Have you found any links between how you feel and what you eat?
This morning, my husband and I had a long conversation about caffeine, sugar, and stomach acid. It’s interesting to think about how these chemicals (both external and internally produced) impact my body, my mood, and my capacity to deal with day to day operations of my life.
Where in your daily routine are you noticing the links between your food intake and your mood output? Join the conversation on Facebook: StacyReuille.com and tell us about your experience.
Want to add more veggies into your diet but struggle to break out of the common choices. Try Brussels sprouts in this easy and quick recipe.
I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.
I love vegetables. I really like them. So much that my older cousins used to call me vegetable when I would chose the celery over Grandma’s cookies. I have never been much of a sweet eater. I prefer salty and bitter flavors. It should be no surprise that I might find brussels sprouts a good idea.
I often eat them for breakfast, but this easy recipe makes a great side dish too.
Chop your Brussels sprouts into bite sized pieces and trim the tough parts. I like mine to be cut so some of leaves come off while cooking. They get nice and crispy.
Heat up some bacon grease in a frying pan
When it is hot, add your Brussels sprouts. Cook until they soften, but not too much. I like to have some crisp outside leaves and a little brown on the cut sides. I do not like them soggy. They should still have some form when you eat them. Maybe not “crunchy” but not soggy.
Salt and pepper to taste
These go great with eggs, kale, steak, hamburgers, chicken, fish – with pretty much anything.
I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part.
So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.
Here’s a great side dish or lunch idea. It can make a great meal on it’s own, a dish to share at the local potluck, or a side to some great grilled items, a soup, or smoked turkey.
Tomato Cucumber Salad: 1. Get some tomatoes. The fresher the better (may need to check out the local natural food store this time of year). 2. Get some cucumbers. The fresher the better (same as above). 3. Get some onion. I like the white or yellow kinds in this dish. 4. Cut all those up in bite sized chunks. I like to keep all the tomato juice and seeds in. If you don’t, don’t. 5. Find some really good ranch dressing. I haven’t gotten to the point where I make this from scratch yet. I use full fat and organic. I like the Newman’s Own brand. I just look for small list of ingredients on the back and low to no sugar. Put a little in the bowl. Start with a small dollop. You can always add more. 6. Salt and pepper if you like. I usually add cracked black pepper, but salt depends on the dressing. 7. Mix it all up and taste. If you feel like you need to add more of anything, do.
Word of caution – If you are going to put in the fridge to blend the flavors, you need less dressing and salt/pepper than you think. Even when I make and eat, I need less salt and dressing than I think.
Ta-da! Yummy and done.
For years I have worked with people who are lost when it comes to follow through on goals and behavior changes. It can be frustrating to set goals only to fail at achieving them. One reason people do not reach personal goals is they do not prioritize themselves above others. Now this may sound selfish, and many of us have been taught that to focus on myself would mean I am not a community player. However, the reality is … you MUST focus on yourself first. You cannot take care of anyone else if you are depleted. You HAVE to put yourself first if you are to be in a place to give.
Many of us are so busy. In fact you may be saying “if I take that hour for myself, I won’t be able to feed my kids dinner or walk my dogs or get that project done at work”. Believe me I know. This is a constant struggle in my life. How can I balance my personal creative outlets, workouts, work tasks, feeding people, being a good pet owner, and showing my kids and husband how much I love them? Some days it feels like an unsurmountable task.
Yet what I know is … if I take care of me first, then the other stuff gets done AND gets done better. I’m more focused, engaged, and connected to my family, friends, and pets. I am more efficient at getting my work done because I am focused. I am happier because I feel better about myself. This is a direct result from accomplishing a goal I set in front of me. I feel masterful. The feeling of mastery is important in building self confidence which brings out my best self to share with others. To have all this, I MUST put myself first.
In a study done by Burke, Swigart, Warziski, Derro, and Ewing (2009), the authors found that self-monitoring is a great way to increase understanding of behavior choices and change options, however 2 groups of people struggled to follow through. One group committed half way and the other gave up, completely. Key factors included making themselves and their goals a top priority and finding positive supportive people to surround themselves with. The pieces that separated those 2 groups from the one that solidly made their goal during the year of weight loss, and maintained it 6 months later, outlines ideas we can all use.
First, the group that made it was organized and focused on the goal. They carried their food diaries (part of the study guidelines) with them, recorded their food and exercise choices, and had supportive people in their lives. They reported an understanding of cause and effect. They knew and/or learned how their choices everyday contributed to the goal they’d set and they made their choices in ways that promoted their success. On the other hand the groups that struggled had some big differences.
In both groups that struggled to meet the goals people were not as organized. They spoke of forgetting their journals or writing down daily food choices on scrapes of paper they later lost. They didn’t have strong support people in their corner and they didn’t prioritize themselves over other obligations. They used more excuses regarding busy life tasks and other responsibilities to make up for emotional eating and lack of adherence to the plan set forth by the study. Some even hid their goals and hopes from their loved ones and co-workers or commented on the sabotaging behavior toward them partners and friends did regarding their goal. In the group that struggled the most they were more overwhelmed with life, reported more physical exhaustion, had more self blame, and were not able to nurture and take responsibility for themselves.
It’s interesting how we get in our own way.In the last article on the imposter phenomenon (Feeling Like a Phony. The Imposter Phenomenon) we discussed how we might come to hide our brilliance or feel like we can’t really try because we might fail. Many of us use this as a way to circumvent reaching our goals. Today, we are looking at how not taking full responsibility for ourselves and our personal choices gets in our way. Do either sound like you? If so they may be keeping you from your health goals.
Do you set a goal only to find ways around by blaming yourself or others? I hear things like “I can’t eat that way, my family won’t like it” or “I had to stay late at work because I couldn’t say no” or “everyone does it that way in my family, I don’t think I could go for a walk instead of watch TV”, this list goes on.
Do you find yourself setting the bar so high you’ll never make it on the first try and then blame yourself or others for your failure, shame yourself, or collapse under the strain of trying to be prefect?
What about organizing and planning well? Do you find yourself disorganized and unable to find your keys, journal, pen, a shoe not to mention find the time to collect your thoughts and write them down/track your food and moods?
The bottom line is you have choices everyday all day long. When we understand the link between our choices and our outcomes – plus take full responsibility for those outcome – we become more powerful. Here are some questions to get you started:
Are you the top priority in your life?
If not, why not?
Can you keep your goal in your sights all the time (i.e. the office lunch? Holiday dinner? Getting to bed on time so you can work out early?)
If not, what gets in your way?
When planning your focus, can you follow through on packing snacks, choosing healthy movement/eating options, and getting enough down time in your daily life?
Again, if not, why not?
And if you can do those things – how do you do it?
What makes you successful?
How do you hold your focus?
Do you have the right support people in your corner? Who are they and what do you like about their support? If you don’t have supportive friends and family, where can you find them? A group? Work? Trainer? This was an important part of success for the group able to maintain their weight loss and a huge factor for the group that struggled the hardest. Here are some tips on finding a workout buddy who can support you:3 things to consider when choosing a workout partner.
If you are struggling with any of the above connect with me. Sometimes the behaviors getting in our way are serving a purpose. For instance, you might not know anyone you respect who is organized, or you may have been taught to be perfect is the only option. You might find that to reach your goal means your friends and family become distant and that is painful and confusing. At times the lack of accomplishing a goal is about the meaning we place on the goal and our identity tied into who we are today and who we believe we can be tomorrow.
Burke, L.E., Swigart, V., Turk, M. W., Derro, N., and Ewing, L. J. (2009). Experiences of self-monitoring: Successes and struggles during treatment for weight loss. Quality Health Res 19(6), 815-828. doi:10.1177/1049732309335395
Remember – the nutritional part of maintaining a healthy weight is about 80% of the battle. While exercise matters for quality of life, ability to live well into our older years, and feeling alive, it’s only about 20% of losing/gaining weight. This is because exercise is good at helping us use up calories (aka stored fat) but only if we aren’t putting more into storage.
In addition, exercise often creates more hunger – because you are using more calories you need more fuel. If you are eating your fuel via junk food you are only filling your tank with junk. The body then struggles to help you rebuild tissue and have what it needs to make sure you are strong and ready for your next workout.
Planning your meals and making sure to follow the 80/20 rule when choosing foods is important. Here 80% of the time you are on track for your goals (weight loss, maintenance, or gain) and 20% of the time you eat what you want. This can be looked at according to the hour, day, week, etc.
If you are following the 80/20 rule on food and making good, healthy, whole food, nutrient dense choices, you can be pretty sure your also following the 80/20 rule when it comes to the way diet and exercise work together to create a healthy weight for you.
This video goes over a case study of someone who works a lot, isn’t able to find the time to exercise, and is starting to have physical problems as a result of being about 100lbs overweight. He outlines where to start and how to stick with it.
Often rewards are one of the reasons people stay focused on workout goals. However if your workout goal is also focused on giving into your favorite “sweet foods” because you deserved it, you may find that you are over-indulging and sabotaging yourself along the way. As we begin a workout program we tend to increase our hunger because our body is requiring more calories (aka fuel) to do what’s asked of it. If we are filling those extra calories with junk because “we worked hard” we aren’t keeping our ‘eyes on the prize’, which has been found to help us reach our goals, and instead we are shooting ourselves in the foot. Smart pre and post workout snacking can help balance out those extra cravings and make sure the fuel you are choosing is the right kind for your needs in this part of your training cycle.
Keeping Your Eye On The Prize Matters. Check Out Why ~
If you aren’t going to reward yourself with food … then just what will you get for all that hard work? Answering a few simple questions can really help you define what’s important to you and keep you motivated to reach your goals. Think about:
What you really like do?
What do you value?
What do you usually forgo?
a mani/pedi, facial, expensive razor, a day at the driving range, time to read, a Netflix binge episode, sleep, a different/new food (that’s healthy for you), a new fitness tracker, etc.
These are all ways you can help yourself stay focused and excited to reach your goals, without blowing your long term health vision.
There are a few rules to the above answers. First, make sure you stick within your budget. If you end up healthier but then strapped for time to pay it off, you are apt to return to your old behaviors and lose your gains. Second, consider timing. I am a mother of 3, I might like a binge watching episode of Netflix, but if it interrupts my family time, it might not be sustainable or as enjoyable, leaving me demotivated. Third, plan for a variety of rewards. This way you won’t get bored doing the same activities over and over, get stuck in a rut and you are likely to resort to old unhealthy coping to beat the boredom. That’s a no-win.
Finally, remember the reward should be fun and shouldn’t be so far off and unavailable that it seems impossible to get. Once I gave myself a new pair of workout shoes, however the price tag on the ones I wanted was so much on my salary I had months of saving before me. That reward was too far out for me to stick with it. One time, I also gave myself a facial appointment if I met my goals, problem with this reward – it seemed so unlike me and too pampering. I wasn’t motivated to reach my goals to get it. It felt too uncomfortable at the time. I backed that goal down to something that felt better for me and had a massage instead.
Once I was able to switch the way I thought about “what I deserve” after apply hard work and big effort, finding unique and motivating rewards got a lot more fun. See what you come up with to give yourself today.
I thought it posed an interesting question that lead to simple or complex answers. It made me think beyond the New Year’s detox diets, breaking up with sugar rules, and weight loss desires.
My answer included all aspects of my life, my food & beverages, my exercise habits – do I train too hard? Too light? Not enough? Too much? The things I let into my awareness – news, music, people, TV, photos, etc, and the concept of who I want to be. All these role together to create my concept of clean living.
Clean living is about burning away all the choices that clog you up. Living clean is about staying grounded enough to be open to the possibilities that cross your path.
One cannot do that without feeling well. For me to feel well and remain open I must be vigilant about my daily movement, my food, my spaces, and my social times.
I must honor myself in each choice doing just what is needed to move me in the direction I want to go. Doing too much will clog me up, doing too little will clog the path.
To remain clean I must focus on the pleasure of treating my mind, my body, my heart, and my soul well. It starts simply with movement and is followed by what I allow in. Will this food item, news report, musical song, person help or hinder me?
Then I must choose wisely, burn away all that is no longer serving me, let go of all I no longer need, and live fully into the moment right in front of me. That is clean living.
I have been attending these online conferences and sending clients to attend for the last few years. He’s always got a great line up of speakers that speak to all areas of healthy regulation – food, sleep, exercise, social, psychology, medical, trauma – all sorts of great info.
Even if you aren’t in recovery from drugs, alcohol, or any of the “Big 6” – we are all in recovery from something. Here’s the link to sign up for this free conference, you attend from the comfort of your own home or office or car or trail run or where ever you happen to be.
Over the last few years I have been diving deep into the connections between mental health and physical health. As I have been working with mental health clients using physical exercise some surprising interventions have made the most impact. One that continues to be a solid help is eating a balanced diet at regular intervals. Here are some reasons to care and tips to track your own moods as they relate to your food choices.
When we look at the links between blood sugar and mood we see some themes. When one doesn’t eat for long periods of time irritability, depression, sadness, a general feeling of malaise are common. My clients articulate this as “blah” and it makes sense given that feeling low energy often gets tagged as depression in our culture or “what’s wrong with me because I can’t get things done”. Things just aren’t as vibrant, colorful, interesting, or exciting when you aren’t feeling well. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, you don’t feel well.
In the body the brain registers this as dangerous and a slew of chemicals is pumped from the endocrine system to accommodate this threat. Some describe feeling a “little high” or “being detached” from the world and people around them. They report using food to help them achieve these states helps them “numb out” from painful emotions. The problem becomes this behavior feeds its own cycle and often the thoughts around these somatic sensations are distorted. As noted above people label their low energy as depression, the shaky nauseous feeling as anxiety, and the lack of focus as ADHD. However, what’s really going on doesn’t need a psychotropic med it needs a balanced meal.
To begin your own exploration of how food impacts your moods tracking can be helpful. Note what time you eat, what you ate, what emotions you were feeling before and after the meal, and any physical (or lack of) sensations you had. Track for 1-2 weeks without changing anything. This can help you see patterns in your behaviors, moods, and physical sensation. It is important to begin this process without judgment. There is no need to judge, you are doing what you are doing, just allow yourself to objectively see what it is you are doing. From this place of observation it becomes easier to determine what you would like to change and how you’ll be most successful changing it.
Here’s to happy eating and contented feelings!
Food Diary Log Example:
Meal (can include calories or nutrition info if wanted)