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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?

Dangers of Chronic Dieting

ScaleWhile many people can admit to dieting at some point in their lives, there is a difference between wanting to lose 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 such as:

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.

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.

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?

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 is the true way to long-term weight loss and a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Your turn to take action:  What will you do to finally step off the diet roller coaster?

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!

Still Waiting for the Next “Great Diet Miracle”?

quick fixWe are a society that is based on quick fixes.  Our lives and the technology that supports them are fast-paced, and so we expect our weight loss to be the same.  It is this principle that a majority of the weight loss industry is based on.  You are always hearing about the new food to eat that will speed your metabolism, the new supplement that will burn fat faster, or the newest fitness craze that burns more calories in 30 minutes than running does in an hour!  It is easy to get wrapped up in the advertising and buy into the marketing schemes of the people selling these products.

 

The truth is, weight loss that is brought to you by a quick fix or “diet miracle” is typically not the kind of weight loss that will last forever.  These supplements, workouts and diets come with a set of instructions.  They claim that if you follow the instructions, you will succeed.  But when the product runs out, or the diet becomes too cumbersome to continue, chances are you will gain back whatever weight you may have lost and then some, especially if the diet or supplement revolves around a very low calorie intake.

 

When weight loss is successful, it is because you have made your eating and exercise a part of a healthy lifestyle, not something you are following because you were told.  The decision to eat certain foods and exercise resides within you.  This is different than a product or a diet being what controls how you eat.  By honoring your hunger and respecting your fullness, you will know yourself better and know that you are above the fad diets and miracle products.

 

I know that it can be unnerving and hard to be patient when you want to lose weight.  It’s much more tempting to lose a lot of weight quickly by following a diet.  The main thing to remember though is that your goal of weight loss should be to get healthy for life.  Not only is it unhealthy to have your weight yo-yo, but it is emotionally taxing to feel you have succeeded only to fail again.  Eating mindfully will put you on a track to permanent, consistent weight loss, with constant emotional uplift at the thought that you are in control, succeeding on the journey to becoming a healthy person overall.

 

What do you feel will be the greatest reward from a life without dieting and miracle products?

I am here to help you.  If you would like further support, click here for a chance to speak with me!

The Gift of Support this Valentine’s Day

Flowers and chocolates are great, but most of the time material gifts do not make us feel nearly as good as a compliment from a loved one.  Even better than a compliment is support.  You are on your own individual journey into mindful eating, but while you work on loving yourself this Valentine’s Day, ask for the gift of support from your loved ones.

 

This journey into mindful eating that you are on is very personal.  It can sometimes be hard to let others in.  But when you involve the ones you love in matters going on in your life, you may be surprised how much it helps.  Chances are they have seen you go on and off the diet roller coaster so many times and they will be excited to see you embracing a diet-free approach.  They don’t want to see you trapped by a “meal plan” and they certainly don’t want to see you disappointed and not able to reach your goals.

 

So this Valentine’s Day let your loved ones in on the new, diet-free you.  Ask them for support while you travel the road to mindful eating.  Ask them what is it they love about you and let this remind you of the wonderful person that you are.  Love and emotion is a powerful thing, and the support that comes with loving relationships will certainly help you succeed!

 
Let me know what your loved ones had to say about your new diet-free mindset!