Enjoying Food Lets You Avoid the Consequences?

Have you heard people say this about “off-limit” foods? It’s usually said with a proud, almost defiant, air and possibly a smirk. Have you embraced the thinking behind it? It’s a common School of Thought.

Here’s a bit of information that some people won’t want, but I invite you to stay with me.

I’m not one of the folks who believe that enjoying a food – one that, ideally, we’d avoid – will prevent the negative consequences of that food. Yet I’ve heard this so-called school of ‘thought’ too often. I feel compelled to address it, particularly at this time of year.

Naturally, it’s counterproductive to eat an off-limit food and feel guilty about it – either while eating it or afterward. What I question is the wisdom of having the food.

Everyone gets to decide what she or he will do when it comes to nutrition. Of course, not everyone makes the wisest decision. Some people are unaware of what junk foods do to them. And some people eat junky foods knowing what they do, but not wanting to give up the foods.

What About Eating Everything in Moderation?

Another school of thought is “everything in moderation.” As I’ve maintained for years, not everyone can achieve moderation around all foods – and certain foods can cause big trouble. Those who don’t understand food addictions (or who may not be ready to face their own) tend to talk about moderation.

But when it comes to addictive substances like alcohol and sugar, there’s no such thing as One-And-Done.

The consequences will happen. Those might include:

  • cravings later on or for several days
  • increased appetite for several days
  • changes in food preferences that lead to continued junk-outs
  • negative effects on mood
  • inability to focus
  • fog-brain, and more.

Someone who has been trying to quit sugar but is still early in the process is typically in a fragile state. The consequences are more likely – and likely to be more severe.

It’s not helpful to be surrounded by people who encourage trying everything in moderation or just enjoying a food to make it all okay.

Is There a Plan That Will Work?

So many delicious foods are around at holiday time, I’m not telling you not to enjoy the season!

But setting boundaries is a more helpful – and absolutely acceptable – strategy, no matter what you’ve heard about enjoyment. Know in advance what you won’t eat, shouldn’t eat, can’t eat, refuse to eat. Then stick with that plan, no matter what. Savor the many, many other foods.

Believe me, if simply enjoying a food did the trick, I’d be ‘enjoying’ all kinds of sugar right now and getting into all kinds of trouble.

Maybe this enjoyment thing is another loophole that people look for in the sugar journey, but I’ll continue to maintain that, truly, there’s no loophole.

How to Live a Healthy Lifestyle While Having Fun

Eat Vegetables

There are so many great vegetables out there that I love! If you are someone who doesn’t like veggies get creative and make the veggies fun that you eat. Some of my very favorite veggies are banana squash, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, broccoli & asparagus. All these vegetables are so yummy and can be used in cooking in many different ways. The key is to find some vegetables that you enjoy and use them in fun ways that your family will enjoy.

Find Physical Activities You Enjoy

Finding physical activities that you enjoy is key to living a healthy lifestyle while enjoying it. When it comes to physical activities I love to try new things. It’s so exciting when you find an activity that you enjoy that you have never tried before.

A couple years ago my husband wanted me to try mountain biking up a canyon that is close by our house. I was a little nervous as I had never done anything like that before. However, after trying it I realized how much I loved it. There is something about being up in the mountains & going for a ride.

Another thing that I really enjoy is hiking up in the mountains with my husband. This past summer we made it a goal to try a new hike every week. It was so fun to discover new places we had never seen before while exercising.

If you aren’t one for nature or don’t live near mountains, another thing I have grown to love is running. There is nothing I love or cherish more than the night runs I have with my husband where we have some one on one time to talk about life while enjoying some exercise.

When it comes to physical exercise you just need to find what makes you happy and do it. If you are enjoying what you do you will be more likely to get out and exercise than if you don’t.

Have an Idea of How Many Calories You Are Taking In

Another way to live a healthy lifestyle is to count calories. Now I’m not saying go to extremes counting calories everyday. But you need to have a good idea how many calories you are taking in each day so you don’t over eat. There are many ways to make counting macros easy and many helpful sites on the web that can teach you how to do so.

Child Development Stages – Definition and Importance

Child development stages are the theoretical milestones of child development. Early childhood is a time of tremendous growth across all areas of development. Physical changes in early childhood are accompanied by rapid changes in the child’s cognitive and language development. Children learn in many different ways and each child has his own pace of learning.

Developmental milestones are divided into four major skills:

Speech or language skill: It involves both, verbal and nonverbal communication. Language skills develop best in an environment that is rich with sounds, sights, and consistent exposure to the speech and language of others.

Cognitive skills: These are centered on child’s ability to think, learn, and solve problems. Cognitive skill development in children involves the progressive building of learning skills.

Social Skills: This involves child’s ability to gain an understanding of their emotions as well as emotions of others. These milestones also involve learning how to interact and play with others.

Gross motor skills: It involves both large-motor skills and fine-motor skills. The large-motor skills are usually the first to develop like sitting, standing up etc. wherein fine-motor skills involve precise movements such as grasping a spoon, holding a crayon etc.

Importance of child development stages:

• Monitoring development stages of your kid may help you in recognizing any development delays. However, every child grows and changes at his or her own pace and exposure to a suitable environment may help them in catching up.

• Even though babies develop at their own pace, every baby should meet the infant milestones by a certain age, or early intervention is needed. It is important to know the physical, language, cognitive, and social milestones for babies.

• Early diagnosis can be really helpful in catching up on development milestones delays. It is important to get the right diagnosis because with a diagnosis kids can get the help and therapy they need to thrive.

• A healthcare provider may be consulted in case parents notice extreme delays among children in reaching age specific milestones.

• A developmental milestone is an ability that is achieved by most children by a certain age. Kids love to learn new things by exploring and discovering. They love to solve problems during play and in daily activities. Having a safe,loving and stimulating environment at home and spending time with family members while playing, singing, reading, and talking can help children in achieving such milestones. Proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep pattern also can make a big difference in child development.

The Dangerous 10 – Top 10 Worst Food Additives

Food additives are substances added during the processing or making of a certain food in order to preserve flavors and freshness and enhance taste and appearance.

Although some of them have been used for centuries, the use of certain food additives is becoming really widespread and some of them are extremely dangerous for your health, I would say toxic even.

I’m not talking about the once-in-a-while consumption of a certain processed food containing additives, which can’t harm anyone. I am talking about daily use. Statistics show that the average American spends about 90% of his/her budget on this kind of food; which means that if you open an American fridge or look up on the shelves you’ll find tons of canned, dehydrated, artificial or processed stuff, which is extremely unhealthy, and its persistent consumption can cause health problems.

Typically these food ingredients are very difficult to identify, both for the variety of names and codes they’re labelled with and the very minuscule fonts used to lists them on the ingredient list.

Here is the list of the top 10 toxic ingredients.

Go get your detective glass and start reading labels!

1) HFCS – High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a highly-refined artificial sweetener made from corn starch and found in almost all processed food such as: bread and baked goods, salad dressing, candies, yogurt, soda etc. And according to some studies has become the number one source of calories in the US.

Indeed, its easy handling and cheap cost made it the number one granulated sugar replacement: The amount of refined sugar we consume has declined over the past 40 years, while we’re consuming almost 20 times as much HFCS.

HFCS is linked with weight gaining, it increases your LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels, and contributes to the development of diabetes and tissue damage, among other harmful effects.

Also, recent researches published by the American Association for Cancer Research found that the fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth, specifically pancreatic cancer.

2) Sodium Nitrate & Sodium Nitrite (NaNO3- NaNO2)

Both of them are chemical compound used as a food additive to preserve and give to cured meats, smoked fish and poultry a nice red pinkish color. Although their purpose seems harmless, these ingredients are highly carcinogen and their consume is linked with gastrointestinal cancer and heart diseases.

In fact, under certain conditions, they can form nitrosamines compounds, molecules that cause cancer in animals and humans.

Also, in massive doses, nitrite – and nitrate, which under some conditions changes to nitrite – can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia. In our body, nitrites, indeed, have the ability to change the structure of the hemoglobin into methemoglobin: the binding of oxygen to whom results in an increased affinity for oxygen in the remaining heme sites. This leads to an overall reduced ability of the red blood cell to release oxygen to tissue and it may occur in tissue hypoxia.

Can’t give up on eating salami, bacon or ham? Choose the uncured ones.

Sodium Nitrate is listed under its INS number 251 or E number E251, Sodium Nitrite has the E number E250.

3) MSG – Monosodium Glutammate

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer commonly added to Chinese food, canned vegetables, soups and processed meats. While the Glutamic acid is naturally present in our bodies, and in many foods, such as tomatoes and cheese, the ones exploited by the processed-foods industry is chemically produced through hydrolysis of vegetable proteins with hydrochloric acid to disrupt peptide bonds or by the fermentation of starch, sugar beets, sugar cane or molasses.

The substance produced has the ability to excite our taste buds and make everything taste delicious, which wouldn’t be a big deal if it hasn’t been shown that high levels of MSG can seriously screw with brain chemistry causing damage to areas of the brain unprotected by the blood-brain barrier.

4) Artificial Colors

Food dyes are one of the most common ingredients in processed food used with the purpose to make your meals or drinks more desirable and appealing.

Nothing against that if they wouldn’t have been linked to some serious health problems.

Blue #1 and Blue #2 (E133)

Banned in Norway, Finland, and France. May cause chromosomal damage.

Found in candy, cereal, soft drinks, sports drinks and pet foods.

Red dye #3 (also Red #40 – a more current dye) (E124)

Banned in 1990 after 8 years of debate from use in many foods and cosmetics. This dye continues to be on the market until supplies run out! Has been proven to cause thyroid cancer and chromosomal damage in laboratory animals, may also interfere with brain-nerve transmission.

Found in fruit cocktail, maraschino cherries, cherry pie mix, ice cream, candy, bakery products and more!

Yellow #6 (E110) and Yellow Tartrazine (E102)

Banned in Norway and Sweden. Increases the number of kidney and adrenal gland tumors in laboratory animals, may cause chromosomal damage.

Found in American cheese, macaroni and cheese, candy and carbonated beverages, lemonade and more! (source Food Matters website)

The slogan “Eat the Rainbow” is still cool but go natural, please!

5) BHA & BHT

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), also listed with the label of E320, and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are two organic compound widely used by the food industry as preservatives due to their antioxidants proprieties as they can prevent rancidification of food containing fats.

Although declared safe from FDA, The U.S. National Institutes of Health reported that they may form cancer – cause reactive compounds in our body potentially leading to cancer.

Also, they can disturb your hormone and neurological system.

BHA is in tons of food: pick up a bag of chips, a box of cereal, a package of frozen sausages or simply eat a gum, and you have a high probability to find BHA and or BHT (or even worse, both of them) in the ingredients list.

6) Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners are sugar substitute used to give some sweet taste to drinks of food without all the calories of sucrose.

Aspartame, known also as NutraSweet, Equal and codified ad E951, is the most famous one. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar, but its effect on the human body is not as sweet as it tastes: is a neurotoxin and carcinogen.

Some studies claim that is the most dangerous substance on the market, with a wide range of health effects ranging from mild problem such as memory issues, headache and dizziness, to more serious ones, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and emotional disorders.

Avoid Acetisulfame K, Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, SugarTwin), and Sucralose (Splenda) too.

7) Sulfur Dioxide

Sulfur Dioxide is a chemical compound with antimicrobial and antioxidants proprieties, used as a preservative for dried fruits such as dried apricot, raisins and prunes and added to fruit juices, cereal bars, breakfast cereal to prevent discoloration, ripening, and rotting.

Checking food labels for it, and for sulfites in general, with numbers in the range E220-228, is helpful; however, companies are required to list it only if there are more than 10 parts per million (ppm) in the finished product.

Whilst harmless to healthy persons when used in recommended concentrations, it can induce asthma and respiratory problem when ingested by sensitive subjects, even in high dilution.

It also destroys vitamins B1 and E.

8) Trans Fats

“Trans fats, or trans-unsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, are a type of unsaturated fat that occur in small amounts in nature, but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats for use in margarine, snack food, packaged baked goods and frying fast food starting in the 1950s. Trans fat has been shown to consistently be associated, in an intake-dependent way, with increased risk of coronary artery disease, a leading cause of death in Western nations.”

As matter of facts, Trans fats have the power to increase LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, while decreasing the amount of HDL (the good one) in our bodies. Trans fat is abundant in fast food restaurants. Here is a list of health issues linked to a high consume of trans fats: Alzheimer’s disease, coronary artery disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunctions, infertility, depression, deficit in memory.

Keep them in mind while you’re enjoying your fries!

9) Sodium Benzoate

Sodium Benzoate is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and it’s famous for the anti-fungal proprieties.

Pick up a soda can and you’ll surely find it as an ingredient (E211). Indeed, it is heavily used by the soft drink industry, and not only in that. This chemical compound it is primarily added to acidic foods such as prickles, sauces, vinegars in order to enhance their flavor.

When mixed with ascorbic acid (well known as Vitamin C), Sodium Benzoate create an unfortunate side effect: it forms benzene known as a potent carcinogen, which contribute to the formation of many different types of cancer.

10) Potassium Bromate

Last but not least, Potassium Bromate, used in the Unites States, as a flours additive to improve elasticity and strength of the dough and allow it to rise higher.

In 1999, the International Agency on Research for Cancer declared that potassium bromate was a possible human carcinogen. Since that, it has been banned in a number of country including Europe and Canada, but not in the United Stated, where studies have found it in more that 86 baked goods found on supermarket shells.

What Indoor Rowing Taught Me About Food

When recently asked to discuss nutrition “worsts” for athletes, I zeroed in on one. But I think it applies to the holidays, too. Let’s take a look.

Taking an off-season with food is as energy-damaging as it gets.

My endurance coach, Jim Karanas, used to say, “Endurance athletes don’t mind expending energy, but they don’t want to waste it.”

Wasted energy is energy spent with no performance payoff. And the wasted energy of a food off-season is considerable:

  • It wastes physical energy for your body to deal with junky food.
  • It wastes time and energy to get things back on track for the next athletic season.
  • It wastes effort to correct bad habits, weight gain, mood swings, loss of motivation – and to re-create the right training state.

What stress on body and mind?

It reminds me of the terrible habits professional sports teams used to have when I was a kid. They’d actually stop all training during their off-season and then have to use the pre-season training period to get back in shape. Really. Think of the time, effort and money that took. Fortunately, pro athletes no longer do that.

But some non-pros may still do it with food.;

How Can Indoor Rowing Help with Food?

In the book The Stress of Life, Hans Selye defines stress as anything that takes the body out of homeostasis. If clean eating is your habit during your sport season – whatever that may be – then letting your nutrition slide is stress on your body.

And once you’ve established the new, junky pattern, shifting gears to get back to healthful habits again is additional stress on your body.

A few years ago, I learned a concept from the best rowing coach I know (and I’ve had several). Because he’s such a talented instructor and coach, he deserves a shout-out: Duncan Kennedy, who rowed with the U.S. national team from 1993 to 1994. He knows his stuff and loves to teach.

Duncan suggested that his indoor rowers use an outdoor rowing technique called Battle Paddle. In a crew boat, even during recovery moments, the rowers need to be in sync to prevent an 8-oar free-for-all.

So the strokes are just relaxed paddling, but the team stays in formation. Most importantly, the rowers are ready to drive into action as soon as they receive the signal. That vigilance underlies the relaxation at all times.

How about an athletic off-season that mirrors this concept with food – and becomes the nutrition equivalent of Battle Paddle?

Keep food intake – quantity and quality – under control, perhaps allowing an occasional dessert, say, once a week. From that point, driving into action for the next season will be a simple and disciplined matter.

How Can Battle Paddle Work for You?

Why can’t non-athletes use this concept during the holidays? Too often, my clients let food pandemonium take over – with all the stress that puts on the body, and all the effort they have to go through to undo the damage when January gets here.

Ideally, we’d all avoid troublesome foods all year. But choose your Battles, right?

If you can’t bring yourself to avoid holiday goodies this season – and if you really believe you can handle it (although that may not be true!) – stick to your healthful guidelines just 99% of the time.

Like rowers on the water, maintain the discipline of good form. Relax only enough to have the occasional – and that’s the operative word – treat.

Please keep in mind that this plan may backfire for anyone with an addictive reaction to specific foods, especially foods with sugar. I’m in that category, so my holidays will NOT be done in Battle Paddle mode. It’s better for me to stay away from trouble altogether. I encourage my clients to do the same, but the decision is theirs.

Food Acids We Consume Regularly

Food acids are the vital acids found in natural and synthetic food products that give them a distinct flavor or a tinge. Many fruits, vegetables and dairy products contain some type of acid. Human body tends to react differently to different types of food acids. Some of these acids provide nutrients or help alleviate some maladies whilst some have adverse effects on health when they are not consumed in appropriate amounts.

Citric Acid: This is a natural preservative found primarily in citrus fruits. Limes and Lemons are the best sources of citric acid, followed by other citrus fruits and strawberries, tomatoes and pineapples. A great quantity of all the citric acid produced is contained in soft drinks and other beverages, where it boosts flavors and adds a slightly sour taste. Citric acid also acts as a preservative and flavor enhancer in foods, including frozen foods, meat products, canned vegetables, jams, gelatins, candies.

Malic Acid: This is a component of many of the foods that we eat daily; mainly contained in candies, diet sodas and other artificially sweetened drinks due to its ability in masking artificial flavors and alternative sweeteners. The food that is most famous for its high malic acid content is the apple. Other fruits with a very high concentration of the acid are lychees, peaches nectarines, cherries, tomatoes, bananas, mangoes, and strawberries.

Tartric Acid: This compound is naturally found in many plants, particularly in grapes, tamarinds, pineapples, potatoes, carrots and bananas. It is also one of the especial acids found in wine. Tartaric acid can be added to food when a sour taste is desired. Tartaric acids have a dual role of an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory which can help boost the immune system and promote overall wellness.

Acetic Acid: Acetic acid, also known as ethanoic acid, is a sour-tasting compound best known for the sour taste and pungent smell in vinegar, pickles, and sourdough bread. Its produced by fermenting and oxidizing ethanol and the distillation of wood. Acetic acid has many functions, but it is mostly used as a chemical reagent, fungicide, herbicide, and solvent in a variety of industries such as food, agriculture, cosmetics and cleaning.

Oxalic Acid: Oxalates or Oxalic acids is a compound occurring in many plants and vegetables. It is also produced in the body by metabolism of glyoxylic acid or ascorbic acid and does not go through metabolism but excreted in the urine. The body is known to absorb oxalic acid from only a handful of foods, including peanuts, pecans, cocoa, guava, rhubarb wheat bran, spinach, beets and beet greens and chocolate.

Benzoic acid: A natural source of benzoic acid is gum benzoin, which comes from certain tree barks, but, it can also be made by synthetic means. Benzoic acid is very useful as Preservatives to make food products last longer, and also eradicate harmful yeast and bacteria. Benzoic acid is present in various products, including Cranberries, prunes and plums sauces, jams, jellies and candied fruits.

Butyric acid: Butyric acid also known as butanoic acid, is a saturated short-chain fatty acid with a 4-carbon backbone occurring in the form of esters in animal fats and plant oils. Butyrate is produced as end-product of a fermentation process such as, decomposition of butter solely performed by obligate anaerobic bacteria. It is found in milk, especially sheep and buffalo milk, goat, cheese and butter.

Lactic acid: This is an organic compound which is white and water-soluble in its solid state and colourless in its liquid state. It is produced both naturally and artificially but naturally present in many foodstuffs via natural fermentation in products such as cheese, yogurt, soy sauce, sourdough, meat products and pickled vegetables. Lactic acid in food products usually serves as either as a pH regulator or as a preservative. It is also used as a flavoring agent.

Tannic Acid: Tannic acid, or tannin, is a bitter-tasting compound that is derived from plants. It is the component of red wine or unripe fruit that makes your mouth want to ruck. Grapes contain a high concentration of tannins which is critical to the art of wine making. Other products that contain this acid are Green Tea, nettle, oakwood, berries, Chinese galls, persimmons.

Caffeo-tannic Acid: This is a Chlorogenic acid, from coffee, yielding caffeic acid by precipitation with baryta and salts of lead. It is known for relatively lower toxicity and used widely in many other fields like food, feed additives and cosmetics.

What Is Healthy Eating? Healthy Diet, Beauty and Wellbeing

Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods that give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health, feel good and have energy, these nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fat, water, vitamins, and minerals. Nutrition is important for everyone however we sometimes often slip into an unhealthy eating faze, we all do it. It can often depend on the type of work you do, family life or the lifestyle choices you are making.

Most people can improve their health by achieving long-term changes in the balance of foods that they eat.

Some individuals have additional nutritional needs, such as people with certain illnesses, on medication, in long term care such as the very elderly and children aged under 5. If there are any concerns a GP, dietitian or practice nurse should always be consulted.

Practical Tips:

  • Where possible go for wholemeal or wholegrain bread, pasta and cereals, to increase your fibre intake.
  • Choosing beans and pulses adds variety and fibre to the diet and they can be used to make more expensive ingredients such as meat and poultry go further.
  • Avoid having fried starchy foods too often such as chips and where possible go for healthy alternatives such as baked potatoes or oven chips.
  • Avoid adding too much fat to starchy foods for example, adding butter to potatoes or having thickly spread butter or margarine on bread.
  • Avoid adding rich sauces and dressings such as cream or cheese sauce on pasta go for a lower calorie version when possible.
  • When increasing fibre in the diet increase your fluid intake by drinking plenty of water to avoid getting constipation and dehydration.

How to eat healthy?

  • Eat these foods more often:
  • vegetables (especially ones that are dark green or orange)
  • fruit, whole grains (like barley, brown rice, oats, quinoa, and wild rice)
    lower-fat milk (skim, 1% or 2% milk) and milk alternatives like fortified soy beverages
    fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout for omega 3 oils
    lean meat (skin removed and fat trimmed)
    meat alternatives (like beans, lentils and tofu)

Follow these simple and easy to remember steps to help you eat healthy:

  • eat the recommended foods for your age, sex and activity levels.
  • read food labels when shopping, compare and choose healthier foods
  • limit foods and drinks that are high in calories, fat, sugar and sodium
  • use an ‘Eat Well Plate’ for guidance and to help you remember the proportion of each food group in a healthy meal

Happy Healthy Eating!

‘Tis the Time for Mindful Eating: Danielle’s 5 Key Tips to Surviving the Holiday Food Deluge

Oh yeah, here they come again, the holidays! It’s funny because it is a time we all look forward to and yet there is still this dread… the dread of weeks of overeating and the unavoidable weight gain. For many it’s quite predictable. In fact, the average American gains 7-10 pounds during the months of November and December. But really, who can resist all those delectable holiday treats?

Many, on the other hand, never gain an extra pound over the holidays. I am usually one of those. “That’s because you are a dietitian and never enjoy food anyways” you say. “No way!” is what I say. I enjoy lots of foods. Lots of foods in moderation. “Ugh, the moderation word. So overused.” Yeah, I agree. But to a large extend it’s true. You can enjoy a wide variety of foods if you keep it in moderation. Over-indulge? No. Indulge a little? Yes.

Now, you might be already thinking, well that’s no fun. What’s the holidays if you can’t eat until your stomach is about to rip in two and you need to take an extended siesta on your grandfather’s lazy boy? I hear you. We all have traditions that we come to expect and almost crave during this time of year. For so many, over eating is one of them. As mentioned, we dread this season of overeating, but we also expect it and do it anyways. It’s like an unbreakable vicious cycle. How do we get out of candy land hell!

One of the first steps is to recognize the problem! The problem is that when we overeat, we constantly over-ride our natural hunger/fullness cues which eventually leads to dysfunction, to the point we can’t even tell when we are hungry and full anymore. We start to eat for pleasure or pain instead of physical need. This causes us to eat frequently and in portions much larger than we need.

What to do? This is where some basic mindful eating tips can come in super helpful. It may not change your life immediately, but trust me, over weeks and months you will slowly be more in tune with yourself and better able to nourish your body with what it needs, not with what your cravings tell you it wants.

Danielle’s 5 tips for surviving the holiday food deluge:

1. Recognize your weakness areas and where they are encountered.

Recognition is always the first step, isn’t it? You have to assess where your problem areas lie. Is it sugar? All carbs? Salt? Large portions in general? All of the above? Does the problem occur in the workplace? At home? At family gatherings? Late at night alone? All of the above. Think through the foods you just can’t stop eating and where you find them throughout the day. Write it down.

2. Make a daily and weekly plan.

Remember, most of the gradual weight gain comes from slight but cumulative overeating all through the holidays, not just on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Make a plan for yourself so you have a rough idea of what you want to eat from day to day and stick to it. Having a plan liberates the mind to think about other more important things and even frees it from considering cravings, especially when you know, according to your “plan,” that they are not an option.

*If you need help making a plan for the holidays, come see me for ideas!

Going along with that, keep a diet journal as you go. Writing down what you eat, at least for a short period of time, increases your mindfulness around what you are eating and helps avoid random snacking. When you are forced to think more about what you eat, you tend to make better choices. So put pen to paper (or finger to phone) and keep track for a couple of weeks during the holidays.

3. DO NOT avoid all your favorite foods. That is probably the worst thing you can do, especially as you start something new. In my experience the more forbidden a food is, the more you want it. What I say is that all foods are allowed, but portions are controlled. That is the key. Make sure you enter it into the plan and stick to a defined portion. *Don’t forget, usually the first 1-3 bites of any food are the most satisfying. The word is enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Enjoy the hell out of each bite. When that uber enjoyment ends, put down the fork. Save the rest for another day. I know it’s hard, but try it!

4. Keep up your physical activity! I can’t even tell you how many people let go of their exercise routines during this time because they are “too busy.” Oh no. That is not acceptable. We all have extra things we add to our daily itineraries because of holiday stuff, but slacking off on exercise is not one we can cut. Decreasing exercise can increase your risk for depression (especially if you are prone to it), decrease your willpower around food portions, and of course only add extra calories to your day because your aren’t burning those bad boys off. In fact, my advice is to INCREASE your exercise during the holidays! Make November and December your fittest months. You will not be regretting that come January when everyone else is hauling their sorry arse back to the gym!

5. Always load up on fruits and veggies.

Basically when in doubt, choose fruit and veg. These beauties are chocked full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants… all the things you need to counter act any unhealthy choices encountered over the holiday months. You are going to feel a lot better, and gain less weight, if you fill your plate with produce at each and every meal.

Bonus tip: Relieve stress however you can! Stress always makes eating worse (not to mention ruins our holiday spirit). Before the holidays hit, think through right now what helps you melt away stress and make a plan to DO those things regularly. Read a book? Get together with a friend? Meditate or deep breathing? Yoga? A quick getaway? If the holidays stress you out, counteract it this year and get stress-relieving activities on the schedule!

Remember these tips as you move through these next weeks and months, and best of luck as you navigate another wonderful holiday season.

14 Ways to Relax Without Alcohol or Food

Happy hours can be a great way to unwind after a stressful day at work. You bond with your coworkers, talk about your day and listen to some upbeat music. Think it differently, if you make such activities a routine, you could be taking in more alcohol and empty calories than you want.

Plus, you may be training yourself to think that consumption is the only way to relax.

You can’t remove stress from daily life, but you can learn to deal with it without creating more troubles. Start with these ideas for relaxing without alcohol or food.

Calorie-Free Ways to Relax on Your Own:

1. Breathe deeply. Pause and take a few calming breaths. Inhale from down in your diaphragm instead of up in your chest. Lengthen your exhalations to match your inhalations. Focus on the air as it moves in and out of your nostrils.

2. Meditate and pray. Sit down for a few moments and connect with yourself and the divine. Observe your thoughts without judging them. Give thanks for your blessings.

3. Engage in visualization. Close your eyes imagine something that makes you feel happy and inspired. Picture yourself surrounded by family and friends or excelling at a task that you find fulfilling.

4. Draw a bath. Fill your tub with warm water and enjoy a luxurious soak. Buy fragrant bath salts or make your own. Set out fluffy towels, candles, and other accessories of your choice.

5. Stretch your body. Make it a habit of standing up about every half hour when you’re working at your desk. Place your hands on your lower spine for support, and do a slight backbend. Rise tall, and reach your hands down to the floor, bending your knees if necessary.

6. Take a walk. Stroll around the block or hike the trails at your local park. Pick a quiet time of day and explore new routes.

7. Appreciate nature. Scientific studies prove that life has the power to soothe us. Head outdoors or watch videos of sandy beaches and ancient forests.

8. Learn progressive relaxation. Experiment with progressive muscle relaxation. Start with your hands, squeezing each muscle group as you breathe in, and releasing as you breathe out. Continue across the rest of your body.

Calorie-Free Ways to Relax with Others:

1. Practice yoga. Yoga cultivates community as well as stress relief and physical fitness. Bring a friend with you to your next class. Invite others to join you for breakfast afterward.

2. Play sports. As long as you avoid extreme competition, sports can be relaxing. Schedule a game of tennis or darts.

3. Go dancing. Listening to music takes a moment step out on the dance floor. Sign up for rumba lessons or spend your next date night at a club with a live band.

4. Pet, your dog. Remember your animal companions too. Studies show that talking to them tends to be less stressful than interacting with humans because we don’t worry about being judged.

5. Talk it over. On the other hand, your fellow humans are probably going to have more insights into how to deal with your love life or conflicts at work. Call a friend when you need to vent or discover a different perspective on whatever is on your mind.

6. Laugh it up. Humor makes our struggles easier to bear. Spend time with others who encourage you to see the funny aspects of parenthood or practicing law.

Whether you’re on your own or surrounded by friends, you can banish stress safely and efficiently. Learning to relax without alcohol or food will help you to stay slim and peaceful.

The More You Sweat, the Less You Bleed

The first time I saw this quote was in a Reebok ad. Since then, I’ve learned that it was taken from a statement attributed to George Patton: “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” That statement is far removed from the topic of this article, so let’s stick with the Reebok ad.

The meaning of the Reebok quote was clear: the harder we work in training, the less we suffer in performance, that is, on race day.

While athletes will see that as common sense, I’d like to take the concept a step further to food – and specifically to sugar addiction.

Recently, I was reminded of how true the statement is when a man at work was eating cookies after his lunch. Someone else at work warned him not eat them in front of me, but the cookie guy confidently replied, “Joan doesn’t care.”

How Great Is It Not to Care?!

He was absolutely right. That made me think about how fortunate I am to have gone through whatever struggle was associated with my sugar journey – because I now have the ability not to care what other people eat, no matter what it is and even if it’s right in front of me.

Last holiday season, a different man at work was deliberately eating – in front of me – some cookies made by a woman on the staff. He was trying to eat them in a way that would tempt me – closing his eyes and making noises of pleasure as he ate each bite, and so on.

I’ve told that story to a few of my clients, and they react strongly to it. Perhaps they’re imagining how difficult it would have been for them, or maybe they’re thinking he was acting kinda jerky. But what the cookie monster in the story didn’t realize was, “Joan doesn’t care.”

How Tough Is It to Get There?

Working through a sugar addiction and quitting the stuff takes less time than people think. If you do it the right way, you can be through it in under a week.

Of course, if you want permanent results, it doesn’t end there. It’s necessary to eat differently, to deal with the cravings that will come up fairly frequently at first, and to stick with the new food plan so the cravings diminish and finally stop.

That’s the key point – the cravings stop.

Eventually, you reach the point of not caring what others eat or don’t eat. Call me a bad mother, but I don’t even notice what people eat unless someone goes out of his way to make noises.

Truth? I almost felt sorry for that guy. He was intentionally being mean (considering what he was trying to do) but had no idea how little it would affect me.

To me, cookies aren’t food. I don’t see them as temptations. I ignored two boxes of them sitting for weeks on the desk right next to me without a care. And just so you know, I used to love cookies. And brownies. And cakes, and ice cream, and fudge, and more.

I don’t bleed on race day – and every day is actually race day – because I was willing to sweat for a short time in training. That’s true freedom from sugar. And it’s there for you.