,” the better you will continue to feel about your healthy lifestyle and your relationship with the food you eat.

Your turn to take action:  How do you feel about your intuitive eating progress so far?

Changes in Life Should Not Change Your Eating Plan

While it is an inevitable part of life, for most of us, change is never easy.  When our normal routine is threatened by things like career moves (good or bad), family crisis, a change in our children’s schedule or any number of other unforeseen circumstances, often the eating plan you have laid out can suffer.  But it is important to remember that just because something is changing in your life, it does not mean that the healthy lifestyle you have been working on needs to be altered as well.

There are different ways change tends to affect people’s eating.  If the change has been brought on by stress, eating to handle the added pressure can sometimes follow.  Or you got that long awaited promotion or a new job and your schedule has changed.  All of the hard work in fitting healthy eating into your old schedule now goes out the window.  What I want you to know is change does not have to set you back to the beginning.

Think about all the strategies you have learned over the past year.  These are all tools you have added to your mindful eating toolbox.  Tools you can use to tackle problems like change.  By maintaining the healthy lifestyle you have created, you add stability to your life that the change threatens.  If you don’t alter your healthy habits, you will find the change seems less intimidating and just another part of life.  By maintaining or taking control of your healthy lifestyle, you will exercise better control over handling this change as well.

A famous German spiritual author named Eckhart Tolle said, “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.”  Allow yourself to embrace whatever change comes your way, knowing that by maintaining the intuitive eating principles you have set for yourself, you emerge a stronger, healthier person, and become even more ready to face changes in the future.

Your turn to take action: How will you prepare to handle change in your life without changing your healthy lifestyle?

Are Workplace Woes Affecting Your Mindful Food Choices?

For some of us, it feels like we live at work.  Monday through Friday our jobs can consume us and we find ourselves at the mercy of food available in vending machines, cafeteria’s conference rooms, or whatever nearby take-out or restaurant venues are in close proximity.  Stressful workdays, bagel Wednesday and coworker celebration cakes can often seem like a regular occurrence that can threaten your healthy eating habits.

If you experience stress and worry at your job, that already threatens your health.  Lets not allow the workplace to take away from the progress you have made in healthy eating.  Though healthier options are starting to make themselves present in workplace cafeterias and vending machines, stress can sometimes gear your decision making instead of the healthy mindset and hunger cues that you know you can rely on.

Here are some strategies to stay on track at work:

  • Take Control:  Though the thought of a brown-bag lunch may conjure up images of grade school, packing your own snacks and lunch to have throughout the day will keep you satiated and in control of what you are eating.  If you are satisfied with the food you bring, you are less likely to head to the vending machine.  Packing your own food doesn’t have to take long, and once you start doing it every day, it will become a part of your routine.
  • In-House Eating: If the time comes where you didn’t pack enough snacks or didn’t have time to make lunch, you are well equipped to make choices at the cafeteria and vending machines.  Center your choices on whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean proteins.  Check serving sizes on vending machine fare to make sure the packages are in fact one serving.  If your healthy choices are limited, eat enough to feel you’ve satisfied your hunger and then stop.  Everything can fit when moderating, so don’t feel like you have ruined your day if your cafeteria lunch is not as healthy as you had hoped for.
  • Out to Lunch: It is not uncommon to have lunch meetings at local eateries.  Try and order a non-caloric beverage like seltzer, unsweetened tea or water with lemon to avoid excess lunch time calories from sweetened or alcoholic beverages.  Check with yourself mid-meal and stop when you had enough.  Have it wrapped up to go and bring it for lunch tomorrow.
  • Take a Breath: A stressful work day can cloud your judgment when it comes to healthy food choices.  Remember to take a breath before taking a bite of that chocolate.  Do you really want that piece of chocolate?  Or are you just eating it because you got reprimanded by your boss?  Let the answers to those questions guide your choices rather than impulse and stress.

Be proud of the work you do at your job as well as your ability to live a healthy lifestyle while you work!

Your turn to take action: What healthy habits will you practice during your workday?

Don’t Let Bad News Derail Your Efforts

Unfortunately we all are aware that bad news and difficult times are part of life.  It is likely that during these periods there are few things that can make us feel better.  It is at these points where you can make the mistake of using food to ease the pain.  But even if this does the trick in the moment, in the long run your overindulgence or eating a food you didn’t really want will likely make you feel worse.

As you have been learning throughout this journey, food can be used to nourish you and make you feel healthy, but food cannot serve as a medicine to fix what is going on in your mind.  If you get bad news, eating an ice cream sundae will not make whatever bad is going on go away.  You might turn to it for the short-term increase in “feel-good” hormones that leave you a little more cheery post-indulging, but whatever caused the bad news or difficult circumstances will still be there once you come off that wave of “feel good” hormones.  Not to mention you might feel even worse if you are too full from overindulging, or are lagging from too much sugar or fat which is usually found in the foods you turn to in order to make you feel better.

Instead of abandoning your healthy principles during a time of difficulty, it is better to adjust your mindset and use your healthy lifestyle to make you feel better.  One of the more difficult aspects of bad news or difficult times is the feeling you do not have control.  By succumbing to cravings, you are feeding into that out of control bad news spiral.  By taking control of your healthy lifestyle and continuing to honor your hunger, respect your fullness and make healthy decisions, you stay in control of your health which will likely help you regain control of the situation that has you down.

Life can be difficult, but having to face life’s challenges in a body that is unhealthy is even more difficult.  By staying true to the principles that you have been forming throughout this journey, you make yourself stronger and more likely to overcome the difficulties you are facing in your life.

Your turn to take action: Tell me some healthy ways you handle the trials in your life without using food.

“Comfort Foods” Making your Clothes Uncomfortable?

There is nothing wrong with foods being a source of pleasure.  In fact, the more your relationship with food can be a positive one, the better you will feel about your eating habits.  However, confusing a positive relationship with eating your favorite foods with the notion of seeking “comfort” from certain foods can lead to problems with your relationship with food.

If you are eating something to gain a sense of comfort, this begins to connect your eating to emotions instead of satiety.  There is a difference between eating a food you love because you are enjoying the taste of it or the ceremony for which the food represents and eating to soothe emotions.

If you are eating for comfort, you are expecting that food to solve a problem for you.  It’s important to figure out if you are turning to food when you are frustrated, sad or bored.  If you are, then more than likely you need something else, other than food.  For example, if you are up late working on a project for work and you wander into the kitchen, stop and ask yourself if you are truly hungry.  Most likely you are tired, not hungry.

Let me encourage you to move away from using the term “comfort foods.”  Use food as fuel rather than therapy.  It is not to say you can’t consume foods you previously considered to be “comfort foods”; simply redefine their place in your eating plan, and make them a part of your healthy lifestyle, not a part of your mental well-being.

Your turn to take action: How will you work on banishing the phrase “comfort food” from your vocabulary?

4 Dangers of Chronic Dieting

While many people can admit to dieting at some point in their lives, there is a difference between wanting to lose 1. weight the healthy way (slow and steady) or relying on fad diets that promise quick fixes.

The problem with fad diets is that they will most likely last just as long as it took you to lose the weight.  Instead of losing weight gradually over time and being able to maintain the weight loss, these short-lived diets will actually end up costing you more than you bargained for.

Because of their quick-fix results, many people unfortunately get caught up in the cycle of dieting for a specific event, gaining the weight back, and then trying a new fad the next time.  This is known as chronic dieting.

While these may work in the short-term, there can be negative long-term effects!

4 Side Effects of Dieting

1.Slowed Metabolism– When dieting consists of a drastic decrease in caloric intake, your body will compensate for this “starvation mode”, which will slow the rate of your metabolism.  While many diets claim to speed up metabolism, they are actually doing the opposite.

2.More Challenging to Lose Weight– Over time, after numerous fad diet episodes, it will be harder for your body to lose excess weight, and even harder to gain back the lean muscle mass that you have lost.  After a quick-fix diet, youhave lost mostly water weight and muscle, so when you do gain weight back, it is not muscle, it is fat.  Therefore, although you may lose initial weight, the chances of you gaining even more fat back after your success is extremely high.

3.Altered Mood– What happens when you get hungry?  You get angry!  Not having the appropriate amount of food in your system can affect your mood because of hormonal changes and a lower level of blood sugar.  With less energy being consumed, the more tired you become as well. Is losing weight in an unhealthy fashion worth being tired and in a bad mood for?

4.Nutrient Deficiencies– Some diets restrict certain nutrients such as carbohydrates or complete food groups, such as dairy.  When you aren’t eating well-balanced meals, you are likely missing some essential nutrients that can lead to deficiencies and disease.

The next time you hear of a fad diet that is too good to be true, it probably is! There are many ways to lose weight fast, but they certainly are not healthy and over time can lead to further health complications. Eating well-balanced meals and letting your body guide you while incorporating consistent exercise and movement that feels joyful and gentle is the true way to feeling at home in your body and living a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Your turn to take action:  Want off the diet roller coaster? Sign up below to Break the Spell of Diets in 3 Days! You’ll be amazed at the feeling of freedom!

Here We Go Again-Another Fad Diet

Woman on scaleJust a mere couple of months into 2013 and Americans have latched on to a new “magic bullet” called “The Fast Diet.”  To summarize, the “Fast Diet” recommends limiting your calories on two, non-consecutive days during the week to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men.  The other five days you are free to eat whatever you want.  The creator of the diet, a doctor from Britain, claimed that following this plan resulted in his own 20 pound weight loss in two months, as well as reduction in his blood sugars and abdominal fat.

However many experts are skeptical due to the lack of human testing.  Without proper research, it is unethical to make a statement to the public that this diet is safe.  Any diet restricting calories to under 1000 is suspect because no human being, no matter what their weight, should be consuming that little energy if they want to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  The up and down caloric patterns that occur on a day to day basis also throws off your metabolism and keeps it from working in a regular rhythm, something that could actually cause weight gain.  Another issue is it encourages erratic, mindless eating on the 5 days of the week that you are not fasting by telling people to “eat however they want.”

Wouldn’t it be nice to always eat “however you want”?  Well, that is what the iEat Mindfully™ program is all about, minus restricting calories and having to follow any rules!  Unlike the type of mindless eating the “Fast Diet” encourages five days a week, the iEat Mindfully™ program encourages you to eat whatever you want by honoring your true hunger and respecting your fullness.  It is not a diet, but rather a way of life.  There are no unhealthy restrictions on any day of the week.  You simply learn what your body needs, and have a mutual respect for it and the food that you consume.

Like fashion, diets are nothing more than trends.  They come and go with the season.  However knowing your body and living a healthfully is always in style.

Your turn to take action: What are some diet trends that have let you down?  Have you made a commitment to give up dieting?

Eating for Wellness, Not Weight Loss

When you are a child, there are so many exciting things to experience every day, and meals and snacks are just a part of the routine.  Life is not driven by your meals and snacks and whether or not you will eat the “right” or “wrong” food.  There is pleasure in the friends you are with and the joys each day brings.
When you focus too much on eating and dieting, food begins to control your life rather than being a part of your day.  You find yourself cancelling your lunch date with your friends because you are afraid there will be nothing on the menu that you “can” eat.  You find you are lacking energy to do daily tasks because you are eating very little calories because your plan “told you too.”  These are all food rules that you are following to hopefully lose weight and they are removing the pleasurable experiences from your life.

 

Instead of focusing on your food as a tool for weight loss, focus on it as a tool for wellness.  Food is fuel.  It should not prevent you from living your life, but rather it should help you live your life.  For example, do not skip breakfast because you are worried you will overeat the rest of the day.  Have a hearty nutritious breakfast such as oatmeal with fruit and nuts or scrambled egg whites in a whole grain tortilla.  You will see how much energy you have to start your day and will find you are not “starving” by lunchtime.

 

Promise yourself you will not miss plans with friends because of the venue they are eating at.  Be mindful of your hunger, order something that you are going to enjoy, but honor your fullness and know when it’s time to stop.

 

By making food a positive force in your life, you will end that unhappy relationship and be on your road to wellness AND weight loss.  Your decisions will no longer be controlled by food, but what you want to do and what you want to eat.  As long as you keep the principles of intuitive eating in mind, you are good to go!

 

What is one food rule you live by that does not coincide with eating for wellness, and how will you change it?

Change the Tape that Plays in Your Head

tape 2It can be frustrating to not achieve the weight loss goals you have set out for yourself.  Often you might see this as a failure and a reflection of who you are as a person.  You therefore develop a negative internal monologue with yourself that tends to only perpetuate weight gain or the inability to lose weight.  Bullying yourself is not the way to long lasting weight loss, nor is it part of a healthy lifestyle.

Many times the roadblocks in the journey to weight loss are not a lack of nutrition education or even support, but rather they are barriers you put up in your own psyche that prevents you from moving forward.  Your emotional health is key to your physical health, and talking yourself down will not lead to success.  How many times have you eaten what you consider “poorly” or not in keeping with your “diet plan” throughout the first half of the day, and your inner voice starts bullying you saying, “You can’t even make it a few hours without eating unhealthy” or “Can’t you stick to anything?  You’re such a failure!  You’ll never lose weight!”  The disappoint that accompanies these thoughts almost always leads to more unhealthy choices throughout the rest of the day.

Instead of criticizing yourself, be your own cheerleader.  The day is not ruined if you chose to eat a bagel for breakfast instead of oatmeal.  Tell yourself it is OK and move on.  There are so many more things to the day than what you eat.  Food should only be a part of your life, not what controls it.  The more you can shift your mind from the negative to focusing on all the great things about what you do in a day, the more success you are sure to have on your weight loss journey.

Support from others is great and is a key piece in the weight loss puzzle, but the support you give yourself is equally if not more important.  After all, you are on this journey for you and nobody else, and while weight loss is great, achieving happiness and a sense of peace with the way you maintain a healthy lifestyle is even better.

Please share with me at least 1 thing you are proud of that you did today!