The Snack Solution

 
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Do you spend time wondering or worrying about snacking? Snacking is something that is necessary if you are indeed hungry and can be tricky if you struggle with emotional eating, stress eating or strong food cravings. Your body wants to be in balance. When you have a craving, it is a message from your body. (I have written about food cravings a good bit so I won’t go into the specifics here, but you can check out one on identifying food cravings here, emotional food cravings here and creating a three-step protocol to manage them effectively here.) The information here today is all about honoring your body, your cravings and allowing your relationship with food to find a healthy balance. 

Snacking can get a bad rep and can feel confusing as to what to snack on when you are truly hungry. Snacks are a great place to identify what your body is craving and why it is craving it. If you are able to identify that it is not an emotionally driven craving, then you will want to indeed have a snack. Once you have identified that you are hungry and in need of something to satiate and satisfy you, you can think about what you really want. What would be enjoyable and create health and wellbeing in both your mind and your body?

One important nutritional point—when it comes to snacking—is that in order to feel satiated for a longer period of time your snack needs to contain protein and fiber. The second important point is that your snack actually tastes good to you so feel truly satisfied. How often have you forced yourself to eat something dry, boring or unsatisfying in the name of dieting? Food is supposed to provide pleasure. You just don’t want it to be your only form of pleasure in your life! Try not to overthink snacking, just ensure that you are practicing mindful eating and remain aware of the impact of your food choices on your mind and body. 

As you find what foods allow your body to feel nourished, satisfied and healthy and at the same time allow your mind to feel at ease, you will embrace snacking in a way that feels good to you.

If you’re still not sure about what to eat, let’s break it down a little by taste and texture. You may prefer or crave something sweet, salty, creamy or crunchy. You might be craving something cold or warm or spicy.

Sweet and Nourishing Snacks

-fruit with granola and/or yogurt
-yogurt (just be sure to read the labels—sometimes yogurts contain a ton of excess added sugar) topped with diced fruit, granola, chia seeds, nuts…-granola (read the labels!)
-homemade power balls (delicious recipe below!)
-dates and nuts (stuff a date with a walnut or pecan and yum!)
-nut butters with fruit (apple or pear slices with almond, peanut or cashew butter…)
-chia pudding with nuts, seeds and/or topped with fruit

Salty, Crunchy and Nourishing

-veggies (cucumber, peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, squash, zucchini…) and hummus or a salad dressing you enjoy
-nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds…)
-rice crackers and cheese
-kale chips (recipe below!)
-olives
-hard-boiled egg with diced red peppers, tomatoes and avocado with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt

No matter what you choose, allow yourself to eat it mindfully, enjoying the flavors, textures, aromas and derive the pleasure from eating that you deserve. When you are eating, allow yourself to remain in a nonjudgmental state. Do not label your food as good or bad based on calories, perception or otherwise, it is just food. You can always ask your food what is has to offer you, and so long as the decision is not emotionally based, eat and enjoy it!

Here are a couple of super healthy and delicious snack recipes to try, enjoy and make your own.

Happy snacking!

Recipes: 

Homemade Power Balls

 
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These power balls are super tasty, filling and contain both protein and fiber as well as many other energy providing nutrients. They appeal to a craving for something sweet and chocolatey with the tasty dates and cacao powder. You can also roll them in chia seeds, dried coconut or crushed nuts for a little crunch too! Try them and see what you think. I have been experimenting with a few combinations and this one is a delicious, nutritious and satisfying one for sure!

Ingredients: 

2 cups walnuts
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
¼ cup cashews
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 ½ cups medjool dates, pitted
¼ cup or so raw cacao powder

Optional: crushed nuts, chia seeds and shredded coconut to roll exterior for garnish and crunch

Directions:

1.    Using a high-powered blender or food processor, place walnuts, cashews and coconut together and blend for about 30 seconds or until well combined.
2.    Add in remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cacao and optional ingredients and blend until smooth, about 45 seconds.
3.    Be sure not to let the mixture get too warm--it can get a little drippy, if it does just let it cool for a bit before preparing.
4.    Scoop out a heaping teaspoon of the mixture and roll into balls.
5.    Once formed, roll into the cacao until covered. Roll into optional ingredients at this time as well.
6.    Line a container with parchment paper, adding rows on top with parchment paper between as needed.
7.    Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before eating. Can be stored in the freezer as well! Usually they last for up to 5 days in a sealed container in the fridge or longer if in the freezer.

Makes about 20-24 power balls. Enjoy 2-3 balls as a healthy, satisfying snack.

Lime and Sea Salt Kale Chips

 
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Kale chips are a great, healthy option when you are wanting something crunchy and salty. This recipe has a hint of lime, making them extra delicious!

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
Drizzle of olive oil
Juice of ½ lime
Coarse sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 275F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Toss kale in just enough olive oil for a light coating.
3. Sprinkle lime, sea salt and sesame seeds onto the Kale, lightly massaging them into kale.
4. Lay kale in a single layer on the lined cookie sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes or unit crisp. (Check regularly in the last ten minutes, as kale chips can go from not-quite-done to overdone super quickly).
5. Eat immediately once cooled. Store any leftovers in an airtight container to keep them crisp for about 1-3 days.

If you give these recipes a try I’d love to hear what you think!

If I Heal My Emotional Eating Will I Lose Weight?

 
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One of the first questions that people ask me as we begin working together is: “will this process of making peace with food help me lose weight?” This is such a tough and loaded question! This question always makes me feel the frustration, disappointment and pain so many of us experience with our bodies.

The desire to lose weight has often plagued so many for so long and after trying countless diets, supplements, workouts, and other extreme measures, the weight never seems to stay off. When it begins to creep back on, most are met with many overwhelming and uncomfortable emotions such as fear, frustration, denial and even hopelessness. So, when I hear this question about weight loss, I know it comes from a place where you may not quite trust this process.

When you heal emotional eating, you are metaphorically healing yourself. The struggles with food really are not about the food. The struggles, control and fear related to food point to the challenge of managing your internal emotional world, not having your needs met, and feeling in some way inadequate or not good enough. When you address these underlying emotions that trigger cravings, overeating and even binge eating, it can be overwhelming, tiring and it’s just plain old draining. Many of us don’t even recognize how deep the roots run because it has been happening for soooo long.

The thing is, healing from those deepest roots takes dedicated time. This means that the weight loss that results with this type of work (a non-diet approach) well—it takes time. A mindful approach to making peace with food is not an overnight fix. This process is not a crash diet. This is not a one-size-fits-all plan. That is why the way I work always begins with visioning, goal setting and, at the core of the process and consistently throughout the process, mindfulness. And I know, I talk about vision and mindfulness A LOT. However these tools offer such a powerful difference in the ability to feel, understand and accept emotions. They offer a mind shift towards progress, not perfection. They offer guidance and direction from within rather than grasping from random external fleeting diets. With your vision and mindfulness as the driving force towards healing and change, we can then work with evidenced based practices to continue the growth and change. These practices include nutrition, movement, self-awareness, self-reflection, self-compassion and accountability that create real, lasting, sustainable change in mind and body.

Basically, working in a mindfulness and intuitive eating approach is flipping everything you ever thought, did or tried over and shaking it out—with intention. The work ends up creating space to feel like yourself, to become who you truly are meant to be. The hard work, focus and determination creates progress and an opening to accept all parts of yourself, all of your emotions and the whole of who you are and your life as it is unfolding.

The work with mindfulness to heal emotional eating moves you through any stuck and stagnant places and even will lift you out of back slide. The work is about addressing resistance, head on, and building resilience. Do you know how resilience builds? With hard-hard work. Resilience builds and generates itself with failure and mistakes and from shifting your perspective from “why bother?” to “I am worth this bother,” or “today I choose to bother.”

If you are ready to immerse yourself in this alternative approach, keep on reading! Freedom From Emotional Eating is an online group coaching experience that meets live weekly for twelve weeks. This course sets up the specific and valuable circumstances to create real, intentional, actual change. The processes you experience with this course are transformative and healing. Many of the modules are not easy, however they are SO worth the hard work. There are smooth transitions between the modules to keep your progress as linear as possible. Throughout the course, you have the constant support needed to create the change you desire, slowly and over time so that they are sustainable.

As you begin to integrate the changes, you have consistent support and coaching which frees your ability to transform your mindset so you can remain in action mode. Another big difference between healing emotional eating versus putting a band-aid on the symptoms is that it is a life-long journey. This process is a commitment to yourself. This process requires a sound commitment to change, and then to create the circumstances necessary for the changes to continue to evolve. Throughout the course you will add new layers of change upon change until you find you are truly living your vision for your life. You find yourself truly making peace with food. While you are creating the circumstances within your life to no longer eat when bored, sad, angry, anxious, happy, fearful, lonely or otherwise, the weight naturally comes off. However, once this course, it is no longer about the weight and more about freeing yourself of old wounds, old patterns and creating a new way of existing within your own life.

If you are ready for a different approach to heal your relationship with food, with your body and with yourself, join me and a supportive group of like-minded others going through the exact same process. Healing your relationship with food could occur one day, or this could be day one. Your choice. Your life. You get to decide when the time is right, right now. I hope you will consider joining me on this journey to healing and wholeness this spring. I look forward to walking with you along your personal path to making peace with food. If you are ready to take the start the journey, you can click here to learn more. If you’d like to be on the wait list for the next offering, reach out, I’d love to hear from you!

5 Ways A Mindful Approach Helps You Heal Emotional Eating

 
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When you integrate mindfulness into your process of making peace with food, you approach healing your relationship with food in a whole different way. If you have been struggling with emotional eating, stress eating or are frustrated by the weight loss and regain that happens with the dieting roller coaster, this approach may be just what you are needing.

What would making peace with food look like within your life? For many of us, a peaceful relationship with food would offer the experience of releasing all the mental and emotional anguish surrounding food. If your relationship with food is anything but peaceful, it may feel as though your mind is constantly pulled towards distress, fear and frustration surrounding what to eat, what not to eat, calories, guilt and on and on…

Mindfulness offers a different way to approach shifting your relationship with food so that, well—food can be just food. How much mental and emotional space would open up for you if you no longer had food on the brain what feels like 24/7? Most likely A LOT! Mindfulness offers five super useful ways to begin to integrate as you approach making peace with food.

1.    Mindfulness Allows You to Live in the Present Moment—The Only Moment

Mindfulness is paying attention from moment to moment with a non-judgmental awareness. When you are fully engaged with the present moment, the worries about future stress related to food, such as what to eat, how many calories are in this or that food, fantasies about restricted foods all but slip away.

When you are fully engaged in the present moment, the worries about past stress related to food, such as, “I shouldn’t have eaten that, I overate on that, I already messed up my day” and so on, slip away. When you are truly engaged in the present moment, that is ALL that can exist, the here and the NOW. What are you doing right now? Can you focus on and just do that? Try allowing your thoughts/fears/reactive responses related to food no longer control your mind, your emotions and your inner world. Engaging fully and completely with the present moment may seem simple, but it is definitely not easy. This is a practice and requires time, effort and dedication to build as a practice. When you do, you will find your ability to create a sense of inner peace grow, which will transform your life for the positive in so many ways.

2.    Mindfulness Creates Emotional Awareness

When you are emotionally eating you are eating out of an unconscious—or maybe conscious—desire to escape emotions. While most often this escape happens subconsciously, before your conscious mind is even aware of it, mindfulness helps you become more consciously aware of your emotions, thoughts, feelings and actions. When you are being mindful, you are able to witness, explore and understand your emotions in a whole new way on a whole new level.

When you give yourself space to witness your emotions, you reduce your fears surrounding feeling uncomfortable. Giving yourself an opportunity to explore and understand your emotions allows you to know why your emotion has shown up in the first place—whether it is a comfortable or uncomfortable emotion. Emotions are valuable information about your experience of the present moment and are necessary to assess how to respond to the variety of circumstances you experience on a daily basis. When you are mindfully present with your emotions you are more likely to become aware of the why behind your emotions and no longer feel the unconscious pull towards food on such a deep level.

3.    Mindfulness Offers Less Emotional Over-Reaction

When you are experiencing an emotion over and over and it builds and builds and you do not directly attend to the needs of the emotion, at some point it will blow. You may find yourself unnecessarily irritable with loved ones or unnecessarily hard on yourself. When you eat your feelings without acknowledging and understanding them, they don’t just go away! When you eat to numb your emotions, you create a domino effect of uncomfortable emotions. Eating emotions is stuffing them. They will come up and come out at some point, no matter what. However, the more mindfully aware you become of your emotions, the more able you are to respond to them in a healthy and effective manner. When you are less reactive out of your emotions, you have a choice on how to respond to your emotions. This creates empowerment and reduces the need to soothe with food.

4.    Mindfulness Removes Judgement

When you are non-judgmental, you are not assigning any emotional response to your emotion, your food choices or yourself. When you create an experience of non-judgment you create true freedom. Think about being able to look at food and not assigning it as good or bad based on whether or not it is a “health” food. Think about food just being food.

What would it be like for you to no longer internalize the feelings of eating something you label as “bad” and that causing an uncomfortable feeling of guilt, of feeling as though you are a bad person? This is a powerful shift in perspective and in your ability to experience food, eating and yourself without added tension resulting from judgmental thoughts. Non-judgment opens you to being able to reduce stress surrounding your food choices, which ironically leads to less overeating and often more preference for nutrient dense foods.

When you no longer assign food labels such as “good” or “bad” you can concentrate on just how the food makes you feel. You can focus on what this food has to offer you and whether or not that is in alignment with your own personal wellness goals. You can make a choice surrounding food without judging yourself or feeling as though there is something you have to do to make up for or justify your decision. You don’t have to feel morally superior or deprived if you choose a salad over pizza. Try viewing your food as simply food. Ask your food what it has to offer you. Try not to assign emotions to your choices and notice the powerful impact.

5.    Mindfulness Deepens the Mind-Body Connection

Lastly, the fifth way that mindfulness helps you to make peace with food, as well as with yourself, is that you create a deeper mind-body connection and awareness. When you are frustrated with your body, your weight, and your choices this can create an internal experience of disconnecting with your body. When you are not aware of your body you lose touch with your intuition.

When you have been stuffing emotions for along time, they can become unbearable to experience internally. This causes the disconnection between mind and body to grow and grow and you then struggle to assess your food-mood connection. You may no longer be able to accurately notice how different foods make you feel. Most importantly, when you disconnect from your body you disconnect from your hunger and full cues, you disconnect from the pleasure of eating as well and never feel truly satisfied.

When you are being mindful with the process of eating and when you are mindfully aware of your body, you can assess your feelings accurately on all levels. Ideally, we want to be hungry when we eat, we want to stop eating when we are full. We want to eat for nourishment and pleasure, not for self-soothing and avoidance or simply to become full. The mind-body connection is quite powerful and the more you practice mindfulness the more you will strengthen this powerful connection.

Has mindfulness made a big impact on your life for the better? I’d love to hear your story!