Focusing on Nutrient Density within Your Personalized Approach to Wellness

Eating in a way that supports nutrient density means that you are taking in a wide variety of nutrients with every meal. Our bodies are designed to function on nutrition and require nutrients for each and every cell in our bodies to function optimally. The food you eat literally becomes your cells, tissues and organs. This makes it pretty important to take in a healthy dose of nutrients every meal every single day.

The essential nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally are fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fat. I also feel that taste is a nutrient, if your food does not appeal to you it most likely won’t make you feel as good as if you were choosing foods that actually bring you some pleasure and satisfaction along with the nutrients. When you focus on foods that are nutrient dense, meaning they contain several of the nutrients listed, you are nourishing your body as it is meant to be nourished.

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This is where eating a variety of colorful veggies comes in! Vegetables are loaded with nutrients necessary for our bodies to function in optimal condition. There is a ton of research surrounding the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables daily. The field of nutrition can be challenging to follow in terms of what to eat, what not to eat and even when to eat it. It seems what’s considered the healthiest way to eat one day is proven to cause an early death the next! However, there are no dietary theories out there that say don’t eat your veggies, so this is where you can start with confidence. With time and attention on your body, you can create a personalized approach to nutrition focusing on nutrient density and enjoyment.

Creating a personalized approach to nutrition is the healthiest and the most sustainable way to create a nutritional plan. You are the expert on your body and only you can determine how different foods make you feel. One thing we all can do is spend some time evaluating the foods we choose to eat. With each choice you make, you can ask the food “what do you have to offer me?” If it can tick off several of the nutritional boxes and it makes your body feel good, then it’s most likely a good choice. For example, if you are about to eat an apple, asking it this question provides the answer of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and fiber. That’s a pretty good nutritional profile! Then ask, “does this taste good to me and does it make my body feel good after I’ve eaten it?” If the answer is yes, most likely that’s a great choice. If you ask a donut what it has to offer, it doesn’t have quite the same response as an apple! That does not necessarily mean that you don’t eat the donut, but you might ask yourself why you are eating the donut. If you are an emotional eater, you just want to be certain the choice is not emotionally based, as the donut will not satisfy your needs and you will be searching for the next way to squash your feelings with food over and over again.

Food is powerful. It provides our lives with pleasure and fuel. When we are eating in the right balance for our individual bodies, it has the power to heal and to create a life of vitality. Every time you ask your food what it has to offer you and the majority of the time it can answer with a few nutrients, you are on your way to creating a healthy body and healthy mind. This is not about perfection, it is about empowering yourself to make the choices that align with your personal health and wellness goals. This is about creating the healthy mind and body that you desire.

If you are ready to take charge of your health, emotional eating and wellbeing, my next Freedom From Emotional Eating Online Group Coaching Course begins on APRIL 15th! It is a LIVE course and will transform your relationship with food. If you are interested you can learn more here!

5 Natural Ways to Brighten the Winter Blues

 
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Are you feeling as though this winter will just never end? If so, you are not alone. Here in NYC it’s cold and we’ve had a lot of rainy days. So many of us can identify with the experience of having the winter blues. The winter blues often create low motivation and stagnancy, you just don’t feel like doing much or getting much done. The winter blues can feel as though your energy is zapped, causing you to not engage in many of the elements that tend to actually make you feel good. To me, it’s no surprise that many of us experience times of feeling down in the winter. After the activity and hubbub of the holidays, it’s common to feel more isolated because of the cold, the reduced daylight hours and often more dreary weather.

The good news is that there are some simple, natural strategies that you can incorporate all winter long to help you beat the winter blues. Use these strategies to create your own ray of sunshine on any given day.

1.    On Sunny Days, Expose Your Skin to Light for 10-15 Minutes

2.    Eat Naturally Mood-Lifting Foods

3.    Practice Saying “YES” to Yourself

4.    Move Your Body

5.    Start (or Maintain!) a Mindfulness Practice

1. On Sunny Days, Expose Your Skin to Light for 10-15 Minutes

This first strategy encourages receiving some sun exposure whenever it’s possible. When sunlight is exposed to our eyes and our skin, the brain is alerted to wake up and feel more energized. Exposure to sunlight can help you feel more mentally sharp and positive. Every day that the sun is shining, be sure to get outside and turn your face to the sun for about ten to fifteen minutes. If it’s not too freezing cold, you can certainly hang out in the sun even longer (although don’t overexpose without sunscreen!) If you can’t get outside, take a few moments to at least let the sun hit your eye balls. A full spectrum light box can be another option, although there is a cost associated with this tool, it does offer the full spectrum of light and helps improve mood and mental energy. 

2. Eat Naturally Mood-Lifting Foods

The second strategy has to do with improving your mood through food. The food-mood connection is super strong. Nutrients that support energy and healthy brain function all help to create the best opportunity for your mood to be in a balanced and positive space on a daily basis. When you are eating these healthy, mood supporting nutrient dense foods, factors such as the temperature, weather or time of year can feel as thought they are less of a downer! Some of the nutrients known to improve the functioning of your brain and improve mood are Omega-3 Fatty Acids, B-Vitamins, Vitamin C, Tryptophan, Vitamin K and Protein. Here is a brain power smoothie recipe that incorporates many of these nutrients in one power-packed delicious drink!

Brain Power Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
½ ripe banana
1 heaping teaspoon raw cacao powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1-2 cups loosely packed fresh kale (or spinach/favorite leafy green)
1 cup plain unsweetened coconut or almond milk
1 serving unsweetened protein powder of your choice

Blend all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!!

 
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3. Practice Saying “YES” to Yourself

During the winter months there are often many things to do, places to go and people to see. One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself is to learn to say YES to yourself, meaning that you may have to say NO to others. If you find you need to preserve your energy, do it. You do not have to do all the things all the time. When you practice saying YES to yourself—to what you want and need—you will build more energy and stamina for the things you actually do want and need to do. When you practice saying YES to YOU, you are caring for yourself. This will build feelings of empowerment to make your own decision and choices for your life. As you continue to practice saying YES to YOU, you will improve your mood state and your energy. Finding the right balance between activity and rest for you will allow you to feel refreshed, motivated and energized.

4. Move Your Body

Movement and exercise have consistently been shown to improve mood. Really, exercise is valuable for a long list of reasons. But the one benefit alone of improving mood is enough to make it happen and to make it happen consistently. The second part of this is the kicker: consistency! When it is gray, dark and cold, you may not feel like going out for a walk or going to the gym. That’s ok because you don’t have to feel like it but you still need to do it. Focusing on how you feel after you exercise can be motivation to help you get your body moving. If you really just don’t want to go to the gym or go outside on a cold or damp day, do something indoors. Try yoga, dancing to your favorite music, light weight training, jumping jacks, plank pose and/or squats. You see, the movement doesn’t need to be anything fancy and it doesn’t even have to be for a really long time, you just need to do it in some form or another nearly every single day.  Try incorporating regular movement into your day and notice the impact it has on your mood, energy, stress and sleep. When you focus on the benefits, the motivation will follow.

5. Start a Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness has been shown to improve mood as well as your perspective on life’s challenges. Mindfulness is paying attention from moment to moment with a nonjudgmental awareness. When you are being mindful, you are fully engaged in the present moment. When you are being mindful you are fully engaged with what is true right now. When you are in a space of non-judgment and self-awareness, you are able to create a healthy perspective of the present moment. When you are present and engaged, you are able to notice your mood state and have an impact on it in a way that is healthy. Mindfulness allows you to evaluate the veracity of your mood and your thoughts.

Try starting with just one minute of being as mindfully present as possible. Set a timer for one minute, and for that minute attempt to focus on the rhythm of your breath. When you notice that your mind is wandering (and know that it definitely will!), guide your focus back to your breath. This is the practice. You are not trying to silence your mind, but to bring your focus back to your breath when your mind wanders. You can increase the amount of time by a minute every other day until you reach five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. The amount of time is not as important as doing it consistently and with effort. There are great apps out there to assist with the process. I personally like Insight Timer, but use any that you like and find to be helpful for you.

Try incorporating these five simple, natural strategies to improve your mood and you may find that the winter is not so blue after all.

Grocery Store Survival 101: 5 Strategies to Stick to Your List

 
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The grocery store can be one of the biggest hurdles to staying consistent along your path to healing your relationship with food. The grocery store bombards us with messages about how great we will feel and how much fun we will have when we down those sodas or eat those cookies. The truth is (aside from these items barely even qualify as FOOD) that the grocery store is a major feat to be conquered when embarking on a wellness journey.

I have put together a survival guide with five tactics to help you remain focused, to not give in to your Deal Maker and to create an opportunity for the grocery store to be a place where you can grow your Inner Strength! If you are not familiar with the concept of the Deal Maker—it’s that part of yourself that attempts to sabotage your progress. The Deal Maker is always try to make a deal to keep you stuck because it is very fearful of change. One of places the Deal Maker loves to show up and cause trouble is the grocery store! Your Inner Strength is the part of yourself that you are working to build, to grow and to continue to empower.

What are some of the most common examples your Deal Maker uses at the grocery store? Here’s a few examples:

            “You will only eat just one—every once in a while”

            “You have a hard week coming up, you DESERVE a treat”

            “So-and-so really would enjoy this______________, you can get it for them”

            “Just this once…”

Any of these sound familiar? The grocery store is hands down the most difficult element to wrangle because the food industry pays good money for product placement, advertising, graphic design and they appeal directly to the part of you that takes over with Deal Maker based thoughts.

Here are some tried and true tactics to tackle grocery shopping like a champ! 

1.    Never ever ever go to the grocery store when you are hungry.

I think this strategy speaks for itself, but I will elaborate a bit. When you enter the grocery store hungry you are way more likely to give into Deal Maker thoughts, to over spend and to purchase foods that you do not have on your list. To ensure success at the grocery store be sure to have a snack before hand to avoid any excessive hunger.

2.    Pre-plan what you will eat for the week and create a specific, detailed list for your shopping trip.

I know you most likely always have list when you go shopping—so that is not the main challenge! It is sticking to your list that takes effort when you are confronted with all the choices at the store. When you are armed with your list and have specific ingredients for specific meals, you create a better chance of actually sticking to your list.

3.    Practice visualization before you step foot in the store.

This is a such a helpful practice, it is also referred to as “cognitive rehearsal” and has been shown to help stick to your choices because you have practiced what you will do mentally or essentially “rehearsed” it before shopping.

Here’s how you do it: first, plan what you will need for your meals and write out your list, be as specific as possible. Then close your eyes, take a couple of deep breaths and visualize yourself at the grocery store with your empty cart. Picture yourself only placing the items on your list into your cart. Picture yourself passing by any “tempting” foods that you do not want to buy, notice how it feels to pass those by… Picture yourself in the check-out line, only purchasing the items on your list, notice how that feels. Picture yourself at home putting away the groceries—only the one’s from your list, notice how that feels. Take another deep breath and go to the store. Once you arrive at the store, if possible, practice the exercise again. This is a super effective tool to as it engages mindset and your emotional world. By practicing mentally first, you get to feel the positive feelings of sticking to your list and how empowering it is to feel in control of your choices.

4.    Shop the perimeter of the store.

The interior of the store is often where all of the packaged, processed, devoid of nutrients foods live. When you shop the perimeter, you are shopping for perishable foods which are fresh and therefore offer more nutrients. If you don’t come into contact with certain foods you are less likely to circumvent your plans and your grocery list. If you do have to go into the interior for some particular product, practice your visualization exercise first!

5.    Use technology to your advantage!

Nowadays there are so many helpful advances to grocery shopping, from Instacart to free delivery to curbside pickup, these options are super helpful and convenient! If you avoid having to even step foot into the store you avoid the possibility of being tempted by any triggering foods. I personally have enjoyed having groceries delivered. I have found that this not only forces me to have a plan, it also helps me save money on temptations at the store in the form of “sales” or other foods that look tasty but really I just don’t need.

I hope these strategies make your grocery-shopping and decision-making process related to food a little more simple. What strategy on the list will you try? Let me know! I’d love to hear if these are helpful for you!