Riding the crave wave – a mindful eating strategy

Riding the crave wave – a mindful eating strategy

Food cravings are tricky. Have you noticed that some just can’t be ignored? You know, when you crave something specific like a brownie, and you try to satisfy the craving with something else that’s a little healthier, let’s say yogurt or a granola bar because you are working so hard to stick to your goals. But then you still can’t stop thinking about that brownie. You might try several things to appease the desire, but nothing seems to work. Your craving remains and you finally give in.  In those cases, it’s just best to have that brownie in the first place instead of having several alternatives, only to eventually indulge in the brownie anyway. You end up eating more unnecessary calories when you try to ignore an intense craving like that.

But what about those less intense cravings?

Like those silly cookies in the breakroom that are only a distraction but look so tempting. If we gave into ALL our cravings ALL the time, we could be setting ourselves up for excessive weight gain or unbalanced eating, especially over the holiday season. Here is a technique called the CRAVE WAVE that can help you manage your urges.

Go through this exercise first and then decide if your craving needs to be satisfied or you can let it ride. 

  1. Acknowledge and name the craving: “Oooh chocolate…I definitely want that chocolate cake right now.”
  2. Visualize yourself riding the crave wave: Instead of letting the waves of the craving crash down on you and suck you in, picture yourself jumping on your surfboard, riding out the wave and safely coming back to shore. It might sound cheesy, but this imagery is a powerful thing.
  3. Refocus your attention: Walk away from the food, busy your hands, write down your current thoughts, slowly take five deep breaths or any other activity that can redirect your attention. Congrats. You just rode the crave wave!

If you need some more guidance on dealing with your cravings, let us know!

A new approach to mindful eating | 4 tips to get started

A new approach to mindful eating | 4 tips to get started

You know that empty feeling after you eat? The times you think, “that was so unsatisfying.” What if there is a different way to get the most nutrition and enjoyment from your food.

A client, who we will call Eric, was recently diagnosed with melanoma stage III. Eric is a young and otherwise healthy guy who typically eats a plant-based diet. He admitted to regularly eating a bowl of sugary cereal and milk at the end of the day for many years but with the diagnosis he a made the decision to cut out those foods. Eric is especially sensitive to sugar and has become choosier about what sweets he will eat. In the beginning, after the diagnosis, Eric was very fearful of food. He questioned what foods prevent a recurrence of cancer and what he should avoid.

It’s not what you’re eating, it’s how you’re eating it

Eric told me he was visiting a retired gentleman who offered him a Hershey kiss. Eric politely accepted this treat with the intention of getting rid of it later, at which point the gentleman said, “while you’re having one, I’ll eat one too.” In order not to offend his friend, he decided to join him in eating the chocolate.

I asked Eric what he’s learned since easing up on his sugar and carbohydrate restriction over the past two months. Eric thought for a moment and said he realized he needs to put less emphasis on what he is eating and more emphasis on how he is eating. This literally stopped me in my tracks. In a previous conversation, I had briefly mentioned mindful eating to Eric, but didn’t go into much detail. That’s why I was so impressed at how he came to this decision. Eric noticed after eating a meal while being distracted with computer work or in a meeting it did not feel as nourishing as those he savored and enjoyed more mindfully. For him, that means taking time to eat without distractions. Slowing down to savor the look, taste, smell, and textures of the foods.

The food and cancer conversation is highly controversial and there is a lot of conflicting science-based evidence out there. At Well-balanced Nutrition, we encourage people to embrace natural food, such as those items that are clearly coming from the farm, orchard or mother nature. I still have not come across an Oreo bush or pizza tree. When reading a food label, I don’t often look at the numbers. I want to know the ingredients. What is in the food?

Eric recognizes when he eats more slowly and enjoys the meal mindfully it feels more satisfying and enjoyable. He decided to take this a step further and plan for future meals. For instance, when thinking about Thanksgiving, he plans to take more time during that meal to savor the smell, taste, and appearance of the special holiday dishes. He plans on taking regular breaks throughout the meal – putting the fork down and enjoy the moment.

Here are 4 ways to start practicing

  1. Spend time considering the foods that are #WorthIt beforehand to make a mindful decision each time you eat
  2. Before shared meals and holidays imagine the event and sitting at the table
  3. Spend time savoring the meal (the look, taste, textures, smell, etc.)
  4. Stop during the meal – perhaps consciously putting the fork down in between bites – to slow the pace of how you eat

Food for thought:

We know making healthy food choices is important for reaching our health and wellness goals. When I’m being mindful and tuning in with what I really need, I tend to avoid the less nourishing options because I know they won’t make me feel better. How can you include a mindful technique to get more from your meals?

Let us know how we can help you on the journey! Contact us to get started today.

How to actually follow through with your health goals

How to actually follow through with your health goals

“I’m going to do better,” you say. “I need to lose this weight and I’m starting today.” “I’m so out of shape, I’m going to join the gym.”
How many times have you said something like this to yourself without following through? Or maybe you did, but it only lasted a day, because things like this happen….

We all want to do better. It’s just not always easy getting there. 

When clients come to see us at Well-balanced Nutrition it’s often not about what they need to do. They show up knowing what to do. They just can’t make it happen on their own. Maybe, just maybe, they think to themselves, there is a secret solution they can share with me so I can finally do this. That’s true, we have a few secrets to making healthy changes, but they might not be what you think.

Why is it so hard to follow through with our goals?
Because they come from within and nobody else knows about them. Many people respond to outside expectations and make them a priority, while their inner expectations fall quickly to the wayside. For example, you may want to meal prep on Sunday, but then you get asked to help someone move or your boss gives you a new assignment you want to get ahead start on. So you choose the activity that involves others’ expectations over fixing your meals for the week. Gretchen Rubin, the author of Better Than Before, classifies people like this as obligers. She says, “for Obligers, accountability is crucial. Key. Necessary! If you’re an Obliger, external accountability is the element that will allow you to follow through.” There you have it. One of our secrets to successful change.

So, are you an obliger?
If you could relate to the above scenario or if you are a person who really needs deadlines and late fees to keep you on top of things, there is a good chance that you also need similar accountability with your health habits. When people learn that they are an obliger, many are relieved. They realize it’s not their fault for letting themselves down, putting others first, nor lacking “willpower” to make a change. It’s just the way they are wired. So if you would call yourself an Obliger, instead of blaming yourself for not following through… again, this time set up some outside accountability that will ensure you make the change you desire.
Accountability: The obligation of an individual to account for their activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.
Which types of accountability will you try?
Here are some ideas:
The scale (regular weighing), your Well Balanced dietitian, your coworkers, your BFFs, your doctor, your food journal, your weight loss group, your fitness buddies, clothes you want to fit into…
There’s an app for that: 
It’s never been easier to get accountability from your favorite dietitians here at Well Balanced Nutrition. 😉 We just launched an upgraded version of our Healthy Habit Tracker and Obligers are going to love it! It allows you to track and share with us your:
  • food journal
  • exercise
  • steps (syncs up with your fitbit)
  • weight
  • measurements
  • Healthy Selfies or before and after shots
The best part is you can try using the Tracker for one month at no cost when you sign up in August (no tricks, contracts, or obligations – we promise!). So, start today because we know how much you want to make that change and how hard it can be to do it on your own. Let us encourage you along the way. We bet you finally follow through with those goals!!
Learning to love the journey

Learning to love the journey

Monday, June 26, 2017

Growing up, my mom always called me her “journey girl.” Then I got to college and had to get to class, keep up with the other hyperactive dietetic students, and juggle school work with an active social life (good ol’ University of Dayton memories). For a while, life became less about the journey and more about getting to my next destination. 

Thankfully, in 2014, I got a message from the universe – God – that it was time to get back to my roots. Over the past couple years, Kristen and I have brought you different methods of mindfulness, especially mindful eating techniques. Today I want to share an example of how learning to love the journey will help you be happier and healthier.

The worry effect 

I have a friend, we will call Wendy, who lives life little bit like Rabbit from the cartoon Winnie the Pooh. Wendy is constantly talking about all of the many stressful parts of her life such as being a nanny to her 2 young nieces, keeping up with the projects she has promised to her friends, and worrying about what is going on at the White House. I get it! There is plenty in this world to worry about. However, Wendy wants to be healthier, happier, and lighter. She noticed while traveling and taking a 6-week respite from the nannying job that she did not restrict her eating (and enjoyed some “high test beer”) yet she lost 2 pounds on her vacation. Wendy found when she incorporated joyful movement, such as walking to enjoy the sites and scenery it no longer felt like dreaded exercise. And when she mindfully enjoyed small tastes of the local foods and beverages she did not overindulge. On vacation, Wendy was present, peaceful, and making mindful decisions, which helped her mind and body relax. When we are under stress our bodies secrete cortisol and adrenaline, which we term a fight-or-flight response. At the same time, decreasing the output of human growth hormone, which is responsible for stimulating growth and cell reproduction. If you live in a constant state of worry or stress it is likely your body is perpetually in a fight-or-flight response hormonally. In fight-or-flight, the body responds by increasing blood pressure and glucose (sugar in the blood), while decreasing the immune system.

Food for thought

If you can relate to Wendy’s story, and you are ready to start enjoying your journey, the first step is to take a moment to reflect and identify your own fears, worries, negative thoughts, and stressors. 

Next step, as my wise Uncle Ron recommends we need to ask, what’s in my control to change and what do I need to let go? Aside from talking to your local representatives, there is not much you can do about the situation in Washington DC. If you find your habit is to listen to the news or read the headlines first thing in the morning, only to spend the day worrying about all that bad news, perhaps you can let that go or choose to read those updates less frequently. 

Lastly, let’s make it a priority to include activities in our lives that will make us feel happy and better cope with the circumstances we cannot change.  As we know from all the safety training on the airplanes, it is vital that you put on your own oxygen mask first. What’s one thing you can add to your morning routine or day that will feel good and inspire you to make other choices that feel good? Tell us in the comments below to share a bit of inspiration and happy habit ideas!  

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?