Is your helping voice really helping?

Is your helping voice really helping?

You know that little internal conversation you have when staring at the buffet table, open bar or other indulgent food (or beverage) choice?  There’s often opposing voices or thoughts going through our minds such as “it’s not that bad, “or “you know, you really don’t need that…”

You are normal

The good news, you are not crazy if you are hearing voices too! In fact, most of us have an inner helping and sabotaging voice. I think of it as friends versus an accomplice. Our friends help us when we feel down by saying comforting words that are uplifting and encouraging like this exchange with my best friend, Gretchen:

Me: I have a craving to quit my job, eat icing out of a plastic tub, and drink a margarita. Apparently, I’m feeling stressed…
G: Is it weird that we have all the same stress things? LoL
Me: Hahaha no, makes me feel less strange. And probably just confirms the soulmate best friend thing 😛
G: What’s got you so stressed?
Me: It’s the story I’m making up around people canceling or rescheduling last minute (clearly appointments with me don’t matter… Yada yada yada)
G: I’m sorry babe. I know that gets to you. You are amazing and important. Everyone overbooks and overdoes this time of year. That’s all it is.

See how Gretchen affirmed my feelings and gave me a chance to process through my negative thoughts? On the flip side, my thoughtful office mate, Richard, is more of an accomplice. When I told him that I was stressed out and craving sugar and/or booze he offered me animal crackers with icing and a beer or wine from the mini fridge. Not that he was purposely trying to sabotage me! On the surface, it sounds like those external stimulants or numbing agents are the cure to our problems, but we typically feel worse about ourselves after using comfort foods to “feel better.” 

The answer is in you

I can tell you in moments of stress nothing outside of us can make what’s going on inside feel better. Sure, the chocolate may light up some happy hormones in your brain which could temporarily take away the sadness. However, often when we turn to food or a drink to deal with negative feelings those choices cause guilt or shame, which leads to the downward spiral of making more unhealthy choices.

Recently, while speaking with the client, she mentioned when she eats ice cream with her son in the evening or on weekends her sabotaging voice will say “it’s OK, you’ll do better tomorrow.” I asked, “what does your helping voice say in opposition?” She responded, “I tell myself ‘you know you’re already gaining weight and you don’t really want to gain more weight’.”

Did you notice her helping voice sounds super judgmental?


Is that helpful?


Instead, I asked, if her friend called and explained she was feeling upset and was about to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream “what would you say to a friend you know is trying to lose weight?” She had much more supportive words for her friend that did not include justifying or shaming her choice to eat ice cream.

Food for thought

What kind of stories is you’re sabotaging voice telling you? When do you notice yourself reaching for food or a drink to soothe your negative emotions?

How can you respond to these cravings as a friend instead of an accomplice?

Looking for a friendly dietitian to help you sort out your food cravings? We can help 🙂

Sometimes a diet is the answer… How IBS changed my life

Sometimes a diet is the answer… How IBS changed my life

Why me? It’s not fair. How did this happen? For 1 in 5 American’s suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), these are common thoughts and questions that cross the mind. Maybe after a weekend of eating out and enjoying food with friends and family suddenly, cramping, bloating, and discomfort takes over the gut and all you can do is curl up and wait until it passes.  

Most of my life I was blessed to eat anything I wanted – I joke that I grew up on Ramen noodles, Pop-tarts, and a lot of chicken casseroles (including broccoli and cauliflower!).  

Then came 2012

For 7 years prior to 2012, I was practicing a flexitarian diet, which for me included eating mostly plant-based foods such beans, tofu, peanut butter, and I even started eating lentils. Unfortunately, in November 2012 I contracted a stomach virus. It included a lot of pain and bloating for about five weeks and I lost weight, which at my size was not healthy. When that was over I tried to resume my normal diet. This consisted of salads, plenty of broccoli, apples, and other delicious colorful foods. The problem was some of those same symptoms I had during the virus stated to crop up unexpectedly in the middle of the day or after dinner. More pain. More bloating. But no more virus. I spoke with a good friend (also a dietitian) who recommended I look at eliminating the FODMAP foods – stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols. For anyone unfamiliar these are foods that have a particular kind of naturally occurring sugar, which are linked to some cases of IBS. She was right! When I stopped eating apples I stopped feeling awful after lunch, at least for a little while. Then by May 2016 while traveling up to Michigan to see my honey I hit a wall (not literally!), but I got fed up with feeling awful. I decided it was time to find out once and for all what was causing my gut issues. I went on an anti-inflammatory elimination diet. These come in all shapes and sizes – I gave up many common culprits including grains, dairy, fermented foods, and legumes. Gasp! At this point you might be thinking “what did you eat?!” For anyone that has done a Whole30 you know that fruits, vegetables, and meat/seafood become the bulk of what you are consuming. During that time, I discovered almond butter isn’t so bad and coconut flour is very versatile and delicious. Otherwise, I started to recognize and address my emotional relationship with food. Turns out, a lot of IBS symptoms are heavily influenced by the gut-brain connection and can be affected heavily by stress and hormones.

So many pity parties

During the first elimination I only committed to 21 days because I knew it was going to be challenging. I learned a lot about my habits, but I did it didn’t give me any conclusive information about what was causing my symptoms. Luckily, my lovely brilliant business partner, Kristen Norton, introduced me to MRT or mediator release testing option, which I did in February 2017. This blood test shows the inflammatory response your body has to 170 foods/chemicals. The test revealed some surprising information, which lead to a significant change in my diet and lifestyle for the next 18 months (and counting). In the beginning, when I first got my results I cut down to eating from a list of 30 approved non-inflammatory foods. Considering on average we consume 700 to 1000 foods and chemicals each week this was a very creative time for me. Who knew all the different ways you could prepare rice, sweet potatoes, tilapia, and carrots?
After the MRT results I was informed that alcohol is a huge trigger for IBS symptoms or flare-ups and was advised to stop drinking at least for the first month. Oh, the pity parties. I quickly learned that Friday was a huge trigger for having an alcoholic beverage. I kid you not, it wasn’t until October 13, 2017 that I was finally journaled my first Friday in 8 months that I didn’t crave an adult beverage on Friday night. I promise I don’t have a drinking problem, it was a groove in my brain (aka habit) formed starting in college and apparently became a way of life for the following decade. Not to mention, some of my other favorites I needed to stop eating like lettuce, soy-products, and Duke’s mayonnaise (darn paprika and lemon juice). I cried a lot those first several weeks. Yet, I was finally able to truly empathize with my clients who are doing even harder things in the name of their health and well-being.

What’s the lesson?

While this is still a hard subject for me to talk about, I feel so much better now than I did when I was eating in a way that wasn’t serving my body. Our mission at Well Balanced Nutrition is teach, empower, and connect women that want to feel confident in their food choices and bodies. My body was telling me that my old flexitarian diet was no longer serving me. Our bodies are talking to us all the time. The trick is learning to tune in, listen with compassion, and sometimes swim against the stream to make changes necessary feel our best.

Food for thought
What is your body telling you? The first step is tuning in. Next, I encourage everyone to spend time thinking about what better feels like. How will your life change when you feel better?
Lastly, you don’t have to do this alone. We can help.

HALT: A tool to head off emotional eating

HALT: A tool to head off emotional eating

Monday, June 5, 2017

It’s Friday night, you made it through another busy week… Time to celebrate.

So often our celebrations include food and maybe an adult beverage or two. Nothing says “happy birthday” like cake, “thank you” like a bottle of wine, or “I love you” like chocolate candy. For many of us, food is our love language and as the saying goes, the quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right? 

We are emotional creatures and we have to eat. Sometimes those feelings – or “all the feels” as Kristen and I say – cause us to eat emotionally.

The birthday cake incident

After a particularly unique week, I found myself in celebration mode last Friday night. It was my nephew’s birthday and naturally, we had cake to celebrate. As my clients will tell you, I practice abstinence when it comes to baked goods with frosting, but my rebel brain decided “it’s an ice cream cake so what’s the harm?!” I had one spoonful from my generous boyfriend, and that’s when the sugar dragon started to roar. I followed that one bite of cake with a large spoonful of marshmallow fluff, potato chips, and hot fudge (a real bedtime snack of champions).  Secretly, after everyone was done eating the cake, I went into the freezer and had several more spoonfuls. Looks like I’m human and face the same temptations as everyone else. Luckily, the next morning I was reminded I don’t need to make up because There’s nothing wrong with indulging sometimes and I got right back to practicing the well-balanced way

In retrospect, I would have used my new handy mindful eating tool, HALT. This acronym – HALT – stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired and is sometimes used in addiction counseling. The research shows we are more vulnerable to make our worst decisions when we are responding emotionally. Some of us experience more than one at a time (hello, hangry).

What I didn’t mention before, we started the birthday celebrations at 10:45 PM. That is 15 minutes after my bedtime and not surprisingly I was pretty tired. In hindsight, I realized if I had been true to my self-care I would have graciously said goodnight at 10:30 and prevented the whole sugar binge episode.  As I often remind my clients, when our brains are tired they tell us to eat sugar because it’s a quick source of energy. 

The solution 

First, identify vulnerable moments. Many people I speak with identify as emotional eaters. I would argue that we are all emotional eaters. Some of us turn to food when we are happy, others when we are sad, and some eat food for comfort if we’re lonely. It can turn into a problem when you find yourself doing it often and habitually. Are you making less healthy choices when you get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? 

Food for thought:

Next time you find yourself tempted to grab food outside of a regular meal or a well-balanced snack, consider this handy tool and ask yourself “am I really hungry or am I angry, lonely, or tired?”

Tell us in the comments below, how do you choose to give yourself loving-kindness in place of using food?


Delicious ways to indulge your sweet tooth AND nourish your body

Delicious ways to indulge your sweet tooth AND nourish your body

It’s rare that I meet someone who doesn’t have a sweet tooth. Some of us struggle more than others with sweet cravings. How do we indulge our sweet tooth in a healthy way? Here are some thoughts.

Mindful Pause

First, we must take a mindful pause before we eat. Until we are fully aware of our emotions, senses, and actions, we can not get a true sense of our needs. Sometimes we are hungry and we need to eat. Other times we may be frustrated, tired or bored and looking for an escape from those uncomfortable feelings. Obviously, food will only solve the first problem and we all know that uncomfortable feelings won’t go away by eating chocolate (although, that would be awesome!).  So, the next time you get a craving for something sweet, take a mindful pause to assess your needs.

Indulge When It’s a Worthy Experience

Next, ask yourself is it worth it? A well-balanced diet has room for treats. Some treats are delicious AND nutritious and some are less healthy. When you want to indulge in a less healthy treat it should be special and worth every bite. It should be an experience that makes you want to close your eyes and simultaneously say, “mmmmm.” The candy from a jar at work… although delicious, probably not very special. You just throw it in your mouth and go about your day. Those calories don’t really seem worth it. But a melt-in-your-mouth s’more when you are on a family camping trip or a decadent homemade pie you only get once a year around the holidays… those are the kind of treats that might be worth it. It’s your decision to make.  When you decide it’s totally worth it, go ahead and take it all in and bask in each and every sensation.

Fruit, Vegetables and Chocolate 

Third, incorporate some delicious AND nutritious treats in your routine for a more satisfying daily diet. Dietitians really have a knack for combining healthier ingredients like fruits and vegetables with their chocolate! So in honor of #NationalNutritionMonth, here I highlight some tasty treats packed with healthy perks from real, quality food ingredients including my own recipe for Chocolate Banana Nut Muffins.


Ellie Krieger’s Dark Chocolate Covered Banana Pops – 

Fun for kids and a great way to treat yourself on a sunny day!













Chocolate Chia Avocado Mousse by Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE

Check out this decadent, vegan mousse. Go ahead, whip up a creamy bowl of happiness, as Rachael says!














Sweet Potato Avocado Muffins by The Real Food Dietitians

“An ooey-gooey fudgy brownie bite filled with healthy fats and chocolaty goodness.”




























And here is my latest creation. I had bananas that were past their prime so I baked these chocolate muffins. They aren’t overly sweet so they made a good breakfast or snack. But if you wanted to dial up the sweetness a notch, just add your favorite chocolate chips and/or try adding some whipped cream cheese icing and voila! Your muffin is more like a cupcake!


Chocolate Banana Nut Muffins

These muffins are a delicious for breakfast, snack or dessert. Each muffin has 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Add healthy fats with optional walnuts or bump up the fun factor with some dark chocolate chips.

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2-3 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 egg (whisked)
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup walnuts or dark chocolate chips (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Fill a muffin tin with liners and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa powder.
  4. In separate bowl mash bananas. Add vanilla, egg, and melted butter.
  5. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth.
  6. (Optional) Fold in walnuts or dark chocolate chips
  7. Scoop into muffin pans.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Don’t make it up, make it back

Don’t make it up, make it back

Monday, January 30, 2017

Written by: Cathy Paessun “Motivational Mama”

So after making through the holidays without gaining a pound (!) the next 2 weeks proved to be more challenging. I gained a couple pounds – which Lucy told me was actually very normal. But here’s the great part – I knew which of my choices were problematic and I knew I was probably going to keep stress-eating for another few days. As often as possible, I made the right decision – clean eating, proper portion size, and more exercise. Sure enough, after another week I was back down to my pre-holiday weight and feeling much less stressed out.

Despite having eaten poorly for a couple weeks, one week back on track and my weight was back down and actually a smidge lower. I realized that all these months of eating properly had set me up to go right back to my new weight. Because I didn’t continue stress-eating, my weight didn’t continue going up. Like Lucy says “don’t make it up, make it back”. Rather than over-react to my slight weight gain, I just went back to what I know are the right choices for me and by golly, it worked!

Lucy has been saying for years if you want to lose weight, track what you eat. So last May I finally decided to get serious about dealing my pants size creeping up. She suggested Weight Watchers and I gave it a try.

Tracking my food was a pain but worth it. I learned so much about what I thought was healthy vs. what really is healthy for my body. It was not fun at first giving up things I love like bread, French fries and double-stuffed Golden Oreos but the results were worth it. I lost 15 pounds in 6 months but more importantly learned how to maintain the results.

Food for thought: 

There’s no such thing as dieting. Every day you wake up and engage in your daily diet. Food choices are a lifestyle. Are you making the choices that will give you the lifestyle you know you’re capable of?