The Snack Solution

 
snacks.jpg
 

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

 
powerballs.jpg
 

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

 
Kalechips.jpg
 

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!

Breaking Free From the ALL or NOTHING Trap

 
allornothing.jpg
 

Often when we set out on a journey towards change, we want to jump ALL the way in and create a complete overhaul. When we decide we want change, we want that change NOW! However, this complete overhaul approach is not the most effective method of change—especially for the long-term.

When you attempt to jump ALL in, it can lead to feelings of frustration and failure if you are not able to maintain the momentum that is initially available. Trying to be perfect and creating lifestyle extremes in order to generate the change you’d like will only set you up for the other end of ALL in—nothing…

For many of us, especially when related to health and wellness, when we make a decision to change, we often want everything to be perfect. This desire has been created by the dieting industry lies and social media influencers who seem to do it ALL, have it ALL and manage it ALL so well that makes us feel that we need to exert extreme external control over our choices. The dieting, food and fitness industry wants us to believe that we have to be ALL IN with their particular theory in order to receive the desired outcome, be it weight loss, lower blood pressure, or anything else.

This simply is not true and is most definitely not sustainable. While yes, absolutely, being committed to your ultimate desired outcome is super important, however, being committed to your health does not mean you have to be rigid or take the ALL route to extreme measures. In fact, the rigidity and need to perfect only feeds into stress and fear and can cause an opposite response than desired when it comes to being/feeling/living more healthfully. Another problem with the all or nothing stance is that life will inevitably throw us challenges, there will inevitably be setbacks along the way towards change. When you can view a setback as simply that—a temporary setback—rather than as a failure, you will be FAR more likely to stick with it. This surely is better than falling into the nothing extreme.

One of the most effective ways to shift from an all or nothing mentality is to look at your ultimate goal and then break-it-down. Begin by identifying your specific goal. Then assess the specific steps you will need to take to meet your goal. Identify one of the steps you can take and then cut it in half—and maybe even in half again. You want your action steps to be doable within your current life.

With this process your progress may not be immediate but it will definitely be doable and manageable within your life. If your action step is doable it will be sustainable and will not feel overwhelming. If your action step keeps you stuck in an expectation of being ALL in ALL the time (perfectionism-yikes) and when you no longer can sustain it (and therefore don’t achieve it perfectly) you will fall back into the camp of nothing.

The trick is making consistent progress and not stressing about the final desired outcome. The trick is to break it down and make it SO doable that you do not feel at all overwhelmed or like a failure if it is not perfect. When you set yourself up with too much too quickly it is not likely that you will continue once you have a curve ball thrown into your life or that your motivation will keep up with level of intensity needed to so quickly attain your desired outcome.

The middle road is always the most sustainable. The middle road is always the most realistic and manageable—and this goes for all change. Evaluate your current goals and recognize where you may be able to make some adjustments in order to fine tune your focus, your action steps and create a rhythm of change that fits seamlessly into your life. When you do this and then take action consistently, change WILL occur, progress WILL be made, and you will find that you will meet your goals over and over again.

#MondayMotivation

 
Monday Motivation
 

So here we are, another new Monday, another new week. Are you ready? Monday’s are such a great day to reflect and reevaluate where you are along your personal path to living the life you desire. When you think about: what are you giving your energy to today, what comes up for you? Monday’s are the perfect day to take a moment and reflect on your vision, your goals for your life and your plan to make it happen.

When you have a clear vision of what you want and goals to support your vision, you have a roadmap to create a life that you love. When you create a daily/weekly/monthly PLAN OF ACTION you create consistent opportunities to MAKE IT HAPPEN! This is where it can get a little tricky… putting the goals into a plan of action and then following that plan consistently. We all struggle with follow through at times because, well, life is busy—and sometimes….we just don’t feel like it.

This is where getting a little extra motivation on a Monday can come in handy! No matter what your personal vision and goals are, taking action is what allows them to come into fruition. When you evaluate where you are giving away your energy, using your energy and draining your energy, you can evaluate where you can create alignment with your goals. Having a solid plan-of-action creates a better scenario to get-it-done.

Mindset is the bridge between having a plan and then making your plan a reality within your life. Having a mindset of action, a mindset of believing that what you want is not only possible but completely attainable, makes all the difference. Creating a mindset that you deserve to reach your goals and elevate your life to the level you desire to live it is essential. If your goals are health and wellness related, having a mindset that you choose to follow through because you choose your long-term health goals and wellbeing over a momentary setback or desire will keep you in an empowered space rather than in a deprivation space.

To get motivated for Monday—and for the rest of the week—contemplate the following self-reflection questions and then either create (or recreate!) your plan of action for this week starting with TODAY!

Reflect on:

-How motivating is your vision? Do you need to reconnect with your personal WHY?

-What do you need to do to get back into action mode?

-What is ONE thing you can do today to reenergize your vision and your goals so you can begin to consistently take action in order to live your vision?

Now spend some time writing out your plan of action. Be as specific as possible. Share your plan with someone who will support your progress. Review your plan daily and know that this is NOT about perfection, this is about making steady progress over time. Use your mindset of determination to create focus. Visualize yourself taking action AND reaching your goals every single day. Now repeat. When you follow this consistently you will find that you are living your vision and elevating yourself to life YOU want to live!