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“Put Your Best Fork Forward”

March is National Nutrition Month® (NMM) and every year there is a new theme to engage you, the public. NNM was created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is intended to promote nutrition education, highlighting the importance of making informed food choices, and developing sound eating and physical activity habits.

 

The theme for this year is “Put Your Best Fork Forward” when dining out and at home.

 

By putting your best fork forward and making healthful decisions, you hold all the power, literally and figuratively.  You get to make the decisions on when, what, and how much you eat.

 

Remember, you already have the nutrition knowledge within yourself needed to make healthful decisions.  You can choose what goes into your body and how much.  It is now time to work on your confidence and empower you to make these decisions.

 

The process of becoming an intuitive eater and no longer being a dieter helps you become confident and regain trust in yourself to make these decisions.  With intuitive eating you learn to listen to your body and fuel it with the food it wants.

 

When you eat intuitively you are putting your best fork forward.

 

Here are 3 tips to help you start your journey to putting your best fork forward:

 

  1. Be Mindful. Being mindful plays a key role in when, what, and how much you eat. If you tend to eat when you are distracted or in response to an emotion, it can be difficult to pay attention to what is on your fork.  Instead, avoid distractions during meal times and sit at a table to truly enjoy what you are eating.

 

  1. Plan ahead. If you are going out to eat, look at the menu ahead of time.  Nowadays there are plenty of healthful options at restaurants that allow you to choose a balanced meal.  If you are making dinner at home, think about what you want to make the day before to ensure you have all the ingredients necessary to prepare your healthy meal when you get home.

 

  1. Explore. One of the great benefits of being an intuitive eater is no food is off limits. Take this month to explore the different tastes, textures, and temperatures of food to find out what you truly enjoy.  You may be surprised that foods you thought you didn’t like you do!

 

It’s time to take charge and take the necessary steps that will empower you to make healthful decisions for yourself.

 

If you would my help and support on your journey, just go to www.TalkWithBonnie.com and we’ll set up a time to talk.

 

Mindful Eating During the Holidays

The holiday season is here and if you are concerned that you will gain weight like in past years, let me assure you that it doesn’t have to be that way.

 

Holiday weight gain often comes from mindless eating such as eating fast without even tasting the food, munching mindlessly on hor d’oeuvres before dinner or having that second piece of pecan pie because you felt pressured by the host.

 

In contrast, when you eat mindfully, you are more aware of your eating habits and the sensations you experience when you eat, such as the taste, texture and aroma of the food.

 

Here are 5 easy ways to get started.

 

  1. Slow down. Are you the first one to finish your meal or the last one? Before you begin eating, think about how you will proceed to eat your meal.  Consciously decide that you will slow down, and allow at least 20-30 minutes to eat.  Take the time to appreciate the food you are eating.

 

  1. Sit down at the table. Eating while standing in front of the refrigerator, buffet table or while walking around will decrease your attention and satisfaction with your meal. Instead, plan to sit while eating, even at a buffet party.  Fill your plate appropriately with food, and find a table to sit.  Friends and family will likely join you and you can enjoy nice conversation while being more mindful of your eating.

 

  1. Savor your food. Focus on each bite of food that you put into your mouth. Experience the taste, texture, flavors and aroma of the food.  Is it sweet, salty, sour, crunchy, or smooth?  Do you like it, dislike it, or it’s just okay?  If you aren’t fully satisfied with it, don’t finish it.

 

  1. Be in the moment. Are you fully present when you are eating?  Be sure to turn off the television, and avoid reading or talking on the phone while eating.  These activities take away from the mindfulness of eating.

 

  1. Put your fork down periodically throughout the meal. Observe what you do with your silverware during the meal. Do you keep it in your hand?  Are you preparing the next bite of food on the fork while chewing what’s in your mouth?  When you turn your attention to the next bite, you are not being mindful and completely miss the food that you are currently eating.  Instead of enjoying the food in your mouth, you are focusing on matters beyond the present.  So this year, put your fork down on the table while you are chewing and give all your attention to the food in your mouth.  When you finish that bite, pick up the fork and take another.

 

Another possible contributor to your holiday weight gain: food pushers.

 

If you have family or friends that are food pushers, it can be difficult to stop eating when you are full.  But it is OK to politely say “No thank you, I am full, but I will take a piece home for later.”  Many people will not push you any further, since you will be taking some home.

 

It is important to listen to your body and know when you are full.

 

Taking the time to listen to your body and following these 5 easy tips will get you started on your journey towards mindful eating and help you avoid unwanted holiday weight gain.

 

If you would my help and support through the holidays and New Year, just go to www.TalkWithBonnie.com and we’ll set up a time to talk.

 

A Happy and Mindful Thanksgiving

happy-thanksgivingThanksgiving is hands down one of my favorite holidays.  I love having the whole family over and a table full of good food.  It is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season!

 

But I do know it is easy to get lost in the chaos. Don’t let yourself feel out of control this year. Start your holiday season off on the right foot! Make this the year that you conquer your dieting habits and turn to intuitive and mindful eating for a body you love.

 

Mindful Eating

 

Engaging in mindful eating can be the perfect way to help you enjoy Thanksgiving this year.  Here are four tips to help you stay mindful.

 

  1. Stay fully conscious. It’s easy to lose yourself in all the food, conversation and football.  If you maintain an awareness of your food choices, amount of food you are serving yourself and eating, you can avoid overindulging.  This can be difficult in a social situation, but if you set your intentions out in the morning, you can do it!

 

  1. Serve small portions. With a holiday that only comes once a year, you can easily serve yourself large portions of your favorite dishes.  You may even fall prey to “my eyes are bigger than my stomach”.  Start with small portions to avoid overeating yet still satisfies your craving.  If you are still hungry you could always have more.

 

  1. Listen to your body. Do you belong to the “clean your plate club”?  This year commit to staying present and listening to your body’s signals as you are getting satiated.  Stop eating when you feel comfortable, you can always wrap up the rest of your food and take it home.  If you do this, you will be able to enjoy your favorites when you get hungry again.

 

  1. Pace Yourself. During the meal, pacing yourself is key. Put your fork down and spend time talking to relatives in-between bites. This allows your brain to register the food that is entering your stomach. Your body will be able to signal when you are satisfied and have eaten enough.

 

The holidays can be a difficult time for someone who has just started on the intuitive eating journey.  Resisting the urge to overeat can be hard to overcome.  But you can do it! 

 

Recipe Modifications

 

While it’s great to eat your favorite traditional Thanksgiving dishes, consider modifying the recipes just a bit to better nourish your body.

 

  • Sweet Potato Casserole – Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows? But guess what… the marshmallows are not a necessity!  Instead, you can top the sweet potatoes with raisins, chopped pecans and a small handful of mini marshmallows.  This way you won’t miss the sweet melted topping, it is now just a lighter dish.
  • Mashed Potatoes – Do you normally take all skin off the potatoes and use whole milk when making mashed potatoes? Instead, leave the skin on and use low-fat milk or soy milk.  I promise you it will still taste delicious, but with less fat and more nutrients.
  • Salt – In many traditional dishes, salt is a staple. However, it isn’t the only seasoning that can be used to add flavor.  Try adding other herbs in place of salt, such as thyme or parsley.
  • Sour Cream – Do you serve baked potatoes topped with sour cream at your Thanksgiving dinner? Swap the sour cream for Greek yogurt and add a sprinkle of scallions for more flavor!

 

Still looking for more ways to have a mindful Thanksgiving?  Start your day off with a long morning walk to kick-start your body.  Also, don’t forget to eat breakfast!  This will keep you satisfied and help you avoid heading into dinner starving.

 

Check out this article from BRGHealth.com for tips on how to have a safe Thanksgiving.

 

How to Stay Mindful this Halloween

Halloween Pumpkins 2The month of October is synonymous with Halloween and spooky fall festivities. But along with trick-or-treating comes massive amounts of sugar.

 

Whether you’re out and about tricking or home dishing out the treats, these tips will help you stay an intuitive eater amidst all of the chaos.

 

Eat Before You Treat

 

Just before the trick or treating traffic is about to commence, have a late lunch or early dinner. A full stomach will prevent you from overindulging on candy to the point of sickness. If you are a chaperone for kids who are going trick or treating, it’s a good idea to have a little holiday meal before heading off on your trick-or-treating journey. Eating too much sugar will cause you and your kids to crash and become cranky before the festivities are over. Don’t unleash the monsters!

 

Fun Size It

 

Portion control is key. Cravings are natural and shouldn’t be ignored. If you are craving a chocolate bar, choose the fun sized option. Fun sized candies have a fraction of the fat and calories per package. The object is to savor each bite. The more you focus on the taste and texture of the candy, the more you’ll be happy with a smaller portion. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a fun size bar without missing out on the fun.

 

The Dark Side

 

Dark chocolate might be an acquired taste but it is certainly the way to go. Dark chocolate contains 70% or more of cocoa. Cocoa has been shown to contain antioxidants and has cholesterol lowering properties. The fat in cocoa is comprised of monounsaturated fatty acids as well as stearic acid which appears to have no effect on cholesterol levels. So if you need a little chocolate pick-me-up, dark chocolate is the way to go.

 

Healthy Homemade

 

Making homemade treats is a great alternative to buying prepackaged candies. If you have the time, make fun treats at home so you know what you’re eating. They can be fun and healthy for everyone. Let your creativity run wild.

  • Dip your apples in peanut butter and dark chocolate for a dark twist to candied apples.
  • Make some Petrifying Popcorn- air popped, drizzled in honey and sprinkled with cayenne pepper and salt for a kick.
  • Go ahead and decorate your fruit for an easy alternative! Tangerines can be turned into little jack o’lanterns or put mint chocolate chips on a banana to make boo-nanas.

 

Be an Intuitive Eater

 

There’s no need to call the food police while you’re out having fun. Celebrate the holiday by letting yourself have a little bit of candy here and there. Listen to your body- if you need that sweet vice, eat it. But if you’re past the point of fullness, that extra candy isn’t going to make you feel any better. Using your brain and stomach instead of your eyes will help guide you through this holiday season without a problem.

 

Halloween is the perfect opportunity to go out and get a good walk. Walking around the neighborhood even for just half an hour will boost your immune system and decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease. Not to mention, it feels good to get some fresh air.

 

Have some fun this Halloween by being the best intuitive eater you can be!!

 

Your Turn to Take Action: What creative homemade treats will you make for your little monsters?

 

Do You Plate Your Meals?

fullsizerender-copyThink about this: When it’s time to eat, do you put your food on your plate and sit down and eat a full meal, or do you stand at the counter and pick at different foods until you feel you’re satisfied?

 

If you associate more with the latter question, you are not alone.

 

I have had a number of clients come to me feeling they are not worthy of a full meal.  Because of their weight, they do not think they deserve to really enjoy their meal and eat in a pleasant environment, free of distractions.

 

This is just not true.  Let’s take a look back to your past and figure out where this habit started.

 

Is it something you saw family members engaging in?

 

Is it something you were lead to believe by someone you trusted?

 

Do you think you are undeserving of a good meal because of what you weight?

 

No matter where this habit was formed, there is something you should realize.  You deserve a proper meal, every meal of the day, every day. You deserve to sit down and enjoy your meal and savor each bite.

 

Plating Your Meals Throughout the Day

 

Many of my clients use the excuse of always being on-the-go or busy at work as their reason for not plating each meal, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

 

Even if you’re not at home, you can still have a good meal.

 

Instead of eating breakfast in the car, wake up a few minutes early and sit at the table to enjoy your breakfast.  Those few extra minutes will make a big difference in the way your body feels.

 

Instead of eating lunch in the car or at your desk, find a table nearby to sit and enjoy yourself.  You can do this by going to a restaurant for lunch, going to your office cafeteria, or sitting on a park bench.  Your meal times can be a good time to reflect and really tune into what your body is telling you.

 

Plating Your Meal at Dinner

 

Here are a few simple ways you can start working on plating your meals and sitting down for dinner:

 

  • Treat yourself to a well-balanced, proper dinner at your own table. Make it a point to finish cooking, plate your food and sit down at the table.
  • Put a nice table cloth on your dining table. This will make your environment more enjoyable.
  • Use a nice plate instead of a paper plate. Again, this will enhance the environment of your meal.
  • Savor your meal. By actively savoring each bite, you will find yourself more satisfied with your meal rather than when you pick at food mindlessly.

 

Plating and sitting down to most of your meals throughout the day will help you feel more satisfied and you won’t find yourself reaching for a snack an hour later.  You will also become more relaxed as you can use that time to reflect on how your body feels and clear your mind.

 

Your Turn to Take Action:  For dinner tonight, make it a point to plate your meal.  Let me know how your experience was in the comments below.  I would love to hear from you!

 

If you are interested in starting on the intuitive eating journey, you can contact me here.

 

 

7 Tips to a Mindful Morning Routine

Woman barefoot walking beachIf you are like most people, your morning is one mega rush! Quick jump out of bed, shower, get dressed and run out the door! You’re lucky if you grab a coffee and muffin to eat in the car as you head out to start your day. Or, you stop at the local convenience store and pick up a bagel with butter and a ginormous cup of Joe. Worse yet, you don’t eat any breakfast and your first meal of the day is lunch.

 

Sound familiar?

 

If so, you are probably not stopping long enough to figure out how your body feels when you treat it like this. You are on autopilot, doing the same routine day after day and wonder why you crash by the time you get home from work.

 

Nourishing your body from the moment you open your eyes in the morning is key to a healthy mind, body and soul.

 

I recognize it may take some time for you to change your morning routine, so focus on slow changes over time, at your level of comfort.

 

Here are 7 tips to get you started.

 

  1. When you first wake up, take some time to meditate, even if it’s for just 3-5 minutes. It will allow you to connect with yourself on a deeper level as you start your day.

 

  1. Set your intention about how your day will be, for example “Today will be an incredible day. I feel positive and alive”.

 

  1. Spend 30 minutes to get your blood flowing and heart pumping through an enjoyable exercise routine or body movement activity.

 

  1. Shower and get dressed in clothes that you feel comfortable in. Respect your body at the size it is now, no matter what size that is, and wear clothes (including undergarments!) that fit you well and comfortably.

 

  1. Sit down and enjoy a balanced breakfast that includes wholesome food that you enjoy. Savor each bite, noting the taste, texture, temperature and aroma. Appreciate the food on your plate as you stay fully present in the eating experience without any distractions (avoid reading the morning newspaper or watching the news as you eat).

 

  1. Pack your lunch and get ready to leave.

 

  1. Hug your loved ones (for a boost of “feel good” hormones) and head out the door.

 

True, this morning routine takes some time, which means you will have to wake up a bit earlier than you are used to. And, that likely means that you will have to go to sleep a little earlier too.

 

But let me ask you, aren’t you worth it?

 

 

Your turn to take action: Practice incorporating this morning routine into your life and let me know how you feel in the comments below.

 

 

Know When to Stop and Say “No”

Knowing When to Stop PictureI have spent a lot of time discussing the freedom from dieting that intuitive eating can provide.  That certainly is the beauty of being mindful.  But one principle that people sometimes struggle with is “Respecting Your Fullness.”  This principle involves really tuning in while you’re eating, and being able to recognize when you have had enough and no longer need to keep eating.

As you may have found out in your own eating, consuming food past the point of fullness can make you uncomfortable, sick or lead to feelings of guilt.  These feelings can lead you to skipping your next meal or snack, thus beginning an overeating/starving cycle that messes with your metabolism.  By paying attention while you’re eating, you can break free of this cycle and feel good about what you are eating.

The idea behind this principle can also be applied to things in life other than eating mindfully.  I’m sure many of you feel overextended due to juggling family, a job, a household and anything else that may come up in a day.  Think of overextending yourself as something similar to overeating.  Just like I want you to respect your fullness, I want you to respect your fullness of schedule as well.  Sometimes taking on too much can take you away from the really important aspects of your life and self-care.  Knowing when to say no to certain things is analogous to knowing when you are full from a meal.

Though our country is all about excess, scaling back and respecting your limitations is just as important as trying to achieve the impossible ideal of “doing it all.”  Respect your fullness, respect your time, and respect that you are only capable of so much.  Do what you can handle well and you will feel much better during your day to day life.

The next time someone asks you to do something and you really can’t fit it in, say the following, “I wish I could, but I can’t.”  No need for reasons or excuses.

Your turn to take action:  Do you have a hard time saying “no” to people?

People Pleasing and Putting Yourself First

Woman with healthy skin and towel on headWhen you are on an airplane and the emergency procedures are being explained, do you notice they tell you to always put your oxygen mask on first before helping others?  The reason you are told to do that is so that you are able to help others.  If you disregard your mask and try to help your children or loved ones instead, you would pass out and be of no use to anyone.

 

This is a good metaphor for those of you who do not take the time to take care of yourself in life.  When you are too busy running around and doing for everyone else, it is easy to become drained, sick or resentful.  By taking time to care for yourself, you are actually helping to be more present for your loved ones.  It may seem like your needs are not as important as those around you, but again, if your needs are not met, how can you be the best you can be for everyone in your life.

 

The other thing is, the people in your life want to see you happy and fulfilled.  If you feel like they may not be supportive of you taking time for yourself, explain to them how meeting your needs will make you better at helping them with theirs.  They will also enjoy seeing you happier and calmer, rather than the stressed and snippy you that might come out when you are doing for everyone else and not tending to yourself.

 

Worse yet, what if being a people pleaser is actually harming your health?  Weight gain, high blood sugar, and elevated blood pressure are all physical side effects of neglecting yourself in order to please others.

 

Eating healthy is one of the first things to go when you are taking care of everyone around you but you.  You might find yourself saying you do not have time to plan or make your meals and snacks because you are busy making your children’s.  Or, perhaps you are on the go all day running from place to place that you forget to eat and find yourself ravenous at the end of the night when everyone is tucked into bed.  Being healthy is its own type of oxygen mask.  A healthy you breeds healthier individuals around you, which is a win-win for everyone!

 

If you need help finding ways to take care of yourself, check out my recent blog post 10 Ways to Combat Stress!  Remember, your loved ones need you, but they need you to be happy and healthy more than anything.

Your turn to take action:  What will you do to take better care of yourself?