I’ve set a goal to lose weight. This is difficult for me to go public with, as in my public and professional life I have been a staunch advocate of the Health at Every Size Movement, and a teacher of Intuitive Eating. Both of these paradigms are dear to my heart and I still wholeheartedly believe in them. While I feel very strongly that having a higher BMI is not an indicator of poor health, and I have found that eating and exercising healthfully without attempting to lose weight has helped me to feel better and have more energy, eschewing weight loss programs entirely has not worked for me. My three-year intuitive eating journey has taught me so much about myself, my body, and my relationship with food; its core concepts will always inform my relationship with food and body. However, my aging metabolism, my change to a more sedentary job, even while taking seriously good care of myself, has left every vacation or stressor turning into permanent pounds that Intuitive Eating doesn’t reduce, meaning a slow, steady creep in my body size. As a body-positive feminist I feel on many levels that the work for me is to love and celebrate my body as it is, chub and all. However, if I am fundamentally honest with myself, my reality is that this hasn’t worked for me. Despite my love and acceptance of all body types, I want my body to be leaner. This is about a lot of things for me. It’s about how clothes fit, about aesthetics, about not having to reboot my wardrobe every season, and about being able to fold myself comfortably in child’s pose, and about feeling sexy (sorry mom). Coming to terms with this, and making peace with this decision has left me in something of an identity crisis, but going public with it feels liberating. With this decision made, the next struggle became finding a means of weight loss that is consistent with my values. After years of (mostly) clean, intuitive eating I’ve researched, explored, and ruled out options like Weight Watchers, My Fitness Pal, even the naturopathic HCG programs, all for a variety of reasons. After all of this investigation I’ve finally landed on a plan. I’ve found a product line of supplements (which, if I find them as helpful as I expect to, I will be making available to others as part of my health coaching practice, just ask) designed to help with balancing blood sugar, increasing metabolism, reducing appetite, increasing energy, and keeping the bowels moving. Divergent from what I’ve taught in Intuitive Eating workshops, it also includes a “cleanse” component with a structured meal plan. I am very excited about this undertaking, and it has been difficult for me to “go public”. I want everyone to know that my values hold true, and I am just really really excited to feel good in my body again. It is an act of courage and strength to recognize that we do not have to conform to the media beauty standard, nor to buy into the fat=unhealthy myth, we get to define our own beauty standard and to live in our own bodies as we see fit, and I am ready to help myself and others accomplish this. My big Red Box of supplements arrived today, and I start tomorrow, and I just wanted to share my thoughts because I feel that my own inner struggle might look like hypocrisy on the outside, but I’m just a girl trying hard to figure all this complicated stuff out, and using my journey to light the way for others, I hope. I’m really excited about this, I plan to blog and post about my journey. Please know that this doesn’t come from a place that glorifies weight loss and thin bodies. It’s truly about me and my relationship with my own body. The public face has two goals: the first is to keep me accountable, both in my weight goals, and philosophically, and the second is the hope that perhaps someone else might have a little to learn from my story. Stay tuned for news tomorrow.
HELP! I can’t make sense of all this information!! July 1, 2012
So, if you are like most of us, you may be overwhelmed by the contradictory nutrition information you’re bombarded with. How can the vegan folks be feeling better than ever and curing all of their diseases while the paleo folks are claiming the same thing? Who do we listen to? How are we supposed to sort through it all. So many of the food systems are dogmatic, teaching us that there is a right way and a wrong way. Sometimes, in our enthusiasm as consumers we get caught up in the dogma and become crusaders for a right way of eating. It’s easy to do. The information we receive can be so compelling that is obviously the truth, right? Well, yes. and no. Just like in every other area of life, the truth is contextual. All of those case studies and testimonials in those amazing life-changing books? They’re all true. FOR THE PEOPLE THEY WERE TRUE FOR. The author does not tend to receive a bag of letters from the people for whom this book didn’t really resonate, or those who tried it just didn’t feel so great, or didn’t’ lose the weight.
The other confounding factor is that many of the folks who a trying these rings out and are feeling better are going from a sort of eating free-for-all to an intentional, structured, less-processed food plan. When this happens, EVERYONE feels better and looks better.
So, how to make sense of all this? As a health coach I am currently working with a client who needs a diet that is largely vegan and another who is getting as much red meat in as we can. How can this be true? Easy. Every person has different needs. One is battling cancer and needs to emphasize detoxification, pH balance, and inflammation (lots of raw and vegan foods with minimal animal products), and the other has been through an ordeal and lost a tremendous amount of blood, and is needing to rebuild. It is difficult for me, as a health coach to market any sort of one size fits all program because people have such varying needs.
That said, there are a few universal truths:
- sugar is not healthy for any of us
- A low glycemic diet gives us the greatest well-being
- We need plenty of good quality fats to thrive–these include saturated fats. I could teach a whole class just on which fats to use when. My kitchen contains only olive oil, coconut oil, flax oil, ghee, and bacon grease. Were money no object, I might also have walnut and macadamia nut oils. I only cook with the ones that are solid at room temperature.
- The vast majority of people on the SAD (Standard American Diet) will feel better if the eliminate or drastically reduce gluten, casein (a milk protein), and refined sugars from their diets
- If you take on too much change too fast, or go to extremes, you will backslide
- Processed, artificial, chemically-laden, pre-packaged, preservative rich, etc. foods are not a great idea.
- the more you make from scratch, at home, the better off you’ll be.
- Drink lots of water
- Eating well can be a completely delicious and decadent adventure
So, I guess that doesn’t tell you much about how to sift through the info on your own. I think may of us will benefit form working with a Health Coach to get to the bottom of things. A health coach can also help you to stay accountable and make the changes that sound impossible possible. for info on my health coaching services, check out Dandelion-coaching.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chocolate Coconut Cranberry Bark June 12, 2012
http://instagr.am/p/LzLelczHUg/ (While I am still not hi=tech enough to actually post photos, this is a link to one that I took with my phone).
Artisana Coconut Butter
Dark Chocolate Chips
Okay, so this is a totally off the cuff, no measuring cups involved, hormonally-motivated chocolate deliciousness. It violates my best health and dietary preferences b/c it contains some sugar. I believe that can be fixed in future versions. I was having an “I need chocolate now and it better be easy” sort of moment.
In a pyrex measuring cup, I heaped 3 parts Artisana coconut butter and 1 part 72% cocoa dairy free choco chips (that’s where the sugar comes in. This could be done with broken pieces of unsweetened chocolate and some stevia or other sweetener). add a healthy dash of sea salt. Melt in the microwave, 2 minutes on half power until it’s smooth (I also am not a frequent microwave user, in an ideal universe, I’d have done this in a glass jar set in a pot of gently boiling water, but it just wasn’t that sort of day). stir in a big handful of unsweetened coconut flakes, enough so the whole thing will get some texture to it (about the same size handful that the chips had been before they were melted), then stir in about half that size handful of dried cranberries. Pour it into some smallish container, mine went into this 4X4 glass dish. now, pop it into the freezer. Don’t panic, while it’s in there, you can lick all of the utensils. This will be very satisfying. Then finish cleaning the kitchen, maybe put the laundry in the dryer, etc. Now, queue up some 30 Rock or other mindlessness, and go get your goodies out of the freezer. Firm pressure and a butter knife will break it into cubes. You don’t need to store it in the freezer. Once chilled the texture will be great at room temp. IT’S SO GOOD!
Vanilla Ice Cream on top of a Brownie! All Healthy! May 14, 2012
Now that I am all moved in to my sweet new place, I have had a chance to do some cooking. But let’s face it, less than two weeks after move-in there’s still loads to keep me busy, so the first meals in our new home are best kept simple. In my book, simple rarely involves skipping dessert, especially on a Saturday night. So I turned to elanaspantry.com, where there’s always some easy recipes. I usually have to convert to meet my nutritional preferences, and I am always prone to making changes just because. This time, both worked beautifully.
For the Brownies:
half of a bar of Sunspire baking chocolate. (dairy and sugar free).
Chop this up roughly, and make sure you have about 1/2 a cup. Add to food processor. with:
1/4 cup coconut sugar
process until you have a consistency like course sand
1/2 tsp himalayan sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
mix to combine. Add:
1/2 cup liquid coconut nectar
1/2 cup coconut oil or ghee
Mix. Pour into oiled 8×8 pan. Sprinkle over the top:
2/3 cup course walnuts.
bake at 350 for 30 minutes. YUM!
ON TO THE ICE CREAM!! Once I discovered how easy it was to make healthy, vegan ice creams in my little Krupps ice cream maker, I was hooked. I think ice cream is about the easiest dessert out there. A little preplanning helps. For example, I have a small electric IC Maker, and I always store the the bowl of it in the freezer so that it’s ready to go. Some recipes will call for chilling the mixture before processing it, but if you don’t, it just comes out a tad softer. Here’s my go-to base:
Vanilla Ice Cream, Vegan
To your blender, add:
1 cup cashews
2 cups water
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Blend until smooth. In my Oster this can take about 5 minutes. From here, you could add whatever you want for flavor: cacao, cinnamon, lavender, maple, fruit, etc. If you want chunky additions, add those after blending is completed, or according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
Process in ice creme maker for 20 minutes. Eat right away freeze the leftovers.
So as some of you know, during April I experimented with eating paleo for 30 days. This was a big deal for me as a 20 year vegetarian. I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks, but I think you’ll forgive me when you hear what I’ve been up to. On Thursday, we moved into our new home, which is super exciting and I hope I never move again (this is related to the big announcement)! We were “in-between” homes for a couple of weeks there, staying in my mother-in-law’s 2 bedroom apartment with four people, two big dogs, and a cat. The transition was a bit insane. The good news is, I stayed MOSTLY on my paleo food plan despite all the upheaval. My major breaks, honestly, were mostly booze! During that stressful time, I caved to the after work cocktail 3-4 times. (okay, okay, on one of those occasions, I caved to 3-4 of said cocktails). In addition, I had a bite of a brownie, which I promptly threw out because I realized right away that it wasn’t very good, and I had a few meals at restaurants where I simply worked with what I had (like organic tempeh instead of meat, but skipped the rice, etc.) So, by and large, I got the full taste of the experience.
I had decided to continue beyond the thirty days, but the first several days after the 30-day experiment ended, I had a few days of just eating whatever (for me this still tends to be pretty clean, no gluten, a touch of organic cheese on a salad, maybe some potato chips…). Here’s what I noticed: after a month of feeling noticeably more energized and upbeat, I took an immediate tank. Aches and pains started creeping up, the energy just drained right out of me, and I got moody. As an intuitive eater (IE), all of this impacts me emotionally very differently than it used to back when I was a dieter. As a dieter, I would have beat myself up with guilt for “failing”. After the first or second “transgression” I would have thrown in the towel, or at least turned each one into a total blowout. Had I “made the thirty days”, I would have been counting down the days until I could eat two grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner with a few pints of beer.
But instead, I just listened to my body and myself. When I REALLY wanted something outside the plan, I had some. I stopped to check in with myself: is it delicious? Am I enjoying it? Is the stress reduction of this martini healthier for me than the blood sugar swings the alcohol will impart? How do I feel an hour later? the next morning? How do I sleep? What kinds of foods do I crave the next day? In answering all these questions (which has become very natural and automatic for me), all of this just works itself out. The paleo is working for me right now. I tend to be a 90/10 kinda girl. Eat the foods that serve my body best 90% of the time, and leave room for the 10% of the things that are off plan but really satisfy me. No guilt, no problem. With enough years of this level of self-reflection, the list of foods in the 10% gets healthier and healthier. The whole continuum moves toward wellness. You know you’re generally eating great when a glass of red wine and a slice of organic, grass fed, goat cheese becomes your junk food!
And finally, for my news! I am officially opening the doors on my new health coaching practice for just two clients. I will be working individually with women who want to build a more balanced relationship with food, nourishment, dieting, and your bodies. Why now? Because my lovely new home in Lake Oswego has room for us to meet (phone appointments are always welcome)! I will be combining my mental health counseling background with my health coaching training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. If you are interested in more info, visit my website: www.dandelion-coaching.com. I offer free initial health consultations with those who complete a health history form at my site. If we decide it’s a good fit, we go from there. We can meet weekly or bi-weekly. Sessions run 50 minutes for $70. Spread the word!
As a teacher of Intuitive Eating, I use a numerical hunger and fullness scale with clients, and I am always checking in with my own body when I eat to notice where on the scale I’m eating. The gist is that the scale ranges from starving and beyond at 0, to a very uncomfortable thanksgiving full at 10, and the whole range in between. The goal is to try and eat before you’re lower than a three, and to avoid going past 7. At a 3, we are decidedly hungry but not obsessed with food and can still make good choices. At a 7, we are decidedly no longer hungry and if we were to stop now we’d likely not be hungry for 3-4 more hours. (at 8, we’re aware of a full belly, but not uncomfortable).
Anyway, I am writing this to you at a solid 7.5. This was no unconscious overeat session, I went over seven with my eyes wide open on this delicious meal!
I am reflecting on this because I am noticing that on to a diet based more around solid animal fats and proteins and less around grains and legumes, my hunger levels are easier to regulate. After a meal with no grains and more meat and veggies, I am really not hungry for hours. But, when I reverted to an old vegetarian favorite: a rich, hungarian mushroom soup, full of cashews and veggies, and ate until I was admittedly well into an 8, I still found myself at an uncomfortably hungry 1 within a couple of hours. I guess there’s something to that old “sticks to the ribs” saying! (If you bet me a few months ago me that I would ever use that expression to talk about how I feel eating meat, I would have lost!)
So, without further ado, tonight’s menu, with the recipes:
Roasted Beets: Peel and chunk 5 large beets, place in a bowl and toss with oil of choice to coat liberally, and some good quality sea salt. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 400 on the top rack for about 30 minutes, until soft and slightly caramelized.
Cauliflower Mash: Steam a head of cauliflower until it is super soft, puree in food processor with ghee, salt, garlic, and a little of your favorite nut milk until you’ve reached an almost mashed-potatoey consistency. Yummy!
Meatloaf!: In bowl of kitchenaid mixer fitted with dough hook, place:
1 lb each:
1 cup almond flour
about a cup of mirepoix (finely chopped onion, celery, and carrot)
other seasonings of your preference.
Form into two loaves by placing into a loaf pan, and then turning it out onto a baking sheet or broiler pan. Whisk together the following:
1/4 a can or jar of tomato paste
1/8 cup of prepared mustard
Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup coconut sugar
Brush this on the outside of the loaves. Bake at 400 for 50 minutes. Use a thermometer to ensure the centers have reached 155 degrees.
(This got rave reviews from the family, but I prefer it crustier, so I think next time I will mix some of the glaze into the meat mixture, and leave the glaze off the outside).
Use the healthy fats in the pan to make a super delicious gravy for the cauliflower mash.
And finally, the reason I went from a 7 to a 7.5: PECAN SANDIES!! from comfybelly.com
These were SO EASY to make, and they are DELICIOUS! Seriously yummzville.
Till next time,
Paleo Experiment Day 8 April 9, 2012
Yesterday I waxed on about how amazingly energized I feel with a little meat in my system after years of (mostly) abstaining. I rec’d loads of responses, comments, and questions via email, Facebook, etc. First of all, I’d like to ask my readers to please subscribe if you’re not already, as it will ensure that you stay caught up, and also, that you consider posting your comments here so we can get a real discussion going. Okay, enough housekeeping!
Today, I want to reflect and remind myself about balance. I generally avoid any and all eating plans that have a name, which is why it took me so long to give in to Paleo despite how much its concepts coincided with my food choices and my body’s needs. There is danger in prescribing to eating plans with names because they can represent a host of “supposed to’s” and a move away from listening to our body’s needs but towards listening to an other as expert. The core of my coaching philosophy is about helping us tune in to ourselves, not how to follow the latest prescriptive diet. I feel great on Paleo and I still insist that DIETS DON’T WORK.
This meat feels awesome to me because I am deficient. Raw vegan feels amazing when we first take it on as an experiment because we are toxic and really needed the clean out. The truth is, I may eat like I am now indefinitely, or I may find in a few months that I am eating meat a couple of times a month or week. I may be experimenting with adding in certain gluten-free grains again and discover, from the inside, how they make me feel. The 30 day experiment, however, is valuable to me because it takes some time to see how a new way feels. Certain immune responses can take up to a couple of weeks to show up after eating said allergen, and it takes the body time to learn to reboot its fueling system from primarily plant sources to animal sources.
While I am eating “Paleo” I am holding steady to the process of listening.
On to the nuts and bolts, I thought some of you might be interested in what a “day in the life” might look like:
Morning smoothie: Frozen blueberries, almond milk, whey protein, broccoli sprouts.
Mid morning: Dandy Brew liver cleansing coffee substitute with a couple of tablespoons of full-fat coconut milk and a few drops of chocolate liquid stevia. (don’t forget to visit dandelion-coaching.com to look for specialty products on my store).
Lunch: A salad of romaine, celery, shredded clean chicken breast, olive oil, and Frank’s Red Hot. A few bites of a raw, vegan, nut-based cannoli (I know, it was amazing, thanks Raw’r Laboratories).
Afternoon snack: about a TBSP of cashew cacao butter (homemade)
On this plan I am finding myself less hungry and eating less frequently than I was before. When I DO get hungry, I don’t experience my typical feelings of shakiness, panic, irritability, and cloudy thinking, but simply feel hungry. It’s a pleasant change.
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