It’s Spring! That means budding possibilities, beautiful things, reinvention, warmth, and Vitamin D. YAY!
In the nutrition world, ’tis the season for detox & cleansing! Spring is a natural time to shed excess weight, come out of hibernation, and flush out any ‘build up’ from the long, dark winter months. Your body will naturally start to crave more raw foods, fresh foods, and lighter meals. (That is, if our physical body called all the shots . . .)
I fully support a mindful cleanse protocol. However, cleansers beware! If you are motivated by what Marc David coined as “Toxic Nutritional Beliefs”, your cleanse is causing a whole lot more harm than good.
Too often, I sniff out the toxic beliefs and motivations that are behind the vigilant detoxers sweeping the nation, and I just want to bellow at the top of my lungs: “Detox THIS, people!”
The fact is, our nasty and incorrect beliefs are often equal offenders with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fat, and artificial coloring!
“I hate my body.”
“Food is the enemy.”
“Fat in my food will make me fat.”
“Carbs will make me gain weight.”
“I have a willpower problem.”
“Sugar is the devil!”
These are all examples of false and stressful thoughts that will create toxicity in your body and keep you from meeting your goals. And believe me, they are EVERYWHERE.
This Spring, I’d like to support eaters everywhere in taking on a Toxic Nutritional Beliefs DETOX.
I guarantee that if you take steps to detoxify your nutritional belief system, you can experience:
- Weight Loss
- More Energy
- Better Digestion
- More pleasure from food
- And much, much more . . .
So . . . Are you in?
Take a few minutes right now to take an inventory of your nutritional beliefs:
What do you believe about nutrition? What do you think about your body, and what it would take to reach your goals? If you were to write your own personal 10 commandments about eating, what would they be?
Next, read over your list and really ask yourself:
Are these nourishing beliefs? Are these clean and delicious beliefs? Am I really sure they are true? Would I tell a young child that I love to believe these beliefs?
If you can’t muster an unequivocal YES for any of the beliefs on your list, I challenge you to a 2-week cleanse of them. Take a hiatus. Give your body a break. I am willing to bet you will feel lighter, more energized, happier and healthier.
Granted, cleaning out your belief system is a whole lot harder than cutting out processed food for 2 weeks. But that’s how I roll.
Are you with me, Eaters??
PS – If you need help substituting your Toxic Nutritional Beliefs for healthier beliefs, or have any other thoughts on this, please leave a comment!
If you do end up with an extra full tummy, here are some ways to take care of your Oh-so-Full Self. . .
• Hot Water bottle. You can get these at any drug store-they are great to snuggle with, and can help you digest, and feel a little more comfy.
• Tea (if you can fit it) to help sooth and ease digestion. Yogi Ginger Tea is my favorite.
• Rub your tummy, and give it some love. You may laugh, but rubbing your stomach in a clockwise, circular motion helps the natural direction of digestion. Meanwhile, be sure to connect and send it some gratitude for working hard to digest such a scrumptious meal.
• If you’re up for it, bundle up and take a stroll around the block to get things moving just a little bit, and take in some fresh, crisp air.
If You Don’t Wanna Gain Weight and Feel Gross. . . Here are my Recommendations:
• Savor EVERY bite. As many bites as you want. The more pleasure you experience from eating, the easier you’ll be able to digest it, and the more likely you are to make intuitive, balanced choices.
• Remember to taste, smell, and look at your food! Experiencing eating in this way means you activate the Cephalic Phase Digestive Response (CPDR, or “Digestion of the Head”), which is responsible for 30-40% of your total digestive response.
• Do anything and everything you can to SKIP the guilt, judgment, and stress. These are the factors that contribute most powerfully to your unwanted symptoms.
I’m making no predictions or decisions about what, or how much, I will eat this year. I commit to loading up on pleasure, good conversation, and conscious eating. I may end up blissfully stuffed, and I’m okay with that.
So whaddaya say? Be nice to yourself this year? Pretty please?
It’s Not the Food That Hurts . . .
Invested in your long-term growth and healing, I could care
less how much you end up eating. Really.
I’m honestly not terribly concerned with the temporary physiologic repercussions of overeating on the holidays. Yes, you will experience a little blood sugar rollercoaster action. Yes, it’s a lot to handle for your digestive system. Yes, you’ll probably feel bloated for a couple of hours.
However, it will pass. In the scheme of things, it is so far from the end of the world.
That’s right, folks. This nutrition expert proclaims: It’s OKAY if you overeat on the holidays.
Moreover, it’s not the overeating that is the true culprit of weight gain and frustration! Overeating is not the ROOT cause of your unwanted symptoms associated with the holidays.
Rather, I am certain that the most toxic consequence of overeating on the holidays is by
far and away the guilt, self-abuse, and diet plan that follow.
The pattern I see goes something like this: 1. Make unrealistic goals and expectations for being “good” during the holidays. 2. Throw them to the wayside, and indulge in the Great American Gorge come holiday time. 3. Walk around constantly berating self for lack of willpower and intelligence. 4. Devise a “fix-it” diet plan to whip yourself into shape. 5. When it doesn’t work, repeat.
This pattern is a sure-fire way to gain weight and be miserable. It invites chronic stress into your life, which creates physiologic stress chemistry in your body. In this environment, your body will hang on to weight, slow down metabolism, and sacrifice digestion, among other things. Meanwhile, you miss out of the joy of eating, your inborn nutritional intuition, and crucial messages for self-growth.
Why Your Subconscious LOVES Getting Stuffed
Every single one of your unwanted habits, behaviors, or symptoms, is serving a purpose for you, delivering a nugget of wisdom. In other words, There is always a damn GOOD reason for doing the things you deem BAD. And despite your fervent intentions to change, there is another part of you (usually subconscious) that wants to keep things exactly as is.
So how does this translate to the Great American Gorge of the holidays?
On one hand, feeling too full is just horrible. Unbuttoning the top button (or two). Can’t get a deep breath cause you’re that bloated. Feels like the meal you just ate is piled from your stomach all the way up to your throat. You swear you will never, EVER, be hungry again. That part is obvious, and we generally give plenty of attention to these downsides of getting stuffed.
Much more interesting, in my opinion, are the hidden joys of “stuffdom” that are unappreciated, unrecognized, and running the show under the radar. I’m going to let you in on a little secret of your subconscious: You love stuffing yourself to the brim during holiday feasts.
Think about it . . . You are blissfully, undeniably . . . FULL! Isn’t there some relief in the certainty that you simply cannot fit another morsel? You’re beyond satiated. You milked that holiday feast for all it was worth. You did your job. And now you can rest (aka pass out).
Let’s face it — underneath the diet chatter of resolutions, ultimatums, and fantasies . . . isn’t the unspoken goal of holiday eating to achieve that oh-so-full feeling? When it comes down to it, do we not approach the holiday meal prepared and willing to stuff ourselves?
In his very compelling book, The Culture Code, author Clotaire Rapaille examines the deep associations, or imprints, Americans hold for various aspects of life. Through an interesting process called “discovery sessions”, he uncovers the cultural “codes” that dictate our choices, actions, and beliefs. According to Rapaille, the American “code” for food is FUEL. We view food as a way to fuel up our machine (the body) so that we can do more work and be more successful. Naturally, when we associate food with Fuel, the goal is to get a full tank. He contrasts us with the pleasure-focused French, noting that Americans will end a meal by saying “I’m full,” whereas the French will say “That was delicious”.
How does it feel to realize that your holiday feasting is about so much more than some lack of willpower, or intelligence on your part?
You know the feeling. That “Just-roll-me-out-to-the-car, It-hurts-to-breathe, Don’t-make-me-laugh-or-I’ll-seriously-throw-up” feeling.
And yet, it seems that most of us (myself included) say “yes” to this experience almost without fail when it comes time for holiday feasting.
As your Food and Body Counselor, you may expect me to present you with my “fail proof strategies” to conquer your urge to stuff yourself during the holiday feast. Maybe you’re preparing for my laundry list of “consequences” for overeating, and a compelling case for restraint during your next holiday feast.
Frankly, I find these strategies (running rampant in the diet/nutrition/wellness industry these days) to be utterly incompetent. They don’t hold a candle to our deep desire for the feast, nor do they address the root of what’s going on.
I want us to GET it. I want to honor this cultural pattern because it’s a whole lot bigger than some clever trick for restraint.
I want to know: what’s the deal with stuffing ourselves on the holidays?! Why is it that the Great Gorge has become such an inevitable ritual associated with the holidays? In what ways does it serve us, how might it hurt us, and how can we approach the issue with compassion, realism, and health?
In this five-part exposé, I’ve set out to answer these questions. My goal is to strip the issue of the shallow distractions, and to provide an honest, soulful, and practical approach that works.
Here goes . . .
A Case for Gratitude this Thanksgiving
I love Thanksgiving. It might be my very favorite holiday. For me, there are no better reasons to celebrate than food, family and GRATITUDE.
Now let me be clear-I’m not into the “hippie-dippy-woo-woo-everything’s-flowers-and-sunshine” vibe. I’m advocating for gratitude not because it sounds pretty and nice, but because I honestly believe it can change your chemistry for the better. I’m also very well-versed in the ‘bitch-and-moan’ approach, and in my experience, a good dose of gratitude just goes down easier at the end of the day.
So, with your health and happiness in mind, I’ve decided to make a case for a conscious gratitude practice as we approach Thanksgiving (but I hope it endures long after the leftovers are eaten. . .!).
I find that most of us can recite what’s not working in our lives with almost no hesitation, but often get stumped when asked what’s going well. Here’s the problem with that: when we focus on the many stressors we encounter without taking pause to appreciate what is going well, your body is experiencing chronic, low level stress response. That means stress chemistry, signaling your body to slow down metabolism, hold on to weight, and stop building muscle mass, among other things . . . Ouch.
On the flip side, studies show that a consistent focus on gratitude can strengthen your immune system, reduce the risk of coronary disease, and improve your general life outlook. Not bad, huh?
I propose that we begin this gratitude practice close to home: our brilliant bodies. Can you even conceive what it’s doing for you day in, day out?! When it comes to the body, I find people are extra quick to express what they want to change — that 10 extra pounds, your bum knee, whatever. I get it. Sometimes it’s hard to live in a body! However, to commemorate Thanksgiving, let’s switch it up.
There a bazillion functions your body performs every day, without you having to do a thing! I called my friend Ryah Nabielski, a nutritionist who completely geeks out on the wonder of anatomy, for a few reminders on the unsung heroes of the body. Here are a few that blow my mind:
• Your liver is doing a million things all at once. It gets rid of all kinds of toxins, and participates in glucose metabolism, fat metabolism, amino acid metabolism . . .and the list goes on. Wow.
• Your kidneys are constantly filtering your blood, taking out what you don’t need and peeing it out. Yes, please.
• Your bone marrow is literally building your immune system, producing red and white blood cells.
• I can hardly wrap my mind around this one: your eyes take light energy and somehow flip that into an image you can recognize. What?!
• Not to mention the simple facts that your heart just knows to keep beating and your lungs breathe in and out without you telling them to . . . ALL the time!
That is the tip of the iceberg, folks. I hope I’ve inspired you to take pause and give thanks to the phenomenal machine you live in, that works around the clock for you.
I invite you to let this gratitude practice expand into all aspects of your life. Let people know you appreciate them and why. Notice the roof over your head, the food on your table, and the clothes on your body. And remember that each time you do so, you’re tipping the scale towards health, vitality, and happiness. And there we have it: a case for gratitude.
Now that I’m thinking of it, THANK YOU, readers . . . for reading! Happy Thanksgiving.
Growing up, I can remember picking fresh fruits and veggies for dinner, straight from my mom’s garden. So I guess the seed was planted early on (pun intended), though somewhere in the mix of adolescent muck, I lost touch with the sheer joy of fresh, local, and nutritious veggies during the summer months.
Over the past several years of reclaiming my health, studying nutrition, and counseling others, the “eat your veggies” memo has come back loud and clear. However, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my true appreciation for local produce didn’t fully set in until the past year or so.
Two major experiences drove the point home:
1.) Last summer I joined my first CSA, with Red Fire Farm (www.redfirefarm.com). CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are set up so you invest in the farm upfront and receive a weekly share of veggies straight from the dirt to your table. Can’t beat it!
2.) Over the past several months, I have been working part time with City Feed and Supply, a hip mom and pop grocery/deli/cafe down the street from me in Jamaica Plain, that strives (very successfully, I’d say) to be a hub for fresh, local, and sustainable food and goods. During growing season in New England, City Feed shelves provide something like a neighborhood farmer’s market every day of the week, working with over 10 farms in the area!
Working with City Feed, I’ve learned a lot about the many benefits of eating locally grown food. Recently, we came up with some of our top reasons to buy local, and here they are:
City Feed and Supply’s “WHY BUY LOCAL?”
Locally grown produce is fresher
Produce grown locally is typically picked within 24 hours of your purchase, versus produce that was shipped for days or weeks.
Locally grown produce is better for you!
The nutritional value of fruits and vegetables declines with time after they are harvested. The fresher the vegetables are, the better they are for you!
Locally grown produce TASTES BETTER!
Fresh picked, locally grown produces tastes so much better because it is able to ripen longer on the vine for more flavor. Once you’ve tasted a local tomato or peach you will never go back!
Buying locally grown food is environmentally responsible.
When you buy local, you reduce carbon emissions and packing materials, lessening your environmental footprint.
Buying locally grown food helps preserve our open spaces.
The local farming landscape will only survive as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy local food, you do your part to protect the agricultural landscape, keeping New England. . .well, New England!*
As if that weren’t enough reasons, I’d like to tack on another two cents about what eating locally can do for you. Locally grown produce connects you to your food, your community, and the earth we inhabit. That means you get to walk around feeling just a little more grounded, a little more centered, and little more in tune with your surroundings.
But don’t take my word for it! If you haven’t already, I encourage you to hit up your local farmers markets! Meet your farmers, get to know your food, feel great about what you’re putting in to your body. You will see the difference, taste the difference and really truly feel the difference.
Not sure where to get local produce in your area?
Pop onto www.localharvest.org to find out!
These nutrition packed spears are popping up all over the place this time of year.
Super high in Folate, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Potassium, and Selenium, asparagus helps fight cardiovascular disease, strengthen bones, and even has a reputation for being a natural aphrodisiac!
Word to the wise: Don’t freak if your pee smells terrible after eating asparagus–it’s normal!
After that appetizing tidbit, here are a couple of great ways to enjoy asparagus:
Prepare the asparagus by cutting off the tough ends and washing it. Then you can:
- Steam it: Fill a pan with a couple inches of water. Bring to a boil. Place asparagus on steam rack above water and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.
- Bake it: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus on baking tray, then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until tender.
- Grill it: Throw asparagus on the grill for a few minutes for a healthy addition to your spring bbq’s–delicious.
Warm Asparagus Pasta Salad
- 1.5 lbs asparagus, washed and cut in 1 inch pieces
- 2 Tbl. + 1/2 c olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. Salt
- 1 lb uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
- 3/4 c. chopped green onions
- 6 Tbl. White Vinegar
- 2 Tbl. Shoyu (or Soy Sauce)
- 6-8 oz. Baby spinach
- 1 c. chopped cashews
- 1/2 c. shredded parmesan
Put asparagus pieces in a shallow pan. Drizzle 2 Tbl. of olive oil over them, and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. In the meantime, cook pasta. To prepare the dressing, blend onions, vinegar and soy sauce, then slowly add the 1/2 c. olive oil. Toss pasta, asparagus, dressing, spinach, and cashews, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve warm.
*Thanks to my friend, Danielle, for the yummy recipe!
The Latin word for the cacao tree where chocolate comes from literally translates to “food of the gods”. Isn’t that the truth?!
This Valentines Day, feel good about treating yourself and your beloved to some super high quality chocolate, knowing that you are actually supporting your body, as well as your taste buds!
Research shows that moderate amounts of good chocolate can actually lower blood pressure, fight inflammation, and neutralize free radicals. Even better, studies show that eating chocolate may initiate a pleasure response in the brain, lifting mood and increasing energy.
However, to get the most from your chocolate, remember:
Nothing but the best. Choose extremely high quality chocolate with at least 70% cacao. Look for minimally processed, organic dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and lower quality brands don’t deliver the health benefits (and can’t even compare in terms of deliciousness!).
My personal favorite? While doing some work for my neighborhood natural food store, City Feed & Supply, I recently discovered and fell in love with “Taza Chocolate”. Made around the corner in Somerville, MA, this is some of the least processed, most delicious chocolate I’ve had. I wouldn’t complain if my Valentine came home with one of the classy Taza gift boxes they’re selling at City Feed for V-day! (hint, hint. . .)
A little goes a long way. Savoring a delicious square or two of a really great chocolate bar hits the spot. A small square a few times a week is ideal for heart health.