Snap Away to Weight Loss

I have frequently recommended food journaling as a way to find food triggers. It can be a tedious chore and only the very serious and motivated take on the task with excitement. As my daughter always says, “we move at the speed of pain.”

For those that intensely dislike writing, another way to keep track is to take a photo of your snacks and food. You can snap away to weight loss by having the visual reminders of exactly what you consumed. Huh! How about that! No vegetable or fruits all day!

If you’re really serious about this, snap every glass of water, tea, coffee and other fluids too. You’ll be able to see if you’re getting enough liquids. We always think we are, but are you really?

You will also see if you eat the same things day in and day out. Maybe you’re not getting enough variety. Add more color and flavors.

If you want to take it up a notch, share it with others. My clients share their journal with me and that accountability is very helpful. Share yours with friends, on your social media, a blog or anywhere you can be accountable and get support.

We are a very visual society and seeing is believing. Do you remember the commercial several years ago, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!”? You will believe it if you’ve taken a photo of it. So pull out your smart phone and click away.food

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Bad Eating Habits

We often do things day after day according to a routine. I know that I do  and I bet you do too. I get up at a certain time, have my morning ritual of a cup of coffee, walk with my dog, shower, meditation and breakfast. You have you own routine too, although probably a bit different than mine.

We also eat routinely. Even if our food isn’t the same things day after day, perhaps the time of day or the types of foods tend to be the same. Some of our patterns can turn into bad eating habits. Do you rush out the door with your cup of coffee and no time for breakfast, only to end up starving mid-morning and eating a muffin or bagel to keep you going to lunch?

Or maybe you get that mid-afternoon crash that sends you running to the snack machine to grab some chips or a candy bar to make it till quitting time.

Maybe your habit is driving through Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee, but you can’t resist buying a donut too. Whether it’s coffee, candy bars, bagels, cookies, or donuts, if you find yourself eating foods out of habit, you can retrain your brain to switch it up.

So here’s what you can do to break those bad eating habits:

  1. Figure out exactly what the cue was that triggered it by writing down the time of day, who you were with, where you were, what you were thinking. It takes a little detective work, but you’ll start to see a pattern. And of course, sometimes it’s a no brainer, like skipping a meal.
  2. If it happens every time you are with your best friend for lunch, you order first so you are not as influenced by her decisions.
  3. If it happens at a certain time of the day, pre-plan with a nutritious snack. Eat it before you are so hungry that you succumb to unhealthy choices.
  4. If you notice you eat when your stress level gets high, work in some quick stress relievers like a brisk 5-10 minute walk, listening to music, stretches, deep breathing, etc.
  5. If you notice that every time you visit your mom, you eat everything she offers you and more, be prepared by having a nutritious snack before going to visit so you are not starving and letting mom know in advance that you are there to visit her, not to eat.

These are just some examples of ways to change the bad eating habits. As always, the first step to any change is awareness. Each time you try out your new behavior, you weaken the old. Every time I used to go visit my mom, she used to buy a box of chocolate eclairs. Even though at one point I asked her not to buy them. It took probably 8-10 times of me picking them up and putting them back in the fridge and gently saying “no thanks Mom”, and she finally stopped buying them. Hooray!! Now we can just visit. Or sometimes I bring her some yummy (and healthy) food.

Businesswoman drinking coffee while driving

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Delicious Strawberries

We are in the process of moving. This is never a fun activity but this time it is even less fun. We are moving because I am having difficulty maneuvering the stairs in our present house, both up to the bedroom/offices and down to the laundry room. That darn Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome strikes again. So I drove over to Trader Joe’s yesterday to get boxes for packing. As I walked in the door, I spied the most magnificent, delicious looking strawberries. And to further excite me, they were organic!

This is the time of year that brings me joy… fruit and veggie joy. I have always preferred veggies and fruits over meat and I never liked fish. The abundance of fresh fruits and veggies in the summer delight me like a child in a candy store. For a little while, I forgot about the packing or the temporary housing we needed to find. I washed my strawberries and for those of you who have not learned this secret yet… wash your berries in a water/white vinegar solution and rinse well. It will prevent the berries from getting moldy and nasty. I sliced several of the berries to make their own luscious juice and put the rest in a bowl. Of course I ate a few while prepping.

My strawberries now take up residence on the top shelf of my fridge so I see them every time I open the door. That’s the best place to keep the cut-up veggies and fruits- front and center- not in the vegetable crisper where we forget them until they whither and die.

I did get my boxes for packing, although I have not started that yet. We are building a small ranch house that is handicap accessible. I am so excited about it but it won’t be ready until December, so we are searching for a nice little apartment for the two of us and our little Buddy because our house sold already!

In the meantime, I will be enjoying my delicious strawberries. I have a recipe for gluten-free strawberry muffins that I think I will try too. I look forward to watermelon slushies, juicy peaches and, oh well, I’ll save the rest for another post. What is your favorite summer fruit?strawberry

Are Sugar Cravings Learned Behavior?

Have you ever wondered if those intense sugar cravings are learned behavior or genetically passed on to you from your sugar craving family? It’s all part of that nature vs. nurture dilemma that we been tossing around for decades. Since learned behavior is a conditioned response to a stimuli, you’ll see why I think that’s what it is. Although I don’t think it really matters who or what is to blame, if you understand a little bit about it, you may be better able to manage when those cookies call your name.

When my kids were little, I was considered (early 80′s) a “health nut”. I ate organic foods before it was the cool thing to do, made my own baby food, cooked from scratch instead of packaged food and did not introduce my kids to sugar or snack foods when they were little. I firmly believed that food was our fuel and gave them a wide variety of foods. I never made a big deal about what to eat, how much to eat or named “good” or “bad” foods. I just offered them the best possible nutrition.

When my daughter was 5 years old, she went to a birthday party for a friend’s daughter. Carrie was introduced to M&M’s for the first time. My friend thought I was strange because I had never given them to Carrie, but I made sure to give her plenty of healthy options. If you offered either of my kids a plate of fresh cut up fruit or a piece of cake, they always chose the fruit. I did bake but I used whole grains, low sugar and fruit in the recipe.

Fast forward to the teenage years when peers are way more important than parents. My kids were introduced to junk food by their friends. They often stayed at friends houses where junk food was their only choice. You see, their parents did not buy into my philosophy. Interestingly, their friends LOVED our healthy food. As a matter of fact, they would devour every last bit of it. But my kids began to get a taste of sugar, salt and fat. They are the foods that affect the reward center in the brain, releasing dopamine and serotonin. And so, they began to crave the junk food.

That was in the 90′s. Now, they have both lived on their own for many years. Who knows what they eat. I do know my daughter occasionally asks me about healthy foods because she comments that she feels so much better when she eats well. But my point is, sugar cravings is a cycle of learned behavior. If you never had it, you don’t miss it. Once you start eating it, you crave it more. Have you eaten sugar since you were little or did it start in your later years?sweets and fruit

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