Embracing The Holidays

With Thanksgiving a week away and the holidays in full swing, this is also prime time for diet talk, juice cleanses, low carb diets, and fasting to dominate social media feeds, television and radio commercials, and our general discussion amongst friends and family.

This time of year and it’s diet-obsessed energy always kicks my messaging into high gear, because I know what it’s like. I know what it’s like to be terrified of the food that will be before me that day, and the day before, and the day after. I know what it’s like to feel weak, like a failure because my willpower failed me once again. If you are feeling anxious about being around family and friends this holiday season, if you’re feeling anxious about this body you inhabit, and the food you may or may not be consuming- I see you and I hear you.

I also know that you deserve so much more than the experiences described above. You deserve to feel empowered in your body and around food. You deserve to be able to be around food- any type of food- and be relaxed. And you deserve to set healthy boundaries.

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

I’ve listed a few simple tips below that may be helpful to keep in mind over the next couple of months.

1. Identify & Acknowledge Triggers

If we don’t identify and acknowledge what is triggering our feelings of depression, anxiety, or perhaps body shaming during this time of year (or any time of year!), we won’t be able to heal it.

This is a difficult journey because we have to come face to face with the deeper reasoning behind these feelings. However, once we get to this place, the healing can begin. You may know right away what may trigger emotions this time of year. If you do- excellent! If you aren’t aware of underlying emotions or triggers, journaling is a great way to identify and acknowledge. Simply put pen to paper and write about feelings or thoughts that have been arising for you lately. Don’t stop to analyze what you’re writing, just keep writing for 3-5 minutes. You could also ask trusted friends or family and they may be able to provide you with some insight.

Identifying and acknowledging is an amazing first step. Once we identify and acknowledge, we can start to pay attention to our feelings and emotions as they arise. At first we may only recognize them after the fact. This is fine- still acknowledge and sit with that feeling. Identify it- give it a name. Then perhaps you will be able to identify these feelings in the midst of the trigger, and maybe you’ll then be able to notice when they may occur before the trigger happens. Also keep in mind, you may never reach this point and that is ok! The power lies in identifying and acknowledging, not preventing the feeling from occurring.

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2. Set Boundaries

As the incredible Brene Brown says “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.” Wow, how powerful is that?!

If you find yourself at a place where you’ve had or attempted to have healthy discussions about your feelings and the environment remains toxic, it may be time to set some boundaries.

Setting boundaries is choice we make to no longer expose ourselves to an environment that is harmful or toxic. They exist to give us permission to establish or maintain our mental health.

The concept of boundaries often comes up around the holidays because much of the anxiety that is felt this time of year is related to being around family members that we may only be exposed to during this season.  Further, many of us are taught to suck it up, to tolerate it in the moment, only to walk away feeling shame, pain, resentment for the remainder of the year until it happens all over again. Yes, there may be some anger or pain in response to boundaries being set, but this time the energy of this response will be different- because you will be different. When healthy boundaries are set, you will be treated differently because you have established your value.

Even if this means no longer participating in the family’s traditional holiday celebrations, you have freed yourself of a toxic environment and can move forward in your new boundary-setting journey!

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

3. Eat Food

Yes, most of us are surrounded by and consume more food than we normally do on holidays like Thanksgiving. Sometimes we also have parties to attend with friends, events at work in which food is catered or provided by your fellow co-workers. Simply being around food and consuming food does not mean anything about you as a person. Not eating some food does not inherently make you better than others, and eating large quantities of food does not inherently make you less than anyone else.

Diet culture kicks into high gear around the holidays. I’m always amazed with the advertising of the average number of calories that are consumed on Thanksgiving. Just think about that- what is the purpose of this discussion? Does it change what you chose to consume that day, or does it only serve to make you feel worthless while doing so? On a day that is meant to stir feelings of gratitude for all that we have in this life, many of us expend that precious time and energy berating ourselves for what we’re putting in our bodies on one day. I also discuss how dangerous it is to label foods as “good” and “bad” here, and this is very apparent around the holidays.

Maybe this year instead of focusing on the food, take some deep breaths and look around. Look at the faces of your loved ones around the space. Feel your body and send gratitude towards it for keeping you here one more year. List some things you are grateful for, in that moment. And then eat.

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Nourishment

The concept of nourishment has been on my mind and heart lately.  Perhaps it’s related to the changing seasons, and looking towards the holiday season in which food is such a centerpiece.

As you may be able to relate, the holidays can be times of so much joy and love, while also being times of stress and anxiety. The holiday season and large gatherings involving food still increases my anxiety and brings back memories of the eating disorder and all that those years of my life entailed. During those years, the concept of nourishment was foreign to me. However, as my relationship with food and my body has healed, I am seeking more nourishment in my food, my relationships, my life in general.

The concept of nourishment is a complex one, but one worth exploring. I love the word itself- it’s so complex and there are so many layers to it. Nourishment includes not only food and water, but also the quality of our relationships with friends, family, nature, and more. To be nourished means being fully present. If we’re rushing through meals, conversations, and life in general, can we say our life has a nourishing quality?

Utilizing the following prompts may also help in examining the amount of nourishment in your life:

  • What makes you feel good? How often do you engage in this?
  • When do you feel nourished by food? What circumstances would make your meal a more nourishing experience overall?
  • Perform a nourishment inventory.Examine the following parts of your life and how nourishing they are. These can include the following:
    • people
    • places
    • thoughts
    • feelings
    • substances

 

The concept of nourishment has challenged me to take a look at areas of my life that lack nourishment, and what actions I can take to improve the quality of these experiences. For me this often includes slowing down and being present during meals, and being more mindful of actively listening when I’m with friends.

What do you think of when you think of nourishment? I’d love to hear how this concept resonates with you!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Warm Milk

The cooler temperatures have finally arrived and it looks like they’re here to stay!

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am currently on a healing journey after being diagnosed with Dyshidrotic eczema. On this healing journey, I’ve been examining the foods I eat and have been going back to basics. I feel my body is needing a massive reset due to the amount of inflammation it has been experiencing. Reducing this inflammation and preventing future flare-ups involves keeping things simple- my food, my commitments, my life in general. I am honoring my body and giving it what it is requesting of me.

Throughout this journey I will be sharing recipes, successes, and lessons with you! I have enjoyed playing with new recipes and finding so much pleasure in returning to basic foods. It’s amazing how quickly our sense of taste can change when we allow it to by integrating new foods into our diet.

I have felt called to utilize some Ayurvedic recipes to heal my body.  One recipe that I’ve really been loving is a warm pumpkin beverage that is based on Ayurvedic medicine. I can do another post devoted entirely to Ayurveda, but in general, Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest and most sophisticated mind-body healing systems, originating from sages in India. Ayurveda is much more than the food you put in your body, but food is extremely important in how our mind, body, and spirit are balanced and connected.

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I have this warm milk beverage at the end of the evening, before bed. The combination of the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and warmth are the perfect signal to my body that it’s time to rest and prepare to sleep. I have been struggling with difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep for several months now and this beverage has allowed me to sleep without any medication.

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SERVES 1

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk of choice (I am a non-dairy consumer so I chose almond or coconut milk)
2 tbsp pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated (about 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger)
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp coconut sugar (add more or less according to your desired sweetness)
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)

Instructions:

  1. In small saucepan, combine all ingredients except coconut sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally, until completely heated.
  2. Optional: Froth with an electric frother.
  3. Pour contents into mug. Add coconut sugar for desired sweetness. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Drink warm.

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I find that the amount of coconut sugar my body craves is different each day so I save that step until the end. This is a lovely ritual to close each day. Do you have rituals to end each day? I’d love to hear them!

I look forward to sharing many more stories and recipes with you as the end of 2018 approaches! Let me know what you think of this recipe as well- I’d love your feedback!

 

The light in me honors the light in you.

An Apple A Day

My favorite time of year is upon us! I am beyond ready for sweaters, pumpkins, cool weather, and new fall recipes.

This fall is also special for me because I will be beginning my Psychology of Eating program in October. I can’t help but feel like it’s back to school season. This program, in combination with me recently being diagnosed with Dyshidrotic Eczema, has started to challenge my beliefs about food. I feel I’m starting to utilize food in a new way – in a healing and medicinal way.

As a result of this recent revelation about my body’s need to heal, I have tried to implement a very basic and simplistic way to eating. It is up to each of us to tap into our own body’s wisdom throughout the (sometimes literal) seasons of life. And I feel my body asking for simplicity and grounding. I am honoring my body’s request by providing my body with simple foods that also re-connect me with the source of life – the Earth.

I recently purchased a juicer and have been having a blast playing around with some fun juice recipes – I can’t wait to share them with you soon!

One of the main components of my juices lately have been apples. Apples are in season at the moment, and my body has been craving them. They’re perfect for juicing because they balance out other veggies, such as celery, with some great sweetness. Since I’m currently loving apples, I want to share the numerous health benefits of these beauties. I think I’ll probably create a new series about the benefits of some of my go-to fruits and veggies.

So without further ado, here are some of the fabulous benefits of APPLES! Apples contain malic and tartaric acids, and these contribute to keep your body’s digestive system running at an optimum level. These acids keep food from fermenting in the stomach, allowing for better digestion. And the acids help the apple itself digest, but also aids in digesting other foods as well.

Speaking of digestive benefits – did you know that one apple has over 4 grams of fiber?! One great benefit of fiber, besides preventing colon cancer, is that it makes us feel fuller longer because it expands in the intestines and takes up volume.

Apples are also high in flavonoids, compounds that are thought to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Most flavonoids are found in the skin of the apple, so to get the most benefit be sure to keep the skin on when consuming them. These flavonoids also act as antioxidants by destroying free radicals that are destructive to genes, as well as reducing inflammation throughout the body.

Overall, apples have numerous health benefits so eat up!

What are your favorite fruits and veggies?!

The light in me honors the light in you. 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Adventure!

I’m so excited to announce that I’ve been accepted to the Institute for the Psychology of Eating’s Psychology of Eating Coaching Program! I will begin this new adventure in October and I’m counting the days!

I knew that an empowering coaching program was in my future, but finding a program that was the right fit for me was not an easy process. I spent hours upon hours researching coaching programs. I knew I couldn’t enroll in a program that trained me to provide meal plans to clients, as that strategy doesn’t align with my values and mission to empower individuals to get in touch with their intuition and learn the origin of their cravings.

Providing someone with a meal plan does not empower them- it simply tells them exactly what to feed themselves. My goal is to find the root of an individual’s cravings- to help people trust their body again, honor the body’s cravings, and learn to eat when hungry and stop when satisfied. Unfortunately, programs that empower individuals in this way are few and far between.

Once I discovered the Psychology of Eating coaching program at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, I knew I had found a program that aligned with my philosophy of empowerment.

In less than a year I will be a certified Mind, Body, Eating Coach and I couldn’t be more excited. The last couple of years have been guiding me to this program and have solidified my life’s purpose to empower individuals to heal their relationship with food and with their bodies. I will be utilizing yoga, meditation, Vedic Yoga Thai Bodywork, essential oils, and eating psychology to tap into the incredibly powerful intuition we all have within us.

I can’t wait to continue to update you with my progress, and to announce when I will begin to accept clients!

The light in me honors the light in you.

Earning Food: Mindful/Intuitive Eating

How often do we feel guilt even before we’ve started to eat certain foods? For some of us these foods are carbs, or chocolate, ice cream, even fruit- the list is never ending.

I am reflecting on the concept of “earned food” as I savor a piece of dark chocolate with blueberries. Years ago, before I learned mindful eating/intuitive eating practices, I would have devoured this chocolate, perhaps reached for more without pause, and then berated myself mere moments later- demeaning myself for my lack of willpower and loss of control.

This is what we’re taught to believe: that eating “forbidden” foods is a sign of weakness. The diet and fitness industry has made millions of dollars on the concept of good carbs and bad carbs, good starch and bad starch, good fruit and bad fruit. I call bullshit.

When we are out of tune with out body, we are reactive in nature. Have an uncomfortable feeling? Reach for the brownies. Got rejected? Unload a bag of potato chips. It doesn’t have to be this way. By introducing practices such as meditation into our lives, we begin to gain the ability to become an observer of our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as opposed to being a slave to them. When we gain the ability to view our thoughts as simply additional information, we can then view them in a more holistic way. Sometimes they may still mean you reach for the brownie, and that’s great! The difference is this time you’re fully aware of why you’re craving that particular food, and you can eat it more mindfully, with gratitude for what it’s providing to your body in that moment. Then when you are satiated, you can be done eating and move on. It truly can be that simple.

Food is not something to be earned, it is an energy source to be consumed and utilized to allow us to live our lives to our fullest potential. How incredible is that?! The next time you have an overwhelming craving, perhaps take a moment to breathe into it. Ask yourself where the craving is originating and if that’s truly what you need. Perhaps you need a nap, a bath, or a hug instead. Listen. And then proceed as your body is directing. Continue to practice this as you can and see how your relationship with your mind, body, and food evolves.

 

I would love to hear your experiences with mindful/intuitive eating!