No Good Foods or Bad Foods

One of the most difficult concepts to really grasp is that there really are no good foods or bad foods. Many of you have most likely learned (probably at a young age) that sweets are “bad” foods and vegetables are “good” foods.

If you tell your children that they have to eat their vegetables before they can have dessert, you are teaching them that vegetables are “good” and dessert is “bad”. By assigning such a value to food, you unknowingly start this good-bad relationship with food.

Rather than good or bad foods, what if you saw them as nutritious foods and non-nutritious foods that still can be fun to eat. Depending on whether you prefer to maintain your weight or lose some extra weight, you can follow the 80/20 or 90/10 guidelines. 80% of the time eat nutritious food and 20% eat non-nutritious food. Or 90% of the time eat nutritious and 10% non-nutritious. These are just loose guidelines for you if you get anxious about only following your internal cues.

It does take a bit of practice and relearning to listen to your body’s needs of hunger, fullness and what food it needs. And before you say cookies, maybe you do need cookies, but that that would be to comfort yourself and that would be okay… if done only occasionally and not in excess.

The most important way to eat any food is mindfully, savoring each bite and appreciating the taste. If you scarf down a food mindlessly, quickly and barely tasting it, you will likely eat much more and without the enjoyment.

So don’t deprive yourself of any food. Nourish your body so you feel energized and indulge occasionally because food is meant to be enjoyed.woman appreciating cake

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Don’t Wait For Retirement to Relax

Because stress and anxiety directly relate to cravings, overating and binge eating, I often write about stress/relaxation.

It’s a familiar story to everyone. The boss keeps heaping more and more work on your desk, giving you tighter deadlines, more responsibilities and longer hours. You’re fearful to say anything, despite a rising stress level, increasing exhaustion and less time with your family because there is always someone else waiting in line to replace you.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you worry about a steady stream of customers who will buy your products or clients who are interested to purchase your services. You must constantly juggle marketing, networking, customer service and accounting. You may end up working more hours each day than when you worked for someone else.

What is your main goal in working so hard? Did you say money? Many do work just to pay bills, but what motivates some people to work such long hours and so hard that they are losing precious moments right here and now with the people they love the most? Is fear motivating you to regularly clock in more than 40 hours a week… fear of losing your job, fear of not being the best, fear of__________? You fill in the blank because our fears are as plentiful as the number of people.

I’d like you to think about a few things if you are waiting for retirement to slow down and relax:

  • Research has shown that regularly working longer than a 40-hour workweek makes us less productive and just very tired.
  • So often we hear about friends or acquaintances that recently retired, only to have a heart attack, stroke or other fatal or debilitating disease. So much for enjoying retirement. Now that I’m 59, I see so many of my peers dying just at a time they should be enjoying life the most.
  • While we are so busy working, our children grow up. We not only miss some important events, but we miss the opportunity to really connect when it’s the most important and we never get that time back.
  • According to WebMD, 75-90% of all physician office visits are stress-related. Chronic illnesses and multiple disease processes are directly correlated to stress; that in turn is increased when working so many hours. Better health depends on less stress.
  • Working so many hours is future living. It assumes that if you work hard now and make money, you’ll reap the rewards in the future. The problem with this thinking is that you are missing all of the fun, beauty, peace and relaxation right here and now.

If you are in a job that expects this amount of work, start looking for one that will not ruin your health, or at least have a discussion with your boss. Any boss that is demanding this kind of workload is either also unhealthy or not doing the same thing. If you are doing it to yourself, stop now. It’s not worth it, my friend. I’ve been in salaried positions that the expectation was to stay until the work was done or take it home to complete it and I left, realizing it was “becoming my life”. No salary, no matter how big, is worth your health.

Take time to enjoy those you love. If you don’t have a hobby because you’ve never had the time, choose one and have fun. Live life to its fullest each and every day. We do not know how long we are here on this earthly plane.Young business man under stress with headache

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Eating Like Children

Babies are the perfect eaters. They eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Small children are perfect eaters too unless adults unknowingly alter their relationship with food by using it for bribes, threats or treats.  Eating like children could be our solution to overeating and the way to enjoy food more.

Parents often complain that their children are fussy, don’t want to eat at mealtime or don’t eat enough. If parents offered them nutritious food throughout the day, they would eat enough and choose adequate variety of vitamins and minerals.

In our zeal to be good parents, we worry about them not getting adequate nourishment. That would only be a concern if we also offer them processed snack foods regularly. The allure of the sugar, fat and salt is tough to refuse.

But if children are freely given small portions of varied whole foods, they will pick and choose their favorites (what we should do), eat with enjoyment (yes, us too) stop as soon as their bellies are full (perfect weight management) and not differentiate between a juicy orange or an ice cream cone (imagine us doing that).

Remember, they are not born knowing that veggies and fruits are “good” food and sweets are not. We place that value on them and teach them our biases. So emulate small children eating… whether slurping an ice cream cone on a hot day or delighting in a plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

Pretty little girls eating ice cream in the summer

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Friendship and Health

Social contact and friendship are good for your health, physically, mentally and emotionally. Those who have strong social ties tend to be the happiest people.

We all want to share our joy, excitement, pain and sorrow with a supportive friend. There may be some loners who prefer being without friends, but they are a true minority. A report from the University of Chicago illuminated some startling facts about loneliness:

  1.  Associated with progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
  2.  Obesity
  3.  Elevated blood pressure
  4.  Diminished immunity
  5.  Increased vascular resistance
  6.  Depression
  7.  Poor quality of sleep

Who is your best friend? Some people find themselves with virtually no real friends, only acquaintances through work, their children’s school or church. Life gets in the way and friendship takes time and effort to nurture. Children, work and family take up the bulk of our energy and time unless we consciously weave friendship into our priorities.

Once you’ve made the decision to have more friends, make it a priority. Let go of the preconceived idea about who your friend should be; maybe they will be older or younger than you or richer or poorer. Invite someone to coffee or lunch and take the time to get to know the person before making a judgment. If you want to be healthy, hang out where the fit and healthy people do and if you want to tap into your creative side, take an art class.

If you are an introvert like me, you can still make friendship a priority, but make it on your schedule. Typically, introverts enjoy friends, but don’t like to be overwhelmed with large crowds. Know what your boundaries are and stick to them.

Smile, make eye contact and say hello. People will know if that you are genuine. And have fun!Two female friends meeting for a coffee

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