The Weight Loss Solution… Eat Like A Kid!

I have a 2 year old. I am a Dietitian. When these two worlds collide during mealtimes, sometimes I get frustrated… like really, really, REALLY frustrated! Why won’t she just try the chicken? Why won’t she just eat one more bite of broccoli? Why is she refusing the pasta today when she gobbled it up yesterday? How could she only eat a fourth of her meal and be done already?  Or refuse the entire meal altogether?!! The struggle is real for me and my tot, as it is for so many other parents. But recently it dawned on me that us adults have it all wrong! I realized my daughter is actually eating (or not eating) in a very natural, normal, innate way. A way that us adults should be modeling. Yes, I said we should model our kids! And here is why you should EAT LIKE A KID!

Think about a newborn… it seems like all they really do is eat, sleep, and poop right? Well their “on demand” eating patterns are established to meet their bodies’ physiological needs. Their bodies tell them when they are hungry or need to eat (i.e. that dreaded… I mean, adorable… infant cry 😉 ), and their bodies tell them to stop once they’ve had enough.  And we, as parents, honor that. I mean it would be pretty hard to force a baby to drink more milk if he/she refuses to suckle anymore, right? So why is it ok for us to push our kiddos to “eat two more bites” or “finish your plate” when they insist that they are done? Who are we to decide how much they need?

And then there are those times, when my daughter can’t seem to get enough, like when she’s having a growth spurt. For all of the times our kids refuse to eat, they most likely will make up for it at another time. So us parents should just lighten up, right? Easier said than done… but WHY is it so hard for us? Maybe it’s because we have a different idea of what “normal” eating habits are. Somewhere along the way in our own lives we were trained, influenced, triggered, or somehow programmed to eat for reasons other than just to meet our physiological needs.

As we grow up… through environment, experiences, family or interpersonal influences, food somehow turns into much more than just fuel for our bodies. I mean, how many of us have bribed our children with a treat if they just behave themselves?  Unfortunately, I’m guilty of this more times than I’d like to admit :(.  For many of us, food may be a reward, a comfort, a stress relief, a social activity, or an outlet for boredom. You may have been trained to “clean your plate” or not waste food, or you may eat just because food is available or offered, regardless of physical hunger.  And then on the other hand, there’s DIETING— the deprivation, restricting certain foods, skipping meals or eating too little in efforts to lose weight, when your body is actually screaming “feed me!” Either way, we are letting our brains, not our bellies, run the show!

So what can we learn from kids?

  • Listen to your body- Young children will eat when they are physically hungry, and stop when they are full, regardless of how much food is left. Plain and simple.
  • Mindful eating- Young children often take a lot of time to eat. Between bites they might babble/talk, laugh, make silly faces, whatever. And the most common of all— every young child has played with their food. But is this so wrong? In most cases, absolutely not! They are exploring the color, shape, texture, and taste of food.  They are simply appreciating what they are about to put (or not put) in their mouths. Something all of us should do! Did you know it takes 20 minutes for the brain to get the signal from the stomach that you are full/satisfied? Chances are, if we all took more time to eat, we would probably EAT LESS, and ENJOY FOOD MORE!
  •  Be choosy about your foods- Kids are picky. They don’t eat just anything. They may eat something one day, but refuse the same thing another day. Not to mention, it can take up to 10 times to offer a new food before a child accepts it (like in the case of certain veggies with my daughter :/ ). The main point is, kids tend to eat what they feel like at that particular time, and they don’t necessarily eat something just because it happens to be available or offered. By choosing what our bodies need at the time, and what our taste buds enjoy, we will ultimately be satisfied in the long-run!

So to wrap it up… listen to your tummy and taste buds, and EAT LIKE A KID!

As for me? I’m trying my best to lighten up on my daughter during mealtimes, but even more so, I’m trying to follow her lead… even if that means I play with my food every now and then 🙂 .

Take Action: If you are a parent, how can you make mealtimes easier on yourself and your kiddos? OR, if you realize that you need to improve your own eating habits, what can you start doing today to rewire your behavior and thinking about how and why to eat?  

Roasted Chicken and Veggies

Chicken tends to be one of those foods that people commonly get tired of… but I say, there is soooo much you can do with chicken! If you like the flavors of garlic and basil… this chicken recipe is for you! And BONUS: what a flavorful way to get veggies in too!

Roasted Chicken and Veggies

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut into bite size cubes)
  • 2 cups fresh Broccoli Florets
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, choppedimg_3454
  • 1 Green (or Yellow) Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 of a Red Onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Basil
  • 1 Tbsp minced Garlic
  • 2  tsp Italian Seasoning (I use Mrs. DASH)
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions: 

  • Chop the chicken, and all of the vegetables as specified above.
  • Pour olive oil into a large bowl. Add garlic and italian seasoning. Whisk until combined.
  • Add the chicken, vegetables, and basil. Mix all ingredients with large spoon until the chicken and veggies are evenly coated with the oil/seasoning mixture.
  • Spray a 9×13 inch pan (or roasting pan) with cooking spray. Transfer chicken/vegetables into pan.
  • Bake at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes (or until chicken is fully cooked).
  • Serve with pasta or rice. Enjoy 🙂

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Pre and Post-Workout Fuel

One of the most common questions I get asked is… what should I eat before and after I exercise? 

To get the most out of your workout, it’s critical to give your body the right nutrients both before and after exercise . Here are the basics for Pre and Post-Workout Fuel:  

  • Pre-workout: Carbohydrates for fuel. Ideally, you should  fuel your body 1-3 hours before exercise with carbohydrate, which is the energy source for your muscles. Some good carbohydrate choices include:  a piece of fruit such as a banana or apple, berries, dried fruit, oatmeal, whole grain dry cereal or crackers, pasta or rice, or a slice of toast. If strength training, I would also suggest including a small amount of protein to help prime muscles for repair after your workout. Some good protein choices are an egg, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts/nut butters, and lean meat. It’s recommended to avoid high fat foods, and not to eat immediately before exercise (especially a full meal) as either can cause GI discomfort, and interfere with energy supply to the working muscles. Also, consider sticking with familiar foods that you know you tolerate, especially on the day of a big event or race.
    **Here are some pre-workout ideas:
    1. Oatmeal or whole grain dry cereal with low fat milk
    2. Smoothie made with fruit and low fat milk or yogurt
    3. Slice of toast with an egg
    4. Apple or banana with 1 Tbsp. of peanut or almond butter
  • Post-workout: Carbohydrate and Protein. As soon as possible (or at least within 30 minutes) after a workout, consume carbohydrates and protein. This gives your muscles an opportunity to restore glycogen (from carbs) that has been lost during exercise, and repair and rebuild muscles (from protein). A 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is recommended.
    **Here are some ideas:
    1. Low fat chocolate milk
    2. Yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit
    3. Turkey or tuna sandwich with veggies
    4. Hard boiled egg with a few whole grain crackers
    5. Trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
  • Hydration Matters: When adequately hydrated, your heart can more efficiently pump blood, and deliver oxygen and other nutrients to your working muscles. This will give you more energy (making the workout seem easier compared to when not hydrated). While fluid needs vary from person to person, a good rule of thumb  is to consume 2 cups (16 oz) of water 2 hours before exercise, and 1 cup (8oz) within 15 minutes prior to exercise. During exercise, drink about 1 cup every 15-20 minutes. You may want to consider weighing yourself before and after exercise… and for every pound lost (through sweat) , replace it with 16 oz of fluid.

***Take Action:  Do you need to adjust your pre or post workout meal/snack? How about fluid intake? How is your body responding? How’s your energy level when you exercise? How does your stomach feel? Please share what’s working for you (before and after exercise) to fuel your body!

Give Yourself a Break!

A few weeks ago, late on a Sunday night, I found myself tossing and turning in bed for hours… heart racing, shallow breathing, and on the verge of what felt like an anxiety attack, or mental breakdown? Not totally sure! But I felt overwhelmed and exhausted from just the thought of starting another week… no fuel left in my tank, no motivation to do “all of the things” but fear about what would happen if I let go of doing “all of those things.” I started my week sleep deprived but kept going, going, and going, until I got sick and my body said STOP! I was exhausted…  I was BURNED OUT!

So… I took a break, went on a 2 week vacation, spent lots of  time with family and friends, and got a new perspective.

Why do I share this? Because If I went through this, there’s a good chance so many other people are going through it too, and I want to help! So today I am here to tell you to GIVE YOURSELF a BREAK EVERY DAY!  Here is why:

  • You have one life! And it’s a journey, not a destination.  It’s easy to forget that the day-to-day grind is all part of our LIFE. We “dread it… hate Mondays… can’t wait for the weekend to finally get here, TGIF, can’t wait for that vacation”, blah, blah blah! And during that daily grind, we run around like crazy people in survival mode, not fully present, and taking for granted all of the blessings that are right in front of us! Or at least I found myself there, until I had to remind myself that the laundry, the dishes, and “all of those things” aren’t going anywhere… but my daughter will grow up, she will leave the house, all of the people I love are not going to be around forever. I WILL NOT BE HERE FOREVER. In the big scheme of things, will it matter if I cleaned my house? Or will it matter that I made the most of my time with the people I love, connecting, laughing, having great conversations, making memories, trying new things, and making a difference. There are no guarantees in life, you have just one, and it’s getting shorter… Make the most of it… give yourself a break everyday to STOP and SMELL the ROSES!
  • There’s a a difference between being “busy” and being “accomplished.” Many of us jam pack every minute of our day with tasks that don’t really matter. At the end of the day, we may feel (falsely) “productive” but find ourselves empty and worn the f*** out! We may even be keeping “busy” as a way to procrastinate from starting more meaningful projects or even connecting with other people… things that are outside of our comfort zones, yet could bring us more happiness, energy, and sense of self-worth if we accomplished them.
  •  If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t do anything great! I’m guilty of a prior belief that rest and sleep were wastes of time….the mindset of “If I’m sleeping or relaxing, then I’m not being productive.” My sleep was always the first thing to go when life got hectic and “busy.” Even now, I still don’t consistently get adequate sleep. But I can tell that when I’m sleep deprived, I feel anxious, irritable, overwhelmed, and have difficulty focusing and making confident decisions. If I’m in that state, how much good can I really do in the world? Can you relate to this? If not a sleep issue, maybe you have let other self-cares go… maybe it’s healthy eating, exercising, journaling, meditation, etc.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be or give your best… and at some point, you will just burnout!

So GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Only you can figure what that entails for you. Ask yourself these questions to figure what needs to change in your life. I highly encourage you write down your answers in a notebook or journal.  Answering these questions will help your create your self-care plan and the life that you want! Even if you just take a few minutes a day to answer just 1 or 2 questions at a time…

  1. What does “self-care” mean to me?
  2. What am I doing when I feel my happiest?
  3. What things or actions give me the most energy?
  4. What can I do everyday to feel happy and energized?
  5. When in my day can I make time for this?
  6. What am I grateful for?
  7. What would my ideal day look like?
  8. What causes me to feel stressed? overwhelmed? or anxious?
  9. What “busy” tasks am I spending too much time on?
  10. Can I delegate any of them to other people, or possibly pay to have it done?
  11. How can I work smarter (not harder) with the other tasks?
  12. Are there any commitments that are not worthwhile that I can let go of?
  13. What more purposeful (or self-care) things do I want more of in my life, and how often?
  14. How can I be sure they get added/scheduled in? (i.e. weekly date night, monthly girls’ night out, vacation twice/year, monthly massage, etc.)
  15. What have I been wanting to do (or try) but haven’t? (i.e. such as bucket list items, or personal or professional goals)
  16. When I am feeling drained, what can I do to recharge myself?
  17. When I am feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed, what can I do to alleviate these feelings?
  18. Who can support me and/or provide me with accountability?

**** Take Action Today! Get a journal or notebook, and answer all of these questions to figure out what you want and need to change in your life. Remember, even if it’s just a few minutes each day… this is you TAKING TIME FOR YOU!  This is your BREAK! 

Please share your insights! 

Homemade Granola Bars… Customized for You!

Imagine yourself in the cereal/granola bar aisle of the grocery store… Do you ever  get overwhelmed by endless varieties of fiber bars, protein bars, energy bars,  power bars, breakfast bars, yogurt bars, fruit bars…. Ahhh! There are more BARS out there than ever, and many choices are no better than a CANDY bar!

Try out my homemade granola bar recipe! The best thing about it– you can customize the ingredients to meet your preferences and nutritional needs. Get creative, and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups dry oats
  • 2/3  cup crushed almonds (or other nut)
  • 2/3 cup crushed peanuts (or other nut)
  • 1/3 cup flaxseeds, ground
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries (or cranberries)
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  • Place oats, nuts, flaxseeds, and dried fruit in a large bowl. Mix together.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the peanut butter and honey.
  • Pour the peanut butter/honey mixture in the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix well until dry ingredients are coated well and evenly.

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  • Line an 8×8 inch baking pan/dish with parchment or wax paper, leaving extra on the sides
  • Press the mixture into the baking dish. Pack tightly and evenly.

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  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Pull the edges of parchment paper to remove the  intact granola from the pan.
  • Cut into 12 bars (3×4 cuts)
  • Best stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks in refrigerator or 10 days at room temperature.

Enjoy! 🙂

How to Stop Boredom Eating!

While eating only when you are truly, physically hungry is ideal… I think we have all found ourselves eating when not hungry. I know I have many times! I’m going to focus on one very common trigger… boredom!

Can you relate? Do you find yourself seeking out food in these common situations….

  • While winding down in the evenings
  • During slow points at work
  • Downtime at home on the weekends
  • While doing something that is “mindless” or not very engaging (such as watching TV)
  • When  procrastinating on a project, or while doing something you don’t enjoy
  • When alone with nobody around to talk to

So how do you combat boredom eating??? Here’s how:

Find something to do…STAT!  There is no better way to prevent or stop the trigger than to fulfill that specific need.  So if you’re bored, you need to get UN-BORED! The problem is that we eat because we think we don’t have anything better to do, but that is so not true!

According to a thesaurus, here are a few words that describe the opposite of being bored….

  • Fascinated
  • Energized
  • Interested
  • Engaged
  • Refreshed
  • Enthusiastic
  • Excited
  • Exhilarated

So now that we know the feelings that essentially describe NOT being bored, follow these simple steps to stop boredom eating for good!

  1. Take out a piece of paper and list out all of these words leaving space between each.
  2. Go through each word/feeling on the list and think about something you do that gives you that feeling. Write down the activity(ies) next to each word/feeling.
  3. Put that paper somewhere it is readily available (purse, wallet, posted on the fridge, posted on computer at work, etc.)
  4.  The next time you feel bored and want to eat, refer to that piece of paper and do something from that list!

Because I was once a boredom eater, I came up with these steps and IT WORKS! Here is what is on my piece of paper:

  • Fascinated- 1) being outside in nature, and/or 2) playing with my daughter
  • Energized- going for a run, or just moving my body in some way
  • Interested- 1) reading a good book, or 2) researching a topic I’ve been wanting to know more about
  • Engaged- 1) calling/catching up with family or a friend I haven’t talked to in awhile, OR 2) writing a blog post 🙂
  • Refreshed- 1) breaking a sweat through exercise and then taking a shower,  or 2) cleaning out a closet or drawer and tossing or donating items I no longer need
  • Enthusiastic- 1) listening to music, or 2) journaling
  • Excited- planning a trip, a social gathering, date night, or to attend an event… basically just making future plans to look forward to!
  • Exhilarated- 1) being productive by either accomplishing things from my to-do list or finishing a big project, or 2) doing something good for someone else

So those are my boredom go-to’s! Once you’ve a chance to come up with yours, please share!

 

Healthy Burrito Bowl Recipe

When you think of the word “burrito”, what generally comes to mind? Maybe something along the lines of high fat, high starch, cheesy, loaded, smothered goodness? In other words, it’s bad for me, right? NOOOOO, it doesn’t have to be that way!

Here is my burrito bowl recipe that you MUST try! It has all of the goodness of an amazing burrito….minus the tortilla and the guilt! This is a common weeknight go-to meal that my burrito eating husband LOVES!

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound of ground turkey
  • 1/2 of a medium onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can (15 oz) of black beans OR 1 cup frozen corn
  • 10 oz can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice, prepare according to package instructions
  • Desired toppings/add-ins (guacamole, low fat shredded cheese, etc.)

Directions:

  • Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Over medium heat, brown the ground turkey, breaking up into pieces.
  • Add the onion and bell peppers. Cook over medium heat until the onion/peppers are tender (about 10-15 minutes).
  •  Add the beans or corn, diced tomatoes, and salsa. Mix well, continuing to cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked rice and stir until all ingredients are mixed well.
  • Sprinkle cilantro on top.
  • Serve in bowls and add desired toppings.
  • Enjoy!!

Do you have a healthier version of a dish that would otherwise be considered not so good for us? Please share!

Summer Corn Salad Recipe

It’s that time of the year for fresh veggies… and I absolutely love fresh corn on the cob! But eating it off the cob? Getting it stuck between my teeth? Not a fan! 

If you, too, want to enjoy fresh corn (but without the hassle of eating it off the cob) try out my tasty recipe! It’s perfect as a side dish to your summer BBQs!

Summer Corn Salad

Ingredients:

  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 pint cherry or plum tomatoes, sliced into halves
  • 1 avocado, chopped into small cubes
  • ¼ of red onion, finely diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Fill a large pot about 3/4 full of water and bring to a boil. Place ears of corn into boiling water, cover the pot, reduce heat to medium-low, and let the corn cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer ears of corn into a bowl of cold water too cool down. Take each ear of corn one at a time, and stand  cob (flat end down) in the middle of a large bowl. Use a knife to slice corn off around the entire cob.
  • Add avocado, onion, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil. Mix all ingredients together with a large spoon, breaking up any large sections of corn as needed.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chill for about an hour to let flavors combine.
  • Enjoy as is, or add to the top of a bed of salad greens. Yum!  🙂

 

 

Think you hate exercise? Think again, and find your thing!

I’m a runner. I’ve said more than once that I love running…  

But here’s a confession: I was lying… I DON’T love running! To be honest, sometimes I think I hate it! Hate having to force myself to get up at 4:30am on the weekdays. Hate spending 2-4 hours on a weekend to do a long training run. Hate the dread before a run when I know I am physically, mentally, or emotionally exhausted. But I do it.  Despite my love-hate relationship with running, I do it.  And I let nothing stop me. I somehow find a way to always talk myself into it even when it would be a lot easier to talk myself out of it.  No matter how hectic life gets, I find a way to get it done, pretty much everyday … and here is why:

While there are times I don’t love running, what I DO LOVE is how I feel AFTER a run… I love the feeling of accomplishment, like I can conquer the world, and take on anything that comes my way.  Any self-doubt or anxiety I had at the start of a run is erased by the time I finish…

My heart is pounding, my head is clear, and all of a sudden, I feel like ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. It’s called endorphins, the “runner’s high”, and it doesn’t take much to get it. You don’t necessarily have to run to feel that “high.” But what you MUST do is find the activity that is right for you… the one that, despite sleep deprivation or a stressful day, energizes you. When you find the activity that generates that feeling, it will become almost like a drug… you’ll want to keep going back for more, and then it will just become part of your life. So when a long, stressful day is no longer an excuse, but more of a reason to just DO IT, you’ll know you’ve found the thing you are passionate about! Or as I like to call it, your “sweet spot.”

So how do you find that “sweet spot?” 

Ask yourself these series of questions:

  • What were my favorite physical activities as a child/growing up?
  • Do I prefer exercising solo?  With just one other person? Amongst a group? Or do I prefer it be a sport/competition?
  • Do I like to be outside or indoors? At home or in a gym/rec center?
  • What activities energize me (even if I think I am tired)?
  • Is there an activity that makes me lose track of time? That before I know it, 30 minutes or an hour has passed?

In answering these questions, did you notice a trend or type of exercise that popped up frequently?  If not, try out various types of exercises you think you may enjoy to pinpoint what gives you the feelings described above the most.  

If you are at a loss, here are some activities to consider: walking, hiking, biking, yoga, pilates, swimming, water aerobics, kick-boxing, a group class such as spinning or Zumba, CrossFit, dancing, tennis, racquetball, strength/weight training, circuit training, at-home exercise videos, etc.

Try doing that exercise on a regular basis for atleast 3 weeks. Even if you feel like quitting, DON’T QUIT!

After 3 weeks, take note of your results, and ask yourself these questions…

  • How does the exercise make me feel, both physically and mentally?
  • Can I keep up with doing this exercise most days of the week?
  • How can I carve out time in my life for it?—-Which days of the week/how often can I commit to exercising? What time of day is best for me? How much time can I spend doing it?

You may not find it right away…but just know, YOU WILL FIND IT! And it will FEEL GREAT! 

Please help me to help you! Share what you thought about this post, AND if you’ve found your “sweet spot,” tell us what it is and how you’ve made it a priority in your life!

 

 

 

 

Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe

Who loves fresh tomato salsa (or pico de gallo)?   I do! I do! I do! 

Here is my recipe 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 Jalapeno, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Red Onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped Cilantro
  • Juice of 1 Lime (about 2 Tbsp lime juice)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  • Mix tomatoes, jalapeno. onion, cilantro, and lime juice in a bowl.
  • Add salt to taste
  • Chill for at least 1 hour to let all of the flavors combine before serving.

Click on the infographic below for a quick reference, or print out as a recipe card.

Enjoy! 🙂

Fresh Salsa